Tuesday, March 31, 2009

An Focal Scóir - March 2009

March - month of Saint Joseph, Lent, St Patrick and the bridge month into Easter begins this year with a slight rise in RC clergy numbers around the world, defections and sackings in Aussie RCC, feast of Saint David, Il Papa demeans other religions to ensure superiority of Catholicism, Kung warns of divisive church under Il Papa, Papal Intentions for March...

...confession still got a place, CSA priest gives seminar in all-boys college, formal papal invite to Scotland, Mother Teresa crisis of faith, Charities Bill could be unconstitutional especially with Mass cards, Vietnam cardinal laid to rest, Lutherans report increase of numbers worldwide...

...clerical blackmail by Hayes & Finch, diocese of Cloyne failed to notify Vatican of CSA claims, Egan out and Dolan in AD of NY, Il Papa withdraws nomination of Austrian bishop-elect, diocese of Ferns grateful for financial assistance in paying out CSA claims, Ireland awaits 5 new bishops, AB Conti to retire early, almost 5,000 bishops in RC, SSPX leader says Williamson should stay quiet, Il Papa to celebrate Mass in Nazareth, no texting til Easter Italian RC bishops ask...

...RC fights gay rights globally, Hayes & Finch get front page of Irish Catholic newspaper, Irish RC bishops sitting on fence in relation to Lisbon Treaty, TAC wishes to join RC, St Marys Brisbane to begin mediation, Il Papa Message for 24th WYD, South Korea training priests for North Korean RC, Austrian hierarchy to address crises of faith and church, Swiss bishops criticise Vatican in relation to Williamson affair...

...Il Papa will not visit Shoah museum, marriages under economic pressure, court states Vatican can be sued in CSA cases, calls for Sunday in Ireland to be day of rest, Magee out Clifford in as Diocese of Cloyne placed under CSA investigation, Spanish youth not 'into' Mass, French cardinal is 'Macho of the Year', some RC becoming CofI in Ireland, invite extended to Il Papa to visit Iraq, demonstrations against Vatican in Austria and Switzerland...

...Vatican claims washing machine liberated women, Legion of Christ delays explanation of Maciel, Dalai Lama claims China has turned Tibet into Hell, Fr Marek Bozek defrocked, Mass Cards ditched, Westminster awaits its sucessor, Fr Bozek joins Reformed Catholic Church, Fr Troy says dialogue with IRA is needed, apostolic visit to convents under fire by nuns themselves, Womenpriests call for compassion from Vatican...

...Killarney Cathedral calls for begging to cease at doors, Prince Charles expected to invite Il Papa to UK, Focolare founder remembered one year later, Irish bishops unaware of Papal visit, Hal the Healer heads north, Magee is out in Cloyne, 3 priests murdered in 10 days in South Africa, special year for priests announced by Il Papa, Chinese version of Vatican website launched...

...feast of St Patrick, Il Papa condemns condoms use in fight against AIDS, JPII beatification for 2010, Il Papa tells clergy to smarten up in suits and collars, France chastises Il Papa on condoms, Limerick Parish Priest upsets parishoners, feast of St Joseph, Irish cardinal claims threat to RC ethos in Northern Ireland schools, Achill House of Prayer will not face prosecution, Irish diocese takes vocations appeal to Facebook...

...Killala Diocese gets Tridentine kick in the posterior, Vatican insiders claim Il Papa a 'disaster', the Soul of Russia, German bishops oppose Il Papa on condoms issue, Irish priests tightening security due to robberies, Papal Bull and Mea Culpa, Il Papa not popular in Austria, pay and pray at Croagh Patrick, feast of the Annunciation...

...AD of Westminster rumbles on with rumour and innuendo, Portoguese bishop says condoms are sometimes needed, Cardinal Brady says wealthy should pay, Australia hardest to get vocations interest, RC in Australia does 'gay test' on clergy, 100,000 British are 'de-baptised', US bishops condemn Reiki, Brazilian AB causes uproar with WWII remarks, AB Burke criticises US bishops thereby ending the month of March and as we face into the month of April with Holy Week and Easter coming ever closer.

In pace Christi

Sotto Voce

Northern Ireland - Lest We Forget (1969 - 2009)

