Reuters - November 19, 2010
World cardinals hold rare meeting on abuse, converts
By Philip Pullella, Reuters
VATICAN CITY - Roman Catholic cardinals from around the world met in a rare gathering at the Vatican on Friday to discuss religious freedom, sexual abuse of children by priests and accepting converts from the Anglican church.
The debate on religious freedom unfolded against the backdrop of a fresh Vatican conflict with China's communist government over the ordination of a bishop without papal permission.
The closed-door meetings were taking place on the eve of a ceremony known as a consistory at which the pope will create 24 new cardinals, including 20 who are under 80 and thus eligible to enter a secret conclave to elect his successor.
The topic of religious liberty came to the fore on Thursday when the Vatican warned China not to force bishops loyal to the pope to attend the ordination of a bishop who is a member of the state-backed church that does not recognize the pontiff.
Prelates coming out of the morning session expressed concern that the new stand-off with Beijing would lead to a worsening of relations after a period of relative improvement.
Catholics in China are divided between one Church that recognises the pope and his authority to name bishops and a state-backed "patriotic association" which names its own bishops.
In the past few months, the Vatican has also been stepping up its calls for religious freedom for Christians in predominantly Muslim countries, particularly Saudi Arabia.
The existing cardinals and cardinals-elect will also hear reports about the sexual abuse scandal which has rocked the Church in a number of countries.
Victims of sexual abuse were protesting in Rome to coincide with the meeting. They say the Vatican has not done enough to protect children from future abuse by priests.
"We want the bishops to turn over to police and prosecutors the personnel files of proven, admitted and credibly accused child-molesting clerics," said Barbara Blaine, a leader of the U.S.-based Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP).
"The only way that we can make sure that the children that we all know and the children who attend mass everyday are safe is if the church stops fighting and starts co-operating like every other organization would and should," SNAP member and abuse victim Lucy Duckworth told a news conference.
English Cardinal Cormac Murphy O'Connor disagreed, saying the church was "doing everything it can" to make sure that children are safe and put the "terrible shame" behind it.
"The pope has expressed his abhorrence at the terrible crime and I am quite sure the church will, in every way, show that what has happened in the past will not happen in the future," he told reporters at the Vatican..
The Vatican meeting was also assessing difficult relations with Anglicans.
On Friday the Catholic Church in England was to announce that five Anglican bishops opposed to the ordination of women bishops will take up an offer by the pope to convert to Catholicism while being allowed to keep some Anglican traditions.
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Stltoday.com - St. Louis, MO November 20, 2010
Vatican announces preparation of guidelines on sexual abuse
By Francis X. Rocca • Religion News Services
VATICAN CITY • The Vatican announced on Friday that it is preparing international guidelines to prevent the sexual abuse of children by Roman Catholic clergy, a long-awaited response to a scandal that has seeped into countless corners of the church.
Cardinal William Levada, head of the Vatican's doctrinal office, announced the plan to the assembled College of Cardinals on Friday evening.
Levada, a former archbishop of San Francisco who is one of the highest-ranking Americans at the Vatican, told the cardinals that his office was preparing a letter to national bishops' conferences offering guidelines "for a coordinated and efficacious program" on clerical sex abuse.
The forthcoming guidelines will include "collaboration with the civil authorities" and "careful selection and education of future priests and religious," the Vatican said.
Demand for a unified Vatican policy on sex abuse has mounted since controversies over pedophile priests broke out in a number of European and South American countries earlier this year.
In July, as part of the most significant overhaul of canon law in nine years, church officials increased the statute of limitations on abuse cases from 10 years to 20 beyond the victim's 18th birthday, with possible extensions for victims who come forward later in life.
Practice varies widely from country to country. The Vatican has told bishops that they must inform civil authorities of sex abuse cases only where local laws require it.
Friday's announcement came during a daylong meeting of the world's cardinals, who were summoned by Pope Benedict XVI to discuss major topics of concern to the church the day before he adds 24 men, including two Americans, to their number.
The Vatican said the cardinals agreed to encourage national bishops conferences to develop "efficacious, timely, detailed, complete and decisive plans for the protection of children … even in countries where the problem has not manifested itself in as dramatic a manner as in others."
China defies pope on bishop • China's government-backed Catholic Church will proceed with the ordination of a bishop who does not have the pope's approval, despite objections raised by the Vatican, a spokesman said Friday.
The Rev. Guo Jincai will be ordained in Chengde, in northeastern Hebei province, on Saturday, the Chinese Catholic Patriotic Association's vice chairman, Liu Bainian, said in a phone interview. Hong Kong's cardinal, who is a key adviser to the pope, criticized the planned ordination as "illegitimate" and 'shameful."
Communist China forced its Roman Catholics to cut ties with the Vatican in 1951, and worship is allowed only in state-backed churches, although millions of Chinese belong to unofficial congregations loyal to Rome.
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