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Archive of May 9, 2013

Priest resigns from clergy treatment center amid allegations

Baltimore, Md., May 9, 2013 (CNA) - Amid allegations of financial indiscretion and an “inappropriate adult relationship,” Monsignor Edward J. Arsenault has resigned as head of a Maryland treatment center for Catholic priests and religious.

“This is very difficult news, and we are keeping this situation in prayer,” Sheila Harron, Ph.D., chief operation officer and interim CEO of the St. Luke Institute, said May 6.

“We are committed to continuing to move forward, to providing high quality care for priests and religious, and to supporting a culture of healthy ministry in the Church.”

The New Hampshire attorney general is investigating Msgr. Arsenault after the Diocese of Manchester discovered evidence of improper transactions of diocese funds. The diocese reported the discovery to authorities out of concern illegal acts may have been committed. The diocese discovered the evidence while reviewing a claim that he had an inappropriate relationship with  an adult.

The priest will refrain from all public ministry during the state and diocesan investigations.

Msgr. Arsenault chaired the board of the National Catholic Risk Retention Group formed to combat the sexual abuse of minors by clergy. In that position, he helped supervise the development of the VIRTUS program and the “Protecting God’s Children” safe environment program in use in dioceses across the U.S., an archived webpage of his biography at the St. Luke Institute’s website says.

In October 2009, he became president and CEO of St. Luke Institute in Silver Spring, Maryland. It treats Catholic priests and religious with emotional health problems, addictions, and sexual issues.

St. Luke’s Institute said the allegations against Msgr. Arsenault do not involve the institute.

Bishop Peter A. Libasci pledged the Diocese of Manchester’s full cooperation with the state’s investigation.

He said he is committed to reviewing the diocese’s operations to see if there are any issues that need correction. The bishop also asked for prayers for all those involved.

Msgr. Arsenault held senior positions in the Diocese of Manchester from January 1999 to February 2009. He served as chancellor and moderator of the curia for the diocese and worked in parish and diocesan administration. He reviewed allegations of clergy sex abuse in the Diocese of Manchester in 2002.

He also chaired the board of governors of the Catholic Medical Center Healthcare System in New Hampshire.

Msgr. Stephen J. Rosetti, Ph.D., a priest and clinical psychologist who served as the president of the St. Luke Institute from 1996-2009, will serve as the institute’s interim president. Dr. Harron, the interim CEO, has served on the institute’s staff for 18 years as a psychologist, director of outpatient services and as chief operating officer.

The St. Luke Institute has hired an outside firm to conduct a forensic audit of the organization to ensure there are no irregularities, the Manchester Union Leader reports.

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Music scholar says chant is for everyone, not just elite

Denver, Colo., May 9, 2013 (CNA/EWTN News) - Gregorian chant is freely available and a music of the people – not the domain of a stuffy, Catholic elite as it is often perceived, says a music scholar from Alabama.

“You can listen to it, download perfect editions, you can make your own editions, it's freely shared with the world,” said Jeffrey Tucker, managing editor of “Sacred Music” and founder of “The Chant Café” blog.

Chant is “distributed on an open source platform” and “available to everybody – just like the Gospel, and just like the graces of God,” he said in a May 8 interview with CNA.

The “free culture” aspect of chant is the subject of a paper Tucker will discuss at the Sacra Liturgia 2013 conference in Rome this June. His topic, “The Liturgical Aposto late and the Internet,” will survey how chant suffered in the early 20th century when it was copyrighted, and how it has experienced a resurgence in recent years thanks to entering the commons.

“You went through essentially 1900 years of Christianity with the chant being an open source framework, an open source form of music that flourished in the first millennium through the oral tradition of copying, imitation, and free use,” Tucker explained.  

Chant was then was built upon during the second millennium with organum, polyphony, the great works of the Renaissance, and then further inspired the Classical composers, he said.

By the 20th century, however, chant had fallen into dis-use in most parishes. In 1903 Pius X, who sought “to restore all things in Christ,” issued a document by which “he wanted a big push for chant to become truly universalized throughout the Catholic world.”

