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Government to update court on parental reunions as Catholics cite dignity of families

Washington D.C., Jul 19, 2018 / 12:00 pm (CNA).- Government officials are due in federal court Thursday to deliver a list of parents held in ICE detention considered ineligible for reunification with their children. The update comes as Catholics and other organizations continue to call for policies that prioritize the family.

While government officials insist that in some cases there may be security concerns about parents, prominent Catholics have called for end to the separation of families.

Dr. Joseph Capizzi, a professor of moral theology at the Catholic University of America, told CNA that the “vast majority” of families in separation cases pose no threat to U.S. security. Instead, Capizzi said that Catholics should look to fix the reasons people are leaving their home countries for the United States. Otherwise, he said, there will be no end to the immigration issue.

Many of the parents are seeking asylum in the United States, citing violent or deprived conditions in their home countries.

Capizzi said the United States “needs always to couple our border policies with compassion for the dignity of families and of human beings.”

“As Bishop Flores [of Brownsville, Texas] said, we must join with other countries in Central America and address the ‘push’ factors that lead to the risky and numerous emigrations of so many people from those countries.”

“Until we look at this as a problem involving the unhealthy ‘human ecologies’ of these places, the U.S. will continue to face immigration issues.”

The government has until July 26 to reunite children currently in custody with their parents, but progress has been limited. Health and Human Services officials told a district court judge on Monday that they were unable to locate or identify the parents of 71 children in custody.

Appearing before Judge Dana Sabraw on Monday, Jonathan White, HHS assistant secretary for preparedness and response, admitted that of the 2,551 children in federal custody believed to be separated they had only confirmed matches with 2,480 parents, 1,609 of whom are also in custody.

Efforts to reunite families have been hindered by the government vetting process for undocumented immigrants and asylum seekers, which relies on DNA verification and criminal background checks, but questions have been raised about the standards being applied.

The American Civil Liberties Union, acting for the families, asked Judge Sabraw to clarify what kind of crimes make a parent ineligible for reunification, noting that some, like petty theft, have no bearing on the ability to care for their child but may factor in judging eligibility.

Of the 46 children under 5 still in government custody, 22 are considered ineligible for reunion with parents due to safety concerns.

Government officials insist that these cases involve serious criminal history by the parent, including suspected child abuse, or instances where the child was brought to the United States by someone other than a parent.

Also Monday, in answer to concerns that the government was expediting deportations of separated families once they are reunited, Judge Sabraw ordered a halt to deportations of adult family members for at least a week after reunification. The order came in response to an emergency motion filed by the ACLU.

Despite some concerns about the pace of reunification, efforts to meet the July 26 deadline continue. Judge Sabraw has said that he is “very encouraged” and “optimistic” about the “real progress” being made. "Reunification can happen quickly and safely,” he said, noting, in reposes to government concerns about proper vetting procedures, that speed and safety are “not mutually exclusive.”

“HHS is responsible for this and can do it well."

Last week, the Migration and Refugee Services (MRS) of the USCCB issued a joint statement with Catholic Charities USA detailing their efforts to assist with the reunification efforts.

"As we have long done, CCUSA and Migration and Refugee Services of USCCB are lending our experience and expertise to support Catholic Charities agencies in their efforts to reunite families and care for immigrant children during this sensitive time,” the organizations said.

MRS and CCUSA said they were “strongly opposed” to the policies that resulted in families being separated, and they will “remain committed to working to ensure their safe reunification.”

“Protection of families is a foundational element of Catholic Social Teaching and this moment calls on all people of good will to lend a hand to reunite these children with their parents."

Ed Condon contributed to this report.

Australian PM calls for removal of archbishop convicted of not reporting abuse

Canberra, Australia, Jul 19, 2018 / 11:03 am (CNA/EWTN News).- Australian prime minister Malcolm Turnbull called Thursday for Pope Francis to dismiss Archbishop Philip Wilson of Adelaide, who was convicted in May of failing to report allegations of child sexual abuse disclosed to him in the 1970s.

