Saturday, June 30, 2007

An Focal Scóir - June 2007

June normally is seen as the beginning of the summer season and fresh hopes and thus we begin this month with the opening of the Synod of the Iraqi Chaldean Church, a renouncing faith Muslim, attacks on a convent in Baghdad and how the Pope forgot his passport to Brazil with Alitalia being heavily fined for this Benedictine blooper.

Scottish Cardinal condemns abortion, while his Australian colleague upsets a few by accusing them of being intimidatory and over in Zimbabwe another purple wearer continues to upset Mugabe and in Latin America post Il Papa visit, the bishops vow to stem the declining numbers of Catholics to Evangelism.

UK RC schools criticised again for not implementing anti-homophobic bullying guidelines, whilst in Éire, top child protection job in RC Church goes to a Presbyterian, whilst China is considering banning RC's from Olympics, and the canonisation of a new Irish saint is also covered.

Vatican indifference to dealing with CSA cases is highlighted, RC interference to be curtailed by Arnie Schwarzenegger, Voice of the Faithful in financial difficulties, whilst free speech is not democratically recognised or respected by US diocese of Lincoln.

China Vatican relations discussed again, Pope Pius XII kidnap attempt by Nazis foiled, reality show hoax, excommunications not the answer say Franciscans, RC Church its out at sex laws, papal visit to Canada in 2008 muttered.

Pro Abortion No Communion threat by hierarchy, ordination of female priests, groundskeeper turns soulkeeper, Vancouver wants inaction on CSA files suppressed, Latin Mass translation questioned, and Cardinal O Malley invites Il Papa to Boston next year.

Opus Dei ordinands in Rome, deaths of Chaldean clergy, RC teachers to take public vow, Zen stokes China Vatican flames again, Giuliani criticised for abortion, Spanish parish of the poor defies Archbishop, and Fr. Faux Pas Feakle with Bishop Walsh mentioned again.

Pell starts trouble with NSW parliament, attacks on churches in Java continue, Zen criticises China again, God berates Bush in mystery advertisement, Il Papa to declare Pauline Year, US bishops to discuss gay clergy, nun for canonisation.

Attempt to pimp popemobile, 2 new names of bishops from Chaldean Synod, RC MP's defy Pell, supermodel clashes with RC Church, Mexican cardinal grilled in relation to CSA cases, Chinese underground bishop arrested again, God's banker case laid to rest.

Churches forcibly turned into mosques, feast of Corpus Christi, Irish police force a disgrace yet again, kidnapped Christians released, RC priest in pay dispute, Aussie Bishop under parliamentary investigation over remarks made, Muslim woman forced to re-convert to Islam by religious court, cardinal calls those promoting abortion as 'children of darkness' , Williams denies possibility of a schism.

Gay rights in Northern Ireland being challenged by Christian activists, Mother Teresa a crook discussed, Papal patience raising eyebrows, attempt to ban non-Catholics from Catholic positions, African RC Church says priests should be allowed to marry, Bush visits 'Sir' Pope.

Dalai Lama on tour, new Vatican Secretary of State, no female clergy says Vatican, Tara Hill in Ireland to be protected, Anglican Church -v- Sony, Il Papa appeal for kidnapped clergy, and Blair to become RC Deacon post 10 Downing Street.

Pell defied by RC MP's, new Eucharist liturgy translation rejected by German bishops, new head of UK RC being sought, RC priest appeals for aid for AIDS sufferers, new 3rd World Anglican bishop, Baptist Church CSA scandal.

RC Church & Homosexuality 2 views, more gays than papal audience attendants, anti-gay bishop gets more threats, Pell re-issues warnings to MP's, Vermont RC diocese accused of hiring paedophile priests, Il Papa opens Roman clerical convention, Birmingham AB tipped as head of UK RC.

Beer drinking nuns, Europe Christianity back in fashion, blogspot hacked, pro-abortion Amnesty International, US gay rights issues on bishops agenda, bishop burgled, GSOC relevance questioned, Moscow Rome relations to continue, theologians advised not to criticise RC church.....and into the second half of the month of June we go with Portland bishop apologising to victims of Child Sex Abuse, Mexico legalising prostitution, priest detained on paedophile charges in Croatia, diocese legally fighting obligation to hand over abuse records whilst questions abound as to invite list to Lambeth Conference in 2008...

Possible schism in Anglican America, more Vatican hypocrisy, 21st Century slavery abounds, impact of Orthodox Catholic relations improving on European scale, Colombia yes to gay rights, CSA Protestant style, Cleveland legally directed to hand over files on CSA, Aussie Cardinal on contempt hearings.

Battle for Anglican soul begins, Latin Mass making way back, reflection on 3rd year of Benedict XVI, UK bishops oppose Latin Mass, Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission incurs wrath of RC priest, nun quits over letter requirement, Poland's daughter of chastity....NOT!!, Il Papa in Assisi, late Pope name smeared.

Theology of Sineád O Connor, new soapbox in Ireland, Papal plea for peace, LA in CSA trial, Cardinal Pell backs down, Cardinal's pro-gay marriage advisor, Luther, Irish Bishops and environment, RC school and convent destroyed, Polish RC Clergy warned by Papal Nuncio.

RC religious order sues own legal representative, whilst church and lawmakers are accused of failing victims of CSA, no Vatican plans to convert Russia, trading trouble for Tesco Poland, suicide focus in Ireland, global paedophile ring busted.

10 commandments for rules of the road, call for religious order to be shutdown, RC witch hunt for gay clergy, LA diocese under judge order to disclose files, Pope wants prostitutes clients punished, minutes from Irish Bishops meeting, Vatican reverses annulment decision, clerical pay rise, Irish priest calls for independent audit of Irish dioceses.

Clerical fashion showcase in Poland, suicide awareness Ireland, Sotto Voce on 100,000 hits, Osama Bin Laden honoured by clerics, RC priest in Rwanda charged with genocide, RC told to put up or shut up, Amnesty International in trouble.

Browne asked not repeat Blair mistakes, abandoned wives look to Vatican for help, Pope to declare a Pauline year, Suicide Alert Ireland, Blair meets with Il Papa, abortion now legal in Portugal, gay priest steps down, female clergy, papal holidays in Alps.

Chastity ring court case in UK, Blair to become RC, Iraqi Christians need help, all roads lead to Rome, no valuable icon given to Il Papa says archbishop, warning to brides again re Paul Mayfair, Bishop Casey saga continues.

RC pressing on nuptials, Anglicanism faces same sex debate, John The Baptist, homosexuality divides Christians, Il Papa wanted retire 10 years ago, Pope John Paul II remembered, RC lays down dress code, cleric commits suicide after CSA claims made public, Anglicanism turns to Homer Simpson to get youth.

New papal election rules (which are quiet old), Kenyan church told do more for HIV/AIDS sufferers, MySpace Monks, theology of Sineád again, science religion and soul battle, clerical help needed in breastfeeding campaign, divorce rate in Italy jumps, morning after pill offered to Brazil's poor.

Archbishops receive palliums, Irish RC cleric appeals for clemency for person who falsely accused him, more collusion in Poland clergy and police state, papal support for stem cell research, Croatian Church and State at odds, Egypt outlaws female circumcision, African Synod in 2008, new Vatican diplomatic team, Canadian Anglicans vote against same sex marriages, the rules of annulment, China Papal Letter issued.

Clerical Whispers ended June 2007 on the sad note of the death of a young settled traveller from Ennis County Clare by the son of Garda McGovern of Ennis Garda Station. This highlighted the 2 tier system in this country and the heavy handed actions by the force in this country. They deserve nothing but the shame they have brought upon themselves by using and manipulating the legal system to ensure the little thug who perpetrated the act would get away with it...which he has thus far managed to do.

It behoves us all to pray for the victim and his family and hope that justice will prevail over the intent of other parties meant to uphold the law to ensure that this would not happen.

No responsibility or liability shall attach itself to either myself or to the blogspot ‘Clerical Whispers’ for any or all of the articles placed here.

The placing of an article hereupon does not necessarily imply that I agree or accept the contents of the article as being necessarily factual in theology, dogma or otherwise.

Sotto Voce

Sotto Voce...Death of an Innocent...UPDATE

The teenager charged in connection with the death of Ennis Schoolboy Michael Doherty (pic'd here) has been further remanded on bail until September.

