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« Reply #270 on: Aug 20, 2014, 05:01 AM »

Three relatives of Pope Francis killed in Argentina traffic accident

By Agence France-Presse
Tuesday, August 19, 2014 8:57 EDT

Three relatives of Pope Francis, two great nephews and their mother, have been killed in a traffic accident in Argentina, police said Tuesday.

The dead include a baby of eight months and a two-year-old toddler, police commissioner Carina Ferreyra said. Their father, the pope’s nephew Horacio Bergoglio, is in serious condition, she told AFP.

The accident happened after midnight in the central province of Cordoba when the family was traveling on a highway.

For reasons that are under investigation the car hit a truck from behind.

The pope’s nephew has been hospitalized with multiple injuries. Official details of his condition have not been released.

He is the son of Alberto, the pope’s late brother.

The accident happened some 550 kilometers (340 miles) northwest of the capital Buenos Aires near the city of James Craik.
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« Reply #271 on: Aug 20, 2014, 05:37 AM »

For Pope Francis to talk about mortality and retirement is entirely in character

As the pope contemplates his future, the big question is how much of the excellent work he has done will survive him

• Pope Francis says he expects to live two or three more years

Andrew Brown, Wednesday 20 August 2014 09.30 BST          

When Pope Francis tells journalists that he may be dead in three years’ time or – better yet – retired, the first thing to consider is that he’s telling the truth. He is 77 and has only one lung. He’s doing a job that would strain someone of any age and killed one of his recent predecessors within six weeks. And he has taken on a huge agenda of internal reform as well as what might be called his figureheading duties, such as the trip round South Korea from which he has just returned.

The shock, then, lies not in what he said but that he said it at all. The resignation of Pope Benedict XVI came like a thunderclap, not least because such a profound traditionalist did something that no pope had done for 600 years. There had of course been a swirl of rumours saying he was past it and sick of the job, but poisonous mutterings swirl around the Vatican like malarial mosquitoes, although they’re harder to eradicate.

Before Benedict, Pope John Paul had been through a prolonged and agonising battle with Parkinson’s disease, which the official machinery denied and hushed up at every turn even though it was obvious to anyone who saw him. So for Francis to talk openly, and with colloquial realism, about his health is both a breach of recent practice and entirely in character. It will immediately invite speculation about his successor – almost all of it uninformed. After three non-Italian popes, two of whom were unexpected, we can safely say that no one understands the College of Cardinals.

What is worth asking is how much he has accomplished already and how much of that will survive him. Underneath the excellent job he has done to restore the image of the church there has been another agenda – to clean up the Vatican and reform its bureaucracy. Some of this has already borne fruit. The Vatican bank has been thoroughly purged, as has its customer list. Five thousand accounts have been closed one way or another and €44m (around £35m) has been withdrawn from its deposits in the process. This started under his predecessor, but Francis drove it through.

Much less is known about the progress of his “counter curia”, a commission of eight cardinals from around the world, ideologically disparate but united by administrative competence and hostility to the central bureaucracy of the Vatican. On their efforts depend his chances of making the curia more responsive and less Italian. In the long term, this will matter as much as anything else he has undertaken.

Over the next two years the big domestic problem facing him will be the church’s fractious and sluggish attempts to come to terms with the prevalence of divorce among ordinary and otherwise faithful Catholics in the developed world. Contraception doesn’t matter, since no one takes any notice of the official teaching. Homosexuality is much too divisive globally for any pope to touch for a while. Married clergy, while an obvious and necessary reform, are on hold for the moment. But accepting some remarried Catholics to communion is necessary if they are to transmit the faith to their children. At the same time, it is meeting some fairly hysterical resistance from reactionaries, who claim, truthfully, that Jesus was sternly opposed to divorce.

Two church councils, or synods, will consider the question this autumn and next. If they can solve it without splitting the church, Francis can retire in the consciousness that he has done an excellent job – and, by retiring, set another precedent the church will need.

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« Reply #272 on: Aug 24, 2014, 10:09 AM »

Vatican envoy accused of sexual abuse of minors evaded prosecution in Dominican Republic

The case of Józef Wesolowski is the first time that a top Vatican ambassador, or nuncio — who serves as a personal envoy of the pope — has been accused of sexual abuse of minors.

The New York Times

SANTO DOMINGO, Dominican Republic — He was a familiar figure to the skinny shoeshine boys who work along the oceanfront promenade here. Wearing black track pants and a baseball cap pulled low over his balding head, they say, he would stroll along in the late afternoon and bring one of them down to the rocky shoreline or to a deserted monument for a local Catholic hero.

