French Titans’ Pledges to Notre-Dame Pass €600 Million

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE NEW YORK TIMES)

 

French Titans’ Pledges to Notre-Dame Pass €600 Million

The Arnault and Pinault families were among those who said they would devote resources and skills to the restoration of the cathedral, a symbol of French identity.

Battling the flames rising from the roof of Notre-Dame cathedral in Paris on Monday.Credit Bertrand Guay/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images
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Battling the flames rising from the roof of Notre-Dame cathedral in Paris on Monday.CreditCreditBertrand Guay/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

In the aftermath of the fire at Notre-Dame, one of the great symbols of France, the luxury industry — another symbol of the country, thanks to names such as Dior, Louis Vuitton and Saint Laurent — has pledged hundreds of millions of euros to the cathedral’s restoration.

The donations were followed on Tuesday by other pledges that soon surpassed 600 million euros, or about $675 million, and included beauty, energy, and finance companies.

On Monday, as Notre-Dame burned and flames lit the sky, the Pinault family — owners of Kering, the second-largest luxury group in France — was the first to publicly offer a significant contribution, pledging to donate €100 million to the rebuilding effort.

“The Notre-Dame tragedy strikes all French people, as well as all those with spiritual values,” said François-Henri Pinault, chairman of Artémis, the family holding company that controls Kering.

“Faced with this tragedy, everyone wishes to bring this jewel of our heritage back to life as soon as possible,” he added. “Today, my father and I have committed to donate €100 million from the Artémis fund to take part in the effort needed to fully rebuild Notre-Dame de Paris.”

The French businessman François-Henri Pinault and his wife, the actress Salma Hayek, in Los Angeles last year.CreditChris Delmas/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images
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The French businessman François-Henri Pinault and his wife, the actress Salma Hayek, in Los Angeles last year.CreditChris Delmas/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

Shortly afterward, the Arnault family and LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton, led by Bernard Arnault, the richest man in France, announced that they would give €200 million.

“The LVMH Group puts at the disposal of the state and the relevant authorities all of its teams — including creative, architectural and financial specialists — to help with the long work of reconstruction and fund-raising, which is already in progress,” they said.

LVMH is the largest luxury group in the world. Its fashion holdings include Celine, Dior, Givenchy and Louis Vuitton. The group also owns drinks brands including Moët & Chandon, Dom Pérignon and Veuve Clicquot, as well as the landmark Parisian stores Le Bon Marché and La Samaritaine. The group reported revenue of €46.8 billion in 2018.

Mr. Arnault was an early supporter of Emanuel Macron’s presidential bid, and Brigitte Macron, the French first lady, wears Louis Vuitton for most of her high-profile public events. Mr. Arnault also masterminded the Fondation Louis Vuitton, the contemporary art museum in the Bois de Boulogne designed by Frank Gehry that has helped reshape the landscape of Paris and that will ultimately become a gift to the city.

Bernard Arnault, the chief executive of the French luxury group LVMH, and his wife, Hélène Mercier, in Paris in March.CreditFrancois Mori/Associated Press
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Bernard Arnault, the chief executive of the French luxury group LVMH, and his wife, Hélène Mercier, in Paris in March.CreditFrancois Mori/Associated Press

For its part, Kering owns luxury brands such as Balenciaga, Boucheron and Yves Saint Laurent. The Pinault family — also among the richest in France — owns the wine estate Château Latour. The group’s 2018 revenues were €13.67 billion. François Pinault, the patriarch of the family that controls Kering, is building a contemporary art museum in the former Bourse de Commerce in the center of Paris that will be designed by the architect Tadao Ando.

François-Henri Pinault, Mr. Pinault’s son, is married to the actress Salma Hayek. Kering has its headquarters in Paris, and Ms. Hayek posted a message of condolence and support on Instagram after the fire. “As many others I’m in deep shock and sadness to witness the beauty of Notre-Dame turn into smoke,” she wrote. “I love you Paris.”

The two fashion groups are deeply embedded and invested in the heritage of France as a global beacon of beauty and artistic creativity, a tradition that is also carved into the stones of Notre-Dame.

In recent years, the luxury industry across Europe has become actively involved in restoring historic monuments. The Italian leather goods group Tod’s is underwriting the restoration of the Colosseum in Rome for €25 million. Fendi, which is owned by LVMH, paid €2 million toward the restoration of the Trevi Fountain in the Italian capital (the company held a fashion show there when it was completed). Bulgari, a jewelry brand also under the LVMH umbrella, spent €1.5 million on the Spanish Steps in the city. And Salvatore Ferragamo, an Italian luxury goods company, has supported the Uffizi Gallery in Florence.

Fendi, which is owned by LVMH, held a fashion show in July 2016 at the Trevi Fountain in Rome after renovations the company had underwritten were completed.CreditVictor Boyko/Getty Images
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Fendi, which is owned by LVMH, held a fashion show in July 2016 at the Trevi Fountain in Rome after renovations the company had underwritten were completed.CreditVictor Boyko/Getty Images

The motives are both altruistic — supplying funds that local governments do not have in the interests of saving a joint inheritance — and self-interested — the companies clearly understand that the more closely they associate with masterpieces of history, the more they bask in their glow.

