Tag Archives: Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith

Cardinal Levada’s letter read at Westminster Cathedral

My Dear Brothers
and Sisters in Christ,

William Levada.jpg

The Ordination to the Priesthood of our three friends,
Andrew Burnham, John Broadhurst and Keith Newton, is an occasion of great joy
both for them and for the wider Church. I had very much wished to be present
with you in Westminster Cathedral today in order to demonstrate my own personal
support for them as they make this important step. Unfortunately, however, a
long standing commitment of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith to
meet with the Bishops and theologians of India in Bangalore has meant that I am
unable to be in London today. I am very happy, therefore, to have the
opportunity of sending this message and am grateful to Archbishop Nichols for
agreeing to represent me and for his willingness to deliver my best wishes.

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Don’t trivialize sexuality Vatican urges












Note of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the
Faith

On the trivilization of sexuality regarding

certain interpretations of Light of the World

Following the
publication of the interview-book Light of the World by Benedict XVI, a
number of erroneous interpretations have emerged which have caused confusion
concerning the position of the Catholic Church regarding certain questions of
sexual morality. The thought of the Pope has been repeatedly manipulated for
ends and interests which are entirely foreign to the meaning of his words – a
meaning which is evident to anyone who reads the entire chapters in which human
sexuality is treated. The intention of the Holy Father is clear: to rediscover
the beauty of the divine gift of human sexuality and, in this way, to avoid the
cheapening of sexuality which is common today.

Some interpretations have
presented the words of the Pope as a contradiction of the traditional moral
teaching of the Church. This hypothesis has been welcomed by some as a positive
change and lamented by others as a cause of concern – as if his statements
represented a break with the doctrine concerning contraception and with the
Church’s stance in the fight against AIDS. In reality, the words of the Pope –
which specifically concern a gravely disordered type of human behaviour, namely
prostitution (cf. Light of the World, pp. 117-119) – do not signify a
change in Catholic moral teaching or in the pastoral practice of the Church.


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Wuerl named delegate for Anglicans entering full communion with the Catholic Church by CDF

Donald Wuerl.jpgThe Archbishop of Washington, Donald W. Wuerl, STD, 70, has been delegated by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith to be the principal guide for those Anglican/Episcopalian clergyman seeking full communion with the Catholic Church, and ordination as a priest.

The USCCB announcement is posted here.
The committee headed by Archbishop Wuerl will include their Excellencies, The Most Reverends Kevin Vann, JCD (Fort Worth, TX) and Robert McManus, STD (Worcester, MA). They will be assisted by Father Scott Hurd, himself a convert to Catholicism. The committee will facilitate the implementation of Anglicanorum coetibus in the USA and assess the need for an ordinariate in the USA.
The Pope’s Apostolic Constitution Anglicanorum coetibus can be read here.

Promoter of Justice Msgr Charles J. Scicluna speaks on Pedophilia

Charles J. SciclunaIn an unusual step, the Vatican official who deals with matters of justice at the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith speaks publicly (March 13, 2010) on the sexual abuse crisis we are facing. Prayers, please! This is going to be a bumpy ride. John Allen’s article on this subject may be helpful.

Given below is the text of an interview, published today by the Italian newspaper L’Avvenire, with Msgr. Charles J. Scicluna, promoter of justice of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, concerning the investigative and judicial activities of that dicastery in cases of “delicta graviora”, which include the crime of paedophilia committed by members of the clergy:

Msgr. Charles J. Scicluna is the “promoter of justice” of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. He is effectively the prosecutor of the tribunal of the former Holy Office, whose job it is to investigate what are known as “delicta graviora”; i.e., the crimes which the Catholic Church considers as being the most serious of all: crimes against the Eucharist and against the sanctity of the Sacrament of Penance, and crimes against the sixth Commandment (“thou shall not commit impure acts”) committed by a cleric against a person under the age of eighteen. These crimes, in a “Motu Proprio” of 2001, Sacramentum sanctitatis tutela” [the Vatican Latin version is here], come under the competency of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. In effect, it is the “promoter of justice” who deals with, among other things, the terrible question of priests accused of paedophilia, which are periodically highlighted in the mass media. Msgr. Scicluna, an affable and polite Maltese, has the reputation of scrupulously carrying out the tasks entrusted to him without deferring to anyone.

