National Catholic Reporter

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Accountability

Pope accepts resignation of Irish bishop

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VATICAN CITY -- Pope Benedict XVI accepted the resignation of Bishop James Moriarty of Kildare and Leighlin, Ireland, who said he should have challenged the culture of silence in the Irish church when priests were accused of sexually abusing minors.

The Vatican announced April 22 that the pope accepted the resignation of the 73-year-old bishop under a provision in canon law for retiring before age 75 "because of ill health or some other grave cause."

In a statement April 22, Bishop Moriarty again apologized to victims of clerical sex abuse and said it was blatantly un-Christian of bishops to argue about their degree of responsibility for the scandal when the victims were in such pain.

Bishop Moriarty announced Dec. 23 that he had offered to resign, saying at the time, "I fully accept the overall conclusion" of an independent commission "that the attempts by church authorities to 'protect the church' and to 'avoid scandal' had the most dreadful consequences for children and were deeply wrong."

In his April 22 statement, the bishop said the decision to resign was "the most difficult decision of my ministry."

Cardinal: JP II OK'd letter on shielding priest abuser

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VATICAN CITY -- A retired Vatican cardinal said the late Pope John Paul II had approved his congratulatory letter to a French bishop who refused to report a sexually abusive priest to police.

Spanish newspapers reported that Colombian Cardinal Dario Castrillon Hoyos told an audience at a Catholic university in Murcia, Spain, April 16 that he consulted with Pope John Paul and showed him the letter. He said the pope had authorized him to send the letter to bishops worldwide.

Cardinal Castrillon's letter resurfaced recently in the coverage of recent disclosures of sexual abuse by priests. He wrote it in 2001, when he was head of the Vatican's Congregation for Clergy.

"I congratulate you for not denouncing a priest to the civil administration," Cardinal Castrillon wrote to Bishop Pierre Pican of Bayeux-Lisieux. "You have acted well and I am happy to have a colleague in the episcopate who, in the eyes of history and of all other bishops in the world, preferred prison to denouncing his son, a priest."

Cardinal sides with victims, condemns sex crimes

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VATICAN CITY -- The Catholic Church is determined not to hide or minimize the "horrible" crime of the sexual abuse of minors by priests, said the head of the Vatican Congregation for Clergy.

Cardinal Claudio Hummes said members of church "are on the side of the victims and want to support their recovery and their offended rights."

Irish religious offer more to abuse victims; gov't says not enough

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DUBLIN, Ireland -- Irish religious congregations have offered an additional 348 million euros ($470 million) to compensate victims of abuse in church-run industrial schools over a 40-year period.

However, a government spokesman said that amount, combined with the 128 million euros already paid, still was not enough.

Abuse scandal painful, pope says

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VATICAN CITY -- Recognizing the sins of priests who have sexually abused children, performing penance and asking for forgiveness, the Catholic Church trusts that God will purify and transform the church, Pope Benedict XVI said.

"I must say that we Christians, even in recent times, have often avoided the word 'penance,' which seemed too harsh to us. Now, under the attacks of the world that speaks to us of our sins, we see that being able to do penance is a grace," the pope said April 15 in a homily during a Mass with members of the Pontifical Biblical Commission.

"We see how it is necessary to do penance, that is, to recognize what is mistaken in our life," he said during the morning Mass in the Pauline Chapel of the Apostolic Palace.

Conn. bishops decry bill to lift statute of limitations

HARTFORD, Conn. (CNS) -- Connecticut's Catholic bishops are urging Catholics and others to speak out against a bill that would eliminate the statute of limitations for civil lawsuits in cases of sexual abuse.

Archbishop Henry J. Mansell of Hartford, Bishop William E. Lori of Bridgeport and Bishop Michael R. Cote of Norwich sent notices to all pastors April 8, requesting their help in mounting a campaign opposing a measure in the House that would make Connecticut the only state without a statute of limitations for the filing of sexual abuse claims concerning minors.

US Catholics growing more critical of pope

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WASHINGTON -- A new Pew survey shows that while Catholics are still more positive than Americans in general about Pope Benedict XVI's handling of the abuse scandal, they have grown more critical of how he has addressed the issue.

In a telephone survey of 1,001 adults conducted April 1-5, more than one in 10 Americans, or 12 percent, said the pope has done an excellent or good job in handling the abuse scandal and 71 percent said he had done only a fair or poor job.

Out of all the Catholics in the survey group, 32 percent said the pope has done an excellent or good job, but 59 percent rated his handling of the scandal as fair or poor. Of Catholics who said they attend Mass weekly, 44 percent gave the pope a rating of excellent or good, while 49 percent said he was doing a fair or poor job.

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