Wednesday, October 31, 2007

An Focal Scóir - October 2007

October - the month of the Rosary - opens with Il Papa appealing for peace in Burma and Korea, calls for a new religious reformation, clash of (Irish) church and state in relation to education, Episcopal bishop goes RC...

Beginning of CW reflection on the Rosary, nuns brawl again, Christianity in Australia declining in numbers, East to meet West(?), Papal Liturgist to step down to take up more global role, euthanasia in Vatican(?)...

New Patriarch of Romanian Orthodox Church enthroned, drunken Polish priest, Irish church to reduce role in education, CSA by nuns, Anglican Church re-assesses baptism, Church of Ireland rector on pornography charges...

Mother Teresa miracle, Bishop Burke refuses communion to Giuliani, Irish RC wants money to hand over schools to State (always down to money with them anyway!!), anti-gay Patriarch in EuroParliament, nun appeals to Il Papa in convent row...

No papal visit to Ireland, Il Vaticano buys a soccer team, nuns out to allow sale of property for CSA victims compo cash, Cardinal Bully down under, Il Papa says RC church no tax privileges, anti-il papa graffiti in Naples...

NCPI to cease after 31 years, cat tells Il Papa life story, Vatican Christmas tree from Italy in 2007, Black Madonna pilgrimage, clerical collar equals danger...

NHS cuts affect chaplaincies in UK hospitals, Irish education not fair to non-RC's, Irish bishops state laity need be given more power (took them a while!), Protestant Christian killed in Gaza, new Iraqi seminary opens...

Montreal cemetery issue resolved, Il Papa and Jewish heads meet, life as priest in Israel still dangerous, Il Papa letter being stopped in China, cleric in love sacked, divorce on rise in Europe, importance of prayer in St Peters important says Il Papa...

Il Papa wants prayer of unity, priest sent for life sentence, nuns out of rebel convent, Galway Diocese Child Protection Policy issued, Europe entrusted to Our Lady, Irish topless bar under verbal clerical assault, more PC madness as airport worker suspended for Jesus image...

Cardinal says RC church needs to be louder re:abortion, Anglican bishop to boycott Lambeth, clerical censorship in Ireland, Sotto Voce on a break for few days, Vatican suspends high ranking 'gay' cleric, new document post motu proprio...

Appeal for release of kidnapped clerics, Irish Anglican bishops' wife becomes RC, Il Papa and profit, Milingo minus Vatican passport, Il Papa writes 2nd encyclical, Mexican cardinal cleared in CSA case...

Christian struggle with homosexuality, UK Templars seek apology from Vatican, Irish bishop 'donates' land to elderly, Brady to become 3rd living Irish cardinal, list of new cardinals announced, Thurles seminary takes new route in education...

Vatican in need of internal cleansing says high ranking cardinal, miracle of Newman may speed up beatification, 'race hate' priest interviewed by Met Police, friction between AJC and RC in relation to WYD08...

...and thus ends our first half trip into this month.... ...and we thus enter into the latter half of the month of the Rosary with the news of priests being abducted in Mosul, a priest to appeal his excommunication for breaking the Seal of Confession, the role and importance of the laity is under the microscope...

Spanish beatifications causes a stir in Rome and Spain, insight into importance of being named cardinal, Ireland will get a new cardinal on November 24th thus having historical 3 cardinals alive at same time (only 1 will be eligible vote in conclave due to age restrictions), suspended 'gay' priest in Vatican name shame list, Vatican takes firm stance with Muslims...

Traditional Anglicans seek reunification with Rome, Il Papa in Ulster visit (??), a sneak peek in the Vatican Secret Archives, beatification of Nazi objector, Anglican Synod to discuss female bishops, Anglican abuse of children ignored for decades...

Anglican Bishop wife becomes RC, Irish RC Church regaining voice, Argentinian RC priest convicted of war crimes, Apocalypse in Vatican, theologians fear loss of intellectual freedom...

Australian nun closer to sainthood, clergy can save church not bureaucrats, Vatican seeking return of property in Russia, sex and Christianity, RC ban on condom causing spread of HIV/AIDS, Chavez slams RC Church...

UK abortion concerns expressed by UK cardinals, Padre Pio a fake (??), Pell not concerned with climate, Mother Teresa JPII and fastrack Saints, Anglican-RC statement on Virgin Mary, bishop challenged in Vatican by Archpriest...

No religious education in Swedish schools, Anglican Irish parishes seek communion with Rome, John XXIII believed Padre Pio to be a fraud, Brazil wants host 2011 Youth Day, porn exhibit in cathedral, Fr Damian close to sainthood, US visit by Il Papa schedule...

Cardinal book lets few secrets out, RC Church bars gay ex-hostage, Anglican Church promises to root out decades old sex abuse cases, gay baby campaign condemned by Vatican, talking saves marriages, priest admits stealing thousands from parish funds, mosques a test of faith for RC in Germany...

Vienna hosts world first divorce fair, Martin Luther and 95 Theses, Orthodox and RC agreement but not on Papal primacy, bloggers under threat in Italy, Christ Peter and the Papacy, cardinals by geography, papal labour law...

US female ambassador to Vatican, 5 nuns assaulted, new RC leader in Moscow, Scottish abortion battle, Danish web upsets RC's, more 'no' than 'yes' in marriage, Poland counts its RC members, PSNI investigating CSA in Northern Ireland RC Church...

Ireland moving on same sex legislation, feature on Rosary comes to an end after month long reflection on Mysteries of Rosary, beatification back street fights, Sri Lanka Anglican Church in crisis, Il Papa says no to pill, Britney sets RC pulses throbbing...

Vatican says no to Muslims, Vatican becomes unChristian with mass evictions, Aussie Pell supports gay discrimination, Polish Cardinal going to big screen, Ireland divorce shambles, Mexico RC criticises Hallowe'en, and round off the month with a religious perspective on Hallowe'en...

My dear friends, this month has now come to an end, and it has indeed been busy but November will prove to be as busy with it being the month of the Deceased and also will see the Consistory taking place on 24th November and also the season of Advent shall also begin.

With Advent, as with Lent earlier this year, a symbolic picture shall be placed alongside with a daily reflection being posted for your own spiritual journey towards that blessed season of Christmas...and I hope you can take the journey with me...

To you all again, many thanks for taking the time to drop in and click on this blogspot (186,734 hits) and with 3,683 postings to keep you interested, no doubt the 200,000 hits and 4,000 postings barriers will yet be breached by the time this site reaches its 1st birthday on December 15th 2007...

Míle buíochás

Sotto Voce

Hallowe'en - A Religious Perspective

In Ireland and Scotland Halloween is far more traditional an event than in North America, with more cultural and historical significance, as opposed to the commercialized importance on the other side of the Atlantic.

Therefore, even amongst most conservative Christians, it is a far more accepted holiday with hardly any moral objections, in particular amongst Roman Catholics.

However some people do find and, to some extent resent, an Americanization occurring towards Halloween, which in turn could affect some traditions, notably the Samhain origins of the festival.

It should also be noted that Guy Fawkes night is not celebrated in the Republic of Ireland at all.

Therefore Halloween replaces the celebrations that are experienced in the UK on November 5, whereas in Britain Guy Fawkes Night is culturally more important.

In North America, Christian attitudes towards Halloween are quite diverse. The fact that Al Saints Day and Halloween occur on two consecutive days has left some Christians uncertain of how they should treat this holiday.

In the Anglican Church, some dioceses have chosen to emphasize the Christian traditions of All Saints Day, while some Protestants celebrate the holiday as Reformation Day, a day of remembrance and prayers for unity.

Celtic Christians may have Samhain services that focus on the cultural aspects of the holiday, in the belief that many ancient Celtic customs are "compatible with the new Christian religion. Christianity embraced the Celtic notions of family, community, the bond among all people, and respect for the dead.

Throughout the centuries, pagan and Christian beliefs intertwine in a gallimaufry (hodgepodge) of celebrations from October 31 through November 5, all of which appear both to challenge the ascendancy of the dark and to revel in its mystery."

