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Posted on 08/21/2018 20:48 PM (CNA Daily News)
Boston, Mass., Aug 21, 2018 / 12:48 pm (CNA).- Cardinal Sean O’Malley of Boston has issued an apology for not seeing a 2015 letter to his office, which detailed accusations of former Cardinal Theodore McCarrick’s sexual misconduct and abuse of diocesan seminarians.
The apology came after media reports revealed that New York priest Father Boniface Ramsey had tried to warn church officials about McCarrick multiple times, including in the 2015 letter, which he sent to O’Malley because of his role as President of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors.
O’Malley said his secretary Father Robert Kickham received the letter and responded to Ramsey himself, saying that the accusations fell outside of the jurisdiction of O’Malley’s office, as they did not involve minors. O’Malley said he only found out about Ramsey’s letter after the recent media reports.
“In retrospect it is now clear to Fr. Kickham and to me that I should have seen that letter precisely because it made assertions about the behavior of an Archbishop in the Church,” O’Malley said in his apology, posted on the Archdiocese of Boston’s website.
“I take responsibility for the procedures followed in my office and I also am prepared to modify those procedures in light of this experience.”
O’Malley’s lack of knowledge of the 2015 letter comes as a surprise from someone widely considered to be a “zero-tolerance” bishop on matters of sexual abuse.
As numerous McCarrick allegations continued to surface in late July, O’Malley issued a statement saying that the Church needed “more than apologies” to sexual misconduct cases.
He proposed that future allegations against bishops needed to be handled as a matter of highest priority; that a new system be put in place to handle complaints against bishops; and that these reforms be clearly announced, so there can be no doubt about how such cases should be handled in the future.
Ramsey told CBS News that accusations of sexual misconduct and abuse against McCarrick first came to his attention in 1986, and he was under the impression that “virtually everyone knew” about them, including many bishops.
"Archbishop McCarrick was inviting seminarians to his beach house...There were five beds...and there were six people. Archbishop McCarrick arranged it in such a way that somebody would join him in his bed," Ramsey told CBS.
He said that the 2015 letter contained not just rumors about McCarrick, but first-hand accounts of abuse from seminarians who had encountered McCarrick.
“I apologize to Fr. Ramsey for not having responded to him in an appropriate way and appreciate the effort that he undertook in seeking to bring his concerns about Archbishop McCarrick’s behavior to my attention,” O’Malley noted. “I also apologize to anyone whose concerns were reflected in Fr. Ramsey’s letter.”
O’Malley said that he recognized that his apology and lack of knowledge of the 2015 letter was probably still insufficient “given the way the Church has eroded the trust of our people.”
However, he said his hope is “that we can repair the trust and faith of all Catholics and the wider community by virtue of our actions and accountability in how we respond to this crisis.”
He added that the U.S. bishops are all “anxious to understand” how McCarrick became a bishop, archbishop, and cardinal if there were known allegations against him, given the vetting process that bishops have to go through before they are appointed to such positions.
“That is why the Bishops Conference are requesting an investigation by the Holy See with the participation of lay people,” O’Malley said.
O’Malley closed his apology by quoting an Aug. 20 his own letter of apology to sex abuse victims from Pope Francis: “Let us beg forgiveness for our own sins and the sins of others. An awareness of sins helps us to acknowledge the errors, the crimes and the wounds caused in the past and allows us, in the present, to be more open and committed along a journey of renewed conversion.”
Posted on 08/21/2018 20:20 PM (CNA Daily News)
Vatican City, Aug 21, 2018 / 12:20 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- Pope Francis said in a video message to the Irish people Tuesday he hopes his visit will bring about unity and reconciliation among Christians in the country.
"Although the specific reason for my visit to Ireland is the World Meeting of Families, I would like it to embrace all members of the Irish family," he said Aug. 21.
"In particular, I pray that it will serve to increase unity and reconciliation among all the faithful of Christ, as a sign of that lasting peace which is God's dream for the whole human family."
The pope will travel to Dublin Aug. 25-26 for the conclusion of the World Meeting of Families. In his message, Francis said he was looking forward to being in Ireland again. In 1980, while a priest, Pope Francis spent two months in the country to try to improve his English.
Mostly speaking in Italian, Francis added in English: “I'm excited to think I’ll come back to Ireland!”