15 January 1989Harold Keys
18 January 1989Ian Catney
25 January 1989David Dornan
28 January 1989Stephen Montgomery
31 January 1989Nicholas Peacock
06 February 1989James Connolly
09 February 1989Anthony Fusco
12 February 1989Patrick Finucane
14 February 1989John Davey
18 February 1989Stephen McCrea
20 February 1989Patrick Feeny
22 February 1989Norman Duncan
26 February 1989Joseph Fenton
27 February 1989Gabriel Mullally
07 March 1989Leslie Dallas
07 March 1989Austin Nelson
07 March 1989Ernest Rankin
08 March 1989Miles Amos
08 March 1989Stephen Cummins
10 March 1989James McCartney
14 March 1989Thomas Hardy
16 March 1989John Irvine
17 March 1989Niall Davies
19 March 1989David Braniff
20 March 1989Robert Buchanan
20 March 1989Harry Breen
04 April 1989Gerard Casey
12 April 1989Joanne Reilly
19 April 1989Francis Galbraith
21 April 1989William Thompson
04 May 1989John Griffiths
04 May 1989Stephen McGonigle
15 May 1989Malachy Trainor
15 June 1989Adam Gilbert
24 June 1989Liam McKee
27 June 1989David Black
01 July 1989Norman Annett
02 July 1989Steven Smith
18 July 1989John McAnulty
23 July 1989John Devine
25 July 1989Alexander Bell
09 August 1989Seamus Duffy
25 August 1989Loughlin Maginn
02 September 1989Patrick McKenna
02 September 1989Brian Robinson
07 September 1989Heidi Hazell
16 September 1989Kevin Froggett
22 September 1989Trevor Davis
22 September 1989Richard Jones
22 September 1989David McMillan
22 September 1989Mark Petch
22 September 1989Michael Ball
22 September 1989Dean Pavey
22 September 1989Timothy Reeves
22 September 1989Richard Fice
22 September 1989Robert Simmonds
22 September 1989John Cleatheroe
22 September 1989Christopher Nolan
04 October 1989James Babington
08 October 1989Alwyn Harris
09 October 1989Thomas Gibson
18 October 1989Robert Metcalfe
20 October 1989Michael Marshall
26 October 1989Maheshkumar Islania
26 October 1989Niurati Islania
06 November 1989Robert Burns
09 November 1989Ian Johnston
15 November 1989Robert Glover
17 November 1989David Halligan
18 November 1989Stephen Wilson
18 November 1989Donald Macaulay
18 November 1989Matthew Marshall
29 November 1989Liam Ryan
29 November 1989Michael Devlin
13 December 1989Michael Patterson
13 December 1989James Houston

Prayer to St Joseph

O St. Joseph whose protection is so great, so strong, so prompt before the Throne of God, I place in you all my interests and desires.

O St. Joseph do assist me by your powerful intercession and obtain for me from your Divine Son all spiritual blessings through Jesus Christ, Our Lord; so that having engaged here below your Heavenly power I may offer my Thanksgiving and Homage to the most Loving of Fathers.

O St. Joseph, I never weary contemplating you and Jesus asleep in your arms. I dare not approach while He reposes near your heart.

Press him in my name and kiss His fine Head for me, and ask Him to return the Kiss when I draw my dying breath.

St. Joseph, Patron of departing souls, pray for us.

Prayer to St Mark The Evangelist

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

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

Lent 2009

Daily Lent Prayer
"Lord, open my lips, and my mouth shall declare your praise."

Opening Prayer

help us to do your will
that your Church may grow
and become more faithful in your service.

Daily Meditation

In the first reading, lifting up the image of a serpent

healed and protected the people during their

journey of liberation in the desert.

In the gospel, like a trial scene, Jesus is defending himself.
They want to know who he is.

They want to know him - but they resist knowing him.

He tells them that they'll really know him

when he is "lifted up."

They will lift him up on the cross, to be put to death.

God transformed that tragedy, by letting his death

"pay the price" for all of our sins.

When we look at a crucifix, we look at the image of
the one who is "lifted up" in Glory.

He is lifted up for our liberation from sin and death.

Let us give him thanks, from the bottom of our hearts.
Our celebration of our glorious salvation is near.

"When I am lifted up from the earth, I will draw all people to myself."

Put your hope in the Lord. Take courage and be strong. - Ps. 26:14

O Lord, hear my prayer, and let my cry come to you. Ps. 102:2


Praise to Christ, who has given us himself as the bread from heaven. Let us pray to him, saying:
Jesus, you feed and heal our souls; come to strengthen us.

Lord, feed us at the banquet of the Eucharist,

- with all the gifts of your paschal sacrifice.

Give us a perfect heart to receive your word,

- that we may bring forth fruit in patience.

Make us eager to work with you in building a better world,

- so that it may listen to your Church and its gospel of peace.

We confess, Lord, that we have sinned,

- wash us clean by your gift of salvation.

Closing Prayer

Loving God,
You have heard my complaints, my impatience.

Sometimes I become frightened when I move away from you.

Guide my heart back to you.

Help me to think beyond my own wants
and to desire only to do you will.

Year of Vocations

Prayer for Vocations

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

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

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


Vocations 2008 - Promo Video

Pauline Year (29th June 2008/09) Prayer

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

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

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


(Ir) Reverent Fun

A young couple wanted to join the church, the pastor told them, 'We have a special requirement for new member couples. You must abstain from sex for one whole month'.

The couple agreed, but after two-and-a-half weeks returned to the Church.

When the Pastor ushered them into his office, the wife was crying and the husband was obviously very depressed.

'You are back so soon... Is there a problem?' the pastor inquired.

'We are terribly ashamed to admit that we did not manage to abstain from sex for the required month.' The young man replied sadly.

The pastor asked him what happened.

'Well, the first week was difficult... However, we managed to abstain through sheer willpower.

The second week was terrible, but with the use of prayer, we managed to abstain.

However, the third week was unbearable. We tried cold showers, Prayer, reading from the Bible...anything to keep our minds off Carnal Thoughts. One afternoon my wife reached for a can of paint and dropped it. When she bent over to pick it up, I was overcome with lust and I just had my way with her right then and there. It was lustful, loud, passionate sex. It lasted for over an hour and when we were done we were both drenched in sweat,' admitted the man, shamefacedly.

The pastor lowered his head and said sternly, 'You understand this means you will not be welcome in our church.'

'We know.' said the young man, hanging his head, 'We're not welcome at Homebase either.'

Catholics in no mood to forgive Merkel

TWO MONTHS on, conservative Catholics in Germany are still smouldering over chancellor Angela Merkel’s call for Pope Benedict to distance himself from the Holocaust-denying Bishop Richard Williamson.

