The Dispatch

Interview with a Sex Robot

March 30, 2023 Nick Bottom 14

Cardinal Robert McElroy of San Diego recently said: “The moral tradition that all sexual sins are grave matter springs from an abstract, deductivist and truncated notion of the Christian moral life that yields a definition […]

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Spanish bishops deliver six volumes of information on sex abuse cases to ombudsman

March 30, 2023 Catholic News Agency 1
Cardinal Juan José Omella, the archbishop of Barcelona, Spain, and Spain’s Ombudsman Ángel Gabilondo. / Credit: CEE

ACI Prensa Staff, Mar 30, 2023 / 14:30 pm (CNA).

The president of the Spanish Bishops’ Conference (CEE), Cardinal Juan José Omella, has handed over to the people’s ombudsman, Ángel Gabilondo, a total of six volumes of data on cases of sexual abuse of minors.

In Spain, the role of the ombudsman is to defend the fundamental rights and public liberties of citizens by watching over the activities of local and national governments as well as the administration of justice.

Speaking to Radio Nacional de España, Omella explained that all the data on cases collected by the Spanish dioceses has been turned in.

In total, the ombudsman has received “six volumes of reflection with all the data that we have up to now.” He stressed the Spanish prelates commitment to “put in place all means to eradicate” the abuse of minors.

The cardinal also said that these situations cause “great harm, not only to the Church but [also] to society.”

A year ago, the Congress of Deputies (the lower house of the national Legislature) entrusted the ombudsman with setting up an independent commission to report on complaints of sexual abuse within the Catholic Church.

A month earlier, the Spanish Bishops’ Conference made public that it had hired the law firm Cremades & Calvo Sotelo to conduct an external audit on the matter. The work was expected to take one year. Conclusions from the audit have have not yet been released.

In Spain there are more than 200 offices dedicated to the protection of minors and the prevention of abuse run by dioceses, religious congregations, and lay movements. The CEE reported that during 2022, the diocesan offices have trained more than 150,000 people, especially children and adolescents.

Throughout 2022, the CEE has received testimony on 186 new cases of abuse that occurred since 1950. The allegations involve include 74 religious order clergy, 36 diocesan clergy, 49 non-ordained consecrated persons, and 27 laymen, all male. Of them, 90 have died, 69 are alive, and in 27 cases their situation has not been confirmed, the CEE reported.

Regarding the victims, 179 were minors at the time the abuse occurred.

According to a very detailed study by the ANAR Foundation (Aid to At-Risk Chidren and Adolescents) published in 2021, priests represent a total of 0.2% of those responsible for child abuse in Spain between 2008 and 2019. Most of these situations occurred with adolescents aged 16 and over.

This story was first published by ACI Prensa, CNA’s Spanish-language news partner. It has been translated and adapted by CNA.


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U.S. and Canadian bishops join Vatican’s condemnation of colonialist ‘doctrine of discovery’

March 30, 2023 Catholic News Agency 4
Pope Francis address representatives of Canada’s indigenous peoples at the archbishop’s residence in Québec City. / Vatican Media

Washington D.C., Mar 30, 2023 / 14:00 pm (CNA).

The U.S. and Canadian bishops released statements Thursday praising the Vatican’s repudiation of the “doctrine of discovery,” which has been used in the past to justify European colonialism in the Americas and throughout the world.

The doctrine of discovery is a philosophical, political, and legal theory that posits that European colonizers have the right to expropriate indigenous lands and property.

The theory has been said to have its origin in certain 15th-century papal bulls including Dum Diversas, Romanus Pontifex, and Inter Caetera, and has been invoked by many, including the U.S. Supreme Court in the 1823 case Johnson v. McIntosh.

On Thursday, a joint statement of the Vatican’s Dicasteries for Culture and Education and for Promoting Integral Human Development formally denounced the doctrine of discovery, saying it “is not part of the teaching of the Catholic Church” and that the Church “repudiates those concepts that fail to recognize the inherent human rights of indigenous peoples.”

