Monday, December 31, 2007

An Focal Scóir - December 2007

And we now enter into the month of December and the preparation for Christmas with the season of Advent...after the excitement of the Consistory the stories continue as previous...

...December 1st 2007 - World Aids Day, Pope: certainty of faith is the foundation of Christian hope, Pope has also hopes for atheists, Pope appoints Irish priest as spin doctor, Catholics say condom use is 'pro-life', Vatican Removes 2 From Priesthood...

Cardinal says Vatican's ice with Moscow church is thawing,
Two Female Catholic Priests Conduct First Mass, Former Pallottine rector becomes new bishop of Ossory, Catholic boys 'taunted Jewish student', Profiles of five women priests, Pope: Christ Wills Catholic Orthodox Unity...

...Brazil bishop rejects church calls to end hunger strike,
Bishops urge young to avoid drugs, Pope honours Eastern Catholic tradition, The Virgin Without Sin - Gospel Commentary for Feast of Immaculate Conception, Pope: The Immaculate Conception, the Mother of Love for the young “victims of corruption”...

...Directors quit Catholic hospital in ethics code row,
Pope invites Muslim scholars to Vatican, Poverty pay shames Primark, Tesco and Asda, Netherlands Government Pledges 2.5 m. Euros to Crack Down on Religious Dissent from "Gay Rights", Pope flexes his theological muscles, RTÉ decision to ban "crib" ad outrageous, says commentator...

...Catholic-Baptist Dialogue Moves Forward, Heed John the Baptist against our materialistic Christmas, says the Pope, Catholic coloring book warns US kids of pedophile priests, 'Fr' Dennis Ward - UPDATE...

...Pope promotes interfaith dialogue, but Christians divided, What does a dog collar represent?, Spanish archbishop sentenced in court for the first time, Gay row ‘harming talks with Vatican’, Christianity in Ireland 'disappearing from general knowledge',Archbishop's book tells of battles over control of liturgical reform, Archbishop of Canterbury names New Representative to Holy See, New plenary meeting (and little hope) in Holy See-Israel negotiations...

...Anyone who undermines the family undermines peace, says Pope, Giuliani Aligns Himself With Catholic Church on Gay Issues, New Vatican prayer campaign for priestly renewal, Portuguese priest 'ruined' by McCanns,Sex life that is not worth living,Church of England publishes full protocol and guidance on child protection...

...Churches used financial leverage to change BA uniform policy, Church of Sweden prepared to accept same-sex unions, Vatican Seeking Spiritual Moms for Priests, Say no to drugs say bishops, The Church has a duty to evangelize; it is also its inalienable right...

Ireland Steps Away From Catholic Schools, Catholic Schools Need Communion, Bishops call for fast and prayer to protest river project, Hans Kung: Moral moorings....and most important of all, Clerical Whispers celebrates its 1st Anniversary...and now into the second half of the month of December and of course we near closer to the Christmas joy...

...Israel recognises Patriarch, hate campaign results in attack on priest in Turkey, secret vows of Legionaries of Christ repealed, Il Papa on visit to 5th Roman parish, Irish theologian claims Advent should be time of prayerful waiting, Vatican asks Israel drop objections to papal visit... papal visit to Israel in 2008, Italian Cardinal claims RC not seeking political power, alternative Lambeth Conference in 2008 (??), no manger in Vatican crib, Pope Pius XII sainthood tracks halted due to Holocaust...

...RC leader rejects Israel Jewish identity, Killaloe Diocese still in trouble with CSA, Dean of Christ Church Dublin dies, Uruguay yay to gay unions, exorcism centre opens in Poland, 6year old girl on track for sainthood, Opus Dei now in Russia...

...Il Papa blames sexual diseases on gay marriage (nothing to do with unfaithfulness then (??), Vatican & Beijing talk again, Sarkozy meets Il Papa, Anglican AB says Nativity is a 'legend' which is challenged by Pell who says otherwise, and then onwards to a very interesting piece...

...Bishop Pat Buckley gets mentioned due to a nasty piece of work by nastier pieces all named, AD of Chicago gets financial boost, no more gay masses in Westminster Cathedral and AD, cleric claims Polish hierarchy too conservative, reminder of papal 10 commandments of driving, Blair now RC, Irish Nuncio to go Down Under...

...€750million paid to victims of clerical CSA in Ireland, church to memoir JPII in financial straits, pews not as full as hoped throughout Europe, Holocaust bystanders, papal review of 2007...

... Patriarch rapped for anti-Israel remarks, Christmas Eve celebrations, Christmas Day Urbis et Orbis from Il Papa, Ms France in trouble, Mexico RC facing priest shortage, schismatic church born in Zambia, Muslims join Christians for Mass...

...liturgy reform not going backwards, Anglican Diocese backs legalisation of abortion, rival to Lambeth Conference announced, unholy row at monastery, painful journey of priest recounted, CSA plea from AB Martin...

...Il Papa to travel in 2008, Spanish Bishop at centre of homophobia allegations, exorcists to make a comeback, humbug attitude of clergy in Edenderry parish, Vatican vows to fight devil with force of exorcists, prayer to St Michael the Archangel, Hans Kung on road to peace, RC priest gave the Big Bang theory, Celtic Eucharist, Vatican No 2 to visit Cuba, retiring Irish bishop yes to travel no to memoirs...

And thus we end the year that was 2007...a year of many changes throughout not just the RC world but indeed in general, many for good but as many again not so good.

In 2007, Clerical Whispers has managed to publish over 4,600 postings on this site, and has at the moment of writing this post, just broken the 230,000 hits barrier...

No doubt 2008 will prove to be as busy and challenging but we will face this challenge together and I ask that we all pray for each other.

Let me at this moment in time, wish each and all of you a blessed and bountiful 2008.

Sotto Voce

Bishop hopes to travel but rules out writing memoirs in retirement

Bishop Thomas Flynn, who steps down shortly as the country’s longest serving bishop, has said he hopes to travel more when he leaves his post as bishop of Achonry.

And Dr Flynn said that while he will be available to help out his successor Monsignor Brendan Kelly, he thinks it is important not to overshadow his successor.

In a wide ranging interview with The Roscommon Herald newspaper, the bishop cited his involvement in the preparation of the Education Act in 1998 and the establishment of the Hope House addiction centre as the two achievements with which he is most proud to be associated.

He also said he enjoyed his thirty years as bishop but admitted that, looking back, there were “things he might have done differently but for one reason or another didn’t do”.

But he said that while he would be reflecting on the past thirty years, he would not be writing his memoirs. “I want to disappear from the scene quietly, in the hope that in my life I have been helpful to a few people,” he remarked.

Dr Flynn revealed that he toyed with the idea of training to be a doctor when he left school in St Nathy’s College, Ballaghaderreen. “In the last year, I was undecided and had applied for medicine and was accepted in Cork,” he recalled. “But the option was there and I came to a decision to go to Maynooth”.

He did this even though it meant paying fees at Maynooth and he was effectively turning down an offer of a scholarship which he had been awarded to take medicine at UCC.

Bishop Flynn said the thirteen years he spent early in his career working in his old alma mater, St Nathy’s, was a “pleasant experience”.

