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Pope names new Colorado Springs bishop: a Nebraska priest 'fascinated by Jesus Christ'

Bishop-designate James Golka will head the Colorado Springs Diocese. / U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops

Denver Newsroom, Apr 30, 2021 / 13:06 pm (CNA).

Father James Golka is Pope Francis’ choice to become the next bishop of Colorado Springs, and the Nebraska priest used his opening remarks for the diocese to encourage everyone to “become fascinated by the Lord.”

“I’m fascinated by Jesus Christ,” Golka said at a Friday morning press conference in Colorado Springs. “It’s a gift that God gave me as a boy. I remember as a second-grader getting my first Children’s Bible. I loved reading the stories of Jesus.”

“To hear about Jesus and what he did in the Gospels fascinates me. What made him respond to people the way he responded to them? What made him say what he said?” the priest asked. “He knew that in his person was the Reign of God. He knew his identity, and he acted out of it.”

“When you become fascinated by Jesus you cannot help but fall in love with him, and that has changed everything for me,” said Golka. “I invite you to become fascinated by the Lord… I can’t wait to see what he does with us.”

Golka said he was “incredibly humbled and excited” to join the Diocese of Colorado Springs. “I ask for your prayers; please be assured of mine.”

Archbishop Christophe Pierre announced the appointment the morning of April 30, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops said Friday. Golka currently serves as both rector of Grand Island’s Cathedral of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin and vicar general for the Diocese of Grand Island, whose territory extends from the western Nebraska panhandle into central Nebraska.

He succeeds Bishop Michael Sheridan, 76, who has headed the diocese since January 2003. Under church law, bishops must submit their resignation to the pope upon turning 75.

Sheridan said he was happy with the appointment.

“Bishop-elect Golka has already shown himself to be not only a skilled administrator, but also a man of prayer,” Sheridan said in a statement from the Colorado Springs diocese. “I believe that he will serve the people of this diocese very well.”

Golka was born Sept. 22, 1966 in Grand Island, Neb. He is the fourth of ten children born to Robert and Patricia Golka. He graduated from Grand Island Central Catholic High School.

In 1989, he graduated from Creighton University with a bachelor’s degree in philosophy and theology. He served as a Jesuit lay missionary volunteer at Native American missions in South Dakota, including work on the Pine Ridge Reservation of the Oglala Sioux Tribe, then entered St. Paul Seminary in Minnesota. There, he earned a master’s in divinity and a master’s degree in sacramental theology.

He was ordained a priest for the Grand Island diocese on June 3, 1994. He served several assignments as assistant pastor and pastor. From 2006 to 2016, he was pastor of St. Patrick’s Parish and president of St. Patrick’s School in North Platte, Nebraska. He has served as rector for Grand Island’s cathedral since 2016. He was named vicar general of the diocese in 2018.

Golka, who speaks English and Spanish, has served on his diocese’s College of Consultors, the Presbyteral Council and the Personnel Board. He has been a pilgrimage director for Jerusalem and the Holy Land. He previously served as director of Higher Ground, a diocesan summer retreat for young people.

In a prayer before his remarks at the press conference, Golka gave thanksgiving to God and asked that God will guide the people of Colorado Springs diocese to “open our ears that we may truly hear your word for us, to know your will, that we might follow it faithfully.”

“Open our eyes that we may see your presence in each other, and your presence in the sacred mysteries that we get to celebrate in our Catholic faith,” the bishop-designate prayed. “Open our hearts that we might know your deep love and mercy for us.”

Golka said he was “terrified, shocked, humbled” at the prospect of becoming a bishop. But he emphasized “I trust the Lord fully.”

Commenting that people had asked what his agenda might be, he said: “I don’t have any agenda that I know of. I just think that together we discern what is the mission of God for the people of the Diocese of Colorado Springs.”

Golka’s ordination as a Catholic bishop is scheduled for June 29.

The Colorado Springs diocese serves about 187,000 Catholics out of more than 1.1 million people. Its territory includes the U.S. Air Force Academy. It is one of three dioceses in Colorado.

Denver Archbishop Samuel J. Aquila and Auxiliary Bishop Jorge Rodriguez welcomed the bishop-to-be.

“We pray that God will bless you and the Diocese of Colorado Springs with all the graces you need to shepherd God’s people and help them experience the joy of knowing him,” they said in a joint statement. “We are sure that you will find as we have that the Church in Colorado is filled with good, faithful and generous people. We look forward to working with you in our shared ministry to this great state.”

