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Never again, again: Bishops promise action, but will it make a difference?

Washington D.C., Sep 19, 2018 / 01:10 pm (CNA).- The moral credibility of the U.S. Catholic hierarchy is under serious scrutiny, both by the faithful and the wider world.

Something must be done - this is the consensus of cardinals, bishops, priests, and laity as the Church continues to grapple with the fallout of the sexual abuse crisis. What, exactly, will be done remains to be seen.

Calls for transparency and accountability in the wake of the sexual abuse scandals strike many of the faithful as reasonable and obvious - yet neither of those words seems easily translatable into the curial language and culture of Romanitas

Amid an impetus for urgent reform, the Church faces the challenge of taking action that is effective, rather than merely dramatic.

What has been proposed? And what effect might it have?

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In recent months, many bishops and lay leaders have called for new canonical structures and procedures in response to the various crises erupting in the Church.

Some have suggested creating another “new” process for accusing and trying bishops in a canon law court, others have floated the idea of a network of regional or national tribunals tasked with handling the existing backlog of clerical sex-abuse cases.

Much of what has been proposed so far, however, has already been tried.

Apart from the USCCB’s own Essential Norms, adopted in the wake of the 2002 sexual abuse crisis, Pope Francis has made a number of significant canonical reforms over the last five years. Most significantly, 2016’s Come una madre amorivole created an entirely new legal mechanism for charging and trying a bishop accused of mishandling allegations of abuse, or of abusing his office in some other way.

Yet despite the publicity surrounding the announcement of those structures, they have yet to be put into action, and are unlikely even to be tried.

When asked recently about particular cases involving bishops, Pope Francis said he had decided that his own reforms were not “practical” or “convenient” and that he was instead trying to preserve their “spirit” in the way he handled individual cases.

Many canonists, including those working in the Curia, have expressed frustration at the possibility that more reforms will be promulgated on paper, while few of them take hold at the practical level. 

In the meantime, they say, cases are being handled in an increasingly ad hoc manner. In the case of McCarrick, for example, it has been hard for canonists to parse exactly what procedure is being followed.

Following the announcement by the Archdiocese of New York that it had received an allegation against McCarrick and deemed it credible, the then-cardinal was removed from public ministry.

In July, the Holy Father accepted his resignation from the College of Cardinals – itself an historic event – and at the same time ordered McCarrick to live a life of prayer and penance pending the outcome of a “canonical process.” Canon lawyers have noted that this seemed to be, for good or ill, the imposition of a legal penalty before the legal process had concluded - or perhaps even begun.

There has been no announcement about what kind of “process” will be followed in resolving McCarrick’s case. Nor has the Holy See clarified what charges, exactly, he will face. It seems unclear how a new legal structure could bring clarity to that situation, rather than more confusion.

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Another proposal made in recent months has been the establishment of regional commissions and tribunals for handling abuse cases, something which has been suggested before.

Baroness Sheila Hollins, a member of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors, has been among the most recent voices to suggest that this might serve to clear the languishing backlog of abuse cases clogging the courts at the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

The problem she identifies is a serious one.

Following his election in 2013, one of Pope Francis’ first curial reforms was to decree a Vatican-wide hiring freeze, which is still in effect. Since then, the pope has ordered the dismissal of three American priests working on abuse cases in the CDF, with a fourth leaving for personal reasons earlier this year.

Those working within and alongside of the CDF all report that there is simply not enough manpower to process the workload, something that Msgr. Robert Geisinger, the CDF’s in house prosecutor, has lamented more than once.

As a result, more than one U.S. bishop has resorted to flying to Rome to personally petition that cases waiting for adjudication be moved to the top of the pile.

But the proposed regional tribunals would not solve the problem of a backlog, at least not in the short term. New courts would take years to come online, and even longer to prove effective. In the meantime, the structural and procedural upheaval needed to create them could cause chaos in a system that is already badly stretched. 

Marie Collins, a former member of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors and herself a survivor of abuse, has been a critic of this proposal for a more straightforward reason. She has observed that the call for regional tribunals does not address the fact that the underlying problem is a lack of resources.

