FaithWorld

Deceased Dutch Catholic bishop was child molester – abuse commission

(St. Christopher’s Cathedral in Roermond, 2011/Arch)

The Dutch Catholic Church, in a rare admission of guilt among senior clergy, has confirmed that a bishop who died last year had sexually abused two boys decades earlier.

The diocese of Roermond said a Church commission had found that accusations against former bishop Johannes Gijsen, dating back to his time as chaplain at a minor seminary from 1958 to 1961, were “well founded”.

The admission came on Friday, the same day that Pope Francis made his first public plea for forgiveness for “all the evil” committed by priests who molested children, and said the Church had to do more to discipline wayward clerics.

Mea Culpa, a Dutch group supporting abuse victims, welcomed the Roermond statement. But it said the accusations had been made while Gijsen was alive, and noted critically that “complaints against living suspects are often declared unfounded”.

Bishop Frans Wiertz, current head of Roermond diocese, said he accepted the commission’s findings and “regrets the abuse and suffering inflicted on the victims”. He has personally met the two men and apologised to them, he said.

Crown of Thorns relic paraded from Notre Dame to Sainte Chapelle in Paris

(French Archbishop Patrick Chauvet holds the Crown of Thorns relic during a procession outside Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris March 21, 2014. REUTERS/Philippe Wojazer)

A relic venerated by Christians as the Crown of Thorns worn by Jesus was paraded on Friday in Paris from Notre Dame Cathedral to the dazzling Gothic chapel built to house it in the 13th century.  The relic rarely leaves the cathedral and its return to the Sainte Chapelle, a medieval gem known for its soaring stained glass windows, and the Mass said to celebrate it were the first such events there since the 1789 French Revolution.

(The Crown of Thorns relic displayed during a ceremony at Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris March 21, 2014. REUTERS/Philippe Wojazer )

Czech Catholic priest Tomas Halik wins $1.83 million Templeton Prize

(Czech priest Tomas Halik smiles after being awarded the 2014 Templeton Prize in London March 13, 2014. REUTERS/Olivia Harris )

A Czech Catholic priest whose theology of paradox invites believers and atheists to dialogue has won the 2014 Templeton Prize, worth $1.83 million, for his work affirming the spiritual dimension of life.

Tomas Halik, who worked underground to promote democracy and morality before communism fell in Czechoslovakia in 1989, has “continuously opened vistas that advance humankind,” the U.S.-based John Templeton Foundation said on Thursday in announcing the prize.

A year on, Pope Francis faces challenges meeting reform hopes

(Pope Francis leads his Sunday Angelus prayer in Saint Peter’s square at the Vatican March 2, 2014. REUTERS/Tony Gentile)

In the year since his surprise election, Pope Francis has raised so many hopes of imminent changes in Church teaching that managing all those expectations is going to be a challenge.

The Argentine-born pontiff has caught world attention by suggesting he might ease the Catholic Church’s strict rules on divorce, birth control, married or women priests and gay unions.

Orthodox patriarchs urge peace in Ukraine, plan first council in 1,200 years

(Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I (R) leads a special Sunday mass after the Synaxis at the Patriarchal Church of St. George in Istanbul March 9, 2014. REUTERS/Murad Sezer)

Patriarchs of the world’s 250 million Orthodox Christians ended a rare summit in Istanbul on Sunday calling for a peaceful end to the crisis in Ukraine and denouncing violence driving Christians out of the Middle East. Twelve heads of autonomous Orthodox churches, the second-largest family of Christian churches, also agreed to hold an  ecumenical council of bishops in 2016, the first in over 1,200 years.

The Istanbul talks were called to decide on the council, which the Orthodox have been preparing on and off since the 1960s, but the Ukraine crisis overshadowed their talks at the office of spiritual leader Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew. As the prelates left a special service at Saint George’s Cathedral, a woman in the crowd called out in Russian “Pray for Ukraine!” Two archbishops responded: “You pray, too!”

Popeis “immensely popular” with U.S. Catholics, but no ‘Francis effect’ seen in Pew poll

(Pope Francis blesses the altar during Ash Wednesday at Santa Sabina Basilica in Rome March 5, 2014. REUTERS/Max Rossi )

One year after his election, Pope Francis is “immensely popular among American Catholics,” a survey said on Thursday, but there is no sign of a “Francis effect” inspiring more to attend Mass or do volunteer work.

The Washington-based Pew Research Center said 85 percent of Catholics in the United States viewed the Argentine-born pontiff favourably, with 51 percent reporting a “very favourable” view of him, while only 4 percent expressed a negative opinion.

German bishops tell Vatican: Catholics reject sexual morality rules

(Archbishop Robert Zollitsch (R), head of the German Bishops’ Conference, speaks during a news conference in Vatican October 14, 2013. REUTERS/Alessandro Bianchi)

Germany’s Catholic bishops, responding to a worldwide Vatican survey, said on Monday that many Church teachings on sexual morality were either unknown to the faithful there or rejected as unrealistic and heartless.

They said the survey, drawn up for a synod on possible reforms in October, showed most German Catholics disputed Church bans on birth control and premarital or gay sex and criticized rules barring the divorced from remarriage in church.

French conservatives march against government ‘family-phobia’

(People wave trademark pink. blue and white flags during a protest march called, “La Manif pour Tous” (Demonstration for All) against France’s legalisation of same-sex marriage and to show their support of traditional family and education values, in Paris February 2, 2014. REUTERS/Benoit Tessier )

Over 100,000 conservative French marched through Paris and Lyon on Sunday accusing the government of “family-phobia” for legalizing gay marriage and other planned policies they say will harm traditional families.

The marchers, expressing growing frustration with the unpopular left-wing government, denounced new sex equality lessons in schools and urged the government not to legalize medical procedures to help same-sex couples have children.

African-led traditionalist group rejects proposed Anglican dialogue on welcoming gays

(A man reads a publication by a civil society coalition on human rights and constitutional law in Kampala March 1, 2010.REUTERS/James Akena)

An African-led traditionalist group opposed to growing acceptance of homosexuality in the worldwide Anglican Communion has rejected a Church of England plea to review its Bible-based condemnation of gays.

Kenyan Archbishop Eliud Wabukala, chairman of the group, said it was “deeply troubling” that Anglicanism’s mother church was trying to project a British debate about “that which God calls sin” onto world Anglicanism.

Top papal ally urges Vatican doctrine chief Müller to loosen up

(Archbishop Gerhard Ludwig Müller at the Vatican on March 11, 2010.  REUTERS/Tony Gentile )

An influential aide to Pope Francis criticised the Vatican’s doctrinal watchdog on Monday and urged the conservative prelate to be more flexible about reforms being discussed in the Roman Catholic Church.

Cardinal Oscar Rodriguez Maradiaga, the head of a “kitchen cabinet” the pope created to draw up reform proposals, said that Archbishop Gerhard Müller – who has opposed any loosening of Church rules on divorce – was a classic German theology professor who thought too much in rigid black-and-white terms.