The unique nature of marriage and the rights of everyone – Bishop Fürst tackles a difficult situation

In a recent communique to the members of the diocesan council, Bishop Gebhard Fürst of Rottenburg-Stuttgart presented his reasons for not allowing the blessing of a same-sex couple in a church in his diocese. It is a clear explanation, balancing doctrine and pastoral care, and a welcome one in the wake of much debate and harsh words against the bishop for his decision. At the same time, it highlights the problems the Church identifies, not only with regard to same-sex marriages, but also artificial insemination, surrogate motherhood, and the adoption of children. These problems, as Bishop Fürst illustrates, are for a large part about the rights of all persons:

Bischof Gebhard Fürst“Dear members of the diocesan council!

Because of certain developments, I want to express myself on a topic which has especially occupied and haunted the heart, minds and tempers of many people in the past week.

You have been able to read and hear that I did not meet the expectations of a homosexual couple, living as registered partners, for a Church ceremony. My decision was preceded by a written correspondence with one of the persons concerned, Mr. Kaufmann. In a letter I explained to him why I can not agree to a Church celebration to bless the relationship of him and his partner.

I wrote to him that a Church ceremony for same-sex couples is not possible and also gave the reasons for this. “Ceremonies of blessings are not just private actions, but they are also an action of the Church, which is committed to the Christian image of man. Ceremonies in relation to same-sex partnerships can therefore not be celebrated. Als because such celebrations can give the impression of being  “quasi-sacramental”” (cf. German Bishops’ Conference, Protocol of 25/26 November 2002, N. 7). This does not exclude, but rather implies that pastoral guidance is always and in all cases possible and that every discrimination of the persons concerned must be avoided.

You know that I was strongly attacked and rebuked in the public media. I had anticipated this beforehand and expressed my decision with this knowledge and will not change my position as bishop in retrospect because of violent attacks. With this position, I am aware of the collegial unity with my brothers of the German Bishops’ Conference.

The argument of the confusability of a Church blessing with a wedding or Church marriage has been proven to be correct in hindsight. Many media have spoken about a church wedding in the Lutheran Schlosskirche in Stuttgart. The visual appearance of the celebration, the photo of the exchange of rings and some other elements have created this impression.

The referendum in Ireland in favour of gay marriage has given a new dimension to the debate on same-sex unions.

The “Ehe für alle” movement and some state governments are aiming for the full equality of registered partnerships with “Marriage and family”, which is under special protection by the constitution of the Federal Republic of Germany.

I acknowledge that, in a pluralistic and secular society a way of life of a registered partnership guaranteed by the state can exist, and that this must have protection and rights. Of course not all citizens of free democratic society can be obliged to hold to the Christian image of man, which includes an unambiguous and clear image of marriage and family as a union of man and women with an openness to children. Yet I have to wonder if the state does not also and especially have the duty to especially protect the cultural heritage of western Christian tradition, from which it itself comes and in which a society marked by human dignity and human rights has its roots. Part of this heritage is a prominent place for marriage and family as the nucleus of society and guarantee for the future of society.

I reject, however, a complete equality of registered partnerships of man-man and woman-woman with marriage and family. Dissimilar things can not simply be treated as completely similar. I know of no communities or groups of people in recent history which have ever created an institution for man-man or woman-woman, let alone one with the name marriage.

This is especially pertinent for the right of adoption. Here I see a compromise of the child’s best interests. I am convinced that the bipolarity of the sexes of man and woman, which indeed alone can bring forth human life and without which no child can be conceived, is also good and necessary for the upbringing and development of children after their birth.

Today the technology of reproduction makes a new form of “adoption” possible: through donating eggs and sperm, through the means of In vitro fertilisation and through surrogate motherhood it is possible that two gay men can have a child produced and buy it. I highly recommend reading the article in the Frankfurter Algemeine: “Your twins belong to me” of 4 April 2015, s. 9. This article has the subtitle: “When men access the surrogate motherhood flat rate: in many countries the baby market for homosexuals is booming. The risks for women are lost in the propaganda battle.” For reasons of time I can’t tell you in detail how many human embryos are selected and killed with this method, how many tens of thousands of dollars or euros in costs are paid, and how the selected, often surrogate mothers living in deepest poverty and illiteracy, are objectified, disenfranchised and discriminated. I can tell you much which would disconcert you from my own knowledge of biotechnology and my own experience, for example in California, in the largest IV fertilisation clinic in the United States, where I spoke for two hours with the team of doctors and nurses of the IV department.

The FAZ article I mentioned above concludes its with the sentence, regarding the reproduction industry which is emerging in the baby business and the discrimination of surrogate mothers: “A group, which itself is suffering under the deprivation of rights would do well to consider carefully how far it is willing to go for a child,” ie. if it is justifiable for them to discriminate women and selecting human embryos.

