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CEOs promise people before profits in new statement on 'Purpose of a Corporation'

New York City, N.Y., Aug 20, 2019 / 04:00 pm (CNA).- A new commitment by business leaders to move past pure profit, and commit to employees, communities, and the environment, echoes what the Church has been teaching about business for years, a Catholic scholar has said.

On Monday, chief executives on the Business Roundtable—181 CEOs of corporations like Apple, Amazon, Wal Mart, banks and other businesses from various industries—issued a new joint Statement on the “Purpose of a Corporation.”

The updated statement alters more than 20 years of policy that previously held that the primary duty of a company is to provide profit for its shareholders. The Business Roundtable has issued regular statements on corporate governance since 1978, and in 1997 stated that “the principal objective of a business enterprise is to generate economic returns to its owners.”

Now, the roundtable lists several other commitments of business leaders in addition to shareholder profit, including investing in employees through training programs, dealing ethically and fairly with suppliers, and caring for the environment and for local communities.

“I think it’s a really good move,” Professor Andrew Abela, Dean of the Busch School of Business at the Catholic University of America, told CNA.

“Church teaching has been, I think, some of the most sensible teaching on the role of a business anywhere,” he said, to “make a profit as well as to serve society.”

The statement reflects those principles, Abela said.

“It’s something that the Church has been saying for decades,” Abela said, noting that the new announcement is not an “about-face” on the priorities of corporations, but is rather “an expansion of the understanding of the purpose of the firm.”

The statement will need to be put into action to be effective, but it gives “cover” to any business owner who claims that a company has duties to employees and local communities along with shareholders, Abela said.

A Vatican document from May of 2018 explained the role of shareholders in ethical business dealings. The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith issued its “Considerations for an ethical discernment regarding some aspects of the present economic-financial system,” saying that a business operates as “a true intermediate social body” within a “social fabric.”

When a business pursues profit at all costs, the document said, “every ethical claim is really perceived as irrelevant.”

This mindset leads to the promotion of “greedy and unscrupulous” executives, the document states. Furthermore, primacy is then given to shareholder profit and not to the well-being of employees, consumers and stakeholders, producing “a profoundly amoral culture—in which one often does not hesitate to commit a crime when the foreseen benefits exceed the expected penalty.”

What the Church teaches is not a set of rules for business but “a way of life,” Abela said.  “Running a corporation well” involves various duties both “effective” and “ethical,” he said, including “taking care of your employees, taking care of your customers, taking care of the communities in which the corporation works.”

Shareholders “are the owners of the corporation” and have property rights, he said, but other duties must be looked to as well. “And if you don’t do that, you’re not going to be long-term successful as a corporation, as a business.”

The Church teaches private property rights in conjunction with the “universal destination of goods,” Abela said, “the idea that the goods of this world are for the good of all.”

“What that means is if you own property, you ought to use that property to serve others,” he said.

A New York Times article on the statement noted that it did not address the pay of executives being tens or even hundreds of times greater than lower-level employees.

“It’s a controversial issue,” Abela acknowledged, saying that unjust pay is wrong and that executives should not be paid exorbitant salaries if a company is performing poorly.

However, he said, “if a firm is doing well and paying its employees fairly, and making tons of money for its investors, then I don’t think anyone should put any limits on how much the CEO is being paid. It’s a rare skill to run a large corporation, a large complex corporation, especially in this litigious age.”

[Watch Now] Livestream and CNA live blog on Cardinal Pell appeal

Melbourne, Australia, Aug 20, 2019 / 04:00 pm (CNA).- Cardinal George Pell is set to receive a decision in the appeal of his conviction for criminal sexual abuse of minors. CNA is livestreaming the decision here and liveblogging the proceedings below:



Pell was convicted in 2018 for acts of sexual abuse committed against two choristers, while he was Archbishop of Melbourne.

Following his convicted in the County Court of Victoria, Pell was sentenced in March to six years in prison, of which he must serve at least three years and eight months. Pell has remained in prison since that time.