The boys say he gave them money to perform sexual acts. They called him “the Italian” because he spoke Spanish with an Italian accent.

It was only after he was suddenly spirited out of the country, the boys say, his picture splashed all over the news media, that they learned his identity: Archbishop Józef Wesolowski, the Vatican’s ambassador to the Dominican Republic.

“He definitely seduced me with money,” said Francis Aquino Aneury, who says he was 14 when the man he met shining shoes began offering him increasingly larger sums for sexual acts. “I felt very bad. I knew it wasn’t the right thing to do, but I needed the money.”

The case is the first time that a top Vatican ambassador, or nuncio — who serves as a personal envoy of the pope — has been accused of sexual abuse of minors. It has sent shock waves through the Vatican and two predominantly Roman Catholic countries that have only begun to deal with clergy sexual abuse: the Dominican Republic and Poland, where Wesolowski was ordained by the Polish prelate who later became Pope John Paul II.

It has also created a test for Pope Francis, who has called child-sexual abuse “such an ugly crime” and pledged to move the Roman Catholic Church into an era of “zero tolerance.” For priests and bishops who have violated children, he said in May, “There are no privileges.”

Wesolowski has already faced the harshest penalty possible under the church’s canon law, short of excommunication: On June 27, he was defrocked by the Vatican, reducing him to the status of a layman.

The Vatican, which as a city state has its own judicial system, has also said it intends to try Wesolowski on criminal charges, the first time the Vatican has held a criminal trial for sexual abuse.

But far from settling the matter, the Vatican has stirred an outcry because it helped Wesolowski avoid criminal prosecution and a possible jail sentence in the Dominican Republic.

Acting against its own guidelines for handling abuse cases, the church failed to inform the local authorities of the evidence against him, secretly recalled him to Rome last year before he could be investigated and then invoked diplomatic immunity for Wesolowski so he could not face trial in the Dominican Republic.

The Vatican’s handling of the case illustrates both the changes the church has made in dealing with sexual abuse and what many critics call its failures. When it comes to removing pedophiles from the priesthood, the Vatican is moving more assertively and swiftly than before.

But as Wesolowski’s case suggests, the church continues to be reluctant to report people suspected of abuse to the local authorities and allow them to face justice in secular courts.

Used a decoy

Wesolowski, 66, was ordained at 23 in Krakow by Archbishop Karol Józef Wojtyla, who later became Pope John Paul II. In 1999, he was appointed papal nuncio to Bolivia, and in 2002, he was reassigned to Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan.

In 2008, he was sent to the Dominican Republic, where he served as a ceremonial dean of the international diplomatic corps. The posting came with a stately residence and access to a beach house.

On the waterfront, Wesolowski attempted to disguise his rank, the boys say. He drove a small SUV, they recalled, and parked it near the monument in the colonial zone, where several streets are named for archbishops.

One day last year, Nuria Piera, a prominent television journalist, received a tip that the papal nuncio drank beer many afternoons at a waterfront restaurant and then went off with boys.

Piera sent a video crew to surreptitiously film the nuncio, she said in an interview at CDN, where she is general director. The crew shot some video of Wesolowski drinking alone and walking the promenade, Piera said, but he noticed their presence (though not the camera), walked over, smacked his hand against their car and asked why they were following him.

After that, Piera said, he disappeared from the waterfront. Her tipster never saw him there again.

Wesolowski began sending a young Dominican church deacon to procure children for him, law-enforcement authorities in the Dominican Republic say.

The deacon, Francisco Javier Occi Reyes, was arrested by the police on June 24, 2013, accused of solicitation of minors and taken to jail. No one came to bail him out, and the deacon sent an anguished letter dated July 2 to Wesolowski.

“We have offended God” and the church, the letter said, by sexually abusing children and adolescents “for crumbs of money.”

“Hopefully you will consider asking for God to help you to walk away from this evil disease of continuing to sexually abuse innocent children,” the letter said.

The deacon sent copies of the letter to Cardinal Nicolas de Jesus López Rodriguez, head of the church in the Dominican Republic, and to a Dominican bishop, Gregorio Nicanor Peña Rodríguez.

The cardinal then carried the evidence to the Vatican, where he met with the pope, according to interviews with Dominican authorities. On Aug. 21 last year, Wesolowski was secretly recalled to Rome.

Six days later, the cardinal called the papal nuncio “a great friend and promoter of peace.”

