Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Year of Vocations

Prayer for Vocations

O Holy Spirit, Spirit of wisdom and divine love, impart Your knowledge, understanding, and counsel to the faithful that they may know the vocation wherein they can best serve God.

Give them courage and strength to follow God's holy will.

Guide their uncertain steps, strengthen their resolutions, shield their chastity, fashion their minds, conquer their hearts, and lead them to the vineyards where they will labour in God's holy service.


(Posting 10,300)

Saint Michael The Archangel - Prayer

Sancte Michael Archangele, defende nos in praelio.

Contra nequitiam et insidias diaboli esto praesidium.

Imperet illi Deus, supplices deprecamur.

Tuque princeps militiae caelestis, Satanam aliosque spiritus malignos, qui ad perditionem animarum pervagantur in mundo divina virtute in infernum detrude.


Saint Michael the Archangel, defend us in battle.

Be our protection against the wickedness and snares of the devil.

May God rebuke him, we humbly pray; and do Thou, O Prince of the Heavenly Host -by the Divine Power of God -cast into hell, satan and all the evil spirits,who roam throughout the world seeking the ruin of souls.


An Focal Scóir - September 2008

The month of September opens with Il Papa reflecting on the need for more to be done in relation to migration, Irish classrooms not for faith, unequal (funeral) rites for all, rights of secularists in Ireland, christianophobia is rife...

...behaviour changes required in relation to AIDS, church to woo farmers, Betancourt meets Il Papa, nun who fought for HIV & AIDS victims dies (RIP), papal prayer intentions for September, Wales (Anglican) to get gay bishop...

...Greek monks at loggerheads, foundation to promote thought of Il Papa, Reformed Catholic Church in Ireland, singing monks go gold, Ethiopia in crisis, St Vitus in the wars again, Il Papa calls for evangilisation...

...Aussie Vincentian leader says sorry for CSA, all voices not equal in Vatican, Medjugorje in spotlight again, Opus Dei get Irish parish, moving priests a good idea says Irish bishop, Il Papa in Sardinia...

...gays and divorcees not welcome in Opus Dei Irish parish in Dublin, Anglican communion divided and never will be same again, St Peter not 1st Pope and never went to Rome, Anglican hierarchial lack of women, birth of Mary...

...Fleming inquiry begins in Australia, man in vigil for ex-girlfriend in convent, Meath priests meet to discuss future and also diocesan clerical changes announced, Marian Papacy of BXVI, Word of God Synod participants announced, Irish theologian appointed to Papal Foundation...

...Irish bishops want say in schools, Il Papa seeks help for Haiti, Papal visit to France in preparation, Lambeth cease-fire collapses, 1st female dean in Sudan, argument against contraception, Reformed Catholic Church makes debut in Irish Catholic newspaper...

...101 places to have sex includes confessional box, Meath Diocesan pilgrimage prevented due to closure of airline, Il Papa in France, 9/11 lest we forget, more CSA allegations in Australia, sacked teacher dies, comedian face prison for joking about Il Papa...

...new papal encyclical, priest dealing coke from rectory arrested, diocese of Kerry gets female PR director, Marian Apparations clampdown by Vatican, Irish Catholic more yellow than blue, Exaltation of the Holy Cross, Nigerian Priest detained entering Ireland - Ambassador Intervenes, pilgrims flock to Pope JPII tomb...

...Our Lady of Sorrows, Fr Shay Cullen - Sinner or Saviour, milestone for Robinson book, symposium on Pius XII, US bishop backs Obama, no easy divorce says Il Papa, Vatican asked to intervene after Donegal priest resigns, Reformed Catholic Church Synod 2008...

...10,000th posting on Clerical Whispers reached...

...new green Bible available, the Pope's plot, Latvian priest to be declared a Saint, Il Papa states kneel to receive, Anglican AB to visit Lourdes, investigation of Padre Pio stigmata, evolution ok says Vatican...

...Irish RC bishops launch new website, death of JPI murder?, Il Papa to open Bible Synod, RC can learn from Luther says Cardinal Kasper, RC bishop released by Chinese authorities, bishop forgives adulterous priest, priesthood Sunday, Christophobia in Europe, anti-RC Hanoi...

...Il Papa to visit Padre Pio tomb, Anglican AB gives Lourdes sermon, 4 to be canonised in October, Mexican RC bishop says respect gays, RC UK monarchs on way, new appointments in liturgy team in Vatican, large number of sham marriages in Ireland...

...new hidden history of Irish homosexuality, the popemobile, clerical errors in USA, Your Grace..or is it?, priest counsels couple and courts wife, Bishop Soto sticks pink foot in it, Dublin Archdiocesan Abuse Commission swamped...

...Unitarians go on podcast, last taboos in Ireland, archangels, Cardinal Newman beatification gets closer, Vatican Midas touch, out of retirement, global church bodies to merge, 10 commandments of blogging, Norway Lutherans yes to women bishops...

...and there ends the month of September 2008

Sotto Voce

Sotto Voce...CW October 2008 Updates

My dear friends in Christ, we reach the end of another month, and prepare to face into the winter as it approaches in the guise of an autumnal October.

September 2008 has been a milestone in its own right for CW with the 10,000 postings mark being broken, over 470,000 visitors have logged on and the comments are coming in droves.

September also some slight readjustments with the overall blogspot as a direct result of your comments, queries etc which are as always welcome.

Rosary Month

For the month of October, CW will have a special feature each evening which will consist of the Mysteries of the Most Holy Rosary being reflected upon and I encourage you all to sit down and reflect each evening upon each of the Mysteries.

Blog Action Day 2008

On October 15th, 2008, CW shall be participating in the Blog Action Day which this year focuses on Poverty.

In this regard, I ask each and all of you to submit either a local piece in your area or something personal in relation to poverty to CW for publishing on that date.

Each day of postings shall include the promo video in the lead up to October 15th as a gentle reminder.

Further information in relation to Blog Action Day 2008 can be obtained by clicking on this link:


I sincerely hope to hear from you all in whatever way, and blessings upon you all.

Sotto Voce

Blog Action Day 2008 - Poverty

Blog Action Day 2008 Poverty from Blog Action Day on Vimeo.

Welsh Church ‘will not cater for traditionalists’

The Church in Wales will not appoint a new “flying bishop” for traditionalists, Archbishop Barry Morgan said on Sept 17, saying the position was no longer necessary nor was such a post consistent with Anglican ecclesiology.

Those opposed to the ordination of women still had a place with the Church in Wales, he said and asked traditionalists to trust the bishops to look after their interests.

The decision comes as a repudiation of the work of Dr Rowan Williams, traditionalists charged, as the former Bishop of Monmouth was instrumental in creating the post of “flying bishop” 12 years ago, and marks a hardening of positions in the Welsh Church.

Traditionalist leaders took little comfort from the bishops’ assurances of continued support. The Rev Alan Rabjohns, Chairman of Credo Cymru, Forward in Faith Wales said “this is a disappointing and sad statement.”

“We reject the claim that such an appointment is unnecessary and do not regard what was said yesterday as the final word on this subject,” he said on Sept 18.

