Pope accepts resignation of US bishop accused of sexual harassment

Pope Francis has accepted the resignation of Bishop Michael Bransfield of Wheeling-Charleston, West Virginia, and has instructed Archbishop William E. Lori of Baltimore to conduct an investigation into allegations that Bishop Bransfield sexually harassed adults. Archbishop Christophe Pierre, nuncio to the United States, announced Bishop Bransfield’s retirement on September 13 and the appointment of Archbishop Lori as apostolic administrator of Wheeling-Charleston. The Archdiocese of Baltimore released the news that Archbishop Lori had received a specific charge from the Pope to investigate allegations against the bishop. “My primary concern is for…

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Vatican ‘planning response’ to Viganò claims

Members of Pope Francis’s international Council of Cardinals expressed “full solidarity” with him in the midst of questions about his handling of the clerical sexual abuse scandal and said the Vatican is planning a response to allegations made against him by a former nuncio. Only six of the nine cardinals who are members of the council participated in the meeting Sept. 10. The six “expressed full solidarity with Pope Francis in the face of what has happened in the last few weeks, aware that in the current debate the Holy…

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The Church has been ‘turned upside down’ by abuse crisis, says Cardinal

The Catholic Church in the United States is living through two storms, Cardinal Joseph Tobin has said. There is the policy of “zero tolerance” toward undocumented immigrants, which has plunged communities into fear, and the Holy Spirit is working “like a hurricane” to smash structures of clericalism through the current clergy sexual abuse crisis, he said. Cardinal Joseph Tobin of Newark, New Jersey, devoted his remarks in a lecture at the University of Notre Dame to immigration, discussing the impact of a corrosive political discourse and secularism and drawing on…

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Australian bishops reject call to lift Seal of Confession in abuse cases

Australia’s Catholic bishops and religious orders, responding to recommendations from the Royal Commission Into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse, have accepted 98 per cent of its suggestions, but have said they could not accept recommendations that would violate the Seal of Confession. “We are committed to the safeguarding of children and vulnerable people while maintaining the seal. We do not see safeguarding and the seal as mutually exclusive,” said the preamble to a response to dozens of recommendations concerning child safety, formation of priest and religious workers, training in…

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Colombian cardinal denounces ‘shameful’ attacks on Pope Francis

The head of a council of Latin American bishops has spoken out against “attacks on the Pope as a person”, following controversy surrounding Archbishop Carlos Maria Viganò’s claims about the Pontiff. The council, known as CELAM for its acronym in Spanish, was commemorating the 50th anniversary of a regional meeting of bishops that took place in Medellin, Columbia, in 1968, designed to work toward dismantling poverty and its ailments in the region. Cardinal Ruben Salazar of Bogota, president of CELAM, said that just as the movement focused on the poor…

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Pope calls entire Church to pray and fast after clerical sex abuse revelations

Pope Francis called Monday for every member of the Catholic Church to pray and fast in penance for the evil of clerical sex abuse, and to be involved in needed change within the Church. “The only way that we have to respond to this evil that has darkened so many lives is to experience it as a task regarding all of us as the People of God,” Francis wrote Aug. 20. In a letter to the entire Church following widespread revelations of clerical sex abuse in the Church in the…

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Italy: Pope prays for victims of Genoa bridge collapse

After a major bridge collapsed in Genoa on Tuesday, killing 38 and leaving many others wounded or missing, Pope Francis offered prayers for the victims and all those effected by the disaster, entrusting them to God’s mercy. Speaking to pilgrims during his Angelus address on the Aug. 15 feast of the Assumption of Mary, the pope entrusted to her maternal consolation “the anguish and torments of all those who, in many parts of the world, suffer in body and in spirit.” “I think in particular of all those tried by…

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US bishop orders halt to Communion services without a priest

The Bishop of Santa Rosa has ordered an immediate halt to Communion services in his diocese where a priest is not present, saying such services are “not consistent with the Instructions from the Holy See”. Bishop Robert Vasa told Catholics in his Californian diocese that the services must cease as of August 1, citing an Instruction from the Congregation for Divine Worship and Discipline of the Sacraments issued in 2004. The Instruction says that diocesan bishops “should not easily grant permission” for Communion Services without a priest to be held on weekdays…

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Varadkar: I’ll push Pope on accepting same-sex families

Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar says he will tell Pope Francis that families headed by same-sex couples are equal to traditional families when the Pontiff visits Ireland later this month. The two are due to meet at Dublin Castle as the Pope visits for the World Meeting of Families, the Catholic Church’s celebration of the family. Asked what he would say to Pope Francis, Varadkar told journalists last Tuesday he would express “our view as a society and as a government that families come in all sorts of different forms…

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In Western Europe, Christians who don’t go to church outnumber those who do

Most Western Europeans identify as Christian, but say they do not, or seldom, attend church services – outnumbering those Christians who do attend church, a survey from the Pew Research Center has reported. Released May 29, results found in 12 of the 15 surveyed Western European countries, non-practicing Christians (defined as those who self-identify as Christian but report attending church services less than once per month) made up the largest religious group, beating out both religious “nones” and churchgoing Christians. The telephone survey was conducted in mid-2017 with more than…

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