Sunday, September 30, 2007

An Focal Scóir - September 2007

The 2nd month of Autumn begins with accusations being thrown of inflated AIDS numbers to obtain increased financial funding, RC bishops now speak out for Ncube, Vatican launches own airline, EU investigates Vatican tax exemptions, Anglican rift widens after consecration in Kenya...

Irish RC church in need of reshaping and shaking, Ireland a suicide nation, Sotto Voce returns from his sojourn, Il Papa upset over collapse of marriages, CofI AB states churches should not expect special place in modern society, Il Papa visits Austria...

Rent-a-priest business booming, New Orleans clergy need counselling, Swedish Muslim uproar over (another) cartoon, Web beating confessionals, Scottish AB advises RC faith under attack, seperation of faith and state required...

Irish schools face issues with inter racial issues, NY RC implements programme for abusive clergy, RC AB of Westminster tipped as RC cardinal in UK, death of Vatican cadet, Vatican endorsed coffins, Holy See and Israel negotiations continue...

Mother Teresa remembered, Polish Cardinal wants control of radio station, RC education row brewing in Ireland, Italian RC spoiling for fight, Austrian RC's leaving church, papal document causing friction, gays target Brazilian Christians...

Mel Gibson building $37milion church, internal appointments in Vatican, RC dioceses in Canada redrawn, UN warning to Irish government over school places, Peres and Il Papa meet, Vatican raises the rent on properties...

Myanmar troops fire on monks, Il Papa faces gay hostility in Austria, 2008 Il Papa to vist Holy Land, Italian priest proposes platonic love, San Diego RC Archdiocese settles CSA cases for $200 million, CofE fears reduction of influence in equality bill...

Bin Laden advises conversion to Islam, Il Papa criticises Europeans for not having more cildren (a bit rich considering his position), Ian Paisley steps down as church leader, Il Papa reminds of importance of Sunday, Kenya awaits Cardinal appointment, Vatican boosts carbon neutral efforts...

Irish theologian brown-noses Il Papa, Kung believes Christianity upsets and offends many, Il Papa says Vatican II essential, 9/11 remembered, english missal in 2009, Ncube resigns, no apocalypse secret hidden says Vatican, Milingo still RC...

Fr Cleary double life, religion dans l'ecole surprise, Christian heritage of Europe urged, Vatican forced resignation of Ncube, AB Rowan Williams attempts to heal the divide, US theologian under investigation by Vatican, Army of Mary thrown out...
Sr Jeannie still fighting Vatican for LGBT rights, Irish RC schools enrollment policy may be illegal, new Irish bishop appointed (2 more still required!!), Vatican still no to euthanasia, Korean cardinal egged, relics of JPII available...leading into 2nd half of September... ....and we enter the final half of the month of September with disturbing news of a Jehovah's Witness being condemned for conscientious objection, Iraq religious freedom all but gone, German AB art criticism upsets many, Irish bishops defend themselves from racist tag...

Crucifixes removed from Quebec schools as result of parents complaints, AB Rowan Williams in US to heal potential Anglican schism, Il Papa not trusted in poll taken, RC in UK wants exemptions from equality laws, Europe needs Christian contribution...

Il Papa to tour USA, Irish diocese finds itself at centre of another CSA allegation, Il Papa drops McCanns from website, controversy over late Il Papa JPII and euthanasia...

Fr Cleary (RIP) under scrutiny in Ireland, Korean bishops misinform public about AB Milingo, German envoy to Ireland suffers Freudian slip, AB Ncube replacement appointed, Il Papa and Patriarch to meet in Naples...

Il Papa warns theologians, Amnesty International booted from Northern Ireland schools, Westminster Diocese boom time with seminarians, Il Papa refused meet Rice, RC leaders in Mexico verbally assault CSA victim, Il Papa to speak at UN...

RC and Judaic Commission meet Il Papa, Portuguese priests in Madelaine case interview priests, Vatican to investigate Florence CSA case, Vatican-approved bishop ordained in China, Myanmar Buddhist monks on march for democracy, RC in Cameroon becoming sinful...

Il Papa to make moral obligation towards environment, confession returns and becomes popular, Irish religious bias, German bishop apologises for paedophile priest, Il Papa takes second blast at Islam...

Il Papa to visit Albania, Oklahoma priest to be canonized, Vatican ratlines funded by Nazi money, Anglicans breaking up (??), Anglican bishop to convert to RC, priest serves beer at Oktoberfest, Il Papa reminds bishops of their duties, Dutch Dominicans cause surprise in Rome...

RC excommunicates 6 nuns for alleged heresy, Anglican AB says politics not a religious area, primacy of the Sabbath, controversy over gay 'Last Supper' advert, RC church not only one linked to Apostles, clerical paranoia over HIV/AIDS, Il Papa reshuffle of Curia makes it more Italian than ever before...

Ncube successor appointed, RC -v- witchcraft in Central Africa, Vatican theolgian investigation raises questions, Death of an Innocent continued, religious freedom in Cuba growing, Il Papa picking his battles, deceased bishop labelled a molestor, circumcision, female RC priest and finish on RTÉ getting religious pisstake warning...

Thus ends the second compilation of stories from Clerical Whispers for the month of the Holy Cross and we now face into the month of October, also liturgically referred to as the month of the Holy Rosary...

Sotto Voce

Broadcaster's Jesus remark "unwarranted and unjustified": BCC

RTÉ broadcaster Gerry Ryan caused undue offence when he referred to Jesus as a “Palestinian terrorist” in an "unwarranted and unjustified" remark on his radio programme, the Broadcasting Complaints Commission (BCC) has ruled.

Despite an attempt by RTÉ to argue "this is precisely what the Roman authorities would have thought when they condemned Jesus to death", the commission criticises Ryan for "belittling" the complainant, Kevin Conry, on air.

His comments in this regard related to a previous complaint Mr Conry had made about Ryan's use of the phrase, but which was rejected by the BCC because the term was “used in a serious manner to generate debate as part of a live discussion”.

This was not the case on this occasion.

The incident, which took place during the Gerry Ryan Show on RTÉ 2FM on June 15th, is one of three separate complaints upheld against RTÉ by the BCC.

During the show, Mr Ryan suggested that he might like to go to the Shelbourne Hotel with Jesus Christ as his guest.

He then went into a make-believe voice in which he arrived at the Shelbourne Hotel to be told that there wasn’t a table free and he had no reservation.

Then he said that his guest was Jesus Christ, to which he thought of a reply: “No, he’s a Palestinian terrorist”.

Mr Conry said that, as a Catholic, he found the use of this term “unnecessary, inaccurate and grossly offensive”.

If a similar derogatory term was used to describe a figure head of any other religion, it would surely be deemed unacceptable, he said.

In their response, RTÉ had argued Ryan, was "having some harmless fun and there was no intended disrespect".

It also refuted Mr Conry's claim Ryan had belittled his right to complain.

"The reference to Jesus as a 'Palestinian terrorist' is not inappropriate…A colonial power, when faced by a native challenging the authority of the state, is highly likely to regard that person as a terrorist," RTÉ argued.

But the BCC said the remark was "unwarranted and unjustified in the context of the discussion in the programme".

"The context and manner was such that it could be assumed that the presenter said it just to be controversial, to shock," it said in its ruling.

It was also noted that the language used in the references to Our Lord and in the subsequent piece about a “complainant” was strong and pointed, and somewhat calculated to offend.

"The presenter then proceeded to belittle the complainant. The language used was quite strong and included in a mocking voice: 'I've nothing else going on in my life but I've a biro and a child's copybook" . . . "and I'll take my biro and my scrawly serial killer writing . . .'"

Overall, it found the "language and comments were not consistent with the broadcaster's obligation to take measures to prevent undue offence in the treatment of religious view or beliefs".


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

Eden Prairie woman 'ordained' as priest

A mild-mannered former librarian, former nun and self-described “cradle Catholic,” Judith McKloskey is an unlikely looking revolutionary.

