Saturday, March 31, 2007

Why Did New Pope Called Himself Benedict XVI?

OF THE 265 popes, nine chose the name Benedict (‘Blessed’) in the first millennium, and six in the second.

Christian names are given in the covenant hope that children will live up to them. Names are also significant in the realm of the occult.

People take them to live up to the name’s associations. The modern Babylon, built on Rome’s seven hills, is “the hold of every foul spirit”.

Here the Chilean Cardinal, Dean Jorge Arturo Medina Estivez, will have secretly asked the new pope: “Do you accept your canonical election as Supreme Pontiff? Ratzinger would next have been asked, “By what name do you wish to be called?”

Ratzinger would then go to “The Room of Tears” to lament on the gravity of his responsibilities as Benedict.

The first thing the waiting world is told is the new Pope’s name:

“I announce to you a great joy. We have a Pope. The most eminent and reverend Lord, the Lord Cardinal Ratzinger, Cardinal of the Holy Roman Church, who takes to himself the name Benedict.”

Ratzinger will have taken that name for a reason.

Gigantic Power Struggle­

Ratzinger’s election broke all the rules.

He was the oldest Cardinal ever to become pope. Yet he went into the Conclave a likely candidate and, contrary to all protocol, emerged as Pope despite his age. What is more, a run of two non‑Italian popes has not occurred since the so called ‘Babylonish captivity’, which still sends shudders around the Vatican. This was when 14th century European politics drove the papal epicentre, to Avignon.

Despite all the sophisticated Vatican anti-bugging devices, the Italian newspapers seemed to know that a gigantic power struggle was in progress on the second day of the conclave.

The Ratzinger camp was pushing forward like a panzer brigade flattening eve­rything before it.

And whatever his travail in the “Room of Tears”, he duly emerged as pope that evening, grinning like a Cheshire cat.

Futures Market Got It Right

Stephen Evans, the BBC’s North America business correspondent gives us a clue to these events.

“If you had wanted to know who was the most likely cardinal to be promoted to Pope you shouldn’t have relied on the pundits. Nor should you have taken any notice of the Vatican watchers who studied the arcane politics of the Catholic Church. Your best bet would have been ... an investment in an online futures market. They got it spot on. The Intrade futures market had Cardinal Ratzinger well ahead of the field. On top of that, it ‑ or rather the tens of thousands of traders collectively ‑ reckoned there was a 60% chance of there being a European pope”.

Big business knew.

Papal Europe must be resurrected.

And who was better qualified to be the embodiment of a new Europe‑centred Vatican initiative than the middle European veteran of the fascist era, Joseph Ratzinger?

No To Turkey

Ratzinger’s definition of “Europe” as “a cultural and not a geographical continent,” is straight out of the Book of Revelation.

So is his defining of its limits: “Turkey always represented another continent throughout history, in permanent contrast with Europe … so to equate the two continents would be a mistake,” he told Le Figaro in August 2004.

Challenged, he afirmed to Le Monde, “Turkey should seek its future among Islamic organizations, not in the Christian‑rooted EU”.

According to Zaman, the Turkish news agency, the dismayed Assembly Spokesman of the Catholic Bishops of Turkey, George Marovitch, retaliated, “I do not approve of Cardinal Ratzinger’s remarks about Turkey.

What Ratzinger’s did was only to state his views on a political matter. Catholics are not bound to, these views about Turkey’s EU memership.

They are now.

Financial Considerations

Such a short conclave will already have been a welcome saving on housekeeping for a Vatican which is back in the red.

Disgraced Vatican banker Paul Marcinkus observed “You can’t run a Church on Hail Marys”.

Nor it seems on “arcane politics” nor the papal aspirations of the countless poor Roman Catholics of Latin America and Africa.

The Time reports $840 million (£444 million) has already been paid out in the USA, historically the largest contributor to Peter’s pence, on paedophilia settlements.

A host of irrefutably claims wait in the wings worldwide.

But with the US dollar falling and US market supremacy threatened from the east, it is time for the, scarlet woman to dig her spurs firmly into the European beast and meet European secularism and indifference head on.

St Benedict of Europe

St Benedict is the papal saint of Europe.

The shrine of Subiaco where Benedict founded an order of monks in AD 529 is near Rome.

St Benedict’s monastic “rule” was like Ratzinger’s, conservative but not too austere.

For a millennium, the Benedictines were responsible for keeping Europe in papal thraldom.

Rome used the Benedictine network to influence medieval economic migration through Europe.

In the same way, Rome seeks to maintain her influence, during today’s economic migration of Spanish, Portuguese, Poles and Eastern Europeans.

In passing, we note that Cardinal Hume was a Benedictine and embodied the Benedictine ideal.

His was the iron hand in a velvet glove which Rome claimed, “personified the final healing of the wounds of King Henry VIII’s Reformation rule” in England.

St Benedict - Holy Pilgrim

April 16th is Cardinal Ratzinger, Benedict XVI’s birthday and also of another Benedict, St Benedict Joseph Labre, known as the “Holy Pilgrim”.

This delicate youth wandered about Europe and ended up in Rome, sitting in churches all day and sleeping rough in the Coliseum at night.

He eventually collapsed in a church and, holy or not, was quickly removed to a nearby butchers to breathe his last.

Ratzinger would presumably see little likeness between himself and St Benedict Joseph Labre, apart perhaps for the imminence of his own demise.

Pope Benedict XV

Friend Cardinal Meisner says Ratzinger chose the name Benedict because the last Benedict, Pope Benedict the XV, “did much for peace in the World”. He was a tiny cripple and sat on the papal throne like a child.

The Vatican has attempted to cover up his disability.

He was early swept away by pneumonia.

Ratzinger had a brain haemorrhage in 1991 and subsequent drop attacks. His time too is potentially short.

Ratzinger’s brother thinks the conclave has signed his death warrant. If Ratzinger avoids an early stroke, he may nevertheless drag the Vatican ‑ for who can oppose him now ‑ into ever more fanatical stands through impaired judgement, from lack of blood circulation to the brain.

So what in Benedict XV’s life could be relevant to this pope?

Giacomo Della Chiesa (literally James of the Church) became Benedict XV on 3rd September 1914. Only at the end of the 20th century did it emerge that ten ballots over three days had relentlessly pushed Della Chiesa forward.

This was no late compromise, contrary to what Rome has always insisted.

Della Chiesa was unusual in not being the offspring of poor Italian Roman Catholic peasants made good, as were five of the 20th century Italian popes. Nor was he like the urban sophisticate who became the second world war pope; Pius XII.

Della Chiesa was the real thing, a Genoese aristocrat, a bit down at heel, but with nearly a millennium of history, including the fact that his wife’s side had fielded a pope.

Here was old Roman Catholic Europe writ large, as it was with Pius XII, and now once again in Ratzinger.

Chastising the Orthodox

Della Chiesa had to deal with a schism over modernism. This he handled with acts of compromise, always leaning to the conservative.

He wooed back estranged France by canonising Joan of Arc.

But his greatest challenge was reuniting the newly warring European powers under Vatican control. When Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria‑Hungary was assassinated in Sarajevo by a Serbian activist, Jesuit Cardinal Merry del Val had insisted that Serbia, which for him represented Rome’s mortal enemy the Eastern Orthodox ­Church, be firmly “chastised”.

Rome feared the waning Ottoman Empire would allow the emergence of the Orthodox church with a revitalisation of Istanbul as a new second Rome with St Andrew’s successor, backed by Russia, rivalling the successor of St Peter.

Today Orthodox Patriarch Bartholomew I, St Andrew’s 270th successor, still sits locked away in the Phanar district, of Istanbul. Visitors “cannot enter the Phanar’s main gate because it was welded shut in 1821 after the Ottoman Turks hanged Patriarch Gregory V from its lintel.

The black doors have remained sealed ever since”.

