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Italy’s high court overturns arrest warrant against Vatican broker Gianluigi Torzi

The Supreme Court of Cassation in Rome, Italy. / Sergio D’Afflitto via Wikimedia (CC BY-SA 3.0 it).

Vatican City, Oct 14, 2021 / 06:30 am (CNA).

Italy’s Supreme Court has overturned an arrest warrant against a broker wanted in Italy and the Vatican on allegations of financial crimes.

According to a statement from the lawyers of Gianluigi Torzi late Wednesday, a precautionary measure against the Italian businessman who brokered the final stage of the Vatican’s controversial purchase of a London property has been “annulled in its entirety.”

The case has been sent back to Rome’s Tribunal for Review. A written ruling explaining the reason for the annulment will be released by the Italian court within a month, according to the AP.

Torzi is one of the key suspects in a significant finance trial being heard by the Vatican City State’s tribunal about the London property deal.

The Vatican has accused the businessman of being part of a conspiracy to defraud the Secretariat of State of millions of euros, and has charged him with extortion, embezzlement, fraud, misappropriation, money laundering, and self-money laundering. He denies the charges.

An Italian magistrate issued an arrest warrant for Torzi in April on suspicion of similar financial crimes committed in Italy. The businessman has been under precautionary measures in the U.K. while awaiting extradition to Italy at the request of the Italian authorities.

The Supreme Court decision to annul the precautionary measures calls into question whether Torzi will be extradited from the U.K.

In a hearing on Oct. 6, Vatican judges ruled that Torzi’s portion of the finance trial would effectively be on hold until he could present himself at the Vatican.

A statement from Torzi’s communication team on Oct. 13 said that Torzi’s lawyers, Ambra Giovene and Marco Franco, called the high court’s annulment of the precautionary measure “an important step towards proving their client’s innocence.”

The statement also said that evidence used by the Supreme Court in its decision was provided by Vatican prosecutors.

In March, a British judge reversed the seizure of Torzi’s accounts, saying that Vatican prosecutors withheld and misrepresented information in their request to the U.K. court.

Judge Tony Baumgartner of Southwark Crown Court overturned another judge’s decision to seize the British-based accounts of Gianluigi Torzi, as had been requested by Vatican prosecutors.

France’s Catholic bishops will uphold confessional seal, spokeswoman clarifies

Karine Dalle, the communications director of the French bishops’ conference. / Marion Delattaignant/CEF.

Paris, France, Oct 14, 2021 / 05:50 am (CNA).

The spokeswoman for France’s bishops’ conference clarified Wednesday that the country’s Catholic leaders do not intend to compromise on the Church’s teaching that the confessional seal is sacrosanct.

“One cannot change the canon law for France as it is international. A priest who today would violate the secrecy of the confession would be excommunicated,” Karine Dalle, the communications director of the French bishops’ conference (CEF), told Solène Tadié of the National Catholic Register on Oct. 13.

“This is what Archbishop Moulins-Beaufort wanted to say last week after the publication of the Sauvé report, when he said that the seal of confession was above the laws of the Republic,” Dalle explained.

“He spoke the truth, but this truth is not audible in France for those who are not Catholic, and not understandable in France in the midst of debates on so-called ‘religious separatism.’”

Moulins-Beaufort, the bishops’ conference president, was invited to a meeting with France’s interior minister Gérald Darmanin following his comments about the confessional seal in an interview with France Info, which caused an outcry.

After the meeting on Oct. 12, media reports suggested that the archbishop had conceded that priests should inform police of admissions of abuse made by penitents during confession.

The reports provoked consternation among Catholics.

While French law has long recognized the Church’s strict rules about the confidentiality of the sacrament, the government is now contemplating amending the law for confessors, as it has done with lawyers and other secular professionals.

“[T]here have been conditions introduced within professional secrecy, which oblige some professionals when there is an abuse committed on a minor under 15 years old, to report to the competent authorities,” she said.