Tucker's recent research, which he will highlight at Sacra Liturgia conference in Rome, shows that Pius X wanted Gregorian chant to be “a free gift to the whole Church, and that any publisher should be free to publish it.”

Yet when a new edition of the Graduale Romanum was published in 1908, it was copyrighted. This was a “catastrophic change” in chant's status, Tucker said.

For next 50 years, it became “a kind of proprietary product, held by one institution” with an elite controlling it. “It was all kind of stifling, really,” and by the mid-60s Catholic musicians were “fed up.”

By the 1960s chant was perceived as “owned,” and “a kind of corporate product.” Churchgoer's wanted something “more free and authentic...and that's a big part of why the folk tradition appealed to that generation.”

Yet today, the situations have reversed, Tucker remarked. In the present-day liturgical environment, “you have exactly the opposite having happened.”

“All the successor music to the folk music that came of age in the 60s, is heavily corporate-controlled, heavily copyrighted, and under proprietary distribution.”

“You have to sign up and be a member, and your parish has to pay ghastly fees for the right to sing the music, and on and on and on,” he said.

“It's more or less in the same position that chant was in in the 1950s, whereas the chant is now completely open source.”

Five years ago, Tucker was responsible for putting the first big edition of Gregorian chant online, noting that the internet has greatly contributed to the dissemination of chant and its open source status.

“In the course of a year, we saw the usual pattern take place: derivative works were created, new software platforms emerged, new fonts came to be created, and it seems incredible that that was only five years ago, because now you can download an app for your digital device.”

The development of apps, such as Liber Pro, are demonstrative of the “free culture” and “folk” nature of chant, and “how the open source Liber (Usualis) is being used,” Tucker said.

“All these derivative works came about – recordings were newly posted, now all the chant books are online, you can go to YouTube and listen to any chant, multiple recordings and multiple interpretations, and new chant books came to be written, thanks to the fonts that were written, again on an open source basis.”

“So this thing that used to seem remote, snooty, unfamiliar, spooky, and weird, is now super familiar and available in many different formats, for all people in the world.”

Tucker said that having chant at parishes “changes people's liturgical experience dramatically.”

“When you show up at Mass, would you rather hear a chanted version of a scriptural antiphon that speaks directly to the liturgical year and season and day – all the way down to the precise reason you're there that day – or do you want to hear 'Gather us in' again?”

“The changes make a big difference in the way people experience the faith, week to week.”

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College invite to Irish prime minister draws ire of pro-lifers

Boston, Mass., May 9, 2013 (CNA/EWTN News) - Boston College’s invitation to Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny to speak at commencement and receive an honorary degree is drawing opposition from pro-lifers who call the invitation “unconscionable” in light of the politician’s push for legal abortion.

“After our painful experience for the past 40 years, we know what legal abortion will do to Ireland,” said Kristan Hawkins, president of Students for Life of America.

In a May 7 statement announcing a new pro-life initiative, Hawkins warned that legalized abortion in America “has led to the deaths of over 55 million preborn baby girls and boys, the victimization of millions of women, and the crumbling of families.”

Students for Life has launched the project “Not at BC” to oppose Kenny’s appearance at Boston College.

The college announced on April 25 that Kenny would speak at commencement ceremonies this spring and receive an honorary Doctor of Laws degree for the school’s 150th anniversary.

College spokesman Jack Dunn cited the school’s Irish connections as a motive for the choice. Boston College was founded by a Jesuit from Ulster to serve the Irish immigrant population and maintains an Irish Studies program.

Although Kenny and his party, Fine Gael, had promised not to implement abortion legislation, he is now making a strong push to legalize abortion in Ireland when the mother’s life is in danger, including when she threatens suicide.

Critics say the lack of a gestational age limit in a recent proposed law means that abortion would be available on demand in Ireland to any woman who threatens suicide. The law could force Catholic hospitals to comply with abortions and also lacks individual conscience protections for physicians, nurses and other health care workers.

Kenny has also suggested that pro-life members of parliament may be expelled from his party if they refuse to vote in favor of the abortion legislation.

The Catholic bishops of Ireland – a traditionally pro-life country – denounced the proposed abortion law in a May 3 statement, saying it would “make the direct and intentional killing of unborn children lawful.”