“I enjoyed it very much, the teaching and the football and I got on well with the students,” he said.

The call from the apostolic nuncio to succeed Bishop Fergus as bishop of Achonry was a surprise but he accepted immediately.

“It was a done deal, appointments are made before you are notified, so if you don’t accept, you are in effect resigning,” he remarked.

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

Patriarch: Holy-Land Christians Should Stay Put

The patriarch of Jerusalem says Christians in the Holy Land have a vocation to live in the land of Jesus, and not elsewhere in the world.

Archbishop Michel Sabbah affirmed this at Christmas Midnight Mass, telling Christians pressured to leave the Middle East to "listen to the voice of your vocation."

He invited his listeners to "meditate on the mystery of our land which has not yet succeeded in seeing God within it, and naturally has not succeeded in making peace."

"With Christmas," the archbishop said, "with the goodness of God which he himself placed in every human person, it is essential, first of all, to believe that we are capable of making peace."

Another vocation

The patriarch of Jerusalem affirmed again that the Holy Land has a "universal vocation" and said it is important to "see the will of God for the land both in the Scriptures and in the evolution of history of which the same God is Lord. He is the one who gathered all of us here throughout the centuries, Jews, Christians, Muslims and Druze, we who today constitute two peoples, Palestinians and Israelis.

"To understand and accept this universal vocation is to accept the plan of God for this land and to become capable of establishing peace within it. Any exclusivism that pushes the other party aside or imposes occupation or any other type of submission on it is not in keeping with the vocation of this land. This land of God cannot be for some a land of life and for others a land of death, exclusion, occupation or political imprisonment. All those whom God, the Lord of history, has gathered here must be able to find in this land life, dignity and security."

The 74-year-old prelate contended that "each one knows what it takes to make peace."

He continued, "Each one knows what is due to each of the two peoples who inhabit this land. It is not up to the weakest to submit themselves and continue to live a life of deprivation; it is up to the strongest, to those who have everything in hand, to detach themselves and to give to the weakest what is due to them. All of the difficult questions can be resolved if all those involved are truly determined to make peace."

God's presence

Affirming that God is love, Archbishop Sabbah called on all believers -- Muslims, Jews and Christians -- to do the will of God, not their own will.

"Violence cannot claim to be part of any religion," he said. "Extremism, in all religions, is the desire to appropriate to oneself, to exclude, and to subject others, not to a faith in God, but to human behaviors that are hostile to the others. Religious leaders have a role to play in the education of believers, by confirming them in the ways of justice, of what is right, and of forgiveness, all the while demanding their rights, and collaborating with all men and women of good will."

Turning his attention to the Christians present, the patriarch of Jerusalem said: "Brothers and sisters, you might be asking yourselves what is your role as Christians in the peace process and in the future of this land. Pope Benedict XVI, in his recent encyclical on hope, says that the characteristic of 'Christians is that they have hope, and to have hope is to have a future.'

"This applies to us, Christians in the Holy Land and in the entire Middle East. Everyone is worried about our Christian presence here: Israel as well as the Palestinian Authority. [...] Numerous Muslim voices are being raised in many quarters, calling attention to the vacuum that the exodus of Christians would create in the Arab Muslim world. The Christian world, for its part, is equally worried about our survival and about our disappearance.

"To you, brothers and sisters, to all of you Christians in this land, you who are tempted to emigrate, you who are the object of everyone's preoccupation, I say to you what Jesus told us: Do not be afraid. Christians should not be afraid and should not run away from difficulties. Being Christian means sharing the concerns of all, building peace with everyone else, and accepting the sacrifices this implies, prison, possibly life, or the difficulties of daily life, of occupation, of the wall of separation, and of the lack of freedom of movement. All of this is our common fate, and all of us together, by our sacrifices, we must build peace for everyone."

A place here

The archbishop added: "To those who are tempted or pressed by difficulties to leave the country, we say: You have a place here, and more than a place, you have a vocation: to be Christians here, in the land of Jesus, and not elsewhere in the world.

"Accept your vocation, despite the fact that it is difficult. [...] Listen to the voice of your vocation, and listen to the voice of all those who want you to be present here."

Archbishop Sabbah said the peoples of the Holy Land are not only in the midst of conflict, but are also "part of a history of which God is the master, a history made by God who invites us to make this history with him."

"He is Lord of the entire history of the human race, since its distant beginnings, since the time of biblical history until today," the patriarch affirmed. "He is the one who was, who is, and who will be. No person or period in history can avoid him. He is the inevitable one with whom and before whom we live, act, and exist. Full of hope, free from fear, we continue to move ahead."


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

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

Sotto Voce

Vatican's No 2 to visit Cuba in February

Vatican Secretary of State Tarcisio Bertone says he is preparing to visit Cuba in February where he will bless a monument recalling Pope John Paul II's historic 1998 visit to the Communist island.

Bertone, who holds the Vatican's second-highest position after Pope Benedict XVI, made the announcement in an interview with Italian Catholic magazine Famiglia Cristiana, to be published in its Jan 6 edition.

Bertone described his planned blessing of 'the great public monument' for John Paul II in the central city of Santa Clara, to commemorate the 10th anniversary of the late pontiff's visit to Cuba, as a 'positive fact'.

Bertone also said he hoped to meet Acting President Raul Castro who for over a year has been standing in for his brother, Cuba's ailing revolutionary leader, Fidel Castro.

The staunchly anti-Communist John Paul II, who died in 2005, met Fidel Castro during the 1998 trip during which the pontiff criticised the US-led trade embargo against Cuba but also appealed for greater religious freedom for the Cuban people.

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

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

Sotto Voce

St. Paul’s returns to its roots with Celtic Eucharist

Those driving by St. Paul’s Episcopal Church on East High Street may have noticed a banner on the antique iron fence that announced Celtic Eucharist services.

Some may have puzzled over the two, apparently dissimilar, words used in such a combination.

“A Celtic Eucharist,” said the Rev. Julian Eibin, rector of St. Paul’s, “tries to take advantage of some aspects of Celtic spirituality. It’s designed to give someone the ability to take a deep breath. The prayers come out of Celtic tradition ... they’re reflective and meditative.”

When Eibin refers to “Celtic” — which is pronounced with a hard “k,” — he is speaking of the ancient people of the northern British Isles, the ancestors of the modern-day Irish and Scots, in the 4th through the 7th centuries.

They were introduced to Christianity by the missionary now known as St. Patrick, who didn’t drive the snakes out of Ireland, but who did change the course of history by evangelizing the British Isles.

For Celtic Eucharist, Eibin uses Celtic prayers from the Stowe Missal, a prayer book that dates back to those ancient days, and begins the service with a recitation, set to music, of the beautiful poem-prayer known as “The Breastplate of St. Patrick.” It begins with these words: “I arise today/Through the strength of heaven/Light of sun/Radiance of moon/Splendor of fire/Speed of lightning ....” It includes the famous recitation, which reads almost like an incantation: “Christ with me, Christ before me/Christ behind me, Christ in me ... Christ when I arise, Christ to shield me ....”

“We’ve never done a Saturday evening service,” said Eibin. “We chose Saturday for those who can’t come to church on Sunday, but also for those who feel really rushed. The service aims at creating a contemplative or meditative feel.”