“If a lawyer or a doctor has knowledge of the abuse of a minor under 15 years of age, he or she is obliged not to respect professional secrecy. This is to prevent further crimes, because pedophile criminality is compulsive.”

“What Interior Minister Darmanin said is that in the future, the seal of confession could fit into this framework. It wouldn’t concern all confessional secrecy, of course, but I don’t know where that will lead,” she continued.

“But if the state tells us [that priests must report crimes against minors revealed in confession] there would be an obligation to leave the secrecy of confession. This would mean that the priests concerned would be excommunicated by Rome,” Dalle said.

“There will certainly be some adjustments proposed, which Rome will accept or not. But no, in no case did Archbishop de Moulins-Beaufort say that the seal of confession would be put aside. He never said that.”

Moulins-Beaufort made the comments after the publication of a watershed report on abuse in the French Catholic Church.

The final report of the Independent Commission on Sexual Abuse in the Church (CIASE) said that an estimated 216,000 children were abused by priests, deacons, monks, or nuns from 1950 to 2020.

The independent commission, established by the French bishops in November 2018, spent 30 months investigating abuse within the Catholic Church led by Jean-Marc Sauvé, a senior civil servant.

Among the report’s 45 recommendations was a request for the Church to reconsider the seal of confession concerning abuse.

The Vatican has strongly defended the confessional seal in response to mandatory reporting laws introduced around the world.

In June 2019, the Apostolic Penitentiary issued a note reaffirming the inviolability of the sacramental seal.

Dalle said: “We know that if these rules were to be adopted, no abuser would ever go to confession if they knew that they would be reported if they confessed to abusing a minor under the age of 15. That’s also problematic.”

“The same is true for children, for whom confession is a space to speak. Confession allows the child’s word to be released. And when the confession is over, the priest waits for a moment and then goes to the child and asks him if he can say again what he said, but this time outside the confession.”

“This is what the anticlericals don’t want to understand,” Dalle said, “because they don’t know all this context.”

Prominent Anglican bishop received into Catholic Church

The Rt. Rev. Michael Nazir-Ali, the former Anglican bishop of Rochester, England. / michaelnazirali.com.

Oxford, England, Oct 14, 2021 / 03:55 am (CNA).

A prominent Anglican bishop once considered a potential future Archbishop of Canterbury has entered into full communion with the Catholic Church.

The Rt. Rev. Michael Nazir-Ali, the former bishop of Rochester, England, has joined the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham, The Spectator reported on Oct. 14.

The magazine said that Nazir-Ali could be ordained as a Catholic priest as early as the end of October within the ordinariate, a body created by Benedict XVI in 2011 for groups of former Anglicans wishing to preserve elements of their patrimony.

In an Oct. 14 statement, the ordinariate said that Nazir-Ali was received into full communion by the group’s Ordinary, Msgr. Keith Newton, on Sept. 29, the Feast of St. Michael and All Angels.

“With the permission of the Holy See, he will be ordained to the Catholic priesthood for the ordinariate in due course,” it said.

Explaining his decision, Nazir-Ali said: “I believe that the Anglican desire to adhere to apostolic, patristic and conciliar teaching can now best be maintained in the ordinariate.”

“Provisions there to safeguard legitimate Anglican patrimony are very encouraging and, I believe, that such patrimony in its liturgy, approaches to biblical study, pastoral commitment to the community, methods of moral theology, and much else besides has a great deal to offer the wider Church.”

“I am looking forward to receiving from the riches of other parts of the Church, while perhaps making a modest contribution to the maintenance and enhancement of Anglican patrimony within the wider fellowship.”

michaelnazirali.com.
michaelnazirali.com.

The news comes a month after another Church of England bishop announced that he was crossing the Tiber.

The Rt. Rev. Jonathan Goodall, the Anglican bishop of Ebbsfleet, said that he had taken the decision “after a long period of prayer.”

Nazir-Ali was born in Karachi, Pakistan, in 1949, and attended Catholic schools. He has both a Christian and Muslim family background and holds British and Pakistani citizenship.