Benedict XVI, like Benedict XV before him, faces a threat from Eastern Orthodoxy.

He needs a strong Rome centred Europe and Islamic Turkey to resist it, unles he can trick Orthodox Patriarch Bartholomew into ecumenical compromise.

Benedict XV repreatedly made overtures for peace in the first World War.

His encyclicals exuded emotion and were filled with generalities to avoid upsetting any one.

They were reminiscent of those of Pius XII in the second war. Benedict XV’s peacemaking efforts have been described as follows: his “idea of a general Christmas truce in 1914 as en end to what he termed the suicide of Europe was initially accepted by the Germans but dismissed by the Allies”.

What is more, “in Italy where his regular intervention was resented as potentially weakening national fighting resolve, (this interference) further diluted his influence from 1915 onewards … the 1915 Treaty of London included secret provisions whereby the Allies agreed with Italy to ignore papal peace moves towards the Central Powers. Consequently, the publicaiton of Benedict’s proposed seven-point Peace Note of August 1917 was roundly ignored by all parties except Austria-Hungary. Despite requesting a role in the definition of the pace the Vatican was excluded from the Paris Peace Conference in 1919.”

As he lay in his deathbed Benedict XV was attended by Monsignor Giuseppe Pizzardo, a young Vatican diplomat involved in getting Catholic Aid to the starving Soviets, secretly by-passing Lenin.

Pizzardo was the Roman end of a conspiracy to proselytise the Orthodox wholesale.

A ready trained army of missionaries, hyped to fever pitch by propaganda of an imminent “mass conversion to the Catholic church”, stood by.

A reliable expert writes, “The hope that the Catholic church could still become the heir of the orthodox in Russia motivated this Pope to the very end.

Even during the night when he died of sudden pneumonia on Jan 22nd 1922, Benedict XV called Msgr. Pizzardo to his bedside three times to ask him, ‘Have the Visas come yet from the Bolsheviks?’”

And now, nearly a hundred years after Benedict XV, another Benedict must seek to unite Europe under Roman Catholicism, build a bulwark against a renewed Eastern Orthodox church, keep Turkey Islamic and infiltrate Russia by fair means and foul.

Meanwhile Latin America and Africa will have to grab attention as best they can.


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

An Focal Scóir - March 2007

March continued on with some of the stories from February and it opened with a posting on blogging religious, followed with a story which caused uproar in Ireland when it became public knowledge that soliciting of minors in Ireland was in fact legal!!

The Anglican Communion was also in turmoil over its attempts to reach compromise in relation to appointments of gay clergy, and in Ireland, a list of those politicians who opposed legislation to give rights to same sex couples (and with election coming up, a visit to the list might be handy), and a newspaper was boycotted for a while due to its homophobic articles, whilst a missionary priest was almost killed.

Pilfering clergy again under spotlight as was Cardinal Zen stirring it in China yet again, whilst a possible meeting between Pope and Patriarch was considered, whilst SSPX and Bishop in France strained in relations.

New Archbishop for Warsaw hinted at, bishop in Malta is severely criticised, Anglican leader Williams says that issues of sexuality cannot be avoided (RC Church take note!!), whilst his synod is divided over the whole issue of same sex issues.

Vatican described as having a glass ceiling towards women (no surprise there then), whilst Spain considers legalising euthanasia, and Putin visit to Vatican expected to improve ecumenical relations.

Tomb or not tomb in relation to authenticity of claims of tomb of Jesus, new Archbishop of Warsaw named, nuns go a little wild at a party, coming out of a young gay icon in Mexico causes a stir, whilst Killaloe bishop requests more laity involvement in church.

Lugo submits name for laicisation, Vatican says violence against women not acceptable, gay mass in USA kicked out, pornography an affront to human dignity and confession in decline.

Polish hierarchy condemn book which names spies in clergy, ministry of gay activist nun, FBI no show at slain priest trial, Il Papa praises Paul VI, German bishops insult Jewish community, sex education in schools under question and review, euthanasia doctor cleared, apostolic exhortation on Eucharist due, charismatic renewal reviewed, RC church under spotlight in relation to AIDS crisis.

Priest on trial in Rwandan genocide, new head of Italian conference of bishops, simony yet again in the RC Church (??), was Jesus gay, international womens day, free distribution of morning pill in Argentina, Poland again trying to reconcile past and present, Ukraine Orthodox bid for Unity, RC Church no. 1 in USA, Il Papa asserts primacy, Equality of Sexes, empty churches in Rome, Anglican leader says no merger with RC Church and call for Muslim and RC faiths to be taught properly.

Poland retains abortion laws, France OUI to euthanasia, more cover up of abuse in USA exposed, China again on agenda, Putin meeting helpful, communion not for gay couples, possible restoration of Latin mass, late pope on 1st step to beatification, condoms in schools debate in Brazil debated before papal visit.

Il Papa holy water for sale, theologian silenced, Israel not acceptable to RC clergy, Cardinal Zen stirring it (yawn...again), Il Papa confirms celibacy as obligatory, issuing of Sacramntum Caritatis, threat of RC homophobia, divorce annulment and the RC church, Kung goes on tour of USA and seminary master backs civil unions.

Polish bishops pro-life whilst nuncio faces recall to Vatican, rape verdict in Ireland causes uproar, Il Papa calls for RC laity to vote with Hierarchy (some hope), and then we have St Patrick's Day in Ireland...

...and we now go into the 2nd part of Verbum Ultimus for March 2007, and once Mothers Day followed on from St Patrick's Day...

Married priest steps up to altar for the faithful, son of a RC priest writes, Irish RC church shortchanges Government, Il Papa not doing well in popularity stakes, Italian cardinal goes against Vatican stance on civil unions, Al Qaeda had plans to kill late Pope, current pope accused of subverting Vatican II.

Ferns diocese facing financial crisis, Poland in turmoil (yawn yawn yawn), Vatican exorcists, new Anglican Archbishop of Ireland installed, papal trip to Austria planned whilst Il Papa goes to prison (oh if only he he), Kung verbally bashes Il Papa, dissident RC more worrying than atheist and RC priests and AIDS issue addressed.

Cardinal says priests should be allowed to marry, still awaiting appointment of bishop in Ossory, Brazilian priests face jail for saying homosexuality is a sin, rehabilitating Judas, Indian RC bishops plan agitation, Cardinal Zen resignation not accepted by Il Papa, Bishop Casey missing (for a while), Killaloe Diocesan meeting (& possible successor to current bishop), pay-to-pray nuns and Il Papa's Anti-Liberal revolution.

Anglican ultimatum rejected in USA, resistance may cost Bishop his life in Zimbabwe, Romero still an inspiration, Hungarian bishop resigns to marry, stoning of women continues, fund free mammograms campaign, Vatican fighting for ban on abortion in Mexico, Irish president meets Il Papa (again and again, yawn) and priestly celibacy again.

Ireland threatens to sue victims of abuse (yes you have read that correct), gambling nuns face censure, hypocrisy of UK RC bishops again, late pope cause for sainthood moves forward, son of priest argues for reform in church, new church built in Middle East, Zen asserts pope authority in China, sex trafficking in Ireland, Gospel of Judas, anti-gay sanctions harm the gospels, Il Papa pours on EU 50 celebrations whilst disgraced priest escapes prison in UK.

Rabbi honoured by RC Church, cloning moves forward, Italian bishops consider sanctions against politicians, hell still exists advises Il Papa, UK RC schools still not dealing with homophobic bullying, motherhood appreciated by bishops, Italian bishops fight co-habitation bill, death of (disgraced) Archbishop of Cardiff, need to reform USA RC Church and dissident Vietnamese priest to stand trial.

Poland attempts to ban gays from certain jobs, mystery nun in beatification process of JPII named, Archbishop of Anglican church wants it to be safe for gays, clerics avoiding truth by abuse of doctrine, Italian ecclessial homophobia, cloning again opposed by RC church, former Anglican bishop becomes RC, Our Lady statue weeping in Sri Lanka and RC Homophobia universal.

