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Pope Francis accepts the resignation of two more Chilean bishops

June 28, 2018 CNA Daily News 0

Vatican City, Jun 28, 2018 / 05:11 am (CNA/EWTN News).- In his latest move on the Chilean clerical abuse crisis, Pope Francis has accepted the resignation of Bishop Horacio del Carmen Valenzuela Abarca of Talca, and Bishop Alejandro Goić Karmelić of Rancagua, both of whom have come under fire for their reaction to abuse allegations.

Valenzuela, 64, is one of four bishops formed by notorious Chilean abuser Fr. Fernando Karadima, and has long been accused by victims of covering up his mentor’s crimes.

Goić, 78, is over the typical age of retirement for Catholic prelates, which is 75, however, in May he admitted to dropping the ball on abuse allegations brought to him last year. He apologized for having not looked into the charges, and suspended several priests who were accused by Chilean media of inappropriate sexual conduct with minors.

Pope Francis’ decision to accept their resignations was announced June 28, and comes nearly six weeks after every active Chilean bishop offered a written resignation to the pope following a three-day meeting with him at the Vatican in May to discuss the nation’s abuse crisis.

Stepping in as apostolic administrator of Talca, where Valenzuela has served since 1996, is Galo Fernández Villaseca, auxiliary bishop of Santiago.

The apostolic administrator for the Diocese of Rancagua, which Goić has led since 2004, will be Luis Fernando Ramos Pérez, also an auxiliary bishop of Santiago.

With Valenzuela and Goić included, there are now five Chilean bishops who have officially stepped down since presenting their resignations to the pope during their meeting in May, including Bishop Juan Barros, who had been at the center of the nation’s abuse scandal.

Earlier this year Francis summoned Chilean bishops to Rome following an in-depth investigation and report into the Chilean clerical abuse crisis carried out by Maltese Archbishop Charles Scicluna and Msgr. Jordi Bertomeu of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith in February, resulting in a 2,300 page report on the scandal.

The crisis flared up with Pope Francis’ appointment of Barros to the Diocese of Osorno in 2015, which was met with a wave of objections and calls for his resignation. Dozens of protesters, including non-Catholics, attempted to disrupt his March 21, 2015 installation Mass at the Osorno cathedral.

Opponents, including many of Karadima’s victims, were vocal, accusing Barros, Valenzuela, and two other Chilean bishops who had been close to Karadima – Andrés Arteaga and Tomislav Koljatic – of cover-up.

In 2011 Karadima was found guilty by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith of sexually abusing several minors during the 1980s and 1990s, and sentenced to a life of prayer and solitude.

Though Pope Francis had initially backed Barros, after Scicluna and Bertomeu’s investigation he issued a major “mea culpa” for having made “serious mistakes” in judging the case due to “a lack of truthful and balanced information.”

Since then, he has met with two rounds of abuse survivors in addition to his meeting with Chilean bishops, and has sent Scicluna and Bertomeu back to Osorno to offer support and to educate in “best practices” for the handling of abuse accusations.


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US bishops add directives for Catholic hospitals on mergers, collaboration

June 27, 2018 CNA Daily News 0

Washington D.C., Jun 28, 2018 / 12:08 am (CNA/EWTN News).- Catholic health care must remain Catholic, even in instances of collaborations or mergers with non-Catholic institutions, say new directives from the U.S. bishops.

The sixth edition of the Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic Health Care Services was “overwhelmingly accepted” by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) at their spring meeting in Fort Lauderdale, said Bishop Robert McManus of Worcester, who chairs the USCCB’s subcommittee on health care, which was responsible for compiling the new directives.

Overall, the directives deal with a myriad of issues, including health care at the beginning and end of life, as well as pastoral and spiritual responsibilities of Catholic health care institutions to their patients.

The new edition includes multiple updates to the sixth section of the directives, which deal with collaborative arrangements with other health care organizations and providers, whether those are Catholic or secular.

The new and updated directives are a result of four years of study and consultation with the Vatican and with the National Catholic Bioethics Center, McManus told CNA.

