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US Bishops discuss three proposals intended to address abuse and negligence




The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) is actively seeking a way to hold Bishops accountable for abuse, sexual misconduct or negligence in responding to the clergy sex abuse crisis.

By Sr Bernadette Mary Reis, fsp

On Tuesday afternoon, the US Bishops began to discuss three proposals. They are concrete ideas which they hope will be implemented in some form in the future. Drawing on the existing Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People, the Bishops hope to close the gap in that Charter by including Bishops themselves among those to be investigated and disciplined for abuse, sexual misconduct or negligence in responding to the clergy sex abuse crisis.

Holding Bishops accountable

Cardinal Joseph Tobin, Archbishop of Newark, explained the “Standards of Accountability for Bishops”, which is up for discussion and amendments. It was drafted by three USCCB committees and is meant to supplement already existing Diocesan codes of conduct. The “Standards…” is, therefore, a policy describing best practices to which the Bishops will be held accountable. A discussion is set to take place on Wednesday morning.

Commission to investigate Bishops

Archbishop Vigneron, of Detroit, then presented a proposal drafted by the USCCB executive committee regarding a new organization who would be entrusted with the task to investigate Bishops against whom complaints or accusations are received. The present proposal, he said, is a sketch—the basis on which a task force will build after further consultation and analysis. As it is presently conceived, it: does not infringe on the authority of any Diocesan Bishop, or the Holy See; will report to the Apostolic Nuncio who will then proceed according to its competence; will be composed of 6 lay people (including experts and 1 woman religious), and 3 members of the clergy; will be a not-for-profit corporation; and relies on the consent of each Bishop.

A lively discussion followed, questions were fielded, and alternative proposals suggested. Archbishop Vigneron admitted that there are many areas that need to be filled in due to the haste with which the proposal was drafted in order to be presented to the Fall Assembly. Cardinal DiNardo also admitted that even if they had been able to vote on it, a final document probably would not have been on the table until the June Assembly.

Protocol for restrictions on Bishops removed due to abuse

Bishop Peter Deeley, of Portland in Maine, presented the “Protocol Regarding Restrictions on Bishops who were Removed from or Resigned their Office due to Sexual Abuse of Minors, Sexual Harassment of or Misconduct with Adults, or Grave Negligence in Office” drawn up at the request of many US Bishops. It addresses the cases of retired Bishops, or Bishops who have been removed from office or disciplined with canonical penalties by competent authority within the Church. It is a resource that will aid Bishops to understand existing provisions in Canon Law, and acceptable Church practice in order to restrict the activities of a former Bishop. “It might be necessary for the bishop in a given instance to make it clear to the public that the bishop emeritus no longer speaks for the diocese”, Bishop Deeley said, offering an example. There are no “innovations” to Church Law, Bishop Deeley explained.

What now?

The Bishops were encouraged to contribute their thoughts in the form of amendments so that all three draft proposals could be improved. Amendments to all three proposals were due on Tuesday evening. The Bishops will pick up the discussion on Wednesday morning.

The proposals before the Bishops and the discussions, questions and debate currently under way are allowing the Bishops the chance to address the issue as a corporate body. A discussion of this type is a first, not only for them, but for the Church in general. Many of the Bishops agreed that the discussion and amended documents will be helpful to Cardinal DiNardo as he represents the Church in the United States at the meeting Pope Francis has called in February.


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Killing of Christians: Buhari lied to Trump – CAN fumes



Killing of Christians: Buhari lied to Trump - CAN fumes

The Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) has reacted to President Muhammadu Buhari’s revelation of his conversation with United States President, Donald Trump, on the massacre of Christians in Nigeria, saying President Buhari was economical with the truth.

President Buhari had on Tuesday, revealed that at the heat of the bloody clashes between herdsmen and farmers in Nigeria, the United States President, Donald Trump, unequivocally accused him of killing Christians.

Buhari said these in his closing remarks at the two-day ministerial performance review retreat held at the Presidential Villa, Abuja on Tuesday.

At a point, the President digressed from his prepared speech and narrated his encounter with Trump on the bloody clashes.

He said he managed to explain to the American leader that the clashes were not about ethnicity or religion.

He said, “I believe I was about the only African among the less developed countries the President of United States invited.

“When I was in his office, only myself and himself, only God is my witness, he looked at me in the face, and asked, ‘Why are you killing Christians?’

“I wonder, if you were the person, how you will react. I hope what I was feeling inside did not betray my emotion, so I told him that the problem between the cattle rearers and farmers, I know is older than me not to talk of him. I think I am a couple of years older than him.

“With climate change and population growth and the culture of the cattle rearers, if you have 50 cows and they eat grass, any root, to your water point, then they will follow it. It doesn’t matter whose farm it is.

“The First Republic set of leadership was the most responsible leadership we ever had. I asked the Minister of Agriculture to get a gazette of the early 60s which delineated the cattle route where they used meager resources then to put earth dams, wind mills even sanitary department.

“So, any cattle rearers that allowed his cattle to go to somebody’s farm would be arrested, taken before the court. The farmer would be called to submit his bill and if he couldn’t pay, the cattle would be sold, but subsequent leaders, the VVIPs (very important persons) encroached on the cattle routes. They took over the cattle rearing areas.

