Saturday, August 30, 2008

Year of Vocations Prayer

Prayer for Vocations

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

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

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


An Focal Scóir - August 2008

The month of August opens with the Lambeth Conference in full swing, Knock Youth festival in similar fashion, an apology from religious order for CSA in Australia, call for end to papal condemnation of contraception, musical monks in charts, Il Papa intentions for August released...

...interfaith dialogue a reality in 21st century, no to homos says Vatican official at Lambeth, Irish to become patron to Vatican museum, Anglicans wrestle with Bible, invite to Syria for Il Papa by Grand Mufti...

...Anglican Church = The Gay Church (?), questions over charity cash, social revolution against Christianity, immigrants look to bishops for support, clerical changes in Irish dioceses (Dublin - updated), Loaves & Fishes, Irish State being sued by religious healthcare group...

...youth rosary CD a big hit, monk preaches divine sex, Templars to sue Il Papa, closing day of Lambeth Conference, St John Vianney (Patron of Priests), prayer for priests, Sotto Voce takes leave of CW (for a while...)...

...Cork Bishop prayers answered, Lambeth ends positively, Solzhenitsyn dies, American Episcopalian blamed for Africa rift, liberal Anglicanism dead (?), British nun miracles being examined by Vatican, secret papal outing, Sacerdos steps in to CW, Il Papa wants China open to Christianity, more women priests ordained, inflatable church on beach...

...Il Papa working on new encyclical, Cardinal Kasper at Lambeth, Feast of the Transfiguration, Greyfriars closing despite Vatican intervention, cemetery vandalism on rise, priests on hunger strike against bishop, Lugo hangs up mitre for presidency, Orthodox schism (?), bishop apologises to victims of CSA...

...Pius XII - The Hound of Hitler, begging is a human right says Vatican, war on bureaucracy in Vatican, CSA victims took own lives, schism better than heresy (?), Irish Diocesan Clerical Appointments - Tuam, Achonry, Kilmore, Raphoe and Waterford & Lismore...

...Irish religious orders still owe Irish State to settle CSA bill, sex shame priest drops case, 6th RC woman ordained this year, Saint Clare feastday, St Lawrence the Deacon, urge for Irish RC bishops to make island-wide reforms, Olympics 2008, Egyptian Christians under fresh pressures...

...YD08 pilgrims seeks asylum, Yahweh no more, Dominican Order reflourishing, 2 International Religious Organisations seek closer co-operation, open letter to AB Diarmuid Martin of Dublin, Indian nun commits suicide, Il Papa asked say no to fur...

...importance of prayer, when is contraception abortion?, Feast of the Assumption, decline in religion infers decline in marriage, former bishop now president, never betray Gospel, Anglican split is inevitable, morals of contraception, Vatican library makeover, Irish national assembly being considered, Irish Scientologists under pressure...

...Dead Sea scrolls on stone, Fr Troy transferred to Paris, Bishops NO to parish records being opened, priest tortured and killed in India, Mexican Church says short skirts equate rape, Il Papa warns against rise of Fascsim, beatification of parents of St Therese of Lisieux, new leade of Swiss Army in Vatican...

...Bishop Egger RIP, ecumenical dialogue to continue, holiness a normal vocation says Il Papa, Opus Dei prelate nears beatification, Beijing Bishop encourages Il Papa visit to China, Il Papa WYD '08 talks to be published, Reformed Catholic Church rejects Polish RC comments re gay sect...

...Knights Templar not heretical, bishop concerned for welfare of priests, liberation ordination, John Paul I, 1968 The Age of the Council, gay marriage on way in Ireland, 22 to begin studying for priesthood in Ireland, 60 years of WCC, Turin Shroud controversy again, update of Unfair Dismissal in Bray Co Wicklow, AB Martin in difficulties again...

...Cardinal Seán Brady blames secularisation for Lisbon NO vote, No to GM Eucharists, beauty contest for nuns (later withdrawn), Shroud of Turin up for debate again, Il Papa considerate of last leg of life, shadow over Beijing Olympics, Il Papa to write prayer for Irish grandparents, unholy row in Donegal....

...gambling on UK Cardinal Archbishop successor, elderly RC bishop arrested in China, ex-Baptist minister to become RC priest, Cardinal Arinze says no to Divorce, cross border church violence in Ireland, 2005 interregnum stamps and coins explained, Brother Roger of Taize, Wesley code cracked, Il Papa not happy with crucified frog...

...last executed witch exonerated, incense burning could lead to cancer, Irish clergy and teachers go head to head in education stakes, suicide rise in Ireland, Galileo statue in Vatican considered, Noah's Ark 2008...

...Vaticans solar panels installed, feast of beheading of St John the Baptist, 'I Have A Dream', Opus Dei to run wealthy Dublin parish, no burial room for atheists in Donegal, mosque in Cologne despite fears, Franciscan monks beaten in attacks in India, Vatican warns of growing Christianophobia, RC bishop says England has lost its way.

And there ends the month of August 2008...onwards to September, the month of the Holy Cross and of St Michael the Archangel....


Daily Prayers & Reflections


AH, that Time could touch a form
That could show what Homer's age
Bred to be a hero's wage.

'Were not all her life but storm,
Would not painters paint a form
Of such noble lines,' I said,
'Such a delicate high head,
All that sternness amid charm,
All that sweetness amid strength?'
Ah, but peace that comes at length,
Came when Time had touched her form.

Bishop: English Church has Lost its Way

The Church in England and Wales is losing its Catholic identity, a senior bishop said this week.

Bishop Patrick O'Donoghue of Lancaster made the claim in a 92-page document highly critical of the direction of the Church in the past 40 years.

The document, described by several parish priests as "dynamite", addresses declining vocations, falling Mass attendance and the future of the Church.

The loss of Catholic identity stems from the rejection of Church teaching coupled with a wide-spread misinterpretation of the reforms of the Second Vatican Council, the document said.The bishop challenged both the laity and clergy to re-examine what it means to be Catholic and to return to the "sources of our Catholic identity".

Bishop O'Donoghue wrote: "I am convinced that if we are to wake from the weariness that is taking hold of the Church in this country we must return to the sources of our Catholic identity and mission to renew our strength and vitality."In this way we will through the grace of the Holy Spirit be in a position to counter the negative and constraining influence of secularism and hedonism that is currently dominating our society."

The document, entitled Fit for Mission? Church was published on Wednesday and comes on the heels of Fit for Mission? Schools which called for stronger Catholic ethos in diocesan schools and won high praise from the Vatican.

Written for the diocese but also for "all Catholics who love the Church and care deeply about the future of Catholicism", it marks the end of Bishop O'Donoghue's 16-month diocesan review.

It began by asking painful questions about declining Mass attendance, a falling rate of Catholic marriages and baptisms, and lack of vocations and energy in the Church. It concluded that the Church had distanced itself from the true intentions of the Second Vatican Council and the tradition of the Church.

Bishop O'Donoghue, 74, said: "Though we are strengthened and healed by the Lord through his Word and Sacraments, the majority of us are not responding to Our Lord's call to go out on his mission of hope. In particular, mission in the parishes with families and young people are undeveloped and under developed with a few exceptions. The passion to serve the Lord is noticeably absent in many cases. There seems to be at times a tiredness and reticence to preach the Gospel.

