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 News Briefs

NEWS BRIEFS Jul-3-2012

By Catholic News Service


Former Detroit seminary rector named bishop of Steubenville

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Pope Benedict XVI has named Msgr. Jeffrey M. Monforton, rector-president of Sacred Heart Major Seminary in Detroit for the past six years, as bishop of Steubenville, Ohio. The appointment was announced July 3 at the Vatican. Bishop-designate Monforton, 49, succeeds Bishop R. Daniel Conlon, 63, who was named in May 2011 as bishop of Joliet, Ill. The new bishop also served from 1998 to 2005 as priest-secretary to now-retired Cardinal Adam J. Maida, who was then archbishop of Detroit, and had most recently been pastor of St. Andrew Parish in Rochester, the Detroit Archdiocese's largest parish. No date has been set for his episcopal ordination and installation as bishop of Steubenville.

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Virginia woman sues priest, diocese for alleged abuse during exorcism

ARLINGTON, Va. (CNS) -- A Virginia woman who claims a priest sexually abused her while meeting with her to perform exorcisms has filed suit against the Arlington Diocese and the Virginia-based pro-life group he formerly headed for $5.3 million in damages. The suit, filed June 19 in Arlington County Circuit Court on behalf of a woman identified only as Jane Doe, claims Father Thomas Euteneuer, former director of Human Life International, abused her between April 2008 and September 2010. In a July 3 statement to Catholic News Service, Human Life International said Father Euteneuer "has already admitted to engaging in highly inappropriate and gravely sinful conduct with a young adult woman" but that "such behavior was never within the scope of his employment" with Human Life International. "We intend to vigorously defend HLI from the false accusations made against it and we are undeterred in pursuing HLI's mission to build a culture of life and protect the unborn," it added. The priest, who resigned from his position with Human Life International in August 2010, also returned that year to his home Diocese of Palm Beach, Fla. Michael Donohue, director of communications for the Arlington Diocese, said in a June 29 statement to CNS that Father Euteneuer "is not and has never been a priest of the Diocese of Arlington." He also noted that Human Life International is not under the direction or control of the Arlington Diocese and that Father Euteneuer was "not authorized to perform an exorcism on the plaintiff."

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Nuncio cautious about church's designation as World Heritage site

JERUSALEM (CNS) -- The designation of Bethlehem's Church of the Nativity as a UNESCO World Heritage site complicates relations between the three churches that oversee the holy site as well as relations between the Israeli and Palestinian communities, said a church official. Archbishop Antonio Franco, papal nuncio to Israel and the Palestinian territories, said the Catholic Church believes the church which marks the site of Christ's birth is part of the church's "patrimony as holy places, not because they are on a UNESCO list." He explained to Catholic News Service that the "sensitivity of the issue and all its repercussions" make it difficult to properly convey the Catholic Church's position on the designation. "Unfortunately (the decision) can't be put in the abstract," he said. Archbishop Franco said because of the "concrete situations" between Israel and the Palestinian territories, the "political implications" of such a decision cannot be overlooked. The designation had been opposed by the custos of the Holy Land, Franciscan Father Pierbattista Pizzaballa. He told the Italian bishops' news agency SIR the Franciscans last fall that he and other Christian leaders believed the initiative would make "it harder for us to run (the church), because, under UNESCO rules, the board in charge of running a place for the U.N. agency is the government, not the owner of a site."

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Church officials laud Mexican presidential vote

MEXICO CITY (CNS) -- The Mexican bishops' conference expressed satisfaction with "the exemplary participation of citizens" in the July 1 federal elections, which returned the once long-ruling Institutional Revolutionary Party to power. "As pastors of the Catholic Church, we are pleased to notice that our call to go to the polls in a conscious and free manner was heard by the Catholic faithful and by men and women of good will in our country," the bishops said in a statement released late July 1 and signed by conference president Archbishop Carlos Aguiar Retes of Tlalnepantla and secretary-general Auxiliary Bishop Victor Rene Rodriguez Gomez of Texcoco. "We are joyful witnesses to the civility and republican conviction demonstrated during the election process," the statement continued. "We're pleased that democracy has been recognized as the privileged path for achieving the peace, justice and development that Mexicans long for." The bishops offered congratulations to the victors without mentioning names or parties. Mexican voters opted for Enrique Pena Nieto, 45, of the Institutional Revolutionary Party, which showed anti-clerical tendencies in the last century and traces its founding to 1920s Cristero Rebellion.