“As far as Philip Wilson is concerned, he should have resigned, he should have resigned,” Turnbull said July 19, according to The Australian.

“And the time has come for the Pope to sack him. There are many leaders that have called on him to resign, it is clear that he should resign, and I think the time has come now for the ultimate authority in the church to take action and sack him.”

Turnbull was preparing to meet with a group of Australian bishops, and he said they would be “discussing a range of issues.” The Church in Australia is seeking clarity over federal funding for Catholic schools.

Archbishop Wilson, 67, was convicted May 22 of concealing abuse committed by a fellow parish priest in New South Wales in the 1970s. At the time, Wilson had been ordained a priest for only one year.

The victims of the scandal, Peter Creigh and another altar boy who is unnamed for legal reasons, said they both had told Wilson of their abusive experience with Fr. James Fletcher.

The archbishop was sentenced July 3 to a 12-month sentence, which will likely be served as house arrest, but he plans to appeal his conviction.

Archbishop Wilson said that “I am conscious of calls for me to resign and have taken them very seriously. However, at this time, I am entitled to exercise my legal rights and to follow the due process of law. Since that process is not yet complete, I do not intend to resign at this time.”

“However, if I am unsuccessful in my appeal, I will immediately offer my resignation to the Holy See,” he added.

Pope Francis has appointed Bishop Gregory O'Kelly of Port Pirie apostolic administrator of the Archdiocese of Adelaide.

Archbishop Mark Coleridge of Brisbane, president of the Australian bishops' conference, said July 5 that “a number of survivors, prominent Australians and other members of the community have publicly called on Archbishop Wilson to resign.”

“Although we have no authority to compel him to do so, a number of Australian bishops have also offered their advice privately,” he said, while adding that “only the Pope can compel a bishop to resign.”

Archbishop Coleridge said the conference has been “closely following” Archbishop Wilson's case and they respect his decision to appeal, which is “the right of any citizen,” but said that “we also recognize the ongoing pain this has caused survivors, especially those who were abused by Jim Fletcher.”

19th-century Italian teen to be canonized during youth Synod

Vatican City, Jul 19, 2018 / 10:01 am (CNA/EWTN News).- Bl. Nunzio Sulprizio, who died at the age of 19 from bone cancer, will be declared a saint Oct. 14 during the Synod of Bishops on young people, faith, and vocational discernment, Pope Francis announced Thursday.

The pope announced the date of the young Italian’s canonization during an ordinary public consistory at the Vatican July 19. The canonization will take place alongside six others, including that of Bl. Oscar Romero and Bl. Pope Paul VI, who presided over Sulprizio’s beatification.

At the beatification Dec. 1, 1963, Paul VI said that Bl. Nunzio Sulprizio teaches us that “the period of youth should not be considered the age of free passions, of inevitable falls, of invincible crises, of decadent pessimism, of harmful selfishness. Rather, he will tell you how being young is a grace…”

“He will tell you that no other age than yours, young people, is as suitable for great ideals, for generous heroism, for the coherent demands of thought and action,” the pope continued. “He will teach you how you, young people, can regenerate the world in which Providence has called you to live, and how it is up to you first to consecrate yourselves for the salvation of a society that needs strong and fearless souls.”

Sulprizio said it was “God’s Providence” that cared for him during his short life, and would say, “Jesus endured so much for us and by his merits eternal life awaits us. If we suffer a little bit, we will taste the joy of paradise” and “Jesus suffered a lot for me. Why should I not suffer for him?”

Born in the Italian region of Abruzzo in 1817, Sulprizio learned the faith from a priest at the local school he attended and from his maternal grandmother.

He was orphaned before the age of six, and after the death of his grandmother three years later, went to live with an uncle, who took him on as an apprentice blacksmith, not permitting him to attend school anymore.

His uncle also mistreated him, sending him on long errands, beating him, and withholding meals if he thought things were not done correctly or the boy needed discipline. The young Sulprizio would take consolation in Eucharistic adoration and in praying the rosary.