"One of the reasons why we are 'gathered but not sent' is due to a lack of confidence and knowledge of the Catholic faith. This results from a lack of ongoing formation and trained lay catechists and prayer... our Church often seems inward looking, self-involved and detached from everyday life of our wider communities.

"It appears that many of us have forgotten the basic truth about the nature of the Church, that we have been gathered as a people of God not to be served but rather to serve God and each other, especially the weak and the poor."

In a step-by-step analysis of the problems and successes of the Second Vatican Council, document by document, Bishop O'Donoghue identified the need for a renewal in the Church principally through a reaffirmation of faith, obedience to the bishops in communion with the Pope, sound doctrine and sound liturgy.

The bishop wrote: "As I have reflected on the great issues facing this generation in the life of the Church, I have become more and more convinced that the answers are to be found through a prayerful, faithful and creative engagement with the Deposit of Faith presented in the documents of the Second Vatican Council and its great summary, the Catechism of the Catholic Church."

The bishop criticised Catholics who have strayed away from Church teaching in the name of the Second Vatican Council.

He said: "We have all witnessed with alarm many who profess to be Catholics disavowing the Church's teaching authority, particularly that of the Pope and the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, dismissing apostolic traditions and the doctrines of the Fathers and giving the place of honour to the fashionable opinions of society."

Quoting the theologian Henri de Lubac, he said that in order to truly implement the Second Vatican Council "it is necessary for all of us to re-gain a Catholic sense of balance between change and continuity through maintaining the Catholic understanding of the Church which in 'practice is a continuous tradition and a living present authority'."

The first half deals with questions of direction and identity while the second half deals with the Council. In the section entitled "Have we forgotten what it is to be Catholic?" Bishop O'Donoghue said that people who deliberately missed Mass on Sunday, denied sin and did not go to Confession were not fully Catholic.

"Being 'Catholic' has the definite meaning of embracing the totality of Christ as he expresses Himself through His Catholic Church. The opposite of being Catholic would be to set ourselves as judges of the faith of the Church, to pick and choose what takes our fancy and reject what we dislike," he said.

He criticised the ascendancy of "privatised" faith which focused too much "on the subjective personal experience of faith" and overrides the "objective, revealed truth of the Church".

Justice and peace, he said, are not more important than the Mass, and the Church's teaching on the sanctity of life is not optional.

Bishop O'Donoghue insisted that the Eucharist had to be at the centre of the faith and that adoration should be encouraged. He also argued for closer adherence to Canon Law, and a renewed focus on salvation and vocations as well as use of the Catechism.

In the second half of the document the bishop argued that undue focus has been given to a man-centred interpretation of the Council, which led to popular and incorrect interpretations never intended by the Council Fathers.

Bishop O'Donoghue said: "The Council sought to give primacy to God in its proceedings, and not primacy to man as many popular interpretations have sought to argue through giving emphasis to the novelty of the Pastoral Constitution on the Modern World."

The bishop also laid the part of the blame on the bishops themselves for delegating their responsibilities to committees of lay people.

He said that agencies and departments of the bishops' conference were acting autonomously - but did not always fully uphold Church teaching in their dealings with secular authorities. The structures of the conference were preventing bishops from speaking individually on matters of importance to the church and society, he said.

He also said that the failure of bishops to reach agreement on issues had often resulted in inadequate statements or interventions instead of the witness that was "so urgently needed".

Bishop O'Donoghue said he particularly wanted to register his "disappointment" that the bishops failed to produce a "collegial response to the government's legislation on same-sex adoption" threatening Catholic adoption agencies with closure unless they agree to assess homosexual couples as potential adoptive parents.

"The problem of attempting to arrive at a consensus among bishop with sometimes divergent views is that episcopal conference statements and documents have a tendency to be often flat and safe at a time at a time when we need passionate and courageous public statements that dare to speak the full truth in love," he said.

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

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

Sotto Voce

(Source: CatholicOnline)

Vatican advises Pope against flying with 'holy' water

His Holiness the Pope, 81, will visit both Paris and Lourdes in southern France from the 12th-15th September.

The water from the shrine at Lourdes is revered because of the Virgin Mary's appearance there to a young shepherdess, Bernadette Soubirous, 150 years ago.

The 'holy' water is believed to have miraculous healing powers and millions of pilgrims visit Lourdes each year to drink from its fonts.

Many take bottles of the water away with them.

A Vatican advisory issued a statement saying,

"In order to avoid their confiscation during security controls at the airport, Air France recommends putting any bottles of Lourdes water in baggage what will go into the hold of the plane."

While the water from Lourdes is not strictly considered "holy" -holy water is found in churches and must be blessed by a priest - many websites about Lourdes describe it as "holy".

Security measures limiting liquids allowed in carry-on baggage have been in effect since 2006 when a plot to bring down planes with liquid explosives was discovered.

Lourdes, which sits at the foot of the Pyrenees mountains, is one of the main Catholic pilgrimage sites, attracting some six million visitors a year.

Some 200,000 pilgrims are expected to flock to the shrine to attend a mass celebrated by the Pope on September 14, a French bishop has said.


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

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

Sotto Voce

(Source: Telegraph)

Pope Sends Blessing to New Church in Russia

Cardinal Angelo Sodano is bearing the blessing of Benedict XVI to a new church constructed in Kazan, where authorities of the Muslim-majority city have made the worship site possible.

Kazan, the capital city of the Republic of Tatarstan, will be home for the Church of the Exaltation of the Cross.

Cardinal Sodano, dean of the College of Cardinals and formerly the Pope's secretary of state, will preside over the celebration.

Archbishop Antonio Mennini, apostolic nuncio to Russia, will also attend.

In statements on Vatican Radio, Cardinal Sodano stressed the importance of this new church, both for the city's small Catholic community as well as for interreligious dialogue.

The 300 or so Catholics in Kazan had been celebrating Mass in a cemetery chapel.

This is "a moment of celebration" for the whole city, said the cardinal.

The inauguration will be attended by the mayor of Kazan and the president of Tatarstan, who tomorrow will hand the keys of the new church to the papal envoy.

Kazan is also an important site for the Orthodox, as it was the site of a 1579 apparition of the Virgin. The apparition is connected to the icon of the "Mother of God" of Kazan, which disappeared during the Russian Revolution.


Venerated in its place in the Orthodox cathedral is a 17th-century reproduction of the icon, which belonged to the Holy See, and which Pope John Paul II gave to the Russian Orthodox Church in 2004. In a solemn ceremony in 2005, Patriarch Alexy II brought the icon to the city.

Cardinal Sodano said he is happy to attend the inauguration: "I have always been awaiting the rebirth of the Church in Russia. At the beginning of my work in the [Vatican] Secretariat of State, I was also president of the Pontifical Commission for Russia, and I have seen all this progress first hand; that's why I wanted to come."

On Wednesday, the cardinal visited the Orthodox Shrine of Our Lady of Kazan. Afterward he visited the Orthodox monastery of the Archangel Raphael.

"We embraced in the name of Mary," he said. "The best ecumenism is in Mary's name, the spiritual ecumenism that unites us all."

