CATHOLIC NEWS OF THE WEEK . Saturday, 13 October 2018

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Venezuelan archbishop named to top position in Vatican Secretariat of State
VATICAN CITY (CNS): Pope Francis has named Venezuelan Archbishop Edgar Peña Parra, current nuncio to Mozambique, to be the third-ranking official in the Vatican Secretariat of State the Vatican announced on August 15. 
 
He will up his new position as substitute secretary for general affairs on October 15, placing him in charge of the Vatican’s day-to-day operations. The 58-year-old Archbishop Peña succeeds Giovanni Cardinal Becciu of Italy, the new prefect of the Congregation for Saints’ Causes. 
 
Born in Maracaibo, Venezuela, Archbishop Peña was ordained to the priesthood in 1985. After earning a degree in canon law, he entered the Vatican diplomatic corps in 1993, serving at Vatican missions in Kenya, Yugoslavia, at the United Nations in Geneva, in South Africa, Honduras and Mexico. 
 
Emeritus Pope Benedict XVI named him an archbishop in 2011 and sent him to Pakistan as apostolic nuncio. Pope Francis named him nuncio to Mozambique in 2015.
 
House arrest for Australian archbishop
ADELAIDE (CNS): A judge at the Newcastle Magistrates Court approved home detention for Archbishop Philip Wilson, the retired archbishop of Adelaide, who was found guilty of failing to report child sexual abuse allegations in the 1970s.
 
Archbishop Wilson’s lawyer said on August 14 that the archbishop would appeal his conviction but would begin serving his sentence immediately. 
 
He was sentenced on July 3 to one year’s detention, but with the possibility of parole after six months.
 
The court ruled that he could serve the sentence at a relative’s house; Australian media reported that it would be the home of his sister. He will be required to wear a location monitor.
 
When Archbishop Wilson was convicted in May, he stepped aside from his duties in the Archdiocese of Adelaide while remaining the archbishop. 
 
In late July, however, he offered his resignation to Pope Francis, explaining in a statement that “there is just too much pain and distress being caused by my maintaining the office of archbishop of Adelaide, especially to the victims of Father (James) Fletcher.”
 
Pope Francis accepted the resignation on July 30. 
 
A Newcastle court found that, in 1976, then-Father Wilson had been told by a 15-year-old boy that he had been indecently assaulted by a priest, but that Father Wilson chose not to go to the authorities despite believing the allegations were true. 
 
Father Fletcher, the abusive priest, was convicted in 2004 of nine counts of child sexual abuse and died in 2016 in prison.
 
Archbishop Wilson, who had led the Archdiocese of Adelaide since 2001, is the highest-ranking Church official to be convicted of covering up abuse charges. 
 
The archbishop was recently diagnosed with early stages of Alzheimer’s disease and throughout the magistrate’s hearing he testified that he had no memory of the conversation with the 15-year-old.
 
Vow to return historic church bells welcomed
TACLOBAN (CNS): Filipinos welcomed an announcement by the United States that it planned to soon return church bells, seized from the town of Balangiga in Samar province, the central Philippines, by American troops as trophies during the Philippine-American War more than a century ago.
 
In an August 11 statement, the embassy of the United States of America (US) in Manila, said US Congress had already been informed about plans to return the bells to the Philippines, ucanews.com reported.
 
American military personnel took the church bells following the massacre of Balangiga’s residents in response to the death of 48 US troops at the hands of rebels in 1901.
 
“We’ve received assurances that the bells will be returned to the Catholic Church and treated with the respect and honour they deserve,” embassy spokesperson Trude Raizen said.
 
“We are aware that the bells of Balangiga have deep significance for a number of people, both in the United States and in the Philippines,” she added.
 
The news came as the town of Balangiga celebrated the feast day of its patron saint, St. Lawrence the Martyr, on August 10.
 
“If the news is true, then that would be great for us,” Balangiga mayor, Randy Graza, said, adding that it would be a cause for celebration.
 
No specific date was given for when the bells would be sent back.
 
Balangiga church’s belfry remains empty as a reminder of the bells’ loss.

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