Prayer For an Inclusive Priesthood

Antiphon: “I have made you a light for the nations, so that my salvation may reach the ends of the earth.” (Acts 13: 47)

Jesus, we bring to you our love and concern for the worldwide Church. We bring especially our love for the Eucharist, your body and blood. You are our Emmanuel, “God with us” who nourishes and strengthens our Catholic community.

We bring to you our mourning and our repentance. Too many of your people are deprived of your sacramental presence because of the human failures of a wounded Church. In many places of the world there are too few priests or no priests at all. People celebrate Eucharist only once a month, once a year or never. Too many of your people have suffered the loss of their parish homes because of the priest shortage.

Jesus, we know that you are with us always, even where there are no priests. But we also know you are the good shepherd who yearns to feed your people with your own substance through the ministry of those you call to be priestly shepherds.

We know you have called many men and women to minister to your people as priests, deacons and pastoral ministers. We know that many priestly calls are not recognized by the institutional church because the candidate is married or female. Our leaders have been slow to recognize the rich diversity of your summons to “feed my lambs…feed my sheep.”

We ask the guidance of your Spirit on the Cardinals and Bishops of our Church in Rome and worldwide. May the worldwide hunger for your Eucharistic presence be their first concern.

May they be open to the abundant calls the Spirit is pouring out on women and men, married and single to serve the Church as priests and deacons.

May your Spirit give us, as people who love the Eucharist, courage and grace to share our concerns and perspectives with our Bishop leaders.

May your Spirit give our Bishops the wisdom to listen.

Lead us all to that time of Eucharistic abundance so we become, once again your body and blood, poured out for the life of the world.

Antiphon: “I have made you a light for the nations, so that my salvation may reach the ends of the earth.” (Acts 13: 47)


This prayer was prepared by Sr. Christine Schenk csj of FutureChurch

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Action for Optional Celibacy

A married priesthood was the original tradition for over 1200 years after Christ. Clerics fathered children legitimately for over a thousand years. The cost of mandating celibacy is insufficient numbers of priests to sustain humanity and Catholicism. Making celibacy optional will ease the severe shortage of priests around the world, help secure access to sacraments, and sustain the Catholic Church

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News: What is Progressive Christianity?

Bill Colburn

Progressive Christianity is not simply inviting folks to come in shorts and sandals, providing Starbucks coffee, or having a band that plays Christian rock music. It is not church-as-usual with a few candles and incense. It isn’t a bait and switch method that pretentiously brings into the church secular practices only to appear hip enough to attract or keep the youth. Nor is it faux-denominationalism – holding membership in a church organization despite not accepting their creed – defecting in place. It is not the same as Liberal Christianity.

Some simply, and wrongly, assume that a Progressive Christian is the same as ‘one of those non-denominational types’. Actually, non-denominational Christian churches run the gamut from fundamentalism right up to the edge of being post-Christian.

The adjective, progressive, is defined by Webster as being open to new ideas, moving forward, and making progress. The word includes suggestions of relevance, maturing, expectation, and even anticipation of new and deeper insights. To be progressive is to assume there is something better if one is just willing to imagine it. Shouldn’t Christianity always be progressive if one believes in an infinite, all-knowing God who must accommodate ‘truth’ to finite, naturally biased human beings?

The second part of the term is the noun, Christian. While the adjective progressive describes how, the noun Christian designates the parameters in which the adjective is to be applied. In other words, there is a progressiveness within the context of being a believer in Christ. Christ, Jesus, is the Way, the Truth, and Life, yet the Spirit is invited to show us an ever-increasing understanding as to what that means.

Progressive Christianity provides a broader context for thinking about the Christian life. In contrast, progressiveness within a particular creedal formulation, such as calling oneself a Progressive Baptist, means experimenting with new expressions for being a Baptist, yet always within the parameters of Baptist doctrine. This is, by necessity, a more limited sphere.

So, the question is, are you a progressive? Could you reasonably consider yourself a progressive Christian? Or, would you be more accurately defined as a progressive within a denominational context? Maybe you just aren’t really a progressive at all.

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The Priestess and the Pope

By Kathryn Skelton, Staff Writer

At the center of first-time author Paul Dionne’s new book is a 1,500-year-old edict that women can’t be priests anymore and the women who beg to differ.

Set in AD 495, the book is based on the epistle by Pope Gelasius. Dionne, the former Lewiston mayor and head of the state Workers’ Compensation Board, said he spent two years researching the era before he sat down to pen his historical fiction, “The Priestess and the Pope.”

Research and writing took nearly nine years. He celebrated its debut Friday night with an invitation-only signing at the Hilton Garden Inn in Auburn.

“It shows the role that women played in leadership roles, as martyrs, as prophets, and the very important role they played in the development of Christianity,” Dionne said. “There’s an awful lot of suspense, drama, mystery in the novel as we peel back the pages of time and go from the year 495 to the year 1.”

He winds the story around married priests Anna and Joshua, the young priest Maria, and Samuel, the aide Gelasius sends to southern Italy to relay the news. Dionne described his female leads as “strong, tough-minded women.”

“It rolls out as their struggle,” Dionne said. “A lot of Christians were martyred by Rome. These were not only men. Women were persecuted and executed and crucified and I wanted to bring that point out.”

He showed the latter with the book’s cover, a charcoal sketch of a crucified woman by Lewiston artist Luc Collette. Dionne said he reached out to the Maine College of Art to find Collette, wanting to keep ties to “The Priestess and the Pope” as local as possible.

