Monday, August 27, 2007

Sotto Voce...On Retreat!! August 27th - September 1st 2007

video

Sotto Voce

Well, the time has arrived for my long overdue break from reality and now I take my break from you all...and no doubt you may well be glad of the break yourselves....

I am in Fatima as part of my break and ask you all to keep me in your prayers as will indeed I yours in mine....

....just to keep the lighter side of things on the go, enjoy the clip above and I will be back to you all next week.....

Sotto Voce

Sunday, August 26, 2007

An Focal Scóir - August 2007

The first day of Autumn (Fall in USA) brought us opening stories of the search for religious freedom in Pakistan and not far away, a royal leader engages the Buddhist monks to begin the task of healing the nation.

The Diocese of San Diego is found wanting in relation to its accounting system, a Melbourne priest taunted by skaterboys is suspended for being foul mouthed, and a mother faces charges for an exorcism.

An Italian MP is literally caught with his trousers down whilst a good RC working girl satisfies his needs, an article on why women SHOULD be priests in the RC church, and a beautiful reflective piece from a contributor reminding us all of our roots as we welcome the festival of light.

Bishops fail with lawsuit against South Park and face large legal bill, and Mel Gibson also has money to spare. In USA, a bishops injuries are considered suspicious, whilst an Irish hurler is at the receiving end of sectarian abuse.

Aussie cleric regrets verbage, alleged papal assasin Antonov dies, Aussies petition for married RC clergy, Kenya court says priest was murdered, early Christianity before the papacy, papal carbon footprints.

Italian gay kiss-in, cohabitation, sex education, grieving families unhappy with cardinal, Prodi asks for papal assistance with tax evasion, papal trip to Austria confirmed.

Bible in Urdu language, Buddha reincarnations no subject to State approval, contraception, common ground between Lutheranism and RC, 1920's CSA allegations lodged, polygamy and divorce.

Irish suicide rates worrying but no response, pope to pause at Holocaust monument in Austria, Holocaust children to sue, clerics under pressure not to preach about Iraq war, breakaway difficulties in Anglican church.

Church of England embraces digital era, Romanian Patriarch dies, Cardinal Lustiger dies, addiction support book launched, Hiroshima 62 years later.

New papal election rules, latin mass return not 100% welcome, clerics join police on the beat, papal election rigged??, human rights abuses in China, Bishop Pope rejoins RC, children living in poverty.

RC clergy from Spanish civil war to be remembered, Patriarch / Pope meeting soon, Ncube papers filed, Polish priest in trouble for alleged anti-Semitism, conversion code agreed, Irish family friendly bishop speaks out, Aussie fidelity rules dropped.

Milingo in Zambia, Mexico cardinal under US questioning re CSA, call for CSA priests to be named, RC denies paedophile clergy sent to Pacific, Vatican reassures Jews.

UK police censure tv programme, pope gets green rating, RC parish priest and family welcomed in parish, nude jogging cleric faces defrocking (no wonder he running in nude), Mexican RC cleric jailed for murdering own son.

Tax evasion socially unjust says Il Papa, diocese of Derry faces clerical shortfall and rearranges parishes, Maddie missing 100 days, mid west Ireland bishops condemn Shannon withdrawal by Aer Lingus.

Aussie government gives extra cash to WYD in 2008, new status for RC church threatened in Spain, gift of marriage, friars of hope in Moyross, San diego diocese in hot waters over book-keeping.

Beach nudity is ok, cleric in Ireland outs home help financially abusive of elderly, Amnesty International -v- Vatican, RC unable sack gay headteacher, uncomprimising pope, new cardinals on way (?), bully bishop lashes out in USA.

Feast of the Assumption, Vatican flights advertise Christ, kidnapping of nun, bishop injuries raises more questions, money and power a problem, Novmber consistory of new cardinals, celibate priesthood re-affirmed, adultery charges dismissed against Ncube, arguments against female RC ordination.

...and there ends the first half of this months report and synopsis of Clerical Whispers.........and so we enter into the 2nd half of the month of August with word of ethnic cleansing, Dutch RC bishop believes we should all refer to God as Allah, gay support group working with diocesan blessing whilst many RC's oppose RC Church on abortion...

Archbishop Ncube in trouble again, USA Senators attend gay wedding, Christian Judaic summit, fake cleric unmasked as sex offender, church fined for loud bells, more women priests, pope offensive to so many faiths....

Transfer of attempted papal assassin to new prison, Latin mass back in fashion, cardinal defends politicians consciences, RC decries Amnesty, gay harassment encouraged by Canadian RC school...

Romero to be canonised?...papal Austrian trip unwelcome by many, Artane abuse exposed at last, shroud f secrecy book reviewed, spiritual abuse by the RC Church, Aussie swearing priest resigns...

Bertone believes paedophile scandal a media conspiracy, Ireland now a selfish country and society, RC urges faithful to stop sex abuse, irish politician warns of slippery slope to euthanadia, Polish RC priest not to face prosecution for anti-semitic remarks, call for married priests...

Chinese bishop arrested for spreading word of Papal letter to China, RC priests reflect on their vocations, Aussie bishop urges rethink on celibacy rule and women clergy, Irish Archbishop Martin in trouble with Christian Brothers, sex services on Irish diocesan website,...

Bishop says RC church still not properly dealing with abuse allegations, Mother Teresa still OK for canonisation, priest takes case to Papal courts, right of women to be ordained questioned, God vital to young Americans...

....and to Sotto Voce who is now taking a well deserved break from you all and will be back in a week.....

Sotto Voce

Poll: God Vital to Young Americans

Among America's young people, godliness contributes to happiness.

An extensive survey by The Associated Press and MTV found that people aged 13 to 24 who describe themselves as very spiritual or religious tend to be happier than those who don't.

When it comes to spirituality, American young people also are remarkably tolerant - nearly 7 in 10 say that while they follow their own religious or spiritual beliefs, others might be true as well.

On the whole, the poll found religion is a vital part of the lives of many American young people, although with significant pockets that attach little or no importance to faith.

Forty-four percent say religion and spirituality is at least very important to them, 21 percent responded it is somewhat important, 20 percent say it plays a small part in their lives and 14 percent say it doesn't play any role.

Among races, African-Americans are most likely to describe religion as being the single most important thing in their lives. Females are slightly more religious than males, and the South is the most religious region, the survey said.

The poll's mission was to figure out what makes young people happy. And it appears religion helps.

Eighty percent of those who call religion or spirituality the most important thing in their lives say they're happy, while 60 percent of those who say faith isn't important to them consider themselves happy.

"If you believe God is helping you, then everything else isn't as important and you can trust that there's somebody there for you no matter what," said Molly Luksik, a 21-year-old ballet dancer in Chicago and a Roman Catholic who attends Mass weekly. "Just going to church and everything ... it's very calming, and everyone is nice."

Sociologists have long drawn a connection between happiness and the sense of community inherent to most religious practice.

Lisa Pearce, an assistant professor of sociology at the University of North Carolina, said religion can indeed contribute to happiness, but she cautioned that the converse also can hold true.

"It's easier for kids who are happy and have things going well in their life to find the time and energy to participate in religion," said Pearce, co-principal investigator for the National Study of Youth and Religion.

"It could be kids who have bad experiences in church end up leaving and being unhappy with religion."

The poll also asked young people to choose between two statements about their views of other faiths.

Sixty-eight percent agree with the statement, "I follow my own religious and spiritual beliefs, but I think that other religious beliefs could be true as well."

Thirty-one percent choose, "I strongly believe that my religious beliefs are true and universal, and that other religious beliefs are not right."

The latter statement is more likely to be the position of young teens - 13 to 17 - and those who attend religious services weekly.

However, tolerance is the rule overall.

That doesn't surprise the Rev. Paul Raushenbush, associate dean for religious life at Princeton University and author of "Teen Spirit: One World, Many Faiths."

