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Francis, the comic strip

Francis, the comic strip: It seems Francis himself has recognized the humor inherent in being pope. "Francis," the comic strip, picks up on that cue.

Links for 8/21/18

Michael Sean Winters rounds up political news and commentary: Why remain Catholic? 'America' calls to disclose abusers' names; Giuliani speaks about 'truth'; Democrats battle for Pennsylvania

Labor unions rally in support of immigrants, against child detention

In a show of unity and peaceful resistance under a steamy August sun, approximately 2,000 union members gathered to protest Trump administration immigration policies, making common cause on an issue that sometimes has divided them.

Why the bishops should welcome invitation to resign

Commentary: My wife and I signed the Daily Theology statement calling on all U.S. bishops to submit their resignations to Pope Francis, just as all of Chile's 34 bishops have done. Not to be dismissed as a provocative stunt, in the wake of the Pennsylvania grand jury report, their challenge reads more like a respectful invitation. 

Cloves -- mountain passes, not the spice -- make passage easy

Eco Catholic: I always thought cloves were something you put in spice cake. Or maybe used to mull cider.  While indeed a spice, cloves are also a special word for a special kind of mountain pass.

This is why it’s divine

Every Sunday afternoon, I volunteer at a nursing home with members of the Community of Sant’Egidio in Washington, D.C. Once a month we have Mass there. It’s a ragtag affair, a comedy of errors, and this is why I love it.

Justice Action Bulletin: Helping immigrants leave sanctuary; affordable housing

The latest news on active nonviolence: Group plans to help immigrants leave sanctuary safely; Catholic Mobilizing Network condemns execution; people of faith oppose natural gas compression station

Real change against abuse starts with church's clergy/lay structure

Commentary: Even if all U.S. bishops were to resign and be replaced with more clerics, little would improve. The structure, not just individuals who err, is the problem and structures can be changed.

Nicaragua's political tensions need our prayers, US archbishop says

Managua, Nicaragua, Aug 21, 2018 / 12:46 am (CNA/EWTN News).- Americans need to pray for peace in Nicaragua as the country faces continuing political tensions, violence and attacks on churches, said the head of the U.S. bishops’ Committee on International Justice and Peace.

“We mourn the deaths of hundreds of Nicaraguans, many in the prime of their youth, and are horrified at reports of desecrations of churches throughout the country,” Archbishop Timothy P. Broglio said in an Aug. 17 statement.

“It is precisely the Nicaraguan people’s intense faith that, despite the ongoing difficulties, fills me with great optimism,” he added. “Such a faith moves hearts to work for reconciliation in the fruitful spirit of Christian charity. I exhort the Church in the United States to join her Nicaraguan brothers and sisters in prayer for peace and justice in Nicaragua.”

Protests against president Daniel Ortega began April 18, after Ortega announced social security and pension reforms. The proposals were soon abandoned due to the strong outcry against them, but protests of Ortega’s government grew after security forces killed over 40 demonstrators. More than 300 people have died in the conflicts, according to local human rights groups. Anti-government protesters have faced attacks by combined groups of regular police, riot police, paramilitaries and vigilantes who back Ortega.

The country’s bishops have mediated on-again, off-again peace talks between the government and opposition groups. At the same time, churches have been attacked. Bishops and priests across the country have worked to separate protesters and security forces, and have been threatened and shot.

July 19 marked the 39th anniversary of the ouster of the Somoza dictatorship by the Sandinista National Liberation Front, in which Ortega was a leader. As junta leader and then president, he opposed U.S.-backed right-wing counterrevolutionaries in the 1980s.

At a pro-government celebration July 20, Ortega told thousands of supporters that the Nicaraguan bishops are attempting a coup. His basis for the claim was their proposal to hold early presidential elections.

In the wake of the accusations, at least eight Catholic churches have been desecrated.

In early July, Cardinal Leopoldo Brenes, apostolic nuncio Archbishop Waldemar Stanislaw Sommertag, and Bishop Silvio Báez were assaulted by pro-government groups during a pastoral visit to Diriamba, about 25 miles south of Managua. Other bishops and priests have also suffered attacks.

On July 28 thousands of demonstrators took to the streets of Nicaragua to support bishops and priests in the face of the attacks.

In response to an invitation from Nicaragua’s bishops, Broglio visited the country Aug. 3-6.

In his Aug. 17 statement, he said he was “greatly moved by the unshakeable faith of the people of Nicaragua.”

“Disagreement, even vociferous disagreement, is legitimate, but those responsible for the common good must, at a minimum, ensure the safety of peaceful protestors,” he said, citing Holy See Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin’s hope that dialogue may begin again.

