National Catholic Reporter

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Accountability

Belgium archbishop's press officer calls it quits

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BRUSSELS -- Saying his "bucket is full" the press officer for controversial Belgium Archbishop André-Joseph Léonard quit his job yesterday.

In a Nov. 2 announcement, Jürgen Mettepenningen compared Léonard's leadership to a reckless driver headed in the wrong direction.

"For the sake of the church I really should have spoken out more often and more clearly," Mettepenningen said.

Léonard took over Belgium's leading diocese, Mechelen-Brussels, in January, succeeding Cardinal Godfried Danneels.

In October, Léonard seemed to drop exploding bombs every time he met the press. AIDS, he said, is a matter of "immanent justice" for people who misuse their bodies. Homosexuality is a form of human sexuality that has developed in the wrong way and is a disease like anorexia. And most recently —- retired pedophile priests should not be prosecuted but allowed to live out their remaining years in tranquility.

Vatican denies squelching coverage of victimsí rally

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A Vatican spokesperson has confirmed that permission has been denied to film aspects of an Oct. 31 gathering of sex abuse victims in Rome that may occur inside St. Peter’s Square, but insists the ban is standard practice rather than an effort to squelch coverage of the event.

The gathering is billed as “Reformation Day,” and organizers plan to launch a petition calling on the United Nations to include the systematic sexual abuse of children as a crime against humanity.

Two American survivors of abuse, Bernie McDaid and Gary Bergeron, are the primary organizers of the Oct. 31 event, which aims to bring together victims of sexual abuse from various nations to press the Catholic church for reform. The plan is to assemble outside the grounds of the Vatican, near Castel Sant’Angelo, then process to St. Peter’s Square.

'Donít even think about it' just isnít working anymore

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COLUMN

Change always happens one way or another. If it happens through the system, we call it evolution. If it happens despite the system, we call it revolution. The problem is that the spirit of revolution -- that unguided burst of change so often triggered by frustration or despair -- is in the air now, politically, economically and spiritually.

Almost half a century after the opening of the first session of the Second Vatican Council in October 1962, there is a new spirit in the church.

But the spirit that is rising in this church no longer pulses with the promise and energy of Vatican II. There is little sense of new possibilities now. The council’s mandate to welcome the fresh air of the Spirit has gone stale.

But not completely.

Legionaries reform process outlined

WASHINGTON -- The papally mandated reform of the Legionaries of Christ may take "two or three years or even more" and require the establishment of at least three commissions, the papal delegate overseeing the reform said in an Oct. 19 letter.

Italian Archbishop Velasio De Paolis, who was named by Pope Benedict XVI to the College of Cardinals the day after his letter was dated, urged members of the Legionaries to "set aside all suspicion and distrust" of one another during the process of reform and renewal of the order.

On sex abuse, pope needs to address root causes

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COMMENTARY

In an interview with National Public Radio this morning on the appointment of the newest batch of cardinals, NCR’s John Allen was asked what the new cardinals say about the church’s response to the sex abuse crisis.

Allen’s response was short and simple: “Pope Benedict believes the response to the scandal is not in sweeping change, but instead in what he calls spiritual rebirth.”

That answer recalls something the pope himself said Sept. 8.

It was barely noticed, but on that day the pope made perhaps his most significant (and most disturbing) statement about the church’s on-going sex abuse and cover up crisis.

“True renewal of the ecclesiastic community,” he said, “is the result less of structural changes than of a sincere spirit of repentance and an active path towards conversion.”

A Catholic news agency had this take on Benedict’s comment: “The solution to the problem of clerical sex abuse lies in a spirit of penitence and conversion, rather than a radical change of church structures, said Pope Benedict.”

Cybercrime hits Wisconsin parish

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MILWAUKEE -- Federal law enforcement officials were continuing to investigate how criminals were able to steal $121,000 electronically from a parish in the Milwaukee Archdiocese.

St. John Vianney Parish in Brookfield was the victim of cybercrime when individuals made several unauthorized withdrawals from the parish's general checking accounts, stealing money used for general parish operations. No parish or bank employee is suspected of any wrongdoing in the crime.

Canadian Orthodox bishop on leave for 'misconduct'

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TORONTO -- One of Canada's top Eastern Orthodox hierarchs has resigned his duties and been granted a leave of absence following allegations by police of “misconduct” going back decades.

Archbishop Seraphim of Ottawa, who has jurisdiction over all of Canada for the New York-based Orthodox Church in America, requested and was granted a leave of absence.

Irish priests form association; meeting hall overflows

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DUBLIN -- The inaugural meeting of a new association to represent the views of Irish priests drew six times more participants than organizers expected.

More than 300 priests were present at the first meeting of the Association of Catholic Priests in Port Laoise Sept. 15. Organizers had expected only 60 priests to attend, so the meeting was delayed while proceedings were transferred to a larger meeting hall.

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