The 17 year old student who can't be named as he's underage, appeared before Ennis District Court this morning, charged with producing an article likely to cause serious injury, in last Saturday night's fatal altercation on O'Connell Street.

Members of the late Michael Doherty's family were in court this morning as a 17 year old student was before Judge Joseph Mangan, charged in connection with the incident which led to his death last weekend.

14 year old Michael Doherty, of Ashline, Ennis died from stab wounds, following an altercation on O'Connell Street at around 11 o'clock on Saturday night.

He was laid to rest on Wednesday.

Today the 17 year old student was remanded on continuing bail. He's charged with producing an article likely to cause serious injury contrary to section 11 of the Firearms and Offensive Weapons Act. (but notice he has not yet - if ever - been charged with actual murder)

The accused is due back before Ennis district court on September 28th, giving gardai time to prepare a book of evidence in the case and to seek intstructions from the Director of Public prosecutions.


It is not often that I personally comment upon many issues in this country of ours except in situations whereby I feel comment is necessary and this is one of those situations....

For just a moment, please look at the picture which accompanies this script and please reflect on this simple fact....where that marquee style tent is standing is where an innocent young boy of 14 years of age was stabbed to death last Saturday night.

Just before 11pm, this young man was going about his business having been to a local horse fair and now heading home. He was accosted by a 17 year old who was carrying a knife, and after harassing the 14 year old, this thug drew his knife and repeatedly stabbed the younger boy.

He left him to die in the street and calmly made his way up the street, discarding the knife in the grounds of the cathedral in Ennis and then went to a local pub only 2 doors up and asked the owner if he could wash himself as he was covered in blood.

Meanwhile, the local Gardaí had arrived on the scene, and started to squabble amongst themselves as to whether or not they should move the (still breathing) boy to the local hospital which is only a matter of moments away and if they were to blue and two it (lights and speed) the young boy would no doubt have survived.

However, the hospital had sent an ambulance in the interim which took over 41 minutes to arrive to a scene normally less than 10 minutes away which certainly raises a lot of questions and even the Health Service Executive West Region has stated it took over 20 minutes to reach the scene which raises even more questions than it answers. The young boy was taken to the hospital and according to one of the local on duty doctors, if the young man had been brought in earlier there was every chance of having saved his innocent life.

In the meantime, the 17 year old was tracked down and brought to Ennis Garda Station for questioning by no less than the colleagues of his father (Garda McGovern) who just happens to be a Garda in Ennis and normally would be held for 24 hours for questioning. This however did not happen in this particular case as it was deemed too dangerous to release him after this time as it was felt he was now in danger, so he was kept in the Garda Station pending a court appearance on Monday in Gort, county Galway.

He was brought to court and the judge was advised that there was no objection to bail by the Gardaí (to be expected...but not normally the case let it be noted!!!) and the total sum of €3,000 was paid in as surety to the court. The young assailant was now also given free legal aid which means he will not have to pay a single red penny towards his legal defence despite his parents both having well paid jobs as a Garda and nurse respectively. No other person in Ireland in such a position would have received such treatment of such a lenient nature....

The family of the young victim were now left with the harrowing task of having to come to terms with the death of an innocent child who had, unlike his assailant, no record of ever being in trouble with the law.

On Tuesday, his white casket was removed from the local funeral home and carried through the streets of Ennis and momentarily halted at the spot as pictured above before moving on to the Cathedral.

The Garda force decided to antagonise the situation which had been caused by the son of one of their members by ensuring the Garda helicopter hovered in the skies above monitoring the proceedings below and sticking out like sore thumbs from nooks and crannies like ould Biddies were members of the force....and one question sprung to mind as some of us stood there awaiting the arrival of the mourning crowds....

Where the fuck were they when this young man was being assaulted and why were they squabbling like schoolyard children in deciding whether or not to rush the young innocent to hospital and try and save his life?

It seemed as if the Gardaí were hoping that some disturbance would break out and there is no doubt but that their presence was nothing short of an attempt to antagonise an already somewhat tense situation.

This repeated itself on Wednesday when we gathered together in mourning in the Cathedral before we would say our farewell to the young man and again antagonism seemed to be the order of the day with yet again an over the top and unwelcome and intrusive presence by this alleged police force into the private mourning of a community.

As I returned home that evening to my own abode, my heart genuinely was behind with the family and community which had raised, nurtured and now that day, just buried an innocent young man.

To them, I would like to say that throughout Ireland and beyond, you have more support than you know and acknowledging that for now you must rebuild your lives if possible, we too like you shall not forget your innocent son.

You raised a loving and caring son who was so brutally cut down in the prime of his life by someone who may never be held accountable for it but know that one day he will have to answer to God for his actions.

Your son is there now and will be keeping watch over you all and please God, he will give you all the strength, courage and hope to see you all through the coming times.

To the Gardaí, well what can one say except that yet again, you have proven how corrupt a force you actually are, individually and collectively, and also that you are also no longer deserving of the support of the public.

Your actions and indeed your inactions have determined in many peoples hearts and minds that in all honesty, you have no respect for many elements of Irish society, and this was indeed most obvious to so many of us who had to comfort and console a devastated family and community.

Not one of you tipped your hat, blessed yourselves or in any way showed any respect to the passing remains of an innocent young man...such disrespect by a disrespectful force of ignorants is all that can be said.

Now, you should lower your heads, if nothing else, in shame for the way you have allowed your true colours to be so publicly displayed.

Shame on you all, again individually and collectively.


No responsibility or liability shall attach itself to either myself or to the blogspot ‘Clerical Whispers’ for any or all of the articles placed here.

The placing of an article hereupon does not necessarily imply that I agree or accept the contents of the article as being necessarily factual in theology, dogma or otherwise.

Sotto Voce

US nun's visit opposed by bishop

The Catholic Bishop of Christchurch, Barry Jones, is opposing a visit by a controversial feminist nun from the United States.

He has written to priests saying that next week's visit by Benedictine nun Sister Joan Chittister is unauthorised.

Permission for the event had not been sought or given, and Jones did not want it promoted through Catholic churches.

"The point is that silence generates the misunderstanding that this is all approved, when it's not. I have made my position clear to the priests," he said.

Chittister, from Eire, Pennsylvania, has clashed with church authorities internationally over her strong stance on issues such as women's ordination and contraception.

She attended the first Women's Ordination Worldwide Conference in 2000, defying an order by the Vatican.

An independent group of Catholic lay people, the Adult Education Trust, has invited Chittister to Christchurch.

She will speak about spirituality, culture, justice and "God, women and the world".

Jones opposed the visit because he said Chittister did not agree with the Catholic Church's teachings.

"I don't see how I, as a bishop, can advance the teachings of the Catholic Church by appearing to condone other views," he said.

High-profile Sister Pauline O'Regan, of the Sisters of Mercy, backs Chittister's visit and was surprised by Jones's stance.

"It sort of sounds like censorship, doesn't it?" O'Regan said. "I think she has a very loving attitude towards challenging the church in matters where it needs to look at itself. She should not be feared. She's a very, very spiritual woman."

O'Regan and her colleagues had studied Chittister's more than 30 books and knew her teachings well.

"Sure, she challenges various things within the church, but then so do a great number of other people. Jesus challenged the leaders of his religious era," said O'Regan.

"It makes me wonder if he (Jones) has read her books and articles that she has written. In my opinion, people have the capacity to judge for themselves."

Trust co-ordinator Kevin Gallagher said most of the group's events over the past seven years had been supported by the diocese.

"It's just the odd one. We understand the position of the diocese if they choose not to. It's their choice," he said.

"I personally have a lot of respect for Bishop Barry. The heart of Catholic teaching is very much in the area of justice and social concern. She (Chittister) is very much about these issues, such as the Iraq war and the gun lobby. People are free to come if they want to."

The lectures are at St Margaret's College Chapel in Merivale on Friday and Saturday.


No responsibility or liability shall attach itself to either myself or to the blogspot ‘Clerical Whispers’ for any or all of the articles placed here.

The placing of an article hereupon does not necessarily imply that I agree or accept the contents of the article as being necessarily factual in theology, dogma or otherwise.

Sotto Voce

Vatican to release pope's letter to Catholic Chinese Today

Pope Benedict XVI's eagerly awaited letter to Roman Catholics in China will be released on today, the Vatican said, the pontiff's latest effort to reach out to Beijing and bring all of China's faithful into the Vatican's fold.

