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Polish diocese apologizes after suggestion altar server enjoyed rape

A Polish diocese apologized after its lawyer suggested a former altar server could have enjoyed being sexually molested by a priest.

Supreme Court takes up former football coach's firing for praying on field

The Supreme Court announced that it would hear an appeal from a former high school football coach in Washington state who says his rights to freedom of speech and religion were violated when he was fired in 2015 for praying on the football field.

Pope Francis’ friend Rabbi Skorka helps Polish Catholics mark Day of Judaism

Rabbi Abraham Skorka, pictured in 2015. / Bob Watts via Wikimedia (CC BY 2.0).

Lublin, Poland, Jan 18, 2022 / 13:00 pm (CNA).

Pope Francis’ friend Rabbi Abraham Skorka helped Catholics in Poland on Monday to mark the Church’s annual Day of Judaism.

Delivering an online lecture on Jan. 17, the Argentine rabbi said that Christians and Jews were called to work together to increase biblical knowledge in Western society.

“The process of removing the Bible from the consciousness of the Western world continues,” he said.

“It is precisely in the issue of saving the brilliance of the Hebrew Bible in people’s minds that Jews and Christians are called to work together. None of us can do it alone.”

The 71-year-old rabbi was speaking on “Jewish-Catholic dialogue 56 years after Nostra aetate,” the Second Vatican Council’s pathbreaking Declaration on the Relation of the Church with Non-Christian Religions.

The lecture was broadcast as part of an event organized by the Archdiocese of Lublin, the John Paul II Catholic University of Lublin, and the Archdiocesan Center for Catholic-Jewish Dialogue to mark the 25th Day of Judaism, whose motto this year was “My thoughts are not your thoughts” (Isaiah 55:8).

The Day of Judaism, established in 1997 by the Polish bishops’ conference, is held at the start of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, which takes place on Jan. 18-25. In Poland, the Catholic Church observes a Day of Islam at the end of the ecumenical week.

In his address, Skorka reflected on the historical relationship between Judaism and Christianity, declaring: “In our time, antisemitism is anti-Christianity, and anti-Christianity is antisemitism.”

The Day of Judaism is marked in Poznań, Poland, on Jan. 17, 2022. archpoznan.pl.
The Day of Judaism is marked in Poznań, Poland, on Jan. 17, 2022. archpoznan.pl.

Also speaking at the event in Lublin, eastern Poland, was the local Archbishop Stanisław Budzik, who highlighted the contribution of St. John Paul II, the Polish pope who led the Catholic Church from 1978 to 2005.

Father Mirosław Kalinowski, the rector of the John Paul II Catholic University of Lublin, said that “contacts between Catholics and followers of Judaism must be based on respect and dialogue, for they lead to mutual acceptance and understanding.”

He emphasized that antisemitism was a grave sin that contradicts the Gospel and the teaching of the Catholic Church.

“At the same time, we have the right to respect and tolerance for our system of values,” he commented, noting that his university will host a center for the study of Polish Catholics and Jews who saved lives under Nazism and communism.

The event also highlighted the work of Father Gregor Pawłowski, a Jewish Holocaust survivor who became a Catholic priest. Pawłowski died last October in Israel, where he served both Polish and Hebrew-speaking communities.

archpoznan.pl.
archpoznan.pl.

As part of the Day of Judaism, a ceremony took place in Poznań, west-central Poland, attended by Michael Schudrich, the Chief Rabbi of Poland, and local Archbishop Stanislaw Gądecki, president of the Polish bishops’ conference.

At the end of the service, Archbishop Wojciech Polak, the Primate of Poland, said that the 25th anniversary of the Day of Judaism “should lead us towards what does not end, to the eternity of God, before whose face we stand.”

archpoznan.pl.
archpoznan.pl.

“This is also the source of our hope and joy,” he said.

Judge dismisses ex-seminarian’s lawsuit against Pontifical North American College seminary

The Pontifical North American College is a major seminary in Rome that educates seminarians from U.S. diocese and elsewhere. / Bohumil Petrik/CNA

Rome Newsroom, Jan 18, 2022 / 12:37 pm (CNA).

A New York judge has dismissed a lawsuit filed by a former seminarian against the Pontifical North American College major seminary and its administrators, stating that the New York court does not have jurisdiction over the Rome-based seminary and its employees.

In a civil lawsuit filed in February 2021, plaintiff Anthony J. Gorgia, a former student at the NAC, had sought $125 million in damages in civil court against the seminary, as well as rector Father Peter Harman, former vice rector Father Adam Park, and NAC lecturer Father John G. McDonald, along with New York Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan and the Archdiocese of New York.

