SVDP recruiting campers for Circle V Ranch Camp
Last year the camp served more than 1,000 campers ages 7-13 from throughout Southern California; this year’s goal is 1,200 for nine one-week sessions, with “campership” grants available for kids who need financial assistance. “Many of our kids come back year after year and some have become counselors or work at the camp after college,” said David Fields, SVDP executive director. For registration and information, call (323) 224-6213.
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (CNS) — Officials in the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph are being faulted by parishioners and media for failing to more vigorously pursue allegations of suspicious and improper behavior made against a priest now charged with possession of child pornography. In a message read at parish Masses June 4 and 5 and in a number of forums in late May, Bishop Robert W. Finn expressed regret for the way the diocese handled information it received about the activities of Father Shawn Ratigan. "As bishop I take full responsibility for these failures and sincerely apologize to you for them. Clearly, we have to do more. Please know that we have — and will continue to cooperate with all local authorities regarding these matters," Bishop Finn said in the message read at Masses. "These past few weeks all of us have endured the consequences of our human failure," he said. "The destructive sins of a few and the serious lapses in communication have cause us shame, anger and confusion." He acknowledged there are victims who "are hurting, and others who have been left vulnerable by our processes." Bishop Finn noted the diocese had removed a second priest from ministry June 2 while it investigates allegations of misconduct against him stemming from the 1970s and '80, but said that priest, Father Michael Tierney, and Father Ratigan "are the first sitting pastors to be removed in our diocese in more than 20 years." At a May 22 news conference about the Ratigan case, the bishop said he would expand the role of the diocesan Independent Review Board to include receiving and evaluating reports of misconduct which fall outside the scope set by the U.S. bishops for such boards in their 2002 Dallas "Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People."
Bishop apologizes for response to priest accused in child porn case
First phase of apostolic visitation in Ireland concluded, Vatican says
ROME (CNS) — Vatican representatives have completed the first phase of an investigation of major Catholic institutions in Ireland, ordered by Pope Benedict XVI to examine the response of Irish church authorities to the clerical sex abuse scandal. A statement from the Vatican press office June 6 said that apostolic visitators to four metropolitan dioceses, as well as seminaries and religious institutes, had turned over their reports to the competent Vatican agencies. In the coming months, the statement said, bishops and leaders of religious orders will receive notices on what they should be doing "for the spiritual renewal" of the Irish church. The visitation was announced by Pope Benedict in March 2010 in a pastoral letter to Irish Catholics after an independent report showed widespread and historic abuse of minors on the part of church figures in the overwhelmingly Catholic country. The report accused church authorities of covering up and enabling a "culture of secrecy" regarding the problem. The visitation began Nov. 11, 2010 and continued through the spring of 2011. The Vatican statement said that no further visitations to dioceses and seminaries were planned, but that there may be additional visits to some religious communities. It also said that by early 2012, the Vatican would publish a synthesis of the results of the visitation, as well as future prospects "with a view to the nationwide mission announced" by the pope in his letter. In that letter, the pope specifically said the shame and betrayal justly felt by Irish Catholics was not only about sex abuse of minors by priests but also at "the way church authorities in Ireland dealt with them." The bishops' response was "often inadequate," and involved "serious mistakes," he said.
Philippine cardinal eyes review of protocol for reports of misconduct
CEBU, Philippines (CNS) — A senior church official called for a review of the existing protocol governing clergy sexual misconduct to ensure that it follows guidelines recently issued by the Vatican. "We will examine if what we have is sufficient, if it matches today's needs," Cardinal Ricardo Vidal, a member of the Philippine bishops' Commission on Clergy told the Asian church news agency UCA News. He said the Philippine bishops' conference submitted its "Pastoral Guidelines on Sexual Abuse and Misconduct by the Clergy" to Rome in September 2003, but that it is now time to revisit the procedures outlined in that document. The Vatican announced May 16 new guidelines for bishops on how to deal with victims of clergy sex abuse, the protection of minors, the formation of future priests and religious, support programs for priests and cooperation of church officials with civil authorities. Archbishop Jose Palma of Cebu said he will ensure the guidelines are followed and that the rights of both perpetrators and victims are protected. "First, we should be humble and honest and admit that indeed it has happened, and for that we apologize. We strike our breasts in contrition. We should not deny it," Archbishop Palma said.