Following the introduction of women priests in the Church in Wales in 1996, the position of provincial assistant bishop was created to offer delegated episcopal oversight to those who could not accept the innovation.

In June the Welsh “flying bishop”, the Rt Rev David Thomas retired and traditionalists were expecting a replacement to be appointed.

However in a speech to the Governing Body of the Church in Wales meeting at the University of Wales, Lampeter, Dr Morgan said, “We reaffirm as Diocesan Bishops our commitment to securing a continuing place in the life of the Church in Wales for those who cannot in conscience accept the ordination of women to the priesthood. However, we no longer consider that the continuation of additional episcopal provision for one part of the Church on grounds of belief or doctrine on one particular issue is either necessary or consistent with Anglican ecclesiology.”

He explained that clergy are in communion with their diocesan bishops regardless of “whether or not they agree on every issue. Episcopal oversight and care for all within each Diocese is the responsibility of the Diocesan Bishop.”

“There remains a continuing place in the Church in Wales for those unable to accept the ministry of women priests, but we do not believe that this is contingent upon appointing another Provincial Assistant Bishop and it is therefore our decision not to appoint. Whilst bringing a particular arrangement to an end, we remain committed to serving every person and every parish within our respective Dioceses and we will continue to be sensitive in our appointments, both in terms of the views of parishes and in ensuring that clergy from different parts of the Church are given the opportunity to progress in their ministry,” he said.

The bishops’ decision not to appoint a new flying bishop comes in a midst of change with three of the dioceses electing new bishops this year. Forward in Faith Wales said they “particularly regret” the decision not to name a successor to Bishop Thomas as “it comes from an incomplete [Bishops’] Bench, giving those to be appointed to the dioceses of Bangor and St Asaph over the next months no say in the matter.”

The Rev Geoffrey Kirk, secretary of Forward in Faith UK argued the Welsh decision will have consequences for the Church of England. “We are repeatedly told that the future for those opposed to women’s ordination is one of trust in provisions made and confidence that our position will be respected and upheld by the majority,” he said.

“To describe the role of a provincial assistant bishop – one effectively brokered by the Archbishop of Canterbury when he was Bishop of Monmouth -- as ‘unnecessary and inconsistent with Anglican ecclesiology’, as the Archbishop of Wales has done, is deliberately to undermine both that trust and Dr Williams’ leadership of the Anglican Communion during this time of crisis,” Fr Kirk said.

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

(Source: RI)

Norway Lutherans praise decision to consecrate women as bishops

The (Lutheran) Church of Norway has praised the Church of England for its decision to support the consecration of women as bishops, saying that the ordained ministry cannot be limited to men.

“The Church of England has taken a bold and mature action knowing well the immediate costs involved,” the Church of Norway said, following the July 7 decision by the general synod of the (Anglican) Church of England to bring forward legislation to allow women bishops.

“The Church of Norway, having gone through a similar process some years ago, and having been much blessed by its fruits, will accompany the Church of England, as a sister church in communion, with gratitude and with prayers of God’s blessing and guidance in the time to come,” the Norwegian church said in press release.

About 1,300 clergy have threatened to leave the Church of England if they judge the “safeguards” for those objecting to women bishops to be insufficient.

“The gender of ordained ministers cannot be a criterion of the church’s apostolicity,” the Church of Norway said. “On the contrary, the admittance of women to all levels of ordained ministry has contributed significantly to the full expression of God’s mission in the world.”

The Church of England decision was also criticized by the Vatican, which called it “a further obstacle to reconciliation.”

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


Year of St Paul disappointment for Tarsus

When Pope Benedict XVI declared 2008 the Year of St. Paul, the Mediterranean province of Tarsus had high hopes that, as the saint's birthplace, it would see increasing attention from foreign tourists.

Members of the tourism industry say, however, they have been disappointed with the attention the event has garnered.

The year 2008 was the bimillenial of the birth of St. Paul and Taurus hoped to play a pivotal role in this anniversary, but the province's expectations have been largely unfulfilled.

Speaking to the Anatolia news agency, Tarsus Chamber of Trade and Industry Chairman Mehmet Karagözlü said Tarsus was disappointed by the lack of attention. He said they had promoted the city with the support of various organizations but had failed to draw high numbers of tourists.

Karagözlü said the Year of St. Paul had seemed a golden opportunity for Tarsus, which is regarded by the Vatican as the pilgrimage destination. He said they had held an opening ceremony in the garden of the St. Paul Church with the participation of Cardinal Walter Casper, the head of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity; Luigi Padovese, the apostolic vicar of Anatolia; Antonio Lucibello, ambassador for the Vatican; Gabriele Caccıa, Vatican secretary of state; Mehmet Emin Özafşar, vice president of the Ministry of Religious Affairs; and a number of guests.

"We expected before and after the ceremony that a great number of foreign tourists would come to the city. We had talks with tradesmen about the production of souvenirs unique to the city. But tourists' visits were very short and they didn't purchase even these souvenir products. Restaurants and cafes serving Tarsus cuisine were disappointed too. In brief, St. Paul year fell short of expectations," he continued.

He said they hoped a plan to print brochures in different languages and send them to target countries would interest in the remaining few months of the year. "We are planning to go to the Vatican and have talks to bring more tourists to Tarsus. I hope that the rest of the year will be better for us."

Tourists stay for two hours

Karagözlü said they were also working with tour agencies to improve the city's promotion. He said the agencies would work toward making it possible for tourists to stay and enjoy the city for a full day. Complaining about the insufficient number of tourist facilities in Tarsus, Karagözlü said, "This problem will be overcome thanks to the Kazanlı-Tarsus Coastline Project. The problem of hotel and bed capacity will be solved by 2010. We have plans with Mersin Mayor Hüseyin Aksoy regarding this issue." +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

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

(Source: TDN)

Caroline Kennedy - Ambassador to Holy See?

Rome’s diplomatic community is abuzz with rumors that Caroline Kennedy could become U.S. ambassador to the Vatican under an Obama administration.

The daughter of John F. Kennedy, the nation’s first and only Catholic president, has been mentioned for some sort of high-level position since she endorsed Sen. Barack Obama in January, when she wrote an op-ed column for The New York Times entitled “A President like My Father.”

As a payback, commentators have speculated for some time that a prominent diplomatic role is a possibility. Before Sen. Joe Biden was chosen in August, Kennedy was proposed as a possible vice presidential candidate (she served instead on Obama’s VP selection committee).

Diplomats in Rome dismiss the rumor as idle speculation. But one said Kennedy would be well suited to the role in view of her background, contacts and that she is a practicing Catholic.

“States have a tradition of appointing high-profile and well-connected candidates to the Holy See,” he told Newsmax on condition of anonymity. “A posting here is more high profile than say Moscow or Tokyo where the ambassadors are not household names.”

She also “has the advantage of coming from a Catholic dynasty,” he said.

Also running in her favor is the fact that she is not divorced or remarried – an automatic bar to diplomats appointed to the Holy See – and she has taken an active role on social justice issues, in particular working to improve New York City schools.

Although Kennedy is no stranger to diplomatic life (her grandfather, Joseph Kennedy, was ambassador to the Court of St. James in London during World War II), she has no diplomatic or government experience. Married to the artist Edwin Schlossberg, she also prefers to stay out of the limelight and, as a mother of three teenage children, may not be willing to make the move overseas.