Vietnam priest gets 8 years in prison, chocolate Jesus sculpture causes angst and anger, abortion protests in Poland, EU investigates Poland for homophobia, neo-nazism on rise again, another theologian condemned, Croatian hospitals to pay RC Church there, Latin Mass again in spotlight, pope old car for sale (again) and why did Ratzinger take the name of Benedict XVI?

Thus ends the month of March in the new An Focal Scóir style which I hope you like, and feel free to get in touch with comments, contributions and otherwise.

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

'DPP Has Failed To Prosecute Sex Abusers' (Éire)

FOUR victims of child sex abuse revealed yesterday how their abusers were still walking around free because of the State’s failure to prosecute them.

Two of the survivors claimed their assailants still had access to minors and suspected they were abusing other children.

In one case, the abuser actually admitted to the crime, while a second abuser admitted he slept in the same bed as the victim when she was a child.

But all four women said that none of the abusers were ever brought to court because of the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (pic'd here) had ruled against prosecution.

The first woman, Niamh, said she was abused by a teacher over 20 years ago and that the man was still living next door to the school.

The man still works with children as a relief teacher and a grind teacher. Niamh made a statement to the gardaí over 20 years ago.

Her story was corroborated by other women who claimed they had been abused by the same man.

The man admitted to gardaí he shared a bed with a child, but said he did so because she was scared.

The file went to the DPP, who ruled there wasn’t enough evidence and that too much time had elapsed.

Describing her reaction, Niamh said: “I felt sickened. When the DPP says he won’t prosecute, it’s like the State is saying your story is all lies. I was so angry, particularly because there are young girls still at risk from this man.”

A second woman, Fiona, said her brother-in-law raped her between 1985 and 1987 until she was 10. He also abused a neighbour’s daughter.

He admitted the abuse to gardaí. However, the case wasn’t pursued at the time as Fiona’s family and solicitor advised her to drop it.

In 2000, after her abuser returned from England, Fiona made another statement. Gardaí submitted a file to the DPP. It wasn’t until 2004 that the DPP decided he wouldn’t prosecute.

Fiona and local gardaí asked him to review the decision. He did and decided to prosecute.

However, the brother-in-law sought a judicial review, which ruled that too much time had passed. The judge criticised the DPP’s office.

Fiona said: “I am furious. There’s a paedophile walking around on the streets of my community just because somebody in the DPP’s office claimed pressure of work prevented them from dealing with my case.”

Kate Mulkerrins, of the Rape Crisis Network, said Ireland had the “least transparent, least accountable and least just system of justice”.

A spokeswoman for the DPP said they were reviewing their policy and said it would be inappropriate to comment until the review was completed.


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

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

Sotto Voce

Pope Mobile On Market...Again!!

London (UK) – is squeezing more marketing value out of the former car of Cardinal Josef Ratzinger, now Pope Benedict XVI. won the 1999 VW Golf IV for roughly $245,000 in an Ebay auction in May of 2005, following a media frenzy that drove the auction page to more than 10 million page views.

The company now said that it will re-list this Saturday at 7:00 pm GMT, with a starting bid of 0.99 pounds sterling.

The proceeds of the auction will be donated to Habitat for Humanity Great Britain.

No further details about the car’s condition were made.

The original seller of the car, 21-year old Benjamin Halbe, purchased the car in January of 2005 for 10,000 Euro and apparently found out by accident that Cardinal Josef Ratzinger had been the previous owner of the Golf.

The grey-metallic, 115 hp car had traveled about 75,000 km (about 47,000 miles) when took ownership of 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

Holy Week Begins Tomorrow

This season of Lent is quickly drawing to a close.

On April 1 we begin the most solemn week of our liturgical year, Holy Week.

Lent concludes at sundown on Holy Thursday.

That same evening with the celebration of the Eucharist of the Lord’s Supper we begin our observance of the Easter Triduum which ends with Evening Prayer on Easter Sunday.

The dark shadow of sin in the family by some of its most respected members has hovered over us all too long.

But the good news of the Lord’s Easter victory over sin, suffering and death brings us hope.

As we gather for the celebration of the paschal mystery at the end of Holy Week, we proudly and gladly claim our Christian Catholic identity.

The reason for our pride and joy, of course, is Jesus Christ, the perfect union of the human and divine, the one sent by the Father to be our Savior and our Lord.

The celebrations of the Easter Triduum commemorate the full paschal mystery of Jesus, his saving passion, death and resurrection.

But, understandably, there is a particular focus for each day.

On Holy Thursday we commemorate the gift of the Eucharist whereby we are able to share in the body he gave for us and the blood he poured out for us.

On Good Friday we venerate the cross which Jesus transformed from an instrument of torture to a sign of Christian hope by his saving death.

Finally on Holy Saturday night and Easter Sunday morning, we rejoice in the good news of his Resurrection, a victory over death unparalleled in the annals of human history.

The most precious moment of all, of course, will come on Saturday night when we gather for the beautiful Easter Vigil.

With its many readings from Sacred Scripture, impressive rituals, and dramatic setting, we all become fully alive again as our elect are baptized and then join our candidates for full communion in the church with the reception of Confirmation and the Eucharist.

Their willingness to join our company makes it all the easier for us to identify ourselves proudly as Christian Catholics, disciples of the risen Lord, not just a group of wannabe do-gooders.

Our elect and candidates provide a very visible sign that the Holy Spirit continues to work among God’s people, inviting us all to a closer relationship with Him through the family of the church.

The Easter Vigil is a three-fold celebration.

The first centers on fire and light, the Easter candle and the readings which teach us that this night condenses and summarizes the whole history of salvation.

Whatever God did for his chosen people throughout the centuries, he does again for us. “He makes us a new creation, calls us to be His chosen people. He frees us from slavery, gives us a new heart, and enters into a new covenant with us.”

Next we celebrate the sacraments of Baptism and Confirmation. The elect are baptized and the rest of us are invited to renew our own baptismal promises and to receive a blessing with the Easter holy water.

The elect and the candidates are then confirmed, filled with the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit, empowering them to be disciples in mission with us, bringing God’s message of forgiveness and salvation to a world unaccustomed to such good news.

Finally, our celebration culminates with the Eucharist, always a special memorial of the Resurrection of Jesus.

Easter is the feast of feasts because the Resurrection of Jesus heralds our own resurrection and is a promise of life everlasting.

For the 50 days of Easter, “Alleluia” will be our song and all of us will be cantors.

It is the Eucharist which is the privileged place for our encounter with the risen Lord.

When we gather around the Lord’s table, as we are invited to do each Sunday, we receive the very special gift of recognizing and knowing the Lord in the Eucharist.

People who drift away from coming to Sunday Mass miss the most significant opportunity of a lifetime: the privilege of meeting our risen Lord and God.

In fact, it is not at all uncommon that many who become Catholics are drawn to our faith precisely because of what they experience at Mass.

My friends, come to hear and celebrate the good news during Holy Week this year.

The Easter story about Jesus is a marvel. But more marvelous is the Easter story about the disciples of Jesus.

They came to believe again after doubting.

They hoped again after despairing.

They loved again after hating.

That same miracle of grace will come among us too, if we allow our hearts to be touched by God’s holy word and sacraments.


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 Pilgrim Pope John Paul II

Monday, April 2, marks the second anniversary of the death of Pope John Paul II.

In some ways, it feels as though it were only yesterday.

We still have such a clear impression of the man who led the Roman Catholic Church for so long: first, the young, vigorous Cardinal Karol Wojtyla of Krakow, Poland, who brought a new energy to the papacy in 1978; then, the constant traveler who journeyed around the world to share the gospel message with believers and non-believers alike; finally, the face of suffering and forgiveness who continued to fulfill his duties as long and as well as he could, even as he endured a painful recovery from an assassination attempt, the difficulties of Parkinson’s disease and other ailments in his later years.

