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Update: Vatican discovers empty tombs as it searches for missing woman

IMAGE: CNS photo/Vatican Media

By Cindy Wooden

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Opening the Vatican tombs of a princess and a duchess July 11 in a search for the remains of a young Italian woman missing for more than 30 years, the Vatican found no human remains at all.

"The search had a negative result," said Alessandro Gisotti, interim director of the Vatican press office. "No human remains or funeral urns were found."

Now, Gisotti said, Vatican officials will go into the archives to study documents dealing with "structural interventions carried out in the area" of the Teutonic Cemetery at the end of the 1800s and again in the late 1960s and early 1970s. The cemetery, existing since the Middle Ages, is now reserved mainly for German-speaking priests and members of religious orders.

The side-by-side tombs had been marked as the final resting places of Princess Sophie von Hohenlohe, who died in 1836, and Duchess Charlotte Frederica of Mecklenburg-Schwerin, the mother of King Frederick VII of Denmark, who died in 1840.

Gisotti said July 13 that investigators believe the remains of the noblewomen may have been moved more than 40 years ago when the Pontifical Teutonic College was expanded. They have sealed off two ossuaries -- vaults containing the bones of multiple persons -- in the floor of the college and plan to open them July 20. In Italy, to create space, it is common to move older remains from a tomb to an ossuary or common grave.

A Vatican City State court had ordered the opening of the tombs at the request of the family of Emanuela Orlandi, who disappeared in Rome June 22, 1983, at age 15. She was a Vatican City resident and daughter of a Vatican employee.

In March, the Orlandi family's lawyer revealed the family had been sent a letter with a photo of an angel above a tomb in the Vatican cemetery. The letter said, "Look where the angel is pointing," according to Laura Sgro, the lawyer.

Vatican workers, supervised by Vatican police and a forensic anthropologist, opened the tombs July 11 after a short prayer was recited by the graves. Sgro was present, along with Pietro Orlandi, the brother of the missing woman.

"We want to reemphasize that the Holy See always has shown attention and closeness to the suffering of the Orlandi family, particularly her mother," Gisotti said. Opening the tombs at the family's request was another sign of that concern.

For decades, Orlandi's case has been the obsession of conspiracy theorists who linked her disappearance to Freemasons, organized crime, the attempted assassination of St. John Paul II and other unsubstantiated theories.

Gisotti said that under a marble slab that was believed to be Princess Sophie's tomb there was a large subterranean opening, measuring four meters by 3.7 meters (13 feet by 12 feet), "completely empty."

Moving on to the presumed tomb of Duchess Charlotte, Gisotti said, "no human remains were found."

Relatives of both women were informed, he said.

On the eve of the opening of the tombs, Andrea Tornielli, editorial director of the Dicastery for Communication, interviewed Giovanni Arcudi, the forensic anthropologist who was to lead the scientific investigation of the remains in the two tombs in the Vatican's Teutonic Cemetery.

In the interview, published July 10, Arcudi emphasized the need for careful analysis of the remains in the tombs before knowing if they could provide answers to the Orlandi case, which has remained unsolved for more than three decades.

"Apart from the morphological examination of the bones, the DNA examination will be done in any case to reach certainties and to exclude in a definitive and categorical way that there is some evidence in the two tombs that can be attributed to poor Emanuela," Arcudi said.

The anthropologist had expected to find bones in the tombs and had planned to extract and clean them and piece together the skeletal remains to determine the number of deceased persons that were buried as well as their age and sex.

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Contributing to this story was Junno Arocho Esteves at the Vatican.

 

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Copyright © 2019 Catholic News Service/U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. www.catholicnews.com. All rights reserved. Republishing or redistributing of CNS content, including by framing or similar means without prior permission, is prohibited. You may link to stories on our public site. This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use only. To request permission for republishing or redistributing of CNS content, please contact permissions at cns@catholicnews.com.

All hymns, all the time: 'Great Catholic Music' makes streaming debut

IMAGE: CNS photo/courtesy Chris Cugini, Living Bread Radio

By Mark Pattison

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- Catholics hear hymns in church, but hardly ever on the radio. Now they can augment their weekly diet of hymnody through a new audio web streaming service called Great Catholic Music.

The service launched March 1, just before Lent, and plays a mix of pre-and post-Vatican II hymns and liturgical music all day, every day. "The response so far has been absolutely amazing," said program director Michael Roberts in an interview with Catholic News Service July 11. "The first night that we launched we received an email from someone in Santa Barbara, California, saying, 'Thank you so much.'"

