New university president hopes for ‘unity’
The new president of the Franciscan University of Steubenville has said he hopes the university will be “a source of unity and healing”.
Fr David Pivonka told the Catholic News Agency that the university, like the Church, can be affected by “polarisation”, but that “part of being Catholic is embracing one another and giving one another freedom to do that without judgment, without dismissal”. Fr Pivonka replaces Fr Sean Sheridan, who resigned earlier this year after a series of divisive disputes within the university, which was criticised for its handling of abuse allegations, and for a professor’s decision to teach a novel which included blasphemy.
Buffalo, New York
Vatican inquiry in troubled diocese
The Vatican has launched an investigation into the Diocese of Buffalo, whose bishop has been accused of mishandling sexual abuse allegations. (He denies the claims.)
Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio of Brooklyn will carry out the apostolic visitation, the Vatican announced in a brief statement.
There had been speculation that the diocese would be investigated under Pope Francis’s recently passed law Vos estis. But the apostolic visitation is a non-judicial process. The Vatican statement did not announced what the scope of the inquiry would be.
The diocese said in a statement that “Bishop Malone has committed to cooperate fully and stated that this Visitation is for the good of the Church in Buffalo.”
Brother of murdered man offers forgiveness
In an act described by Bishop Edward Burns of Dallas as “an incredible example of Christian love”, a man whose brother was killed by an off-duty police officer has offered the killer his forgiveness. The police officer, Amber Guyger, shot Botham Jean dead after entering his apartment by mistake. Guyger thought the apartment was her own and, when she saw Jean there, she thought he was an intruder and shot him dead. She was given 10 years for murder.
Botham’s 18-year-old brother Brandt (pictured) told Guyger in court: “If you truly are sorry, I know I can speak for myself, I forgive you.” She urged him to “go to God” and ask him for forgiveness. Brandt gave Guyger a hug, saying, “I don’t even want you to go to jail. I want the best for you.” (Tim Stanley, page 21)
Baton Rouge, Louisiana
Supreme Court to consider abortion regulations
The Supreme Court has announced that it will add an abortion case to its docket, the Catholic News Service reports.
The justices have agreed to weigh in on a Louisiana law that requires doctors at abortion clinics to obtain “admitting privileges” from a nearby hospital.
It is the first abortion case the court has taken up since Justices Brett Kavanaugh and Neil Gorsuch joined the bench, and also without the swing vote of Justice Anthony Kennedy, who retired in 2018.
Ashley McGuire of the Catholic Association said the Louisiana regulations were “common sense and clearly necessary”.
Bishops call for prayer as political conflict escalates
Peru’s bishops have called for a day of prayer for peace, as the confrontation escalates between the country’s president and its parliament.
President Martín Vizcarra has dissolved Congress and issued a decree ordering new parliamentary elections. Congress, meanwhile, has voted to suspend Vizcarra – but since the vote came after Congress was dissolved, its legal status is unclear.
The dispute is over anti-corruption legislation which Vizcarra wanted to pass, and which Congress has blocked.
Bolsonaro’s council reforms criticised
A bishop has criticised President Jair Bolsonaro over his reforms to Brazil’s governance structure. Bolsonaro has intervened in the country’s “national councils”, after his efforts to abolish hundreds of them were blocked by the Supreme Court. The president has reduced the membership of the bodies, which help with the formation and implementation of government policy, and ensured that some of them have a majority of government supporters.
Archbishop Walmor Oliveira de Azevedo of Belo Horizonte accused Bolsonaro of trying to “dismantle the structures of social participation”.
Abortion restrictions breach human rights, court rules
Northern Ireland’s abortion restrictions are in breach of human rights law, the province’s High Court has ruled. Currently, abortion is forbidden except in cases of serious risk to a mother’s life or health. The High Court challenge was brought by a woman who travelled to England for an abortion. Doctors had said her unborn child would not be able to survive for long outside the womb, which is not grounds for an abortion in Northern Ireland. The court ruled that this prohibition, and that on abortion in cases of rape, was against human rights law.
From October 21, under laws imposed by Westminster, abortion could be available on demand at up to 28 weeks, unless Northern Ireland’s deadlocked parties can resolve their differences.
Thirteen new cardinals appointed
Pope Francis has elevated 13 bishops to the cardinalate in a ceremony at St Peter’s. They include Michael Fitzgerald, who becomes the second living English cardinal (pictured); Sigitas Tamkevičius, a Lithuanian Jesuit who spent 10 years in labour camps; and perhaps most controversially, José Tolentino Mendonça, who was made Vatican librarian last year, and is known for having written the foreword to a book by Maria Teresa Forcades, a pro-abortion nun.
Bo decries silence
Cardinal Charles Bo, Burma’s most senior churchman, has said he has been “pained by the silence of religious leaders” amid the violent clashes which have seen “innocent civilians … killed or maimed by the ongoing conflict in Lashio, other Northern regions and Rakhine State”.
Seminary reform claims denied
A bishop has rejected media claims that Australia’s seminaries are facing a dramatic overhaul.
The Age reported that the bishops were “discussing dismantling the seminary system altogether in favour of a broader model of priest apprenticeships with more interaction with the community”. Similar stories appeared in other newspapers. But Bishop Tony Randazzo, an auxiliary bishop in Sydney archdiocese, wrote in the archdiocesan newspaper that the speculation was “false” and underestimated how much seminarians were already involved in their communities.
Palmerston North, New Zealand
Bishop resigns after ‘inappropriate relationship’
Bishop Charles Drennan of Palmerston North has resigned after it emerged that he had sexual contact with a young woman.
Cardinal John Dew announced the news, saying: “In the eyes of the Catholic Church, Bishop Drennan’s behaviour was completely unacceptable.”
The New Zealand bishops’ independent investigation body looked into Bishop Drennan’s misconduct after a complaint by the woman, who has not been named and has requested that details be kept private.
Bishop Drennan, a former official at the Vatican’s Secretariat of State, was consecrated as a bishop in 2011.
This page is available to subscribers. Click here to sign in or get access.