In addition, when it comes to Notre-Dame, donors will benefit from a hefty tax write-off. Individuals in France can get a 66 percent discount on charitable gifts, while companies can deduct 60 percent of their corporate sponsorship expenses — which would most likely include assistance to the cathedral — from their corporation tax, though the amount is capped at 0.5 percent of turnover.

In the aftermath of the tragedy in Paris, however, such distinctions may not matter. The gifts from the likes of the Arnaults and the Pinaults are a reflection of how personally, and how profoundly, the fire has reached into the identity of French citizens and their businesses.

Indeed, just after the announcement from LVMH, Patrick Pouyanné, the chief executive of the French energy company Total, said on Twitter that his firm would contribute an additional €100 million to the cause, and L’Oréal and the Bettencourt-Schueller Foundation, which is backed by the family that founded the cosmetics giant, pledged a total of €200 million. Offers of aid in the reconstruction effort also came from the bank Société Générale (€10 million) and the advertising firm JCDecaux (€20 million), while the tire maker Michelin also promised a large sum and the construction giant Vinci offered to provide workers and architects.

Their legacy will now be part of Notre-Dame’s future.

Liz Alderman contributed reporting.

Vanessa Friedman is The Times’s fashion director and chief fashion critic. She was previously the fashion editor of the Financial Times. @VVFriedman

Pope Francis Blasts U.S. Bishops About Sexual Abuse ‘Credibility Of Church Is At Stake’

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF NBC NEWS)

 

Pope Francis talks tough to U.S. bishops, says credibility of church ‘is at stake’

Pope Francis tells U.S. bishops grappling with priest sex abuse scandal to stop “playing the victim or the scold.”
 / Updated 
By Corky Siemaszko

Pope Francis delivered a blunt message Thursday to his American bishops — stop “playing the victim or the scold” and do something about the “culture of abuse” that has resulted in a crisis of credibility for the U.S. Roman Catholic Church.

Francis’ letter, which was dated Tuesday, was delivered as the bishops were at a weeklong spiritual retreat at the Mundelein Seminary north of Chicago.

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Pope Francis arrives in Piazza Armerina, Sicily on Sept. 15, 2018.Andrew Medichini / AP file

“These have been times of turbulence in the lives of all those victims who suffered in their flesh the abuse of power and conscience and sexual abuse on the part of ordained ministers, male and female religious and lay faithful,” Francis wrote in his eight-page letter. “The Church’s credibility has been seriously undercut and diminished by these sins and crimes, but even more by the efforts to deny or conceal them.”

Instead of “helping to resolve conflicts,” Francis wrote the actions of the church thus far have “enabled them to fester and cause even greater harm.”

“We know that the sins and crimes that were committed, and their repercussions on the ecclesial, social and cultural levels, have deeply affected the faithful,” the Pope wrote.

Restoring credibility, Francis added, will not be accomplished by “issuing stern decrees or by simply creating new committees or improving flow charts, as if we were in charge of a department of human resources.”

“Clearly, a living fabric has come undone, and we, like weavers, are called to repair it,” he wrote. “This requires not only a new approach to management, but also a change in our mind-set.”

Francis told the bishops there needs to be a change in “our way of praying, our handling of power and money, our exercise of authority and our way of relating to one another and to the world around us.”

It is time, Francis declared, “to abandon a modus operandi of disparaging, discrediting, playing the victim or the scold in our relationships.”

“Our catholicity is at stake,” he wrote.

The Rev. James Martin, a Jesuit priest and author of “Building a Bridge: How the Catholic Church and the LGBT Community Can Enter into a Relationship or Respect, Compassion and Sensitivity,” said Francis’ letter is a “big deal.”

“First, it is directed not simply at the whole church, but the US church specifically,” Martin said in an email to NBC News. “Second, Francis does not hesitate to force the US bishops to look at the harsh reality of the ‘sins and crimes’ of abuse, their ‘loss of credibility’ and the cover-ups that have happened in the past. Finally, he is blunt about the many divisions among the US bishops and even the ‘slander’ that prevents them from working together more quickly on this.”

Why did Francis drop this letter now on the bishops?

“The timing is not only so that they can pray about these topics on their retreat,” Martin wrote.

The Pope is schedule to meet next month at the Vatican with the bishops from around the world and he wanted to get this message out now.

“The U.S. is a bellwether for many issues in the church, and so you can expect that nearly every bishop who will be attending that summit will read this letter,” Martin wrote.

In a brief statement, Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, said the bishops “carry with us these days the pain and hope of all who may feel let down by the Church.”

Joseph Zwilling, a spokesman for Cardinal Timothy Dolan and the Archdiocese of New York, called Francis’ message a “prophetic call.”

