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Vatican's considerations on economic system call us to shape a new one

Commentary: Oeconomicae et pecuniariae quaestiones lifts the reality that God has given us a rich and abundant world so each of us can reach our full potential and that we are closest to the Creator when we share these resources among us.

UK bishop says rejection of assisted suicide in Guernsey is an answer to prayer

London, England, May 18, 2018 / 01:13 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- After debate this week, the Guernsey legislature has moved to reject a proposed legalization of physician assisted suicide on the island, drawing praise from the local bishop.

“Delighted to learn that Guernsey has rejected the proposals for physician assisted suicide and euthanasia!” said Bishop Philip Egan on Twitter May 18.

“Thanks be to God for answering our prayer during this Great Novena leading to Pentecost,” Egan continued.

Egan is the bishop of nearby Portsmouth, whose diocese encompasses Guernsey. The island is a Crown dependency located off the coast of Normandy and falls under the responsibility of the U.K. Had the island passed the euthanasia measure, Guernsey would have been the first place on the British Isles to allow physician assisted suicide.

On Friday, Guernsey’s government announced their decision to reject a bill proposed by the island’s chief minister, Gavin St. Pier. The proposal was defeated 24-14 after a three-day debate.

Instead, leaders called for focused efforts on palliative and end of life care on the island. These efforts include “measures necessary to improve quality of life and health outcomes for all islanders toward the end of their lives,” according to the BBC.

The British Medical Association expressed approval for that decision, saying that they “welcome the ‘almost’ unanimous decision to look into ways of enhancing end-of-life care in Guernsey,” according to ITV.

“We look forward to working with colleagues, politicians and civil servants on ways in which we can provide the very best care for the people at the end of their lives,” the statement continued.

Groups who opposed the assisted suicide proposal also applauded the final outcome, among them Care for Life Guernsey and Care Not Killing.

During the early stages of the bill’s proposal, a number of Christian leaders voiced their opposition to the measure in a joint letter signed by 53 pastoral ministers and 41 churches.

Advocates for the assisted suicide campaign voiced their disappointment over the May 18 ruling, including Sarah Wootton, the chief executive for Dignity in Dying.

“Many in Guernsey and beyond will be disappointed with today’s result, particularly those who have seen the suffering caused by the current law,” Wootton said, although she noted the decision was not unexpected.

“Regardless of today’s result, it is clear that change must and will come to the British Isles – the only question is ‘when,’” she continued.

The Suicide Act of 1961 forbids assisted suicide in Guernsey.


California bishops ask for U.S. House vote on bipartisan DACA bill

Three California bishops have asked House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-California, to allow a debate and a vote in the coming month on long-stymied Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival legislation.

Colombian Cardinal Castrillon Hoyos dies at 88

Colombian Cardinal Dario Castrillon Hoyos, a longtime Vatican official, died early May 18 in Rome at the age of 88.

Survivors, advocates see lessons for wider church in Chile resignations

Survivors of clergy abuse and their advocates praised Pope Francis for his confrontation with Chile's bishops over their handling of abuse cases, which led to a mass resignation today, and the survivors and advocates urged the pope not to allow the momentum for reform to slow.

Commentary: The pope’s next steps on sexual abuse in Chile

Denver, Colo., May 18, 2018 / 12:13 pm (CNA).- After meeting with him for three days, and reading his reflections on the problem of clerical sexual abuse in their country, 34 Chilean bishops submitted their resignation to Pope Francis Friday.

The pope is unlikely to accept all their resignations. He is likely to accept resignations from those at the center of Chile’s sexual abuse scandal, and those whom he has accused of destroying documents, mishandling abuse-related investigations, and moving priests accused of malfeasance from parish to parish, rather than handling the problem.

It is, for any Catholic, discouraging to read that shepherds, entrusted with the salvation of souls, would do such things. But to American Catholics it is not surprising- the illusion that bishops are above such things was shattered for most U.S. Catholics by the sexual abuse scandals of 2002.

Sexual abuse is not unique to the Catholic Church. In fact, there is not even evidence that sexual abuse is more likely to occur in a Catholic setting than in another context- in the U.S., children are sexually abused in public schools with startling regularity, and an appalling number of children are sexually abused or assaulted by their own family members.

But when the Church is implicated in a scandal like this, she loses the credibility to decry the evil of sexual assault against children. She also diminishes, to many people, the claim that grace fosters righteousness. Sexual abuse in the Church is a counter-witness to the Gospel’s claims, and a foil to the evangelical witness of Catholics striving for holiness.

Because of what she claims, moral behavior is expected of the Church and her leaders. When those leaders harm children, or fail to take such harm seriously, they give real and dispiriting scandal.