Young people eat lunch and play soccer with peers from other belief backgrounds, while adults tend to self-segregate with others of like mind, he said.

Sweeping immigration reform in 1965 transformed America into the world's most religiously diverse nation, and young people grew up with the second generation of the immigrant wave, he noted.

"This shows that it doesn't require a lack of conviction in your own faith tradition to think someone else might have a similar type of conviction in their own," Raushenbush said.

"There is no sense of, 'This diminishes my faith.'"

Traci Laichter, 14, went to Jewish preschool. Her grandparents are Holocaust survivors. Her family keeps kosher and displays a mezuzah - a little box holding verses from the Torah - on the door of their suburban Las Vegas home.

Her faith is strong and she believes it will last, but that doesn't mean she thinks other faiths are devoid of truth.

"I believe whatever you believe is true to you and it really shouldn't matter what other people think," she said.

About 75 percent of those surveyed say God or a higher power has some impact on their happiness. At the same time, 90 percent believe happiness is at least partly under their own control.

"I think you do have control over how you are going to feel on a particular day," said David Mueller of Lockport, N.Y., a 20-year-old college student who attends an evangelical Christian megachurch called The Chapel.

"When it comes to events in your whole life, it's already somewhat laid out for you," he said.

"You can stray off to another path. But where God wants you to go, you are going to get there."

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Disclaimer

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

Catholic pilgrims find locked doors

Pilgrims from the Mission of St. Isidore the Farmer in Watkins will find two more Catholic church doors closed to them during their two-day, 48-mile trek to the mountaintop Mother Cabrini Shrine near Morrison.

The pastors of the Cathedral Basilica of the Immaculate Conception and Holy Ghost Church late Wednesday asked pilgrimage coordinators not to have the breakaway Catholic group stop inside those two downtown Denver churches today.

Since 2002, the group making the Thanksgiving trek, part of a traditionalist Catholic movement at odds with papal authority, has not been allowed to celebrate Mass at their destination, the Cabrini-founded shrine to Jesus that overlooks Interstate 70.

Catholic Archbishop Charles Chaput has declined to give permission to St. Isidore members for Mass at the shrine because "they're not in communion with the Roman Catholic Church or the Archdiocese of Denver," spokeswoman Jeanette DeMelo said Thursday.

St. Isidore's parish is part of the Society of St. Pius X, a worldwide group not recognized by the Roman Catholic Church because its founder had defied the pope with respect to ordination of bishops and the preservation of the church's Tridentine Mass, an older version said entirely in Latin.

St. Isidore pilgrims received their latest rebuff in a letter from the basilica's pastor, Monsignor Thomas Fryar.

"The expression 'kicked to the curb' comes to mind," St. Isidore spokesman Grider Lee said of Fryar's request that pilgrims skip the cathedral and Holy Ghost.

"It came as quite a shock to us," Lee said.

DeMelo said that pilgrims may enter the churches as individuals, but they should not enter as a banner-carrying official group or leave behind proselytizing literature, as they did last year.

"We do hope the group returns to full communion with the church," DeMelo said. "There's still some work to be done. And we will gladly welcome them when it is."

The shrine, established in the early 1900s by St. Frances Xavier Cabrini is on acreage owned by the order of nuns that Cabrini founded to run schools and orphanages, the Missionary Sisters of the Sacred Heart.

The nuns allowed St. Isidore's pastor to say Mass there for pilgrims in 1999, the year of the first pilgrimage, when the parish was seeking Mother Cabrini's help in building its $2.3 million church near Watkins.

However, when St. Isidore members undertook the pilgrimage again in 2002, that time to thank the saint, her order of nuns deferred to the archdiocese in refusing pilgrims'admittance. The nuns have done so ever since.

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Disclaimer

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$2M insurance fraud trial

The prosecution yesterday opened its case against Fred Sukhdeo who is accused of attempting to pursue a bogus US$2M insurance claim following a fire at the Sacred Heart church on Christmas Day, 2004.

Only one witness gave evidence yesterday since the other person who was scheduled to testify is currently hospitalized.

Around 10 witnesses are to testify in the case which is being heard before Magistrate Hazel Octive-Hamilton at the Georgetown's Magistrate's Court.

Sukhdeo and his two lawyers Sanjeev Datadin and Winston Murray were present in court yesterday.

Roman Catholic Bishop Francis Alleyne testified that when he was appointed Bishop in January 2004 he was responsible for all the catholic churches in Georgetown.

He told the court that the Sacred Heart Church was one of his responsibilities and he appointed a priest to be in charge of the parish.

According to Bishop Alleyne there were others within the parish who had responsibilities to assist the said church.

He testified that to his knowledge at the time of the fire the said church was uninsured and he later said that his information is that about ten years prior to the fire, a decision was taken to discontinue insurance regarding the said church.

The Bishop added that since he was appointed he did not employ any trustees for the church.

He recalled that in April 2005, he received a telephone call and spoke to an individual.

As a result of that call a man went to his office and they had a discussion.

Based on the information he received during that conversation, Bishop Alleyne said that he made a report to the Commissioner of Insurance Maria van Beek and later gave a written statement on which he signed his name.

He told the court that there is no other person who is authorized to sign on behalf of the church.

Following Bishop Alleyne's testimony, the prosecution called Bishop Benedict Singh to the stand.

However the court was later told that he is presently hospitalized.

The magistrate then set November 14 as the date for the continuation of the trial.

Since the trial for Sukhdeo, who is the alleged mastermind of the fraud, was set last year, the start of the case has suffered several delays.

When the matter was called in June the trial was again adjourned after the magistrate announced that she was giving priority to a narcotics matter since the defendants in the matter were on remand.

When the matter came up on March 21 the magistrate granted an adjournment when none of Sukhdeo's lawyers turned up.

It is alleged that on December 29, 2004, Sukhdeo with intent to defraud forged a certain document purporting to be a GuyFlag fire and perils claim for US$2M (approximately $400M) for the Sacred Heart Roman Catholic Church.

He is also accused of trying to obtain the said sum of money by virtue of a forged fire and perils claim form.

According to the facts of the case, GuyFlag submitted a bogus claim for payment to its reinsurance agent AON Re and Sukhdeo, who was the head of the sister operation, the National Cooperative Credit Union LTD. (NCCL) had been presented as a representative of the Catholic Church dealing with the fire.

It was when GuyFlag/Sukhdeo allegedly approached a claims adjuster here that the alleged scam was discovered. Investigations were carried out and it was discovered that the church had no policy with GuyFlag.

Sukhdeo was arrested on November 17, 2005 and placed on $50,000 station bail.

He was not charged until March the following year with forgery and endeavouring to obtain upon a forged document and made an appearance in the Georgetown Magistrate's Court on March 21.

He was released on $75,000 bail on that occasion.

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Disclaimer

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

'Allah': What the word and concept mean (Contribution)

Roman Catholic Bishop Tiny Muskens of the Netherlands said on Dutch television that, "Allah is a very beautiful word for God."

He also pointed out that in Indonesia, the world's most populous Muslim country, priests use the word "Allah" in Catholic Mass.

As a matter of fact, all non-Muslims living in Muslim countries, particularly in the Arab countries, call God "Allah." …

Muslims prefer to use the word "Allah" for God for very good reasons.

Allah comes from two syllables "Al" and "Ilah" which means "The" "God."

I believe in Hebrew "God" is called "Elohim."

The beauty and distinction of the word "Allah" is that it has no masculine word and feminine word, like "god" and "goddess." Also, it has no plural, like "gods."

For Muslims, the definition of "Allah" is "the Creator of the earth and the heavens or simply the universe."

The concept of "Allah" is given in more details in Surah (Chapter) 2 (Baqara or Cow): 255 (verse).

The frequently recited Surah by the Muslims is Surah No. 112 titled "Al-Ikhlas" or "Sincerity."