But in mid-August, in a controversial ceremony in Minneapolis, she officially became one.

The Eden Prairie resident and another woman say they were ordained into the priesthood of the Roman Catholic Church.

It’s a claim church officials vigorously dispute, but one the women and their supporters deeply believe.

Some 60 women in the United States, and many others outside of the U.S., have been ordained in similar ceremonies.

The Roman Catholic Church as a whole, church law and traditions, and the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis specifically, say that only baptized males can be ordained.

"[The Church] holds that it is not admissible to ordain women to the priesthood, for very fundamental reasons,” wrote Pope John Paul II in 1994.

“These reasons include: the example recorded in the Sacred Scriptures of Christ choosing his Apostles only from among men; the constant practice of the church, which has imitated Christ in choosing only men; and her living teaching authority which has consistently held that the exclusion of women from the priesthood is in accordance with God's plan for his church."

Dennis McGrath, a spokesman for the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis, echoed that statement.

“The Roman Catholic church continues to hold – as it has for centuries – based on the example of Jesus himself, that only men may be ordained into the priesthood, so that any ‘ordination ceremony’ is not valid, in spite of their claims,” said McGrath.

The women’s argument that women were ordained as priests in the early days of Christianity also doesn’t hold water, McGrath said. And even if they did, McGrath argued, “so what?”

“The church’s stance on the subject of female ordination has been clear for centuries – it is not permitted,” he said. “It’s not really a valid argument.”

Despite such pronouncements, McKloskey believes she was indeed ordained a Catholic priest.

“In all good faith I believe my ordination was valid,” said the 60-year-old McKloskey.

The women’s ordination movement first gained public notoriety in 2002 when seven women were ordained on a boat on a river in Austria.

The “Danube Seven,” were subsequently excommunicated by the Catholic Church. None of the women since ordained has been officially excommunicated, although it has been threatened for several.

With the shortage of male priests growing, many Catholics feel the church will eventually allow women to become priests.

A recent Associated Press poll found that 60 percent of U.S. Catholics think women should be ordained.

“All I know is the movement [to allow the ordination of women] is growing rapidly,” said McKloskey.

The Minnesota ordination ceremony – the second in the state following one in Red Wing in 2006 – was organized by Roman Catholic Womenpriests, a group of communities in the United States, Canada and Europe representing an initiative within the church to ordain women without the blessing of Rome.

The group’s bishops, including both men and women, have ordained about 25 women as priests since 2002 and another eight as deacons, including the two in Minneapolis on Aug. 12.

A Web site for Roman Catholic Womenpriests notes that more than 130 people – including a few men – are now either clergy or candidates in their preparation program, and that 80 of those are from the United States.

The group advocates changes in the church far beyond women’s ordination, calling for a church that would be “non-hierarchical and non-clerical.”

McKloskey has been advocating for women priests ever since she discovered in fourth grade that girls couldn’t be altar servers.

A longtime member of the Women’s Ordination Conference, she has been active in Women’s Worship Circle and Never On Sunday, a group studying lectionary references to Biblical women.

McKloskey attended Catholic high school and college and managed library networks and religious organizations earlier in her career. She earned a bachelor’s degree in biology from the University of Dayton and a master’s degree in library science from Case Western Reserve.

After college, she felt drawn to a religious life and became a member of the Marianist nuns.

“I thought my call was to be a nun, and the vocational call was secondary,” McKloskey said.

That experiment ended in the late 1960s. “I concluded celibacy wasn’t really my bag,” she said.

She switched gears, going to grad school and then working in libraries and moving to Minnesota to help a hospital set up a library.

In Minnesota she met and married her husband Dan Shaw, a pediatric dentist.

Active in parish ministry for many years, Judith prays with several small faith communities, including a national Marianist Lay Community which has been gathering for retreats since the 1960s.

While continuing her theological studies, she has served as a hospice volunteer and a gatherer and encourager of those who hear calls to ministry.

She has been a member and a lay parish minister at Pax Christi in Eden Prairie, and at one time ran the church’s national office for the National Association of Lay Ministers.

On Jan. 9 of 1994, however, McKloskey said she had an epiphany. On that day she discerned she should become a priest.

“I look back on that now as my private ordination,” she said. “It was so clear, so specific. It changed my life. Every day since then I’ve lived as a priest in every way I could. It’s turned my life upside down. It made it clear that this was my call from the beginning.”

A lifelong Catholic, McKloskey well knew she was swimming against church orthodoxy.

“It was the forbidden dream in my church, and I was a compliant and loyal member,” she said.

McKloskey and others would argue that women were ordained as deacons, priests and bishops in the early days of the Catholic Church.

Evidence exists of women bishops and until at least the ninth century the church gave women the full sacramental ordination of deacons, they say.

Women priests existed in the West during the fourth and fifth centuries according to literary evidence, according to Roman Catholic Womenpriests.

Far from being revolutionary, McKloskey views the women-as-priests movement as a return to the earliest traditions of the church.

“I see it as we’re returning to the way Christianity was lived in the early days,” she said.

With the decline in male priests reaching critical mass in many parts of the world, McKloskey also believes the time is right for church leaders to consider ordaining women.

“I ask that question all the time,” she said. “Especially with women who have been serving. There is no priest shortage – only a shortage of recognition in priestly service. And it’s not funny anymore because they’re closing parishes right and left.

“We believe all baptized people are called to a common priesthood,” McKloskey said.

“Priests are culled from within the community to serve the community and not to dominate the community of faith.

She also believes time is on her side. “In 100 years, people will be asking, ‘What was the fuss about?’”

“We believe God calls women,” she added. “That our baptism gives us the right and responsibility to God and Jesus ... and that our physical appearance doesn’t really matter.”

She will minister to those who ask for her guidance.

“I will do that when people approach me and when a community invites me,” she said.

McKloskey lives in Eden Prairie with her husband. The couple has one adult daughter.

She no longer is a member of Pax Christi, or indeed any recognized parish, choosing instead to worship and pray with several small communities.

“I stopped because of the women’s issue,” she said. “Many, many people from Pax Christi can accept me. But officially they [church leaders] would consider me outside the bounds.”

Despite her obvious disagreement with current church teachings on ordination of women, McKloskey considers herself a practicing and faithful Catholic.

She certainly has no plans to convert to any denomination which does allow women priests.

Even excommunication wouldn’t shake her beliefs, she said.

“Yes, I’m a faithful Roman Catholic,” she said.

“And yes, the sacraments are very important to me. A piece of paper wouldn’t do it.”


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

Penis Health, Circumcision And Beliefs

Circumcision is viewed differently by many comunities.

While some perform circumcision as a religious rite, some perform it for medical reasons while others see it as inhumane.

The word circumcision gets its origin from two Latin words, circum which means "around" and caedere meaning "to cut".

This word Circumcision is by definition a process by which either some or the entire foreskin of the penis is removed by cutting.

This process is commonly carried out on males but in some parts of the world, circumcision is carried out on females too whereby the process is performed on the female genitalia.

Circumcision is usually performed for religious, cultural, and medical reasons.

Elective adult circumcision may also be chosen as a form of body modification, or for aesthetic reasons.

The oldest documentary evidence for circumcision comes from the time of Abraham by which all male offspring must be circumcised.

This technique was also widely practiced by Semitic peoples, the old Egyptians, Greeks and Romans, although it was not considered mandatory and certain people rejected it.

Circumcision as a religious act is performed for their members on mandatory bases by Judaism and Islam even today, although Judaism is attaching a greater importance to this act.

Jewish male children are circumcised eight days after their birth, unless health reasons force a delay.

Islam clerics are less formal about the exact time of circumcision, although some communities still observe the eighth day practice of Judaism.

One difference between the two religions is that Jewish male children are circumcised by a religious figure called "Mohel", while some Muslim communities, perform this act in hospitals.

