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Australian PM calls for removal of archbishop convicted of not reporting abuse

Canberra, Australia, Jul 19, 2018 / 11:03 am (CNA/EWTN News).- Australian prime minister Malcolm Turnbull called Thursday for Pope Francis to dismiss Archbishop Philip Wilson of Adelaide, who was convicted in May of failing to report allegations of child sexual abuse disclosed to him in the 1970s.

“As far as Philip Wilson is concerned, he should have resigned, he should have resigned,” Turnbull said July 19, according to The Australian.

“And the time has come for the Pope to sack him. There are many leaders that have called on him to resign, it is clear that he should resign, and I think the time has come now for the ultimate authority in the church to take action and sack him.”

Turnbull was preparing to meet with a group of Australian bishops, and he said they would be “discussing a range of issues.” The Church in Australia is seeking clarity over federal funding for Catholic schools.

Archbishop Wilson, 67, was convicted May 22 of concealing abuse committed by a fellow parish priest in New South Wales in the 1970s. At the time, Wilson had been ordained a priest for only one year.

The victims of the scandal, Peter Creigh and another altar boy who is unnamed for legal reasons, said they both had told Wilson of their abusive experience with Fr. James Fletcher.

The archbishop was sentenced July 3 to a 12-month sentence, which will likely be served as house arrest, but he plans to appeal his conviction.

Archbishop Wilson said that “I am conscious of calls for me to resign and have taken them very seriously. However, at this time, I am entitled to exercise my legal rights and to follow the due process of law. Since that process is not yet complete, I do not intend to resign at this time.”

“However, if I am unsuccessful in my appeal, I will immediately offer my resignation to the Holy See,” he added.

Pope Francis has appointed Bishop Gregory O'Kelly of Port Pirie apostolic administrator of the Archdiocese of Adelaide.

Archbishop Mark Coleridge of Brisbane, president of the Australian bishops' conference, said July 5 that “a number of survivors, prominent Australians and other members of the community have publicly called on Archbishop Wilson to resign.”

“Although we have no authority to compel him to do so, a number of Australian bishops have also offered their advice privately,” he said, while adding that “only the Pope can compel a bishop to resign.”

Archbishop Coleridge said the conference has been “closely following” Archbishop Wilson's case and they respect his decision to appeal, which is “the right of any citizen,” but said that “we also recognize the ongoing pain this has caused survivors, especially those who were abused by Jim Fletcher.”

19th-century Italian teen to be canonized during youth Synod

Vatican City, Jul 19, 2018 / 10:01 am (CNA/EWTN News).- Bl. Nunzio Sulprizio, who died at the age of 19 from bone cancer, will be declared a saint Oct. 14 during the Synod of Bishops on young people, faith, and vocational discernment, Pope Francis announced Thursday.

The pope announced the date of the young Italian’s canonization during an ordinary public consistory at the Vatican July 19. The canonization will take place alongside six others, including that of Bl. Oscar Romero and Bl. Pope Paul VI, who presided over Sulprizio’s beatification.

At the beatification Dec. 1, 1963, Paul VI said that Bl. Nunzio Sulprizio teaches us that “the period of youth should not be considered the age of free passions, of inevitable falls, of invincible crises, of decadent pessimism, of harmful selfishness. Rather, he will tell you how being young is a grace…”

“He will tell you that no other age than yours, young people, is as suitable for great ideals, for generous heroism, for the coherent demands of thought and action,” the pope continued. “He will teach you how you, young people, can regenerate the world in which Providence has called you to live, and how it is up to you first to consecrate yourselves for the salvation of a society that needs strong and fearless souls.”

Sulprizio said it was “God’s Providence” that cared for him during his short life, and would say, “Jesus endured so much for us and by his merits eternal life awaits us. If we suffer a little bit, we will taste the joy of paradise” and “Jesus suffered a lot for me. Why should I not suffer for him?”

Born in the Italian region of Abruzzo in 1817, Sulprizio learned the faith from a priest at the local school he attended and from his maternal grandmother.

