Seminaries committing to sexual misconduct policy benchmarks
CLEVELAND— Fifteen seminaries, including Kenrick-Glennon Seminary, have committed to meeting five sexual misconduct policy benchmarks developed by a group of laypeople, seminary leaders and bishops. Developed by a seminary study group assembled by the McGrath Institute for Church Life at the University of Notre Dame, the voluntary benchmarks are meant to bolster the sexual misconduct policies seminaries already have in place, said John Cavadini, institute director. The benchmarks include: systematic training for seminarians, staff and faculty on policies on sexual harassment and reporting procedures; reporting and investigation to include internal procedures and the ability to report issues to an agency outside of the seminary structure and that is independent of the seminary; and proactivity in assessing seminary culture to ensure seminarians, staff and faculty understand the existing misconduct policy and to report issues so they can be addressed. The institute introduced a website May 18 outlining the benchmarks, listing the seminaries and houses of formation that have committed to them, and the study group that developed them. It is at www.bit.ly/3oynTj6.
Father Pfleger reinstated, tells parishioners: ‘Let’s get back to work’
CHICAGO — Chicago Cardinal Blase J. Cupich announced May 24 he is reinstating Father Michael Pfleger as senior pastor of the Faith Community of St. Sabina after a “thorough review” showed “insufficient reason” to suspect the priest is guilty of abuse allegations made against him. His reinstatement is effective the weekend of June 5-6. In early January, the Chicago Archdiocese asked Father Pfleger to step away from ministry temporarily after it received an allegation that the priest had sexually abused a minor over 40 years ago. A second allegation was filed Jan. 22 by the complainant’s older brother. In adherence with the archdiocesan child protection policies, these allegations were reported to the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services and the Cook County State’s Attorney. The alleged victims were offered the services of the archdiocesan Victim Assistance Ministry and the archdiocese began its investigation. The archdiocesan Independent Review Board, “assisted by our Office of Child Abuse Investigation and Review and outside investigators, conducted a thorough review of the allegations,” Cardinal Cupich said in a letter to the St. Sabina community. “The Review Board has concluded that there is insufficient reason to suspect Father Pfleger is guilty of these allegations.”
Authorities in northern China arrest underground bishop, priests
HONG KONG — Authorities in northern China have arrested a Vatican-appointed Catholic bishop, his seven priests and 10 seminarians in what is seen as part of a renewed crackdown on the underground Catholic Church in the communist country. Ucanews.com reported police arrested 63-year-old Bishop Joseph Zhang Weizhu of Xinxiang May 21, a day after they detained the priests and seminarians for allegedly violating the country’s new regulations on religious affairs. Chinese authorities have not recognized Xinxiang Diocese ever since the Vatican erected it in 1946 during the civil war leading to the Chinese Communist Revolution in 1949. Bishop Zhang, appointed by the Vatican, was ordained secretly in 1991. His appointment by the Vatican was not approved by the state-aligned Bishops’ Conference of the Catholic Church in China and the Chinese Catholic Patriotic Association, ucanews.com reported. China implemented a new set of rules for religious clergy that took effect this May. It asks all clergy to register with the state in order to serve Catholics while asking Catholics to elect their bishops democratically.
Vatican revises synod process, beginning with local consultation
VATICAN CITY — Approving the revision of the entire process of the Synod of Bishops, Pope Francis has asked that it begin with serious, widespread consultations with laypeople on the diocesan level. “In reality, without this consultation there would be no synodal process, because the discernment of pastors, which constitutes the second phase, emerges from listening to the people of God,” Cardinal Mario Grech, secretary-general of the Synod of Bishops, told Vatican News May 21. The cardinal’s office issued a statement explaining how the next general assembly of the Synod of Bishops would work, noting that the broader consultation on the diocesan, national and regional levels would mean that the gathering of representative bishops from around the world would take place at the Vatican in October 2023 rather than in 2022.