In conclusion I want to say: Registered partnerships must be acknowledged by all in society and can not be discriminated against. I reject a Church ceremony of blessing. I likewise reject “gay marriage”, the “marriage for all”. The wellbeing of children has clear priority over the wishes of registered partners. I consider the fulfillment of a desire for children of homosexual registered partners through in vitro fertilisation and surrogate mothers unconscionable.

It remains the difficult task of us, the Church to fight discrimination in this context and respect and support the dignity of every person.”

It is often held against the German bishops as a whole that they are solely concerned with the pastoral care and not so much with doctrine. Bt the Church needs both. Bishop Fürst makes use of both in this text, as he presents the facts of the doctrine about marriage and family, while also underlining the pastoral needs of those who can not or do not succeed in achieving what the faith asks. This is the way forward, in my opinion. We can’t choose between doctrine and pastoral care, but we need both.

Bishop Gerard de Korte, Theologian Laureate

korteLast night, during the annual night of theology – during which Dutch theologians look back on and celebrate recent developments in the field – Bishop Gerard de Korte was elected as the first “theologian laureate”. The title is an unofficial one and the most recent one after the “most talked about theologian” and the “theologian of the year”.

Bishop de Korte will be an ambassador of theology for the coming year and will be commenting on current affairs from a theological point of view (much like he does in his recently-launched blog). He was one of three nominees and won with a clear majority.

It all sounds nice, of course, but in reality the bishop’s title will not make a major difference. At most it will be putting theology, the person of the bishop and the Catholic Church in the spotlight. But Bishop de Korte has been doing much of what the title asks of him for at least the past five years. In the bishops’ conference he is the go-to prelate for matters of Church and society, so he often speaks on behalf of the conference on television and radio, and he frequently contributions opinion pieces and articles to written media,the diocesan website and his aforementioned blog.

A recognition of his work, then, with the hope that it may continue and bear good fruit.

Bishops react to Laudato Si’

They’ve all received the encyclical in advance, with a personal note from Pope Francis, so more than a few bishops were ready to offer their thoughts and opinions as soon as Laudato Si’ was launched yesterday. Here are a few reactions I came across in my corner of Europe.

archbishop ludwig schickArchbishop Ludwig Schick of Bamberg writes: “The Biblical call to subdue the earth, can no longer be used by anyone as a justification for the plundering of nature and the wasting of resources.”

hesseFrom Hamburg, Archbishop Stefan Heße comments on the fact that Pope Francis addresses his encyclical to all people in the world: “He makes clear what urgent future issues must be solved for the entire world and for all people. That is not possible without a radical change in mentality”. And later, “Thus he underlines that the problems, which concern all, can also only be solved by all.”

101020marx250Cardinal Reinhard Marx, speaking on behalf of the bishops’ conference, said: “This encyclical is a great work of the Pope, which I gladly make my own. Today the Pope speaks to the conscience of the world and also of the Church, whether it is convenient or not. His message is not comfortable, it wakes us up and warns us to take responsibility. There is a great concern from the Pope not to separate ecological and social problems, commitment to the environment and to the poor, under any circumstances. In the sense the often used label of environmental or climate encyclical falls short. It is rather about an entanglement of the issues of environment and development.”

overbeckBishop Franz-Josef Overbeck of Essen continues in much the same vein as Cardinal Marx: “With this text Pope Francis once again places himself in the tradition of his patron saint, as he – like Saint Francis – emphasises the interconnectedness of the world … It’s about the triad of God – Man – Creation, but also concretely about, for example, the various connections of climate change … This make the Encyclical a strong sign of the responsibility of our universal Church for the world, of which I hope, with an eye on the UN climate summit in Paris this autumn, that it does not miss its effect.”

dekorte2In the Netherlands, Bishop Gerard de Korte spoke at a press conference to present the Encyclical, and emphasised the fact that the Pope wants to address all people: “The Encyclical is a new impulse for the efforts of Catholics for a more just and sustainable world. But the words “our common home” in the Encyclical’s subtitle makes clear that the Roman Church wants to address all people. Not just other Christians and other believers, but all people of good will (par. 13). Together we are one human family (par. 52) … Addressing all people, believers and unbelievers, indicates that the best of the world religions and philosophies needs to be tapped to reach a global ethics of Creation. Mobilising the spiritual and ethical power of all people is extremely important. Christians have faith in Gods Spirit who blows where He wants and can renew people. The Spirit breaks through lethargy and despondency and gives us joy and peace (par. 222 etc).”