Students for Life of America said the Irish prime minister has bowed to the international pro-abortion movement in his recent push to legalize the procedure.

The organization said it is “simply unconscionable” for any college, particularly a Catholic one, to “honor the man who would usher in the mass death of Irish preborn children.”

“As Catholics, Christians, and pro-lifers of all faiths, the time is now to stand in solidarity with the innocent pre-born, oppose Prime Minister Kenny, and demand he stop promoting the grave moral evil of abortion in Ireland,” said Hawkins.

“Boston College must hold true to its Catholic mission and immediately revoke their invitation to Prime Minister Kenny to speak at their commencement ceremony.”

Students for Life is calling on supporters to contact Boston College president Father William Leahy, S.J. by phone, e-mail or internet form.

More information about the effort is available at the website http://notatbc.com.

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Sisters encouraged, grateful Pope met with them

Vatican City, May 9, 2013 (CNA/EWTN News) - Sister Alice Matilda Nsiah says that Pope Francis’ decision to meet with her and other superiors general on Wednesday left them encouraged, grateful and proud to be Catholic.

“Our faith is renewed with the Pope and we are very grateful that he give (sic) us the audience. We are very grateful that he has time for us.  We are very grateful that we are working together for the Church. So we are very proud to be Catholics,” said Sr. Nsiah, mother superior of the Daughters of the Most Blessed Trinity.

She is one of about 800 religious sisters who were in Rome May 3-7 for the general assembly of the International Union of Superiors General, which discussed the prophetic nature of the Church and the nature of authority.

When they had their last gathering in 2010, Pope Benedict did not meet with them, so the time they had with Pope Francis was eagerly welcomed.

The sisters met with the Pope at 9:30 on Wednesday morning in the Paul VI Hall, about an hour before the start of his weekly general audience in St. Peter’s Square.

Pope Francis spoke with the sisters about how important their work is for the Church and reflected on their vows of poverty, chastity and obedience.

As she left St. Peter’s Square after the May 8 general audience, Sr. Nsiah recounted the meeting for CNA.
 
“He gave a very good encouragement about our commitment to the Lord, how we are called by the Lord to serve him in the Church and how we are important in the Church,” she said.

The Pope also stressed the importance of the sisters being spiritual “mothers and not spinsters!”

“Chastity enlarges the freedom of your gift to God and others with Christ's tenderness, mercy, and closeness. But, please, (make it) a ‘fertile’ chastity, which generates spiritual children in the Church,” he told the consecrated women.

“Forgive me if I talk like this,” he added, “but this maternity of consecrated life, this fruitfulness is important!”

For Sr. Nsiah, the Holy Father’s words underscored that “without us, the maternity of the Church is lacking.”

Apostolate in Ghana

Sr. Nsiah also shared some of the struggles her congregation, the Daughters of the Most Blessed Trinity, experiences in its work to care for poor women and impoverished mentally or physically disabled people.

“Number one, we have a problem of finances because we are a developing country,” she explained.

The shortage of funding means that the sisters sometimes are not able to help all the people who come to them for assistance.

And although the political situation in Ghana is stable, Sr. Nsiah described development in that realm as “very slow.”  

“And so it affects all of us: our mission and our dreams. So it is very difficult,” she explained

“But we are managing to do our best to serve the Lord, in the poor, in the simple, in the children, in the women especially, who are always left behind,” she commented.

When it comes to the Church in Africa as a whole, Sr. Nsiah believes that it is strong and “very committed.”

“Now the Church is greater in Africa and the morale is very high. So we are very proud. The Church is Africa and Africa is gradually growing; growing bigger and bigger everyday. So we are very happy,” she reported.

When she returns to her sisters in the central city of Kumasi, Sr. Nsiah said that she will tell them, “the vocation we have chosen, it is the Lord’s.”

“The work – our work – is the work of the Lord. When we do it well, the Lord will bless us and our reward is in heaven. And our mother, Mary, is our inspiration. And since she was able to work with Jesus, with her support, we are able to do our work.

“So we will not be discouraged, we are there, firm!” she joyfully proclaimed.

Marta Jiménez Ibáñez contributed to this report.