The Vatican, meanwhile, is cautious about any diplomatic appointees whose views on abortion, euthanasia, or other nonnegotiable issues are at odds with church teaching. As a very private person, Kennedy’s views on these issues are unclear (she did not mention her Catholic faith or Obama’s radical abortion rights policy positions in her op-ed endorsement).

The suspicion is that, even if Kennedy agrees with church teaching, she probably takes the same line as many other Catholic Democrats: that politicians should not impose their faith on the American public, especially regarding abortion.

The church considers such a view as unacceptable and dangerously misleading. Ironically, often the blame for this approach, and for the general drift of the Democratic Party toward an abortionist position, is laid at the feet of John F. Kennedy, who made a point of pledging not to let his faith influence his politics.

President Kennedy was intent on playing down his Catholicism, to the extent that he opposed improving relations with the Vatican. He ruled out any formal links with the Holy See despite a willingness among Vatican officials to establish diplomatic relations – something that did not occur until 1984, under President Reagan.

If Caroline Kennedy were appointment, it could be useful for the Democrats in seeking the Catholic swing vote.

A spokesman for Obama’s campaign was unavailable for comment.

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

(Source: NM)

1st solar panel installed on Vatican roof

The first solar panels have been installed on top of the papal audience hall at Vatican City.

Workers on Monday began putting photovoltaic cells on the roof of Paul VI hall to convert sunlight into electricity.

Vatican engineers announced the plan for the first solar panels last year.

Pope Benedict XVI's has made conserving the Earth's resources an important concern of his papacy.

Pilgrims attend weekly audiences in the hall during winter as well as in other seasons when the weather is too bad to gather in St. Peter's Square.

Rome gets lots of sunshine, and engineers say the cells will produce enough electricity to illuminate, heat or cool the hall.

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

(Source: IHT)

Suspension of retired US bishop is lifted

The Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church has lifted the suspension of a retired bishop for officiating at a service at a breakaway congregation in San Diego, after he agreed to submit to the church’s discipline.

On Sept 9, Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori lifted the inhibition or suspension of Bishop Edward MacBurney and admonished him “not to repeat the actions which caused the presentment to be brought against him.”

She also directed him to apologize “in writing to the Bishop of San Diego for not respecting his authority as the bishop of that diocese.”

In June 2007 Bishop MacBurney held a confirmation service for a San Diego congregation that had quit the diocese and joined the province of the Southern Cone.

Bishop James Mathes of San Diego brought charges against Bishop MacBurney and in January the church’s Title IV Review Committee issued an indictment against the retired Bishop of Quincy.

Pending his November trial, Bishop MacBurney was prohibited from functioning as a priest.

The plea deal negotiated between the Presiding Bishop’s office and lawyers for Bishop MacBurney allows the retired bishop to remain unmolested within the Episcopal Church.

Bishop Mathes wrote to his diocese on Sept 10 that he was satisfied with the Presiding Bishop’s decision. The process “held a bishop of the church accountable to his colleagues and this was a good thing,” he told the Episcopal News Service.

At last month’s Lambeth Conference, Bishop Mathes sought out Bishop Gregory Venables, primate of the Southern Cone to discuss visitations in his diocese.

On July 31, Bishop Mathes wrote to his diocese that Bishop Venables “apologized for not contacting me before making incursions into the Diocese of San Diego. Over the past two years, Bishop Venables together with Bishop Frank Lyons of the same province, have made numerous episcopal visits to our diocese without my knowledge or consent. I was heartened by his apology.”

On Aug 1, Bishop Mathes clarified his remarks, telling a news conference: “I want to emphasize that this is a start,” Bishop Mathes said. “[Bishop Venables] did not say he would stop making visits, but he did agree to continue talking and to work with another person.”

When questioned about the encounter, Bishop Venables explained that he had had a “frank, tranquil and calm” conversation with Bishops Mathes and had explained his reasons for accepting the breakaway congregations into the Southern Cone. However, he was “not a stepping back” from his support for the breakaway groups, Bishop Venables said.

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

(Source: RI)

Bishop Calls on Catholics to Stop Dozing

Catholics need to wake up when it comes to politics, and stop leaving "God in the pew," says a Vatican aide.

Bishop Giampaolo Crepaldi, secretary of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, said this today when he addressed a conference organized by Retinopera, a network of Italian organizations that promote the Church’s social teachings.

The meeting, under way in Assisi, is reflecting on the idea of the common good and, according to its organizers, seeks "to consider development understood as a moral question."

Bishop Crepaldi said Benedict XVI’s call in Cagliari, Sardinia, earlier this month for “the birth of a new generation of Christians involved in society and politics” was addressed to the Christian communities "who, as far as the formation new generations involved in society and politics is concerned, seem to be falling asleep.”

The bishop explained the need for Catholic laity involved in politics in the context of the "the idea, perhaps unexpressed, that secularization is an unstoppable process, a kind of ‘destiny’ of the West if not the entire planet.”

“Secularization, as God’s ejection from the world to the point that he ceases to speak to it, is not the destiny of modernity,” the bishop remarked.

The prelate noted this is precisely “the principal challenge" that Pope John Paul II faced, and that Benedict XVI is currently confronting. "We must confidently join them as real protagonists, and not see ourselves as tired bit players in a script recited by others."


The 61-year-old bishop emphasized that “the social teaching of the Church is an instrument of evangelization and education in the faith.”

He warned of the effects of pluralism “on our communities, even on the unity of faith, unity in regard to the foundations of culture, on the sense of ecclesial belonging, on fidelity to [the Church’s] pastors.”

Bishop Crepaldi pointed out that “when it is claimed that Christ is only useful, but not indispensable, for man’s understanding of himself and finding truly human solutions to development,” and when we “support certain forms of pluralism without truth,” then “we have gone beyond the bounds of legitimacy.”

He reaffirmed that “God cannot be left in the pew” and that religion and faith “must not be excluded from public life or used only for limited pragmatic goals.”

“Secularist ideology is not neutral," he warned, "but rather imposes an absolute vision."

“Presenting a world without God is not synonymous with scientificity, objectivity, evaluative equanimity,” the bishop said, adding that “those who decide to remove the crucifixes” are not “neutral,” but “want a public space without crucifixes.”

“If God disappears from the public square,” Bishop Crepaldi said, “our capacity to recognize the natural order, purpose and the ‘good’ begins to disappear.”

To avoid these dangers and renew the Christian community, the secretary for the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace indicated the urgency of a basic formation, beginning with the social teachings of the Church.

He urged learning and teaching the Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church: "This Compendium is often cited but little read, it is celebrated on many occasions, that is, ‘occasionally,’ but never seriously adopted.”


In regard to the political and social involvement of Catholics, Bishop Crepaldi noted: “Sometimes they censor themselves preventatively when they must enter and work in the public arena […] believing that this arena cannot permit references to faith and religion.

"But it is precisely in this way that God disappears from the public square. Silently. By omission.”

Touching on the immediate challenge, the archbishop called for an end to “identity repression” and for the support of “conscientious objection.”