And what is the Celtic connection to the Episcopal church?

“It is our roots,” explained Eibin. “The oldest record of the Christian community in England dates back to the Celts. Patrick, the great missionary to Ireland, was English. Celtic missionaries from Ireland founded monastic communities such as Iona in Scotland and Lindisfarme in Northern England in the 8th and 9th centuries.”

In the 15th century, Eibin explained, King Henry VIII broke away from the Roman Catholic church and declared himself head of the Anglican Church in England.

“There was an awful lot of blood being spilled over religion in those days,” said Eibin. “Then Queen Elizabeth said ‘enough’ and, in what is known as the Elizabethan Settlement, the church began to be defined as both Catholic and Protestant.”

The Church of England came to America with the Colonists, especially in Virginia, however, by the time of the American Revolution, there eventually was a theological split between loyalists and revolutionaries.

“The Episcopal church became the way the Anglican church continued its way in America after the American Revolution,” said Eibin, “and continues to be the ‘via media,’ the middle road between Catholicism and Protestantism.”

The formal Episcopal church was founded and named in 1789 at a convention in Philadelphia. The word Episcopal means “governed by bishops.”

“We always try to seek out a way that cherishes that heritage, but we aren’t bound by it. I think there’s a great hunger in our culture and our society for the kind of spirituality that is rooted in Celtic spirituality. There’s a sense of God enveloping us, experiencing God in all of life, in all aspects of life. It connects us deeply to the holy, but also to the holy in the midst of everyday life.”

St. Paul’s Celtic Eucharists were held on Saturdays at 5 p.m. through December, and will continue through January on the second and fourth Saturdays. They will resume on a weekly basis for Lent on Feb. 9.


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

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Buddhist monks are the big 2007 religious news story in USA

Buddhist monks who led anti-government demonstrations in Myanmar (also known as Burma) have been selected as the top religion newsmakers of the year, in a poll of secular journalists who write about religion for media in the United States - writes Chris Herlinger.

"More than half of those responding to the survey chose the monks over Pope Benedict XVI, President George W. Bush and US Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts, among others," the Religion Newswriters Association said in announcing the results of a survey of its members about the top religion stories of the year.

The story of the Myanmar monks itself was ranked sixth by the US journalists, who were asked to select their top 10 from 20 choices.

The top two religion stories concerned the role of religion in US politics as the United States prepares for its 2008 presidential election. The full list of the top 10 religion stories is as follows:

1. The debate over presidential candidates, with speculation over who US evangelical Christian voters will support given the expressed reluctance of many to support Republican Party candidate Mitt Romney, a Mormon.

2. The efforts of Democratic Party presidential candidates, such as Senators Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama, to win support from "faith-based" voters.

3. Controversy and debate within US faith communities, particularly the Episcopal (Anglican) Church, about gays and lesbians as clergy.

4. The increasing attention being given by US religious groups, particularly "mainline" and evangelical Protestants, to the issue of climate change.

5. Debate among and between religious groups over the issue of immigration and non-documented workers.

6. The Buddhist-led protests in Myanmar.

7. The decision by some US Episcopalians to align themselves with Anglican bishops in Africa and elsewhere in the global South.

8. Three votes by the US Supreme Court on cases that had religious implications. One vote upheld a ban on partial-birth abortions. Another allowed schools to establish some limits on free speech rights by students. A third denied a legal challenge to the US administration's Office of Faith-based and Community Initiatives.

9. The death of a number of prominent US evangelical Christian leaders, including Jerry Falwell, Rex Humbard and D. James Kennedy, as well as Ruth Graham, wife of Billy Graham, and Tammy Faye Messner, Jim Bakker's ex-wife.

10. The continuing financial toll sexual abuse cases are exacting on the US Roman Catholic Church. The financial figure of settled cases surpassed US$2.1 billion in 2007 with settlements that included a record US$660 million settlement involving the Archdiocese of Los Angeles.

The online poll of RNA members was conducted from 7 to 13 December with 80 people voting. RNA has conducted the poll since the 1970s.

The Religion Newswriters Association is a non-profit association founded in 1949 to advance the professional standards of religion reporting in the secular press as well as to create a support network for religion reporters.


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

How a Catholic priest gave us the Big Bang Theory (Contribution)

The history of cosmology – the study of the Universe – for the last five hundred years is often portrayed as a clash between science on the one hand, and the cold hand of religious dogma on the other.

Part of this is rooted in fact – the Catholic Church of the Counter-Reformation for instance was suspicious of intellectual innovation and experiment, with its harsher elements longing for the certainties of the age before Martin Luther and the Protestant Reformation. The desire to make the Universe fit into a pre-ordained and orderly scheme that needed no correction reached its infamous, idiotic height as the Dominican Order and the Inquisition persecuted Galileo for his accurate insistence that the Earth orbited the Sun. Galileo's fate at the hands of Pope Urban VIII was not inevitable - but for various historical contingencies, the Church might have not have set its face against him. But this is far from the only episode of a reactionary Church choosing to block knowledge and progress instead of contributing towards it.

Yet the relationship between the Church and science has not always been so bad. And if we wanted an example of an alternative model of co-operation rather than antagonism, we could take as an example the most famous theory in cosmology today – the Big Bang Theory, whose surprising origins lie with a Catholic priest toiling away in a Catholic University in Belgium.

I once attended a youth club in Colchester, a town in England where I grew up as a teenager. Run by fundamentalist evangelicals (generous, kind people incidentally), who are rare in Britain, the night's activities of five-a-side football, cricket or pool would come only after some kind of Bible-reading or an unsuccessful attempt at debunking the Theory of Evolution, which was a particular bugbear of theirs.

One night, a local volunteer was explaining why the Big Bang Theory was obviously nonsense with a cutesy, homely analogy – "If you blow up a pile of bricks, you don’t get a building, it’s stupid." In your face, Stephen Hawking!

He didn’t know why scientists might have come up with the idea of the Big Bang, except perhaps as a sneaky rationalisation for undermining Christianity. He wasn’t even clear as to why he thought it posed a theological problem for Christians in the first place, though he is not alone in thinking that it does.

The irony is extraordinary - aside from being uninformed about the Theory itself, fundamentalists are usually unaware of its religious origins, and the fact that the Big Bang Theory successfully replaced a theory much less compatible with Christian ideas about the beginning of time - the Steady State Theory.

The groundwork for the Big Bang Theory was laid in the early twentieth century by the paradigm-crunching work of Edwin Hubble (as in Hubble telescope) and Albert Einstein.

Einstein’s crucial contribution was part of the fallout of his work on gravity in Switzerland around the time of the First World War. By showing that gravity was a curve in space-time caused by the distorting impact of matter, the implication was that in a Universe where everything stayed in one place, gravity would gradually draw all matter together in an almighty collision. This meant that, contrary to the prevailing view of contemporary cosmologists, the Universe could not be static - it had to be either expanding or contracting.

Einstein didn’t much like this implication and was wedded to the notion of an unchanging Universe that had always existed. So he assumed there must be a problem with his theory, and compensated for it in his equations by inventing an artificial cosmological constant while he tried to figure out what was going on.