In an official statement, the secretary for the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), Archbishop Paul Coakley, responded by saying: “We welcome the [Vatican] statement’s renewed repudiation and condemnation of the violence and injustices committed against Native and Indigenous peoples as well as the Church’s ongoing support for their dignity and human rights.” 

“In the centuries that followed the papal bulls at issue, many popes boldly proclaimed the God-given rights owed to all peoples, but we must also confront those moments when individual Christians lacked such boldness or clarity,” Coakley said. “There were times when Christians, including ecclesiastical authorities, failed to fully oppose destructive and immoral actions of the competing colonial powers. In this regard, we too express deep sorrow and regret.”

“These papal bulls did not adequately reflect the equal dignity and rights of Indigenous peoples,” the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops (CCCB) said in an official statement, adding that the bulls “were manipulated for political purposes by competing colonial powers; and that Indigenous peoples suffered the terrible effects of the assimilation policies of colonizing nations.” 

Echoing the Vatican’s statement, the Canadian bishops recalled Pope Francis’ words during a Quebec address in which he said: “Never again can the Christian community allow itself to be infected by the idea that one culture is superior to others, or that it is legitimate to employ ways of coercing others.”  

During what he described as a “penitential pilgrimage,” Pope Francis spoke with Indigenous Canadians and listened to their complaints regarding their treatment by colonizers and the Catholic Church.

The CCCB also praised the Vatican’s recognition of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, which if implemented, the CCCB says, “would help to improve the living conditions of Indigenous peoples, to protect their rights, as well as to support their self-development in continuity with their identity, language, history, and culture.”

Both the U.S. and Canadian bishops echoed the Vatican’s sentiment expressed in the joint dicastery statement, saying though the Church has defended the rights of the weak and poor throughout history, “many Christians have committed evil acts against Indigenous peoples for which recent popes have asked forgiveness on numerous occasions.”

According to both bishops’ statements, the USCCB and CCCB, with the encouragement of the Vatican, are “exploring” the establishment of an academic symposium for continued dialogue between indigenous and Catholic scholars.

“As a Church, it is important for us to fully understand how our words have been used and misused to justify acts that would be abhorrent to Jesus Christ,” Coakley said. “We hope for more dialogue among Indigenous and Catholic scholars to promote greater and wider understanding of this difficult history.”

“May God bless with healing all those who continue to suffer the legacy of colonialism, and may we all offer true aid and support,” Coakley concluded. “By God’s grace, may we never return to the way of colonization but rather walk together in the way of peace.”


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UPDATE: Pope Francis has bronchitis but is resting and improving, Vatican says

March 30, 2023 Catholic News Agency 1
Pope Francis speaks at his general audience in St. Peter’s Square on March 29, 2023. / Credit: Vatican Media

St. Louis, Mo., Mar 30, 2023 / 13:00 pm (CNA).

Pope Francis is exhibiting “marked improvement” after being admitted to the hospital on Wednesday with difficulty breathing, which was later diagnosed as bronchitis. 

“Pope Francis spent the afternoon at [Gemelli Hospital] devoting himself to rest, prayer, and some work duties,” Holy See Press Office Director Matteo Bruni told reporters Thursday evening. 

“As part of scheduled clinical checks, the Holy Father was found to have a bronchitis infection that required the administration of antibiotic therapy through infusion, which produced the expected effects with a marked improvement in his state of health. Based on the expected course, the Holy Father could be discharged in the coming days.”

This update comes after Bruni said mid-Thursday that the pope “rested well overnight” and that “the clinical picture is progressively improving.” 

“This morning after having breakfast, [Pope Francis] read some newspapers and resumed work,” Bruni added. “Before lunch, he went to the chapel of his private apartment, where he spent time in prayer and received the Eucharist.”

Bruni had issued a brief statement earlier in the afternoon of March 29 to say the pope was at Gemelli Hospital “for some previously scheduled checkups.” Later that day, he said the 86-year-old pope would remain hospitalized for “some days” after being diagnosed with a respiratory infection. 

Gemelli is the same hospital where Pope Francis was hospitalized in July 2021 when he underwent surgery on his colon for diverticulitis, or inflammation of the intestinal wall.