A Vatican statement issued Friday said the pope's letter — addressed to bishops, priests and lay faithful in China — would be released at noon today (1000 GMT).

China forced its Roman Catholics to cut ties with the Vatican in 1951, shortly after the officially atheist Communist Party took power. Worship is allowed only in the government-controlled churches, which recognize the pope as a spiritual leader but appoint their own priests and bishops.

Millions of Chinese, however, belong to unofficial congregations loyal to Rome.

Benedict has been reaching out to Beijing in an effort to restore diplomatic ties and unite China's estimated 12 million faithful. The government and the Vatican have been at loggerheads over the Vatican's insistence on naming bishops.

Benedict's decision to address Chinese Catholics in a letter came out of high-level talks on China at the Vatican in January. The general outlines of the pope's letter could be seen in the Vatican statement following the meeting.

It spoke of its interest in pursuing "respectful and constructive dialogue" with the government while paying tribute to those Catholics who have suffered for their loyalty to the pope.

The Chinese Patriotic Catholic Association has welcomed the Vatican's diplomatic initiative and said earlier this year that the letter from the pope to Chinese Catholics could be helpful.

"I hope and I also believe that the pope's letter will show his love of China's churches," the head of the Patriotic Association, Liu Bainian said in January.

Vatican watchers have said they expect the pope will stress the unity of the Catholic Church in the document, which Italian news reports said would be about 28 pages long and read like a mini-encyclical.

The reaction of the Beijing government and the underground faithful will be vitally important. Some underground priests have already expressed resentment about the pope's outreach to the government and the official church, according to the official bishop of Shanghai, Bishop Aloysius Jin Luxian.

"There will be two different reactions," said Agostino Giovagnoli, a professor of contemporary history at the Catholic University in Milan, who has written about Vatican-China relations.

The underground bishops may resent the pope's recognition of the fact that many "official" bishops who were consecrated without Rome's consent have since reconciled with the Holy See, he said.

"Maybe the reaction of the official bishops will be better," he said.

Benedict made clear from the outset of his papacy two years ago that improving relations with China was a key priority.

He has sent envoys to Beijing to sound out the government on the possibility of restoring ties, and he invited four Chinese bishops — from the official and underground churches — to a meeting of the world's bishops in 2005. Beijing did not let any of the four attend.

Some nominations of bishops have been tacitly agreed upon, but the state-sanctioned Chinese Patriotic Church unilaterally went ahead and appointed three bishops on its own last year, raising Vatican anger.

The Vatican has said it would concede to another key demand of Beijing to downgrade relations with Taiwan in exchange for restoring ties with Beijing.


No responsibility or liability shall attach itself to either myself or to the blogspot ‘Clerical Whispers’ for any or all of the articles placed here.

The placing of an article hereupon does not necessarily imply that I agree or accept the contents of the article as being necessarily factual in theology, dogma or otherwise.

Sotto Voce

AJC bans Pope for youth visit

PLANS for next year's papal visit to Sydney were thrown into disarray yesterday, with the Australian Jockey Club refusing to sign off on its promise to host the Pope at Randwick racecourse.

The 11th-hour about-face could jeopardise the Pope's planned mass before an expected 300,000 followers.

The concerns of horse trainers appear to have caused AJC chairman Ross Smyth-Kirk to baulk at signing a heads of agreement to make Randwick available for the religious gathering.

The trainers are demanding compensation if the racecourse is shut down for at least 10 weeks from June 14 next year in order to hold the event.

Mr Smyth-Kirk said last night he had not given up hope of persuading the Iemma Government and the Catholic Church to seek an alternative venue for World Youth Day.

When asked if it was still possible to move the event away from Royal Randwick, he said: "In theory 'Yes', in practice 'Probably not'."

"We are going to explore all our options and ask the Government to do the same," Mr Smyth-Kirk said.

"At least there must be compensation paid to Randwick trainers who may have to move their business to another racetrack for up to three months."

A planned mass by the Pope at Randwick on July 19 next year would attract up to 300,000 people. Major modifications would have to be made to the racecourse, including the removal of rails and covering of the ponds.

Most of the attendees at the festival's centerpiece – World Youth Day – are expected to camp overnight on the racecourse grounds.

The heads of agreement committing Randwick as the World Youth Day site was due to be signed yesterday by AJC officials and representatives of the Government and Catholic Church.

Then Mr Smyth-Kirk ordered AJC management not to formalise the documents.

Last night, a World Youth Day spokesman said Randwick remained the preferred site.

"All the parties involved are committed to World Youth Day at Randwick," he said.

"We're all working together to resolve the planning issues associated with hosting the event. When those discussions are finalised, we'll work together to settle an agreement."

Mr Smyth-Kirk said further consultation was needed to determine the ramifications to the racing industry if Randwick was temporarily closed for training and racing.

AJC officials are trying to persuade the State Government to consider alternative venues such as Telstra Stadium or Centennial Park.

Mr Smyth-Kirk has consulted the sport's controlling authority, Racing NSW, on the issue.

"Racing NSW is prepared to assist the AJC and Randwick trainers in any way possible," Racing NSW chief executive Peter V'Landys said last night.

"It has to be appreciated that our participants' livelihoods are at stake and we want to be sure they won't be left out of pocket."


No responsibility or liability shall attach itself to either myself or to the blogspot ‘Clerical Whispers’ for any or all of the articles placed here.

The placing of an article hereupon does not necessarily imply that I agree or accept the contents of the article as being necessarily factual in theology, dogma or otherwise.

Sotto Voce

Politics, Communion, Catholic teaching: A tale of two politicians

When Tony Blair came to the Vatican to meet Pope Benedict XVI in June, there was excited speculation that the outgoing British prime minister might be preparing to become a Catholic.

Across the ocean, meanwhile, Republican presidential candidate Rudolph W. Giuliani, a lifelong Catholic, was taking heat from some church leaders for his stand on abortion.

Abortion is wrong, Giuliani has said, but the government shouldn't be enforcing that moral decision on women.Blair has similar views on abortion, saying that as much as he may "dislike the idea of abortion" it should be kept legal.

Like Giuliani, Blair has said women who choose abortion should not be criminalized.

The position of both men is not in line with the church's teaching on the sanctity of human life.

But to some observers, it seemed like the church was putting out the welcome mat for the potential convert and preparing a penitent's robe for the Catholic."It may seem like a double standard, but in fact it's a bit more complicated than that. For one thing, Blair is leaving office," said one church source close to the Vatican.

Other Vatican officials, who spoke off the record, agreed that because Blair stepped down from public office June 27 -- apparently for good -- his political position on abortion is not really an obstacle to joining the church.

The important thing is that he accept the church's pro-life teachings in his own conscience, they said.

"Becoming a Catholic is not a la carte. One would presume that there is a willingness to accept the teaching of the church on all aspects of life, including abortion," said one official.

Some believe that given Blair's previous statements about keeping abortion legal, he would need to make clear in a public way that he now agrees with the church's teaching on the issue before joining the church.

But others said the act of becoming a Catholic would itself constitute a clear sign of acceptance of church teachings, and good faith would be presumed unless it were contradicted by some subsequent public action.

Church experts said there is no checklist of church teachings that need to be acknowledged by those seeking to join the Catholic Church. For baptized Christians like Blair, the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults recommends a program of religious instruction tailored to the individual's needs, carried out by a local priest, deacon or catechist.

Despite the growing speculation in the British press about Blair's religious intentions, there was no indication from the Vatican that the question of becoming a Catholic was discussed in his private meeting with the pope.

Several Vatican sources said they expect Blair to take the step sometime in the near future, but they said they hoped it would be treated as a private matter.

"This is not the kind of thing like at Canossa, where an emperor was made to walk barefoot in the snow," said one source.

He referred to the famous case of the Emperor Henry IV, who did public penance in the Italian city of Canossa in 1077 before his excommunication was lifted by Pope Gregory VII.

Giuliani, a former mayor of New York, is leading among Republican presidential candidates in national polls.

In late May, Bishop Thomas J. Tobin of Providence, R.I., sharply criticized Giuliani for saying he is "personally opposed" to abortion but would not impose that view on others.

Bishop Tobin said Giuliani's public proclamations on abortion were "pathetic and confusing" and represented a "defection from the Catholic faith on this moral issue."

Although Bishop Tobin is not Giuliani's bishop, his comments have echoed loudly in recent coverage of the emerging presidential campaign.