Some Christian churches commonly offer a fall or harvest festival-themed alternative to Halloween.

Many Christians ascribe no negative significance to Halloween, treating it as a purely secular holiday devoted to celebrating “imaginary spooks” and handing out candy.

Halloween celebrations are common among Roman Catholic parochial schools throughout North America and in Ireland.

In fact, the Roman Catholic Church sees Halloween as having a Christian connection.

Father Gabriele Amorth, a Vatican-appointed exorcist in Rome, has said, "[I]f English and American children like to dress up as witches and devils on one night of the year that is not a problem. If it is just a game, there is no harm in that."

Most Christians hold the view that the tradition is far from being "satanic" in origin or practice and that it holds no threat to the spiritual lives of children: being taught about death and mortality, and the ways of the Celtic ancestors actually being a valuable life lesson and a part of many of their parishioners' heritage.

A response among some fundamentalists in recent years has been the use of Hell houses or themed pamphlets which attempt to make use of Halloween as an opportunity for evangelism.

Some consider Halloween to be completely incompatible with the Christian faith due to its origin as a Pagan "festival of the dead."

In more recent years, the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Boston has organised a "Saint Fest" on the holiday.

People of diverse religions (or no religion at all) may naturally be concerned about the vandalism that can occur on the holiday.

Also, some Wiccans feel that the tradition is offensive to "real witches" for promoting stereotypical caricatures of "wicked witches".

However, other Neopagans, perhaps most of them, see it as a harmless holiday in which some of the old traditions are celebrated by the mainstream culture, albeit in a different manner.

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

Lefebrivists demand Council be “corrected,” not interpreted

In an interview with Italian journalist Paolo Luigi Rodari, the author of the blog “Palazzo Apostolico,” Bernard Fellay, the superior general of the Priestly Fraternity of St. Pius X, said the schismatic movement demands not only a “correct interpretation” of Vatican II, but that the Council documents actually be changed.

Fellay defended his fellow excommunicated bishop, Ricard Williamson, identified by some in the media as leader of the “intransigent wing” of the fraternity. Fellay said, “Williamson and I are in agreement that it would be difficult to re-enter to the Church as it currently is.”

“The reasons are simple,” Fellay said, because “Benedict XVI has liberalized the ancient rite,” yet he has been criticized “by the majority of the bishops.” “What should we do? Re-enter the Church just to be insulted by these people?” he said.

“In addition to the ancient rite,” he continued, “the problem for us is the words Pope Benedict has dedicated to Vatican II,” because “the rupture with the past is directly related, unfortunately, to some texts of Vatican II and these texts, in some way, should be revised.”

“Ratzinger should prepare for a direct revision of the Council texts and not just denounce their incorrect hermeneutic (interpretation),” Fellay went on.

He cited as an example the declaration on religious freedom, Dignitatis Humanae. According to Fellay, the document subjects the Church to the authority of the State.

“In my opinion it should be the opposite: the State should submit to the Catholic faith and recognize that it is the religion of the State.”

Fellay said he has maintained ongoing correspondence with Cardinal Dario Castrillon Hoyos, president of the Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei, “but no common working document exists yet.”

“I remain confident, however, because all of our contact up to this point has been excellent,” he said.

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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

Cardinal Ortega announces visit to Cuba by Vatican Secretary of State

The Archbishop of Havana, Cardinal Jaime Ortega, has announced that Vatican Secretary of State, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, will visit Cuba in January of 2008.

Cardinal Ortega said the visit would “revive the spirit of the presence of John Paul II in Cuba in 1998.”

"It will also be recognition of all that the Pope’s visit meant and a chance to live that moment again in order to continue in that same spirit that must continue to grow.”

He recalled that Pope John Paul II’s visit to Cuba helped “open new possibilities” for the Church’s mission in that country, and at the same time “contributed to improving Cuba’s image in the world.”

Cardinal Ortega said relations between the Church and the State in Cuba “are good, but they could be better.”

He noted that on the feast of Our Lady of Charity on September 8, the Church was given access to nine radio stations “in prime time” to broadcast a message from the Cuban bishops and to invite the public to processions and other public Church events.

In addition, he said, in some dioceses the Church is being allowed greater access to prisons for prison ministry.

“This is going to spread, it’s a plan that’s going to continue,” he added.
Cardinal Ortega stressed, however, that the possibility of the Church having its own media outlet is still “an aspiration” and that talks are on-going with the government in this regard."

“Education is a more difficult matter, but it is something the Church cannot renounce,” the cardinal said.

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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

Mexico's Roman Catholic Church criticizes Halloween

Mexico’s Roman Catholic Church criticized Halloween as “damaging and against the faith” yesterday, as conservatives sought to stem celebration of the holiday and return to the country’s traditional Day of the Dead.

The U.S.-style holiday has made broad inroads in Mexico, where monster costumes are almost as widely sold as the marigold flowers traditionally used to decorate relatives’ graves during Day of the Dead ceremonies on Nov. 1 and 2, when families build altars and leave food, drink and flowers for the departed.

“Those who celebrate Halloween are worshipping a culture of death that is the product of a mix of pagan customs,” the Archdiocese of Mexico said in an article on its Web site yesterday.

“The worst thing is that this celebration has been identified with neo-pagans, Satanism and occult worship.”

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Sotto Voce

Pope writes to new director of L’Osservatore Romano

Benedict XVI has written a letter to Giovanni Maria Vian for the occasion of his appointment as director of "L'Osservatore Romano," a role, the Pope writes, that is "of great responsibility because of the particular nature of the Vatican newspaper."

The Pope praises the new director's "profound cultural formation as a historian of Christianity" and his "knowledge of the history of the modern papacy."

Since the year 1861, the Holy Father notes, L'Osservatore Romano "has made known the teachings of the Roman Pontiffs and the contributions of their closest collaborators concerning the crucial problems humanity encounters on its journey."

Throughout the 20th century the publication of various language editions ensured the newspaper "had a truly international circulation" and gave it "a world dimension which ... is extremely important in truly expressing the reality of the Universal Church and the communion of all the local Churches, ... in a context of sincere friendship towards the women and men of our time.

"Seeking and creating opportunities for encounter," the Pope adds, "L'Osservatore Romano will be able to serve the Holy See ever more effectively, demonstrating the fecundity of the meeting between faith and reason, thanks to which cordial collaboration between believers and non- believers becomes possible."

The newspaper's fundamental task, the Holy Father concludes, "obviously remains that of favoring, in the cultures of our time, a trusting and at the same time profoundly reasonable openness to the Transcendent, upon which, in the final instance, rests respect for the dignity and the authentic freedom of each human being."

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's "morning after pill" speech criticized

Politicians and pharmacists in Italy responded angrily on Tuesday to an appeal by Pope Benedict for pharmacists to refuse to dispense drugs such as the "morning after pill" if they object on moral grounds.

The Pope told an international conference on Monday that pharmacists should be guaranteed the right to conscientious objection in cases where medicines they distribute can block pregnancy, provoke abortion or assist euthanasia.

Health Minister Livia Turco said that while the Pope had the right to urge young people to be sexually responsible, he could not tell professionals such as pharmacists what to do.

"I don't think his warning to pharmacists to be conscientious objectors to the morning after pill should be taken into consideration," she told daily Corriere della Sera.

Benedict did not mention any specific drugs but appeared to refer to the morning after pill, which can stop ovulation if taken within about 72 hours of sexual intercourse. It is available only by doctor's prescription in Italy.

He also referred to RU-486, the so-called abortion pill, which is available on an experimental basis in some Italian hospitals. It blocks the action of hormones needed to keep a fertilized egg implanted in the uterus.

Franco Caprino, head of pharmacists' professional group Federfarma, said that by law pharmacists had to distribute medicine prescribed by a doctor.

"We can't be conscientious objectors unless the law is changed," he said.

While some politicians defended the Pope's right to speak his mind and the right of pharmacists to be conscientious objectors, others criticized him.

