World News

In brief

Reading, Berkshire

Bishop creates Britain’s first ‘personal parish’ for Old Mass

The bishop of Portsmouth has established a “personal parish” in Reading for Catholics attached to the traditional Latin Mass. It is the first of its kind in Britain. The parish, dedicated to St John Fisher, will be served by priests from the Priestly Fraternity of St Peter (FSSP). It is provisionally based at St William of York Church. Bishop Philip Egan said he was keen that all Catholics in the diocese have the chance to participate in the “full range of the Roman liturgy”. A personal parish does not have a defined geographic area but consists of Catholics who follow a particular rite or style of worship or speak a minority language.


Report reveals thousands of abuse cases in German Church

About 3,700 children in Germany were assaulted by priests between 1945 and 2014, according to a leaked report. The four-year study, which the bishops had planned to discuss at their next plenary assembly implicated 1,670 priests, only a third of whom have been prosecuted. Other accused priests have been moved between parishes. Bishop Stephan Ackermann of Trier said the results of the study were “depressing and shameful”. Meanwhile, a report from the Dutch NRC daily claimed that half of Netherlands’ bishops were involved in covering up abuse between 1945 and 2010.


Pope to visit Japan

Pope Francis has told a Japanese delegation at the Vatican that he hopes to visit Japan next year. The Pope received an invitation from Shinzo Abe, the prime minister, in 2013. In May the mayors of Nagasaki and Hiroshima also wrote to the Pope urging him to visit.

Oran, Algeria

Tibhirine monks to be beatified in December

A bishop, seven Trappist monks and 11 other Religious men and women killed by extremists in Algeria in the 1990s will be beatified in Oran on December 8. Cardinal Angelo Becciu, prefect of the Congregation for Saints’ Causes, will preside at the ceremony. Bishop Pierre Claverie and his driver were killed by a remote-controlled bomb at his home, while seven Tibhirine monks – whose story was told in the film Of Gods and Men – were kidnapped and beheaded by extremists. They included the prior, Fr Christian de Chergé.

Jalandhar, India

Bishop accused of rape temporarily steps down

A bishop accused of raping a nun several times between 2014 and 2016 has handed over responsibility for his diocese. Bishop Franco Mulakkal of Jalandhar was scheduled to be questioned by police in the southern Indian state of Kerala today. A hearing at Kerala’s high court is expected next week. The bishop said he had written to Pope Francis asking for permission to step aside. A diocesan statement said he had to “spend more time to fight his case, to even travel to Kerala several times”. He denies the allegations.
Nuns and priests have joined protests in the Keralan capital of Thiruvananthapuram over alleged police inaction in the case.

West Virginia

Pope orders investigation into bishop over assault claims

Pope Francis has accepted the resignation of Bishop Michael Bransfield of Wheeling-Charleston, West Virginia, and ordered an
investigation into allegations that he sexually harassed adults. Bishop Bransfield, left, turned 75 earlier this month, the age at which bishops usually offer their resignation. Archbishop William Lori of Baltimore has been appointed to lead the investigation.
Meanwhile, another American prelate, Bishop Kevin Rhoades of Fort Wayne-South Bend, was cleared of wrongdoing last week after an investigation by the Pennsylvania district attorney, who said a sex abuse allegation against him had been baseless.

New York City

Pope Francis’s popularity falls sharply among Americans

Only 48 per cent of Americans have a favourable view of Pope Francis, down from two thirds a year and a half ago, according to polling by CNN.Among US Catholics, the Pope’s favourability rating fell from 83 per cent in January 2017 to 63 per cent earlier this month. Among women, according to the latest poll, the Pope’s favourability rating has fallen from 71 per cent to 51 per cent, and among Democrats it is down from 79 per cent to 59 per cent. The survey results appear to suggest a decline in the Pope’s popularity since January, when a poll by Pew Research Forum found 84 per cent of US Catholics expressing a favourable view of him. The most recent CNN survey was conducted between September 6 and September 9 and had a sample of about 1,000.

Galveston, Texas

US bishops’ delegation meets Francis

The leaders of the US bishops’ conference met Pope Francis last week to discuss the abuse crisis. The delegation, led by Cardinal Daniel DiNardo of Houston-Galveston, president of the conference, said in a statement afterwards that it was “lengthy, fruitful and a good exchange” and that they looked forward to “identifying the most effective next steps”. No further details about the meeting were given and it was unclear if Cardinal DiNardo had repeated his plea for an apostolic visitation to examine the details of the McCarrick case. Last month he said the Viganò letter – which alleged the Pope rehabilitated McCarrick despite being aware of allegations against him – raised questions that “deserved answers”.

León, Nicaragua

Priest badly beaten up as Church faces intimidation

A priest was attacked and robbed on Saturday amid widespread intimidation of priests by authorities in Nicaragua. Fr Abelardo Toval Ayesta was badly beaten by four hooded men outside his home in León. “It almost cost him his life,” said diocesan spokesman Fr Victor Morales. “He was hit very hard in the face, the eyes and the ribs.” The attack drew outrage from Catholic leaders and demonstrated again the deteriorating relationship between the Catholic Church and President Daniel Ortega. Meanwhile, Bishop Rolando Álvarez Lagos of Matagalpa said he was pulled over by police earlier this month while a pro-government mob shouted “killer” at him from the side of the road. About 300 people have been killed in recent months amid a crackdown on protests against the government.

Santiago, Chile

Human rights champion laicised amid abuse allegations

A priest once hailed as a champion of human rights in Chile has been dismissed from the clerical state by Pope Francis amid allegations of sex abuse. Fr Cristián Precht was the first vicar of the Archdiocese of Santiago’s Vicariate for Solidarity, an office created by Blessed Paul VI to aid victims of Augusto Pinochet’s dictatorship. The Archdiocese of Santiago began an investigation into abuse allegations against him in 2011. A year later, he was suspended from public ministry after the allegations were deemed credible.

Formosa, Brazil

Bishop charged with theft steps down

Pope Francis has accepted the resignation of a Brazilian bishop charged with embezzling half a million pounds’ worth of diocesan funds.Bishop José Ronaldo Ribeiro of Formosa was arrested in March along with four diocesan priests. Two days later an apostolic administrator was appointed for the diocese. Prosecutors allege that Bishop Ribeiro and four priests bought a cattle ranch and a lottery shop with the diverted funds. Officials said they found money hidden in a secret compartment in a closet in the bishop’s home. Priests also allegedly paid the bishop monthly “allowances” so they could be placed in profitable parishes.