We were drawn to Pope John Paul II by his personal charisma, but we learned to love him because of his faithfulness, his humor, his courage. But, mostly, I think we loved him because he loved us first.

John Paul II came to meet us in country after country, city after city, year after year. In naming him man of the year in 1994, Time magazine called John Paul II the “most universal of pontiffs.”

It was his deep personal desire to be “a pilgrim pope, walking down the roads of the world bringing to all areas the message of salvation.”

By the time of his death, he’d made more than a hundred pastoral visits outside Italy.

In reaching out to the suffering and abandoned, he became a voice for the oppressed of the world.

He was a man who took the words of Jesus seriously: “Go into all the world and proclaim the good news to the whole creation” (Mk 16:15).

But Pope John Paul II knew something that too many of us forget: Jesus didn’t address those words only to his apostles or to the popes or other religious leaders who would follow over the centuries. He spoke to anyone who would listen.

There’s a wonderful story that Father James Keller, MM, founder of The Christophers, used to tell.

One of his fellow Maryknoll missioners told him that in the 1920s, on a bitterly cold day in Manchuria, he’d met an old woman dressed in rags and weak with hunger. He brought her to a shelter and gave her a hot meal.

“Why do you bother with me when no one else cares?” she asked.

The priest told her about Jesus Christ and his command to his followers to carry the good news of salvation to people everywhere and to express his love by helping those most in need.

Then the woman asked, “This Christ – he cannot be long dead.”

When the missioner explained that Jesus lived 1,900 years before, she exclaimed, “Nineteen hundred years! It was then that he commanded those who followed him to spread this wonderful idea?”

The priest nodded.

“Then where have his followers been for such a long time?” she asked. “Why haven’t they done as he told them to do?”

Why indeed?

No pope or priest, minister or missionary can be expected to fulfill Jesus’ command if the rest of us do not.

And it isn’t necessary to travel the world, either.

People in our own neighborhoods need mercy, loving-kindness and hope.

They need us – you and me – to be pilgrims for God.

“Where have His followers been?”

We’re right here if, like a man named John Paul, we simply take the first step on our journey.


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

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

Sotto Voce

Catholic MP Comartin Pushes Canada to Allow Anal Sex for 16-Year-olds

Joe Comartin (pic'd here), NDP MP for Windsor-Tecumseh, proposed an amendment to legislation that would have lowered the legal age of consent for sodomy to sixteen, from the current Canadian legal age of 18.

With legislation proposed by the government to raise the age of natural sex from its current 14 to 16, at the request of homosexual activists, Comartin proposed an amendment at the committee stage to “harmonize” the consent age for anal sex with that for vaginal sex; making it 16 for both.

The amendment was also supported by Liberal party critic Marlene Jennings.Comartin’s position has taken a distinct swing from last fall when, as the NDP’s justice critic, he reportedly met with homosexual activists in Toronto to try to convince them to support bill C-22 to raise the age of consent for natural sexual relations.

The amendment proposal was declared by Jennings to be impossible, however. Jennings told homosexual activists at the second day of public consultations by the justice committee, “We've been told that [amending the anal sex law] is outside the scope of the bill.”

The committee chairman, Art Hanger, decided to disallow the Comartin amendment under rules preventing opposition parties from inserting unrelated clauses into a piece of legislation at the committee stage that would reverse or undermine the purpose of a bill.

The provision of the criminal code dealing with anal sex, section 159, is not mentioned by Bill C-22.

Homosexual lobbyists, EGALE Canada, the Canadian Federation For Sexual Health (formerly Planned Parenthood) and the Canadian AIDS Society had each spoken out against what they called the “unequal treatment” of gay sex as part of their presentations to the committee against the legislation’s original purpose.

The law restricting sodomy to those over 18 carries a penalty of up to 10 years of prison, but has been ruled unconstitutional in Ontario and Quebec.

Comartin complained that his amendment had been unfairly dismissed, saying he was prepared to argue that the provision for anal sex was within the scope of the bill.

Comartin, who considers himself a Catholic, has been barred by his bishop, Ronald Fabbro of London (pic'd here), from receiving Holy Communion until he brings his beliefs on same-sex “marriage” and related issues into line with the teachings of the Church.


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

Lent 2007 - A Journey Of Reflection

Saturday 31st. March

Every time I see a picture of the crucifixion or a cross, I feel strangely affected and drawn to the life of immolation in a strange way.

The heroism of Jesus appeals to me; His ‘naked crucifixion’ calls to me and it gives me great consolation and peace to offer myself to Him on the cross for this perpetual living crucifixion.

How often does He not seem to say to me in prayer, ‘I would have you strip yourself of all things - every particle of self-indulgence, and this ever and always?

Give Me all and I will make you a great saint.’


O Jesus, I am so weak, help me to give You all and to do it now.

Friday, March 30, 2007

Tridentine Mass: Pope Looks For Bridge To Tradition

Sometime soon, Pope Benedict XVI is expected to broaden permission to use the Tridentine Mass, a long-standing request of traditionalists who favor the rite used before the Second Vatican Council.

The move is aimed at ending a liturgical dispute which has simmered for more than 20 years.

In the process, it could clarify how the pope intends to implement what he once described as a "liturgical reconciliation" in the modern church.

The pope will enunciate the new policy in a document to be released after more than a year of debate and discussion at the Vatican.

The Roman Curia had mixed views on expanding the use of the Tridentine rite, and so did the world's cardinals and bishops -- all of which has lent a certain drama to the outcome.

From the outside, allowing the old Mass has been seen primarily as a concession to the followers of the late Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre, who was excommunicated in 1988 for his intransigence on liturgical and other reforms of Vatican II.

But some Vatican officials believe that aspect has been overblown. More than making peace with Archbishop Lefebvre's followers, they said, the pope is trying to make peace with the church's own tradition.

One big clue to the pope's thinking came in his 1997 book, titled "Milestones: Memoirs 1927-1977" and written when he was Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, in which he sharply criticized the drastic manner in which Pope Paul VI reformed the Mass in 1969.

The almost total prohibition of the old missal, which had been used for 400 years, was unprecedented in the history of the liturgy, he said in the book. In effect, he said, "the old building was demolished" and a new one put in its place. Thus the liturgy ceased to be a living development and was treated as something manufactured by experts, which has caused the church "enormous harm," he said.

Even before he wrote those words, then-Cardinal Ratzinger had caused a stir when he said it made sense for the priest to celebrate Mass facing the same direction as the congregation, in the pre-Vatican II style, although he also said it would be confusing to turn the altar around once again.

Over the years, he has sharply criticized what he sees as a tendency for the worshiping community to celebrate only itself.

All of that led some to presume that, as pope, he would preside over a rollback of liturgical reform.

But the picture is not so clear-cut.

As Cardinal Ratzinger, he said he considered the new missal a "real improvement" in many respects, and that the introduction of local languages made sense.

In one revealing speech to Catholic traditionalists in 1998, he said bluntly that the old "low Mass," with its whispered prayers at the altar and its silent congregation, "was not what liturgy should be, which is why it was not painful for many people" when it disappeared.

The most important thing, he said at that time, was to make sure that the liturgy does not divide the Catholic community.

With that in mind, knowledgeable Vatican sources say the pope's new document will no doubt aim to lessen pastoral tension between the Tridentine rite and the new Mass, rather than hand out a victory to traditionalists.

Under Pope John Paul II, Cardinal Ratzinger conducted the unsuccessful negotiations with Archbishop Lefebvre in 1988, before the archbishop broke off talks and ordained new bishops in defiance of the pope.

Cardinal Ratzinger insisted then that the Lefebvrists accept the new Mass and other major teachings of Vatican II. It's a position he has repeated in his ongoing contacts as pope with Lefebvrist leaders, sources said.