During her time on the PCPM, Collins spoke openly of her frustration at the pace of change. She specifically singled out the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, which handles abuse cases, for criticism. Since then, she has become an outspoken skeptic of further canonical reform, and pointed to the fact that few resources are actually devoted to making the current system work.

“The argument for going to local tribunals...is because the CDF is under resourced and understaffed, and so [is] unable to cope with all the abuse cases coming in from around the world: the question should be why is the CDF under resourced and understaffed?”

One curial official who has worked with the CDF told CNA that some staffers also have the impression that there is little practical commitment to the kind of real reform that would involve the addition of more qualified personnel to handle abuse cases.

“If ‘where your treasure is there will your heart be too,’ then by that measure Rome’s heart isn’t in this,” the official told CNA.

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Back in the United States, several ideas for reform have been floated.

One is a third-party reporting mechanism for accusations against bishops, through which people would present allegations directly to the apostolic nuncio in Washington.

But any new third-party reporting system instituted by the U.S. bishops cannot guarantee Roman action, nor does recent evidence indicate that such action could be counted upon.

In the case of Archbishop McCarrick, it has emerged that in 2000 Fr. Boniface Ramsey presented a written account of accusations of McCarrick sharing a bed with seminarians to the nuncio. A 2006 letter from the Vatican Secretariat of State confirms that some of Ramsey’s concerns made it to Rome, but no action was apparently taken until years later.

It has also been suggested that a new lay-led review board could review complaints made against bishops. This idea is not without precedent.

In 2002, the USCCB called for lay-led review boards in every diocese. The U.S. bishops also created a National Review Board comprised of lay experts, to advise the USCCB on dealing with the problem of sexual abuse. Those bodies have had considerable effect on the life and culture of the Church in the United States.

The idea of creating more lay-led boards now is, in some senses, an appealing option. But it is not clear whether new boards would actually address the current problems.

The National Review Board itself has seemed skeptical. In August, the board issued a statement denouncing “a loss of moral leadership and an abuse of power that led to a culture of silence” in the face of abuse.

Action is needed, the board said, but the “evil” which had come to light “will not be stemmed simply by the creation of new committees, policies, or procedures.”

Both U.S. proposals would also appear to effectively insulate American bishops from being required to act upon allegations made against their peers. The reticence of bishops to act in such circumstances is widely considered to have been a major contributing factor in the recent scandals, especially in the case of McCarrick.

But through systems that would largely exempt bishops from investigating or addressing claims of episcopal misconduct, U.S. Church authorities run the risk of seeming to distance themselves further from the kind of personal moral leadership called for by the National Review Board and others.

“What needs to happen is a genuine change in the Church’s culture, specifically among the bishops themselves,” the National Review Board’s August statement said.

Cultural change is more difficult than procedural reform. Absent the release of confidential files or sweeping changes in personnel, it will be hard to demonstrate in the short term. But it also seems to be the most pressing call made by ordinarily lay Catholics.

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On Sept. 13, following a meeting between Pope Francis and the leaders of the U.S. bishops, Cardinal Daniel DiNardo released a statement as president of the USCCB. In it, he said that he and the other American bishops looked forward to “actively continuing our discernment together, identifying the most effective next steps.”

What these steps will be, and when the Church will take them, remain to be seen. But the bishops may find that by themselves, they are not enough to satisfy the skepticism shared by lay Catholics and a growing number of rank-and-file priests and religious.

The call has been for leadership. To satisfy it, bishops will likely need to show a commitment to change that is personal, not institutional.

Cardinal 'blanches' while celebrating recurring miracle of saint's liquefied blood

Naples, Italy, Sep 19, 2018 / 12:01 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- Cardinal Crescenzio Sepe of Naples usually does not faint at the sight of blood.

He has celebrated the miracle of the liquefaction of the blood of St. Januarius, an early martyr, many times over the years.

But this year, something caused Sepe to “blanch” and sit down during the Sept. 19 celebration of the miracle, Italian news agency ANSA reported.

