The Valley Catholic June 11, 2019 - Page 11 | June 11, 2019 IN THE CHURCH 11 Vatican Names Filipino Boy Who Died At 17 Servant of God By Catholic News Service MANILA, Philippines -- A Filipino teenager who died could be on his way to sainthood after the Vatican declared him a Servant of God, the first step in the process toward sainthood. The Congregation for Saints’ Causes gave the Diocese of Cubao, Philippines, the green light to look into the life of Darwin Ramos who died in 2012 at the age 17. Cardinal Angelo Becciu, the congre- gation’s prefect, made the declaration in March, but it was only made public in Manila May 31, reported. “The Vatican has given us the go signal to go deeper into his life, how he lived his faith and how he gave witness to Jesus to whom he was very close,” Bishop Honesto Ongtioco of Cubao said. The bishop said the Vatican declara- tion reminded Catholics that “we are invited to give witness to our faith in concrete ways.” The prelate started the process for the beatification of Ramos at the request of the Friends of Darwin Ramos As- sociation. The process for sainthood starts with the examination of a candidate’s life. A person can only be beatified upon verification of a miracle attributed to his or her intercession. Other steps toward sainthood are declarations of Venerable, followed by beatification and finally canonization. Ramos’ friends have praised his devotion to his faith even as he battled Duchenne muscular dystrophy, a ge- netic disease characterized by muscle weakness. “Darwin is an example of holiness. Being a street child, afflicted with myopathy, he is closely united with Christ in his suffering and joy,” Bishop Ongtioco said. Ramos was born in 1994 in the slums of Pasay City on the outskirts of Manila. At the age of 12, he volunteered to help street children through the founda- tion “Tulay ng Kabataan” or Bridge of Children. After he discovered his faith, he was baptized and confirmed and received his first Communion in 2007. Even as his physical condition dete- riorated, Ramos became an inspiration to the staff and children at a center oper- ated by the foundation. Bishop Ongtioco said Ramos devel- oped a “deep personal relationship with Christ,” taking time every day to pray and entrust himself to God. In 2012, Ramos’ condition worsened, but even in the hospital, he maintained his friendly attitude and thanked every- one for helping him. He died at the Philippine Children’s Medical Center in Quezon City Sep- tember 23, 2012. Priestly Martyrdom to Uphold Seal of Confession Not a New Phenomenon NEW YORK (CNS) -- A symbol of the historical commitment priests have to the seal of confession greets people as they cross the threshold of a Catholic church in Manhattan’s Upper East Side. Above the door is a stone-carved im- age of St. John Nepomucene holding two fingers to his lips, signifying that priests must never reveal what is said to them in the confessional, even if that means paying the ultimate sacrifice of death. This church is named for St. John Nepomucene -- considered the patron saint for the seal of confession -- and it’s adorned with artwork that tells the story of this 14th-century Bohemian priest who chose death rather than reveal what was said during the sacrament of penance. His story demonstrates how seri- ously the Catholic Church takes the privilege between priest and penitent that a member of the clergy is willing to sacrifice his freedom, or even his life, to protect the seal of confession, said Dominican Father Pius Pietrzyk, a canon and civil lawyer who teaches at St. Patrick’s Seminary and University in Menlo Park, California. It also shows that the current strug- gle for the church to have governments fully respect the sanctity of the seal of confession is not a new one, Father Pietrzyk told Catholic News Service in a May interview. St. John Nepomucene was born sometime around 1340 and became a popular priest in what was then known as Bohemia. Ultimately, he was invited to be a confessor at the court of King Wenceslaus IV in Prague. According to historical accounts, a jealous King Wenceslaus ordered John Nepomucene to tell him what his wife, Queen Johanna, revealed in the confes- sional and when he refused to break the seal of confession, the ruler made threats of torture and eventually had him bound and thrown off the Charles Bridge in Prague, where he drowned March 20, 1393. Father John Nepomucene’s mar- tyrdom for the seal of confession was accepted by the church and he was canonized by Pope Benedict XIII in 1729. The Code of Canon Law states the penalty for a priest who violates the seal of confession is automatic excom- munication, which can only be lifted by the pope himself. The punishment is that severe be- cause penitents must be able to confess their sins in specificity in order to be reconciled with God and trust that the priest will honor confidentiality of the confessional, said Father Thomas V. Berg, professor of moral theology at St. Joseph’s Seminary in Yonkers, New York. A bill going through the California Legislature would require a priest to report to civil authorities information concerning child sexual abuse learned in the confessional by another member of the clergy or a co-worker. Toward the end of the 20th century, Father Timothy J. Mockaitis of Eugene, Oregon, was engaged in his own battle against the state where he ministered to keep secret the contents of a 1996 confession he heard from a detention center inmate. Father Mockaitis had been a chaplain at the Lane County Adult Detention Center at the time when he learned the confession he heard from an inmate and a suspect in a murder case had been secretly taped by jail officials and a state prosecutor was attempting to secure a legal way of listening to it. The Archdiocese of Portland and Father Mockaitis objected to this use of A mosaic image of St. John Nepomucene hearing confessions is displayed inside St. John Nepomucene Catholic Church in New York City May 2, 2019. The 14th-century Bohemian saint is considered the first mar- tyr of the seal of confession. (CNS photo/ Chaz Muth) a confession, demanded that the tape be destroyed and pursued the case through the legal system. The 9th Circuit of the U.S. Court of Appeals eventually ruled that the state of Oregon could not use the tape in a prosecution, but, it didn’t order the destruction of the recording. History shows there have been at- tempts by governments to obtain infor- mation revealed in the confessional for centuries, an effort that continues today. In the past two years lawmakers in the U.S., Australia and Chile, have crafted legislation that would compel priests to violate the seal of confession, in one form or another, to address the global child sexual-abuse crisis, said Father Ronald T. Kunkel, theology professor at Mundelein Seminary at the University of St. Mary of the Lake in Illinois, near Chicago. Father Kunkel has told seminar- ians at Mundelein to be prepared for the state to try and compel them, in some circumstances, to break the seal of confession. Audit Report Released; Bishops Urged to Renew Vigilance ‘Each Day’ WASHINGTON (CNS) – The 16th annual report on diocesan compliance with the U.S. bishops’ “Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People” shows a significant increase in the number of abuse allegations over last year’s report because of ad- ditional claims received in five New York dioceses after implementation of their Independent Reconciliation and Compensation programs in the last year. Released May 31, the report for audit year July 1, 2017, to June 30, 2018, states that 1,385 survivors of child sex abuse, including 26 minors, came forward with 1,455 allegations. In last year’s report, allegations were were brought forward by more than 650 adults and 24 mi- nors. Twenty-six of the new allegations reported by dioceses and eparchies in- volved current minors -- 12 males and 14 females -- and came from three different dioceses, the report said. The report was issued by the U.S. Conference of Catho- lic Bishops’ Secretariat of Child and Youth Protection and is based on the audit findings of StoneBridge Business Partners. In his introductory remarks to the report, Francesco Cesareo, chairman of the all-lay National Review Board, which oversees the audits, said: “Any allegation involving a current minor should remind the bishops that they must rededicate themselves each day to maintaining a level of vigilance that will not permit complacency to set.”