Vatican reject corruption charge

Vatican reject corruption charge Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano

The Vatican has rejected allegations of corruption in its awarding of contracts which were made by a leading cleric who is now papal nuncio to the United States.

The move comes in response to the publishing, in the Italian press, of two letters penned in 2011 by Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano, at the time the secretary general of the Governorate of Vatican City State.

In the letters, sent to Pope Benedict and Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, the Vatican secretary of state, Archbishop Vigano complained at plans to remove him from his post — towards his nuncio appointment — and accused Cardinal Bertone of breaking a promise to let the archbishop succeed the then-president of the governorate.

He then went on to allege incidences of corruption and abuse of power in the governorate’s various departments, suggesting that his removal would stymie reform. The allegations were taken up by the world media when the letters were revealed early this year.

However, on February 4, Cardinal-designate Giuseppe Bertello and Cardinal Giovanni Lajolo, the current and immediate past presidents of the governorate categorically rejected any suggestion of corruption as described by the new nuncio.

In a joint statement, they said the archbishop’s allegations were ”erroneous evaluations, fears unsupported by proof [and] unfounded”.

The cardinals went on to voice their full support for the ”illustrious members” of the governorate’s financial and management committee, its departments heads and other officials.

The Governorate of Vatican City State manages the 108 acres of Vatican City State, including the Vatican Gardens and Museums.


Britain: Faith card

The Catholic bishops of England and Wales have launched a faith card to be carried by faithful, both as a guide and an emergency contact.

One million cards — matching the size of a credit card — are to be made available to 24 dioceses throughout February and March, each one identifying the holder as a Catholic and bearing a reminder in the words of Cardinal John Henry Newman for Catholics to spread the Faith.

On the reverse, the card bears the sentence: ”In the event of an emergency, please call a Catholic priest.”

India: University attack

Hindu extremists bent on ending Christian education in India have attacked a Jesuit-run institution in Anekal, Karnataka.

On January 30, a gang estimated at 100 surrounded the St Joseph University Institute while classes were under way.

The attackers then broke into the school buildings and terrorised students as they demanded an end to education there and the arrest of the university dean, P. Melwin Mendonca.

Despite calls to the police, the protesters remained at the university for two hours before officers moved in, and only then to arrest Fr Mendonca at his request in an attempt to quell the disturbance.

The priest was then forced to walk to the local police station, during which time students around him for his protection were verbally and physically abused.

The police later released the priest.

Cemetery destroyed

A Christian cemetery in Sabarmati in Gujarat has been destroyed in an attack blamed on Hindu extremists.

According to reports, swathes of the cemetery, dating to the period of British rule in India, were bulldozed and made into a car park with no prior discussion with the Christian community. Christians protesting the unannounced move against the area have blamed Gujarat’s governor, Narendra Modi, leader of the local fundamentalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) for complicity in the destruction, citing it as yet another example of the lack of respect evident in Gujarat for religious minorities.

Saudi Arabia: Christians arrested

Thirty-five Ethiopian Christians have been arrested in the kingdom for attending a prayer meeting.

Reports of the December incident have only now begun to emerge, detailing the raid by police on the group, which had gathered in a house in the city of Jeddah to offer Advent prayers.

It has been alleged that the Christians were beaten and, in the case of the women present, forced to undergo strip searches at a nearby prison.

Those arrested were later charged with ”unlawful mingling”, that is, the mixing of the sexes where one or more are unmarried.


Macedonia: Arson attack

An Orthodox Christian church has been set on fire allegedly in response to a carnival where performers mocked Islam.

The Sveti Nikola church in Labunista is a 200-year-old building known for its rich icons.

It was attacked as tensions in the local area rose between Christians and Muslims following a carnival performance at which men dressed in burquas and joked about the Koran.

Firefighters were quick to respond to first reports of fire at the church, and while the roof was partially destroyed, the icons were undamaged.

The attack on the church came despite appeals for calm from Muslim leaders in the region.

Nigeria: Boko Haram arrest

Police in the country have reportedly captured the spokesman for the Boko Haram sect after a surveillance operation. Abu Qa Qa was tracked through his mobile phone and detained at the start of February.

Police, who have struggled to contain the violence wrought by the radical Islamist sect have described the arrest as an intelligence coup.

They are currently working to uncover Qa Qa’s true identity as there are doubts that he is a Nigerian national.

Iraq: Sentences upheld

The death sentences handed down on three militants who took part in the 2010 attack on Our Lady of Salvation church in Baghdad have been upheld by the country’s supreme court.

The men were part of a 15-strong group which attacked the Syro-Catholic church in October of 2010 and killed 57 with guns and hand grenades. Seventy other worshippers were wounded.

The three men convicted in August 2011 for their roles now await a presidential signature on their death warrants before their executions take place.


United States: Same-sex vote

The state of Washington has cleared the way for same-sex marriage following a 28-21 vote in the state senate.

The bill now goes before Governor Christine Gregoire — a Catholic — for the final signing into law.

Washington joins the states of Connecticut, Iowa, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, and Vermont, as well as Washington DC, in granting marriage to same-sex couples.


Australia: Morris reports

Two separate reports into the dismissal of Bishop Bill Morris — and commissioned by his supporters — from the Diocese of Toowoomba in May 2011 have accused Pope Benedict of acting against natural justice and canon law in the case.

Bishop Morris was dismissed following his refusal to resign as a result of his outspoken stance on women’s ordinations.

Following examination of the case, Queensland Supreme Court Judge W.J. Carter alleges that the bishop was denied procedural fairness and natural justice.

That finding is backed by the report of Father Ian Waters of Melbourne, who alleges that Pope Benedict breached canon law and exceeded his authority in removing Bishop Morris without finding him guilty of apostasy, heresy or schism and without following the judicial procedures canon law requires.


Hong Kong: Teresa relic

A relic of Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta has arrived on the island to the joy of Catholics there.

Speaking during a Mass of welcome, Cardinal-elect John Tong Hon called on the gathering of some 1,000 faithful to pray for the intercession of Blessed Teresa for the recommencement of Vatican-China dialogue.

”Only through honest dialogue can we resolve differences and reach a win-win solution. Let us pray more often on this,” he said.

Spain: Abortion laws

A Catholic bishop has urged the government to make any new laws against abortion more than ”merely cosmetic”.

Reacting to a government announcement last week that an election promise to row back on the liberal system around terminations established by the former administration would now be fulfilled, Bishop Jose Ignacio Munilla of San Sebastian expressed the hope that new laws would fully recognise the right to life of the unborn.

”We have the duty to fight for the day in which abortion will be a nightmare of the past, like the slavery of those from Africa,” the bishop said.