And on the other side of the Atlantic, from 1919 and through the 20s, Edwin Hubble was busy spending all night, night after night, making minor adjustments to the 100-inch Hooker Telescope on Mount Wilson, then the largest in the world. By photographing some of the most distant objects in view he resolved an earlier debate and demonstrated conclusively that the Universe, far from consisting of a single galaxy – ours, the Milky Way – actually contained a huge number of galaxies, each consisting of billions of stars. Our collective view of the Universe had to be adjusted as people realised it was a billion times larger than previously thought.

In addition to discovering these galaxies, Hubble also discovered something significant about them. Just as the pitch of a siren on an emergency vehicle changes as it drives past us - because the length of the sound waves change as they become more distant according to the Doppler effect - so too the light from distant objects can tell us whether they are moving closer or drifting away. Together with Milton L. Humason, Hubble showed that the galaxies were moving further away from us – part of what is today called Hubble’s Law concerning the light emitted by moving galaxies. The conclusion Hubble had to draw was that the Universe was expanding, and everything in it was on the move.

But, unknown to either of them, Hubble was actually beaten to the basic idea of Hubble’s Law by a Belgian priest, Fr. Georges Lemaitre. Lemaitre trained as a Jesuit priest, served in the Belgian Army during the remorseless slaughter of World War One, and then became a student of astronomy and mathematics. He studied in Cambridge in England, then in Cambridge, Massachusetts for the Harvard Observatory and finally the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Returning to Belgium in 1925, where he worked at the Catholic University of Leuven as a part-time lecturer, his big break came two years later in 1927 when he proposed his theory of an expanding Universe to explain the movement of the galaxies, published in the Annals of the Scientific Society of Brussels.

Lemaitre was still pretty hazy about how the process of expansion could have begun. Like many scientists, he was still committed to the idea of a static Universe of unchanging size, so he proposed that it might have begun like this but then started to expand. Since his ideas were not getting very much attention, he decided to arrange a meeting with Einstein at the Solvay Conference in Brussels in October 1927.

Einstein, though interested, was largely dismissive, telling Lemaitre that, "Your calculations are good, but your physics is terrible". Einstein was also a little suspicious of the religious implications of these ideas. He declined to describe himself as an atheist (or a theist, or a pantheist) and liked to use the vocabulary of religion, most famously in his misguided rejection of much of quantum physics, "God does not play dice!" But his complex and shifting view of God was of something impersonal behind fixed laws that governed the Universe, partly influenced by the 17th century philosopher Spinoza.

Einstein had previously dismissed the work of Russian mathematician, Alexander Friedman, who had proposed an expanding universe as an abstract mathematical solution to his equations in 1922. Einstein offered Lemaitre some suggestions for further investigations but left unconvinced.

Lemaitre’s old teacher, the British astronomer Arthur Eddington, was more encouraging and published a commentary on his 1927 paper in English in 1930, describing it as a brilliant solution to some of the outstanding problems astronomers faced. In 1931, Lemaitre was invited to London by the British Association to discuss cosmology and spirituality. There he described his new solution – that the Universe had begun from a tiny and incredibly dense singularity containing all its existing matter. This he called 'the primeval atom' or a "Cosmic Egg exploding at the moment of the creation".

The Primeval Atom theory was born (or Cosmic Egg theory if you like). It wouldn’t be known as the Big Bang Theory until the British physicist, Fred Hoyle, did a radio series in 1949 in which he attempted to debunk it. He failed to change many people’s minds by then, but he did give it a better name.

Neither Eddington nor Einstein were persuaded by this idea – as Stephen Hawking, perhaps the world’s most famous living astrophysicist, has said, "few people [meaning scientists] took the idea of the beginning of the Universe seriously". But Lemaitre was a passionate and persuasive man, and he was gaining a wider audience as he began to travel the US. He decided to surprise Hubble and Einstein by turning up to meet them both unexpectedly in 1931 and push his idea again. This time he won them over, demonstrating how their work led to his conclusion. It was a dramatic event – Hawking has said that, "The basis of modern cosmology was established at this meeting. Looking back I can recognise this as the foundations for my own work". Einstein regarded his initial rejection of an expanding Universe as the "biggest blunder of my life".

The Big Bang did not gain easy acceptance. Like any dramatic new concept in science, it had to be tested against the evidence and alternative hypotheses. Opponents adopted the Steady State theory of the Universe which proposed that the Universe stayed fundamentally the same over time. Since the galaxies were clearly moving apart from each other, the theory suggested that new galaxies must be constantly formed somewhere in the Universe and propelled outwards.

But Steady State theorists could not explain where many of the chemical elements we see in the Universe could have been formed, if not in the extreme conditions of the Big Bang. They also struggled to explain where the hydrogen fuel to create these elements was being formed in the Universe, and why there was so much helium in the cosmos – the leftovers of hydrogen fusion. But the Big Bang Theory could answer that hydrogen was created in gigantic quantities in the original explosion, and the helium was part of the aftermath. The jury came back in and a new consensus was formed.

The existence of God, of course, is not settled by the truth of the Big Bang Theory, nor should religion rest its case on any scientific theory. But what can be said is that the Big Bang fits surprisingly well with the religious idea that the Universe had a distinct beginning, willed by a Creator. Betraying some bemusement, the astrophysicist Robert Jastrow put it like this:

"For the scientist… the story ends like a bad dream. He has scaled the mountains of ignorance; he is about to conquer the highest peak; as he pulls himself over the final rock, he is greeted by a band of theologians who have been there for centuries."

In reality, both the scientists and the theologians are still busy hauling themselves over the mountains of ignorance. Hopefully, they will help each other out.

Sadly, we hear little of Lemaitre today. Arguably, the way the evidence was pointing in the late 1920s, someone else might have come up with the same idea, taking up where Hubble, Friedman and Einstein left off. But the fact remains that one of the best known of all modern scientific theories was his. In his own lifetime, his achievement was recognised. He received the Francqui Prize in Belgium, the highest honour for a scientist in the country, with Einstein and Eddington among his proposers and judges respectively. The Vatican chose him to be a member of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences in 1936 (founded that year), where he worked and taught until becoming its president in 1960.

The Pontifical Academy of Sciences had its origins in an institution called the Academy of Lynxes (so-called because of the lynx’s keen eyesight), founded in 1603 under Pope Clement VIII by an Italian prince, Federico Cesi. The first president of that institution had been Galileo – an unfortunate reminder of what might have been, but for the Inquisition.

Pope John XXIII appointed Lemaitre, to his surprise, to lead the Second Vatican Council’s commission on birth control. His commission was the first ever to appoint lay people and women and to undertake a sociological investigation of the lives of Catholic families to help come to a truly fair and grounded decision. Lemaitre died before the commission completed its report – it famously recommended acceptance of the use of birth control and contraception, a view rejected by a minority report and Pope Paul VI.

Just before Lemaitre died in 1966, he learned of the first discovery of 'cosmic background radiation' – the predicted fallout from the Big Bang, and further confirmation of his theory.

It surprises me then, that many Christians still find the idea of the Big Bang problematic. They might instead try and take the credit for it and - why not? - get on with doing some science themselves.