They clarify, among other things, that Catholic health care institutions must maintain their Catholic identity and provide care consistent with Church teaching even in instances when they collaborate or merge with other healthcare institutions.

“The rule of thumb is a Catholic hospital in partnership with a non-Catholic hospital cannot formally cooperate with doing evil,” Bishop McManus said. Formal “cooperation (with evil) is always eliminated, it cannot be done.”

The directives state that formal cooperation with evil happens “not only when the cooperator shares the intention of the wrongdoer, but also when the cooperator directly participates in the immoral act….(and) may take various forms, such as authorizing wrongdoing, approving it, prescribing it, actively defending it, or giving specific direction about carrying it out. Formal cooperation, in whatever form, is always morally wrong.”

Material cooperation, on the other hand, occurs when “the one cooperating neither shares the wrongdoer’s intention in performing the immoral act nor cooperates by directly participating in the act as a means to some other end, but rather contributes to the immoral activity in a way that is causally related but not essential to the immoral act itself. While some instances of material cooperation are morally wrong, others are morally justified,” the directives state.

Material cooperation is never justified in actions that are “intrinsically immoral, such as abortion, euthanasia, assisted suicide, and direct sterilization,” the directives state. Other situations of material cooperation may be more morally complex.

According to the bishops: “Reliable theological experts should be consulted in interpreting and applying the principles governing cooperation.”

Another important consideration in situations of collaborations and mergers is the principle of scandal, McManus said.

“Theological scandal, strictly speaking, means that I cannot do or say something that might cause someone else to enter into sin,” he said.

“So even if there is cooperation that has been justified by (as) material cooperation, if that might cause scandal, even after attempts to explain why a Catholic and non-Catholic institution are partnering, if there is the reality of scandal, that has to be avoided,” he said.

The directives also clarify the role of a bishop in overseeing collaborations of Catholic and non-Catholic institutions.

Joe Zalot, a staff ethicist with the National Catholic Bioethics Center, told CNA that these directives are necessary because health care collaborations are increasingly common, and can create complex situations when determining who has authority over these entities.

“Basically what’s happened is that many of the Catholic hospitals, historically they were founded and run by religious orders, particularly women’s religious orders, and as those orders are literally and figuratively dying out, there were not enough sisters to administer them,” Zalot said.

As a result, some Catholic health care institutions are now overseen by what are called juridic persons in canon law, which are legal entities recognized by the Vatican. Because these juridic persons exist within a diocese, or in some cases multiple dioceses, the local bishop or bishops share responsibility in ensuring the Catholic identity of these entities, Zalot said.

“What these directives are doing is recognizing that fact and trying to define the role of the bishop in terms of Catholic health care entities in his diocese. Essentially the bishop has oversight of what happens in his diocese,” Zalot said.

“What the bishops are saying is not new. What they’re doing is clarifying the role of the bishop in terms of Catholic entities in (their) dioceses,” he added.

Zalot said that for the most part, these directives usually do not pose problems for Catholic institutions that seek collaboration with non-Catholic ones.

“What (the bishops) are concerned with is ensuring the identity of the Catholic institution remains, even within these mergers. And actually it does happen, we see it, there’s hospitals that have been merged into or bought by a secular institution. But one of the elements of the contract or the purchase agreement is that these institutions remain Catholic,” he said.

“And as far as I know, most secular institutions don’t have a problem with that,” he added. The directives just help to ensure that “what is happening in a Catholic healthcare institution actually is Catholic, and you’re providing care consistent with the teachings of the Church.”

While discussing the revision of the directives at the general assembly in Fort Lauderdale, Archbishop William Lori of Baltimore noted that three of the five Catholic hospitals in Baltimore are already in collaborative arrangements, and that the new revision “doesn’t answer every question, but it does offer helpful guidance.”

Cardinal Donald Wuerl of Washington said the revision “walks a very clear path through many complex issues,” preserving the theological principle of the autonomy of individual dioceses in pastoral ministry. It “makes clear there should be collaboration between dioceses, without taking away the autonomy of the individual bishop.”