Violated policy

Neither the cardinal, nor other church officials, reported the accusations to the local authorities, Dominican officials say. Vatican guidelines say criminal sexual-abuse accusations should be reported in countries where reporting is required.

The country’s attorney general, Francisco Domínguez Brito, and the district attorney of Santo Domingo, Yeni Berenice Reynoso Gómez, said in interviews that they first learned about the accusations against Wesolowski from Piera’s television reports, which were broadcast in early September and included a child asserting that he had been abused.

Reynoso said that her investigators had identified four children between 12 and 17 with whom the nuncio had sexual contact but that there were likely others.

The 17-year-old had epilepsy, and the nuncio gave him medicine for his condition in exchange for sexual acts, starting from when the boy was 13, the district attorney said. She said she had “no doubt” about the credibility of the youngsters’ testimony because it was corroborated by other evidence.

“This is the most terrible case that I have ever seen,” said Reynoso. “He was abusing kids who were living in extreme poverty, in exchange for pills for a boy’s illness. It’s very perverse.”

There are indications from Rome that the pope is concerned about the Wesolowski case. A Dominican bishop, Fausto Ramón Mejía, said in an interview that when he was part of a delegation visiting the Vatican late last year, Francis’ smile vanished on hearing what country he was from.

“He became very serious,” Mejía said. “He stopped and he said to me, very sincerely, ‘I feel as though my heart was crossed by a dagger from what took place in the Dominican Republic.’ ”

The case has shaken this stalwart Catholic nation. “The people used to say, ‘I want my child to go to a Catholic church,’” said the Rev. Rogelio Cruz, a priest here. “Now they say, ‘No child of mine is ever going to a Catholic church.’ ”

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« Reply #273 on: Aug 26, 2014, 06:36 AM »

Ex-Diplomat for the Vatican Could Be Tried

AUG. 25, 2014

The Vatican’s former ambassador to the Dominican Republic, who has been accused of paying underage boys there to engage in sexual acts, has lost his diplomatic immunity and could ultimately face prosecution in criminal courts outside of the Vatican, a spokesman for the Roman Catholic Church announced on Monday.

The former ambassador, Archbishop Jozef Wesolowski, has already been defrocked by the Vatican, the harshest penalty under the church’s canon law short of excommunication. Beyond that, the Vatican has also said that it intends to try Mr. Wesolowski on criminal charges — the first time it will hold a criminal trial for sexual abuse.

But the Vatican has also caused an uproar in the Dominican Republic because it abruptly recalled Mr. Wesolowski last year before he could face a criminal inquiry and possible prosecution there. Acting against its own guidelines for handling abuse cases, the church failed to inform the local authorities of the evidence against him, secretly recalled him to Rome, and then invoked diplomatic immunity.

The Vatican has said in the past that because Mr. Wesolowski was a member of its diplomatic corps and a citizen of the Holy See, the case would be handled in Rome.

The announcement on Monday came a day after a New York Times article detailed the allegations against Mr. Wesolowski and the Vatican’s handling of the case. In the Vatican’s statement on Monday, the church said that it took the proper steps to make sure that the allegations against Mr. Wesolowski were dealt with seriously.

“The authorities of the Holy See, from the very first moments that this case was made known to them, moved without delay and correctly in light of the fact that former nuncio Wesolowski held the position of a diplomatic representative of the Holy See,” said the statement, by the Rev. Federico Lombardi, the Vatican spokesman.

It added: “Far from any intention of a cover-up, this action demonstrates the full and direct undertaking of the Holy See’s responsibility even in such a serious and delicate case, about which Pope Francis is duly and carefully informed and one which the pope wishes to address justly and rigorously.”

Mr. Wesolowski has appealed the Vatican’s decision to remove him from the priesthood, a process that will be decided over the coming weeks, most likely in October, the Vatican said. The criminal proceedings in the Vatican will take place after that, the statement said.

Yet the Vatican also said that Mr. Wesolowski could be subject to prosecution in another country though it was unclear if he would ultimately be sent to that country.

Many Dominicans were outraged by the Vatican’s decision to secretly recall Mr. Wesolowski before the authorities there had even learned of the allegations against him. The case has also reverberated in Poland, where prosecutors have sought to extradite Mr. Wesolowski, who holds both Vatican and Polish citizenship.

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« Reply #274 on: Sep 08, 2014, 06:37 AM »

Elderly Italian Nuns Murdered in Burundi

by Naharnet Newsdesk
08 September 2014, 09:57

Three elderly Italian nuns were sexually assaulted and murdered in twin attacks in their convent in the capital of Burundi, police said Monday as a hunt was launched for their killers.