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

Jewish groups respond to cleric's anti-Israel remarks

Reports of a Christmas address by Jerusalem’s highest ranking Catholic cleric, Patriarch Michel Sabbah, have stirred controversy in the local Jewish community.

In his annual address, Sabbah called on Israel to abandon its Jewish character in favor of a “political normal state for Christians, Muslims, and Jews,” according to the Jerusalem Post.

Locally, Sabbah’s reported statements have prompted harsh responses from the Anti-Defamation League, Christians and Jews United for Israel, and others.

“We are deeply disturbed that Father Sabbah would politicize the holy season of Christmas by denying the Jewish people’s right to a Jewish state,” said the ADL in a statement.

“His comments are particularly ironic considering that he represents a Catholic state and a theocratic monarchy.”

The ADL’s position was echoed by Larry Grodman, chair of CJUI’s steering committee.

“I call on all Catholics, especially the Pope, to clearly reject this statement in his Christmas message of peace and good will to all,” Grodman wrote in an e-mail.

Yet there is some doubt surrounding the veracity of the reports, as David Rosen, international director of interreligious affairs for the American Jewish Committee, has questioned their accuracy.

Still, the latest reports were not Sabbah’s first brush with controversy. The 74-year-old Archbishop of Jerusalem is a Palestinian Christian and has been criticized in the past for his position on jihad, suicide bombing, and the Palestinian “right to return.”

According to an account in the online magazine, a conservative publication of the David Horowitz Freedom Center, Sabbah defended and justified Palestinian violence against Israel during a 2002 videotaped Christmas address. A transcript of the address could not be found on Sabbah’s Web site.

“Ours is an occupied country, which explains why people are tired and blow themselves up,” Sabbah was quoted as saying. “Unfortunately, nothing but violence makes people march.”

The Catholic Church, however, has unequivocally affirmed its position on the Jewish state. And though Jewish organizations are outraged by reports of Sabbah’s latest comments, local leaders are confident his position does not represent a shift in the collective sentiment of the Church.

“I believe that his point of view is aberrant, and is not part of the mainstream of central Catholic thinking,” said Larry Lowenthal, executive director of AJC’s Boston chapter.

Both the AJC and ADL have worked closely with the Boston Archdiocese.

Lowenthal added that the reported statements seem to disregard the lessons of the Holocaust, and that Sabbah’s opinions would not be shared by his local Catholic brethren.

But the Boston Archdiocese offered little response.

“We are not in a position to comment on his remarks and are not aware of the context in which they were offered,” said Terrence Donilon, director of communications, in an e-mail. “Our focus here is on local Catholic-Jewish relations.”

But such statements would seem to impact local relations, as Jews in Boston – and everywhere – feel strongly about the Jewish nature of Israel.

The issue is, therefore, part of local Catholic-Jewish relations, according to the Rebbe, Grand Rabbi Y. A. Korff.

“Despite the significance of Israel to other faiths, the Jewish character of the land of Israel, since biblical times, and the connection of the State of Israel with Judaism, is undeniable,” said the Rebbe.

“Patriarch Sabbah was undoubtedly speaking as a Palestinian and not as a Roman Catholic.”

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

Zapatero rules out Spanish abortion law reform

Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero ruled out any reform of the country's abortion laws, during a pre-election press conference Friday.

"There are no plans to modify the law in this area," said Zapatero while defending his four-year record in government ahead of the March polls, although he added that his administration was "open to reflection" on the issue.

Abortion has been de-criminalised in Spain, since 1985, in only three specific sets of circumstances: for rape victims (within 12 weeks); where there are foetal deformities (22 weeks); and when "the mother's physical or psychological health is in danger" (with no time limitation).

The vast majority of 91,000 abortions reported in 2005 were attributed to "psychological" health risk, sometimes performed after six, seven or eight months' pregnancy.

With a premiership marked by battles with the Roman Catholic Church and the country's conservative right on gay marriages or religious teachings, Zapatero's socialist party has decided to remove abortion reform from its election manifesto, despite the issue figuring in its 2004 programme.

In mid-December, Zapatero asked party leaders to begin a process of "reflection" with a response included in the election documentation.


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

Theologian finds peace path

Hans Kung, a Swiss Catholic theologian and prolific scholar, after a life-long study of Christianity and other faith-traditions proposed a compelling theorem for global peace in our time of millennial change and unrest in world history.

This theorem states, "No peace among the nations without peace among the religions."

Its corollary reads, "No peace among the religions without dialogue between the religions. No dialogue between the religions without investigations of the foundations of the religions."

No scholar or theologian -- leaving aside the fact he happens to be Christian -- has done as much in recent years in living the ideals of the above proposition as has Hans Kung.

Remaining faithful to the life and teachings of Jesus the Christ, Hans Kung has plunged deep in studying Hinduism, Buddhism and Confucianism.

But his most passionate commitment in this journey of reaching out has been directed towards Judaism and Islam which together with Christianity form the triangle of familial Abrahamic faith-traditions.

Hence, another reading of Kung's peace theorem would be there can be no peace unless this broken triangle of the Abrahamic faith-traditions gets repaired.

Kung's devotion in getting this triangle repaired -- of bringing Jews, Christians and Muslims together on the common ground of being faithful to the God of Abraham -- is humbling for those who believe, irrespective of what any faith-doctrine might teach in exclusivist language, that Abraham's God is lovingly and mercifully embracing of all His children.


In this missionary task, Kung has published this year his much anticipated study simply titled Islam: Past, Present and Future.

Kung's Islam, despite its almost forbidding length and scope in mining the history of Muslims from conception to the present day, deserves the widest attention and reading.

Most ironically, and urgently, it should be read by Muslims, and especially by those Muslims residing in the West most driven to apologetics and polemics with others.

There is no Muslim scholar I can readily think of who might be mentioned in the same breath as Kung for engaging with similar devotion and humility in the study of Judaism and Christianity, while putting aside any expectation that Muslims should similarly engage in studying and learning from the faith-traditions nominally described as Eastern religions.

Radicalism, bigotry and violence have left their marks, as Kung discusses, on Judaism, Christianity and Islam.

No adherent of any of these three faith-traditions can plead innocence in God's court of wrongfully spilling blood of others.

But Kung is right in asking, "did any religion pursue a victorious course as rapid, far-reaching, tenacious and permanent as that of Islam? Scarcely one."

Islam in history is a "religion of victory." And this history occupies Muslim mind as a triumphal burden rendering Islam's pristine message to remain inextricably bound with and inseparable from the course of its prophet's life, and those who forged this message into the template of an expansive empire.

Kung's challenge for Muslims is remaining faithful to Abraham's God without sinking into oblivion under the weight of their history that has become mostly irrelevant, if not entirely redundant.

And Kung's challenge for others is remaining mindful of their less than ideal history when engaging in the urgent work of repairing the broken triangle of the Abrahamic faith-traditions. +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

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

Sotto Voce

Priest in mistrial now rector in Fresno

A Fresno priest accused of molestation in a civil suit that was resolved after an inconclusive trial has been named rector of San Joaquin Memorial High School, a spokesman for the Diocese of Fresno confirmed Thursday.