“I know that Cardinal Dolan, and, I am sure, every bishop in the country, would agree with Pope Francis that the abuse of minors, and especially how that abuse was handled in the past, has undermined and damaged the Church’s credibility, and that only through openness to the Holy Spirit and a spirit of humility and unity can that credibility be regained,” Zwilling said.

But Dolan has, for many years, been fighting attempts by New York lawmakers to pass a Child Victims Act that would do away with statutes of limitations that have prevented some alleged abuse victims from suing the church — and create a one-year “look-back window” that would allow alleged victims who weren’t able to sue in the past to file claims.

Pope Francis, Donald Trump, And Faith

Pope Francis, Donald Trump, And Faith

Back in February of 2016 when the Pope was in Mexico as an answer to a question about Mr. Trump and his being a Christian the Pope said that “Donald Trump is not a Christian”. The next day in response Mr. Trump said it was “disgusting” that the Pope would say such a thing as that. Folks think about what just happened for a moment, how would you feel if the Pope himself verbally said that about your faith to the media? I am not a Catholic, never have been, but I am a Christian. When I thought this question to myself the first thing I did was to let out a little chuckle, then the first word I thought of was ‘really’. After thinking about it for a few moments I concluded that if the Pope or any other famous person called me out like that concerning my faith I would demand (I know that wouldn’t mean anything to anyone) a face to face meeting. I looked in the index of my KJV Bible for the word faith and there were many many examples. My eyes wandered down the page to the word faithfulness which had the inscription “making faith a reality in one’s life”. So to be more up to date I checked into the dictionary to check to see what their version of the word faith/faithfulness is. It read under the word faith: Confidence or trust in a person or thing and, belief that is not based on proof. Under faithfulness it read: Strict or thorough in the performance of duty. True to ones word, promises, vows, etc…

So, is Donald Trump a Christian? Is the Pope a Christian? Gods representative on Earth? Does Mr. Trump live a God led life? Does any of us? Judging degrees of other people’s faith or lack there of is a slippery slope that I try to turn over to the one true Judge because I am personally not interested in being a Judge of anyone. When my old mind in my dreams remembers sins committed, long forgotten, buried deep in our minds, how many still remain? I am not worthy to judge, are you? Is Mr. Trump or the Pope? This post like in most of my post I am just trying to get folks to think a little bit about these issues. So, what do you personally think about this flap between the Pope and Mr. Trump? Personally, if I did give my opinion of if Mr. Trump had a clue about being a Christian or of my opinion of the Catholic Church it would only get a lot of folks up set so I will leave those thoughts for another article.

You know what, the heck with it, after all, these are only my opinions, it is not like I am handing down some final judgement on these issues or persons. I am actually quite happy not to be in some final judgement seat handing down edicts toward anyone, there is no way I would want such a responsibility toward anyone.

  1. For what little it is worth. No I don’t believe there is anything ‘Christian’ about Donald Trump! 2) I believe that Rome is the Babylon spoken of several times in the Book of Revelation. 3) I believe that the Catholic Church is the ‘Great Harlot’ of the Book of Revelation. On that note I bid you all a good night.

Vatican ‘Letter gate’ scandal comes to a head as text released  

Vatican ‘Letter gate’ scandal comes to a head as text released 

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF REUTERS.COM)

VATICAN CITY (Reuters) – The Vatican “Lettergate” scandal came to a head on Saturday when the Holy See, under pressure from the media and conservatives, released a full text by former Pope Benedict that before was cited only selectively.

A series of 11 booklets on The Theology of Pope Francis and a letter from former Pope Benedict, which was read out at the presentation of the work, are seen at the Vatican in this undated handout photo obtained by Reuters March 15, 2018. Osservatore Romano/Handout via Reuters

The Vatican Secretariat for Communication, which had come under sharp criticism all week for blurring part of a photograph of the letter and for withholding another section, said in a statement there had been “no intent of censorship”.

It said the letter, written for the presentation of a Vatican-published 11-booklet series on the theology of Pope Francis, was private and therefore officials had cited only the “opportune and relative” parts.

But the episode, which has cast a shadow over the Vatican for a week, has proven to be a public relations fiasco, particularly for its communications chief, Monsignor Dario Vigano.

At the book presentation on Monday, Vigano read out the parts of the letter in which Benedict rejected the “stupid prejudice” of those who say Francis’ theology is lacking.

Benedict also disputed suggestions by conservatives that Francis’ academic qualities were lacking, praising his successor as a “man of deep philosophical and theological formation” and finding an “interior continuity between the two pontificates”.

But a press release handed out at the event omitted a paragraph in which Benedict apologized for not having had the time to read all 11 volumes and thus declining a request to write a “short and dense theological” introduction for the series.

The final paragraph, released for the first time on Saturday, went further, showing that Benedict was irritated by the fact German theologian Peter Hunermann had been chosen by the Vatican publishing house LEV to write one of the volumes.

Hunermann, Benedict noted had “led anti-papal initiatives” during Benedict’s 2005-2013 papacy and had also attacked some of the writings of Pope John Paul II, who died in 2005.