In this context he cited several examples: “Catholic agencies in the United Kingdom who are fighting for their right not to participate in adoptions by homosexual couples, which have been permitted by law”; “doctors and health workers who ask to be able to object not only to traditional abortion but new abortifacient drugs”; “civil authorities who refuse to register homosexual couples in the registries provided by the laws that recognize them in various ways.”

To defeat future challenges, individual resistance will not be enough, the prelate observed.

In this respect he voice his agreement with Cardinal Angelo Bagnasco, archbishop of Genoa, who has said that the Church is “of the people.”

“Being ‘of the people,’” Bishop Crepaldi explained, “is not just a sociological datum; it is a theological datum that has to do with the Church’s relationship to the world. […] And it is precisely from the development of this dimension that the new generation that Benedict XVI called for in Cagliari can be born.”

A rebirth, he said, that he doubted could succeed "without more conscious and integrated use of the Church’s social teaching."

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

(Source: Zenit)

Vatican's security force to join Interpol

After setting up two new anti-terrorism units this year that work closely with international police, the Vatican's security force has plans to join Interpol.

Vatican Radio reported Sept. 28 that the Vatican's security force will join the international police organization sometime before Oct. 10 in St. Petersburg, Russia.

The announcement of the alliance was made during a Sept. 27 celebration at the papal summer villa in Castel Gandolfo, south of Rome.

Pope Benedict XVI briefly appeared at the celebration and gave his "sincere thanks for the competence and dedication" of the security force, or gendarme corps. The feast day of St. Michael the Archangel, the corps' patron saint, is Sept. 29.

The corps' director, Domenico Giani, said the force also is looking into forging an "agreement of cooperation with the Italian police," reported Vatican Radio.

The Vatican and Pope Benedict have been named as potential targets by extremist groups in recent years. Although the Vatican has downplayed the threats, it also has beefed up security, adding metal detectors for all visitors to St. Peter's Basilica and attendees at papal events.

The gendarme corps also has been deployed at Vatican territories outside Vatican City, in particular at Rome's patriarchal basilicas.

The gendarme corps, which has about 130 members, works in close collaboration with the Swiss Guard, especially during events involving the pope.

Earlier this year the gendarme corps started working more closely with Interpol, and in June Giani told reporters that the arrangement marked a big step forward for Vatican security.

The collaboration gives the Vatican access to a large data bank of suspects, the latest information on criminal or subversive organizations, and information on the latest anti-terrorism operational procedures.

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

(Source: CNS)

CBCP asks Pope to visit Manila in 2009

The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) has formally invited Pope Benedict XVI to attend next year’s celebration of Asian Youth Day to be held in Manila.

It will be the second invitation extended by the Catholic Church to the Holy Father, who declined an offer this year to make a side trip to the Philippines from his visit to Australia for the World Youth Day last July.

Two bishops confirmed that an invitation has been forwarded to the Vatican, following consultations with other CBCP members.

The invitation was prompted by a separate request of the Catholic Church in Taiwan for the Pope to attend its 150th anniversary of its evangelization. Taipei’s local bishops have asked the CBCP to also invite the Pope, noting that Manila would host the Asian Youth Day next year.

The Asian Youth Day (AYD), a regional version of the World Youth Day, was last observed in Hongkong in 2006.

But one of the sources said the Pope is likely to refuse the offer, considering the diplomatic implication of the Pope’s visit to Taiwan, which is still considered a “renegade” province by China.

Asian Youth Day

According to a July 30, 2008 story on Asian Youth Day on the Union of Catholic Asian News (UCAN) website, organizers plan to hold the AYD in the Philippines last week of November or first week of December 2009.

The UCAN report said, "AYD organizers have not decided on the theme for the celebration, but activities will center on the Federation of Asian Bishops' Conferences (FABC) thrust toward Eucharist in the context of the young."

The report said "AYD celebrations, held in years when no international WYD celebration takes place, aim to inspire Asian Catholics to continue and live their faith "passionately, in a more dedicated way," according to Jessica Joy Candelario, the head of the desk of the FABC's Office of Laity and Family.

Asian bishops vowed in a previous World Youth Day celebration to "give more priority to the needs of young people." They agreed to establish a "youth office that will give a more concrete voice for young Asians," the UCAN report said.

"Three years later, the FABC established its laity office's Youth Desk. The desk organized the first AYD celebration in Thailand in 1999," the UCAN report said.

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

(Source: CNS)

Angels bring us great help and consolation, Pope Benedict reminds

Pope Benedict XVI will complete his stay at the papal summer residence today (Tuesday), and as final preparations are being made for his return to Rome, he addressed the local bishop, religious, local civil authorities and security personnel on the topic of angels.

Monday marked the Feast of the Archangels Michael, Gabriel and Raphael, the Pope pointed out to Bishop Marcello Semeraro of Albano (the diocese in which Castelgandolfo is located) and the assembled crowd.

With this Feast in mind, he prayed, "let us trustingly invoke their help, and the protection of the Guardian Angels, whose feast we will celebrate in a few day's time, on October 2."

Although angels are not visible, their presence "brings us great help and consolation: they walk at our side and protect us in all circumstances, they defend us from danger, and to them we can turn at any moment," Benedict XVI explained.

He further added that, "Many saints established bonds of real friendship with the angels, and numerous episodes testify to their assistance on particular occasions. Angels are sent by God 'to serve for the sake of those who are to inherit salvation' as the Letter to the Hebrews says, hence they are a real help to us on the pilgrimage towards the heavenly homeland."

The Pope is due to bid farewell to the staff of the Pontifical Villas at Castel Gandolfo, before returning to the Vatican today.

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

(Source: CNA)

Director of Papal Villas reveals untold stories from Pius XII to Benedict XVI

During his long tenure as director of the Papal Villas, Saverio Petrillo has seen details from the daily lives of the Pontiffs that up to now have been unknown.

He tells the stories of the many children who were born in Pius XII’s room, the “escapes” by John XXIII to talk with local residents, John Paul II’s free time spent in the swimming pool, and Benedict XVI’s nights in front of the piano.

In a recent article published by the L’Osservatore Romano entitled, “My Summers with the Popes at Castegandolfo,” Petrillo recounts how during World War II, Pius XII provided shelter to many refugees in his apartment.

Some fifty children were born there, many of whom were given the name of Eugenio or Pius.

Another previously unknown fact is that every once in a while, John XXIII would disappear without telling anybody to take walks in the area or on the beach and spent time chatting with local residents.

Petrillo also revealed the John Paul II loved to play hide and seek with the children of his employees and that he spent many hours swimming laps at the pool built expressly for him.

Pope Benedict XVI, Petrillo says, spends long hours at night in front of the piano, playing the pieces of his favorite composers, Bach, Mozart and Beethoven.

Vatican watcher Sandro Magister noted in his column last week that previous revelations can be found as well in the book, “The Popes in the Countryside,” published in 1953 by then director of the Papal Villas, Emilio Bonomelli, and in the book “The Papal Villas of Castel Gandolfo,” written by Saverio Petrillo and published by the Vatican Museums.

