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Monday, April 12, 2010


VATICAN CITY, 12 APR 2010 (VIS) - Today the Vatican website, under the section called "Focus", published a guide to understanding the procedures of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith on sexual abuse allegations towards minors.

Guide to Understanding Basic CDF Procedures concerning Sexual Abuse Allegations
The applicable law is the Motu Proprio "Sacramentorum sanctitatis tutela" (MP SST) of 30 April 2001 together with the 1983 Code of Canon Law. This is an introductory guide which may be helpful to lay persons and non-canonists.

A:  Preliminary Procedures

The local diocese investigates every allegation of sexual abuse of a minor by a cleric.
If the allegation has a semblance of truth the case is referred to the CDF.  The local bishop transmits all the necessary information to the CDF and expresses his opinion on the procedures to be followed and the measures to be adopted in the short and long term.

Civil law concerning reporting of crimes to the appropriate authorities should always be followed.

During the preliminary stage and until the case is concluded, the bishop may impose precautionary measures to safeguard the community, including the victims. Indeed, the local bishop always retains power to protect children by restricting the activities of any priest in his diocese.  This is part of his ordinary authority, which he is encouraged to exercise to whatever extent is necessary to assure that children do not come to harm, and this power can be exercised at the bishop's discretion before, during and after any canonical proceeding.

B: Procedures authorized by the CDF

The CDF studies the case presented by the local bishop and also asks for supplementary information where necessary.
The CDF has a number of options:

B1 Penal Processes

The CDF may authorize the local bishop to conduct a judicial penal trial before a local Church tribunal. Any appeal in such cases would eventually be lodged to a tribunal of the CDF.

The CDF may authorize the local bishop to conduct an administrative penal process before a delegate of the local bishop assisted by two assessors. The accused priest is called to respond to the accusations and to review the evidence.  The accused has a right to present recourse to the CDF against a decree condemning him to a canonical penalty.  The decision of the Cardinals members of the CDF is final.

Should the cleric be judged guilty, both judicial and administrative penal processes can condemn a cleric to a number of canonical penalties, the most serious of which is dismissal from the clerical state.  The question of damages can also be treated directly during these procedures.

B2 Cases referred directly to the Holy Father

In very grave cases where a civil criminal trial has found the cleric guilty of sexual abuse of minors or where the evidence is overwhelming, the CDF may choose to take the case directly to the Holy Father with the request that the Pope issue a decree of "ex officio" dismissal from the clerical state.  There is no canonical remedy against such a papal decree.

The CDF also brings to the Holy Father requests by accused priests who, cognizant of their crimes, ask to be dispensed from the obligation of the priesthood and want to return to the lay state.  The Holy Father grants these requests for the good of the Church ("pro bono Ecclesiae").

B3 Disciplinary Measures

In cases where the accused priest has admitted to his crimes and has accepted to live a life of prayer and penance, the CDF authorizes the local bishop to issue a decree prohibiting or restricting the public ministry of such a priest.  Such decrees are imposed through a penal precept which would entail a canonical penalty for a violation of the conditions of the decree, not excluding dismissal from the clerical state.  Administrative recourse to the CDF is possible against such decrees.  The decision of the CDF is final.

C. Revision of MP SST

For some time the CDF has undertaken a revision of some of the articles of "Motu Proprio Sacramentorum Sanctitatis tutela", in order to update the said Motu Proprio of 2001 in the light of special faculties granted to the CDF by Popes  John Paul II and Benedict XVI. The proposed modifications under discussion will not change the above-mentioned procedures (A, B1-B3).
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VATICAN CITY, 10 APR 2010 (VIS) - The Holy Father will make an apostolic trip to Cyprus from 4 to 6 June, during the course of which the "Instrumentum laboris" of the Special Assembly for the Middle East of the Synod of Bishops will be published.

  The Pope will depart from Rome's Fiumicino airport at 9.30 a.m. and is due to arrive in Paphos at 2 p.m. Following the welcome ceremony, he will travel to the church of Agia Kiriaki Chrysopolitissa, where he will participate in an ecumenical ceremony and pronounce an address.

  On Saturday 5 June the Holy Father will pay a courtesy visit to Dimitris Christofias, president of the Republic of Cyprus, at the presidential palace in Nicosia, where he will also meet the civil authorities and the diplomatic corps. At 10.45 that morning he will meet with the Catholic community of Cyprus at the sports field of St. Maron primary school in Nicosia. At 12.15 p.m. he is scheduled to meet His Beatitude Chrysostomos II, archbishop of New Justiniana and All Cyprus, at the Orthodox archbishopric. The day will end with Mass in the Latin parish church of the Holy Cross attended by priests, religious and representatives of Cyprian ecclesial movements.