“We also wish to extend our prayers and gratitude to Bishop Michael Sheridan for his service to the Church and wish him well in his retirement,” Archbishop Aquila and Bishop Rodriguez added.

Kentucky priest "on cloud nine" after priestly faculties reinstated

St. Stephen Cathedral in Owensboro, Ky. Credit: Farragutful via Wikimedia (CC BY-SA 4.0)

Denver Newsroom, Apr 30, 2021 / 13:00 pm (CNA).

An Owensboro, Kentucky priest says he is “on cloud nine” after receiving word that the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith had reinstated his faculties after he appealed his permanent suspension from public ministry. 


“When the letter [from the CDF] came, I was telling them I was almost afraid to open it  because you don’t know what the news is,” said Fr. Joseph Edward Bradley to 14 News on April 26. 

“I am so happy I can hardly talk,” he said. He said that it was the prayers and support of his “good friends” who got him through his suspension.

“After two years, it was getting more and more difficult,” said Bradley, as he waited for word on the status of the appeal.  

Bradley was in March 2019 temporarily suspended from public ministry following allegations he had sexually abused a minor in the 1980s. 

Another claim was made during the investigation into the first claim. Both claims are from when Bradley was the dean of students and principal at Owensboro Catholic High School. 

Following an investigation, the Diocesan Review Board substantiated the allegations. Bishop William Medley of Owensboro accepted the review board’s assessment and requested that the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith make the suspension permanent. Bradley appealed the CDF’s decision.

Last week, the CDF informed the Diocese of Owensboro that Bradley’s faculties were “immediately reinstated” and that restrictions had been lifted— with one condition. 

“The Vatican decree notes ‘given the imprudent behavior of the cleric throughout the course of his ministry in education, the Congresso (Vatican body) imposes a penal precept (restriction) on the cleric, according to canon 1739, through which he is forbidden to enter any primary or secondary school for a period of five years,’” said an April 26 statement by the diocese. 

Bradley, who is 78 years old, was already retired from active ministry when he was first accused of sexual misconduct. He was working part time as a volunteer chaplain at Owensboro Catholic High School when he was accused in 2019. 

The pandemic stretched out the legal process while Bradley’s appeal was in limbo.

“It’s a universal church,” Bradley said. “It takes a long time for cases to be heard and especially during the pandemic. I just kept telling myself it will happen. I knew I was innocent and I just thought ‘it is going to happen.’”

In October 2019, the Daviess County Commonwealth's Attorney declined to file criminal charges against Fr. Bradley, saying that “there was not evidence to support the allegations, and it is passed [sic] the statute of limitations,” according to WFIE TV. 

Tina Kasey, director of communications for the diocese, told CNA on Thursday that as a result of the CDF’s decree, the appeal process is concluded and, from the diocese’ standpoint, “the case is closed.” 

Fr. Bradley is not currently, nor has he ever been, listed on the diocese’ list of clerics with a substantiated allegation of sexual abuse against a minor. 

Kasey told CNA that Fr. Bradley was not listed on the diocesan website due to the appeal that was underway. “We were waiting for the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith to render its decision,” she said. 

She added that “alleged incidents of more than 30 years past are complicated and difficult to fully substantiate.”

Pro-life former congressman: Catholics in politics need to be ‘different’

Former congressman Dan Lipinski / EWTN Pro-Life Weekly

Washington D.C., Apr 30, 2021 / 11:00 am (CNA).

A Catholic former Democratic congressman said that President Biden’s pro-abortion policies flout what it means to live as a Catholic in public life.

“Catholics should be different. We shouldn’t just be Democrats, Republicans, and follow the party line,” said former congressman Dan Lipinski (D-Ill.), in an interview that aired on Thursday night on EWTN Pro-Life Weekly.

“Catholics really have an obligation and an understanding of what the dignity of the individual means,” he added. “We need to live that out in public life if we are in office, or we’re just a citizen and we’re voting. We need to follow that.”

“Unfortunately, that’s not what we usually see, on either side of the aisle,” he said.

Lipinski spoke on the 100-day mark of Biden’s presidency. A former eight-term congressman from Illinois’ third district, Lipinski was known as the last reliable pro-life vote among House Democrats. He lost his 2020 primary to now-Congresswoman Marie Newman, who is Catholic and pro-abortion.