The Rev. Eric Swearingen, pastor of Holy Spirit Catholic Church in Fresno's Woodward Park area, had been accused by former altar boy Juan Rocha of molesting him at two other parishes in the late 1980s and early 1990s.

Nine of 12 jurors found in favor of the allegations in a Fresno County Superior Court trial one year ago, but only seven jurors concluded that the diocese knew about the abuse, prompting a mistrial. Prior to a new trial, the two sides agreed to binding arbitration and to keep the outcome confidential.

During the trial, Swearingen had public support from Bishop John T. Steinbock, who noted that no criminal charges were filed. The accused priest took leave from Holy Spirit for the trial. After the mistrial was declared, he returned to a standing ovation from parishioners.


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

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

Sotto Voce

The Church in Pakistan mourns the loss of Bhutto

In a statement issued yesterday, Lahore Archbishop Lawrence Saldanha, President of Pakistan Bishop’s Conference expressed the Catholic Churches “deep shock and grief” over the assassination of Pakistan’s opposition leader and former premier Benazir Bhutto Benazir Bhutto, defined “a courageous, liberal and progressive leader”.

He also strongly condemned the extremist elements that took her life, two days ago during a campaign rally in Rawalpindi.

“We pray for her departed soul – continues the statement - and offer our heartfelt condolences to her grieving family. May her soul rest in peace!”.

“She was a voice of the voiceless” he said. “She was immensely popular among the minority Christina community”.

“We express the hope that her struggle for peace and justice, democracy and freedom for the common man may be continued by all like-minded people of Pakistan. Let us work together to relive her dream for a just and prosperous Pakistan”.

“Deep sorrow” was also expressed by Benedict XVI, in a message sent to Msgr. Saldanha and addressed to Bhutto’s family and the entire nation (see AsiaNews December 28).

In a separate statement on Dec. 28, the National Commission for Justice and Peace (NCJP), a human rights body of the Catholic Church in Pakistan has also condemned the assassination of Benazir Bhutto and workers of Pakistan Peoples Party at Rawalpindi , calling the tragic incident “a national loss”.

The statement, issued by the Chairperson Archbishop Lawrence John Saldanha and Executive Secretary Peter Jacob of NCJP, said that while the incident has deeply anguished the nation, it also raised questions about the effectiveness of so called war against extremism. NCJP demanded that the policies regarding governance and political participation should be reviewed thoroughly, because it is not possible to face the challenge of extremism without giving the civil society its due freedom. This goal - the statement added - is achievable only through establishing a rule of law.

The reoccurrence of suicide bombing manifests the impunity available to terrorists to take lives of the innocent people. This tragedy demands that the incident should be properly investigated without delay and the culprits behind this should be brought to justice.

“We extend our deepest condolences to Benazir Bhutto’s family and her party and we wish them courage and perseverance in these trying times. We also resolve that the civil society of Pakistan and NCJP will stand united against abuse of human rights and work together till the rule of law and democracy is established in the country. We call upon then people of Pakistan to remain peaceful and united to pay respect to a soul who fought courageously to bring down hatred and division”.

Across the country Catholic communities are offering prayers and masses for Bhutto and the nation.

In Toba Tek Singh, closet o Faisalabad, circa 400 Catholics participated in a prayer vigil while countless others were unable to attend because of transport problems; the faithful participated in processions through the streets of the town, singing hymns. Fr. Bonnie Mendes, who led the service said at this sad moment the January 8 elections are out of question adding that he felt it is the responsibility of the government to provide security to its citizens. “Last night – he added - I was personally at Peoples Party camp in Toba, People were hugging me and crying asking me to pray for us and do something for Pakistan”.

Fr Aftab James Paul, director interfaith dialogue Faisalabad noted that Bhutto was a symbol of hope for Pakistanis and especially for the women. She was on such a high position and a respected woman who was a big source of inspiration for Pakistani women, as such it is a grave loss for the nation. It was the murder of a world known and educated political leader which no doubt has led to yet more violence within the country. Finally, he observes that once again Pakistan is in the grip of extremists who are blocking the journey towards democracy that seemed not too distant only days ago.

At least 33 people, including four policemen, have been killed since former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto was murdered on Thursday. Scattered incidents of violence and rioting still continue all over the country. Internet and telephone services were suspended in many big cities of the country yesterday after an attack on the optical fibre cable near Nawabshah.

Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) Punjab Chairwoman Hina Jillani termed Benazir Bhutto’s assassination “the darkest hour in Pakistan’s history” and said the general elections should be postponed.

She said the circumstances of the assassination reflected a “serious security failure” by the government and security agencies. “There were no policemen or security forces near or around Benazir’s vehicle at the time of attack,” she said. “These are questions on serious security lapses for which the government must provide answer to the people of Pakistan and also to the world”. She said people had started raising serious questions, such as, “how does the government manage to provide foolproof security for President Musharraf and other officials?”.

In the interim questions are abound regarding who was behind the attack. Interior Ministry spokesman Javed Iqbal Cheema yesterday claimed to have intelligence intercepts indicating that al Qaeda leader Baitullah Mehsud was behind Bhutto's assassination. Mehsud is one of Pakistan's most wanted militant leaders and is based in the South Waziristan region on the Afghan border. However, a spokesman for Mehsud denied the claim. “Tribal people have their own customs. We don't strike women”. Bhutto's Pakistan People's Party also rejected the government's version. A spokesman said the government must show solid evidence.

An official version of the attack is also lacking. Cheema denied that former premier Benazir Bhutto was killed by bullets that were fired before a blast in Rawalpindi on Thursday, adding that, “the lever of the sunroof of her vehicle hit her skull, probably when she tried to get inside the car”.


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

Complete Prayer to Saint Michael

The following is the longer version of the vital prayer composed by Pope Leo XIII in 1888 after his startling vision as to the future of the Church.

This prayer was dedicated for the Feast of St. Michael 1448 years from the date of the election of the first Leo - Pope Saint Leo the Great.

Everyone is familiar with the first prayer below which was mandated by His Holiness as part of the Leonine Prayers after Low Mass.

After Vatican II, in legion with the devil Giovanni Montini outlawed this necessary prayer and then one wonders how "the smoke of satan" got into the sanctuary?

Below are both the short and longer versions of this poignant prayer which should never be forgotten.

Saint Michael the Archangel, defend us in battle, be our defense against the wickedness and snares of the devil. May God rebuke him we humbly pray, and do thou, O heavenly hosts, by the power of God, thrust into hell satan and all the evil spirits who prowl about the world for the ruin of souls. Amen.

O glorious Archangel Saint Michael, Prince of the heavenly host, be our defense in the terrible warfare which we carry on against principalities and powers, against the rulers of this world of darkness, spirits of evil. Come to the aid of man, whom God created immortal, made in His own image and likeness, and redeemed at a great price from the tyranny of the devil.

Fight this day the battle of our Lord, together with the holy angels, as already thou hast fought the leader of the proud angels, Lucifer, and his apostate host, who were powerless to resist thee, nor was there place for them any longer in heaven.

That cruel, that ancient serpent, who is called the devil or Satan who seduces the whole world, was cast into the abyss with his angels. Behold this primeval enemy and slayer of men has taken courage.