Dr Merkel suggested in early February that the Vatican had “not done enough” to date to distance itself from Williamson and suggested the Bavarian pontiff “make very clear that there can be no denial”.

Within days the Vatican had acted and Williamson has apologised, but the affair refuses to go away in Germany and continues to fill letter and opinion pages.

The reasons for the lingering resentment vary across the generations: older Catholics find it unconscionable for a politician – and a Protestant pastor’s daughter at that – to give unsolicited advice to the pope. Younger Catholics say they are unhappy that Dr Merkel, whose silence on issues often speaks volumes, in this case chose what they perceive as megaphone diplomacy.

Dr Merkel has defended her decision to speak out, saying that a German chancellor’s obligation to speak out against public Holocaust denial superseded her personal preference of not commenting publicly on church matters.

But even some Merkel supporters have wondered aloud why it was only after her public remarks that she sought to make contact with Pope Benedict.

CDU party strategists are concerned that the ongoing discussion among Catholics could cost them support in September’s general election among the country’s most solid voting bloc.

That would be just what the party does not need, amid the defection to the liberal Free Democrats (FDP) of CDU economic conservative voters unhappy with the party’s interventionist approach to the financial crisis.

The most outspoken critic of the CDU in the Williamson affair is the arch-conservative archbishop of Cologne, Cardinal Joachim Meisner. He is an old CDU sparring partner who, for years, has questioned just what in the party’s programme entitles it to continue to use the letter “C” in its name.

No stranger to controversy, he has called Dr Merkel’s remarks her “biggest mistake”, adding: “I can only say, do the right thing and excuse yourself, Madam Chancellor.” Considering the ongoing row, expectations were high that Dr Merkel would use a long-planned appearance last week at the Catholic Academy in Berlin to smooth things over.

But in a speech filled with examples of her “reverence for God”, Dr Merkel did not mention, even obliquely, the Williamson episode and earned only mild applause from the packed auditorium.

Political strategists are divided over the CDU strategy. Some see it as a calculated move by Dr Merkel to appeal to younger, urban voters with no religious convictions.

That gamble, that there was more to win than lose by criticising the Vatican, goes back to the statistical certainty that the CDU’s traditional voter base is dwindling.

“The classic CDU voters were Catholics with close ties to the church, a group that is shrinking,” said political analyst Andrea Wolf in Die Zeit weekly. “They are no longer enough to win an election. But the CDU has to remember that they cannot win an election without them either.”

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)

Vatican official criticizes US bishops on abortion

Archbishop Raymond Burke, the former St. Louis prelate who now leads the Vatican supreme court, said President Barack Obama "could be an agent of death" if his support for abortion rights becomes a model for leaders in other countries.

Burke also said parishioners should press U.S. bishops to withhold Holy Communion from Roman Catholic politicians who back legalized abortion.

The archbishop made the comments to anti-abortion activist Randall Terry in a videotaped interview that Terry showed Wednesday in Washington.

"It is weakening the faith of everyone," Burke said. "It's giving the impression that it must be morally correct to support procured abortion."

Terry conducted the interview as part of his campaign to persuade the church to oust American bishops who allow abortion rights backers to receive Communion. He said in a phone interview that Burke knew the goal of the campaign and that the interview would be distributed.

Burke could not be reached Wednesday through his Vatican office.

Michael Sean Winters, a Catholic journalist and blogger for the Jesuit magazine America, said Burke's linking himself in any way with Terry's effort violated Vatican protocol.

"It is unheard of for bishops not to defend each other in the face of zealots who are calling for their removal," Winters said.

James Hitchcock, a St. Louis University historian who was friendly with Burke when he led the local archdiocese, called the archbishop's comments "highly unusual."

Each bishop has the authority to decide how to present church teaching in his diocese. Bishops answer only to the pope.

During the 2004 election, when Burke was still in St. Louis, he sparked a rare public disagreement among U.S. bishops over the issue. He said he would deny Communion to Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry, the Democratic presidential nominee and an abortion rights supporter.

A small minority of U.S. bishops took the same stand. Most American prelates say they privately discuss the issue with Catholic lawmakers and lobby all members of Congress and the president against the procedure.

The White House press office did not respond to a request for comment. Obama has pledged to find ways to reduce the abortion rate, to find common ground with opponents.

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: RNCN)

Gene Robinson on the faith of a gay bishop

New Hampshire Episcopal Bishop V. Gene Robinson, famous (or infamous, depending on your perspective) as the first openly gay bishop, visited Boston last Sunday to preach and lecture at Trinity Church in Copley Square.

The afternoon lecture was provocatively titled "The faith of a gay bishop," and Robinson said a last-minute look at the title caused him to throw away his prepared text and speak relatively extemporaneously about his Christian faith.

A few excerpts . .

Reflecting on praying secretly with gay Christians in Hong Kong who said they find hope in the Episcopal Church's decision to approve of a gay bishop:

"We hear so often of the pain that the Episcopal Church has caused the rest of the world. Why is it that we don't hear about the hope we have given to so much of the rest of the world?"

On finding gay stories in the Bible:

"There are a couple of great stories about gay people in the Bible. Maybe you didn't know that. One of them is the Exodus story, which is the greatest coming out story in the history of the world. It is, don't laugh. Because we know what it's like to be in slavery. We know what it's like to be in bondage. We know what it's like not to be free. Because we've had the experience of someone coming and talking about a promised land, not just of milk and honey, but of freedom, and God's love and acceptance, and some of us actually believed it and left. We left Egypt to come out."