Bischof-Norbert-Trelle-Foto-Bernward-MedienHildesheim’s Bishop Norbert Trelle starts with the criticism of Pope Francis against modern economic systems: “These exclude a large number of people alive today, does not take future generations sufficiently into account and creates a throwaway culture, which exploits resources without concern for the people or the environment and accepts with open eyes the changes in the climate. Opposite that, the Pope places the worth of individual people, his relationship with Creation and with the Creator in the heart of it. He connects these theological statements with an invitation to fundamental economical change and concrete action of individuals …

BischofGenn_Klauser_05-2009Bishop Felix Genn of Münster emphasises that the Encyclical is not just an environmental tract: “Certainly environmental problems are at the heart of Laudato Si’, but it is much more than an ‘environmental Encyclical’. It concerns the common home of Creation. In essence, Pope Francis answers the question which each of us should also ask: “What kind of world do we want to leave for those that come after us, the children who are now growing up?” This then leads to us asking about the reason for our existence and about the values that form the basis of our coexistence: “Why do we got through this world, what do we work and tire ourselves out for, what does this earth need us for?” Only when we ask ourselves these questions, so Pope Francis thinks, in my view quite rightly, the care for the environment will produce effective results.”

bode_purpur_240Lastly, Bishop Franz-Josef Bode, one of the German delegates to the Synod of Bishops, connects the Encyclical with the theme of the Synod’s upcoming meeting: “And so the Synod in October about the questions of marriage and family should not supersede the concerns for the human family and its home, Creation. Marriage and family are, after all, an essential component of an integrated ecology.”

“Praised be” – Encyclical day is here

LaudatoSi-255x397So today is the big day. I’ve not seen such excitement for the launch of an encyclical, but, then again, I’ve only been around as a Catholic for four of them. But this time around, everyone has an opinion, in part because they’ve seen the leaked early draft of Laudato Si’*, but mostly because the encyclical’s topic is such a heavily politicised one. Especially on the American side of the Atlantic, I notice that the question of the environment, and especially global warming, is seen as inherently connected and opposed to questions of population control and, more often than not, economic concerns. The issue of the scientific validity of what Pope Francis is a distant third element of the opposition.

Are these concerns warranted? Will Laudato Si’ suddenly advocate population control to protect the environment? That would be highly unlikely, considering that Pope Francis has time and again spoken against such things as abortion, euthanasia and curtailing the rights of people, which would all be means to the end of population control. Will Pope Francis speak against economic concerns as the driving force in our lives and actions? That seems almost certain, at least if these concerns plunge others in poverty and destroy their environment. Pope Francis’ chief concerns do not lie with western multinationals or millionaires, but with the poor and marginalised of the world. He is all for the common good, but not at the expense of others, or of the environment in which we all live. And that is also the Catholic attitude,and not without reason has Pope Francis said that Laudato Si’ will lie fully within the whole of Catholic social teaching.

In the end, it all boils down to the Creation stories of Genesis, in which we learn that man’s place in Creation is that of a steward. Yes, he can make use of what the world offers, but also has a duty to maintain it and not exploit or destroy it. Man is a part of Creation. He is not separate. If we destroy or exploit the world around us, we ultimately destroy ourselves. God has given us a world to live in and care for.

Are the concerns we hear against a major focus on the environment without any basis then? Not if our environmental concerns overshadow the care we must have for the people in our society and in other societies across the world. We must balance these concerns.

In the end, Laudato Si’ will be a document that needs to be read positively. It wants to invite us to act towards the betterment of ourselves and all of creation,not force us to stop and change what is good about our use of the environment.

*As an aside, this encyclical will be the first one since 1937 not to have an official Latin title. Encyclicals are titled after their opening words,which in this case happen to come from Saint Francis’ Caticle of the Sun,which was written in the Umbrian dialect of Italian. In 1937, Pope Pius XI wrote his encyclical Mit brennender Sorge in German, as it was directed against the Nazi dictatorship in Germany.

The Synod comes together

synod of bishopsYesterday, Pope Francis okay-ed another group of bishop members of the upcoming Synod of Bishops assembly of October. The group is about three quarters complete now, with a handful of bishops’ conferences still to elect their representatives. Pope Francis also still has to announce his personal selection of both lay experts and clergy, as well as ecumenical guests, but with a new working Synod document to be presented on Tuesday, the preparations continue apace. The full list of Synod members will most likely be available after the summer.

This is the list of members as it stands now (some names will appear more than once, as certain individuals will have more than one fucntion during the assembly):

MEMBERS

President

  1. Pope Francis

Secretary General

  1. Lorenzo Cardinal Baldisseri

President Delegates

  1. Raymundo Damasceno Cardinal Assis, Archbishop of Aparecida, Brazil
  2. Wilfrid Fox Cardinal Napier, Archbishop of Durban, South Africa
  3. Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle, Archbishop of Manila, Philippines
  4. André Cardinal Vingt-Trois, Archbishop of Paris, France