It has been called the "essence of the Qu'ran" and describes the nature of God as follows:

1. Say: He is Allah, the One!

2. Allah, the eternally Besought of all!

3. He begetteth not, nor was begotten.

4. And there is none comparable unto Him.

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Disclaimer

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

Catholic crisis

Wanted: adult males for the priesthood (no women need apply).

Join the holy fight against evil by becoming a soldier for Christ.

Job requires devotion, dedication, commitment, patience, tolerance, compassion and sacrifice.

Ceremonial and pastoral duties also require successful applicants to be part social worker, philosopher, psychologist, teacher, counsellor, public speaker and community leader dealing with people from birth to death.


On call 24/7.

No wife or children allowed, also no sex of any kind.

Minimal pay but room and board provided.

In the early 1980s, David Gruschow and Edmund Little answered such a calling - and two decades later are priests in the Nelson region.

Neither man marched out of adolescence into adulthood with his eyes firmly on Christ and the Cross, although each, in his own way, sought to be active, rather than passive, Christians - and their early work as teachers would have a spiritual dimension.

Gruschow became a Marist brother and teacher, having been attracted to the Marists' lifestyle when he attended a Catholic secondary school in Lower Hutt.

The oldest of nine children and raised in a typical Catholic family who went to mass on Sunday, he was, in effect, making a religious commitment but one with an emphasis on teaching.

He describes the Marist brothers as being like male nuns, or monks. They take vows of poverty, chastity and obedience.

"While I was teaching, I did a little bit of parish work and really enjoyed that, so I felt the Lord was calling me to do that work more frequently," he says - and to do so meant the priesthood.

That calling became more insistent, he says, while he was teaching in Fiji. At the end of 1985, at the age of 31, he was ordained as a priest.

A year behind him at the seminary was a man 12 years older, who had travelled from the other side of the world to become a priest.

Edmund Little's path to the priesthood wasn't a road-to-Damascus experience but a more circuitous journey through academia, although along the way he always had "an itchy feeling" that he ought to seek ordination.

Born in Essex, England to a Welsh mother and Cockney father, Little, one of two children, says his family wasn't particularly religious. His parents belonged to the Anglican Church but did not raise him as an Anglican.

From a young age, however, he was interested in history - and it would be the Catholic Church's long history, its continuity through time, its community spreading outwards from the present and back into the past, and its teaching consistency that would appeal to him.

At university he specialised in modern languages, especially Russian and French, attained a PhD and taught at the University of Hull for 15 years. While there, he was asked to teach the spirituality of the Russian Orthodox Church, which he did for several years and the itchy feeling grew stronger.

In 1982, he visited New Zealand, doing some lectures and tutorials at Victoria University, and happened to meet Cardinal Tom Williams, then the Archbishop of Wellington.

In conversation, Little asked if at the age of 40 he would be accepted as a student for the priesthood - and was somewhat surprised to hear he would be.

Little returned to England, resigned his university post, came back to New Zealand and was ordained in 1986.

Today Fr Little is a priest at Sacred Heart Church in Takaka, having previously served at St Mary's in Nelson, while Fr Gruschow came to Our Lady of Perpetual Help Church in Richmond early last year after six years in Petone (and having been an army chaplain for eight years).

Frs Gruschow and Little are two of 537 priests in New Zealand today, about 10 percent less than there was 10 years ago and a continuation of a decline in numbers over the past three decades.

Even more concerning is that the average age of parish priests is increasing: from 48 in the 1980s, to 62 in 1997, to mid-60s today.

Correspondingly, there has been a gradual decline in the number of seminary trainees. In 1979, for instance, there were 43 in New Zealand; today there are 16 seminarians.

In that sense, Frs Gruschow and Little are more typical of men choosing the priesthood in their 30s or even 40s. Neither of them was previously married or has children.

Lyndsay Freer, of Catholic Communications in Auckland, says there seems to be hesitancy on the part of young people to make serious, long-term commitments.

"This is reflected in the number of couples who choose not to commit to marriage. Also, we note that couples are marrying later rather than at a young age."

Applying at a young age, sometimes straight from school, as often happened years ago, is discouraged today, Freer says. "It is more desirable to have men who have come to a mature decision after time to consider what they want to do with their lives."

The Catholic culture has also broken down a bit, says Fr Gruschow. "It isn't as strong as it was when I was a child.

"Part of that culture was it was perfectly acceptable to go into the priesthood. Families encouraged you and thought it was wonderful. These days, I think it's more complex than that. A family, while they theoretically might like their son to be a priest, in practice they may not be convinced that it's the best life, the most wholesome or fulfilling life for their son."

Catholic families have fewer children today, as well. It's no longer a case of one son out of seven, nine or 11 children becoming a priest, but one son out of three children, he adds.

Also, since lay people have replaced Marists in many schools, there is less opportunity for teenagers to be inspired towards a religious vocation, as he himself was.

Fr Little points out that the shortage of priests is one that only Western countries are experiencing - priest numbers in Asia, Africa and Latin America are burgeoning.

However, language and cultural barriers can block many of them from bolstering numbers in Western countries.

The result is a serious problem for the Catholic Church - and perhaps other denominations as well, Fr Little says.

"Nobody knows quite what to blame - consumerism, post-modernism, the me-me society, the availability of entertainment on television, at the cinema and on video and DVD," he says.

"We're also a much more mobile society. People used to walk to church, now they drive. At a basic level, going to church was something to do on a Sunday; mobility now gives them many more choices."

The impact of distractions and other options to attending church affects the numbers of people going into the priesthood, since it is from the church's congregations that most aspiring to be priests come.

What might be a disincentive to join the priesthood is the bad publicity the Catholic Church has suffered in recent years about priests involved in sexual abuse cases, including paedophilia.

Fr Gruschow says the publicity has been "hugely damaging", and Fr Little says it has made other clergy feel "sick and despondent".

"It's very demoralising," Fr Little says, "because aside from their direct victims, children or adults, these (offending) clergy have abused the trust put in them - and made our life more difficult."

As well as coping with such bad publicity, the church has had to contend on occasion with debate about its attitudes towards, and position on, such issues as celibacy, artificial birth control, abortion, divorce, homosexuality and the ordination of women.

Celibacy can carry risks of isolation, alienation and loneliness from having a lack of intimacy - but, Fr Little adds, there are dangers attached to the married state as well.

"Some of the loneliest people I have met have been married," he says.

Fr Gruschow says that in the history of the church, celibacy hasn't always been necessary - and its requirement today should be re-examined. Fr Little agrees.

Fr Gruschow also points out that Anglicans who have converted to Catholicism and become priests are allowed to do so even if married, thus celibacy doesn't apply to them.

Nor does it apply, Fr Little says, to some branches of the church, such as the Eastern Catholic Maronites, whose clergy can marry.

Fr Little believes the focus on celibacy is a symptom of an age in which sex has assumed an importance he suspects it didn't have before.

"Celibacy - the very word has a mystique, an attraction, that people find mysterious and strange, and celibacy is often blamed for whatever problems the Catholic Church is seen as having."

He recalls a conversation years ago in which the wife of a Protestant clergyman told him that the Catholic Church shouldn't rush to abolish celibacy as an easy fix to its problems, because it would raise as many problems as it solves.

"She said, `If you think that a minister can have a normal family life without serious difficulty, you're kidding yourself'."

On many other issues, such as artificial birth control, divorce and homosexuality, Fr Gruschow says the church's position is one of stated ideals rather than strict rules that damn those who transgress them.

"Even a surface reading of the Gospels illustrates the Lord being compassionate and forgiving and not overly worried about the letter of the law," he says.

"In the past, people believed you must meet these rules, whereas these days they're more seen as ideals. It's wonderful if you can meet them - but if you can't, you work towards them. There's more an appreciation of this journey towards perfection rather than being perfect now, which nobody can be."

So where is that line that says you haven't strived hard enough to work towards an ideal?

"That's an interesting question," says Fr Gruschow. "We always say that's the province of almighty God, that God is the judge."