"The Pope's appeal to pharmacists to refuse to sell the morning after pill is a very heavy interference in politics and Italian life," said Lidia Menapace, a senator of the Communist Refoundation party.

The Church teaches that artificial birth control, abortion and euthanasia are wrong. It holds that nothing should block the possible transmission of life, which it teaches starts at conception and ends at natural death.

Italian media interviewed pharmacists who are practicing Catholics. Some said they were obliged to put aside their personal beliefs and sell the prescribed medicine, while others said they preferred to ask a colleague to do so.

The morning after pill, sometimes referred to as emergency contraception, has stirred controversy in other countries such as the United States, where some forms are available to those aged 18 and over without a prescription.

U.S. family planning groups support such wider access, but conservative and religious groups have argued that easy availability of the pill promotes promiscuity and sexually transmitted diseases among teens and others.

Last August, President George W. Bush said he supported restricting access to emergency contraception for minors.

In February, Chile allowed girls aged 14 and over the right to the morning after pill free of charge and without parental consent after a bitter debate that pitted the government against the Catholic 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

Chaldean patriarch seeks ties to Muslims

The Chaldean patriarch of Baghdad, recently named Iraq's first cardinal, said Tuesday that rising violence has made life worse for Iraqi Christians since the U.S.-led invasion, but he is optimistic that "peace will prevail."

Emmanuel III Delly, who will go to the Vatican next month to collect his cardinal's red hat, must balance the dangers facing his small Catholic community with a mission to reach out to Muslims.

The 80-year-old head of the ancient Chaldean Church in Iraq said the hopes of freedom in the aftermath of Saddam Hussein's ouster in 2003 have given way to widespread fear.

"We had hoped that the situation would be better. In fact it is worse," he told The Associated Press during an interview at his guarded compound in western Baghdad.

"Car bombs, roadside bombs, killings, assassinations. All of these things were not happening in the past. There was stability and security."

But Delly, who was one of 23 new cardinals named by Pope Benedict XVI on Oct. 17, blamed the violence on extremists and said it is his job to reach out to Muslims and followers of other faiths to promote unity.

"I pray every day to God to enlighten the minds of the officials and guide them to the road of peace and reconciliation," he said.

Often fiddling with the large silver cross on a chain around his neck, the Chaldean spiritual leader said he visits leaders from Islam's Shiite and Sunni sects during their holy days and they do the same on Christian holidays.

He said he received "hundreds of calls from Sunnis and Shiites" congratulating him on his promotion to cardinal.

"We all want peace," he said, sitting in an ornate reception room in a building off a courtyard lined with flower bushes and a statue of the Virgin Mary in the center. "We should accomplish this with actions and not only with words."

Delly has been outspoken in the past about the need to protect Christians, who comprise less than 3 percent of Iraq's 26 million population.

In May, he issued a joint statement with Patriarch Mar Dinka IV of the Catholic Assyrian Church of the East saying Christians in a number of Iraqi regions faced "blackmail, kidnapping and displacement" at the hands of Sunni Arab insurgents led by al-Qaida in Iraq. They complained the government "has kept silent and not taken a firm stance."

But Delly had only a message of unity Tuesday, saying that Iraqis of all sects have suffered from the chaos and that he is optimistic security is improving.

"We have been living with our Muslim brothers for 14 generations and we have common interests with each other," he said. "The danger is hitting everybody without exception. We pray to God that peace will prevail and every one of us should work for peace."

The toned down remarks came three days after Delly received a promise from Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki to protect and support Iraq's Christian community, which is particularly vulnerable since it has little political or military clout to defend itself.

Delly, who speaks Arabic, French, Italian, Latin, English and Aramaic, said the Shiite Muslim prime minister called his promotion to cardinal "an honor for all Iraqis" and promised to send a government delegation to Rome for his Nov. 24 ordination.

"He told me he is doing his best to make Iraqis feel comfortable and live in peace in Iraq. I told him it is our duty to work for peace," Delly said. "We are working for the sake of all Iraqis."

The country's Christian population was estimated at more than 800,000 before the war—the majority of them Chaldean-Assyrians and Armenians, with small numbers of Roman Catholics.

They were generally left alone under Saddam's regime, and many, including former foreign minister and deputy prime minister Tariq Aziz, reached the highest levels of power.

But after Saddam's ouster, Christians became perceived as supporters of the U.S., the Minority Rights Group says.

Christians were increasingly targeted by the Sunni-led insurgency, causing tens of thousands to flee, isolating many of those who remained in barricaded neighborhoods and forcing them to hide their religious affiliation when venturing out.

Up to 50 percent may have left Iraq, says the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom, which advises the U.S. government.

Attacks on Christians peaked with a coordinated bombing campaign in the summer of 2004 aimed at Baghdad churches and again last September after the pope made comments perceived to be anti-Islam.

The German-born pontiff later said that his words about Islam were misunderstood and that he was sorry Muslims were offended, and he has recently been calling for dialogue between Christianity and Islam.

Delly, who was born in Tel Kaif, north of the northern city of Mosul, said Benedict asked him to reach out to Iraq's Muslims.

"He wants the good of everybody, and he asked me to open dialogues with our Muslim brothers here. This is his message to the Muslims and the whole world," Delly said.

"We should do our best to make them understand and to make them feel that we love them and they love us. This is the real dialogue."

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

Chile pharmacies warned over pill

The Chilean government has warned pharmacies refusing to sell the morning-after contraceptive pill that they could face stiff fines or closure.

Major pharmacy chains have not been selling the pill recently, arguing they could not buy stocks locally.

The government responded by importing supplies and said the stores now had no excuse for not selling the pill.

Pope Benedict on Monday said Catholic pharmacists had the right to object to dispensing emergency contraception.

The sale of the morning-after emergency contraceptive pill is highly controversial in Chile and has been challenged repeatedly in the courts by conservative and religious groups.

The row between the pharmacy chains and the government has been building for several weeks, with the three major chains saying they were not selling it because it was not available locally.

The government's initial response was to fine the stores and import stocks.

Freedom of opinion

Deputy Health Minister Lidia Amarales warned that the government would be prepared to close a pharmacy that refused to sell the morning-after pill.

One of the chains, Salcobrand, said the government's actions were a violation of its freedom of opinion about the pill which it said was abortive. "We express conscientious objection to being forced to sell a product that can have that effect," a Salcobrand company statement quoted by the Associated Press said.

On Monday, Pope Benedict XVI said in Rome that pharmacists had the right to conscientiously object to dispensing emergency contraception or euthanasia drugs.

"Pharmacists must seek to raise people's awareness so that all human beings are protected from conception to natural death, and so that medicines truly play a therapeutic role," the Pope said.

Despite having some of the most restrictive anti-abortion laws in the world, it is estimated that in Chile 35% of all pregnancies are terminated illegally.

The morning-after pill may prevent pregnancy if a woman takes it within 72 hours of having sexual intercourse.

It works by stopping or delaying ovulation, or by stopping an egg settling in the womb. +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

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

Ireland's divorce courts a shambles

Ireland's divorce courts are overloaded and need a complete overhaul to make breaking up fairer and less of a bank-breaking ordeal, an expert report on the secrecy-shrouded system concluded Tuesday.

The government-commissioned report, which offered 45 recommendations to fix the system, faulted the government for doing much too little since the 1997 legalization of divorce in this predominantly Roman Catholic country.

Justice Minister Brian Lenihan vowed to make improvements a priority.

The author, Irish Times reporter Carol Coulter, was the first outside expert permitted to witness divorce cases, which are typically conducted without transcripts or detailed written judgments.

She spent a year gathering data and testimony on proceedings normally barred to media and other spectators.

Her 82-page report said it was common for crowds of breaking-up couples and their lawyers to be kept waiting around court all day — only for their day in court to be put back for months, even in cases involving a child's welfare.

"They must then steel themselves to go through it all again," she said.

Coulter said the problems and potential miscarriages of justice were greatest in provincial towns, where courts set aside time for matrimonial cases only four days out of every month, or less.

