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 News Briefs

NEWS BRIEFS Dec-27-2013

By Catholic News Service


Court reverses decision, orders Philly priest released from prison

PHILADELPHIA (CNS) -- A panel of judges for a Pennsylvania Superior Court reversed the decision on a priest's conviction in handling a clerical abuse case and ordered his release from prison. The decision, announced Dec. 26, involves Msgr. William Lynn, former secretary for clergy in the Philadelphia Archdiocese. Msgr. Lynn has served 18 months of a 2012 prison sentence of three to six years after being found guilty of endangering the welfare of a child, a felony. Prosecutors had argued that the priest had reassigned abusive priests to new parishes in the Philadelphia Archdiocese in his diocesan role as clergy secretary. However, Msgr. Lynn's attorneys argued that Pennsylvania's child-endangerment law at the time applied only to parents and caregivers, not to supervisors, which was Msgr. Lynn's role. The Superior Court's 43-page opinion described Msgr. Lynn's conviction under the state's original child endangerment law of 1972 as "fundamentally flawed." It noted that the original meaning of the statute, revised in 2007, required a person who was not a parent or guardian of the endangered child to "at least be engaged in the supervision, or be responsible for the supervision" of the child. The court said the "evidence was insufficient" to demonstrate that Msgr. Lynn "acted with the intent of promoting or facilitating" child endangerment.

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Retired Pope Benedict visits Pope Francis for lunch

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Three days after Pope Francis paid his predecessor a visit on Christmas Eve, retired Pope Benedict joined the pope for lunch at the Vatican guesthouse. The two shared the meal Dec. 27 at the Domus Sanctae Marthae, where Pope Francis lives. According to a report by Vatican Radio, the pope and the retired pope were joined by their personal secretaries and by Archbishop Dominique Mamberti, the Vatican's secretary for relations with states, and U.S. Msgr. Peter B. Wells, assessor in the Vatican Secretariat of State. Pope Francis had invited Pope Benedict to lunch Dec. 24, when the pope visited the retired pope in his residence to offer Christmas greetings. Pope Benedict lives in the former Mater Ecclesiae convent, also in Vatican City State. During the pope's visit, the two prayed briefly together and then spoke privately for about half an hour.

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Pope's morning Masses to include parishioners from Rome

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Ordinary members of parishes in Rome will be able to attend Pope Francis' private morning Masses in 2014. Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, the Vatican spokesman, said the cardinal vicar of Rome would tell local pastors how to apply on behalf of their parishioners beginning in January, according to a Dec. 27 report by Vatican Radio. The pope celebrates Mass every morning in the Vatican guesthouse, where he lives. Excerpts from his short, off-the-cuff homilies there have attracted worldwide attention for their frank, spontaneous style and have occasionally made news with remarks on such controversial topics as the salvation of atheists and the credibility of purported Marian apparitions. Most of Pope Francis' morning congregations so far have consisted of Vatican employees. The guesthouse chapel was constructed to accommodate 120 cardinal electors and a few attendants during a papal conclave. Father Lombardi said Rome parishioners would probably be admitted in groups of 25 at a time.

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Photographer captures final stages of abandoned churches, factories

PHILADELPHIA (CNS) -- Philadelphia photographer Matthew Christopher strongly believes in restoring abandoned buildings, but says if a structure is going to be demolished, it should at least be documented. "There are absolutely ways we can be reusing historically significant buildings and we are not looking at them," he said recently during a presentation at Philadelphia's American Catholic Historical Society, which had an exhibit of some of his images. Christopher views his work of photographing abandoned factories, power stations, hospitals, mental institutions, hotels and churches as part vocation and part avocation. He was working in the mental health field when he first got the bug for photographing abandoned buildings. His first foray into the field was a night of exploring the buildings and tunnels of the huge complex at Philadelphia State Hospital at Byberry, which has since been razed. One thing that struck him at Byberry and other mental health facilities he has documented was the beauty of the buildings. "You can see they really cared about the patients when they were built," he said.

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Youth minister combines entertainment, outreach with Fur Circus

EVANSVILLE, Ind. (CNS) -- Meet Rob Montepare, aka Buddy the bear of the Fur Circus. He and his fellow "enfurtainers" -- Myles the monkey, Splash the elephant and Rizzo the ringmaster -- work almost year-round at professional baseball and hockey events across North America. Montepare also serves as youth minister at St. Jude the Apostle Parish in Sandy Springs, Ga., a northern suburb of Atlanta. He started his ministerial duties there about the same time he and a handful of friends created the Fur Circus. And he sees a definite connection between the two roles. "Our young people are fortunate to have had such wonderful popes in recent years. Blessed Pope John Paul II taught us what we believe, and Pope Benedict XVI taught us why we believe," he said. "Now, Pope Francis is challenging all of us to just go do it. I agree -- we have to stop talking about it and make it happen," he told The Message, the Evansville diocesan newspaper.


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