However, there are some subjects which are still non-negotiable - for instance, the church's rejection of abortion and homosexuality.

"Abortion is one of the black-and-white rules," says Fr Gruschow. "It has much more moral impact than the (artificial) contraception one does."

As for homosexuality, it's a case of damning the sinner, not the sin. Thus, a homosexual can be a member of the Catholic Church as long as the homosexuality isn't physically expressed, says Fr Gruschow, just as a homosexual can be a celibate priest.

Asked how such attitudes towards abortion, homosexuality and not allowing women to become priests fit in with Christian tolerance and compassion, Fr Gruschow says it's possible to have a strong moral code and still be compassionate and tolerant.

"Jesus showed that. He was pretty intolerant of various things, like hypocrisy and injustice. The art is to hold both together without compromising either. It's important to have strict rules to protect human dignity and it's also important to be compassionate when people don't live up to those rules and to provide a way of helping them to do so. Strong moral codes are important but you have to allow people the space to make mistakes."

If a man thinking of becoming a priest adheres to the church's position on various contentious issues, despite how they reflect society, and if he is willing to make the sacrifices the priesthood requires and cope with inherent stresses, there can still be a question of money.

Fr Gruschow says some priests are "making waves" about remuneration because the church has started employing lay people to replace priests where there aren't priests available, and they won't do such work for what priests receive.

He says lay people get about $45,000; priests get $60,000, although they also receive free accommodation and food.

It's a demanding job being a priest, and some men do choose to leave the priesthood each year.

"Some men have left in recent years in order to marry," says Lyndsay Freer, adding that stress can be a factor but money is not usually a reason for leaving.

Fr Gruschow says he is thinking of retiring when he turns 65.

"We're allowed to do that, though they don't like it", explaining that priests are encouraged, even expected, to continue their work until health or other circumstances cause them to retire, or to move to less onerous duties.

Last year Fr Little experienced "burnout" first-hand, a factor in his move from Nelson to Takaka after taking nearly a year off to recover.

So what are the joys and rewards that make the priesthood satisfying and worth the sacrifices and stresses?

Fr Gruschow cites the pastoral work and being a leader at worship.

"Most of my job is being with people and often it's an important time in their lives - birth, baptism, marriage, sickness, death and funerals.

"So at key times they invite you into their lives, as a spiritual dimension which they find very important."

He finds providing good quality sermons at church services a daunting task "because people demand a good quality sermon these days" - but it's a chance to reflect on scripture and how it applies to life and discuss issues from the Catholic perspective.

"Part of our role is to educate our Catholic people because there are lots of people who aren't Catholics and have all sorts of different ideas about what Catholics believe or don't believe and do or don't do, which are often incorrect and impinge on our Catholic people."

Ultimately, though, the Eucharist, symbolising the body and blood of Christ is the essence of the Catholic faith and a priest's reason to be.

"The Eucharist is the source and summit of our Catholic life. When people come to mass, it's not for the priest but the Eucharist."

Fr Little echoes Fr Gruschow: "I like to help people in their joys and sorrows where I can - that sounds pious, but I do.

"And, yes, celebrate the Eucharist, follow the commandments of Christ and try to acquaint people with the mystery of divine love, which in the Eucharist recalls the suffering, death and resurrection of the Lord, the triumph of life over death and of good over evil. Before I became a priest, an old priest said to me that when he celebrates the Eucharist, he's always conscious of doing something much greater than himself - and that's what I feel too."

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Disclaimer

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

Do Catholic women have a right to ordination? (Contribution)

It's alarming when self-proclaimed experts in theology and Catholicism (many of whom aren't even Catholic) insist that there is a right to ordination of women to the Catholic priesthood.

With the recent faux-ordination to the Catholic priesthood of Alice M. Iaquinta of West Bend, the periodic debate begins again.

I'm a 37-year-old practicing Catholic woman with 12 years of Catholic education under my waistband. I have been an active and involved parishioner as an adult.

I have never once felt even slightly discriminated against by the church for being a woman.

As a girl, I was comforted by the abundance of exemplary female role models and saints honored by Catholicism. I knew that I was valued by the church as a girl for the feminine virtues I possess.

I've always had a firm grasp of the sensibility of having specific roles within the church community. Not everyone is suited to be a choir member or lector. Not everyone is suited to be a parish administrator. Not everyone is suited to be a priest. It's that final point that some Americans get hung up on.

And let's remember, the Catholic Church isn't secluded to America. We are a universal church, one in which there is no priest shortage or demand for women's ordination in other parts of the world. To alter the worldwide church to suit the agenda of one portion of the whole isn't prudent or wise.

Iaquinta could face excommunication, and she may be offended as a woman - but that doesn't erase the fact that Jesus was a man.

For sacramental purposes, and particularly during the Eucharistic rite of Mass, the priest is not a "symbol" of Jesus but a literal representation of Jesus. Transubstantiation that turns bread and wine into the body and blood of Christ isn't symbolic; it's a solemn recreation of the Last Supper.

Even if Leonardo DaVinci believed Mary Magdalene was at the table with the apostles, there's no ambiguity that a man was at the center performing the miracle.

Should men ride the donkey and hold the baby in nativity plays? After all, if we are to ignore that Jesus was a man, it's only logical that we should also ignore that Mary, his mother, was a woman.

Men can't give birth. A 4-foot-5-inch man will never be drafted to the NBA. A 95-pound woman won't be a heavyweight boxing champion. I'll never be a swimsuit model. Waa! It must be discrimination.

I think that much of the irritation some women feel about the church's discerned and discriminating position of a male-only priesthood boils down to displaced feminism.

Rather than embrace women's unique role within the church, some complain as though we're roped off to one side while every man has full access to holiness.

I hope they are aware that not every man who applies to a seminary is accepted.

Women are already equal to men in God's eyes and in the Roman Catholic Church's eyes.

We need to understand that equality doesn't mean sameness. In fact, it's our differences and the variety of roles, talents and treasures that bring us to one table to share all we have.

The church has every prerogative and right to be discriminating when it comes to priestly ordination.

If a woman chooses to ignore this, it is she who has excommunicated herself from the church.

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Sotto Voce

Catholic leaders to veto 'nonsensical' closures

CHURCH leaders have threatened to veto the closure of two Catholic schools in Edinburgh and force Scottish ministers to take the final decision.

Monsignor Tony Duffy, chaplain at St Cuthbert's Roman Catholic primary school in Slateford described the plans as "nonsense".

St Cuthbert's and St Catherine's in Gracemount are among 22 Edinburgh schools earmarked to be shut by the city council.

But closing Catholic schools requires the approval of the church or must be backed by Executive ministers.

Monsignor Duffy said: "At this stage we are totally opposed to it. Our arguments are not specifically related to the Catholic issue but if we have to use it we will. It is just a nonsense to talk about closing the school.

"I spent the first few days of last week in the school - I have been a priest for over 30 years and I have never seen so much hurt and pain. Teachers and parents and kids were in tears over what was being suggested."

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Sotto Voce

Judge Orders Trials in Church Suits

When the Roman Catholic Diocese of San Diego filed for bankruptcy in February, abruptly halting multiple sex-abuse lawsuits on the eve of trial, Michael Bang thought his chance for a day in court was gone.

On Friday, a federal bankruptcy judge revived hope for Bang, ruling that 42 cases be sent back to state courts for immediate jury trials.

"Doing that in February really reaffirmed to me how significant the cover-up is," said Bang, a 46-year-old Atlanta man who says he spent years of his boyhood as a sex slave to a reverend monsignor.

"They want to do anything they can within the legal system to stop it, but all it's done is made me more committed to telling the truth."

U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Louise DeCarl Adler's ruling was a victory for Bang and about 150 other people who claim they were sexually abused by priests as children.

Five trials out of about 127 filed against the diocese were scheduled to begin last spring in state court in San Diego.