With reference to Russia's conflict with Georgia, Cardinal Sodano said there has been ongoing prayer in Kazan for the peaceful resolution of the situation.

"John Paul II's banner, Benedict XVI's banner, is the banner of mutual dialogue, the banner of peace," the cardinal said, "because we are members of the same family and we must understand and collaborate with one another."

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

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

Sotto Voce

(Source: Zenit)

13 former students allege abuse at Australian Catholic school

Australian police said Wednesday they were investigating allegations that 13 former students were molested at a private Catholic boarding school for boys nearly 30 years ago.

The abuse allegedly occurred at the prestigious St Stanislaus' College in Bathurst, west of Sydney, for about six years between the late 1970s and early 1980s.

"At this stage we're looking at 13 victims and we're following up those lines of inquiry at the moment," Detective Superintendent Michael Goodwin said.

Goodwin would not reveal how many suspects were being investigated but said there was no one teaching at the school at the moment who was under suspicion.

A 65-year-old former priest, who reportedly worked at the school in the 1980s, was arrested in May and faces 33 charges relating to sexual assault and gross acts of indecency on juveniles aged between 10 and 18.

School principal John Edwards said that he was served with a search warrant last month which listed the names of three former staff members.

He said he had first heard about the allegations some years ago when the college received some "Internet material" which included claims of late-night prayer and chanting sessions in which boys were sexually abused.

He said he had immediately referred the allegations to the police.

"Those circumstances where people have betrayed trust, it is a matter of grave concern and shame, and it needs to be addressed comprehensively in order to protect children in the future," Edwards said.

One of the alleged victims told the Daily Telegraph newspaper that his abuse began when a priest took him aside for private tutoring on religion. It later occurred in group chanting sessions during which students would pass out.

"They got a group between eight and 12 of us together and they'd just start chanting and I would wake up during these sessions and see what was going on," he said. "It was like an orgy."

The allegations come just weeks after the leader of the world's 1.1 billion Catholics, Pope Benedict XVI, publicly expressed his "shame" over the "evils" of clerical child abuse during a visit to Australia.

Benedict told a mass for clergy in July he was "deeply sorry" for the abuse of children by predatory priests and called for the guilty to be punished and for victims to be compensated.

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

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

Sotto Voce

(Source: AFP)

Vatican warns of growing "Christianophobia"

"Christianophobia" is a growing problem around the world and it must be fought with the same determination as anti-Semitism or Islamophobia, the Vatican said on Friday.

Archbishop Dominique Mamberti, the Vatican's foreign minister, spoke in the wake of attacks against Christians in India that have left at least 13 people dead this week.

Mamberti, addressing a conference in northern Italy, said religious freedom was a vital part of international relations and human dignity.

"In order to promote this dignity in an integral way, so-called 'Christianophobia' should be combated as decisively as 'Islamophobia' and anti-Semitism," he said.

This week in eastern India, thousands of people, most of them Christians, have sought shelter in makeshift government camps, driven from their homes by religious violence.

Hindu mobs burnt more than a dozen churches and attacked Christians after a Hindu leader was killed.

Mamberti said the events in India made the issue of religious liberty today all the more pressing.

While Hindu groups accuse Christian priests of bribing poor tribes and low-caste Hindus to change their faith, the Christians say lower-caste Hindus convert willingly to escape a complex caste system.

Pope Benedict has condemned the violence against Christians in Orissa but also deplored the killing of the Hindu leader.

Italy's foreign ministry said it would summon India's ambassador to demand "incisive action" to prevent further attacks against Christians.

Mamberti said 21 Catholic missionaries were killed in the world in 2007 and lamented that the Christian population of Iraq was now down to about 500,000 from about one million before the U.S.-led invasion in 2003.

Last month, Pope Benedict told Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki that minority Christians in Iraq needed more protection.

The Archbishop of Mosul of Iraq's largest Christian denomination, the Chaldean Catholics, was kidnapped in February and found dead two weeks later.

The Vatican has often expressed concern that conflicts in the Middle East are greatly diminishing the Christian population in the areas of the religion's birth.

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

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

Sotto Voce

(Source: Reuters)

Cardinal's body exhumed to 'bury gay past'

PLANS to bestow sainthood on one of the most influential Catholics in English history, Cardinal John Newman, have triggered an unholy row over claims that he was gay.

The Vatican has already ordered that the 19th century cardinal's body should be moved from a quiet graveyard on the edge of Birmingham to a grand sarcophagus in the city's Oratory Church so that pilgrims can more easily pay homage to a man who is expected to be beatified next year.

But gay rights campaigners claim the exhumation is actually motivated by the church's embarrassment that Newman has for the past century shared a headstone and burial site with his close male companion of many years, fellow priest Ambrose St John.

Australian-born gay rights activist Peter Tatchell said yesterday that "the reburial has only one aim: to cover up Newman's homosexuality and to disavow his love for another man.

"It is an act of shameless dishonesty and personal betrayal by the gay-hating Vatican," he said.

Cardinal Newman, who shared a house with Father St John for more than three decades, demanded in his will and insisted several times later that he wanted to be buried beside his colleague.

In his will, he stated: "I wish, with all my heart, to be buried in Father Ambrose St John's grave - and I give this as my last, my imperative will."

When Father St John, who was 14 years his junior, died in 1875, Newman compared his own grief to that of a husband's for a wife.

"I have ever thought no bereavement was equal to that of a husband's or a wife's, but I feel it difficult to believe that any can be greater, or anyone's sorrow greater, than mine," he wrote.

Mr Tatchell yesterday said that "nothing can justify the Vatican's decision to violate Newman's categorical and often-stated instructions that he be buried alongside Ambrose. No one gave the Pope permission to defy Newman's wishes".

"They were inseparable. They lived together for over 30 years, like husband and wife. Newman was not exactly macho. His softer, gentler demeanour is what we associate with a gay man and there were allegations during his lifetime about his circle of homosexual friends."

Church officials deny that Newman, who died in 1890, was gay and say it is normal practice to ensure that a saint's grave is easily accessible to worshippers who may, for instance, want to light a candle beside his sarcophagus.

Father Ian Ker, a priest and biographer of Cardinal Newman, told The Weekend Australian yesterday that Newman "clearly did love his dear friend" but that it was ridiculous to claim a century later that they were gay.

"There is no evidence for that whatsoever, and everything he (Newman) wrote and said suggests he would have thought homosexuality was immoral, not to mention that it was illegal at the time.

"Theirs was a close friendship that some people are now trying to misrepresent and use for their own purposes."

Newman is a towering figure in the Catholic Church's history in Britain and its most significant convert from the Church of England.

He led theological debates for much of the 19th Century and influenced many Anglicans to follow him and Father St John in converting to Catholicism. The two men were both Church of England ministers who became Catholic priests in the Victorian era when Catholics faced heavy discrimination in Britain.

Newman now has several colleges and religious societies named after him and Pope Benedict XVI, one of his long-term admirers, is next year expected to oversee his beatification, one step short of sainthood.

According to Mr Tatchell, the two men"were almost certainly gay by orientation but perhaps not by sexual relationship".

"They clearly had a loving, long-term same-sex relationship. It is impossible to know whether this relationship involved sex (but) abstinence does not alter a person's sexual orientation."