They have also reached the Vatican, which in recent years has underlined the responsibility of Catholic politicians on abortion and other life issues.

In May, Pope Benedict, speaking about recent legislation in Mexico, indicated that Catholic lawmakers who vote to legalize abortion could even face excommunication.

Even when abortion is not up for a legislative vote, many church officials believe the church has no choice but to address the "scandal" of a Catholic candidate who espouses the right to abortion.

But others are reluctant to see a repeat of 2004, when Communion became a political football. During that presidential campaign, a handful of bishops said Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., a Catholic, should be refused Communion because of his support of legal abortion.

The Communion issue seems unlikely to present itself in Giuliani's case.

He is said to refrain from taking Communion because he is married for the third time, and his second marriage was never annulled by the church.


No responsibility or liability shall attach itself to either myself or to the blogspot ‘Clerical Whispers’ for any or all of the articles placed here.

The placing of an article hereupon does not necessarily imply that I agree or accept the contents of the article as being necessarily factual in theology, dogma or otherwise.

Sotto Voce

Britain’s anti-Catholic law violates European Convention

Last week the Old Bailey in London put on-line records of more than 100,000 trials between 1674 and 1834.

Among them were the cases of ‘notorious papists’ who suffered appalling death sentences for offences such as saying mass.

Thankfully such intolerance is no longer part of British life (that’s now left to our Muslim brethren) and good manners have replaced the hard-line bigotry of Protestantism.

Yet, not all of Britain’s anti-Catholic legislation has been repealed.

The 1701 Act of Settlement, for instance, prohibits a British monarch or possible heir to the throne from marrying a Catholic.

It’s a law that was enforced as recently as 1988 when the Duke of Kent’s son married a Catholic and he was forced to renounce his right of succession.

Even though the law violates article 9 of the European Convention on Human Rights, which upholds the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion, the British Establishment has always been reluctant to change it.

Blair Avoids the Tower

But despite the remnants of religious bigotry in English law, when reports surfaced of Tony Blair’s plan to convert to Catholicism no outcry ensued.

Britain, it seemed, was now a secular state in all but name.

Nevertheless Blair, long suspected of being close to Rome, was careful not to draw attention to his religious preferences, perhaps mindful of a legal provision that makes it a criminal offence for a Catholic prime minister to advise the monarch on appointments to the Church of England.

Tony, or ‘Tone’ to the chums, had no desire to end up in the Tower of London. As well, there’s never been a Catholic Prime Minister of Britain and he wasn’t going to be the first one – which also might help explain the secrecy surrounding his intention to convert to Catholicism and to leave the decision until he was on the point of departing from office.

Blair’s wife and four children are practising Catholics and for 30 years he was considered a closet Catholic who was canny enough to put politics before faith. He was often spotted attending Mass, alone or with his family, in Westminster Cathedral where he took communion until the late Cardinal Hume told him not to, as he was not a fully fledged Catholic.

Nevertheless he continued attending Mass at the church near Chequers and receiving communion at every possible opportunity, including from Pope John Paul II in 2003.

In fact his Catholic leanings so much alarmed the Anglican Archbishop of Canterbury at the time, George Carey, that he was advised he should also be seen at ‘an Anglican or free church act of worship’ on the odd occasion.

Not A Protester

Blair’s interest in Catholicism goes back to his student days at Oxford, and it was significant that the gift he gave Pope Benedict during his most recent visit to the Vatican was a portrait of Cardinal Newman, Oxford’s most famous nineteenth century convert.

What seems certain is that Blair’s conversion does not appear to be born out of an angst-driven religious protest and his new-found faith seems to have had a long gestation process.

He certainly was no Protestant protesting against Protestantism nor did he ever give any indication that his apostasy had anything to do with the perception that many Church of England bishops have yet to realise they might actually be atheists.

Keeping his religious cards to his chest was no doubt due to suspicions still prevalent in Britain and the US that Catholic politicians take their orders from the Vatican, as was the case in this country before the Irish Catholic Church irredeemably disgraced itself with one scandal after another.

Blair may have also been conscious of the hilarity he generated following disclosures that he knelt with Bush in the White House to pray for guidance before invading Iraq.

Blair as Genghis Khan

Whether or not the Almighty ever sent down his wisdom on him is very much open to question, but for many conservative Catholics his conversion runs the risk of turning him into the worst Catholic since Genghis Khan.

He certainly hasn’t allowed his enthusiasm for the ‘old religion’ to intrude on sensitive moral issues.

Civil partnerships for homosexuals went ahead under his stewardship, including the right to adopt children.

Nor did Blair attempt to limit abortion rights even though he claimed to be ‘personally opposed to abortion’ while his stance on embryo research and cloning has been criticised by Catholic groups as anti-life.

The British version of SPUC (the Society for the Protection of the Unborn) even initiated a prayer cycle in the hope that he would show ‘repentance on life issues’ and publicly repudiate his ‘anti-life’ positions.

They also accused him of promoting the distribution of the morning-after pill to teenagers, of forcing Catholic schools to teach sex education which included the promotion of artificial contraception, and of backing a Mental Capacity Bill that, they said, would lead to routine euthanasia.

But it’s Blair’s participation in the illegal and calamitous war in Iraq that raises eyebrows about his new life as a born-again Catholic. With half a million Iraqi civilians dead, the question arises how he can square his bloodthirsty, imperialistic adventures with his conscience.

Or to paraphrase the writer, Ilka Chase, is it a case that when men are usually at their most religious they behave with the least sense and the greatest cruelty? It might be too cynical to say (but we’ll chance it anyway) that in the light of the horrors he helped instigate in Iraq he’s the best argument to date for abortion on demand and the morning-after pill!

Certainly when he goes to confession and attempts to tell the truth on Iraq he’s in for a lorry load of Hail Marys.

Blair’s Life of Brian

So far the British public is somewhat bemused at reports of Blair’s planned conversion to Catholicism.

Their wonder, however, is tempered by the delight at seeing him exit national politics, having become heartily sick of him and his policies which are perceived as inimical to Christian principles and, indeed, in many cases to basic principles of humanity and justice.

The likelihood is that his conversion will not at all impinge on British politics and, as he fades into political obscurity (no doubt muttering his mea culpas), his new role as committed Catholic will be likened to the crucifixion of Brian in the Monty Python film The Life of Brian, the scene when Brian’s mother comments reprovingly: ‘He’s not the Messiah … he’s a very naughty boy!’

And that will be a fitting testimony to Blair, the Catholic.


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Sotto Voce

Vatican denies local Catholic teachers right to unionize

Local Catholic elementary school teachers are crying foul over yet another ruling against them straight from the Vatican.

In the third and final stage of appeal, a five member panel of church judges denied teachers' request to recognize their right to unionize.

Catholic elementary teachers say the diocese negotiates with secondary school teachers, Catholic journalists and cemetery workers.

They also say their rights are not being recognized.

The Archdiocese released a statement on Wednesday from Bishop Robert Hermann saying, “Since 1998, the Archdiocese of St. Louis has been working with parents, elementary teachers, and parishes in developing the parish teacher committee. The role of the parish teacher committee is to involve all elementary teachers in negotiations involving compensation."

Teachers say they're currently in the process of regrouping and figuring out what their next move will be, if any.


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Sotto Voce

The rules of annulment

Wedding season is in full swing. I know this because of the four giddy, gorgeously engraved save-the-date for or invitations to nuptials that have arrived in the mail in recent weeks.

One of my husband's sons got engaged earlier this month and one of my best friends from college, the guy we thought would sooner become a monk (he's an atheist) than get married, announced he's tying the knot in August with a brilliant woman who won both his heart and his mind.

One of my husband's sons got engaged earlier this month and one of my best friends from college, the guy we thought would sooner become a monk (he's an atheist) than get married, announced he's tying the knot in August with a brilliant woman who won both his heart and his mind.

My parents were married on a rainy day in Connecticut 44 years ago today; earlier this week my in-laws celebrated their 60th anniversary, and my own husband and I are busy planning for our 10th wedding anniversary in October.

These are the hopeful, joyful moments of marriage. But they're not the whole story. Half of all marriages in this country end in divorce, and that statistic varies only negligibly from one religious group to another.

The decision to end a marriage often is one full of sorrow, disappointment, anguish and even shame. It's the last resort. But sometimes it's a necessary evil.

What feels absolutely unnecessary is the religious notion of annulment. In the Catholic tradition, which does not recognize divorces between couples who have been joined together in sacramental, holy matrimony, it is possible, however, to have a marriage declared null and void.

