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Vatican

Editor of Vatican paper comes out swinging on crisis

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On the same day the Vatican published a "layman's guide" to procedures when a priest is accused of sexual abuse -- which, for the first time in a Vatican document, explicitly includes a directive to comply with civil laws requiring bishops to report abuse to the police -- the editor of the Vatican newspaper, L'Osservatore Romano, dropped by Rome's Foreign Press Club to talk about the crisis that has engulfed Pope Benedict XVI in recent weeks.

Gian Maria Vian, a lay professor of history tapped to take over L'Osservatore Romano in October 2007, offered a robust defense of both the church and the pope. Vian generally kept his cool, though at one point he became testy in complaining that the media reads the crisis into everything said or done at the Vatican these days – a reflection, perhaps, of the intense pressure of the last few weeks.

Vian conceded that there were "great failures in governance" that made the crisis possible, but also insisted that the church now has an "exemplary" approach to the problem of sexual abuse of children, and blamed what he called a "media campaign" for tarnishing the pope's image.

Pope's Easter message focuses on hope and peace

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The following is the text of Pope Benedict's Easter message:

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

I bring you the Easter proclamation in these words of the Liturgy, which echo the ancient hymn of praise sung by the Israelites after crossing the Red Sea.

It is recounted in the Book of Exodus (cf 15:19-21) that when they had crossed the sea on dry land, and saw the Egyptians submerged by the waters, Miriam, the sister of Moses and Aaron, and the other women sang and danced to this song of joy: "Sing to the Lord, for he has triumphed wonderfully: horse and rider he has thrown into the sea!" Christians throughout the world repeat this canticle at the Easter Vigil, and a special prayer explains its meaning; a prayer that now, in the full light of the resurrection, we joyfully make our own: "Father, even today we see the wonders of the miracles you worked long ago. You once saved a single nation from slavery, and now you offer that salvation to all through baptism. May the peoples of the world become true sons of Abraham and prove worthy of the heritage of Israel."

Unity wins out over diversity

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Excellent canon lawyers who are also excellent theologians are rare. Jesuit Fr. Ladislas Orsy, Hungarian-born but based in the United States, is one of them. His new book, Receiving the Council: Theological and Canonical Insights and Debates, is a distillation of his mature thought, composed of revised texts of previously published presentations, lectures and articles.

From first to last it breathes hope, faith and charity, and a model of how these should be approached. But it also contains dynamite.

Report says pope knew more in German sex abuse case

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The future Pope Benedict XVI knew more about a sexual abuse case in Germany than previously reported, raising new questions about his involvement in the matter, according to a report in The New York Times.

Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, the future pope and archbishop in Munich at the time, was copied on a memo that informed him that a priest, whom he had approved sending to therapy in 1980 to overcome pedophilia, would be returned to pastoral work within days of beginning psychiatric treatment. The priest was later convicted of molesting boys in another parish, The Times reported in its March 26th issue.

The Archdiocese of Munich and Freising earlier had placed full responsibility for the decision to allow the priest to resume his duties on the cardinal’s deputy, Fr. Gerhard Gruber. But a memo, whose existence, the Times reported, was confirmed by two church officials, shows that the future pope not only led a meeting on Jan. 15, 1980, approving the transfer of the priest, but was also kept informed about the priest’s reassignment.

After abuse letter, German Catholics want more from pope

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Editor’s note: NCR’s Tom Fox is in Munich covering the emerging clergy sex abuse story there.

Munich, Germany

German reform Catholics said Sunday the pope's pastoral letter, written to Irish Catholics in response to sexual abuse by the clergy, is merely a starting point in a long process of change, and called for the church to overhaul its stance on celibacy.

Pope Benedict XVI Saturday issued a pastoral letter to the church in Ireland, apologizing and acknowledging the failures of the church's top clerics in handling such cases.

But there were expressions of disappointment here that the letter did not make even a short reference to the German sex abuse issues, which have riveted media attention since January.

“Pope says nothing about German abuse cases,” the popular Bild daily headlined on its Web site. “Pope silent on abuse in Germany,” the weekly Der Spiegel's Web site headline read.

With much anticipation, Europe awaits papal sex abuse letter

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Editor’s note: NCR’s Tom Fox is in Munich reporting on the developing German sex abuse story.

Munich, Germany -- Few papal statements in recent memory have stirred more anticipation than the one to be released tomorrow by the Vatican, as Pope Benedict addresses the clerical sex abuse scandal in a pastoral letter aimed at the Irish faithful.

The pope reportedly signed off on the papal letter today. The Vatican has confirmed it will be released tomorrow to be read at masses throughout Ireland on Sunday.

Meanwhile, there is hope here and in other European nations the papal remarks will extend beyond Ireland.

In the past month, the focus of the clergy abuse scandal has shifted from Ireland to Germany where some 300 abuse cases have been reported and where the pope has become personally embroiled for his handling of a sex abuse case when he was archbishop of Munich in the late 1970s and early 1980s.

From the vantage of Munich, a letter addressed to the Irish faithful with scant or no mention of the deep pain felt here in the German church is likely to be disappointing.

Sex abuse reports spread in Europe; focus on pope

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Pope Benedict XVI was implicated in the deepening sex abuse scandal for the first time late Friday following disclosures that he ws involved in the transfer a priest who had forced an 11-year-old boy to have sex.

The priest, who was named by Germany's Südeutsche Zeitung only as priest "H", was transferred in 1980 from his parish in the German town of Essen to the Pope's former diocese in Munich after he was accused of forcing the boy to perform sex acts.

The priest was sent to Munich to undergo therapy, but six years later he was convicted of abusing minors. He was given an 18-month suspended prison sentence and fined. The newspaper said that he continues to work as a priest in Bavaria.

Pope Benedict was archbishop of Munich between 1977 and 1982.

The report became public only hours after the pope had a 45-minute meeting with the president of the German Bishops’ Conference, Archbishop of Freiburg Robert Zollitsch.

Sex abuse requires rethinking of mandatory celibacy

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Massive sexual abuse of children and adolescents by Catholic clergymen has been reported from the United States, from Ireland, and now from Germany. This represents an enormous image loss for the Catholic church and spotlights the profound crisis in which this church is caught.

Speaking for the German Bishops’ Conference, its chairman, Archbishop Robert Zollitsch of Freiburg, has made an initial public statement. That Zollitsch has branded the abuse cases as “outrageous crimes” and that the bishops’ conference as a whole, in its statement of Feb. 25, has asked pardon of all the victims are first steps in coming to terms with this inexcusable misconduct, but further steps must follow. Moreover, Zollitsch’s statement contains three grievous errors, which cannot pass without rebuttal.

* First erroneous assertion: Sexual abuse by clergymen has nothing to do with celibacy.

100 Anglican parishes to join Catholic church

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ORLANDO, Fla. -- About 100 traditionalist Anglican parishes in the United States have decided to join the Catholic Church as a group.

Meeting in Orlando, the House of Bishops of the Anglican Church in America voted to seek entry into the Catholic Church under the guidelines established in Pope Benedict XVI's apostolic constitution "Anglicanorum Coetibus" ("Groups of Anglicans"), said a March 3 statement.

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July 18-31, 2014

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