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Video of 3-year-old 'celebrating' Mass becomes online hit

Bogotá, Colombia, May 9, 2013 (CNA/EWTN News) - A three-year-old Colombian boy has garnered attention across the internet for a video in which he dons priestly garments and “celebrates” Mass, reciting the liturgy from memory.

Samuel Jaramillo, who is an orphan, lives with his grandmother and an aunt in the city of Medellin. When family members posted a video of the boy pretending to celebrate Mass on YouTube, it gained rapid popularity, attracting nearly 300,000 views in just over a week.

His relatives told reporters that last Christmas, Jaramillo did not ask for toys like most kids his age. Instead, he wanted “priest’s clothes” and the objects necessary to “celebrate” Mass.

He has learned to recite the Mass from memory with the corresponding pauses, intonations and gestures of an experienced priest.

In a reflection published by El Colombiano, Father Daniel Monsalve noted Jaramillo’s “passion for what he says and the tenderness that inspires him” in the videos.

“Amid a changing world that is at times indifferent to religious matters, this child appears as a testimony of love for God and fascination for sacred celebrations, most certainly fostered by those who care for him and by the priest of his parish,” Fr. Monsalve wrote.

Cases like that of Jaramillo “should not only awaken religious fervor but also serve as an example for the promotion of priestly and religious vocations, supported always by the encouragement of parishes, seminaries and houses of formation,” he added.

Jaramillo’s aunt, Elizabeth Rojas Arango, said, “This isn’t something we taught him, and we don’t even attend church,” but Jaramillo goes to Mass every Sunday and on Tuesdays with his grandmother, Rosa Eva Arango.

Rojas Arango said the decision to post the videos of Samuel online was not “to try to make him popular, but because they are moving.”

Jaramillo knows the Creed by heart and even preaches his own homilies.

In an interview with RCN television, Jaramillo said he wants to be a priest when he grows up.

Fr. Monsalve said that when people see Jaramillo, “They will be amazed and will be unable to resist clicking on ‘Like’ or ‘Share.’ However, it will be God who continues speaking to humanity through the nobility and humility of his littlest children, the favorites of the Kingdom of Heaven.”

He also underscored the role of parents and relatives in the education of children.

“Parents and all those involved in the care of children must continue to fulfill that essential role of giving testimony and encouragement,” he said.

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Congressmen request abortion regulation data from states

Washington D.C., May 9, 2013 (CNA/EWTN News) - Amid the on-going trial of abortion doctor Kermit Gosnell, two committees of the U.S. House of Representatives are demanding answers from state officials about the regulation of abortion facilities.

“We presume that each of you, upon learning of the failures highlighted by the Gosnell trial, have considered what your state governments are doing to ensure that similar crimes could not be perpetrated in your state,” the House Judiciary Committee wrote in a May 7 letter to the 50 states’ attorneys general.

“We too have an obligation to find out whether newborn infants…are being denied their most basic civil rights.”

The congressmen continued, saying they are trying to discover if state and local governments are unable to protect newborns from murder after failed abortion attempts because of “legal or financial obstacles that are within the federal government’s power to address.”

Dr. Gosnell, the Pennsylvania abortionist, is charged with the murder of one mother and several babies, who were allegedly killed in his Philadelphia clinic, the Women's Medial Society, after being born alive following botched abortion procedures.

On May 9, the jury in Gosnell’s trial entered its eighth day of deliberations, asking for the repetition of testimony from one of Gosnell’s employees. Eight of his staff members have pled guilty to various charges in the case – three of them to third-degree murder.

In its letter, the Judiciary Committee – chaired by Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) – requested that the attorneys general answer five questions by June 1. The questions deal with late-term abortion, infanticide and the safety of mothers in their respective states.

“Do prosecutors in your state treat the deliberate killing of newborns, including those newborns who were delivered alive in the process of abortions, as a criminal offense?” the letter queried.

It also asked if state legislatures have passed laws “specifically to protect new-borns delivered alive in the process of abortions” and if so, how those laws have “changed prosecutorial practices.”

The House Committee on Energy and Commerce, led by Rep. Fred Upton (R-MIich.), sent a similar letter to the state departments of health. The committee seeks to “better understand how states regulate and monitor abortion clinics, and protect the health and safety of women.”