Transformed into an angel of light, he wanders about with all the multitude of wicked spirits, invading the earth in order to blot out the Name of God and of His Christ, to seize upon, slay, and cast into eternal perdition, souls destined for the crown of eternal glory.

That wicked dragon pours out, as a most impure flood, the venom of his malice on men of depraved mind and corrupt heart, the spirit of lying, of impiety, of blasphemy, and the pestilent breath of impurity, and of every vice and iniquity.

These most crafty enemies have filled and inebriated with gall and bitterness the Church, the spouse of the Immaculate Lamb, and have laid impious hands on Her most sacred possessions.

In the Holy Place itself, where has been set up the See of the most holy Peter and the Chair of Truth for the light of the world, they have raised the throne of their abominable impiety with the iniquitous design that when the Pastor has been struck the sheep may be scattered.

Arise then, O invincible Prince, bring help against the attacks of the lost spirits to the people of God, and give them the victory.

They venerate thee as their protector and patron; in thee holy Church glories as her defense against the malicious powers of hell; to thee has God entrusted the souls of men to be established in heavenly beatitude.

Oh, pray to the God of peace that He may put Satan under our feet, so far conquered that he may no longer be able to hold men in captivity and harm the Church. Offer our prayers in the sight of the Most High, so that they may quickly conciliate the mercies of the Lord; and beating down the dragon, the ancient serpent, who is the devil and Satan, do thou again make him captive in the abyss, that he may no longer seduce the nations. Amen.

    V: Behold the Cross of the Lord; be scattered ye hostile powers.

    R: The Lion of the Tribe of Juda has conquered the root of David.

    V: Let Thy mercies be upon us, O Lord.

    R: As we have hoped in Thee.

    V: O Lord hear my prayer.

    R: And let my cry come unto Thee.

    V: Let us pray.

    O God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, we call upon Thy holy Name, and as suppliants, we implore Thy clemency, that by the intercession of Mary, ever Virgin, immaculate and our Mother, and of the glorious Archangel Saint Michael, Thou wouldst deign to help us against Satan and all other unclean spirits, who wander about the world for the injury of the human race and the ruin of our souls. Amen.


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

Sotto Voce

Vatican vows to fight Devil

The Catholic Church has vowed to "fight the Devil head-on" by training hundreds of priests as exorcists.

Father Gabriele Amorth (82), the Vatican's Exorcist-in-Chief, announced the initiative amid the Church's concerns about growing worldwide interest in Satanism and the occult.

According to plans being considered, each bishop would have a group of priests in his diocese who were specially trained in exorcism and on hand to take action against "extreme Godlessness".

Fr Amorth said: "Thanks be to God that we have a Pope who has decided to fight the Devil head-on.

"Now bishops are to be obliged to have a number of established exorcists for their diocese. Too many bishops are not taking this seriously and are not delegating their priests in the fight against the Devil. You have to hunt high and low for a proper, trained exorcist.

"Thankfully, Pope Benedict XVI believes in the existence and danger of evil."

The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, the oldest Vatican department, deals with promoting and safeguarding Roman Catholic beliefs. It was headed by the Pope when he was Cardinal Ratzinger, from 1982 until his election as Pope in 2005.

Fr Amorth said that during his time at the department the Pope warned humanity of the risks it faced from the Devil.

He added: "I remember a meeting we exorcists had with the Holy Father last year in which he implored us to follow our mission as exorcists."

Fr Paolo Scarafoni, another exorcism expert who lectures at the Vatican, said interest in Satanism and the occult had grown as people lost their faith in the Church.

He added: "People suffer and think that the Devil can help solve their problems."


The Vatican is concerned that young people are being exposed to Satanism through the media, rock music and the Internet.

Under Canon Law 1172 all priests can perform exorcisms. But in reality only a select few are ever called on to do so.

Exorcism involves a series of gestures and prayers to invoke the power of God and stop the "demon" influencing its victim.

Fr Amorth added that Pope Benedict XVI wanted to reinstate use of the prayer to St Michael the Archangel, believed to be the prime protector against evil.

He said: "The prayer is useful not only for priests but for lay people. For example if a lay person knows someone who is possessed and there is no exorcist available they can intervene by saying this prayer, commanding the demon to leave that person."

The prayer to St Michael the Archangel was sidelined in the 1960s by Pope John XXIII during the Second Vatican Council.


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

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

Sotto Voce

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Bah Humbug In Edenderry Parish!!!

It has been brought to our attention that on Christmas Day in the parish of St. Mary's, Edenderry, County Offaly (under the Diocese of Kildare & Leighlin) the clergy therein, namely Fr.'s McEvoy and Walsh (pic'd here) failed to distribute or ensure distribution of the Holy Communion to those who needed it.

Seemingly, a residential home for the elderly and infirm located almost beside the Church itself was not in receipt of their presence nor that of the Holy Presence itself.

These elderly are probably not going to see next Christmas and the importance of them receiving the Blessed Sacrament cannot be underestimated...but it has been...

So maybe they would like to offer some explanation as to why the elderly were visibly disappointed and broken hearted to not receive Holy Communion...

The question has been asked Fathers so perhaps you would prefer yourselves to explain why these most vulnerable in society were denied the Blessed Sacrament...

Or perhaps their Ordinary, Jim Moriarty, would care to ask the same question of them as this is a serious issue...

No-one is to be denied the Blessed Sacrament except in particular circumstances so one wonders what rule applied in this particular situation...


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

A Bible smaller than a pin!

The smallest Bible ever made is smaller than a pinhead: 0.5 millimetres square.

On that space scientists from Technion, an Israeli technological Institute transferred the 30,428 words of the entire Old Testament. It is a vowelled-Hebrew copy

The nano-Bible was developed from an idea by Uri Sivan, head of the Nanotechnology Institute. The project was managed by physics' doctoral student Ohad Zohar. This is the world's tiniest Bible," Zohar said. "The Guinness Book of World Records has a Bible 50 times bigger”.

The scientists now want to take pictures of the miniature Bible and blow it up to a seven-by-seven metre (yard) poster, which will make it "possible to read the entire Bible with the naked eye”.

The goal for the future is to inscribe data on various biomolecules such as DNA. The large 10-million-bit text was chosen for its size. Project creator Uri Sivan: "The nano-Bible project was aimed at displaying the miniaturization ability we have."

The nano-Bible was written on a silicon surface covered with a 20 nanometer layer of gold.

"When we send the tiny particle beam, called gallium ions, toward a point on the surface, the gold atoms bounce off of this point, thus exposing the silicon layer underneath. The diameter of the exposed point is about 40 nanometers. When we look at the written example using a scanning electron microscope, the exposed silicon point looks darker than the gold surrounding it. By sending a particle beam towards various points on the substrate, we can etch any pattern of points, especially one that represents text," said Ohad Zohar.

The structure of the nano-Bible was built using a special computer program developed in the project's framework, which enables etching text on the surface layer.

The nano-Bible project is part of an educational program that asks the following question: "How small can the Bible be?"

The program uses this intriguing question in order to investigate modern methods of creating miniature structures and imaging on a nanometric scale, to present advanced technology for high-density information storage and to discuss future topics such as information storage using DNA molecules or other bio-molecules.