Question: Monsignor, you have the reputation of being “tough”, yet the Catholic Church is systematically accused of being accommodating towards “paedophile priests.”

Answer: It may be that in the past – perhaps also out of a misdirected desire to protect the good name of the institution – some bishops were, in practice, too indulgent towards this sad phenomenon. And I say in practice because, in principle, the condemnation of this kind of crime has always been firm and unequivocal. Suffice it to recall, to limit ourselves just to last century, the famous Instruction “Crimen sollicitationis” of 1922.

Q: Wasn’t that from 1962?

A: No, the first edition dates back to the pontificate of Pius XI. Then, with Blessed John XXIII, the Holy Office issued a new edition for the Council Fathers, but only two thousand copies were printed, which were not enough, and so distribution was postponed sine die. In any case, these were procedural norms to be followed in cases of solicitation during confession, and of other more serious sexually-motivated crimes such as the sexual abuse of minors. [The 1962 text of Crimen sollictationis: Crimen sollicitationis.pdf]

Q: Norms which, however, recommended secrecy…

A: A poor English translation of that text has led people to think that the Holy See imposed secrecy in order to hide the facts. But this was not so. Secrecy during the investigative phase served to protect the good name of all the people involved; first and foremost, the victims themselves, then the accused priests who have the right – as everyone does – to the presumption of innocence until proven guilty. The Church does not like showcase justice. Norms on sexual abuse have never been understood as a ban on denouncing the crimes to the civil authorities.

Q: Nonetheless, that document is periodically cited to accuse the current Pontiff of having been – when he was prefect of the former Holy Office – objectively responsible for a Holy See policy of covering up the facts…

A: That accusation is false and calumnious. On this subject I would like to highlight a number of facts. Between 1975 and 1985 I do not believe that any cases of paedophilia committed by priests were brought to the attention of our Congregation. Moreover, following the promulgation of the 1983 Code of Canon Law, there was a period of uncertainty as to which of the “delicta graviora” were reserved to the competency of this dicastery. Only with the 2001 “Motu Proprio” did the crime of paedophilia again become our exclusive remit. From that moment Cardinal Ratzinger displayed great wisdom and firmness in handling those cases, also demonstrating great courage in facing some of the most difficult and thorny cases, “sine acceptione personarum”. Therefore, to accuse the current Pontiff of a cover-up is, I repeat, false and calumnious.

Q: What happens when a priest is accused of a “delictum gravius”?

A: If the accusation is well-founded the bishop has the obligation to investigate both the soundness and the subject of the accusation. If the outcome of this initial investigation is consistent, he no longer has any power to act in the matter and must refer the case to our Congregation where it is dealt with by the disciplinary office.

Q: How is that office composed?

A: Apart from myself who, being one of the superiors of the dicastery, also concern myself with other matters, there are the bureau chief Fr. Pedro Miguel Funes Diaz, seven priests and a lay lawyer who follow these cases. Other officials of the Congregation also make their own vital contribution depending upon the language and specific requirements of each case.

Q: That office has been accused of working little and slowly…

A: Those are unjustified comments. In 2003 and 2004 a great wave of cases flooded over our desks. Many of them came from the United States and concerned the past. Over recent years, thanks to God, the phenomenon has become greatly reduced, and we now seek to deal with new cases as they arise.

Q: How many have you dealt with so far?

A: Overall in the last nine years (2001-2010) we have considered accusations concerning around three thousand cases of diocesan and religious priests, which refer to crimes committed over the last fifty years.

Q: That is, then, three thousand cases of paedophile priests?

