Don’t let quake shake your hope, pope tells earthquake survivors

Pope Francis and Archbishop Francesco Massara of Camerino-San Severino Marche pray before a partially destroyed statue of Mary in the cathedral of Camerino, Italy, June 16, 2019. The statue and the cathedral were damaged during an earthquake in October 2016. (CNS photo/Vatican Media)

By Catholic News Service

CAMERINO, Italy (CNS) — Wearing a firefighter’s helmet painted white and gold for the occasion, Pope Francis entered the earthquake-damaged cathedral in Camerino and prayed before a statue of Mary missing the top of its head.

The pope began his visit June 16 outside the historic city by visiting the temporary modular homes of dozens of families who lost everything when an earthquake struck the region in October 2016.

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Posted in Vatican, World

California bill aims to protect children by breaking seal of confession

U.S. and California flags fly in front of the dome of the California Capitol in Sacramento May 9, 2019. California state Democratic Sen. Jerry Hill has introduced legislation that would require priests in the state to report to authorities information related to child sexual abuse learned in a confession.(CNS photo/Chaz Muth)

(Second in a series)

By Chaz Muth
Catholic News Service

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (CNS) — When Catholic clergy, penitents, theologians and canon lawyers look at the wording in a California state bill that would compel a priest to reveal what’s heard during confession if there is a suspicion of child sexual abuse, they see an infringement on religious freedom.

California state Sen. Jerry Hill, a Democrat, listens to another state legislator on the Senate floor at the California Capitol in Sacramento May 9, 2019. Hill has introduced legislation that would require priests in California to report to authorities information related to child sexual abuse learned in a confession from another priest or coworker. (CNS photo/Chaz Muth)

But the man who introduced S.B. 360 — California Democratic Sen. Jerry Hill of San Mateo — sees it as eliminating a loophole in the law that would ultimately help protect children from sexual predators.

As it is in many U.S. states, California requires priests, teachers, social workers, doctors and other professionals to be “mandated reporters.” That means by law they are required to report any case of suspected abuse to authorities.

There is currently an exemption in California law for any clergy member “who acquires knowledge or a reasonable suspicion of child abuse or neglect during a penitential communication.”
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Posted in U.S., World | Tagged , , , , ,

Synod document raises possibility of married priests, roles for women

A woman reads the Bible during a workshop in St. Ignatius, Guyana, April 5, 2019. The workshop was to help laypeople improve their reading of the Sunday Scriptures in their own languages, so they can better lead liturgies in their own indigenous communities. (CNS photo/Paul Jeffrey)

By Junno Arocho Esteves
Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — The Catholic Church must find ways to reach indigenous Catholics deprived of the sacraments in the most remote areas of the Amazon rainforest, and that may include ordaining married elders, said the working document for the Synod of Bishops on the Amazon.

“Affirming that celibacy is a gift for the church, in order to ensure the sacraments for the most remote areas of the region, we are asked to study the possibility of priestly ordination for elders — preferably indigenous, respected and accepted by the community — even though they have an established and stable family,” said the document.

Published by the Vatican June 17, the document also said the church should consider “an official ministry that can be conferred upon women, taking into account the central role they play in the Amazonian church.” Continue reading

Posted in Vatican

Challenges to seal of confession attributed to clergy sex abuse scandals

Penitent Elizabeth E. Santamaria offers her confession to Father Lawrence C. Goode May 8, 2019, at St. Francis of Assisi in East Palo Alto, Calif. (CNS photo/Chaz Muth)

(First in a series)

By Chaz Muth
Catholic News Service

Father Lawrence C. Goode hears confession May 8, 2019, at St. Francis of Assisi Catholic Church in East Palo Alto, Calif. (CNS photo/Chaz Muth)

WASHINGTON (CNS) — For centuries, the Catholic Church has maintained that what a penitent says to a priest in the confessional is strictly confidential, but in 2019 that rite continues to be challenged by governments.

Church scholars assert the concept of the seal of confession was given to the apostles by Jesus, eventually morphing into the sacrament of penance, providing the faithful with an opportunity to confess their sins and to be reconciled with God.

The soul-cleansing, sacred practice is private, confidential and repeatable.

Governmental leaders have challenged the priest-penitent privilege of the seal of confession since at least the 14th century, prompting priests to sacrifice their freedom and sometimes their lives protecting that confidentiality.
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Posted in U.S., World | Tagged , ,

Bishops’ actions at spring meeting called a ‘work in progress’

Judy M. Keane, director of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Office of Public Affairs, calls on a reporter during a news conference June 13, 2019, at the spring general assembly of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops in Baltimore. Pictured on the press panel are Bishop Michael F. Burbidge of Arlington, Va., Cardinal Joseph W. Tobin of Newark, N.J., and Bishop Robert P. Deeley of Portland, Maine. (CNS photo/Bob Roller)

By Carol Zimmermann 
Catholic News Service

BALTIMORE (CNS) — The gathering of U.S. bishops June 11-13 in Baltimore was anything but business as usual.

“The spring meetings are usually more pastoral, and the November meeting has a heavier agenda,” said Bishop Michael F. Burbidge of Arlington, Virginia, who said this meeting had a “sense of urgency” and momentum to it, both in the smaller group gatherings and when the bishops were all together.

“We were here for specific task … and by God’s grace we will move forward,” he said during a June 12 news conference.

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Posted in U.S.

Sunday Scripture readings, June 16, 2019: Divine communion

The Catholic News Service column, “Speak to Me Lord,” offers reflections on the Sunday Scripture readings. (CNS/Nancy Wiechec)

June 16,
The Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity

Cycle C
1) Prv 8:22-31
Psalm 8:4-9
2) Rom 5:1-5
Gospel: Jn 16:12-15

By Jem Sullivan
Catholic News Service

Something remarkable unfolded as Parisians watched the roof and spire of their city’s iconic Cathedral of Notre Dame rapidly engulf in flames some two months ago. Strangers who would ordinarily walk past each other without a nod or a greeting began to converse intensely as they shared a common sense of shock and distress. Continue reading

Posted in "Speak to Me Lord", CNS columns

Lay groups cautious about bishops’ actions to boost accountability

Milwaukee Archbishop Jerome E. Listecki and Cardinal Joseph W. Tobin of Newark, N.J., converse during the spring general assembly of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops in Baltimore June 13, 2019. (CNS photo/Bob Roller)

By Catholic News Service

BALTIMORE (CNS) — Representatives of lay organizations expressed caution over the steps taken by U.S. bishops to boost accountability and transparency in dealing with clergy sexual abuse, saying future actions by the bishops will determine how successful the initiatives ultimately will be.

Full collaboration with laypeople will be the key to the success of the measures adopted by the bishops, they said in a series of statements following the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ spring general assembly in Baltimore June 11-13.

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Posted in U.S.