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McCarrick gave $1 million to scandal-hit religious order

Washington D.C., Feb 17, 2020 / 01:40 pm (CNA).- Former cardinal Theodore McCarrick was a major donor to a religious community whose founder was found guilty of sexual misconduct.

The Washington Post reported on Monday that McCarrick gave nearly $1 million to the Institute of the Incarnate Word (IVE) from 2004-2017. The religious community was founded in 1984 in Argentina by Fr. Carlos Miguel Buela, who retired in 2010 and was found guilty of sexual misconduct with seminarians by the Vatican in 2016.  

According to previous CNA reports, McCarrick used his status as a senior archbishop and cardinal to support the community and defend it against critics within the Church, including then-Archbishop Jorge Bergoglio, before his election as pope. 

McCarrick was laicized by Pope Francis in February of 2019, after a Vatican canonical process found him guilty of sexual abuse of minors and misconduct with adults. He previously served as bishop of the diocese of Metuchen, Archbishop of Newark, and Archbishop of Washington, D.C., before his retirement in 2006.

According to the Post’s report, McCarrick donated funds to the institute through the Archbishop’s Fund, a charitable account under the oversight of the Archdiocese of Washington through which he also sent hundreds of thousands of dollars in donations to charities and senior Vatican officials over the years. 

After his retirement as Archbishop of Washington, McCarrick resided at a house adjacent to the IVE’s Ven. Fulton Sheen Seminary, in Chillum, Maryland, from 2011 until late 2016 or early 2017.

Priests and seminarians of the community were assigned as staff to McCarrick while the cardinal lived there and after he moved out; those positions were funded by the Washington archdiocese.

The Post also reported Monday that McCarrick granted control of a church-owned property in Maryland to the institute for a seminary that opened in 2005. The website of the Venerable Fulton Sheen Seminary says it was opened in September 1998, two years before McCarrick was appointed to Washington. 

The archdiocesan Redemptoris Mater seminary, also located in Chillum, was opened in 2005, but that seminary is not connected to the IVE.

McCarrick took up residence near the IVE seminary after sanctions were reportedly placed on him by Pope Benedict XVI and he was ordered to move out of the Redemptoris Mater seminary where he had been living in a self-contained apartment.

In 2018, the former Apostolic Nuncio to the United States, Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano, alleged that canonical sanctions were placed on McCarrick in 2009 or 2010, and that he had warned Vatican superiors of McCarrick’s history of sexual misconduct with seminarians and priests as early as 2006. McCarrick’s successor in Washington, Cardinal Donald Wuerl, was first informed of an abuse allegation against McCarrick in 2004 while he was Bishop of Pittsburgh. 

In 2018, the Washington archdiocese repeatedly told CNA that McCarrick made his own living arrangements in his retirement, but sources at the IVE told CNA that Wuerl intervened to have McCarrick moved from his residence near the seminary.

While residing near the institute’s seminary, McCarrick would join the community for meals, and had a priest and seminarians from the institute assigned to him as his personal staff. The IVE property also includes St. John Baptist de la Salle parish, staffed by the institute, as well as the headquarters of its Province of the Immaculate Conception.

McCarrick’s presence was reportedly a source of tension within the community and formators warned students to avoid McCarrick’s “worldly” lifestyle. CNA has previously reported that McCarrick insisted on a special food menu, and that he made seminarians assigned to him accompany him to a casino and on trips to a beach house. McCarrick’s conduct triggered complaints by formators to the order’s leadership in Rome. 

McCarrick last ordained priests for the institute in 2017.

Priest arrested in Turkey for giving bread and water to Kurdish separatists

Ankara, Turkey, Feb 17, 2020 / 12:00 pm (CNA).- Turkish authorities have arrested a Syriac Orthodox priest on terrorism charges after the cleric provided bread and water to members of an illegal Kurdish seperatist group. 

Fr. Sefer Bileçen of St. Jacob’s Monastery in Nusaybin was first detained along with other local Christians on January 9, before being released on January 14 without charge. He was then re-arrested and indicted on January 16, and accused of being a member of a terrorist group. Information about the indictment was released on February 8.

Fr. Bileçen was arrested after an informant testified that he provided bread and water to Kurdish separatists at the monastery in 2018, actions that the Turkish authorities have said constitute “helping and abetting” terrorists. According to a 2018 police report, members of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) visited the monastery on several occasions. 