At the Council of Florence in 1442, the Roman Catholic Church did not attach any religious importance to this practice and rejected it.

On the other hand however, the Coptic Christians and the Ethiopian Orthodox churches still observe as mandatory.

Circumcision is also common in a number of African and Australian Aboriginal religious traditions, where it is used as a passage rite for young males with the belief that is a penis enlargement process and a natural remedy for erectile dysfunction.

For some West African animist groups, such as the Dogon and Dowayo, circumcision represents a removal of "feminine" aspects of the male, while the Nilotic people hold periodical circumcision ceremonies that are used to group young males in age sets.

In the U.S., the Philippines and South Korea, circumcision is not carried out for religious reason but for hygienic and health reasons.

Presently, in some parts of the world, the practice of female circumcision is totally banned because it was regarded as inhumane act as women lose the ability to experience sexual arousal as a result of the removal of the most sensitve female stimulation organ - the clitoris.


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

Priest withdraws resignation following financial scandal

An ousted Garden City priest, who stepped down in the midst of a financial scandal, has withdrawn his resignation and told parishioners in a letter that he was forced out.

Father Don Demmer of St. Dunstan Parish told parishioners that he did nothing wrong and has been living out of a suitcase since June when a financial audit of the church began.

“I was asked in June to wait patiently and not contact parishioners until the resolution of the audit,” Demmer said. “That is the reason I have not spoken to you or responded to your notes. I have not been hiding from you.” Demmer said in the letter that he reluctantly resigned last week.

“I was waiting to come home to Saint Dunstan when unexpectedly last week I was told I would not return,” he said in the letter.

In a separate letter Wednesday to Cardinal Adam Maida, Demmer withdrew his resignation.

“After prayer and reflection, I withdraw my letter of resignation of Pastor of Saint Dunstan Catholic Church which was submitted under threat and duress,” he wrote.

Garden City Police said earlier this week they are investigating embezzlement accusations against a former office employee of a Garden City Catholic church along with $1.4 million in unpaid federal payroll taxes.

A letter to the congregation of St. Dunstan Parish from Detroit Auxiliary Bishop Francis Reiss said a financial audit during the summer showed a prolonged pattern of embezzlement of parish funds.

The audit also found that payroll taxes for parish employees -- totaling $1.4 million with projected interest and penalties -- went unpaid in the last five years, Reiss said.

"Because of his unique role in the administration and access to parish funds, the pastor also shares some responsibility and accountability in such situations," the letter said.

"In the case of St. Dunstan, the audit has shown Fr. Demmer did not follow archdiocesan policy."

Demmer has been pastor of the church for 20 years and has a loyal following.

Many have been upset over his absence since June.

The church, founded in 1957, has about 1,200 families.


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

Bishop is labelled a 'child molester'

One of South Africa's most prominent Catholic bishops has been described as a child molester in shocking revelations in a new book.

Writer Mario d'Offizi pulls no punches in explicit details about his alleged sexual encounters with the late Reginald Orsmond, who was the highly-regarded Bishop of Johannesburg from 1984 until his death in 2002.

D'Offizi was 13 and a resident of Boys' Town in the Magaliesburg in the 1960s at the time he says he was first abused.

The celebrated founder of the youth care organisation apparently molested him for three years.

D'Offizi's dramatic revelations - which are laid bare in his memoir, Bless Me Father, include descriptions of how he was plied with alcohol before the leading cleric engaged him in a sex act.

"I went back to the bed and sat down," he writes. "My head started swimming and I felt nauseous. I fought the tears. Father Orsmond's hand fondled my thigh; then he reached for my fly and unzipped it . . . Then he took my hand and placed it on his private parts."

Speaking this week, D'Offizi, 58, said writing the chapter about Orsmond, who was affectionately known as "Big Daddy" to some of the residents, was "the most difficult thing I ever had to do".

The rest of the book concerns other aspects of his life.

"I had realised in order to understand how I had led such a reckless life, I had to go back - and there was Father Orsmond."

Another old friend from Boys' Town, whose name is known to those who need t o know, also made a chilling revelation.

D'Offizi writes: "I told him my dark secret, and he hugged me. He told me that his younger brother, who had died a few years earlier, had been molested by Father Orsmond."

Father Chris Townsend, information officer at the Southern African Catholic Bishops Conference (SACBC), said "the content is just incredible".

"There are many things said there that there is no way to answer because Reg is dead. Memory is a dangerous thing, and it is very difficult to make an informed judgment on the claims of the book."

D'Offizi says he is concerned about the fallout from within the Catholic church and former Boys' Town residents and he makes it clear that he regarded the bishop as "an absolutely wonderful teacher".

D'Offizi himself says Boys' Town taught him all the values he still holds high. "I really believe in its ideals. I cannot say a bad word about Boys' Town."

Townsend says the Orsmond family have been "very hurt" by the allegations, but they are not talking to the media.

Publisher Andrew Miller of Geko Books, which is releasing Bless Me Father in mid-October, said they have had no challenge from the Orsmond family or the SACBC.

D'Offizi says although he is "sorry in some ways for breaking down something people hold dear to them", he has not forgotten what Orsmond taught him.

"Have the courage of your convictions, and take the consequence of your actions. I shall do that."


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

Venezuelan Catholic Church, between Peace and Confrontation

Venezuelan Catholic bishops are in a crossroads between peace and confrontation with a project of constitutional reforms presented by President Hugo Chavez last month and currently under debate.

The different stances were evident this week, when Cardinal Jorge Urosa and Coro Bishop Roberto Luckert made such different statements that it appeared they came from different churches.

"The Church is the people of God and the people of peace, and we bishops are peace makers, each Christian must be like that," Urosa said.

Parishioners warmly welcomed the cardinal's statements during the celebration of the 20th anniversary of his priesthood, on September 22, but his words were followed by a different opinion three days later.

Speaking on a local radio station, Bishop Luckert asked Venezuelans to react "strongly" against Chavez's project.

"The alarms do not have to scare only the brother countries, but Venezuelans who have to wake up to the reform project," said the bishop, a well-known opponent to Chavez.

Luckert's statements were criticized by Catholics such as Communication and Information Minister William Lara, who said the priest is trying to tarnish the process to approve the constitutional reform.

"This citizen is not talking as a representative of the Venezuelan Catholic Church, but as an opposition politician," pointed out Lara, who recalled that Monsignor Luckert "has repeatedly adopted extreme stances."

The minister recalled that the bishop was one of the most active conspirators in the process that led to the coup d'etat against Venezuelan democracy on April 11, 2002.

When proposing the constitutional changes, Chavez pointed out that they are aimed at laying the foundations for socialist development in the country, as the only way to eradicate the poverty caused by capitalist mechanisms.

Chavez, who is also a practicing Catholic, thinks the socialist concepts of social justice and equality are similar to the original principles of Christianity, defended by most grassroots priests, parishioners and many bishops.

However, it is evident that there are two opposed stances among Venezuelan bishops, as a Catholic Church is weighing the reform and promised to make an assessment by October 20.


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

The Pope picks his battles

When Pope Benedict XVI used a Sunday sermon last week to warn Roman Catholic theologians against becoming arrogant - just as it was revealed that one had been put under investigation for conceding non-Christian religions have a role in salvation - he was continuing a pattern that started earlier in the summer.

The Pope's homily followed two similarly hard-line pronouncements that gave a clear indication of what this papacy would stand for.

First there was an announcement to allow a broader use of the old Latin Mass, a step back from the liturgical reforms of Vatican II; and then a pronouncement from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, the church's ideological overseer, that Protestant churches were defective and not really full churches like the Catholic Church.

"He wants to draw a line, make distinctions, increase clarity - even if it upsets people," said Thomas Reese, a priest who stepped down as editor of the Jesuit magazine America under pressure from the Vatican just after Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger became Pope Benedict.