  At 9.30 a.m. on Sunday 6 June the Pope will celebrate Mass at Nicosia's Eleftheria sports centre for the occasion of the publication of the "Instrumentum laboris" of the Special Assembly for the Middle East of the Synod of Bishops. At 1 p.m. he will have lunch at the apostolic nunciature in Nicosia with patriarchs and bishops of the Special Council for the Middle East of the Synod of Bishops, and His Beatitude Chrysostomos II. That afternoon the Holy Father will visit the Maronite cathedral of Cyprus, from which he will travel to Larnaca airport for his return flight to Rome, which is scheduled to depart at 6.15 p.m.
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VATICAN CITY, 10 APR 2010 (VIS) - The Pontifical Biblical Commission will celebrate its annual plenary meeting at the Vatican's "Domus Sanctae Marthae" from 12 to 16 April, under the presidency of Cardinal William Joseph Levada, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. Fr. Klemens Stock S.J., secretary general of the commission, will oversee and direct the work of the assembly.

  During their meeting, the members of the commission will turn their attention to the subject of "Inspiration and Truth of the Bible". As the first stage of its study, the commission has chosen to concentrate its efforts on verifying how the themes of inspiration and truth appear in the various texts of the Bible. On the basis of their individual competencies, each member will present a report which will then be discussed collegially by the assembly.
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VATICAN CITY, 11 APR 2010 (VIS) - At noon, Benedict XVI, at Castelgandolfo since the Sunday of the Resurrection, recited the Regina Coeli with the faithful in the courtyard of the Apostolic Palace of this city.

  Before the Marian oration, the Holy Father recalled that John Paul II dedicated this Sunday, which concludes the Octave of Easter to Divine Mercy and said: "The pages of the Gospel of Saint John (20:19-31) are full of divine mercy and goodness. It is told that Jesus, after the Resurrection, visited his disciples, crossing the closed doors of the house".

 He continued: "Jesus shows the signs of the passion, to allowing the doubting Thomas to touch them. However, how is it possible that a disciple doubts? In reality, divine condescendence allows us to draw even from the incredulity of Saint Thomas as well as from the believing disciples. In fact, touching the Lord's wounds, the hesitant disciple heals not only his own diffidence, but also ours.".

The visit by the Risen One, the Pope explained,  "is not limited to the house, but it goes beyond, so that all may receive the gift of peace and life with the 'creating Breath'. In fact, twice Jesus said to the disciples: 'Peace be with you!', and added: 'As the Father has sent me, so I send you'. After saying this he breathed on them, saying: 'Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained'."

"This is the mission of the Church constantly assisted by the Paraclete: to bring to all the good news, the joyous reality of God's merciful Love, that you may (...) believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you will receive life in his name".

"In the light of these words, I encourage, in particular, all the Shepherds to follow the example of the holy Curate of Ars who, 'at his time, knew how to transform the hearts and lives of so many persons, because he made them perceive the merciful love of the Lord. Today, we also need a similar proclamation and a similar testimonial of the truth of Love. In this way we make Him that our eyes have never seen be evermore familiar and close, He whose infinite Mercy is an absolute certitude", the Pope concluded.
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VATICAN CITY, 11 APR 2010 (VIS) - After the prayer of Regina Coeli in the Apostolic Palace of Castelgandolfo, the Pope expressed his condolences to the Polish nation for the tragic plane accident of Saturday, in which the President Lech Kaczynski, his wife and other high officials of the State and the military, lost their lives.

  Then, addressing the Polish pilgrims present, the Holy Father said that they "perished during a journey to Katyn, the place where thousands of Polish military officers were tortured seventy years ago".

  He said, "I entrust all the victims to the goodness of the Lord of Life. I do this in union with the pilgrims congregated in the Sanctuary of Lagiewniki and all those devoted to the Mercy of God in the whole world".

  Saturday, Benedict XVI sent a telegram to the President of the Parliament of the Republic of Poland, Bronislaw Komorowski, in which he stated "I entrust the victims of this dramatic accident - the parliamentarians, the politicians, the representatives of the army and the families of Katyn, as well as all the other persons - to the goodness of the merciful God. May he welcome them in his glory. To the families of those that perished and to all the Polish people, I wish to offer my most sincere condolences, assuring them of my spiritual closeness. During this difficult moment, I beg the almighty God for a special blessing for the Polish People".
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VATICAN CITY, 12 APR 2010 (VIS) - On Thursday April 8, in the House of the Armed Forces of Sarajevo, the signing of the Agreement between the Holy See and Bosnia Herzegovina took place, concerning religious assistance for Catholic faithful, members of the Armed Forces of this State.

  The Archbishop Alessandro D'Errico, apostolic nuncio to Sarajevo, signed on behalf of the Holy See, and for Bosnia Herzegovina, the Minister of Defence, Selmo Cikotic.