The cardinal has appealed his case on three grounds.
This first ground of appeal is that the unanimous decision of the jury could not have risen to the level of “beyond reasonable doubt” because of the unchallenged exculpatory evidence of 20 witnesses during the trial.

The second ground concerns the decision of the trial judge, Peter Kidd, to exclude a video presentation by defense lawyers which would, they maintain, have illustrated to the jury the implausibility of the victim’s narrative.

The third ground is a procedural appeal concerning Pell’s arraignment, which was not properly carried out in front of a jury, which the defense argue was a “fundamental irregularity.”

If the judges find in favor of the first ground, concerning the fundamental injustice of the jury’s verdict, Pell’s conviction would be overturned and he would be released from custody.

A successful appeal on either of the other two grounds could result in a second trial for Pell.

Should the court reject all three grounds and his conviction be allowed to stand, Pell’s legal team has confirmed that he will not be seeking to appeal the length of his prison sentence. There would also remain the possibility of a further appeal to the Australian High Court.

'God is a tourist attraction' Anglican bishop says on cathedral carnival ride

Norwich, England, Aug 20, 2019 / 03:00 pm (CNA).- A controversial amusement park ride erected in Norwich Cathedral has come down after an 11-day installation. 

Rt. Revd. Johnathan Meyrick, the bishop of the Church of England’s Diocese of Lynn, delivered a sermon midway down the helter-skelter slide during the final liturgy held in the cathedral with the ride present. 

"God is a tourist attraction," Meyrick said, claiming that God would be “revelling” in the joy it brought to visitors. During the time the helter-skelter was installed, over 20,000 people came to visit the nearly thousand-year-old cathedral. 

While an estimated 10,000 people rode down the 50-foot-high slide, the move drew criticism from Anglicans and Catholic alike. 

The Right Reverend Dr Gavin Ashenden, former chaplain to the Queen - who is head of the Church of England - called the event a “mistake,” and misjudged “what a cathedral is good for.”

"For such a place, steeped in mystery and marvel to buy in to sensory pleasure and distraction, is to poison the very medicine it offers the human soul," Ashenden told the BBC.

In the sermon, Meyrick defended the decision to place the retro carnival ride in the cathedral, saying, that God wants to be “attractive” for humanity, and “for us to enjoy ourselves, each other and the world around us and this glorious helter-skelter is about just that."

"Enjoying ourselves is a good thing to do and God will be revelling in it with us and all those people who have found fun and joy and laughter here,” he added.

A Dominican priest told CNA that the slide, along with another carnival attractions brought in to a different English cathedral, was a sign that the Church of England has misplaced priorities. 

Fr. Thomas Petri, O.P., vice president and academic dean of the Dominican House of Studies, disagreed with the Church of England bishop, saying that his rhetoric is “just close enough to be dangerous.” 

“I would not say that God wants to be attracted to us. He is attractive to us. He is everything that is attractive in the world, everything that is good and lovely and desirable and pleasurable,” said Petri in an interview with CNA. 

Petri characterized the implication that God had to lower himself in order to be attractive to humanity as “absurd.”

“Everything God does He does perfectly, because He already is attractive,” said Petri. “It's we who cannot see this because of our sinfulness.”

The helter-skelter was one of two unusual installations placed in Church of England cathedrals this summer. 

In July, the Rochester Cathedral placed a nine-hole miniature golf course in its central aisle. The holes feature models of bridges, and the course will be open until September 1.

Petri criticized these efforts by the Church of England to draw people in to the scared buildings, calling them suggestive of a warped sense of priorities for church buildings created to direct people towards God.  

He told CNA that while God is present everywhere, including at the carnival, the construction of places of worship--whether it be a church, temple, synagogue, or other building--was one that was ordered by God and are special places specifically for that purpose. 

The construction of houses of worship was “not something that we’ve invented,” said Petri. “This is something that God revealed, revealed in scripture, that there are to be sacred places where we are to worship Him and give Him praise. We don’t have the right or the option to do something other than that in those places,” he said. 

