Priest-psychologist sees 'signs of grace' in abuse scandal
BURLINGTON, Vt. (CNS) -- A priest-psychologist said he sees "signs of grace" amid the darkness of the clergy sexual abuse crisis. Msgr. Stephen Rossetti, clinical associate professor of pastoral studies at The Catholic University of America, said one positive outcome of the abuse crisis has been the continued implementation of the U.S. bishops' 2002 document the "Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People." He called it "a miracle of grace the charter is still strong and so insightful." Msgr. Rossetti made his remarks May 2 in a keynote address at the National Safe Environment & Victim Assistance Coordinator's Leadership Conference in Burlington. The priest, former president and CEO of St. Luke Institute, a treatment center in Maryland for priests and religious with addictions or psychological problems, was a consultant to the U.S. Bishops' Ad Hoc Committee on Sexual Abuse that drafted the charter adopted by the bishops at their Dallas meeting in 2002 and revised three years later. The charter and its norms are meant to put a comprehensive system in place to address and stop abuse. Msgr. Rossetti said the document "continues to hold up over time." But he also noted that it is "not the last word." He said just as the church and society continue to grow in their understanding of abuse, the charter will also continue to evolve, "but its spirit and principles stand firm and guide us."
House passes bill making Hyde Amendment permanent
WASHINGTON (CNS) -- The House has approved a bill that would make the Hyde Amendment permanent, limit tax deductions for the cost of an abortion and block other potential use of federal funds for any clinic or doctor who offers abortions. The legislation is unlikely to reach a Senate vote and would likely be vetoed by President Barack Obama if it should pass. But supporters of the bill called for Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., to bring the bill to the floor. In a 251-175 vote May 4, the House approved H.R. 3, the No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act, which would make permanent the restrictions of the Hyde Amendment, prohibiting the use of federal funds for any abortion. The amendment currently must be renewed each year. H.R. 3 also would prohibit federal funds from being used to pay for any health insurance plan that includes abortion, as well as bar abortion from being offered at any federal or District of Columbia health care facility or by any individual employed by the federal government or the District of Columbia. The only exceptions in the legislation would be if the pregnancy results from rape or incest or if the woman suffers from a life-threatening condition related to the pregnancy. "By passing the No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act, the House has taken a decisive step toward protecting human life, reflecting the will of the American people," said Deirdre McQuade, assistant director for policy and communications of the USCCB Secretariat of Pro-Life Activities. In testimony to a House subcommittee about the bill in February, Richard M. Doerflinger, associate director of the secretariat, called H.R. 3 "a well-crafted and reasonable measure to maintain long-standing and widely supported policies against active government promotion of abortion."
Bishop celebrates Mass for victims of Mexican coal mine explosion
MEXICO CITY (CNS) -- Bishop Alonso Garza Trevino of Piedras Negras celebrated Mass May 5 in the northern Mexican town of San Juan de Sabinas for the six men confirmed dead after being pulled from a coal mine following a gas explosion. Father Juan Armando Renovato, spokesman for the Diocese of Piedras Negras, said prayers also were offered for the eight workers who remained trapped underground two days after the disaster. Labor Secretary Javier Lozano told reporters May 4, a day after the explosion, that the chance was "nil" of finding any survivors in the partially collapsed mine. President Felipe Calderon expressed his condolences to the miners' families in a statement and pledged to do everything possible to rescue the missing workers, mindful of the heroic efforts last fall that saved 33 miners in Chile. Experts from Chile were expected to arrive at the site May 5 to assist rescuers. Mexico's Economy Secretariat released a statement May 4 charging that the mine was being run improperly. Officials have begun an investigation into the cause of the blast. Jesus Espinoza Davila, spokesman for mine operator Binsa, told Radio Formula May 4 that the firm attempted to rescue all of the miners. Espinoza said the mine had been operational for only 15 days and disagreed with government criticism of safety conditions in the mine. Catholic News Service was unable to reach Espinoza and Binsa for comment.
Vatican investigating bishop guilty of having child pornography
VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- The Vatican will continue its process against a Canadian bishop who pleaded guilty in a civil court to possession of child pornography, the Vatican spokesman said. Bishop Raymond Lahey of Antigonish, Nova Scotia, pleaded May 4 to the charge of possession "for the purposes of importation child pornography in the form of graphic computer images." However, he told the judge he was not guilty of possession with the intent to distribute. His plea was in response to his arrest at the Ottawa, Ontario, airport Sept. 15, 2009. Court documents had stated that the bishop's evasive behavior, coupled with a passport stamped with exotic locations known for child pornography, prompted a Canadian Border Services agent to examine the contents of his laptop. Jesuit Father Frederico Lombardi, Vatican spokesman, issued a statement May 4 saying, "The Catholic Church condemns sexual exploitation in all its forms, especially when perpetrated against minors." Father Lombardi said: "Although the civil process has run its course, the Holy See will continue to follow the canonical procedures in effect for such cases, which will result in the imposition of the appropriate disciplinary or penal measures." In May 2010, the Vatican revised its procedures for handling priestly sex abuse cases, streamlining disciplinary measures, extending the statute of limitations and defining child pornography as an act of sexual abuse of a minor.
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