The PKK is a Marxist group dedicated to the creation of an independent Kurdish state within Turkey. Decades of fighting between PKK separatists and Turkish forces have resulted in the loss of tens of thousands of lives and the group is designated as a terrorist organization in the European Union, though not by the United Nations. The leader of the party has been in a Turkish prison since 1999. 

In addition to the accusation of providing food and water to the PKK members, Bileçen is also accused of failing to report their identities to the authorities, even though he was aware they were members of the banned group. 

Nusaybin, where the monastery is located, is predominantly Kurdish. 

Bileçen does not deny providing food and water to the PKK members, but he told authorities that his actions had no political motivation and were not a demonstration of either support or sympathy for the PKK. The priest said offering food and water to those in need was a requirement of his Christian faith, and that he never left the monastery grounds.

“I give food to whoever comes to my door. I need to do so as per my religion and philosophy,” Bileçen said through a lawyer on January 13.

“And since I am a priest, I cannot lie. I am not doing this in the name of helping an organization, but instead as per my belief. Philosophically, I cannot also denounce someone. This is also the case in terms of religion. I do not step outside the monastery anway,” he said in January. 

Bileçen is due in court on March 19. 

Jon Koriel, chairman of the Assyrian Policy Institute, told Asia News that he was “deeply concerned” about the charges, and that the indictment sends “damaging messages” to the Christian community in Turkey, Koriel said.

“We call on Turkish authorities to drop all charges against him without precondition,” he added. 

If convicted, the charges filed against Fr. Bileçen carry a minimum sentence of seven and a half years in prison.

500 years later, Raphael tapestries rehung in Sistine Chapel

Vatican City, Feb 17, 2020 / 11:07 am (CNA).- Five hundred years after the death of Renaissance artist Raphael, the Vatican Museums has returned the tapestries he designed to their original place in the Sistine Chapel for just one week.

“The value of these tapestries is above all the fact that they complete the religious message of the [Sistine] Chapel,” Alessandra Rodolfo, the exhibit’s curator, told CNA Feb. 17.

The ten tapestries, which show scenes from the lives of St. Peter and St. Paul in the Gospels and the Acts of the Apostles, were commissioned by Leo X in 1515. Raphael made full-size sketches for their design.

The hangings themselves were completed by an influential Flemish tapestry weaver, Pieter van Aelst, in his studio in Brussels.  

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">Spent part of the early morning in the Sistine Chapel seeing these Raphael-designed tapestries from the 1500s. <br><br>They tell the stories of Sts. Peter &amp; Paul and were commissioned by Pope Leo X to hang beneath Michelangelo&#39;s masterpiece.<br><br>They&#39;ll be displayed here just one week. <a href=""></a></p>&mdash; Hannah Brockhaus (@HannahBrockhaus) <a href="">February 17, 2020</a></blockquote> <script async src="" charset="utf-8"></script>

The works will be displayed in the Sistine Chapel Feb. 17-23, after which they will return to the Raphael Room of the Vatican Museums’ Pinacoteca area, where they have hung since 1932, Rodolfo said.

The tapestries were made to accompany Michelangelo’s frescoes on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel, which were finished in 1512, as well as the slightly earlier Renaissance frescoes depicting the life of Moses and the life of Christ on the walls of the chapel.

They hang on the lower part of the walls, which are painted to look like curtains.

The tapestries arrived at the Vatican between 1519 and 1521. Raphael himself, who died in 1520, did not live to see them all completed.

“Raphael, together with Leo X, conceived the iconographic project of the tapestries,” Barbara Jatta, director of the Vatican Museums, said.

She told CNA the works are about the apostles bringing the Gospel to the world.

“So, in this place that is a universal place of art and faith, we have, incredibly, also the Gospel given to the people. Thanks to Raphael, thanks to Leo X,” she said.

“Raphael represents in some way the highest example of Renaissance art,” Jatta explained. “Through Raphael we want to share the values, not only of art, but also of faith” that his art represents, especially in his Sistine Chapel tapestries.

The ten tapestries were taken during the Sack of Rome in 1527. Those which were not burned ended up scattered throughout Europe.

The tapestries, some of which are early copies made from the first set, eventually were brought back to Rome and the Vatican.