“I am certain that you will understand my denial (of the request to write an introduction),” Benedict tells Vigano.

Luis Badilla, who writes for the Vatican-affiliated website Il Sismografo, issued a thinly veiled call for Vigano’s head, calling the whole episode “a gigantic mess”. In an editorial on Saturday, Badilla said Vigano and the head of the Vatican’s publishing house, Father Bruno Cesareo, “have some explaining to do” and that “consequences must be drawn”.

Conservative critics of Francis saw the blurring and the selective citings from the letter as part of a plot to censor the thoughts of the former pope.

Many conservative Catholics still look up to Benedict as a bulwark against liberals, and have lambasted Francis for being too lenient on divorced Catholics and homosexuals.

Reporting By Philip Pullella; Editing by Chris Reese

Pope Francis accuses Chile sex abuse victims of slander

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF CBS NEWS)

 

Pope Francis accuses Chile sex abuse victims of slander

Pope Francis addresses youths at the Shrine of Maipu in Santiago, Chile, Wednesday, Jan. 17, 2018.

 AP

SANTIAGO, Chile — Pope Francis accused victims of Chile’s most notorious pedophile of slander Thursday, an astonishing end to a visit meant to help heal the wounds of a sex abuse scandal that has cost the Catholic Church its credibility in the country.

Francis said that until he sees proof that Bishop Juan Barros was complicit in covering up the sex crimes of the Rev. Fernando Karadima, such accusations against Barros are “all calumny.”

The pope’s remarks drew shock from Chileans and immediate rebuke from victims and their advocates. They noted the accusers were deemed credible enough by the Vatican that it sentenced Karadima to a lifetime of “penance and prayer” for his crimes in 2011. A Chilean judge also found the victims to be credible, saying that while she had to drop criminal charges against Karadima because too much time had passed, proof of his crimes wasn’t lacking.

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“As if I could have taken a selfie or a photo while Karadima abused me and others and Juan Barros stood by watching it all,” tweeted Barros’ most vocal accuser, Juan Carlos Cruz. “These people are truly crazy, and the pontiff talks about atonement to the victims. Nothing has changed, and his plea for forgiveness is empty.”

The Karadima scandal dominated Francis’ visit to Chile and the overall issue of sex abuse and church cover-up was likely to factor into his three-day trip to Peru that began late Thursday.

Karadima’s victims reported to church authorities as early as 2002 that he would kiss and fondle them in the swank Santiago parish he ran, but officials refused to believe them. Only when the victims went public with their accusations in 2010 did the Vatican launch an investigation that led to Karadima being removed from ministry.

The emeritus archbishop of Santiago subsequently apologized for having refused to believe the victims from the start.

Francis reopened the wounds of the scandal in 2015 when he named Barros, a protege of Karadima, as bishop of the southern diocese of Osorno. Karadima’s victims say Barros knew of the abuse, having seen it, but did nothing. Barros has denied the allegations.

His appointment outraged Chileans, badly divided the Osorno diocese and further undermined the church’s already shaky credibility in the country.

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Francis had sought to heal the wounds by meeting this week with abuse victims and begging forgiveness for the crimes of church pastors. But on Thursday, he struck a defiant tone when asked by a Chilean journalist about Barros.

“The day they bring me proof against Bishop Barros, I’ll speak,” Francis said. “There is not one shred of proof against him. It’s all calumny. Is that clear?”

Francis had defended the appointment before, calling the Osorno controversy “stupid” and the result of a campaign mounted by leftists. But The Associated Press reported last week that the Vatican was so worried about the fallout from the Karadima affair that it was prepared in 2014 to ask Barros and two other Karadima-trained bishops to resign and go on a yearlong sabbatical.

According to a Jan. 31, 2015, letter obtained by AP from Francis to the executive committee of the Chilean bishops’ conference, the plan fell apart and Barros was sent to Osorno.

Juan Carlos Claret, spokesman for a group of Osorno lay Catholics who have mounted a three-year campaign against Barros, questioned why Francis was now accusing the victims of slandering Barros when the Vatican was so convinced of their claims that it planned to remove him in 2014.

“Isn’t the pastoral problem that we’re living (in Osorno) enough to get rid of him?” Claret asked.

The reference was to the fact that – guilty or not – Barros has been unable to do his job because so many Osorno Catholics and priests don’t recognize him as their bishop. They staged an unprecedented protest during his 2015 installation ceremony and have protested his presence ever since.

Anne Barrett Doyle, of the online database BishopAccountability.org, said it was “sad and wrong” for the pope to discredit the victims since “the burden of proof here rests with the church, not the victims – and especially not with victims whose veracity has already been affirmed.”

“He has just turned back the clock to the darkest days of this crisis,” she said in a statement. “Who knows how many victims now will decide to stay hidden, for fear they will not be believed?”

Indeed, Catholic officials for years accused victims of slandering and attacking the church with their claims. But up until Francis’ words Thursday, many in the church and Vatican had come to reluctantly acknowledge that victims usually told the truth and that the church for decades had wrongly sought to protect its own.

