Saturday, January 31, 2009

An Focal Scóir - January 2009

And we now enter into the month of the Most Holy Name of Jesus with the Papal prayer of peace for World Day of Peace, diocese of Cloyne under scrutiny as CSA crisis continues into the New Year, new Abbot of Glenstal takes the chair, Vatican and Italian laws no longer compatible, faith will get us through 2009, parish in Bray under the limelight again...

...people the real treasure says CofE AB, Irish Government bans pre-signed Mass cards, 200 years of Brigidines in Mountrath, 20 killed on missions in 2008, Abbot turns down Westminster job, papal intentions for January 2009, Russian Church and State Relations, war in Middle East under scrutiny...

...Vatican censures Fr Haight SJ, Vancouver AB retires due to ill health, 1st female CofE bishop nears, Irish RC bishops no full disclosure on CSA, CatholicGoogle launched, RC Church to have a black pope, AB and the Tarot, papal visit to Ireland under threat due to Cloyne crisis...

...WYD and conversions, St Marys Brisbane under Vatican scrutiny, new RC church for Bahrain, nun identifies rapists, the year of Benedict XVI, feast of the Epiphany, Irish RC priest finishes walk of atonement, Spain the Vatican's European battleground for the faith, Rome keeps eyes on Russia and new Patriarch-to-be, Ferns bishop comments on Cloyne crisis, Cardinal MO'C claims capitalism is dead... Anglican bishop for St Asaph, 'no God' adverts on London buses, papal cologne now spray mist, caption competition, Vatican lacks human dignity, Clonard Monastery Appeal, CW Aid Appeal Update, RCC establishes parish in Dublin, Il Papa loses voice, Ireland orders new probe into CSA in all RC dioceses, Cardinal refers to Gaza as a concentration camp, Bethlehem altar wine flows again...

...Bishop of Cloyne lied, Limerick priest says drug dealers are like paedophiles, Vatican - Israel tension downplayed, Fr Neuhaus dies (RIP), new bishop seeks new house, Drogheda church used as 'open-air toilet', Childrens Ombudsman to investigate CSA report claims, list of shame bishops who support Magee, Muslim apology for prayer outside Milan cathedral...

...Tony Quinn seminar gets protested, senior Chian official calls for greater religious inter dialogue, Legion of Mary encourages Limerick mothers to pray, CW Comments Re Cloyne CSA Report, Il Papa administers baptism to 13 children, Bishop Duffy reaches settlement with family of a deceased parishioner (the Bishop should be ashamed of his actions in this regard!!), 64 year old joins priesthood, Cardinal Laghi RIP...

...SV commentary on Cloyne CSA, Cloyne Diocese underestimates CSA, Bishop Emeritus Russell dies (RIP), deep division in Anglican Communion in USA, female minister chosen for Inaugural Prayer, 40th Anniversary of NeoCats, 1962 Missale Romanum released, calls for Bishop Magee (Cloyne) to go, Cardinal Brady loses touch of reality and claims Magee should stay...

...Cardinal Brady Contemporary Ireland and Church, dissident Aussie parish nears schism, Italian rabbis and Il Papa at loggerheads, memorial website for bereaved set up, Cardinal Brady draws Ireland back into Stone Age, RC Diocese of SanFran owes millions, 1st woman bishop consecrated in Britain...

...Presbyterian Mutual Society collapses, USCCB pledges work with Obama, new Anglican Bishop of St Albans, Sotto Voce takes a break, Bray parish under spotlight (again ad infinitum..), no 'No God' ads allowed in Italy, CofE bans clergy from being members of BNP, Fr Seán Breen (RIP), 10 move towards beatification, 1st married priest takes place in Archdiocese of Seattle...

...Vatican 'no-no' to Facebook, unrest in Donegal hospice over removal of tabernacle, Vatican 2-fingers to Jewish prayer complaints, Inaugural Address of Obama, Biden 1st RC Vice-President, cyber attack on cult watchdog website, AD Dublin holds more meetings on CSA, Il Papa lifts Lefebvreist excommunication...

...World Leprosy Day statement by Vatican, Rome & Moscow get closer, relic of Mother Teresa goes to Europe, more CSA claims come to light, probe of ultra-RC organisation in house of horrors in Roscommon, Vatican YouTube site launched, rebel priest out to reform RC church in Africa with reformed Catholic Church, clash between Vatican and White House, Vatican II 'providential'...

...RC priest scamming in USA, former RC Dallas Bishop (RIP), Irish religious orders also fail answer CSA questions, dome of Church in Dublin in danger of collapse, Papal African trip schedule released, Bray parish focus of more allegations, AB Martin claims Irish RC schools at risk of losing identity, bishop of Meath jubilee, feast of St Thomas Aquinas...

...Mideast Synod requested, new Russian Orthodox Patriarch elected, Diocese of Scranton says NO to teachers union, February happenings, Irish President comments on CSA, Jewish authorities threaten sever Vatican ties, Il Papa overjoyed at election of Krill, Holocaust denying SSPX bishop is silenced, Traditional Anglican catholics moving closer to Rome...

...Galileo Vatican statue shelved, AB Burke blames USCCB document for Obama election victory, German Jews break ties with Rome over SSPX, St Brigid of Kildare, Il Papa and Annulments (again), TAC to be offered personal prelature, 10 charged for rape of nun, Apostolic Visitation to religious sisters in USA, LA Archdiocese under Federal investigation, 'movements' in Irish RC profiled and thus ends the month of January 2009 on CW.

Sotto Voce

Litany of the Holy Name of Jesus

V. Lord, have mercy on us.
R. Christ, have mercy on us.
V. Lord, have mercy on us. Jesus, hear us.
R. Jesus, graciously hear us.
V. God the Father of Heaven
R. Have mercy on us.
V. God the Son, Redeemer of the world,
R. Have mercy on us.
V. God the Holy Ghost,
R. Have mercy on us.
V. Holy Trinity, one God,
R. Have mercy on us.
V. Jesus, Son of the living God, R. Have mercy on us.
Jesus, splendor of the Father, [etc.]
Jesus, brightness of eternal light.
Jesus, King of glory.
Jesus, sun of justice.
Jesus, Son of the Virgin Mary.
Jesus, most amiable.
Jesus, most admirable.
Jesus, the mighty God.
Jesus, Father of the world to come.
Jesus, angel of great counsel.
Jesus, most powerful.
Jesus, most patient.
Jesus, most obedient.
Jesus, meek and humble of heart.
Jesus, lover of chastity.
Jesus, lover of us.
Jesus, God of peace.
Jesus, author of life.
Jesus, example of virtues.
Jesus, zealous lover of souls.
Jesus, our God.
Jesus, our refuge.
Jesus, father of the poor.
Jesus, treasure of the faithful.
Jesus, good Shepherd.
Jesus, true light.
Jesus, eternal wisdom.
Jesus, infinite goodness.
Jesus, our way and our life.
Jesus, joy of Angels.
Jesus, King of the Patriarchs.
Jesus, Master of the Apostles.
Jesus, teacher of the Evangelists.
Jesus, strength of Martyrs.
Jesus, light of Confessors.
Jesus, purity of Virgins.
Jesus, crown of all Saints.