“And so that's why when you try to bring the profane, the carnival, into the church and into the place built directly to worship God and to raise the mind and heart to God, not only is it confused, it's scandalous,” said Petri. 

“It's a reversal of its priorities.”

Norwich cathedral was built in the 11th and 12th centuries, with work beginning in 1096. Like many historic church buildings in the United Kingdom, it was Catholic for many centuries, until the foundation of the Church of England during the Protestant reformation.

Four more abuse allegations against former Cheyenne bishop

Cheyenne, Wyo., Aug 20, 2019 / 12:16 pm (CNA).- Four new sex abuse allegations have been raised against Emeritus Bishop Joseph Hart, spanning his time both as a priest in Missouri and a bishop in Wyoming.

Jack Smith, a spokesman for the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph, said the allegations were brought forward by either the alleged victims or their family members, the Casper Star-Tribune reported.

He said the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph “has turned over all information we have about allegations pertaining to Bishop Hart to the Diocese of Cheyenne, which I understand they have shared with local law enforcement in Cheyenne.”

More than a dozen total accusations of sexual abuse have been raised against the former bishop. The new allegations come from his time in both Cheyenne and Kansas City-St. Joseph, although all of the alleged victims were Missouri residents.

Hart has been accused in lawsuits of taking minors on trips and giving them alcohol and marijuana, then abusing them.

Kansas City attorney Rebecca Randles, who has represented some of the individuals accusing Hart of abuse, said the bishop would party with two other priests in Kansas City who have also been accused of sexual abuse.

Police in Wyoming last week recommended that two clerics accused of sexually abusing male juveniles in the 1970s and '80s be criminally charged, the Casper Star-Tribune reported. The clerics were unnamed in the report.

A press release from the police said its investigation “stems from a case initiated in 2002 that was reopened in 2018,” the Casper daily reported Aug. 14.

In July 2018 the Diocese of Cheyenne announced that Emeritus Bishop Joseph Hart had been credibly accused of sexually assaulting two boys after he became Bishop of Cheyenne in 1976, following an investigation of charges ordered by its current bishop.

In 2002, a Wyoming man accused the bishop of sexually abusing him as a boy, both during sacramental confession and on outings. The alleged abuse took place after Hart had become a bishop.

The Natrona County district attorney in 2002 had put forward a report saying there was no evidence to support the allegations that originated in Wyoming.

The Cheyenne diocese said in July 2018 that it “now questions that conclusion.”

According to the diocese, Bishop Steven Biegler, the present ordinary, had ordered a “fresh, thorough investigation” because the claims against Hart had not been resolved.

In December 2017, the bishop retained an outside investigator who obtained “substantial new evidence” and who concluded the district attorney’s 2002 investigation was flawed. The investigator concluded that Bishop Hart had sexually abused two boys in Wyoming.

The diocesan review board, after reviewing the report, concurred with the investigator, finding the allegations “credible and substantiated.” The diocese reported the alleged abuse to the Cheyenne district attorney in March 2018, and Cheyenne police opened an investigation.

The diocese said it reported the allegations of abuse as required by its own policy, the national Catholic Church policy, and Wyoming law.

In August 2018, the diocese announced it had found credible a third allegation of child sexual abuse committed by Bishop Hart.

“A third individual reported that he, too, was sexually abused by Bishop Hart in 1980,” the diocese said. This third person reported the abuse after the diocese's announcement there was “credible and substantiated” evidence that Bishop Hart had abused two Wyoming boys.

This third allegation was also reported to the Cheyenne Police Department.

Bishop Hart has denied accusations of abusing minors.

His first accusers came forward in 1989, when he was alleged to have abused boys while serving as a priest in Kansas City. Ten individuals named Hart in lawsuits related to child sexual abuse claims dating from the 1970s. These accusations were part of settlements the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph reached in 2008 and 2014, though Bishop Hart denied the accusations, the Missouri diocese said July 2.