German Silva, a political scientist at Santiago’s Universidad Mayor, said the pope’s comments were a “tremendous error” that will reverberate in Chile and beyond.

Patricio Navia, political science professor at Diego Portales University in Santiago, said Francis had gone much further than Chilean bishops in acknowledging the sexual abuse scandal, which many Chileans appreciated.

“Then right before leaving, Francis turns around and says: ‘By the way, I don’t think Barros is guilty. Show me some proof,'” Navia said, adding that the comment will probably erase any good will the pope had won over the issue.

Navia said the Karadima scandal had radically changed how Chileans view the church.

“In the typical Chilean family, parents (now) think twice before sending their kids to Catholic school because you never know what is going to happen,” Navia said.

‘Chop him up’: Accusers seethe over Cardinal Law’s funeral plans

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF CNN)

 

‘Chop him up’: Accusers seethe over Cardinal Law’s funeral plans

Story highlights

  • Pope Francis will deliver a final blessing at Law’s funeral, the Vatican said
  • Some sex abuse survivors have urged against a “celebratory focus” on Law

(CNN)Alexa MacPherson says very little about Cardinal Bernard Law’s death — or the Catholic Church’s plans for a full cardinal’s funeral — gives her peace of mind.

MacPherson, a Boston-area native who says she is a survivor of sexual abuse by a priest, says Law deserves no such dignity as the funeral that will be held for him at St. Peter’s Basilica in Vatican City on Thursday.
Law, 86, died Wednesday, 15 years after he resigned as Boston’s archbishop amid allegations that he covered up for pedophile priests like the one accused of abusing MacPherson.
“With his passing, I say I hope the gates of hell are open wide to welcome him, because I feel … no redemption (for Law)” is worthwhile, MacPherson said Wednesday.
Robert Costello, another Boston-area native who says a priest abused him, and that Law covered for the cleric, was just as blunt.
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“Chop him up and put weights on every piece of body part that he has and drop him in oceans around the world,” Costello, 56, said.
Instead of being given a Vatican funeral, he said, Law should just “disappear.”
MacPherson and Costello vented to reporters Wednesday in the Boston office of attorney Mitchell Garabedian, who represents many who accuse priests of sex abuse.
Costello’s first thought upon hearing that Law died, he said, was, “Where’s the party? Where are we going to celebrate?”
“And then I realized it would be no celebration whatsoever,” he said. “It would be a meeting of people who tell their stories and bring it all back up again.”

Survivors’ group urges against pomp

The Vatican said early Wednesday that Law, 86, had died in Rome after a long illness. He served in Rome as archpriest of the Papal Liberian Basilica of St. Mary Major after he was forced to resign in 2002 as Boston archbishop.

Cardinal Bernard Law, seen here in Novemember 2012 at the Vatican, died after a long illness, the Vatican said Wednesday.

Critics say his reassignment to Rome amounted to a cushy second career that shouldn’t have been afforded him.
Widespread child abuse by the Catholic clergy in the Boston Archdiocese was uncovered by The Boston Globe’s Spotlight investigative reporting team, which won a Pulitzer Prize for its efforts. A big-screen dramatization of the team’s investigation in the 2015 movie, “Spotlight,” won the 2016 Best Picture Academy Award, bringing the story to a much wider audience.
The funeral plans for Law appear to follow the Catholic Church’s protocol for cardinals who die in Rome, even as a network of survivors of sex abuse by priests has publicly called on the Vatican to keep survivors in mind when planning the event.
Cardinal Angelo Sodano, the dean of the College of Cardinals, will celebrate the funeral Mass, scheduled for 3:30 p.m. Thursday, the Vatican said. Pope Francis then will give a “final commendation,” or blessing, as he has previously for cardinals’ funerals.
Before the funeral plans were announced, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests had urged against a “celebratory focus” on Law.
“We highly doubt there is a single victim of abuse who will ever receive the same attention, pomp and circumstance by Pope Francis,” the network said in a news release after Law’s death.

From left to right, Robert Costello, attorney Mitchell Garabedian, Phil Saviano and Alexa MacPherson speak at Garabedian's Boston office about the death of Cardinal Bernard Law on Wednesday.

“Every single Catholic should ask Pope Francis and the Vatican why,” the group’s statement reads. “Why Law’s life was so celebrated when Boston’s clergy sex abuse survivors suffered so greatly? Why was Law promoted when Boston’s Catholic children were sexually abused, ignored, and pushed aside time and time again?”
The survivors’ network said the “celebratory focus on abuse enablers like Law must end.”
“It is time for the Vatican to refocus on change: protecting children and those who have been hurt,” the statement reads.