"The pressure on the lists forces judges to try to cram as many cases as possible into a day. In such circumstances it is impossible for written judgments to be given, or even for an outline to be given of the judge's reasons for making his or her orders," she wrote.

Throughout the country, she said, the system discouraged people from solving their cases through mediation or other means short of a courtroom confrontation. High legal costs forced some people to represent themselves, slowing down business further.

"According to some practitioners and court staff, in places where delays are very long, people can end up settling on terms they are unhappy with, just to bring an end to the proceedings," she said, adding that some judges worked marathon sessions from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. to try to catch up.

The wishes of children often were not taken directly into account, even though internationally it is common for children's views to play an important role in determining custody, she said.

She said judges, hobbled by a lack of written judgments for reference, "expressed to me their own frustration at the lack of education and training for judges, and at the difficulty in discovering what their colleagues' understanding and practice of family law is."

Irish law permits a couple to file for divorce only after they have been separated for a minimum of four years, a rule intended to give them time to reconcile.

Divorce lawyers say this rarely happens.

But the delay does encourage more protracted court proceedings involving separate court hearings for separation and divorce.

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

Poland's Cardinal Glemp to play himself in film of murdered priest

Poland's Cardinal Jozef Glemp is playing himself in a film dedicated to Father Jerzy Popieluszko, the Solidarity chaplain killed by the communist secret police in 1984, producers said Tuesday.

Glemp, who is the primate, or head, of the church in deeply Catholic Poland, reenacts real conversations he had with Popieluszko, Julita Swiercz-Wieczynska, the boss of the Focus Producers company, told AFP.

"We have already filmed the scenes with the primate. Cardinal Glemp is a natural when he's in front of the camera," said Swiercz-Wieczynska.

"He's also been a consultant, sharing his memories with us. We're making a historical film and we want to get as close as possible to reality," she said.

Make-up artists helped to take two decades off Glemp, who is now 87, so he looked more like his younger self.

The film, entitled simply "Popieluszko", is due for release late in 2008.

It stars 33-year-old Adam Woronowicz, who is mostly known for his television work, and who bears an uncanny resemblance to the eponymous priest.

The death of 37-year-old Popieluszko turned him into an enduring symbol of opposition to Poland's communist regime.

It also highlighted the crucial role played by the church, which was one of the few bulwarks against the communist authorities in this country of 38 million, where more than 90 percent of the population is Roman Catholic.

Popieluszko stood shoulder to shoulder with Solidarity, the communist bloc's first free trade union, which was founded in 1980.

After the regime's martial law crackdown on December 13, 1981, Popieluszko won renown for his sermons, which drew thousands of people to his parish chruch in Warsaw.

Popieluszko was kidnapped and tortured to death on October 19, 1984 by a three-man commando from the communist SB security police, who dumped his body in the River Vistula.

Amid widespread revulsion at the murder, Poland's then communist leader, General Wojciech Jaruzelski, took the unprecedented step of putting on trial the security police officers who carried out the killing.

Captain Grzegorz Piotrowski and Lieutenants Leszek Pekala and Waldemar Chmielewski were sentenced respectively to 25, 15 and 14 years in prison, in a high-profile 1985 trial. They were identified thanks to the priest's driver, who escaped.

All three are out of prison now, having been freed under an amnesty before serving their full sentences.

After the fall of the regime in 1989, high-ranking communist officials believed to have ordered the priest's murder were also brought to trial, but acquitted for lack of evidence.

The Vatican began moves to beatify Popieluszko in 2001.

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

Russian Orthodox Church says relations with Vatican on the mend

The Russian Orthodox and Roman Catholic churches are gradually overcoming the disputes that have plagued their relations in the past, the Russian church's chief spokesman said on Tuesday.

"We now have a positive tendency - we have moved on from a severe frost to a thaw," Metropolitan Kirill of Smolensk and Kaliningrad told journalists in Moscow.

The Russian Orthodox Church has accused the Vatican of seeking to convert Orthodox Christians to Catholicism in Russia and Ukraine, while the Catholic Church says it merely supports existing Catholic communities.

The Russian church has also protested against the Vatican's decision to raise the status of its apostolic administrations in Russia to the level of dioceses.

The Orthodox Church saw the move as the establishment of a parallel church organization on Orthodox canonical territory.

Metropolitan Kirill said he hoped the new head of Russian Catholics, Archbishop Paolo Pezzi, who replaced Tadeusz Kondrusiewicz at the post on Saturday, would "contribute as much as possible to improving relations and overcoming existing difficulties."

Pope Benedict XVI's decision to appoint the Italian to the post was widely seen as a diplomatic step to simplify relations with the Orthodox Church, due to the Moscow Patriarchate's disagreements with Kondrusiewicz.

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 Archbishop supports gay discrimination

The leader of the Roman Catholic Church in Australia has said it is acceptable to discriminate against people because of their sexuality.

Archbishop of Sydney Cardinal George Pell said that comparisons between gay and racial discrimination are false.

Australia's federal elections will be held on November 24th and the religious leader's comments are an attempt to influence discussion about gay equality.

"The Greens, some Democrats and largely silent minority elements in both major parties would like to exclude religious considerations from public discussion," he said, according to ABC.

"At the heart of this attack on the concept of exemptions for faith-based agencies lies a false analogy between alleged discrimination against homosexuals and racial discrimination, and this is already beginning to appear in Australia. Whatever issues of basic justice remain to be addressed, I am not sure that it is at all true to say that homosexuals today suffer the same sort of legal and civil disadvantage which blacks in the United States and elsewhere suffered 40 years ago and, to some extent, still suffer."

Cardinal Pell's comments were backed by evangelical Christian group the Australian Christian Lobby (ACL).

"I think what we're talking about here is making sure that while we remove unfair discrimination, that we do not allow a very small part of the population to force their model for relationships to be adopted as the community norm, when it isn't," managing director Jim Wallace said.

The ACL has been leading the fight against gay equality, and scored a coup earlier this year when it hosted a webcast with Prime Minister Howard and opposition Labour leader Kevin Rudd streamed live to more than 700 churches across the country.

The pressure group is confident that it can influence Mr Rudd, the man viewed as almost certain to defeat incumbent John Howard and become Australia's 26th Prime Minister. Both the governing Liberal and opposition Labour parties appear to be keen to court the religious vote.

Mr Rudd has been comfortable discussing his belief in God, and he has ruled out recognising same-sex marriage or civil unions. During the session, which was also broadcast on Australia's ABC Local Radio, Mr Rudd was asked about his views on gay marriage by a Christian leader.

"I have a pretty basic view on this, as reflected in the position adopted by our party, and that is, that marriage is between a man and a woman," he replied.

Under a Federal Labour Government, gay couples might be allowed to "register" their relationships.

However, Labour will support changes to the law to remove inequities in the tax and benefits system that discriminate against same-sex couples. An audit of federal laws and their impact on gay and lesbian couples and their children was undertaken by the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission (HREOC) and presented to the federal parliament in June.

It found that same-sex couples and families get fewer leave entitlements, less workers' compensation, fewer tax concessions, fewer veterans' entitlements, fewer health care subsidies, less superannuation and pay more for residential aged care than opposite-sex couples in the same circumstances.

The Australian Christian Lobby is committed to fighting gay equality.

"We reject HREOC's attempts to normalise same-sex relationships by extending the definition of de facto marriage and redefining parenthood. Such a move plays directly into the hands of activists whose long-term aim has been to redefine marriage and family," the group said in a pre-election statement.

John Howard, 68, has been Prime Minister since 1996 and is seeking a fifth term in office.

In 2004 he passed federal legislation banning same-sex marriage and earlier this year said that HIV positive immigrants should not be allowed into the country.

He is widely expected to lose power to 50-year-old Mr Rudd and may even lose his own parliamentary seat.

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 interfaith leader weds Austrian princess

Princess Marie-Therese Von Hohenberg was married to Anthony Bailey KCSS in a glittering service at St Peter's Abbey in Salzburg on Saturday.