Mr Tatchell claimed there may even be a "posthumous coming out" in the inscription on the gravestone shared by the priests, which says in Latin: "From shadows and images into the truth."

Father Ker, who lectures at Oxford University about Newman's life, said Mr Tatchell's interpretation was ridiculous.

"What the inscription means is that in death he was moving out of the unreality of this world into the true reality of eternal life."

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

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

Sotto Voce

(Source: The Australian)

Bishop Patrick Donoghue says abortion is to blame for violent Britain

The Rt Rev. Patrick O'Donoghue, the Bishop of Lancaster, claimed casual recourse to abortion had cheapened the value of human life in the eyes of the public over the last four decades.

He said he was convinced that the 1967 Abortion Act was a major cause of widespread violence among young people.

"All of us have seen in the news the frequent reports of young people killing strangers in the street, killing fathers defending their property, killing people with learning difficulties, killing other young people who are different to them," said the bishop in a report `Fit for Mission? Church' published today (Wed).

"For 41 years we've lived in a state-sponsored culture of death that has killed five million children, and we're now surprised that some of the surviving children have turned out violent with no regard for the sanctity of life?," he said.

"How many children know that their mothers have had an abortion? What effect will it have on them knowing that they have been deprived of a brother or sister through abortion?

"If a society holds human life so cheaply is it any surprise that young people will also hold life cheaply and engage in violence?'"

He said that if the State was seen sponsoring "crimes against life is it any wonder that criminality in general thrives, and seeks to take advantage of the coarsening and darkening of conscience"?

The bishop's remarks come after a summer of bloodshed that has seen an escalation of knife crime.

Twenty-four young people have been stabbed to death in London in 2008.

His comments come at a critical time in the long-runing and contentious abortion debate.

Earlier this year, MPs rejected a move to lower the upper time limit for abortion from 24 weeks to 22 weeks. The issue will resurface in the autumn when the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill comes before the House of Commons again in October.

The most recent department of Health figures released in June, showed that the number of abortions had increased in all age groups since records began.

There was a 2.5 per cent increase in the number of women living in England and Wales having an abortion from 193,700 in 2006 to 198,500 last year.

Bishop O'Donoghue said the "overwhelming majority" of Catholics, practising or lapsed, were strongly opposed to abortion.

He said: "I earnestly call on all Catholics in my diocese to support politicians who are opposed to abortion, euthanasia, research on embryonic human beings."

The bishop, who is set to retire next May when he reaches 75, used to be an aide to Cardinal Basil Hume.


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

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

Sotto Voce

(Source: Telegraph)

Pay no attention to insults of Hugo Chavez, says Honduran bishop

Auxiliary Bishop Darwin Andino of Tegucigalpa said this week that little attention should be given to the insults spouted by Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, who is “a poor man who does not know how to measure his words.”

Speaking to the Honduran daily El Heraldo, Bishop Andino recalled that Chavez “has no power to send anyone to heaven or to hell,” as that power belongs to God.

In addition, he said, “the Lord has snatched us out of hell,” which he said “is not a place, it is a state in which a person can be, a nation can be in hell.”

With regards to the insults of Venezuelan president, Andino noted that Cardinal Oscar Andres Rodriguez of Tegucigalpa “ignored these things.”

“And I think that there is no need to give credit to the words because of where they are coming from or to the mouth they have come out of. Where do they come from? From a poor man who does not know how to measure his words, and we don’t need to pay attention to the words he says,” Bishop Andino underscored.

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

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

Sotto Voce

(Source: CNA )

Human rights are not arbitrary, they are the fruit of natural law, says Vatican expert

The undersecretary of the Pontifical Council for the Laity, Guzman Carriquiry Lecour, said in an address this week that human rights are based on natural law and that denying this truth opens the door to relativism.

During a ceremony in which he was awarded an honorary Doctorate by the University of St. Thomas Aquinas, Carriquiry said, “What they are trying to do is turn into individual rights that which attacks fundamental human rights of the person.”

During his extensive discourse, he pointed out that 60 years after the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, a “relativist derivative” exists in which “new rights are imposed” that stem from the “arbitrary desires” of certain groups or individuals.

“Are we not the witnesses of opinion campaigns and pressure from international powers to foster national legislation to introduce forms of liberalizing abortion and unrestricted bioethical manipulations, of making same-sex unions the equivalent of marriage, of promoting eugenic and euthanasia practices,” Carriquiry said.

Quoting Jacques Maritain, he recalled that “human rights cannot be arbitrary, they must be universally applied and be well-founded upon reason.” Rights, he said, “are not oblivious or evident by themselves.”

“If human rights are not established, they are left baseless,” he added. “They remain at the mercy of whoever is in power” and only reflect a government that is merely democratic in name.

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

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

Sotto Voce

(Source: CNA)

Michelle Obama: Barack's abortion stand respects ‘sacred responsibility of parenthood’

Michelle Obama, wife of proposed Democratic presidential nominee Sen. Barack Obama, joined other Democratic leaders at the Women’s Caucus of the Democratic National Convention on Thursday, pledging to support female candidates, advocate policies in women’s interest, and preserve the legal status quo of permissive abortion laws.

The speakers all backed Barack Obama, whom one called a “steadfast supporter of women’s right to choose.”

Michelle Obama

Speaking of her husband, Michelle Obama said: “He’ll protect a woman’s freedom of choice, because government should have no say in whether or when a woman embraces the sacred responsibility of parenthood.”

When her speech began, Democratic protesters who support Sen. Hillary Clinton disrupted the event, standing before the Colorado Convention Center ballroom’s stage and carrying signs which called Clinton a “Smart Choice.”

Feigning unawareness of the protesters, who were belatedly escorted from the room, Michelle Obama said Hillary’s candidacy had made her husband a stronger candidate. Towards the end of the speech, she pledged that the Democrats would not “take women’s votes for granted” and could not “assume that women know where Barack stands.”

About half an hour before Michelle Obama’s speech, other protestors made an appearance following the speech of another Women’s Caucus speaker. The group consisted of a half-dozen women of various ages hurrying to the stage and displaying their shirts, which read “I regret my abortion.” As the displeased audience shouted “Obama, Obama,” security personnel quickly escorted the protesters out of the room.

They had disrupted the caucus just before California Sen. Barbara Boxer was scheduled to speak.

Sen. Barbara Boxer

Boxer, who was introduced as the “leading defender of the right to choose,” responded to the removed protesters by saying they have a right to an opinion, but “all we want is our right to choose.”

“They can choose what they want to choose, and we can choose what we want to choose... That’s America! That’s what Democracy means, that’s what freedom means, that’s what individual rights mean,” Boxer asserted to audience applause.

“We believe in the right to choose for our personal health, and we know the right choice to protect that right to choose: it is President Barack Obama and Vice-President Joe Biden,” she said.

Attacking presumptive Republican presidential nominee, Boxer said that McCain has a rating of zero percent from NARAL and zero from Planned Parenthood.

“Now you have to be pretty radical to have a zero rating,” she claimed.

Boxer, like other caucus speakers, noted McCain’s vote against requiring insurance companies to provide contraceptives. This lack of coverage was presented as an inequality and compared to insurance provided impotence medicine.