Law’s successor apologizes to victims

Law’s successor as Boston’s archbishop, Cardinal Sean O’Malley, reacted to Law’s death in part by apologizing to victims of sex abuse by clergy.
“I recognize that Cardinal Law’s passing brings forth a wide range of emotions on the part of many people. I am particularly cognizant of all who experienced the trauma of sexual abuse by clergy, whose lives were so seriously impacted by those crimes, and their families and loved ones,” O’Malley said.
“To those men and women,” he added, “I offer my sincere apologies for the harm they suffered, my continued prayers and my promise that the archdiocese will support them in their effort to achieve healing.”
“Cardinal Law served at a time when the church failed seriously in its responsibilities to provide pastoral care for her people, and with tragic outcomes failed to care for the children of our parish communities. I deeply regret that reality and its consequences,” O’Malley said.

‘Opening it all up again’

Phil Saviano, who also says a priest sexually abused him, told reporters Wednesday that he’s relieved Law is gone. Law had been in a position to do good and expose abusers, but instead chose to stand up for the priests, he said.
But relief is not the same as healing, he said.
“I had been hoping that the passing of Cardinal Law would remove a target of great anger and animosity and consternation that survivors have felt about him,” he told reporters at Garabedian’s office. “(But) it’s not a source of healing. It’s not a removal of the pain for survivors.
“If anything, it’s sort of like opening it all up again.”
MacPherson, like Costello, said she doesn’t feel like the Vatican should give Law the funeral that he’s getting.
“I think it should be very quiet and not celebrated.,” she said. “There’s nothing to celebrate (with) somebody who allowed children to be victimized and to have a lifetime of irreparable damage.”

Pope Francis wants Lord’s Prayer changed

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE BBC)

((OPED) WOULD IT NOT BE BEST TO USE THE ORIGINAL GREEK WORDING THAT THE NEW TESTAMENT WAS WRITTEN IN, NOT THE LATIN, NOT THE ENGLISH?)(TRS)

Pope Francis wants Lord’s Prayer changed

Pope Francis addresses the crowds in St Peter's Square in the Vatican on 8 December 2016Image copyrightAFP
Image captionThe Pope is suggesting changes to Christianity’s best-known prayer

Pope Francis has called for a translation of a phrase about temptation in the Lord’s Prayer to be changed.

The current wording that says “lead us not into temptation” is not a good translation, because God does not lead humans to sin, he says.

He suggests using “do not let us fall into temptation” instead, he told Italian TV on Wednesday night.

The Lord’s Prayer is the best-known prayer in Christianity.

The pontiff said France’s Roman Catholic Church was now using the new wording “do not let us fall into temptation” as an alternative, and something similar should be used worldwide .

“Do not let me fall into temptation because it is I who fall, it is not God who throws me into temptation and then sees how I fell,” he told TV2000, an Italian Catholic TV channel.

“A father does not do that, a father helps you to get up immediately.”

Since the beginning of his papacy, Pope Francis has not shied away from controversy and has tackled some issues head-on, Vatican observers say.

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Pope Francis To Visit Burma In Late November

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE CATHOLIC NEWS AGENCY)

 

.- When Pope Francis visits Burma, also known as Myanmar, later this month, his visit will come at one of the most contentious periods of the country’s history.

In recent months, state-supported violence against Burma’s Rohingya Muslim community – an ethnic and religious minority– has reached staggering levels, causing the United Nations to declare the situation “a textbook example of ethnic cleansing.”

“The scope of the humanitarian crisis is enormous and it’s ongoing,” said Daniel Mark, Chairman of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom, in an interview with CNA at the end of September. “Once again we unfortunately have another terrible crisis that’s focusing people’s attention on something that’s already a terrible situation.”

“This is a deep and longstanding problem that we’ve been trying to call attention to for a long time, but it’s going to need an extremely long and concerted effort to address,” Mark told CNA. “Even addressing the immediate humanitarian crisis is not going to solve this profound underlying issue of the Rohingya Muslims in Burma.”

For years, the Rohingya, an ethnic group whose main religion is Islam, have faced grave persecution in the Burmese state of Rakhine, where the majority of them live. An estimated 1.1 million Rohingya live within the majority-Buddhist country. Members of the group have been denied citizenship since the foundation of Burma in 1948, and have suffered violence, and lack the freedom to move or access clean water since a military coup d’etat in 1962.

After a different military regime took control in 1988, with even harsher military crackdowns throughout the country, the country has been referred to as Myanmar.

Pope Francis will visit the country at the end of November, following stories of horrifying human rights abuses and a mass exodus of Rohingya civilians from Burma.

The most recent wave of violence began on Aug. 25, 2017, after which the Burmese military and local Buddhist vigilantes enacted a campaign of burning Rohingya villages and massacring the civilians within them. It is still unclear exactly how many people have been killed in the violence, but aid agencies estimate that thousands are dead and more than 600,000 people have been displaced since late August. Neighboring Bangladesh has accepted the majority of those refugees, and more people have been internally displaced within the country.

The military claims the violence is a response to attacks by a small group of Rohingya against border agents in the Rakhine province, which left 12 officers dead. However, the violence – which includes arson, sexual violence, and internal displacement – long precedes those attacks, and other demonstrations within Rohingya communities, said Olivia Enos, a policy analyst in the Asian Studies Center at The Heritage Foundation, who specializes in human rights.