Bishop Hart was ordained a priest for the Diocese of Kansas City–St. Joseph in 1956, where he served until he was named an auxiliary bishop in Cheyenne in 1976, and appointed to lead the diocese two years later. He served as Bishop of Cheyenne until his resignation in 2001 at the age of 70.

In June the Cheyenne diocese released a list of substantiated allegations of sexual abuse against minors or vulnerable adults. The release listed allegations against 11 clerics who had served in the diocese.

New South Wales parliament delays final abortion bill vote

Sydney, Australia, Aug 20, 2019 / 11:32 am (CNA).- A final vote on a bill to decriminalize abortion in the Australian state of New South Wales has been delayed until the middle of September, according to local media reports.

The state’s Legislative Council had been scheduled to debate the bill beginning Aug. 20, and the final vote will now take place the week of Sept. 17.

The Reproductive Health Care Reform Bill 2019 would allow abortions for any reason up to 22 weeks of pregnancy; after that, it would allow for abortions if two doctors believe an abortion should be performed “in light of future physical, social and psychological circumstances,” according to The Guardian.

Under current law, abortion is only legal in NSW if a doctor determines that a woman’s physical or mental health is in danger. “Mental health” has been interpreted by courts to include “economic and social stress.”

Pro-life protestors rallied outside the parliament building after the delay was announced.

As the parliament of New South Wales opened debate on the bill Aug. 6, hundreds of pro-lifers joined a three-day prayer vigil. Archbishop Anthony Fisher of Sydney called for all Catholics to pray against the bill's passage.

The Catholic Church, the Eastern Orthodox Church, the Anglican Church of Australia, and the NSW Presbyterian Church all oppose the bill.

“Rather than pursuing laws that will lead to more abortions, we should instead be investing in ways to support pregnant women who feel they have no other choice,” Archbishop Fisher said July 29.

The bill was set to have been introduced to the state parliament July 30, and debated that week. Debate was delayed, however, after concerns it had been rushed through without proper consideration.

Despite this, the bill passed the Legislative Assembly Aug. 8 by a vote of 59-31.

According to The Catholic Weekly, the Archdiocese of Sydney's publication, the bill originally did not mandate any counseling or period of consideration for the woman.

After some revisions, the bill would now require medical practitioners to offer counselling to a woman seeking an abortion if they believe it would be beneficial, The Guardian reports.

Critics of the bill have also objected that it would require doctors with conscientious objections to refer women to other abortion providers.

The legislation would also make it a criminal offense for individuals to perform abortions without the proper authorizations, carrying a maximum penalty of seven years imprisonment for doing so. Doctors would also have to obtain “informed consent” from patients before performing abortions.

According to supporters of the bill, it clarifies what they believe were previously ambiguous terms in penal code with regard to abortion. But according to conservatives who oppose the bill, it opens up the possibility for abortion at any time for any reason as long as two doctors agree.

Tanya Davies, a Liberal Party member and fomer women's minister, introduced an amendment that would have barred sex-selective abortion. The amendment was voted down, with some legislators arguing it could lead to racial discrimination and profiling, and that sex-selective abortion “is not an issue in NSW,” The Catholic Weekly reported.

Charleston bishop stepping back to fight accusation

Charleston, S.C., Aug 20, 2019 / 09:30 am (CNA).- The bishop of Charleston, South Carolina announced he will reduce his public appearances after being named in a lawsuit filed in New York. Bishop Robert Guglielmone announced that he is stepping back from visible leadership of the diocese as he defends himself against an accusation of sexual abuse.

In a letter to the faithful of the diocese, dated Friday and intended for distribution to parishes ahead of Sunday Masses, Guglielmone insisted that he was wholly innocent of the accusation made against him and would fight to clear his name.

“As you know, a lawsuit has been filed against me alleging that I have committed a grievous act,” said the bishop in the Aug. 16 letter. 

“This false accusation against me has no merit whatsoever; I have vigorously defended myself and will continue to do so.” 