Gorgia claimed in the lawsuit that he had been blocked from continuing his studies for the priesthood after he witnessed Park, then the vice rector, give an inappropriate back rub to a subordinate seminarian.

Lawyers for Gorgia and the plaintiffs were not immediately available for comment on Jan. 18 prior to publication.

According to court documents, Judge Lizette Colon of the New York State Supreme Court in Richmond County (Staten Island), New York, granted the defendants’ motions to have the complaints dismissed on Jan. 13, following a virtual hearing held on Jan. 5. 

Gorgia had originally filed suit on 12 causes of action, including defamation, wrongful discharge, sexual harassment, emotional distress, fraud, breach of fiduciary duty, interference with prospective economic advantage, and Title VII discrimination.

He later filed a cross-motion to withdraw the Title VII discrimination, sexual harassment, and defamation causes, and the request was granted by the judge. A request to add additional complaints to the suit for breach of implied contract and breach of the implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing were denied.

Gorgia's request for the court to permit the late service of the complaint was also denied.

According to the court’s decision, the dismissal of the suit against defendants was granted on multiple grounds, including because the plaintiff failed to provide adequate evidence that the New York court has personal jurisdiction over the NAC and its administrators, since the school’s primary place of business is in Rome, Italy.

“The court’s exercise of jurisdiction over the NAC, Harman, Park, and McDonald would also be improper as it would violate the Due Process Clause of the U.S. Constitution,” Colon wrote in her decision.

Colon also granted the dismissal because, she said, the plaintiff failed to properly serve the defendants with the lawsuit.

The judge granted the dismissal of the complaints against the Archdiocese of New York and Dolan for failure to timely serve the complaint, lack of subject matter jurisdiction and the ministerial exception doctrine, and failure to allege facts sufficient to state a cause of action.

Colon declined to impose sanctions on Gorgia as requested by the Archdiocese of New York and Dolan for filing “a frivolous and harassing lawsuit.”

“The Court finds the Plaintiff’s actions in filing his complaint were not frivolous … and were made with a good faith basis. The imposition of sanctions is not warranted,” the judge wrote.

Gorgia began his seminary studies in 2015 for the Archdiocese of New York. In the summer of 2017, he started at the North American College in Rome, the lawsuit states.

According to the lawsuit, he left the NAC in 2018 for a period during the first semester of his second year of formation to undergo an operation on his spine in his home diocese.

In the lawsuit, Gorgia accused Harman, Park, and McDonald of creating “false accusations'' about him to prevent his planned return to the seminary after an estimated six-week recovery period. Gorgia claims this was done because of his heterosexual orientation and the defendants’ desire “to protect themselves from exposure of their predatory homosexuality at the NAC.”

The lawsuit stated that Gorgia submitted a letter of resignation as a seminarian of the archdiocese of New York in January 2019, “under duress.”

The suit also claimed that Cardinal Dolan did not fulfill his responsibilities toward Gorgia as a seminarian of his archdiocese by refusing to meet with him or hear his side of the story, and by asking him to complete a nine-month parish internship assignment before being considered for a return to the NAC based on, Gorgia claims, three “utterly false” reasons.

The Archdiocese of New York had said the claims in the case “are absurd and have no basis in fact or law. We are prepared to defend against it, and are seeking its dismissal in court.”

Pope Francis to confer new lay ministries for first time in St. Peter’s Basilica

Pope Francis celebrates Mass on the first Sunday of the Word of God Jan. 26, 2020. / Daniel Ibanez/CNA.

Vatican City, Jan 18, 2022 / 08:20 am (CNA).

The Vatican has announced that Pope Francis will confer the ministries of catechist, lector, and acolyte upon lay men and women for the first time in St. Peter’s Basilica on Sunday.

Candidates from three continents will receive the new ministries during the papal Mass for the Sunday of the Word of God on Jan. 23.

Two people from the Amazonian region in Peru will be formally made catechists by the pope, along with other candidates from Brazil, Ghana, Poland, and Spain.

The ministry of lector will be conferred on lay Catholics from South Korea, Pakistan, Ghana, and Italy.

Each of these ministries will be conferred through a rite prepared by the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments that will be presented for the first time, according to a Vatican communique issued on Jan. 18.

“Before the homily, the candidates will be summoned, called by name and presented to the Church,” it said.