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Yad Vashem moderates text regarding Pope Pius XII's actions with Nazis

JERUSALEM (CNS) -- New text in an exhibit at the Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial offers a less-critical assessment of the actions of Pope Pius XII in dealing with the Nazi persecution of Jews during World War II. While the new text still points to Pope Pius' prominent role in the church's negotiations with Nazi officials, it paints a more complex picture of the situation decades ago. Still, the new text includes criticism of the Vatican for not opening its archives to allow historians to research the actions of the Holy See at the time, noting that until researchers have access to "all relevant" materials the topic will "remain open to further inquiry." Archbishop Antonio Franco, papal nuncio to Israel and the Palestinian territories, who in 2007 had threatened to not take part in Israel's Holocaust Remembrance Day ceremony because of the exhibit's text, told Catholic News Service the move was "a step forward." "It is an opening, very important in the sense of attention to the documents and a more accurate search to try to understand really from the inside what the behavior was of the Holy Father and the Catholic Church," he said in a July 3 telephone interview.

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Kenyan bishops call for increased security after church attacks

NAIROBI, Kenya (CNS) -- Kenya's Catholic bishops called upon the government to intensify its security efforts in the country's north after the July 1 attacks on two churches, including a Catholic cathedral, that left at least 17 people dead and more than 50 people injured. The simultaneous attacks on Our Lady of Consolation Cathedral and the Protestant Africa Inland Church in the northern town of Garissa were the most recent in a series of incidents since Kenyan troops were sent into Somalia in October to crush al-Shabaab militants. "These unjustifiable acts of violence being continuously meted out on Kenyans, including women and children, have not only resulted in the loss of innocent lives but also created a sense of insecurity among Christians and all peace loving Kenyans," the bishops said in a statement July 2. The bishops said they continued to believe the attacks were not part of a religious war even though they were carried out on Christian faith communities.

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Pope to visit Lebanon, meet Christians, Muslims in September

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Pope Benedict XVI will present a papal document addressing the church's concerns in the Middle East, meet with representatives of local Christian and Muslim communities, and address political and cultural leaders on a three-day visit to Lebanon Sept. 14-16. Pope Benedict's primary task on the trip will be to present a document, called an apostolic exhortation, based on the deliberations of a special synod of bishops held at the Vatican in 2009. That two-week meeting, which was attended by 185 bishops, most of them from the 22 Eastern Catholic Churches in communion with the Holy See, focused on the precarious circumstances of 5.7 million Catholics in 16 Middle Eastern countries. A document released by participants at the end of the synod called for "religious freedom and freedom of conscience" in Muslim lands, a theme Pope Benedict is likely to address on his visit.

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Pope Benedict names German theologian to head doctrinal congregation

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Pope Benedict XVI has named Archbishop Gerhard L. Muller of Regensburg, Germany, the new prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. The 64-year-old expert in dogmatic theology and ecumenism, who has co-authored a work on liberation theology, replaced U.S. Cardinal William J. Levada, who retired at 76. As head of the doctrinal congregation, the archbishop also assumes the roles of president of the Pontifical Commission "Ecclesia Dei," the Pontifical Biblical Commission and the International Theological Commission. The appointment automatically elevates the former bishop of Regensburg, Germany, to the rank of archbishop, according to a Vatican statement July 2. The archbishop's academic research focuses on "ecumenism, modern age theology, the Christian understanding of revelation, theological hermeneutics and ecclesiology -- the priesthood and the diaconate," according to the website of the Diocese of Regensburg. In 2004, he co-authored a book titled "On the Side of the Poor: The Theology of Liberation" with Dominican Father Gustavo Gutierrez, who is considered the father of liberation theology.

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Pope removes Slovakian archbishop after apostolic visitation

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Pope Benedict XVI removed a Slovakian archbishop from leading the Archdiocese of Trnava, the Vatican announced July 2. Archbishop Robert Bezak, 52, had headed the Slovakian archdiocese since 2009. The pope removed the archbishop because he had not followed through on a request to resign, a Vatican source said. An apostolic visitation had been carried out in the archdiocese earlier this year. The archbishop's removal was linked to the findings of the visitation and was due to "the administrative handling" of the archdiocese, according to the Vatican source who asked not to be named.

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Pope names Islamic expert to Vatican interreligious dialogue council

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Pope Benedict XVI named a Spanish expert in Islam to the No. 2 post at the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue. Verona Father Miguel Ayuso Guixot, 60, was appointed June 30 to replace Italian Archbishop Pier Luigi Celata as secretary of the council. The 75-year-old archbishop was a longtime Vatican nuncio and had served as secretary of the interreligious council since 2002. He retired for reasons of age. Father Ayuso, a professor of Islamic studies, had served as director of the Pontifical Institute for Arabic and Islamic Studies, based in Rome, since 2006. He is the first expert in Islam to be named to the top level of the council since the former council president, Archbishop Michael L. Fitzgerald, was named nuncio to Egypt and the Vatican's delegate to the Arab League in 2006. Born in Seville, Spain, June 17, 1952, Father Ayuso was ordained a priest with the Comboni Missionaries of the Heart of Jesus in 1982 and served as a missionary in Sudan and Egypt until 2002. He is fluent in Arabic, English, French, Italian and Spanish.


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