The California Senator then attacked McCain’s pledge to appoint Supreme Court justices similar to Justices John Roberts, Antonin Scalia, Samuel Alito and Clarence Thomas, who are considered hostile to Roe v. Wade.

“They want to, essentially, make it illegal for us to have a right to choose, and to make us criminals, and to make doctors criminals!” she exclaimed.

Noting Barack Obama’s 100 percent rating from pro-abortion groups NARAL and Planned Parenthood, Boxer emphasized the slogan “He’s a hero, John McCain’s a zero!”

She received a standing ovation for the remark.

Boxer also claimed that McCain had voted against a program to help children who witness domestic violence.

Later in the caucus meeting, New York U.S. Representative Louise Slaughter warned the audience “we are in as much danger today… as we were almost when we first started here. There is so much at stake for women on this one issue, and it’s critical that we elect Barack Obama.”

Calling Obama a “steadfast supporter of women’s right to choose,” she noted Obama’s vote to repeal the Mexico City Policy and his co-sponsorship of the Prevention First Act. She characterized his other votes as being against policies that would “restrict women’s health care.”

Gov. Madeline Kunan

Vermont Governor Madeline Kunan also attacked new Bush administration regulations that would protect the consciences of pro-life medical professionals and healthcare workers from being forced to cooperate in unethical practices. She said “we probably can’t stop it, but we can change it next year.”

Though the regulation is based on providing protection of conscience, Kunan charged, it doesn’t protect the women health care professionals and doctors are “supposed to serve.”

Rep. Slaughter apparently alleged the regulation does not honor long-standing medical ethics, noting the “intent” of the Hippocratic Oath “where the doctor swears to ‘do no harm.’”

She then implied that legal abortion and contraception was necessary for women’s progress in society.

“It was the right to control our reproductive systems that made it possible for almost all of us to achieve our own dreams which our parents had paid for,” Rep. Slaughter said.

Other policy discussions at the Women’s Caucus included children’s health insurance, gas prices, and workplace and pay equality. Caucus speakers also emphasized what they saw as the need to promote female candidates to achieve parity in the ratio of women to men in the U.S. House and Senate.

At one point in the caucus, former Vermont Governor Madeline Kunan told how she investigated why Rwanda led all nations in its proportion of top female legislators.

Calling a Rwandan legislator, Gov. Kunan said she learned that the Rwandan constitution demanded a quota. She was then told that Rwandans vote for so many women because “we do what we have to do for the survival of our children.”

“I suggest to you,” Gov. Kunan concluded, “We in the United States of America have to do this, be politically engaged, for the survival of our children and of children 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

(Source: CNA)

Franciscan monks savagely beaten at Italian monastery

On Wednesday hooded attackers assaulted Franciscan monks at a monastery in the Alps foothills near Turin, leaving one priest severely injured and the three other victims hospitalized.

The Archbishop of Turin, Cardinal Severino Poletto, called the attack “beyond comprehension” and only explicable if the attackers had been “either drugged or possessed, or both.”

The 48-year-old Father Sergio Baldin, the guardian of the San Colombano Belmonte monastery and three elderly monks from the Franciscan order of Friars Minor were having their evening meal when they were attacked, the Times Online reports.

Three hooded men gagged and bound the monks before punching, kicking, and beating them with clubs.

Father Baldin suffered severe head injuries and “serious respiratory problems” because he choked on his food during the assault. He has had brain surgery and was in a coma.

Father Salvatore Magliano, 86, Father Emanuele Battagliotti, 81, and Father Martino Gurini, 76, were still treated at a hospital but suffered less serious injuries, according to the Times Online.

Father Battagliotti, speaking from his hospital bed, said the monks had been eating a dish of spinach when they heard noises outside.

“I got up to have a look, but the moment I got to the door I was attacked - suddenly, immediately. I was struck on the head with a blow which made me totter,” he said.

He then explained how Father Baldin came to his aid:

“He put himself in front of me to try and defend me, but he too was knocked down without mercy. They hit him until he stopped crying out. Then they beat Father Salvatore and Father Martin as well. It was terrible."

Cardinal Poletto visited the victims at the hospital.

While the cardinal suggested drugs or demonic possession may be to blame, police said the motive was robbery.

Though the monks reportedly only had small amounts of money, a spokesman said “Presumably the attackers thought they would find riches at the monastery.”

Father Gabriele Trivellin, provincial head of the Friars Minor, said the assault expressed "mindless, savage and gratuitous violence," adding that the attackers had continued beating the monks even though they offered no resistance.

The attackers were the object of a manhunt as of Wednesday, the Times Online reports.


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

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

Sotto Voce

(Source: CNA)

Conservative leaders react to McCain’s VP choice of pro-life Gov. Sarah Palin

Sen. John McCain’s pick of Alaska Governor Sarah Palin won praise from many commentators within the ambit of the Republican Party, but especially among pro-lifers.

Praising Palin as “strongly pro-life,” speakers remarked that Palin’s decision to carry her Down’s syndrome child to term was an especially sharp contrast with Sen. Barack Obama’s opposition to legislation that would protect infants who survive abortions.

Sen. McCain announced the choice of Palin at a rally in Dayton, Ohio on Friday. McCain introduced her as someone "who can best help me shake up Washington and make it start working again for the people who are counting on us."

Palin was born in Idaho on February 11, 1964. According to a biography on Alaska’s official web site, Palin moved to Alaska with her family later that year. Her husband, Todd, is a production operator for BP and a champion snow machine racer. They have five children, with Palin recently having given birth to a son with Down’s syndrome in April.

She has also served as city councilman and mayor of Wasilla, a south-central Alaska town with a population of reportedly more than 6,000 people, and served as chair of the Alaska Conservation Commission, which regulates the state’s oil and gas resources.

Speaking in a phone press conference, several expert panelists with Republican sympathies praised the pick.

Marjorie Dannenfelser, President of the Susan B. Anthony List, lauded the decision.

"Sarah Palin is the whole package. There couldn't be a better vice-presidential pick," said Dannenfelser. "Women voters are electrified,” she continued, describing Palin as a “reform-minded woman” who is “truly in sync with the way real women think.” She will “give all Americans, born and unborn, the authentic leadership they deserve," she said.

Father Frank Pavone, President of Priests for Life, called Palin “strongly pro-life.”

Asked how the selection will be received by pro-life Catholics in particular, Father Pavone added, “It will no doubt be received very well.”

He noted that the pro-life community already was somewhat familiar with Palin because she recently gave birth to a baby with Down’s syndrome.

Father Pavone suggested Palin will bring more into play the “pro-life increment.” He explained that for the one-third or more of the electorate who consider the abortion issue in their votes, there is a two to one margin in favor of pro-life candidates.

Jill Stanek, a conservative journalist and blogger, asked the panel to contrast Palin’s decision to deliver her Down’s syndrome baby with Sen. Barack Obama’s opposition to legislation that would protect infants who survive abortion.

Father Pavone replied, “the contrast between those two facts about the candidates is going to come out… we’re going to make sure that it comes out, it’s a very striking contrast.”

Dannenfelser quoted Palin’s own comments when she discovered her unborn baby had Down’s syndrome: “We feel privileged that God would entrust us with this gift.”