Pope recognizes martyrdom of Peruvian nun
VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis has recognized the martyrdom of Sister Agustina Rivas Lopez, a member of the Congregation of Our Lady of Charity of the Good Shepherd, who was killed by guerrillas in Peru in 1990. In a meeting May 22 with Cardinal Marcello Semeraro, prefect of the Congregation for Saints’ Causes, the pope advanced the sainthood causes of the Peruvian nun, as well as those of two other women and four men. According to her congregation’s website, Sister Agustina, who was affectionately known as “Aguchita” by the indigenous people of La Florida, was the first religious woman murdered by the Shining Path, a militant wing of Peru’s Communist Party that adhered to Maoist principles. She was publicly executed in September 1990 along with six villagers.
Pope orders minor seminary to move location to Rome
VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis has ordered the minor seminary that is located inside the Vatican and currently at the center of a criminal sex abuse trial to move to a new location in Rome before classes begin in the fall. The idea of moving the seminary had been under study “for some time,” said a statement May 25 from Matteo Bruni, director of the Vatican press office. The idea, he said, was to find a building closer to where the students go to school in Rome and where they play. Father Angelo Magistrelli, rector of the St. Pius X Pre-Seminary and superior of the Opera Don Folci, which runs the institute, told the Vatican court April 14 that the current enrollment is 26 boys and young men and that the number of inquiries about admissions had been increasing.
Jerusalem archbishop requests weekend Mass collections go to Gaza
JERUSALEM — Archbishop Pierbattista Pizzaballa, Latin patriarch of Jerusalem, requested that the May 30 Mass collections from all parishes in the diocese be donated in their entirety to Gaza’s Holy Family Parish as a sign of solidarity following airstrikes from Israel. “In the aftermath of the tension and conflict we have recently experienced, let us turn our hearts and gaze to the needs of our brothers and sisters in Christ, especially in Gaza and in places severely affected by the recent exchange of rocket firing for 11 days,” Archbishop Pizzaballa said in his May 25 statement. The tiny Gaza Catholic community consists of 133 people; there are just under 1,100 Christians among the 2 million Muslim Palestinians in Gaza. “I ask you to share some of your resources to alleviate the sufferings of our Christian faithful in Gaza,” he said.
Southern Madagascar drought leads to starvation; pandemic complicates aid
CAPE TOWN, South Africa — About 14,000 people in drought-ravaged southern Madagascar face starvation after exhausting all their options to cope, relief organization representatives said. The utter silence of a room filled with young children “overwhelmed me,” said Arduino Mangoni, deputy country director of the U.N.’s World Food Program. He visited a center where severely malnourished people were being treated in the city of Ambovombe in January. The situation has worsened and “I’ve never seen kids in the state they are in now” in parts of the island nation, 250 miles off the coast of mainland Africa, Mangoni told Catholic News Service May 21. About 1.14 million people in the south of Madagascar face high levels of acute food insecurity, the World Food Program said in a statement. Of these, 14,000 are in the catastrophe category, and this number is expected to double over the next lean season, which begins in October. People are eating cactus leaves and clay they mix with juice from whatever fruit they can find, Mangoni said.
St. Dominic inspires Christians to be ‘missionary disciples,’ pope says
VATICAN CITY — St. Dominic de Guzmán’s zeal for preaching the Gospel remains an example in today’s world in the Catholic Church’s mission to spread the Good News, Pope Francis said. Marking the 800th anniversary of the death of St. Dominic, the pope said in a letter dated May 24 that the founder of the Dominican order not only “responded to the urgent need of his time” through preaching, but by also giving a “convincing witness” to holiness. “In our own age, characterized by epochal changes and new challenges to the church’s evangelizing mission, Dominic can thus serve as an inspiration to all the baptized, who are called, as missionary disciples, to reach every ‘periphery’ of our world with the light of the Gospel and the merciful love of Christ,” he said. The letter, which was sent to Dominican Father Gerard Francisco Timoner, master general of the order, was released by the Vatican May 24.
— Catholic News Service