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Nation and world briefs


Pa. bishops support creation of compensation fund

PHILADELPHIA — The bishops of Pennsylvania’s eight Roman Catholic dioceses are supporting creation of an independent fund to compensate victims of clergy sexual abuse. Since the Pennsylvania grand jury report of Aug. 14, the bishops had “reflected deeply on the ugly record” of abuse and how “Church leadership failed to protect our people over a period of decades.” The bishops made the comments in a joint statement released by the Archdiocese of Philadelphia Sept. 21. Although victims of abuse that happened decades ago are time-barred from suing the dioceses under the statutes of limitation in Pennsylvania law, the General Assembly is considering proposals to lift those limits, which experts say may be unconstitutional. Still, the bishops pledged to support “all reasonable and constitutional efforts” to help victims and their families. The Church’s proposed independent voluntary program, which includes a panel of experts with no “influence of the Church or of any other institution in which children may have been abused,” would require “substantial fiscal commitment and all dioceses will be seriously impacted.”

Retired Green Bay auxiliary bishop withdraws from public ministry

ALLOUEZ, Wis. — Retired Auxiliary Bishop Robert F. Morneau of Green Bay has requested and has been granted a withdrawal from public ministry. In a letter dated Sept. 14 and addressed to Bishop David L. Ricken, the head of the diocese, Bishop Morneau stated that he failed to report to authorities an incident of priest sexual abuse of a minor in 1979. “As a result, this priest was able to abuse again several years later,” he wrote. “I intend to spend my time in prayer for all victims and survivors of sexual abuse and I will do corporal works of mercy in reparation for what I failed to do.” In a separate letter, Bishop Ricken acknowledged the request. “I have now officially granted his request to ‘withdraw from public ministry,’ since his retirement was already accepted by the Holy See in 2013, at the required age of 75,” Bishop Ricken wrote.

Head of Georgetown Prep urges renewed commitment to being ‘men for others’

WASHINGTON — In a letter to the school community, the president of an all-boys Jesuit high school in suburban Washington emphasized the schools’ mission to form “men for others” and reflected on the need to evaluate the school’s culture in light of that value. The letter comes in the wake of two allegations of sexual misconduct raised against Judge Brett Kavanaugh, a 1983 graduate of Georgetown Preparatory School in North Bethesda, Maryland, who has been nominated to serve on the U.S. Supreme Court. Kavanaugh, who serves as a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, strongly denies both claims. In the weeks that have followed the first accusation, news reports have come out about excessive drinking and sexual misconduct by students of Georgetown Prep in the 1980s. In the letter Sept. 20, the school’s president, Jesuit Father James Van Dyke, noted that it is a “challenging time” for the school in light of these reports. But in the midst of the difficulty, he wrote, it’s “a time for us to continue to evaluate our school culture” and to “think deeply and long about what it means to be ‘men for others,’ what the vaunted Prep ‘brotherhood’ is really about.”


Cardinal beatifies Romanian as ‘martyr to chastity’

WARSAW, Poland — A 22-year-old Romanian peasant has taken a step closer to sainthood as a “martyr to chastity,” six decades after she was murdered while resisting rape during the communist-era repression of the Catholic Church. Cardinal Angelo Becciu, prefect of the Vatican Congregation for Saints’ Causes, said Veronica Antal’s fate was similar to that of persecuted Christians in ancient Rome, who had asked the same question: “Who will separate us from the love of God?” Antal, a lay Franciscan who died in 1958, was the first Romanian woman to be beatified and first Romanian layperson formally honored as a martyr from the time of communist rule. Cardinal Becciu beatified her Sept. 23 at Assumption Church at Nisiporesti, Romania.

Pope prays for victims of ferry disaster in Tanzania

VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis mourned the loss of more than 200 lives in a ferry accident on Lake Victoria near the Tanzanian island of Ukara. He expressed “sincere solidarity with those who mourn the loss of their loved ones and those who fear for the lives of those still missing,” in a telegram sent on his behalf by Cardinal Pietro Parolin, Vatican secretary of state, Sept. 21. The pope prayed for God’s blessings “of strength and consolation for all people involved, and he offered encouragement to “civil authorities and emergency personnel in their ongoing rescue efforts,” said the telegram. As of Sept. 25, at least 224 had been found dead after a ferry capsized Sept. 20 in Lake Victoria.

Police arrest Indian bishop, charge him with rape

MUMBAI, India — Police have arrested Bishop Franco Mulakkal of Jalandhar, India, and charged him with the rape of a nun. The arrest, reported by the British news agency Reuters, came Sept. 21, the day after Pope Francis accepted the bishop’s request to be relieved of his duties during the investigation. The Indian nun accused the bishop of raping her four years ago and then sexually abusing her multiple times over the following two years. Bishop Mulakkal claims the accusations are baseless and aim to deflate the disciplinary action he had initiated against the nun. Police in Kerala state interrogated the bishop for seven hours Sept. 19, reported mattersindia.com. Bishop Agnelo Rufino Gracias will serve as apostolic administrator of Jalandhar.

— Catholic News Service

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