Quotes and news

Custodian is against intervention in Syria
Fr Pierbattista Pizzaballa, the Franciscan custodian of the Holy Land, said: “I am against foreign intervention (in Syria). We’ve seen what that led to in Iraq and Afghanistan. The West should certainly apply diplomatic and political pressure, but avoid the use of military force.

“Syria is currently in a kind of civil war. It’s not called that, but that’s what it is. And the Christians are caught between all fronts: between the regime on the one hand, which has always supported them, and the opposition on the other, of which it is still not yet precisely known who they are. There are so many fragmented groups. But it’s true, Christians fear an Iraqi situation.”

Appreciate freedom
Chaldean Catholic Archbishop Ram­­zi Garzou of Teheran urged Christians of the West to “be aware of the value of the freedom you enjoy”. He appealed to Christians not to be “slaves of a culture that seeks to drive God out of people’s hearts” but instead to “propagate respect for human life”.

In Iran, missionary activity and conversion are punishable by death.

€1.89bn worth of abuse
According to a report just published by the US bishops, the clerical abuse scandal cost US dioceses $2.49 billion (€1.89bn) since 2004. Last year the dioceses paid almost $109 million (€83m) while religious orders paid an additional $35m (€27m).

Only 57 per cent of those funds were allotted to settlements (€38m) and therapy for abuse victims (€4.6m); the rest was spent on lawyers’ fees (€27.9m), support for offenders (€ 7.5m), and other costs (€4.3m), according to the 2011 ‘Report on the Implementation of the Charter for Protection of Children and Young People’.

Christians urged to wear the cross
Cardinal Keith O’Brien of Edinburgh has urged Christians to wear “the cross of Christ on their garments every day of their lives.” His suggestion is a reaction to the UK government position against two women’s petition to the European Court of Human Rights for redress, after they were told they could not wear crosses at their places of work.

Vatican wants action over dissenting priests
German Catholic news service Kath .net has reported that the Vatican is urging Austrian bishops to take disciplinary action against dissident priests who have issued a ‘Call to disobedience’. In his homily during Mass on Holy Thursday, the Pope criticised the Austrian priests’ group for their call to disobedience against Church authority. Such a step is considered to be an unusual one.

Cardinal Christoph Schönborn of Vienna, president of the Austrian bishops’ conference, has resisted calls for action but recently said “we need to address this matter soon”.

Lebanon yes, Ireland no
The Vatican has announced that Pope Benedict will visit Lebanon from September 14 to 16. In a separate development it was announced that Cardinal Marc Ouellet will attend the International Eucharistic Congress in Dublin as the Pope’s personal representative – thus confirming that the Pope himself will not make the trip to Ireland this year.

In February, the Latin-rite Catholic Patriarch of Jerusalem, Archbishop Fouad Twai, had disclosed that the Pope would travel to the Middle East in September to release his apostolic exhortation concluding the work of the Synod of Bishops for the Middle East, which met in Rome in October 2010.