The USCCB voted to approve the revised Ethical and Religious Directives June 14, by a vote of 183 to 2, with 2 abstentions.


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After CDF letter, German bishops’ next assembly to explore intercommunion

June 27, 2018 CNA Daily News 3

Cologne, Germany, Jun 27, 2018 / 05:02 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- Following months of controversy, the German bishops’ conference have said they will further explore, in accordance with a letter from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, the topic of whether to allow Protestant spouses of Catholics to receive Communion.

“We would like to offer the Holy Father and the Roman Curia our assistance in this matter,” the permanent council of the German bishops’ conference said June 27. The council added that the topic of intercommunion will be taken up again at the September 2018 autumn plenary assembly of the German bishops’ conference.

The CDF letter provides “indications and a framework for interpretation,” the permanent council said, characterizing the letter as “an aid to orientation” for individual bishops.

The council stressed the importance of being on “an ecumenical quest to achieve a more profound understanding and even greater unity among Christians,” adding, “we consider ourselves to be obliged to stride forward in this matter courageously.”

“Inter-denominational married couples and families are very close to our heart,” said the council. “We would like to emphasise that Eucharistic communion and church fellowship belong together.”

The council said the bishops want to provide “spiritual assistance” for those addressing questions of conscience for Catholic-Protestant married couples who have “a grave spiritual need to receive the Eucharist.”

“They have a very close mutual bond resulting from baptism, faith and the Sacrament of marriage, and they share their entire lives,” said the council about Catholic-Protestant married couples.

“It is important for us that we are on an ecumenical quest to achieve a more profound understanding and even greater unity among Christians, and we consider ourselves to be obliged to stride forward in this matter courageously.”

In February Cardinal Marx of Munich and Freising, president of the German bishops’ conference, had said the German bishops’ conference would publish a pastoral handout that allows Protestant spouses of Catholics “in individual cases” and “under certain conditions” to receive Holy Communion, provided they “affirm the Catholic faith in the Eucharist.”

Seven German bishops questioned the proposal and asked the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith whether a bishops’ conference may decide the question or whether the matter requires “a decision of the Universal Church.”

When several bishops from Germany visited Rome May 3, an inconclusive meeting ended with the Vatican sending the German bishops back, saying Pope Francis wanted the bishops to come to an agreement among themselves.

The pope later approved a May 25 letter from Archbishop Luis Ladaria S.J., prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, to Cardinal Marx.

Admission to Holy Communion for Protestant spouses married to Catholics is “a topic that touches the faith of the Church and has relevance for the universal Church,” the prefect’s letter said. Allowing non-Catholics to receive Holy Communion, even in limited circumstances, would have an impact on ecumenical relations with other Churches and ecclesial communities “which should not be understated.”

Archbishop Ladaria’s letter to Cardinal Max noted that while there are “open questions” regarding the admission of Protestants to Communion, “the competent dicasteries of the Holy See have already been charged with producing a timely clarification of these questions at the level of the universal Church.” It would be left up to diocesan bishops to judge when there is a “grave impending need” regarding the reception of the sacraments.

In a June 21 interview on the papal flight from Geneva to Rome, Pope Francis discussed the topic of intercommunion, saying the matter should be decided by diocesan bishops, rather than bishops’ conferences. Approval by a bishops’ conference would make the matter “universal,” he said.

“The conference can study and give direction and opinions to help the bishops to manage the particular cases,” he added, saying that communion for Protestant spouses of Catholics “in special cases” is not a “novelty.”

The Code of Canon Law provides that in the danger of death “or if, in the judgment of the diocesan bishop or conference of bishops, some other grave necessity urges it,” Catholic ministers may licitly administer penance, Eucharist, and anointing of the sick to Protestants “who cannot approach a minister of their own community and who seek such on their own accord, provided that they manifest Catholic faith in respect to these sacraments and are properly disposed.”