Mar 22, 2002
A poll of American Catholics conducted by Le Moyne College and Zogby International finds that a majority believe Church leadership has done a poor job handling the issue of priests alleged to have committed acts of child sexual abuse and that the judicial system should handle these allegations.
Of the 1,507 American Catholics polled nationwide between March 12 and March 16, 75 percent answered either "poor" (52 percent) or "fair" (23 percent) when asked how they rate Church leadership's efforts to deal with the issue; 22 percent give Church leaders a positive rating for its handling of the issue. An overwhelming majority (85 percent) believe the legal system should handle these allegations, with only 10 percent saying it should be dealt with as an internal Church matter.
One in five Catholics say a priest in their local diocese has been accused of committing child sexual abuse, and when accusations of child sexual abuse against a priest are revealed, 84 percent say they are likely to believe the charges, compared to 14 percent who are not likely to believe the accusations.
From October 2001 to March 2002, the percentage of Catholics who strongly or somewhat agreed the bishops were doing a good job of leading the Church fell from 84 percent to 68 percent.
Despite this, those who indicate they were likely to leave the Church remained the same at 7 percent.
Other poll highlights: ·An equal percentage of Catholics (60 percent) feel that both a strong Israel and a viable Palestinian state should be a goal of US foreign policy. ·There is general strong support for the use of the US military, including ground forces, in the war on terrorism even under two adverse conditions: entering a country without the permission of its government (64 percent agree) and even if it means large number of American casualties (65 percent agree). [Source: Le Moyne College]
Pope John Paul II broke his silence on the sex abuse cases rocking the Church, saying the "grave scandal" was casting a "dark shadow of suspicion" over all priests.
In his traditional Letter to Priests for Holy Thursday, the pope said "as priests we are personally and profoundly afflicted by the sins of some of our brothers who have betrayed the grace of ordination."
He said they had succumbed "to the most grievous forms" of what he called, using the Latin phrase, "mystery of evil."
"Grave scandal is caused, with the result that a dark shadow of suspicion is cast over all the other fine priests who perform their ministry with honesty and integrity and often with heroic self-sacrifice," the pope said.
He said the Church "shows her concern for the victims and strives to respond in truth and justice to each of these painful situations."
It was the first time the pope publicly addressed the issue since widescale accusations of sexual misconduct by priests surfaced in the United States in recent months. The accusations have led to the resignation of one bishop, from Palm Beach, Florida, and tarnished the reputation of Cardinal Bernard Law of Boston for failing to take action against a child-molesting priest.
John Paul has been described as particularly saddened by sexual harassment allegations leveled against the archbishop of Poznan in the pope's native Poland. Archbishop Juliusz Paetz, who worked with John Paul at the Vatican and was sent by him to Poland in 1982, denied the allegations in a letter read in parishes last Sunday. [Source: AP]
In a statement for the "European-wide Action Week Against Racism," March 16-24, the Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS) Europe calls politicians to give positive leadership in the fight against racism. Immigrants and refugees are especially vulnerable to racist attacks since they do not always enjoy the same rights that protect citizens.
"JRS is very concerned about some emerging trends," said European JRS Director Fr John Dardis SJ. "These trends show how important it is to work proactively to integrate local communities with newly arriving groups of migrants and refugees. ... When refugees flee their homeland to escape persecution it is a real tragedy when they are met by a different type of persecution here in Europe."
Immigration can have a positive effect upon a nation, adding to the diversity and richness of its culture. Governments should ensure that every school has an education program to combat racism and xenophobia so that racism does not take root through ignorance. This year more than ever, there is a need for people throughout Europe to state clearly that racism has no place in our societies, the statement says. [Source: JRS]
The full statement is at: http://www.jesref.org/inf/statemen/eu20315e.htm
The US war on terrorism cannot succeed while the Israeli-Palestinian conflict continues unchecked by international intervention, said Fr Pasquale Borgomeo SJ, director of Vatican Radio.
Fr Borgomeo said the time is long overdue for authoritative mediation by the United States in the Middle East so that the cycle of attack and reprisal can come to an end.
The level of bloodshed and "barbaric acts" between Israel and Palestinians has reached the point where outside intervention is absolutely necessary, he said.
"We are now six months from the horrible terrorist attack on the Twin Towers in New York. It seems clear even to US political leaders that one cannot conduct an effective war on international terrorism while allowing a perpetuation of the horror of the Middle East conflict, which is being carried out without objectives or rules," Fr Borgomeo said.
The Palestinian-Israeli situation requires both the United States and Europe to take an active role in peacemaking, he said. The road to peace will be "uphill, much more than before" and will require courage on both sides, including the courage to look at past mistakes, he said. [Source: CNS. Do not repost electronically]
Loyola University New Orleans and WWL-AM commemorated the 80th anniversary of the first broadcast in New Orleans on March 21. A plaque will be placed in Loyola's Marquette Hall dedicated to the students and faculty who made radio broadcast history.
The Jesuits created the 10-watt station as a lab for wireless technology. The station received its broadcasting license on March 31, 1922, and began broadcasting immediately. The first broadcast aired with no public notification and included a three-minute appeal to New Orleans residents to support construction of a new classroom building on campus.
Loyola owned WWL radio and eventually WWL television until the late 1980s, when they were sold to build the university endowment. WWL is presently a 50,000-watt clear channel station. [Source: Loyola University New Orleans]
Infants who survive an abortion and are outside a woman's body would be considered "born alive" and given legal protection under a measure approved by the US House of Representatives in mid-March.