While still very young, he contracted an infection in one of his legs, causing intense and constant pain, with a puss-oozing sore. Due to a lack of proper medical care, the boy developed gangrene, and was sent to a hospital in Naples. There he would unite his pain with Christ’s suffering on the cross, also helping his fellow patients.

During this time, Sulprizio was introduced to a colonel who treated him like a son and helped pay for his medical treatments. While in the hospital, the young man was visited by a priest who prepared him for his first confession and Holy Communion.

He also met St. Gaetano Errico, an Italian priest and founder of the Missionaries of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary, who promised him he could enter the religious order when he was old enough.

Though he experienced periods of increasing health, Sulprizio contracted bone cancer. His leg was amputated, but it did not help, and he died from the illness shortly after his 19th birthday in 1836. One of the last things he told his friend, the colonel, was, “be cheerful. From heaven I will always be helping you.”

Besides Bl. Pope Paul VI and Bl. Oscar Romero, the other canonizations to take place Oct. 14 are Bl. Francesco Spinelli, a diocesan priest and founder of the Institute of the Adorers of the Blessed Sacrament; Bl. Vincenzo Romano, a diocesan priest from Torre de Greco in Italy; Bl. Maria Caterina Kasper, a German nun and founder of the Institute of the Poor Handmaids of Jesus Christ; and Nazaria Ignazia of Saint Teresa of Jesus, founder of the Congregation of the Misioneras Cruzadas de la Iglesia Sisters.

The 2018 Synod of Bishops, a gathering of bishops from around the world, will take place Oct. 3-28 in Rome on the topic of young people, the faith and vocational discernment.

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US bishops conference approves project funding for Africa, Eastern Europe

Washington D.C., Jul 19, 2018 / 12:28 am (CNA).- Subcommittees at the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops have approved more than $6 million for pastoral projects in Africa and Central and Eastern Europe.

The grants partner with local bishops’ conferences and Church organizations in dozens of countries to respond to specific needs within the communities.

“The Catholics of the United States show that we stand in solidarity with our sisters and brothers in Africa and recognize their courageous commitment to peace, justice, reconciliation, and Christian hope throughout the continent,” said Cardinal Joseph Tobin of Newark, who chairs the Subcommittee on the Church in Africa.

The subcommittee recently approved 54 grants providing $1.4 million for pastoral efforts in Africa, which include religious formation, seminarian and lay leader education, evangelization, and family ministry. Money for the grants comes from the Solidarity Fund for the Church in Africa.

Among the projects funded by the grants will be the establishment of child protection measures in the Diocese of Wa, Ghana. The new Child Protection Office in the diocese is organizing training sessions on the protection of children and vulnerable adults, safe environment creation, policy development and collaboration with government agencies.

Funding will also be given to the bishops’ conference in Rwanda, which is continuing its peace and reconciliation efforts after the 1994 genocide in the country by translating conflict prevention resources for use in local Catholic schools.

In Lesotho, a grant from the U.S. bishops’ conference will support Radio Maria in establishing three new transmitting stations, so that their educational faith programs can reach the entire national population.

In addition, the U.S. bishops’ Subcommittee on Aid to the Church in Central and Eastern Europe has approved $4.9 million in funding for 209 projects in 22 countries. Used to support the Church in nations that previously saw oppression under communism, the funding will go toward construction projects, formation of Church leaders, and education and evangelization efforts.

These include a seven-week formation program to help develop youth ministries in Romania, where only one-third of the parishes in the Archdiocese of Alba Iulia currently have youth programs, and the expansion of a homeless day center run by Sisters of Charity of St. Vincent de Paul in Rijeka, Croatia.

A rehabilitation center for children with cancer in Minsk, Belarus, will also receive a grant. The facility, run by Caritas, offers free housing and psychological support for poor families whose children are going through cancer treatment.

Youth summer camps for children internally displaced by war in East Ukraine will also receive funding. Caritas Donetsk will host two summer camps for 100 young people, who will be offered medical health care from professionals and spiritual care from priests.

“As the people of Central and Eastern Europe continue to build a new future after decades of repression, we are all inspired by the example of great hope they give to the world that it is possible to bring healing to the wounds of the past,” said Cardinal Blase Cupich of Chicago, chairman of the U.S. bishops’ Subcommittee on Aid to the Church in Central and Eastern Europe.