During Biden’s first 100 days in office, he began by issuing a statement in support of Roe v. Wade, the 1973 Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion nationwide; Biden made the statement on Jan. 22, the 48th anniversary of Roe.

Several days later, the president repealed the Mexico City Policy, allowing for U.S. global health assistance to go to pro-abortion groups.

Under Biden’s presidency, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is in the process of repealing rules to allowg abortion providers to receive Title X family planning funding. The administration’s proposal would also require that Title X funding recipients to provide abortion counseling upon request.

Furthermore, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is rolling back regulations of the abortion pill regimen, allowing for it to be prescribed and dispensed remotely during the pandemic.

Biden’s record on abortion “is what we expected,” Lipinski said on Thursday. “It’s not surprising, but it’s disappointing, nonetheless.”

Biden has also pledged to repeal the Hyde Amendment, allowing for taxpayer-funded abortion. The decades-old policy – which bars funding of elective abortions in congressional appropriations – was not included in the recent American Rescue Plan, a nearly-$2 trillion COVID relief bill that Biden signed into law.

Some House Democrats are pushing for Biden’s budget request to Congress to not include the Hyde Amendment, giving the green light for Congress to not include the policy in appropriations bills for the 2022 fiscal year.

“We need to save the Hyde Amendment,” Lipinski said, adding that he is encouraging Catholics to contact their member of Congress in support of the policy.

If Congress passes funding bills without the policy included, “I’m hoping that it doesn’t even get to the President’s desk,” he said; if it does, he said he hopes that BIden has “second thoughts” and vetoes the legislation.

Biden has also pledged to sign the Equality Act, legislation which passed the House and is currently in the Senate. The bill would make sexual orientation and gender identity protected legal classes in federal civil rights law.

Critics of the legislation, including the U.S. bishops’ conference, say it would codify transgender ideology in law, threaten the privacy of women, and force many people and organizations to support same-sex marriage and transgender ideology against their consciences.

Lipinski did vote for a version of the Equality Act in 2019, saying at the time that he opposed discrimination and would work to resolve religious freedom concerns in the legislation.

He did offer some praise for President Biden’s rhetoric in office, pointing to Biden’s address to a joint session of Congress on Wednesday.

“I have some hope there, because this is something that Republicans have been talking about, and I’m glad to see that. We need to do more to help families with children,” he said of Biden’s promoting the American Families Policy during the address. Biden’s $1.8 trillion proposal includes investments in a comprehensive paid leave program and child care, and an expansion of the child tax credit.

Cincinnati archdiocese to hold 300-mile Marian pilgrimage for bicentennial

Cathedral of St. Peter in Chains, Cincinnati / Mitchell Chabot/Shutterstock

Washington D.C., Apr 30, 2021 / 10:00 am (CNA).

The Archdiocese of Cincinnati will mark its bicentennial with a walking Marian pilgrimage, helping the faithful prepare for the re-consecration to Jesus through Mary. 

On June 19, 2021, the Archdiocese of Cincinnati will celebrate the 200th anniversary of its founding with a Solemn Mass of Thanksgiving offered by Archbishop Dennis Schnurr. At the Mass, Schnurr will re-consecrate the archdiocese.

As a spiritual preparation for the re-consecration, the diocese thought of a walking Marian pilgrimage.

“Traditionally the preparation for a consecration to Jesus through Mary takes 33 days,” said a statement from Jennifer Schack, the director of media relations for the archdiocese. “The 33-day pilgrimage is our way of bringing the archdiocese together to participate in the 33-day preparation.”

In the 33 days leading up to the anniversary, pilgrims will process throughout the archdiocese with a statue of Our Lady of Fatima. Pilgrims can sign up for three-day shifts for the pilgrimage, which will make stops at 36 parishes throughout the archdiocese. The 300-mile route will reach each deanery, or geographical region of parishes, of the archdiocese.

The archdiocese says the pilgrimage will be the longest Marian procession in the United States. 

“Each of the 36 parishes hosting pilgrims has planned local prayer opportunities at their church including benediction, holy hours, rosary rallies, and Masses,” Schack explained.  

While pilgrims have to sign up to walk the route, Schack told CNA that there will be four “cornerstone events” during the pilgrimage open to all the faithful of the archdiocese. The events are expected to have approximately 1,000 to 3,000 attendees. 