Relator General

  1. Péter Cardinal Erdö, Archbishop of Esztergom-Budapest, Hungary

Special Secretary

  1. Archbishop Bruno Forte, Archbishop of Chieti-Vasto, Italy

Undersecretary of the Synod of Bishops

  1. Bishop Fabio Fabene

Members of the Ordinary Council of the Synod of Bishops

  1. Timothy Michael Cardinal Dolan, Archbishop of New York, United States of America
  2. péter erdöPéter Cardinal Erdö, Archbishop of Esztergom-Budapest, Hungary (at right)
  3. Archbishop Salvatore Fisichella, President of the Pontifical Council for Promoting the New Evangelisation
  4. Archbishop Bruno Forte, Archbishop of Chieti-Vasto, Italy
  5. Oswald Cardinal Gracias, Archbishop of Bombay, India
  6. Laurent Cardinal Monsengwo Pasinya, Archbishop of Kinshasa, Congo-Kinshasa
  7. Wilfrid Fox Cardinal Napier, Archbishop of Durban, South Africa
  8. George Cardinal Pell, President of the Secretariat for the Economy
  9. Odilo Pedro Cardinal Scherer, Archbishop of São Paulo, Brazil
  10. Christoph Cardinal Schönborn, Archbishop of Wien, Austria
  11. Major Archbishop Sviatoslav Shevchuk, Major Archbishop of Kyiv-Halyc, Ukraine
  12. Bishop Santiago Jaime Silva Retamalas, Auxiliary Bishop of Valparaíso, Chile
  13. Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle, Archbishop of Manila, Philippines
  14. Peter Kodwo Appiah Cardinal Turkson, President of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace
  15. Donald William Cardinal Wuerl, Archbishop of Washington, United States of America

Heads of Dicasteries of the Roman Curia

  1. Angelo Cardinal Amato, Prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints
  2. João Cardinla Bráz de Aviz, Prefect of the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life
  3. Domenico Cardinal Calcagno, President of the Administration of the Patrimony of the Apostolic See
  4. Archbishop Claudio Maria Celli, President of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications
  5. Francesco Cardinal Coccopalmerio, President of the Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts
  6. Fernando Cardinal Filoni, Prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelisation of Peoples
  7. fisichellaArchbishop Salvatore Fisichella, President of the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of the New Evangelisation (at right)
  8. Kurt Cardinal Koch, President of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity
  9. Dominique Francois Joseph Cardinal Mamberti, Prefect of the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura
  10. Gerhard Ludwig Cardinal Müller, Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith
  11. Marc Cardinal Ouellet, Prefect of the Congregation for Bishops
  12. Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia, President of the Pontifical Council for the Family
  13. Pietro Cardinal Parolin, Secretary of State
  14. George Cardinal Pell, President of the Secretariat for the Economy
  15. Mauro Cardinal Piacenza, Major Penitentiary of the Apostolic Penitentiary
  16. Gianfranco Cardinal Ravasi, President of the Pontifical Council for Culture
  17. rylkoStanislaw Cardinal Rylko, President of the Pontifical Council for the Laity (at right)
  18. Leonardo Cardinal Sandri, Prefect of the Congregation for the Oriental Churches
  19. Robert Cardinal Sarah, Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments
  20. Beniamino Cardinal Stella, Prefect of the Congregation for Clergy
  21. Jean-Louis Cardinal Tauran, President of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue
  22. Peter Kodwo Appiah Cardinal Turkson, President of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace
  23. Antonio Maria Cardinal Vegliò, President of the Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant People
  24. Giuseppe Cardinal Versaldi, Prefect of the Congregation for Catholic Education (for Educational Institutions)
  25. Archbishop Zygmunt Zimowski, President of the Pontifical Counil for Pastoral Assistance ot Health Care Workers

Heads of the Eastern Churches in Union with Rome

  1. George Cardinal Alencherry, Syro-Malabar Church
  2. babjakArchbishop Ján Babjak, Slovak Church (at right)
  3. Archbishop Peter Fülöp Kocsis, Hungarian Church
  4. Patriarch Gregorios III Laham, Greek-Melkite Church
  5. Lucian Cardinal Muresan, Romanian Church
  6. Béchara Pierre Cardinal Raï, Maronite Church
  7. Patriarch Louis Raphaël I Sako, Chaldean Church
  8. Patriarch Isaac Ibrahim Sedrak, Catholic Coptic Church
  9. Major Archbishop Sviatoslav Shevchuk, Ukrainian Church
  10. Archbishop William Charles Skurla, Ruthenian Church
  11. Berhaneyesus Demerew Cardinal Souraphiel, Ethiopic Church
  12. Patriarch Nersès Bédros XIX Tarmouni, Armenian Church
  13. Archbishop Menghesteab Tesfamariam, Eritrean Church
  14. Baselios Cleemis Cardinal Thottunkal, Syro-Malankar Church
  15. Patriarch Ignace Youssif III Younan, Syrian Church