“We can take pride that our steadfast support makes a significant contribution to all their efforts in renewing their communities and passing on the faith of their ancestors to the next generation,” he said.

The grants are funded by the annual Collection for the Church in Central and Eastern Europe, which is generally collected in churches throughout the U.S. on Ash Wednesday each year.

 

Embryo gene-editing poses inescapable ethical problems, critic says

London, England, Jul 18, 2018 / 07:00 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- Genetic editing of human embryos, even in special circumstances, ignores the complex ethical problems related to creating and destroying human embryos, a Catholic bioethicist has said.

“On first glance, genetic editing of human embryos to treat diseases seems like a laudable project. But the reality is far more complex,” Father Tadeusz Pacholczyk, director of education of the National Catholic Bioethics Center, told CNA.
 
The most likely approach for genetic modification of an embryo or embryos would require their creation through in vitro fertilization, said Fr. Pacholzyck, who holds a doctorate in neuroscience. This step “violates their human dignity and ‘objectifies’ them.”
 
“Humans are entitled to be brought into the world not in the cold, impersonal world of laboratory glassware, but exclusively in the loving bodily embrace of their parents,” he added.
 
Pacholzyck’s remarks were a response to a London-based think tank that called recently for further research into embryonic gene editing.

The Nuffield Council on Bioethics on July 17 took the position that changing a human embryo’s DNA could be morally permissible if it was in the child’s interests and did not worsen social inequality, disadvantage, discrimination or division.
 
“It is our view that genome editing is not morally unacceptable in itself,” Karen Yeung, chair of the Nuffield working group, told The Guardian. “There is no reason to rule it out in principle,” said Yeung, a professor of law, ethics and informatics at the University of Birmingham.
 
The council’s report did not advocate changing U.K. law to allow genetic modification. Rather, it advocated research into the safety and effectiveness of gene editing, along with inquiry into its impact on society, and widespread debate about its implications.
 
The council is an independent body founded in 1991. It is involved in policy and media debates on bioethical issues.
 
Pacholzyck told CNA that proposed genetic treatments would not treat the embryo “as a unique patient, within his or her mother’s womb.” Rather, it would involve “treating the embryo as laboratory fodder.”
 
Many embryos would have to be simultaneously created or thawed out, then “treated as ‘products’ and subjected to genetic ‘treatments’ to see if just a few of them might end up surviving and developing without the disease,” he said.
 
“The use of genetic modification technologies on embryos imposes significant risk for the embryo, simply in terms of the mechanical procedures themselves, the numerous manipulative steps involved, and the risks of potential ‘off target’ genetic changes that might reasonably be expected to occur,” said Pacholzyck.
 
“Permission for research on genetic modification of embryos will “open up the floodgates for further subjugation of vulnerable, embryonic humans, individuals at the earliest stages of their existence who will be created in unsuitable settings, manipulated, manhandled, and will often end up perishing as part of the experiment,” he said.
 
Some experiments indicate that DNA editing of embryos could prevent children from inheriting diseases from faulty genes.
 
However, a newly published study in Nature Biotechnology suggests that Crispr-Cas9, the most popular current tool for genome editing, causes more damage to DNA than scientists previously realized. The editing process could disrupt healthy genes.
 
Regardless of effectiveness, any successful changes to an embryo’s DNA would affect all of its cells, including so-called germline cells, like sperm or eggs. These changes would be inherited by any offspring of the fully-grown human being.
 
Professor Dave Archard, Chair of the Nuffield Council on Bioethics, reflected on his report’s recommendations.
 
“Huge advances are happening in genomics research, and whilst we have to acknowledge that genes alone do not shape a person, the possibility of using genome editing in reproduction to secure or avoid a characteristic in a child offers a radically new approach that is likely to appeal to some prospective parents,” adding that in his view close attention must be given to the welfare of those involved, especially any children born after the genetic editing process.
 