On persevering:

"How do I keep this up, day after day? Because we know how it's going to end, don't we? Our struggle is going to end with the full inclusion of gay and lesbian, bisexual and transgendered people, in the life and ministry and leadership of the church. I have no doubt whatsoever."

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: TBC)

Brazilian Archbishop Blathers On About Jews

“More Catholics than Jews have died in the Holocaust, but this is not usually told because Jews own the world’s propaganda.”

The rantings of a KKK member?

Or someone from the American Nazi Party?

No, it’s a quote from Dadeus Grings, the Catholic archbishop of Porto Alegre in Brazil, home to the country’s third-largest Jewish population.

The 72-year-old archbishop, who is of German descent, went on a tirade against Jews in a recent six-page interview in the Brazilian magazine Press & Advertising.

“The Jews say that they were the major victims of the Holocaust,” he said, “but the major victims were the Gypsies, who were exterminated. And they don’t mention this.”

As I’m sure Grings doesn’t talk about the queer victims of the Holocaust.

In the interview, Grings also condemns stem cell research, supports celibacy in the Catholic clergy and condones the crusades which were directed against Muslims in the “Holy Lands.”

Jewish leaders were quick to respond to Gring’s mis-statements. “It's not the first time Mr. Grings refers to the Holocaust in a twisted way," Henry Chmelnitsky, president of the Rio Grande do Sul Jewish Federation, told JTA, the global news service of the Jewish people.

"Fewer Jews died in World War II because there were and there still are fewer Jews in the world. Proportionally, the extermination minimized by the archbishop meant the slaughter of most of a people that was already small. By reproducing stereotypes created by the Nazis, Grings positions himself on the wrong side of history.”

Indeed he does. Unfortunately, he’s got a lot of company on this wrong side of history.

Grings’ anti-Semitic remarks follow on the heels of the pope’s un-excommunication of British Bishop Richard Williamson, a Holocaust denier who believes that gas chambers were not used by the Nazis, and 200,000-300,000 (as opposed to six million) Jews were killed.

Williamson also once said that “Jews made up the Holocaust, Protestants get their orders from the devil and the Vatican has sold its soul to liberalism.”

Williamson, who was excommunicated in 1988 because he was made a bishop by a maverick holocaust-denying archbishop, was recently readmitted to the fold.

Which hasn’t scored the pontiff any points with Jews. Nor has his support for the beatification of Pope Pius XII, who served in the church’s highest position from 1939-1958.

The former pope has been criticized by Jewish leaders and others for his failure to speak out against the Holocaust.

In fact, a placard accusing Pius XII of silence has been placed under a picture of him at the Holocaust memorial in Jerusalem.

The Brazilian archbishop’s comments are just more egg on the face of the church.

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

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

Sotto Voce

(Source: BYC)

Wrong Message from the Pope (Contribution)

The cartoonists had a field day with the Pope's trip to Africa earlier this month.

One cartoon showed Pope Benedict on a charger attacking a giant killer condom with his staff.

Another had a large condom as the banana peel on his elegant Italian shoe.

And a London Times cartoon showing the Pope with a large condom hat pierced by a hatpin drew an angry response from Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor.

The Washington Post got heat for its March 21 cartoon showing the Pope in an AIDS ward blessing the sick because they did not use condoms.

I came across all these cartoons while searching for one that appeared in the French newspaper Le Monde. It showed the Pope speaking to a group of African leaders, the word corruption forming in his mouth; his listeners' response was that he should stick to condoms.

The Le Monde image highlights the dual narratives of the Papal visit to Cameroon and Angola--one story inspired (or consumed) by condoms, the other by Africa, its estimated 130 million Catholics, and the host of issues the visit addressed: women's roles, witchcraft, corruption, greed, war and peace, health and education.

When I wrote about the AIDS wars last year, I was aghast at the anger and nastiness surrounding the issue, and especially condoms. That rage is fully on display in the current controversy, epitomized in the cartoons.

Even the Vatican's most ardent admirers have to wonder how the Pope's communications team could have allowed his comments about condoms on the papal plane en route to Africa to convey such an insensitive image - little compassion expressed, no appreciation for the complexities of human sexuality, nary a nod to the 2 million children who live short painful lives with HIV and AIDS, or to the young girls forced into sex with infected older men.

An outraged response from the community that cares about HIV/AIDS was the predictable result. (I shudder at the coming reaction to reports that a French bishop pontificated again about the silly hypothesis that the virus can pass through the pores of condoms.)

This is a story of a tragic missed opportunity, because it just reinforces the views of many in the development community that the Church is out of touch (even as Catholic groups perform extraordinary work in AIDS programs.) Many Catholics and their friends had hoped for a more nuanced Vatican view.

The condom diversion overshadowed the huge excitement and huge crowds (a million in Angola) generated by the Pope's visit. His speeches were far-ranging , and contained much wisdom and courage. Especially important were his comments on the evils of corruption. The story could have been about a dynamic, diverse, complex Church, growing and working towards an African pluralism whose lines are still taking shape. That narrative would highlight the importance of religion and how it links to every facet of Africa's challenges, tragedies, and hopes.

The condom controversy won't go away and it should not. While no group maintains that condoms are the whole answer, most agree that they are a key part of the arsenal.

But the Le Monde cartoon highlights the way the condom debate took over a story that was far bigger and more important than pieces of latex. The papal visit was a chance for us to focus on Africa from a different angle. Condom wars muddied the messages about fighting corruption and witchcraft, addressing gender issues, and working more aggressively for peace.