While he refused to leave the altar, Sepe felt too faint to carry the phials of blood outside to show the crowds who had gathered in anticipation of the miracle, which typically occurs three times a year.

It is unknown what caused Sepe to feel ill during the celebration, though ANSA reported that it was “perhaps because of the heat.”

The blood did liquefy during the celebration, according to ANSA.

St. Januarius, or San Gennaro in Italian, is patron of Naples was a bishop of the city in the third century, whose bones and blood are preserved in the cathedral as relics. He is believed to have been martyred during Diocletian persecution.

The reputed miracle is locally known and accepted, though has not been the subject of official Church recognition. The liquefaction reportedly happens at least three times a year: Sept. 19, the saint's feast day, the Saturday before the first Sunday of May, and Dec. 16, the anniversary of the 1631 eruption of Mount Vesuvius.

During the miracle, the dried, red-colored mass confined to one side of the reliquary becomes blood that covers the entire glass. In local lore, the failure of the blood to liquefy signals war, famine, disease or other disaster.

The blood did not liquefy in December 2016, but Monsignor Vincenzo De Gregorio, abbot of the Chapel of the Treasure of San Gennaro, said it was a sign that Catholics should pray rather than worry about what the lack of miracle could mean.

“We must not think of disasters and calamities. We are men of faith and we must pray,” he said at the time.

The vial has sometimes changed upon the visit of a pope.

On March 21, 2015, Pope Francis met with priests, religious and seminarians at the cathedral and gave a blessing with the relic.

Sepe then received the vial back from the pope and noted that the blood had partially liquefied.

The last time blood liquefied in the presence of a pope was in 1848 when Bl. Pius IX visited. The phenomenon didn’t happen when St. John Paul II visited the city in October 1979, or when Benedict XVI visited in October 2007.

Ireland repeals Eighth Amendment, clearing path for legal abortion

Dublin, Ireland, Sep 19, 2018 / 11:00 am (CNA).- The Eighth Amendment to the Irish Constitution, which provided legal protection for the unborn, was officially repealed Sept. 18. The repeal was enacted when President Michael D. Higgins signed the country’s 36th Amendment into law, clearing the way for legal abortion in Ireland.

The removal of the Eighth Amendment follows the decisive result of the national referendum held in May. Only one county, Donegal, voted to keep the amendment. Abortion remains illegal in Northern Ireland, which is part of the United Kingdom.

While it has not yet been determined under what circumstances abortion will become legal, the government is proposing that it be allowed throughout the first 12 weeks of pregnancy. Legislation to this effect will be introduced by the government next month.

It is unknown when Ireland’s first abortion facility will open, but Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said this will likely be by 2019.

The Church vocally opposed the repeal of the Eighth Amendment, and many of Ireland’s hospitals are either run by the Church, or have historically been administered by religious orders. Varadkar has said that Catholic hospitals will not be permitted to opt out of performing abortions, making further conflict between the Church and the pro-abortion movement likely.

At the same time, Ireland is also facing a potential shortage of doctors willing to participate in abortions. Despite 66% of Irish voters favoring the repeal of the Eighth Amendment, surveys show that roughly seven out of 10 general practitioners in Ireland are unwilling to perform abortions. This means that doctors may have to be flown in from other countries, or a list of willing doctors will be circulated among the public.

Dr. Ruth Cullen, the spokesperson for Ireland’s Pro Life Campaign said in a statement on the campaign website that while Tuesday was “a day to remember all the lives saved by the 8th Amendment,” it was “also a sad day for human rights as a vital life-saving human rights provision of the Constitution has been removed.”

Abortion, said Cullen, “is far from progressive and compassionate as those who campaigned for repeal claim it will be.” She is “confident” that Ireland will eventually come to regret the repeal of the Eighth Amendment and realize they “opened the door to the greatest injustice and discrimination of our time.”

Brooklyn diocese reaches $27.5m settlement over abuse by lay volunteer

Brooklyn, N.Y., Sep 19, 2018 / 10:53 am (CNA/EWTN News).- The Diocese of Brooklyn and an after-school program reached a $27.5 million settlement Tuesday with four men who were sexually abused as minors by a layman who volunteered at a parish in the New York City borough.