“So, I tried and explained to him (Trump) that this has got nothing to do with ethnicity or religion. It is a cultural thing.”

However, CAN’s Vice President and Chairman of the association in Kaduna State, John Hayab, was not impressed with Buhari’s submission, saying “Buhari and his government will never stop from amusing us with their tales by moonlight because what is happening in Zamfara, Sokoto, Katsina, Birnin Gwari, Southern Kaduna, Taraba, Plateau and others cannot be described as a cultural thing.

He told Punch correspondent in an interview: “President Buhari’s weak story about his conversation with President Donald Trump further confirms why his government does not care about the killings in our country by calling them cultural things.

“Just this (Tuesday) evening, I received a report from the Kaduna Baptist Conference President about the number of their members that have been killed by bandits in Kaduna State from January 2020 to date to be 105 and our President will call it a cultural thing? All we can say is may God save our Nigeria.”

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Nuncio tasks clergy, laity on good stewardship



Nuncio tasks clergy, laity on good stewardship

The Apostolic Nuncio to Nigeria, Archbishop Antonio Guido Filipazzi, has urged the clergy, religious and lay faithful to be trustworthy, transparent, selfless and generous stewards in the discharge of their duties in the Church, following the way of Jesus.

Archbishop Filipazzi made the call during the opening ceremony of the maiden General Assembly of the Abuja Archdiocese, which was held on at Our Lady Queen of Nigeria Pro-Cathedral, Friday September 4.

The General Assembly, with the theme “Catholic Archdiocese of Abuja: Together in Evangelization,” saw Bishops, priests, religious men and women, and the laity gathered together to discuss means of strengthening the faith of God’s people amid the ongoing Covid-19 health crisis.

Addressing participants, Archbishop Filipazzi said that “an administrator is neither a master nor a slave who cannot decide anything, but one who is given a responsibility by the Master.” In this light, the faithful are called to be “true administrators of divine mystery” entrusted to them by Our Lord, according to their varying roles in the Church.

The Apostolic Nuncio also said “differences must not lead to division,” as everyone, though different, must strive for unity since there is no room for divisions in the body of Christ.

Archbishop Filipazzi, speaking on the upsurge in violence in northern Nigeria in a Vatican News interview on 29 August, had also called for shunning divisions along religious and ethnic lines.

Rather, he appealed for “general respect of the law and general intervention of the government” in the violent attacks which have claimed many lives and caused massive material damage.

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Assumpta CMO raises fund to roof “St Joseph’s Hall of Faith”



Assumpta CMO raises fund to roof “St. Joseph's Hall of Faith”

The Catholic Men Organization, CMO, Maria Assumpta Cathedral Parish Owerri, joined their counterparts in the Archdiocese to celebrate Father’s Day on Sunday, August 30.

The celebration earlier scheduled for May 10 this year was differed because of Covid-19 pandemic.

The occasion began with a Pontifical Mass presided over by His Grace, Most Rev. Anthony Obinna, Archbishop of Owerri cum Parish Priest of the Cathedral Parish.

In his homily, Archbishop Obinna called on Christians to live a life of witnessing to Christ at all times. He said that the zeal to preach the word of God is like a fire that burns inside the heart of a Christian and will not abate until one bears witness to Christ. This, he said, must be done in the course of our daily lives, in our places of work, in our families, among our friends, through living life that is Christ-like.

He congratulated the Christian fathers on the occasion and appealed for support to enable them complete their building project in no distant time. His Grace also appreciated the performance of the CMO choir during the Mass.

The theme for the parish celebration is: “Catholic Men As Spiritual Heads of the Domestic Church: Implications in the Family.”

The parish CMO used the celebration to raise fund for the roofing of their building project named: “St. Joseph’s Hall of Faith.”

In his brief remark at the occasion, the Parish CMO President, Arc. Anthony Emeka Ozoude said, “We have been able to complete the block work,” adding that, “the task before us now is to put a roof on the building.”

He therefore made a passionate appeal for generous donations from members and well wishers, assuring donors that every kobo donated will be prudently applied for the purpose.

Arc. Ozoude recalled that early this year, the parish CMO executive identified a three-prong programme of focus, namely: Membership revalidation, Debt recovery and Fund raising for the roofing.

He advised members not to sit on the fence anymore as there is so much to gain spiritually, morally and even intellectually from participating in the CMO activities both at the parish, stations and prayer groups levels.

“The committed members who attend our programmes regularly have discovered this and have remained resolute in their participation,” he said.

Activities marking this year’s celebration included Retreat, visit to ailing members in their homes, thanksgiving Mass blessing of the mini altars for the 5 prayer groups of CMO etc.

Arc. Ozoude thanked in a special way, Archbishop Obinna, the Cathedral Administrator and priests working in the Cathedral for their support. He also commended the various stations and prayer groups for their cooperation.

The CMO president acknowledged the good work and sacrifice of the Planning Committee, headed by Dr. Uche Ukozor and thanked them for a job well done.

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