The Nuptial Mass was concelebrated by Archbishop Eugenio Sbarbaro, Apostolic Nuncio to Serbia with the Rt Rev George Stack, Auxiliary Bishop of Westminster representing Cardinal Murphy-O'Connor, the Rt Rev Thomas Burns, Roman Catholic Bishop of the Armed Forces, His Grace Edmund Wagenhofer, Archabbot of St Peter's and Fr Michael Seed from Westminster Cathedral.

Senior ecumenical leaders, politicians and royalty were among the 600 guests. Blessings were read out from Pope Benedict XVI, the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I, the Archbishop of Canterbury Dr Rowan Williams and the head of the Syriac Orthodox Church.

Ignatius Zakka I Iwas. Readers included Hazel Blears, MP, Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, Nirj Deva, MEP, and Fr Michael Seed from Westminster Cathedral

The Princess wore a tiara of the Hohenberg Family and her dress was designed by Valentino. Princess Marie-Therese is the great granddaughter of Archduke Franz Ferdinand, whose assassination in 1914 led to the outbreak of World War One.

Anthony Bailey, is the Chairman of the British Labour Party's Faith Task Force and holds other ministerial advisory roles with the Department of Children, Schools and Families.

After the wedding ceremony, the couple headed to the Salzburg Festival Hall for the reception, before making their final stop at the country's former royal palace, the Residence of Salzburg, for a white tie ball.

On Sunday the guests attended a farewell brunch for at Salzburg's Museum of Modern Art, before the newlyweds jetted off on their month-long honeymoon in Asia.

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

Thousands of Vatican residents face eviction

Up to 4000 Vatican residents face eviction despite the Church recently deploring a shortage of low cost housing.

Former Archbishop of Siena, Gaetano Bonicelli, who advises the Italian Bishops' Conference on social policy, stressed the evictions were not being carried out by the Church directly, but by the property agents of organisations linked to it.

“Their (property agents) conduct was certainly not in line with the teaching of the Pope’s on the right to housing,” Bonicelli said.

"It would be better to take below-market rents than to refuse to give a hand to those who can't make alternative arrangements."

However, the residents have accused Church bodies of indulging in a "speculative frenzy" and have formed a committee to combat the evictions, The Guardian reported.

In a letter to Archbishop Angelo Bagnasco, the head of the Italian Bishops' Conference, the committee wrote they had “always paid the rent and taken care of our flats.”

The problem of low cost housing is most acute in the centre of Rome, where a quarter of the property is owned by the Vatican and church organisations.

Tenants at risk include former Vatican employees, their survivors and descendants.

Others are simply long-standing tenants of bodies linked to 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

Pope says media is on the brink between protagonism and service

“The media: at the Crossroads between activism and service. Seeking the Truth in order to share it with others”; this is the theme chosen by Pope Benedict XVI for the 2008 World Day for social communications, made public yesterday.

“The theme chosen by the Holy Father – Msgr.Claudio Maria Celli, president of the Pontifical Council for social communications, affirms – invites us to reflect on the media’s role, above all in relation to the risk that it is becoming self referent and no longer an instrument at the service of the truth. A truth that must be sought out and shared”.

The World Day for Social Communications is the only world day to have been established by the Second Vatican Council, ("Inter Mirifica", 1963), and is celebrated across the globe on the Sunday before Pentecost (May 4th 2008).

The full text of the Papal message for World Day for Social Communications is traditionally published on January 24th, feats day of Saint Frances di Sales, patron saint of journalists.

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

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Vatican rebuffs Muslim outreach: Quran cited as the main obstacle

Vatican has rebuffed a massive outreach effort by 138 Muslim religious leaders and scholars who sent a letter to Pope Benedict XVI in an attempt to improve Christian-Muslim relations.

The letter, titled "A Common Word Between Us and You," which is also addressed to Christianity’s other most powerful leaders, including the Archbishop of Canterbury and the heads of the Lutheran, Methodist and Baptist churches, seeks to recognize similarities between Islam and Christianity as a way of fostering mutual understanding and respect between the two religions.

It compares texts from the Bible and the Koran to argue that Christians and Muslims worship the same God. Both believe in "the primacy of total love and devotion to God," and both value love of neighbor and a peaceful world.

In a belated response to the Oct. 13 letter, Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran, President of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue in the Roman Curia, told the French Catholic daily La Croix, on Friday (Oct. 26) that a real theological debate with Muslims was difficult as they saw the Quran as the literal word of God.

"Muslims do not accept that one can discuss the Quran in depth, because they say it was written by dictation from God. With such an absolute interpretation, it is difficult to discuss the contents of faith."

Another reading of his comments suggests that the Vatican does not want a dialogue with Muslims unless they change their belief in Quran as a revealed book.

Like most Christian theologians, the Muslims have to believe that sacred scriptures are the work of divinely inspired humans.

Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran’s comments echo Pope Benedict’s statement. In the summer of 2005, Pope Benedict devoted an annual weekend of study with former graduate students to Islam.

During the meeting he reportedly expressed skepticism about Islam's openness to change given the conviction that the Quran is the unchangeable word of God.

Vatican response to the Muslim outreach is significant because in his Regensburg, Germany, speech last year Pope Benedict implied that Islam was violent and irrational religion.

His remarks sparked bloody protests in the Muslim world and prompted the Muslim scholars to unite to seek better inter-faith understanding.

Pope Benedict recently re-established an office for interfaith dialogue that he had shuttered, but the Roman Catholic Church has taken hard line stance towards Islam since the death of John Paul II in 2005, supporting diplomacy but not theological discussion.

Pope John Paul met with Muslims more than 60 times over the course of his pontificate to build bridges.

In May 1999, Pope John Paul II received a delegation of Iraqi Muslims who presented him Islam’s holy book, the Quran.

The Pope bowed to the Quran and he kissed it as a sign of respect.

However, as a cardinal in the Holy See, the Pope Benedict was known to be skeptical of his predecessor John Paul II's pursuit of conversation.

One of his earliest decisions as pope was to move Archbishop Michael Fitzgerald, one of the Catholic Church's leading experts on Islam, and head of its council on inter-religious dialogue, away from the centre of influence in Rome, and send him to Egypt as papal nuncio.

Benedict has spoken publicly of Christianity as the cornerstone of Europe and against the admission of Turkey into the European Council. He had said Turkey should seek its future in an association of Islamic nations, not with the EU, which has Christian roots.

However, during his visit to Turkey in November 2006, Benedict softened of his opposition to Turkey's long-sought membership in the European Union.

According to Marco Politi, the Vatican expert for the Italian daily La Repubblica: "Certainly he closes the door to an idea which was very dear to John Paul II - the idea that Christians, Jews and Muslims have the same God and have to pray together to the same God."

Recently Pope Benedict promoted the old Latin Mass, which contains references to the conversion of the Jews.

The Latin mass, largely abandoned after Vatican II, has long been hated by Jews for its emphasis on the Jewish role in turning Jesus over to the Romans for crucifixion and for its call for Jews to come into the church.

Reverting to the 29-page letter that was welcomed by various leaders and institutions, including the Baptist World Alliance and the Most Rev. Rowan Williams, Archbishop of Canterbury and spiritual leader to the world's 17 million Anglicans. Rev. Williams said: 'The letter’s understanding of the unity of God provides an opportunity for Christians and Muslims to explore together their distinctive understandings and the ways in which these mould and shape our lives.'

The Evangelical Alliance in Britain welcomed the letter's call for peace and understanding, but also pointed to differences between the two faiths.

Anglican bishop Michael Nazir-Ali said that the letter seems to undercut the role of Jesus by emphasizing a part of the Quran that urges non-Muslims not to "ascribe any partners unto" God.

The two faiths' understanding of the oneness of God is not the same, he told the Times of London. "One partner cannot dictate the terms on which dialogue must be conducted," he said.

"This document seems to be on the verge of doing that."