The men were abused between 2003 and 2009 by Angelo Serrano, 67, who taught catechism and helped to organized religious education at St. Lucy – St. Patrick's parish in Brooklyn. Serrano abused the boys, who were between the ages of 8 and 12, at the church, in his apartment, and at the after-school program. Serrano received a stipend from the church, and had a desk there.

“The diocese and another defendant have settled these lawsuits brought by the four claimants who were sexually abused by Angelo Serrano at his private apartment many years ago,” the Brooklyn diocese said in a Sept. 18 statement, the New York Times reported. “Mr. Serrano was a volunteer worker at a local parish; he was not clergy or an employee of the diocese or parish.”

A portion of the settlement is being paid by the Dorothy Bennett Mercy Center, an after-school program located next to the parish.

Serrano was arrested in 2009, and is now serving a 15-year sentence.

A suit against the diocese was set to go to trial next year, had the diocese not settled.

The victims' suit listed the then-pastors of St. Lucy – St. Patrick's, Fr. Stephen P. Lynch and Fr. Frank Shannon, as co-defendants.

According to the New York Times, a judge wrote that “The record is clear that Lynch and Shannon had knowledge that for years Serrano often had several boys, including plaintiff, sleep over at his apartment … In fact, both Lynch and Shannon testified that they visited Serrano on numerous occasions when young boys were present.”

Fr. Lynch testified, the Times reported, that he saw Serrano “kiss an 8- or 9-year-old boy on the mouth and inappropriately embrace the boy.”

A secretary at the parish, Beatrice Ponnelle, also testified about Serrano's behavior with minors.

Earlier this month, the New York attorney general issued subpoenas to the state's dioceses asking for documents related to sexual abuse allegations and the Church’s response to them.

Attorney General Barbara Underwood announced a civil investigation into Church entities and said the office’s criminal division is willing to partner with local district attorneys “to investigate and, if warranted, prosecute any individuals who have committed criminal offenses that fall within the applicable statutes of limitations.”

 

Pope Francis meets Bono

Vatican City, Sep 19, 2018 / 10:50 am (CNA/EWTN News).- U2 front man Bono had a private audience with Pope Francis at the Vatican Wednesday afternoon, saying afterward the Holy Father was “incredibly gracious with his time, his concentration.”

Speaking to journalists following the just over 30-minute meeting Sept. 19, Bono said they “let the conversation go where it wanted to go,” discussing “big themes,” such as the future of commerce and how it might serve sustainable development goals.

Irishman Bono, born Paul David Hewson, also said that having just come from Ireland, they “inevitably” spoke about “the pope’s feelings about what has happened in the Church.”

He said he explained to Francis that to some it looks like “the abusers are being more protected than the victims,” and that he “could see the pain” in the pope’s face. “I felt he was sincere, and I think he’s an extraordinary man for extraordinary times,” Bono said.

Bono met Pope Francis alongside the president of the pontifical foundation Scholas Occurrentes, José María del Corral.

Scholas is an international organization founded by Pope Francis as an initiative to encourage social integration and the culture of encounter among youth through technology, arts and sports.

Bono is a co-founder of the ONE Campaign, an advocating organization that aims to combat poverty, which signed an agreement to partner with Scholas.

He said the exact way in which the two organizations will work together is yet to be decided, but he is looking forward to the partnership and really admires the work Scholas does.

This was Bono’s second papal meeting. He also had an audience with St. John Paul II in 1999.

Bono is the second U2 member to meet Pope Francis in recent years after the band’s lead guitarist, The Edge, greeted the pope during an audience as part of a Vatican conference on regenerative medicine in 2016.

Pope Francis: To honor one's parents, follow the saints

Vatican City, Sep 19, 2018 / 05:17 am (CNA/EWTN News).- There are many saints who demonstrate that even if one comes from a difficult childhood without good parents, hope can still be found in Christ and the mission received from him, Pope Francis said Wednesday.

The commandment to honor father and mother “can be constructive for many young people who come from stories of pain and for all those who have suffered in their youth,” he said Sept. 19.