The opening Mass of the pilgrimage will be offered on May 16 at the Our Lady of Fatima Shrine in Russells Point, Ohio. That will be followed by a Mass and concert on May 21 at the Maria Stein Shrine, a family concert and Mass at Chaminade-Julienne High School in Dayton, Ohio, on May 29, and the June 19 bicentennial Mass at the Cathedral of St. Peter in Chains in Cincinnati. 

Schack told CNA that the archdiocese is aiming to have eight to 10 “guardian pilgrims” with the Marian statue on each leg of the pilgrimage. The pilgrimage route has 11 legs total, and pilgrims can expect to walk about 10 miles per day. 

The archdiocese says that safety of pilgrims is an important consideration. 

“Every aspect of the Pilgrimage has been thoroughly vetted and approved by Risk Management and Child Protection,” said Schack. 

“All Guardian Pilgrims are required to be Virtus compliant and background checked. Every Guardian Pilgrim will be required to attend an orientation where safety and health protocol will be covered. This will include health advice from a health professional,” she said.

Additionally, local authorities have been made aware of the pilgrimage, and police escorts will be available when necessary, she said. 

“An RV with a hitch-mounted LED traffic safety board will follow behind the guardian pilgrims,” said Schack. “The RV will hold the gear, food, water, and first aid for the guardian pilgrims and will be used to transport pilgrims to a safe location in the case of severe weather. There will be archdiocesan employees present along the entire route in order to ensure the safety of all participants.”

The pilgrimage is expected to make stops not only at parishes, but also outside of abortion clinics and penitentiaries. The pilgrims will also visit local charitable organizations, including the St. Vincent de Paul homeless shelter in Dayton and a pregnancy center in Cincinnati. 

Those who are unable to make the physical pilgrimage are invited to become “spiritual pilgrims,” and can follow along with the official Facebook group for the event.  

Atlanta archdiocese to end Sunday Mass dispensation

Archbishop Gregory Hartmayer, OFM, Conv., was installed as archbishop of Atlanta on May 6, 2020. / CNA file photo

Atlanta, Ga., Apr 30, 2021 / 10:00 am (CNA).

This week the archdiocese of Atlanta announced an end date to the general dispensation from the obligation to attend Sunday Mass. 

In a letter to parishioners in the archdiocese, Archbishop Hartmayer said that he “believes it is time to begin to bring more people physically back to church.” 

Citing the wide availability of vaccines and the previous year’s “extraordinary” steps to combat Covid-19, the Archbishop said he finds it “an appropriate time to take our next step forward to full reopening of our churches.”

In his April 29 letter to the public, Hartmayer said that the dispensation will expire on May 22. “While the general dispensation will lift,” he said, “I am putting into place some exceptions for certain circumstances.

The letter outlined the specific persons for whom the dispensation is still applicable according to canon law. 

Those who are ill or who would be significantly compromised by Covid-19 because of underlying health conditions were told by the Archbishop that they may continue use the dispensation.

The list of dispensed persons also included those experiencing flu symptoms, pregnant women, anyone exposed to Covid-19, and those 65 years of age or older, citing the CDC’s recommendation of high-risk individuals. 

Those who miss Mass through no fault of their own and those with significant anxiety of becoming ill at mass are dispensed from the obligation as well. 

Hartmayer wrote that those “legitimately dispensed from the obligation to attend Mass are still to observe the Lord’s Day by participating in a broadcast of the Sunday Mass or by spending time in prayer or meditating on Scripture, either individually or as a family.”

The Archbishop wrote that masks and social distancing will still be required in the parishes and emphasized that outdoor masses remain a possibility to accommodate higher numbers of the faithful. He said that people should remain reasonably distanced from those who are outside their family. 

Hartmayer thanked all clergy and employees of the diocese for their creativity and dedication during the lockdowns.

As Biden presidency passes 100 days, Catholics push him to end federal death penalty

felipe caparros/Shutterstock

Washington D.C., Apr 30, 2021 / 09:00 am (CNA).

Catholics are calling on President Joe Biden to honor his campaign promises to halt use of the federal death penalty, as his presidency surpasses 100 days. 

“When President Biden took office 100 days ago, our country was in the aftermath of a horrific spree of federal executions ordered by the Trump administration,” said Krisanne Vaillancourt Murphy, executive director of Catholic Mobilizing Network, in a statement provided to CNA. 