Police initially reported that two nuns were stabbed to death on Sunday afternoon. The killer then battered one of the two with a rock, before fleeing the convent.

Italian authorities named the first two killed as Olga Raschietti, 83, and Lucia Pulici, 75, both Roman Catholic nuns.

But in the early hours of Monday morning, another nun in the same convent was killed, her body beaten and head hacked off. Colleagues named her as Bernadette Boggia, aged 79.

"After the discovery of the two nuns who were brutally killed... the decapitated body of the third nun was found," Deputy Director General of Police Godefroid Bizimana told Agence France Presse.

According to the diocese of Parma in Italy, they were killed during a botched burglary attempt.

But Burundi's police said the motive of the killing was not clear, pointing out that no money was taken.

Father Mario Pulicini, an Italian Catholic priest working in the same parish, said after the first two nuns were killed, Boggia had called him in the middle of the night reporting she had heard a noise in the convent.

- 'Barbarity' -

"The body of Sister Bernadette was found lying in a pool of blood, her head decapitated, and her face bore signs of beating," he told AFP in shock.

"The perpetrators had abused her, as they had violated the other two sisters earlier."

Burundian Vice-President Prosper Bazombanza said the government was "appalled by such barbarity", and promised police would do all they could to arrest the killers.

"No one can understand how a third sister was killed late at night... Burundi's government promises to shed light on this matter as quickly as possible," he added.

Italian Foreign Minister Federica Mogherini condemned the attacks.

"Once again we are witnessing the sacrifice of people who, in total commitment, have spent their lives to relieve the suffering still on the African continent," she said.

The suspected killer in the first attack was seen fleeing the convent with a knife in his hand, said Damien Baseka, a local government administrator in Bujumbura.

Police sources suggested the third nun was killed by an accomplice who had hidden in the convent.

Police spokesman Colonel Helmegilde Harimenshi said three men were being questioned.

In 2011, a Croatian nun and an Italian charity worker were killed in an apparent botched robbery in northern Burundi.

The small nation in Africa's Great Lakes region emerged in 2006 from 13 years of brutal civil war and its political climate remains fractious ahead of presidential polls due in June 2015.

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« Reply #275 on: Sep 10, 2014, 05:47 AM »

Burundi Police Arrest Man for Murder of Three Italian Nuns

by Naharnet Newsdesk
09 September 2014, 20:59

Police in Burundi have arrested a man for killing and raping three elderly Italian nuns murdered in twin attacks in their convent, the police spokesman said Tuesday.

"The suspected murderer of the three sisters is in our hands," Colonel Helmegilde Harimenshi said, adding the suspect had "confessed".

The suspect reportedly acted alone, Harimenshi said.

Initial reports said the man who carried out the first attack killing two nuns on Sunday afternoon fled the scene.

The second attack in the convent took place in the early hours of Monday morning.

The man arrested, who has not been named, was found with a key to the convent and a mobile telephone belonging to one of the nuns, according to police sources.

The three Roman Catholic nuns were named as Olga Raschietti, 83, Lucia Pulici, 75, and Bernadetta Boggian, aged 79.

Police said two nuns were stabbed to death, with the killer then battering one of the two with a rock.

Hours later, before dawn on Monday, another nun in the same convent was killed, her body beaten and head hacked off.

Pope Francis on Monday issued his condolences.

"The Holy Father begs the Lord to welcome into his kingdom of peace and light these three faithful and devout nuns," he said in a statement.

Burundian Vice-President Prosper Bazombanza has said the government was "appalled by such barbarity".

In 2011, a Croatian nun and an Italian charity worker were killed in an apparent botched robbery in northern Burundi.

The small nation in Africa's Great Lakes region emerged in 2006 from 13 years of brutal civil war and its political climate remains fractious ahead of presidential polls due in June 2015.

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« Reply #276 on: Sep 13, 2014, 06:49 AM »

Pope Francis to Visit Turkey in Late November

by Naharnet Newsdesk
12 September 2014, 16:34

Pope Francis will visit Turkey "in the final days of November" at the invitation of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the Vatican announced on Friday.

Father Federico Lombardi told reporters the pontiff had received an invitation from Turkey's head of state, but that the exact date and program of the visit had yet to be finalized.

Francis has already received an invitation from the Patriarch Bartholomew, the head of the Orthodox Church in Constantinople.

The Roman Catholic leader had expressed a desire to attend Eastern Orthodox commemorations in Istanbul in honor of St. Andrew, one of the apostles, on his feast day, November 30.