"The problem with Benedict is that in his heart he's a German professor without a politically sensitive bone in his body. He doesn't know how to read an audience. A teacher doesn't have to worry about reading his classroom. They have to memorize what he says and give it back on the exam or they flunk. It just doesn't work that way when you're Pope."

While Pope John Paul II identified the enemy as communism, and then helped to dismantle the Soviet empire, Pope Benedict sees the enemy as relativism, an offshoot of secularism in which it does not matter what you believe and there is no absolute truth.

It is not an exaggeration to say the Pope is waging a war against relativism. He can see the fallout in the desperately low Mass attendance in Europe, the regulation of same-sex unions and the erosion of many religious orders.

The Vatican even failed to get a mention of God in the new European constitution.

Add to this that Europe now has millions of faithful followers of Islam, and it is no wonder the Pope occasionally worries about the future of the faith.

Just before succeeding John Paul II in April, 2005, he gave this homily that has become the touchstone of his reign. "To have a clear faith ... is often styled a fundamentalism.

Meanwhile relativism, meaning allowing oneself to be carried away 'here and there by any wind of doctrine,' appears as the only attitude to modern times. What's being constructed is a dictatorship of relativism, which recognizes nothing as definite and that regards one's self and one's own desires as the final measure."

To Richard Gaillardetz, a professor of Catholic studies at the University of Toledo in Ohio, the three statements this summer are linked to that homily and were "warning shots across the bow" against those who would make the Church look divided or say Vatican II was a repudiation of the past.

"The only way to confront the dictatorship of relativism is with a more robust assertion of the uniqueness of the revelation of God in Christ, which continues to be preserved in the Catholic Church," he said.

"I understand that framework, I understand his fears, but I'm not sure his solution is going to work.... I think there is a danger you succumb to kind of a historical romanticism."

As for the Pope's warning to theologians, Prof. Gaillardetz said: "The moment you talk about a dictatorship you invite this battle cry language, this us-against-them fight for the integrity of the Christian faith ... there's not a lot of room for debate."

Fr. Reese said when the Pope was head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith under John Paul II, he went after theologians who questioned the church's teachings on sex, especially birth control, and theologians who were interpreting the Gospel as a means to overthrow oppressive regimes in Latin America.

And now the doctrinal enforcer is going after Peter Phan, the Georgetown University theologian, for his inter-religious views.

"He feels he has clear and distinct ideas and responses to these issues, and he wants theologians to echo his position and not confuse people with their creative ideas," said Fr. Reese, who now teaches at the Woodstock Theological Center in Washington.

"But frankly, how many people read Peter Phan until the Vatican went after him? Most of these people that the Vatican have gone after are in no way endangering the faith of the people in the pews, because the people in the pews don't even know they exist. Seems to me it's a much better process to let the theologians fight it out among themselves."

Fr. Richard Neuhaus, the Canadian-born editor of First Things, an influential New York-based magazine about religion and public life, believes theologians have to "think with the Church" and not undermine its teachings.

And when someone steps too far away, they should no longer be called Catholic theologians.

(The Catholic Church actually licenses its theologians and being stripped of that licence can prevent someone from teaching at a Catholic university.)

Fr. Neuhaus, who also works closely with Evangelical Protestants in the United States on issues of common concern such as gay marriage and abortion, but also on broader areas of faith, said the Evangelicals he works with were not at all insulted by the Vatican's remarks on Protestant churches.

He said secularism is often "anti-religious and anti-Christian," and it is right for Pope Benedict to fight a system of thinking that wants to exclude religion from the public debate.

"The fact is the institutional separation of church and state is something that is to be cherished. But you cannot separate religion and public life. If you have an overwhelming majority [as in the United States] who claim to be religious and Christian, and if they believe as we know they do that morality is connected to religion, to exclude religion from public life is to exclude morality from public life. And that simply undermines the whole foundation of democracy."

Brian Stiller, the president of Tyndale University College and Seminary, a Christian school in Toronto, admires the Pope for bringing "certitude."

Evangelicals and Catholics in Canada have worked closely on such issues as abortion and euthanasia and will continue to do so, he added.

"In a radically secular age, conservative Protestants have so much in common with Catholics that we find ourselves to be easy working partners," he said.

"I give the Pope space because there is a public in the world that he thinks he needs to speak to and get something across. I wouldn't be surprised if it was intended for Latin America where there has been a great wave of conversions [to Protestantism]."

Not everyone, though, is so understanding. Rev. Canon John Simons, the principal of the (Anglican) Montreal Diocesan Theological College, and who has worked on Anglican-Roman Catholic conciliation for years, likened the comment about Protestants to one person telling another they are not fully human.

"I think that the unfortunate lasting impact that it will have among Anglicans is to set back the ecumenical progress that has been made over the last 35 years," he said.

"When Anglicans hear these things being said, they say, 'What's the use of talking to Roman Catholics, they really don't take us seriously.' For those of us committed to the ecumenical movement, this is really disappointing, really disheartening."


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

Archbishop: Religious freedom in Cuba growing incrementally

A Roman Catholic prelate in Cuba said while visiting Miami's Cuban exile community that religious practice is slowly spreading in that nation despite rigid restrictions.

Archbishop Dionisio Guillermo García Ibáñez, who leads Catholics in Santiago, Cuba, said the church has been able to expand its reach, though it will be years before it achieves goals of even more openness.

"The faith of our community has manifested; it has been reborn," he said in a recent interview during a visit here.

"The Catholic faith in our community has resurrected."

García didn't attribute eased restrictions to Fidel Castro's decision to temporarily hand over the government to his brother Raul last year.

He said he has witnessed piecemeal improvements since his 1985 ordination.

Catholics prayed they could hold religious processions in the streets; García says there have now been more than 90.

And they pushed for Catholic radio broadcasts, which are now allowed once or twice a year.


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

Pope to bishops: be “angels” of the Churches entrusted to you

There is an intrinsic bond between a bishop’s ministry and the mission of angels: Benedict XVI said this in his homily in this morning’s Eucharistic celebration during which he ordained 6 new bishops, 5 Italian and 1 Pole.

Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, Secretary of State and Cardinal Marian Jaworski, Archbishop of Lviv of the Latins participated in the ceremony.

One of the newly elected Msgr. Mieczysław Mokrzycki, former secretary to John Paul II and the current pope, was ordained coadjutant to this diocese in Ukraine.

Along with Msgr. Mokrzycki, the pope ordained bishops Msgr. Francesco Brugnaro, Msgr. Gianfranco Ravasi, Msgr. Tommaso Caputo, Msgr. Sergio Pagano, Msgr. Vincenzo Di Mauro.

This is the first ordination of bishops by Benedict XVI.

The celebration took place on the feast of the Archangels Michael, Gabriel and Raphael. In his moving homily the pope recalled that in the early Church – and in Revelations – bishops are referred to as “angels”.

Just as angels, explained the pope, bishops must lead humanity to God; they must knock on the door to their hearts to announce Christ; they must heal the wounds of relations between man and woman and save them from sin with reconciliation and forgiveness.

Throughout his entire discourse the pontiff referred to this similitude, starting with the names of the three Archangels, which contains the suffix “El”, which in Hebrew is the name of God. “God – said the pope – is written in their names, in their very nature…. they are His messengers.

They bring God to mankind, they reveal the heavens and thus, they reveal earth….. the Angels speak to man about what constitutes his true being, what is often is often covered or buried in his life.

They call man to himself, touching him on God’s behalf”.

And he added: “In this way even we humans must become angels for one another – angels who lead us from the wrong path and guide us once again towards God…..A bishop must be a man of prayer, who intercedes on behalf of mankind with God”.

Benedict XVI then went on to highlight the characteristics of the three Archangels of the feast (the only ones named in the Bible), illustrating other aspects of the Bishop’s role.