It's taken far too long to put Africa's HIV/AIDS pandemic high on the world's agenda.

The condom wars are only a distraction that gets in the way of meaningful action - on AIDS as well as the continent's other problems.

Time to shift the agenda. +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

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: TWP)

From Rome, a gesture of unity

With a touch of flickering flame to the top of a bronze candelabrum yesterday, a Vatican official sought to reassure the Jewish community that there is no room in the Catholic Church for anti-Semitism or Holocaust denial.

Cardinal Walter Kasper, a German theologian who is Pope Benedict XVI's top adviser on Catholic-Jewish relations, visited the headquarters of the Archdiocese of Boston Sunday and took several steps to calm the controversy that has erupted since the pope lifted the excommunication of four traditionalist bishops, one of whom denies that the Nazis used gas chambers to kill Jews.

Over a salmon lunch with 50 Jewish community leaders, Kasper fielded a series of tough questions about the Vatican's actions. He then joined a ceremony to rededicate a Holocaust memorial, originally located at the archdiocese's former headquarters in Brighton, which depicts six men and women holding torches to represent the 6 million Jews killed before and during World War II.

"The memory of what happened, now 65 years ago, cannot be forgotten," Kasper told a crowd of about 200 at the rededication ceremony, including priests and rabbis, several Holocaust survivors, and consuls general of Israel and Germany. "No Holocaust denial, which is a new injustice to the victims, can be allowed or permitted."

But the raw emotions exposed by the controversy over Bishop Richard Williamson of the Society of St. Pius X were clear.

Israel Arbeiter, the president of the Boston chapter of the American Association of Jewish Holocaust Survivors, recounted the deaths of his parents and brother in concentration camps and of seeing the remains of Jews killed in gas chambers at Auschwitz-Birkenau, before addressing Kasper and saying, "Pain and suffering have been inflicted again on the Holocaust survivors by a representative of the church, namely, Bishop Williamson, and by the action and inaction by Pope Benedict XVI."

Arbeiter also praised the Catholic Church, calling Kasper's visit "deeply meaningful." He referred to Cardinal Sean P. O'Malley of Boston as a friend and said that the pope has taken a number of constructive steps in recent weeks to address the controversy.

But he said he would like to hear the pope directly refute Williamson's assertion that the Nazis did not use gas chambers.

"Years after the liberation of Auschwitz, with all the available documentation, confirmation by the German government, testimony by the perpetrators, Bishop Williamson still denies the truth, the fact of the Holocaust," he said. " . . . I will never understand that he denies that there were ever gas chambers, that Jewish people were gassed and murdered. . . . I wonder whether Bishop Williamson knows where my parents and my brother are."

Local Jewish and Catholic community leaders said they viewed Kasper's visit as a significant development, in that it affirmed the high priority the Vatican places on Catholic-Jewish relations.

"Words are helpful, but actions like today's rededication are more powerful, more meaningful, and more enduring," said Derrek L. Shulman, New England regional director of the Anti-Defamation League. "We welcome and celebrate this day as a major step forward for strengthening relations between Jews and Catholics in the Boston area."

O'Malley, who organized the event, called the Holocaust "the greatest act of inhumanity ever perpetrated on this planet" and said yesterday's event was intended "to assure the entire community of the Holy Father and the church's commitment to furthering these wonderful relationships that have been cultivated the last decades."

O'Malley pointed out that Catholic-Jewish relations in Boston have been strong since the days of Cardinal Richard J. Cushing, who in the 1960s helped draft a pivotal document at the Second Vatican Council that repudiated the basis for Christian anti-Semitism.

Kasper said that the outcry from Catholics irate over Williamson's remarks and over the Vatican's action, was evidence that Catholics have internalized the importance of Catholic-Jewish relations.

Nancy K. Kaufman, executive director of the Jewish Community Relations Council, said that the response to the uproar had provided evidence of the overall strength of the Jewish-Catholic relationship, citing the speed and candor with which local leaders had been able to meet and talk.

"It speaks to the power of the relationship that we have worked on so hard in this community over 40 or 50 years," Kaufman said. "Some of us here today can remember a time when relations between Catholics and Jews in Boston were not so good, and we didn't have the ability to have an honest and open dialogue among and between each other, and I think the ability to raise difficult issues like this one, and to have the discussion . . . speaks to the strength of the relationship."

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: BC)

Marathon to link Jerusalem with Rome coinciding with papal visit to Israel

A marathon will link the cities of Jerusalem and Rome between April 23 and May 27, thus coinciding with Pope Benedict XVI’s May 8-15 visit to Israel.

The initiative, organized by the John Paul II Foundation, was presented Wednesday in Rome.

The objective is to commemorate the 2000 year anniversary of the birth of St. Paul as part of the Pauline Year.

The race will appropriately follow the steps of St. Paul, running through some of the places where the Apostle to the Gentiles went to preach.

The entire route will cover some 1,300 kilometers through five countries: Israel, Greece, Malta, Italy and Vatican City. The marathon will begin on April 23 in Bethlehem and end at St. Peter’s Basilica at the Vatican on May 27.

The last stage, which will be in Rome, will be accompanied by several side events, including a prayer vigil at the Basilica of St. Paul Outside the Walls and a greeting by Pope Benedict XVI at St. Peter’s Square.

The John Paul II Foundation for Sports was inspired by the late Pontiff’s love of sports and their formative and spiritual values.

