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Fatima, Portugal, May 6, 2017 / 06:08 am (CNA/EWTN News).- Over the past 10 years the Fatima shrine has seen an uptick in the number of pilgrims who visit from all over the world, particularly from Asia.
The increase is credited to the relevance of Ou… […]
Warsaw, Poland, Jun 14, 2019 / 07:00 pm (CNA).- As the Catholic Church in Poland continues to respond to sex abuse by clergy, Archbishop Charles Scicluna, a leading Vatican expert on prosecuting sex crimes under church law, attended the bishops’ plenary assembly to discuss child and youth protection.
Scicluna told the Catholic news source KAI that he wanted to encourage the bishops “to implement the very good guidance points that they themselves adopted” in 2013, Reuters reported.
“I have a great hope that Polish bishops will do what is needed…I hope this situation can be repaired,” said Scicluna, who took part in a June 14 session of the 383rd Plenary Assembly of the Polish Bishops’ Conference in Walbrzych.
“My very strong message to the bishops of Poland this morning was – we need to pass from very good documents to an example of best practice,” the archbishop said.
He said rules alone are not enough unless they are implemented. Parishioners need to know to whom they can report suspected abuse.
Scicluna urged anyone aware of a coverup to report it to Church authorities. In cases where high-ranking bishops are involved, they should report the coverup to Poland’s papal nuncio, the Associated Press reported.
In a May 22 letter, the Polish bishop’s conference spoke out against clergy sexual abuse and pledged both to continue to “eliminate factors conducive to crime” and to adopt a more sensitive attitude toward victims.
“We admit that as shepherds of the Church we have not done everything to prevent these harms,” they said, thanking the victims who have come forward and urging those who have not to report their abuse to both Church and state authorities.
A documentary about clerical sex abuse in Poland, titled “Tell No One,” was produced and recently released by filmmaker brothers Tomasz and Marek Sekielski. Millions of viewers have watched it on YouTube.
Archbishop Stanislaw Gadecki of Poznan, President of the Polish bishops’ conference, thanked the filmmakers on May 13. He said he was “deeply moved and saddened” by the film.
“I am convinced that this film, too, will result in an even more stringent compliance with the guidelines for the protection of children and young people in the Church,” he said, noting Pope Francis’ recent instructions in the document “Vos estis,” which includes rules on the prevention of and response to sexual abuse by clergy.
Close to 400 Polish priests were accused of sexual abuse of minors, with alleged incidents dating as far back as 1950 with as many as 625 potential victims, according to a study commissioned by the Episcopal Conference of Poland and released in March 2019. These accusations were submitted to Poland’s bishops starting in the year 1990 until 2018.
The study covered data collected from the more than 10,000 parishes in Poland, and included religious orders.
According to the report, 382 priests were accused of abuse during the time covered. Of the clerics accused, 284 were diocesan priests, and 98 belonged to a religious order. Figures provided by the Holy See Press Office in 2016 reported there are 156 bishops and some 30,661 priests in Poland.
At the time of the report’s release, Archbishop Stanislaw Gadecki, head of the Episcopal Conference of Poland, called the report’s findings “tragic,” and said every instance of sexual abuse is a “particularly painful” betrayal of public trust.
About 58 percent of allegations of abuse involved male victims, while 42 percent of victims were female. About 45 percent involved sexual abuse of a victim under age 15.
Only 168 priests were charged with a crime by civil authorities, with 85 being convicted. Two of these priests were acquitted outright, while other accused priests’ cases did not move forward. As of March 2019, 33 priests’ trials were ongoing.
Polish law currently provides for a 12-year prison sentence for abuse of a child under 15. Jaroslaw Kaczynski, head of the ruling Law and Justice (PiS) party in Poland, has discussed extending this to 30 years.
A canonical process under the Catholic Church’s internal laws was sought against at least 362 of the 382 accused priests.