Lawyers for the plaintiffs argued that re-activating those trials was the only way to get the diocese to settle after more than three years of fruitless negotiations in state and federal courts.

"This just ratchets up the pressure on everyone to get the cases settled," said Irwin Zalkin, who represents 54 alleged victims. "Everyone understands it could go any way in a jury trial."

The San Diego diocese has offered about $94 million to settle the claims as part of its bankruptcy reorganization plan. Plaintiffs' attorneys are seeking a settlement of about $200 million.

The judge rejected the diocese's argument that she could return trials to state court only under "exceptional circumstances," saying she had broader discretion.

Even if the church were correct, "clearly this tsunami of child sex abuse cases against the Roman Catholic clergy would qualify as 'exceptional,'" Adler wrote.

Plaintiffs whose cases were not among those remanded nonetheless welcomed the renewed possibility of trial.

"My hope is that they don't settle and we go to trial," said Diane Williams, a 49-year-old mother who says she was raped as a girl by a monsignor at a church-run orphanage. "I think these things need to get out, but I don't think the diocese will let that happen."

Lawyers for the diocese told the judge Thursday that the fastest way to resolve the claims was for a federal district judge to determine a fair payment instead of letting juries consider the sex-abuse cases one by one.

"We had hoped that the judge would agree with us that the process the bankruptcy court had set in place was the most expeditious way to get these cases settled," said Susan Boswell, an attorney representing the diocese. "She obviously didn't agree with us."

Adler's ruling puts the cases back under the jurisdiction of state courts. She will decide the order in which to release each of the 42 cases for trial, likely beginning with those that were already close to being heard last spring, said Ryan DiMaria, an attorney representing a man whose case was supposed to be the second in line.

Trials could begin in as little as 60 days, plaintiffs' attorneys said.

The Los Angeles Archdiocese settled 508 cases for $660 million in July, two days before jury selection was scheduled to begin in the first of 15 trials involving 172 abuse claimants.

The Orange County diocese agreed to settle 90 claims for $100 million in 2004 after a judge promised to set trial dates and begin the discovery process if settlement talks collapsed.

Bishop Tod D. Brown later said he couldn't risk a trial in a state where a jury once awarded $30 million to two people who claimed they were sexually abused by clergy.

Attorneys for the San Diego diocese have argued that jury trials would slow progress toward a settlement and may give unfair priority to the claims of plaintiffs whose cases went to trial first.

With nearly 1 million Catholics and holdings throughout San Diego County, the diocese is by far the largest and wealthiest of the five U.S. dioceses to have filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection under the shadow of civil claims over sexual abuse.

Dioceses in Spokane, Wash., Portland, Ore., and Tucson, Ariz., have already emerged from Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.

The Davenport, Iowa, diocese, which faces claims from more than 150 people, is still in proceedings.

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Sotto Voce

Government censors newspaper for publishing cartoon of Jesus

The Malaysian government has taken a newspaper out of circulation for a month for having published a cartoon in which Jesus Christ drinks beer and smokes.

The state agency Bernama reported the news today, citing as it source the Minister for Homeland Security.

The move targets Makkal Osai Tamil, a widely read Tamil newspaper, which published the cartoon August 21, on its front page.

In the drawing, Christ has a can of beer in one hand and a cigarette in the other and is quoted as saying: “If someone repents for his mistakes, then this heaven awaits them”.

Kuala Lumpur Prime Minister, Abdullah Badawi (a devout Muslim), has condemned the gesture saying that it was “unacceptable in a multi racial society”.

A similar ban was placed last year on two papers for having printed a cartoon on Muhammad.

The premier’s words however, are in stark contrast to the social reality of the majority Muslim nation, which has long been under criticism for its treatment of religious minorities and for the application of Islamic law in many civil law cases.

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Sotto Voce

Saturday, August 25, 2007

A moment of laughter...

video

Anger rises to the papal court

The Rev. Joseph J. Clark, an Irish-Catholic bartender turned priest, never planned to be in the middle of a fracas involving him, the Vatican and the Diocese of Arlington.

But since he was suspended from the priesthood by Arlington Bishop Paul S. Loverde two years ago this month for arguing with a deacon, he has waged a quiet battle to win back his right under church law to preach and teach in the 400,000-member diocese.

His is the second case in five years in the Arlington Diocese to make its way into the papal court system.

The first case, involving the Rev. James R. Haley — who was silenced in 2001 after he accused Bishop Loverde of sheltering homosexual priests — remains unresolved at the Vatican's Congregation for the Clergy.

Father Clark's case is now before the Signatura, the highest Vatican court.
Two cases at one time from one medium-sized diocese "is pretty rare unless there's a new trend starting," said the Rev. Thomas Reese, former editor of the Jesuit magazine America.

"Maybe bishops have gotten these ideas on how to deal with troublesome priests" from the new zero-tolerance rules on sex abuse.

Like all clergy in the Arlington Diocese, Father Clark, 49, cannot talk to reporters without permission from the diocese. He did not respond to requests for an interview.

The story of his suspension — according to diocesan documents and interviews with several laity and priests — began with an 11 a.m. Mass on July 24, 2005, at Holy Family Church in Dale City, Va.

Sometime after Mass ended, the priest got into an argument with a deacon, Gerald Moore, saying he improperly handled the consecrated Holy Communion wine, which the church teaches is the blood of Christ.

An Aug. 1 letter sent to the diocese by Julie Wheaton, Mr. Moore's daughter, said her father went into cardiac arrest a day after being "assaulted" by the priest in front of "dozens" of people.


"I have encouraged my father to press criminal charges as well as file a civil lawsuit," wrote Mrs. Wheaton, after identifying herself as a Denver police detective.

"I ask you ... to immediately remove Clark from Holy Family and do not place him in any other parish where some other poor person would be subject to his uncontrollable anger."

On Aug. 6, Father Clark was summoned to the bishop's home in Arlington — "just for a chat," said Fairfax resident Dan Graham, a friend of the priest. "He figured the bishop just wanted to hear his side of the story."

But Father Clark was confronted by the bishop and two other priests, presented with a decree condemning him for "verbal assault and physical intimidation," told to vacate his residence within a few hours and spend a "month of penance" at a local monastery.

"He lost his temper in dealing with a deacon," another diocesan priest told The Washington Times on the condition of anonymity.

"There is some dispute about exactly what happened there, but he does have a problem with his temper. However, the bishop should have sent him to anger management. The bishop does have the tendency to handle things with an iron club."

Contacted by The Times in September 2005, diocesan spokesman Soren Johnson said the incident with the deacon was "investigated thoroughly," and the bishop was working with the priest to resolve the issue "with the hopes of returning him to ministry as soon as possible."

But Father Clark never went to the monastery, Mr. Graham said. Instead, he sought an evaluation from an anger-management specialist in Philadelphia "and got a clean bill of health," Mr. Graham added.

The priest then flew to Rome to seek out a canon lawyer to help him appeal to the Congregation for the Clergy.

Meanwhile, "all the priests were really disgusted by the Joe Clark incident," said a layman active in the diocese on the condition of anonymity. "One of the senior priests got up at a priests meeting and read Loverde the riot act."

The Arlington priest agreed local clergy were put off.

"The bishop doesn't realize what he does is alienate clergy," he said. "The morale is low in the diocese."

The Arlington priest said Bishop Loverde was summoned to the Vatican to discuss his handling of the case, in which he limited Father Clark's role without defrocking him.

In June 2006, the Congregation for the Clergy issued a split decision: that Bishop Loverde didn't follow the proper procedures and Father Clark should not have dressed down the deacon, according to several sources.

"They said Loverde was right to remove [Father Clark] from the parish and preaching, but that he could celebrate Mass in the diocese and hear confessions," the Arlington priest said.

"Basically, Loverde had gone beyond his authority because Clark had not done anything wrong to be suspended."

The Vatican will side with a bishop in most such cases, said Monsignor Thomas Green, a canon law professor at Catholic University, but not if the bishop failed to follow due process.