It was Pope John Paul who in 1984 first made it possible for groups of the faithful to worship according to the Latin-language 1962 Roman Missal, the last Vatican-approved missal prior to the post-conciliar reforms.

Pope John Paul set conditions for this special permission, or indult. The main requirement was that those who used the Tridentine rite must make publicly clear "beyond all ambiguity" that they do not call into question the validity of the new Roman Missal.

In 1988, Pope John Paul relaxed the conditions for the indult, but groups still had to accept the new Mass and were still expected to obtain the permission of their local bishop.

The role of the bishop in approving and overseeing use of the Tridentine rite has been a crucial issue in the recent debate.

Last fall, when rumors were swirling that a bishop's permission would no longer be needed, the bishops of France issued a statement saying that the return of the pre-Vatican II Mass should be regulated and not left to "personal tastes and choices."

The French bishops also said traditionalist groups that use the Tridentine rite should be expected to give "an unequivocal gesture of assent to the teachings of the church's authentic magisterium," its teaching authority.

For these reasons, many will be looking at Pope Benedict's document not only for a liturgical verdict, but also for a sign of his reconciling skills.


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Sotto Voce

Vatican Sponsors Concert With Music Composed By Russian Orthodox Bishop

The Vatican has helped sponsor a concert with music composed by a top Russian Orthodox bishop.

Bishop Hilarion of Vienna and Austria (pic'd here), the Russian church's representative to the European Union, recently wrote and composed the two-hour work titled "The Passion According to Matthew."

The music, written for soloists, choir and orchestra, made its debut in Moscow March 27 to an audience that included Russian Orthodox Patriarch Alexy II of Moscow.

The Vatican's Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity and Pontifical Council for Culture helped bring the music to Rome, where it was performed March 29 at the St. Cecilia Auditorium, a few blocks from St. Peter's Basilica.

Cardinal Paul Poupard, head of the culture council, said the concert was "an extraordinary and unique event."

A musical performance written in the Orthodox tradition and performed in the city which represents the heart of Catholicism is an "eloquent instrument of ecumenical dialogue and striking cultural exchange," the cardinal said during a March 28 press conference.

The concert also marked another important step in the ongoing process of fostering greater awareness and understanding between the Catholic and Russian Orthodox churches, which are already "deeply involved on a path of reciprocal respect, dialogue and collaboration," he said.

The cardinal remarked it was "a happy coincidence" that Easter was being celebrated on the same day this year by both churches.

In a March 29 interview on Vatican Radio, Bishop Hilarion said he was thrilled his work was performed the year Easter fell on the same day for the churches.

"This underlines the fact that the deep meaning of our faith is the same and that our religious experience is really the resurrection of Christ," he said.


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Easter And All Its Glory (Reflection)

February 21st was Ash Wednesday and marks the beginning of our most sacred time of year: The Easter Season.

While Advent prompts us to reconcile our everyday experiences with the hope and joy of the coming of the Messiah, Lent prompts us to reconcile our everyday experiences to the reality of the resurrection.

As so many great scholars have asked; “Without the resurrection, what do we have?”

As Christians, we can honestly answer that question: “Nothing.”

Without the resurrection, we have nothing that sets our faith apart from all other faiths and claims. It is the resurrection that proclaims Jesus as Lord and Saviour.

So for six weeks we will prepare ourselves, to the best of our ability, for the reality of Christ’s victory over death. We will fast and pray and attend Stations of the Cross.

These activities mark our faith and form our Catholic identity, but what do they mean? What are they based upon?

Catholics have always been called to abstain from meat, or in some way do penance, on the Fridays of Lent.

Actually, Catholics have always been called to do some form of penance on Fridays throughout the year but that practice gave way, through time, to observance only during Lent.

But isn’t penance a good thing? It is.

And for many Catholics, returning to traditional roots and teachings is becoming more popular. Having witnessed a rise in immorality in entertainment, higher divorce rates, and an overall decline in a Christian worldview has prompted many Baby Boomers to return to the teachings of their parents or grandparents.

More and more families are returning to saying the rosary together and finding time for family dinners. Children’s activities are giving way to family activities that provide a solid catechetical foundation for future generations.

And Friday penance is part of that package.

Penance is recognition of our sinful nature and sinful ways, even on our best days. It doesn’t mean that we deplore ourselves or our earthly existence but simply recognize our need for Christ and His forgiveness.

There is a deep sense of peace when one lives fully in Christ’s salvation. This is why Christ said that it was His peace that He was giving to us.

He fully understood the value of that gift. So, Fridays during Lent are our time to do penance, and while the common practice is to abstain from eating meat, some might make other choices more indicative of sacrifice.

Regardless of what it is that we individually choose to “give up” on Fridays during Lent, it is a wonderful time to offer these sacrifices to Christ.

And, of course, fasting on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday are also ways in which we are penitent. Through fasting we empty ourselves of our own bodily needs and desires to be more fully in union with Christ.

And yet even this cannot compare to what He sacrificed for us. But in whatever small way we can enjoin our sacrifices to His, we are more fully living under His Blood.

Lent is also a time when we are called to pray.

While St. Paul calls us to pray “unceasingly,” Lent is a time where those unending prayers may take a more somber tone. We might find ourselves more interested in “listening” than “asking.” We recognize in our prayers Christ’s ultimate sacrifice for our eternal salvation.

We might want to know, more than ever before, how He is calling us to glorify the Father’s kingdom. Combined with our penance, these prayers become powerful weapons in our earthly existence.

It is also during this sacred time of year that Stations of the Cross services are held, on Friday evenings, throughout Catholic churches around the world.

Very few experiences are as anointed as spending time reliving Christ’s last few hours on earth. Stations of the Cross allow us to shut out the secular world and immerse ourselves in Scripture and in the reality of His last steps.

The beauty of the give and take between priest or deacon and congregation is mesmerizing.

The fluid movements between standing and genuflecting and responding become hypnotic.

The culmination of the service in the dispersing of incense and the presence of the consecrated host centers us, with Christ, as we glory in the knowledge His resurrection.

It is that resurrection that gives us hope and marks the Easter season as the cornerstone of our faith.

May your Easter season be a blessed one as you fast and pray and attend Stations of the Cross.


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Sotto Voce

NYC Chocolate Jesus Exhibit Cancelled

A chocolate sculpture of Jesus Christ that's caused an uproar after it was scheduled to be displayed to the public in a Manhattan hotel's gallery during Easter week will no longer be on exhibit, New York City CBS television station WCBS-TV has confirmed.

The six-foot, 120-pound candy sculpture dubbed "My Sweet Lord" by creator Cosimo Cavallaro, was supposed to be unveiled to the public Monday night at a gallery inside the Roger Smith Hotel on East 47th Street in a window that faces the street.

Criticism over the sculpture has come not only because of the medium of candy but because of the timing of its exhibition.

Cavallaro says Catholics shouldn't be offended by the chocolate creation. "I'm doing it as a celebration of Christ. It's food, it's nurturing, it's sweet, there's nothing menacing about it," he told WCBS-TV. "It tastes great. I love it and it's all about taste for me -- if I can taste it before I can touch it -- on a religious object, on an inanimate object, on anything."

In a statement to WCBS-TV, New York Archbishop Edward Cardinal Egan had this to say about the sculpture: "The media have reported that a so-called 'work of art,' manifestly intended to offend the Christians of our community, will be displayed during Holy Week in the Roger Smith Hotel in Manhattan. It is a scandalous carving of Jesus Christ allegedly made out of chocolate. What the Roger Smith Hotel would hope to achieve by this sickening display, no one seems to know. The Catholic community is alerted to this offense of our faith and sensitivities. This is something we will not forget."

The sculpture had been temporarily housed inside a warehouse in Long Island City, but Cavallaro was asked to remove it after the warehouse's owner said he'd been receiving threats because of the sculpture.

