National Catholic Reporter

The Independent News Source

Vatican

Bishop, drained from sex abuse, retires early

VATICAN CITY -- Pope Benedict XVI has accepted the early resignation of an “emotionally drained” bishop in Australia whose diocese has been the focus of several prominent sex-abuse scandals.

The Vatican announced on Monday that Bishop Michael John Malone, 71, of Maitland-Newcastle has resigned under a provision that requires the resignation of a “bishop who has become less able to fulfill his office because of ill health or some other grave cause.”

The ordinary retirement age for Catholic bishops is 75.

The local Newcastle Herald newspaper reported in January that Malone, who had led the diocese since 1995, said he was seeking early retirement because he was exhausted by dealing with cases of clerical sex abuse.

“I’m emotionally drained by what has happened and feel disillusioned,” Malone told the paper. “I toss and turn at night over the sex abuse committed by clergy and experience a lot of anxiety.”

The bishop suggested his handling of the scandal, which included the publication of a full-page apology in the Herald last year, had alienated some of his own clergy.

“The priests believe I have not been supportive of them,” Malone said.

Vatican: No interreligious prayer at Assisi

 | 

VATICAN CITY -- Pope Benedict XVI and representatives of the world's major religions will make speeches and sign a common commitment to peace when they meet in Assisi in October, but they will not pray together, the Vatican said.

In fact, Pope Benedict's formal prayer service will be held at the Vatican the evening before the encounter Oct. 27 in Assisi with leaders of other Christian communities and representatives of the world's main religions.

The October gathering will commemorate the 25th anniversary of Pope John Paul II's "prayer for peace" encounter in Assisi. The 1986 event was seen by many as a milestone in interreligious relations but was criticized by some Catholics who said it appeared to inappropriately mix elements from Christian and non-Christian religions.

The Vatican press office issued a statement April 2 giving the theme for the 2011 event -- "Pilgrims of Truth, Pilgrims of Peace" -- and a general outline of events.

"Every human being is ultimately a pilgrim in search of truth and goodness," the Vatican statement said.

Pope calls for Libyan cease-fire

VATICAN CITY -- Pope Benedict XVI is calling for an immediate cease-fire and peace negotiations in Libya, where U.S. and allied European forces have been targeting military assets controlled by the country’s dictator, Col. Moammar Gadhafi.

Benedict made his statement on Sunday, following his weekly recitation of the Angelus prayer in St. Peter’s Square, saying he was “progressively more concerned about the well-being and safety of civilians” in Libya.

“I make a heartfelt appeal to international organizations and to political and military leaders for the immediate launch of a dialogue that will halt the use of arms,” the pope said.

The pope’s words marked a shift from his statement a week earlier, on March 20, when he urged “political and military leaders” to ensure Libyans’ “access to humanitarian relief,” but notably stopped short of calling for an end to the United Nations-authorized attacks on Gadhafi.

In calling for a diplomatic solution on Sunday, Benedict said that “at times of greater tension it is even more essential ... to support even the faintest sign of openness and of desire for reconciliation between the parties involved.”

Pope appeals for suspension of fighting in Libya

 | 

VATICAN CITY -- Pope Benedict XVI appealed for a suspension of fighting in Libya and the immediate start of a serious dialogue aimed at restoring peace to the North African country.

Speaking at his weekly blessing March 27, the pope said he was increasingly concerned at the news from Libya, where rebels supported by U.S. and European airstrikes have battled the forces of Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi.

"My fear for the safety and well-being of the civilian population is growing, as is my apprehension over how the situation is developing with the use of arms," the pope said.

"To international agencies and to those with political and military responsibility, I make a heartfelt appeal for the immediate start of a dialogue that will suspend the use of arms," he said.

The pope said that in moments of great international tension, there was more urgency for diplomatic efforts that take advantage of "even the weakest sign of openness to reconciliation" among the parties in conflict. Solutions should be "peaceful and lasting," he said.

The pope offered a prayer for "the return of harmony in Libya" and throughout North Africa.

Vatican mourns Taylor as 'last diva of cinema'

VATICAN CITY -- The Vatican’s official newspaper eulogized actress Elizabeth Taylor as the “last remaining star in the firmament of old Hollywood,” and praised her contributions on AIDS and other charitable causes.

“The curtain falls on the violet eyes of Hollywood” read the headline over Taylor’s obituary in the today's edition of L’Osservatore Romano.

Lauding her as a “great actress who became too soon an icon of the star system,” the article noted that Taylor’s career, which began in childhood, was later marked by an “impressive series of health problems and accidents on the set.”

Author Emilio Ranzato lamented Taylor’s turbulent private life, including her eight marriages and “abuse and addictions,” as well as poor artistic choices later in her career. But he wrote that Taylor managed to “redeem herself thanks to an ever more decisive commitment to charity work, often in tandem with her friend Michael Jackson.”