Dannenfelser remarked: “Contrast that with Sen. Obama’s approach to leaving born-alive babies left sitting there for dead, and also making the comment, if his daughter got pregnant, he would not ‘punish her with a baby.’

“It’s ‘punishment’ versus ‘privilege,’ that’s the contrast,” Dannenfelser asserted.

CNA asked the panel whether the Palin pick was a tacit acknowledgment of McCain’s weakness among pro-lifers.

Dannenfelser said that she believed people think McCain has genuine pro-life convictions, but suggested that anyone skeptical should see the Palin choice as a “perfect complement,” not as the filling of a weakness.

Father Pavone agreed, adding that the selection of Palin eliminates any concern about a possible pro-choice vice-presidential nominee.

“I think this will help us know he really does embrace this issue in political practice as well as in his voting record,” he stated.

Ken Blackwell, Vice-Chairman of the Republican National Committee’s platform committee, added his own comments.

He remarked that, as someone who guided the platform committee to the “most significant pro-life platform in the Republican Party’s history,” he thought John McCain’s “full embrace of the platform” is shown in the ticket. “This team does not reflect one iota of weakness. It is the strongest pro-life team with a pro-life platform in the history of the Republican Party.”

When CNA asked how McCain could be described as such a strong supporter of the platform in light of his endorsement of federal funding for embryonic stem cell research, Blackwell noted that McCain’s campaign has worked with the platform committee on the relevant language. Blackwell said he thought that McCain, if he recognizes that there have been breakthroughs in research that do not involve the destruction of embryos, “that [recognition] will make this argument… a non-starter.”

Leaders of other interest groups in the GOP also praised McCain’s vice-presidential pick.

Sandra Froman, former National Rifle Association (NRA) president and current board member, called Palin, an NRA member, an “outstanding pick” who would “energize the gun rights community.”

“How can you go wrong with a moose burger-eating, fishing governor?” she asked in a delighted tone.

Grover Norquist, a prominent fiscal conservative who is president of Americans for Tax Reform, praised Palin as a “reformer” who improved government transparency by putting government financial records online.

Several panelists suggested that the pick would also appeal to Hillary Clinton supporters disaffected by an Obama candidacy and the prospect of a victorious Obama’s control of the Democratic Party. They also thought the choice courts “Reagan Democrats” who voted against Obama in the primaries.

Panelists argued that the choice of Palin, Alaska’s governor for only two years, would not eliminate Republican charges that Obama is inexperienced.

“When you compare her experience to Barack Obama’s experience, her executive experience, her experience as mayor, her experience as assistant governor, her experience as a reformer, her experience as an environmental activist,” Blackwell argued, “she is more prepared, more experienced to be president than the top of their ticket.”

Elsewhere, social conservatives were enthusiastic about the Palin choice.

“What a remarkable pick,” Austin Ruse of C-FAM told CNA in a statement. “Social conservatives are dancing in the streets. This is smart and dare I say sexy pick. My wife Cathy and I are gushing.”


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

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

Sotto Voce

(Source: CNA)

Pastoral challenge: Encouraging French Catholics to make room for God

Pope Benedict XVI is traveling to France in mid-September, making a four-day visit that is loaded with events and charged with pastoral challenges.

The Sept. 12-15 trip was designed primarily to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the Marian apparitions in Lourdes, a southern French town that has become one of the world's most popular pilgrimage sites.

But the pope will spend the first day and a half in Paris, speaking to political and cultural leaders, meeting with priests and seminarians, and celebrating Mass with the lay faithful.

For the 81-year-old pope, it will be a trip to the heart of an increasingly de-Christianized Europe, an area where, as he once put it, the "great churches seem to be dying."

The pope wants to encourage a revival, and his schedule offers him several possibilities:

-- In meetings with civil and cultural leaders on the trip's first day, he is likely to defend the legitimate voice of religion in today's secularized European culture.

-- By personally commemorating the anniversary of the Lourdes apparitions, the pope will have an opportunity to evoke the long tradition of Marian devotion in France and explain its relevance today.

-- The papal events in Lourdes, a place where millions of sick pilgrims go to pray every year, will highlight the church's solidarity with the suffering.

-- His three meetings with French bishops -- two regional encounters behind closed doors and one national meeting with a public speech -- present occasions for a frank assessment of pastoral problems and strategies.

Those pastoral problems are real, and numbers tell a somewhat bleak story.

Although officially more than 75 percent of the population in France is Catholic, participation in local parish life has declined steeply over the last 50 years. Studies have shown that probably no more than 12 percent of French Catholics attend weekly Mass, and a majority of Catholics go rarely or not at all.

The number of diocesan priests in France has plummeted almost 50 percent in the last 25 years, and the priestly vocations rate is one of the lowest in the world. The rates of baptism, marriage and other sacraments also have declined steadily.

To church leaders, perhaps even more disturbing than French religious practice, or lack of it, are attitudes. A World Values Survey in 1999 showed that 56 percent of the French people did not believe in the concept of sin, nearly 60 percent said churches do not give answers to moral problems, and 62 percent said they did not receive comfort or strength from religion.

Pope Benedict has set his sights on these kinds of challenges from Day One of his pontificate. In sermons and speeches, he has argued that a life without faith is ultimately empty and unfulfilling, and that the evidence of such unhappiness is all around us.

In France, he is likely to make the point that simple faith -- like that of St. Bernadette Soubirous, the young Lourdes visionary -- is still relevant in the 21st century.

The pope was working on his speeches for the French trip over the summer and in mid-August gave a hint of what was on his mind. Marking the feast of the Assumption , he spoke of the value of "pure and simple faith" in the modern world.

The life of Mary, in particular, he said, can inspire Christians to live their daily lives "oriented toward the beatitudes." Faced with all the false happiness in modern society, he said, people can learn from Mary to "be witnesses of hope and consolation."

The pope sees the sanctuary of Lourdes as a place where the church carries out its Gospel of hope in a very concrete way, helping relieve the burdens of individual sufferers and the families who care for them.

At a Rome conference earlier this year to mark the Lourdes anniversary, he said a society that did not show compassion to its sick and suffering was "a cruel and inhuman society."

Citing his latest encyclical, "Spe Salvi" (on Christian hope), he went on to say that families, especially poor families dealing with a member's illness, risk being "swept asunder" in communities that value only productivity.

In France, the pope also may remind society of its duty to help relieve the loneliness of the sick and dying. He has warned that such isolation has contributed to the growing acceptance of euthanasia; in France, there has been a strong push for the decriminalization of euthanasia in recent years.

Here, too, the pope can point to the church's own efforts to bring spiritual and physical healing and, in the process, reinforce his point that Christianity is lived, and spread, more by witness than by arguments.

As on previous trips abroad, the pope's strategy appears to be to raise these broader themes -- Christian hope, the faith as love in action, and the need for moral truths and religious values in a materialist society -- and make them resonate with his audience.

French Catholics probably will not receive a papal dressing-down or a lecture on Mass attendance. In the pope's view, it's not just a question of making time for the church in their weekly schedules, but making room for God in their lives.

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

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

Sotto Voce

(Source: CNS )

Sellers turn to prayer in bid to close deal

WITH THE autumn property "selling" season about to start, all's fair in bricks and mortar when it comes to getting the edge on the competition.