Guglielmone has repeatedly stated that the accusations are false and is said to be cooperating fully with a Church investigation. As this process continues, he said, his concern is that continuing in a visible role in the diocese would be a “distraction” from other diocesan priorities and he will “temporarily reduce” his public presence for the foreseeable future. 

“I do not want to distract the focus from the important ministries of the Church in South Carolina–including creating safe environments for our children,” he said.

In the letter, Guglielmone reiterated that all child abuse is “despicable.”

The suit against Guglielmone was filed on August 14, the first day of a one-year period where abuse survivors may file claims against their abusers or the institutions which shielded their abusers, regardless of the statute of limitations. 

This one-year period was created by the passage of the Child Victims Act, which changed New York’s statute of limitations for child sexual abuse. 

The suit alleges that Guglielmone sexually abused a young man over a period of years while he was serving as pastor of St. Martin of Tours parish in Amityville, starting in 1978. 

The Diocese of Charleston said that, when first made, the accusation was initially determined not to be credible, though civil law enforcement was notified of the claims. Following the re-presentation of the allegation, the Vatican was informed and has initiated a full investigation, with which Guglielmone is said to be “cooperating fully.”

It is not clear when the allegations were first made, and the diocese has not confirmed who is conducting the investigation.

Both the vicars general of the Diocese of Charleston have released a statement of support for the bishop, calling him “a trusted leader of our diocese for more than ten years.”

Msgr. Richard Harris and Msgr. Anthony Droze both said that they had “utmost faith in [Guglielmone’s] truthfulness and in his innocence.”

Guglielmone has been the Bishop of Charleston since 2009.

Hospital boat named 'Pope Francis' sets sail to serve rural Amazon region

Belem, Brazil, Aug 20, 2019 / 09:30 am (CNA).- A hospital boat named the “Pope Francis” set sail this week in the Amazon River to bring medical care to rural populations.

“Just as Jesus, who appeared walking on water, calmed the storm and strengthened the faith of the disciples, this boat will bring spiritual comfort and calm to the worries of needy men and women, abandoned to their fate,” Pope Francis said in a letter sent to mark the ship’s launch Aug. 17 in Belem, Brazil.

“In addition to being a beautiful concrete gesture in view of the Synod of Bishops for Amazon, this river hospital is above all a response to the Lord's mandate, who continues to send His disciples to proclaim the Kingdom of God and to heal the sick,” the pope said, according to Vatican News.

The hospital boat is the initiative of the Fraternity of Saint Francis of Assisi in the Providence of God in partnership with their local diocese and the Brazilian government.

The Brazilian Franciscans were inspired to create the floating hospital when Pope Francis visited their healthcare facility during World Youth Day in Rio de Janeiro in 2013. During the visit, the pope encouraged Friar Francisco Belotti to expand his religious order’s charitable works into the Amazon region.

The boat, 32 meters in length, contains an operating room and analysis laboratory, and is able to provide a range of medical services, including X-rays, vaccinations, electrocardiogram,  mammograms, and ultrasounds. The hospital began treating its first patients Aug. 18.

“Barco Hospital Papa Francisco” will travel along the Amazon River to reach people who live in communities in the Amazon only accessible by river.

It is staffed by 20 medical volunteers, 10 crew members, and a Franciscan boat director for each 10-day voyage.

Pope Francis, who has often spoken of the Church as a “field hospital,” added that the Church can also now be seen as a “hospital on the water.”

The pope connected the hospital boat’s launch to the upcoming Special Synod of Bishops from the Pan-Amazonian region, to be held at the Vatican Oct. 6-27. The synod’s working document, entitled “Amazonia: New Paths for the Church and for an Integral Ecology,” discusses the environmental and economic problems faced by Amazonian communities and pastoral approaches to the region.

“The Church cannot but worry about the integral salvation of the human person, which involves promoting the culture of indigenous peoples, talking about their vital needs, accompanying movements and joining forces to defend their rights,” the synod working document states.

