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Gregorian University to ‘review’ bishop’s allegedly plagiarized dissertation

January 17, 2020 CNA Daily News 1

Vatican City, Jan 17, 2020 / 11:11 am (CNA).- The Pontifical Gregorian University said Friday it will review the doctoral dissertation of Scotland’s Bishop Stephen Robson, which is alleged to contain several acts of plagiarism.

The institution’s “academic authorities have decided to proceed to a careful review of the dissertation in question, in accordance with what is established in the University’s Ethical Norms,” the university said in a Jan. 17 statement provided to CNA.

“The Pontifical Gregorian University considers plagiarism a very serious infringement of university ethics since the ‘attribution to itself of the intellectual property of the text or content of a work of others, in any part of it, is a lack of justice and truth,’” the statement added, quoting from the university’s plagiarism policy.

“A charge of plagiarism involving a doctoral dissertation necessarily implies special attention by the University,” the statement added.

The Gregorian’s announcement came days after Bishop Stephen Robson of Dunkeld told CNA that he never intentionally committed any act of plagiarism, but did not explain evidence that his 2003 dissertation contained verbatim, or nearly verbatim excerpts from published scholarship, without attribution.

“I can categorically state that there was absolutely never any intention to plagiarise any work,” Robson told CNA Jan. 14th.

Robson also told CNA that he would accept the judgment of his alma mater regarding his dissertation.

“I am happy for the Gregorian to nullify my text if they think fit,” the bishop said.

Robson completed his dissertation, “With the Spirit and Power of Elijah (Lk 1,17). The Prophetic-Reforming Spirituality of Bernard of Clairvaux as Evidenced Particularly in his Letters,” at Rome’s Pontifical Gregorian University in 2003.

The text was awarded the university’s 2004 Premio Bellarmino, the annual prize given to the best dissertation completed at the university.

A 2019 article in the scholarly journal Analecta Cisterciensia first alleged that Robson’s dissertation contained plagiarism. The article was written by the journal’s editor, Fr. Alkuin Schachenmayr, a Cistercian priest living in an Austrian monastery.

Schachenmayr wrote that “there seem to be dozens of passages in Robson’s dissertation which are apparently identical or remarkably similar to texts published by other scholars, yet the author does not attribute these sources.”

The article cited several passages in Robson’s dissertation that were identical or nearly identical to already published scholarship. Those passages give no indication of their source material.

Among the scholars from whom Robson apparently copied are Bruno Scott James, Jean Leclercq, Friedrich Kempf, and Robert Bartlett, according to Schachenmayr.

Some of those scholars were mentioned as sources in his dissertation, even while particular verbatim passages from them were reproduced without citation. In other cases, identical or nearly identical passages from published scholars who were never referenced as sources at all were included in the dissertation, Schachenmayr showed.

Regarding the prize given to Robson by the university, Schachenmayr wrote: “One must ask whether the jury responsible for awards of excellence at the Gregorian succeeded in identifying one of the institution’s best dissertations of 2003.”  

The Gregorian University told CNA it learned of the plagiarism charge against Robson Jan. 16, after the publication of a CNA article on the subject. It did not give indication of how long its planned review will take.

In addition to a doctorate in theology, Robson also earned a licentiate in canon law from the university.

The Pontifical Gregorian University, founded in 1551 by St. Ignatius of Loyola, is a Jesuit university, and offers degrees in theology, canon law, philosophy, Church history, among other subjects.

Robson was named a bishop in 2012 and was installed as Bishop of Dunkeld in 2014.

Hannah Brockhaus contributed to this report.

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Synod relator advises bishops on presenting Amazon apostolic exhortation

January 15, 2020 CNA Daily News 1

Vatican City, Jan 15, 2020 / 11:52 am (CNA).- Cardinal Claudio Hummes, the relator general of the Amazon synod, sent a letter Monday to some ordinaries indicating that the apostolic exhortation on the synod should be promulgated this month or the next.

“The draft is currently being reviewed and corrected and then needs to be translated. Pope Francis hopes to promulgate it by the end of this month or in early February,” Cardinal Hummes, who is also president of the Pan Amazonic Church Network, wrote in a Jan. 13 letter.