Vatican says gay opponents are victims, too

VATICAN CITY -- A Vatican official told a United Nations body March 22 that people who openly object to homosexual behavior are at risk of losing their human rights when they are prosecuted or stigmatized for their beliefs.

“People are being attacked for taking positions that do not support sexual behavior between people of the same sex,” said Archbishop Silvano M. Tomasi, the Vatican’s representative to the U.N. Human Rights Council in Geneva.

“When they express their moral beliefs or beliefs about human nature, which may also be expressions of religious convictions, or state opinions about scientific claims, they are stigmatized, and worse—they are vilified, and prosecuted,” Tomasi said.

“The truth is, these attacks are violations of fundamental human rights, and cannot be justified under any circumstances.”

In his statement, Tomasi said the Vatican “condemn(ed) all violence that is targeted against people because of their sexual feelings and thoughts, or sexual behaviors.” The Vatican also rejects all legal discrimination “based just on the person’s feelings and thoughts, including sexual thoughts and feelings.”

New birth control commission papers reveal Vatican's hand

 | 

ANALYSIS

Germain Grisez, a retired moral philosophy professor who worked as an aide to a member of the papal birth control commission in the 1960s, appears to be trying to revise Vatican history with the revelation of new documents dealing with the workings of the commission.

However, the documents, apparently without intention, reveal how a powerful Vatican official, working closely with Pope Paul VI, privately maintained a close control of the process and results of the commission’s work.

Vatican: Laws must regulate sexual behaviors

 | 

GENEVA -- States have the right and duty to regulate people's behavior, including some sexual behaviors, a Vatican official told the U.N. Human Rights Council.

"A state should never punish a person or deprive a person of the enjoyment of any human right based just on the person's feelings and thoughts, including sexual thoughts and feelings. But states can and must regulate behaviors, including various sexual behaviors," said Archbishop Silvano Tomasi, the Vatican's representative to U.N. agencies in Geneva.

The archbishop addressed the Human Rights Council March 22, telling it that there is consensus among societies that "certain kinds of sexual behaviors must be forbidden by law. Pedophilia and incest are two examples."

The Vatican affirms "the inherent dignity and worth of all human beings" and condemns "all violence that is targeted against people because of their sexual feelings and thoughts or sexual behaviors," he said.

However, there is "some unnecessary confusion" as to what is protected when talking about sexual orientation, he said. Sexual orientation "refers to feelings and thoughts, not behavior," he said.

New book confirms: Benedict XVI is his own best spokesperson

 | 

ANALYSIS

One keen irony about the papacy of Benedict XVI is that while the Vatican regime over which he presides has sometimes come off as ham-fisted in terms of public relations, the pope himself is almost universally acknowledged as a gifted communicator.

A veteran theologian and teacher, Benedict can express complex theological ideas in crystalline sentences that don’t require a Ph.D. to grasp, and he has a knack for phrasing the Christian message in positive terms -- what I’ve called his “Affirmative Orthodoxy.”

In the old days, a pope would say or do something controversial, and then his aides would smooth things over. More recently, it’s actually been the pope who gets the Vatican back “on message” after someone else has put his foot in his mouth. (This, by the way, should not be taken as a criticism of Benedict’s official spokesperson, Jesuit Fr. Federico Lombardi, who does a heroic job under the circumstances.)

We’ve had another example of that dynamic in recent days with the release of volume two of Benedict’s book Jesus of Nazareth (published in the United States by Ignatius Press.)

Pope calls for aid to civilians in Libya

 | 

VATICAN CITY -- As fighting between rebels and government forces in Libya intensified, Pope Benedict XVI called for aid and assistance to civilians caught in the conflict.

"Recent clashes have caused many deaths and an increasing humanitarian crisis" in Libya, the pope said after praying the Angelus with pilgrims gathered in St. Peter's Square March 6.

He expressed his concern over the growing crisis and said his prayers were with all victims and "those who find themselves in distress."

"I appeal for assistance and aid for the people who are hit" by the crisis, he said.

More than 1,000 people were believed to have died in the two weeks after pro-democracy protests began in mid-February. A violent crackdown on the popular movement also triggered a large exodus of people, including migrants; more than 100,000 people were said to have fled to Egypt and Tunisia.

Rebels opposed to the 42-year rule of Col. Moammar Gadhafi tried to take control of cities in the country's western and eastern regions, and forces loyal to the Libyan dictator launched aerial bombing raids in a counteroffensive.

Pages

Christmas-Feature-Flag-275x60.jpg

NCR Email Alerts

 

In This Issue

November 21-December 5, 2014

11-21-2014.jpg

Not all of our content is online. Subscribe to receive all the news and features you won't find anywhere else.