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Trial date set in June for Father James Jackson’s child pornography case
Posted on 05/24/2023 18:45 PM (CNA Daily News)
Boston, Mass., May 24, 2023 / 10:45 am (CNA).
The federal child pornography case against Providence, Rhode Island, priest Father James Jackson is scheduled to begin on June 20.
The trial date marks almost two years since Jackson, a member of the Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter (FSSP), was arrested by the Rhode Island state police at his parish, shocking many of his current and former parishioners, including some of the traditionalist community online.
The ex-pastor of St. Mary’s Church in Providence is facing federal charges of receipt of child pornography and possession of child pornography.
The penalty for receipt of child pornography could result in a maximum of 20 years’ imprisonment, with a mandatory minimum of five years, and a fine of up to $250,000. The penalty for possession of child pornography could result in imprisonment of up to 20 years and a maximum fine of $250,000.
Under the terms of his release from federal court in November 2021, Jackson was allowed to return to his home state of Kansas to live with a relative while waiting for the charges to be adjudicated.
After an additional child pornography investigation into Jackson by a local Kansas police department, Jackson’s federal probation officer issued a petition to the U.S. District Court of Rhode Island alleging that the priest broke the conditions of his pretrial release that were mandatory while he was allowed to live in Leawood, Kansas, with his sister.
U.S. Marshals arrested him and brought him back to the Donald W. Wyatt Detention Facility in Central Falls, Rhode Island.
In a hearing in the U.S. District Court in Providence on Oct. 3, 2022, Jackson admitted that the government could prove that he violated the condition of his pretrial release prohibiting him from “possessing any materials including videos, magazines, photographs, computer-generated depictions, or any other forms that depict sexually explicit conduct involving children,” according to James Rosenberg, a spokesman for the U.S. Attorney’s Office for Rhode Island.
Jackson also admitted that the government could prove that he violated the condition prohibiting him from having access to more than one internet-connected device, Rosenberg said.
In addition, Jackson admitted that the government could prove that he violated the condition requiring him to “notify his supervising probation officer of all computers or electronic data storage devices where he was residing and to report any additional acquisitions,” he added.
“Additionally, he further admitted that the government could establish probable cause that he committed a new crime, to wit, possession of child pornography, while on pretrial release,” Rosenberg said.
“To be very clear — he did NOT admit that he committed the new crime, only that the government could establish probable cause that he did,” Rosenberg wrote CNA in the Oct. 3 email.
Officer John Lacy, a spokesman for the Overland Park Police Department, told CNA on Tuesday that Jackson will be charged with a crime once the charges in Rhode Island are adjudicated. He said that an investigation is ongoing but would not elaborate on the nature of the charge.
Lacy said that the state charge would be brought by the Johnson County District Attorney’s office in Olathe, Kansas.
CNA asked the district attorney’s office what the charge awaiting Jackson is but did not immediately receive a response.
Jackson was only installed as pastor of St. Mary’s Church about three months prior to his arrest. Before that assignment, he served at Our Lady of Mount Carmel Catholic Church in Littleton, Colorado.
He was arrested on Oct. 30, 2021, by the Rhode Island State Police after an investigation by a Rhode Island computer crimes task force.
The state police executed a search warrant that day at his parish and arrested Jackson after determining that he was the owner of large amounts of child sex abuse material found on an external hard drive in an office area near his bedroom, an affidavit states.
Jackson was originally charged with both federal and state offenses, but the state charges were dropped as a procedural move in January 2022.
UK Catholic bishops join other faith leaders to oppose assisted suicide bills
Posted on 05/24/2023 18:00 PM (CNA Daily News)
London, England, May 24, 2023 / 10:00 am (CNA).
Catholic bishops in the U.K. have joined forces with other faith leaders to oppose legislation that would introduce “assisted dying” as part of end-of-life care.
While the Catholic bishops of England and Wales have submitted written evidence to Westminster’s Health and Social Care Select Committee Inquiry into Assisted Dying, Scottish bishops issued a statement on Thursday, May 18, with other religious leaders opposing a separate bill that is due to be debated at Holyrood, Scotland.