A total of 68 priests were canonically removed from the priesthood, and another 109 punished by limits on ministry or other sanctions. Another 31 were transferred either to a different parish or to a location away from children. Of the accused priests, 34 passed away before the process could finish. Only 28 priests were acquitted. There was no data or explanation for the canonical response to 20 of the accused priests.
A separate report was produced by the sex abuse victims support group Have No Fear. The group presented a Spanish-language edition to Pope Francis after his general audience Feb. 20.
Their report aims to document “violations of civil and canon law by Polish bishops in the context of priests who engaged in sexual abuse of minors.” It examines more than 20 cases of clergy sexual abuse reported to the relevant Polish bishops in the last three decades, some cases reported as recently as 2012. It also examines these bishops’ responses.
The report accuses 24 former and current Polish bishops of having protected or transferred priests who abused children and adolescents.
According to the New York Times, about 87% of the Poland’s 38 million people self-identify as Catholic.
London, England, Jan 23, 2020 / 02:05 pm (CNA).- Sex is reserved for married heterosexual couples, new pastoral guidance from the Church of England has affirmed. The new guidance also draws a clear distinction between marriage and civil partnerships, noting that sexual relations are not proper to the latter.
The guidance, titled “Civil Partnerships – for same sex and opposite sex couples. A pastoral statement from the House of Bishops of the Church of England,” was issued last month in response to a 2019 change to UK law, broadening access to civil partnerships by making them available for heterosexual couples for the first time.
Civil partnerships were created in 2004 for same-sex couples but are legally distinct from marriage. Same-sex couples were given the legal right to marry in the England and Wales in 2013, but civil partnerships remained available to same-sex couples only.
“Sexual relationships outside heterosexual marriage are regarded as falling short of God’s purposes for human beings,” says the guidance on the issue. “The introduction of same sex marriage, through the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act 2013, has not changed the church’s teaching on marriage or same sex relationships.”
Although the Church of England acknowledges that “many of the provisions in the legislation on civil partnerships are, however, similar to, or identical with, those in marriage law,” the nature of the commitment in a civil partnership is different than that of a marriage.
“In particular, [civil partnerships are] not predicated on the intention to engage in a sexual relationship,” says the guidance.
“There is likely to be a range of circumstances in which people of the same sex or opposite sex choose to register a partnership, including some where there is no intention for the relationship to be expressed through sexual activity.”
The guidance applies only to the Church of England, and not to other branches of the worldwide protestant Anglican Communion.
Since the law’s original passage, some pairs of people who are not romantically involved have entered civil partnerships for tax or benefit purposes.
In the guidance, the Church of England states that because of the “ambiguity” regarding sexual activity in civil partnerships, combined with its teaching on the nature of marriage, it does “not believe that it is possible for the church unconditionally to accept civil partnerships as unequivocally reflecting the teaching of the church.”
The Church of England has previously published policies that seem intended to accommodate modern sexual ethos and gender theory without directly contradicting Scripture and Christian history. The results have sometimes seemed gymnastic.
Although the Church of England accepts both married men and women for ordination to the priesthood and as bishops, it does not conduct or recognize same-sex marriages as marriage. In December 2012, the Church of England permited gay clergy in civil partnernships to become bishops, provided they were living in continence with their partners, that is abstaining from sexual relations.
“The House [of Bishops] believed it would be unjust to exclude from consideration for the episcopate anyone seeking to live fully in conformity with the Church’s teaching on sexual ethics or other areas of personal life and discipline,” Graham James, Anglican bishop of Norwich, stated in January 2013.
“All candidates for the episcopate undergo a searching examination of personal and family circumstances, given the level of public scrutiny associated with being a bishop in the Church of England.”
In 2018, the denomination published pastoral guidelines for liturgies concerning the so-called “gender transition” of church members. These new liturgies are intended to affirm and celebrate a person’s shift to a chosen gender identity, and to “to recognize liturgically a person’s gender transition.”
The guidelines, titled Pastoral Guidance for use in conjunction with the Affirmation of Baptismal Faith in the context of gender transition, were approved by the Church of England’s House of Bishops in December 2018, and published shortly afterwards.