He and Bartholomew met following his election in March 2013, and again on a trip to the Middle East. In 2006 his predecessor, Pope Benedict XVI, also visited Turkey, a predominantly Muslim country.

Francis has made three official trips during his pontificate: to Brazil, the Middle East and to South Korea last month.

He is making a visit to Strasbourg on November 25 to address the European Parliament, and has also announced travel to Albania.

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« Reply #277 on: Sep 13, 2014, 06:54 AM »

Priest Found Guilty of Raping Dozens of Children in Canada

by Naharnet Newsdesk
12 September 2014, 20:04

A defrocked Catholic priest was found guilty Friday of raping dozens of children and a sled dog in the Canadian Arctic, where he worked as a missionary for decades.

The Belgian-born Eric Dejaeger, 67, was convicted of 31 counts of sexual offenses against children and one count of bestiality.

At the start of the his trial last November in Iqaluit, the capital of Canada's northernmost Nunavut territory, Dejaeger acknowledged and pleaded guilty to eight out of 80 original charges.

Justice Robert Kilpatrick ruled the evidence had been weakened by the passage of time, and whittled down the number in the indictment.

The defense and prosecution have 30 days to appeal the decision. Otherwise, Dejaeger is expected to be back in court in January for sentencing.

The Iqaluit court clerk told Agence France-Presse that more than 20 victims from the Inuit hamlet of Igloolik, on the shores of the Northwest Passage, testified at the emotionally charged trial.

Public broadcaster CBC said they recounted how Dejaeger used his position as a missionary to lure and trap them into sex, threatening them with hellfire and separation from their families if they exposed him.

From 1978 to 1982, Dejaeger worked alongside other local priests in Igloolik in what was then the Northwest Territories, and eventually took on Canadian citizenship.

In 1990, he was convicted and sentenced to five years in prison for sexually assaulting eight children in Baker Lake, Nunavut.

Following his release from prison and facing fresh allegations, he fled to his birth country of Belgium, where he was arrested in 2011 and subsequently returned to Canada.

He has been in custody ever since.Source: Agence France Presse

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« Reply #278 on: Sep 13, 2014, 10:27 AM »

September 13, 2014

Pope Calls Global Conflicts ‘Piecemeal’ World War Three

Pope Francis weighed in on the spate of recent global conflicts, describing them as a third world war being fought incrementally.

The Pope made the comments in a homily delivered during a visit to Italy, NBC News reports. After praying in a cemetery containing 15,000 soldiers who died during the first world war, Francis visited Italy’s largest war memorial, where 100,000 victims of that war are buried. He spoke in front of the memorial, made of 22 steps in the side of a hill, with three crosses placed on top.

    War ‘is madness’, says Pope Francis

    — Times of Malta (@TheTimesofMalta) September 13, 2014

“War is madness,” The Pope intoned during his mass. “Even today, after the second failure of another world war, perhaps one can speak of a third war, one fought piecemeal, with crimes, massacres, destruction.”

Francis has repeatedly called for an end to conflicts raging in Ukraine, Iraq, Syria, Gaza, and Africa. As Business Insider notes, he asserted last month that the use of force by the international community against ISIS militants in Iraq and Syria would be justified. Although the Pope has previously decried the concept of war in the name of God, he accused ISIS of “unjust aggression” in their actions, which have killed or uprooted thousands, many of whom are Christians.

    Pope Francis Warns Against Third World War: ‘War Is Madness’

    — HuffPost Religion (@HuffPostRelig) September 13, 2014

“War is irrational; its only plan is to bring destruction: it seeks to grow by destroying,” Francis said. “Greed, intolerance, the lust for power. These motives underlie the decision to go to war and they are too often justified by an ideology…”

Fears of a third world war are nothing new. Earlier this year, several high-profile economists and financial advisers made reference to war as it applied to the future of economics, as The Inquisitr noted. International aggression from Russia, directed toward the Ukraine, has also stoked fears of impending war, highlighted by a nuclear weapons test conducted last Wednesday from a Russian submarine, the Vladimir Monomakh. A Bulava intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) was launched in what was widely believed to be a show of force.

    Russia test fires Bulava #SLBM nuclear missile from sub

    — KP’s PowerfromSpace (@powerfromspace1) September 12, 2014

“Humanity needs to weep and this is the time to weep,” The Pope said.

During his homily, Pope Francis condemned “plotters of terrorism,” although he did not specify any by name. His sermon was delivered in the rain to thousands who attended the mass amid the memories of the first world war.

