Newfoundland diocese files for bankruptcy
CORNER BROOK, Newfoundland (CNS) - The Diocese of St. George's has become the first Catholic diocese in Canada to seek bankruptcy protection as a result of sexual abuse claims. Bishop Douglas Crosby of St. George's announced March 8 that his diocese took the action to help it come up with money to stave off bankruptcy threatened by $50 million in claims. The bishop said that by going into bankruptcy protection the diocese could develop a plan that would compensate the victims better. The stay of proceedings requested by the diocese lasts 30 days and can be extended at the court's discretion. During that time, the diocese is expected to develop a proposal for creditors. If the creditors, including the sex abuse claimants, refuse to accept it, the diocese will be automatically bankrupt, and a trustee will be appointed to liquidate its assets. A year ago, the Supreme Court of Canada ruled that St. George's Diocese was directly and vicariously liable for claims by 36 individuals flowing out of the case of Kevin Bennett, a former priest of the diocese.
Pope praises Senegal for promoting dialogue
VATICAN CITY (CNS) - In a world where some people try to manipulate religion for political gains, countries like Senegal that have promoted interreligious dialogue are heralds of hope, Pope John Paul II said. In a message signed at Rome's Gemelli hospital, the pope told Senegal's new ambassador to the Vatican that dialogue was necessary not only to ensure peace but also to promote development in the West African nation. Felix Oudiane, the new ambassador, presented his letters of credential March 10 to Cardinal Angelo Sodano, Vatican secretary of state. In a letter to the pope, Oudiane praised him for being an "untiring pilgrim, a man of peace and an ardent apostle of nonviolence." He told the pope that Senegal was working to promote tolerance and full respect for human rights.
Panel splits $3.2 million among 117 abuse victims
CINCINNATI (CNS) - An independent tribunal announced March 9 that it has divided $3.2 million among 117 people who claimed that as children they were sexually abused by priests or other church personnel of the Cincinnati Archdiocese. The same day Archbishop Daniel E. Pilarczyk of Cincinnati removed three accused priests from ministry and placed them on administrative leave. He said the panel's decision to compensate their accusers was sufficient grounds for the archdiocese to investigate those cases anew. All other priests named were already dead, retired or removed from ministry. Archbishop Pilarczyk had formed a $3 million fund to settle cases out of court in 2003 after entering a "no contest" plea to charges that archdiocesan officials in the past had failed to report abuse of minors to proper civil authorities. The fund earned interest and grew to $3.2 million by the time the three-member tribunal sorted through the claims and fund administrator Matt Garretson, a Cincinnati attorney, determined how to divide the money.
Expert urges protections for trafficking victims
WASHINGTON (CNS) - Despite progress in identifying and assisting victims of human trafficking in the United States and worldwide, much more needs to be done to adequately protect those victims, a children's advocate from the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops' Migration and Refugee Services told a House subcommittee. Julianne Duncan, director of children's services for MRS, spoke March 9 before the House International Relations Committee's Subcommittee on Africa, Global Human Rights and International Operations. Calling human trafficking a "new international scourge," Duncan said the U.S. bishops and the church community throughout the country have made combating the problem "a top priority in their public advocacy, educational outreach and in providing service to trafficking victims. From the Catholic perspective, human trafficking represents a scourge on the earth which must be eradicated," she said. "It is indeed troubling that in the 21st century human beings are being sold into bondage as prostitutes, domestic workers, child laborers and child soldiers."
Mass recalls dedication of murdered U.S. nun
RESTON, Va. (CNS) - A memorial Mass at St. Thomas a Becket Church in Reston for a U.S. nun murdered in Brazil was "a celebration of thanksgiving to God for her life and the powerful witness of her death," said Sister Mary Ann Cook. "We pray that our own commitment to justice and compassion be renewed and strengthened," said Sister Cook, a Sister of Notre Dame de Namur who is president of Education for Parish Service, founded by her order and based at Trinity University in Washington. The March 3 Mass honored the memory of Sister Dorothy Stang, a 73-year-old member of the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur and an outspoken advocate for Brazilian peasants. She was shot several times in the chest and head Feb. 12. For nearly four decades, Sister Dorothy, a native of Dayton, Ohio, and a naturalized Brazilian citizen, worked in rural Brazil, defending the rights of poor peasants. This fight made her many enemies, including some wealthy landowners. Shortly before her death, the town of Anapu declared her "persona non grata," stating her work was hindering the region's development.
Bishop Listecki installed as bishop of La Crosse
LA CROSSE, Wis. (CNS) - The first time Bishop Jerome E. Listecki, installed March 1 as the ninth bishop of La Crosse, came to La Crosse's St. Joseph the Workman Cathedral, he was a priest for the Archdiocese of Chicago. On his way to Winona, he decided on Feb. 22, 1995, to stop in La Crosse and witness the installation of his friend, then-Bishop Raymond L. Burke, now archbishop of St. Louis, as the diocese's eighth bishop. "Arriving at the back of this beautiful cathedral, I was quickly met at the door by a vigilant Knight of Columbus who blocked my entrance and demanded a ticket," he related. Not having a ticket, he was only permitted to stand in the vestibule. Gesturing to the cathedra, the seat in the sanctuary reserved for the bishop, he said, "Today ... I do have a seat in this cathedral." Then he added that someone should "take the names of any priests standing in the vestibule for future reference."
Number of Catholics in Japan tops 1 million
TOKYO (CNS) - The number of Catholics in Japan has topped 1 million for the first time, said a booklet from the Japanese bishops' commission for migrants, refugees and travelers. UCA News, an Asian church news agency, reported March 8 that the pamphlet "Catholic Church in Japan: Church, Living Together With Japanese and Foreigners," says 2004 began with more than 1 million Catholics in Japan. It breaks this figure down into nearly 450,000 Japanese and more than 565,000 foreign-born Catholics. During 1999-2003, the number of Japanese Catholics remained substantially unchanged, but the number of foreign Catholics increased by more than 100,000. While the number of Japanese Catholics is based on parish registration figures, the number of foreigners is an estimate, based on lists from the Ministry of Justice showing the number of foreigners registered in each part of the country and their nationality.
Vatican says cardinals will stand in for pope
VATICAN CITY (CNS) - The Vatican announced that several cardinals would be standing in for Pope John Paul II in the celebration of Holy Week events. For the first time in his 26-year pontificate, the pope was not scheduled to preside over Holy Week and Easter celebrations, said a March 8 Vatican press statement. However, the pope was expected to impart the papal blessing "urbi et orbi" (to the city of Rome and the world) March 27, Easter, following Mass presided over by Cardinal Angelo Sodano, Vatican secretary of state. Where the pope would be when he was to offer his Easter blessing "was left purposely vague," said a Vatican official, since it was still unclear as to what extent the pope would be able to resume activities following his hospitalization.