A: No, it is not correct to say that. We can say that about sixty percent of the cases chiefly involved sexual attraction towards adolescents of the same sex, another thirty percent involved heterosexual relations, and the remaining ten percent were cases of paedophilia in the true sense of the term; that is, based on sexual attraction towards prepubescent children. The cases of priests accused of paedophilia in the true sense have been about three hundred in nine years. Please don’t misunderstand me, these are of course too many, but it must be recognised that the phenomenon is not as widespread as has been believed.

Q: The accused, then, are three thousand. How many have been tried and condemned?

A: Currently we can say that a full trial, penal or administrative, has taken place in twenty percent of cases, normally celebrated in the diocese of origin – always under our supervision – and only very rarely here in Rome. We do this also in order to speed up the process. In sixty percent of cases there has been no trial, above all because of the advanced age of the accused, but administrative and disciplinary provisions have been issued against them, such as the obligation not to celebrate Mass with the faithful, not to hear confession, and to live a retired life of prayer. It must be made absolutely clear that in these cases, some of which are particularly sensational and have caught the attention of the media, no absolution has taken place. It’s true that there has been no formal condemnation, but if a person is obliged to a life of silence and prayer, then there must be a reason…

Q: That still leaves twenty percent of cases…

A: We can say that in ten percent of cases, the particularly serious ones in which the proof is overwhelming, the Holy Father has assumed the painful responsibility of authorising a decree of dismissal from the clerical state. This is a very serious but inevitable provision, taken though administrative channels. In the remaining ten percent of cases, it was the accused priests themselves who requested dispensation from the obligations deriving from the priesthood, requests which were promptly accepted. Those involved in these latter cases were priests found in possession of paedophile pornographic material and, for this reason, condemned by the civil authorities.

Q: Where do these three thousand cases come from?

A: Mostly from the United States which, in the years 2003-2004, represented around eighty percent of total cases. In 2009 the United States “share” had dropped to around twenty-five percent of the 223 cases reported from all over the world. Over recent years (2007-2009), the annual average of cases reported to the Congregation from around the world has been two hundred and fifty. Many countries report only one or two cases. There is, then, a growing diversity and number of countries of origin of cases, but the phenomenon itself is much reduced. It must, in fact, be borne in mind that the overall number of diocesan and religious priests in the world is four hundred thousand, although this statistic does not correspond to the perception that is created when these sad cases occupy the front pages of the newspapers.

Q: And in Italy?

A: Thus far the phenomenon does not seem to have dramatic proportions, although what worries me is a certain culture of silence which I feel is still too widespread in the country. The Italian Episcopal Conference (CEI) offers an excellent technical-juridical consultancy service for bishops who have to deal with these cases. And I am very pleased to observe the ever greater commitment being shown by Italian bishops to throw light on the cases reported to them.

Q: You said that a full trial has taken place in around twenty percent of the three thousand cases you have examined over the last nine years. Did they all end with the condemnation of the accused?

A: Many of the past trials did end with the condemnation of the accused. But there have also been cases in which the priest was declared innocent, or where the accusations were not considered to have sufficient proof. In all cases, however, not only is there an examination of the guilt or innocence of the accused priest, but also a discernment as to his fitness for public ministry.

Q: A recurring accusation made against the ecclesiastical hierarchy is that of not reporting to the civil authorities when crimes of paedophilia come to their attention.

A: In some English-speaking countries, but also in France, if bishops become aware of crimes committed by their priests outside the sacramental seal of Confession, they are obliged to report them to the judicial authorities. This is an onerous duty because the bishops are forced to make a gesture comparable to that of a father denouncing his own son. Nonetheless, our guidance in these cases is to respect the law.

Q: And what about countries where bishops do not have this legal obligation?

