Tag Archives: church

Church sex abuse 'far-reaching' in Missouri: attorney general

Church sex abuse 'far-reaching' in Missouri: attorney generalThe attorney general in the US state of Missouri on Friday accused the Catholic Church of turning a blind eye to church sex abuse and referred a dozen former clergymen for criminal prosecution. “Sexual abuse of minors by members of Missouri’s four Roman Catholic dioceses has been a far-reaching and sustained scandal,” said the Midwestern state’s top prosecutor, Eric Schmitt, after a year-long investigation. “For decades, faced with credible reports of abuse, the church refused to acknowledge the victims and instead focused their efforts on protecting priests,” Schmitt told a news conference.



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Church leaders held homeless people captive, forced them to go begging and stole their benefits, court documents say

Church leaders held homeless people captive, forced them to go begging and stole their benefits, court documents sayChristian ministry leaders allegedly forced a group of homeless people to beg, kept them in locked group homes and threatened to take away their children if they left, prosecutors said.Victor Gonzalez and eleven other leaders of Imperial Valley Ministries (IVM) were charged on Tuesday with subjecting dozens of homeless people to forced labour.



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Pope says he's 'not afraid of a split' in Catholic church as he accuses critics of stabbing him in the back

Pope says he's 'not afraid of a split' in Catholic church as he accuses critics of stabbing him in the backPope Francis said he does not fear a schism within the Roman Catholic Church, as criticism grows among conservatives of his liberal views on migrants, the protection of the environment and giving communion to divorcees. Speaking on board the papal plane on his return from a trip to Madagascar, Mauritius and Mozambique, the Pope said he had been unfairly labelled “a Communist” by his critics, with the most vocal being conservative Catholics in the United States. In his strongest remarks yet on the risk of a schism, he said there had been many doctrinal splits during the 2,000-year history of the Church, although he prayed there would not be another. “I am not afraid of schisms. I pray that there will be none, because what is at stake is people’s spiritual health,” he told journalists on board the plane. The Pope’s impassioned defence of migrants and refugees, his opposition to Donald Trump’s wall on the US-Mexico border, his sympathy towards homosexuals and his openness to remarried divorcees being allowed to take communion have earned him the ire of conservatives, particularly in the US. Pope Francis answered questions from journalists while travelling back from a trip to Africa Credit: ALESSANDRA TARANTINO/ AFP He said he was open to discussing differences of opinion with his critics, some of whom have accused him of heresy and have called for his resignation. “Let there be dialogue, let there be correction if there is an error, but the schismatic path is not Christian,” he said. His critics were putting ideology over Catholic doctrine and deserved sympathy, not hostility. “We need to be gentle with those who are tempted by these attacks, they are going through a tough time, we must accompany them gently,” he said. The Catholic Church last suffered a schism in 1988, when Marcel Lefebvre, an ultra-traditionalist French archbishop, ordained bishops without papal permission and started his own movement.  Francis insisted that many of his views were similar to those of Pope John Paul II, who is regarded as an icon by conservatives, in part for his role in standing up to the USSR and bringing about the fall of Communism. “The social things that I say are the same things that John Paul II said, the same things. I copy him. But they say: ‘the Pope is a communist.’” Pope Francis arrives for his weekly general audience, at the Vatican on Sept. 11 Credit: AP He said he was happy for critics to address him openly, but condemned those who launched attacks in an underhand way. "At least those who say something have the advantage of honesty in saying so. And I like that," he said. "I don't like criticism when it's under the table, when they smile at you and then then they try to stab you in the back.” Echoing remarks that he has made throughout his papacy, he condemned populism and xenophobia, likening populist politicians to Adolf Hitler. “Sometimes, in some places, I hear speeches being given that sound similar to those made by Hitler in 1934. It’s as if they want to return to the past in Europe.” Xenophobia is “a human disease, like measles,” he said. Pope Francis smiles as he arrives for his weekly general audience at St. Peter's square  Credit: AFP In an apparent reference to President Trump’s plans for a wall along the US border with Mexico, and European countries’ efforts to keep out refugees and migrants with razor wire fences, he said: “Xenophobia is a disease that enters a country, enters a continent, and we build walls. But walls leave only those who built them. Yes, they leave out many people, but those who remain inside the walls will be left alone. Xenophobia rides the waves of political populism.” Francis criticised Mr Trump’s proposals for a border wall three years ago, saying that anyone who wants to build walls rather than bridges is “not Christian”. The remark incensed the then Republican candidate, who said it was “disgraceful” that the pontiff should question his faith.  To the discomfort of some conservative Catholics, Francis has repeatedly warned that the excesses of capitalism are leaving millions of people behind, fueling social tensions and harming the planet.