For this reason, the marathon will also serve to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the first Jubilee of athletes, which was promoted by John Paul II in April of 1984.

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)

Priest accused of children's hospital sex attack on girl

A priest accused of a catalogue of sex attacks on a young girl, including one in a children's hospital, has been sent forward for trial.

The 78-year-old former parish priest, who cannot be named, is charged with 51 counts of indecent assault.

He is accused of committing 50 of the offences in two parochial houses in Dublin and one offence in Temple Street Children's Hospital.

The alleged attacks happened between 1980 and 1984, when the complainant was aged between 12 and 16 years. She is now a 41-year-old woman.


The accused appeared before Judge Bryan Smyth in Dublin District Court last week.

Sergeant Brian Lyons told the court that he arrested the defendant on March 3 at Sundrive Road Garda Station.

The priest made no reply after being cautioned and he was handed a true copy of the charge sheet, the court heard.

Judge Smyth sent him forward for trial to the next sittings of the Circuit Criminal Court on bail on his own bond of €300.

The accused had an address in North Dublin but it was changed to that of a diocesan centre. Legal aid was not sought in the case.

Judge Smyth told the priest that, if he wished to rely on an alibi as a defence at the hearing, full details of the alibi would have to be supplied to the prosecution in writing within 14 days of yesterday's date.

The defendant's solicitor applied for the judge to issue a ruling preventing the identification of the priest.

The lawyer said the complainant had a right to anonymity in relation to the charges.


He argued that identifying the accused might well identify the complainant in these circumstances, adding that the identity of the priest should not be made public at this time.

Judge Smyth granted the application.

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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

(Source: EH)

Bishops’ new guidelines condemn Reiki therapy as ‘superstition’

The U.S. bishops have published a new evaluation of the Reiki therapy.

Calling the Japanese form of alternative medicine comparable to “superstition,” the evaluation describes its practice as being without support in Christian belief, unscientific and inappropriate for Catholic institutions.

The document “Guidelines for Evaluating Reiki as an Alternative Therapy” contains guidelines developed by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) Committee on Doctrine, which is chaired by Bishop William Lori of Bridgeport, Connecticut.

According to a USCCB press release, the guidelines describe Reiki as a healing technique “invented in Japan in the late 1800s by Mikao Usui, who was studying Buddhist texts.”

It characterizes Reiki therapy as teaching that illness is caused by “some kind of disruption or imbalance in one’s ‘life energy.’”

A Reiki practitioner is believed to be able to effect healing by placing his or her hands in certain positions on a patient’s body to “facilitate the flow of Reiki, the ‘universal life energy,’ from the Reiki practitioner to the patient.”

“Reiki lacks scientific credibility,” the U.S. bishops’ guidelines state, adding that scientific and medical communities have not accepted it as “an effective therapy.”

“Reputable scientific studies attesting to the efficacy of Reiki are lacking, as is a plausible scientific explanation as to how it could possibly be efficacious,” the bishops’ guidelines add.

Examining descriptions of Reiki as a “spiritual” kind of healing, the guidelines say there is a radical difference between Reiki therapy and healing by divine power.

“For Christians the access to divine healing is by prayer to Christ as Lord and Savior, while the essence of Reiki is not a prayer but a technique that is passed down from the 'Reiki Master' to the pupil, a technique that once mastered will reliably produce the anticipated results.”

“For a Catholic to believe in Reiki therapy presents insoluble problems” the guidelines continue, saying that employing a technique that has no scientific support or plausibility is “generally not prudent.”

“Since Reiki therapy is not compatible with either Christian teaching or scientific evidence, it would be inappropriate for Catholic institutions, such as Catholic health care facilities and retreat centers, or persons representing the Church, such as Catholic chaplains, to promote or to provide support for Reiki therapy," the guidelines add.

The guidelines also warn of “important dangers” in Reiki practice because it implicitly accepts “central elements of a worldview that undergirds Reiki theory, elements that belong neither to Christian faith nor to natural science.”

A Catholic who trusts in Reiki “would be operating in the realm of superstition, the no-man's-land that is neither faith nor science.”

Superstition, the bishops’ guidelines say, “corrupts one’s worship of God by turning one’s religious feeling and practice in a false direction.”

“While sometimes people fall into superstition through ignorance, it is the responsibility of all who teach in the name of the Church to eliminate such ignorance as much as possible.”

The guidelines may be viewed at http://www.usccb.org/dpp/doctrine.htm

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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

(Source: CNA)

Reformed Church Bodies Launch 1st Joint Website Ahead of Official Merger

The two largest Reformed church bodies in the world unveiled the details of their historic joint conference this past week, launching together the first site for their soon-to-be-officially merged group.

On Wednesday, the World Alliance of Reformed Churches (WARC) and the Reformed Ecumenical Council (REC) launched reformedchurches.org, which focuses on the activities that will occur before, during and after the creation of the World Communion of Reformed Churches (WCRC).

Though still more than a year away, the Uniting General Council (UGC) meeting is generating quite a buzz as it will mark the official merger of the 75-million-strong WARC and the 12-million-strong REC after years of talks.

The REC had initiated the invitation to merge in July 2005 after 7 years of bilateral talks, and leaders of the two fellowships recommended less than six months later to put the church bodies on an even platform by forming a larger group to succeed both.

In March 2007, REC’s executive committee approved the idea of a new Reformed body, which will be the largest association of Reformed Churches in the world, later consolidating plans with WARC leaders in October 2008.