“Having seen the grave harm possible at the hands of an administration bent on taking lives, many Catholics were hopeful that President Biden would prioritize taking the steps within his power to dismantle the federal death penalty,” she said. “But this has not yet been the case.”

In 2019, President Donald Trump’s Justice Department announced it would resume executions of federal death row inmates after a nearly two-decade pause on the federal death penalty. The administration put 13 inmates to death beginning in July 2020; it conducted six of the executions after the presidential election in November. 

Biden, who is only the second Catholic U.S. president, is opposed to the death penalty. According to Catholic Mobilizing Network, he is the first president to have run on a platform opposed to capital punishment. 

As a senator, Biden sponsored a 1994 criminal justice bill that expanded the number of federal offenses eligible for the death penalty. While campaigning for president in 2020, however, he promised to end the use of the federal death penalty. 

While the White House in January stated that Biden is “opposed” to the federal death penalty, spokeswoman Jen Psaki would not say what actions he would take to end it.

Biden has yet to address the death penalty directly since becoming president, said Catholic Mobilizing Network. The group launched a petition in January, prior to Inauguration Day, requesting that he stop the use of the federal death penalty. 

“History has shown us that for an administration to ignore or passively distance itself from the federal death penalty is tantamount to leaving the door open to future government killing sprees,” said Vaillancourt Murphy.

Biden, she said, should declare a halt to the use of the death penalty and commute the sentences of all federal death row inmates.

“As a Catholic called to uphold the Church’s teaching against capital punishment and as a president with promises to keep, President Biden should declare an official moratorium on federal executions, commute the sentences of those on federal death row, and urge Congress and the states to remove death penalty from law.”

More than 7,500 people have signed the CMN petition.

Why 'disappointing' Census numbers are such a concern

txking/Shutterstock

Washington D.C., Apr 30, 2021 / 04:00 am (CNA).

New Census numbers show the U.S. had its slowest decade of population growth since the Great Depression - and experts say this confirms a pre-existing downward trend. 

On Monday, the U.S. Census Bureau released its decennial count of population and housing. Data revealed that the U.S. population growth in the past decade was the slowest in nearly a century.

Demographic experts told CNA that the Census numbers were possibly worse than the already-muted expectations for population growth.

“We’ve known for quite a while that this Census was going to show a relatively low growth rate. It ultimately showed an even lower one than we expected, so it’s sort of a pessimistic indicator overall - that is, things are worse than we thought,” said Lyman Stone, research fellow at the Institute for Family Studies.

With warnings swirling of a “baby bust” – a sharp decline in the birth rate due to the pandemic and its economic consequences – the Census numbers are “like a nail in the coffin,” said Catherine Ruth Pakaluk, director of social research and assistant professor at the Catholic University of America’s Busch School of Business.

“We’re seeing the [birth rate] trend, the trend was already downward,” she said.

A long-term decline in the birth rate reaches back to the 19th century, Pakaluk noted. While certain demographics, such as immigrant populations, might have higher birth rates than others, eventually all demographics converge on a fertility rate decline in the United States.

 “As society has gotten wealthier, we’re seeing fewer and fewer children born. And so what exactly is explaining that?” she asked, noting that a post-World War II “baby boom” was an anomaly in the 20th century.

While birth rates normally fall during a recession, they are not rising afterward, she said, noting that birth rates did not go up in the past decade after the “Great Recession.” This fact, she said, “tells you something else is going on.”

A continued decline in the birth rates could pose some far-reaching negative social consequences.

Schools could be among the hardest-hit by a population decline, with lower enrollment, reduced funding, and possibly the closure of many educational institutions, Stone said.

As the younger generation reaches working age, there might be fewer workers available, labor shortages, slower economic growth, and less entrepreneurship, he said.

The “strain on state budgets” is “where you’re going to start to see this kind of playing itself out,” Pakaluk said of negative social consequences of a decline in the birth rate.

Recent education cuts in Ohio are an example of this tension between states meeting commitments to seniors, such as through pensions, while trying to invest in the youth through education, she said. If fewer taxpayers are paying for senior benefits, budget cuts will have to come from somewhere.

 “You’d think this’d be a time when states want to really ramp it [education spending] up a little bit,” she said. “But that kind of a trade-off – those are the kinds of really unpleasant tradeoffs between, let’s just say the young and the old, that become both immanent and also very unpleasant in light of an aging population.”