A "Declaration of Nullity," as Catholic annulment is technically known, does not mean the marriage never happened. It just means it was never a valid union, from the beginning.

Which, it would seem, is not a great comfort to many going through the annulment process, particularly those who do not wish to have their marriage annulled in the first place.

Take Sheila Rauch Kennedy, for example. An Episcopalian, Rauch married Joseph Kennedy II, a Catholic and the godson of former President John F. Kennedy, in 1979. A year later, the couple had twin boys. And in 1991, they divorced, with Joseph Kennedy remarrying in 1993.

Sometime after the Rauch-Kennedy divorce, Joseph Kennedy sought and was granted an annulment of his marriage to Sheila Rauch. Problem was, Rauch says she had no idea. Rauch appealed the annulment to the Vatican, and earlier this month, a Roman Rota, or appeals court, ruled in her favor, reversing the annulment.

So, in the eyes of the church, Joseph Kennedy II, married to his current wife for 14 years, is still married sacramentally to Sheila Rauch. Kennedy can, in turn, appeal the appeal.

Catholic politicians Rudy Giuliani and John Kerry both have had marriages annulled.
What, I beg you, is the spiritual purpose of such theological acrobatics?

There are more than 6 million divorced Roman Catholics in the United States. According to the Vatican's 2004 Statistical Yearbook of the Church, in 2004 (which are the most current statistics) 70,235 annulments were granted worldwide and 53,885 of those were granted to Catholics in the United States. That's more than 75 percent of all annulments granted by the church.

Last year in the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Chicago -- the third largest diocese in the nation after Los Angeles and New York -- 7,800 marriages were performed, and 554 annulments were granted.

In 1996, a little more than 11,500 marriages were performed and about 750 annulments were granted. Going back 20 years, in 1986 in the Chicago archdiocese, 13,421 marriages were performed and 1,350 annulments were granted.

I'm not sure if the progression of numbers is comforting or alarming. There are fewer marriages and annulments in the Chicago archdiocese today, and the ratio of marriages to annulments has remained fairly constant. Interestingly, annulments have been granted to the same person more than once over the past 20 years in Chicago, but it is a "rare occurrence ... less than one per year," an archdiocesan spokesman said.

To an outsider, the Catholic practice of annulling marriages -- even those that have lasted 10, 20 or more years and produced multiple children -- seems at odds with the notion of divorce as a sin. Either it is or it isn't.

Some who have gone through the process call it healing. Others say it's agonizing and ostracizing.

Either allow divorced Catholics to get married again in the church, and/or come back to the Communion table as full members, or don't.

Annulment is like a theological sleight of hand.

Pastorally speaking, the coexistence of annulments with the prohibition of divorce within Catholicism "is like being stretched out between galloping horses," said the Rev. Donald Senior, president of Chicago's Catholic Theological Union.

"Some would say it's become in effect a kind of technical knockout," Senior said of annulments.

"I think it's not theologically or theoretically inconsistent . . . but how it may be applied, you wonder sometimes."

The vast majority of annulments -- something like 98 percent in the United States -- are granted on the basis of some sort of "defect of consent," which I've seen defined in innumerable ways.

But what it essentially means is that when the person or persons exchanged vows before God and witnesses, they didn't know what they were getting themselves into.

Who among us married folks -- whether it's been two, 10, 44, or 60 years since we made our vows -- can say we knew all that a married life together would entail?

Riches and poverty. Sickness and health. Better and worse.

And that, in every marriage, is unavoidable.


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Sotto Voce

Candidates for Catholic priesthood increase

The Roman Catholic Diocese of Harrisburg has announced that Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades has accepted 15 men as candidates for seminary study to prepare for the priesthood.

In addition, a record 100 men will attend the annual Quo Vadis Days, which is a time for men considering the priesthood.

Currently, the diocese has 10 men in priestly formation. "Twenty-five total is a high and excellent number for us and 15 men in one year is extraordinary, said the Rev. Raymond LaVoie, diocesan director of vocations, in a news release. .

LaVoie attributed the increase in candidates is a "culture that supports and nourishes that idea."

The men, who range in age from late teens to early 20s, include a civil engineer, a technical assistant and ones who are experienced in music, football, wrestling and track.

The third annual Quo Vadis Days - a time of prayer, discussion and fellowship for men ages 15-25 - will be held July 8-12 at Mount St. Mary's University and Seminary in Emmitsburg, Md.
Participants will spent time with peers, seminarians and priests in a week that includes prayer, presentations, discussion, recreation and a Mass celebrated by Rhoades.

In addition, the bishop made a presentation on vocations at a national assembly of U.S. Catholic Bishops this month in New Mexico.


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Sotto Voce

Catholic League enters diocesan fracas

The Catholic League has jumped into the fracas between the Buffalo Common Council and the Diocese of Buffalo.

A day after the Council approved a resolution saying the closing of city churches appears to have “the whiff of ‘ethnic cleansing,’ ” the nation’s largest Catholic civil rights group attacked the Council.

The League said the Council’s resolution is “one of the most egregious examples of Catholic bashing ever to be voiced by a government entity in the U.S.”

Catholic League President Bill Donohue threatened a lawsuit against the Council, calling its language “inflammatory and patently bigoted” and accused the lawmaking body of hate speech.

The resolution was drafted by Council President David A. Franczyk, a Catholic who has clashed with diocesan officials over past church closings.

In a statement, Bishop Edward U. Kmiec also called the resolution “appalling, irresponsible and misinformed.”

Donohue, who is based in New York City, said the Council “has no business sticking its nose into the internal affairs of the Catholic Church.”

Franczyk stood by the resolution and explained that the phrase “ethnic cleansing” referred to the diocese’s bureaucratic and administrative decisions to eradicate for all time urban, ethnic parishes.

“I want to keep Catholic churches open. How is that anti-Catholic bigotry?” Franczyk said.

He also objected to Donohue’s characterization of Council members as tyrants who should stay out of church affairs.

“We have a First Amendment right to speak up on any issue that affects, positively or negatively, the City of Buffalo,” he said.

The Council’s measure opposed the sale of church properties to unsuitable buyers and to anyone who plans on gutting or stripping the buildings and leaving behind “dangerous, gutted eyesores.”


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Sotto Voce

Church Blasts Premarital Sex Proposal

The Omaha Archdiocese has severed ties with a Jesuit university's family center after two researchers urged the church to allow unmarried couples to live together and have sex and children as long as they are engaged.

The Creighton University researchers' essay, published in the June issue of U.S. Catholic magazine, said that more unmarried Catholic couples are living together today, and that they doubt the claim that the couples are living in sin.

``It would appear closer to the truth that they are growing, perhaps slowly but nonetheless surely, into grace,'' Michael Lawler and Gail Risch wrote.

The essay prompted a letter to the editor from Omaha Archbishop Elden Curtiss.

The June 5 letter, a copy of which was provided to The Associated Press by the archdiocese, aimed to discredit the researchers as Catholic theologians and dissociated the university's Center for Marriage and Family from the archdiocese.

``The teaching of the Catholic Church about fornication is clear and unambiguous; it is always objectively a serious sin,'' Curtiss wrote.

Curtiss wrote separate letters to the authors and Creighton's president, Rev. John Schlegel, said the Rev. Joseph Taphorn, chancellor of the archdiocese.

Taphorn did not know of any collaborations that were canceled because of Curtiss' decision, but said the archdiocese had worked with the university's center on several projects in the past. One project was designed to help couples assess their religious beliefs and bond from them.

``We will no longer be cooperating with them on future projects because there's obviously a big theological difference,'' Taphorn said.

A spokeswoman for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops said the proposal was an appalling attempt to gain the benefits of marriage without getting married.

``It's better to help young people prepare for marriage and better to help them to make a lifelong commitment - which marriage is - than to have what sounds like some kind of quasi-marriage,'' Sister Mary Ann Walsh said Thursday.

Lawler and Risch wrote that between the 12th and 16th centuries, the Catholic Church allowed couples to have sex once they were betrothed. That changed under the Council of Trent, but many modern Catholic couples have reverted to living together and having sex before their weddings, the authors wrote.

``Catholics who believe that all premarital sex is wrong believe that the ritual requirement of a wedding has always been the norm in the Catholic tradition. It has not,'' the authors wrote.