V. Be merciful unto us, R. spare us, O Jesus.
V. Be merciful unto us, R. graciously hear us, O Jesus.

V. From all evil, R. deliver us, O Jesus.
From all sin, deliver us, O Jesus.
From Thy wrath, [etc.]
From the snares of the devil.
From the spirit of uncleanness.
From everlasting death.
From the neglect of Thine inspirations.
Through the mystery of Thy holy Incarnation.
Through Thy Nativity.
Through Thy Infancy.
Through Thy most divine Life.
Through Thy labors.
Through Thine agony and passion.
Through Thy cross and dereliction.
Through Thy faintness and weariness.
Through Thy death and burial.
Through Thy Resurrection.
Through Thine Ascension.
Through Thine institution of the most Holy Eucharist.
Through Thy joys.
Through Thy glory.

V. Lamb of God, Who takest away the sins of the world,
R. spare us, O Jesus.
V. Lamb of God, Who takest away the sins of the world,
R. graciously hear us, O Jesus.
V. Lamb of God, Who takest away the sins of the world,
R. have mercy on us, O Jesus.

V. Jesus, hear us.
R. Jesus, graciously hear us.

Let us pray.

O Lord Jesus Christ, Who saidst, "Ask and ye shall receive, seek, and ye shall find, knock, and it shall be opened unto you." Grant, we beseech Thee, to us Thy suppliants, the gift of Thy most divine love, that we may love Thee with our whole heart, and in all our words and works, and never cease from praising Thee.

O Lord, give us a perpetual fear as well as love of Thy Holy Name, for Thou never ceasest to govern those Thou foundest upon the strength of Thy love. Who livest and reignest world without end.

R. Amen.

Prayer to St Mark The Evangelist

(traditional language)

Almighty God, who by the hand of Mark the evangelist hast given to thy Church the Gospel of Jesus Christ the Son of God: We thank thee for this witness, and pray that we may be firmly grounded in its truth; through the same Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.

(contemporary language)

Almighty God, who by the hand of Mark the evangelist have given to your Church the Gospel of Jesus Christ the Son of God: We thank you for this witness, and pray that we may be firmly grounded in its truth; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.

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.


Vocations 2008 - Promo Video

Pauline Year (29th June 2008/09) Prayer

Glorious Saint Paul,
Apostle full of zeal,
Martyr by Christ's love,
obtain for us a profound faith,
a firm hope,
a burning love for the Lord
so that we can say with you:
"It is no longer I but the Christ who lives in me."

Help us to become apostles
who serve the Church with a pure conscience,
witnesses of its greatness and its beauty
amid the darkness of our time.

With you we praise God our Father,
"To Him be the glory in the Church and in Christ
from age to age forever."


Christian refugees probably will not return to Iraq, bishops say

Despite signs of a new season of hope on the horizon in Iraq, the vast majority of Iraqi Christian refugees will probably not return to their homeland, said two U.S.-based Chaldean Catholic bishops.

"No one in the United States will go back to Iraq or the Middle East because the future for children, (opportunities for) education and life are better here," said Chaldean Bishop Ibrahim N. Ibrahim.

Also, experience has shown that once people have overcome the initial difficulties of adapting to a new culture, "no one will convince them to change it again" and rip up those freshly laid roots, said Chaldean Bishop Sarhad Y. Jammo.

Bishop Jammo heads the Eparchy of St. Peter the Apostle of San Diego, Calif., and has under his care Chaldean Catholics in the western U.S., while Bishop Ibrahim heads the Eparchy of St. Thomas the Apostle of Detroit, the diocese for Chaldean Catholics in the eastern United States.

The two Iraqi-born bishops spoke while they were in Rome for their "ad limina" visits to the Vatican to report on the status of their dioceses.

Bishop Ibrahim said 5,000 Iraqi Christians came to Detroit in 2008; it is the highest number of newcomers he has seen.

The economic situation in Michigan is not good and businesses are struggling, he said, so he offers the new arrivals encouragement to help them through the rough patches.

During a Christmas dinner he hosted last year, he said he told some 1,500 recent Iraqi refugees, "Don't worry, don't be afraid, because this country is blessed by God. You will sleep without fear at night. Be patient and things will improve."

Bishop Ibrahim said the election of U.S. President Barack Obama, whose father was from Kenya, is inspiring for other first-generation immigrants.

"It shows the U.S. gives us the opportunity to serve our country and even to be president," the 71-year-old bishop said.

Bishop Jammo, 67, said the shortage of opportunities and lack of full equality for Christians in Iraq are other factors that would dissuade many Iraqi Catholics from returning even if security were to improve and peace become the norm.

"Constitutional rights and equality have not been provided for Christians and that is a major reason why Christians will not go back and why people continue to leave and go to the West and the United States," he said.

The constitution establishes Islam as a main source of legislation and declares that no law may contradict Islamic and democratic standards.

However, while there is freedom to worship, there is no full freedom of religion such as the freedom to change one's religion, Bishop Jammo said.

Nonetheless, there is "a new season of hope" for Iraq, said Bishop Jammo.

He said the new U.S. administration under Obama "has acquired the experience of the old administration" and will have learned from its mistakes.

The new administration is also "bringing different methods and different approaches to Iraq and the Middle East," which should be more effective, he said.

But, the Baghdad-born bishop said he senses that the once-rampant sectarian violence in Iraq simply has burned itself out.

"People are tired of fighting. Either the destructive elements have diminished or been crushed, but they're fading away gradually," he said.

"I don't see anyone (who) will repeat such brutal acts as we saw two or three years ago," he added.

But the approaching calm has come with a high price, he said.

For example, after the overthrow of Saddam Hussein, the southern Iraqi city of Basra experienced tremendous civil strife.

Seventy percent of the Christians, as well as countless Sunni Muslims, fled the Shiite-majority city, said the bishop.

"Now Basra is more peaceful, but after what? After two-thirds of the people left," he said.

It seems "only after so much destruction, when there is nothing left to destroy," can some form of peace come, said Bishop Jammo.

He said, "it was a big mistake" on the part of the United States and the interim Iraqi government not to have protected the country's Christians and promoted their "political and cultural leverage."

Even though Christians in Iraq have always been a small minority, they were part of "the top elite of society" and made up 25 percent of the country's professional class, he said.

Christians are also "a factor for peace and for national reconciliation because they don't have militias, they don't fight, and they don't claim more rights" than they are due, he said.

He said Christians act as "a soft joint between tensions" within a multiethnic, religiously diverse community -- sort of like cartilage that cushions hard bones.

"The United States should have paid attention to this asset" of the Christians serving as buffers in conflict, he said.

Instead, U.S. policymakers overlooked the role Christians could have played in favor of focusing only on the fate of the country's Sunni, Shiite and Kurdish factions, he said.

Bishop Jammo said he thinks it is still possible for the Iraqi Constitution to provide full equality for Christians.

Otherwise, "what was the purpose of the U.S. going there (and overseeing the drafting of the constitution), if it did not emphasize the equality of all" ethnic and religious communities? he asked.

Unless full equality is provided, "peace, justice, progress and balance will not be realized" in Iraq, 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: CNS)

Profiles of "the movements" in the Irish Church

Here is a list and introductory note on the nine main "movements" or dynamic Catholic organisations that have emerged in Ireland since Vatican II.

