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Theological Notebook: CNS Articles on Ireland Abuse Report and on Vatican & Scientific Collaboration

A few CNS articles I wanted to jot down, two brief ones on the continuing reactions to the awful report on the amount of abuse that was carried on in Ireland under institutions sponsored by the Church, and an article touching on the ongoing collaboration of the Church and the scientific establishment.

Child abuse was part of a prevalent church culture, Irish bishops say
Pope visibly upset to hear of child abuse, Dublin archbishop says
Vatican visit to CERN opens new channel of dialogue for science, faith

Child abuse was part of a prevalent church culture, Irish bishops say
By Cian Molloy
Catholic News Service

DUBLIN, Ireland (CNS) -- The abuse of children in institutions run by Catholic priests and nuns was part of a culture that was prevalent in the Catholic Church in Ireland, the Irish Catholic Bishops' Conference said at the conclusion of its summer meeting.

The bishops spent a major portion of their June 8-10 meeting discussing a report from the Commission to Inquire into Child Abuse, published May 20 under chairman Sean Ryan. The commission found that church institutions failed to prevent an extensive level of sexual, physical and emotional abuse and neglect.

"The Ryan report represents the most recent disturbing indictment of a culture that was prevalent in the Catholic Church in Ireland for far too long," the bishops said. "Heinous crimes were perpetrated against the most innocent and vulnerable, and vile acts with life-lasting effects were carried out under the guise of the mission of Jesus Christ.

"This abuse represents a serious betrayal of the trust which was placed in the church. For this we ask forgiveness. We are ashamed, humbled and repentant that our people strayed so far from their Christian ideals," the bishops said.

The bishops offered four immediate responses to the report:

-- Sadness over the "suffering of so many for so long."

-- An invitation to survivors to "engage with us" in an effort to understand how to assist the victims of abuse.

-- The intention to respond as pastors "despite the inadequacies at times of our previous pastoral responses."

-- Praying for the "well being and peace of mind for all who suffered" and urging all Catholics to join them in prayer.

During their meeting, the Irish bishops reflected on the early June visit to Rome by Cardinal Sean Brady of Armagh, and Archbishop Diarmuid Martin of Dublin and their June 8 meeting with Pope Benedict XVI. In addition to briefing the Holy Father on the Ryan report, the two men discussed the findings with several pontifical congregations.

Pope visibly upset to hear of child abuse, Dublin archbishop says
By Cian Molloy
Catholic News Service

DUBLIN, Ireland (CNS) -- Pope Benedict XVI was visibly upset to hear June 5 of the abuse suffered by thousands of Irish children in the care of religious congregations, reported the archbishop of Dublin, Ireland.

Speaking at a June 8 press conference, Archbishop Diarmuid Martin said the pope was saddened to hear "how the children had suffered from the very opposite of an expression of the love of God."

Archbishop Martin and Cardinal Sean Brady of Armagh, Northern Ireland, president of the Irish Catholic Bishops' Conference, met with Pope Benedict for 45 minutes to brief him on the findings of the Commission to Inquire into Child Abuse, which released its report May 20.

"The Holy Father listened very carefully, very attentively and very sympathetically to what we had to say" during the 45-minute private meeting at the Vatican, Cardinal Brady said during the press conference.

The visit with the pope followed a series of meetings to discuss the report's findings held by Cardinal Brady and Archbishop Martin in early June with Vatican officials, including seven cardinals from various pontifical congregations.

"He said in reply that this was a time for a deep examination of life here in Ireland in the church, Cardinal Brady said.

The pope referred to the points he made during the 2006 ad limina visit of the Irish bishops when he urged them to establish the truth of what happened, ensure justice on behalf of all, put in place measures to prevent such incidents from occurring again and healing "the hurts suffered by the survivors."

"No doubt he will be listening to the seven cardinals to whom we spoke over the course of the week and will be reflecting on all of that," Cardinal Brady said.