He was orphaned before the age of six, and after the death of his grandmother three years later, went to live with an uncle, who took him on as an apprentice blacksmith, not permitting him to attend school anymore.

His uncle also mistreated him, sending him on long errands, beating him, and withholding meals if he thought things were not done correctly or the boy needed discipline. The young Sulprizio would take consolation in Eucharistic adoration and in praying the rosary.

While still very young, he contracted an infection in one of his legs, causing intense and constant pain, with a puss-oozing sore. Due to a lack of proper medical care, the boy developed gangrene, and was sent to a hospital in Naples. There he would unite his pain with Christ’s suffering on the cross, also helping his fellow patients.

During this time, Sulprizio was introduced to a colonel who treated him like a son and helped pay for his medical treatments. While in the hospital, the young man was visited by a priest who prepared him for his first confession and Holy Communion.

He also met St. Gaetano Errico, an Italian priest and founder of the Missionaries of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary, who promised him he could enter the religious order when he was old enough.

Though he experienced periods of increasing health, Sulprizio contracted bone cancer. His leg was amputated, but it did not help, and he died from the illness shortly after his 19th birthday in 1836. One of the last things he told his friend, the colonel, was, “be cheerful. From heaven I will always be helping you.”

Besides Bl. Pope Paul VI and Bl. Oscar Romero, the other canonizations to take place Oct. 14 are Bl. Francesco Spinelli, a diocesan priest and founder of the Institute of the Adorers of the Blessed Sacrament; Bl. Vincenzo Romano, a diocesan priest from Torre de Greco in Italy; Bl. Maria Caterina Kasper, a German nun and founder of the Institute of the Poor Handmaids of Jesus Christ; and Nazaria Ignazia of Saint Teresa of Jesus, founder of the Congregation of the Misioneras Cruzadas de la Iglesia Sisters.

The 2018 Synod of Bishops, a gathering of bishops from around the world, will take place Oct. 3-28 in Rome on the topic of young people, the faith and vocational discernment.

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US bishops conference approves project funding for Africa, Eastern Europe

Washington D.C., Jul 19, 2018 / 12:28 am (CNA).- Subcommittees at the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops have approved more than $6 million for pastoral projects in Africa and Central and Eastern Europe.

The grants partner with local bishops’ conferences and Church organizations in dozens of countries to respond to specific needs within the communities.

“The Catholics of the United States show that we stand in solidarity with our sisters and brothers in Africa and recognize their courageous commitment to peace, justice, reconciliation, and Christian hope throughout the continent,” said Cardinal Joseph Tobin of Newark, who chairs the Subcommittee on the Church in Africa.

The subcommittee recently approved 54 grants providing $1.4 million for pastoral efforts in Africa, which include religious formation, seminarian and lay leader education, evangelization, and family ministry. Money for the grants comes from the Solidarity Fund for the Church in Africa.

Among the projects funded by the grants will be the establishment of child protection measures in the Diocese of Wa, Ghana. The new Child Protection Office in the diocese is organizing training sessions on the protection of children and vulnerable adults, safe environment creation, policy development and collaboration with government agencies.

Funding will also be given to the bishops’ conference in Rwanda, which is continuing its peace and reconciliation efforts after the 1994 genocide in the country by translating conflict prevention resources for use in local Catholic schools.

In Lesotho, a grant from the U.S. bishops’ conference will support Radio Maria in establishing three new transmitting stations, so that their educational faith programs can reach the entire national population.

In addition, the U.S. bishops’ Subcommittee on Aid to the Church in Central and Eastern Europe has approved $4.9 million in funding for 209 projects in 22 countries. Used to support the Church in nations that previously saw oppression under communism, the funding will go toward construction projects, formation of Church leaders, and education and evangelization efforts.

These include a seven-week formation program to help develop youth ministries in Romania, where only one-third of the parishes in the Archdiocese of Alba Iulia currently have youth programs, and the expansion of a homeless day center run by Sisters of Charity of St. Vincent de Paul in Rijeka, Croatia.