Michael (“Who is as God?”) “defends the cause of the one God against the dragon’s presumption, the “ancient serpent” as his called by John. It is the serpent’s continuous attempts to make men believe that God must disappear, in order for making to obtain greatness; that God stands in the way of our freedom and so we must be rid of Him”.

In reality, explains the pontiff, “he who puts God aside, does not make mankind great, rather he denies mankind his dignity. And thus, man becomes an unsuccessful product of evolution”.

This is why, adds the pope; “it is the Bishop’s duty, as a man of God, to make space in the world for God against those who would negate Him and in doing so defend the greatness of man”. And again: “Faith in God defends man from all of his weaknesses and inadequacies: God’s radiance shines on every individual”.

Gabriel (“Man of God”) is the archangel who announces the Good News to Mary. He said the pope “is the messenger of the incarnation of God. He knocks on Mary’s door …… repeatedly God knocks on the human heart ….. on the world’s door and on the door to the heart of every individual. He knocks waiting to enter”.

And turning to the candidates the pope added: “Dear friends, it is your duty to knock on the man’s hearts in Christ’s name. By entering in union with Christ, you will be able to take on Gabriel’s role: bringing Christ’s call to men”.

Raphael (“God heals”) is the archangel healer, protagonist of the Book of Tobias. The pope recalls that Raphael heals the relationship between Tobias and Sarah, marked by the curse of death: “he heals the wounded union between man and woman. He heals their love. He crushes the demons which tine and time again attempt to destroy their love. He purifies the atmosphere between the two and gifts them the ability to welcome and accept one another always”.

“In the New Testament – recalls the pontiff – the order of marriage, established in creation and threatened in a multifaceted way by sin, is healed by the fact that Christ gathers it into his redeeming love. He makes marriage a sacrament: His love, which takes on the cross for us, is the saving strength, which in the midst of confusion, gifts us the ability to be reconciled, purifies the atmosphere and heals all wounds”.

The bishop (and indeed every priest) “is entrusted with the duty of guiding men towards the reconciling power of Christ’s love. He must be the “healing angel” who helps them to anchor their love to the sacrament and live their love with renewed commitment drawn from the sacrament”.

“The book of Tobias – added the pope – speaks of the healing of blind eyes. We all know that today we are threatened with blindness to God…… healing this blinded through the message of the faith and witness of love, is Raphael’s service which is entrusted each and every day to priests and in a particular way to bishops.

Thus we are spontaneously led to think of the sacrament of reconciliation and penitence, which in the deepest meaning of the word, is a healing sacrament. The true wound of the soul, in fact is sin. And only is a forgiveness in virtue of the power of God, in virtue of the power of Christ’s love exists, can we be healed, can we be redeemed”.


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

Saturday, September 29, 2007


My dear friends, it is now a few months since the unprovoked and unaaceptable death of an innocent on the streets of Ennis, Co Clare, Ireland, namely Michael Doherty, pictured here alongside.

At that time, I contended that there would be a Garda cover-up as the person guilty of murdering him is no-one less than the son of Garda McGovern, and my worst fears have come to pass on this matter...please read the following which was submitted to me yesterday, Friday 28th September 2007 and it is nothing short of a disgrace on the justice system we are alleged to have in this country....

Read it and weep my dear people, as the Doherty family have, and as I have now that we know that everything is being done to ensure a murderer is going to walk the streets again because his father is a Garda and every string is being pulled to ensure the little bastard is allowed to potentially murder again...I speak as I find and if you feel my language is unacceptable due to my being a cleric, well then understand that I find this corruption of basic civil law unacceptable also.

Sometimes as priests we are accused of being too silent in certain areas and too loud on others so let me say this...

Shame on Bishop Walsh for not supporting this family and asking for an independent inquiry considering how vocal you once were in supporting the travelling community...your hands are tainted from having connections with the Gardai which merit investigation!!!...

Shame on the clergy in Ennis for not asking more questions of those in alleged authority who will ensure everything is done to cover-up this matter...your silence is indicitive of your own complicit guilt alongside that of your bishop...

Shame on those in charge for allowing this murderer attend a Graduation Ball after such an unforgivable have disgraced yourselves and the good name of Michael Doherty!!

Shame on the people of Ennis for not saying or doing anything but rather attempting to ignore the fact that an innocent life was taken on your streets but then again your narrow mindedness in relation to travellers permits you to do so...hold your heads in shame as you have no right to hold them otherwise!!!

Shame on the Gardai but then again, that word and corruption are basically co-existant with the term Garda Siochana at this stage...yet again your contempt for the travelling community becomes more apparent!!!

Shame on the Judge and his doubt he will as per usual remain biased in favour of the Gardai instead of ensuring justice is discharged as indeed same judge should be himself!!!

Shame on the legal team engaged at the taxpayers expense despite his father being a Garda and his mother being a nurse for defending the indefensible...defend the evil and no doubt discredit the dead...for the few tainted euro which you will charge to the State illegaly....

The blood of Michael Doherty is not just on the hands of the family McGovern but indeed on you all for your silence, perversion of the course of justice, corruption, arrogance, ignorance and other traits that accompany the guilt of those who would rather wipe the life of an innocent from their minds now that he is in his grave...

Hereunder is what was received so now reflect and do ask yourselves the very question posed by the person who submitted this information to me...Who will be next???


"Sotto Voce" means to speak under one's breath. I must say this has been the loudest and most truthful voice yet. Thank you!

Michael is dead with 14yrs of age.

Knifed down and murdered by a 17year old son of an Ennis Garda who was let off on bail, given free legal aid and from what is being rumoured had the indecency to attend his Graduation Ball.

Michael, was a most loving and serene young boy.


His family are devastated. There are not any words to describe what his parents John and Nora are going through.

Thank God they have their faith in God because this, and the hope that justice will be done, is about the only thing keeping them going. Keeping everyone going.

The hearing of the book of evidence will be held this morning. No member of Michael's family are allowed to attend this hearing.

Will he get off with it?

Looking at how the situation was dealt with up to now, it would not surprise me.

I am disgusted with the Garda, with certain reporters and their one sided coverage and with a lot of members of the Ennis community for their cowardice of not standing up demanding justice.

My final word here it to everyone out there.

Everyone with a child, a grandchild, a brother or a sister.


Michael just happened to be at the wrong place at the wrong time. Had Michael left Supermacs 10 minutes earlier or gone somewhere else for food then he would be still here with his family and friends.

It would be you or your family mourning now.

The young man that did this was carrying a knife, a deadly weapon obviously with the intention at some time to do someone damage.

Remember this, if he gets off this this murder he will be out their with the knowledge that he was able to take the life of an innocent person and get away it!!

Who will be next?


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 probe of theologian stirs debate over authority, academic freedom

It's not easy being a Roman Catholic theologian these days.

Trying to explain a centuries-old faith's place in modern times is hard enough.

Now some Catholic thinkers worry the Vatican is more concerned with unity than messy debates that can lead to new ideas.

The case of Rev. Peter Phan is the latest example of the tension between church authorities and Catholic theologians.

A 2004 book by Phan, a Georgetown University professor, has come under scrutiny for going beyond the Vatican's comfort zone in suggesting that other religions might have merit.

"Individual theologians can be creative, or they can be irresponsible," said Rev. James Heft, director of the Institute for Advanced Catholic Studies at the University of Southern California.

"The exercise of central authority can be overbearing, or it can be a necessary corrective. So it's a complex situation."

American Catholics and the broader public have good reason to care about what may look like an intramural squabble, Heft said.

Theologians often do the thinking that contributes to profound changes in Catholic teaching - on everything from the church's relationship with Jews and other Christians to the role of lay people.

The conflict at the heart of the Phan case, he said, strikes at "one of the major questions of our time, especially in the coming decades: How we can speak of one faith expressed distinctively in a variety of cultures?"

Over recent decades, the Vatican has clamped down on theologians who advocate fighting poverty and injustice through the social gospel and liberation theology.