The bill, which is being considered by Holyrood, is sponsored by Member of Scottish Parliament Liam McArthur and would introduce assisted suicide for terminally ill people if ratified by the Scottish Parliament.
The joint statement from faith leaders in Scotland warns that assisted dying “undermines the dignity of the human person, and to allow it would mean that our society as a whole loses its common humanity.”
They continue: “We grieve with those who grieve and identify with those who suffer. We acknowledge the sincerely held motivation of those seeking change but do not believe that this is the correct approach to the alleviation of suffering. There is a very real danger that once legalized, these practices could put pressure on vulnerable individuals to opt for assisted suicide.
“The ways in which similar laws in other countries are being applied, and the effect that its introduction would have on some of the most vulnerable in our society, including the disabled and the elderly, would be extremely detrimental. We are called to care for those who are suffering, not to end their lives.
“The Church of Scotland, the Roman Catholic Church in Scotland, and the Scottish Association of Mosques remain firm in their opposition to assisted suicide and euthanasia.
“We would call upon members of the Scottish Parliament to consider carefully the implications of this bill, to express their concerns, and to vote against it.”
Meanwhile, parliamentarians in Westminster are currently hearing evidence regarding the law on assisted suicide in England and Wales, which currently states that anyone culpable of assisting with suicide can face imprisonment for up to 14 years.
On behalf of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales, as spokesperson for Life Issues Bishop John Sherrington submitted written evidence in January to the committee, warning that “the evidence from other jurisdictions shows there can be no safe or limited assisted suicide law,” drawing on examples from Oregon and Canada. The full text of his evidence was finally released on Thursday, May 18.
In the executive summary, Sherrington warns: “Prescribing lethal medication for individuals suffering from suicidal ideation would be a grave betrayal of the public health duty to save life … The experience of other jurisdictions illustrates the slippery slope of assisted suicide legislation from hard cases to more comprehensive provision.
“Oregon, often referenced as a model template for mild assisted suicide legislation, now allows assisted suicide for nonterminal conditions including anorexia, arthritis, and kidney failure.
“Canada, legally and culturally very similar to England and Wales, now offers assisted suicide when death is not ‘reasonably foreseeable.’ Belgium has expanded their provision of assisted suicide to include children. Any legalization of assisted suicide for terminal illnesses in England and Wales would likely be challenged in court on discrimination grounds and extended to allow for cases of nonterminal illnesses and euthanasia in cases of difficulties in self-administering lethal medication.”
He concludes, on behalf of all the Bishops of England and Wales: “We reiterate the Catholic Church’s commitment to protecting and valuing life at all stages, no matter how physically or psychologically limited, and our opposition to assisted suicide as an attack on the inherent dignity of human life.”
It is expected that the final report published by the Health and Social Committee will be used by pro-euthanasia campaigners to apply further pressure to legalize assisted suicide and/or euthanasia in England and Wales.
The law on assisted suicide is devolved throughout the U.K. with Westminster, Holyrood, and the parliaments of Jersey, Guernsey, and the Isle of Man, all in the process of considering the issue separately.
Vatican auditor to continue to function during sede vacante, Pope Francis rules
Posted on 05/24/2023 17:25 PM (CNA Daily News)
Vatican City, May 24, 2023 / 09:25 am (CNA).
Pope Francis has established that the auditor general of the Holy See will continue to carry out its tasks during a sede vacante.
A sede vacante is the period between the death or resignation of a pope and the election of his successor. According to Holy See law, during a sede vacante, “all heads of curial institutions and members cease from their office,” though secretaries “attend to the ordinary governance of curial institutions, taking care of ordinary business only.”
Francis ruled that the Office of the Auditor General, which does not have a secretary, may also continue its “ordinary administration” in the case of a vacant papal see.
The auditor general is responsible for auditing the financial statements of the Holy See and the Vatican City State.