Last year, researchers in Oregon announced they had successfully altered genes in a human embryo for the first time in the United States.
 
The ethics of gene editing have been considered for several years. The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith addressed the issue in Dignitas personae, its 2008 instruction on certain bioethical questions.
 
“The human being is to be respected and treated as a person from the moment of conception; and therefore from that same moment his rights as a person must be recognized, among which in the first place is the inviolable right of every innocent human being to life,” the instruction says.
 
The instruction says gene therapy for non-inherited cells are in principle morally licit, provided medical treatment ethics are followed. It warned that germ line cell modification that are “considerable and as yet not fully controllable,” and it is not permissible to act in a way that may cause potential harm to resulting children.
 
It warned against a “eugenic mentality” that aims to improve the gene pool, adding that there could be social stigmas and privileges applied to people with certain genetic qualities, when “such qualities do not constitute what is specifically human.”

 

From bartender to priest: 'God is very insistent!'

Santander, Spain, Jul 18, 2018 / 05:17 pm (ACI Prensa).- How do you go from being a bartender who has not attended Mass for 15 years to becoming a priest?

For Fr. Juan de Cáceres, the answer is that God was persistent in pursing his heart and revealing his call.

Today, Fr. Juan is a priest of the Diocese of Santander in Spain. But he had been away from the sacraments for 15 years when he had a conversion that allowed him to hear God’s call in his life.

After finishing his undergraduate studies, Juan enrolled in law school. However, he was not a good student, and in 2006, at the age of 28, he decided to quit law school to open a trendy bar in Santander.

However, with the onset of the economic crisis in Spain, what had initially promised to be a successful business became the focus of his financial problems, compounded by the crisis of turning 30 and feeling a lack of direction in his life.

“I was really lost, drowning in debt and with the [economic] crisis, there were almost no customers. In addition, my friends quit going out like they used to. They began to get married and stopped dating. I found myself all alone,” he said in an interview with the El Diario Montañés news.

While Juan had stopped going to Mass 15 years ago, a friend invited him to some talks on prayer, which became the turning point that changed his life.

At first, he went to the talks to spend time with his friend. But something within him changed little-by-little: he began to go to Mass again, returned to confession, and re-enrolled in school.

His life started to come together again, until two years after that new beginning, he “felt the call” to the priesthood.

But his first reaction was “to say no.”

“I came up with all kinds of objections: my work, my debts, my life. I thought what I needed to do was to settle down, meet a woman who would make me very happy and have a family. But God is very insistent! And from then on, he would not let that thought out of my heart or mind,” he told El Diario Montañés.

When he decided to discern a vocation, he asked then-Bishop Vicente Jiménez of Santander if he could enter seminary in another city, because “had to keep his distance” from his past life. He entered a seminary in Pamplona, about 120 miles away.

“I was working at the bar up to the day before going to Pamplona, where I spent three fantastic years,” he recalled. During that time, Fr. Juan also worked with the Chinese Catholic community.

He was ordained a priest last January and was assigned to serve four parishes in Santander. He also teaches religion classes three days a week to teenagers.

The experience of being a bartender ended up having value for the priest, who noted that during those years, “I was sort of a confessor to everyone.”

He also helps foster vocations in the diocese because as he explains, “a lot of people have felt the same way I did, but they haven't figured out how to follow up…I'm here to listen and guide.”

 

This article was originally published by our sister agency, ACI Prensa. It has been translated and adapted by CNA.

Planned Parenthood sues Idaho over new abortion law

Boise, Idaho, Jul 18, 2018 / 04:15 pm (CNA).- Planned Parenthood filed a lawsuit Tuesday opposing a new Idaho law that requires abortion providers to report abortion-related medical complications to state authorities.

The Abortion Complications Reporting Act went into effect July 1. It mandates that abortion providers to report complications that occur during or after an abortion procedure. Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest and the Hawaiian Islands filed a lawsuit arguing that the law is unconstitutional and requires “invasive reporting that has nothing to do with protecting patient health care."