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« Reply #279 on: Sep 15, 2014, 06:36 AM »

Pope Francis performs first papal marriage ceremony since 2000 — on a couple who lived in sin

Agence France-Presse
14 Sep 2014                   

A single mother, people who have been married before and couples who have been living together “in sin” were married by Pope Francis in a taboo-challenging ceremony at the Vatican on Sunday.

In another signal of the openness of his papacy, Francis asked to marry 40 people from different social backgrounds who would be a realistic sample of modern couples.

Popes very rarely perform marriages — the last one was in 2000.
Marriage “is not an easy road, it’s sometimes a contentious trip, but that’s life”, the pope told the couples, both young and old, as their families gathered for the solemn two-hour ceremony.

“It’s normal that couples fight. That always happens, but don’t end the day without making peace, even a small gesture is enough,” said the pontiff, who donned a red robe for the occasion rather than his usual white.

One of the couples he married was single mother Gabriella and her partner Guido, whose previous marriage was annulled by an ecclesiastical tribunal.

The last time a pope performed a marriage was under the leadership of John Paul II in 2000, and before that in 1994.

It comes three weeks before a major synod of the Catholc Church will discuss the divisive issues of marriage, divorce and conception.

The church ban on allowing divorcees who have remarried to receive communion is one of the key topics up for debate, and resolving deep divisions over the issue inside the church is seen as a key test of Francis’ leadership.

Francis has shown himself more open than his predecessors on the subject of marriage, and has spoken of more realistic attitude to social problems, raising the issue of broken marriages and abandoned women.

Last January he baptised the child of a single mother in the Sistine Chapel along with the daughter of a couple who had not been married in a church.

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« Reply #280 on: Sep 18, 2014, 06:36 AM »

Catholic church prepares for conflict on allowing holy communion for divorcees

Before next month's summit, conservative cardinals have collaborated on a book opposing liberalisation of current rules

Lizzy Davies in Rome
The Guardian, Wednesday 17 September 2014 16.31 BST      

The leadership of the Roman Catholic church is bracing itself for open conflict over its treatment of remarried divorcees as powerful conservatives mobilise before a highly anticipated summit called by Pope Francis for next month.

Ever since he announced the extraordinary session of the synod of bishops last year, the Argentinian pontiff has raised the hopes of many liberals that the church may ease its ban on divorced and remarried Catholics receiving holy communion – a move that could affect millions of people around the world.

In February, in an address setting the scene for the meeting due to start on 5 October, German cardinal Walter Kasper outlined the case for a loosening of the rules that would eventually allow some people access to the sacraments after a period of "penance".

But his views are by no means shared by all the so-called princes of the church, some of whom are taking a harder line and insisting that such a proposal would, in effect, violate the doctrine on the permanence of marriage.

It emerged on Wednesday that five leading conservative cardinals have collaborated on a book to be published simultaneously on 1 October in the United States, Italy, Spain, France and Germany in which they make clear their opposition to Kasper's vision.

"It [Kasper's proposal] is being talked about as a form of not recognising the second marriages of divorced and remarried Catholics, but simply looking past them, of tolerating them, and allowing those individuals who are Catholics under certain circumstances … to go to confession and subsequently to go to communion on a regular basis. We oppose that solution as a false form of mercy and we're united on that," editor Robert Dodaro told the Guardian. "It's false mercy in the sense that it ignores the status of the original marriage, which we believe to be indissoluble."

Dodaro, who is president of the patristic institute Augustinianum, said the timing of the book's publication, just five days before the two-week synod was due to begin, was not intentional. But there is little doubt the collection of essays – by scholars and cardinals including Gerhard Ludwig Müller, the prefect of the powerful Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith – represents the drawing of battle lines.

Although Francis has not come down clearly on either side, his repeated calls for the church to become more inclusive and less ruled by casuistry – as well as the decision to ask Kasper to make his address in February – has led many to suspect his sympathies lie with those who want an easing of the ban, even if he has also spoken of the need for "clear doctrine" on the "indissolubility of Christian matrimony".

Kasper has long advocated allowing access to the sacraments to divorcees who remarry without an annulment; in the past his efforts have seen him clash with the hierarchy. Francis, however, praised the German's theology in his first angelus as pope.

Surveys have shown that the ban on holy communion for remarried divorcees is one of the most problematic for ordinary Catholics around the world. A poll commissioned by the US Spanish-language network Univision of more than 12,000 Catholics in 12 countries found that more than half (58%) disagreed with the church's stance.