Lawler is the director of Creighton's Center for Marriage and Family and a professor emeritus of Catholic theology. Risch is a researcher for the center. Neither they nor Schlegel were available for comment Thursday, Creighton spokeswoman Deb Daley said.

Daley said that while the Catholic Church has final say in matters of moral theology, the university allows academic freedom to discuss related issues.

``It's an interesting tension that exists,'' Daley said. ``But perhaps a forum of a mainstream publication wasn't the way to discuss the issue.''

Daley said the archdiocese's decision to sever ties with the center would not affect its funding and she did not believe its programs would be cut or reduced.

Taphorn said the archdiocese would be open to unsevering ties with the center if Lawler and Risch were replaced and if the archdiocese felt it was in agreement with the center philosophically. Daley had no response to that suggestion.

Daley said that despite the rift, the university's overall relationship with the archdiocese remains in good shape.

``We will pursue our relationship with the archdiocese, and I think there are some conversations that need to take place,'' Daley said.

Creighton is affiliated with the Society of Jesus, a Roman Catholic religious order, and has an enrollment of about 6,700 students.

Its Center for Marriage and Family was established in 1994 to research marriage and family issues.


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Sotto Voce

More Catholic churches to celebrate Latin mass

Pope Benedict XVI is going ahead with his plan to allow more churches to use the old Latin mass, a concession to traditionalists that has caused concern among those fearing a rollback of one of the Vatican's key liberalizing reforms.

The pope explained his plans to a group of prelates from Europe and the United States, the Vatican said Thursday, in what was considered an unusual meeting underlining the resistance created by his proposal.

The statement said the meeting was called to ''illustrate the content and the spirit'' of the document, which will be sent to all bishops, accompanied by a personal letter from the pope, and be made public in the next few days.


3 masses in Chicago Archdiocese

The decision follows months of debate. Some cardinals, bishops and Jews have opposed any change, voicing complaints about everything from the text of the old mass to concerns that the move will lead to further changes to the reforms approved by 1962-1965 Second Vatican Council.

The 16th-century Tridentine mass was sidelined by the so-called new mass that followed the council. The reforms called for mass to be said in local languages, for the priest to face the congregation and not the altar with his back to worshippers and for the use of lay readers.

To celebrate the old Latin mass now, a priest must obtain permission from the local bishop.

Roman Catholic Church leaders are anxiously awaiting the details of Benedict's decision, to see how far he will go in easing that rule.

Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, the Vatican secretary of state, told reporters bishops will still have a ''central role'' -- but he didn't elaborate.


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Pope: Adhere to Peter’s confession, to know Christ not just “from the outside”

Benedict XVI yesterday imposed the pallium on 46 metropolitan archbishops in a sign of their communion with the Apostolic See during mass in St Peter’s basilica.

The pallium is a stole made of lamb’s wool, symbolizing the bishop’s vocation as pastors to care for Christ’s flock and his lost sheep. It bears five embroidered crosses, a sign of Christ’s wounds and was blessed by the pope after having been placed on the Confessional, the tomb of the apostle Peter, underlining unity with the pontiff and the See of Peter.

Among those who received the pallium, there were Indian and Philippine bishops. A further 5 prelates not present in the basilica will receive it in their own diocese.

As has become tradition, there was also a delegation from the ecumenical patriarchate of Constantinople present at the ceremony.

This year the delegation was composed by Emmanuel Adamidis, Greek orthodox archbishop of France, director of the Orthodox Church office at the European Union; Gennadios Limouris, metropolitan of Sassima, Co-president of the mixed international commission for dialogue between the Catholic and Orthodox Church, and deacon Andreas Sofianopoulos, from the Patriarchal seat of Fanar.

For years now the Church of Rome and Constantinople send delegations to celebrations marking the feast of the apostles, patrons of the two Churches, Peter (June 29) and Andrew (November 30). November 30th last the Pope himself, on official visit to Turkey, took part in the feast of St Andrew in Constantinople, together with Patriarch Bartholomew I.

This ecumenical dimension, linked to the ministry of Peter and the primate, was the theme of the pontiff’s homily. “Peter’s confession – said the pope – cannot be separated from his pastoral duty to Christ’s flock”, the so called “power of the keys” (Mt 16, 17-19).

With the subtlety of a theologian, Benedict XVI explained that the confession of full faith in Jesus as the Son of God, is not just something which belongs to the Church in general, rather it is something entrusted in particular to Peter, a “task conferred on Peter by the Lord…. rooted in the personal relationship between the historic Jesus and Simon the fisherman, starting from their very first encounter, when Christ says to him : “You are Simon … you will be called Cefa (which means Peter)" (Jn 1,42). Again: “Christ entrusted Peter with a very particular task, recognising in him a special gift of faith from the heavenly Father”.

Correcting some erroneous interpretations along protestant lines, which place Peter and Paul’s vocation on the same level, the pontiff clarified: “Parallels between Peter and Paul are suggestive, but they cannot diminish the weight of Simon’s historic journey with his Master and Lord, who from the very beginning characterised him as the “rock” upon which the new community, the Church, would be built”.

The ministry of Peter, the pontiff underlined, is to insure the fullness of the Christian faith.

Inspired by today’s Gospel and by Christ’s two questions to his disciples, ("Who do people say that the Son of Man is – But who do you say that I am?” Mt16,13-20),the pope explained : “People think that Jesus is a prophet”, but that is inadequate. “Great scholars – continued Benedict XVI – recognise his spiritual and moral stature and his influence on the history of humanity, comparing him to Buddha, Confucius, Socrates and other great thinkers and figures in history” but they “fail to grasp ….. They fail to recognise his unique entity”.

Faced with these people’s response, fruit of an “external” consciousness of the figure of Jesus, “we want to make Peter’s response our own. According to Mark’s Gospel he says: ‘You are the Messiah’ (8, 29); in Luke the affirmation is ‘The Messiah of God’ (9, 20); in Mathew: ‘You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God’ (16, 16); and finally in John: ‘you are the Holy One of God’ (6, 69). They were all the right answers, also valid for us”.

Peter’s confession needed to be ‘corrected’ by Jesus: “in the synoptic Gospels – continues the pope - Peter’s confession is always closely followed by Christ’s announcement of his imminent passion. An announcement which provokes a reaction from Peter, who is as of yet unable to comprehend. And yet it is a fundamental element, an element on which Jesus insists with strength”.

“Today as in Christ’s time – continues the pope - it is not enough to possess the right confession of faith: it is always necessary to learn from the Lord the way in which he is the Saviour and the path we must take to follow him. We must recognise that, even for the believer, the Cross is always hard to accept. Our instincts push us to avoid it, and the tempter leads us to believe that it is wiser to save ourselves than lose our lives for our faith in the love of the Son of God made man”.

Concluding, Benedict XVI thanked the delegation from the ecumenical patriarchate of Constantinople and the metropolitans who received the pallium, ending his homily with a prayer to the Blessed Virgin: “May Her inexhaustible faith, which sustained the faith of Peter and the Apostles, continue to inspire the faith of generations of Christians : Queen of the Apostles, pray for us!”.

Following the celebration, accompanied by the Patriarchate delegation, the pope visited the tomb of St Peter where he remained for a moment of silent prayer.

Benedict XVI returned to the theme of ecumenism in reflections before the Angelus with pilgrims gathered in St Peter’s square.

After greeting and thanking the delegation from the patriarchate of Constantinople the pope added: “The feast of the Apostles Peter and Paul invites us in a very particular way, to intense prayer and firm action for the cause of unity between Christ’s disciples. The Christian East and West are very close and can already count on an almost complete communion, as is remembered in the Second Vatican Council; I will see that it guides our ecumenical journey. Our encounters, visits and the dialogue which is underway are not mere courtesy or attempts to reach compromises, but signs of our shred will to do all that is possible to achieve full communion implored by Christ in his prayer to the Father after the Last Supper: ‘ut unum sint’”.

The pontiff then recalled the dedication of the Pauline Year which will begin 28 June 2008 and end 29 June 2009, to mark 2000 years since the birth of the apostle Paul. “I hope – said the pope – that the various initiatives organised will contribute to a renewed missionary enthusiasm and intensify our relations with our brothers in the East and with other Christians who like us venerate the Apostle to the gentiles”.

Following the Marian prayer, Benedict XVI greeted the people of Rome, whose patron saints are Peter and Paul, wishing them “peace” and “Christian prosperity”. He asked Rome’s Christians to “always behave in a way that is worthy of the Gospel, to be the ‘yeast’ of every area of life”.


