Signs of the Times

British Abuse Rules Must Conform to Canon Law

An independent commission has urged the Catholic bishops of England and Wales to bring their child-protection measures into line with the Code of Canon Law amid fears that false allegations are driving priests away from working with young people. Produced by a commission headed by Baroness Cumberlege, the report published July 16 warned the bishops that persistent and tenacious fear among the clergy over malicious accusations of abuse needs to be addressed urgently. The report, Safeguarding With Confidence, said many priests believe the system brought in five years ago after several high-profile clerical abuse cases is loaded unjustly against them. The report was the result of the first five-year review of the bishops 2002 child protection policies. Many priests believe the procedures treat them as if they are guilty as soon as an accusation has been receivedeven if the police later find it is unfounded.

Christians, Though Few, Should Remain in Holy Land

The coadjutor of the Latin patriarchate of Jerusalem said it is important for Christians to remain in the Holy Land. Our vocation is to remain despite our small number in the land where Jesus preached, redeemed humanity and founded the church, said Coadjutor Archbishop Fouad Twal. Together with your support, we will continue to stay and to keep our faith. Our mission is to be witnesses of the Gospel of love and reconciliation, being a bridge amid a Muslim and Jewish majority.


The archbishop, who was on his first visit to Ireland since becoming coadjutor of the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem in 2005, was in Maynooth on July 21 for a Mass celebrating the investiture of new members of the Knights of the Holy Sepulcher, an organization dedicated to supporting the Latin patriarchate of Jerusalem and to responding to the needs of Catholics in the Holy Land.

Non-Muslim Religions in Iraq Being Persecuted

Members of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom heard testimony July 25 from witnesses regarding the persecution of the ancient, non-Muslim minority religions in Iraq. The witnesses mentioned their personal experiences as religious minorities as well as their professional experience working in Iraq. The commissions chairperson, Michael Cromartie, said in his opening statement that Iraq was added to the commissions watch list this year for continued violations of religious freedom. He said the plight of Christian minorities in Iraq includes the assassination of Christian religious leaders, the bombing and destruction of churches and violent threats intended to force Christians from their homes. More than 1.5 million refugees have fled religious persecution in Iraq since 2003, according to the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees. Although Christians account for only 3 percent of the total Iraqi population, they make up 40 percent of the refugees now living in nearby countries, including Jordan, Syria, Egypt and Iran. Another 2 million people, many living in the northern Nineveh plain, are internally displaced.

Retired Cardinal Will Not Use Old Latin Mass

Although he loves the Latin language and would have no technical difficulty even preaching in Latin, retired Cardinal Carlo Maria Martini, S.J., of Milan, Italy, said he would not celebrate the Tridentine Mass. The 80-year-old cardinal, writing in an Italian newspaper July 29, said he admired Pope Benedict XVIs benevolence in allowing Catholics to praise God with ancient and new forms by permitting wider use of the 1962 form of the Mass. However, he wrote in the July 29 edition of Il Sole 24 Ore, his experience as a bishop convinced him of the importance of a common liturgical prayer to express Catholics unity of belief.

Pope Benedict allowed for wider use of the Tridentine Mass in a July 7 document. The so-called Tridentine Mass is the Latin-language liturgy that predates the Second Vatican Council; it was last revised in the 1962 edition of the Roman Missal.

The cardinal, a widely respected biblical scholar, said the first reason he would not use the old Mass is that with the Second Vatican Council there was a real step forward in understanding the liturgy and its ability to nourish us with the word of God, offered in a much more abundant way than before.

The cardinal, a widely respected biblical scholar, said the first reason he would not use the old Mass is that with the Second Vatican Council there was a real step forward in understanding the liturgy and its ability to nourish us with the word of God, offered in a much more abundant way than before.

Dialogue Critical forInterreligious Problems

Problems among Christians, Muslims and Jews are family problems, because the three traditions, sharing an ancestor in Abraham, have much more in common than what divides them, said the Italian founder of a monastery community in the Syrian desert. Paolo DallOglio, S.J., spoke on The Hospitality of Abraham: A Model for Interreligious Dialogue July 25 at St. Peters Lutheran Church in New York. Father DallOglio leads the Monastery of St. Moses the Abyssinian in Nebek, Syria, some 50 miles north of Damascus.

The monastery community is dedicated to hospitality, dialogue and building harmony in an area where Christians, Jews and Muslims have lived together for centuries, said Father DallOglio. Since the time of Mohammed, the monastery in the desert has played an important socio-spiritual role, one that is much appreciated and respected in the Muslim world, he said. Our greatest wish has been to rediscover afresh that role of hospitality and take it forward in a more explicit and conscious way.

Citizen-Children Talk About Immigrant Families

Children wearing T-shirts reading Born in the U.S.A., Dont take my mommy, daddy away talked knowledgably about deportation to reporters on the plaza at the Supreme Court July 17, explaining what happens when family members are sent away to another country.