1. Alpha Ireland – a renewal movement for the unchurched and those who have lapsed – started in the Church of the Trinity (Anglican), Brompton and spread worldwide.Paddy Monaghan is the present leader in Ireland and has a good backing team;

2. Charismatic Renewal – started on a university campus in the late sixties in the USA and often described as "Pentecostal Catholics";

3. Communion and Liberation – professional people mostly with an intellectual and Italian flavour, founded by Mgr Luigi Giussani in Milan in the 1950s;

4. Focolare Movement - founded by Chiara Lubich, promoter of world unity and collaboration - a centre at Curryhills, Prosperous, Co Kildare;

5. L’Arche Group of Communities – inspired by Jean Vanier - a centre in Kilkenny;

6. Neo-Catechumenal Way – founded by Kiko Arguello and Carmen Hernandez in Spain – in dynamic creativity with the institutional Church, but not seen much in Ireland;

7. Parish Cells Movement – like the Basic Christian Communities – Fr Michael Hurley, PP Leixlip - linked with Alpha;

8. Sant’Egidio Community - founded by Andrea Riccardi, promotes international peace and service of the poor - has a centre at St Paul’s Church, Arran Quay, Dublin;

9. Youth 2000 and Pure-in-Heart Group – for the twenty-somethings, associated with World Youth Day - Seán Ascough, Clarendon Street, Dublin.

1. Alpha Ireland
Alpha is a 10-week course which began in 1990 in a Church of England context in Brompton London as a renewal course for the unchurched and those who had lapsed. It became highly successful especially through the work of Nick Gumbel, a barrister become clergyman. He has developed a series of booklets and a DVD that is almost a DIY evangelisation kit but that needs a community. It has been approved by Catholic bishops worldwide and their website here advertises the courses. Paddy Monaghan is the Coordinator of Alpha Ireland and he has a board of very able people directing him.

The course explores the basic questions and truths of the Christian faith –Who is Jesus? Why did Jesus die? How does God guide us? What about the Church? It also uses a weekend away in the middle of the 10 weeks to talk about being filled with the Spirit. It is like a crash course in Christianity presenting the core of the Gospel, the ‘kerygma’, and it works best as part of an overall parish programme of evangelisation or catechesis. Alpha participants are encouraged to continue their spiritual journey afterwards through parish cell groups. See 7 below. below.

2. Charismatic Renewal
This movement originated in 1967 at a weekend retreat in Duquesne University, Pittburgh and had its biggest impact in Ireland from the mid seventies. It focused on the role of the Holy Spirit in the life of a Christian emphasising two key aspects – baptism in the Spirit and the charisms.

Baptism in the Spirit is seen as an intense spiritual experience akin to a spiritual rebirth. It can occur at any time within the prayer group culture but is usually prepared for through the Life in the Spirit Seminars. This is a seven-week series of prayer meetings with instruction how the Spirit enlivened the Apostolic community with the expectation that this power then can be similarly experienced in the here-and-now. The fifth week session is an opportunity for people to be prayed with to be "baptized in the Holy Spirit" - seen as a "fanning into flame" of the gifts and graces of baptism and confirmation. It enables a profound personal response to God's call to take Jesus as the Lord and Saviour of your life. The remaining two sessions are to stress continuity and give teaching on the charisms.

The charisms as St Paul lists them in 1 Cor 12:8-10 have a slightly exotic aura about some of them that may arouse scepticism. They are listed as: “wise speech, the utterance of knowledge (= becoming articulate about what you believe), faith, the gift of healing, the working of miracles, prophecy (the gift of speaking God’s message), discernment (the gift of distinguishing true spirits from false), speaking in tongues (or ecstatic utterances), and the ability to interprete the utterances.” But charisms, St Paul insists, are to build up the body of Christ, the Church. The list is not exhaustive; there are many other more mundane charisms, such as being a good listener, welcome and hospitality, a word at the right time (like Mary at Cana), organisation and planning, IT and financial expertise.

Some of the Charismatic Renewal culture – laying on of hands, expressive and spontaneous prayer, hymns, awareness of different gifts, etc - has been incorporated into mainstream Catholic practice. There are Charismatic Renewal prayer groups meeting in every diocese and an annual conference is held. The central office is at Emmanuel, 3 Pembroke Park, Ballsbridge Dublin 4. Bishop Martin Drennan of Galway is the liaison bishop.

The outstanding figure of the movement internationally is probably Charles Whitehead. For many years he was at the central office in Rome and now works with youth in the diocese of Northampton. He spoke recently in Dublin.

3. Communion and Liberation
An ecclesial movement whose purpose is to educate its members to Christian maturity to collaborate in the mission of the Church in all the spheres of contemporary life.

It began in Italy in 1954 when Fr Luigi Giussani established a Christian presence with a group called Student Youth, in a high school in Milan and has the name since 1969. Its central belief is that the Christian event, God becoming human in Jesus, can be lived as a communion and is an genuine liberation for the human being. The organisation is present in about seventy countries throughout the world.

There is no type of membership card, but only the free participation of persons. The basic instrument for the formation of members is the School of Community, a weekly catechesis which strives to raise awareness of questions such as: Why The Church?

For the last three years their public face in Ireland has been the Stations of the Cross on Good Friday in the Phoenix Park led by the Archbishop of Dublin Diarmuid Martin. Their members are mostly professional people, interested in issues of education, the Church and society. Many are Italian who have come to work in Ireland.

4. Focolare
The Focolare Movement was founded by Chiara Lubich in Trent, northern Italy, during the disturbances of World War II. Its ideal is the unity of the human race as a single family, a communion of diversities and seeks to promote this through prayer, dialogue and social action across generations, social classes, cultures and peoples.

The term Focolare Movement (focolare means "fireplace") was applied since its beginnings, by the people of Trent because of the "fire" of Gospel love, which animated Chiara Lubich and her first companions. She describes those beginnings:

While in the air-raid shelter - Trent, 1944 - we came upon that page of the Gospel which speaks of the Testament of Jesus: "May they all be one, Father, as you and I are one". These words seem to light up one by one. That "everyone" expanded our horizon. That project for unity was to be the goal of our life.

Focalare arrived in Ireland in 1971 and now has nearly 500 people committed to its ideal of unity. Another 5,000 people from all around the country share in its spirituality through the Word of Life, a commentary for bringing the Gospel into everyday life.

Members can be found in Dublin, Kildare, Meath, Cavan, Kilkenny, Limerick, Galway, Cork, Belfast and many other places. They include young people, families, priests, sisters, members of different churches and non-believers. It has a centre at Curryhills, Prosperous, Co Kildare.

Chiara Lubich is a highly influential figure internationally. She spoke to the Synods of Bishops in 1985 and 1987 on lay spirituality. On the eve of Pentecost 1998, in St Peter's Square, she along with Andrea Riccardi (Sant'Egidio), Jean Vanier (l'Arche), Kiko Arguello (Neo-Catechumenate) presented her experience on the occasion of the First Meeting of Ecclesial Movements and New Communities with Pope John Paul II, who recognised in them a hope for the Church and for humanity.

She has also been a promoter of collaboration between the movements in the Catholic Church and with movements from other churches and other religions.