“Many saints – and many Christians – after a painful childhood lived a bright life, because, thanks to Jesus Christ, they were reconciled with life,” he said, pointing to the example of Bl. Nunzio Sulprizio, who died at 19 from bone cancer after being orphaned at a very young age.

Bl. Sulprizio will be canonized in Rome Oct. 14 during the Synod of Bishops on young people.

The pope also encouraged Catholics to learn from the witness of St. Camillus de Lellis, who, he said, “from a disordered childhood built a life of love and service; to St. Josephine Bakhita, who grew up in horrible slavery; or to the Bl. Carlo Gnocchi, an orphan and poor man; and to the very St. John Paul II, marked by the loss of his mother at an early age.”

The wounds of one’s young life have the potential to be transformed, by grace, when it is discovered “that God has prepared us for a life of his children, where every act is a mission received from him,” Francis said.

The pope’s general audience catechesis on the theme of the Ten Commandments continued today with a reflection on the commandment “to honor thy father and mother.”

Looking back on one’s childhood, especially if it was difficult, “we discover that the real mystery is no longer ‘why?’ [something happened] but ‘for whom?’ For whom did this happen to me?” Francis asked. This is when people can begin to honor their parents “with the freedom of adult children and with merciful acceptance of their limits.”

As it says in Deuteronomy, he quoted, “honor your father and your mother, as the Lord your God has commanded you, so that your days may be prolonged, and you may be happy in the land which the Lord your God gives you.”

The commandment says that honoring one’s parents “leads to a long, happy life,” he noted. This acknowledges what the human sciences have said: “that the imprint of childhood marks the whole of life.”

He explained that whatever history one comes from, this commandment gives “the orientation that leads to Christ: in him, in fact, the true Father is revealed, who offers us ‘to be reborn from above’.”

The fourth commandment “does not talk about the goodness of parents, it does not require fathers and mothers to be perfect,” he said.

“It speaks of an act of the children, regardless of the merits of the parents, and says something extraordinary and liberating: even if not all parents are good and not all childhoods are sunny, all children can be happy, because the achievement of a full and happy life depends on the right gratitude to those who have placed us in the world.”

“Honoring father and mother therefore means to recognize their importance also through concrete actions, which express dedication, affection and care,” he said.

Adding comments off-the-cuff, he asked those present, if they are not currently close with their parents, if they would consider returning to a relationship with them. He also told children they should never insult their parents or the parents of others.

As Florence subsides, Catholic Charities in NC ready to offer assistance

Raleigh, N.C., Sep 19, 2018 / 03:01 am (CNA/EWTN News).- While Hurricane Florence has decreased to a tropical depression, it is still churning up tornadoes and bringing record flooding throughout the affected areas.

Many volunteers and donations will be needed to help with clean-up and rebuilding efforts, so Catholic Charities in the Diocese of Raleigh, North Carolina has already set up a website where information about disaster relief assistance, volunteer efforts, and donation links can be found.

“A disaster can be one of the most traumatic things a family can experience,” Daniel Altenau, Director of Disaster Services for Catholic Charities in the Diocese of Raleigh, North Carolina, told CNA.

“During this vulnerable time, our staff compassionately work with families to help them recover and persevere through this troubling time.”

Hurricane Florence rolled through North and South Carolina and the surrounding areas over the weekend, dumping rain that brought one of the most deadly parts of the storm - historic flooding that is expected to last for days. As many as 32 deaths have been linked to the storm thus far, but officials have said the danger is far from over.

“Flood waters continue to rise in some of the impacted areas and may not crest until Monday or Tuesday,” Altenau said.

“It won’t be until after the flood waters recede that we are fully able to understand the damage of the storm. There are projections that some rivers may rise to higher levels than were experienced in Hurricane Matthew two years ago,” he added.

Catholic Charities staff are prepared to help families by providing groceries, diapers, food gift cards and clean-up supplies, as well as assistance with finding housing, Altenau said. Because Hurricane Florence swept through smaller towns which have fewer available apartments, finding housing after the storm could prove difficult for the displaced, of whom there are thousands.