Research for the book took him as far away as the Tip O’Neill Library at Boston College. Dionne said he found himself writing up to midnight and on weekends. Advice from a prospective agent had him pare down his original plan — all 2,000 years of Christianity in 1,000 pages — and, he said, that leaves him with a natural follow-up. Writing on book two started six months ago.

Dionne, 67, lives in Winthrop. When his state job ends next year, he plans to settle back in the Twin Cities and take up writing full time.

“Lewiston has always been my hometown,” he said. “That’s where I want to be.”

“The Priestess and the Pope” is self-published, available on ($14.95) and Dionne’s website. He said he hopes to get it into local bookstores and plans to hold signings this fall.

“It’s been a long process and it’s culminating in what I think is a very good read, a very good story, as well as sending a very powerful message,” he said. He added that deciding to ordain women again “is probably the best thing that could happen to the church.”

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A Church in trouble

The Roman Catholic bishop of Peterborough Diocese is calling upon Catholics to help pay off the multi-million dollar debt that is crippling the Diocese. We realize that Bishop DeAngelis inherited this great debt, but many of the faithful would like to know what caused something in which they played no role, and to have some assurance it will not happen again. And by “faithful” I am referring mainly to Catholics who attend Sunday mass weekly, keep the commandments, and financially support the Church on a regular basis.

Was the great debt caused by financial mismanagement, unwise real estate investment, embezzlement, in-comt and out-comt settlements for drug abuse, et cetara? The Church has not been completely open and forthright about the debt which the laity did not create, yet are expected to eliminate. Faithful Catholics deserve more accountability and assurance.

The Catholic Church is struggling financially, is not producing enough Canadian priests, and seems to be becoming irrelevant to many Catholics today. Perhaps it is time to take a hard look at the Church and not just it’s finances. Perhaps the faithful laity don’t fully realize that they are the Church too, not just the clergy and the hierarchical bureaucracy. Perhaps it’s time for the faithful to step forward and demand more significant participation of the laity and women in the leadership of the Church today. Perhaps the laity should no longer seem like passive sheep with open wallets for if they do not provide the money, the bureaucracy would grind to a halt. And if the laity are not given a more significant role in the leadership of the Church, it will become even more irrelevant, especially for those members under 50 years of age. It’s time for review and reform in the Catholic Church today.

The Bishop would like to see more money from the laity, and the laity would like to see more accountability and more significant participation in Church leadership. The laity would also like to see a more significant response to young people and Native victims of clergy sex abuse than just money and verbal apologies, and no longer to be embarrassed and held for ransom. They would also like to see better screening and monitoring of priests, public de-frocking when appropriate, review and reform of the monarchial and hierarchal system of the Church, and a review of the vote of priests today. Why not ordain the married deacons already in place? Why must all priests be celibate? And why are women (half the Church!) never discussed or considered for leadership when half the other Christian Churches in Peterborough are presently led by women? No longer should the Church operate like it is still in the Middle Ages.

Let’s open up the Church to review and reform before it slips into more irrelevance for many in the modern era. It will cause turmoil and upset but it is important to remember that Jesus was a teacher, a healer, a leader, and a revolutionary without power and wealth.

Peter Robinson

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‘Being a woman priest is what I feel I am called to do’

The Irish Times – Saturday, July 31, 2010

Soline Humbert outside the Church of St Thérése, Mount Merrion, Dublin. Cardinal Daly refused to accept from her a 10,000-name petition calling for women priests. Photograph : Matt Kavanagh

PATSY McGARRY Religious Affairs Correspondent

The Vatican’s directive confirming its policy of excommunication for those involved in the ordination of women has been greeted with defiance by dissidents in the US and dismay by Irish campaigners

‘SHOCKING.” “A travesty.” “A slap in the face.” “The action of a paranoid, scared, running-for-cover Vatican.” Those are just some of the phrases used by Bishop Bridget Mary Meehan to describe the latest directive from Rome on the ordination of women.

The Vatican’s Normae de Gravioribus Delictis , published two weeks ago, concerns sanctions in canon law for clerical child sex abuse, concelebration of the Eucharist with Protestant ministers, heresy, apostasy, schism – and the ordination of women. It reaffirmed the sanction of excommunication for anyone involved with the ordination of women in the Catholic Church.

Bishop Bridget Mary Meehan is a leader of an ever-growing band of dissidents from this policy. She is “happy to be excommunicated. If they keep going like this there’ll soon be more ‘out’ than ‘in’. We’re at the heart of the church, renewing it. We’re not going to put up with second-class membership any more. We are an empowered community of Catholics. Mysticism and social justice are in my DNA as an Irish Catholic. I love the faith, but this corrupt church has to be reformed. Where are the excommunicated paedophiles or bishops who covered up the abuse of children?”

Meehan is from Crosskerry, near Rathdowney, Co Laois, which the family left for the US in 1956. Crosskerry is one of those still centres of the universe.

“It hasn’t changed since we left,” she recalled. She visits regularly. “So many, many relatives. Every three or four years.”

She will speak at the Humbert Summer School in Castlebar on Friday, August 20th.

Publication of Normae de Gravioribus Delictis has been “a watershed moment” for the Roman Catholic Women Priests (RCWP) group, to which she belongs. It has attracted huge media attention to the RCWP in the US.

Meehan is based in Florida, where, she says, “the publicity is unbelievable”. Members of the movement in Europe have said to her that if the group can make headway in the US, the Vatican will take heed.