Observers say a likely compromise is the streamlining of annulment cases, providing more people with the option of having a church court declare that the union was invalid and therefore not a real marriage.

• Remaining in the Truth of Christ: Marriage and Communion in the Catholic Church includes essays by Müller, his German colleague Walter Brandmüller and the American cardinal Raymond Burke, alongside Italians Carlo Caffarra and Velasio de Paolis.

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« Reply #281 on: Sep 18, 2014, 07:31 AM »

Iraqi Christians Suffering Like Jews Did, Pope Tells Jewish Leader

by Naharnet Newsdesk
18 September 2014, 15:07

Pope Francis has warned that Christians in Iraq and Syria face persecution just as Jews have in the past, a prominent American Jewish leader said Thursday.

"You have suffered, now it's our turn," World Jewish Congress president Ronald Lauder said the pope told him in a private audience.

Francis also repeated his recent warning that the global rash of religious extremism may have sparked "a third world war", said Lauder, who met with the Roman Catholic leader late Wednesday at the Vatican.

Lauder, a prominent philanthropist and defender of Jewish cultural interests, denounced the international response to the suffering of Christians at the hands of extremists from the Islamic State and other groups.

"First the Jews suffered savage attacks, and the world remained in silence. Now it is the Christians who are being annihilated, and once more the world says little. Why does the world not react?" he said.

Lauder said reports described Islamic militants as tagging Christian houses with the letter N for "Nassarah" -- a term used for Christians in the Koran -- and said it was "no different from the yellow star of David which the Nazis obliged Jews to wear to separate them from the others."

Source: Agence France Presse

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« Reply #282 on: Sep 19, 2014, 07:02 AM »

Vatican Shrugs Off Warning of IS Plot against Pope in Albania

by Naharnet Newsdesk
19 September 2014, 09:05

Warnings that the Islamic State organisation may be plotting to attack Pope Francis during his visit to mostly-Muslim Albania on Sunday have been shrugged off by the Vatican.

Despite warnings from Iraq’s ambassador to the Holy See that the 77-year-old could be in danger -- and reports in the Italian media of new IS recruits returning from the Middle East to Albania -- the Vatican said security measures would remain unchanged.

The Argentine pontiff, who habitually throws caution to the winds to mingle with the crowds, will use the same open-topped vehicle he uses in Saint Peter's Square at a mass in Tirana, the capital of one of Europe's poorest countries.

Some worry the pope has made himself a target by speaking out against the Islamic State organisation and having the Holy See voice support for U.S. air strikes in Iraq -- a rare exception to its policy of peaceful conflict resolution.

"In cases like this, where there is an unjust aggression, then it is licit to halt the aggressor," he said in an interview last month.

"But I stress 'halt'. I don't say bomb, or make war, but rather stop him," Francis said.

Vatican spokesman Federico Lombardi said he knew nothing about any concrete threats to the pope and the Albania trip would go ahead as planned.

"There has been nothing that has lead us to make changes, either to the programme, or to the way in which he travels," he said.

From Tirana, the pope will go to Fushe-Kruja, 20 kilometres (6.2 miles) away, to visit a centre for orphans and disabled children -- a trip he would not be making if there were any concerns over security, authorities in the Albanian capital said.

However, in an interview with Italy's La Nazione daily this week, Iraq's ambassador to the Holy See, Habib Al Sadr, said "what has been declared by the self-declared Islamic State is clear. They want to kill the pope. The threats against the pope are credible."

"I believe they could try to kill him during one of his overseas trips or even in Rome. There are members of ISIL who are not Arabs but Canadian, American, French, British, also Italians. ISIL could engage any of these to commit a terrorist attack in Europe," he said, referring to the Islamic State group.

Italian newspapers also suggested Albanian jihadists who had gone to fight for the IS group in Syria or Iraq might be planning an attack on their return.

The Corriere della Sera daily cited a unidentified source in Tirana, saying: "The jihadists have always claimed that their final objective was Rome. But if Rome comes to Tirana, even for a few hours, that objective becomes even simpler.

Source: Agence France Presse

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« Reply #283 on: Sep 19, 2014, 07:03 AM »

Pope Francis the 'pontiff of the poor', says Greece's Alexis Tsipras

Leftist opposition leader says he and Francis saw eye-to-eye on banks, profits and 'pan-human values' during Vatican talks

Helena Smith in Athens
The Guardian, Thursday 18 September 2014 19.38 BST    

Greece's opposition leader Alexis Tsipras – a radical leftist and self-described atheist – has hailed Pope Francis as the "pontiff of the poor" after meeting him for talks at the Vatican.