As for volunteer opportunities, a primary need at the moment is for box truck drivers who can take supplies from a warehouse in Raleigh to impacted areas in eastern North Carolina, including Fayetteville and Wilmington.

Other volunteer opportunities can also be found at the Raleigh Catholic Charities website, as well as a link to provide donations for disaster relief.

“Monetary donations are helpful because disasters are constantly changing events and cash donations can be adapted to meet the varying needs of families impacted by Hurricane Florence,” Altenau said.

“Catholic Charities is working with local partner agencies to address the immediate needs of families across central and eastern North Carolina,” he added.

“Our staff are present in the community before an event, during an event, and long after the event to assist families.”

Scicluna: On abuse crisis, Church must go from words to action

Poznan, Poland, Sep 19, 2018 / 12:00 am (CNA).- According to Archbishop Charles Scicluna, the pope’s recent decision to call to Rome the presidents of bishops’ conferences from around the world is a sign that prevention of abuse and protection of minors must be a concern for the entire Church.
 
Archbishop Charles J. Scicluna of La Valletta, Malta served from 2002-2012 as Promoter of Justice in the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. He helped establish the Church’s first responses to the 2002 sexual abuse crisis, and his work in the field is still a landmark.
 
Pope Francis twice sent Archbishop Scicluna to Chile to investigate allegations that Bishop Juan Barros Madrid had covered up crimes against minors.
 
Speaking from Poznan, Poland, where he took part in the annual gathering of the Council of the European Bishops’ Conferences, Scicluna stressed that the pope’s decision to call to Rome presidents of the different bishops’ conferences around the world “is a clear sign that protection of minors and prevention of abuse are a top priority for the whole Church.”

“The commitment of the Church as a safe place for minors should be for the whole Church, and should be the concern of everybody in the Church,” he added.
 
Scicluna also stressed that “protection of minors is something that has to be an ongoing process in the Church, and therefore it only begins with the good screening of future priests, as St. John Paul II asked for in 1992.”
 
The archbishop referred to Pope St. John Paul II’s 1992 post-synodal exhortation Pastores Dabo Vobis.  

“It was St. John Paul II’s prophetic message,” he said,”as the document, speaking of the formation of future priests, valued the issue of human formation, of psychological screening and also of a clear evaluation of the candidate from the point of view of emotional authority and eligibility to be the shepherd of the flock.”
 
The document underscored that “in the seminary, that is, in the program of formation, celibacy should be presented clearly, without any ambiguities and in a positive fashion. The seminarian should have a sufficient degree of psychological and sexual maturity as well as an assiduous and authentic life of prayer, and he should put himself under the direction of a spiritual father.”
 
Scicluna said that, beyond the screening of future priests, there must also be “an empowerment to the community, to disclose abuse when it happens and also an empowerment of the community so that together we ascertain and we guarantee that the Church is a safe place for everybody, including minors.”
 
The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith’s former prosecutor also noted that in May 2001 the Congregation asked bishops’ conferences around the world to prepare guidelines to counter abuse.
 
 “The circular letter,” Scicluna said, “gave important indications, as it talked about formation of future priests but also talked about the protection of the community and it also mentioned cooperation with civil authorities.”
 
The letter read that “sexual abuse of minors is not just a canonical delict but also a crime prosecuted by civil law. Although relations with civil authority will differ in various countries, nevertheless it is important to cooperate with such authorities within their responsibilities.”
 
Archbishop Scicluna commented that these things “need to be implemented and constantly put in the local Church’s agenda.”
 
He also said that most bishops’ conferences have issued guidelines following the CDF’s advice, and that all existing guidelines have been now screened by the Vatican.
 
However, Scicluna added, “documents are not enough. We need to sensitize whole communities, because this sad phenomenon cannot be solved with hierarchical decisions, but must involve everyone.”
 
Speaking about the meeting convoked by Pope Francis for February 2019, Scicluna said that the meeting comes from a decision of the Council of Cardinals, but it is also “a response to people’s expectation that we move from documents to actions.”
 