After the formalizing the merger at the upcoming gathering, June 18-28, 2010, the new Reformed body intends to invite movements, agencies and theological institutions of the Reformed movement to become affiliates of the group.

Aside from making the merger official, the joint gathering, titled "Unity of the Spirit in the Bond of Peace," will address a range of issues, including Reformed identity, theology and communion, Christian community and ecumenical engagement, justice in the economy and on earth, worship and spiritual renewal, leadership development, gender justice, and empowerment of youth.

At the moment, more than 1,000 delegates, guests, volunteers and staff are expected to attend the meeting at Calvin College in Grand Rapids, Mich. Women and youth will hold additional events just prior to the meeting.

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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.

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(Source: CT)

Bishops reject request to ring bells on St George's Day

Church of England Bishops have rejected a request to ring out the bells of churches on St George’s Day.

The idea to ring out the bells was suggested by churchgoer Libby Alexander, who wrote to each of the 44 Church of England diocesan bishops suggesting the idea.

Only five of them responded positively to the idea, whilst more than half did not respond to the letter.

In her letter, Alexander said that church attendance was falling because of “the lack of assertiveness or confidence emanating from the top… [and the] strangulations of political correctness”, reports the Daily Mail.

She also encouraged the bishops, “What an uplifting, wondrous sound it would be if bells rang out to remind the country that Christianity exists and that churches are there to welcome."

However, the Bishop of Ripon and Leeds, the Rt Rev John Packer, responded saying, “I am not sure assertiveness is a Christian value.”

The Bishop of Portsmouth, the Rt Rev Dr Kenneth Stevenson, also expressed concern that “some secularists would claim the Church was imposing its beliefs and practices on the whole population”.

The Rt Rev Dr Peter Foster, Bishop of Chester, said meanwhile, “There would be dangers in putting on ‘public displays’ of confidence.”

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

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

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(Source: CT)

Details of Pope Benedict XVI’s Holy Land visit published

Having just completed the papal trip to Africa, preparations are under way for Pope Benedict XVI’s first trip to the Holy Land in a little more than a month.

On Thursday morning the Vatican released details of the Pope’s May 8-15 trip.

Pope Benedict will leave from Rome at 9:30 a.m. on May 8 and land at the Queen Alia airport in Amman, Jordan at 2:30 p.m.

The first day of the trip will consist of a 3:30 p.m. visit to the city's Queen of Peace Center, followed by a courtesy visit to the Jordanian monarchs at the al-Husseinye royal palace.

The second day of the Jordanian leg of the trip will involve a visit to the Memorial of Moses on Mount Nebo, and the blessing of the cornerstone for the Patriarchate of Jerusalem's Madaba University in the morning.

The Pope will then visit a Jordanian museum and the Mosque of al-Hussein bin Talal in Amman.

This will be followed by a meeting with Muslim religious leaders, the diplomatic corps and rectors of Jordanian universities.

On Saturday evening, the Holy Father will preside at the celebration of Vespers with priests, religious, seminarians and ecclesial movements in the Greek-Melkite cathedral of St. George in Amman.

The final day of Benedict XVI’s visit to Jordan will be Sunday, May 10. In the morning, the Holy Father will celebrate Mass and pray the Regina Coeli at the international stadium in Amman. That afternoon he is scheduled to visit Bethany Beyond the Jordan, site of the Lord's Baptism, where he will bless the cornerstones of the Latin and Greek-Melkite churches.

After celebrating Mass at the apostolic nunciature in Amman, the Pope will depart for Tel Aviv, arriving just before 11:00 a.m. at the Ben Gurion airport. A welcome ceremony will be held at the airport.

Monday afternoon will see a courtesy visit to the president of Israel at the presidential palace in Jerusalem, a stop at the Yad Vashem Memorial outside of the Holocaust museum and a meeting with organizations for inter-religious dialogue.

On Tuesday, May 12, he will visit the Dome of the Rock on Temple Mount in Jerusalem and meet the Grand Mufti. He will also visit the Western Wall and meet with the two Chief Rabbis of Israel at the Hechal Shlomo Centre. At midday he is scheduled to pray the Regina Coeli with the bishops of the Holy Land in the Cenacle of Jerusalem and to make a brief visit to the co-cathedral of the Latins. That afternoon he will celebrate Mass in the Valley of Josaphat.

The third day of the Pope’s trip will see him deliver an address on the square in front of the presidential palace in Bethlehem at 9:00 a.m. and then celebrate Mass in Manger Square at 10 a.m. At 12.30 p.m. he will lunch with the bishops of the Holy Land, the Franciscan community and the papal entourage at the Casa Nova monastery in Bethlehem.

That afternoon, following a private visit at 3.30 p.m. to the Grotto of the Nativity, Benedict XVI will travel to the Caritas Baby Hospital and, shortly thereafter, to the Aida Refugee Camp, where he will deliver an address. At 6 p.m. he will make a courtesy visit to the president of the Palestine National Authority in the presidential palace of Bethlehem, after which a departure ceremony will be held in the square in front of the palace.

At 10 a.m. on Thursday the Pope will celebrate Mass on the Mount of Precipice in Nazareth. At 3:50 p.m. he will meet the Israeli prime minister in the city's Franciscan convent, and at 4:30 p.m. greet religious leaders of Galilee in the auditorium of the Basilica of the Annunciation, where he will pronounce an address. Later he will travel to the Grotto of the Annunciation where at 5:30 p.m. he will preside at Vespers with bishops, priests, religious, ecclesial movements and pastoral workers.