He was ordained as an Anglican clergyman in 1976, working in Karachi and Lahore. He became provost of Lahore’s Anglican cathedral and was consecrated as the first bishop of Raiwind in West Punjab.

He later joined the staff of the Archbishop of Canterbury, helping to plan the 1988 Lambeth Conference, a gathering of bishops from across the Anglican Communion.

In 1994, he was appointed as the Anglican bishop of Rochester, covering the areas of Medway, north and west Kent, and the London Boroughs of Bromley and Bexley.

Married with two children, he served as a member of the House of Lords, Britain’s upper house of Parliament, from 1999.

He took part in the second phase of Anglican and Roman Catholic International Commission (ARCIC-II) and was a member of the International Anglican-Roman Catholic Commission on Unity and Mission (IARCCUM).

In 2002, the U.K. media identified him as one of the favorites to succeed the retiring Archbishop of Canterbury, George Carey. He was quoted at the time as suggesting that he was the target of a racist smear campaign and he remained as bishop of Rochester until 2009.

The 72-year-old is currently president of the Oxford Centre for Training, Research, Advocacy, and Dialogue (OXTRAD).

The current Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, paid tribute to Nazir-Ali on his Twitter account on Oct. 14.

He praised his “expertise in evangelism, interfaith dialogue, ecumenism, and theological education.”

“He will continue to be a blessing to the global church as he joins the ordinariate. I will be praying for him and his wife, Valerie, that this new step in their journey might draw them ever closer to God in Christ,” he said.

Msgr. Newton commented: “Since its erection in 2011, Michael has always shown great interest in the development of the ordinariate in the United Kingdom. Those of us who serve the Catholic Church within the Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham are delighted at his reception into full communion and forthcoming ordination.”

“He brings a great experience of the Anglican Communion and is in a unique place to articulate that Anglican patrimony, described by Pope Benedict XVI as a treasure to be shared, which now has an honoured place in the Universal Church.”

The ordinariate priest Fr. James Bradley noted on his Twitter account last month that the following Anglican bishops have been received into the Catholic Church since 1992: Graham Leonard (London); Conrad Meyer; John Klyberg (Fulham); Richard Rutt (Leicester); John Broadhurst (Fulham); Edwin Barnes (Richborough); Keith Newton (Richborough); Andrew Burnham (Ebbsfleet); David Silk; Paul Richardson; John Goddard (Burnley); and Jonathan Goodall (Ebbsfleet).

Many converts come from the Anglo-Catholic branch of the Church of England, which stresses Anglicanism’s Catholic heritage, but Nazir-Ali has long been associated with the evangelical wing.

Nazir-Ali said: “Ministry in the Church of Pakistan, in the Middle East generally, in the Church of England and the wider Anglican Communion remains precious to me and I see this as a further step in the ministry of our common Lord and of his people. At this time, I ask for prayers as I continue to pray for all parts of the Church.”

This report was updated at 06:32 a.m. MDT with comments by the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby.

A theologian's take on how the 2023 Synod is a turning point for the Church

As the two-year global consultation process leading to the 2023 Synod begins, Venezuelan theologian Rafael Luciani highlights the importance of this epochal event for the Church and the contribution of theologians.

Pope: ‘I will never tire of upholding the dignity of work’

Pope Francis sends a video message to an event in Argentina that aims to find sustainable solutions to business development safeguarding the dignity and rights of workers and their families.

Pope to pharmacists: Don't let the 'culture of waste' affect you

Pope Francis receives in audience a delegation of the Italian Society of Hospital Pharmacy and of the Pharmaceutical Services of Health Authorities (SIFO), ahead of its national congress.

Bishops call for a novena against UK Assisted Suicide Bill

On October 22, the House of Lords is expected to debate in Second Reading a new assisted suicide bill aimed at alleviating the “intolerable suffering” of terminally ill patients in the United Kingdom. The Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales (CBCEW), invites the faithful to pray for nine days for the rejection of the legislation.