The same day, Human Rights Watch issued a report estimating that 1.6 million children and adults, including perhaps 540,000 U.S. citizens, have had a family member deported since a 1996 law reclassified many minor crimes as deportable offenses and eliminated judicial discretion in waiving the penalty. Others at the event urged Congress to pass such legislation as the Child Citizen Protection Act, which would give immigration judges more discretion in deciding when deportation is not in the best interests of children who are U.S. citizens.

They also asked the Bush administration to stop immigration raids and deportations. The Supreme Court and the Inter-American Commission for Human Rights both have pending cases about the rights of U.S. citizens who are the children of immigrants who are in deportation proceedings.

I.R.S. Guidelines for Non-Profits Still Not Clear-Cut

The next national elections are more than 15 months away; but for the Internal Revenue Service, it is never too early for nonprofit organizations to start worrying about how political activity might affect their tax-exempt status. A recent 13-page revised ruling by the I.R.S. outlines 21 situations where election-related activity by 501(c)(3) organizationsas nonprofits are designated by the section of the tax code applying to themcould be seen as a violation of the codes ban on participation or intervention in any political campaign on behalf of (or in opposition to) any candidate for public office. But the answers are far from clear-cut, according to guidance offered by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops Office of General Counsel on the U.S.C.C.B. Web site. General guidance cannot anticipate every conceivable fact pattern, said the office that provides legal advice to the U.S.C.C.B. and its committees. Application of the political campaign intervention prohibition is inherently fact-specific and frequently presents close questions.

Self-Centeredness Is Root Cause of Injustice

Egotistical self-centeredness is the deepest problem of our day, and Jesus own spirituality is the remedy. In fact, Jesus spirituality is more relevant today than it was in his time. This was the message of Albert Nolan, O.P., a South African theologian and author, who addressed 225 people at Maryknoll, in Ossining, N.Y., July 18 on the topic Jesus Yesterday and Today. Father Nolan said: If we do not do something about self-centeredness, new forms of social injustice will keep cropping up as fast as we try to eliminate older forms of social injustice because we have not eliminated their root causes. In South Africa today, our hard-won freedoms are often undermined by greed, corruption, crime, hypocrisy and power-mongering. He added, In the struggle for justice and liberation during the second half of the 20th century, we neglected the needs of the individual to love, to forgive, to affirm and to overcome personal selfishness.

Mercy Sisters Broaden Community Structure

Festive singing, cheering, the raising of joined hands and the ringing of bells greeted the emotional proclamation July 20 of the newest community of the Sisters of Mercy of the Americas. Mercy Sisters and associates based in Buffalo; Erie and Pittsburgh, Pa.; Rochester, N.Y.; and the Philippinesa community founded by the Sisters of Mercy in Buffalohave united to form the New York, Pennsylvania, Pacific West Community. The new community will become official Jan. 1, 2008. Some 300 members of the Sisters of Mercy, including 22 from the Philippines, met at an assembly in Buffalo July 17-22 to form the new community, adopt a plan for governance, elect leadership and set new goals. Forty-two lay associates also attended. We have new energy, a new life, and we benefit from the sharing of gifts we have among us, said Sister Nancy Hoff, newly elected president.

U.S. Urged to Do More for Iraqi Refugees

Just back from a trip to the Middle East, a U.S. cardinal and a bishop are pressing Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to do more to help Iraqi refugees. Cardinal Theodore E. McCarrick, retired archbishop of Washington, and Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio of Brooklyn, N.Y., urged Rice in a July 26 letter to do more to resettle Iraqi refugees in the United States and to provide additional financial, medical and other types of support for Iraqi refugees in other countries. It was clear that the countries we visited are in dire need of additional support from the United States and the international community in order to provide safe haven to the almost 2 million Iraqi refugees in the region, their letter said. Cardinal McCarrick and Bishop DiMarzio, both board members of Catholic Relief Services and both consultants to the bishops Committee on Migration, recently toured refugee settlements in Turkey, Jordan, Syria and Lebanon with a delegation from the International Catholic Migration Commission and C.R.S.

Audit of Diocese Finds Byzantine Accounting

While much of an audit of the finances of the Diocese of San Diego showed re-cordkeeping was aboveboard, the audit found some cases of parishes moving tens of thousands of dollars around at the time of the dioceses bankruptcy filing in ways that apparently violated diocesan policies. The 175-page first report of R. Todd Neilson, a forensic certified public accountant who conducted the audit on orders of the judge overseeing the dioceses bankruptcy case, included an analysis of the records of 48 of 93 parishes and 26 of 43 schools. The audit was ordered in April by U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Louise DeCarl Adler, who said she was mystified by what she called the most Byzantine accounting system Ive ever seen, involving hundreds of bank accounts. Attorneys for some of the people suing the diocese over allegations of sexual abuse by priests have said the diocese has not been forthcoming about its assets. The auditors report released July 30 singled out peculiarities at several parishes, ranging from a parish presented as impoverished that had $1.2 million in its bank accounts, to two parishes that apparently moved cash out of accounts at the time of the bankruptcy filing, putting checks for tens of thousands of dollars into parish safes, where the amounts would not be factored into data included in the bankruptcy material.

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