Sunday, October 25, 2009

Pre-signed Mass cards on sale against priest's wishes

Pre-signed Mass cards are currently being distributed and sold in Ireland carrying the signature of an African priest despite instructions from him and his bishop to have his name removed.

Vellum Gold Ltd, a Mass card distributor based in Clones, Co. Monaghan continues to sell cards bearing the signature of Fr Joseph Nzelu of the Diocese of Kitui in Kenya, despite his withdrawal from their arrangement.

In an email sent to Vellum Gold on September 10, 2009 Fr Nzelu stated: ''I hereby write to request you kindly to cancel the selling of Mass cards bearing my name.''

However, last week, The Irish Catholic was able to purchase a card bearing Fr Nzelu's name in Porters shop in Wilton Shopping Centre in Cork.

According to a notice in the shop, Vellum Gold Ltd guarantees that ''all its pre-signed Mass cards are fully and verifiably compliant with canon law'' and ''that these Masses will be said as promised'', even though Fr Nzelu is no longer celebrating Mass for the intentions on the cards.

The notice claims that the Mass cards signed by Fr Joseph Nzelu have been ''authorised by his diocesan bishop''.

However, in correspondence with Irish Church authorities on September 9, 2009 Bishop Anthony Muleria of Kitui said he had not authorised the selling of cards bearing Fr Nzelu's name.

''I appreciate the gravity of the situation of selling Mass cards, and at the outset condemn it unequivocally. I did not give any permission to this illicit method of obtaining stipends.''

Bishop Muleria said that he had instructed Fr Nzelu to ''write to the person who has been facilitating the process, and expressly withdraw the request and ask that his cards be immediately destroyed''.

Bishop Muleria said he was going to write to all the priests of the diocese to ''expressly put an end to this practice''.

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