Prelates elected by the Bishops’ Conferences

  1. Bishop Rodrigo Aguilar Martínez, Bishop of Tehuacán, Mexico
  2. Bishop Francis Alleyne, Bishop of Georgetown, Guyana
  3. Bishop Antoine Nabil Andari, Auxiliary Bishop of Jebbeh-Sarba-Jounieh, Lebanon (Maronite)
  4. Archbishop José María Arancedo, Archbishop of Santa Fe de la Vera Cruz, Argentina
  5. Bishop Jude Ayodeji Arogundade, Bishop of Ondo, Nigeria
  6. Archbishop Antonio Arregui Yarza, Archbishop of Guayaquil, Ecuador
  7. Bishop_Joseph_Arshad_jpgSmallBishop Joseph Arshad, Bishop of Faisalabad, Pakistan (at right)
  8. Archbishop Joseph Atanga, Archbishop of Bertoua, Cameroon
  9. Audrys Juozas Cardinal Backis, Archbishop of Vilnius, Lithuania
  10. Angelo Cardinal Bagnasco, Archbishop of Genua, Italy
  11. Bishop Constantino Barrera Morales, Bishop of Sonsonate, El Salvador
  12. Bishop Gervais Bashimiyubusa, Bishop of Ngozi, Burundi
  13. Bishop Bernardo Miguel Bastres Florence, Bishop of Punta Arenas, Chile
  14. Bishop Krzysztof Janusz Bialasik Wawrowska, Bishop of Oruro, Bolivia
  15. Ricardo Cardinal Blázquez Perez, Archbishop of Valladolid, Spain
  16. Charles Maung Cardinal Bo, Archbishop of Yangon Myanmar
  17. bode_purpur_240Bishop Franz-Josef Hermann Bode, Bishop of Osnabrück, Germany (at right)
  18. Bishop Johan Jozef Bonny, Bishop of Antwerp, Belgium
  19. Bishop Anthony Fallag Borwah, Bishop of Gbargna, Liberia
  20. Bishop Franco Giulio Brambilla, Bishop of Novara, Italy
  21. Archbishop Stephen Brislin, Archbishop of Cape Town, South Africa
  22. Bishop Jean-Luc Brunin, Bishop of Le Havre, France
  23. Archbishop Paul Bùi Van Doc, Archbishop of Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
  24. Archbishop Héctor Miguel Cabrejos Vidarte, Archbishop of Trujillo, Peru
  25. Archbishop Luis Gerardo Cabrera Herrera, Archishop of Cuenca, Herrera
  26. Bishop Charles Allieu Matthew Campbell, Bishop of Bo, Sierra Leone
  27. Archbishop ChaputArchbishop Charles Joseph Chaput, Archbishop of Philadelphia, United States of America (at right)
  28. Bishop Francisco Javier Chavolla Ramos, Bishop of Toluca, Mexico
  29. Archbishop Francisco Chimoio, Archbishop of Maputo, Mozambique
  30. Archbishop Peter Loy Chong, Archbishop of Suva, Fiji
  31. Archbishop Mark Benedict Coleridge, Archbishop of Brisbane, Australia
  32. Thomas Christopher Cardinal Collins, Archbishop of Toronto, Canada
  33. Bishop Henri Coudray, Vicar Apostolic of Mongo, Chad
  34. Archbishop Vincent Coulibaly, Archbishop of Conakry, Guinea
  35. Archbishop Sérgio Da Rocha, Archbishop of Brasília, Brazil
  36. Bishop Jonas Dembélé, Bishop of Kayes, Mali
  37. Bishop Tsegaye Keneni Derera, Vicar Apostolic of Soddo, Ethiopia
  38. Daniel Nicholas Cardinal Di Nardo, Archbishop of Galveston-Houston,United States of America
  39. Bishop Joseph Dinh Dùc Dao, Auxiliary Bishop of Xuan Loc, Vietnam
  40. Bishop Nicolas Djomo Lola, Bishop of Tshumbe, Congo-Kinshasa
  41. Archbishop Filipe Neri Antonio Sebastião Do Rosario Ferrão, Archbishop of Goa and Damão, India
  42. Bishop Peter John Haworth Doyle, Bishop of Northampton, England
  43. Bishop Charles Edward Drennan, Bishop of Palmerston North, New Zealand
  44. Archbishop Paul André Durocher, Archbishop of Gatineau, Canada
  45. Willem Jacobus Cardinal Eijk, Archbishop of Utrecht, the Netherlands
  46. Bishop Benno Elbs, Bishop of Feldkirch, Austria
  47. ezzati andrelloRicardo Cardinal Ezzati Andrello, Archbishop of Santiago Chile (at right)
  48. Bishop Antonino Eugénio Fernandes Dias, Bishop of Portalegre-Castelo Branco, Portugal
  49. Bishop George Frendo, Auxiliary Bishop of Tiranë-Durrës, Albania
  50. Bishop Jaime Rafael Fuentes Martín, Bishop of Minas, Uruguay
  51. Archbishop Stanislaw Gadecki, Archbishop of Poznan, Poland
  52. Bishop Gilbert A. Garcera, Bishop of Daet, Philippines