The Commerce Committee requests the answer to seven questions by May 22, including “what information must be provided or requirements must be met for a facility or provider to be licensed” and “does your state conduct inspections of abortion clinics or facilities that perform abortions.”

In a January 2011 Grand Jury report, a district attorney found that Pennsylvania’s health department had contact with Gosnell’s clinic in 1979, when it was first approved. The department did not conduct another site review until 1989, finding “numerous violations.” Two site reviews found more violations in 1992 and 1993, but failed to make corrections.

“With the change of administration from Governor Casey to Governor Ridge,” the report said, “officials concluded that inspections would be ‘putting a barrier up to women’ seeking abortions. Better to leave clinics to do as they pleased, even though, as Gosnell proved, that meant both women and babies would pay.”

Bob Casey was a pro-life Democrat who was replaced as Pennsylvania governor by abortion “rights” supporter, Republican Tom Ridge in 1995.

The Commerce Committee also asked the state health departments if they “monitor complaints or adverse health events relating to abortions” and what actions they have taken to ensure that each abortion clinic has “a designated individual to report suspected medical neglect…of born-alive infants to the state child protective services agency.”

Recent videos released by Live Action, a pro-life advocacy group, show that Dr. Gosnell's practice of murdering infants who survive abortions is not isolated to his facility – willingness to kill born-alive infants or allow them to die was found at facilities in New York and the District of Columbia. The organization said it will be releasing more videos from across the country in the coming weeks.

And an April 9 report from Philadelphia's ABC affiliate, WPVI, revealed that several nurses at Planned Parenthood of Delaware had left their employment at the abortion clinic over unsanitary conditions and safety concerns, calling the clinic “ridiculously unsafe.”

“Kermit Gosnell is the tip of the iceberg. Two former employees have blown the whistle on ‘meat market-style assembly line abortions’ at Planned Parenthood of Delaware,” Susan B. Anthony List president Marjorie Dannenfelser said May 9, praising the letters of the two House committees.

“The inhumanity of the abortion industry has never been clearer and now it’s time for America to see how deep this lack of respect for life goes. Leadership in investigation and oversight is encouraging and the vital first step.”
 

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Thousands expected at March for Life in Rome

Rome, Italy, May 9, 2013 (CNA/EWTN News) - More than 15,000 people are expected to gather outside the historic Roman Coliseum on May 12 to take part in the third March for Life.

Included among expected participants are leading representatives of pro-life originations from around the world, as well as members of the clergy and European royalty.

Lila Rose, the president of undercover investigative group Live Action, and Nicholas Windsor, the son of the Duchess of Kent and grandson of Queen Elizabeth of England, are only a few of the leading figures who are expected to join in the March.

The march will be preceded by a conference on bioethics at the Pontifical Athenaeum Regina Apostolorum and a prayer vigil on May 11, led by the prefect of the Apostolic Signature, Cardinal Raymond Burke.

The spokesman for the March, Virginia Coda Nunciante, told CNA, that “the main purpose of the march is to stop and to say ‘no’ to the 1978 law that legalized abortion in Italy, causing the deaths of more than five million children.”

“There are many dioceses and parishes that are committed to coming, in addition to the 120 movements and associations that have joined in this initiative,” she continued.

“ Let us take to the streets to reiterate a great yes to life, the first of all rights, because without life no other right can exist, and that is why we have so many families with children with us.”

“The defense of life is not only the responsibility of Catholics, but all those who acknowledge the existence of a natural law, written on the heart of each man which prohibits the killing of the innocent,” Coda said. “Abortion not only violates Catholic morality, but also natural law, which is valid for every man in every age and in all places.”

“We are also marching against euthanasia, which many want to introduce into our legislation, and to oppose the manipulation of embryos, for example, through a law on assisted fertilization,” she added.

According to data from the Ministry of Health, she observed “the number of abortions has fallen, but we also know that there has been an increase in sales of the abortion pill RU486.”

Coda invited all those who will be in Rome on May 12 to take part in the demonstration. 

“We need to bring about real change to our own culture, so that it will be easier to understand the seriousness of each attack against life,” she said.

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