More recently, the focus has shifted to the nature of Jesus Christ and salvation, one of the defining concerns of Pope Benedict's papacy and his previous work as a cardinal.

Earlier this year, Benedict released a document reasserting the primacy of the Roman Catholic Church, reiterating themes in the 2000 Vatican document Dominus Iesus.

That document states non-Christians are "in a gravely deficient situation in comparison with those who, in the church, have the fullness of the means of salvation."

Phan explored salvation and other themes in his 2004 book, "Being Religious Interreligiously," the focus of the Vatican inquiry.

The Vatican's Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith said the book is "notably confused on a number of points of Catholic doctrine and also contains serious ambiguities," according to the National Catholic Reporter.

Among the chief concerns, said the independent Catholic weekly: that Phan's writings could be interpreted as saying non-Christian faiths "have a positive role in salvation history in their own right, and are not merely a preparation for the Christian Gospel."

A committee of U.S. bishops is conducting a separate inquiry into Phan's work.

The increasing diversity of Catholic theologians, Phan among them (he is Vietnamese-American), is greatly influencing the debate about Catholicism's place among other religions, said Terrence Tilley, chairman of the Fordham University theology department.

"What we have in the last 20 years is a new development," said Tilley, president-elect of the Catholic Theological Society of America.

"Discussions of the saving value of other faith traditions had been carried on in a European context by European theologians who had little deep and rich understanding of other religious traditions. Their conversations ran on some pretty clear rails. But the train these days is on a different set of tracks."

A refugee from the Vietnam War, Phan is a priest of the Dallas diocese and former president of the Catholic Theological Society of America. He was the first non-Caucasian to hold the post.

Phan has declined comment on the investigation. Officials at Georgetown, America's oldest Catholic university, issued a statement saying the Jesuit school "embraces academic freedom and supports the free exchange of ideas in order to foster dialogue on critical issues of the day, especially those related to faith, ethics and international affairs."

Rev. Thomas Reese, a senior fellow at the Woodstock Theological Center at Georgetown, said the Vatican too often views the Catholic theologian as working in an echo chamber, repeating back church teachings and documents.

The process of debating theology can be messy, but better to endure the messiness than stifle thought, said Reese, who was forced to resign as editor of America magazine after it published articles challenging church teaching.

"If you knew a company where the executive leadership was not on speaking terms with the research division, would you invest in that company?" Reese said. "That's what we have in the Catholic church today. The hierarchy is very suspicious of the theologians and the theologians are very suspicious of the hierarchy. And that's a very unhealthy situation."

Rev. Joseph Fessio, a former doctoral student of Pope Benedict whose publishing house is the primary publisher of the Pope's writings in English, said the Vatican is neither heavy-handed nor close-minded in weighing questionable theology.

What often fails to be disclosed, he said, is the long process allowing all sides to be heard.

"It's important for theologians to talk to each other, reflect and try to reformulate and understand more deeply what the church's belief is," Fessio said.

"But if they move outside the realm of the church as soundly defined, then it's a sign that they have gone beyond their competence as a theologian."

"You can boil it down pretty simply," Fessio said. "Who has the final say in on what Catholics must believe? The answer is, 'not the theologians."'


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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

Kenya: Catholic Priests Respond to Big Challenge of HIV/Aids

Sixty-five priests of the Catholic Diocese Murang'a, accompanied by the administrator, Archbishop John Njue, met Tuesday at the Bethany Centre in Sagana for their annual three-day presbyteral gathering.

The topic on the first day was the pastoral challenge of HIV/Aids. Inputs were provided by Fr. Michael Czerny SJ, Director of the African Jesuit AIDS Network based in Kangemi, Nairobi, and Sr. Raphaela Händler OSB, Prioress of the Monastery of Missionary Benedictine Sisters in Ndanda, Tanzania.

Fr Czerny gave a thorough reading of the Church's position on HIV/Aids, beginning with the foundations. "We do not need to change our morality," but Aids makes it urgent to communicate it more effectively, especially to the young, Fr he said.

Sr Händler provided six pillars of a parish-based HIV/Aids program: strong commitment in faith, a home-based care programme and a youth prevention programme.

The other pillars are looking after orphans and vulnerable children, starting support groups and ending stigma and discrimination.

Intense group discussions yielded solid commitments, including setting up a diocesan HIV/Aids desk to coordinate and assist parishes in responding to the pandemic.

Frequent reference was made to the recently launched national Catholic policy on HIV/Aids in Kenya.

It was a successful day of information, formation and encouragement, solidly placing the HIV/Aids ministry at the heart of the Church's mission in Murang'a.


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

Central African Republic: Catholic Church Fights Against Witchcraft Menace

Witchcraft is one of the biggest challenges facing the Catholic Church in Central African Republic, a bishop said.

Many people find "no natural explanation for death, sickness or natural disasters", and instead look for a scapegoat, who must have caused the misfortune through witchcraft, said Bishop Peter Marzinkowski of Alindao Diocese.

Suspected witches are punished and may even be killed, a German missionary recently told the German-based international Catholic pastoral charity, Aid to the Church in Need (ACN).

Bishop Marzinkowski said belief in witchcraft existed even among Christians because the faith is not yet sufficiently deeply rooted. The result is that "at the least difficulty they relapse back into their traditional way of thinking".

The bishop further attributed the persistence of belief in magic to fear. The country's social support system, he said, is "in ruins", and state-run institutions such as schools and hospitals are no longer functioning.

The money that should be flowing into development aid is mostly used to repay the country's huge foreign debt. "The repayments are strangling the country", Bishop Marzinkowski explained.

The Church must therefore accompany the people and help them to "discover the footprints of God", he said. Part of that involves helping them to "assume responsibility for their own lives".

The Church is strengthening its pastoral commitment to better convey the Good News of Christ, which rests above all on forgiveness, said Bishop Marzinkowski. "We must help the people to acquire a new image of God and man."

Many parishes are already very active in this field and exclude from the parish community those who have accused others of witchcraft, until they finally forgive those who have supposedly harmed them.

But it is not an easy battle because only about 38,000 of the 240,000 inhabitants of his diocese are Catholics.


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

Church Assigns Archbishop Ncube New Pastoral Job

Archbishop Pius Ncube who resigned Sept. 11 will now be in charge of pastoral programmes at the Catholic Archdiocese of Bulawayo.

As pastoral director, his duties include coordinating pastoral work, pastoral structures, training and courses for pastoral workers.

"In this work I shall assist people in coming closer to God, and this includes promoting human rights and defending the disadvantaged," the archbishop said.

He was assigned the task by Fr Martin Schupp, the Apostolic Administrator of the vacant archdiocese.

The archbishop said his "passion is for evangelization", and he does not have "the slightest interest in entering into politics."

Speculation has been rife that Archbishop Ncube resigned to fight it out with President Robert Mugabe for the country's top job in elections due March 2008.

"I would like to make it clear that in the Catholic Church we have a rule against the clergy getting into party politics or taking on civil duties," the archbishop said in a statement.

Moreover, he said, when clergy became politicians in Zimbabwe their Christian values were compromised.

"Also, I have seen that many politicians are concerned chiefly with the accumulation of power and wealth, rather than with alleviating the suffering of their people."

He insisted he was a clergyman, whose passion was to work for the Church and that he shall continue to stand up in defense of human rights, which are part of the gospel of Christ.

The catastrophic situation in Zimbabwe demanded that he continue to speak out. "I shall continue to speak out for human rights - that is non- negotiable. Come rain or high water, in a situation where there is gross oppression, as in Zimbabwe, I shall continue to speak out."

"This is part of the prophetic role of the Church - to stand up and strongly defend the human rights of the poor and oppressed people."


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

Youth `best youth evangelists': Eparch

Eparch Kenneth Nowakowski of the Ukrainian Catholic Eparchy (diocese) of New Westminster helped produce a document now under consideration at the Eastern Catholic Synod in Philadelphia.