  53. Archbishop Juan de la Caridad García Rodríguez, Archbishop of Camagüey, Cuba
  54. Bishop Petru Gherghel, Bishop of Iasi, Romania
  55. Archbishop José Horacio Gómez, Archbishop of Los Angeles, United States of America
  56. Archbishop Roberto Octavio González Nieves, Archbishop of San Juan, Puerto Rico
  57. cardinal-oswald-gracias-1Oscar Cardinal Gracias, Archbishop of Bombay, India (at right)
  58. Bishop Mario Grech, Bishop of Gozo, Malta
  59. Archbishop Henryk Hoser, Bishop of Warszawa-Praga, Poland
  60. Bishop Eugène Cyrille Houndékon, Bishop of Abomey, Benin
  61. Bishop Daniel Eugene Hurley, Bishop of Darwin, Australia
  62. Bishop Mario Iceta Gavicagogeascoa, Bishop of Bilbao, Spain
  63. Archbishop Dominic Jala, Archbishop of Shillong, India
  64. Bishop Jean-Paul James, Bishop of Nantes, France
  65. Bishop Gheorghi Ivanov Jovcev, Bishop of Sofia-Plovdiv, Bulgaria
  66. Bishop Joseph Kallarangatt, Bishop of Palai (Syro-Malaberese), India
  67. Antoine-Kambanda3Bishop Antoine Kambanda, Bishop of Kibungo, Rwanda (at right)
  68. Bishop Peter Kang U-Il, Bishop of Cheju, South Korea
  69. Archbishop Samuel Kleda, Archbishop of Douala, Cameroon
  70. Archbishop Heiner Koch, Archbishop of Berlin, Germany
  71. Archbishop Tadeusz Kondrusiewicz, Archbishop of Minsk-Mohilev, Belarus
  72. Bishop Fransiskus Kopong Kung, Bishop of Larantuka, Indonesia
  73. Bishop Paul Ponen Kubi, Bishop of Mymensingh, Bangladesh
  74. Archbishop Joseph Edward Kurtz, Archbishop of Louisville, United States of America
  75. Bishop Mathieu Madega Labouakehan, Bishop of Mouila, Gabon
  76. Bishop Pedro María Laxague, Auxiliary Bishop of Bahia Blanca, Argentina
  77. Lee%20Keh-mienBishop John Baptist Lee Keh-Mien, Bishop of Hsinchu, Taiwan (at right)
  78. Archbishop Gerard Tlali Lerotholi, Archbishop of Maseru, Lesotho
  79. Bishop Jacques Danka Longa, Bishop of Kara, Togo
  80. Bishop Jean-Marie Lovey, Bishop of Sion, Switzerland
  81. Archbishop Geraldo Lyrio Rocha, Archbishop of Mariana, Brazil
  82. José Manuel Cardinal Macário do Nascimento Clemente, Patriach of Lisbon, Portugal
  83. Bishop Louis-Marie Ling Mangkhanekhoun, Vicar Apostolic of Paksé, Laos
  84. Archbishop Diarmuid Martin, Archbishop of Dublin, Ireland
  85. Archbishop Eamon Martin, Archbishop of Armagh, Ireland
  86. Reinhard Cardinal Marx, Archbishop of München und Freising, Germany
  87. mokrzyckiArchbishop Mieczyslaw Mokrzycki, Archbishop of Lviv, Ukraine (at right)
  88. Bishop Zolile Peter Mpambani, Bishop of Kokstad, South Africa
  89. Archbishop Thomas Luke Msusa, Archbishop of Blantyre, Malawi
  90. Archbishop Matthew Man-oso Ndagoso, Archbishop of Kaduna, Nigeria
  91. Archbishop Benjamin Ndiaye, Archbishop of Dakar, Senegal
  92. Bishop Tarcisius J.M. Ngalalekumtwa, Bishop of Iringa, Tanzania
  93. Bishop Urbain Ngassongo, Bishop of Gamboma, Congo-Brazzaville
  94. Vincent Gerard Cardinal Nichols, Archbishop of Westminster, England
  95. John Cardinal Njue, Archbishop of Nairobi, Kenya
  96. Bishop Renatus Leonard Nkwande, Bishop of Bunda, Tanzania
  97. archbishop-of-gulu-john-baptist-odama-5Archbishop John Baptist Odama, Archbishop of Gulu, Uganda (at right)
  98. Archbishop Carlos Osoro Sierra, Archbishop of Madrid, Spain
  99. Archbishop Diego Rafael Padrón Sánchez, Archbishop of Cumaná, Venezuela
  100. Archbishop José S. Palma, Archbishop of Cebu, Philippines
  101. Archbishop Gabriel Charles Palmer-Buckle, Archbishop of Accra, Ghana
  102. Bishop Franhiskos Papamanolis, Bishop emeritus of Syros, Greece
  103. Bishop Yves-Marie Péan, Bishop of Les Gonaïves, Haiti
  104. Bishop Gregorio Nicanor Peña Rodríguez, Bishop of Nuestra Señora de la Altagracia en Higüey, Dominican Republic
  105. Bishop Harold Anthony Perera, Bishop of Kurunegala, Sri Lanka