Many were calling for the Roger Smith gallery to cancel the display, which they decided to do Friday afternoon.

"We're getting a phenomenal human response here to this, to this question and to the piece of art," Gallery Director Matt Semler told WCBS-TV.

Other Catholic officials agreed with the Archbishop's sentiments.

"This is one of the worst assaults on Christian sensibilities ever," said Bill Donohue, head of the Catholic League, a watchdog group.

"It's not just the ugliness of the portrayal, but the timing -- to choose Holy Week is astounding."

The sculpture was created from over 200 pounds of milk chocolate, and depicted a completely nude Jesus with outstretched arms.

There is no word yet as to what Cavallaro plans to do with the sculpture now.


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Sotto Voce

Dominican Cardinal Blasted

The head of one of the Dominican Republic’s largest union of bus owners today fired back at the cardinal Nicolas de Jesus Lopez Rodriguez, who had stated yesterday that those unionist must ask the country’s forgiveness for their actions.

Juan Hubieres, head of the Fenatrano bus owners union, stated that it’s the senior catholic prelate who should ask forgiveness for his alleged misdeeds agaisnt the Dominican society.

“He has to ask forgiveness for the burning of the jail at Higuey, for what the priests did in San Rafael del Yuma, for what father Meregildo did, for the crimes which he ignored by Balaguer,” said Hubieres this Friday morning in an interview on CDN Channel 36, in reference to major scandals involving Catholic prelates, and the late ex-president Joaquin Balaguer.

His statement comes in the wake of criticism by the Dominican Catholic Church’s Cardinal yesterday, who affirmed that the heads of the country’s bus unions should ask the Dominican people’s forgiveness for their actions, in reference to a recent strike in which several workers were severely burned when a protester hurled a firebomb into the bus they were on.

The row is expected to continue in view of the two personalities’ known tendency to stand their ground.

Hubieres, along with other heads of the national transport unions, have been described as “the country’s owners” for their ability to intimidate the authorities with apparent impunity.


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Croatian Hospitals Bound To Pay Fees To Catholic Church

All Croatian hospitals and social institutions have been ordered to pay 137 euros of monthly fee to the Croatian Bishop Conference.

The funds will be used for spiritual support to the Catholic religion believers.

Croatian Ministry of Health and Social Welfare notified these institutions about the new pecuniary obligation by the end of February.

As many as 64 hospitals and 260 social care institutions will provide a total annual income of €532,000 to the Catholic Church.

Pursuant to the agreement signed by the Croatia and Vatican, the local government is proving additional financial assistance of €435,000 to the Bishop Conference.


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Sotto Voce

Catholic Theologian Condemned For Pro-Gay Writings

The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops has taken the unusual step of declaring pamphlets by a Marquette University theologian incompatible with church teaching.

Daniel Maguire last year distributed pamphlets to all the U.S. bishops titled, "The Moderate Roman Catholic Position on Contraception and Abortion" and "A Catholic Defense of Same-Sex Marriage."

The bishops' doctrine committee said in a statement that Maguire gave his views wide distribution "as if they were a valid alternative to the teaching of the Catholic Church," so the prelates felt it was important to publicly denounce his arguments.

Maguire, a graduate of Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome, teaches religious ethics at Marquette, a Jesuit school.

He has been challenging the church's views on sexuality for years.

In a March 23 response to the bishops, Maguire called church leaders "arrogant," saying they ignored the central message of his pamphlets and letter last year.

He said he told the bishops that were overly fixated on contraception, abortion and same-sex marriage and neglected justice issues including poverty, racism and environmental degradation.

Marquette University said in a statement that it agrees with the bishops that Maguire's pamphlets are not in accord with Catholic teaching.

But Maguire has a right to express his views and, "as a tenured professor, he also has rights related to his academic discipline," the university said.

(Posting 1,200)


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German Neo-Nazis On The March

As part of Al Jazeera's series on the rise of the right in Europe, Barnaby Phillips travelled to Germany to explore the growing popularity of neo-Nazi groups.

In the small town of Halbe in eastern Germany some of the country's new generation have gathered for march, a march back to old times and back to an ideology of hatred and separation.

Those taking part are forbidden by strict German laws from displaying Nazi symbols but there is little secret where their affiliation lies or that they are honouring a time that most people recall with revulsion.

The marchers are part of a growing number of the population who dream of what they call a pure Germany, composed only of whites.

Anti-fascist protesters have also travelled to Halbe attempting to disrupt the march but are forced back by police.Racist attacks Such gatherings are a dilemma for the German authorities.

If they ban marches, they could appear undemocratic, but allowing them may risk seeing support for the far-right support grow, albeit under tight restrictions.

But the rise in popularity of neo-Nazi groups has accompanied another worrying trend, the increase of racist attacks.

A report this week in the Tagesspiegel newspaper revealed that racist attacks committed by neo-Nazis and other far right groups had reached their highest levels since the reunification of Germany in 1990.

Rise of the Right

The crime rate rose by 14 per cent last year to 18,000 extremist offences according to the report, with 1,100 of those acts of violence, an eight per cent annual increase according to federal police figures.

In one of the most serious incidents in July last year, far right supporters in the eastern state of Saxony-Anhalt burned the diary of Holocaust victim Anne Frank, causing outrage among German politicians and anti-racist groups.

In another incident in the state later in the year, teenagers forced a 16-year-old classmate to parade around school wearing a sign with an anti-Semitic, Nazi-era slogan.

Such figures and events are alarming, particularly for Germany’s black and African communities with some areas of eastern Germany already no-go areas for them.

In the country’s capital, Berlin, Al Jazeera spoke to Emmanuel Donkor, struggling to make his way after moving to Germany from Ghana.

Instead of seeing his hopes of a brighter future realised he was attacked while waiting on a train station platform a by a white skin-head and his pit-bull terrier.

Emmanuel said passer-bys just watched and could only say, "the police…never happen again."Political gain

However in the east of Berlin, the presentable face of the far-right can be found.

Udo Voigt has been the leader of the National Democratic Party (NDP) since 1996.

The party has been consistently labelled by successive German governments as descendants of the Nazis but that did not stop its candidates winning 12 seats in the state parliament of the eastern region of Saxony in 2004.

Emmanuel Donkor says passers-by did nothing to help him when attacked by a white skinheadIt followed that success by winning six of 71 regional parliamentary seats in another eastern state, Mecklenburg-Vorpommern last year.

Voigt and his followers are quick to exploit the economic malaise and unemployment that is prevalent in eastern Germany. For the NDP closed factories and unemployment are opportunities to win over angry Germans.

Voigt says immigrants must go home and that the German race must stay pure. "We German people have many qualities- we are hardworking, courageous and faithful," he says.

"But if we mix races we will lose these qualities. Because we will then mix our characteristics with the characteristics of other races- and we are opposed to this."

When politicians say races shouldn’t mix, the consequences can be ugly.

Ben Adison knows that. He fled Sierra Leone's civil war but in Germany he was beaten into a coma by a neo-Nazi gang.

Today he feels alone and says that black people are hated in his town."Its like 'lets kill them, they are not human beings……I will cut your throat." he says.

The German government plans to pump millions of dollars into promoting tolerance and diversity this year, but at the same time it has also cut funding for several existing programmes aimed at combatting racist attacks such as the ones on Emmanuel Donkor and Ben Adison.


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Sotto Voce

Sotto Voce...

My dear friends in Christ, as we approach the 25,000 hits number, let me again offer my sincerest thanks to you all for visiting this site.

As part of the overall upgrading and renewal of this site, I have added 2 new features courtesy of Google let it be said which are purely experimental for now.

The first addition is to be found at the end of each page just under the hit counter and it carries breaking headlines in relation to the RC Church worldwide!!! Click on the headline and it will open in another window for you to read right away....

