In Brief

Source: FSSPX News


Austria: Resignation of the bishop of Sankt Pölten

On October 7, John Paul II appointed Mgr. Klaus Küng bishop of Sankt Pölten, in Austria. Up to that date he was bishop of Feldkirch, and apostolic visitor at Sankt Pölten. He succeeds Mgr. Kurt Krenn, whose resignation of pastoral charge of the diocese was accepted following a scandal which shook the diocesan seminary this summer.

The rector, the vice rector and several seminarians were implicated in the scandal. Pornographic photographs were found on certain computers. The seminary was closed last August 12, after an enquiry led by Mgr. Küng, the apostolic visitor appointed by the pope.

Mgr. Küng was born in Bregenz, in the diocese of Feldkirch in 1940. He was ordained priest in Madrid in 1970, for the personal prelature of Opus Dei. He is a member of the Congregation for the Clergy and adviser to the Pontifical Council for the Family. He is also in charge of the family within the Austrian Bishops Conference.

The pope also accepted the resignation of the auxiliary bishop of Sankt Pölten, Mgr. Heinrich Fasching, who had reached the retirement age.

Germany: The diocese of Aix-la-Chapelle reduces its number of employees

Over the next four years, the diocese of Aix-la-Chapelle will axe 220 jobs, it was announced on September 29, by Bishop Heinrich Mussinghoff, who acknowledged that the diocesan direction had made errors in the handling of the financial crisis: “We should have reacted more promptly and more courageously.”

Bishop Mussinghoff admitted that erroneous decisions had led to the disappearance of reserves. The deficit must be made up by 2008 by the sale of property and salary reductions.

Revenue from Church taxes is falling, the number of priests and people engaged in voluntary work is declining, while cases of people leaving the Church (i.e. the members of the diocese who no longer accept the paying of Church taxes) are on the increase. These realities are forcing the diocese to take drastic measures, stressed Bishop Mussinghoff, who stated that the diocese was no longer able to offer the same services as before.

Switzerland: Group in favor of the abolition of priestly celibacy and the ordination of women

The Declaration of Lucerne in favor of the priestly ordination of women and the abolition of obligatory celibacy of priests, has been circulated throughout Switzerland by around thirty members of Church organizations, cantonal synods, parish associations and other Church institutions, at the initiative of Paula Beck, who is behind the Declaration, and of Klaus Amman, Catholic member of parliament of the canton of St. Gallen.

In a communiqué of September 15, these ultra-progressive lay people announced that they intended to invite the cantonal synods and other organizations interested in collaborating on the expansion of their group.

Several Catholic cantonal parliaments, including St. Gallen, have supported the document signed in November 2003, by the Catholic synod of Lucerne. Last March, the Swiss bishops replied that the questions referred to in this appeal were not a matter for church organizations, whose responsibility was at the administrative and financial levels. Dissatisfied with this response, the initiators of the Declaration formed a working group to consider the consequences and initiate a dialogue with the bishop of Basel, Mgr. Kurt Koch.

United States: Diocese of Tucson files for bankruptcy

On September 20, the diocese of Tucson, Arizona, filed for bankruptcy on account of the prohibitive costs of the settlements of the cases of sexual abuse of minors by priests of the diocese.

After Portland, Oregon, last July, it is the second American diocese to invoke the dispositions of the law on bankruptcy, in the wake of the pedophile scandals which have been rocking the Catholic Church in America since 2002.

The bishop of Tucson, Mgr. Gerald Frederick Kicanas, has stressed that placing itself under the protection of the law on bankruptcy, his diocese is not seeking to escape from its financial responsibilities. He addressed his sincere apologies to the victims of sexual abuse by priests. “Our diocese is submitting to this reorganization plan, considering it to be the best solution, so that those who have been victims of sexual abuse may obtain decent compensation,” he wrote in a letter addressed to the 350,000 Catholics of the diocese.

In 2002, the diocese of Tucson reached an agreement with ten victims. The cost of this settlement rose to $16 million.

Spain: 800,000 images of the Our Lady

The Catalan Josep Gavin has devoted himself to the task of collecting sacred images and most particularly Marian images. His Marian collection today comprises 800,000 pictures. He also owns 51,000 images of Saint Joseph: “The most precious object, for me is a pious image of Saint Joseph, found and taken on July 20, 1936, when the Church of the Capuchins was being burned down at the beginning of the Spanish Civil War.”

The Arxiu Gavin, a kind of museum of which he is the curator, houses the archives of the most important religious images of Europe. This special vocation has taken him to 96 countries.

He has already classified 308,000 images. The others are waiting patiently… as images do.