The World Meeting of Families is "a celebration of the beauty of God's plan for the family" and "an opportunity for families from all over the world to meet and support each other in living their special vocation," he said.
You all know that families today face many challenges, he stated, and voiced his hope that the meeting will be a source of encouragement to families around the world – especially those present in Dublin.
"May we remember the essential place of the family in the life of society and in building a better future for young people," he said.
The pope also thanked everyone for their work in preparation of his visit and asked for prayers for the meeting to be a moment of "joy and serenity."
"From my heart, I give you my blessing," he said, adding in English, "God bless you all. The Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit."
Posted on 08/21/2018 19:00 PM (CNA Daily News)
Dublin, Ireland, Aug 21, 2018 / 11:00 am (CNA).- Several Irish bishops, as well as victims of clerical sexual abuse in the country, have offered responses to a letter Pope Francis’ issued Monday on sexual abuse in the Church. The pope’s letter condemned abuse, and encouraged the entire Church to pray and fast.
Pope Francis is due to visit Ireland this coming weekend, Aug. 25-26, for the World Meeting of Families. The trip will mark the first papal visit to the country since Pope St. John Paul II, who came to Ireland in 1979. In the years between the two visits, the Church in Ireland has been implicated in numerous scandals concerning the abuse of children and the mistreatment of unwed mothers and their children.
An Irish child sexual abuse survivors’ group, One in Four, gave a critical reception to Pope Francis’ letter, saying they were “disappointed and frustrated” by it, and that the letter contained “meaningless apologies.” One in Four also said that the letter did not contain any “concrete” steps in how to successfully combat the issue of clerical abuse.
Maeve Lewis, the director of One in Four, said that Francis’ visit to Ireland was “very distressing to many survivors, retriggering old emotions of shame, humiliation, despair and anger.” Lewis said that survivors were owed a “clear commitment” from the Church that it “finally intends to deal with clerical child sexual abuse.”
Bishop Alan McGuckian, who leads the Irish diocese of Raphoe, sympathized with some of the group’s criticisms, but said he believes Pope Francis has been satisfactory in combating abuse.
In a Tuesday appearance on the RTE television network’s “Morning Ireland” program, McGuckian said that he wished the pope’s letter had been firmer and more specific.
“I too felt when I read the letter that I wanted something more concrete,” said McGuckian.
In June, Pope Francis accepted the resignations of five Chilean bishops accused of covering up abuse, which McGuckian said he thinks is “clearly a very good sign.”
Bishop Brendan Leahy of the Diocese of Limerick acknowledged that Pope Francis’ letter would meet with criticism, saying that “there are absolutely no words good enough to adequately apologize for the abuse” done by clergy and the failure to report these cases. But the bishop stressed its release was still important.
“It is essential that we acknowledge the darkness of what has happened. The Pope has spoken before of his deep regret, but I think it was important that he issued his letter.”
“Straightaway the opening line is striking, ‘if one member suffers, all suffer’. It’s a clarion call. There can be no let-up in our resolve and compunction to fight a reality that led to what the Pope calls ‘atrocities’.”
Holy See Press Director Greg Burke confirmed on Tuesday that Pope Francis would likely meet with abuse survivors during his visit to Ireland. Initially, this was not on the itinerary.
Posted on 08/21/2018 16:21 PM (CNA Daily News)
Vatican City, Aug 21, 2018 / 08:21 am (CNA/EWTN News).- Pope Francis is likely to meet with victims of clerical sexual abuse later this week, a papal spokesman announced on Tuesday. The proposed meeting would take place as part of the Holy Father’s two-day trip to Ireland for the World Meeting of Families.
In a briefing to journalists ahead of the papal trip to Dublin Aug. 25-26, spokesman Greg Burke said that if the encounter takes place, its purpose will be for the pope to listen to victims, and that it will be done privately, with no details released until afterward.
The possible meeting between the pope and victims would follow the same pattern as Francis’ meeting with victims of clerical sexual abuse in Chile during his visit to the country in January 2018, that meeting was also unscheduled.
Though Francis is traveling to Dublin for the conclusion of the 2018 World Meeting of Families, Burke, who is the director of the Holy See press office, told journalists the pope is aware that any visit to Ireland cannot only address that event, though it will be his primary focus.
Following almost two months of limited audiences and appointments for the summer break, “the pope is well-rested and ready, and wants to talk about the family,” Burke said.