It is refreshing that Francis chastised the Chilean bishops for “serious negligence,” and for the clericalist attitudes that fostered it. Accepting the resignations of negligent bishops, and perhaps subjecting some of them to canonical trials, may begin to restore the credibility of the Church in Chile- a place where parishes have been set to fire and protests outside the apostolic nunciature have been violent.

Accepting some resignations might also help to restore the pope’s credibility on this issue- damaged by years of fervently denying some parts of the problem, by his accusations of “calumny” against victims, and by the revelation that he was informed of credible allegations against a sitting bishop in 2015, and did not act until a media spectacle earlier this year compelled him to.

But accepting resignations won’t solve systemic problems regarding sexual abuse in the life of the Church. Nor, actually, would penal trials, undertaken through a process for allegations of episcopal negligence established by Francis in 2016, and not yet put to use. Such trials might restore justice and repair scandal in individual cases. They might even serve to reform offenders, which is among the purposes of criminal justice. But the issue of clerical sexual abuse is broader than individual cases.

It is encouraging that Francis has called for systemic change for the Church in Chile - a systemic change that is likely needed in many parts of the world. It is particularly encouraging that Francis has noted the role seminaries play in preventing abuse, especially by screening out candidates with immature or gravely disordered sexuality.

The call for change is familiar to Americans, who have become accustomed to measures designed to place child protection at the fore.

In 2002, the U.S. bishops promulgated norms for addressing allegations of sexual abuse, and a “Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People.”

Those documents emphasized the importance of referring allegations to civil authorities, and  called for background checks for adults in regular contact with children, training designed to promote vigilance about unseemly situations, and lay review boards involved, mandatorily, in the process of investigating allegations that minors or vulnerable adults have been abused.

Of course, such measures are themselves subject to abuse, to overreach, to scapegoating, or to becoming a procedural veneer aimed at restoring credibility, without being taken seriously enough to prevent the scourge of child abuse. The U.S. approach is not perfect, and some parts are in need of rather serious reform.

Nevertheless, without a plan to change the praxis and culture of the Church, replacing negligent bishops won’t prevent the possibility of sexual abuse in Chile, or anywhere. Those Chilean bishops who remain in office must return to their country and begin developing their own plan - it must be thorough, direct, and just - and then they must have the humility to implement it seriously.

Other regions in the Church would be wise to begin doing the same - no place is immune from the problem of sexual abuse.

But the Chilean bishops are not the only ones with work to do after their historic meeting with the Holy Father. In the Church, the pope exercises supreme, full, immediate, and universal power. He is a figure without parallel in any other institution. He always has the authority to act, and the buck usually stops with him.

The pope thus has questions to answer about his own responsibility for the Chilean abuse scandal. Of course, he has apologized for his “serious errors” in judgment, and now he has called for change in Chile. But do victims- and parents- deserve that he account for those serious errors?

Is it yet understood how he could have received credible allegations in 2015, and discounted them until a media scandal in 2018? Was the pope misled? How? What has he learned from his own “serious errors?” How will he ensure they are not repeated?

The pope told the Chilean bishops that “unacceptable abuses of power, of conscience and of sexuality” have diminished the prophetic vigor of the Church in Chile. He’s right. Guilty bishops may never again be credible prophets in their own homelands.

But this scandal, compounded by so many sexual abuse scandals of the past, has diminished the prophetic vigor of the Church globally, and the pope has the responsibility to address that. To do so, he likely needs to address his own role in the scandal, and speak transparently about what happened, and why. He needs to demonstrate more than contrition- he needs to give witness to reform of the judgment that caused “serious errors.”

John Henry Newman wrote that God chose men, not angels, to be his priests and bishops, in part so that the entire world could see grace working through sinners, and transforming them. The Church, and the world, need the witness of God’s grace, and the witness of real and authentic transformation.

May the pope, who prayed that all victims of abuse would encounter Christ’s love, give prophetic witness to his own transformative encounter with the Lord.


This commentary reflects the opinions of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the editorial position of Catholic News Agency.

Backgrounder: What happened before Chile's bishops resigned

Here is a timeline of events that led up to the May 18 unprecdented mass resignations by the Catholic bishops of Chile after they meet with Pope Francis about their handling of clergy sex abuse cases. 

Malaysian bishops say country can set new course after election

Malaysia's bishops have broken their collective silence following the May 9 win by the Mahathir Mohamad-led opposition, calling it a golden opportunity to set the nation on a new course.

NCR Podcast: Tom Roberts and Joan Chittister on Catholic journalism

Listen: Tom Roberts talks to Benedictine Sr. Joan Chittister about his decades of service to NCR.

UPDATED: All of Chile's bishops offer resignations after meeting pope on abuse

Vatican City -- Every bishop in Chile offered his resignation to Pope Francis after a three-day meeting at the Vatican to discuss the clerical sexual abuse scandal.