Archbishop Sheen’s body will be moved as appeal fails
The body of Venerable Fulton Sheen will be moved to Peoria, after a legal challenge by the Archdiocese of New York was finally defeated. The New York Supreme Court had already ruled in favour of Peoria diocese; New York archdiocese has been refused permission to appeal.
Sheen’s niece Joan Cunningham, his closest living relative, said that he would have wanted to be in Peoria, as the diocese is taking forward his Cause for canonisation. New York, where Archbishop Sheen died and was buried, declined to explore the Cause. The five-year dispute over the whereabouts of Sheen’s body has delayed things, but a claimed miracle has cleared the first hurdle of Vatican approval.
Health department bans use of foetal tissue
The Department of Health and Human Services has banned the National Institutes of Health from using foetal stem cells from aborted babies for government-funded research, reports the Catholic News Service. HHS also issued a $20 million grant for research to develop models that do not rely on foetal tissue.
HHS said that “promoting the dignity of human life from conception to natural death is one of the very top priorities of President Trump’s administration”.
Archbishop Joseph Naumann, who chairs the US bishops’ pro-life committee, welcomed the decision, saying: “Scavenging and commodifying the body parts of abortion victims for use in research gravely disrespects the bodies of these innocent human beings.”
Arrest made after cathedral fire
Police have arrested a man in connection with a case of suspected arson at the Co-Cathedral of St Thomas More.
Fire broke out on Wednesday June 5, with the chairs in the sanctuary, including the bishop’s chair, being set on fire, the walls being charred and the building suffering some smoke damage. Nobody was hurt. Fr John Cayer, the co-rector, said it was “an obvious case of arson”.
Police have arrested a homeless man, 32-year-old Seth Johnson. State fire marshal Jimmy Patronis said: “Investigators obtained fingerprints from evidence found on scene that matched those of Johnson.” He said he hoped the arrest would bring “some peace to all who call St Thomas More their place of worship”.
Cardinal denies mishandling accused priest
Cardinal Daniel DiNardo of Galveston-Houston, the president of the US bishops’ conference, has defended his actions after he was accused of mishandling the case of a priest accused of sexual misconduct.
A Texas woman, Laura Pontikes, claimed that Mgr Frank Rossi sexually coerced her. She told Associated Press that Cardinal DiNardo allowed Mgr Rossi, a former vicar-general, to transfer to another diocese and continue in ministry, despite promising this would not happen. But the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston accused AP of misquoting the cardinal, and said that the priest had “completed his rehabilitation process” before serving in another diocese.
Travel embargo criticised by US bishops
The Trump administration has put new travel restrictions on Cuba, banning cruises and educational trips, to the alarm of US bishops who say the island needs outside contact.
Archbishop Timothy Broglio, chairman of the US bishops’ committee on international justice and peace, said that the ban would be “counterproductive”. “A half-century of rigid isolation has consolidated only one thing: the very political structures US government policy seeks to change,” Archbishop Broglio said in a statement. The ban would not apply to religious travel.
Bishop Zanchetta to face civil trial
A bishop close to Pope Francis has been charged with sexually assaulting two seminarians. Bishop Gustavo Zanchetta, who also faces a Vatican trial, has been barred from leaving Argentina, according to InfoCatólica.
Zanchetta, who was one of Pope Francis’s first appointments in his home country, was first accused of “strange behaviour” in 2015 when explicit pictures, including naked selfies, were found on his phone. A vicar-general reported Zanchetta to the Vatican. In 2017 the Pope appointed Zanchetta to a senior post in the Vatican’s financial operations. Francis has recently said that Zanchetta claimed the photos were the result of his phone being hacked.
St Thérèse to visit Scotland’s largest prison
Scotland’s largest prison will have a special visitor in September: St Thérèse of Lisieux, the “Little Flower”. The relics of the Carmelite saint have been touring the world since 1994, and will be in Scotland from August 20 to September 30, visiting each diocese in turn. Last week the Archdiocese of Glasgow announced that St Thérèse’s first stop in Glasgow would be in HMP Barlinnie, a jail which holds more than 1,000 prisoners. It has four part-time Catholic chaplains.
A 2011 study found that Catholics are over-represented in Scottish prisons – particularly in Barlinnie, where there were 415 Catholic prisoners out of a total of 1,313. Catholics make up around 15 per cent of the overall Scottish population.
Catholics pray at Tiananmen vigil
More than 1,000 Catholics have joined a prayer vigil to commemorate the 1989 massacre in Tiananmen Square, Beijing, in which an estimated 10,000 pro-democracy protesters were killed. Bishop Joseph Ha Chi-shing spoke at the vigil, as did Cardinal Joseph Zen (right), former Bishop of Hong Kong, who said the protesters’ witness could be an inspiration today. The vigil came a few days before protests, which organisers said attracted a million people, against new extradition laws.
The dioceses of Fuzhou and Mindong have been forced to join the state-run Catholic Patriotic Association, according to ucanews.com. Sources said that not all priests have joined, and that the Vatican is opposed to such moves. Many Chinese Catholics see the CPA as anti-Catholic.
Doctrinal congregation could be downgraded
The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith could be downgraded under new plans for a Vatican shake-up.
The National Catholic Reporter claims to have seen a draft of Pope Francis’s new Vatican constitution, which would introduce a new Dicastery for Evangelisation. This would be second in precedence to the Secretariat of State, but above a new doctrinal body, the Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith.
The draft of the new constitution, which will be entitled Praedicate Evangelium (“Preach the Gospel’), also points towards increased lay leadership of Vatican departments, and calls for “reciprocity” between lay people, clergy and the hierarchy.
Basilica gains permit after 137 years
Spain’s best-known church has gained a building permit, 137 years after work started. The Sagrada Família (right), designed by Antoni Gaudí, has been technically operating outside the law since work began in 1882. The local authority never replied to Gaudí’s original application. In 2016, Barcelona’s city council discovered the anomaly. It has now been granted permission, at a cost of €4.6m (£4.1m or $5.2m). The permit runs until 2026, the centenary of Gaudí’s death, by which point the organisers hope work will be over. Gaudí used to say: “My patron [St Joseph] is not in a hurry.”