At around 120 pounds, and covering together a length of over 100 feet, it took “a great effort” to hang the tapestries, Rodolfo said.

The exhibition of the tapestries in the Sistine Chapel is one of several exhibitions happening in Rome in 2020 for the 500th anniversary of Raphael’s death.

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Catholic business leaders respond to 'no breaks' Bloomberg video

Washington D.C., Feb 17, 2020 / 09:00 am (CNA).- Catholic business leaders have said a work-life balance is critical for success after a video of presidential candidate Michael Bloomberg advising workers to avoid taking breaks went viral last week.

In a video clip of a 2011 interview with TechCrunch, Bloomberg—billionaire founder of the news and financial services company Bloomberg L.P., and former mayor of New York City—gave his recipe for workplace success. He advised employees against taking lunch breaks and even suggested they should avoid going to the bathroom. The video was repeatedly shared on social media last week and viewed thousands of times.

 “I’m not smarter than anybody else, but I can outwork you,” Bloomberg said of his work ethic.

“My key to success—for you or for anybody else—is make sure you’re the first one in there every day, and the last one to leave. Don’t ever take a lunch break or go to the bathroom, you keep working. You never know when that opportunity is going to come along,” he said.

In 2013 on his radio show, Bloomberg gave similar advice in telling workers to “take the fewest vacations and the least time away from the desk to go to the bathroom or have lunch.”

On Feb 14., leaders at a Catholic business school responded that prayerful prudence is key to achieving a proper work-life balance, which is necessary to workplace success.

“I hope that when he said that, Bloomberg was exaggerating for effect,” Professor Andrew Abela, founding dean of the Busch School of Business at the Catholic University of America, told CNA on Friday.

“Hard work is necessary, but time for prayer, family, friends, community are absolutely necessary too, not just for a life well lived, but for a successful career as well,” Abela said.

Professor Maximilian B. Torres, J.D., who teaches business ethics and organizational behavior at the Busch School, said that as a father of eight with a spouse of 30 years, he believes a work-life “balance” can be fluid and depend upon the situations at work and at home.

“There are times when it would be criminal not to exert extra effort at work.  There are other times when it would be criminal not to make time for a late-night, father-son conversation, or a family dinner,” Torres said, adding that no boss or spouse should “demand 24/7/365 obsession.”

“Ultimately, balance lies in the counsels of prudence, and results from prayer,” Torres said.

In the 2011 TechCrunch interview, Bloomberg did go on to say that success is not all about money.

“We measure success by, ‘how much money do you have?’ That’s not the only measure of success. I know some very successful people who measure it by how many lives they’ve saved, or how many kids they’ve helped in the classroom, or how well they’ve brought up their children,” Bloomberg said.

He said of his time in “public service” as mayor of New York City that he hoped he could one day tell his grandchildren, “I’ve left you a better world.”

Employee perks offered by Bloomberg News might also contradict the billionaire’s advice on taking breaks, noted Paul Radich, assistant professor of practice, marketing, and social thought at the Busch School.

The company’s building in midtown Manhattan offers free pantry food and free soup at lunchtime to employees in a central location, he noted—although it is unclear whether such policies were instituted to take care of employees or to maximize worker productivity.

Bloomberg, L.P. has also drawn criticism from former female employees who have alleged a hostile workplace culture.

In 2008, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) filed a discrimination lawsuit against Bloomberg L.P., saying pregnant female employees who took maternity leave received demotions or pay cuts, or were replaced.

Ultimately, 65 women were claimants in the lawsuit which was dismissed by a federal judge in 2011. The judge concluded there was a lack of evidence that the company engaged in a “pattern” of discrimination.

The New York Post reported in December 2019 that Bloomberg, L.P., had been the subject of nearly 40 discrimination and harassment lawsuits by 64 former employees.

According to a November report by the New York Times, one of the lawsuits alleged that Bloomberg told a pregnant employee “kill it,” referring to her baby, and complained about the number of pregnant women at the company. That lawsuit was settled without an admission of guilt.

On Friday, the Washington Post reported that a former Bloomberg technology writer said he witnessed the conversation in which Bloomberg allegedly told the pregnant employee to kill her baby.

Other lawsuits have also alleged that Bloomberg made disparaging remarks about pregnant employees.

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