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Appeals court reinstates lawsuit in SC church shooting case

Appeals court reinstates lawsuit in SC church shooting caseA lawsuit over a faulty background check that allowed a South Carolina man to buy the gun he used to kill nine people in a racist attack at a Charleston church was reinstated Friday by a federal appeals court. A three-judge panel of the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals reversed a ruling from a lower court judge who threw out the claims brought by relatives of people killed by Dylann Roof in the 2015 massacre, and by survivors. The FBI has acknowledged that Roof’s drug possession arrest in Columbia, South Carolina, weeks before the shooting at AME Emanuel Church should have prevented him from buying a gun.



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Bat poo no longer blights church and interrupts service, as worshippers rejoice over new scheme

Bat poo no longer blights church and interrupts service, as worshippers rejoice over new schemeEnticing the next generation through their ancient doors, keeping donations topped up and ensuring that the organ is tuned usually rank high among any church’s list of priorities. For one congregation in Leicester, however, their problems have been somewhat more ungodly. For years, members of All Saints Church in Braunston-in-Rutland have been plagued by faeces dropping from the ceiling where a 500-strong colony of bats now reside.  This has meant that instead of praying or enjoying the 1,000-year-old church building, parishioners have been slipping on its floors, art and furniture has been covered in sheeting and volunteer wardens have spent hours scouring pews and floors of bat excrement. Now, however, the congregation remains clean and dry. Following a pioneering new scheme, entitled the Bats in Churches project, work has been done to fill the gaps in the ceiling to prevent faeces and urine soaking through without harming the animals. It is illegal to stop bats – which are a protected species – from reaching their roost, leaving many churches unable to patch up holes in their walls and doors which bats use for access. As a result, many congregations across the country have often found themselves at the receiving end of their sporadic, plunging excrement.  Gail Rudge at All Saints Church at Braunston in Rutland, where bats have roosted and caused damage  Credit: ./Photo Copyright John Robertson, 2017.  All Saints Church was one of the first to benefit from £3.8million of Heritage Lottery Funds to reduce the impact of bats on the buildings across the UK. It is one of around 100 churches, which hosts a large bat roost, which is now reaping the rewards of clean floors and clean congregants.  Sue Willetts, church warden, told the BBC: "Before, we had covers down on the floors to collect the droppings. "We had to clean the pews every time, it took an hour before every single service. Now we use the church how its meant to be." Mrs Willetts said that the bat problem “snowballed” five years ago when an old chimney in the village collapsed, prompting its residents to move into the church instead. She added that after signing up to the scheme, ecologists found gaps between the roof and the church and it was possible to block these gaps without harming the bats. She estimated that the church has received £100,000 worth of scaffolding, building, and ecological study works since applying for funding from the project. Rosemary Riddell, from the Bat in Churches project, said work at All Saints Church "has enabled us to sort of roll out solutions to other churches similar to Braunstone and it's really helped us to learn from their experiences". "[The church] was one of our guinea pigs and we're grateful for their engagement and involvement," she added. More than 100 churches have applied for the Bats and Churches Partnership, which monitors bats to see whether church managers could be allowed to take action to protect their historic buildings. It is funded by a multi-million-pound National Lottery grant.  All Saints Church at Braunston in Rutland, Credit: ./Photo Copyright John Robertson, 2017.  During the General Synod earlier this summer, The Telegraph reported that bats in the belfry were being mooted as a potential “tool for mission”.  Bishops visiting York were asked to answer more than 100 questions involving an array of controversial topics such as reporting abuse during confession, non-disclosure agreements and ethical investments in large technology companies; and one was on bats.  The Archdeacon of Lincoln, the Venerable Gavin Kirk, asked for an update on the progress of the Bats in Churches project, and “how those afflicted by bats may find out more about it?”  Sir Tony Baldry, chair of the Church Buildings Council, responded: “A number of projects involve volunteers from the community in managing and even exploiting the presence of bats, for school projects and the like. Bats might even prove to be a tool for mission, if we can get them to behave politely.” Asked how bats may prove to be tools for mission, Sir Tony told the media: “We have to work out how to encourage them out of the belfry to roost in bat boxes in churchyards. “They could then be of interest for projects for schools and A-level students studying the life cycles of bats and so on. They are part of God's creation and are interesting mammals. “There are serious challenges. They poo and urinate over large parts of the church, it is very distressing for parishioners on a Sunday to have to clear a whole load of bat poo off the altar and pews and so for some churches that bats have made almost unusable.”



