FaithWorld

Pope UK visit costs soar, London concerned about protests, Paisley sees “mistake”

Pope  Benedict isn’t visiting Britain until September, but his trip is already making headlines there. Here are our latest reports:

pattenCampaigners planning to stage demonstrations during Pope Benedict’s visit to Britain should show restraint, the prime minister’s special representative for the papal visit, Chris Patten, said on Monday. (Photo: Chris Patten in London, July 5, 2010/Peter Macdiarmid)

Various protests are expected during the first papal state visit to the country in September, including by secularists, gay rights groups and those angry at the child-abuse scandal which has spread throughout the Roman Catholic church globally.

But Patten, a former Conservative minister and governor of Hong Kong, who was appointed by Prime Minister David Cameron to help coordinate the four-day visit, said demonstrators should be free to express their opinions, but should not fall into the trap of intolerance.  “I hope that (the protests) will be done with restraint, and that it will be done with a show of tolerance,” he told Reuters.

British author and atheist campaigner Richard Dawkins has said he will try to have Pope Benedict arrested to face questions over cases of sexual abuse of children by priests.  Gay activists are planning protests against the church’s attitude on homosexuality, while secularists intend to complain at the cost of the visit to the British taxpayer.

Gunning for Godfried? Belgian abuse probe asks what Danneels knew

standaardAre the Belgian judicial authorities gunning for Godfried? It looks like Cardinal Godfried Danneels, the popular grandfatherly Catholic prelate who stepped down in January as archbishop of Brussels-Mechelen after three decades, is the main target of the incredible “tomb raider” sweeps that shocked the Church last Thursday. The police who swooped down on the diocesan headquarters in Mechelen, Danneels’s own apartment nearby and the offices of the Church commission on abuse in Leuven did not suspect the cardinal of abuse himself. But it seems the investigating magistrate behind the raid is convinced that Danneels hushed up cases during his long reign.

The media seem to be too — just take a look at last Saturday’s front page of the Brussels daily De Standaard at the right.

There may be something there. Let’s see what the investigators come up with.

Austrian priests critical of Rome, want marriage allowed

The Catholic Church is stuck in the past and has handled the recent sexual abuse scandal poorly, according to a rare survey of 500 priests in Austria, which also showed a majority in favour of allowing them to marry and for women to become priests.

Vienna’s Cardinal Christoph Schönborn was rebuked by the Vatican on Monday for accusing a top official of covering up sexual abuse, but it appears he is not the only Austrian to question how Rome has handled the issue.

Only 21 percent of Austrian priests think that the Vatican has done a good job in terms of dealing with the problem, the survey by researcher GFK Austria showed. Around half said they were at odds with many aspects of the Catholic leadership, and 48 percent agreed with a statement that the church leadership was “helpless” and “lacking vision.”

Pope rebukes Austrian cardinal who accused peer of cover-up

schoenbornPope Benedict, still struggling to control the damage a sexual abuse scandal has done to the Catholic Church’s image, has bluntly told his top advisers that they should not trade accusations in public.

The Vatican issued an unusual statement on Monday in which it effectively said the pope had censured Cardinal Christoph Schönborn of Vienna, who last month publicly accused another cardinal of covering up sexual abuse. (Photo: Cardinal Schönborn, 23 June 2010/Leonhard Foeger)

“Regarding accusations against a cardinal, we remind everyone that, in the Church, only the pope has the authority to accuse a cardinal,” said the statement, a rare case of the Church making its internal bickering public.

Disgraced German bishop stirs messy row with Catholic hierarchy

mixaA messy dispute has broken out in Germany’s Catholic Church after a bishop accused of abusing minors said his superiors had tricked Pope Benedict into retiring him and he might ask the Vatican to be reinstated.

Bishop Walter Mixa, who quit in April after admitting he had slapped children decades ago, said fellow bishops conspired to force him to tender his resignation and used a flimsy allegation of sexual abuse as a “trump card” to get Benedict to accept it. (Photo: Bishop Walter Mixa, 2 March 2009/Christian Charisius)

The bishops concerned flatly denied the accusations and hinted that Mixa, 69, who had stayed briefly in a psychiatric clinic after leaving his post in the Bavarian city of Augsburg, needed more rest and possibly more treatment.