5. L’Arche group of communities
A group that tries to give those with disabilities of any kind their proper dignity and place in the Church and in society.

It was a Dominican priest Père Thomas Philippe who helped Jean Vanier 'begin something' with people with learning disabilities, about 40 years ago in France. Jean, originally an officer in the Royal Navy, had become an academic in Canada, but he felt increasingly called to a different life. He met two men called Raphael Simi and Philippe Seux who were living in a large institution near Paris - the only home they'd known for many years. Jean invited them to come and make a home with him in Trosly. He knew he could not help everyone, but that by helping a few, together they might be a sign to others.

Today there are 114 communities of L'Arche in 28 countries responding to the needs of people with developmental disabilities to find a creative place in society. The name refers to the ark of Noah, the Old Testament symbol of a place of safety and refuge for those who are at risk.

The belief is in the value of a shared life, a simple lifestyle and the spirit of the Gospels. The communities of L'Arche seek to be in solidarity with the poor and marginalised of the the world and with all those who struggle for justice. Originally founded in a Roman Catholic environment, the communities today are ecumenical and interfaith in their focus.

  • L'Arche communities are places of hope. They create communities which welcome people with a mental handicap, in this way seeking to respond to the distress of those often rejected and to give them a place in society.
  • L’Arche develops and shows the particular gifts of people with a mental handicap in the communities and who call others to share their lives. Home life is at the heart of a L’Arche community. They live, work, pray and celebrate together, sharing their joys and their suffering and forgiving each other, as in a family, giving priority to relationships.
  • By choosing to live relationships in community as a sign of hope and love, L’Arche hopes to change the wider society.


6. Neo-Catechumenal Way
Founded in 1964 by a Spanish painter and student of Pablo Picasso, Kiko Arguello. Arguello had become an atheist, but in a conversion experience like that of Charles De Foucauld, he saw the poor as suffering the passion of Christ, and went to live with them in the Palomeras Altas slum on the outskirts of Madrid Here the poor were gypsies and quinquis (white nomads) as well as illiterate people, tramps, thieves, prostitutes, and young delinquents.

Carmen Hernandez, a chemistry graduate with an interest in liturgy and inspired by the renewal of Vatican II, met Kiko Argüello in this setting. With Kiko’s artistic temperament and previous experience as a catechist in the Cursillos movement, they made a synthesis which became the neo-catechumenal way. It is a process of evangelisation of Catholic adults who have lost interest in the faith.

The poor of the slum responded to the seed which Kiko and Carmen sowed among them and formed a vibrant community which soon came to the notice of the Archbishop of Madrid. Their method was to apply to those who had been baptised and lapsed the spiritual and ascetical programme used for adult cathecumens in the process of preparation for baptism. They also developed distinctive liturgical variations in the Mass designed to build up the strength of the individuals and the community in their faith.

Many bishops have not liked their being different, but are also nervous that the Way may become a sect. They have seemed, until recently, to have been in a fairly constant creative tension with the Vatican offices.

On June 13, 2008, however, Cardinal Stanislaw Rylko, president of the Pontifical Council for the Laity, published a decree containing the definitive approval of their statutes and handed the decree of approval and a final draft of the statutes to Kiko Arguello and Carmen Hernandez, initiators of the Neo-Catechumenal Way, and to the Italian priest Fr. Mario Pezzi.

The process of approval was prolonged because it involved the areas of responsibility of five separate Vatican dicasteries: the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, the Congregation for the Clergy, and the Congregation for Catholic Education, all of which gave careful examination to the statutes, alongside the Pontifical Council for the Laity which co-ordinated and concluded the process. This now gives the Way 'formal legal recognition'.

At present, I can find no evidence that the Way exists in Ireland.

Have a look at:

7. Parish Cells Movement
Parish cell groups are small faith groups of between four and twelve people who meet every fortnight in the homes of a participant. The elements of the meeting comprise a few hymns and an opening prayer, reflection on a scriptural passage, sharing about where one may have seen God’s influence since the previous meeting, a brief talk (or tape where a number of groups meet in the same parish) explaining an aspect of faith, discussion of what’s said, prayers of intercession and healing.

The aim is bring faith into the events of life and find its implications for the home, neighbourhood, work, recreation and parish. It gives a grounding in faith, the language to talk about it and a way to share spirituality without feeling ashamed of it..

The movement has much in common with the basic Christian communities that changed the life of the Church in South America from an array of largely superstitious practices to committed social Christian communities.

Michael Hurley, parish priest of Leixlip, introduced the movement to Ireland in 1990. He is the author of Transforming Your Parish, published by Columba Press 1998.

8. Sant'Egidio Community
The Community of Sant'Egidio began in Rome in 1968, in the period after Vatican II at the initiative of a young man, who was then less than twenty, Andrea Riccardi. He gathered a group of high-school students, like himself, to listen to and put the Gospel into practice. The small group immediately began going to slums on the outskirts of Rome, then crowded with poor people, and do an afternoon school for children. Today it is a movement of more than 50,000 members dedicated to evangelisation and charity, in more than 70 countries throughout the world. A large number of persons is also reached by the various activities of service that the community performs.

The community has as its centre the Roman Church of Sant'Egidio in Trastevere, from which it takes its name. Here it maintains a continuous presence of prayer and welcome for the poor and for pilgrims. The different communities spread throughout the world share the St Egidio spirituality and principles:

  • prayer is central to the overall direction of community life;
  • communicating the gospel, the heart of the life of the community, which extends to all those who seek and ask for a meaning for their life;
  • solidarity with the poor, lived as a voluntary and free service, in the evangelical spirit of a Church that is the "Church for all and particularly the poor" (Pope John XXIII);
  • ecumenism, lived as a friendship, prayer and search for unity among Christians of the whole world;
  • dialogue recommended by Vatican II as a way of peace and co-operation among the religions, and also a way of life and as a means of resolving conflicts.

In Dublin a small group of up to 30 young women and men meets in St Paul’s Church, Smithfield, Arran Quay, Dublin 7 after the 8 pm Mass on Sunday evening and at 8.30 pm on Wednesday.

9. Youth 2000 & Pure-in-heart
Youth 2000 is an independent, international initiative that helps young adults aged 16-35 plug back into God at the heart of the Roman Catholic Church. It seems to have had its origin in World Youth Day 1989 in Santiago de Compostela when Pope John Paul II challenged young people to evangelise young people.

Emphasis is on celebration of the Mass and adoration of the Eucharist; then on active evangelisation and the organisation of retreats and spiritual events for young people. It is young people who are at the heart of the initiative, and they offer what they have received to others of their generation.

Youth 2000 are happy with the official teaching of the Church. They draw on the Scriptures, the Catechism of the Catholic Church and what the Pope says. Mary and the Rosary are prominent. They promote the new Luminous Mysteries - Jesus’ Baptism, Cana, Proclamation of the Kingdom, Transfiguration and Institution of the Eucharist as a charter for living.

The seem able to bring traditional forms of worship alive to young people in a way they can relate to. Its prayer festivals resound with live music, with a dedicated music ministry and contemporary Christian songs. Their style is down-to-earth, liturgically sound and highly participative – its services are not performances – everyone’s involved.

It encourages young people to take time out time in prayer and rediscover the power of the sacrament of Reconciliation (or Confession) and the value of penance (in the form of prayer, fasting and almsgiving.