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Catholic priest Joseph McLoone stole church money and spent it on himself, Grindr men, authorities say

Catholic priest Joseph McLoone stole church money and spent it on himself, Grindr men, authorities sayA Catholic priest in Pennsylvania was charged with theft after he stole nearly $ 100,000 from his parish over several years.



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Kamala Harris at church: ‘This is where we go when the times test our faith’

Kamala Harris at church: ‘This is where we go when the times test our faith’In an era in which religion and politics have frequently been used to create division and dissention, the pastor of a historic church is instead trying to utilize them for higher purposes.



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School will no longer be recognised as Catholic after refusing to fire gay teacher, church officials say

School will no longer be recognised as Catholic after refusing to fire gay teacher, church officials sayA school that refused to fire a gay teacher as ordered by the Archdiocese of Indianapolis says it has been told by church officials that it will no longer be recognised as Catholic. But school leaders pledged to keep the institution's religious identification.The archdiocese announced in a statement that it would no longer recognise Brebeuf Jesuit Preparatory School, an independently operated school, because it was not insisting that all employees "be supportive of all teachings of the Catholic Church," the Catholic News Agency reported. The church is against homosexual activity.A statement by the Reverend Brian G Paulson, who heads the Midwest Province of Jesuits, said the archdiocese told Brebeuf Jesuit Preparatory School two years ago not to renew the contract of a teacher whose "marital status does not conform to church doctrine." He also said the decision, to be formalised in a church decree, would be appealed through a church process and would go as high as the Vatican "if necessary."Leaders of Brebeuf Jesuit posted an open letter to their community on the Indianapolis school's website saying the archdiocese had directly inserted itself into a school governance matter in an "unprecedented" way and that it would not do what Archbishop Charles Thompson had demanded.The letter said in part: "Specifically, Brebeuf Jesuit has respectfully declined the Archdiocese's insistence and directive that we dismiss a highly capable and qualified teacher due to the teacher being a spouse within a civilly-recognised same-sex marriage."The unidentified teacher was said by Mr Paulson to be "a valued employee" who does not teach religion. He wrote that Brebeuf Jesuit became aware through social media "that one of its teachers entered into a civil marriage with a person of the same sex."According to the Associated Press, a school operated by the archdiocese, Indianapolis Roncalli High School, has fired or suspended two guidance counsellors in the past year because they are in same-sex marriages.Brebeuf Jesuit's leaders who signed the open letter are the Reverend William Verbryke, the school president; W Patrick Bruen, chair of the school's Board of Trustees; and Daniel M Lechleiter, chair-elect of the trustees board. They promised in the letter that the school's mission would not change as a result of this conflict with the archdiocese."We understand that this news will likely spur a host of emotions, questions and even confusion in the days ahead. Please be assured, the Archdiocese's decision will not change the mission or operations of Brebeuf Jesuit."On Friday, the school's name was not on the archdiocese's list of Catholic schools in its region.The church says there are 68 Catholic schools – 57 elementary schools and 11 high schools – in the Archdiocese of Indianapolis, according to its website. Collectively, they enrolled some 23,200 students during the 2018-2019 school year.Most of those schools are operated by a school division within the archdiocese, which is headed by Superintendent Gina Kuntz Fleming, who did not return phone calls about Brebeuf Jesuit. While Brebeuf Jesuit is a Catholic school within the archdiocese, it is independently operated. The school has nearly 800 students in grades nine through 12.The school leaders' letter said that, while the archdiocese "may choose to no longer attend or participate in the school's Masses and formal functions, Brebeuf Jesuit is, and will always be, a Catholic Jesuit school."It also said church leaders assured them that "Jesuit priests may continue to serve at Brebeuf Jesuit and will retain their ability to celebrate the sacraments of the Catholic Church."The Washington Post