Title X: Protect Life Rule comes in as Planned Parenthood walks out

Washington D.C., Aug 19, 2019 / 07:00 pm (CNA).- Planned Parenthood will no longer receive Title X funds and has withdrawn from the program entirely. The decision took effect Monday, as the deadline passed for compliance with new program rules.

The organization, the nation’s largest chain of abortion providers, confirmed their withdrawal from Title X after a court refused to grant an emergency injunction against the Protect Life Rule, which bars fund recipients from referring women for abortions, prevents participating groups from co-locating with abortion clinics, and requires financial separation of government-funded programs from those that carry out abortions.

August 19 was the last day for the group to file a “good faith” undertaking to comply with the new rule.

The decision means Planned Parenthood will lose about $60 million in federal funding, about one-fifth of total Title X funds, and approximately 15% of its annual federal funding.

The organization’s acting president Alexis McGill Johnson said Monday that “The Trump administration has forced Planned Parenthood grantees out of Title X.” Johnson had previously called the Protect Life Rule an attempt by the president to “bully us into withholding abortion information from our patients.”

Calling the Protect Life Rule a “gag on health care providers,” Johnson said in a previous statement, issued last week, that the rule is “a blatant assault on our health and rights, and we will not stand for it.”

On Monday, Doreen Denny, Senior Director of Government Relations at Concerned Women for America, said it was “a day of reckoning” for the abortion provider.

“Planned Parenthood has no entitlement to federal funding, and they apparently have no plans to comply with federal rules either,” Denny said. “For years, Planned Parenthood has skirted federal law to promote its abortion business on the backs of the American taxpayer. 

“If Planned Parenthood truly cared about promoting health, it would stop peddling abortion and start supporting women. Planned Parenthood’s threat to withdraw from the Title X program proves one thing: health care is not their primary business; abortion is,” said Denny.

The abortion provider’s departure from the program altogether is a change from their initial response to the rule. Previously, the organization had intended to remain in the program, but refuse funding. HHS Deputy Assistant Secretary Diane Foley called this arrangement “inconsistent” in a letter to the organization.

In guidance issued by HHS on Aug. 8, the department responded directly to Planned Parenthood’s objections to the rule, noting that the organization operated less than 10% of participating sites nationwide.

“To the extent that Planned Parenthood claims that it must make burdensome changes to comply with the Final Rule, it is actually choosing to place a higher priority on the ability to refer for abortion instead of continuing to receive federal funds to provide a broad range of acceptable and effective family planning methods and services to clients in need of these services.”

Despite operating less than 10% of the Title X fund recipient clinics, Planned Parenthood received about 15% of the country’s total Title X funds. 

Title X is a federal program created in 1965 that subsidizes family-planning and preventative health services, including contraception, for low-income families. It has been frequently updated and subject to new regulations.

The administration previously said in June that it would delay enforcement of the rule, provided that fund recipients submitted a compliance plan and made a “good faith” undertaking to comply with most of the rule’s requirements as soon as possible. Facilities are required to end co-location with abortion sites by March 2020.

African news agency aims to tell stories from ‘the grassroots’

Nairobi, Kenya, Aug 19, 2019 / 05:45 pm (CNA).- At the launch event for a new African Catholic news agency Saturday, a Kenyan bishop urged journalists to focus their work on the “grassroots” life of the Catholic Church across the continent.

“Very rarely do we hear the great stories from the [Small Christian Communities] nor good things the little men and women who animate these communities do to promote the faith,” Kenyan Bishop Joseph Obanyi said Saturday, Aug. 17 in Nairobi, while hosting the launch of ACI Africa.

“The bishops believe strongly that through ACI Africa, we will be able to hear what the church has to say from the base,” Obanyi who chairs the Commission for Social Communication of the Kenyan bishops’ conference, told more than 400 guests at the launch event.

The newly launched agency is a part of the ACI Group, a service of EWTN News, which also includes Catholic News Agency. The agency was officially launched Aug. 17, and is headquartered in Nairobi. It is led by Fr. Don Bosco Onyalla, a priest of the Diocese of Rumbek, South Sudan.