It has been described as a ‘Hymn Gym’, where young people get a spiritual work-out. Often people turn up to events a bit spiritually adrift but find that they come back re-energised for the faith. Often this leads on to participation in parish life and in issues of social justice.

In early 2000 Sean Ascough took on some leadership responsibilities. In 2004 it set up its first national office in Clarendon Street in Dublin. See

An offshoot of Youth2000 Ireland is the Pure in Heart Community dedicated to promoting the true beauty of human sexuality and encouraging a responsible attitude to sex amongst the youth. Its aim is to educate, inspire and empower young people to enjoy a healthy lifestyle by living the virtue of chastity. How? by speaking on dating, relationships, and sexuality.



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: CIN)

Most vulnerable should be protected from cuts - Cori

CORI JUSTICE, the social justice campaign group, has said it will press the Government, during talks on a national recovery programme, to protect the most vulnerable in society from the scope of the planned €2 billion cuts in exchequer spending.

Cori Justice director Fr Seán Healy said yesterday that a slash- and-burn approach to the country’s social infrastructure, which was built up over recent years, would be foolish.

Such a policy would not allow Ireland to benefit from any economic upswing but would leave the country having to spend another decade rebuilding what it had just dismantled, he said.

However, Fr Healy said that Cori Justice, which is part of the community and voluntary pillar at the talks, would be arguing that tens of millions of euro could be saved through better value-for-money programmes, rationalisation of services and the postponement of some projects.

He said it would also be proposing a widening of the tax base and an increase of the tax take by the exchequer.

Cori Justice maintained that the Government should not cut back on its commitment to provide 9,000 social housing units annually. However, it said huge savings were possible by renegotiating contracts for land and building work in this area.

It also said plans to develop primary care teams in the health sector should not be hit by the cuts.

Such teams, which would involve GPs working with other health professionals, such as community nurses, physiotherapists, etc, were the cornerstone of the restructured health service. Fr Healy said millions of euro could be saved in greater value-for-money initiatives in, for example, the area of fees paid to pharmacists.

The Health Service Executive last year sought to save €100 million on such payments but the move collapsed after a successful legal challenge.

Fr Healy also suggested that there was scope for rationalisation in the provision of accident and emergency services at night-time in three hospitals in Cork. This issue is under review by the HSE.

The community and voluntary pillar was initially deeply unhappy with the framework document produced by the Government on Wednesday as a basis for the talks on a recovery programme.

However, following contacts with officials on Wednesday evening, more emphasis was added in relation to social policy and social infrastructure, allowing the pillar to endorse the document.

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: IT)

'House of horrors mother didn't get money from me'

A RIGHT-wing Catholic campaigner has said she did not "provide any financial assistance whatsoever" to the 'house of horrors' mother in her High Court action to prevent her children from being taken into care.

It's a week since the self-confessed "worst mother in the world" was sentenced to seven years in prison for a litany of offences against her six children including incest, sexual assault and wilful neglect.

Yesterday, in a statement issued to the Irish Independent, Mena Bean Ui Chribin (81) said the State should not seek "to scapegoat" a private citizen to "deflect blame" in the case. "I did not provide any financial assistance whatsoever to pursue or maintain any legal action in this case.

"Any help I provided at the time to the family involved was given in good faith. I am since shocked to learn of the revelations that have unfolded," she added.

The postmistress also criticised the authorities in her statement.

"I believe that the State authorities must address their shortcomings in this matter and not seek to scapegoat a private citizen in order to deflect blame. In this regard, I am seeking legal advice and I will consider pursuing any or all legal avenues open to me. I will not be making any further statements on this matter."

Ms Bean Ui Chribin, who is involved with religious group Ograchas Naomh Papain in Santry in Dublin, had told health officials that the Roscommon mother needed support and not intrusive action.

Social workers brokered a deal with the children's mother to place them in the care of her sister in 2000.

However, a month later, she went to the High Court and secured an injunction to stop the authorities from taking them.

It was only when one of the children made a serious complaint in October 2004 that the health board sought an emergency care order and removed them from the house.

Yesterday, locals in the community where the children lived in a squalid bungalow, said they were "very concerned" about the "negative portrayal" of the village. "We're being portrayed as being backward and all that kind of thing.

"I live on the other side of the village, I didn't know who was going in and out of the house but we all understood that they were being given the help of the health board," he added.

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: II)

Slain PMB priest's funeral row

Cardinal Wilfrid Napier, head of the Roman Catholic Church in southern Africa and Archbishop of Durban, has denied a news report in a Durban newspaper that Father Eldred Leslie was refused a funeral in the Church.

Father Leslie was a Traditional Catholic priest who was murdered in Pietermaritzburg 10 days ago.

“When I saw the story in the paper I called two of the priests who were approached by Reverend Wall of the Fraternity of St Pius X. They agreed to do a funeral for Father Leslie in their churches, but indicated that they would have to celebrate the Mass.

However, Reverend Wall insisted that one of their own do the funeral.

No parish priest could allow that because those priests do not have ‘faculties’ to celebrate a service in a Catholic Church.

“The priests of the Fraternity do not acknowledge the authority of the Archbishop.

Consequently, they do not see the need to present themselves to him in order to receive faculties from him. Faculties are the canonical permission or licence to minister in the territory of a diocese.”

Cardinal Napier questioned what the local Traditional Catholic Church’s motives were for wanting to hold a funeral for Father Leslie in a Catholic Church.

“If their church on Gumtree Avenue in Durban is too small, why did they ask to use a Catholic church? The Archdiocese has itself on numerous occasions used venues such as the International Convention Centre, the Durban Exhibition Centre, Absa Stadium or Westridge Tennis Stadium.

Why are they making an issue of using one of our churches?”

He also said he could not understand why Father Leslie’s funeral was reportedly to be held at Mariannhill monastery near Pinetown. The Congregation of Missionaries of Mariannhill is a Catholic order.

The Bishop of Mariannhill, Bishop Pius Dlungwane, was at a meeting in Pretoria and said he could not comment, but referred The Witness to the Superior of the Mariannhill monastery, Father Gideon Sibanda.

He said the leadership of the monastery had made a decision to allow Father Leslie’s funeral to be taken there by a Traditional Catholic priest.

“We are just providing a venue. Father Leslie was well known by a number of people around here and this is not a doctrinal issue. They are not opposed to the Catholic faith. We took into account the new developments that have taken place and the process of reconciliation towards church unity that the Pope has initiated.”

In moves to heal the rift with breakaway conservative Catholics, Pope Benedict XVI has issued a document that gives permission for the traditional Latin or Tridentine Mass to be said in churches, which Traditional Catholics believe should be restored. Cardinal Napier said he is committed to reconciliation and met with local members of the Fraternity.

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: TW)

Grand Jury Investigates Los Angeles Priest Cases

Cardinal Roger M. Mahony, the Roman Catholic archbishop of Los Angeles, confirmed Thursday that a federal grand jury is investigating whether the archdiocese mishandled priests who had sexually abused children.

Cardinal Mahony told KNX radio news in Los Angeles that he was “mystified and puzzled by the whole thing” because the grand jury had subpoenaed files on 22 priests, of whom two are dead and the rest have been removed from the priesthood.