Catholics respond to Washington Post article and tweet calling Biden a ‘very Catholic president’

Pope Francis greets then-U.S. Vice President Joe Biden at the Vatican in this April 29, 2016. / Vatican Media

Denver, Colo., Apr 29, 2021 / 21:29 pm (CNA).

Prominent Catholics are passionately responding to a recent Washington Post tweet which said “A rising group of right-wing U.S. Catholic bishops is colliding with a very Catholic president who supports abortion rights.”

Brian Burch, President of Catholic Vote criticized the media’s exaltation of Biden’s supposed Catholicity. “Joe Biden's press secretary routinely refers to him as 'devout.' And without skipping a beat, the Washington Post calls him 'very Catholic.'”  

"For decades public officials have flouted the Church's call to protect innocent human life,” Burch said. “Now we face the scandal of a president who professes to be Catholic but calls for the destruction of innocent unborn children, and he forces those who object to pay for it anyway.”

The April 29 Washington Post article noted that there is a deep political divide within the Catholic Church. Specifically, the Post brought to light the heated debate within the Church over President Biden’s permissibility to receive Holy Communion while he publicly supports abortion and many other laws which defy Church teaching. 

 “The bishops need two-thirds of their conference to move forward with a document, and experts disagree about what two-thirds of the men will agree upon when it comes to this topic,” the article said, referring to debate on a pro-abortion politician’s reception of communion. 

"The Washington Post realizes perhaps better than some Catholics that if the bishops spoke with courage and unity, that hearts and minds would change on abortion,” Burch said. "And it's clear that the Washington Post isn't just covering this story, they're deeply invested in influencing this debate."

Burch’s Catholic Vote created a timeline for Catholics, showing all the instances in which President Biden has publicly opposed Catholic teachings.

Grazie Pozo Christie, a Policy Advisor with The Catholic Association, also denounced Biden’s defiance of Catholic teaching.  

“The President’s decision to present himself as a devout Catholic, while simultaneously advancing an agenda openly hostile to foundational church teachings from his unique position of power, creates confusion and division” Christie said. 

Christie affirmed the bishops’ concern that the message Biden’s contradictory lifestyle is sending, causes pain and unclarity to their flocks.

 “It is up to each individual bishop to discern the best course of action for this unfortunate situation which the president himself has created," Christie told CNA. 

Commenting on Biden’s first 100 days in office, former Democratic representative Daniel Lipinski told EWTN Prolife Weekly’s Catherine Hadro on Thursday that Catholics should be different. “Catholics really have an obligation, and an understanding, of what the dignity of the individual means,” he said. “We need to live that out in public life. We should be Catholic first."

 In President Biden’s first 100 days of office he has pushed an aggressive pro-abortion agenda overturning many of the Trump administration’s protections of the unborn, reversing restrictions on federally-funded research using fetal tissue and organs of aborted babies, revoking the Mexico City Policy that prohibits direct funding of abortions abroad, and nominating a slew of pro-choice politicians to key positions in government. 

This is in addition to Biden withdrawing support for faith-based women’s shelters that make placements based on sex rather than gender identity, permitting the LGBTI envoy from the Department of State to fly “Pride” flags, appealing the district court to keep transgender mandates in place that destroy conscience protections for medical personnel, signing an executive order mandating single-sex dorms or bathrooms to be available to members of the opposite biological sex at religious colleges and universities, and effectively halting the resettlement of refugees. 

 

Owensboro priest's faculties reinstated by CDF 

St. Stephen Cathedral in Owensboro, Ky. Credit: Farragutful via Wikimedia (CC BY-SA 4.0)

Owensboro, Ky., Apr 29, 2021 / 20:01 pm (CNA).

The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith has reinstated the faculties of a priest of the Diocese of Owensboro despite two allegations of sexual abuse of a minor that the diocesan review board deemed “substantiated” in 2019.  

Despite his priestly faculties being reinstated, the priest of the Diocese of Owensboro will not be allowed to enter a primary or secondary school for the next five years because of “imprudent behavior,” according to the Vatican. 

Father Joseph Edward Bradley, 78, was already retired, the diocese says, but worked part-time in a voluntary capacity as chaplain at Owensboro Catholic High School when the allegations were made.

Tina Kasey, director of communications for the diocese, told CNA that as a result of the CDF’s decree, the appeal process is concluded and, from the diocese’ standpoint, “the case is closed.” 