The Greek firebrand, among the loudest critics of the politics of austerity, emerged from discussions with the pope saying the two men had seen eye-to-eye on such issues as banks, profits and the need for Europe's left to deepen dialogue with the church. "We come from different ideological starting points," said Tsipras, Europe's first leftwing leader to be invited to the Vatican. "But we meet on [the matter] of pan-human values."

The dialogue had ranged from Europe's economic crisis, the wars in the Middle East and Ukraine, the gulf between rich and poor and the tragedy of uncontrolled migration, he said.

The Argentinian-born pontiff agreed to meet the politician after months of clandestine negotiations between European leftists and the Holy See.

Tsipras, 39, who stood as the bloc's candidate for EU commissioner in the European elections, and whose Syriza party is leading polls in Greece, presented the pope with an olive branch, the symbol of peace. In return, Pope Francis, 77, gave Tsipras a copy of his apostolic exhortation, the Joy of the Gospel, outlining what some have described as his radical views on the church's role in the modern world.

"It was a meeting of the like-minded," said Panos Skourletis, Syriza's spokesman. "The pope has a disposition for dialogue with people of other backgrounds, outside the church. He believes in dialogue between the church and the left."

Tsipras did not waste the opportunity to explicate the inequities of austerity, particularly in Greece, long at the forefront of the EU's financial crisis. "I had the chance to convey the picture that exists at this time in Greece. To tell him that after four years of impasse and unfair austerity policies, the majority of Greek people are paying [a great price] while at the same time banks are being saved," he said.

The pope, who experienced Argentina's economic collapse first hand when he was bishop of Buenos Aires, was reportedly sympathetic, agreeing that reining in budget deficits through whip-lashing austerity was the wrong course to take. "You young politicians speak a different language that resembles a melody of hope," he was quoted as saying during the talks.

Tsipras's seeming conversion to being a fervent admirer of the church has not passed without comment. This summer, he made a two-day visit to the all-male monastic republic of Mount Athos in what many described as a desperate bid to improve ties with the Greek Orthodox church and boost his mainstream credentials. But the politician, who has steadfastly refused to marry the mother of his two young children in a religious service, insisted on Thursday that the time had come for the European left to build bridges with the institution.

"We agreed on the need to continue the dialogue between the European left and the Christian church," he said. "There is a need to create an ecumenical alliance against poverty, inequalities, against the logic that markets and profits are above people."

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« Reply #284 on: Sep 19, 2014, 07:47 AM »

Archbishop of Canterbury admits doubts about existence of God

Matthew Weaver, The Guardian
18 Sep 2014     

Justin Welby tells BBC radio interviewer there are moments when he doubts – but he is certain about the existence of Jesus

The archbishop of Canterbury has admitted to having doubts about the existence of God and disclosed that on a recent morning jog with his dog he questioned why the Almighty had failed to intervene to prevent an injustice.

In a light-hearted but personal interview in front of hundreds of people in Bristol cathedral last weekend, Justin Welby said: “There are moments, sure, where you think ‘Is there a God? Where is God?’.

Welby quickly added that as the leader of the world’s 80 million-strong Anglican community this was “probably not what the Archbishop of Canterbury should say”.

Earlier, the interviewer, BBC Bristol’s Lucy Tegg, reminded him of the weight his words carried. “You have a remarkably prominent role within the faith community around the world,” Tegg said. “I’ve noticed,” Welby quipped.

Tegg then asked him: “Do you ever doubt?”

Welby replied: “Yes. I do. In lots of different ways really. It’s a very good question. That means I’ve got to think about what I’m going to say. Yes I do.” He added: “I love the Psalms, if you look at Psalm 88, that’s full of doubt.”

Welby suggested that his doubts were a regular occurrence, by recounting a recent morning run with dog.

“The other day I was praying over something as I was running and I ended up saying to God ‘Look this is all very well but isn’t it about time you did something – if you’re there’ – which is probably not what the Archbishop of Canterbury should say.”

He added: “It is not about feelings, it is about the fact that God is faithful and the extraordinary thing about being a Christian is that God is faithful when we are not.”

Later in the interview, Welby said he was certain about the existence of Jesus, even talking about his presence beside him. “We know about Jesus, we can’t explain all the questions in the world, we can’t explain about suffering, we can’t explain loads of things but we know about Jesus,” Welby said.

Asked what he does when life gets challenging, Welby said: “I keep going and call to Jesus to help me, and he picks me up.”

Click to watch the interview: © Guardian News and Media 2014

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