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Pope Francis

Pope to award 2016 Ratzinger Prize to Inos Biffi and Ioannis Kourempeles

October 20, 2016. The winners of this year's Ratzinger Prize will be Inos Biffi and Ioannis Kourempeles. The former, an Italian priest, is an expert in Systematic Theology and History of Medieval Theology. The latter is Greek and an Orthodox. He is an expert in History of Dogmas and Dogmatic Theology. He will be the first Orthodox to be awarded the prize given by the Joseph Ratzinger Foundation, considered by many the Nobel Prize of Theology.
Pope Francis

Pope Francis sends his condolences to Thais after the death of King Bhumibol Adulyadej

October 14, 2016. Pope Francis has sent a message to the Prime Minister of Thailand to express his condolences for the death of King Bhumibol Adulyadej. He was 88 years old, and his reign spanned seven decades. Pope Francis said he is "deeply saddened” and he expresses his closeness to the members of the royal family and the Thai people.
Pope Francis

Pope sends 100,000 dollars for Hurricane Matthew victims

October 14, 2016. Through the Pontifical Council "Cor Unum", Pope Francis will send $100,000 to the victims of Hurricane Matthew in Haiti. The money will fund relief efforts in the first stages of recovery after the devastating effects of the hurricane. With this gesture, the pope wants to express his "closeness of spirit and fatherly support” to everyone in the affected area.
Pope Francis

Pope authorizes new decrees of heroic virtues for four potential saints

October 11, 2016. Pope Francis authorized the Congregation for the Causes of Saints to promulgate the decree of heroic virtues to four people, who are being investigated by the Church for possible sainthood. The decrees were given to the following "Servants of God:”
Pope Francis

Pope Francis rejects death penalty on Twitter: #NoDeathPenalty

October 10, 2016. The Pope has has given his support via Twitter to the World Day Against the Death Penalty. The following message can be read in each of his nine accounts, in their respective languages: "Punishment should necessarily include hope! #NoDeathPenalty.”
Pope Francis

Pope Francis announces Synod about youth and vocation

October 6, 2016. It will be held in 2018 under the name "Youth, faith, and vocational discernment.” Preparations for the second Synod of bishops convened by Pope Francis are well underway.

Theme chosen for 2017 World Communications Day

September 29, 2016. The theme for the 2017 World Communications Day has officially been announced. Coming from the book of Isiah, the theme is: "Fear not, for I am with you: communicating hope and trust in our time.”
Pope Francis

Pope will not be able to travel to Israel on Friday to attend the funeral of Shimon Peres

September 28, 2016. Despite the rumors that Pope Francis will travel to Israel to attend Shimon Peres funeral, the Vatican has issued a statement officially announcing a confirmation for the pope's scheduled visit to Georgia and Azerbaijan will remain as planned on Friday. The pope spoke warmly about the former leader and sent out a telegram of condolences:
Pope Francis

Pope's schedule during his trip to Sweden

September 27, 2016. Pope Francis will travel to Sweden next October 31 and November 1, for the occasion of the Lutheran–Catholic Common Commemoration of the Reformation.This will be the 17th trip of his pontificate.

Third priest found dead in Mexico

September 26, 2016.Mexican priest, Alfredo Lopez Guillen, was found dead this weekend on a rural road about 350 km east of Mexico City, after being allegedly abducted and assaulted in his parish on Monday September 19. This is the third case of violence against priests in Mexico in just one week. On Monday, September 19, Fr. Nabor Jiménez and Fr. José Alfredo Juarez were also kidnapped in the church of Our Lady of Fatima. Hours later they found them lifeless in a ditch in Poza Rica, Veracruz. The Catholic Church wants clarification on the murders, because it is not yet known who could be the alleged perpetrators.
Pope Francis

Holy See adopts UN Convention against Corruption

September 23, 2016. Pope Francis has asked the Vatican to be exemplary in the fight against corruption and meet the set international standards in this regard. Therefore, the Secretary of State has announced that the Holy See will conform to the Merida Convention against Corruption. This requires countries to implement anti-corruption measures concerning its laws, institutions and practices. From now on, the Roman Curia and the Vatican City State will review its administrative procedures to align them to the standards set by the Convention. Through this compliance, the Vatican says it hopes to contribute to increased transparency and proper management of public affairs in the international community.

