Archbishop CollinsTORONTO - The archdiocese of Toronto, in the wake of the abuse scandal the worldwide Church finds itself embroiled in, will examine ways to update its procedures in dealing with such cases.

Archbishop Thomas Collins made the announcement through a letter read during the homily at Masses in parishes throughout the archdiocese the weekend of April 17-18.

Cardinal Bertone sees link between homosexuality, pedophilia

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Cardinal BertoneVATICAN CITY - The Vatican secretary of state told reporters in Chile that no serious study has ever shown a connection between celibacy and pedophilia, but many psychologists and psychiatrists believe there is a connection between homosexuality and pedophilia.

Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, who was visiting Chile April 6-12 to participate in events marking the country’s bicentennial and to demonstrate Pope Benedict XVI’s solidarity with victims of a Feb. 27 earthquake, made the remarks to reporters in Santiago.

Canadian bishops share concerns on abuse

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CCCBOTTAWA - Following a poll indicating that 54 per cent of Canadians believe the Vatican has perpetuated a culture of silence on clerical sex abuse, Canada’s Catholic bishops issued a statement saying they share concerns about sexual abuse and continue to improve protocols to deal with the issue.

The survey, conducted by Ispos Reid, also said eight per cent of Canadians over 18 claim to personally know someone sexually assaulted by a priest. However, 37 per cent of Catholics believe Pope Benedict XVI is being unfairly targeted and 80 per cent believe the proportion of abuser priests is small.

Letter from Pembroke bishop doesn't indicate a cover-up of sex abuse complaint

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Bernard PrinceOTTAWA - A lawyer representing the Pembroke diocese says the church was “upfront and proactive” in dealing with a complaint of sexual abuse by a priest and followed the wishes of the victim in not calling police.

Attorney Charles Gibson was responding to recent publication of details from a 1993 letter sent from the Pembroke bishop to the Vatican’s ambassador. Media reports suggested the letter showed there was a high-level church cover-up to avoid scandal.

Muted and maligned voices: Public Justice and the Canadian Church

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{mosimage}On March 19 The Catholic Register sponsored a lecture in the 2009-2010 Somerville Lecture series at St. Jerome’s University. The lecture, titled “Muted and maligned voices: Public Justice and the Canadian Church,” was delivered by Joe Gunn, executive director of Citizens for Public Justice. Below is an abridged version of his address.

On Oct. 17, 1996, the United Nations’ International Day for the Eradication of Poverty, Canadians turned on their evening newscast to hear CBC anchor Peter Mansbridge begin with these words:

“Good evening. A blistering attack on governments across the country today, from Canada’s Roman Catholic bishops. The issue is poverty. The bishops accuse governments of using the most vulnerable people in society as human fodder in the battle against deficits. And the bishops weren’t the only ones speaking out…”

The bishops were holding their annual plenary gathering in Halifax. Before they began the meeting, however, the bishops of the Social Affairs Commission gathered with a roomful of local activists, including Pam Coates, a United Church member and president of the National Anti-Poverty Organization.

To the assembled media, the bishops released their pastoral letter at Hope Cottage, a church-run soup kitchen in the downtown core. People living in poverty spoke, so it wasn’t only the bishops who got the microphone. And after the press conference, the media accompanied the men in black to serve lunch and eat together at the soup kitchen.

Caritas campaign aims for $1 million

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{mosimage}TORONTO-After a dispute with its landlord forced the Caritas Foundation out of its headquarters of the past 16 years, the North York Catholic charity hopes to raise $1 million to build its own centre.

More than 400 people gathered at its biggest annual fundraising gala to date on March 27 at The Royalton Banquet Hall.
All proceeds of the black tie, $200-a-ticket event were donated to fund Caritas’ work with recovering addicts and individuals with mental illness.

The event raised the largest amount of donations in its five-year history, with $100,000 being pledged towards Caritas’ work.

Newman to reach out to commuter students

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{mosimage}TORONTO-The Newman Centre will be launching a new initiative to assist its chaplaincy outreach to students at the University of Toronto.