Sexual abuse scandals may dent wealthy Catholic order’s funding

macielThe Legionaries of Christ, a conservative Roman Catholic order that once had absolute and high-level Vatican support, has been disgraced by revelations its charismatic Mexican founder led a double life that included abusing young boys and fathering children.  Now it faces the prospect of a second serious setback as the wealthy donors who helped build it into an influential movement in recent decades consider whether to go on contributing to such a shamed organization.

Combined with damning findings from a Vatican probe last month, the future of the order is in doubt. (Photo: Pope John Paul II (R) and Father Marcial Maciel at the Vatican, November 30, 2004/Tony Gentile)

Osvaldo Moreno, a spokesman for the Legion, said it was too soon to say if donations were dropping off and no significant change had been detected. But he admitted the global media attention on the seedy details of founder Father Marcial Maciel‘s sexual escapades was not helping.

German Jesuit report shows years of sexual abuse cover-up

canisius

Canisius College, the Jesuit high school in Berlin, January 28, 2010/Fabrizio Bensch

A Jesuit investigation has cited 205 allegations of sexual abuse against priests at its schools in Germany, revealing decades of systematic abuse and attempts of a cover-up by the prestigious Roman Catholic order.  The new allegations threaten to further undermine the Roman Catholic Church in Germany, already accused of hushing up hundreds of sexual and physical abuse allegations in Church-run schools that have come to light recently.

“In the name of the order, I acknowledge with shame and guilt our failure,” Father Stefan Dartmann, Germany’s leading Jesuit official, said in a statement. “I ask for forgiveness.” The report also cited a further 50 allegations of abuse relating to other, mostly Catholic institutions.

GUESTVIEW: Tablet replies to Fessio op-ed on reporting Cardinal Schönborn

faithworldIn his GUESTVIEW op-ed article published on FaithWorld on Tuesday, Fr. Joseph Fessio S.J. accused the London Catholic weekly The Tablet of sensationalism for its reporting of recent comments by Vienna Cardinal Christoph Schönborn about the sexual abuse crisis and possible Church reforms. The Tablet has issued the following response, which will appear in its May 15 issue:

Fessio accuses The Tablet of sensationalism

The founder and editor of Ignatius Press has condemned The Tablet’s reporting of a press conference late last month given by Cardinal Christoph Schönborn, the Archbishop of Vienna. In a guest contribution to the Reuters news agency’s FaithWorld blog, Fr Joseph Fessio SJ accused The Tablet of sensationalism.

The Tablet’s Vienna correspondent, Christa Pongratz-Lippitt, reported Cardinal Schönborn as saying that Cardinal Angelo Sodano, dean of the College of Cardinals, had “deeply wronged” the victims of sexual abuse when on Easter Day he dismissed media reports of the scandal as “petty gossip”.

GUESTVIEW: No good deed goes unpunished

The following is a guest contribution. Reuters is not responsible for the content and the views expressed are the authors’ alone. Father Joseph Fessio, S.J. is founder and editor of Ignatius Press, which is the primary English-language publisher of the works of Pope Benedict XVI and which has published several books by Cardinal Christoph Schönborn. He is also publisher of Catholic World Report magazine. schoenborn 1

Cardinal Christoph Schönborn in Vienna, November 13, 2009/Heinz-Peter Bader

By Father Joseph Fessio, S.J.

Did Cardinal Christoph Schönborn of Vienna “attack” Cardinal Angelo Sodano, dean of the College of Cardinals and former Vatican secretary of state? If The Tablet weekly in London were your only source of information, you’d think so, because that’s what the headline screamed.

What happened?

Cardinal Schönborn, who like his mentor Pope Benedict is a model of openness and transparency, invited the editors of Austria’s dozen or so major newspapers to a meeting at his residence in Vienna. How many bishops can you name who have extended such an invitation to the press?

“Sin within the Church” is greatest threat to Catholicism: pope

pope portugal plane

Pope Benedict on the plane to Portugal, with spokesman Fr. Federico Lombardi at right, 11 May 2010/Stefano Rellandini

Pope Benedict said on Tuesday that the greatest threat to Catholicism came from “sin within the Church,” one if his most forthright comments so far on a sexual abuse scandal that has created turmoil in the church. The Church has “a very deep need” to recognize that it must do penitence for its sins and “accept purification,” he said.

“Today we see in a truly terrifying way that the greatest persecution of the Church does not come from outside enemies but is born of sin within the Church,” Benedict told reporters on the plane to Portugal, replying to a question about the scandal.