On the question of whether Francis will explicitly address the result of the May referendum which legalized abortion in the country, or the issue of clerical sexual abuse, Burke said it remains to be seen. Burke did underscore that the pope will give a total of six speeches over the two days, and that there will certainly be the “opportunity, or possibility” that these subjects would be addressed.
Francis’ schedule for the weekend already includes a moment of prayer for clerical sexual abuse victims, which will take place during his stop at St. Mary’s Pro-Cathedral. There he will also meet with recently-married couples, speaking with them and taking a few questions.
Along the road to St. Mary’s, the pope will stop to venerate a relic of Venerable Matt Talbot, a simple Irish laborer who died in Dublin in 1925.
Other papal appointments Aug. 25 include a meeting with Ireland’s president and political leaders, members of civil society, and diplomatic corps; and a visit to a Capuchin-run day center for homeless families.
As is his habit, Francis will also have a private meeting with local Jesuits at the apostolic nunciature on Saturday.
One of two major public events will be the Festival of Families, held at Croke Park, which will include testimonies from families around the world, as well as singing and dancing performances - including from world-renowned Italian tenor Andrea Bocelli.
On the morning of Aug. 26, the pope will fly to Ireland’s Knock Shrine, where 15 people saw a vision of the Virgin Mary, St. Joseph, St. John, and the Lamb of God in 1879.
After returning to Dublin, he will celebrate the closing Mass of the World Meeting of Families in Phoenix Park, where Pope St. John Paul II celebrated Mass during his apostolic visit – as the first pope to visit Ireland – in 1979.
The location of the next World Meeting of Families, typically held every three years, will be announced at the end of the Mass by Cardinal Kevin Farrell, who is head of the Vatican dicastery on laity, family, and life.
Posted on 08/21/2018 08:46 AM (CNA Daily News)
Managua, Nicaragua, Aug 21, 2018 / 12:46 am (CNA/EWTN News).- Americans need to pray for peace in Nicaragua as the country faces continuing political tensions, violence and attacks on churches, said the head of the U.S. bishops’ Committee on International Justice and Peace.
“We mourn the deaths of hundreds of Nicaraguans, many in the prime of their youth, and are horrified at reports of desecrations of churches throughout the country,” Archbishop Timothy P. Broglio said in an Aug. 17 statement.
“It is precisely the Nicaraguan people’s intense faith that, despite the ongoing difficulties, fills me with great optimism,” he added. “Such a faith moves hearts to work for reconciliation in the fruitful spirit of Christian charity. I exhort the Church in the United States to join her Nicaraguan brothers and sisters in prayer for peace and justice in Nicaragua.”
Protests against president Daniel Ortega began April 18, after Ortega announced social security and pension reforms. The proposals were soon abandoned due to the strong outcry against them, but protests of Ortega’s government grew after security forces killed over 40 demonstrators. More than 300 people have died in the conflicts, according to local human rights groups. Anti-government protesters have faced attacks by combined groups of regular police, riot police, paramilitaries and vigilantes who back Ortega.
The country’s bishops have mediated on-again, off-again peace talks between the government and opposition groups. At the same time, churches have been attacked. Bishops and priests across the country have worked to separate protesters and security forces, and have been threatened and shot.
July 19 marked the 39th anniversary of the ouster of the Somoza dictatorship by the Sandinista National Liberation Front, in which Ortega was a leader. As junta leader and then president, he opposed U.S.-backed right-wing counterrevolutionaries in the 1980s.
At a pro-government celebration July 20, Ortega told thousands of supporters that the Nicaraguan bishops are attempting a coup. His basis for the claim was their proposal to hold early presidential elections.
In the wake of the accusations, at least eight Catholic churches have been desecrated.
In early July, Cardinal Leopoldo Brenes, apostolic nuncio Archbishop Waldemar Stanislaw Sommertag, and Bishop Silvio Báez were assaulted by pro-government groups during a pastoral visit to Diriamba, about 25 miles south of Managua. Other bishops and priests have also suffered attacks.
On July 28 thousands of demonstrators took to the streets of Nicaragua to support bishops and priests in the face of the attacks.
In response to an invitation from Nicaragua’s bishops, Broglio visited the country Aug. 3-6.