Magister’s complete article on the new revelations can be found at: http://chiesa.espresso.repubblica.it/articolo/206926?sp=y

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

(Source: CNA)

Evangelicals publish 10 commandments of blogging

Ten cyberspace commandments are to be posted online to give bloggers a moral edge in a virtual age.

Based loosely on the real Ten Commandments from the Old Testament, the revamped version for guidance in online communication emerged from an event reflecting on the ethics of today’s most popular form of public comment.

The commandments are intended to cause bloggers to consider the social impact of their blogging, and include not making an idol of their blog and not stealing another person's content.

Godblogs, a gathering held by the Evangelical Alliance on 23 September, was designed to give Christian bloggers an opportunity to network face-to-face and think through a Christian approach to blogging.

The group, aged from 18 to 87, reflected on how to honour God with their blogs and in their relationships online.

Dr Krish Kandiah, Churches in Mission Executive Director at the EA, said: “During the Godblogs event, we discussed ideas about how to communicate a code of best practice to evangelical bloggers.

“Unlike the original, these commandments are virtual rather than set in stone, but are offered to the blogging community as a way to link the Ten Commandments with the art of blogging.

“In the ever-changing information age, what we need is wisdom for life, and God communicates wisdom to our culture through the Bible on every issue from social justice to social networking.”

He added that the Alliance is inviting bloggers to feed back on the commandments, which are on the Alliance website, www.eauk.org, and make suggestions for improvement.

Rev Mark Meynell, Senior Associate Minister for All Souls Church, Langham Place said: “The internet is merely the latest step in the evolution of human communication - and so like any other new medium, it presents us with huge opportunities as well as challenges.

“It is essential that Christians make the most of it, not least because we believe we have good news that is as relevant to those in cyberspace as it is for those in real space.”

Rev Meynell began the day by taking the bloggers through a Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Christian blogosphere, followed by talks about relationships in invisible communities by lead elder at North Shrewsbury Community Church, Phil Whittal and Web 2.0 and the Bible by Peter Sanlon, an Anglican Ordinand from Cambridge.

A Blogging Relationship Commitment for Christians has also been produced as a result of the day to encourage Christians to think through how they can communicate in cyberspace in a Christ-like way and promote good relationships between Christians.

The ten cyberspace commandments are as follows:

You shall not put your blog before your integrity.

You shall not make an idol of your blog.

You shall not misuse your screen name by using your anonymity to sin.

Remember the Sabbath day by taking one day off a week from your blog.

Honour your fellow-bloggers above yourselves and do not give undue significance to their mistakes.

You shall not murder someone else’s honour, reputation or feelings.

You shall not use the web to commit or permit adultery in your mind.

You shall not steal another person’s content.

You shall not give false testimony against your fellow-blogger.

You shall not covet your neighbour's blog ranking. Be content with your own content.

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

(Source: CT)

RAF sergeant, scientist and footballer among new Lichfield clergy

Lichfield Diocese ordained 22 new deacons coming from a variety of professions over the weekend.

The clergymen and women, ordained over two services in Lichfield Cathedral, will be appointed to parishes across Staffordshire, north Shropshire and the Black Country.

They include 55-year-old former RAF sergeant Stephen Reynolds, Catherine McBride, a 44-year-old biologist and curate in Meole Brace, Shrewsbury, who works on drug trials at Glaxo Smithkline, and Darren Fraser, 37, a former schoolboy footballer with the Wolves and West Brom.

Reynolds, who served in the RAF for 22 years and now works as a civil servant for the Department of Work and Pensions, has been appointed as a non-stipendiary ordained local minister at St John’s Church in Heath Hayes, Cannock. He said he saw no conflict between serving in the military and the church.

“I think the two stereotypes are actually completely wrong. A good many Christians serve in the Royal Air Force and serve for the greater good of humanity,” he said.

“Armed forces aren’t there to necessarily go to war. It’s never the idea. You always hope to avoid conflict and come to a peaceful conclusion which is what we aim to do in the church as well. I think the two roles meld together quite nicely but different people have different perspectives on the two roles.”

He added that the RAF had been good preparation for life as a church minister.

“In the Air Force you have to get along with people because you are thrown together with people from varying backgrounds, different social classes and all sorts; so I think that leads very nicely to a church life where you have got a mixed variety in the congregations.

“The one thing that will be a big major change is not being able to give people orders and having them obeyed straight away which, in the Air Force you obey orders to the best of your ability.”

McBride insisted, meanwhile, that faith and science were compatible. She said she was excited at the prospect of being in Shrewsbury for next year’s 200th anniversary celebrations of Charles Darwin’s birth. The British scientist was born in the town on 12 February 1809.

She said the anniversary of Darwin’s birth provided the ideal opportunity for debate on the relationship between faith and science.

“There are a lot of people out there who realise there is something more to life than the physical that we can see and touch and taste and feel and that science and faith aren’t incompatible,” said McBride.

“I see them as being completely compatible. I’ve always been interesting in science. From a very young girl I did science all the way through school and yet I was a Christian at the same time.

“I have always found that the more I have learned about the human body, the world in general, space… the more I have thought that there must be something else out there as well behind all this.

“Quite how it happened I’m still fairly open about, but I have no problem with something like evolution. I think that’s just how God did it.”

Fraser, who is now serves as resident minister of St Stephen’s Bentilee in Bucknall, said that his background in sports gave him a good conversation opener to engage with young people in discussions about faith.

“I was brought up on a council housing estate in Ashmore Park in Wolverhampton and from my early years I loved sport and loved playing sport.

“With young people from primary school through to senior school, when they know you’ve got a sporting background, once they recognise you’re a normal person and have actually had a fairly normal upbringing and enjoy sport,” he said.

“It’s then that I am able to come alongside them, develop that relationship and they can understand more about what a local church minister and a priest actually does in the community.”

Other new clergy recruits include a car salesman and farmer. They will add to the 27 new lay ministers licensed by the Bishop of Lichfield, the Rt Rev Jonathan Gledhill, in Lichfield Cathedral last weekend.

Ordination as deacon is the first of three levels of ordained ministry in the Church of England, out of deacon, priest and bishop.

This weekend will see more ordination services in local churches across the Diocese of Lichfield for 17 clergy who were ordained as deacons last year. They will be appointed as priests across the diocese.

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

(Source: CT)

Global reformed bodies start planning merger

Members of the governing bodies of the World Alliance of Reformed Churches (WARC) and the Reformed Ecumenical Council (REC) will meet in joint sessions for the first time from 6 to 10 October in Utrecht.

The meeting will consolidate planning for the historic merger of the two organizations into the World Communion of Reformed Churches (WCRC). A uniting General Council will be held in June 2010 at Grand Rapids, Michigan. The theme of the General Council will be “Unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace”.

WCRC will represent 80 million Reformed Christians around the world. WARC has 75 million members in 214 churches in 107 countries. REC has 12 million members in 39 churches in 25 countries.

The Utrecht meeting includes WARC’s Officers and REC’s Executive Committee. They will work together to finalise a draft constitution, shape the structure and vision of WCRC and deal with numerous practical considerations. They will also launch a WCRC logo.