  106. Archbishop Toash Bernard Peta, Archbishop of Maria Santissimi in Astana, Kazakhstan
  107. DOM-JOÃO-C_-PETRINIBishop João Carlos Petrini, Bishop of Camaçari, Brazil (at right)
  108. Archbishop Paolo Pezzi, Archbishop of Madre de Dio a Mosca, Russia
  109. Bishop Benjamin Phiri, Auxiliary Bishop of Chipata, Zambia
  110. Bishop Maurice Piat, Bishop of Port-Louis, Mauritius
  111. Archbishop Salvador Piñeiro García-Calderón, Archbishop of Ayacucho, Peru
  112. Mario Aurelio Cardinal Poli, Archbishop of Buenos Aires, Argentina
  113. Bishop Philipp Pöllitzer, Bishop of Keetmanshoop, Namibia
  114. Bishop Selvister Ponnumuthan, Bishop of Punalur, India
  115. Archbishop Georges Pontier, Archbishop of Marseille, France
  116. Norberto Cardinal Rivera Carrera, Archbishop of Mexico City, Mexico
  117. robles ortegaFrancisco Cardinal Robles Ortega, Archbishop of Guadalajara, Mexico (at right)
  118. Bishop Braulio Sáez García, Auxiliary Bishop of Santa Cruz de la Sierra, Bolivia
  119. Bishop Pablo Emiro Salas Anteliz, Bishop of Armenia, Colombia
  120. Rubén Cardinal Salazar Gómez, Archbishop of Bogotá, Colombia
  121. Bishop Aníbal Saldaña Santamaría, Prelate of Bocas del Toro, Panama
  122. Bishop Joseph Sama, Bishop of Nouna, Burkina Faso
  123. Odilo Pedro Cardinal Scherer, Archbishop of São Paulo, Brazil
  124. Angelo Cardinal Scola, Archbishop of Milan, Italy
  125. Bishop Noel Simard, Bishop of Valleyfield, Canada
  126. Archbishop Richard William Smith, Archbishop of Edmonton, Canada
  127. Bishop Luis Solé, Bishop of Trujillo, Honduras
  128. Bishop Enrico Solmi, Bishop of Parma, Italy
  129. Archbishop Ignatius Suharyo Hardjoatmodjo, Archbishop of Jakarta, Indonesia
  130. Bishop Emílio Sumbelelo, Bishop of Uíje, Angola
  131. Archbishop Joseph Mitsuaki Takami, Archbishop of Nagasaki, Japan
  132. Bishop Antoine Tarabay, Bishop of Saint Maron of Sydney, Australia (Maronite)
  133. Archbishop Philip Tartaglia, Archbishop of Glasgow, Scotland
  134. Bishop Philibert Tembo Nlandu, Bishop of Budjala, Congo-Kinshasa
  135. Archbishop Andrews Thazhath, Archbishop of Trichur (Syro-Malaberese), India
  136. Bishop Désiré Tsarahazana, Bishop of Toamasina, Madagascar
  137. Mgr-Twal-Je-demande-a-la-France-d-avoir-un-role-plus-politique_article_popinPatriarch Fouad Twal, Patriarch of Jerusalem, Israel (at right)
  138. Bishop José Francisco Ulloa Rojas, Bishop of Cartago, Costa Rica
  139. Bishop Camillus Raymond Umoh, Bishop of Ikot Ekpene, Nigeria
  140. Archbishop Óscar Urbina Ortega, Archbishop of Villavicencio, Colombia
  141. Jorge Liberato Cardinal Urosa Savino, Archbishop of Caracas, Venezuela
  142. Bishop Rodolfo Valenzuela Núñez, Bishop of Vera Paz, Guatemala
  143. Archbishop Romulo G. Valles, Archbishop of Davao, Philippines
  144. Bishop András Veres, Bishop of Szombathely, Hungary
  145. Bishop Jean-Paul Vesco, Bishop of Oran, Algeria
  146. André Cardinal Vingt-Trois, Archbisop of Paris, France
  147. Bishop César Bosco Vivas Robelo, Bishop of León, Nicaragua
  148. Bishop Jan Vokál, Bishop of Hradec Králové, Czech Republic
  149. Bishop Tomo Vuksic, Military Ordinary of Bosnia and Herzegovina
  150. Bishop James Maria Wainaina Kungu, Bishop of Muranga, Kenya
  151. Bishop Jan Franciszek Watroba, Bishop of Rzeszów, Poland
  152. Archbishop John Wong Soo Kau, Archbishop of Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia
  153. Bishop Cyr-Nestor Yapaupa, Bishop of Alindao, Central African Republic
  154. Archbishop Lévon Boghos Zékiyan, Archbishop of Istanbul of the Armenians
  155. Archbishop Stane Zore, Archbishop of Ljubljana, Slovenia
  156. Bishop Valter Zupan, Bishop emeritus of Krk, Croatia
  157. stanislav_zvolensky_TASRArchbishop Stanislav Zvolensky, Archbishop of Bratislava, Slovakia (at right)
  158. Bishop Joseph Anthony Zziwa, Bishop of Kiyinda-Mityana, Uganda