He said prosecutors seemed to be looking for documents related to transfers of the priests between parishes, and whether parishioners were informed of their history of abuse.

The news of a federal investigation into the archdiocese, the nation’s largest, electrified abuse victims and their lawyers, who have insisted for years that senior church officials should be held accountable for reassigning known molesters to continue working in parishes and schools.

“Even if they hand up indictments and they lose, no victim would fault a prosecutor for going after a bishop and losing because frankly that’s what we’ve been doing for decades,” said David Clohessy, national director of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests. “The real pain for victims is seeing people with subpoena power and a bully pulpit not even try.”

Cardinal Mahony said in the radio interview that he did not know whether he was a target of the investigation but that he would be willing to testify before a grand jury.

He seemed puzzled at the timing of the investigation. He said that after the archdiocese issued a report in 2004 on its role in the priest scandals he thought that “somebody might raise some questions, but it never happened.”

Then, in 2007, the archdiocese paid $660 million to settle lawsuits with 508 people who said they had been abused by priests or church employees — the largest settlement made in the scandals. Cardinal Mahony said Thursday that only the United States attorney in Los Angeles, Thomas P. O’Brien, could say why the investigation was occurring now. Mr. O’Brien’s office would not comment.

Cardinal Mahony has been subpoenaed to testify in March at a trial in Fresno, said Anthony M. De Marco, a lawyer in Los Angeles who is handling the case. It involves two brothers who say they were molested by a monsignor in the 1970’s, when the cardinal was auxiliary bishop in Fresno.

The archdiocese released a statement calling for the government to investigate who leaked grand jury information. It also said it could find no reason for “a responsible federal investigation” of the archdiocese or the cardinal, but that it would cooperate fully.

A government official who requested anonymity because grand jury proceedings are secret said that among several statutes being applied in the federal inquiry is the “honest services mail fraud statute” — a law used in corruption cases against government officials. The theory, the official said, is that archdiocesan officials may have deprived parishioners of “honest services.”

Nicholas P. Cafardi, dean emeritus at Duquesne University School of Law, who served on the American bishops’ first review board on sexual abuse, said, “This appears to be a real stretch,” and called it an intrusion into the church’s First Amendment rights.

He added: “It’s time for this to be over. L.A. has settled with all of their claimants.”

But John C. Manly, a plaintiffs lawyer in Newport Beach who has been bringing cases against the archdiocese and Cardinal Mahony for more than 10 years, disagreed, saying: “My experience is, if they get this to trial and any jury sees the documents and finds out what he did, he’s finished. The documents tell the tale.” +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

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: TTUK)

Workers worried in recession should pray to patron saint of bankers, says Catholic church

Despite the widely-held view that those in the financial sector are to blame for the current economic crisis, a new webpage set up by the church recommends turning to St Matthew for help.

One of the 12 Apostles and author of the first Gospel, he is the patron saint of accountants, bankers, bookkeepers, customs officers, financial officers, money managers and stockbrokers.

However the Catholic church says people who are consumed by worries about money should aspire to be like him, because he gave up his job as a tax collector to follow Jesus.

According to The Catholic Herald newspaper, visitors to the new internet page are encouraged to imitate the saint who "abandoned a life unhealthily focused on finance to pursue the lasting treasure found in the message and person of Christ."

The Life4Seekers website, intended for possible converts to Catholicism, states: "It's important to have a support network when things get tough. Catholics believe that the Saints in heaven are in communion (closely united) with those living on earth.

"We can ask them to pray to God for us as our spiritual friends. The patron saint of financial matters is St Matthew the Apostle."

But it adds: "Depending on the severity of your situation you may feel that the patron saint for desperate causes is more apt – St Jude."

Its page devoted to coping with the "uncertainty and hardship" of the credit crisis also includes an MP3 meditation, prayers to relieve anxiety and links to church charities.

The website, developed by the Catholic Enquiry Office, states: "It can be a difficult 'financial, emotional and spiritual place' to be, but take heart, you're not alone. Many people face uncertain times and there are numerous Catholic organisations and church communities who are willing to walk with you and where possible help practically."

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: CCNR)

Politician criticises Pope, causes stir

Speaker of the Polish Senate Bogdan Borusewicz has criticised the Pope on Polish Radio, saying that Benedict XVI is “making one mistake after another”.

“For me Benedict XVI is departing from the line drawn and realised by John Paul II. This is not a good situation. I – as a member of the Church – am deeply concerned,” said Borusewicz, an independent member of the Senate, the upper house of parliament.

The politician’s words have caused quite a stir in Poland. Prof. Waldemar Chrostowski of the Cardinal Stefan Wyszynski University in Warsaw and the University of Nicolaus Copernicus in Torun said that politicians, and especially believing ones, should not criticize Popes.

Meanwhile, Polish nationalist-Catholic Nasz Dziennik writes that Borusewicz’s statement is a part of a wave of criticism towards Pope Benedict XVI for his decision to cancel the excommunication of four Lefebvrist bishops.

According to Nasz Dziennik, “the excuse for protests from some quarters ” is the fact that among the restored bishops is Richard Williamson, who has been daubed as a Holocaust denier‘.

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: PLN)

Pope Benedict appoints Guglielmone new bishop of Charleston

Pope Benedict XVI has appointed Monsignor Robert E. Guglielmone as the 13th bishop of the Diocese of Charleston.

Bishop-elect Guglielmone succeeds Bishop Robert J. Baker, who was bishop of Charleston from July 13, 1999, until Aug. 14, 2007, when he was appointed to the Diocese of Birmingham, Ala.

The Diocese of Charleston has been under the care of Diocesan Administrator Rev. Monsignor Martin T. Laughlin since Oct. 3, 2007.

"For a year and a half, we have been praying for you as we awaited the news of the appointment of a new shepherd for the Church of Charleston," Laughlin said at the news of the appointment.

"As the Good Shepherd cares for his sheep, so we know you will care for the church God has entrusted to you, laying down your life for her, so that you may offer her back to the Father more beautiful and more holy than you received her."

Guglielmone said he is "both humbled and grateful that His Holiness, Pope Benedict XVI, would entrust this awesome ministry to me."

"I must admit that I am a bit anxious about leaving Long Island, where I have spent almost my whole life. However, I do trust in the Lord and am very encouraged by the wonderful sense of Southern hospitality I have already experienced," he said.

Guglielmone, a native of New York, obtained his degree in education and began work as a high school business teacher. After teaching for five years, he attended Immaculate Conception Seminary in Huntington, N.Y., and was ordained a priest of the Diocese of Rockville Center on April 8, 1978.

Guglielmone has served in a pastoral capacity at St. Martin of Tours, Amityville, N.Y., and at St. Frances de Chantal, Wantagh, N.Y. He also served on the faculty of Immaculate Conception Seminary as the director of pastoral formation and dean of seminarians from 1986 to 1993. From 2004 to 2007, he served as the diocesan director of clergy personnel.

Most recently, Guglielmone served as rector of St. Agnes Cathedral in Rockville Center.

In addition to teaching high school, Guglielmone has been involved with Boy Scouts since 1974.

He has held local, regional, national and international leadership positions in scouting, including national and world chaplain, as appointed by the Vatican.