Fr. Michael Machacek, pastor and executive director of the Newman Centre parish and chaplaincy at the university’s downtown campus, said the new initiative will address the chaplaincy needs of the Monday-to-Friday commuter students and provide more programs and activities during the daytime such as faith-sharing and socials.

There are also plans to raise the Newman Centre’s profile within the university and get the word out about its student outreach, he said.

Plans for the new initiative will be unveiled at the April 13 annual Newman Foundation fundraising dinner. The event, called “Getting to Know Newman,” will feature a personal tour of the centre and information about its outreach and spiritual programs.

Romero not forgotten among Toronto Latinos

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{mosimage}TORONTO-While Salvadoreans took the week of March 22-28 to reflect and honour the life of a hero and martyr, so too do they continue to wonder if they will ever see an example like his ever again.

Thirty years ago, Toronto area resident Rodolfo Molina witnessed firsthand the murder of San Salvador’s most revered Catholic, Archbishop Oscar Romero. Molina, among the congregation of Mass-goers in San Salvador, watched Romero fall to the ground as he was celebrating communion, shot dead by an assassin March 24, 1980.

Romero was known and widely respected by Salvadoreans for openly speaking out against the terrorizing and oppressive regime that ruled El Salvador. For many Latino Catholics, he was also someone who brought the Gospels to life in the context of social justice and relevance to political issues of the day.

“Many of us here knew him personally, and lived that terrible experience (of seeing him killed),” said Molina, in Spanish. “But why do we love him so much? First of all because never had we encountered an archbishop for whom peace was so clear in his messages and who was also accessible to the people.”

Toronto Catholic board taking advantage of social media

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{mosimage}TORONTO-The Toronto Catholic District School Board is embracing social media and looking to the future of Catholic education in Canada’s largest public Catholic board, says education director Ann Perron.

Perron said the board is embracing technology with the webcasts she initiated and the board launched when she first started last year. This could expand further as the board looks at incorporating more social media in schools, including a possible Facebook page for the board, but plans haven’t been finalized yet.

The webcasts are YouTube postings of Perron informing the Toronto Catholic education community about the latest happenings at the board, including the celebration of different communities each month, such as Celtic heritage month in March and Asian heritage month in April. YouTube is a forum that can be easily accessed by parents and students, Perron said.

Bishops ask government to repatriate Omar Khadr

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{mosimage}OTTAWA-Canada’s Catholic bishops have requested the repatriation of former child soldier Omar Khadr.

In a March 24 letter to Justice Minister Rob Nicholson, Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops’ human rights committee chairman Archbishop Brendan O’Brien urged Nicholson to seek to bring Khadr to Canada for a fair and just trial.

Khadr has been detained at the American prison at Guantanamo since 2002, after he was wounded and captured on the battlefield in Afghanistan. O’Brien, archbishop of Kingston, notes Khadr was only 15 when he was captured after a firefight with American soldiers and “could be considered a child soldier.”

Bishops ask Prime Minister to urge Israel to loosen security over Holy Week

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{mosimage}OTTAWA-Canada’s Catholic bishops have written Prime Minister Stephen Harper asking him to urge Israel to relax security measures making it difficult for Orthodox and Catholic Christians to participate fully in Holy Week worship.

“While fully respecting and endorsing the right and need of Israeli citizens to be able to live in security, our conference is also aware that there are many people in the Middle East growing increasingly frustrated, impatient and even hostile because of various security measures imposed by the State of Israel,” wrote Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops (CCCB) president Bishop Pierre Morissette in a March 26 letter. “Thus ironically, today’s efforts to improve security may have the unintended but inevitable effect of spawning future insecurity.”

The Saint-Jérôme bishop told Harper that Christians in Jerusalem are finding it difficult to observe “the blessing of the fire at the Easter Vigil, from joining in morning prayer on Holy Saturday, and from processing to the Holy Sepulchre.”