Among the works of REPAM is “protection for the 137 ‘contactless tribes’ of the Amazon and affirmation of their right to live undisturbed.”

Cardinal Hummes said in his letter that Francis is preparing the exhortation “to present the New Paths for the Church and for an Integral Ecology as developed with the guidance of the Holy Spirit” during the Amazon synod.

According to Cardinal Hummes, the exhortation “is keenly awaited and will attract great interest and many different responses.”

The cardinal added that the pope wants ordinaries to receive the text “before it is published and before the world press starts to comment on it, and join him in presenting the Exhortation and making it accessible to the faithful, to fellow believers and all people of good will, and to the media, the academic world, and others in positions of authority and influence.”

Cardinal Hummes offered “some suggestions” to bishops on how to prepare well for the exhortation’s release. “The purpose is not to generate publicity or attract attention. Rather, it is quietly to support you the Ordinary, in communion with Pope Francis, as you prepare to receive the Exhortation and pass it on to the People of God in your jurisdiction.”

“Accordingly, with greatest freedom, please make use of the suggestions insofar as they seem helpful.”

The cardinal suggested that “a useful way of preparing would be to read some of the relevant earlier documents referenced below.” He promised that a second letter with more suggestions would be coming shortly.

Cardinal Hummes’ suggested reading for ordinaries is composed of: the Amazon synod’s final document; Pope Francis’ address at a meeting with indigenous people of Amazonia in Puerto Maldonado, Peru, Jan. 19, 2018; the pope’s address at the opening of the Amazon synod, Oct. 7, 2019; his own address of the same day; the pope’s final speech to the synod of Oct. 26; and Laudato si’, the pope’s 2015 encyclical on care for our common home, especially its fifth and sixth chapters.

The synod’s final document called for the ordination of married men as priests, and for women to be considered for diaconal ordination. It presented the synod assembly’s reflections and conclusions on topics ranging from environmentalism, inculturation in the Church, and the human rights of indigenous communities in the face of economic, environmental, and cultural exploitation.
Four days before the final document was approved,  Cardinal Christoph Schönborn of Vienna indicated that it was to be written principally by a team chaired by Cardinal Hummes.

The cardinal noted that, of course, “there will be a celebratory and communications event” at the Vatican’s synod hall when the exhortation is promulgated.

He suggested that ordinaries “may also want to begin planning a press briefing or a press conference or other event as soon as convenient after the publication of the Exhortation.”

“you may find it opportune to have the Exhortation presented by yourself along with an indigenous spokesperson if relevant in your area, an experienced pastoral leader (ordained or religious, layman or laywoman), an expert on climate or ecology, and a youth involved in peer ministry.”

Cardinal Hummes asked that the letter be kept confidential, and not shared with the media.

“Please do respect the guidelines,” he added.

The letter was published Jan. 14 by LifeSiteNews in English, and by Aldo Maria Valli in Italian.

CNA understands the letter to have been sent to “concerned bishops” around the world. It was not sent to all ordinaries.

Cardinal Hummes concluded his letter “with the sincere hope that his letter has been helpful.”

He asked for prayers that God the Father would “dispose the People of God in the Amazon and throughout the world to receive it with faith and hope, intelligently and effectively.”

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Pope appoints first woman to managerial position in Secretariat of State  

January 15, 2020 CNA Daily News 2

Vatican City, Jan 15, 2020 / 10:53 am (CNA).- Pope Francis has named Dr. Francesca Di Giovanni as undersecretary for multilateral affairs in the Vatican Secretariat of State, marking the first time that a woman has been appointed to a managerial position in the secretariat.

Di Giovanni, 66, was appointed undersecretary for the Section in Relations in States. She has worked as an official in the department for more than 25 years, with specialties including humanitarian law, communications, migrants and refugees, and the status of women, according to Vatican Media.

She will now work with Monsignor Miroslaw Wachowski, who also serves as undersecretary for the Section in Relations in States, but focuses on bilateral affairs. Di Giovanni’s field of multilateral affairs focuses on the interactions between inter-governmental organizations such as the United Nations.

Di Giovanni hails from Palermo, Italy. She has a degree in law and has worked for the Focolare Movement.