In his Aug. 17 statement, he said he was “greatly moved by the unshakeable faith of the people of Nicaragua.”
“Disagreement, even vociferous disagreement, is legitimate, but those responsible for the common good must, at a minimum, ensure the safety of peaceful protestors,” he said, citing Holy See Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin’s hope that dialogue may begin again.
Speaking on behalf of the U.S. bishops’ Committee on International Justice and Peace, Broglio voiced “our profound and steadfast solidarity with our brothers in the Nicaraguan episcopate, who, together with their priests and ministers, are feeding Christ’s flock in Nicaragua during this dangerous time of civil strife.”
The archbishop celebrated Sunday Mass on Aug. 5 at Managua’s cathedral with Cardinal Leopoldo Brenes of Managua.
“We find ourselves celebrating the Eucharist to highlight the fact that we share the same faith. Our communion is greater than any distance,” the American archbishop said in his homily to the congregation.
Broglio said Nicaragua’s bishops “are seeking to serve this Church and their country.”
“My presence illustrates that, together, we walk in the service of truth, of the poor, and of peace,” he said in his homily.
Posted on 08/21/2018 03:00 AM (CNA Daily News)
Newark, N.J., Aug 20, 2018 / 07:00 pm (CNA).- In an Aug. 17 letter to the priests of Newark, Cardinal Joseph Tobin has said he has not been told by priests about a “gay sub-culture” in the Archdiocese of Newark.
The letter was written in response to a CNA report published the same day, in which Newark priests described their experience in seminary and ministry in the archdiocese. Tobin’s letter specifically addressed allegations, included in CNA’s report, of sexual misconduct on the part of two priests.
CNA's article included testimony about homosexual activity in the Archdiocese of Newark, from six priests who spoke to CNA on the condition of anonymity. The priests’ experience spanned across several decades under the leadership of Archbishop Theodore McCarrick and Archbishop John J. Myers.
CNA reported that, in 2014, Fr. Mark O’Malley was – according to multiple sources – removed from his position as rector of the archdiocesan college seminary, and placed on medical leave following an incident in which he was accused of hiding a camera in the bedroom of a young priest.
Cardinal Tobin’s letter, which surfaced on the internet over the weekend, addressed the matter directly.
“In April 2014, Father Mark O’Malley, who was serving at St. Andrew’s College, experienced a serious personal crisis for which he received a psychological evaluation and subsequent therapy. In April 2015, he was deemed fit for priestly ministry. He hopes to serve as a hospital chaplain.”
CNA also reported last week that Fr. James Weiner, currently pastor of the parish of St. Andrew’s in Westwood, NJ, was under renewed investigation by archdiocesan authorities. Weiner was identified as the previously unnamed man referred to in the allegations of sexual assault made by Fr. Desmond Rossi, now a priest of the Diocese of Albany, NY.
Rossi has alleged that, in 1988, he was sexually assaulted by two transitional deacons. In 2004, Rossi received an out-of-court settlement of approximately $35,000.
Recently, Rossi said that his allegation was found “credible” by an archdiocesan review board but that no action was taken.
Tobin’s letter confirmed that Weiner’s case had been examined by a review board in 2003 “even though it did not involve an allegation of sexual abuse of a minor.” The cardinal also confirmed that he had ordered the matter reopened earlier this month because of “new information and out of an abundance of caution in these most difficult times.”
This weekend, the bulletin at Fr. Weiner’s parish carried a notice that Cardinal Tobin’s office had indefinitely delayed the ceremony formally installing Weiner as pastor of the parish because of a scheduling conflict. Tobin had been scheduled to install Weiner in the post on Sept. 15.
Addressing reports of harassment and active sexual behavior by some priests, both in the seminary and in the archdiocesan presbyterate, Cardinal Tobin said that “no one – including the anonymous ‘sources’ cited in the article – has ever spoken to me about a gay subculture in the Archdiocese of Newark.”
Tobin began his letter by acknowledging the ongoing scandal of sexual abuse in the Church, following the allegations against Archbishop McCarrick and the release of the Pennsylvania grand jury report. The cardinal said that these events “have shaken and saddened the bishops and priests of the Archdiocese of Newark.”
Turning to the CNA report, Tobin said that while there was “much more to communicate about these open wounds,” he was writing the letter in response to “allegations of misconduct” against the two priests of the archdiocese, Weiner and O’Malley.