“Maybe some individual Rohingya are acting out in self-defense, but to place blame on Rohingya is misleading,” Enos said.

“The military has a long, long history of burning homes and villages, raping women and children. The track record is so long that to place the blame on any kind of radical agents within the Rohingya would be really inaccurate.”

While violence and discrimination against the Rohingya people at the hands of Burmese authorities have been ongoing since the 1960s, with increases in persecution in 2012 and 2015, the current crisis is of particular concern, Enos said.  She explained that the high levels of displacement and increased incidents of violence and destruction set this conflict apart from the ones that have come before.

Also concerning, she said, is the fact this conflict is occurring after democratic reforms which took place between 2011-2015. While the nation is becoming more democratic, she said, the military still maintains significant control within Burma. Furthermore, the country’s leader – Nobel Peace Prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi– has remained silent when asked about the persecution of the group within her country.

To add to the worries, Enos fears that by focusing on the ethnic element of the conflict, Western leaders may overlook its religious aspect. “The vast majority of people in Burma are Buddhist and they view the Muslim minority group Rohingya as a threat to the native Burman society,” she said. “It’s a religious conflict.”

Mark stated that the religious element of the conflict has been a concern of the Commission since its founding in 1998.  “As a result of this, we’ve been following this very, very carefully and for a long time,” he said We’ve recommended Burma is designated as a Country of Particular Concern every year,” a recommendation the U.S. Department of State has followed each year it’s made such designations.

The long history of the conflict means that while there are immediate steps that need to be taken to address the humanitarian situation, work to end the conflict will need to look at the long-term solution.

“This is all a result of the systematic exclusion of these people from Burmese society,” Mark explained. “All the things we’re saying now about the treatment of Rohingya Muslims going forward are the thing that we have been saying all along,” he continued.

“It’s been a tinderbox and that needs to be addressed.”

In the short term, Mark advocated for immediate humanitarian aid and assurance that humanitarian goods will get to those in need of them. He also called for accountability for human rights violations and a cessation of violence.

He noted the need for the international community to help support Bangladesh as it takes in tens of thousands of people a day, so a secondary crisis is not created there.

“Attacks need to stop and aid needs to start.”

An earlier version of this article was published Sept. 28, 2017.

Tags: Pope FrancisBurmaRohingyaPope in Burma

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How the World Is Marking the 500th Birthday of Protestantism

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF TIME.COM)

 

How the World Is Marking the 500th Birthday of Protestantism

Oct 27, 2017

Five hundred years ago, an unknown monk named Martin Luther marched up to the church in Wittenberg, a small town in what is now Germany, and nailed a list of criticisms of the Catholic church to its door.

The date was Oct. 31, 1517, and Luther had just lit the fuse of what would become the Protestant Reformation. His list of criticisms, known as the 95 theses, would reverberate across world history. The Church would split, wars would be fought and people would be burned at the stake. It was the birth of Protestant Christianity.

Religiously speaking, the Reformation led to the translation of the Bible into languages other than Latin, allowing many people to engage with scripture for the first time. It also brought an end to the controversial sale of “indulgences” — payments the Church said reduced punishment for sins after death, which Luther regarded as corrupt.

More generally, the Reformation contributed to the expansion of literacy, with people no longer needing to rely on priests to read and interpret the Bible. Luther promoted universal education for girls and boys at a time when education was reserved for the wealthy, and believed in the connection between literacy and empowerment, both spiritually and socially.

Luther’s act is taught as one of the cornerstones of world history, even though most historians now agree that it was a relatively unremarkable event which was canonized at a later date for political ends. Nevertheless, it remains a lasting symbol of resistance 500 years later.

So how is an anniversary of that magnitude being celebrated?

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The hub of anniversary celebrations will be Luther’s homeland, Germany, where “Reformation Day” has long been celebrated as a holiday in certain states. This year, it’s set to be a full-blown national holiday. Chancellor Angela Merkel, the daughter of a Lutheran pastor, has encouraged German churches to promote a narrative of unity over division in their celebrations.

That’s a line that the Catholic Church and some of the biggest protestant denominations are also keen to stress. On last year’s 499th anniversary, Pope Francis joined leaders of the Lutheran World Federation in Sweden (where Lutheranism is the dominant religion) to hold a joint commemorative service. In his address, Francis said: “We have the opportunity to mend a critical moment of our history by moving beyond the controversies and disagreements that have often prevented us from understanding one another.”

Not long after Francis’ address, the Protestant Archbishop of Canterbury in England expressed remorse for the violence committed there in the name of the Reformation. Hundreds of churches and monasteries were demolished in the 1500s, and many people gruesomely killed, during England’s pained transition from Catholicism to Protestantism.

After 500 years of division, there seems to be a consensus from the top that this anniversary will be one of reconciliation.

But official church celebrations aren’t the only ways in which the milestone is being marked.