A: In these cases we do not force bishops to denounce their own priests, but encourage them to contact the victims and invite them to denounce the priests by whom they have been abused. Furthermore, we invite the bishops to give all spiritual – and not only spiritual – assistance to those victims. In a recent case concerning a priest condemned by a civil tribunal in Italy, it was precisely this Congregation that suggested to the plaintiffs, who had turned to us for a canonical trial, that they involve the civil authorities in the interests of victims and to avoid other crimes.

Q: A final question: is there any statue of limitation for “delicta graviora”?

A: Here you touch upon what, in my view, is a sensitive point. In the past, that is before 1889, the statue of limitations was something unknown in canon law. For the most serious crimes, it was only with the 2001 “Motu Proprio” that a statute of limitations of ten years was introduced. In accordance with these norms in cases of sexual abuse, the ten years begin from the day on which the minor reaches the age of eighteen.

Q: Is that enough?

A: Practice has shown that the limit of ten years is not enough in this kind of case, in which it would be better to return to the earlier system of “delicta graviora” not being subject to the statue of limitations. On 7 November 2002, Venerable Servant of God John Paul II granted this dicastery the power to revoke that statue of limitations, case by case following a reasoned request from individual bishops. And this revocation is normally granted.

A Jesuit at the Holy Office

 

After two Salesians, now a son of Saint Ignatius will be second in command of the first of the Congregations of the Roman Curia.

An interview with Archbishop

Luis Francisco Ladaria Ferrer

by Gianni Cardinale

After two Salesians, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith has a Jesuit as its new secretary. On 9 July in fact Benedict XVI appointed as number two in the Department, that he himself directed from 1981 to 2005, the Spaniard Luis Francisco Ladaria Ferrer, 64 years old, originally from Manacor, the second city, after Palma, of the island of Majorca in the Balearic Islands.

Ladaria takes the place of the Salesian Angelo Amato, promoted Prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, who in turn succeeded another son of Don Bosco, the then Archbishop Tarcisio Bertone, who as Cardinal Secretary of State consecrated Ladaria bishop in the Basilica of Saint John Lateran on July 26.

30Days met the new secretary, in the Palace of the Holy Office, on his return from vacation, passed mostly in his homeland. In answer to the observation that he didn’t look very tanned, Monsignor Ladaria smilingly said: “That comes of the fact that I love the sea, much less the sun…”. Before the interview Ladaria spoke of his origins, explaining that, although his family has been rooted for generations in the Balearic Islands, perhaps his ancestors came from the Kingdom of Naples, and more specifically from the Gulf of Policastro. But the pleasantries end there. And the questions begin.

Your Excellency, how did your vocation come about and why did you choose the Society of Jesus?

Luis Francisco Ladaria Ferrer: Perhaps the word “choose” is not correct. It was not I who chose but I saw a road in front of me and set out on it. A road, that of vocation, that I began to see when I attended the Jesuit College in Palma de Mallorca and then while studying Law in Madrid. I studied law but I realized that was not what I wanted. I wanted to become a priest and I liked the Society of Jesus which I knew. And so it was a path open before me that I set out on almost naturally.

Was your family very religious?

LADARIA FERRER: Fairly.

Was there some priest figure who particularly influenced you?

LADARIA FERRER: Certainly, I have before me the faces of the fathers of the College I attended, the old College of Mount Zion, founded in 1561, but it was rather the whole environment, the air one breathed, that brought me to devote myself entirely to God.

You took your religious vows in 1968. What memory do you have of that year, so turbulent at least outside Spain?

LADARIA FERRER: It was a turbulent year in Spain also. But I quietly took my vows, without paying too much attention to the the turbulence. I liked studying and I studied.

Did you ever feel the fascination of ’68?

LADARIA FERRER: Maybe we are all a little conditioned by ’68, but in my case not in any special way.

Who were your teachers?

LADARIA FERRER: I am pleased to remember a few. In Frankfurt in Germany, where I studied theology, I had as professors Father Grillmeier, who then became a cardinal, who was a great scholar of Dogma, Father Otto Semmelroth and Father Herman Josef Sieben, at the beginning of his academic career, who would then become one of the world’s greatest experts on the concept of Council. In Rome I did my graduate thesis with Father Antonio Orbe, a great patrologist, and I had as professors Fathers Juan Alfaro and Zoltan Alszeghy.