The cardinal closed his letter by expressing his hope that CNA’s sources were not actually priests of the archdiocese. However, CNA confirms that the sources for the story were priests of the Newark archdiocese, along with one priest member of a religious order.
The Archdiocese of Newark declined to offer comment or respond to questions from CNA regarding the letter.
Tobin’s letter concluded by encouraging priests to refer media inquiries to the archdiocesan director of communications.
Added Cardinal Tobin, “I repeat my willingness to meet with any brother who wishes to share his concerns regarding allegations in the press or personal experience in our local Church.”
Posted on 08/21/2018 01:01 AM (CNA Daily News)
Rimini, Italy, Aug 20, 2018 / 05:01 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- Many have forgotten that authentic Christianity has a positive influence on history and brings about greater human fulfillment, Archbishop Christophe Pierre said Sunday at a cultural event organized by the lay movement Communion and Liberation.
“When faced with change, conflict, relativism, and bleak prospects for the future, people are beginning to despair under the burden of daily life and have forgotten how to be protagonists in history,” the apostolic nuncio to the US said Aug. 19 at the Rimini Meeting.
“Meeting Christ and being changed by Him – the revolution of the heart – this is what turns the wheel of history! This is the true revolution!”
This year's Rimini Meeting, held Aug. 19-25, explores the theme “The forces that move history are the same that make man happy”.
Archbishop Pierre addressed the encounter beginning with a discussion of the meeting of the Samaritan woman with Christ at the well.
He emphasized that the woman experienced an event which offered happines, and this experience caused her to evangelize her community.
He said the woman at the well, who eased her suffering with unsatisfactory desires, is a person who is similar to many people in the culture. Some people, he said, attempt to cope with pain and weakness with drugs, pornography, wealth, or power.
“We will take anything we can to help us feel better, but in the end, it doesn’t satisfy. Just as when Jesus was approached by the disciples of John and asked, ‘What do you seek?’ Jesus is now asking the woman to identify her real thirst.”
Archbishop Pierre said Christ encounters the woman with the truth that he is fulfilling, and her previous idolatry lacked the ability to accomplish her hopes and dreams. Rather, he said the encounter with this truth and the presence of Christ leads “her to discover her own humanity and the possibilities for her future.”
Similarly, he said Christ gives people the ability to make proper judgements of the world, distinguishing between temporary pleasures and lasting happiness, as well as good and evil.
“A humanity reawakened by Christ can generate new protagonists in the history of the world – new witnesses able to make judgments, able to discern right from wrong, good from evil, true good from passing pleasure.”
This new ability is a powerful event, he said, which verifies the faith to others. However, he said this must extend beyond a knowledge of doctrine and become an example of a joyful Christian witness.
“A reawakened humanity has an ability to see – not only with the eye but also with the heart – and can verify the truth of the faith and propose it in this time of epochal change. A joyful Christian witness shows forth the attractiveness of Christ that makes others say, ‘What makes that person tick? What moves that person to act?’”
Posted on 08/21/2018 00:57 AM (CNA Daily News)
Washington D.C., Aug 20, 2018 / 04:57 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo of Galveston-Houston, president of the U.S. bishops’ conference, has welcomed Pope Francis’ letter to all the faithful addressing the recent sex abuse crises in the Church.
“I am grateful to the Holy Father for his Letter to the People of God, responding to the Pennsylvania grand jury investigation and other revelations that have surfaced,” DiNardo said in a statement released by the bishops’ conference.
“The very fact that he opens the letter with the words of Saint Paul: ‘If one part suffers, all parts suffer with it’ (1 Cor 12:25), shows that he is writing to all of us as a pastor, a pastor who knows how deeply sin destroys lives.”
In his letter, Pope Francis called the universal Church to “a penitential exercise of prayer and fasting.”
Responding to the call, Cardinal DiNardo said, “I find these words of the Holy Father particularly helpful: ‘penance and prayer will help us to open our eyes and our hearts to other people’s sufferings and to overcome the thirst for power and possessions that are so often the root of those evils.’ These words must provoke action – especially by the bishops. We bishops need to – and we must – practice with all humility such prayer and penance.”
Vatican spokesman Greg Burke said that the Pope’s letter was not just about recent scandals in the Church in America.