"If the bishop suspended the guy and didn't talk to him before that; if he didn't give the priest a chance to seek counsel, then the Holy See could say you didn't proceed correctly," he said

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Sotto Voce

Castel Sant'Angelo: Dank dungeon for common criminals

For the first time in a decade, summer tourists could make their way down steep stone steps deep into the dark, dank interior of a papal fortress and crawl into prison cells that housed countless common criminals as well as Rome's errant elite.

The 1,900-year-old Castel Sant'Angelo, which stands near the Tiber River, was built as a mausoleum for the Emperor Hadrian, then was converted into a fortress by medieval popes.

At times, the turreted castle served as a refuge for beleaguered and besieged pontiffs and as a high-security prison.

While not wanting to justify the church's past practice of imprisonment, torture and sometimes executions, one Vatican expert said it was important to remember that at the time "the papal state was a territorial state, so you had to take care of thieves and murderers who are put into prisons like in every state."

The Vatican Museums' Arnold Nesselrath, director of the Byzantine, medieval and modern collections, said that, while the church's large temporal jurisdiction "was probably wrong at every time of history, (its penal practice) was consistent with what was going on in other countries."

"Starting in the eighth century, the church wielded temporal power over shifting territories known as the Papal States across parts of modern-day Italy."

"Being a territorial state there were political problems, also. There were people who plotted against the pope," Nesselrath said, and that "puts into difficulty a territorial sovereign."

The pontiffs not only had foreign powers bent on invasion and rival Roman emperors to contend with, but infighting among powerful Roman families vying for control of the papacy was such a threat that the Roman Curia moved for safety to Avignon, France, in the early 1300s.

When the papacy moved back to Rome in the late 14th century, the pope still "had to re-establish his role, which was of course against the barons who did what they liked," Nesselrath said.

Internal divisions within the church worsened during the Reformation and Counter-Reformation, thus broadening the list of enemies of the church who risked imprisonment.

Prisons were scattered throughout the papal territories, but the one in Castel Sant'Angelo was unique.

Sometimes prisoners and the pope were holed up in the same fortress, especially during the mercenary army invasion of King Charles V in 1527 that led to the sack of Rome.

Several times during a period of "sede vacante" -- when one pope had died and another had not yet been elected -- large numbers of inmates were transferred from other prisons to Castel Sant'Angelo.

Miria Nardi, head of Castel Sant'Angelo's library and archives, said that the possibility for prison breaks was much greater during a "sede vacante," when the power vacuum could lead to chaos or confusion.

Therefore, exceptionally dangerous inmates were moved quickly to the castle because it was more secure.

Only five rooms were originally built to serve as prison cells in the early 1500s.

As the need for more cells arose, other rooms and spaces in the vast complex were converted into detention centers.

Even tall grain silos inside the fortress were converted into jail cells.

The number of political prisoners in papal jails swelled during Italy's Risorgimento in the 19th century when revolutionaries fought for the unification of Italy.

Nardi said the number of prisoners varied constantly but that one document recorded 681 detainees in 1828.Little is known about the conditions prisoners faced in this fortress prison.

However, Nesselrath said since it was not built to be a prison but a tomb it was "probably the worst dungeon you can imagine."

A former Castel Sant'Angelo inmate, the famed 16th-century Florentine artist, Benvenuto Cellini, wrote an autobiography describing the conditions he faced while in solitary confinement there.

Jailed on charges of murder, Cellini called his cell "a gloomy dungeon below the level of a garden, which swam with water and was full of big spiders and many venomous worms."

He slept on "a wretched mattress of course hemp" which after three days "soaked up water like a sponge," he wrote.

Cellini was incarcerated with a broken leg -- an injury he sustained in a previous escape after climbing and jumping off the castle's ramparts, using torn bed sheets sewn into long ropes.

Cellini's fate was fortunate: His leg healed despite the neglect, and after a year of prison the pope exiled him to France.

Others, like members of Rome's important Cenci family, died at the hands of papal executioners in the square in front of Castel Sant'Angelo.

Declared guilty of murdering Francesco Cenci, the dead nobleman's daughter and second wife were decapitated in 1599 before a large crowd while one son was drawn and quartered.

In 1969, Pope Paul VI formally banned the use of the death penalty in Vatican City State, although no one had been executed under the authority of the Vatican's temporal governance since 1870, when the Papal States dissolved after Rome and the surrounding territories were annexed to a unified Italy.

Nesselrath said more scholarly sleuthing needs to be done on papal prisons and punishment -- which would certainly reveal there were "abuses and ways we don't consider the right ones anymore today."

But more research could be done by Vatican or church experts that puts the past "into a historical context," he said, since a lot of the historical studies that exist take a "sort of traditional, very anti-Catholic approach."

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Sotto Voce

Mother Teresa's canonisation not at risk

The Vatican has insisted that Mother Teresa’s path to sainthood will not be affected by a deep crisis of faith that she appears to have undergone for the last four decades of her life.

“Mother Teresa has already been beatified,” said Monsignor Robert Sarno, who is in charge of her case at the Congregation for the Causes of Saints.

“For her canonisation as a saint, she now requires one more verified miracle.”

Mgr Sarno said it was “not surprising” that Mother Teresa had, at times, turned away from God.

“It would be surprising if she hadn’t,” he said. “It’s really very simple. People have to realise that the Church does not canonise God. She was a human being, not a cartoon super hero like Batman or Superman, and she faced reality. Even the saints are faced with the difficulties of life.”

He drew attention to the struggles undergone by the apostles in the New Testament.

“They had their problems. They abandoned the Lord and then they rose above that and continued in their faith,” he said.

The Vatican has over 35,000 pages of documents attesting to the virtues and shortcomings of Mother Teresa.

Mgr Sarno had to close the investigation because of the enormous amount of evidence that poured from Mother Teresa’s supporters.

Over 100 witnesses, far more than in any other case for sainthood, have testified in the process.

According to some of the letters within her file, Mother Teresa began to struggle with her belief in God at roughly the same time as she started caring for the poor and sick in Calcutta in 1949.

The Catholic Association of Bengal, the largest lay organisation in Calcutta, has mounted a constant prayer for the last two weeks to push her cause forward at Rome.

The organisation has nominated 2007 as "the year of Mother Teresa's Sainthood", since Sept 5 will mark the 10th anniversary of her death.

Euguen Gonsalves, the president of the association said it was "clear that she lived a saint's life and there are no doubts for many in the world that she is already a saint".

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Sotto Voce

Vatican Secretary of State, Cardinal Bertone to Visit Ica, Pisco & Chimbote, Peru

Vatican Secretary of State, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, has arrived to Lima to express the solidarity that Pope Benedict XVI extends to the thousands of victims that suffered through the magnitude-8 earthquake which struck Peru on August 8.

Tarcisio Bertone has also come to personally preside the IX National Eucharist Congress.

The Prelate was received at Jorge Chavez International by Peru's Premier - Jorge del Castillo, Bishop of Chimbote - Monsignor Luis Bambarén and other authorities of the Peruvian Catholic Church.

Upon his arrival, the Secretary of State told press that the message the Pope sends to the thousands of victims of the devastating earthquake is to "have trust and hope" because there have been many signs of solidarity with Peru's people.

Bertone announced that he would be traveling to Ica and Pisco, the provinces most affected by the earthquake, on Friday.

He stated that in these areas, a new hope of moral and material reconstruction needed to be founded.

It has also been planned for the Vatican Secretary of State to meet with Peru's President Alan Garcia at the Government Palace on Friday, where he will be recognized with the "Orden del Sol".

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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

New site for Hell Pizza Hitler poster

An advertising executive has described Adolf Hitler as "almost the poster boy for the Jewish people" after complaints about a controversial Christchurch billboard for Hell Pizza.

Cinderella advertising executive Kirk MacGibbon said he had received complaints from Jewish people on the Hitler billboard but none from Catholics on the use of the Pope in a Hell Pizza advertisement now on display in the city.

