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Nation and world briefs

U.S.

Erie bishop backs transparent abuse report

ERIE, Pa. — The Pennsylvania Supreme Court July 27 cleared the way for the release of a redacted version of a grand jury report on clergy sex abuse that has been termed by one of the state’s Catholic bishops as “graphic” and “sobering.” The court ruled that the long-awaited report must be released as early as Aug. 8, minus the names of several clergy who argue that the report sullies their reputations without providing them their constitutional right to defend themselves. If all parties agree to conceal the estimated 24 names, the nearly 900-page redacted report could become public Aug. 8. If an agreement is not reached by then, the court will appoint someone to help reach a consensus by Aug. 14. The Diocese of Erie has been at the forefront of an effort urging the report’s release; it details widespread clergy sex abuse of minors in six of the state’s eight Catholic dioceses. Erie Bishop Lawrence T. Persico has repeatedly called for a swift and fair resolution to the legal quagmire.

St. Katharine Drexel’s tomb will be moved to Philadelphia cathedral

PHILADELPHIA— The remains of St. Katharine Drexel, founder of the Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament, will be transferred from the crypt under the chapel of St. Elizabeth Convent, the congregation’s Bensalem motherhouse, in the coming weeks to the Cathedral Basilica of SS. Peter and Paul in Philadelphia. The transfer is precipitated by the decision of the sisters to sell the property because of declining numbers of the order. “The Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament have once again given the faithful of the archdiocese a tremendous gift,” said Father G. Dennis Gill, the rector of the cathedral, where he hosted a news conference July 24. “With the new opportunity to honor St. Katharine at the cathedral, even more people will be exposed to her extraordinary life and example.” Mother Katharine was born Catherine Mary Drexel Nov. 26, 1858. Deeply religious, Katharine founded the Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament in 1891 with the specific ministry of service to the two most persecuted races in American society — the “Indians and Colored People,” the common terms for Native American and African-American people in that era. Mother Katharine died March 3, 1955, at age 97. She was canonized in 2000 with March 3 as her feast day.

WORLD

Syriac Catholic bishops call attention to plight of faithful

BEIRUT — Syriac Catholic bishops from around the world, meeting in Lebanon for their annual synod, lamented the plight of their “tormented and persecuted” faithful. In their final statement from the July 23-27 gathering, with Syriac Catholic Patriarch Ignace Joseph III Younan presiding, the bishops noted that they have “raised their voices high in front of the world, denouncing the calamities” which have especially affected the Syriac Church, particularly in Syria and Iraq. They characterized the situation as “a catastrophe that repeats the tragedy of genocide that took place with their ancestors” 100 years ago. “This grave violation of their civil rights has shaken their human, societal and cultural being, especially as they have experienced the tragedies of the displacement of thousands of families,” the bishops said. Regarding Syriac Catholics who settled in Europe, the Americas and Australia, the bishops encouraged them to continue to live their traditions and heritage and “to love their new countries, to be faithful to them and to be creative in various fields.”

Indian Catholic leaders protest call to ban sacrament of reconciliation

NEW DELHI — India’s Catholic Church has led protests over a demand to ban the sacrament of reconciliation from the chairwoman of the National Commission for Women. “This demand is absurd and it displays ignorance about the sacrament of confession,” Cardinal Oswald Gracias of Mumbai, president of Catholic Bishops Conference of India, told Catholic News Service July 27. Rekha Sharma, commission chairwoman issued the call July 26. She said “priests pressure women into telling their secrets,” noting that the commission had heard testimony about one such case. “There must be many more such cases and what we have right now is just a tip of the iceberg,” she said. Sharma’s call came after five Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church priests in Kerala state were suspended from ministry. That includes at least two who coerced a married woman into a sexual encounter. The woman had previously confessed to having a sexual relationship with a priest before she was married.

— Catholic News Service

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