The commission's report is at the top of the agenda of the Irish bishops' summer meeting June 8-10 at the Pontifical University at St. Patrick's College, Maynooth, in Kildare, Ireland.

The independent commission was established by the Irish government in 2000 to hear evidence from people alleged to have suffered abuse at institutions since 1940. Funded by the state but often run by Catholic religious orders, the institutions included schools, orphanages, hospitals, children's homes and other facilities where children were in the care of nonfamily members.

Vatican visit to CERN opens new channel of dialogue for science, faith
By Carol Glatz
Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- A recent visit by a Vatican delegation to CERN -- one of the world's largest centers for scientific research -- has opened up an important channel of communication between science and faith, said the Vatican representative to U.N. agencies in Geneva.

Archbishop Silvano Tomasi, the representative, was part of the delegation led by Cardinal Giovanni Lajolo, president of the commission governing Vatican City. The head of the Vatican Observatory, Jesuit Father Jose Funes, and a Vatican astronomer, U.S. Jesuit Brother Guy Consolmagno, were also part of delegation visiting the world's largest particle physics laboratory in Geneva June 3.

The director-general of CERN, Rolf-Dieter Heuer, was interested in having the Vatican come to the world famous facility "because he wanted this visit to be a way to establish a link to the Holy See," Archbishop Tomasi told Catholic News Service by phone June 9.

The idea of having the Vatican visit CERN came from Ugo Amaldi, the president of TERA Foundation, which collaborates closely with CERN in finding ways to apply atomic research in treating cancer, especially in children, said the archbishop.

In an e-mail response to questions by CNS, Cardinal Lajolo said he "gladly accepted the invitation to visit CERN because of my own interest regarding the farthest limits that astrophysical science is striving to reach with proton acceleration."

He said the discovery of new sub-atomic particles may help confirm Princeton University professor Edward Witten's Superstring Theory, which seeks to unify Albert Einstein's general theory of relativity and quantum physics.

Archbishop Tomasi said, "The issue that emerged from the visit was how to maintain contact" because scientists studying the universe ask many of the same questions theologians ponder such as what is the meaning of life.

However, the methods scientists and theologians use for answering those questions are radically different and put them in "two completely different worlds," he said.

"There is no hostility between the two, but there is a need to talk across this border and see how human knowledge can be advanced," he said.

Heuer has been invited to visit the Vatican, the archbishop said, but no date has been set.

In an opening statement during a roundtable discussion on science and faith in dialogue June 3, Cardinal Lajolo said scientific truths and theological truths can never contradict each other because all truths "are derived from the same source, which is God."

He quoted St. Robert Bellarmine, the doctor of the church who had been involved in the Vatican's investigation of Galileo Galilei. Then-Cardinal Bellarmine said if a scientific statement turns out to be evidently true and appears to not be in complete conformity with sacred Scripture, then "one needs to research how sacred Scripture can be interpreted correctly so as not to contradict scientific truth."

Cardinal Lajolo said this statement "still remains a valid principle in dealing with scientific statements" today.

The Catholic Church is a defender of reason and truth, which "is why the church later recognized the scientific position held by Galileo and the error committed in condemning him," said the cardinal.

Archbishop Tomasi said, "There were very good feelings, a good atmosphere during the visit and some frank exchange" between Vatican representatives and the CERN scientists.

"A good channel of communication has been established" with CERN and its scientists, even with those who don't believe in any religion, he said.

The Vatican delegation was given an official welcome to the CERN facilities and had a chance to learn more about the laboratory's activities, he said.

They were given a tour of CERN's underground Large Hadron Collider, which is the world's largest high-energy particle accelerator used in experiments for trying to better understand the universe and what happened immediately after the Big Bang.

The accelerator is expected to be up and running again in September after it suffered damage during early experiments last fall.
Tags: benedict xvi, ethical, ireland, scientific, theological notebook, vatican

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