The Born-Alive Infants Protection Act, approved by voice vote, would amend the legal definition of "person," "human being," "child," and "individual" to include abortion survivors outside the womb who have a heartbeat or are breathing on their own.
The legislation is aimed at "partial-birth" abortions in which an unborn baby is partially delivered before being killed. "It's long overdue that this become law," said Representative Steve Chabot, an Ohio Republican, who wrote the legislation. "It just seems like common sense that when a baby is born, no matter what the circumstances of the birth may have been, even if it was a botched abortion, that the child be treated with basic human dignity."
The bill does not try to undercut the US Supreme Court's 1973 Roe v. Wade decision that legalized abortion, said Representative Jerrold Nadler, a New York Democrat. An identical bill is pending in the Senate. [Source: Zenit]
Fr John Dear SJ has optimism that peace is possible despite the ongoing dread of war and terrorism. That was his message in a lecture on "Living Peace: Reflections on September 11 and the War on Terror," delivered at Le Moyne College in February.
Fr Dear said that for him, the terror of the World Trade Center attack was very real. He lives in New York City and immediately began volunteering at ground zero.
"I was shocked, horrified like everybody else in New York and around the country," the priest said.
He worked full-time as a volunteer for three months after the attacks. What is not often noted, the priest said, is that there were, and still are, crowds gathering for peace vigils in the midst of the leveled towers.
Fr Dear told his audience that, despite the fact that family members lost loved ones in the attacks, it was rare to hear them speak of retaliation. Mostly, they said that a war would not bring their loved ones back and they had seen enough killing, he explained.
"Violence is immoral, illegal, and impractical. Gandhi said, 'An eye for an eye only makes the whole world blind.' Revenge and retaliation only escalate violence. War will not stop terrorism because war is terrorism," Fr Dear said. [Source: CNS. Do not repost electronically]
The assassination of Archbishop Isaias Duarte Cancino is a clear signal that the Colombian Church must continue the struggle against drug-trafficking, said Archbishop Luis Augusto Castro after the funderal of Archbishop Duarte, who was shot dead by gunmen in Cali on Saturday.
"This is a very difficult moment," said Archbishop Castro. "Tragic events like the assassination of Archbishop Duarte make us realise that we must continue the task of mediating between the conflicting parties, striving to approach them and bring them all to forgiveness, as Pope John Paul II teaches."
Archbishop Duarte was given the final salute by his archdiocese in Cali cathedral filled to capacity with many more people in the cathedral square. The funeral was presided on behalf of the pope by Cardinal Pedro Rubiano Saenz, Archbishop of Bogota, who concelebrated the Mass with all the bishops of Colombia, the Nuncio, and about a hundred priests. Special guests included President Andres Pastrana and the entire government.
Archbishop Castro said: "He combined love of God and charity to the poor with courageous denouncing of violence and corruption. Colombia is in the grip of various kinds of violence: political which is now armed subversion, economic violence called drug-trafficking, and cultural violence seen in common criminality." [Source: Fides]
JRS Italy has strongly criticized the proposed law on Immigration and Asylum, approved by the Italian Senate (upper house of the Italian parliament) last February. The new law introduces measures such as mandatory detention and restrictive appeal procedures as well as effectively cutting funds to local government for reception of, and assistance to, asylum seekers. In practice this will make the right to asylum virtually impossible to exercise.
Over the past months many organizations working with immigrants and asylum seekers have expressed their concerns and suggested amendments to the law. None of these suggestions have been taken into account. The bill will now pass to the Lower House of parliament.
JRS Italy has stated that during the past months a number of asylum claims have been dealt with in a superficial and rushed manner. In February, over 300 asylum seekers--Kurds, Afghanis, Palestinians, Sri Lankans and other nationalities-- were interviewed on arrival by the Central Commission for Refugees (the national body that deals with asylum claims) and detained by the police. In some cases asylum seekers were given less than 5 minutes each to make their case. The majority of those interviewed were not granted asylum.
Many of those rejected are victims of torture, or risk being treated inhumanely if they return to their own country. Despite this risk, hundreds of refugees are being rejected and deported immediately without the possibility of appeal.
Non-governmental organizations working with asylum seekers are exploring ways to stop the summary deportation of refugees and are considering the possibility of taking the case to the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg. [Source: Jesuit Refugee Service International]
The European Parliament narrowly approved a report that purports to underline the violations suffered by women because of religious extremism. The report "Women and Fundamentalism," presented by Spanish Socialist deputy Marķa Izquierdo, was approved by a vote of 242-240. There were 42 abstentions.
Europarliamentarians either modified or eliminated some of the more controversial points of the report, such as the request to religious leaders, including John Paul II and Eastern patriarchs, to change their views on lesbianism.
The "right to control one's own body," regarded by some groups as a justification of abortion, was also eliminated from the text. Vatican Radio described the text as "controversial" and of "secular stamp."
European bishops sent a letter to the European Socialists' Party, which supported the report, saying the document is "contradictory and inadequate," because, in part, it does not differentiate "between religious fundamentalism and the normal practice of religion." [Source: Zenit]
In the March 8 of this newsletter, we noted the death on March 17, 1964, of Fr Joseph O'Callahan. Our newsletter stated that he was the "chaplain on the battleship USS Franklin." We would like to thank various readers who called to our attention that the USS Franklin was an aircraft carrier, not a battleship.
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