“This important joint meeting demonstrates the commitment of these two Reformed bodies to grow together in the coming months,” said WARC general secretary Setri Nyomi. “It is a great opportunity to meet our sisters and brothers in REC and to make concrete our dream of a new truly vital Reformed communion that will meet the challenge of God’s call to justice and unity in the 21st century.”

Added Richard van Houten, general secretary of REC, “It will be the first time the leaders of the two organisations will have to work together and they can send an important message to our members about how the cultures of WARC and REC will blend together, working for the common mission God has given them.”

The gathering is being hosted and supported by the Protestant Church in the Netherlands, which is a member of both WARC and REC. It is the largest Protestant denomination in the Netherlands and the result of a 2004 merger of the Netherlands Reformed Church, the Reformed Churches in the Netherlands and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in the Kingdom of the Netherlands.

Both general secretaries expressed their gratitude to the Protestant Church in the Netherlands for hosting the meeting. WARC and REC leaders will worship in local churches on the day prior to the meeting, bringing messages from the home denominations from around the world. +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

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

(Source: CT)

Europe’s churches asked to tackle climate change

The 7th Assembly of the European Christian Environmental Network (ECEN) ended on Sunday with a call to Europe’s churches to make climate change a top priority.

The ECEN assembly brought together 100 delegates from 27 countries and all European traditions under the common theme, “The true challenge of climate change”.

The assembly coincided with the 10th anniversary of the ECEN’s founding this year and took its inspiration from last year’s third European Ecumenical Assembly (EEA3), which recommended that churches celebrate a “Time of Creation” between 1 September and 4 October and step up their level of engagement with environmental challenges.

The ECEN’s Secretary, the Rev Dr Peter Pavlovic, said in his concluding remarks that many European churches had taken up the cause of climate change.

“In a number of churches in Europe, care for creation has received rising attention. Therefore is it increasingly important to provide a space for exchange of experiences and deliberation in view of common action,” he said.

In a final statement issued at the Assembly’s end on Saturday, delegates urged people to go beyond a consumption-based view of creation.

“The roots of human destruction of the environment are to be sought not just in actions, but in our most deep-seated attitudes. It is not enough for humans to keep alive by consuming the world around them; they need a relationship with the world that is not purely utilitarian and market-based,” the statement said.

“Churches need to accept the challenge to come together to overcome the threat of water shortages, decreased harvests, natural disasters, diseases, migration and many other projected effects of climate change.”

The delegates called on European churches to develop a “road-map” with timelines and goals towards the amelioration of global warming.

They also ask individual Christians to lobby their governments and politicians in the European Parliament on the issue of climate change.

“The EU commitments for green house gasses emission must not be achieved through offsetting emissions: significant cuts of greenhouse gas emissions have to be achieved through efforts here and now,” says the document.

Last week, the vice-chair of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and Nobel Prize winner, Professor Jean-Pascal van Ypersele told the assembly that there was no need for a “fatalistic view of the future”.

“There are ways to reduce emissions, and churches can contribute to solutions by proposing changes in lifestyle and behaviour patterns,” he said.


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

(Source: CT)

Iran may be moving to silence Christian media ministries

There's a disconcerting report coming out of Iran.

Evangelist Sammy Tippit says there are reports that "there is some debate taking place within the government about those who are preaching through the television and various forms of media, that they would be targets of the government if they continue to see people come to Christ. [That's] basically what we're doing," reports MNN.

The media is currently accountable to Islamic Law and heavily censored by the ruling religious clerics. Conservative Iranians feel the press cannot criticize government leaders who are also religious leaders, and other religious tenants must be upheld in social, cultural, and political arenas.

There is very little known about what is happening, other than the fact that Iran's religious leader recently blocked the parliament's debate and vote on a bill which aimed "to ease the current stringent restrictions on the press."

Tippit says the report they received indicated the new concern is a separate discussion from the apostasy law. "What you have, basically, is ministries like ours, broadcasting into the country, trying to feed the sheep, trying to help those who are believers to grow in their faith in Christ, and this has become a point of contention."

It's one more step toward the repression of Christians. On September 9, Iran's parliament voted in favor of a draft law that would mandate the death penalty for those convicted of apostasy. That discussion began in February, when the Iranian parliament introduced the draft penal code that strengthened the penalty for apostasy.

The media issue is still in it's early stages, and that's why Tippit says NOW is the time to act.

"We just need to pray that the church would be strengthened within the country, that they would be able to stand faithful to the Lord during these days. And then secondly, we need to pray that God would intervene in this situation among those who are in the debate about what will take place and what the future of the country will be."


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

(Source: CN)

Catholic priest jailed for molesting girls 30 years ago

A Catholic priest whose sexual abuse of seven schoolgirls was uncovered 30 years later by two victims who met on the Friends Reunited website was today jailed for a year.

Father Peter Carr, 73, was exposed when the two women now in their 40s - one a solicitor, the other a singer - swapped online recollections about how he rubbed paint on their naked bodies before school plays.

They complained to police who found that other girls invited to join productions at the boys' school in the Forest of Dean, Gloucestershire, were subjected to similar abuse.

Gloucester crown court judge Martin Picton told Carr that he had done the church "much damage".

"What you did was not minor. They [the girls] have had to face life with a sense of being degraded and humiliated," he said.

"The shows should have been the high points of their childhoods but the pleasure is forever tainted by the abuse they suffered at your hands."

Carr put on two plays - Sinbad the Sailor and Tom Thumb - that he said required the application of make-up to the girls' bodies.

During rehearsals he smeared paint over the naked girls, sometimes when they were alone when him. He has claimed that he "only wanted to put on good show".

One of the first two victims, now a 49-year-old singer and osteopath, said she had never previously told of the abuse but Carr had become a "monster in her mind".

The prosecutor, Ian Dixey, told the court three other women had come forward making identical complaints since reports of the case appeared last week.

Noel Lucas, defending, said his client's life was in ruins and the church would carry out an internal inquiry leading to further humiliation.

Carr was a member of the Salesian order, founded by Don Bosco in the 19th century to help poor young boys. The order condemned the abuse and apologised to the victims.

The woman who went on to become a singer said after the sentencing that she had not expected Carr to be jailed.

"I didn't think a prison sentence would necessarily change anything because he doesn't think he has done anything wrong," she said. "He doesn't even have an inkling of how he has affected our lives.

"I feel quite sorry for him now. If you had asked me in my 20s, I might have wanted revenge, but now I am just satisfied that he isn't going to die with everyone saying what a fantastic priest he is."

Carr, whose duties included teaching drama, was convicted last December of eight counts of indecently assaulting six different girls. He pleaded guilty last week to a seventh count after another woman came forward. The offences were committed between 1969 and 1975.

Carr, now of Battersea, south London, is under a sexual offences prevention order (Sopo) banning him from working or living with children.

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

(Source: guardian.co.uk)

Episcopalian conference finishes “with hope”

"Strict scrutiny" of religious practice in mainland China “must motivate the hope for missionary work", considered Portuguese-speaking churches gathered in Macau.

At the closing ceremony of the 8th Episcopalian Conference of Portuguese-speaking Countries and Territories, the final speech highlighted the perception that there are "some critical problems for the church's evangelisation in China”.

"Religious practice may still be the subject of strict control, but we're motivated to keep with our missionary work by cooperating with the Chinese church even by supplying books and education programs".