Those called to the ministry of lector will be presented with a Bible, while catechists will be entrusted with a cross.

In this case, it will be a copy of the pastoral cross used by popes St. Paul VI and St. John Paul II.

Pope Francis established the ministry of catechist as an instituted, vocational service within the Catholic Church last May.

The newly instituted ministry is for lay people who have a particular call to serve the Catholic Church as a teacher of the faith. The ministry lasts for the entirety of life, regardless of whether the person is actively carrying out that activity during every part of his or her life.

According to the apostolic letter Antiquum ministerium, a lay person called to be instituted in the ministry of catechist should have “deep faith and human maturity,” be an active participant in the life of the Christian community, and “capable of welcoming others, being generous and living a life of fraternal communion.”

Among the candidates to be inducted into the ministry by Pope Francis this week is the president of the Roman Oratory Center, which was founded by Arnaldo Canepa, who dedicated more than 40 years of his life to the catechetical instruction of children.

The pope changed Church law in January 2021 so that women can be formally instituted to the lay ministries of lector and acolyte.

In the apostolic letter Spiritus Domini, the pope modified the Code of Canon Law, which previously limited the ministries to lay men.

A lector is a person who reads Scripture — other than the Gospel, which is only proclaimed by deacons and priests — to the congregation at Mass.

After abolishing the minor orders, Pope Paul VI wrote that an acolyte was a ministry in the Church with the “duty to take care of the service of the altar, to help the deacon and the priest in liturgical actions, especially in the celebration of the Holy Mass.”

Potential responsibilities for an acolyte include distributing Holy Communion as an extraordinary minister if such ministers are not present, publicly exposing the Eucharist for adoration in extraordinary circumstances, and “the instruction of the other faithful, who, on a temporary basis, help the deacon and the priest in liturgical services by carrying the missal, cross, candles, etc.”

Due to travel restrictions related to the outbreak of the omicron variant of COVID-19, candidates from the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Uganda will not be able to take part in the Mass, as originally planned. Attendance in St. Peter’s Basilica will also be limited to only 2,000 people as a precaution.

The Mass will be broadcast live by EWTN at 9:30 a.m. Rome time (1:30 a.m. MDT).

Italian high court faults prosecutors in Vatican-linked case

Italy’s supreme court has faulted prosecutors for withholding evidence benefiting the key suspect in the Vatican’s fraud and embezzlement trial in a parallel case in the Italian courts.

Pope sends aid to victims in Philippines, migrants on Belarus border

Pope Francis is sending thousands of dollars in relief aid to the Philippines after a devastating typhoon struck the Southeast Asian archipelago in December.

Cardinal Parolin and Archbishop Peña Parra test positive for COVID-19

Cardinal Pietro Parolin attends an ordination at the Basilica of Sant'Eugenio in Rome, Sept. 5, 2020. / Daniel Ibáñez/CNA.

Vatican City, Jan 18, 2022 / 07:05 am (CNA).

Cardinal Pietro Parolin and Archbishop Edgar Peña Parra have tested positive for COVID-19, the Holy See press office confirmed on Tuesday.

Parolin, the Vatican Secretary of State, has “very mild” symptoms, while his Venezuelan substitute, Peña Parra, is asymptomatic, Vatican spokesman Matteo Bruni told journalists on Jan. 18.

Archbishop Edgar Peña Parra meets with Pope Francis in Vatican City on August 17, 2018. .  Vatican Media
Archbishop Edgar Peña Parra meets with Pope Francis in Vatican City on August 17, 2018. . Vatican Media

Both members of the Roman Curia were fully vaccinated and had received booster shots.

Earlier this week, Parolin, who travels frequently for his diplomatic role, canceled a trip to Erba in northern Italy scheduled for Feb 6. The cardinal turned 67 on Jan. 17.

Parolin issued further coronavirus restrictions within Vatican City last month, requiring people to provide either proof of vaccination against COVID-19 or evidence of recovery from it to enter Vatican offices.

Many cardinals have tested positive for COVID-19 since the outbreak of the pandemic in 2020, including Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle, Cardinal Konrad Krajewski, Cardinal Wilton Gregory, Cardinal De Donatis, and Cardinal Raymond Burke.

Pope: Communication must build communion, fraternity

In a time when social networks can tend to divide people, Christian media must instead work to unite men and women, Pope Francis said.

Christians should look for signs of God's love in their lives, pope says

God likes to intervene behind the scenes and without fanfare, always ready to help and lift people up, Pope Francis said.