Rome just has to “get over the sexism and misogyny”, says Meehan. “To say women are not worthy is so over the top. It is very hateful to women. Very, very hostile to women.”

It has got to the stage, she claims, where people are now seeking out the RCWP as “the Catholic Church has become too toxic now”. Besides, “there were women deacons, priests, and bishops for the first 1,200 years of Christianity, in the Celtic Church too. There is a letter from Rome condemning women priests in the Irish church back then.”

Meehan was ordained bishop last year, having become a priest in 2006, and serves communities in Virginia and Florida.

The first women Catholic priests, the so-called “Danube Seven”, were ordained on that river in Germany in 2002. Five were German, one was Austrian and one was American. The following year saw the ordination of two women Catholic bishops, one German, one Austrian.

As explained on the RCWP website, the ordinations “are valid because of our unbroken line of apostolic succession within the Roman Catholic Church. The principal consecrating Roman Catholic male bishop who ordained our first women bishops is a bishop with a line of unbroken apostolic succession within the Roman Catholic Church in full communion with the Pope.”

The Vatican does not agree. On May 29th 2008 its Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith (CDF) stated that the women priests and the bishops who ordained them would be excommunicated latae sententiae (automatically).

The website of Ireland’s Brothers and Sisters in Christ (Basic) movement for Catholic women priests in Ireland has not been updated since October 2007. According to Soline Humbert, this is because Basic, which was set up in 1993, has become something of an underground movement. Anticipating the May 2008 action of the CDF, articles and names were removed from the website to prevent people losing their jobs as theologians, chaplains, and so on.

“Fear is an awful thing, another form of institutional abuse,” she says. “People who believe one thing are being forced to do another. At heart it is a dysfunctional church, where people cannot speak about what they believe in conscience.”

This is all such a long way from the Basic seminar in 1995, when participants included the future President, Mary McAleese, and the retired professor of moral theology at St Patrick’s College Maynooth, Fr Enda McDonagh.

Soline Humbert believes she has a vocation for the priesthood and has celebrated the Eucharist in her home every day this past 14 years. “I am not the only one,” she says. “I know several. Some religious sisters do it as well. My first chalice and paten were given to me by a religious sister and another by a community of religious sisters.”

Originally from Versailles, Humbert fell in love with Ireland on a visit in the late 1960s. She attended Trinity College Dublin in the early 1970s and married here. She has two sons. One bishop said to her that “perhaps one of your sons will have your vocation to the priesthood”. She was not impressed. She has not had much luck with bishops.

Then Catholic primate Cardinal Cahal Daly refused even to accept from her a petition calling for women priests. It had 10,000 names. He wrote to her saying he could not do so, as the Pope had spoken on the matter. She wrote a letter to this newspaper so that the signatories could be informed. She quoted from the cardinal’s letter. He wrote to her again, expressing his dismay that she would quote from their private correspondence and saying she could not be trusted.

For Humbert, “it was a moment of insight into the abuse of power. He did not want it known that he had refused to accept the petition”. She tried to get a meeting with the cardinal, without success.

She sent him a Valentine’s card one February. It asked: “What about a date?” The tactic worked. She was invited to Armagh. “It was the toughest meeting. The man was steel,” she says.

She met Cardinal Desmond Connell when he was Archbishop of Dublin. He told her: “A woman wasn’t on the cross and so couldn’t represent Christ. There was not much meeting of minds.”

Cardinal Seán Brady simply refused to discuss the issue with her at all. “He said no, he couldn’t. Rome has spoken,” Humbert says. “He came down like a guillotine.”

Similarly with the late Cardinal Basil Hume, Archbishop of Westminster. He was visiting Dublin and was shaking her hand as she began talking about women priests. “He withdrew his hand. He left me absolutely . . . as if I had leprosy,” she says.

She had a meeting with the current Catholic Archbishop of Dublin, Diarmuid Martin, about six years ago. “He did listen. He warned me, in conscience, that I was risking excommunication. It is not something I want.”

Humbert feels a strong sense of vocation. “In conscience, it is what I feel so strongly I am called to do,” she says. “I do love the church. I have received a lot from it and suffered a lot because of it. It is my church.”

Fr Eamonn McCarthy has also suffered because of his belief that there should be women priests. Currently a curate at Dunlavin, Co Wicklow, he was without a job until 2004.

For four years he was in “a stand-off” with the then Archbishop, Cardinal Connell.

“I pointed out to him that there was quite a range of women with a decent calling to the priesthood. They were not mad. I said I would like it made known to Rome,” he says. He doubts whether it was.

He was out of a job until Cardinal Connell retired and Archbishop Martin took over, when “a posting was made available”. He is unlikely ever to be a parish priest or an office holder in the church. Such people must take an oath to uphold the faith, which includes an acceptance that women should not be priests. McCarthy would refuse to take that oath. There are “a fair few” priests who share his views on women’s ordination but, like him, “they just get on with it”.

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A Married Priesthood: Why Not?

By George Buddleighton

George Buddleighton is a family doctor in Ireland. This column originally appeared in somewhat different form in the November 2005 issue of the Irish Brandsma Review, and is reprinted with permission.

One of the more enduring aspects of the secular media and dinner-party dogmaticians is an inability to understand that there is a coherent reason for Catholic teachings. To a large extent this ignorance cannot be regarded as culpable, as Church authorities seem reluctant to explain the rationale behind authoritative teachings. One such teaching concerns the celibate priesthood and how it relates to the current vocations crisis. The need for such an explanation has become ever more acute in light of Pope Benedict XVI’s generous new apostolic constitution, Anglicanorum Coetibus, which has provisions to allow already married Anglican clergymen to be ordained as Catholic priests.