D. Jorge Ortiga, Archbishop of Braga, explained that Portuguese-speaking churches “don't want to encroach on any political issue” but adds that visiting China “makes us dream and hope for the moment when the Catholic church may be able to play its evangelist role" .

D. José Ortiga also explained that "the relations between China and the Roman Catholic Church were mentioned in our conversations however this is clearly an issue beyond us".

Under the cooperation agreement with the Catholic church in Macau, Portuguese-speaking churches will develop a program of promotion for the Portuguese language in specific areas such as education and media.

One of the highlights of the conference that ended yesterday, was a journey to mainland China, where they visited two parishes established in China by the diocese of Macau.

The bishops read and approved a final document compiling all the several topics discussed in the meeting such as globalisation, corruption, the growth of new religious groups, immigration and people trafficking. When they finished, they then sent a symbolic postcard signed by them all to Pope Benedict XVI.

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

(Source: MDT)

Out of retirement

Rev. Clayton Billard retired three years ago after some 35 years behind the pulpit.

He's now back on active duty after the retirement of Rev. Hugh Fudge earlier this month left St. James' Anglican Church in Port aux Basques without a minister.

Rev. Billard will fulfill the role until a new minister can be found - a challenging proposition given a shortage of new clergy across the diocese and throughout the province.

Fewer people becoming clergy is a trend that reaches well beyond the Anglican religion. United, Roman Catholic and Salvation Army denominations are facing similar circumstances - more clergy are retiring than are available to take their place.

Rev. Patricia Ritchie of the Wesley United Church in Port aux Basques is looking forward to an early retirement set to start next June. She left a 20-year nursing career to go back to school and become a minister.

"I knew I would be making less money, but as long as I had enough I was OK," she said. "We often say we're called, but more people are looking at the dollars and cents."

Someone who wants to become a minister needs a four-year undergraduate degree, plus three years of theology school. It can add up to a student loan of more than $70,000 in some cases. Rev. Ritchie said that can make it harder for new ministers to chose to come to rural areas.

About two years ago, vacancies in Stephenville and Burgeo left Rev. Ritchie as the only United minister west of Corner Brook. While those positions are now filled, it's unknown what the future will bring.

Rev. Ritchie said members of the congregation fill long-term vacancies in some parishes, while retired ministers fill other holes.

Pastor Jamie Warren, of the Faith Pentecostal Tabernacle in Port aux Basques, said the declining numbers of clergy being seen in that denomination won't likely be an issue for another decade.

All positions in Pentecost churches are filled, even in places where there is more than one pastor, such as youth and senior pastoral roles.

However, Pastor Warren said the retention rate for full-time clergy is not as high as it used it be - some clergy are giving up pastoral work for other types of positions like missionary roles.

Captain Michelle Blake of the Salvation Army said fewer people are going into the ministry than are retiring, but this year's numbers are higher than last year.

She said some amalgamations and closures of churches in some areas have lessened the demand for clergy, helping ease the strain. The Salvation Army hasn't yet seen the use of retired clergy long-term but has used it as a temporary solution.

Father Lee Lainey of St. Ann's Roman Catholic Parish said priests from other countries are helping to fill vacancies in the diocese. Currently there are two priests from the Philippines, one from Nigeria and one from India - all parts of the world, according to Father Lainey, that are producing large numbers of clergy.

He said vacancies haven't yet become a problem for the Catholic church, but the future may bring more foreign clergy or a return to the missionary priest, who travelled between several areas.

Father Lainey said that some people feel the vow of celibacy is part of the reason why more people aren't becoming priests. However, he said other denominations, which don't require that commitment, should not be having the same issues if that were the only cause.

Rev. Billard said the ministry is not a regular job; it involves a great level of commitment.

"When you're talking about religion, you're talking about something different altogether. It's not like Marine Atlantic or a paper mill or a fish plant. It's not a job. You have to feel this is something you have to do.

"It's 24-7. It's a lifestyle."

Decline in attendance

Most of the clergy agree the declining number of ministers are related to the decline in church attendance.

Father Lainey estimated that only about 10 to 15 per cent of the people on his parish's rolls actually attend services on a regular basis.

Most Sundays his church is only about half full. He said that's quite a change from when he was younger and can remember having to arrive at Saturday night mass early in order to get a place to sit.

Father Lainey said society has become more secular and practicing faith has become an option instead of an expectation. He said the trend leads young people to have less contact with the church and with God, so they don't consider becoming a priest.

"If the contact is not there, if the church doesn't have any place in their lives, how can they recognize a calling?" questioned Father Lainey.

The congregation at St. James has also declined. The church rolls contain the names of about 800 families, said Rev. Billard, far less than the 1,500 to 1,600 that would have been there when he was young.

"It once was the biggest parish on the island," he said.

Declining attendance is also a worry for financial reasons, said Rev. Ritchie. She said older churchgoers who she's losing are often the regular donators to the church.

"All funds to keep the church going have to come through the Sunday offering," she said.

Pastor Warren said even if the generation that does not regularly attend church goes back to regular attendance later in life, their children have missed out on religious contact during their formative years.

Father Lainey said the fact that people who don't regularly attend Sunday services still come back to the church for special things like baptisms, marriages and funerals means that the church still has a place in their lives.

"It's not all doom and gloom," he said. "People haven't abandoned the church and their faith altogether."

Pastor Warren said maybe the church needs to look at new ways of doing things to remain relevant to people. While the message of the gospel never changes, he said they ways the church presents it could be adjusted.

"I don't think people are totally uninterested," he said.

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

(Source: GN)

Bishop backs bill accepting illegitimate children

A Catholic bishop on Monday expressed support to a bill aiming to legitimize children born out of wedlock, stressing the need for society to accept illegitimate children.

Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines Episcopal Commission on Canon Law chairman Bishop Leonardo Medroso said it is high time discrimination is stopped.

"Alam mo naman sa society natin... Sana ay wala na lang legitimate at illegitimate children (You know our society. I hope there will be no more dividing line between legitimate and illegitimate children)," Medroso said in an interview over Church-run Radyo Veritas Monday.

Excerpts of the interview were posted Monday night on the CBCP website.

A consolidated bill filed by Valenzuela Rep. Magtanggol Gunigundo seeks to amend Article 177 of the Family Code passed committee level at the House Committee on Revision Laws.

Under the bill, children born out of wedlock will now be deemed legitimate despite the presence of "implements for either or both parents to enter into marriage."

Medroso said the bill is necessary to give illegitimate children their right to avoid legal discrimination.

"Sa ating civil law, kinakailangan talaga ang legitimization because of the civil effects sa marriage, ibig sabihin about sa properties, ang pangalan, edad at etc (Under our civil law, legitimization is needed because of civil considerations)," he said.

He said even the Roman Catholic Church has already recognized this necessity of legitimizing every child.

"Kasi sa pagkuha ng mga vocation sa priesthood, ang mga illegitimate ay hindi puwede noon, pero ngayon ay puwede na (Even in the priesthood, even illegitimate children who were not allowed to join now have a chance of being priests)," he said.