The act specifies 37 potential abortion complications that clinics must report to the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare. These include cervical perforation, hemorrhages, and endometritis, as well as any psychological or emotion conditions the patient discloses after the procedure, such as depression, anxiety, or suicidal thoughts.

Patient identity remains confidential in the reporting process, but the physician must be identified. Other information, such as the gestational age of the unborn baby, and the mother’s age, race, and number of previous abortions must also be included, according to the law. 

Planned Parenthood, who filed the suit in Idaho’s U.S. District Court on July 17, stated that the law “violates constitutional guarantees of due process and equal protection by arbitrarily singling out one particular medical procedure” and puts “patient and provider privacy at risk.”

“Previous laws targeting abortion rights have been struck down in Idaho and other states, with some courts saying there isn’t enough information about alleged complications of abortions to justify the laws,” reports the Associated Press.

According to the Guttmacher Institute, a pro-abortion research and policy organization founded by Planned Parenthood, 27 states require abortion providers to report post-abortion complications.

The text of the legislation cites the Supreme Court decisions Planned Parenthood of Southeastern Pennsylvania v. Casey and Akron v. Akron Ctr. for Reproductive Health, asserting the state’s “legitimate interest” in protecting women’s health from “the outset of pregnancy,” and its “legitimate concern with the health of women who undergo abortions.”

The stated aim of the law is to gather “essential” information to enable scientific studies and research on the safety of abortion.

 

Is this cross-shaped WWI memorial unconstitutional?

Washington D.C., Jul 18, 2018 / 03:00 pm (CNA).- A petition has been submitted to the United States Supreme Court as part of an appeal to prevent the destruction of the Peace Cross, a 93-year-old war memorial because it is in the shape of a cross.

The petition was filed by Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission, following a ruling by the United States Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals in October 2017 that declared the monument unconstitutional.

The cross, erected in 1925 by the mothers of fallen World War I servicemen, is located in Prince George’s County, Maryland, just outside of Washington, D.C. It bears a plaque listing the names of 49 residents of Prince George’s County who lost their lives serving in that war. The seal of the American Legion is prominently displayed at the center of the cross. The sides of the cross are inscribed with the words “valor,” “endurance,” “courage,” and “devotion.”

The monument was the subject of a 2014 lawsuit brought by the American Humanist League. The suit was originally rejected by the District Court, which held that it was “uncontroverted” that the maintenance and display of the memorial was not “driven by a religious purpose whatsoever.”

The American Humanist League appealed the case, and the Fourth Circuit found the memorial to violate the establishment clause of the Constitution, which guards the separation of church and state.

In a divided opinion, the circuit court judgment held that because the memorial was in the shape of a cross - “the preeminent symbol of Christianity” - it lacked any meaningful “connection” to national history and government and was inherently “sectarian.” The decision also held that even minimal expenditure by the Commission to maintain the monument “entangled” the state in religion and would lead “any reasonable observer” to conclude that the state was placing “Christianity above other faiths” or viewed “being American and Christian as one and the same.”

The petition to the Supreme Court argues that there has been no previous challenge to the shape of the memorial, which has been in continuous use by the American Legion as a site for patriotic events in honor of fallen soldiers. Moreover, the petition argues, it has never been used for a religious ceremony and the only known connection of the monument to a religious event was 87 years ago.

The monument has been under the management of the Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission since 1961, as part of its management of the roadway median where it is located.

Unless the Supreme Court agrees to hear the case, the cross must have its arms knocked off, be moved off public land, or destroyed completely.

Lawyers for the Park Commission argue that the cross was not erected to promote or convey a religious message, but to resemble the World War I cemeteries of Europe. They also point out that the “absolutist” approach taken by the circuit court decision would be immediately applicable to memorials across the country, including Arlington National Cemetery.

Fourth Circuit Chief Judge Roger Gregory wrote a dissenting opinion. He and other dissenting judges noted that the decision, if it stands, would invalidate virtually any public display in the shape of a cross, including military medals, regardless of how longstanding the usage or neutral their purpose.