The basis for the celibate priesthood is not doctrinal but concerns the difficulty of fulfilling the duties of three intermingled disciplines — that of the married state, that of the priestly vocation, and finally that of the individual priest. Let’s examine these three aspects separately.

The concession permitted to groups such as doctors and clergymen that exempted them from jury service in Ireland was for most of the past century extended to married women, as it was felt that the rearing of a family was too important a task to be compromised by jury duty. In latter years, a group of human-rights activists identified this exemption as demeaning to women, completely misreading the intention of the legislators in an earlier — and, dare I say, more gracious — age. The same tendency is seen when the celibate priesthood is derided as demeaning of the married state. In reality the celibacy requirement is a recognition that the duties of marriage should not be compromised by the competing demands of the priesthood.

The Church has always taught that marriage is a noble vocation and that a married man’s primary duty is to his wife and family, and that this discipline must not be in competition with others. It is significant that the Greek Orthodox Church recently expressed concern about the fact that its priests cannot find wives, as marriage to a priest is not regarded as a good prospect!

On the discipline of the priestly vocation, one can only say that marriage would expose the priest to an extra burden in that his duty to family could only compromise his vow of obedience. Essentially, this is the difficulty of serving two masters. Moving to a new post on the orders of his superior would be immensely complicated if the interests of a family had to be considered, and the faithful would have the extra burden of contributing to the support of the family as well as of the priest himself.

Another consideration — one that I have rarely heard mentioned — is the fact that every individual priest becomes a priest in answer to God’s call. If we had a married priesthood, a priestly caste would develop, with young men following their fathers into the clergy.

Finally, there is the discipline of the individual person of the priest, a man who has made himself “a eunuch for the sake of the kingdom of heaven.” Again, difficulty understanding this concept reflects the shallowness of modern society, which cannot comprehend the concepts of commitment or vocation, and therefore cannot understand the traditional status given to the paterfamilias — that to be a father is to be a man. If a proper status is given to fatherhood, there is a certain degree of awe accorded to one who voluntarily rejects this status for the sake of something as important as the priesthood. Despite his faults, the priest, be he pope or the humblest curate, has given up a status and a comfort in life — his right by his masculinity — for the sake of his calling.

Advocates of a married priesthood often argue that such an innovation would eliminate cases of clerical pedophilia and also the perceived shortage of vocations. Both these problems they regard as caused by celibacy, and some have suggested that Pope Benedict’s recent welcome to Anglicans is an attempt at an end-run around these problems. But, in fact, they are more a consequence of modern society than something intrinsic to the Catholic Church.

With regard to the evil of pedophilia, the idea that marriage would cure it is bizarre, to say the least. This notion stems from the theories of Alfred Kinsey, who stated that “man is naturally pan-sexual and thus will attempt to indulge in sexual activity with whatever is available, regardless of age, sex or species.” This is relativism in extremis, defining a range of activities from conjugal love to bestiality and ephebophilia as a spectrum of “natural” behavior! It is not surprising that those who subscribe to this distortion would believe that marriage could be an alternative to such depravities.

If we examine the reported cases of clerical child abuse, we note that the majority are examples of ephebophilia — that is, predatory assaults on peri-pubertal boys — essentially an expression of power and violence, and hatred of the normal. The use of the term “clerical pedophilia” is really a cynical attempt to hide the frankly homosexual origin of this depravity. Popular culture accepts the “gay” lobby’s portrayal of sodomites as a gentle, persecuted minority, disguising how common it is for active homosexuals to seek out youngsters with the object of seducing them.

The modern distortion of defining homosexuality as a charming personality quirk has influenced some vocations directors and seminary rectors who, out of a misplaced compassion for those with homosexual tendencies, have been less than vigilant in following Vatican instructions to prevent the ordination of such candidates to the priesthood. The practice of homosexuality among God’s anointed is truly demonic, and it must be rooted out of seminaries and the priesthood.

Further consideration of the shortage of vocations reveals that, as well as the uncomfortable character of sexual orientation in some seminaries due to pronounced homosexual subcultures of the recent past, we are dealing with a further phenomenon, confined to the domain of Western liberalism. While historically there are more seminarians than ever worldwide, the Western world has simply lost the concept of vocation. In Ireland this trend can also be seen in the difficulty of getting teachers and doctors for isolated or deprived areas.

It is ironic that we have calls for clergy to adopt a second vocation — that of marriage — in societies that have completely undermined marriage itself; societies in which marriage vows have less legal veracity than standard employment contracts!

In short, the demand for a married clergy is a manifestation of the modernistic approach as applied to the Church, while the shortage of vocations and the sexual perversions of some clerics are further manifestations of the same modernistic tendencies as practiced in the Church. While some have hinted that Anglicanorum Coe­tibus has cracked open the door to consideration of a married Catholic priesthood, it will likely have the limited effect of a pastoral exception rather than revolutionizing the celibate nature of Catholic holy orders.

As for a more appropriate response to the “vocations crisis,” we were long ago given the formula for adequate numbers of suitable priests: Pray to the Lord of the harvest.