During the launch event, Sr. Prof. Agnes Lucy Lando, who teaches journalism at Nairobi’s Daystar University, told journalists that they should be attentive to the standards and best practices of their craft.

“Resist from armchair journalism, resist from fake news, report the truth and communicate Christ,” Sr. Lando said.

“I am challenging the Catholic journalists and the ACI Africa team for ethical, objective and truthful reporting, she added.

The CEO of Kenya’s government-run Media Council offered similar encouragement.

“I urge that the media of the Church may pause and make sure that the message they pass across is verified and true so as to assist in passing the message of good will and a message that promotes human life in all its aspects,” David Onwoyo said during remarks at the event.

Fr. Andrew Kaufa, who represented the association of East African bishops’ conferences at the event, called for collaboration among media apostolates in Africa.

“Let us collaborate and as Church communicators we play a positive role,” Kaufa said, praising ACI Africa’s “efforts to promote sharing of Church stories and the good news of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

The apostolic nuncio to Kenya and South Sudan urged reflection about Catholic approaches to media.

“Much of the communication today is taken by forces that work against the Church and God himself, especially the Western world is very much taken by agnostic if not atheist doctrines, which try to expel God from the public sphere in normal communication channels,” Archbishop Bert van Megen told attendees.

Mentioning the European Union and “Communist China,” specifically, van Megan added that “of the large number of important nations on this earth...very few of them really live the Christian values; some of them combat Christianity.”

“It is up to us we people who believe in Christ, we people who are sons and daughters of the Virgin Mary to be announcers of the good news, to be communicators, to go out into the world and announce redemption, (the) mercy of God and the love of God in which we find out the true dignity,” he said.

“It is very good that we have institutions like ACI Africa that try to counter the voices of darkness that many times have taken possessions of many of the media,” the nuncio concluded.

“It is in the message of Christ that we find truth; it is in the message of Christ that we find true freedom; it is in the message of Christ that we find a secure road, the way into this life, it is in Christ that we find true happiness.”

After protest, Buffalo diocese denies allegations of former seminarian

Buffalo, N.Y., Aug 19, 2019 / 04:30 pm (CNA).- Amid a media firestorm and a small protest Sunday, the Diocese of Buffalo disputed allegations made in a letter published by a recently resigned seminarian.

“Earlier today, while many Catholics were attending Sunday Mass, three individuals chose to gather in front of St. Stanislaus Church and Bishop Malone’s residence. These individuals were within their rights, and displayed various poster signs. The Diocese of Buffalo, has responded to these topics previously and it is unfortunate that some have not received or understood the responses,“ the diocese said in an Aug. 18 statement.

The protest staged Sunday, according to local media reports, was attended by three people, one of whom is recently resigned Buffalo seminarian Stephen Parisi, who made headlines last week, when he published a six-page open letter, addressed to Buffalo’s Bishop Richard Malone, calling for the bishop’s resignation and accusing him of multiple offenses, which included allowing a priest to violate the seal of confession without consequence.

Malone was accused Aug. 6 by Marie Bojanowski, the mother of a Buffalo seminarian, of allowing a priest, Rev. Jeffrey Nowak, to remain in ministry despite allegations that he had violated the sacramental seal, groomed and sexually harassed her son, and abused minors.

A letter from seminarian Matthew Bojanowski to Malone, dated Jan. 24, 2019, is posted on the website of Buffalo television station WKBW. The letter details Bojanowski’s allegations of harassment, and indicates that Nowak disclosed that he had been accused of “inappropropriate actions,” with minors.

The Diocese of Buffalo removed the priest from ministry Aug. 7, and denied reports that Malone had covered up allegations of misconduct against the priest.

The diocese emphasized its response in its Aug. 18 statement.

“Bishop Malone has never allowed any priest with a credible allegation of abusing a minor to remain in ministry. He has stated it is his responsibility to lead the Diocese of Buffalo and he will continue to do so by continuing to offer opportunities to bring healing to victim-survivors of abuse and renewed trust to the people of the Diocese,” the diocese said.