It was also responsible for precipitating the investigation into the Secretariat of State’s controversial investment in a London building — a purchase now at the heart of a major Vatican finance trial.
The IOR, commonly called the Vatican bank, first agreed to give a loan to the Secretariat of State for the mortgage on the London property. But the IOR suddenly changed course and made a report to the auditor general, who investigated.
The pronouncement was part of a May 24 rescript on the tasks of the Office of the Auditor General signed by Cardinal Pietro Parolin, secretary of state. The rescript was issued following an April 24 meeting between Parolin and Pope Francis.
The pope said in light of the provisions of the Church’s apostolic constitution Praedicate Evangelium, “the ordinary administration, in case of a vacant Apostolic See, would not be interrupted and that the function of control would continue to be exercised by the Office of the Auditor General under the supervision of the Cardinal Camerlengo.”
The camerlengo is responsible for overseeing the preparations for a papal conclave and managing the administration of the Holy See during the sede vacante.
Pope Francis has also decided to change part of an article in the statutes of the Office of Auditor General.
According to the rescript, after analyzing suspicious activity reports, the auditor general will no longer present them to a special commission of the councilor for general affairs of the Secretariat of State, the secretary prelate of the Council for the Economy, and the secretary of the Secretariat for the Economy.
Instead, using the wording of Praedicate Evangelium in paragraph 2 of article 224, the auditor will present a report of the suspicious activity notifications to the prefect of the Secretariat for the Economy, and if he deems it necessary, to the cardinal coordinator of the Council for the Economy.
This change means the Secretariat of State does not receive a report from the auditor on the suspicious activity notifications the office has received.
Suspicious activity reports that have been substantiated should continue to be transmitted to the proper judicial authorities, the rescript added.
The pope’s rescript on the function of the Office of Auditor General comes as a former Holy See auditor and his deputy sue the Secretariat of State for wrongful dismissal.
Libero Milone and Ferruccio Panicco filed the multimillion-dollar lawsuit in November 2022; after several roadblocks, the case has had court dates this year.
The two are seeking compensation for loss of earnings, damage to their reputations, and emotional suffering, which they claim they bore after being forced from their jobs in 2017.
Milone said soon after stepping down in the middle of his five-year mandate that he was “threatened” into resignation by an “old guard” opposed to his work.
Cardinal Angelo Becciu, then second-in-command at the Secretariat of State, has been said to be responsible for the firing of Milone.
Becciu told Reuters in 2017 that Milone “went against all the rules and was spying on the private lives of his superiors and staff, including me.”
The cardinal has pointed to Pope Francis, claiming the pope told him he no longer had trust in Milone and wanted Becciu to tell the auditor he should resign.
Auxiliary Bishop Michael Fitzgerald retires after 4 decades serving Archdiocese of Philadelphia
Posted on 05/24/2023 13:45 PM (CNA Daily News)
Rome Newsroom, May 24, 2023 / 05:45 am (CNA).
Pope Francis has accepted the resignation of Philadelphia’s Bishop Michael Fitzgerald one day after the auxiliary bishop’s 75th birthday.
With degrees in both civil and canon law, Fitzgerald served as the judicial vicar and the founding director of the archdiocesan Office for Legal Services. Over the past decade, he has worked to promote and maintain safe environments for children and youth in the archdiocese.
Archbishop Nelson Pérez of Philadelphia expressed gratitude for Fitzgerald’s four decades of ministry.
“Throughout the years, Bishop Fitzgerald generously sowed seeds of deep love for the Lord with the zealous heart of a missionary disciple. With great faith, fidelity, charity, and humility Bishop Fitzgerald has worked tirelessly for the good of souls and to build up the Kingdom of God in our region,” Pérez said.
Fitzgerald grew up in Philadelphia as one of nine children and attended the city’s Catholic schools. He earned a law degree from Villanova University and completed a Pennsylvania state court clerkship before entering seminary. He was ordained to the priesthood for the Archdiocese of Philadelphia on May 17, 1980.