"When I was the rector of Holy Spirit Seminary in Ottawa, all rectors of Ukrainian seminaries in the world came together to draft a document on priestly formation for this synod," the eparch said.

He spoke to The B.C. Catholic on the eve of the synod from Philadelphia, having just returned from the Vatican, where he had attended a school for newly-ordained bishops.

"By the way," he said during the interview, "I must let Roman Catholics in Vancouver know that almost everyone I met at the Vatican asked me how Archbishop Michael Miller is doing. They were singing his praises and saying they wanted to congratulate Vancouver for getting someone with his extraordinary talents!"

The Sept. 26 to Oct. 6 dates for the synod, which will move to Washington Oct. 4, were chosen to coincide with the centennial celebration of the arrival in America of the first Byzantine Catholic bishop, Bishop Stephen Ortynsky.

Ukrainians seek a renewal

At the synod, the first Eastern Catholic synod to be held in the United States, the world's Ukrainian Catholic bishops are discussing evangelization, priestly formation, and youth ministry.
An important item on the synod agenda, said Eparch Nowakowski, is finding ways to standardize priestly formation in the Ukrainian Catholic Church.

The priestly formation document, said the eparch, closely examined and compared Ukrainian Catholic seminary formation programs around the world in the light of Pope John Paul II's instructions on the formation of priests.

"The Pope emphasized four pillars of formation; pastoral, human, academic, and spiritual. We looked at both the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops' document on priestly formation and the one from the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops."

The rectors, Eparch Nowakowski continued, also examined how well seminary formation was doing with regard to Eastern spirituality, the Eastern church fathers and their writings, and Eastern canon law.

"We presented our findings to last year's Synod of Catholic Bishops in Ukraine and they requested we meet again, so in August I travelled to Lviv, Ukraine, this time as a bishop, not as a rector."

It is the document which came from that meeting which the synod is considering.

Concerns about young people drifting away from the Ukrainian Catholic Church of their heritage, said the eparch, are "significant" and will also be a topic for discussion at the Philadelphia synod.

Last August, the Synod of Catholic Bishops in Ukraine organized a sobor, a meeting of hierarchy, clergy, and laity which looks at topics such as the role of lay organizations in the church.

"Our subject was youth and youth evangelization," the eparch explained.

Youth representatives travelled from Canada, the U.S., South America, and Australia, as well as closer regions. "We confronted questions such as why are we losing our youth and what can we do to attract them back?"

"For us in New Westminster, it's a very important to know because we see in our parishes that most people are middle-aged and older. We have few young people, so we have begun to listen to our youth to try to discern how to reach them, and have discovered that the best evangelizers of the youth are the youth themselves!"

It's important, said Eparch Nowakowski, that young people engaged in youth evangelization be given the right training to learn the necessary skills.

"When I return to the New Westminster Diocese, my goal is to organize three or four days at each of our parishes in B.C where I will meet the pastors, talk to parish councils, and do a lot of listening.

"I will return to talk to the pastoral council of the eparchy about youth and our other needs and challenges."

The Ukrainian Catholic Church is one of 22 Eastern Catholic churches that originated in Eastern Europe, Asia, and Africa. In Ukraine, the Eastern-rite Church is larger than the Latin-rite Catholic Church.

The Ukrainian Catholic Church is fully in union with Rome but has maintained the liturgical and spiritual heritage shared with the Orthodox churches.

The Ukrainian Church has its own distinctive liturgical and legal systems, but is considered equal in dignity, rights, and obligations to the Latin tradition within the Catholic Church.

The synod will also consider liturgical renewal as there is concern that the Eastern church's liturgical traditions have become more like the Latin-rite Church.


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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

Has German pope re-Italianized the Roman Curia?

Is Pope Benedict XVI re-Italianizing the Roman Curia?

The question has percolated around Rome in recent months as a string of Vatican appointments left Italian prelates in high places.

The pontifical councils that deal with social communications, canon law and cultural issues -- until recently headed by an American, a Spaniard and a Frenchman -- are now in the hands of Italian bishops.

So are the Vatican Library and Secret Archives.

The Vatican City governor's office, which had been headed by U.S. Cardinal Edmund C. Szoka, reverted to an Italian for the first time in 26 years.

An Italian Jesuit now directs the Vatican Press Office, taking over from a Spaniard.

A number of important middle-management posts at the Vatican, particularly in diplomatic and financial areas, also have gone to Italians.

Some suspect the Italian resurgence may reflect the influence of Italian Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, the Vatican's energetic secretary of state, who took office a year ago.

In a recent interview with the Italian Catholic newspaper Avvenire, Cardinal Bertone was asked bluntly: "Is the era of the internationalization of the Roman Curia really over?"

The cardinal responded by pointing out that Italians were still outnumbered by non-Italians as heads of curial offices. He said internationalization was still the way to go, but that geographic identity should never be the determining factor in such appointments.

To illustrate that non-Italians were also being chosen, he cited the recent appointments of a Nigerian protocol chief and a Spanish head of the Vatican's almsgiving office -- not exactly top-level positions.

When the Polish Pope John Paul II was elected in 1978, he was the first non-Italian to sit on the throne of St. Peter in more than 450 years. Many Italians considered this an aberration and fully expected one of their own to succeed him.

When Pope Benedict, a German, was elected instead -- in a conclave that by all accounts did not field a strong Italian candidate -- it ended any lingering illusion that the papacy belonged to Italy.

But perhaps because he had worked at the Vatican for 24 years, Pope Benedict was familiar with the Italian members of the Roman Curia, appreciated their management skills and began turning to them when it came time to put his own team into place.

So far, he has put nine Italians in charge of key Vatican offices, compared to five people from the rest of the world. When one includes the No. 2 and No. 3 positions in curial offices, the appointments total 18 Italians and seven from other countries.

The Italian presence is most visible in the Secretariat of State, where the top seven officials are now Italian, and in two important offices that control the Vatican's budget and investment affairs, where all the top people are Italian.Yet those numbers do not tell the whole story.

Of the Vatican's nine congregations, traditionally the most important of Vatican offices, eight are headed by non-Italians. The lone Italian is Cardinal Giovanni Battista Re, prefect of the Congregation for Bishops.

Early in his pontificate, the pope named U.S. Cardinal William J. Levada as his successor at the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. It's an appointment that never went down well in some Italian quarters, and the Rome rumor mill regularly churns out speculation -- apparently unfounded -- that Cardinal Levada may soon be replaced by an Italian.

The pope has since brought in three other "foreigners": Indian Cardinal Ivan Dias at the evangelization congregation, Brazilian Cardinal Claudio Hummes at the clergy congregation, and Argentine Archbishop Leonardo Sandri at the Eastern churches congregation.

That makes for an unprecedented international mix at the helm of the nine congregations: prelates from nine different countries and five different continents.

In the recent newspaper interview, Cardinal Bertone touched on a related hot topic when he said a reorganization of the Roman Curia was still under study as a hypothesis.

The first few months of Pope Benedict's pontificate brought reports of an imminent reduction of curial offices, tantalizing those who think the Vatican bureaucracy has grown too large and that the German pope would not hesitate to cut it back.

But as a veteran of the Roman Curia, Pope Benedict no doubt remembers that Pope John Paul had a similar plan at the start of his pontificate.

When it was finally implemented after 16 years, it turned out to be a minireform instead of a major overhaul and created as many curial agencies as it eliminated.

Pope Paul VI, who also wrestled with the Vatican bureaucratic structure, once remarked that making major changes to the Roman Curia was like trying to "change tires on a moving car -- almost impossible."


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

Zubik installed as new Roman Catholic bishop in Pittsburgh

The Rev. David Zubik was installed Friday as the 12th bishop of the Roman Catholic diocese of Pittsburgh in a ceremony filled with pageantry and prayer.

Zubik, 58, a native Pittsburgher, was installed at St. Paul's Cathedral in the city's Oakland section after a long processional.