“There has never been an accusation that Bishop Malone violated the seal of the confessional. Mr. Parisi and others make the outrageous and unsupported claim that Bishop Malone has not honored the seal and ignored a complaint that Fr. Jeffrey Nowak violated the seal of the confessional. Bishop Malone has never ignored this complaint.”

“To the contrary, Bishop Malone has initiated an investigation of the complaint. When the individual who made the complaint was first questioned, his response was vague and needed follow up. Fr. Nowak has been removed from ministry while the investigation continues,” the diocese said.

“The Office of Professional Responsibility has tried to contact the individual making this complaint but he has yet to respond. The Diocese will continue to pursue this claim and take additional action if necessary,” the statement added.

The diocese did not respond to all the complaints made by Parisi, which painted the picture of a seminary in chaos. The former seminarian alleged that seminary formators used information gained in the confessional to "blackmail seminarians," made lewd remarks in class, and encouraged seminarians to "shoot or break the kneecaps of protestors and/or the press."

The diocesan statement responding to his letter said that “Mr. Parisi was under investigation for academic dishonesty at Christ the King Seminary and his departure hinders any further inquiry.”

In his Aug. 15 letter, Parisi wrote that he did not plagiarize, only that after reviewing a fellow student’s paper in a “non-credit pre-theology class,” he “used the same quotes, in the same order but used my own thoughts and words to explain the quotes.”

Explaining that his parents are ill and that he had been struggling in the seminary, Parisi added that “I rushed to complete this paper and unfortunately, I forgot to put the opening summary in my own words. This was my fault, and I accept full responsibility for this error.” Parisi wrote in his letter that he had been for 24 years a consecrated religious brother in the Diocese of Buffalo. The seminarian was a member of the Brothers of Mercy, in which he was known as Br. Gabriel-Joseph Parisi.

Regarding academics, the former seminarian also exhorted the diocese to “STOP assigning pointless and tedious papers that do not help students comprehend class material and then not return work with valuable feedback,” to “STOP sending seminarians on summer assignments only to perform menial tasks instead of learning pastoral skills,” and to “STOP assigning endless papers, so much so that spiritual and human needs are neglected.”

The former seminarian urged other seminarians to contact law enforcement and the media if they encountered “inhumane, harassing or illegal behavior” at the seminary.

“I close by thanking Bishop Malone and the formation team for my time at Christ the King. The most valuable lessons I have learned at the seminary have not included how to properly write a paper, or even how to nurture a personal prayer life. By observing the behavior of most (not all) priests on the formation staff, I have learned how not to treat people,” Parisi wrote.

“Bishop Malone, for the love of God and for the sake of the faithful of the Diocese of Buffalo, please step down!”
 
Malone has come under fire in the last year, after his former secretary alleged in August 2018 that the bishop had omitted the names of some priests accused of abuse or misconduct from a list the diocese released last March.

The bishop has faced persistent calls for his resignation.

In April, Malone removed from ministry three priests who seminarians say engaged in salacious and inappropriate conversation during a party at a parish rectory. One of the priests temporarily removed from ministry was a formator at the seminary.

Also in April, Malone issued a statement defending himself against allegations of mismanagement and cover-ups.

The bishop said that he had not been part of any cover-up of clerical sexual abuse, and that he intended to be more transparent about clerical sexual abuse and its financial impact on his diocese.

Acknowledging that he had made mistakes, especially with his 2015 support of Fr. Art Smith, a priest who had faced repeated allegations of abuse and misconduct with minors, the bishop offered an apology.

“Lessons have been learned,” Malone said April 11.

“I personally need to repent and reform, and it is my hope that this diocese can rebuild itself and learn and even grow from the sins of the past. I ask you to pray for me, pray for the Church, and pray for all those who suffered and suffer as a result of abuse as we go forward together to address the worldwide problem of child sexual abuse.”