In a difficult market, spending a small fortune on a complete refurb will only get you so far, so it could be time to pull out the stops and ask for intervention from the patron saint of property, St Joseph

Big business in the US, the St Joseph mini-figure and prayer card promises to help you offload your property quick smart.

A kit distributed by a Seattle company advises that to invoke the full power of St Joseph you must bury the plastic figurine upside down near the "For Sale" sign while reciting the prayer: "Most holy St Joseph, I beseech thee to intercede on my behalf to help me find a worthy buyer for my home, preferably one who will pay full price and waive inspection. Amen."

And lest you think this is a gimmick, a US-based group called the Catholic Community Forum endorses the practice in the patron saints index of its website

It says the tradition can be traced back as far St Teresa of Avila who prayed that St Joseph would intercede to obtain land for Christian converts. St Joseph had more than a few property woes of his own and knew all about the stresses of finding a home for his family - who can forget the manger and his experience of being turned away from various inns?

The website warns against overpriced kits advising, "the size and the cost of the statue doesn't matter, and has no relation the size or cost of the property".

That should come as a relief to anyone thinking of selling their homes on Howth Head or Killiney Hill who was envisioning having to bury a Statue of Liberty-sized Joseph in their front gardens to shift their home.

And once St Joseph does a stint as your second, and potentially more effective, estate agent, and sells your home, it's apparently vital that you dig up the statuette and give it a place of honour in your new abode.


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

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

Sotto Voce

(Source: IT)

Cologne approves mosque over far right's objections

The city council of Cologne has voted to allow construction of what will be one of the largest mosques in Germany, a plan that has drawn protests from residents and Cologne's Roman Catholic archbishop.

The vote late Thursday by most of the city's political parties cleared the way for the Ditib Turkish-Islamic umbrella group to build a new house of worship - complete with two 55-meter-tall, or 177-feet-tall, minarets - in the city's Ehrenfeld district.

Sardi Arslan, the leader of Ditib, said Friday that construction of the mosque would begin immediately, and he expressed hope that it would facilitate communication between Muslims and non-Muslims. "We are building for all citizens of Cologne, not just for the Muslims," Arslan said in a statement.

For the past 20 years, Ditib has used a converted warehouse as a house of worship. That will be torn down to make way for the new building, which the group hopes to finish by 2010.

Cologne's conservative mayor, Fritz Schramma, has championed the project, arguing that it was necessary for the city's approximately 120,000 Muslims to have a proper house of worship. "It will take some time, but someday the mosque will be integrated into Cologne's cultural heritage," he said in a statement.

But the project prompted a rash of disputes among Cologne city leaders and inhabitants, many of whom were bitterly opposed to the mosque, which has been designed by a local architect, Paul Böhm.

In a city with the greatest Gothic cathedral in Germany, and no fewer than a dozen Romanesque churches, adding a pair of fluted minarets would scarcely alter the skyline.

But an extreme-right political party waged a noisy, xenophobic protest campaign, drumming up support from its far-right allies in Austria and Belgium.

The proposal also drew fierce criticism from a prominent German-Jewish writer, Ralph Giordano, who said last year that the mosque would be "an expression of the creeping Islamization of our land." He did not want to see women shrouded in veils on German streets, he added.

The Roman Catholic leader of Cologne, Archbishop Joachim Meisner, was similarly ambivalent. Asked last year as the controversy heated up if he was afraid of the mosque, he said, "I don't want to say I'm afraid, but I have an uneasy feeling."

Those statements rankled German-Turkish leaders, who have been working with the city since 2001 to build a mosque on the site, which now houses a far smaller mosque, a community center and the offices of Ditib, the Turkish-Islamic Union for Religious Affairs.

"The 120,000 Muslims of Cologne don't have a single place they can point to with pride as the symbol of our faith," Bekir Alboga, a leader of Ditib, said during the furor last year. "Christians have their churches, Jews have their synagogues." Alboga, a 44-year-old Turkish imam who immigrated here at 18 and speaks rapid-fire German, said the mosque would be a "crowning moment for religious tolerance." Given Germany's dark history, he added, "German politicians need to be careful about what they say."

Alboga said he was particularly dismayed by Meisner, because the Catholic Church, along with Germany's Protestant churches, has long supported the mosque. Ditib, he said, is an organization that acts as a "bulwark against radicalism and terrorism." It plans to finance the more than $20 million project entirely through donations.


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

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

Sotto Voce

(Source: IHT)

Ireland: Catholic attacks on EU are misplaced

Was it God or Mammon that led to the "no" vote in Ireland's referendum on the EU Lisbon reform treaty?

The leader of the country's Catholics certainly seems to think Lisbon's rejection last June was down to the former ... or at least the fact that He wasn't around.

Cardinal Sean Brady this week presented the absence of God in a supposedly ever-increasingly secular Europe as a major factor in voters' disillusionment with the EU project.

The cardinal used a speech at a summer school to suggest in the strongest possible terms that the EU was promoting anti-family, anti-life and anti-Christian decisions.

He even went as far as to say that some normally Europhile Christian voters were prompted to vote "no" because they perceived the EU as hostile to religion.

The irony of the particular summer school Cardinal Brady chose to launch his broadside against European secularism appeared lost on him and many others this week.

The venue was the Humbert summer school in Killala, County Mayo, which was named after the French revolutionary general who commanded a doomed military operation to end British rule in the late 18th century.

General Jean Joseph Amable Humbert emerged from the seizures of 1789 and the French revolution, a movement that was as fiercely anti-clerical as it was anti-monarchical.

In the years running up to the general's invasion and attempted liberation of western Ireland, successive revolutionary regimes fought bloody battles against the power of the Catholic church.

Those struggles produced the secular French constitution of today with its strict separation of church and state.

Ireland doesn't have a French-style constitution, which among other things bans the display of religious symbols in schools.

Unlike France, the Irish Republic still maintains a special position in public life for the Roman Catholic faith: abortion remains banned, the tolling of the Angelus Bells (the Catholic call to prayer) still rings out at 6pm every night on the Irish public television broadcaster, the church controls the vast majority of schools in the state, where the crucifix and other religious images are common.

Even as late as 2001, just as Bertie Ahern's first administration was winding up and preparing for the general election, Irish ministers rushed through a law that gave the Catholic church immunity from paying compensation to the child victims of clerical sex abuse.

Instead, the first Ahern government ensured that the Irish taxpayer would be picking up the tab (running into tens of millions) for the church's crimes. The EU has never threatened or sought to overturn any of the above.

None the less, hardline Irish Catholics have never forgiven Europe over what they regard as interference in the republic's affairs.

The battle lines with Brussels were drawn back in the early 1990s, when the Irish authorities attempted to prevent a 14-year-old rape victim pregnant by her attacker travelling to Britain for an abortion.

The cack-handed way the government handled the affair created headlines around the world, with Dublin accused of reintroducing internment on the island – this time for young girls. What became known as the "X case" was followed by a series of scandals that rocked the church hierarchy, ranging from paedophile priests to bishops fathering children and using the collection plate funds to cover up their tracks.