What changed in the Church after allegations of abuse were published in the Boston Globe?


Boston. January 2002 

There are two recurring elements in the sexual abuse crisis: a priest who abuses children and a bishop who did not immediately remove him from contact with children. 

On January  6, 2002, the Boston Globe published the story of father John Geoghan, who for 30 years had abused more than 130 children. Boston Cardinal Bernard Law thought the problem could be solved by moving him to a new parish after abuse cases. So John Geoghan was transferred to half a dozen parishes. At each new parish, parents complained to the archdiocese that the priest had abused children. 

Geoghan's case triggered a wave of complaints against other American bishops who had also put avoidance of scandal above the safety of children. 

The Pope summoned all American cardinals to the Vatican to brief him on the sexual abuse scandals.

John Paul II
Message to American cardinals
April 24, 2002
"People need to know that there is no place in the priesthood and religious life for those who would harm the young.”

These words changed history. The bishops would have to remove the rotten apple in the basket before it taints the rest of the Church.

After the meeting at the Vatican, all the American bishops met in Dallas and signed a document titled "Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People." They proposed that it should be mandatory for the bishop to report abuse to the authorities and to expel the priest after the first offense against a minor. 

For these to become mandatory rules for the bishops, authorization from the Vatican was needed. Four American bishops traveled to Rome to negotiate a formula that would allow them to immediately remove guilty priests. 

National Catholic Reporter (U.S.)
Some senior Vatican officials thought that these aggressive policies the so called "one strike and you’re out” policy is what the church needed. Others were quite opposed to it because they felt it was a betrayal of the Church’s long tradition of canon law which does not use ‘one size fits all’ penalties.

Only one Cardinal fully supported the determination of the four American bishops: the prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Joseph Ratzinger. His support was critical in getting what they proposed. 

National Catholic Reporter (U.S.)
The American bishops proposed not just a set of policies but actual binding norms under Church law. They came to Rome to get the approval for them, which is technically called a ‘recognitio’ and after a bit of back and forth that ‘recognitio’ was granted so that by 2002 we didn’t just have a climate of goodwill or a sort of gentleman’s commitment to doing this right, we had binding law that bishops were obliged to follow.

As a result, the proposals became the "Essential Norms", the essential rules that every American bishop had to follow. 

The norms were adopted on December 8, 2002. From that moment on, the United States began expelling  guilty priests. Several bishops who had not aggressively dealt with the problem went into early retirement.

On March 19, 2010, Benedict XVI wrote a long letter to the Catholics of Ireland on sexual abuse by clergy. In the letter, the Pope identified four factors that have worsened this crisis. 

- The poor selection of candidates for the priesthood, 
- Insufficient moral and spiritual formation in seminaries, 
- The social tendency to protect clergy 
- A mistaken concern for the reputation of the Church and to avoid scandals, which leads to a failure to apply the canonical penalties and the failure to safeguard the dignity of the victims as human beings. 

National Catholic Reporter (U.S.) 
"For decades there was a culture of protecting the good name of the Church. Meant to keep the abuse hidden. There was a tribal morality of the clergy because their most important duty was to hold harmless the members of the club in danger. This means forgetting about the rights of children, their parents, their families, the whole Church and society."

 "Today the situation is completely different. If you reach a credible accusation against a Catholic priest anywhere in the world, you can be sure that two things happen. One, the Bishop removed from ministry a priest and two, it will be reported to the police". 

Child abuse is seriously harmful, and unfortunately as old as humanity. But it is more painful when caused by a person who has dedicated his life to God and serving others. 

Good intentions are not enough. In places where no clean up is attempted, the bad apples will continue doing harm to new victims and damaging the image of priests. 

Slave trade lasted until the 19th century, but it finally ended. Child abuse can also become just a sad reminder of the past.  

The Catholic Church has the opportunity to lead a historic revolution. A diocese free of child abuse is a model and first step towards a society free of such crimes.