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

(Source: GMA)

Congregations face decisions over politics

Holy Redeemer Catholic Church has protested economic injustices, registered parishioners to vote and handed out voter guides after weekly Masses.

But endorse a candidate from the pulpit?

Not a chance.

“It's not about me, but it's about Jesus Christ and what he calls us to do,” said Father Kevin Fausz, pastor of the predominantly African-American congregation on the city's East Side.

“You have to be cautious because sometimes personalities can get too involved.”

But for other ministers, the line is more blurry. Some routinely tell their flock during election season who will get their vote. And others have invited candidates to speak at political forums or in some cases asked them to give a sermon from the pulpit.

Today, in more than 30 churches across the country, pastors will endorse a presidential candidate, and — depending on how they say it and how far they push it — they could draw a challenge from the Internal Revenue Service. In fact, that's what they are hoping for because they dislike a 1954 law that bans congregations — although not ministers individually — from endorsing candidates or face losing their tax-exempt status.

None of the pastors is in San Antonio but the initiative puts a spotlight on the national debate about how involved congregations can — and should — be in expressing political views and the limits of federal tax law on such speech.

In San Antonio, TV evangelist and Cornerstone Church pastor John Hagee is upfront about which candidates he likes. He has invited some to speak from his pulpit, including former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee last December. But when Hagee endorsed Republican presidential nominee John McCain earlier this year, it backfired, and he and the candidate parted company.

Pastor Robert Emmitt of Community Bible Church, which draws more than 10,000 people to weekend services, typically tells his congregation for whom he's voting. So far, he said, it's generally been Republican candidates only because they are more likely to oppose abortion.

“As a pastor, we're free and within our legal rights to say who we're supporting. I'm pro-life so that ought to tell you something. I'm supporting McCain and the Republican Party,” he said. “I have no issues against (Democratic presidential nominee Barack) Obama. Of course, he's not pro life.”

At Concordia Lutheran Church, political activism emanates mainly from its Salt and Light ministry. Volunteers at the church stand ready to register people to vote, a permissible practice for nonprofit organizations. If members provide their e-mail addresses, the ministry sends out “alerts” from the Free Market Foundation, a nonprofit Christian organization based in Plano and associated with the Focus on the Family, the conservative Christian ministry founded by Dr. James Dobson.

“Yeah, maybe we're only looking for conservatives, but I'm sorry, that's all we have at the church,” said John Sabatino, a founder of Salt and Light at Concordia and former chair of the Bexar County Christian Coalition. “We know — do I dare call them heathens — are going to support their candidates. So we know we have to find conservatives, and where are they? They're in church.”

The church's pastor, Bill Tucker, said he avoids endorsing politicians or related speech. In his opinion, that would break the law and jeopardize his No. 1 priority of spreading the Christian message of salvation, he said. Each time Election Day approaches, he preaches about being engaged in society as Christians.

“My call and commitment to this congregation is to be a spiritual leader and proclaim the Gospel,” he said. “I'm not going to stand up and say that as a matter of God's will this is who you should vote for.”

Challenging the law

The Alliance Defense Fund, a Christian legal advocacy agency based in Arizona, plans to defend, if necessary, the 30-plus ministers who are endorsing a candidate today. The ADF came up with the “Pulpit Initiative” earlier this year because it believes churches and other faith groups, including liberal ones, are overly restricted by the IRS and its vague rules governing political expression by religious groups.

“We hope to establish the right of pastors to freely speak from the pulpit and not fear the IRS or any other group,” said ADF attorney Dale Schowengerdt.

The IRS is monitoring the ministers today and “will take action as appropriate,” said agency spokesman Dean Patterson. In recent years, the IRS has reported receiving a growing number of complaints that congregations are violating the ban on endorsing candidates.

Because the pastors who signed up for the ADF initiative are evangelical and conservative, it's expected they'll endorse McCain, Schowengerdt said, adding they plan to forward their remarks to the IRS. He believes the pastors can legally go so far as to state that their church endorses the candidate as well.

“When they discuss their faith and how it impacts the qualifications of candidates, certainly they can say, ‘We think our faith prevents us from supporting whomever or that it allows us to support whomever,'” he said.

Such political activity caused Paul Soupiset to move away from conservative Christian churches, he said, because his former church, in voter guides and from the pulpit, put pressure on its members to oppose abortion and homosexuality. Now, he attends Covenant Baptist Church on the North Side, which, according to its pastor Gordon Atkinson, avoids discussion of politics from the pulpit and other official church settings.

“My friends and conversation partners about faith sort of reject the far right and the far left and there's sort of a more winsome middle ground to be had,” said Soupiset, who is voting for Obama. “For example, I can state clearly that I'm probably pro life but to me, how that phrase has been defined has been narrow and insufficient. Life's not just about the abortion issue but about being pro-people who are living imprisoned or met with the short end of justice.”

Democrat-leaning Christians make up the majority at the 150-member Divine Redeemer Presbyterian Church on the West Side, although a few known Republican voters also belong to the church. Social responsibility, especially outreach to immigrants, is the church's main focus. Situated in a primarily first-generation, Hispanic community, Spanish is often the residents' first language.

The church does voter registration drives, prays for elected officials and urges members to be informed citizens. It also is active in community advocacy groups, such as COPS/Metro Alliance.

Pastor Rob Mueller personally is voting for Obama, a fact his car's bumper stickers overtly reveal. But inside the church, during services and other official ministry, Mueller said there's no mention of candidates. And in informal settings, the church tries to foster an environment where members can easily differ on their choice of candidates.

“People of similar convictions can come to different conclusions,” he said. “It's God's job to be at work in each person's development spiritually, socially and politically.”

Catholics' choice

For area Catholics, San Antonio Archbishop José Gomez has pressed them to study Catholic teachings and apply those to shape their conscience about elections. His recent announcements make no mention of which political party or issue is most important.

“I believe in the gift of freedom. People are free. I don't like to tell people what to do. We have to study the issues and learn what the Church teaches and make a personal decision,” he said Friday.

Still, Catholic parishioners sometimes grapple with what political issues they should place at the top when evaluating a candidate. The spectrum of Catholic social teaching, for example, ranges from protection of immigrants' rights and the environment to opposition to abortion and euthanasia.

Abortion, according to U.S. Catholic bishop statements, is the gravest matter of all and has prompted some in their ranks to deny communion to pro-choice politicians. Gomez publicly denounced Sen. Hillary Clinton speaking at St. Mary's University last spring because of her support of abortion rights.

While Gomez said he believes in the “gift of freedom” for Catholics, he also reasserted how critical the issue of abortion is in determining how Catholics vote.

“We believe that abortion is an intrinsic evil,” he said. “Part of the teachings is to do good and avoid evil. So if abortion is evil, we have to take that into account.”

At Holy Redeemer, pro-life issues are espoused along with neighborhood concerns, such as unemployment, said Joseph Oubre, a longtime member of the church's Social Justice Core Team.

“It's hard to evangelize when those basic needs aren't being met,” he said.

Already, he said members have asked him for advice on casting their votes. He remains vague and suggests they study Catholic teachings, he said.

“I can't tell people who to vote for,” he said, “because it's something each person must arrive at.”

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

(Source: SAE)