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Married Priests by Petrà Basilio

Internet book shop

The author, some years after publication of Priests married by the will of
God? Exploring a Church with two lungs, notes that the book enjoyed
various types of responses, in different parts of the world. Abroad or, in
any case, in other languages, there was no lack of shorter or longer
reviews in important journals. Both positive evaluation and words of
appreciation, together with some criticisms and observations. The Author
wishes to consider the latter for a moment, since they afford a chance to
undertake for exploration and perhaps arrive at a clearer expression of
his thesis’ contents. First the intervention by E. Apeciti is examined,
subsequently that of G. Greshake and Father G. Nedungatt. (in rivista di Teologia Morale)

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Pilgrims must pay to attend 2 pope events in UK

LONDON — Pilgrims will have to pay as much as 25 pounds ($39) to attend one of the two public events in England to be led by Pope Benedict XVI during his visit in September, church officials said Wednesday.
The charges — believed to be a first for a papal event — are for a prayer vigil in London’s Hyde Park on Sept. 18 and the beatification of Cardinal John Henry Newman in Birmingham on Sept. 19.
Benedict’s four-day visit to England and Scotland has been controversial almost from the start, with thousands of Britons signing a petition earlier this year against the pope’s presence in the wake of outrage over sex crimes against children committed by Catholic priests.
Critics have also complained about the cost. Chris Patten, the official coordinating the event, has said the taxpayers’ tab for the visit to Britain could be as much as 12 million pounds, not counting extra policing costs.
The previous government of Prime Minister Gordon Brown invited the pope — a decision the austerity-minded new coalition government has not sought to change, despite some public unease.
In Rome, Vatican spokesman the Rev. Federico Lombardi said Wednesday that the Vatican understands that the faithful will be asked to make a “contribution” toward the visit but are not being charged a fee as such. Lombardi said he understood that those who cannot pay will be not be required to do so.
Lombardi noted that people are not charged to see the pope at the Vatican, in Italy or anywhere in the world. Even during the pope’s 2008 high-security visit to the United States, tickets were given out free of charge via church parishes.
Benedict’s Sept. 16-19 visit marks the first time a pope has traveled to Britain since Pope John Paul visited in 1982. During the trip, Benedict will meet with Queen Elizabeth II and will preside over the beatification of Newman — an important 19th century Anglican convert to Catholicism.
Church officials in England, who announced some details of the charges earlier this month, say those who wish to attend the events in London or Birmingham must join a parish group, and those groups will travel to the event by bus. Church officials say no one will be allowed to travel to the event on their own.
The church is charging 25 pounds for transportation to the Newman beatification in Birmingham, where 70,000 tickets are available. In Hyde Park, where up to 130,000 people may attend the vigil, the charge will be 10 pounds.
The church’s communications’ office sought to explain the cost by saying it was because the pilgrims would be “journeying” to see the pope, just as ancient pilgrims did, and would be provided with a “pilgrim pack” that includes a metro ticket.
“Those attending the gatherings are not just ‘ticket’ holders, nor guests nor visitors; they are gathering as a representative body of the faithful from across the U.K. and thus are more akin to the ancient notion of pilgrims journeying to a spiritual experience in the same way that the Vatican entitles all papal visits as an ‘Apostolic Journey,'” the Catholic Communications Network said Wednesday in a statement responding to inquiries from The Associated Press.
The Rev. Thomas Reese, a longtime Vatican watcher, said papal visits to the developed world are immensely expensive for the local church, especially when the local government doesn’t pick up the full tab.
He cited the costs of everything from renting stadiums to portable toilets to hotels for Vatican officials and insurance.
“In Third World countries, life is simpler: no insurance,” he said in an e-mail. “Just find an open field, throw a rug over a wooden platform.”
He recalled that when Pope John Paul II visited the United States in 1987, the archbishop of Mobile declined to host him because he didn’t want to bankrupt his archdiocese. “He said he would lead a delegation to New Orleans to cheer the pope” instead, Reese noted.
Monsignor Andrew Summersgill, in a podcast on the papal visit website, said: “I think it’s important to stress again that one does have to be part of a group in order to attend one of the Masses or the prayer vigil.”
He added that there would be opportunities for people to see the pope as he travels around.
Associated Press Writers Nicole Winfield and Victor Simpson contributed to this story from Rome.

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Oops, we forgot Jesus’s women

The pope’s new book, The Friends of Jesus, doesn’t mention any of his female associates. It’s a telling omission

o Stephen Tomkins
o, Friday 30 July 2010 12.14 BST

Was it a hilarious howler or does he simply not like women? The pope’s new children’s book, The Friends of Jesus, tells the stories of 14 of Jesus’s closest friends, but omitted to include any women, despite Jesus’s celebrated friendship with several of the less Catholic sex, especially Mary Magdalene.

On the plus side, there is something refreshing about the Vatican’s attitude to PR and spin, which is either that they are the machinations of Beelzebub, or they simply haven’t heard of them yet. You can’t imagine the head of any other west European state publishing a book without teams of Malcolm Tuckers scribbling all over it in red marker pens to bring it on-message.

Benedict may not be a law unto himself exactly, but he clearly doesn’t have his work shredded by a filter of tick boxes. One of the many benefits of not needing anyone’s votes ever again.

We saw the same thing earlier this year when the Vatican newspaper published a list of the 10 greatest albums ever, all long hair and guitar solos. No inclusivity, no internationalism, no coolness, and outside of Fleetwood Mac, what do you know, not a single woman. It was clearly not a PR exercise, just a bunch of stuff that some old duffer in the Vatican actually liked.

But when you get past the retro charm of Rome’s attitude to inclusion, it reminds you that there was and is a point to political correctness, which is that it discourages people from being ignorant idiots. Musical lists are a harmless enough pursuit, but the attitudes of world religions to sex and the sexes is rather less harmless. Top 10 albums are one thing, but when Rome compiles lists of the top one sex, the exclusion bites rather deeper.