In Cardinal Brady's universe there is a simple black/white distinction between the good religious world and the very bad, nasty secular one. In his and the minds of other senior figures in the Irish Catholic church the historic crimes of the 20th century – the Holocaust, the gulags, the Great Leap Forwards, Year Zero – are merely the toxic by-product of European secularism.

Of course, this ignores entirely the role of both Catholic and Protestant theology in the antisemitism preceding the Shoah or sectarian slaughter from the Balkans to Ulster.

None of the major Irish political parties in the early 21st century today seeks to portray themselves as the defenders of the faith of our fathers.

Despite fire-proofing the church from costly legal actions, political careers are no longer destroyed (as they were in the past) over accusations that someone in public life is irreligious or Godless or gay.

Unlike in Northern Ireland, where politicians such as Iris Robinson, the first minister's wife, can label homosexuality an "abomination" which can be cured by psychiatry, no party seeks to exploit personal moral issues or pick on sexual or religious minorities.

Nor is there an appetite in an increasingly multi-faith society for Ireland to turn the clock back to the days when condoms were illegal and no one dared say boo to a Catholic bishop.

The age of absolute reverence to Rome among Ireland's a la carte Catholics has passed.


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

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

Sotto Voce

(Source: )

Some 25,000 Catholic schools shut down in India to protest against Orissa massacres

Thousands of Catholic schools were shut down across India today as teachers and students took to the streets in protest against anti-Christian violence in the state of Orissa.

Urged by the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India (CBCI) almost 25,000 Catholic schools, colleges and universities set up by the Church in its centuries-old presence in India interrupted normal activities as Catholics organised peaceful demonstrations.

In a sign of solidarity various non-Christian schools and organisations joined them.

In the meantime whilst violence continues in Orissa, the deployment of more than 3,000 police agents improved the situation somewhat.

Yesterday the CBIC released an updated list of devastations in the eastern Indian state. According to its data 12 people are dead in the district of Kandhamal with two more seriously injured.

At least 41 churches (Catholic and Protestant) were destroyed; hundreds of homes were damaged; four convents, five hostels and youth residences, six Catholic volunteer institutes were devastated; plus hundreds of cars and other personal objects were set on fire during raids carried out by Hindu fundamentalists.

“The protest is meant to highlight the slaughter of Christians in Orissa which has been made worst by the incapacity of the central government to stop violence at a time when anti-Christian sentiment is growing and the faithful are tortured and killed,’ said CBCI Chairman Osvaldo Cardinal Gracias.

The prelate said that he wanted to send “a clear signal” not only to India but to the entire world about the importance of the presence of the Christian community, which has always been in the forefront of “social issues, education and assistance to the needy.”

Its contribution is the more significant in India because “it does not take into consideration caste differences” and embraces the “entire population.”

Shutting down almost 25,000 schools is a strong “symbolic” act that is designed to “reawaken the conscience of people in India and around the world.”

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

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

Sotto Voce

(Source: AN)

Atheists forced to travel out of Donegal for final resting place

IT APPEARS there may be nowhere in Co Donegal where someone who is openly an atheist can be buried.

Such was the discovery of journalist Roy Greenslade this week, following the death of his mother last Saturday.

Her remains could not be buried in Donegal. She was buried in a Derry city cemetery instead.

A humanist funeral service for Joan Greenslade took place last Monday but, her son told The Irish Times , that "according to the church people I approached - and underlined by the undertaker - an atheist cannot be buried (in Donegal) because the churches, Catholic, Church of Ireland and Presbyterian, own the graveyards. Therefore, unless one is willing to compromise one's beliefs by agreeing to a religious service, it is impossible to be buried."

He spoke to a former Church of Ireland rector on the matter who advised him it was "out of the question" for his mother to be buried in a Church of Ireland graveyard there.

His mother was buried in Derry on Tuesday.

The city council's cemeteries department, when asked if they could bury an atheist, said they had different areas in the municipal graveyard for Catholics, Protestants and even Muslims.

Asked whether they were starting an atheist section for Mrs Greenslade the reply was: "No, we're putting her in with the Protestants."

A spokeswoman for Donegal County Council said it had responsibility only for old and unused graveyards.

A spokesman for the Church of Ireland diocese of Derry and Raphoe, which includes north Donegal, was mystified by the situation.

Strictures on who could be buried in a Church of Ireland graveyard was news to him.

A spokesman for the Catholic Church said ownership and administration of its graveyards could vary from parish to parish and diocese to diocese.

"Such diversity is one of the glories of the Catholic Church," he said.

Dick Spicer of the Humanist Association of Ireland expressed amazement that there was a county in Ireland which did not have a municipal graveyard.


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

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

Sotto Voce

(Source: IT)

Opus Dei to run wealthy Merrion Road parish

ONE OF the wealthier parishes in Dublin's Catholic archdiocese has been entrusted by Archbishop Diarmuid Martin to the care of Opus Dei.

The Our Lady Queen of Peace parish on Merrion Road, across from St Vincent's Hospital, will be the first parish in Ireland to be run by Opus Dei.

From Monday next, September 1st, the new parish priest there will be Opus Dei's Fr Fergus O'Connor, to be assisted by Opus Dei colleague Fr Charlie Connolly.

A church source said the decision by Archbishop Martin to hand over the parish to Opus Dei was done without consultation with the people of the parish or with the priests of the diocese.

"People are gobsmacked by the decision, priests and people alike," the source said.

It was suggested the decision may have been influenced by the Vatican's disposition towards Opus Dei. Attention was drawn to the fact Pope Benedict stayed with Opus Dei in Sydney on his recent visit for World Youth Day, which Archbishop Martin also attended.

When contacted, a spokeswoman for the diocese said "the decision [to entrust the parish to Opus Dei] was made by the archbishop, as was the case with all the other parishes attributed to religious orders. There was no difference in practice on this occasion; the parish pastoral council was informed in advance. Parishioners were informed last Sunday."

The diocese already has 40 parishes run by religious orders, the greater number of these in its disadvantaged areas.

The principal reason Merrion Road was entrusted to Opus Dei was "the fact that it was a parish where the parish priest (Fr Seamus Moore) was retiring and it became possible both to replace the PP and also add some other priests. Merrion Road is a complex parish," the spokeswoman said.

She added that "in addition to regular parish activities it is also a 'service church' with large numbers of people calling on a regular basis, due to its position on a main transit road and its presence near a large hospital. The decision to assign the parish to Opus Dei was influenced by their ability to provide a number of priests who would be able to provide a wide range of services and ministries throughout the day.''

Queried on whether Vatican politics had influenced the decision to hand over Merrion Road to Opus Dei, the diocesan spokeswoman responded that "there is a shortage of priests in the diocese and the needs of parishes such as Merrion Road are changing. The policy in the parish will continue to be that of the diocese and this will be set out in a contract, as with any religious order. There is no sense of giving any special status to Opus Dei."

As to whether Opus Dei had requested the parish, she said: "Opus Dei did not ask for this particular parish. The parish was one which was available."

Opus Dei has 700 members in Ireland, mostly based in Dublin,Galway and Limerick, including 17 priests.

It has parishes in London, Amsterdam, Toulouse, Cologne, Budapest, two in Rome, Chicago, Melbourne and Johannesburg.


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(Source: II)