The picture show a modern ‘tiny’ Bible – the nano-bible is too small to be seen with the naked eye.

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

Bid to save St. Adalbert turned down by Vatican

The Vatican’s Congregation for the Clergy has upheld a decision by the Catholic Diocese of Buffalo to close St. Adalbert Catholic Church.

The group of parishioners challenging the closing now plans to appeal to the Vatican’s Apostolic Signatura, the highest level of appeal and the last hope for keeping open the 121-year-old East Side church.

“By taking our appeal to the Apostolic Signatura, we will be able to fully make the case for keeping St. Adalbert’s open as an active worship site,” Stanley A. Kowalski Jr., a longtime parishioner and cochairman of the Save Saint Adalbert committee, said in a statement.

“It will also allow us to tell the full story about how we were wronged at several steps along the way,” Kowalski said.

The diocese’s restructuring plan, known as the “Journey in Faith and Grace,” calls for closing the church and merging the congregation with St. John Kanty Church.

A closing Mass was to have been offered Nov. 25, but, in accordance with church guidelines, the diocese has placed the closing and merger on hold pending the appeal.

“We fully expect that, if this decision is appealed, the Apostolic Signatura will uphold the Congregation for the Clergy’s decision,” Kevin A. Keenan, diocese spokesman, said Monday.

Efforts to save the Stanislaus Street church began in late June after the announcement that the diocese planned to close the parish.

St. Adalbert’s is the second-oldest Polish parish in the city, and remaining members say they feel a deep connection to the church that goes back generations.

Ronald Suchocki — a 69-year-old parish trustee, a member of Save Saint Adalbert and a lifelong member of the church — noted that his maternal grandparents and both parents also had been members.

Suchocki said parish members voted overwhelmingly to launch the appeal despite its cost, expected to exceed $18,000.

“They just want every effort that’s available to us to be used to keep the basilica open,” Suchocki said, using the designation that members give the church.

Save Saint Adalbert has held a number of small fundraising events, established a Web site — — and hired a canonical lawyer. The appeal must convince the Vatican that the decision to close the parish violates canon law in some way.

But the Congregation for the Clergy ruled that Bishop Edward U. Kmiec did not make any procedural or factual mistakes in his decision, according to a statement from the diocese.

“Now that the Vatican has issued this ruling, I hope that there will be a smooth, successful merger of these two parishes,” Kmiec said in a written statement.

Any merger, however, remains on hold because Save Saint Adalbert members say they will appeal the congregation’s decision.

“I’m very optimistic,” Suchocki 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

Relics revered as Jesus' crib degrading fast, say church officials

The relics venerated as the crib the baby Jesus used in a Bethlehem grotto are in an alarming state of degradation, some church officials said.

The remains have become so fragile that officials at Rome's Basilica of St. Mary Major, where the crib is located, decided to suspend this year's annual Christmas Eve tradition when the relics are carried from the crypt beneath the main altar in a procession around the basilica and displayed in front of the altar all Christmas Day.

Two of the five wooden slats are showing signs of "troublesome deterioration," Msgr. Emilio Silvestrini, a priest at the basilica has said.

He said Dec. 28 that "for years" they had noticed the crib's fragile condition had worsened.

The small wooden boards are protected inside an elegant silver and glass cradle-shaped reliquary in a little chapel under the basilica's main altar.

The relics were brought to Rome from Palestine after Pope Theodore I was elected pontiff in 642, said Bishop Franco Gualdrini, prefect of the basilica's sacristy, in an interview with Vatican Radio Dec. 28.

The bishop said the pope sent the relics to be housed in the Basilica of St. Mary Major, which was called St. Mary of the Crib after it obtained the relics.

Bishop Gualdrini said that early next year they will set up "a commission of experts to take a look at the crib, examine it and say what the appropriate thing to do" will be.

He said the crib and the 19th-century reliquary need "urgent restoration."

In a Dec. 28 interview with the Italian daily La Repubblica, Bishop Gualdrini said it is too early to tell if the damage is being caused by woodworms or other parasites, but that "there seems to be fine wood dust near the relics."

Msgr. Granito Tavanti, another priest at the basilica, said Dec. 28 they are waiting to hear from the Vatican, which oversees the crib and will suggest which "competent experts" can best preserve the relics.

Made from the wood of a sycamore tree, two of the crib's planks are nearly a yard long. According to Catholic encyclopedias, studies suggest the wood planks were supports for the manger which may have been made out of clay or limestone.

Msgr. Silvestrini said they need "a new way to preserve the relic and for carrying it (so they will) be able to display it again next Christmas."

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

Sotto Voce

Vatican official expects new level of dialogue with Muslims in 2008

The Vatican official in charge of interreligious dialogue said he is confident a new level of dialogue with Muslims will take place in 2008.

"There is good will on both sides," said Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran, president of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue.

After 138 Muslim scholars sent a letter to Pope Benedict XVI and other Christian leaders in October outlining a proposal for a new dialogue and greater understanding, the pope invited a representative group of the scholars to meet with him at the Vatican.

At the same time, the pope suggested the scholars hold a working session with officials from Cardinal Tauran's office, the Pontifical Institute for Arabic and Islamic Studies and the Pontifical Gregorian University.

Jordan's Prince Ghazi bin Muhammad bin Talal, the architect of the Muslim scholars' project, wrote back to the Vatican in December suggesting that representatives meet in February or March to work out the details of the dialogue.

"I am very confident in the outcome of this meeting," Cardinal Tauran told Vatican Radio Dec. 28.

He said he expected the meeting to deal with "the dignity of the human person and his rights, first of all the right to freedom of conscience and religion," with the need for believers to "have an objective knowledge of the religion of the other," and with the need to educate young people in tolerance and respect for the beliefs of others.

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

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

Sotto Voce

Bishop apologizes to Miwok tribe for church's past mistreatment

A Roman Catholic bishop's apology for cruelties the church committed against Indian tribes in the past caught a group of Miwok Indians by surprise, and moved some to tears.

Retired Bishop Francis A. Quinn used a mass at the Church of St. Raphael on Dec. 15, as an opportunity to apologize to the Miwok Indians for the church's mistreatment two centuries ago. Miwok Indians once occupied the lands from the Golden Gate to north of Bodega Bay.

The mass was held to commemorate the 190th anniversary of the founding of Mission San Rafael Arcangel. The Indians helped Spanish priests build and maintain the mission in 1817.

But the bishop conceded they were repaid by church authorities with the destruction of their own spiritual practices and cruel punishment for any disobedience.

Greg Sarris, head of the Miwok tribal council, officially called the Federated Indians of Graton Rancheria, called Quinn's remarks historic.

"I have not heard of this happening anywhere else in this country," he said.

Many Indians whose ancestors were converted to Catholicism are still smarting from the church's past mistreatment and appreciated the gesture, Sarris said.

After the mass, he spoke to other attendees gathered in the church school's gymnasium.

"With the permission of my people, I accept your apology" Sarris told the bishop.

Teri Brunner, curator of the mission museum, said, "It was magical to have priests and Miwoks together again, in a peaceful setting, celebrating and honoring one another."


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