She told Vatican News and L’Osservatore Romano that her appointment shows the pope’s commitment to involving women in the Vatican.

“A woman may have certain aptitudes for finding commonalities, healing relationships with unity at heart,” she said. “I hope that my being a woman might reflect itself positively in this task, even if they are gifts that I certainly find in my male colleagues as well.”

She recalled the words of Pope Francis in his homily this year for the Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God: “Women are givers and mediators of peace and should be fully included in decision-making processes, because when women can share their gifts, the world finds itself more united, more peaceful.”

Di Giovanni said she hopes to cooperate with the other men and women in her working group and hopes to live up to the trust that Pope Francis is placing in her.

She told Vatican News and L’Osservatore Romano that she was surprised by her appointment, although the discussion has arisen in recent years about the need for an additional undersecretary in the field.

The multilateral sector, she said, is “a delicate and demanding sector that needs special attention, because it has its own procedures, in some ways different from those of the bilateral sphere.”

The sector covers multilateral treaties, which Di Giovanni said are significant “because they embody the political will of States with regard to the various issues concerning the international common good: this includes development, the environment, the protection of victims of conflicts, the situation of women, and so on.”

She reiterated the pope’s commitment to the multilateral sector, which she said “has a fundamental function in the international community.”

Di Giovanni noted that in his recent address to the Holy See’s Diplomatic Corps, Pope Francis praised the accomplishments of the United Nations while calling for reform in the multilateral system.

“In the international community, the Holy See also has the mission of ensuring that the interdependence between people and nations be developed in a moral and ethical dimension, as well as in the other dimensions and various aspects that relations are acquiring in today’s world,” she said.

She stressed the importance of dialogue and diplomacy and said the Holy See views the UN “as a necessary means for achieving the common good,” while at the same time calling for reform and change where necessary.

 

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Legion of Christ abuser dismissed from clerical state

January 14, 2020 CNA Daily News 1

Vatican City, Jan 14, 2020 / 07:01 pm (CNA).- This week Fernando Martínez Suárez, a priest of the Legionaries of Christ, was dismissed from the clerical state. He had been found guilty of the sexual abuse of minors by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

Martinez, 79, will remain a member of the Legion of Christ. He had been ordained a priest in 1964.

The Legion of Christ stated Jan. 13 that Martinez, “who was found guilty of delicts of sexual abuse of minors, as a result of the process before the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, has lost the clerical state and can no longer exercise the priestly ministry.”

Fr. Andreas Schöggl, secretary general of the Legion, wrote in a Jan. 13 letter to Martinez’ victims that “the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith submitted the request to the Holy Father after an attentive study of the case.”

Martinez abused at least six girls, ages 6 to 11, between 1991 and 1993 when he directed the Cumbres Institute in Cancún.

He was also accused of other acts of abuse, including that of a boy between the ages of 4 and 6 at the Cumbres Lomas Institute in Mexico City in 1969.

Martinez had himself been abused by Fr. Marcial Maciel, founder of the Legion of Christ, in Ontaneda and Rome in 1954, when Martinez was 15.

An internal commission of the Legion published a report last month saying that since its founding in 1941, 33 priests of the Legionaries of Christ committed sexual abuse of minors, victimizing 175 children.

Fr. Maciel abused at least 60 minors.

Fourteen Legionaries who committed abuse of minors were themselves victims of abuse in the order.

The Legion of Christ was long the subject of critical reports and rumors before it was rocked by Vatican acknowledgment that its charismatic founder lived a double life, sexually abused seminarians, and fathered children.

In 2006 the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith removed Maciel from public ministry and ordered him to spend the rest of his life in prayer and penance. The congregation decided not to subject him to a canonical process because of his advanced age.

From that point, Benedict XVI carried on a process of reform for the Legion of Christ, a process continued under Pope Francis.

[…]

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South Sudan peace declaration signed in Rome

January 14, 2020 CNA Daily News 0

Vatican City, Jan 14, 2020 / 01:30 pm (CNA).- The Republic of South Sudan and the South Sudan Opposition Movements Alliance (SSOMA) have signed a peace declaration in Rome Sunday that will go into effect Jan. 15.

“I think this process will help … […]

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What does Benedict XVI actually say in new book on priestly celibacy?

