National Catholic Reporter

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Vatican

Pope: the Devil behind timing of sex abuse crisis

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Since the Catholic sexual abuse crisis erupted a decade ago, there have been numerous attempts to explain its causes, from a lack of fidelity to an over-emphasis on celibacy and clerical privilege. This morning in Rome, Pope Benedict XVI pointed to a deeper unseen force lurking behind the crisis, especially its timing: the Devil.

It’s no accident, the pope implied, that precisely as the Catholic church was celebrating a “Year for Priests” in 2009-2010, the sexual abuse crisis once again took on massive global proportions.

Group plans ordination without Vatican's OK

BERLIN -- The controversial Society of St. Pius X (SSPX) has announced plans to consecrate three priests on June 26 in Germany, a move one Catholic official has called a “provocation” that could upend a tentative peace with the Vatican.

The conservative SSPX, which rejects many of the Catholic Church's modernizing reforms, has long had a difficult relationship with the Vatican. A decision to consecrate four bishops against the orders of Pope John Paul II in 1988 led to the excommunication of all bishops involved, though the excommunication of four bishops was lifted in 2009.

The Vatican was deeply embarrassed after one of the rehabilitated SSPX bishops, Richard Williamson, turned out to be a vocal denier of the Holocaust. The Vatican claimed it did not know of his views when Pope Benedict XVI lifted his excommunication in a bid to reconcile the group with Rome.

The ordination ceremony for three deacons from Sweden, the Czech Republic and Italy was revealed in a circular released by the SSPX on Monday (May 31).

Vatican, courts wrestle over who controls bishops

VATICAN CITY -- Is Pope Benedict XVI legally responsible for the actions of U.S. Catholic bishops who mishandled cases of pedophile priests, allowing them to sexually abuse more children?

Some plaintiffs' lawyers are arguing that victims of clerical sex abuse should be able to sue the Vatican itself for damages, in large part because they say bishops are effectively employees or officials of the Holy See. The pope appoints and disciplines bishops, they note, and he can force them to step down if he deems them unfit.

57-year-old Hanoi archbishop resigns

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VATICAN CITY -- Less than a week after a coadjutor archbishop was installed to assist him, 57-year-old Archbishop Joseph Ngo Quang Kiet of Hanoi resigned his post amid rumors that the Vietnamese government had told the Vatican the archbishop must go.

Pope Benedict XVI accepted Archbishop Ngo Quang Kiet's resignation May 13. Archbishop Pierre Nguyen Van Nhon, 72, who had been welcomed as the coadjutor archbishop of Hanoi May 7, automatically became head of the archdiocese.

Benedictís defense may mean tainting John Paul II

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Analysis

Under ordinary circumstances, Pope Benedict XVI’s mastery of German literature might not seem an obvious way of preparing for the papacy. At the moment, however, it feels spot-on, because Benedict and his admirers face a choice straight out of Goethe’s Faust: In order to salvage Benedict’s reputation on the sexual abuse crisis, they’re almost compelled to tarnish that of Pope John Paul II.

Pope's 'Jesus of Nazareth II' sent to translators

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VATICAN CITY -- Pope Benedict XVI has handed his editors the final draft of the second volume of his book, Jesus of Nazareth, but it will be months before the work is translated from German and published, the Vatican said May 10.

"This second volume is dedicated to the Passion and the Resurrection, and takes up where the first volume ended," the Vatican press office said in a statement.

Vatican to appoint new leadership to overhaul Legionaires

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The Vatican May 1 released a comminque summarizing the results of a year-long investigation of the Legionaries of Christ, indicating that Pope Benedict XVI will shortly appoint a special delegate to lead the order and a commission to review its founding documents.

The language of today's statement is remarkably blunt, referring to a "system of power" created by the founder of the Legionaries, Fr. Marcial Maciel Degollado, designed to hide "true crimes" and a private life "without scruples or authentic religious sentiment." The statement indicated that the Legionaries must follow a "path of purification," including a "sincere encounter" with victims of sexual abuse inside and outside the order.

After years of denial, the Legionaries have recently been forced to acknowledge that Maciel lived a double life, including having a child out of wedlock with a woman with whom he was in a long-term relationship and to whom he provided financial support. Maciel has also been accused of sexual abuse of former members of the order.

The Vatican statement expressed Pope Benedict's gratitude for the "courage and steadfastness" of those who brought charges against Maciel over the years.

Priest who said pope should quit called on to resign

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EAST LONGMEADOW, Mass. -- A conservative Catholic group has called on a Massachusetts priest to apologize for suggesting that Pope Benedict XVI should resign if he does not take stronger action to confront the church's sexual abuse scandal.

Adding its voice to the uproar over the Rev. James J. Scahill's remarks last weekend (April 3-4), the Catholic Action League of Massachusetts said the priest had effectively accused the pope of lying during four sermons at St. Michael's Catholic Church.

Lessons from a papal visit to Malta

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Commentary

With great anticipation and happiness, Malta awaited the visit of the Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI. Like all truly special moments in life, the weekend visit seemed to rush by in an instant.

The pope came to formally celebrate the 1,950th anniversary of St. Paul’s arrival on the island. Of course, the media largely only wanted to talk scandal. The people of Malta didn’t let them.

The President of Malta George Abela welcomed the pontiff to a country deeply in love with the faith, and the Holy Father returned that love in abundance to the dignitaries who met him at the airport, to the tens of thousands who worshiped with him at the open-air Mass, to the young people with whom he cruised upon the bay or to those packed along the waterfront waving pennants and delighting in chanting and singing his name. Throughout, one witnessed a pope caring deeply for others. This was on display for all to see.

For Benedict, Malta was a break in the storm

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Rome -- For much of Pope Benedict XVI's April 17-18 visit to Malta, it was unclear whether the plumes of volcanic ash currently disrupting air travel in Europe would allow the pontiff to return to Rome as scheduled Sunday evening. In the end, however, the weather cooperated, and Benedict made it safely home.

Metaphorically, too, Malta seemed to offer a break in the storms raging around Benedict's papacy for the last month, in the form of mounting criticism of his handling of the sexual abuse crisis.

"The pope arrived in Malta with the church under a cloud," the Times of Malta opined in its wrap-up coverage, "and he must have left here satisfied that his visit had gone a long way to lifting it."

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