National Catholic Reporter

The Independent News Source


With much anticipation, Europe awaits papal sex abuse letter


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


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


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


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.

Q & A with Msgr. Guido Marini, papal liturgist


Monsignor Guido Marini, Benedict XVI’s Master of Pontifical Liturgical Celebrations, is one of those Vatican figures who normally operate in the shadows. He’s the guy who organizes the Masses and other liturgical events over which the pope presides, so he generally attracts notice only when he happens to be standing near his boss when the TV cameras light up.

Marini took a big step into the spotlight back in January, however, when he gave a speech to a meeting of English-speaking priests in Rome, in which he advocated a liturgical “reform of the reform.” Those comments unleashed a wave of speculation in the blogosphere and in liturgical circles about a possible new overhaul of Catholic worship under Benedict XVI, which critics would read as “rolling back the clock” on reforms associated with the Second Vatican Council (1962-65).

Marini sat down for an exclusive interview with NCR in his Vatican office on Feb. 9, to explain what he had in mind by a “reform of the reform.”

Read John Allen's news story here: Liturgist: Pope aims to 'propose' practices

Move to oust head of Pontifical Academy for Life


VATICAN CITY -- Several members of the Pontifical Academy for Life have suggested that the academy's president, Archbishop Rino Fisichella, be replaced because he "does not understand what absolute respect for innocent human lives entails."

The controversy stems from Fisichella's criticizing a Brazilian archbishop's response to 9-year-old girl's abortion for lacking compassion.

UPDATED: Scholars ask pope to slow Pius XII's canonization

WASHINGTON -- Nineteen Catholic scholars of theology and history are asking Pope Benedict XVI to slow the process of the sainthood cause of Pope Pius XII.

Saying that much more research needs to be done on the papacy of the mid-20th century pope, the scholars said in a Feb. 16 letter to Pope Benedict that "history needs distance and perspective" before definitive conclusions can be reached on the role of Pope Pius during World War II and the Holocaust.

Leading the effort are Servite Father John Pawlikowski, professor of ethics at Catholic Theological Union in Chicago, and Holy Cross Father Kevin Spicer, associate professor of history at Stonehill College in Easton, Mass.

"We're not on a bandwagon to stop his eventual canonization," Father Pawlikowski told Catholic News Service Feb. 18. "We're saying allow some time."

Father Pawlikowski said the scholars, known widely for their research and expertise on the Holocaust, wanted to express their concerns in a respectful manner to the pope.

Vatican's rock top-10: Beatles, U2, Pink Floyd


VATICAN CITY -- The Vatican newspaper has come up with a "semi-serious" list of 10 essential rock and pop albums, including works by the Beatles, U2, Michael Jackson and Pink Floyd.

The list was offered in a tongue-in-cheek article Feb. 14 as an alternative to the music of Italy's biggest pop music festival, which was to begin two days later. The "10 albums worth taking to a desert island" were listed in the chronological order of their release:

Self-mortification must be moderate, monitored


VATICAN CITY -- Reacting to a report that Pope John Paul II practiced self-mortification, including flagellation, experts in spirituality said ascetical practices are part of the Christian tradition, but should be used in moderation and under the guidance of a mature spiritual director.

"Union with the redeeming suffering of Christ comes through accepting the trials and suffering of life or, like in the case of Pope John Paul II, with the voluntary choice of physical suffering," said Cardinal Georges Cottier, theologian of the papal household under the late pope.



NCR Email Alerts


In This Issue

September 12-25, 2014


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