NCR Today

Three archbishops and the American Catholic future

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By JOHN L. ALLEN JR.
Rome

tIn the abstract, one might not think of Archbishops Thomas Wenski of Miami, Dennis Schnurr of Cincinnati, and Jerome Listecki of Milwaukee as a natural threesome. Yet fate thrust these prelates together today, as the three Americans among 38 newly appointed archbishops from around the Catholic world who are in Rome to receive the pallium.

tThe pallium is a narrow band of woolen cloth which serves as a symbol of the archbishop’s office, and is bestowed by the pope each year on June 29, the feast of Sts. Peter and Paul. I’m in Rome this week, so I attended the pallium ceremony this morning and then headed up to the North American College for the traditional reception honoring the new archbishops.

Rolling Stone and our digital era

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Guessing this was not much on his mind last week, but General McChrystal may've actually helped save print journalism -- the kind that requires focus and attention from both reporter and reader.

The digital kind of journalism doesn't demand much of either -- its strength is the here-and-now, delivered instantly. Internet reporting lives in the moment; web commentary stretches that moment out just a little bit longer. The web encourages grazing and skipping and shifting. It does not ask you sit and stay a while, pour an extra cup of coffee, maybe ask to see what donuts are still available.

You can't curl up with a computer (or even an iPad -- at least not yet), and so you don't -- and, to be honest, the machine doesn't even want you to try. Just keep moving your fingers across the keyboard.

Into this brave new world, like some episode of "Star trek" when creatures from another time and dimension crash into the current, Rolling Stone's article comes to remind us what we have nearly lost -- journalism that takes time to create and time to consume. It is expensive journalism, at a moment when most publications don't have a nickel to spare, but it is essential.

Pope launches council to fight secular 'Eclipse of God'

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By JOHN L. ALLEN JR.
Rome

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

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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

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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.

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February 24-March 9, 2017

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