A rehabilitation center for children with cancer in Minsk, Belarus, will also receive a grant. The facility, run by Caritas, offers free housing and psychological support for poor families whose children are going through cancer treatment.

Youth summer camps for children internally displaced by war in East Ukraine will also receive funding. Caritas Donetsk will host two summer camps for 100 young people, who will be offered medical health care from professionals and spiritual care from priests.

“As the people of Central and Eastern Europe continue to build a new future after decades of repression, we are all inspired by the example of great hope they give to the world that it is possible to bring healing to the wounds of the past,” said Cardinal Blase Cupich of Chicago, chairman of the U.S. bishops’ Subcommittee on Aid to the Church in Central and Eastern Europe.

“We can take pride that our steadfast support makes a significant contribution to all their efforts in renewing their communities and passing on the faith of their ancestors to the next generation,” he said.

The grants are funded by the annual Collection for the Church in Central and Eastern Europe, which is generally collected in churches throughout the U.S. on Ash Wednesday each year.

 

Embryo gene-editing poses inescapable ethical problems, critic says

London, England, Jul 18, 2018 / 07:00 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- Genetic editing of human embryos, even in special circumstances, ignores the complex ethical problems related to creating and destroying human embryos, a Catholic bioethicist has said.

“On first glance, genetic editing of human embryos to treat diseases seems like a laudable project. But the reality is far more complex,” Father Tadeusz Pacholczyk, director of education of the National Catholic Bioethics Center, told CNA.
 
The most likely approach for genetic modification of an embryo or embryos would require their creation through in vitro fertilization, said Fr. Pacholzyck, who holds a doctorate in neuroscience. This step “violates their human dignity and ‘objectifies’ them.”
 
“Humans are entitled to be brought into the world not in the cold, impersonal world of laboratory glassware, but exclusively in the loving bodily embrace of their parents,” he added.
 
Pacholzyck’s remarks were a response to a London-based think tank that called recently for further research into embryonic gene editing.

The Nuffield Council on Bioethics on July 17 took the position that changing a human embryo’s DNA could be morally permissible if it was in the child’s interests and did not worsen social inequality, disadvantage, discrimination or division.
 
“It is our view that genome editing is not morally unacceptable in itself,” Karen Yeung, chair of the Nuffield working group, told The Guardian. “There is no reason to rule it out in principle,” said Yeung, a professor of law, ethics and informatics at the University of Birmingham.
 
The council’s report did not advocate changing U.K. law to allow genetic modification. Rather, it advocated research into the safety and effectiveness of gene editing, along with inquiry into its impact on society, and widespread debate about its implications.
 
The council is an independent body founded in 1991. It is involved in policy and media debates on bioethical issues.
 
Pacholzyck told CNA that proposed genetic treatments would not treat the embryo “as a unique patient, within his or her mother’s womb.” Rather, it would involve “treating the embryo as laboratory fodder.”
 
Many embryos would have to be simultaneously created or thawed out, then “treated as ‘products’ and subjected to genetic ‘treatments’ to see if just a few of them might end up surviving and developing without the disease,” he said.
 
“The use of genetic modification technologies on embryos imposes significant risk for the embryo, simply in terms of the mechanical procedures themselves, the numerous manipulative steps involved, and the risks of potential ‘off target’ genetic changes that might reasonably be expected to occur,” said Pacholzyck.
 
“Permission for research on genetic modification of embryos will “open up the floodgates for further subjugation of vulnerable, embryonic humans, individuals at the earliest stages of their existence who will be created in unsuitable settings, manipulated, manhandled, and will often end up perishing as part of the experiment,” he said.
 
Some experiments indicate that DNA editing of embryos could prevent children from inheriting diseases from faulty genes.
 
However, a newly published study in Nature Biotechnology suggests that Crispr-Cas9, the most popular current tool for genome editing, causes more damage to DNA than scientists previously realized. The editing process could disrupt healthy genes.
 
