CATHOLIC VALUES COLUMNIST
Diocese of Rochester files for bankruptcy amid sex abuse claims
The Diocese of Rochester announced last week its plan to file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. The leader of the upstate New York diocese, Bishop Salvatore Matano, said at a press conference that the cost of litigation and settlements or jury awards would be more than the diocese’s budget could handle. The diocese’s bankruptcy petition that was presented in court listed its assets as $50 million to $100 million, not nearly enough to cover its estimated financial liabilities of $100 million to $500 million. 19 other Catholic dioceses have filed for similar bankruptcy over the last 15 years and more are considering it. Notably, Buffalo’s embattled Bishop Richard Malone was reported to be considering bankruptcy in light of Matano’s announcement. The bankruptcy is not expected to affect the diocese’s 86 parishes because each is considered to be an individual non-profit.
E-cigarette banned in New York; national ban considered
An unlikely team, President Donald Trump and New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo are working to ban e-cigarettes after deaths connected to vaping left the public questioning the safety of e-cigarettes. On Sept. 11, Trump said the federal government will act to ban thousands of flavors used in e-cigarettes, leaving just tobacco as an accepted flavor to market. Trump said he wanted parents to be aware of the potential dangers in e-cigarettes, given the recent health concerns raised. In New York, Cuomo has pushed for a statewide ban on flavored e-cigarettes. Cuomo said the state health commissioner would be making a recommendation to the state Public Health and Health Planning Council; according to the Associated Press, this council can issue emergency regulations that go into effect as soon as two weeks after being voted on.
Fetal remains found in abortionist’s home
More than 2,200 preserved fetuses were found in the home of a former abortionist just over a week after his death. Dr. Ulrich Klopfer of Illinois passed away Sept. 3, and his family found the fetuses on his property. Klopfer’s medical license was suspended for failure to keep abreast of professional theory or practice, according to Indiana state records. Illinois state records indicate his license to practice in the state expired in the 1990s. However, Klopfer had performed “tens of thousands of abortions” up until November 2015, according to the New York Times. The Times reported that the coroner’s office took possession of the remains.
Evidence from Saudi oil attack leads to Iran, says U.S. official
The country responsible for attacking a Saudi Arabia oil plant is indicated by evidence to be Iran, not Yemen, said a senior U.S. official. The attack, which knocked out 5% of the world’s output, featured 19 points of impact. Saudi officials indicated that cruise missiles were used and appeared to be launched from west-northwest of the oil plant, which is the direction of Iran. Reuters reported oil prices would increase by $5 to $10 per barrel and tensions in the Middle East would be severely aggravated as a result of the attack. However, an Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman called the allegation “pointless,” and a commander in the Revolutionary Guards said they were ready for “full-fledged” war.
Hong Kong democracy march results in violence
Pro-democracy protesters rallied in Hong Kong Sept. 15, despite having their request to march denied by police; when police showed up to shut the march down, the situation quickly escalated into violence. Police sent chemical-laced blue water and tear gas into the gathered protesters, who responded by tossing Molotov cocktails at law enforcement. Protesters also destroyed banners praising the ruling Communist Party and burned Chinese flags. Hospitals reported eight people injured throughout the riot, three of which were in serious condition. According to the Associated Press, the protests were triggered in June by an extradition bill that many saw as China’s way of chipping at Hong Kong residents’ freedom and rights.
German synod plans considered ‘not ecclesiologically valid,’ says Vatican
The synod of German bishops scheduled for Sept. 23-26 has hit another bump in the road after Vatican officials notified the bishops their plans were “not ecclesiologically valid.” Cardinal Marc Ouellet, head of the Congregation for Bishops, wrote a letter to the German bishops and said their plan for a “binding synodal process” was not in keeping with canon law and set out to alter universal norms and doctrines of the Catholic Church. A synod is supposed to be a pastoral and consultative group and does not have the canonical authority to set policy. However, the German bishops are reportedly looking to examine universal Church teaching on sexual morality, clerical discipline and women’s ordination, according to Catholic News Agency (CNA). Nevertheless, CNA quoted sources as saying the German bishops, namely Cardinal Reinhard Marx, “are largely indifferent to Vatican interventions.”