“This is about Ireland, this is about the United States, and this is about Chile, but not only [those places],” he told reporters. “Pope Francis has written to the People of God, and that means everyone.”
Burke said that it was especially significant that the pope referred to abuse as “a crime, not only a sin” and that, while asking for forgiveness, he acknowledged that “no effort to repair the damage done will ever be sufficient for victims and survivors” and that the “wounds from abuse never disappear.”
Pope Francis wrote that “with shame and repentance, we acknowledge as an ecclesial community that we were not where we should have been, that we did not act in a timely manner, realizing the magnitude and the gravity of the damage done to so many lives. We showed no care for the little ones; we abandoned them.”
Cardinal DiNardo acknowledged the need for a sincere and spiritually committed response to the abuse crisis.
“The Holy Father is also inviting, and I am asking this as well, that all the faithful join in prayer and fasting as a way to help foster conversion and genuine change of life wherever it is needed, even in the shepherds of the Church. Jesus remarked once, ‘This kind can only come out through prayer and fasting’; a humble reminder that such acts of faith can move mountains and can even bring about true healing and conversion,” DiNardo said.
The pope also wrote that “no effort must be spared to create a culture able to prevent such situations from happening, but also to prevent the possibility of their being covered up and perpetuated.”
This, Burke told journalists, meant “greater accountability is urgently needed - not only for those who committed these crimes, but also for those who covered them up, which in many cases means bishops.”
Cardinal DiNardo said that the bishops of the United States accept the urgent need for accountability, and pledged an unflinching approach to addressing past crimes.
“On behalf of my brother bishops, I offer that only by confronting our own failure in the face of crimes against those we are charged to protect can the Church resurrect a culture of life where the culture of death has prevailed.”
Posted on 08/21/2018 00:25 AM (CNA Daily News)
Callao, Peru, Aug 20, 2018 / 04:25 pm (ACI Prensa).- The bishop emeritus of Callao, Peru died Sunday at the Deusto Passionist community in Bilbao, Spain, where he had resided since 2015. He was 84 years old.
Bishop Emeritus Miguel Irizar Campos “was characterized by a missionary personality,” said a communique from the coastal Peruvian Diocese of Callao, responding to the prelate’s death.
“Callao will remember Bishop Miguel Irizar as a pastor close to his people and faithful to the mission, with his episcopal motto 'Sent to give the Good News.'”
The Diocese of Bilbao, where Irizar lived out his last years, described the bishop as a man who was able to fit in anywhere. During more than 50 years of service in Peru, including 17 years ministering to the indigenous population in the jungle, he proved himself to be a “people’s pastor,” the diocese said.
While in recent years his health had declined, Irizar’s Passionist brothers described the late bishop as “optimistic and a person close to others.”
Born May 7, 1934 in Spain's Basque country, Irizar was ordained a priest March 16, 1957 at the shrine of the Virgin of Aránzazu, where his mother had consecrated him to God years before.
He arrived in Peru in 1960 and began his pastoral work there at the Virgin of Pilar parish in the San Isidro district.
Between 1961 and 1965, he was professor of the Social Doctrine of the Church and Ethics at the Catholic University of Peru. From 1969 to 1972, he was the Regional Superior of the Passionist Congregation in Peru.
Blessed Paul VI named him the Missionary Bishop of the Yurimaguas Vicariate (Upper Amazon Province), and he was consecrated a bishop on July 25, 1972.
Pope John Paul II appointed him in 1989 as Coadjutor Bishop of Callao, the diocese he took full possession of on August 17, 1995.
Irizar promoted the creation of new parishes and founded the first monastery of Discalced Carmelites in Callao. He ordained more than 100 priests and received seminarians from other ecclesiastical jurisdictions for formation in the Heart of Christ diocesan seminary.
The bishop also promoted the Pachacútec Foundation, through which the Center for Community Studies and Development was created. Today, thousands of low income children, youths and families benefit from the center’s large educational complex.
Irizar was the Secretary General of the Peruvian Bishops' Conference for two periods. He also served as president of Caritas Peru, and a member of the Cor Unum Pontifical Council, and headed the Council of Latin American Bishops’ ecclesial movement section.
Bishop Irizar’s funeral was celebrated Aug. 20 in the parish of Pasión and San Felicísimo in the Deusto district of Bilbao. Local Bishop Mario Iceta presided over the Mass.