Guglielmone will be ordained and installed as bishop of the Diocese of Charleston on March 25.

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: TADC)

Al Qaeda Targeting Calvary?

A leading Israeli politician has warned Islamic terrorists intend to destroy Jerusalem’s Church of the Holy Sepulcher.

Benjamin Netanyahu, the leader of Israel’s Likud party, said such an attack would spark an international war between religions, the Daily Telegraph reported yesterday.

The Church of the Holy Sepulcher is built on the hill of Calvary, on the site believed to be the location where Jesus was crucified and buried.

“Radical Islam is willing and will want to attack the symbolic heart of the Christian religion,” said Netanyahu, whose party is favored to win Israel’s national election next month.

“This will incur a chain reaction we can’t even envision. We will witness an escalation of religious conflict above and beyond the regional conflict we have now.”

Netanyahu said a Likud goverment would not discuss relinquishing sovereignty over any part of Jerusalem to Palestinians.

Said Netanyahu, “If we move out of even one piece of Jerusalem, Hamas moves in, Iran would have a base to attack us in the heart of our capital.” +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

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: NCR)

Mormons to build gigantic temple in front of Marian shrine in Honduras

The decision by the Mormon Church to build an enormous temple in front of the most popular Marian shrine in Honduras, Our Lady of Suyapa, has unleashed a wave of criticism and protest, according to Honduran media.

Protestors say the construction of the temple would block the famous view of the shrine of Our Lady of Suyapa as it is approached from a distance.

According to the Honduran daily La Tribuna, “Many Hondurans are concerned because they see an imminent danger that the view that the country has enjoyed of the main Catholic church of Honduras for 262 years is in jeopardy.”

Mormons, whose presence in the country is on the rise, but who have never been the object of hostility on the part of Catholics, have asked the local government for a permit to begin construction.

A large number of the faithful, however, have requested the permit be blocked.

“This is about safeguarding the integrity of this national monument, and with the construction of a gigantic temple mere feet from the church of Our Lady of Suyapa, we Hondurans are obliged to conserve, rescue and protect the cultural patrimony of the country,” the protesters said.

The Marian shrine was visited by Pope John Paul II on March 8, 1983, before a crowd of more than one million.

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)

Pope presented with altar for Jerusalem

At the conclusion of the Wednesday General Audience this week, Pope Benedict XVI offered praise for the plan by a Polish association to raise “an altar to pray for peace in the Holy Land and in the whole world.”

According to the L’Osservatore Romano, the altar was brought to the Pope by the Polish association “Queen of Peace Community.”

During his greetings in various languages at the conclusion of the audience, the Pope thanked the Poles for the altar.

The altar, which was blessed by the Pope, features a monstrance decorated with an image of Our Lady of Czestochowa with the Child Jesus.

After a pilgrimage to the Marian shrines of Poland and Germany, the altar will be placed in the Armenian Chapel of the Fourth Station of the Cross in Jerusalem.

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)

Pope calls for Christian unity amidst challenges facing the world today

Meeting with members of the Joint International Commission for Theological Dialogue between the Catholic Church and the Oriental Orthodox Churches today at the Vatican, Pope Benedict XVI expressed the importance of a united Christian witness in the world today.

The Holy Father began his remarks by praising the group’s commitment to the “search for reconciliation and communion in the Body of Christ.”

"The world needs a visible sign of the mystery of unity that binds the three divine Persons and, that two thousand years ago, with the Incarnation of the Son of God, was revealed to us," the Pope said.

"Our communion through the grace of the Holy Spirit in the life that unites the Father and the Son has a perceptible dimension within the Church, the Body of Christ, ... and we all have a duty to work for the manifestation of that essential dimension of the Church to the world."

The Holy Father then highlighted how the commission's recently-concluded meeting "has taken important steps precisely in the study of the Church as communion.”

“The very fact that the dialogue has continued over time and is hosted each year by one of the several Churches you represent is itself a sign of hope and encouragement. We need only cast our minds to the Middle East - from where many of you come - to see that true seeds of hope are urgently needed in a world wounded by the tragedy of division, conflict and immense human suffering."

At the end of the meeting, Benedict XVI referred to the Year of St. Paul and the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity.

Noting that the week of prayer was recently brought to a close in the Roman basilica of St. Paul's Outside-the-Walls, the Pope pointed to the Apostle to the Gentiles’ example.

"Paul," he explained, "was the first great champion and theologian of the Church's unity. His efforts and struggles were inspired by the enduring aspiration to maintain a visible, not merely external, but real and full communion among the Lord's disciples."

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)

Vatican begins visits to strengthen women religious in U.S.

The Vatican announced today that it is initiating the first-ever visitation of women’s religious communities in the United States.

The visitations are being undertaken to help strengthen religious communities in the U.S., which are suffering from a sharp drop in vocations and gentrification of their ranks.

On the heels of issuing a report on the health of U.S. seminaries—which were found to be in relatively good condition—the Vatican’s Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life, headed by Cardinal Franc Rodé, is embarking on a comprehensive study of the more than 400 congregations present in the United States.

The visitations will only assess those religious who engage in apostolic or active work, and will not involve contemplative communities.

The visitation process is being spearheaded by Connecticut native Mother Mary Clare Millea, A.S.C.J., who was appointed by Cardinal Rodé. Mother Clare is the superior general of the Apostles of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, a group of sisters that is based in Rome but has 135 sisters in the U.S.

According to a December 22, 2008 Vatican decree authorizing the visitations, the study is being undertaken “to look into the quality of the life” of the members of U.S. religious institutes.

Mother Clare estimates that the project will take about two years to finish, and says that upon completion she will submit a confidential report to Cardinal Rodé. There are no plans to publish the findings.

Sr. Eva-Maria Ackerman, a member of the Sisters of St. Francis of the Martyr St. George, explained how the several-stage process will work at a press conference in Washington D.C. on Friday.

“First, Mother Clare will solicit voluntary input from the superiors general through inviting them to make personal contacts with her in Rome or in the United States. During the second stage, the major superiors in the United States will be asked for information such as statistics, activities and community practices.”

She continued, “selected on-site visits will be made during the third stage. During this time, the sisters will have an opportunity to share with the visitation teams their joys and hopes, challenges and concerns about their lives as women religious in the Church today. The final stage will be the compilation and delivery of a comprehensive and confidential review by Mother Clare to Cardinal Rodé.”

Sr. Ackerman also added that the “visitations are beginning as we speak.”

In a press release announcing the initiative, Mother Millea indicated that while she is not obliged to visit every community of women religious, she looks forward to learning and better understanding the “multi-faceted dimensions of the sisters’ religious lives, as well as their abundant contributions to the Church and society.”

“I am truly humbled, and a bit overwhelmed,” Mother Millea said of her assignment. “While I have visited each of the communities and missions in my own congregation, the thought of gathering facts and findings about nearly 400 institutes across the United States can be daunting in scope.”

“I am praying for all the sisters who will be a part of this Visitation, and hoping for their prayers “both for the good of the process as well as for me in this role,” she added. “I ask the prayers of the American Catholic clergy and faithful too.”

More information about the visits can be found 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: CNA)

Churchgoing not in decline, says Tearfund

Churchgoing is not in decline, according to figures released by Tearfund today which show that one in four adults in the UK attend church at least once a year.