January 14, 2020 CNA Daily News 1

Vatican City, Jan 14, 2020 / 12:37 pm (CNA).- In his chapter in a new book on priestly celibacy, Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI says a historical understanding of the priesthood in the Old and New Testaments makes it clear that celibacy is an ontological, rather than optional, part of the Catholic priesthood.

“From the Depths of Our Hearts” is set to be released in French this week and in English next month. The book consists of chapters written individually by Benedict and Cardinal Robert Sarah, prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship, as well as a joint introduction and conclusion.

Controversy has shrouded the book since its publication was announced Jan. 12, largely over disagreement about how much Benedict contributed to the book’s introduction and conclusion, and whether he gave permission for publishers to identify him as a coauthor of the text.

While that controversy is ongoing, less discussed is what Benedict XVI actually said in the chapter of the book that the pope emeritus did write.

What did Benedict XVI say in his chapter of the book?

At the core of his writing is an argument that the sexual abstinence that was merely “functional” for the priests of the Old Testament has been transformed into something “ontological” in the priesthood of the New Covenant, according to a draft text of the book seen by CNA.

Benedict’s chapter examines the history of the priesthood in the Old and New Testaments, saying that a proper understanding of the nature of the priesthood is crucial in answering contemporary questions about priestly celibacy.

“At the foundation of the serious situation in which the priesthood finds itself today, we find a methodological flaw in the reception of Scripture as Word of God,” Benedict says.

Abandoning a Christological interpretation of the Old Testament has led to a “deficient theology of worship” among many modern scholars, who fail to recognize that Jesus fulfilled the worship owed to God, rather than abolishing it, he continues.

Looking at the history of the priesthood in the Old Testament, Benedict says that “the relation between sexual abstinence and divine worship was absolutely clear in the common awareness of Israel.”

He notes that the priests of Israel were required to observe sexual abstinence during their time that they spend leading worship, when they were “in contact with the divine mystery.”

“Given that the priests of the Old Testament had to dedicate themselves to worship only during set times, marriage and the priesthood were compatible,” he says. “But because of the regular and often even daily celebration of the Eucharist, the situation of the priests of the Church of Jesus Christ has changed radically.”

Since the entire life of the priest in the New Covenant is “in contact with the divine mystery,” he says, it demands “exclusivity with regard to God” and becomes incompatible with marriage, which also requires one’s whole life.

“From the daily celebration of the Eucharist, which implies a permanent state of service to God, was born spontaneously the impossibility of a matrimonial bond. We can say that the sexual abstinence that was functional was transformed automatically into an ontological abstinence. Thus its motivation and its significance were changed from within and profoundly.”

Benedict’s text seems focused on the Latin Catholic Church; many Eastern Catholic priests do not celebrate Mass daily, and the former pope does not address specifically theology of Eastern Catholic married priests.

The pope emeritus rejects the idea that priestly celibacy is based on a contempt for human sexuality within the Church. He notes that this claim was also dismissed by the Church Fathers, and that the Church has always viewed marriage as a gift from God.

“However, the married state involves a man in his totality, and since serving the Lord likewise requires the total gift of a man, it does not seem possible to carry on the two vocations simultaneously,” he says. “Thus, the ability to renounce marriage so as to place oneself totally at the Lord’s disposition became a criterion for priestly ministry.”

Just as the priests from the Tribe of Levi renounced ownership of land, priests in the New Covenant renounce marriage and family, as a sign of their radical commitment to God, he says.

This is seen in the Psalm prayed when a man entered the clergy before the Second Vatican Council, he says: “The LORD is my chosen portion and my cup; you hold my lot. The lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; yes, I have a goodly heritage.”

Benedict concludes with a reflection on the words of John 17:17-18: “Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth. As you sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world.”

He says these words struck him deeply on the day before he was ordained a priest, and led him to reflect on the lifelong calling of a priest to continually unite himself to Christ and renounce “what belongs only to us.”

“Thus, on that eve of my ordination, a deep impression was left on my soul of what it means to be ordained a priest, beyond all the ceremonial aspects: it means that we must continually be purified and overcome by Christ so that He is the one who speaks and acts in us, and less and less we ourselves,” the pope emeritus says.

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