Massachusetts diocese seeks prayers, assistance during tornado recovery
SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (CNS) — The powerful that ripped through cities and towns in western Massachusetts "left debilitating aftereffects," said Springfield Bishop Timothy A. McDonnell said in a letter to all in the diocese. "We mourn those who were killed or injured even as we thank God that the toll in human life was not greater," he said. "The images of homes damaged or destroyed, of businesses wiped out, of institutions crippled, of mighty trees reduced to kindling, will long be seared in our memories." The death toll from the storm numbered at least four, and about 200 others suffered injuries. The bishop said the devastation to the diocesan buildings was "especially heartbreaking to the diocese." Diocesan ministries were especially hard-hit in one section of Springfield. Cathedral High School, St. Michael's Academy pre-school and middle school campuses and St. Michael's Residence for retired priests suffered significant damage. The tornado ripped apart homes, businesses, wooded areas and many, many lives. The chapel at St. Michael's Residence is now a pile of rubble. Windows were blown out of the residence and Cathedral High School's science wing. A large portion of the back wall of Cathedral's gymnasium collapsed and a portion of the roof of the school was torn off. A wall also was blown away at the rear of the pre-school. Diocesan spokesperson Mark Dupont said, "These facilities were hit very hard, nonetheless we are grateful that the injuries were minimal." Cathedral students ended their academic year with a final day of classes June 7 at Our Lady of the Elms College. Students from St. Michael's Academy Middle School division were to conclude their academic year at Western New England University in Springfield. St. Michael's Academy Preschool has been moved to the elementary school campus.
Police raid Catholic human rights center; files taken
MEXICO CITY (CNS) — Federal Police raided a Catholic human rights center June 5 in Ciudad Juarez, where they removed files involving alleged abuses committed by officers. Father Oscar Enriquez, director of the Paso del Norte Human Rights Center, told Catholic News service that five patrol cars arrived at the center's offices in the evening. Officers broke down the two doors, "smashed windows," and left with case files, Father Enriquez said. The officers never presented a search warrant, he added. "We believe there's been a theft of case files," Father Enriquez said. The case highlights the often antagonist relationship between human rights defenders and authority figures, whose work in pacifying and bringing order to regions of Mexico beset by drug cartel and organized crime violence has been questioned by critics such as Father Enriquez. The raid, said a coalition of Ciudad Juarez civic organizations, "represents an aggression against the work that this center has done for the past 10 years in favor of the human rights of the most poor and most unprotected members of our community."
Philippine bishops urge country's Catholics to say 'no' to divorce
WASHINGTON (CNS) — Catholic clergy in the Philippines are urging fellow Catholics to voice their disapproval of a bill pending in country's Congress that would legalize divorce. If passed, Vatican City would be the last remaining country where divorce is illegal. The Philippine legislature revived the bill, which had long been in congressional files but never enacted, just days after voters from largely Catholic Malta approved a referendum to legalize divorce May 29. The Maltese referendum was the first step in the legislative process. The measure now must be debated by the country's House of Representatives before a final vote. The bill is expected to pass, opening the doors for married couples to divorce after four years of separation. The Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines repeated its determination to protect marriage in the island nation after the Maltese vote. The debate over divorce in the Philippines, where 82 percent of the population is Catholic, comes as the country's legislature considers a controversial reproductive health bill that allows the use of contraception. The bishops also have opposed that bill while calling upon Catholics to withhold taxes in protest if it passes. Father Jerry Oblepias, director of the Family Life Ministry in the San Pablo Diocese, told the bishops' news service that "divorce remains to be part of the death culture that seeks to destroy the family. Once the family is destroyed, degradation of values is surely at the doorstep."
Bishop Tyson, Seattle auxiliary, installed as head of Yakima Diocese
YAKIMA, Wash. (CNS) — A son of the Yakima area returned to head the Yakima Diocese, as Bishop Joseph J. Tyson was installed as bishop May 31. Bishop Tyson, who had served as an auxiliary bishop in Seattle since 2005, was born in Moses Lake, Wash., and baptized at St. Paul Cathedral in Yakima. He succeeded Bishop Carlos A. Sevilla, who retired after heading the diocese for 15 years. More than 1,000 people attended his installation Mass at Yakima's Holy Family Church. Participants included Cardinal Roger Mahony, retired archbishop of Los Angeles; Archbishop Peter Sartain of Seattle; and Bishop Sevilla, whom Bishop Tyson described as "a wonderful example for me of the good bishop who cares deeply for his flock." In his homily at the Mass, delivered in English and Spanish, Bishop Tyson thanked one of the choir members for the occasion, Mary Smith, for having arranged the blind date on which his parents met. They have now been married almost 55 years. Noting that his installation took place on the feast of the Visitation, when the pregnant Mary went to visit her cousin Elizabeth, who was pregnant with John the Baptist, Bishop Tyson said the feast day reminds us to ask if, "as church, are we truly visiting each other regardless of our race, our language or a way of life?"