In an interview with the Associated Press in January, Pope Francis disclosed that the diverticulitis had “returned.” At the time, the 86-year-old pontiff — who traveled to South Sudan and the Democratic Republic of Congo in late January — insisted he was in relatively good condition.


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Tabernacle stolen from murdered Bishop David O’Connell’s residence

March 30, 2023 Catholic News Agency 1
Bishop David O’Connell. / Credit: KTLA screenshot

Boston, Mass., Mar 30, 2023 / 12:30 pm (CNA).

An empty tabernacle that was bolted to the wall has been stolen from the residence of the late Los Angeles Auxiliary Bishop David O’Connell, who was murdered in his Hacienda Heights, California, home in February. 

A tabernacle is a structure found in a Catholic church or chapel that houses the holy Eucharist, which Catholics profess to be the body, blood, soul, and divinity of Jesus Christ. It is often made of gold and can cost tens of thousands of dollars.

News of O’Connell’s Feb. 18 murder shocked the nation following reports that he died after suffering multiple gunshot wounds. The local and wider Catholic community mourned O’Connell, who was remembered as a man of peace dedicated to serving the poor and immigrants.

First reported by LifeSiteNews, the burglary occurred sometime over the past weekend, the Archdiocese of Los Angeles told CNA in a statement. 

The archdiocese said that the tabernacle was located in O’Connell’s personal chapel. The theft was reported to law enforcement and “security has been enhanced,” the archdiocese’s statement said.

Lt. Michael Modica, a homicide detective with the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department who has been in the late bishop’s residence, told CNA Thursday that he remembered seeing the tabernacle “bolted to the wall.” 

The man who was charged with the murder of O’Connell is 61-year-old Carlos Medina, the husband of the woman who was O’Connell’s housekeeper.

Medina pleaded not guilty at his arraignment in court March 22. It remains unclear what the motive for the murder might have been. 

Medina is being held on more than $2 million bail and will have his next court hearing May 17.

Before his not-guilty plea, Los Angeles District Attorney George Gascón said in a Feb. 22 press conference that Medina admitted to the murder.

“He admitted that he had done the killing and we believe we recovered the weapon that they were using, and we have other evidence from the bed, certain things that indicate that they were in the place where the killing occurred,” Gascón said in Spanish, translated here by CNA.

Following the revelation of the alleged admission, a current and former colleague of Gascón criticized him for breaking the L.A. District Attorney’s Office’s policy of forbidding the disclosure of a defendant’s admission in an open criminal case.

John Lewin, a former deputy district attorney for Los Angeles, told Fox News Digital that the statement could affect the outcome of the trial.

“It cannot be more simply stated, George Gascón is a D.A. who either doesn’t know the basic ethical rules that govern the agency he leads or doesn’t care to follow them,” he said.

“What if a court decides that the confession will not be admitted to trial? You can’t put that genie back into the bottle,” he added.

John McKinney, a current L.A. deputy district attorney, told Fox News Digital that the disclosure was contrary to police department rules. 

“By disclosing a defendant’s confession in an open criminal case, George Gascón has not only committed a blatant violation of LADA policy but has also potentially violated the due process rights of the accused.” 

Obtained by CNA, the District Attorney’s Legal Policy Manual states that “at the time of arrest, the issuance of an arrest warrant, the filing of a complaint, or the public revelation of an indictment,” information about a confession, admission, or statement given by the accused shall not be released.

Marc Debbaudt, a former career deputy district attorney for Los Angeles, told CNA Feb. 27 that he didn’t think Gascón’s announcement of the admission could cause the case to be thrown out but said that “it could result in motions to change jurisdiction.”

Three days of memorial services were held for O’Connell, 69, in early March. O’Connell’s funeral was attended by thousands as Los Angeles Archbishop José Gomez called him an intercessor for souls.

Speaking briefly at the conclusion of the funeral liturgy, Gomez said “Bishop Dave,” as O’Connell was affectionately known, would be sorely missed, but “we know that he’s in heaven.” 

“From there he’s going to continue to intercede for us,” Gomez said, “as he has done his whole life.”