Church plans third-party abuse reporting system, bishops’ code of conduct
WASHINGTON — Pledging to “heal and protect with every bit of the strength God provides us,” the U.S. bishops’ Administrative Committee Sept. 19 outlined actions to address the abuse crisis, including approving the establishment of a third-party confidential reporting system for claims of any abuse by bishops. It also instructed the U.S. bishops’ canonical affairs committee to develop proposals for policies addressing restrictions on bishops who were removed or resigned because of allegations of abuse. It initiated the process of developing a code of conduct for bishops regarding sexual misconduct with a minor or adult or “negligence in the exercise of his office related to such cases.” The committee also supported “a full investigation into the situation” surrounding Archbishop Theodore E. McCarrick, former cardinal-archbishop of Washington.
Pope names new auxiliary bishop for Hartford
WASHINGTON — Pope Francis has appointed Father Juan M. Betancourt, a priest in the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis, as auxiliary bishop of the Archdiocese of Hartford, Conn. The appointment was announced in Washington Sept. 18 by Archbishop Christophe Pierre, papal nuncio to the United States. A member of the Institute of the Servants of the Holy Eucharist and the Blessed Virgin Mary, Bishop-designate Betancourt has been pastor of the St. James and St Francis de Sales parishes in St. Paul, Minn., since 2006. He also has been the local superior at the House of St. Joseph in St. Paul and on the faculty of St. Paul Seminary and the University of St. Thomas during the same period.
Algerian martyrs to be
beatified in Algeria Dec. 8
VATICAN CITY — The beatification of 19 martyrs of Algeria, including the seven Trappist monks of Tibhirine, will be celebrated Dec. 8 in Oran, Algeria, the country’s bishops announced. Cardinal Angelo Becciu, prefect of the Congregation for Saints’ Causes, will preside over the Mass and beatification rite for the six women and 13 men who gave their lives “for the least, the sick and the men, women and young people of Algeria,” said a statement published by the bishops Sept. 13. The 19 martyrs were killed between 1993 and 1996 while Algeria was locked in a 10-year-long armed conflict between government forces and extremist Islamic rebel groups; the conflict left tens of thousands of people dead.
Pope expels Chilean priest found guilty of sex abuse
VATICAN CITY — A priest who was once hailed as a champion of human rights in Chile was expelled from the priesthood by Pope Francis after being found guilty of sexual abuse. The pope dismissed Father Cristian Precht from the clerical state with “no possibility of appeal.” The decree was sent by Cardinal Luis Ladaria, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. Father Precht was the first vicar of the Archdiocese of Santiago’s Vicariate for Solidarity, an office created by Blessed Paul VI in 1976 to aid victims who suffered human rights abuses during the 1973-1990 dictatorship of Gen. Augusto Pinochet. The Archdiocese of Santiago began an investigation in 2011 into allegations of sexual abuse of minors and adults made against Father Precht. He was removed from public ministry for five years after the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith found the allegations “credible.”
Cdl. Marx says mistakes were made, calls for change in German Church
SCHOENSTATT, Germany — Cardinal Reinhard Marx, head of the German bishops’ conference, admitted that mistakes were made in the German Church’s handling of sex abuse of minors and said he anticipates change in the Church. Speaking out for the first time Sept. 16 regarding the contents of a leaked document revealing an estimated 3,700 minors were abused in Germany from 1946 to 2014, Cardinal Marx attributed the abuse to the Church “lacking attentiveness, lacking sensitivity, through the absence of love. God suffers about what we overlooked, where we looked away, what we did not want to believe as true,” the cardinal said in the homily at a Mass in Schoenstatt, Germany. The leaked document contained the findings of a confidential study, sponsored by the German bishops’ conference.
— Catholic News Service