Inclusivity is a practice that begs for parody. It could hardly be an easier target for mockery if it minced about a comedy shooting range in a plastic tutu and Ronald MacDonald wig. Should a kid’s book about Jesus’s friends also have included a Muslim, a Native American, and one of those hilarious one-legged lesbians? Ho ho.

And yet the pope’s literary fallibility reminds us what the alternative is. The alternative is a religion of half a billion women and half billion men, which claims to represent humankind to God and vice versa, and to lay down the law for the relationships and roles of the sexes – and where the assumption that men are intrinsically more significant is so deeply ingrained that the pope can produce a book like this which simply forgets that there were women in the gospel stories.

The alternative to policies of inclusion is an institution that oversees the spiritual welfare and private lives of a billion people, but has no women at all in its hierarchy, nor even men who have wives or daughters. It’s one of those situations that’s so familiar you have to take a step back to notice just how idiotic it is.

This is, I happily concede, the news wrong story to provoke spluttering indignation against Rome’s misogyny. The church’s refusal to allow African women with promiscuous husbands the protection of condoms, reinforced by dishonest pseudo-scientific scaremongering, for example, is a rather more serious failure of humanity than any bloke-heavy picture book is capable of.

But the utter obviousness of Benedict’s faux pas, however small, to most people in a liberal society, does illustrate how far from the path of sense the Vatican seems to have come. A silly slip maybe, but indicative of a deeply silly situation. It’s political incorrectness gone mad!

How the churches intend to increase their influence in the EU

When the Treaty of Lisbon was signed, it brought into effect a clause that gives special consultation rights to religious organisations. It is something the Vatican has been trying to achieve for decades. Now that Article 17 is in place, it commits the EU to holding “an open, transparent and regular dialogue with… churches and (non-confessional and philosophical) organisations”.

In fact, these consultations had been taking place long before the Treaty was ratified. But, this month, more than two dozen Christian, Jewish and Muslim leaders — joined by a representative each from the Hindu and Sikh communities (a development that did not please the Catholic Church) — met the presidents of the European Parliament, European Commission and European Council.

But opponents of the Article say that because many Europeans are secular, and an increasing number practise non-Christian religions, churches should not have special rights. Jean de Brueker, deputy secretary general of the European Humanist Federation, which advocates more secularism in Europe said: “Leaders need to respect the separation between church and state”. De Brueker’s organisation, to which the NSS is affiliated, says separate consultation agreements should be limited to elected officials and those with recognised special expertise.

Herman Van Rompuy, president of the European Council, said the EU was a secular organisation but spoke about the “moral significance” of the 27-country bloc, hinting at the need for spiritual and religious input. He told reporters: “The European Union has to be a union of values. That is our added value in the world. That is the soft power of Europe in the world”.

Cardinal Stanislaw Dziwisz of Poland, who spent decades in the Vatican as private secretary to Pope John Paul II was, of course, over the moon about Article 17. “I believe there is a need for such consultations with churches so as not to make mistakes on moral or ethical issues, for the benefit of societies,” Dziwisz told Reuters in December, displaying the arrogance and complacency for which he is famous. “Let’s not forget that religion is also a great force that creates cultures and societies. It cannot be bypassed.”

European Parliament President Jerzy Buzek has announced that the European Parliament will meet Catholic, Protestant and Orthodox leaders on 30 September to discuss how to implement Article 17.

One way or another, debate over what role the Church, and by extension churches, can play in engaging with the European Union is only likely to intensify. The EU’s hopes of ‘reaching out’ to religious communities may very well end up drawing it deeper into a complex, centuries-old debate.

And the campaigns for religious influence have already started. MEP Martin Kastler of Bavaria wants to see a Europe-wide law prohibiting shops and businesses from opening on Sundays. He is trying to use a new right from the EU that says any citizen can introduce legislation if they can collect one million supporting signatures from across nine EU countries within a year.

“For me, Sunday is a family day,” said Mr. Kastler, and like many Christians, he thinks his beliefs should be enforced by law.

Article 17 also calls for dialogue with “non-confessional and philosophical organisations” and after pressure from Brussels, the EU is to hold a summit with atheists and freemasons on 15 October, inviting them to a political dialogue which is supposed to parallel the religious summit.

David Pollock, president of the European Humanist Federation, told EUobserver that he was dismayed at the inclusion of freemasons with humanists, secularists and atheists, saying “I find it rather odd. … Some of the Grand Lodges are secularist organisations, and strongly for separation of church and state, but they also retain all sorts of gobbledygook and myths such as the Great Architect of the Universe. Their public face is that they do charitable work and they do indeed engage in this, but there are also rituals involving blindfolded candidates with their trouser-legs rolled up during initiation.”

The EHF, along with the NSS and many other secular organisations, fought hard for the “religion clause” to be deleted from the Lisbon Treaty, arguing that no-one has the right to special treatment – not even the churches.

“Neither religious groups nor non-religious ones have any greater claim to taking up the time of commissioners,” said Mr Pollock. “But, sadly, we lost that battle, and so with the atheist summit, at least we’re being treated equally, although I’d rather if we were there along with the churches. Instead we’re being bundled off with the Freemasons.”

