Lisbon, Portugal -- En route to a May 11-14 visit to Portugal, Benedict XVI called the reality of the sexual abuse crisis “terrifying” and said that the greatest persecution of the church comes not from external attacks but from sin within the church.
Rome -- In a rare breach of normal etiquette at senior levels of the church, Cardinal Christoph Schönborn of Vienna has directly accused another cardinal of complicity in the cover-up of sexual abuse allegations against his predecessor as the most important figure in the Austrian church.
In a session with Austrian journalists in late April, as summarized by the Austrian Catholic news agency Kathpress, Schönborn said that Italian Cardinal Angelo Sodano, at the time the Secretary of State under Pope John Paul II, blocked an investigation of sexual abuse claims against the late Cardinal Hans Hermann Groër of Vienna.
Somewhere in the Vatican, there is a thick file with Fr. James Selvaraj's name on it. It's been there since 2006.
A native of southern India, Selvaraj was a guest priest in the Diocese of Trenton, N.J., when he was accused of endangering the welfare of a child in late 2005. Shortly thereafter, Trenton Bishop John Smith removed Selvaraj from ministry.
Within three months, a grand jury declined to indict the priest, citing insufficient evidence. New Jersey's attorney general expunged the charge from Selvaraj's record.
But more than four years after secular authorities exonerated Selvaraj, Smith and the Vatican have refused to restore his salary, priestly duties, or -- most importantly, Selvaraj says -- his reputation.
The Catholic church in Germany has won its appeal against the decision of a lower court to allow a retired canon lawyer to avoid paying church tax and remain a member of the church.
In a court decision on May 3, the Higher Administrative Court, Baden Wuerttemberg, overruled an earlier decision of the Administrative Court, Freiburg, to allow the application of Professor Hartmut Zapp, to leave the church.
For background on this story, see: German court upholds church tax challenge
In Germany, the church is both a legal tax-raising statutory body as well as a community of faith. A Catholic who objects to paying church tax has to formally leave the church, and is subsequently excommunicated.
Zapp had added a rider to his application to leave the church, stating he was only leaving the statutory body not the community of faith.
This morning's court decision states it is not possible for a Catholic wishing to leave the German church to restrict the application to its legal status.
CHENNAI, India -- Reacting to the Catholic church's spreading sex abuse scandal, bishops in India have drafted new guidelines that include a zero-tolerance policy for guilty priests.
The draft guidelines emerged from the Catholic Bishops Conference of India's meeting in Bangalore which ended April 28. The draft will be sent to the Vatican for approval before being finalized in June.
VATICAN CITY -- Pope Benedict XVI met on Friday (April 30) with the leaders of a Vatican investigation of the Legion of Christ, a conservative Catholic movement whose founder fathered at least one illegitimate child and sexually abused minors.
Five prelates from Europe and the Americas, including Archbishop Charles Chaput of Denver, met with Benedict to discuss the results of their probe into the Legion, also known as the Legionaries of Christ, which began in July 2009 and concluded last March.
VATICAN CITY -- Bishops worldwide are encouraged to meet with victims of clerical sex abuse, just as Pope Benedict XVI has done, said the prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.
"There is nothing that helps bishops or priests learn about this problem better than meeting with the victims and hearing their stories," U.S. Cardinal William J. Levada said in a televised interview April 27.
WASHINGTON -- More than 3,500 people crowded into the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception April 24 to attend the first traditional Latin Mass in decades to be celebrated at the high altar there.
Sponsored by the Paulus Institute for the Propagation of Sacred Liturgy, the Mass in the extraordinary form was celebrated by Bishop Edward J. Slattery of Tulsa, Okla., in honor of the fifth anniversary of the papacy of Pope Benedict XVI.
Close to 100 priests and seminarians assisted at the nearly two-and-a-half-hour pontifical solemn high Mass that was sung entirely in Latin. Cardinal William W. Baum, a retired archbishop of Washington, also attended the Mass, which was celebrated with ancient chants and with pomp, splendor and majesty.
One area that remains in dispute in the sex abuse crisis in the United States involves statutes of limitations preventing alleged victims from seeking redress after a certain age.
The public outcry over recent revelations in the ongoing saga of clergy sex abuse has elicited unprecedented response from the highest levels of the church. Twice in recent days, Pope Benedict XVI has promised that the church will act to stem abuse and bring justice to priests who abused children.
The unknown, of course, is exactly what measures the Vatican would put in place beyond the guidelines it posted in early April instructing bishops to report sexual abuse of children to civil authorities. Moreover, many critics believe that the pope’s concerns don’t go far enough in addressing reform of a system that protected abusive priests, sometimes for decades, while keeping their crimes hidden from the wider community.