"With faith in our Lord Jesus Christ and with the love of God in my heart, I do accept the pastoral care of the people of God in the diocese of Pittsburgh," Zubik said in accepting his new post.

Zubik, who had been the bishop in Green Bay, Wis., was born and raised in the Pittsburgh suburbs.

He attended Catholic schools in southwestern Pennsylvania and Friday's installation marked his homecoming.

Zubik told the thousands gathered at the cathedral and in a nearby hall that he was awed by the responsibility of his new job and looked forward to encouraging people to live their faith.

The Pittsburgh diocese has more than 750,000 people and 214 parishes.


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Vatican refute John Paul II euthanasia claims

Vatican officials have rejected an Italian doctor's claims that Pope John Paul II refused artificial nutrition in the days before his death.

The late pontiff is being accused of violating Catholic teaching, according to reports in Associated Press.

In an article in the Italian journal Micromega, anaesthesiologist Dr Lina Pavanelli questioned why he was supplied with a nasal feeding tube only three days before he died.

She said he was clearly in need of artificial nutrition well before then.

The Vatican announced on 30 March 2005 that John Paul had been outfitted with a nasal feeding straw.

But officials said this week that the tube had actually been inserted well before then, but that the procedure was only announced on that date.

They disclosed the information in response to the doctor's charges.

The officials said the charges should not be taken seriously because Dr Pavanelli had no access to the medical records.

She based her accusations only on press releases and news reports.

At a news conference on Wednesday, Pavanelli admitted as much but maintained her core argument that he was not given adequate nutrition soon enough.

She says she assumes John Paul's doctors would have given him the option, but that he must have refused the treatment since he wasn't given it.


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Catholics and a few priests join monks and demonstrators

Many Catholic students and a few priests are among the throngs of people marching in defiance of the bans imposed by Myanmar’s ruling military junta.

Myanmar’s bishops released a statement a few days ago calling on the country’s 600,000 Catholics to pray for the people of Burma and for national reconciliation.

In the message they urged priests to avoid being directly involved in demonstrations but told lay people to work for the good of the country as best they could.

In the last few days rosary prayers have been recited in the evening just before curfew.

In Yangon and Mandalay Catholic students from secondary schools and universities have marched with the population.

Some priests have also visited Buddhist monks to express their support for what they are doing.
“The history of the Burmese Church is one of martyrs,” said one faithful. “We are not afraid of risking our lives for our country.”

Other sources said that despite the curfew and the ban on gatherings of more than five people, Burmese are determined to keep marching until a breach is made in the lack of freedom and dialogue imposed by the junta.

“People are desperate, especially because of the untenable economic situation,” they explained. “Families have no money for rice; there is neither power nor gas. The military is everywhere and it is scaring us, but they won’t stop us. Our monks, exhausted by marching and soldiers’ violence, move us and drive us to continue the fight.”


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Holy See calls Christians and Muslims to defend religious freedom and refuse violence

Christians and Muslims have a duty to educate, above all the young, to create a society which respects human rights, above all the fundamental right of religious freedom, and refuses recourse to violence and terrorism .

This is the concept which surrounds the message sent by Cardinal Jean – Louis Tauran, president of the pontifical council for inter-religious dialogue to Muslims marking the feast of ‘Id al-Fitr, which ends Ramadan.

“In the troubled times we are passing through, - reads the message - religious believers have, as servants of the Almighty, a duty above all to work in favour of peace, by showing respect for the convictions of individuals and communities everywhere through freedom of religious practice."

"Religious freedom, which must not be reduced to mere freedom of worship, is one of the essential aspects of freedom of conscience, which is the right of every individual and a cornerstone of human rights. It takes into account the requirement that a culture of peace and solidarity between men can be built in which everybody can be firmly engaged in the construction of an increasingly fraternal society, doing everything one can to reject, denounce and refuse every recourse to violence which can never be motivated by religion, since it wounds the very image of God in man. We know that violence, - continues the text - especially terrorism which strikes blindly and claims countless innocent victims, is incapable of resolving conflicts and leads only to a deadly chain of destructive hatred, to the detriment of mankind and of societies”.

It is the role of believers above all to give “a message of love between individuals and peoples”, through educating future generations. It is a duty which lies above all on the shoulders of those who work in the field of education “it is the common good of every society and of the entire world which is at stake”.

“In this spirit, - concludes the message - the pursuit and intensification of dialogue between Christians and Muslims must be considered important, in both educational and cultural dimensions. Thus all forces can be mobilised in the service of mankind and humanity so that the younger generations do not become cultural or religious blocs opposed to one another, but genuine brothers and sisters in humanity”.


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New Anglican Archbishop of Hong Kong is installed

In a solemn ceremony held in St John’s Cathedral Hong Kong, the new Anglican Archbishop Paul Kwong was installed earlier today.

Following the rite attended by the faithful, public officials, diplomats and representatives of other religions he outlined his pastoral programme, indicating as his first priority the spiritual and material welfare of the entire population.

Mons. Kwong said that his church will not take part in the campaign for universal suffrage or in “political activities. But it will observe the general social situation in order to see how it can be of useful assistance”.

He indicated that his churches immediate priority as well as the government’s most urgent question remains “the growing problem of poverty”.

The new archbishop of Hong Kong, Sheng Kung Hui is bishop of the island of Hong Kong, 56, and boasts a solid pastoral background and good relations with civic authorities.

In May he visited Beijing where he met with leaders of the Office for Religious Affairs and other officials.

He succeeds Msgr. Peter Kwong Kong-kit, first Chinese primate of the Anglican Church, who in January 2007 left office. In Hong Kong the Anglican Church has three parishes.

It has yet to be officially recognised in China.


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Monasteries isolated and military prowl streets to stop protests

Security forces have isolated at least 5 Buddhist monasteries to prevent protests led by monks against the government.

The military has deployed forces around at least five of the most famous monasteries in Yangon as well as the Shwedagong and Sule pagodas, the starting point and culmination of marches in recent days.

The junta made the decision after impotent threats against monks and civilians who persisted in their protests.

Yesterday, in order to block the assembly of tens of thousands of people, soldiers shot on the crowd killing 9 people, but according to the Australian ambassador the number of dead is far higher.

Among those killed a Japanese photo reporter, shot to death.

The Japanese Government is lodging a formal protest with the Burmese Government and has sent a senior diplomat to the capital to seek clarification of Nagai's death.

According to the junta Nagai was shot by a stray bullet during the chaos of yesterday's rallies.

But a witness quoted by the Kyodo news agency claims that 50-year-old was targeted by a soldier when he was seen carrying a camera.

A photograph taken apparently moments after he was shot shows Nagai lying on the ground with his camera still in hand and a Burmese soldier standing nearby with his weapon drawn.

Yesterday’s violence along with that of recent days has heightened already present tension in the country. The junta continues to threaten “extreme action” if the people and monks do not stop their protests.

But one monk has declared that the monks and people now “are one front” and intend to continue their campaign.

Meantime the international community is becoming increasingly concerned about the developing crises.

Of the many public declarations, the one released by ASEAN, the organisation which groups together 10 south east Asian nations, is of utmost significance.

Asean foreign ministers issued a rare rebuke to Burma on Thursday, demanding the military junta immediately stop using violence against pro-democracy protesters.

Singapore Foreign Minister, acting as spokesman for the group at the end of yesterdays meeting, said “They were appalled to receive reports of automatic weapons being used and demanded that the government immediately desist from the use of violence against demonstrators”.

The ministers "expressed their revulsion to Myanmar's Foreign Minister Nyan Win over reports that the demonstrations in Myanmar are being suppressed by violent force and that there has been a number of fatalities”.

In conclusion, the ministers strongly urged Burma to exercise restraint and seek a political solution and wanted the ruling junta to resume national reconciliation with all parties and work towards a peaceful transition to democracy.


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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.

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