Superiors General

  1. Father Mario Aldegani, Congregation of Saint Joseph
  2. Father Javier Álvarez-Ossorio, Congregation of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary (Picpus Fathers)
  3. Father Richard Kuuai Baawobr, Missionaries of Africa (White Fathers)
  4. Father Michael Brehl, Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer (Redemptorists)
  5. Father Bruno Cadoré, Order of Preachers (Dominicans)
  6. Father Jesús Diaz Alonso, Sons of the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph
  7. Father Hervé Janson, Little Brothers of Jesus
  8. Father Adolfo Nicolás Pachón, Society of Jesus (Jesuits)
  9. 1115_schroeder_012Abbot Jeremias Schröder, Archabbot of the Benedictine Congregation of Sankt Ottilien (at right)
  10. Father Marco Tasca, Friars Minor Conventual

A leaked encyclical

So someone posted an early draft of Laudato Si, the encyclical that is set for release on Thursday. The encyclical is under embargo until noon that day, as the Holy See has been announcing in the daily press bulletins for at least the past week.

In my opinion, leaking such an important document against the clear wishes of the publishers is a very shameful thing to do, even if it is an early draft. That, and the simple fact that the Holy See has again asked everyone to respect the embargo, is the reason why I will not be sharing the text or write about it at this time. Besides, I don’t even know how much this draft differs from the final version, so drawing conclusions now may do nothing but make me look like a fool.

The situation is a difficult one for honest reporters, who have been preparing for next Thursday and want to respect the embargo. There will be many others who will be writing about the leaked text, and many who will be forming opinions before the official text is out. The leak is not only disrespectful to the author and publisher, but also to fellow reporters and writers, professional and amateur.

Shame on all those involved in the leak.

The fight against abuse – more than words and politics

global_nienstedtThose that were wondering if Pope Francis’ actions against sexual abuse in the Church would be limited to establishing tribunals and commissions are likely to change their minds today. After Bishop Robert Finn, two more American bishops saw their resignation accepted, resignations they tendered for failing to protect children under their ultimate responsibility. Archbishop John Nienstedt (pictured) and Auxiliary Bishop Lee Piché of the Archdiocese of Saint Paul and Minneapolis were removed from office one week after new criminal proceedings were launched against the archdiocese. Neither bishop is himself guilty of abuse, it must be stressed, but they are investigated for their actions after a priest of the archdiocese, now laicised, was arrested and convicted for sexual abuse. He now serves a prison term.

The Archdiocese of Saint Paul and Minneapolis will be administred by Archbishop Bernard Hebda, Coadjutor Archbishop of Newark, and the sole remaining auxiliary bishop, Msgr. Andrew Cozzens, who was appointed in 2013, well after the abuse case that resulted in today’s resignations.

Also today, the Holy See announced a starting date of the process against Mr. Józef Wesolowski, former archbishop and Apostolic Nuncio to the Dominican Republic, who has been charged with sexual abuse of minors while in Santo Domingo and the possession of child porn when he had returned to Rome in 2013. He had his priestly faculties and titles removed in 2014, and the expectation that he will be convicted in the face of overwhelming evidence.

It appears that Pope Francis is not waiting for the establishment of the tribunal which can charge bishops with negligence in the face of abuse, but is removing bishops who have failed. We can’t know if the resignation of Archbishop Nienstedt and Bishop Piché was the result of their own deliberations or a response to the advice of others. Pope Francis, however, has been clear that bishops must be critical of themselves and take their responsibilities for their actions or inactions when faced with painful and difficult abuse cases.

As a citizen of Vatican City, Mr. Wesolowski can be tried in that country (in close cooperation with the Dominican Republic authorities), while Archbishop Nienstedt and Bishop Piché will likely remain under investigation by American authorities as part of the larger investigation into the conduct of the archdiocese.