"Isn't it interesting how only the Jews complain?" he said.

MacGibbon said Hitler was still "persona non grata".

"He's almost the poster boy for the Jewish people. Don't forget – but don't look when we invade Palestine," he said.

In an apparently provocative bid for more publicity, the pizza chain has gone back on its commitment to remove a poster depicting Hitler saluting with a slice of pizza.

MacGibbon said on Thursday that the Auckland-based agency would "back down".

Hell Pizza appeared to be bowing to public pressure on Thursday, removing the controversial Hitler poster from Lincoln Road, Addington, only for it to reappear in St Asaph Street, in central Christchurch, yesterday morning.

The billboard – carrying the quote "It is possible to make people believe that heaven is hell" – has drawn widespread condemnation from the Jewish community.

The New Zealand Jewish Council yesterday lodged an official complaint with the Advertising Standards Authority, while Israel's honorary consul to New Zealand, David Zwartz, described the advertisement as "distasteful" and "insensitive".

The Lincoln Road ad was taken down yesterday and replaced with one of Pope Benedict XVI saying "Hell is real and eternal".

The Hitler poster was transferred across town and re-erected in St Asaph Street.

MacGibbon said the Hitler billboard had been moved as part of its natural rotation around city billboard sites and had been re-erected before the message could get through to the contractor who put them up.

He said the billboard would come down on Tuesday.

Zwartz said MacGibbon's suggestion that the Holocaust was used as an excuse for Israel's present-day actions was a "very warped attitude".

"It's as distasteful as using Hitler in their advertisements," he said.

Catholic Communications spokeswoman Lyndsay Freer said the ads had been "talked about" in Catholic circles.

"They are hell-bent on kicking up merry hell," she said.

Any complaints would be lodged by individuals, she said, as "the last thing we want to do is give publicity to Hell".

Christchurch woman Linda Williams, who spotted the new Hitler billboard, said she did not like the ads.

"I don't agree with their principles," she said.

MacGibbon said the ads were successful and were not in danger of turning off customers.

"I am always sceptical of people who say they are going to change behaviour on the basis of one ad. The danger is in trivialising the brand and being seen as naughty little boys," he said.

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Sotto Voce

Israeli president to see Pope Benedict on Italy trip

Pope Benedict XVI will receive Israeli President Shimon Peres in a private audience at his summer residence outside Rome on September 6, the Vatican said Friday.

The two men have met before, in April last year, and when Peres became president in July the Roman Catholic pontiff urged him to work to "advance the cause of peace" in the Middle East.

Israel and the Holy See have long been in talks about the legal and financial status of the Roman Catholic church in the Jewish state.

Officials from both sides met in May and said they made "significant progress" in reaching a deal on the legal and tax status of Church property in Israel and the commercial activities of Christian communities there.

Peres will visit Castel Gandolfo as part of an official visit to Italy, during which he will also meet his Italian counterpart Giorgio Napolitano and Prime Minister Romano Prodi, ANSA news agency reported.

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Sotto Voce

Dominicans to Pay Man $1.2 Million in Lawsuit

A group of Catholic friars has agreed to pay $1.2 million to a 20-year-old man who accused a one-time Washington area priest of sexual abuse when the man was a teenager and living in Germantown.
Under the terms of an agreement announced yesterday, the Dominican Friars, Province of St. Joseph, will pay the money to Brandon Rains, a former altar boy at Mother Seton Parish in Germantown, where the Rev. Aaron J. Cote was associate pastor in 2001 and 2002.

In a lawsuit that Rains filed against Cote, the Dominicans and the Archdiocese of Washington, Rains accused Cote of "harmful sexual conduct and contact" with Rains when he was 14 and 15 years old, causing him "severe and permanent emotional distress."
Cote could not be reached for comment.

"It is our sincere hope that this settlement will be a source of healing and reconciliation for all involved in these allegations," the Dominican Friars said in a statement, adding that anyone with similar allegations should contact the order's Victims Assistance Coordinator.

Cote was removed from his job at a Rhode Island parish after the lawsuit was filed in D.C. Superior Court two years ago.

"A.J. Cote is a serial molester-predator," said Jeff Anderson, an attorney for Rains, at a news conference outside St. Dominic Catholic Church on E Street SW.

Anderson held a picture of Cote and Rains that Anderson said was taken in May 2001, about the time the alleged abuse occurred. In the picture, the two are smiling, dressed in red robes, and each has an arm around the other.

Rains's attorneys said the settlement concludes the lawsuit. The Archdiocese of Washington said it was not involved in the financial settlement.

At the time of the allegation, Cote "was not in any ministry with the Archdiocese nor has he been since," said a statement released by the archdiocese yesterday.

"We have no holding in this case," said Susan Gibbs, a spokeswoman for the archdiocese.
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Sotto Voce

Bishop calls for Catholic reform

THE Catholic Church is still not serious about confronting sexual abuse, only "managing" it, according to the Sydney bishop who headed Australian efforts to tackle abuse.

Bishop Geoffrey Robinson says the Catholic Church needs to reverse 2000 years of teaching on sex and power as part of radical reforms from the Pope down.

While it refuses to look at some fundamental teachings — including sex outside marriage, women priests, homosexuality and papal power — the culture that produced and protected abusers will continue, he says.

These explosive claims — unprecedented for a bishop — are in a book to be launched tomorrow: Confronting Power and Sex in the Catholic Church.

Bishop Robinson, 70, who was abused as a child, headed the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference professional standards committee for a decade until he retired because he was so disillusioned in 2004.

Calling for the most radical changes since Martin Luther started the 16th century Protestant Reformation, Bishop Robinson says the Pope has failed the church, and the church has failed its members.

"I'm aware of how radical the call I'm making is. I'm looking for a very different church," he told The Age.

He said the response of the church, especially the Vatican, to the sexual abuse crisis did not go deep enough. "The most profound factor about sex is that the church has had a morality for 2000 years based on offences against God and I find that quite inadequate. I ask if we should move to a morality based on relationships, on good and harm to people."

Bishop Robinson said the Catholic Church centralised too much power in the hands of the Pope.

"The entire responsibility of the church throughout the world to something as big as sexual abuse depended too much on the response of one person."

On sexual issues, the book asks questions rather than making statements. Bishop Robinson said this was because he did not want to suggest he had the answers and because it was harder for the Vatican to condemn questions.

He suggests there is "a crying need" in the Catholic Church to reconsider such issues as sex outside marriage, contraception and homosexuality.

"The responsibility appropriate to adults must not be reduced to the obedience appropriate to children, and too often that happens in the church. I don't think God does that."

Bishop Robinson proposes stripping considerable power and authority from the Pope, who would speak formally on behalf of the church only after consulting it.

The Pope would function more like a prime minister than a monarch.

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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

Married Irish couples suffer from 16-year itch

IRISH couples married for more than 16 years are more likely to get a divorce than their younger counterparts.

According to figures in the Court Service 2006 Annual Report, one-fifth of divorce applications were granted to couples who had been married for between 16-20 years.

Just over a quarter of couples applying for divorce were married for between 11-15 years -- compared with 1pc for couples married five years or under.

The figures show that couples married in the 1970s had the highest divorce rate -- with 14 divorces granted.

According to the figures there was a slight decrease in the number of new divorce applications in 2006.

A total of 4,097 divorce applications were granted in 2005, compared to 3,986 last year.

The numbers of judicial separations also increased dramatically. A total of 1,072 judicial separations were granted in 2006 compared to 950 in 2005.

According to Divorce Law expert and law lecturer at University College Cork, Louise Crowely, the high percentage of older divorcees is down to the system itself.

"Ireland is quite different to other jurisdictions in that it has an older percentage of divorcees. In countries like the US and England couples are more likely to divorce after five or six years," she said.

"I think a lot of it is down to the process itself. A couple may find that they are unhappy after three years... but the State dictates they have to live separately for four or five years before they can apply for a divorce."