The letter offers interpretations of both the Quran and the Bible on the love of God, love of neighbour and other spiritual concepts that are similar in Christianity and Islam. It pointed out that finding common ground between Muslims and Christians is not simply a matter for polite ecumenical dialogue between selected religious leaders and added that: Christianity and Islam are the largest and second largest religions in the world and in history.

The two faiths account for more than half the world's population, the letter notes. “Christians and Muslims reportedly make up over a third and over a fifth of humanity respectively. Together they make up more than 55% of the world’s population, making the relationship between these two religious communities the most important factor in contributing to meaningful peace around the world.” “If Muslims and Christians are not at peace, the world cannot be at peace.”

The letter is signed by no fewer than 19 current and former grand ayatollahs and grand muftis from countries as diverse as Egypt, Turkey, Russia, Syria, Jordan, Palestine and Iraq.

Signatories include Shaykh Sevki Omarbasic, Grand Mufti of Croatia; Dr Abdul Hamid Othman, adviser to the Prime Minister of Malaysia and Dr Ali Ozak, head of the endowment for Islamic scientific studies in Istanbul, Turkey.

They also include Shaykh Dr Nuh Ali Salman Al-Qudah, Grand Mufti of Jordan and Shaykh Dr Ikrima Said Sabri, former Grand Mufti of Jerusalem and Imam of the Al-Aqsa Mosque.

Jordan’s Royal Aal al-Bayt Institute for Islamic Thought in Amman has been working for more than three years to prepare this letter.

The Royal Institute was also responsible for the widely read Open Letter to the Pope following his controversial speech last year, which was signed by 38 high-level Muslim leaders.

The Jordanian Institute is hopeful that this historic letter would provide a common ground for the many organizations and individuals who are currently busy in interfaith dialogue all over the world.

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

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

Sotto Voce

Anglicans Knocking on Vatican Door

Hundreds of thousands of Anglicans from 13 countries are requesting “full communion” with the Catholic Church.

The Traditional Anglican Communion, which represents traditional Anglicans, made the formal request in October.

The request was made in a letter to the Vatican and has been cordially received by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

Traditional Anglican Communion churches already believe in “seven God-ordained sacraments, apostolic succession, holy tradition and the ministry of the pope as Peter’s successor and as sign of unity for the universal church.”

However, this move to request “full, corporate and sacramental union” with the Roman Catholic Church, if approved by the Vatican, would basically turn up to 400,000 Anglicans into Catholics en masse.

“It is extremely rare for entire Anglican communities to seek corporate communion with the Catholic Church whereby every member of the parish becomes Catholic and the parish effectively becomes part of the Catholic Church.”

The Traditional Anglican Communion primate, John Hepworth, stated last January that many Anglicans had converted to Catholicism, but “we would prefer to approach Rome as a community.”

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


Dr. Rowan Williams is the Alan Greenspan of the Anglican Communion.

People ask of Williams as they did Greenspan for simple answers.

Are you raising interest rates, yes or no?

Are you for or against same sex rites and the consecration of non-celibate homosexual bishops, yes or no?

Neither man can give a simple answer.

When Greenspan speaks, he gives us lectures on economics and talks about the various factors that are influencing the economy.

Williams talks about decisions made by the Communion as a whole, but does not give a personal answer (black or white) on gay ordinations or same sex rites.

Williams is willing to listen to V. Gene Robinson talk about homosexuality, and then listen to Bob Duncan. He will deny neither man their "truth," as they see it, but will not offer his own personal view as a tie breaker.

When he was in New Orleans at the House of Bishops meeting, Williams said two things about homosexuality which were not widely reported. The first thing he said was that homosexuality was not a disease. The second thing he said was that violence against homosexuals was unacceptable. As far as I know, few if anyone has ever said that homosexuality itself was a disease. HIV/AIDS is what you GET when you have anal sex. To confuse homosexuality with the disease itself is to confuse the issue. Secondly violence against homosexuals by heterosexuals is extremely rare.

A study in the "Journal of Interpersonal Violence" examined conflict and violence in lesbian relationships and found that 90 percent of the lesbians surveyed had been recipients of one or more acts of verbal aggression from their intimate partners. A survey of 1,099 lesbians by the "Journal of Social Service Research" found that "slightly more than half of the [lesbians]" reported that they had been abused by a female lover/partner.

In their book "Men Who Beat the Men Who Love Them: Battered Gay Men and Domestic Violence," D. Island and P. Letellier report that "the incidence of domestic violence among gay men is nearly double that in the heterosexual population." Compared to the low rate of intimate partner violence within marriage, homosexual and lesbian relationships are far more violent than traditional married households.

One wonders why and how a brilliant mind like that of Dr. Williams' can so easily be duped.

Again, he did not endorse either the validity of same-sex unions or the legitimacy of homosexual bishops. He carefully side-stepped the issue choosing to focus on disease and attitudinal changes rather than behavioral changes by homosexuals.

Critical to understanding Dr. Rowan Williams and his Affirming Catholic mind is his Hegelian approach to issues, says a British theologian. "The Hegelian point is critical, because his contention on the gay matter is that the church has not (yet) decided to change its mind, nor that it would be wrong to do so."

Publicly, on the gay issue, he said he will abide by the consensus and teaching of the Anglican faith, but in private he expects that the church will change, but very slowly, and he would welcome the change, but might not be around to see it. For Williams, it also commits one to continual dialogue (thesis/antithesis) until a new agreement(synthesis) is reached; failure to reach that means one has not spoken or listened deeply enough. This was the cry of former Presiding Bishop Frank Griswold and continues on with Mrs. Katharine Jefferts Schori.

For Williams a decision to change the mind of the church about homosexuality, or any teaching for that matter, can only be made by the collective will of the Primates. The benchmark, to date, is the Windsor Report, though a Covenant is in the works that might supercede that report.

When the Primates met in Dar es Salaam in February, they all signed off on a statement giving the Episcopal Church a deadline (Sept. 30) to demonstrate fealty to the Windsor Report or face the consequences. Williams does not seem to be interested in having individual primates, archbishops, bishops, dioceses or clergy coming to their own conclusions and acting on them when the process for the Anglican Communion has to be reached by consensus.

When Williams came to New Orleans, he said very little. He made it clear, in language that might have appeared obtuse, that he would listen, make no judgment, but would take back what the bishops concluded and weigh it all against the whole. Everyone went away frustrated. The HOB used a lot of prevaricating language to say they wouldn't allow same sex rites because a General Convention had not approved same and promised not to ordain any more openly homosexual bishops. Later, Mrs. Jefferts Schori said she would never allow the church to go backwards in its support of the church's gay agenda, thus throwing sand in the face of what the HOB concluded.

It was like a 6-year old telling his mother, "Mummy, I promise to try very, very, very hard never to do it again." The mother knows full well he will. This was the message the HOB delivered to Williams and the Anglican Communion about same sex rites in New Orleans. They promised to try very, very, hard not to do it again, but within hours Los Angeles Bishop J. Jon Bruno fudged when told that a same-sex rite was being performed for two men even as he spoke.

This past week the Diocese of California urged its Bishop Mark Andrus to approve the trial use of three rites for formalizing the blessing of same-gender unions.

Williams seems to take the Episcopal Church at its word when Mrs. Jefferts Schori and the HOB say they will abide by the Windsor Report. He also took the primates at their word when every last one signed off on the Dar es Salaam communique.

So it should come as no surprise that Central Florida Bishop John W. Howe, who faces a revolt by some nine and possibly as many as 17 of his orthodox priests, wrote to Williams asking for clarification. Williams wrote back to Howe saying that the benchmark for the communion was loyalty to the Windsor Report, and only those who signed off on it would be considered true Anglicans "in communion with Canterbury and the mainstream of the Communion."

"I have committed myself very clearly to awaiting the views of the Primates before making any statement purporting to settle the question of The Episcopal Church's status, and I can't easily short-circuit that procedure. Secondly rectors need to recognize that a separatist decision from them at this point would be irresponsible and potentially confusing."