After fulfilling his appointments as the defender of the bond and pro-synodal judge, Fitzgerald received a doctorate in canon law from the Gregorian University in Rome in 1991.
Benedict XVI appointed Fitzgerald an auxiliary bishop of Philadelphia in 2010. When he was consecrated as bishop, Fitzgerald chose the motto “Per Crucem ad Lucem,” meaning “through the Cross to the Light.”
Fitzgerald was one of five auxiliary bishops in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia and assisted Cardinal Justin Rigali, Archbishop Charles Chaput, and Archbishop Pérez with their pastoral and administrative duties.
A statement from the archdiocese said that Fitzgerald will continue to serve Philadelphia in a pastoral capacity after his retirement.
“It has been a great joy for me to work with him closely for many years and I am grateful for the wise counsel he has provided during my time as archbishop,” Perez said.
Pope Francis: St. Andrew Kim Taegon teaches us ‘we must not give up’
Posted on 05/24/2023 13:26 PM (CNA Daily News)
Vatican City, May 24, 2023 / 05:26 am (CNA).
St. Andrew Kim Taegon and the other Korean martyrs teach us to have courage when sharing the Gospel, even in the face of difficult situations, Pope Francis said on Wednesday.
At his weekly public audience May 24, the pope spoke about the first Korean-born Catholic priest, who was tortured and beheaded near Seoul, South Korea, in 1846 at the age of 25.
St. Andrew Kim Taegon was canonized in 1984 with 102 other Korean martyrs.
Pope Francis pointed out that about 200 years ago in Korea, Christianity was severely persecuted.
“At that time, believing in Jesus Christ in Korea meant being ready to bear witness even unto death,” he said.
“No matter how difficult the situation may be — and indeed, at times it may seem to leave no room for the Gospel message — we must not give up and we must not forsake pursuing what is essential in our Christian life, namely evangelization,” the pope said.
He recalled an event from St. Andrew Kim’s life that illustrates the quality of never giving up.
When the Korean Catholic was a seminarian, he needed to find a way to secretly welcome foreign missionary priests to Korea, since foreigners were forbidden from entering the country.
“One time,” Francis said, the saint “walked as the snow was falling, without eating, for so long that he fell to the ground exhausted, risking unconsciousness and freezing.”
“At that point, he suddenly heard a voice, ‘Get up, walk!’ Hearing that voice, Andrew came to his senses, catching a glimpse of something like a shadow of someone guiding him.”
Pope Francis said “this experience of the great Korean witness makes us understand a very important aspect of apostolic zeal; namely, the courage to get back up when one falls.”
The pope shared another example of St. Andrew’s courage in evangelization.
Given the situation at the time, to confirm the Christian identity of others, they would agree ahead of time upon a sign of recognition.
“Then the saint would surreptitiously ask the question, but all quietly: ‘Are you a disciple of Jesus?’” Francis explained. “Since other people were watching the conversation, the saint had to speak in a low voice, saying only a few words, the most essential ones. So, for Andrew Kim, the expression that summed up the whole identity of the Christian was ‘disciple of Christ.’”
As the example of St. Andrew Kim Taegon shows, the pope said, being a disciple of the Lord “means to follow him, to follow his way, and this involves giving one’s life for the Gospel.”
“The Christian is by nature a missionary and a witness, just as Jesus was a missionary and witness to the Father. Every Christian community receives this identity from the Holy Spirit, and so does the whole Church, since the day of Pentecost,” he said.
Pope Francis said seeing the example of these great saints, we might wonder to ourselves how we can evangelize in our own lives.
We can do this in our own, small way, he said, “evangelizing family, evangelizing friends, talking about Jesus, but talking about Jesus and evangelizing with a heart full of joy, full of strength.”
“Let us prepare ourselves,” he added, “to receive the Holy Spirit in the coming Pentecost and ask him for that grace, the grace of apostolic courage, the grace to evangelize, to always carry on the message of Jesus.”
The pope’s catechesis on St. Andrew Kim Taegon was part of a series on apostolic zeal.