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Sotto Voce

Friday, June 29, 2007

Sotto Voce...Innocent Priest...Imprisoned Accuser

An historic milestone was reached in the Irish courts on Wednesday 27th June 2007 when a man who had falsely accused was sentenced for making an untrue and vindictive claim against a priest.

Paul Anderson had claimed that he was abused by a priest who he claimed he had been sent to for First Holy Communion preparation in 1981 but when the records and claims were investigated, the allegations were proven unfounded.

The priest at the centre of the allegations despite being in a somewhat forgiving manner, still stated “I would have honestly preferred had the perpetrator shot me through the head rather than have put me and my family through the pangs of anxiety and the profound sufferings we endured over the past four years."

When the Garda investigation revealed that Anderson's claims were all untrue, the priest was reinstated to his pastoral ministry at Midnight Mass on Christmas Eve 2003 and received a standing ovation from the congregation.

At present, clergy in Ireland and indeed in many other countries who are accused of CSA are stepped down from ministry pending investigation, which does cast undue pressure and none moreso evident than in this case.

I said many years ago that there was a lack of overall support from the higher echelons of the hierarchy, then many false allegations could be made and this has unfortunately been the case.

I feel that sometimes if they had challenged these false accusations more vehemently than the genuine ones, then indeed we would all have moved on in a more practical and humane way a long time ago.

Let us hope that we as foot soldiers will now have more support from those in higher office henceforth.

As for Mr Anderson and others like him who wish to lodge false claims, think and think carefully because 4 years behind bars will certainly teach you if nothing else will!!!


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Sotto Voce

Canadian Anglicans vote against same sex marriage

Bishops of the Anglican Church of Canada overruled clergy and laypeople on Sunday to defeat a proposal to give churches the option of blessing same-sex unions.

The issue has threatened to split both the Canadian church and the Worldwide Anglican Communion, a loose federation of national churches whose members do not agree on how the 450-year-old church should minister to homosexuals.

In Ireland, a spokesman for the Church of Ireland, which is affiliated to the Anglican Communion, has said that the church is opposed to same sex marriage.

“Marriage is between a man and a woman,” he said.

However, he pointed out that the Church of Ireland had made recommendations to the Dail’s Constitutional Review Group that the Constitution should be changed to give recognition to non-marital families, including same sex civil unions.

In Canada, bishops rejected a proposal to give churches the option to bless gay couples by a 21-19 vote. Clergy and laity voted in favour by larger margins, but the proposal had to pass in all three orders to be implemented.

"There will probably be some measure of pleasure (in the Anglican Communion) in that we have not moved ahead," said Bishop Fred Hiltz, who voted in favour of the blessings.

The issue has split the church in Canada, mirroring the deep fissures evident in the wider Anglican Communion, where the issue of the ordination of openly gay bishops in the US has threatened to destroy the fragile unity between traditional Anglican, mainly in Africa and more liberal practitioners in the West.

Canada is one of the few countries in the world that has legalised gay marriage.

Advocates of the proposal said that the blessing is not a marriage ceremony, but rather a ritual by a priest recognising and praying for civilly married couples, or those in a lifelong committed monogamous relationship.

One British Columbia diocese has allowed the blessings since 2003, and hoped to get permission from the synod on Monday to continue, said the diocesan Bishop, Michael Ingham.

Earlier on Sunday, the synod concluded that blessing same-sex unions is not in conflict with core doctrine.

That alienated traditional Anglicans, who point out that sex outside of heterosexual marriage is contrary to Biblical teachings.

"Our church stepped outside its connection with the Anglican Communion," said Reverend Charlie Masters of Anglican Essentials, an orthodox group.

"There's a great vacuum here," Masters said, noting his group will now seek direction from the Anglican Communion, which is dominated by the more conservative bishops in Africa, Asia and Latin America.

The U.S. Episcopal Church is the only church in the Anglican Communion which has not forbidden its clergy from blessing same-sex couples married in civil ceremonies.

The US Church has also consecrated the church's first openly gay bishop, V. Gene Robinson of New Hampshire.

The U.S. moves have split the 77-million-member global Anglican Communion.

Some conservative Anglican leaders have set a Sept. 30 deadline for the American church to pledge not to authorize official prayers for same-sex couples or consecrate another gay bishop.

If not, they want the U.S. branch expelled from the communion.


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Sotto Voce

Anti sex-abuse group defends its actions

THE One-in-Four anti sex-abuse charity said it would be failing in "the most basic level in our collective responsibility to protect children" by not reporting a credible child abuse allegation.

The priest falsely accused of child sexual abuse was suspended from ministry after a complaint from the man involved and the One-in-Four group to the Archbishop of Dublin.

Last night, a spokesperson from the group said that the body's standard practice was to pass on credible allegations to the appropriate authorities.

"Any time a credible allegation is made, it must and should be reported," said the spokesperson.

"To not do that would be to fail on the most basic level in our collective respnsibility to protect children.

"Credible means capable to be true."

When One-in-Four is contacted with an allegation about a priest, said the spokesperson, it passes on information to the appropriate diocese.

"How any diocese reponds to a concern like that is obvioulsy a matter for the diocese, but best practice would dictate that if the allegation is credible, then, as is required by the Church's own guidelines, the person involved would be asked to step aside when the allegation is investigated, and I understand that is what happened in this case," he said.

However, the group said it fully supported the full extent of the law being put in place when a false allegation is made.

"Clearly if somone makes a fraudulent or malicious allegation of child sexual abuse, they should be prosecuted and the law should be stridently used," said the spokesperson.


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Sotto Voce

Pope appoints diplomats to key roles in Vatican after policy slip-ups

After a season of apparent policy slip-ups, Pope Benedict XVI is shuffling top advisers and bringing in veteran diplomats closely identified with Vatican policy in Iraq and the Middle East.

On Monday, Benedict restored an office that specializes in relations with Muslims, a year after he was criticized for disbanding it.

He appointed French Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran, the Vatican's foreign affairs chief from 1990 to 2003, as president of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue, raising the office's profile. Tauran was one of the strongest Vatican opponents of U.S. plans to invade Iraq, saying a unilateral military strike would be a “crime against peace” with no justification on grounds of self-defense.

Two weeks ago, the pope named Archbishop Fernando Filoni, an Italian prelate who served as Vatican envoy in Iraq from 2001-2006, to the key post of undersecretary of state.

Church relations with Muslims were badly strained after a speech by Benedict in September that linked Islam to violence. Benedict later said he regretted that Muslims were offended by his remarks.

That was not the only brushfire that had to be stamped out.

Benedict's support for a Polish archbishop who turned out to have been an informer for the dreaded communist secret service was also an embarrassment.

Even Benedict's first news conference caused confusion, and resulted in the Vatican rewriting some of his remarks.

When Benedict was elected, some questioned his pastoral preparation after two decades in a Vatican office. Few had doubts about his intellectual acumen, theological precision and foreign language skills, but he had no diplomatic experience.

Though Benedict continues to draw thousands to his public appearances two years into his papacy, he has made some apparent mistakes on policy issues that he or Vatican officials have had to fix.

“What you are seeing is tension almost from the beginning” of the Benedict papacy, John-Peter Pham, a former Vatican diplomat, told The Associated Press.

He pointed out that while Benedict is a theologian, the Secretariat of State was concerned with “realpolitik considerations.”

Benedict backed off from his remarks on Islam and violence, first expressing regret for offending Muslims, then adding a footnote to his original speech – the version now in the Vatican archives for posterity. It made clear that he was quoting a 14th-century Byzantine emperor and was not expressing “my personal view of the Quran,” the Muslim holy book.

Benedict has lately become more outspoken about the Middle East, decrying during a recent visit to Assisi “the illusion” that force could resolve conflicts.

The pope has repeatedly denounced the killings and kidnappings of priests and other Christians in the Middle East, as well as policies that have forced thousands of members of communities that date to the early years of Christianity to flee.

Under John Paul, Tauran was a strong voice demanding “international guarantees” to protect Christian, Muslim and Jewish holy sites in Jerusalem.

The Israelis and Palestinians, however, rejected the demand.

On other topics, Indian rights groups in Brazil criticized Benedict for his insistence during his trip that Latin American Indians wanted to become Christian before European conquerors arrived centuries ago.