Keith Porteous Wood, NSS Executive Director, commented: “The apparent level playing field created by ostensibly reciprocal religious and non-religious elements of Article 17 is illusory. The religious are hierarchical, wealthy and well established in the corridors of power – an arm of the Catholic Church even has its own diplomatic corps and a seat at the UN. Article 17 helps the religious to hold on to the immense power they already have and even expand it. Indeed, the churches’ ambitions to exploit Article 17 go far beyond an occasional meeting in Brussels. They hope that it will eventually give them privileged access to other EU agencies, notably the Fundamental Rights Agency, as well as with the bloc’s new diplomatic corps, the External Action Service.

“By contrast, the non-religious by their very nature are heterogeneous and non-hierarchical – and as a consequence, poorly funded. They have practically no power or vested interests to protect, so Article 17 brings them very little. The net effect of Article 17 is to substantially increase the religious hegemony in European politics at the very time religious observance in Europe is in its steepest decline.”

This power is graphically illustrated in an excellent new DVD entitled In Defence of Secularism that has been launched by the Centre d’Action Laïque in Belgium. It explores the depth of penetration in European Institutions that the Churches have achieved, threatening secularism and church-state-separation throughout the EU.

The film shows how the churches are building a strategy to influence political decisions and promote their views. Among many examples, they chose to focus on three countries: Romania, Ireland and Italy. Those examples invite and incite the defenders of secularism to remain alert.

Senza categoria

Benedict XVI reflects on Pope’s role in Church

Castel Gandolfo, Italy, Jul 30, 2010 / 04:57 am (CNA/EWTN News).- Nobody could lead the Church without the assistance of God, said Pope Benedict XVI on Thursday. After seeing a film highlighting important moments in his ministry and the life of the Church from the last five years, the Pope observed that the Church is young and full of variety and that the role of the Successor of Peter is making the unity within it concrete and visible.

The Holy Father watched the movie “Five Years: Pope Benedict XVI” produced by Bavarian public broadcasting company, Bayerischer Rundfunk, on Thursday evening at Castel Gandolfo. On Friday morning, the Vatican released his commentary made immediately after the screening.

Having taken in the images from the first five years of his pontificate, Benedict XVI expressed his appreciation to all who were involved in making the film, which was an “extraordinary spiritual journey” that affords the possibility of “reliving and seeing again” the most important moments in the Church and his ministry since his election.

“For me personally, it was very moving to see some moments, especially that in which the Lord put the Petrine service on my shoulders, a weight that no one could carry by himself with solely his own strength, but can carry only because the Lord carries us and carries me,” said the Pope.

He went on to point out that the movie sheds light on the “richness of the life of the Church, the multiplicity of cultures, of charisms, of different gifts that live in the Church and how, in this multiplicity and great diversity, the same, one Church always lives…”

Through the film, he continued, one can see the “mandate” of the Successor of Peter “to express, make visible, concrete, the unity in this historical, concrete multiplicity, in this unity of present, past, future and the eternal.

“We’ve seen,” Pope Benedict said, “that the Church also today, even though it suffers so much, as we know, is still a joyful Church, it is not an aged Church, but… young and that (in it) the faith creates joy.”

For this reason, he said, he found the inclusion of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony in the soundtrack “a beautiful idea,” in that the Ode to Joy “expresses how, behind all of history, we are already redeemed.”

Of the final frames of the film which highlight his devotion to Mary, he said that it is she who can “teach us humility, obedience and the joy that God is with us.”

Senza categoria

Why many faithful are leaving the Catholic Church

 In response to your “News and Views” item last
Sunday (“An exodus of youth from Catholic
Church”): I found it interesting that only one
paragraph was partially devoted to the ongoing
scandal of priest abuse cases. I can tell you that I
(a 46-year-old male) and many others older than
30 have left the Catholic Church due to this
scandal and the cover-ups that appear to lead all
the way up the chain of command to the pope.

This is a major reason why youths and others
who attended Catholic Church regularly for
decades have left. The church’s handling of these
abuses has been an abomination. Also, the
millions of dollars that have been paid out in
settlements are not what I want to tithe my
hard-earned dollars for.

Don’t get me wrong, the Catholic Church does a
lot of good in this world, but it has a major task
ahead in bringing back the millions who have left
in recent years.

Cary Keller,Alpena
Teach the faith
Although there is a big percentage drop in the
number of Catholics, and a lower percentage
staying in the Catholic Church, that is not
necessarily a bad thing. As the pope has alluded
to in the past, the Catholic Church may be
smaller in the future. but the remaining members
will be more faithful to church teachings.

So many people call themselves Catholic but
don’t live their faith or believe the Catholic
doctrines. This is a scandal that causes a lot of
confusion. The big opportunity is teaching
Catholic doctrine to future generations. Many 

Catholics are leaving a faith they never knew
because the church never taught them.

Tom Mitchell
Out of touch
Besides the young people, many adults have left
the church. Recently, I took a hiatus from the

We have a church in which cardinals and bishops
play the role of God and, without trial,
excommunicate some because they dare to
challenge the church. The liturgy in itself is not
conducive to young or old. The songs the church
chooses often cannot be sung by the faithful.
Although I was very active in my church, the
pastor couldn’t have cared less that I left the
church. Outreach programs in the churches often
are minimal, at best. Homilies are often not
relevant to either the young or old.

Our church allows married Episcopal priests who
join the Catholic Church to remain priests, yet
the church does not allow our priests to marry. 

The church still does not allow women in the
priesthood and leaves them as second-class
Jim Weninger
Jesus was never this dull
There are more reasons than mentioned by the
Free Press for young folks leaving the Catholic
Church. These same reasons are why many
Catholics are not going to church as often.