The week prior, he highlighted the example of the Jesuit missionary St. Francis Xavier.
Pope Francis: Pray that the Gospel can be freely shared in China
Posted on 05/24/2023 11:12 AM (CNA Daily News)
Vatican City, May 24, 2023 / 03:12 am (CNA).
Pope Francis asked Catholics Wednesday to pray that the Gospel can be fully and freely shared in China.
At the end of his general audience on May 24, the pope recalled the Church’s celebration of “the World Day of Prayer for China, which coincides with the feast of Our Lady, Help of Christians, venerated and invoked in the Shrine of Our Lady of Sheshan in Shanghai.”
He said he wanted to use that occasion to remember and express his closeness to Catholics in China, “sharing their joys and their hopes.”
“A special thought,” Pope Francis said, “to all those who suffer, pastors and faithful, so that in the communion and solidarity of the universal Church, they can experience consolation and encouragement.”
“I invite everyone to lift up prayers to God that the good news of the crucified and risen Christ can be announced in its fullness, beauty, and freedom, bearing fruit for the good of the Catholic Church and all of Chinese society,” he concluded.
In 2007, Pope Benedict XVI proclaimed May 24, the feast of Our Lady, Help of Christians, to be a World Day of Prayer for the Church in China, which venerates the Blessed Virgin Mary under that title as the country’s patroness.
Benedict XVI asked Catholics to pray this prayer on the occasion of the World Day of Prayer for China:
Virgin Most Holy, Mother of the Incarnate Word and our Mother, venerated in the Shrine of Sheshan under the title “Help of Christians,” the entire Church in China looks to you with devout affection.
We come before you today to implore your protection. Look upon the People of God and, with a mother’s care, guide them along the paths of truth and love, so that they may always be a leaven of harmonious coexistence among all citizens.
When you obediently said “yes” in the house of Nazareth, you allowed God’s eternal Son to take flesh in your virginal womb and thus to begin in history the work of our redemption. You willingly and generously cooperated in that work, allowing the sword of pain to pierce your soul, until the supreme hour of the Cross, when you kept watch on Calvary, standing beside your Son, who died that we might live.
From that moment, you became, in a new way, the Mother of all those who receive your Son Jesus in faith and choose to follow in his footsteps by taking up his Cross. Mother of hope, in the darkness of Holy Saturday you journeyed with unfailing trust towards the dawn of Easter.
Grant that your children may discern at all times, even those that are darkest, the signs of God’s loving presence. Our Lady of Sheshan, sustain all those in China, who, amid their daily trials, continue to believe, to hope, to love. May they never be afraid to speak of Jesus to the world, and of the world to Jesus.
In the statue overlooking the Shrine you lift your Son on high, offering him to the world with open arms in a gesture of love.
Help Catholics always to be credible witnesses to this love, ever clinging to the rock of Peter on which the Church is built.
Mother of China and all Asia, pray for us, now and forever. Amen!
Eucharistic Congress in Ecuador to offer sign of hope for nation
Posted on 05/24/2023 10:16 AM ()
The president of the Pontifical Committee for International Eucharistic Congresses gives details on the 2024 meeting to be held in Quito, Ecuador, from 8 to 15 September, noting how it will offer an occasion to "awaken spiritual dynamism and help the Catholic Church examine and foster evangelization."
Mexico: Another priest shot dead
Posted on 05/24/2023 08:55 AM ()
A Priest has been shot dead in the troubled Western Mexican State of Michocan. He's the ninth to have been murdered nationwide during the last four years.
Filipino priest returns ‘empty-handed’ from mission to halt fossil fuel financing
Posted on 05/24/2023 08:18 AM ()
The Filipino priest who went to Europe in a bid to stop fossil financing in his region in the Philippines comes home disappointed with top banks’ response to his team’s appeals.
Pope clarifies duties of the Auditor General during sede vacante
Posted on 05/24/2023 08:00 AM ()
Pope Francis issues a rescript clarifying the functions and characteristics of the office entrusted with auditing the institutions of the Holy See and Vatican City State.