Upon returning to Rome, Benedict said the church does not gloss over the injustices that accompanied the Christian colonization of Latin America and lamented that indigenous peoples' basic rights were often trampled upon by missionaries.

Early in his papacy, he came under fire for not listing Israel among countries that were victims of terrorism, then made up for it in a subsequent speech.

Benedict's predecessor, the late Pope John Paul II, honed his political skills as a priest in communist Poland.


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“I don't need a priest or a bishop or a pope to tell me who I am”

A Bay Area priest who publicly declared himself a homosexual will be taking a year off.

Father Rich Danyluk said farewell to parishioners at St. Joseph’s Basilica in Alameda on Sunday, June 25.

Danyluk, 59, says he will be taking a year’s rest after 31 years in the priesthood.

According to the June 23 San Francisco Chronicle, in 2005 Danyluk was angered by rumors of a Vatican document that would bar homosexuals from the priesthood.

In September that year, Danyluk revealed that he himself is homosexual.

According to a Jan. 22, 2006 Oakland Tribune story, Danyluk at Sunday Mass raised the book of the Gospels over his head, saying, “This good news is for everybody [including homosexuals] or it is for nobody.”

He knew, he said, because “I’m one of you.”

At the morning Masses, the revelation was greeted with “hesitation;” but at the evening Mass, parishioners gave him a standing ovation.

Oakland Bishop Allen Vigneron at the time had no public reaction to Danyluk’s revelation. Danyluk says he knew he was “different” at age 13 or 14.

Dismissed from St. Charles Seminary in Philadelphia in 1967 for failing Greek and Latin, he entered the Congregation of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary, and was ordained in 1975.

While in seminary, said the Chronicle, he “went to the rooms of fellow seminarians” and had “sexual experiences” -- which he now calls sick.

“That’s using somebody,” he said. “It was the acting out.”

As a priest, he began drinking heavily.

“It gave me a little more freedom to do things that I knew were wrong,” he told the Chronicle.

“It just numbed the senses.”

He sought counseling in the 1980s, but at times continued to engage in sexual acts and drinking. After being arrested a second time for drunk driving in 1999, he confessed to his parishioners at a San Dimas parish that he was an alcoholic.

Danyluk says that in recent years he has remained celibate.

Spending time in a recovery center for priests in Minnesota, he came to St. Joseph’s in 2001. He has remained a very popular priest.

According to the Tribune, to the question, "How can you, a gay man, work for an institution that loathes and condemns a part of who you are?"

Danyluk replied, "There's a difference sometimes (between) serving the Church and serving Christ. There's a higher voice that I hear. This is a human institution. There are times when we do it well, wonderfully well. We've done things poorly.”

"There's a passage in Scripture that God said to Jesus, 'You're my beloved son in whom I'm well pleased,'” Danyluk told the Chronicle.

“I believe God says that to every male, and he says, 'You're my beloved daughter' to every woman. Finally, that sunk into me, that I don't need a priest or a bishop or a pope to tell me who I am. I want everyone else to have that same right."


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European Union Threatens to Cut Nicaragua Funding Over Abortion Law

The European Union is threatening to cut funding for the nation of Nicaragua because it recently approved a law banning all abortions.

The EU and the nation of the Netherlands are saying they may revoke any public funding for the Latin American nation unless it changes the law.

Bert Koenders, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Development Cooperation for the Netherlands, announced the threat. He pledged to continue funding if Nicaragua reversed the new law.

Koenders wants the United Nations and the EU to both crack down on pro-life countries and “put women's rights higher on the agenda."

"Even if an abortion is medically necessary, it still remains illegal in Nicaragua, which results in the death of women," he claimed, according to a CNA report. "We should emphasize that this is completely unacceptable."

Responding to the threats, Raimundo Rojas, the Hispanic outreach director for National Right to Life, told that he has repeatedly told Latin American countries to be on the alert for these kinds of threats.

"Still trying for world-wide relevance, the EU is bullying lesser developed nations into accepting their failed polices on abortion," he said. "Europe is dying, many European nations are at a negative birth rate -- they have in fact aborted themselves into this position."

"Now they want the nations of Latin America to follow suit," Rojas added.

"This is a clear example of how little regard the EU and the UN, have for the sovereignty of other nations. We pray for the people of Nicaragua, and all other countries in that region who have laws that protect the unborn," he told

Last November, President Enrique Bola?os signed a new abortion ban into law that prohibits all abortions, including those for rape and incest or to save the life of the mother.

Abortion advocates, led by the New York-based Americas for Human Rights Watch, have taken the law to court. The nation's high court is expected to deliver a decision in the case soon and it could result in the undermining of other pro-life laws in the region.

Should they lose in the Nicaragua court, abortion advocates will head to the United Nations Human Rights Commission in New York or the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights. The latter, an autonomous organ of the Organization of American States, says the new law is contrary to international documents.

Both agencies have issued previous rulings against Mexico and Peru in abortion cases.

Abortion advocates say the pro-life laws are resulting in the maternal deaths of women who have illegal abortions and Ipas estimates 30,000 Nicaraguan women have illegal abortions annually.

However, legalizing abortion in industrialized nations hasn't made it any safer and Susan Yoshihara of Catholic Family and Human Rights Institute says she doubts the figures are accurate. She also said that most any doctor is willing to treat women following complications from an abortion.

The abortion ban put Nicaragua in league with thirty-four nations across the globe that prohibit all abortions.


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Life expectancy of Irish travellers still at 1940s levels despite economic boom

Ireland's fortunes may have been transformed by an economic boom that has made its people among the richest in the developed world.

But its travelling people have the life expectancy of the Ireland of the 1940s, a damning report published in Dublin this week shows.

In addition to particularly high levels of infant mortality, the findings show that seven in 10 travellers die before reaching the age of 59.

Such statistics put the travelling community, which is estimated at around 30,000, well outside the health norms of Irish society.

The Archbishop of Dublin, Dr Diarmuid Martin, said the statistics resembled those of people living in a Third World country. "I have a feeling that Ireland's new-found prosperity has, if anything, dimmed our awareness of the situation of the travelling community," he said.

"Travellers continue to be among the most disadvantaged groups in our society. Anyone reading this will be moved to sadness, and indeed even to anger, to see just how deep that disadvantage reaches into the most fundamental elements of human dignity."

Travellers as a group have been known for some time to experience a potent mix of problems including curtailed life expectancy and bad health.

But the starkness of the new figures has nonetheless come as a shock to many. Despite the country's prosperity, and the fact that recent waves of immigrants have integrated into Irish society, travellers have tended to remain at its periphery. They have a negative image in many quarters, with many regarding them with hostility.

The health threats to them in some ways reflect their traditional semi-nomadic way of life, with members of the community 10 times more likely to die in road accidents. These, at 22 per cent, represented the most common cause of death among males.

Infants are 10 times more likely to die before reaching the age of two, while a third of travellers die before the age of 25. In addition, 80 per cent of travellers die before the age of 65.

On the other hand, travellers are less at risk of dying from heart attacks or strokes - though this is largely because so few of them reach the age when they are likely to die from such causes.

Suicides are also more common than among the general population.

The report represents a snapshot rather than a full-blown scientific study, since it is based on Catholic Church records covering only part of Dublin. It nonetheless is said to be a realistic depiction of the biggest health issues for travellers.

Punningly entitled Travellers' Last Rights: responding to death in a cultural context, the report examines more than 200 deaths recorded over 10 years.

According to the report's co-author, Fr Stephen Monaghan: "While providing pastoral care services to travellers at times of death and bereavement, we were increasingly concerned about the age profile and cause of death."

Although the authorities say that they are addressing the problems and acting on a previous report on this issue, travellers' groups claim that any progress is slow.

The Irish Times said that many in the country did not wish to face up to the issues of travellers and their health, but that the issue had to be addressed. The newspaper added: "For these people, the issue is simply ignored - something that is not up for discussion, let alone action.

Such counsel must not, however, be allowed hold sway.

If the issue of travellers was easy to resolve, it would have been decades ago.

But it has become so controversial, so divisive, that large numbers of people in both the settled community and the traveller community have long since set their faces against trying to do anything to improve matters.


No responsibility or liability shall attach itself to either myself or to the blogspot ‘Clerical Whispers’ for any or all of the articles placed here.

The placing of an article hereupon does not necessarily imply that I agree or accept the contents of the article as being necessarily factual in theology, dogma or otherwise.

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