Nigeria: Three kidnapped seminarians freed in Kaduna

Three seminarians kidnapped from their Seminary in the diocese of Kafanchan, Kaduna, in Nigeria’s northern region have regained their freedom after spending nearly two days in the hands of their abductors.

Catholic businessman receives Legatus evangelization award

Legatus 2020 Bowie Kuhn Award for Evangelization recipient Mario Costabile (left), with Thomas Monaghan (right), Legatus founder and CEO / Legatus International

Washington D.C., Oct 13, 2021 / 18:51 pm (CNA).

The organization of Catholic business leaders Legatus International has awarded Catholic producer Mario Costabile with its 2020 Bowie Kuhn Award for Evangelization.

Costabile is the producer and executive director of “Array of Hope,” a Catholic production company that serves Catholic parishes, dioceses and organizations.” 

“Seeking to address the decline of God” in society, Costabile’s business aims to “reveal the ‘Truths of our Faith’ by creating high quality films, music and events.”

Legatus founder and CEO Tom Monaghan presented Costabile with the award at the group’s biannual summit conference in September. The Bowie Kuhn Award for Evangelization is named after Bowie Kuhn, the former Major League Baseball commissioner who was Catholic. It recognizes a member's efforts to “spread the good news of Jesus Christ among his/her peers and his/her noteworthy dedication to the mission and ideals of Legatus.”

Legatus president Stephen Henley said that “Costabile's commitment to advancing the Catholic faith and Christian ethics through media ‘distinguishes him among his peers and makes him a worthy recipient of the Bowie Kuhn Award for Evangelization.’”

Costabile serves as the president of the organization’s Newark chapter; according to Legatus, Cardinal Joseph Tobin of Newark is a “long-time” chapter supporter. 

Costabile also received the Legatus ACE award in 2018 for his success in recruiting new members. 

Past recipients of the Bowie Kuhn Award for Evangelization include Tim Flanagan, founder of the Catholic Leadership Institute; Michael Warsaw, Chairman and CEO of EWTN; Curtis Martin, founder of the Catholic campus ministry FOCUS; Tim Busch, attorney and philanthropist; Thomas Peterson, president and founder of Catholics Come Home; and Luisa Kuhn, wife of the late baseball commissioner Bowie Kuhn.

Legatus members include Catholic CEOs, presidents, managing partners, business owners, and their spouses. The group’s stated mission is "to study, live, and spread the Catholic faith in our business, professional and personal lives."

Legatus chapter monthly meetings typically include Mass, Confession, and a rosary followed by social hours, dining, and a presentation on Catholic topics. Legatus International also organizes leadership conferences, pilgrimage opportunities, religious retreats, social events, and overseas trips.

Tom Monaghan, the Domino's Pizza founder turned Catholic philanthropist, founded the organization in 1987. It is headquartered in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

Supreme Court must return abortion debate to voters and legislatures, says Mississippi brief

Lynn Fitch, the Mississippi Attorney General. / LibandJustice via Wikimedia (CC BY-SA 3.0).

Denver Newsroom, Oct 13, 2021 / 18:00 pm (CNA).

The Supreme Court’s precedents on legal abortion are so tangled and misguided that abortion law should be returned to the people and their representatives in the legislatures, backers of a Mississippi ban on abortions after 15 weeks have said.

“Finally forced to defend those cases, respondents drive home the stark reality: Roe and Casey are indefensible,” said the Oct. 13 Supreme Court brief filed by Mississippi Attorney General Lynn Fitch and other state officials.

“It is true that the judiciary cannot provide a workable half measure—it cannot produce an enduring compromise. But the people can,” the brief continued. “When this court returns this issue to the people, the people can debate, adapt, and find workable solutions. It will be hard for the people too, but under the constitution the task is theirs—and the court should return it to them now.”

The brief in the case of Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization involves Mississippi’s ban on most elective abortions after 15 weeks. Oral arguments are scheduled for Dec. 1.

