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Pope launches council to fight secular 'Eclipse of God'



One classic way for bureaucracies to express their priorities is by which topics merit their own departments. By that logic, Pope Benedict XVI sent a clear signal tonight that the Vatican cares about the threat posed by secularization, announcing the creation of a brand new Pontifical Council devoted to the re-evangelization of the Christian West.

Benedict did not give a formal name for the new office, but reports indicate it will be called "Pontifical Council for the New Evangelization." Its job, according to the pope, will be to resist an "eclipse of the sense of God" in secular cultures.

tThough Benedict did not reveal his choice to lead the enterprise, it’s widely expected that the new Vatican department, known as a “dicastery,” will be entrusted to Italian Archbishop Rino Fisichella, currently President of the Pontifical Academy for Life and a former chaplain to the Italian parliament.

Vatican's US attorney responds to Supreme Court action


Jeffrey Lena, the California-based attorney who represents the Vatican in American litigation, issued this statement following the announcement that the U.S. Supreme Court would not hear an appeal from the Holy See.

The Vatican was asking the federal court to stop a law suit filed in Oregon that accuses the Vatican of transferring a priest from city to city despite repeated accusations of sexual abuse.

Lena's statement:

"Today the Supreme Court decided not to grant the Holy See's petition for certiorari. These decisions are made based upon the Supreme Court's docket and what cases it wishes to hear each term. The decision not to hear the case is not a comment on the merits of our case (importantly, the United States does agree that we are correct on the merits). The effect of the Supreme Court's decision is to cause the case to return to the district court in Oregon, where the additional remaining defenses will be heard. Plaintiff currently has one jurisdictional theory left. That theory is that the priest who committed the abuse was an "employee" of the Holy See.

Diocesan sexual abuse audits materially insufficient


Finally, a thoughtful and articulate priest-diocesan official criticizes diocesan sexual abuse audits and the U.S. bishops conference staffer agrees that the weakness in the audits is a legitimate issue. Why has it taken so long for this to come out?

Archdiocese official argues that safeguard audits are insufficient

"Catholic dioceses in Wisconsin and across the country often tout their annual audits by the U.S. Conference of Bishops as proof that they are protecting children from sexual abuse by clergy.

The audits ensure a diocese has in place such safety measures as training, a code of conduct, background checks and a child sex abuse review board, all required by the so-called Dallas Charter, a 2002 document drafted by the bishops conference in response to the clergy sex abuse scandal.

But a canon lawyer and vice chancellor in the Archdiocese of Milwaukee alleged this week that the audits are insufficient, saying parameters the bishops conference imposed limit their scope in a way that could endanger children.

Kiss-and-make-up session won't end debate on Sodano


Cardinals are supposed to be the papacy’s last line of defense, which means that conflicts between cardinals – especially in public, and especially over something as explosive as the sexual abuse crisis – are guaranteed to get the pope’s attention.

This morning, Pope Benedict XVI essentially presided over a kiss-and-make-up session between two Princes of the Church: Cardinals Christoph Schönborn of Vienna, Austria, and Angelo Sodano, Dean of the College of Cardinals and the former Secretary of State under Pope John Paul II.

Benedict, Schonborn meet with Bertone, Sodano


This in from the Vatican Information Service today. John Allen tells me that he will be filing a report about this later this morning.


VATICAN CITY, 28 JUN 2010 ( VIS ) - The Holy See Press Office released the following communique early this afternoon:

"(1) The Holy Father today received in audience Cardinal Christoph Schonborn O.P., archbishop of Vienna and president of the Austrian Episcopal Conference. The cardinal had asked to meet the Supreme Pontiff personally in order to report on the current situation of the Church in Austria. In particular, Cardinal Schonborn wished to clarify the exact meaning of his recent declarations concerning some aspects of current ecclesiastical discipline, and certain of his judgements regarding positions adopted by the Secretariat of State - and in particular by the then Secretary of State of Pope John Paul II - concerning the late Cardinal Hans Hermann Groer, archbishop of Vienna from 1986 to 1995.

"(2) Cardinal Angelo Sodano, dean of the College of Cardinals, and Cardinal Secretary of State Tarcisio Bertone S.D.B. were subsequently invited to join the meeting.

St. Francis Parish and NY's Gay Pride Parade


I am a big fan of New York Archbishop Timothy Dolan and was surprised by his decision not to allow parishioners from St. Francis Xavier Church to attend the city’s Gay Pride parade with a banner that extols that church’s ministry to gays and lesbians. After all, the Church explicitly and repeatedly calls for ministry to gays and lesbians and, just a few days prior, Dolan had presided at the Mass of Rededication which included a mention of the parish’s ministry to gays and lesbians.

Belgium church abuse commission head quits over raids


The head of the Belgian church-backed commission investigating cases of clerical sexual abuse has resigned. Peter Adriaenssens, a layman who is a child psychologist, said he was quitting and that the commission "had been used as bait," according to reports in the Belgian press.

After meeting on Monday, members of the commission have said they will step down on Thursday, Belgian reports say.

Adriaenssens expressed concern at what could have motivated the authorities.

"They could only act in that way with the sentiment that we were in the wrong or that we were trying to conceal the cases. This while I made a point of working in complete transparency," he is quoted as saying in the Belgian press.


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