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‘International Network’ of Islamic Extremists Believed Responsible for Sri Lanka Church Bombings

‘International Network’ of Islamic Extremists Believed Responsible for Sri Lanka Church BombingsSri Lankan authorities believe a local Islamist militant group, assisted by an “international network” of sympathizers, carried out the string of church and hotel bombings that left 290 people dead and at least 500 injured on Sunday morning.While they have not yet announced the responsible party, the authorities believe members of a local group known as National Thowheed Jamath carried out a total of eight bombings across the country on Sunday.All of the suicide bombers were Sri Lankan citizens, but they were assisted by foreign sympathizers, officials announced Monday.“We do not believe these attacks were carried out by a group of people who were confined to this country,” cabinet spokesman Rajitha Senaratne said. “There was an international network without which these attacks could not have succeeded.”Suicide bombers detonated improvised explosive devices filled with small metal projectiles inside of three Catholic churches during Easter services. They also detonated bombs in three hotels in the nation's capital, Colombo. Two additional explosions occurred during police raids on addresses in the capital.Twenty-four people have been arrested in connection with the attacks and 87 detonator devices have been recovered from a local bus stop.Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Sunday that several Americans were killed in the bombings.“Attacks on innocent people gathering in a place of worship or enjoying a holiday meal are affronts to the universal values and freedoms that we hold dear, and demonstrate yet again the brutal nature of radical terrorists whose sole aim is to threaten peace and security,” Pompeo said.“We can confirm that several U.S. citizens were among those killed,” he added. “The U.S. Embassy is working tirelessly to provide all possible assistance to the American citizens affected by the attacks and their families.”Government officials said Sunday that they were recently warned by a foreign government that the National Thowheed Jamath posed an imminent threat but failed to take the appropriate precautions. The country is now in a state-of-emergency and social media platforms have been temporarily blocked.The bombings represent a return to the sectarian violence that ravaged the small island nation until 2009 when the government reached a peace deal with the the Tamil Tigers, a Tamil-speaking militant group known for pioneering the use of suicide bombings in the 1990's.



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Family's near miss at bombed Sri Lanka church

Family's near miss at bombed Sri Lanka churchWhen Dilip Fernando arrived at St Sebastian’s church in Sri Lanka’s Negombo on Easter Sunday, it was so crowded he went elsewhere for mass. Dozens died there on a day of carnage across Sri Lanka that saw at least 290 people killed in eight blasts. On Monday morning, Fernando returned to the church in the seaside town of Negombo to see the damage at the site where he and his family narrowly escaped death.



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