The challenge could mean the Supreme Court will re-examine its 1973 ruling in Roe v. Wade that legalized abortion nationwide, as well as its 1992 decision in Planned Parenthood v. Casey that reaffirmed legal abortion.

The respondents’ brief, led by attorneys from the pro-abortion rights group Center for Reproductive Rights, sought to defend the current viability standard, allowing abortion restrictions only after the unborn child may survive outside the womb. The brief said this is 23-24 weeks into pregnancy. The respondents argued that the viability standard serves the court well, has a grounding in the constitution, and has not been challenged by the facts. Defenders of the Mississippi law, they said, do not provide an alternative framework that could sustain a stable right to abortion.

“Each of the state’s purported alternatives would upend the balance struck in Casey and ultimately extinguish ‘the woman’s liberty to determine whether to carry her pregnancy to full term’,” said the pro-abortion rights brief. Upholding the Mississippi ban would lead to “attempts by half the states in the nation to forbid abortion entirely, and a judiciary left without tools to manage the resulting litigation.” The brief argued that the state should reaffirm precedent, which holds that a state’s interest in protecting fetal life falls short of overriding individual liberty claims.

Fitch and other Mississippi leaders faulted this response.

“Respondents’ effort to narrow this case—or avoid any decision—shows what they know: that Roe and Casey are deeply flawed and that those flaws have finally been presented to the one tribunal that can do something about them,” said their brief.

There is “no constitutional basis” for Roe, Casey, or the viability rule, the brief said. The logic for abortion rights decisions appear selective and unique, rather than part of American constitutional tradition.

 “(T)his Court has never endorsed another privacy or liberty interest that involves purposefully ending a human life,” the brief said.

Backers of the Mississippi law depicted Roe as a departure from precedent, and Casey as similarly “egregiously wrong” in a way that weakens claims they should serve as continued precedent.

The common law long condemned and restricted abortion and most states broadly restricted abortion at the time the Fourteenth Amendment was passed. Abortion is a matter that “unites state interests in protecting women’s health and unborn life” but current pro-abortion rights precedent “uniquely limit the states and cut off the democratic process,” said the brief.

The viability line has no constitutional or principled basis and could just as meaningfully be drawn at 14 weeks into pregnancy.  At minimum, the brief argued, the court should reject a rule based on viability.

“Saying that a state’s interest becomes compelling at 15 weeks’ gestation is just as plausible as saying that it becomes compelling at viability,” said the brief, arguing that such “line-drawing” is legislative task and another sign that abortion decisions should not rely on the courts.

“Abortion—as both a jurisprudential and policy matter—is as divisive and unsettled as ever,” said the brief. “Protecting unborn life and women’s health are as compelling as ‘preserving public confidence in the integrity of the judiciary’— an interest this Court has found compelling,” it added.

States should be able to decide on disputed questions, such as to what extent either continued pregnancy or abortion may create health risks for the mother. Similarly, the states should be able to account for advances in knowledge of when the unborn child becomes sensitive to pain.

“This court need not resolve who is right on fetal pain. It need only recognize that knowledge changes and that the constitution does not bind States to a long-outdated view of the fact,” the brief said.

The reasoning of the pro-abortion precedents did not take into account policy changes that better allow women to have both careers and families or the provision of “safe havens” to shelter newborn children without penalty. These precedents were based in outdated ideas about contraception effectiveness and access.

Any claim that preserving Roe and abortion access is critical to women’s advancement is a “demeaning view of women.” The claim “boils down to the view that millions of women have a meaningful life only because 50 years ago seven men in Roe saved them from despair—and that women’s success comes at the cost of ending innumerable human lives,” the brief argued.

“Women’s extensive political participation and share of the population ensure that they strongly influence public policy—and would do so without a judicially managed right to abortion,” the brief continued.

“This court has before it the strongest arguments for and against overruling— from the parties, the United States, and 130 amicus briefs exploring every relevant issue,” the brief said. “The fundamental question at issue here will keep returning until this court addresses it. This is the case to confront— and reject—Roe and Casey.”