He said that “people need to understand that nice words and promises are not enough, while a diffused commitment involving the whole Church and everyone in the Church is much needed.”
 
“After years,” he concluded, Church leaders must “renew our commitment to child protection in the Church.”

 

Indian bishop accused of rape steps aside, requests leave from Vatican

Jalandhar, India, Sep 18, 2018 / 07:01 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- A Catholic bishop in India accused of raping a nun repeatedly over the course of two years has written to the Vatican asking permission to be relieved of his duties as bishop while the case is investigated.

“Bishop Franco Mulakkal wrote a letter to Holy Father Pope Francis expressing his desire to step aside temporarily and requested to be relieved from the administration of the Diocese," the Diocese of Jullundur, which Mulakkal leads, said in a statement released over the weekend and reported by Reuters.

The request came days before Sept. 19, when Mulakkal is set to be questioned by police in the southern state of Kerala, and after protests calling for his arrest have escalated.

Seven nuns gathered in a public square in Kochi earlier this month to protest how both police and the Church have responded to one nun's accusation that Bishop Mulakkal raped her in 2014 and sexually abused her multiple times over two years.

A lay group in the Archdiocese of Ernakulam-Angamaly, called the Movement for Transparency, has filed a police complaint charging that Cardinal George Alencherry, who heads the Syro-Malabar Catholic Church, received the nun’s complaint six months ago but failed to report it to the police.

“The Church has not given us justice. Neither have the police or government. So, we will fight. We feel that it was the Church which forced us onto the streets,” Sister Anupama of the Missionaries of Jesus, one of the Kochi protesters, told the Times of India Sept. 8.

A Kerala nun has said that Mulakkal raped her during his May 2014 visit to her convent in Kuravilangad, in Kerala state. In a 72-page complaint to police, filed June 29, she alleged that the bishop sexually abused her more than a dozen times over two years.

Mulakkal has denied the accusations, claiming that they were made in retaliation against him because he has acted against the nun’s sexual misconduct, according to UCA News. He said the nun was alleged to be having an affair with her cousin's husband.

Three more women have accused the bishop in recent days of sexual misconduct against them, but the congregation's superior general maintains that the bishop is innocent.

According to Reuters, the nun who first filed a complaint against Mulakkal has also filed a complaint with the Vatican against the bishop last week.

UCA News also reported that Mulakkal filed an anticipatory bail plea with the Kerala High Court Sept. 18, which was accepted.

The Vatican has not yet commented on the case, nor has it announced whether Mulakkal’s request has been accepted.

Before leaving for his meeting with police in Kerala, Mulakkal handed over the administrative duties of his local Church to Monsignor Mathew Kokkandam, The News Minute reported.

Canadian cardinal: Women should help screen, train priest applicants

Poznan, Poland, Sep 18, 2018 / 06:00 pm (CNA).- Increasing the role of women in screening and training priests is among the steps that should be taken to prevent future sex abuse, said Cardinal Marc Ouellet, prefect of the Congregation for Bishops.

“We would need participation of more women in (training) of priests,” the Canadian cardinal told reporters at a recent meeting of the Presidents of the Bishops’ Conferences of Europe, a four-day assembly in Poznan, Poland.

He said bishops need to be chosen more carefully and that women should have more involvement in the selection of potential priests by assessing candidates’ suitability.

“We are facing a crisis in the life of the Church,” he said. “This is a very serious matter that has to be dealt with in a spiritual way, not only in a political way.”

Ouellet’s comments come amid a string of revelations regarding allegations of sexual abuse and cover-up by clergy in several regions of the world.

In late July, Pope Francis accepted the resignation of retired Washington, D.C. Archbishop Theodore McCarrick from the College of Cardinals, and suspended him from the exercise of any public ministry, amid allegations of sexual abuse and coercion.

Last month, a Pennsylvania grand jury report found more than 1,000 allegations of abuse at the hands of some 300 clergy members in six dioceses in the state. It also found a pattern of cover-up by senior Church officials.

Recent reports of clerical abuse and cover-up have also rocked Germany, the Netherlands, Chile, and Australia in recent months.