Great Catholic Music is a project of the Living Bread Radio Network, a group of Catholic radio stations in northeast Ohio. But those stations don't play music. Why not?

"I think a lot of it has to do with licensing. It's not cheap to play music on the radio," said Roberts, who worked at a small oldies-format station for seven years which spent $1,000 a month on licensing. "People are just kind of scared to dip their toe in the water of music," he added. "It's easier for a lot of people not to do music" and rely on talk shows, although with Great Catholic Music, "we felt there was a market for it -- and there really is."

Roberts said Great Catholic Music is based in the same building as a Catholic bookstore in Canton, Ohio, where the owner also sells liturgical music CDs. "She has kept a lot of the demos and a lot of the CDs that she's sold over the years. We literally took the time to download them and dubbed in to our hard drive," Roberts told CNS.

Anybody who remembers listening to hit-music formats regardless of genre will recall how the most popular songs of that moment seemed to be played every couple of hours. Great Catholic Music plays favorites, too, but not nearly that obsessively.

What constitutes "heavy rotation" is 100 or so "songs we've been singing for decades: 'You Are Mine,' 'Blest Are They,' Michael Joncas stuff, the St. Louis Jesuits. We Googled 'top Catholic songs,' and we found several lists compiled by several organizations," Roberts said, adding, "Some of them I may have taken liberties on as the program director."

He added he was planning to go to the National Association of Pastoral Musicians convention in Raleigh, North Carolina, and talk with representatives of what he called "the big three" in liturgical music publishing -- GIA, OCP and WLP, whose hymnals and worship aids are in the vast majority of U.S. parishes -- to add to the current repertoire.

"I hope the publishers come to us and say, 'Here's a demo. Add this song to the rotation, add that song,'" he said, adding the possibility exists for "a show that is just for up-and-coming artists."

Even though Great Catholic Music is loaded with music, it's not 100 percent music.

"Part of this is to inspire. It's not just music, we want to inspire people," Roberts said, adding the website, www.greatcatholicmusic.com, also takes breaks for psalms, Scripture readings and prayers.

"We have some quotes of St. John Paul II, and Archbishop Fulton Sheen and Mother Teresa," he said. "We also have clergy from all over northeast Ohio; by the way, this is where Living Bread Radio and Great Catholic Music come together. We have a clergy member who does a reflection. We take that and put it into rotation for Great Catholic Music. You're hearing a daily reflection of the Mass readings for the day. It's another way to inspire."

Roberts said, "It's a quick break. It's like a commercial interruption, but it's not a commercial."

This early on, adjustments are bound to be made to the mix. Roberts said he's received requests for both more chant and less chant. He fielded a complaint from one listener on Good Friday that the music was "too dirge-y." And trying to salt in Lenten and Advent hymns when there's not a lot to begin with can be tricky, he noted.

Roberts did declare, though, that Christmas music would not be heard on Great Catholic Music until Christmas Eve, but it would continue to be heard through the feast of the Baptism of the Lord.

 

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Copyright © 2019 Catholic News Service/U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. www.catholicnews.com. All rights reserved. Republishing or redistributing of CNS content, including by framing or similar means without prior permission, is prohibited. You may link to stories on our public site. This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use only. To request permission for republishing or redistributing of CNS content, please contact permissions at cns@catholicnews.com.

Chile removes statute of limitations on sex abuse cases

IMAGE: CNS photo/courtesy Chilean Presidency via Reuters

By Junno Arocho Esteves

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- As the Catholic Church in Chile continues to deal with the fallout of clerical sexual abuse and its cover-up, the Chilean government passed a law removing the statute of limitations on sex abuse crimes against children.

The new law, which passed the Chilean Congress July 6, ensures that there will be no time limit in prosecuting cases "regarding the kidnapping or abduction of a minor, as well as the torture, unlawful coercion or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment and all that occurs during an act of rape, carnal access to a minor, statutory rape or other sexual offenses."

The law also allows victims to take civil action against people or institutions that aided in covering up sex abuse crimes.

"From now on, time will no longer be an accomplice of the abusers, nor an ally of impunity," said Chilean President Sebastian Pinero as he signed the legislation July 11. "From now on, the responsibility of those who abuse our children will be irrevocable, just as the pain they caused our children is irrevocable."

The legislation comes as investigators continue to look into cases involving the abuse of minors and vulnerable adults in the Catholic Church. Reuters news agency reported Chilean government officials said they were currently investigating more than 150 cases of sexual abuse or cover-up in the church.

Among those currently being investigated for possible cover-up are senior members of the clergy, including the last two archbishops of Santiago: Cardinals Francisco Javier Errazuriz Ossa and Ricardo Ezzati.