Regardless of effectiveness, any successful changes to an embryo’s DNA would affect all of its cells, including so-called germline cells, like sperm or eggs. These changes would be inherited by any offspring of the fully-grown human being.
 
Professor Dave Archard, Chair of the Nuffield Council on Bioethics, reflected on his report’s recommendations.
 
“Huge advances are happening in genomics research, and whilst we have to acknowledge that genes alone do not shape a person, the possibility of using genome editing in reproduction to secure or avoid a characteristic in a child offers a radically new approach that is likely to appeal to some prospective parents,” adding that in his view close attention must be given to the welfare of those involved, especially any children born after the genetic editing process.
 
Last year, researchers in Oregon announced they had successfully altered genes in a human embryo for the first time in the United States.
 
The ethics of gene editing have been considered for several years. The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith addressed the issue in Dignitas personae, its 2008 instruction on certain bioethical questions.
 
“The human being is to be respected and treated as a person from the moment of conception; and therefore from that same moment his rights as a person must be recognized, among which in the first place is the inviolable right of every innocent human being to life,” the instruction says.
 
The instruction says gene therapy for non-inherited cells are in principle morally licit, provided medical treatment ethics are followed. It warned that germ line cell modification that are “considerable and as yet not fully controllable,” and it is not permissible to act in a way that may cause potential harm to resulting children.
 
It warned against a “eugenic mentality” that aims to improve the gene pool, adding that there could be social stigmas and privileges applied to people with certain genetic qualities, when “such qualities do not constitute what is specifically human.”

 

From bartender to priest: 'God is very insistent!'

Santander, Spain, Jul 18, 2018 / 05:17 pm (ACI Prensa).- How do you go from being a bartender who has not attended Mass for 15 years to becoming a priest?

For Fr. Juan de Cáceres, the answer is that God was persistent in pursing his heart and revealing his call.

Today, Fr. Juan is a priest of the Diocese of Santander in Spain. But he had been away from the sacraments for 15 years when he had a conversion that allowed him to hear God’s call in his life.

After finishing his undergraduate studies, Juan enrolled in law school. However, he was not a good student, and in 2006, at the age of 28, he decided to quit law school to open a trendy bar in Santander.

However, with the onset of the economic crisis in Spain, what had initially promised to be a successful business became the focus of his financial problems, compounded by the crisis of turning 30 and feeling a lack of direction in his life.

“I was really lost, drowning in debt and with the [economic] crisis, there were almost no customers. In addition, my friends quit going out like they used to. They began to get married and stopped dating. I found myself all alone,” he said in an interview with the El Diario Montañés news.

While Juan had stopped going to Mass 15 years ago, a friend invited him to some talks on prayer, which became the turning point that changed his life.

At first, he went to the talks to spend time with his friend. But something within him changed little-by-little: he began to go to Mass again, returned to confession, and re-enrolled in school.

His life started to come together again, until two years after that new beginning, he “felt the call” to the priesthood.

But his first reaction was “to say no.”

“I came up with all kinds of objections: my work, my debts, my life. I thought what I needed to do was to settle down, meet a woman who would make me very happy and have a family. But God is very insistent! And from then on, he would not let that thought out of my heart or mind,” he told El Diario Montañés.

When he decided to discern a vocation, he asked then-Bishop Vicente Jiménez of Santander if he could enter seminary in another city, because “had to keep his distance” from his past life. He entered a seminary in Pamplona, about 120 miles away.

“I was working at the bar up to the day before going to Pamplona, where I spent three fantastic years,” he recalled. During that time, Fr. Juan also worked with the Chinese Catholic community.

He was ordained a priest last January and was assigned to serve four parishes in Santander. He also teaches religion classes three days a week to teenagers.

The experience of being a bartender ended up having value for the priest, who noted that during those years, “I was sort of a confessor to everyone.”

He also helps foster vocations in the diocese because as he explains, “a lot of people have felt the same way I did, but they haven't figured out how to follow up…I'm here to listen and guide.”

 

This article was originally published by our sister agency, ACI Prensa. It has been translated and adapted by CNA.