Some commentators say that Williams was affirming a Catholic (he capitalized the word) view of the episcopacy rather than a Protestant view. They may be right. His catholic view of things is not Roman or even Affirming. It says that the national church is not the final point of authority and that the real power lays in the diocesan bishops, perhaps having in mind that the Pope is not just the world leader of one billion Catholics, but that he is also the Bishop of Rome.

Williams himself is the leader of 70 million Anglicans, but he is also the Archbishop of Canterbury.

Mrs. Jefferts Schori is the bishop of nothing; she is a legislative figurehead, a presiding bishop with no real power. She cannot tell a diocesan bishop what he/she can or cannot do. The most power she has is a bully pulpit to enforce legislative decisions of General Convention.

Williams' letter to the bishop of Central Florida sent shivers around the Episcopal Church.

Like waving a red rag before a bull, Episcopal Church liberals went ballistic. They snarled at Williams like hyenas caught in the headlights of a jeep on the plains of the Serengeti.

The Rev. Nigel J. Taber-Hamilton, rector of St. Augustine's-in-the-woods Episcopal Church in Freeland WA on Whidbey Island, called it "The Great Betrayal - Rowan Williams and the end of the Anglican Communion as we know it."

At his blog he wrote, "Any respect I have been able to maintain for Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams, and any hope for the survival of the Anglican Communion as we currently know it, died."

"The letter was staggering in its misunderstanding of the polity of the Anglican Communion and the Episcopal Church and shockingly naive in its understanding of where most Episcopalians stand with regard to any interference in our own affairs by foreign Prelates."

"Perhaps more significantly, though, it is the betrayal of beliefs that Williams held dear for so long - right up, in fact, to the point where he became Archbishop of Canterbury, when - he says - unity became his ministry."

"It is now clear that Williams is willing to abandon any individual and even whole Provinces of the Anglican Communion in the cause of 'unity'."

He wasn't the only one blasting Williams.

The Rev. Dr. George C. Bedell, a TEC priest and a member of the Board of Directors of The Episcopal Majority, ripped Williams saying, "I wish the Archbishop would climb down out of the clouds or wherever he is and lead the Anglican Communion to take seriously the admonition to love others as we love ourselves, no strings attached."

He added this, "Until Rowan Williams (and those who might agree with him) come to terms with the incontrovertible fact that what he calls 'the organ of union' for the American church is our General Convention, we're going to get nowhere in solving our worldwide dilemma together."

He then snorted at orthodox Episcopalians saying, "Amazing! He [Williams] just doesn't get it, does he? Those who are rushing into 'separatist solutions' in the United States are the very ones who want to ignore the primacy of the General Convention altogether, because, among other things, they say its decision is out of sync with some distorted and intellectually suffocating reading of Scripture."

Then he reveals his hand. "The real issue here - one that Howe and Williams don't even address - is how the church is going to find a way fully to include lesbians and gays in the life of the Church."

There you have it.

An observer noted, "What this priest fails to realize is that it is the orthodox who have become the real outcasts in the Episcopal Church, not the 2,000 pansexualists who now dominate the institution and who wield and manipulate the organs of political power within the church."

The Rev. Mark Harris, an Episcopal priest in the Diocese of Delaware and a member of Executive Council, wrote in his essay, "The Archbishop Makes a Mess"" "the real danger in the Archbishop's [letter] is the stress on the bishop and diocese rather than the province. The whole pack of cards that has to do with the provinces of the Anglican Communion comes close to crashing down, as does any need to refer to the Primates, the ACC or any other gathering save Lambeth...I would be most surprised if the ABC believed that no one needed to take him seriously in England, what with his being the Primate of All England, etc., since he was not the primary locus of ecclesial identity. The Archbishop has written a bit of a mess that will take considerable time to unwind and toss. I hope that he did not write it but rather that one of his assistants, who ought to be fired, did."

Another liberal blogger Father Jake also took pot shots at the ABC in an article entitled "More Confusion from Canterbury".

ORTHODOX clergy, on reading Williams letter, which is facetiously being called "Rowan's First Epistle to the Central Floridians" were far more polite towards the ABC, even though they don't agree with him.

Priests in the diocese who are in conflict with Bishop John W. Howe said quite simply that they would continue in their efforts to separate themselves from the Episcopal Church, which they regard as heretically lost but steadfastly refused to name call either Howe or Williams.

Both liberals and conservatives feel betrayed by Williams' statement. Liberals hate what Williams wrote because it seemingly overrides the authority of the national church and its leader, Mrs. Jefferts Schori who has no juridical authority over dioceses.

For conservative Episcopalians who want to stay in the TEC, it leaves them with no way out, at least for the foreseeable future, unless they make the leap into AMIA, CANA or oversight from Uganda.

Canon David C. Anderson, president of the American Anglican Council, said more politely that the Windsor Bishops will continue to have hemorrhaging membership, thus making Williams letter all but irrelevant.

The one thing Williams' letter will not do is halt the march of orthodox dioceses and priests who want to leave the Episcopal Church. On the other hand, Windsor-compliant bishops might see their position strengthened as they consider where their evangelical and biblical consciences and denominational loyalties are in caught in conflict.

For bishops like Bill Love (Albany), James Stanton (Dallas), John W. Howe (Central Florida) and Don Wimberly (Texas), it affords some breathing space as they face fleeing parishes in their own diocese and gives them a place to stand, even if the ground is on a fault line and wobbles a bit.

For the Network bishops, this letter of Williams changes nothing.

For Bishop Bob Duncan (Pittsburgh) and the dozen or so bishops who have formed a new ecclesial structure, this is just more prevarication in the face of overwhelming theological and moral innovations the Episcopal Church is making that are now irreversible.

For them there is no going back.

One shrewd observer noted that at the very least the Episcopal Church's bullying days are numbered. "While Rowan's liberal and libertine impulses are obvious, his commitment to Christ is palpable. He might just save the Communion from itself."

The Archbishop of Canterbury's progressive attitude regarding the communion's questions, which seems to want to find a way not to offend anyone, is also coming to an end.

The Hegelian mind of Rowan Williams demands a Kierkegaardian Either/Or not both/and.

One longs for him to take a stand, and not worry about the consequences.

Perhaps in his letter to Bishop Howe he has made a start in his efforts to separate the sheep from the goats.

One just hopes he knows who the goats really are.

While Williams is willing to give very clear guidance on political matters like the Iraq war and Israel's policies, he fails to do so in the area in which he is supposed to provide leadership -- faith and morals.

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

Ukraine: New edition of the Sacred Scriptures in Ukrainian language

On 22 October, a new edition of the Holy Scriptures in the Ukrainian language was formally unveiled in the Catholic University of the city of Lviv in West Ukraine.

Its publication, in a printing of 100,000 copies, was backed by the Catholic charity Aid to the Church in Need (ACN), which has long been helping the Church in Ukraine in this way - notably with Bibles immediately after the political changes, when there was still no religious literature in the country.

This new edition had become necessary, explained ACN's Ukraine specialist, Marko Tomashek, since there were virtually no Bibles left to be had in the country.

This lack of Bibles had seriously hampered the pastoral work of the Church, he explained. It was particularly important, he continued, that students at the catechetical Institute should be able not only to attend courses in the Scriptures but also to read, study and meditate on the Bible themselves. Christian families must likewise be given the opportunity to possess a Bible.

Currently there are a great many Bible study circles springing up in Ukraine, Mr Tomashek explained, in which students and young married couples in particular are reading the scriptures together.

Without a sufficient number of Bibles in the Ukrainian language, such initiatives will become impossible, he pointed out.

Thus it was "most welcome" that Ukrainian Christians can now at last have access once more to a Bible in their own language, he said.

Cardinal Lubomyr Husar, the head of the Byzantine-rite Ukrainian Catholic Church, which is in union with Rome, was present at the ceremony and stressed the importance of reading the Bible for the Christian faithful.

It was the desire of the Church that the faithful should read the Holy Scriptures, he said, and therefore it was essential that these should be "accessible to all".

