Wheeling, West Virginia
Bishop Bransfield warnings missed
Church leaders missed warnings about the alleged financial misconduct of Bishop Michael Bransfield, the Washington Post has claimed.
Bransfield, formerly Bishop of Wheeling-Charleston, was barred from public ministry in March after an investigation ordered by the Pope and carried out by Archbishop William Lori. The archbishop found that Bransfield had “engaged in a pattern of excessive and inappropriate spending” and made sexually suggestive comments and actions towards his subordinates. (Bransfield has denied any wrongdoing.) The Post said that lay people tried to alert Vatican officials and the US nunciature, but no discernable action was taken.
Pope asks Cardinal O’Malley to continue
Cardinal Seán O’Malley has said he is touched by Pope Francis’s confidence in him after the Pope asked him to remain as Archbishop of Boston. The cardinal submitted his resignation from the archdiocese, as all bishops do on their 75th birthday. But according to archdiocesan spokesman Terry Donilon, who spoke to the Boston Globe, “The Pope looked at him and said, ‘I think we’ll keep you there for a few more years.’ ”
Cardinal O’Malley has worked closely with Pope Francis on child protection. The Pontiff asked the cardinal to head the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors. However, Cardinal O’Malley was publicly critical of the Pope’s response to allegations of abuse in Chile, and the cardinal was not appointed to the organising committee of February’s child protection summit.
Archbishop Fulton Sheen to be beatified
Archbishop Fulton Sheen will be declared Blessed, the Vatican has confirmed, after the final hurdle for his beatification was cleared. A miracle attributed to his intercession – the 2010 healing of a newborn boy who seemed to be stillborn – has now been recognised by the Pope, as well as by the Vatican’s theological and medical experts and the Congregation for the Causes of Saints.
Bishop Daniel Jenky announced that the beatification Mass will take place in Peoria. The news follows last month’s court decision that Sheen’s body should be laid to rest in Peoria rather than in New York. “It is truly amazing how God continues to work miracles,” Bishop Jenky said, adding: “I am so grateful that the Vatican acted so quickly”.
Buildings to be named after saints, not bishops
Bishop Barry Knestout of Richmond has announced that Church institutions will no longer be named after bishops, pastors, founders or other individuals – unless they happen to be a saint.
Under a new policy, the diocese’s buildings, schools and other institutions will bear “the names of saints, the mysteries of the faith, the titles of Our Lord or of Our Lady, or the place where the ministry has been established”.
Only one place will be immediately affected: Bishop Sullivan Catholic High School in Virginia Beach, named after a now-deceased bishop who has been accused of covering up abuse.
Franciscan shelter protests at ‘money-laundering’ statement
Friars at a Franciscan-run migrant shelter have said they “feel defamed” after a government statement seemed to link them with money-laundering.
The Tabasco Economic and Property Intelligence Unit said last month that it would “help in the detection of money laundering operations in migrant shelters in Tabasco’s territory”. The only migrant shelter in the area is La 72. Its director, Ramón Márquez, said: “Our spirit as a Franciscan shelter is that: it’s austerity.” The mention of money-laundering “made no sense”, he added.
Archbishop: prisoners being ‘tortured’
Archbishop Sergio Castriani of Manaus has compared local prison conditions to torture, in the wake of riots – thought to be the result of gang conflict – which claimed the lives of 55 prisoners.
Archbishop Castriani said former prisoners had related that they had to sleep standing up because there were 60 people crammed into a cell, and that food was contaminated with “insects and sand”. According to Crux, he said in a statement: “What happens in the prisons is a reflection of the mentality of an age in which the ones who are not winners must not have rights. For this society, some people deserve to be tortured.”
Thousands march at Rally for Life
Pro-lifers have marched in Dublin in the first Rally for Life since Ireland implemented legal abortion. An estimated 10,000 attended the rally. On May 25 last year, the country voted to repeal the constitutional protections for the unborn child. Niamh Uí Bhriain, a spokeswoman for the Life Institute, said it was “the most shameful day in Irish history” but that the result would one day be overturned. Politicians and doctors also spoke at the rally.
The rally took place amid new attempts to liberalise Northern Ireland’s abortion laws. At the time of going to press, the pro-abortion campaigner Stella Creasy MP had put forward an amendment to the Northern Ireland Executive Formation Bill which could impose abortion on the region.
Women’s role boosted at Vatican department
Pope Francis has boosted women’s role in Vatican leadership by appointing seven female leaders to the congregation for religious life. The Pope appointed 23 new members of the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life, including six women religious superior generals and one head of a women’s secular institute. The new members include the US Sister Kathleen Appler of the Daughters of Charity of St Vincent de Paul.
Australia’s government has proposed a new law to protect religious believers. Under the proposals, employment contracts could not include clauses which might lead to the sacking of a believer. The government has rejected calls for a more assertive bill to establish religious freedom.
Cardinal criticises Vatican’s China guidelines
Cardinal Joseph Zen has said that new Vatican guidelines for China’s priests and bishops could lead to the “death of the true faith”.
The guidelines were issued to clergy who have been asked to sign statements affirming the “independence” of the Church in China – which some think places the government over the Church. The guidelines say that priests could add, in writing or in speech, that they only sign in so far as the statement accords with Catholic doctrine. But Cardinal Zen said such government-issued statements are “against the faith” and that the Vatican’s suggestion is “against all fundamental moral theology”. Vatican officials, he claimed, are trying to phase out clergy who resist the government.
Bradburne Cause approved
The Cause for the canonisation of John Bradburne has been approved by the Vatican.
Bradburne was killed by guerrillas in Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe) in 1979 after refusing to abandon the lepers he had looked after for many years. Mutemwa, the leprosy centre where he worked, has since become a major pilgrimage site.
The Cause will be officially launched at Mutemwa on September 5, the 40th anniversary of his death. There will also be a Mass at Westminster Cathedral two weeks later, where his relics, including his Franciscan habit, will be on display.
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