You also studied in Germany. Did you ever meet Professor Ratzinger?

LADARIA FERRER: Not personally. But I knew his writings. In particular his Introduction to Christianity which was his best known work, but also his book on the People of God. I remember that even in our faculty lecture notes of some of the courses of the then Professor Ratzinger circulated.

And when did you personally come to know the current Pontiff?

LADARIA FERRER: In 1992 when I became a member of the International Theological Commission. I recall with pleasure the detailed discussions that took place on the subject of relations between Christianity and other religions. The intervention of Cardinal Ratzinger was always very precise and profound and the discussion was always at a very high level. The work of that Commission is very interesting both for the topics dealt with, always of great importance, and for the international and Catholic air, that one breathes there.

Did you have a role in the drafting of Dominus Iesus?

LADARIA FERRER: No.

Your degree at the Gregorian was on Saint Hilary of Poitiers. Why that choice and what attracted you to that saint?

LADARIA FERRER: The topic was proposed by Fr Orbe who was interested in that Father of the Church. I was lucky because there was not a great bibliography on Saint Hilary, so I could better devote myself to reading his original texts directly. Saint Hilary was not studied enough at the time, but since then many works about him and many translations have appeared, especially in France. And yet he is the demonstration that the Patristic era in the Latin Church did not begin with St. Augustine, who indeed knew, and often cited, Saint Hilary.

What is the relevance of Saint Hilary?

LADARIA FERRER: It doesn’t take much effort to find out the relevance of the Fathers of the Church. We have to read and savor them to be better able to approach the freshness of the Gospel message, Jesus, and that is of permanent value rather than something tied to what is topical, which by its nature is variable, changing minute by minute. The Fathers of the Church are a source that springs in an era closer to the apostolic one. That’s what makes them always relevant.

Father Orbe was an expert on Saint Irenaeus and Gnosticism …

LADARIA FERRER: In effect, he was one of the greatest experts on the subject. He wrote many books on these subjects, to be honest often complicated because the material is difficult.

For many years you were a teacher at the Gregorian and vice-rector. What did you learn in all these years?

LADARIA FERRER: The fact that I was vice-rector for eight years is not very important. What is important was the teaching, the supervision of the theses. The Gregorian taught me to live in an international environment with students from over one hundred countries, of different languages, races and cultures. All united by the love of study, but above all of the Lord and His Church. In a real university students not only learn from professors, but also the reverse occurs. And I learned a lot from my students.

When your appointment was made public, John Allen Jr. of the National Catholic Reporter collected some opinions on you from your colleagues. Some have called you gentle and affable …

LADARIA FERRER: I must say that I try to be, but it must be up to others to say whether I succeed …

There are also those who described you as a moderate conservative and theologically centrist. Do you recognize yourself in those descriptions?

LADARIA FERRER: I must say that I don’t like extremisms, either progressive, or traditionalist ones. I believe that there is a via media, which is taken by the majority of professors of Theology in Rome and in the Church in general, which I think is the correct path to take, even if each of us has his own peculiarities, because, thanks be to God, we do not repeat, we are not clones.

Your appointment did not please the traditionalist world. In Spain the theologian Don José María Iraburu accused your Theology of original sin and grace of not conforming to the doctrine of the Church, while the periodical “Sì sì No no” even wrote that your book Theological Anthropology “is completely outside the Catholic dogmatic tradition.” Are you concerned about these judgments?

LADARIA FERRER: Everyone is free to criticize and make the judgments they want. If you ask me if I’m concerned I have to say that these opinions don’t concern me too much. Besides, if I was appointed to this office, I must presume that my works do not deserve these judgments.

You gained a certain notoriety when the Theological Commission published the document on the salvation of children who died before baptism. In it Limbo was finally thrown out of the Magisterium?