He underlined the fact that "the principal author of the Bible is the Holy Spirit" and added, "Therefore we can only understand the Word of God if we entrust ourselves to the guidance of the Holy Spirit".

In March 2006 the Episcopal Synod of the Ukrainian Catholic Church set up a Foundation for the Bible Apostolate and entrusted the preparation of the new edition of the Scriptures to the catechetical commission.

This commission is headed by Sister Luiza Ciupa, who also expressed her special thanks to ACN for its financial support.

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

First Divorce Fair Woos Few in Vienna

In a city where "I do" often turns into "I want out," a fair for those wanting to untie the knot seemed a sure hit.

But journalists easily outnumbered those looking for advice on how to end their marriages on Saturday, the first day of what was billed as the world's first divorce fair.

Detectives were ready to catch a spouse in the act, mediators to help ease the pain of separation, a laboratory to conduct paternity tests, and, of course, lawyers to do everything else.

So where were all those in struggling marriages?

The Austrian capital would seem a good venue for the event, with its 66-percent divorce rate, near the top for European cities. The country itself has a rate of more than 50 percent.

In the United States, the rate is thought to be between 40 and 45 percent.

But only a few dozen clients meandered through the two conference rooms of a downtown luxury hotel in the space of an hour, and bemused exhibitors were kept busy mostly by TV crews lining up to interview them.

"It doesn't matter," said real estate agent Christian Novotny, there to offer advice on how to sell homes for splitting couples — or to buy ones for new singles. "Tomorrow's another day."

"Too many cameras," said Berhard Spernern, one of the few at the event hoping for a divorce. "I think that's part of the problem — a lot of people don't want to be seen or be photographed here."

Spernern said he was happy to have come nonetheless, saying a talk with a lawyer was helpful in letting him know that he has an automatic right to divorce after a three-year separation. And he said he would suggest to his spouse — who he said does not want to end their marriage — to join him in mediating their dispute with one of the experts he made contact with here.

Most of the 16 firms with stands at the fair offered standard divorce fare — legal services, private investigations, mediation and conflict management. But some catered to more unusual needs.

"Many people come to us when they are already in the middle of divorce proceedings," said Susanna Haas, whose $600 DNA analysis promises to end bickering about why the little one does not look like daddy. "Proof of parenthood can play an important role in divorces."

In the next room, Isabella Stozek, whose "Hairdreams" offered hair extensions, volume treatments, highlights and other regimens, said such makeovers were important to women looking for a new look to accompany their new start.

"They want to leave their old lives behind, and how better to do that than with these?" she says, sweeping her hand over a display of wigs, pony tails and braids.

At a stand close by, brochures for "MyDates" promised those interested a chance to "meet 25 singles in two hours."

Even the Roman Catholic Church got into the mix, with a stand to offer advice for newly single parents, and social workers from the city of Vienna were ready to counsel women in sudden need.

Still, the emphasis Saturday was less on the emotional and more on the financial and legal aspects accompanying a divorce — a fact criticized by some looking for more than just a chance to limit the mess of their marriage breakup.

"I miss the human aspect," said Ingrid, who refused to give her full name, explaining that divorce was a private matter. "It would be nice to have people here to talk to for those who are not yet willing to take the leap."

"Who knows how many here could still save their marriages, if they tried?"

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


Britney Spears is set to outrage the Catholic Church Madonna-style with a raunchy new photo shoot.

The pop wreck has posed for a series of confession-themed pics - like the one below - for new album, Blackout.

Clad in saucy fishnets, Brit is shown posing provocatively in a confessional box as a handsome priest looks on.

An insider reveals to British tabloid The Daily Mirror that in another "very naughty" shot the singer sits on the priests lap.

Now that's one confessional that we'd love to hear...

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 Group Rejects Miller's Apology for 'Last Supper' Poster

An apology issued by the Miller Brewing Company over a poster that promoted a homosexual event in San Francisco by copying Leonardo Da Vinci's painting of "The Last Supper" was rejected on Monday by the leader of a national Catholic group, who charged that either the corporation doesn't "get it" or "they think we're stupid."

The apology, which was released late Friday, "is nothing but a rehash" of what the company has been saying all along, said Bill Donohue, president of the Catholic League for Religious Civil Rights, in a statement of his own on Monday.

"It limits its apology to the use of its logo on the offensive 'Last Supper' promotional poster," Donohue said, which replaced Jesus and his disciples with half-naked homosexual sadomasochists, but "it still refuses to apologize for the anti-Catholic nature of the event itself."

That event was the Folsom Street Fair, which bills itself as "the world's largest leather festival" and is held on the last Sunday of September, when it draws about 300,000 people each year.

"The poster was the least offensive part of this Catholic-bashing forum," Donohue continued.

"What was even more offensive was the sight of Christian symbols being sold at this Miller-sponsored fair as sex toys. Then there was the incredible sight of a stripper and a man dressed as Jesus hoisted in cages above a Catholic church on a Sunday," he added.

"This was done to provoke, taunt and insult Catholics. Evidently, Miller thinks these kinds of things are okay," Donohue said.

In the latest news release on this subject, Miller Vice President Nehl Horton said that 'when one group actively disrespects another, we cannot support its events and activities,'" Donohue said.

"This is a fine statement, if only it were true. The fact is Miller has made no pledge not to sponsor the Folsom Street Fair again," he stated.

"Accordingly, we will continue the boycott and the anti-Miller PR campaign."Donohue also stated that the boycott has "reached a new level."

"In addition to the countless number of Catholics who have called us joining the boycott, we are now drawing the support of high-ranking members of the Catholic clergy, the Knights of Columbus in Illinois and New York, and the Chaldean community in Michigan," he noted.

"Any corporation that sponsors events that belittle people on the basis of religion is no better than one that belittles people on the basis of race, ethnicity, national origin or sexual orientation," Donohue said.

"We are not asking for much," he added. "Just as important, we will not settle for less."

"Miller has been a strong partner to countless local organizations throughout the country for decades," Julian Green, senior manager of media relations for the Miller Brewing Company, told Cybercast News Service on Monday.

"Consumers have come to trust us as a company committed to doing the right thing. We hope that consumers will forgive us for this serious error and have confidence that our response in this case has continued to demonstrate our commitment to upholding their trust," Green added.

Friday's apology from the Miller Brewing Company said the corporation "has taken action to ensure that such an incident will not happen again."

"Miller has just completed an exhaustive audit of its marketing procedures for approving local marketing and sales sponsorships, and it is implementing plans to tighten its compliance procedures," the release stated.

"The company has received assurances from its local distributor in San Francisco and from Folsom Street Events that future marketing materials and event activities will fully comply with Miller's marketing policies and procedures," the statement added.

The poster first drew attention - and criticism - from the conservative group Concerned Women for America on Sept. 25.

"Gay activists disingenuously call Christians 'haters' and 'homophobes' for honoring the Bible, but then lash out in this hateful manner toward the very people they accuse," said Matt Barber, CWA's policy director for cultural issues, at the time.

Within 24 hours, Miller Brewing Company asked to have its logo removed from the advertisement, even though Copper said there was no intention "to be particularly pro-religion or anti-religion with this poster; the image is intended only to be reminiscent of the 'Last Supper' painting."

On Sept. 26, the Catholic League issued a press release expressing outrage that Miller still supported the event despite the fact that a portion of the money raised by the festival was going to the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence, an anti-Catholic group that held a fundraiser entitled "The Last Supper With the Sisters."

The following day, Donohue announced that his organization was boycotting Miller Brewing Company products and urged more than 200 other religious organizations to do the same.

A Cybercast News Service investigation determined that some of the funding for the festival came from a city program to support "parades and celebrations," as well as a "Zero Waste" grant from the San Francisco Department of the Environment to promote "recycling, materials reuse and waste reduction for municipal, commercial and residential clients."

On Sept. 28, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) - whose district is host to the event, which draws about 300,000 attendees each year - said: "I do not believe that Christianity has been harmed by the Folsom Street Fair advertising."

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