In popular celebrations Germany also leads the way, and for proof you need look only as far as its toy economy. In 2015, a commemorative Martin Luther figurine from Playmobil became the German company’s fastest-selling product ever. It took just 72 hours for the initial run of 34,000 to sell out, leading the company to rush another batch into production. A spokesperson labeled the demand a “big mystery.”

Martin Luther is now the best selling @playmobil of all time – with 750,000+ sold! 

RT for the chance to win your own! (GK)

Americans are also doing their bit. A musical entitled Luther: The Rock Operapremiered in Wittenberg earlier this year. The North Dakota pastor responsible for the two-and-a-half hour production describes it as “Hamilton meets Jesus Christ Superstar meets Monty Python.” Performances in Berlin and Wittenberg will mark the anniversary.

And, as the anniversary falls each year on the same day as Halloween, around the world people are taking inspiration from Luther for their costumes. On Reddit’s Christianity subreddit, a post asked whether it would be sinful to dress up as Martin Luther for Halloween. On Twitter, others had no qualms about their plans to do the same, whilst on Amazon, a search for “Martin Luther Costume” turns out enough results to dress a small congregation.

In honor of the 500th anniversary of the reformation, I say we all dress up as Martin Luther for Halloween and nail stuff to people’s doors.

Back in Germany, the broadcaster ZDF is airing a two-part serial entitled “Reformation” commissioned especially for the anniversary, starring Maximilian Brückner as Martin Luther. It is also airing in the U.K. on the BBC, and both channels have also commissioned special documentaries to mark the occasion.

The town of Wittenberg itself is understandably excited; in fact it’s already in the tenth year of a “Luther decade” it proclaimed in 2008. On the anniversary, a “Reformation festival” will see “jugglers, musicians, hosts, craftsmen and people from the Middle Ages” gather in the town center, before the church opens for a commemorative concert in the evening.

For some people, this anniversary may be the first they’ve heard of Luther and the Reformation. But the wide range of celebrations, exhibits, documentaries and even commemorative toys mean that it’ll be hard to escape its legacy, 500 years on.

Pope Francis And Donald Trump: One Man Of Faith And One Without Any?

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF CNN)

 

Aboard the papal plane (CNN) If US President Donald Trump considers himself “pro-life,” he should reconsider his decision to end a program that allows the children of undocumented immigrants to remain in the United States, Pope Francis said.

“The President of the United States presents himself as pro-life and if he is a good pro-lifer, he understands that family is the cradle of life and its unity must be protected,” Francis said.
The Pope’s comments came during a news conference Sunday aboard the papal plane, as he returned to the Vatican after a five-day trip to Colombia. In the wide-ranging Q&A with reporters, the Pope also said history will harshly judge deniers of climate change.
The Pope acknowledged that he was not familiar with the specifics of DACA. “I think this law comes not from parliament but from the executive,” the Pope said. “If that is so, I am hopeful that it will be re-thought.”
Trump and the Pope have tussled over immigration before, with the Pope saying last year that anyone who thinks only of building walls instead of bridges is “not Christian.”
Trump fired back, saying that no religious leader should question another man’s faith.
The US Catholic bishops have also battled a former Trump administration official on DACA in recent days.
Steve Bannon, who until recently was Trump’s chief strategist, accused the bishops of having an ulterior motive in advocating for families affected by the decision to revoke DACA. They have called the decision “heartless” and “reprehensible.”
Bannon said the bishops “need illegal aliens to fill the churches,” a charge the bishops called “preposterous” and “insulting.”

History will judge climate change deniers

As the papal plane prepared to cross over Hurricane Irma’s path on its way back to Rome from Cartagena, Francis issued a stern warning to climate change deniers.
“If we don’t go back, we will go down,” the Pope said, referring to a study which suggested the world must reverse course within the next few years or suffer dire consequences.
Francis said he was particularly struck by news last week of a Russian boat that managed to go through the North Pole without an icebreaker.
“Whoever denies it has to go to the scientists and ask them,” he said. “They speak very clearly, scientists are precise.”
“Then they decide and history will judge those decisions.”
When asked why some governments refused to see the importance of the issue, Francis quoted the book of Psalms in the Old Testament.
“Man is a stupid and hard-headed being,” he said.

North Korea

Francis said he did not fully understand the crisis in North Korea. “I’ll tell you the truth, I don’t really understand the world of geopolitics,” he said. “I think what I see there is a fight for political interests.”
Francis’ message throughout his five-day visit to Colombia had been one of forgiveness and reconciliation. It is a hard message for many Colombians, who still have the trauma of kidnappings and killings fresh in their minds, but one which seems to have already had an important effect.
The leader of the guerrilla group FARC, Rodrigo Londono, asked forgiveness on Friday for the suffering his group caused to the Colombian people, in an open letter to Pope Francis.
“Your repeated expressions about God’s infinite mercy move me to plead your forgiveness for any tears and pain that we have caused the people of Colombia,” Londono wrote.
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