In March, Pope Francis accepted Cardinal Ezzati's resignation and named Bishop Celestino Aos Braco of Copiapo as apostolic administrator of the archdiocese.

Although the new law is not retroactive, advocates say it is a major step forward and expressed hope that lawmakers can revise the law in the future for survivors who have been unable to seek justice due to prior limitations.

In an interview with Chilean radio station Diario UChile July 7, Jose Andres Murillo, one of several survivors of abuse by ex-priest Fernando Karadima, said making the law retroactive would be good for survivors and prevent abusers from committing further crimes.

Nevertheless, he said, "it is important to recognize that we're creating legislation and actually catching up with what the International Convention on the Rights of the Child requires of us, and in that sense, I think it's good news."

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Follow Arocho on Twitter: @arochoju

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Copyright © 2019 Catholic News Service/U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. www.catholicnews.com. All rights reserved. Republishing or redistributing of CNS content, including by framing or similar means without prior permission, is prohibited. You may link to stories on our public site. This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use only. To request permission for republishing or redistributing of CNS content, please contact permissions at cns@catholicnews.com.

Not the usual suspects: Cardinal wants parish teams of risk-takers

IMAGE: CNS photo/Paul Haring

By Cindy Wooden

ROME (CNS) -- The papal vicar for Rome has asked every pastor in the diocese to form a "pastoral team" of about a dozen "courageous explorers" to help launch a new neighborhood missionary outreach.

"Don't go looking for those who have shown they are prudent, measured and detail-oriented," Cardinal Angelo De Donatis, the papal vicar, wrote in a letter to pastors July 11.

Instead, he said, the team should be made up of "people who draw outside the lines, people whom the Holy Spirit has made passionate about imperfection."

The diocese's 2019-2020 pastoral year is focused on "listening to the cry of the city" and responding with stronger parish communities, a greater focus on Sunday Mass, visiting the poor and lonely, providing concrete assistance to those in need and reaching out to young people and families.

Cardinal De Donatis suggested the priests look for 12 people to serve on the pastoral team. The number is not a requirement, he said, but should send a message to Catholics that the parish is looking "for a small group from which everything set out."

"We do not need competent and qualified professionals as much as Christians who apparently are like everyone else but, in reality, are able to dream, to infect others with their dreams and want to experience something new," the cardinal wrote.

"Perhaps," he told the pastors, "these are people you have tried to contain a bit up until now -- frankly, they can be destabilizing -- but no more; you must draw them near, listen to them, value them and let them act so they can disturb the drowsy tranquility of others."

And, he said, it is possible they will make mistakes, but that is better than having a parish that never tries anything new.

The pastoral team's first responsibility, he said, is to go out into the neighborhood that comprises the parish territory, talk to people, observe and then "map the characteristics" in light of the area's history and the lifestyle of residents. The description should include the presence of schools, workplaces, places where people gather, pockets of greater poverty, areas of "social violence" and the presence of organized crime.

The team must meet often with the pastor and with catechists, leaders of parish groups and youth and young adult ministers to listen to their observations and brainstorm together about how to help all parishioners live their faith more openly and share it with others in the neighborhood, he said.

Cardinal De Donatis said he hope the result would be that "our diocesan church would end up more attentive to others, more aware of people's deepest questions, more convinced of the Good News that it is called to proclaim and more sensitive to God's inspiration."

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Copyright © 2019 Catholic News Service/U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. www.catholicnews.com. All rights reserved. Republishing or redistributing of CNS content, including by framing or similar means without prior permission, is prohibited. You may link to stories on our public site. This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use only. To request permission for republishing or redistributing of CNS content, please contact permissions at cns@catholicnews.com.

Update: Census to go forward without citizenship question

IMAGE: CNS photo/Tyler Orsburn

By Carol Zimmermann

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- In a July 11 announcement from the Rose Garden, President Donald Trump said he was ending his efforts to add a citizenship question to the census and would instead direct federal agencies by executive order to provide data about the country's citizens and noncitizens to the U.S. Commerce Department.

"We are not backing down on our effort to determine the citizenship status of the United States population," Trump said, in a move that ended a legal battle that had continued even after the Supreme Court's decision to block the question was announced more than two weeks earlier.

Although the Justice Department announced July 2 it would no longer argue to have the citizenship question added to the 2020 census, the Trump administration had continued to look at all possible options to get the question included.

A federal judge in Maryland who heard one of the lawsuits on the citizenship question had given White House officials until midday July 5 to provide a credible reason for including the question.