Public monuments with religious symbols have been repeatedly challenged by secularists, and the Fourth Circuit decision represents a split with earlier court findings which have recognized the passive nature of such memorials and the lack of religious intent by the state in maintaining them. It is expected that this divergence of judicial findings could make the case ripe for Supreme Court consideration.

 

Study questions authenticity of bloodstains on Shroud of Turin

Rome, Italy, Jul 18, 2018 / 02:56 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- A study on the Shroud of Turin based on bloodstain pattern analysis used to investigate crime scenes has sparked fresh debate on what is believed to be Christ's burial cloth, saying the marks left by the blood flow are not authentic.

The study, “A BPA Approach to the Shroud of Turin,” was published July 10 in the Journal of Forensic Sciences.

In comments to CNA, the leading author, Dr. Matteo Borrini, said that after doing extensive experiments, the results show that bloodstains flowing from Christ's wrists and a spot where he was stabbed in the side with a spear “are not the blood stains of a man who was crucified.”

The stains “are not realistic” in terms of the direction blood would flow from those type of wounds, he said, adding that he believes that “the stains were done artificially.”

Professor Paolo Di Lazzaro, the director of research at the International Center of Sindonology in Turin, said Borrini's methods, while sound, would require more time and “specific attention” to details in order to be “scientifically valid and authoritative.”

Archbishop Cesare Nosiglia of Turin noted that the study “does not affect the spiritual and religious meaning of the shroud as an icon of the Passion and death of the Lord,” adding that “no one can deny the evidence that contemplating the shroud is like reading the pages of the Gospel tells us about the Passion and death of the Son of God.”

Archbishop Nosiglia said numerous studies have been done which either prove or disprove the authenticity of the shroud.

In 2017, for example, a study was done suggesting that the blood on the shroud was that of a "torture victim."

However, regardless of the outcome of such research, the archbishop said the guiding principle of any research ought to be “neutrality.”

“If one begins with a preconception and directs the research toward proving it, then it will easily be confirmed”, he said, adding that operating on the basis of a preconception “nullifies the neutrality proper to science with respect to personal convictions.”

Borrini, a forensic anthropologist teaching at the Faculty Science of the the School of Natural Sciences and Psychology at the John Moores University in Liverpool, is Catholic and is an expert in bloodstain pattern analysis.

Borrini collaborated in his research with Luigi Garlaschelli, a chemist and professor at the University of Pavia, who is also a member of the sceptic educational organization the Italian Committee for the Investigation of Claims of the Pseudosciences.

Based on BPA (bloodstain pattern analysis) tactics used to analyze the shape and flow of bloodstains on objects, clothing or bodies involved in a crime scene, the study is the first to apply BPA techniques to the Shroud of Turin.

Among the most well-known artifacts believed to be connected with Christ’s Passion, the Shroud of Turin has been venerated for centuries by Christians as the burial shroud of Christ, and has long been subject to intense scientific study to ascertain its authenticity, and the origins of the image.

Appearing on the 14-foot long, three-and-a-half foot wide cloth a faintly stained postmortem image of a man – front and back – who has been brutally tortured. The image becomes clear in a haunting photo negative.

It has been venerated by thousands of pilgrims and numerous popes.

Borrini and Garlaschelli first presented their study at the 2014 meeting of the American Academy of Forensic Sciences.

The study was then read by a panel of anonymous experts in the field, who commented on the research and offered suggestions. The two were then required to respond to the comments made as part of their formal article on the study, which was reviewed by the same anonymous panel before its publication last week.

As part of their research, Borrini and Garlaschelli conducted numerous experiments on both live human volunteers and mannequins using BPA methods, which use geometrical techniques to reconstruct the angle of the splatter from each drop of blood when it meets a surface.

This method “is only physical, and morphological,” Borrini said, explaining that it focuses on “the study of the pattern, the shape, of the bloodstain and the distribution of the bloodstains; the physical, geometric distribution.”

“We tried to recreate the flow of the blood and the dripping of the blood from a wound. In this case, the wound from the wrist created by the nails, or the blood from the wound on the side, the wound that was directly done by the spear that was used on the torso of Jesus Christ according to the Gospels. So we reproduced the blood flowing from these two different wounds,” he said.