On Friday, the Pope will say an early private Mass in the chapel of the apostolic delegation to Jerusalem, then attend an ecumenical meeting at the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate. After this he will visit the Holy Sepulchre and the Armenian patriarchal church of St. James in Jerusalem.

Following the departure ceremony at Ben Gurion international airport in Tel Aviv, the papal plane is due to take off at 2 p.m. bound for Rome where it is expected to land at Ciampino airport at 4:50 p.m. Roman time.

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: CN)

Pope designates Holy Thursday collection for Catholics in Gaza Strip

Pope Benedict XVI has decided the collection taken up at his Holy Thursday evening Mass will be used to help support the Catholic community in the Gaza Strip.

Each year the pope chooses where to send the collection taken up during the Mass of the Lord's Supper at the Basilica of St. John Lateran, the cathedral of the Diocese of Rome.

Pope Benedict's decision to use the collection from the Mass April 9 to support Catholics in Gaza was announced by the Vatican March 30.

Each year the pope also asks a different person to write the meditations read during his Good Friday celebration of the Way of the Cross in Rome's Colosseum.

The meditations for the April 10 service were written by Archbishop Thomas Menamparampil of Guwahati, India, AsiaNews reported.

The Vatican also confirmed the pope would celebrate the usual slate of Holy Week and Easter liturgies: Palm Sunday Mass in St. Peter's Square April 5; on Holy Thursday, April 9, the morning chrism Mass in St. Peter's Basilica, followed by the evening Mass at St. John Lateran; on Good Friday, April 10, the afternoon liturgy of the Lord's Passion in St. Peter's Basilica, followed by the nighttime Way of the Cross; the Easter Vigil April 11 in St. Peter's Basilica; and Easter morning Mass April 12 in St. Peter's Square.

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

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

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(Source: CNS)

Rise of atheism: 100,000 Brits seek 'de-baptism'

More than 100,000 people have recently downloaded "certificates of de-baptism" from the Internet to renounce their Christian faith.

The initiative launched by a group called the National Secular Society (NSS) follows atheist campaigns here and elsewhere, including a controversial advert displayed on London buses which declared: "There's probably no God."

"We now produce a certificate on parchment and we have sold 1,500 units at three pounds a pop," said NSS president Terry Sanderson, 58.

John Hunt, a 58-year-old from London and one of the first to try to be "de-baptised," held that he was too young to make any decision when he was christened at five months old.

The male nurse said he approached the Church of England to ask it to remove his name. "They said they had sought legal advice and that I should place an announcement in the London Gazette," said Hunt, referring to one of the official journals of record of the government.

So that's what he did -- his notice of renouncement was published in the Gazette in May 2008 and other have followed suit.

Michael Evans, 66, branded baptising children as "a form of child abuse" -- and said that when he complained to the church where he was christened he was told to contact the European Court of Human Rights.

The Church of England said its official position was not to amend its records. "Renouncing baptism is a matter between the individual and God," a Church spokesman told AFP.

"We are not a 'membership' church, and do not keep a running total of the number of baptised people in the Church of England, and such totals do not feature in the statistics that we regularly publish," he added.

De-baptism organisers say the initiative is a response to what they see as increasing stridency from churches -- the latest last week when Pope Benedict XVI stirred global controversy on a trip to AIDS-ravaged Africa by saying condom use could further the spread of the disease.

"The Catholic Church is so politically active at the moment that I think that is where the hostility is coming from," said Sanderson. "In Catholic countries there is a very strong feeling of wanting to punish the church by leaving it."

In the country, where government figures say nearly 72 percent of the population list themselves as Christian, Sanderson feels this "hostility" is fuelling the de-baptism movement.

Theologian Paul Murray at Durham University disagrees. "That is not my experience," he said, but concedes that change is in the air.

"We are in an interesting climate where Catholicism and other belief systems have moved into the public, pluralist arena, alongside secularists," he said.

De-baptism movements have already sprung up in other countries.

In Spain, the high court ruled in favour of a man from Valencia, Manuel Blat, saying that under data protection laws he could have the record of his baptism erased, according to a report in the International Herald Tribune.

Similarly, the Italian Union of Rationalists and Agnostics (UAAR) won a legal battle over the right to file for de-baptism in 2002, according to media reports. The group's website carries a "de-baptism" form to facilitate matters.

According to UAAR secretary Raffaele Carcano, more than 60,000 of these forms have been downloaded in the past four years and continue to be downloaded at a rate of about 2,000 per month. Another 1,000 were downloaded in one day when the group held its first national de-baptism day last October 25.

Elsewhere, an Argentinian secularist movement is running a "Collective Apostasy" campaign, using the slogan "Not in my name" (No en mi nombre).

Sanderson hopes rulings in other European countries will pave the way for legal action in Britain, since European Union directives require a level of parity among member states' legislation.

"That would be a good precedent for us to say to the British Information Commissioner: Come on, what's your excuse?" said Sanderson.

The bus-side posters that hit London in January sported the message: "There's probably no God. Now stop worrying and enjoy your life."

The scheme was in response to pro-Christian adverts on buses directing passers-by to a website warning those who did not accept Jesus would suffer for eternity in hell.

Comedy writer Ariane Sherine, mastermind of the bus campaign that saw a copycat version in Barcelona and other cities, said she backs the "de-baptism" movement but insisted the two initiatives were separate.

Sanderson meanwhile remains resolute. "The fact that people are willing to pay for the parchments shows how seriously they are taking them," 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: AFP)