  A notice states that "the Agreement is a new important stage in relationships between the Holy See and Bosnia and Herzegovina. It is, in fact, a first and significant application of the Base Agreement between the Holy See and Bosnia and Herzegovina, which was signed in Sarajevo on April 19 2006 and defined, among other things, the juridical framework of the presence and the activities of the Catholic Church in the Nation. Especially, article 15 of the same Agreement recognizes and guarantees the Catholic Church's right to religious assistance for the Catholic members of the Armed Forces and establishes that religious activities in the Armed Forces will be regulated by a following Agreement between the Ecclesiastic Authorities and Bosnia and Herzegovina. This is what this document will try to achieve, according to article 13, which will occur at the moment of the exchange of ratification instruments.
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VATICAN CITY, 12 APR 2010 (VIS) - The Holy Father received today, in separate audiences four prelates National Conference of Bishops of Brazil (North II Region), during their "ad limina" apostolic visit:

- Bishop Flavio Giovenale, S.D.B., of Abaetetuba.

- Bishop Alessio Saccardo, S.I., of Ponta de Pedras.

- Bishop Jesus Maria Cizaurre Berdonces, O.A.R., Prelate of Cameta.

- Bishop Bernardo Johannes Bahlmann, O.F.M., Prelate of Obidos.
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VATICAN CITY, 12 APR 2010 (VIS) -  The Holy Father appointed Corepiscopus, Yousif Habash, as Bishop of the Eparchy of Our Lady of Deliverance of Newark of the Syrians (Catholics 13,800, priests 6, permanent deacons 2) in the United States of America. The bishop elect was born in 1951 in Qaraqosh, Iraq and was ordained in 1975. Until now he was the parish priest of the Syro-Catholic Parish of the Sacred Heart of Jesus in Los Angeles, California.

  On Saturday 10 April it was made public that the Pope:

- Appointed Cardinal Secretary of State Tarcisio Bertone S.D.B. as pontifical legate to the Eucharistic Congress of Slovenia, due to take place in Celje on 13 June.

 - Appointed Cardinal Jozef Tomko, prefect emeritus of the Congregation for the Evangelisation of Peoples, as his special envoy to celebrations marking the third centenary of the consecration of the cathedral of Minsk, Belarus, due to take place there on 12 June.

 - Appointed Msgr. Jaime Villarroel Rodriguez of the clergy of the diocese of Margarita, Venezuela, vicar general, as bishop of Carupano (area 5,638, population 461,000, Catholics 454,800, priests 29, religious 22), Venezuela. The bishop-elect was born in Porlamar, Venezuela in 1962 and ordained a priest in 1993.

 - Accepted the resignation from the pastoral care of the eparchy of Santa Maria del Patrocinio en Buenos Aires of the Ukrainians, Argentina, presented by Bishop Miguel Mykycej F.D.P., in accordance with canon 210 para. 1 of the Code of Canons of the Eastern Churches. He appointed Bishop Sviatoslav Shevchuk, auxiliary of Santa Maria del Patrocinio en Buenos Aires, as apostolic administrator of the same eparchy.
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VATICAN CITY, 12 APR 2010 (VIS) - As of the morning of Friday 9 April the Vatican Information Service (VIS), apart from its daily news bulletin, now has its own blog which includes news items from the last few years in Spanish, English, French and Italian. The blog also allows access to the Vatican's Twitter account and YouTube portal. The website is: www.visnews.org.
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VATICAN CITY, 10 APR 2010 (VIS) - At 5.30 p.m. yesterday in the pontifical residence at Castelgandolfo, Benedict XVI attended the screening of a film on Pius XII entitled "Under the Roman Sky".

  At the end of the showing, the Pope expressed his appreciation at having been able to watch the first screening of a film "which shows the fundamental role played by Venerable Pius XII in saving Rome and many persecuted people between 1943 and 1944".

  "Such works", he said, "have particular importance especially for the new generations. For people who studied certain events at school, or perhaps have heard speak about them, films such as this can be useful and stimulating, helping them to understand a period which is by no means distant, but which the swift-moving events of recent history and a fragmented culture can cause us to forget".

  The Holy Father highlighted how Pius XII, "with his profound teachings, was able to speak to the men and women of his time, showing them the road to Truth, while with his great wisdom he guided the Church towards the horizon of the Third Millennium. Yet", Benedict XVI added, "I would particularly like to underline the fact that Pius XII was the Pope who, as father to all, presided in charity, in Rome and the in the world, especially during the difficulty period of World War II".

  "The primacy of charity, of love, which is the commandment of the Lord Jesus, is the principle and the key to understanding all the work of the Church, and in the first place that of her universal Pastor. Charity is the reason for all actions, for all interventions. It is the basic motive that moves thoughts and concrete actions, and I am happy that this unifying principle also emerges in this film. This is the interpretation I would suggest, in the light of the authentic witness shown by that great master of faith, hope and charity who was Pope Pius XII".
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