In March 2019, Bishop William Medley of Owensboro suspended Fr. Bradley from public ministry after an allegation came to light against Bradley that he had sexually abused a minor in the 1980s.

Fr. Bradley has maintained his innocence. In October 2019, the Daviess County Commonwealth's Attorney declined to file criminal charges against Fr. Bradley, saying that “there was not evidence to support the allegations, and it is passed [sic] the statute of limitations,” according to WFIE TV. 

Following Fr. Bradley’s initial suspension, a second allegation of sexual abuse of a minor came to light, also dating to the 1980s when Bradley was Dean of Students and then Principal of Owensboro Catholic High School. 

In April 2019, the Diocesan Review Board recommended that the allegations be considered “substantiated.” Bishop Medley submitted a report to the Vatican, recommending that Fr. Bradley’s temporary suspension from public ministry “be made permanent.”

Fr. Bradley, along with his canon lawyer, filed an appeal with the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. 

“Last week, Bishop Medley received word from the Vatican immediately reinstating Fr. Bradley’s priestly faculties and lifting the restrictions applied,” an April 26 statement from the diocese reads. 

According to the diocese, the decree notes that “given the imprudent behavior of the cleric throughout the course of his ministry in education, the Congresso (Vatican body) imposes a penal precept (restriction) on the cleric, according to canon 1739, through which he is forbidden to enter any primary or secondary school for a period of five years.”

CNA asked to view the CDF decree in full, but Kasey said Bishop Medley is treating the decree as “privileged and confidential.”

Fr. Bradley is not currently, nor has he ever been, listed on the diocese’ list of clerics with a substantiated allegation of sexual abuse against a minor. 

Kasey told CNA that Fr. Bradley was not listed on the diocesan website due to the appeal that was underway. “We were waiting for the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith to render its decision,” she said. 

She added that “alleged incidents of more than 30 years past are complicated and difficult to fully substantiate.”

Man takes sledgehammer to Marian mural in Los Angeles archdiocese

Fr. Vito Di Marzio, pastor of St. Elisabeth of Hungary parish, prays in front of the defaced mural / St. Elisabeth of Hungary, Van Nuys, Ca Facebook page

Washington D.C., Apr 29, 2021 / 18:00 pm (CNA).

A masked man bashed a mural of Our Lady of Guadalupe with a sledgehammer last week, at a parish in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles. 

“The Image of our Lady on Cedros Ave. has been severely vandalized. This is one of our saddest moments in addition to our pandemic times ever since,” stated the parish website for St. Elisabeth Catholic Church in Van Nuys, California.

Security camera footage reported showed a man hitting the parish’s 35-year-old mural 13 times at 1:40 am on April 21, the parish said. 

The parish called the desecration an act of sacrilege against the Blessed Mother. They asked for donations to restore the tiles in the mural, and announced that plexiglass casing would be installed around it for security. Donations for restoration or for the plexiglass may be submitted through the parish website.

“I was speechless, and it was unbelievable,” Father Vito Di Marzio, the pastor, told KTLA5 news. 

On April 21, the perpetrator was caught on video smashing the face of the Our Lady of Guadalupe mural in Van Nuys, California. 

“It’s actually, for me, like doing it to your own mother,” Sister Angelie Marie Inoferio, principal of St. Elisabeth school, said to KTLA5. 

“We cannot judge what is really inside of him, maybe it’s a cry for help,” Inoferio said. She said she was praying for the conversion of the perpetrator. 

The parish held a prayer service in front of the vandalized mural last week, at which participants prayed the rosary and sang Marian hymns. 

The act of vandalism follows other recent incidents at Catholic parishes in California. 

On the weekend of April 17-18, three statues were vandalized outside Holy Rosary Catholic Church in Woodland, California. A statue of Mary was defaced with black spray paint at Saint John Vianney parish in Rancho Cordova, California.

Parishes around the country have been the targets of acts of vandalism and arson in the past year.

In April, the face on a statue of Jesus was spray painted black at Saint Mary’s Cathedral in the Fargo diocese. On March 13, the sidewalk outside Saint Joseph’s Parish on Capitol Hill in Washington D.C. was vandalized with what appeared to be satanic graffiti.

In early February three statues of angels at St. Pius X Church in El Paso, Texas, were toppled over and broken.

In early January, a statue of St. Therese of Lisieux was defaced with an upside-down cross, the word “satan,” and a pentagram, at St. Theresa of the Child Jesus parish in Abbeville, Louisiana.