According to research carried out by Tearfund, 12.8 million adults in the UK attend church at least once a year, of whom 7.3 million attend at least once a month.

Christian relief and development agency Tearfund regularly interview 7,000 members of the public about their churchgoing habits, as part of wider research about perceptions of society and world issues, and have identified an upward trend in church attendance.

The report found a significant increase in monthly attendance, bringing the figure for autumn 2008 to 15 per cent after a number of years of reported decline, according to Matthew Frost, Chief Executive of Tearfund.

Similarly, the proportion of UK adults attending church at least once a year has increased from 21 per cent in 2007 to 26 per cent in 2008, an increase from around one in five adults to around one in four.

"Our understanding is that more people are attending now than before, even if that is only a couple of times a year rather than every week," said Mr Frost. "This might mean going to church at one of the high points in their family’s year, such as Christmas or Easter, or attending Sunday services or midweek events.

"This is of course immensely encouraging, because it shows that people are associating church and a belief in God with hope and joy, and a positive way to spend their time."

The research questions were framed deliberately to exclude attendance for weddings, baptisms, funerals and other invitation-only events so as to concentrate on voluntary attendance.

Groups showing a larger increase in attendance than the average between September 2007 and September 2008 included 25 to 34-year-olds, up 7 per cent from 15 per cent to 22 per cent, 65 to 74-year-olds, up 6 per cent to 33 per cent, and over 75 year olds, up 10 per cent to 39 per cent.

Geographically, the highest increases were found in Wales, which was up 12 per cent from to 24 per cent, South East England, up 8 per cent to 27 per cent, Scotland, up 8 per cent to 27 per cent, and Northwest England, up 7 per cent to 28 per cent.

Tearfund’s work around the world is delivered primarily through local churches and community organisations working on the ground in 64 countries, to tackle spiritual and material poverty.

The research, compiled of 7,000 interviews with adults around the UK, takes place twice a year and identifies trends in awareness of faith and world issues in order to influence the organisation’s development and communication.

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: CP)

Church in Wales deposes vicar over child pornography charges

The Disciplinary Tribunal of the Church in Wales has ordered that Richard Hart, the former vicar of Beguildy, be deposed from Holy Orders and expelled as a cleric of the Church in Wales.

The ruling came after Mr Hart was sentenced to three-and-a-half years in prison last September after admitting making, taking and possessing more than 56,000 indecent photographs of children.

The President of the Tribunal, Gerard Elias QC, said, “In the light of the immense seriousness and depravity of the offences, involving as often they did, images of very young children, the length of time over which they had been committed, the absence of any clear statement of regret or apology – still less understanding of the gravity of his conduct and thus the danger he still poses to children – we were unhesitatingly of the view that by reason of his conduct it was wholly inappropriate for Richard Hart to remain a cleric and accordingly we order that Richard Hart be deposed from Holy Orders and expelled from the Office of Cleric of the Church in Wales.”

The Bishop of Swansea and Brecon, the Rt Rev John Davies, said the tribunal’s order reflected the seriousness of Mr Hart’s offence.

He said, “I am satisfied that this extremely serious matter has been dealt with accordingly by the Tribunal. It sends out the very clear message that there is no room for any form of child abuse in the Church in Wales.”

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)

The priest the Communists could not silence (Contribution)

“Here in Smolensk we make the best bread in Russia,” said Metropolitan Kirill at his dinner table in November 1999. His lively conversation about the selection of grain and its milling held my attention, not least because he told me that his diocese had financial control over this local industry.

His words have come back strongly to me after his election this week as Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia, because his critics at home have been resurrecting the story of how he became immensely rich through being involved in the import, avoiding taxes, of eight billion of cigarettes in the 1990s.

More recently and more legitimately, it is said, that he has been much involved in the automotive and other industries and is now the richest man in the Church.

The new Patriarch is — and has been for a considerable time — the most powerful man in the Russian Orthodox Church. His election as Patriarch is no surprise, though that has not prevented considerable lobbying and a contested election.

It seems as though Kirill was even powerful enough to block a website,, perhaps the only source of independent comment on church affairs in Russia, after criticism of him had appeared on it.

Last weekend it closed down and Alexander Soldatov, its editor, reported that a hacker broke in and destroyed its database.

I was in Smolensk nearly ten years ago at the invitation of Kirill, the diocesan bishop. The BBC was planning the first in what would be a series of broadcasts from the Russian Orthodox Church.

For the first, Kirill insisted that we should go to his diocese. My producer, the Rev Stephen Shipley, and I were soon convinced that the choice was excellent. We saw the church in its strongest aspect, rebuilding its life after 70 years of persecution.

Kirill insisted that I lecture in the new diocesan seminary, and we also visited the impressive school for female church singers and conductors. There was an openness among all the church leaders we met, a desire for contact after years of isolation.

Whatever the other criticisms of the new Patriarch — for his authoritarianism and anti-Catholic stance, for example — he is reckoned in Russia to have been a highly successful bishop in his diocese (which included the exclave of Kaliningrad) and to have made strong contacts with the intelligentsia.

But how did such a strong man find himself in this provincial city, four hours west by train from Moscow? Nepotism explains his early rise. He was a protégé and relative of the formidable Metropolitan Nikodim of Leningrad, who dominated Russian church affairs in the 1960s and 1970s.

But he was also an able theologian, which persuaded Nikodim to appoint him as rector of the Leningrad Theological Academy at the age of only 28.

His high-profile attempts to reform theological education annoyed the communist authorities, who secured his removal to Smolensk in 1984 — out of harm’s way, as they thought.

How wrong they were! It was in Smolensk that Kirill honed his skills. He become head of the Department of Foreign Relations, a post he has held for 20 years, and he transformed the internal government of the Church.

In 1961, at the outset of a serious outbreak of religious persecution under Khrushchev, a new ustav (regulation) had removed parish priests from executive power in their own parishes, clearing the way to the massive closure of churches.

Now, before Mikhail Gorbachev began to facilitate church reform in the mid-1980s, Kirill drafted a new ustav.

This massive document — 34 detailed pages — came to the fore in 1988 at the sobor (council) marking the millennium of the conversion of Russia. He presented his document in a masterful way. It was accepted, though subsequently critics have pointed out that it contains loopholes for potential manipulation by the church leadership. His rise was now assured in the liberal climate by then prevailing.

He further prepared himself for an international role by spending a few weeks at Selly Oak Colleges in Birmingham to improve his English.

The question now being asked in the Vatican, Poland and elsewhere is: will this Patriarch invite the Pope to Moscow?

He seems to have had early sympathy with the Roman Catholic Church, and I perceived a certain openness in his Smolensk seminary, for example.

This, however, changed when the Vatican created four dioceses in Russia and Kirill strongly criticised this. The Vatican, though, seems hopeful that relations will improve now.

Keston Institute’s Atlas of Contemporary Religious Life in Russia, volume 3 of which has just been published, designates him as a “popular and colourful figure who has regular meetings with the scientific and artistic intelligentsia of Smolensk” and is brilliant in the field of education.

He supports a “powerful Russian State”, and it will be interesting to observe his developing relations with President Medvedev and Prime Minister Putin, who have similar views.

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: CCN)