This article was originally published by our sister agency, ACI Prensa. It has been translated and adapted by CNA.
Posted on 08/20/2018 22:48 PM (CNA Daily News)
Alexandria, Egypt, Aug 20, 2018 / 02:48 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- Last month's murder of Bishop Epiphanius, the abbot of St. Macarius Monastery in the Egyptian desert, has highlighted tension in the Coptic Orthodox Church over monasticism, ecumenism, and reform.
Bishop Epiphanius' body was found July 29, with injuries to his head and back that suggest that he had been hit by a sharp object.
Isaiah al-Makary, whose name in the world is Wael Saad, was charged with the bishop's murder Aug. 11, and confessed to the murder the following day. Saad said another monk, Faltaous al-Makary (Raymond Rasmi Mansour), assisted in the crime. Faltaous attempted suicide in recent weeks, and was being treated at a Cairo hospital.
Saad was expelled from the monastery Aug. 5, for “inappropriate actions which violate monastic behavior and way of life.” The Coptic Orthodox Church said that his dismissal had been decided on before the bishop's death.
Bishop Epiphanius' murder has led to the Coptic Orthodox Patriarchate issuing several decrees on monasticism.
Tawadros II, Coptic Orthodox Patriarch of Alexandria, announced Aug. 1 that the Church's monasteries would stop accepting new brothers for one year. Those who established monasteries unapproved by the patriarchate will be stripped of their priesthood and monastic state. No new monasteries may be founded except as a revival of old monasteries, and this is to be done under the care of a recognized monastery.
The Church has also instructed its monks to close their social media accounts, and has suspended the ordination of monks for three years. Permissions for monks to attend outside functions is also being restricted.
And on Aug. 16, the Church announced that unrecognized monasteries have one month to submit to the supervision of the patriarchate. This will allow Tawadros “to supervise spiritual, financial, and managerial aspects,” the Egypt Independent reported.
The Coptic Orthodox Church is an Oriental Orthodox Church, meaning it rejected the 451 Council of Chalcedon, and its followers had historically been considered monophysites – those who believe Christ has only one nature – by Catholics and the Eastern Orthodox, though they are not considered so any longer.
Samuel Tadros, a senior fellow at the Hudson Institute, told the New York Times that Bishop Epiphanius was “a senior figure in a reformist Coptic movement” that has been favored under Tawadros.
“His appointment, in May, to position in which he would work as a liaison with the Catholic Church was seen as a sign that conservatives were being sidelined, Mr. Tadros said.”
Pope Francis visited Egypt last year, and signed a joint declaration with Tawadros announcing that their Churches will recognize the validity of each other's baptisms.
Previously, the Coptic Orthodox Church had repeated baptism if a Catholic had sought to join it.
Conservative members of the Coptic Orthodox Church have reportedly resisted such reforms under Tawadros. According to a commentary by Engy Magdy in the Catholic Diocese of Brooklyn's The Tablet, these conservatives are associated with Shenouda III, the immediate predecessor of Tawadros as Coptic Orthodox Patriarch.
The dispute goes back to tensions between Shenouda and Fr. Matta El Meskeen.
Fr. Matta was tasked by Cyril VI in 1969 with reviving monastic life at St. Macarius Monastery. The monk was focused on the spiritual life, openness to the thought of other Churches, and ressourcement.
While Shenouda was a disciple of Fr. Matta early on, after he was elected Pope of Alexandria in 1971 the two came into conflict. Shenouda restricted Fr. Matta to his monastery, and discouraged the reading of his books, according to an essay by Mina Thabet in Middle East Eye.
It was during this time, in 1984, that Epiphanius joined St. Macarius and became a monk. Epiphanius was a disciple of Fr. Matta, and was involved in ecumenism.
Fr. Matta died in 2006.
St. Macarius Monastery was long independent of the Coptic Orthodox hierarchy, but Shenouda restored it under the Church's authority in 2009, and appointed some 70 conservative monks, among them Saad and Faltaous.
In the year after Shenouda's 2012 death, Epiphanius was elected abbot of St. Macarius, and consecrated a bishop.
The murder of Bishop Epiphanius in his cell at St. Macarius may well only heighten tensions within the Coptic Orthodox Church, especially as Tawadros continues to extend his oversight of the monasteries in the desert of Egypt.