The second addition is to be found where you can see the picture of the late Pope John Paul II whose anniversary falls this coming week so all you need to do is click on any of the pictures under the title Pope John Paul II and straight away, a video clip will start to play on the blog instead of you having to log into youtube or anywhere else where the link is.

This should help you and if there are any difficulties using any of these features, plese let me know right away and I will attempt to resolve the matter straight away for you. I sincerely hope these additions will help you enjoy your visit to this blog...and get in touch with comments etc by clicking on comment envelope underneath...


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Sotto Voce

Deliver Us From Evil (Éire)

The sexual abuse of children is often described as 'unspeakable', and perhaps this in part is why it is so difficult to combat.

'Deliver Us From Evil' takes a braver approach, choosing to transport us directly into the heart of darkness via the sickening career of the convicted Irish-born paedophile priest Oliver O'Grady.

Controversially, O'Grady himself is one of the film's key interviewees.

To her credit, the director Amy Berg subverts his evident wish to vindicate or downplay the reality of his crimes by counter-pointing his frequently self-serving testimony with the remarkably frank and moving interviews given to her by his victims and their parents.

Aside from these fundamentally opposite elements, 'Deliver Us From Evil' also includes legal depositions given by O'Grady and his superiors, Bishop (now Cardinal) Mahony and Monsignor Cain, prior to O'Grady's trial and conviction for sexual assault, and interviews with a number of American lawyers and theology experts.

It has no narrator; instead utilising to good effect minimal textual and graphic links to supply a sense of time, place and movement.

In the primary interviews - those with O'Grady and his victims and their families - the picture of sexual abuse and victimisation painted is incredibly jarring.

Berg successfully creates an astonishingly visceral sense of the evil and fear O'Grady inflicted wherever he went during his 20-year career, never losing sight of the fact that he was protected and facilitated in this by his superiors.

This is to her credit as O'Grady attempts to present himself as an innocuous or innocent individual during most of his time on screen. While the scale and depravity of his abuse is known to be vast - he assaulted literally hundreds of children, including infants over a period of 20 years - Berg manages the difficult job of ensuring that 'Deliver Us From Evil' did not become a misguided plea for understanding or forgiveness.

Rather than 'contextualise' O'Grady's abuse, she succeeds in creating a vivid impression of the magnitude and depth of the damage done.

A key interviewee is Bob Jyono, husband of Maria, an Irish emigrant to America, and father of Ann, who was abused by O'Grady from age five to age 12. His breaking down as he recounts the story of how they discovered that O'Grady had abused his position as a friend of the family is heartbreaking and more than any other scene delivers the sense of innocence shattered and trust betrayed that gives the film its righteous sense of moral outrage.

The story of Adam, another victim, and his mother, seduced by O'Grady in order that he might gain access to her child, is similarly shocking and tragic and throughout the stories of the victims are unrelentingly emotive.

Berg deserves credit for her outstanding technical and compositional ability.

Particularly effective is a scene in which, as O'Grady describes his vile abuse of a young boy, Berg shows us open-mouthed, staring statues in a church as they seem to cry out mutedly.

O'Grady calmly proceeds to tell his story and here, as in many other scenes, the sense that he is simply incapable of understanding the evil of his predilection is palpable.

For Irish viewers it will undoubtedly prove strange and unsettling to see O'Grady being interviewed in and around the St Stephen's Green area, having returned to Ireland after serving several years in prison in the US.

A Dublin bus trundles past at one point, and at another we see him leaning on a fence, watching children in a playground. These scenes have been digitally altered to obscure the children's faces.

Even worse is the chilling sense at one point that 'Deliver Us From Evil' may in fact be O'Grady's final attempt to somehow get at his victims.

Early in the film we learn that he has extended an invitation to them to come to see him in Ireland in order for him to apologise in person (an invitation he later withdraws).

Later we see him sitting in a darkened room and winking directly at the camera, saying "hope to see all of you real soon".

With all that has gone before, the effect of this is heart-stopping. Is O'Grady simply incapable of normal human behavior, and thus guilty of failing to understand the seriousness of what he had done, or is this a calculated effort to intimidate or humiliate his victims? I am still not able to decide.

Aside from the interviews with O'Grady and his victims, 'Deliver Us From Evil' features a secondary' strand which attempts to link Roman Catholic theology and the institutional make-up of the church to the individual cases of abuse.

It succeeds in part.

One commentator in particular, the dissident theologian Father Tom Doyle, is a sympathetic and interesting figure, while an interview with a psychologist is also revealing on the subject of the church-wide problem.

Besides these two, the lawyers and commentators used to build the case against the church are prone to superficial summaries of aspects of Catholicism and, although it is hard to judge, occasional over-statement.

As with all such documentaries, Michael Moore's 'Bowling For Columbine' comes to mind, there is an occasional tendency to overstep the mark in attempting to present the case for one side over the other.

In seeking to build a case against the church 'Deliver Us From Evil' could be accused of being overly keen to prove that the church as an institution is responsible for O'Grady's actions, rather than O'Grady himself.

I can understand why Berg might choose to use an opening quote from the apocryphal Gospel of Thomas, presumably she wishes to make a point about the church and marginalisation, but this is misguided.

A quote from a canonical text, of which there are hundreds suitable, would have been more effective.

However, as with 'Bowling For Columbine', there is a core of truth and outrage that leaves an indelibly vivid impression on the viewer.

Although the subject matter is disturbing, and one could be forgiven for avoiding it on account of its potential to cause upset, this is a must see film.


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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 Pushing Mexico in Abortion Fight

The Vatican's top anti-abortion campaigner kicked off the Roman Catholic Church's aggressive campaign against plans to legalize abortion in Mexico Friday.

Cardinal Alfonso Lopez Trujillo inaugurated an international anti-abortion conference by giving a Mass at the Basilica of the Virgin of Guadalupe, the most important Catholic shrine in the Americas.

In a prayer to the Virgin of Guadalupe before about 300 people, many carrying flags from other Latin American countries, Lopez Trujillo asked for the strengthening of women 'so they can teach their children moral values' but didn't speak directly against abortion.

The campaign pushes the limit of Mexico's constitutional ban on political activity by religious groups. It is also drawing President Felipe Calderon, a conservative who opposes abortion, into a showdown with leftists spearheading the bills to legalize abortion.

While the church has always been against abortion, the Vatican especially does not want to lose its anti-abortion fight in Mexico, which has the second-largest Catholic population in Latin America.

'In the name of Jesus Christ and his Gospel, we ask, we implore they do not approve an unjust and bloody law that kills the innocent,' said the Rev. Hugo Valdemar, spokesman for the Catholic Archdiocese of Mexico City.

At a press conference after Mass, Lopez Trujillo, who made headlines in 2003 for saying condoms do not prevent AIDS, said he was in Mexico to present a book about the Catholic Church's philosophy and not to intervene in the capital's abortion debate.

However, he said there already are too many abortions in the world and that 'we don't have a reason to shred a human being who is a creation of God and who carries the world's hope.'

The conference in Mexico City, sponsored by Mexico's leading anti-abortion group, Pro-Vida, will feature talks by anti-abortion activists, including Dr. John Wilkie, an early leader of the U.S. National Right to Life Committee.

Mexico's Roman Catholic Church is calling on its followers to participate in a massive march Sunday led by Mexico City's own Cardinal Norberto Rivera.

Lawmakers from the main opposition Democratic Revolution Party, who proposed the bills to legalize abortion in the first three months of pregnancy, have asked the church to stay out of the matter.

The debate has drawn international interest, which also could test a Mexican law that bars foreigners from political activism.

In 2000, authorities barred U.S. and Canadian anti-abortion activists from returning to Mexico for five years after the group joined protests in Mexico City's main square.

The bill to legalize abortion is expected to easily pass in Mexico City, a leftist bastion where Democratic Revolution holds the mayorship and the majority of seats in the city legislature.

