Archive of May 11, 2013

Abuse report finds few allegations against clergy in 2012

Washington D.C., May 11, 2013 (CNA) - The latest report on child protection in the U.S. Catholic Church found a total of 11 credible allegations of abuse of minors by diocesan clergy in 2012, with a 20 percent decrease in the numbers of new credible abuse allegations about incidents in the past 60 years.

Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York, the U.S. bishops’ conference president, said in reaction to the report that Catholic bishops renew their “steadfast resolution” not to lessen their commitment to protect children and young people.

“We seek with equal determination to promote healing and reconciliation for those harmed in the past, and to assure that our audits continue to be credible and maintain accountability in our shared promise to protect and our pledge to heal,” Cardinal Dolan said May 10, the U.S. bishops’ conference reports.

The 2012 report on the implementation of the U.S. bishops’ Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People was authored for the National Review Board and for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops by the bishops’ Secretariat of Child and Youth Protection.

The report, drawing from the Georgetown University-based Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate, found 11 credible allegations that diocesan clergy and one credible accusation that a member of a religious order or institute committed offenses against minors in 2012. This represents a slight increase from the seven credible abuse allegations concerning the years 2010-2011.

There are over 38,000 diocesan and religious Catholic priests and over 15,000 deacons in the reporting dioceses and eparchies.

Overall, there were 390 new credible allegations made against 313 diocesan priests or deacons in 2012, mainly concerning decades-old claims from the seventies or eighties. Only one percent of the allegations concern permanent deacons. About 60 percent of accused perpetrators had prior allegations against them. Most of the accused have died or have been removed from ministry.

In diocesan allegations, about 84 percent of abuse victims were male. Abuse disproportionately began when victims were aged 10-14. Only about one in ten allegations were considered unsubstantiated or were determined to be false.

The financial costs for dioceses remained significant. In 2012 the costs for legal settlements, attorney fees, therapy for victims and offender support totaled almost $113 million. Last year was the third least expensive since the report’s recording period began in 2004. In 2007 financial costs peaked at nearly $500 million in one year.

For religious orders and institutes, there were 74 new credible abuse allegations reported in 2012. About half of these allegations were made against those who had been previously accused. The financial costs of abuse in 2012 totaled $20.1 million.

Over 99 percent of priests, deacons and educators at Catholic institutions have undergone safe environment training. Close to 98 percent of candidates for ordination have gone through the training, as have almost 98 percent of church volunteers and almost 97 percent of church employees.

Stonebridge Business Partners, which is conducting audits of diocesan compliance, said some limitations to the audit process include a high rate of staff turnover in child protection programs. Most dioceses and eparchies are unwilling to let the company conduct parish audits during dioceses’ own on-site audits.

Stonebridge said the auditors “must rely solely on the information provided by the diocese or eparchy, instead of observing the program firsthand.”

The Diocese of Lincoln and five Eastern Catholic eparchies have refused to be audited and are not in compliance with the bishops’ charter for child protection. The Dioceses of Lake Charles, La., Tulsa, Okla. and Baker, Ore. were each found non-compliant with one requirement of the charter.

Al J. Notzon, III, chairman of the National Review Board overseeing the audit, stressed the importance of keeping good records and involving parishes in the auditing process.

“Abuse happened in the parishes where our children learn and live their young, growing faith,” Notzon said. “What we have come to see is that protecting children from sexual abuse is a race without a finish and more rather than less effort is necessary to keep this sacred responsibility front and center.”

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Author points to Mary as inspiration, help for modern moms

Notre Dame, Ind., May 11, 2013 (CNA/EWTN News) - Although motherhood is both misunderstood and undervalued in modern culture, Mary's intercession and example of holiness can help restore the appreciation moms need, a Catholic author says.

While writing the book, “Imitating Mary: Ten Marian Virtues for the Modern Mom” (Ave Maria Press, 2013), Marge Fenelon said that it was not so much her perception of motherhood that changed as it was her “conviction that moms today need more encouragement than ever before.”

In a culture that treats motherhood as either a “commodity or an affliction” the author told CNA May 9 that, “Modern moms are under fire from many directions – society, the secular media, the entertainment industry, the pro-abortion movement, and sometimes even themselves.”

“Motherhood isn’t valued as it should be,” she explained, “and it goes to follow that a society that doesn’t value motherhood won’t value the mother, either.”

As a result, many women just “try to muddle through” it while others simply “give up on motherhood altogether.”

“Moms can be their own worst enemies in the way that they can be overly critical of themselves or compare themselves to other women who they perceive to be ‘perfect’ mothers,” she said. “In fact, they’re better mothers than they think they are.”

Rather than giving into despair, Fenelon explained, mothers should look to Mary to see where they “already have lots in common” while also looking to see where they can “foster and develop new traits that they’d like to acquire.”

“'Imitating Mary' helps modern moms discover within themselves the beauty, holiness and value of the motherhood they’re already living.”

In her research, Fenelon said she aimed to “really make Mary come alive for readers” by examining the “historical, cultural, geographical, and political” circumstances of Mary’s life.

“I was daring in exploring how the circumstances, surroundings, and events would impact Mary as a living, breathing woman with the same emotions and experiences that we face today,” she said.

Although the book is geared towards the “modern mom,” Fenelon said men can benefit from reading the book.

“Yes, Mary has feminine qualities, but she also has human qualities – qualities that can be admired, studied, and imitated by men as well as women,” she said.

Writing the book has helped to foster a deeper relationship with the Mother of God, Fenelon said – something that she hopes those who read it can experience as well.

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Canada's pro-life march shows growing movement

Ottawa, Canada, May 11, 2013 (CNA/EWTN News) - The 16th National March for Life drew to Ottawa thousands of pro-life Canadians who advocated legal protections for all unborn people, with a special focus this year on sex-selective abortion.