The Justice Department's decision not to move forward with the question -- "Is this person a citizen of the United States?" -- came in response to the Supreme Court's decision to block it from the questionnaire and amid pressing deadlines to begin printing the forms, which started July 1.

Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said in a statement that he strongly disagreed with the high court's ruling over the planned additional question and President Donald Trump tweeted that it was a "very sad time for America when the Supreme Court of the United States won't allow a question of 'Is this person a Citizen of the United States?' to be asked on the #2020 Census."

He also said he asked the Commerce and Justice departments to "do whatever is necessary to bring this most vital of questions, and this very important case, to a successful conclusion."

Earlier that day, the U.S. bishops praised the Supreme Court's decision June 27 to block the Trump administration's citizenship question stressing that "the inclusion of a citizenship question must ensure genuine reasons" for it.

The 5-4 ruling -- written by Chief Justice John Roberts and joined in part by the other justices -- sent the case back to a lower court saying the administration's reason for adding the citizenship question "seems to have been contrived."

The day the decision was announced, President Donald Trump tweeted that he was asking his lawyers if they can "delay the census, no matter how long" until the "Supreme Court is given additional information from which it can make a final and decisive decision."

Trump told reporters July 1 at the White House: "It's very important to find out if somebody is a citizen as opposed to an illegal."

The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops' statement on the high court's decision said: "All persons in the United States should be counted in the census regardless of their immigration status." It also reiterated its previous statement on the issue by stressing that "questions regarding citizenship should not be included in the census. We hope that this view will prevail, whether by administrative action or judicial determination."

The statement was issued by Bishop Frank J. Dewane of Venice, Florida, chairman of the USCCB Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, and Bishop Joe S. Vasquez, of Austin, Texas, chairman of the Committee on Migration.

The census case hit a potential twist in late May, a month after oral arguments, when newly submitted evidence from the files of a deceased Republican strategist put the citizenship question in another light: as a means to create an advantage for whites and Republicans in future elections.

Then in late June, a federal appeals court in Maryland allowed a lower court to study the background of these files.

The government had asked the Supreme Court to rule on the census dispute by the end of June, so that it can finalize the census questionnaire and get the forms printed in time for distribution next year.

During oral arguments about the added census question in April, Justice Sonia Sotomayor said: "There's no doubt people will respond less" to the census questionnaire with a citizenship question, a point which she said "has been proven in study after study."

Justices Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh said citizenship questions were common in other countries and had been on the U.S. forms over the years.

Both Roberts and Justice Samuel Alito said the decision by Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross to add a citizenship question -- for the first time since 1950 to improve compliance with the Voting Rights Act -- seemed reasonable. But Justice Elena Kagan said Ross' reason for adding this question seemed "contrived."

In its defense, U.S. Solicitor General Noel Francisco said the information it would provide would help enforce the Voting Rights Act. When asked about the question leading to potentially less participation, he said: "There is always going to be a trade-off."

Lawyers for New York, immigrant advocacy groups and the House of Representatives stressed that the question would prevent noncitizens from filling out the census and have a negative financial and political impact on communities with large immigrant populations.

A similar argument was raised in a friend-of-the-court brief opposed to the citizenship question filed by Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of New York and Catholic Charities of Brooklyn and Queens in New York. The brief stressed that the added question would cause a "net differential undercount of people who live in noncitizen and Hispanic households" and would result in a "drastic and unwarranted reduction in funding in states and cities with large populations of such persons" and also would impact social service agencies.

In a USCCB statement issued on the day of oral arguments for the census case, Bishops Dewane and Vasquez stressed the importance of an accurate census count.

"The Catholic Church and other service providers rely on the national census to provide an accurate count in order to effectively serve those in need," said Bishop Dewane.

Bishop Vasquez said all people should be counted in the census, regardless of their citizenship and he said "proposed questions regarding immigration status will obstruct accurate census estimates and ultimately harm immigrant families and the communities they live in."

By one government estimate, about 6.5 million people might decide not to participate in the census with the added citizenship question.

The census is rooted in the text of the Constitution, which requires an "actual enumeration" of the population every 10 years. It determines federal funding for roads and schools, congressional districting and number of congressional representatives.

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Follow Zimmermann on Twitter: @carolmaczim

 

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Copyright © 2019 Catholic News Service/U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. www.catholicnews.com. All rights reserved. Republishing or redistributing of CNS content, including by framing or similar means without prior permission, is prohibited. You may link to stories on our public site. This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use only. To request permission for republishing or redistributing of CNS content, please contact permissions at cns@catholicnews.com.