Democratic Revolution lawmakers have filed a similar bill in the national Senate, but it is expected to face a tough battle there.

Most Latin American countries, including Mexico, allow abortion if the woman's life is in danger or in cases of rape or incest.

In November, Nicaragua passed a law banning abortion in all cases.

Cuba permits abortions within the first 12 weeks of pregnancy, as does the United States.

Wealthier Mexican women often travel to the United States for abortions, while thousands of poor women risk drinking potent herbal teas, taking pills or using other risky measures to abort illegally.

'It's very easy to get an illegal abortion,' said Cecilia Garcia, a street seller who hawks cosmetics in the poor city of Ecatepec on the capital's outskirts.

'You can go to the Sonora market (a popular market selling home and witchcraft remedies), look on the Internet for ways, or go to certain doctors who will do it.'


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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

St Pixels: Church of the Internet clicks into gear

Online church St Pixels enters an exciting phase this Easter with the launch of a new church environment and a ground-breaking service for BBC Radio 4's Sunday Worship.

Although not yet in full 3D, St Pixels, a project supported by the Methodist Church, now has many features of the final version.

'You enter by selecting how you want your cartoon "avatar" (or character) to look - hairstyle, shape of nose, skin colour and clothes,' explains Simon Jenkins, one of the St Pixels development team. 'You can even wear sunglasses or smoke a pipe.'

Once inside the church, visitors can talk to each other, enter different rooms, take part in worship or Bible study and listen to a sermon illustrated by pictures.

"So far we've created a very high-quality chatroom," said Jenkins, editor of Christian webzine Ship of Fools. "We can show images and play music, hymns and sound effects.

Until now, St Pixels has been meeting on the equivalent of website bulletin boards, so going "live" in this way is a huge step forward. And there's the 3D church to come, of course."

St Pixels has about 1,500 registered users. More than 600 different people enter the church's website each day.

Most members describe themselves as Christian and some are already leaders in traditional churches. For others, St Pixels is the only point of contact with organised religion.

"People join for a variety of reasons,' says Mark Howe, one of St Pixels' programmers. 'We are accessible for those who cannot leave home due to infirmity or young children. It's also convenient for people whose working life does not fit with local church services - or who live far from a physical church.

Members take part in discussions, pray for each other and play games - as well as worshipping together. Many travel considerable distances to meet "in real life"'.

St Pixels is the successor of Church of Fools, launched as a three-month pilot project in 2004 by Ship of Fools.

"In developing St Pixels our first priority was to resist hackers and trouble-makers,' explains Simon Jenkins. 'Deliberately, we have not rushed into a fully 3D environment.

Instead we have produced our own customised chatroom from scratch which allows for presentations, preaching, music and sound effects - for a worshipping community.

"Without the vision, support and encouragement of the Methodist Church, this new adventure would have been impossible. We're especially pleased that Methodism has caught the vision of creating genuine Christian community on the Net.'

"The full 3D environment is on its way - but the St Pixels team are aware of unsatisfying experiments conducted on 3D 'superworld' Second Life.

'It's very easy to do either chaos or dictatorship on the Internet, but Christian community calls for something more subtle,' explains Mark Howe.

'Virtual worlds like Second Life don't provide the tools needed to nurture inclusive corporate worship and there are too many gangs on the Net whose main intent is to disrupt. Technology and spirituality need to interact at every stage in the development process."

St Pixels will be the focus of BBC Radio 4's Sunday Worship on Sun 15 April when more than 20 members will meet for the first time in Manchester. It is the first time the BBC have run a service with a 'virtual' church.

"Christians are increasingly creating churches in many different forms, from traditional ways through to things as yet unimagined," said Rev Jonathan Kerry, Coordinating Secretary for Worship and Learning in the Methodist Church Connexional Team.

"St Pixels is one of these new ways of being church, allowing Christians to gather online to worship God, support each other and pray for the world.

The Methodist Church is delighted to have been able to sponsor it, and we hope that it will continue to thrive as a place for Christians of all traditions to meet."


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European Parliament Investigates Poland Over Law Limiting Homosexual Propaganda

The Committee on Civil Liberties of the European Parliament has ordered an investigation into a future law against homosexual propaganda in Poland, in order to determine if the norm will violate EU laws.

According to international news agencies, the EU committee has requested that its internal services determine if the measure would violate an EU directive from 2002 barring discrimination in the workplace.

The review has been requested by Dutch EU representatives Kathalijne Buitenweg and Sophia In't Veld.

Several days ago, the Poland’s Minister of Education together with the Polish League of Families proposed a law protecting children in the country’s schools from aggressive and obscene homosexual propaganda that presents the gay lifestyle as “normal and acceptable.”

With this law’s passage administrators who allow homosexual activists to enter their schools and thus protect the rights of parents “to educate their children according to the values system that they choose.”

“The homosexual agenda is a threat to that freedom,” explained the spokesman of the League, Krzysztof Bosak, a well-known pro-family activist in Poland.

“In Poland homosexual activists have tried to distribute obscene pamphlets in schools. This must stop, for the good of our children, so that their security and freedom are free of this harassment,” he added.

He also specified that “nobody is attacking persons with homosexual tendencies. What we are opposed to the dangerous political and social movement that uses the problems of gays to promote an agenda that is dangerous for the foundations of our civilization.”

If the review concludes that the Polish law violates EU norms, the EU Parliament could ask the Committee and the EU Council to act against Poland.


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.

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“Dare to love your families” - Il Papa Tells Youth

In advance of the 22nd annual World Youth Day, which will be celebrated this Sunday, Pope Benedict XVI met with thousands of Roman youth on Thursday night, leading them in a penance service, and hearing some of their individual confessions.

The Holy Father encouraged the young people to encounter God’s love in the Sacrament and challenged them to then go forth, living a life of Christian love.

The Holy Father welcomed the thousands of young people to a penance service in St. Peter’s Basilica, a liturgy he called, “a meeting around the Cross, a celebration of God’s mercy which in the Sacrament of Confession each of you can personally experience.”

“In every man’s heart is a thirst for love,” Pope Benedict told the young people, mentioning the theme of this year’s World Youth Day: “As I loved you, you must love one another.”

Christians, he said, “can even less live without love. Actually, if a Christian does not find true love, he cannot even say he is really a Christian.” For in love, a Christian is most like Christ, the Pope said.“God’s love for us was made visible in the mystery of the Cross,” explained the Pope, calling it a “crucified love” that “has its height in the joy of Resurrection and Ascension” and “in the gift of the Holy Spirit.”

Through this same Holy Spirit, the Holy Father continued, “this very tonight, sins will be remitted and forgiveness and peace will be granted.”“Through Baptism,” the Pope added, “you are already born to a new life because of God’s grace.”

However, since this grace does not overcome fallen human nature, he said, God has given man, “the opportunity to receive the Sacrament of Confession.”

“Every time you do it with faith and devotion,” Benedict told the youth, “God’s love and mercy move your heart closer to Christ’s minister. To him you express your pain for the sins you have committed, with the firm intention not to sin ever again” and “with the willingness to receive with joy the acts of penance that he shows to you to correct the damage caused by your sins.

Thus you experience forgiveness for your sins; reconciliation with the Church; the recovery, if lost, of your state of grace.”“Christ attracts us to Him to join all of us, so that in our turn we learn to love our neighbors with the same love as His,” he emphasized.

Today, “there is such a need of a new ability to love our neighbors. As you leave this celebration”, be ready “to dare love in your families, in your relations with your friends and even with those who have offended you.

Be ready to leave your mark, through a truly Christian testimony, on the ambiences in which you study and work, be ready to work hard in your parish communities”, in the associations and “in every sphere of society,” he challenged the young people.

After offering his words, the Holy Father stepped into a confessional box to join over 200 other priests in individually hearing the young peoples’ confessions.


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.

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