“The culture of life is alive, it’s loud, and it’s growing,” Matt Wojciechowski, spokesman for the Campaign Life Coalition, told CNA.

“The march was an amazing, amazing event,” he added. “It was very inspiring to see the never-ending crowds.”

Between 20,000 and 25,000 pro-life advocates gathered on Parliament Hill in the Canadian capital on May 9.

The youth contingent was “definitely a large presence,” Wojciechowski said, estimating that about 90 percent of attendees were under 35. About 1,000 students attended a pro-life conference in Ottawa on Friday.

About 20 Canadian Ministers of Parliament and a Senator attended the event, as did Cardinal Thomas Collins of Toronto, Archbishop Terrence Prendergast of Ottawa and Archbishop Gérald Cyprien Lacroix of Quebec City. Representatives from other Christian churches were also in attendance.

This year’s event focused on the targeting of unborn girls for abortion, a practice common in India and China. Pro-lifers deem the practice “gendercide.”

“Sex-selective abortions are happening in Canada. That has become quite an issue,” Wojciechowski said.

He charged that Canada’s ruling government had “completely rejected” attempts to discuss the issue.

“We’re standing up for the pre-born, both male and female, no matter how small or how old,” he said. “There’s an added emphasis on saving baby girls from sex-selective abortions because they are targeted.”

The Catholic Organization for Life and Family, in an April 22 statement released ahead of the March for Life, characterized sex-selective abortion as “a war on girls” fueled by “deeply held cultural biases” in favor of male heirs. It said that in some Canadian communities there are 120 boys for every 100 girls because of targeted abortion.

“The overwhelming majority of Canadians are offended by the thought that a female could be targeted for abortion just because she is, in fact, female,” the organization said. “Let us march in the name of equality, in the name of female equality and of human equality.”

Wojciechowski said media coverage of the March for Life had improved since last year. However, he lamented the lack of political attention to abortion law in general.

“Politically, the government is refusing to discuss this issue. They’re refusing to acknowledge the human being in the womb,” he said. “They think it’s a losing issue. They don’t want to stand up for life.”

Wojciechowski emphasized that the pro-life movement in Canada is growing. “People are getting involved. Not just at marches once a year. They’re getting involved at the grassroots level.”

He encouraged others to become active in their families and talk about pro-life issues over the dinner table with their children, siblings and friends. He said a family focus will then encourage a natural progress in society.

“Family is the solid nucleus of our society. If the family doesn’t discuss this issue, we can’t expect any changes,” Wojciechowski said.

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Mass held in Rome for kidnapped Syrian bishops

Rome, Italy, May 11, 2013 (CNA/EWTN News) - Eastern Catholic clergy celebrated a Mass in Rome’s Basilica of Santa Maria in Cosmedin to pray for two archbishops and two priests who remain the hostages of rebels in Syria.

Archimandrite Mtanious Haddad, rector of the Greek Melkite Catholic Basilica, said there are “so many” people who have been kidnapped.

“Our Mass today was to pray for all those Christians and moderate Muslims who have been kidnapped,” he told CNA.

According to Fr. Haddad, the rebels “want to show that there is no more coexistence between Christians and Muslims but this isn’t true.”

Greek Orthodox Archbishop Paul Yazigi and Syriac Orthodox Archbishop Yohanna Ibrahim were kidnapped by rebels on April 22 and are still being held in a village northwest of Aleppo.

Gunmen pulled the two Christian archbishops out of their car and shot their driver, a deacon.

They were on their way to Aleppo from the Turkish border in an effort to negotiate the release of two priests, Armenian Catholic Father Michel Kayyal and Father Maher Mahfouz, a Greek Orthodox Christian.

The priests had been abducted on Feb. 9 when the bus they were riding on from Aleppo to Damascus was stopped. They are still being held captive.

Fr. Kayyal was the student of Monsignor Georges Dankaye Noradounguian, the rector of Rome’s Pontifical Armenian College. Msgr. Dankaye concelebrated the solemn Mass in Rome on May 10.

He described Fr. Kayyal as “an excellent and very good person with a lot of faith.”
“He was trying to distribute humanitarian aid with three or four other priests so he has been living the war in a very special way,” the monsignor told CNA after the Mass.

The Lebanese Ambassador to the Holy See, Georges El Khoury, attended the Eucharistic ceremony as did as the Iraqi Ambassador to the Holy See, Habeeb Al-Sadr, who is Muslim.

Msgr. Dankaye said news coverage of Syria is too uniform.

He said that “the international community’s 600 TV channels broadcast the exact same version, while the only Syrian TV channel that exists and broadcasts daily news in English has been blocked.”

“People against the regime are outside Syria,” he said. “War always has its reasons and its logic, and the true reasons for it are always hidden.”

Fr. Haddad also criticized the war.

“The Syrian war is not a crisis between Muslims and Christians or Muslims and other Muslims and it’s not a Syrian civil war from and for Syrians,” he told CNA.

“This is a war imported from outside and we have traitors who have sold themselves to outsiders for a bit of money.”

He said that the rebels are “trying to show there is a problem between Christians and Muslims in Syria when there isn’t and there never has been.”

During his homily he called the kidnappers “traitors” and said Syrians need to solve their own issues “like in a conclave, without outside intervention.”

“Our petro-dollar Arabic neighbors have bought some Syrians and it’s a surprise to me when a Syrian is happy to see a Syrian soldier murdered,” said Fr. Haddad at the basilica.

He added that now there are “terrorists and non-terrorists from Libya, Pakistan and Afghanistan who have gone to fight in Syria saying they want to liberate Jerusalem.”

“But can one liberate Jerusalem from Aleppo?” he asked. “We all know where the path to Jerusalem is.”

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