LADARIA FERRER: The International Theological Commission has no power to throw anything or anybody out. Although it is formed not by private theologians but ones appointed by the Pope, its conclusions do not have magisterial value. The document in question reiterates that the doctrine of Limbo, which for centuries was accepted by the majority and dominant in theological reflection, was never defined dogmatically and therefore was never a part of the infallible magisterium. And it does not mean that those who still want to continue to speak of Limbo are outside the Catholic Church because of it. That said, however, the Theological Commission, considering together the revealed data and the universal salvific will of God and the universal mediation of Christ, wrote that there are more appropriate ways to address the issue of the fate of children who die without having received baptism, for whom a hope of salvation cannot be ruled out. These conclusions are not new to tell the truth, they originated around the time of the Council, but bring together the fruits of a very broad theological consensus today.

How do you feel about being the first Jesuit to hold this position?

LADARIA FERRER: I must say that I didn’t pose myself the problem. Even if it’s true that it seems no Jesuit has ever held the position. I believe that the Holy Father chose me not as a Jesuit but because, I imagine, I seemed to him the best person.

How did you learn of the appointment?

LADARIA FERRER: That was very surprising. I would never have thought of ending up here. And not just me, seeing that my name was never mentioned in the newspapers … Until the evening of June 24, when I was told that the Holy See was considering giving me this job. For my part I explained my state of mind about this prospect and I indicated that in any case I accepted the decision of the Holy Father.

As a Jesuit did you have to ask permission of the Provost General first?

LADARIA FERRER: Yes, we Jesuits have a vow that prevents us from receiving episcopal appointments if not out of obedience. And the Provost General told me that I should accept the will of the Pope.

Adolfo Nicolás, Superior General since January, Spanish like you. Do you know him well?

LADARIA FERRER: I had heard of him, I knew him by name, but not personally. I met him for the first time only the day after his election, January 20. Then I went to visit him on the issue of my nomination.

Another well-known Spanish Jesuit is Antonio Martínez Camino, who became the first follower of St. Ignatius to be made bishop in Spain as auxiliary of Madrid. Do you know him?

LADARIA FERRER: Absolutely. He was my student and so I know him well. And we are good friends.

You have practically lived in Rome since 1979. What do you think of Spain today? Do you identify with it?

LADARIA FERRER: Certainly Spain has changed a lot: in the political, religious, cultural, economic spheres. But I must say that when I return to my country to relax I do not deal with major issues of doctrine or policy. I visit my family, my friends, my background again, and I don’t find my background of always much changed.

Recently, your superior, Cardinal Levada, in Spain for a conference, issued a cry of pain at the measures announced by the Zapatero Government about the extension of the right to abortion …

LADARIA FERRER: At present Spain is undergoing a worrying drift on ethical issues.

Do you have any hobbies apart from books of theology?

LADARIA FERRER: I like to listen to music. Classical, preferably. Johann Sebastian Bach in particular, but without undervaluing the others.

Enthusiasm for sport?

LADARIA FERRER: No, I follow the major events a little, but from very far off.

You, along with Cardinal Levada, were received in audience by the Pope in Castel Gandolfo on September 10. It was the first audience as Secretary of the Congregation. What can you tell us about it?

LADARIA FERRER: It was a beautiful experience. The Holy Father, as always, was very welcoming and kind.

What are the main issues that the Congregation finds itself facing?

LADARIA FERRER: I can say that our Congregation is concerned with promoting and protecting the Catholic faith. First promoting and then, if necessary, protecting. But I can’t go into details. Our Congregation always moves with discretion and speaks exclusively through its acts.

courtesy of 30 Days

 

About the author

Paul A. Zalonski is from New Haven, CT. He is a member of the Fraternity of Communion and Liberation, a Catholic ecclesial movement, and an Oblate of Saint Benedict. Contact Paul at paulzalonski[at]yahoo.com.
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