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Disclaimer

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

Net pirates offer sex services on Catholic website

A CATHOLIC website link was 'hijacked' by internet pirates to offer stunned web users a range of raunchy sex services.

The Catholic Communications Office and the Diocese of Cloyne were horrified this week to realise that a link to an old diocesan internet address had been used to offer links to such websites as GetLaidTonite.com and IndianWomen.com.

The Bishop of Cloyne, Dr John Magee, was appalled by the revelation and ordered that immediate work be undertaken to remove all such links from the websites involved.

The Diocese of Cloyne last night said internet 'hijacking' is now a serious problem with genuine site operators often totally unaware of how bogus web users had attached their links to the service.

The embarrassing revelation was the second example of internet 'piracy' over recent weeks with a popular West Cork tourism site last month having to deal with similar internet dating sites attaching illicit links.

West Cork tourism officials were so annoyed by those links being attached to their site that the gardai are being consulted.

Address

The Catholic website was hit by the 'net hijackers' when Cloyne Diocese had to change its internet website address.

The Cork diocese changed last year from www.cloyne.irl.com to www.clooynediocese.ie because the original internet hosting firm were no longer operating.

But while anyone directly typing in the old website address was automatically re-routed to the new address, a link on the Catholic Communications Office site still used the old web address.

By now, web 'hijackers' had targeted the old address and had then attached links to various dating or raunchy services.

Within two hours of the Catholic hierarchy becoming aware of the problem, the correct web address had been linked to the site.

The various Catholic websites are amongst the most visited by Irish internet users for information such as Mass times, pilgrimage details as well as special services .

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Disclaimer

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


(BLOG POST 3,000)

Unholy row over 45-year-old report

AN unholy row has erupted between the Christian Brothers and the Archbishop of Dublin over a report on one of the country's notorious industrial schools that was compiled 45 years ago.

In an unprecedented public attack on an Archbishop by a religious order, the Brothers said they were "shocked and dismayed" at the decision of Dr Diarmuid Martin to recently release a 1962 Church report into the conditions at Artane industrial school which is the subject of an inquiry by the Ryan Commission on Child Abuse.

The report, compiled by Artane's then chaplain, Fr Henry Moore, followed a request from his Archbishop John Charles McQuaid to conduct a "confidential survey" on the management of the Artane school.

His report dealt with a number of issues including general care, diet, clothing, discipline and education of the 450 boys who were then resident at the school.

On the controversial issue of discipline, he wrote that while the boys were reasonably well fed, discipline was rigid and severe and "frequently approaches pure regimentation".

"Constant recourse to physical punishment breeds undue fear and anxiety.

"The personality of the boy is inevitably repressed, maladjusted and in some cases abnormal," he said in his report.

A follow-up special inspection to the chaplain's survey was made by two inspectors of the Department of Education and the medical inspector.

But it was Archbishop Martin's decision to make Fr Moore's report public following repeated requests from SOCA, the Survivors of Child Abuse organisation that has raised the ire of the Christian Brothers.

In a lengthy statement, the Brothers said Dr Martin's decision to release the controversial 1962 survey was "unconscionable" while it was under consideration by the Commission on Child Abuse.

Last night Christian Brothers spokesperson Edmund Garvey for the Brothers warned there was a danger of injustice being done by simply putting one document into the public domain out of many that were available to the commission.

"We are not trying to deny anything but this document has to be taken along with a number of other perspectives and reports," he told the Irish Independent.

Fr Moore's account had not been made available to the Brothers at the time and was released recently without any reference or prior information to them or presumably to the Commission, they said.

The chaplain's survey was only discovered by the Christian Brothers in June 2005 by the Commission through its procedures for documentation discovery.

Recent press reports also required the Brothers to accept that the chaplain was to be believed, while the inspectors were engaged in a "whitewash", according to their statement.

However, they pointed out that they had been unable to obtain the commission's permission to publish the report of the inspectors.

The Brothers were aware of all documentation submitted to the commission and were awaiting the findings when the report was published.

"They are not seeking top hide any information nor to disclose what is now properly with the Commission," it said.

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Disclaimer

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

Brothers vent anger at Archbishop over Artane

THE Christian Brothers have launched an extraordinary attack on the Archbishop of Dublin, Dr Diarmuid Martin, over his decision to publish a report on conditions at the Artane industrial school, compiled 45 years ago.

In an unprecedented public attack on an Archbishop by a religious order, the Brothers said they were "shocked and dismayed" at the decision of Dr Martin to release a 1962 Church report into the conditions at the school which is the subject of an inquiry by the Ryan Commission on Child Abuse.

The report, compiled by Artane's then chaplain, Fr Henry Moore, followed a request from his Archbishop, John Charles McQuaid, to conduct a "confidential survey" on the management of the Artane school.

His report dealt with a number of issues including general care, diet, clothing, discipline and education of the 450 boys who were resident at the school at the time. On the controversial issue of discipline, he wrote that while the boys were reasonably well fed, discipline was rigid and severe and "frequently approaches pure regimentation".

"Constant recourse to physical punishment breeds undue fear and anxiety. The personality of the boy is inevi-tably repressed, maladjusted and in some cases abnormal," he said in his report.
A follow-up special inspection to the chaplain's survey was made by two inspectors of the Department of Education and the medical inspector.

But it was Archbishop Martin's decision to make Fr Moore's report public following repeated requests from SOCA, the Survivors of Child Abuse organisation, that has raised the ire of the Christian Brothers.

In a lengthy statement, the Brothers said Dr Martin's decision to release the controversial 1962 survey was "unconscionable."

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Disclaimer

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

Northern diocese, from persecution; hope

Priests in Iraq are a “sign of hope for the persecuted Church”, but also for national reconciliation; this was the theme at the centre of prayers and reflection shared by 18 Chaldean priests and 4 bishops from the North of the country who spent three days from August 20 to 23 gathered at the retreat centre of Komané –Ahmadiya Diocese – for their spiritual exercises.

The Dominican priest Nageeb Merkhael led the retreat.

Coordinator Fr.Imad Khochab, gave an account of the three days in an official press release in Arabic. “We focused on the 4 dimensions of the life of a priest – the statement reads – spiritual, intellectual, social and pastoral, in order to renew our image of the priest, of the priest’ service and sacrifice so that he may truly be a sign of hope”.

The occasion – continues the statement – allowed us to strengthen our faith and our commitment to our mission despite the difficult circumstances and the sacrifices”.

Among the bishops participating in the retreat was Msgr. Louis Sako, archbishop of Kirkuk, Msgr. Rabban al Qas, from Ahmadiya, Msgr. Petros Hanna Issa Al-Harboli, from Zahko, msgr. Mikha Pola Mandassi, from Alqosh. Speaking to AsiaNews Msgr. Sako said: “For all of us this was a very special moment of prayer and mediation on the situation and our role as a Church”. Among participants there was the shared awareness that: “the Chaldean Church is a persecuted Church, whose strength lies in the power of its faith and its spirit. This is how it conserves its prophetic freedom and its hope”.

The archbishop of Kirkuk, had words of admiration for the “courage of young priests who with great personal sacrifice nurture hope and dream of a strong Iraqi Church, which defends human dignity and denounces injustice against the weakest members of society. A Church called to work for peace and reconciliation”.

On the sidelines of the spiritual exercises the 4 bishops decided also made some technical decisions, such as how to adopt the salary system: the diocese will finance the work and travel of priests within and outside of their own parishes.

This procedure “frees the priest from material concerns and safeguards his dignity, allowing him to completely dedicate himself to his mission”.

Moreover, in the aftermath of the retreat in Komanè a series of conferences on theological, liturgical and pastoral themes has been planned, so that the priests may “absorb all that is new, putting it to work in their service and unify, as far as possible, the various points of view of the different aspects of the 5 Northern dioceses”.

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Disclaimer

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