To track the blood flow, they used a device created to represent arteries and veins which had been damaged by a nail during a crucifixion, and analyzed what direction the liquid, which represented blood, would go and what pattern it would make.

While some might argue that the speed of blood flow or a person's health might impact the pattern of the stain, Borrini said that in this case, only the direction matters.

“If the blood were dripping slower or faster, this would not affect the direction,” he said. “The direction of the blood flow is affected by the position of the body and of course by gravity, because of course, any liquids or solids move according to gravity, so they have to follow the law of gravity.”

This “is why we realized there was an inconsistency in some of the stains, because some of the stains apparently did not follow gravity.” For example, Borrini said some of the results showed that the man whose image is imprinted on the shroud would have had to be standing vertical, rather than horizontal, for the blood flow patterns to make sense.

“For me the shroud is not authentic,” he said, but stressed that he is a Catholic who has taught at several pontifical universities, “and I maintain that we do not need the shroud in order to be Christians, to be Catholic.”

“I did this study, I reached this conclusion, and I feel absolutely in line with the thought of the Catholic Church, and I continue to be strong in my Catholic faith.”

“If someone thinks that I did this work because I am an atheist, it is absolutely untrue,” he said, explaining that the study was balanced, because while he is Catholic, Garlaschelli, his research partner, is an atheist.

However, despite Borrini's insistence on the validity of his scientific research, the results of his study were met with criticism.

Di Lazzaro noted that studies with live human volunteers usually take place on people who are healthy and clean, he said, noting that blood might flow differently on someone who is dirty and who has been sweating, or who has been dehydrated.

“It is not possible to think of reproducing realistic conditions of the way blood drips on the body of a crucifix without considering all of these factors, which influence in a strong way how blood drips,” he said.

Nosiglia urged a different emphasis.

“The shroud, which is an object of faith, helps faith itself because it opens the hearts of those who approach and contemplate it to be aware of what was the Passion of Jesus on the cross and therefore of the greatest love that he showed us by suffering terrible physical and moral violence for the salvation of the whole world,” Archbishop Nosiglia said.

This, he said, is the reason that millions of people, both now and in the past, have come to the shroud from all over the world to venerate it and to pray, in order to “draw hope for their everyday life.

Augustinians reach $1m settlement with sex abuse victims

Boston, Mass., Jul 18, 2018 / 01:07 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- The Order of Saint Augustine has reached a $1 million settlement with eight people who were sexually abused by two members of the religious order in the 1970s and '80s.

The victims' lawyer, Mitchell Garabedian, announced the payment July 17, the Boston Globe reported.

“Because we are committed to justice in upholding the dignity of every person, and in a desire to promote healing, we have concluded the claims made against our Province,” the Augustinian Province of St. Thomas of Villanova stated. “At the same time, we continue to work diligently to ensure the safety and protection of all children and adults.”

The victims were five men abused by Fr. Robert Turnbull at Austin Preparatory School in Reading, 14 miles north of Boston, and three women abused by Fr. John Gallagher at St. Mary of the Assumption parish in Lawrence, 30 miles north of Boston. The victims were between the ages of 9 and 13.

Both Fr. Turnbull and Fr. Gallagher have died.

The Augustinians reached the settlement with the victims outside of court last month, after two years of negotiations.

One of Fr. Gallagher's victims wrote in 1992 to Cardinal Bernard Law, then-Archbishop of Boston, detailing the abuse she suffered.

Law was appointed Archbishop of Boston in 1984, and resigned Dec. 13, 2002, after reports revealed that he did not disclose multiple allegations of clerical sexual abuse to the police or to the public, or intervene to remove priests accused of sexual abuse from priestly ministry.

The sexual abuse scandals in the Archdiocese of Boston led to nationwide outrage regarding practices which failed to protect children from abuse in the Catholic Church.

In June 2002, the United State Conference of Catholic Bishops passed The Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People, known as the “Dallas Charter,” which established procedures and policies for addressing allegations of sexual abuse in the Church, and for fostering safe environments for children and other vulnerable individuals.