Speaking on behalf of the U.S. bishops’ Committee on International Justice and Peace, Broglio voiced “our profound and steadfast solidarity with our brothers in the Nicaraguan episcopate, who, together with their priests and ministers, are feeding Christ’s flock in Nicaragua during this dangerous time of civil strife.”

The archbishop celebrated Sunday Mass on Aug. 5 at Managua’s cathedral with Cardinal Leopoldo Brenes of Managua.

“We find ourselves celebrating the Eucharist to highlight the fact that we share the same faith. Our communion is greater than any distance,” the American archbishop said in his homily to the congregation.

Broglio said Nicaragua’s bishops “are seeking to serve this Church and their country.”

“My presence illustrates that, together, we walk in the service of truth, of the poor, and of peace,” he said in his homily.

Cardinal Tobin denies knowledge of 'gay subculture' in Newark

Newark, N.J., Aug 20, 2018 / 07:00 pm (CNA).- In an Aug. 17 letter to the priests of Newark, Cardinal Joseph Tobin has said he has not been told by priests about a “gay sub-culture” in the Archdiocese of Newark.

The letter was written in response to a CNA report published the same day, in which Newark priests described their experience in seminary and ministry in the archdiocese. Tobin’s letter specifically addressed allegations, included in CNA’s report, of sexual misconduct on the part of two priests.

CNA's article included testimony about homosexual activity in the Archdiocese of Newark, from six priests who spoke to CNA on the condition of anonymity. The priests’ experience spanned across several decades under the leadership of Archbishop Theodore McCarrick and Archbishop John J. Myers.

CNA reported that, in 2014, Fr. Mark O’Malley was – according to multiple sources – removed from his position as rector of the archdiocesan college seminary, and placed on medical leave following an incident in which he was accused of hiding a camera in the bedroom of a young priest.

Cardinal Tobin’s letter, which surfaced on the internet over the weekend, addressed the matter directly.

“In April 2014, Father Mark O’Malley, who was serving at St. Andrew’s College, experienced a serious personal crisis for which he received a psychological evaluation and subsequent therapy. In April 2015, he was deemed fit for priestly ministry. He hopes to serve as a hospital chaplain.”

CNA also reported last week that Fr. James Weiner, currently pastor of the parish of St. Andrew’s in Westwood, NJ, was under renewed investigation by archdiocesan authorities. Weiner was identified as the previously unnamed man referred to in the allegations of sexual assault made by Fr. Desmond Rossi, now a priest of the Diocese of Albany, NY.

Rossi has alleged that, in 1988, he was sexually assaulted by two transitional deacons. In 2004, Rossi received an out-of-court settlement of approximately $35,000.

Recently, Rossi said that his allegation was found “credible” by an archdiocesan review board but that no action was taken.

Tobin’s letter confirmed that Weiner’s case had been examined by a review board in 2003 “even though it did not involve an allegation of sexual abuse of a minor.” The cardinal also confirmed that he had ordered the matter reopened earlier this month because of “new information and out of an abundance of caution in these most difficult times.”

This weekend, the bulletin at Fr. Weiner’s parish carried a notice that Cardinal Tobin’s office had indefinitely delayed the ceremony formally installing Weiner as pastor of the parish because of a scheduling conflict. Tobin had been scheduled to install Weiner in the post on Sept. 15.

Addressing reports of harassment and active sexual behavior by some priests, both in the seminary and in the archdiocesan presbyterate, Cardinal Tobin said that “no one – including the anonymous ‘sources’ cited in the article – has ever spoken to me about a gay subculture in the Archdiocese of Newark.”

Tobin began his letter by acknowledging the ongoing scandal of sexual abuse in the Church, following the allegations against Archbishop McCarrick and the release of the Pennsylvania grand jury report. The cardinal said that these events “have shaken and saddened the bishops and priests of the Archdiocese of Newark.”

Turning to the CNA report, Tobin said that while there was “much more to communicate about these open wounds,” he was writing the letter in response to “allegations of misconduct” against the two priests of the archdiocese, Weiner and O’Malley.

The cardinal closed his letter by expressing his hope that CNA’s sources were not actually priests of the archdiocese. However, CNA confirms that the sources for the story were priests of the Newark archdiocese, along with one priest member of a religious order.

The Archdiocese of Newark declined to offer comment or respond to questions from CNA regarding the letter.

Tobin’s letter concluded by encouraging priests to refer media inquiries to the archdiocesan director of communications.

Added Cardinal Tobin, “I repeat my willingness to meet with any brother who wishes to share his concerns regarding allegations in the press or personal experience in our local Church.”