The church will not recognize married priests or
women, so we get men from other countries w
hom we cannot understand when they are
preaching. We also have priests who think we
need to be in church for a minimum of one hour
for services, regardless of whether they have
enough material to sustain an hour service or

When we are in church, the music resembles a
rock concert, because the organist thinks
everyone in attendance is deaf.

Recently, we also have had priests who have no
clue about how to formulate a good, informative
sermon. Dull and boring are not what church
attendees want when it comes to practicing their
faith. Jesus was never dull or boring.

John Leidlein
Church leaders to blame
If Detroit-area Catholics are experiencing an
exodus of young people from the church, we
know the cause.

Citing fiscal efficiency, former Archbishop of
Detroit Adam Maida closed dozens of parish
schools and churches, decimating the Catholic
presence in southeast Michigan — all while
funneling millions of dollars from our 

congregations to the John Paul II Cultural Center
in Washington, D.C., a museum honoring the
former pope.

In fewer than 10 years, Maida mortally wounded
Catholic culture in Michigan, wasting our
resources on a shrine to the man who allowed
the problem of clerical sexual abuse to flourish 

under his lack of administrative attention.

Gregory Loselle
Time to refocus
You can trace the beginning of this back to the
birth control commission of Vatican II. When it
was clear that the majority would call for
changes in the church’s position on
contraception, Vatican officials persuaded the
pope to dismiss the group. They were concerned
changes would diminish the authority of the
Vatican and the hierarchy. Then came the sex
abuse crisis, with its secrecy and cover-up.
Eventually, guilty priests were dealt with.
However, almost all the bishops who protected
and enabled them have not been held
Couple this with a governance system that is
more like medieval monarchies than the
principles that Jesus Christ laid out to the
apostles — to be “the servants of the servants of
God.” It is also contrary to the tradition of the
early church that was much more collegial and
democratic. Then add the continued denigration
of women by following the cultural norms of the
Middle Ages. Then you can begin to see the
frustration of those who have stayed and the
indifference of those who have left.

Strong authoritative governance has allowed the
church to weather the turbulence of history, but
it has done so at a terrible price. We need to
refocus on Jesus Christ, knowing him, loving
him and serving him and our neighbor.

James E. Collins
Farmington Hills
Unwelcoming leadership
While the need for good music and thought-
provoking homilies is important to one’s
spiritual life, the bigger issue I think for the
Catholic Church is the disconnect between the
hierarchical church and the people who make up
the church. The church’s position on issues such
as the role of women and the laity, birth control,
divorce, homosexuality and social justice issues
beyond abortion are troubling to many who feel
that the lack of “welcoming” described in article
extends far beyond the absent handshake or
friendly “hello.”

If the Catholic Church is to reconnect with its
members, it needs to look beyond “Theology on
Tap,” as excellent as this program might be, and
examine the real reasons people are leaving the

Katherine Zimnicki
Allen Park 

Vatican accused of hypocrisy over short skirts dress code

The Vatican has been accused of hypocrisy after Swiss Guards launched a crackdown on tourists wearing skimpy clothing. 

Swiss Guard outside St Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican Photo: ALAMY

By Nick Squires in Rome  

Visitors said that at a time when the Catholic Church is battling scandals over paedophile priests and decades of cover-ups, it should have more important things to worry about.

Tourists entering St Peter’s Basilica have long been required to dress modestly, but from early this week the Swiss Guards – the Pope’s private army – appeared to have extended the rules to the entire Vatican City State.

The guards, who wear striped blue and gold uniforms, carry halberds and trace their service to the papacy back to 1506, drew aside men in shorts and women with uncovered shoulders and short skirts to tell them that they were not dressed properly.

Some of the female visitors bought shawls and scarves from nearby hawkers, while a few men had to wander off to the nearest shops to buy long trousers.

Others were refused entry altogether, and accused the authorities of double standards.

“Given all the scandals the Church has been involved in, what possible right can it have to be preaching about the morality of sleeveless dresses?” said one woman in her seventies, identified only as Maria.

The tough dress code also applied to Romans using the Vatican’s pharmacy, supermarket and post office.

The crackdown on inappropriate clothing comes at a time of almost unprecedented crisis for the Vatican, with senior figures, including Pope Benedict XVI, accused of failing to act against priests who sexually abused children.

The scandal first erupted in the United States a decade ago but in the last year has engulfed the Catholic Church in Ireland, Austria, the Netherlands, Scandinavia, Belgium and the Pope’s native Germany.

Superenalotto jackpot past 105 million euros Italian lottery offers world’s richest payout

(ANSA) – Rome, July 29 – For the ninth week in a row Italy’s popular SuperEnalotto game is offering the world’s biggest jackpot, with 105.3 million euros now up for grabs in Thursday night’s draw.

No one claimed the 103-million-euro jackpot in Tuesday night’s draw where the biggest win was 757,733 euros which went to someone who bought a slip in a bar in the northern city of Udine.

The current jackpot is the third-highest ever in Italy.

The Italian pot has only ever been threatened by the American Powerball game, which currently stands at $37 million (28 million euros).

Last February two winning slips divided a SuperEnalotto pot worth 139.1 million euros, the second-highest ever in Italy after the staggering August 2009 win in Tuscany of a whopping 147.8 billion euros, a European record.

The Italian game has a big advantage over many other ones, especially those in the United States, because it pays out the full prize and winners receive interest on the pot from the time they redeem their slips to when they receive complete payment, which usually takes two months for big payouts.

Winners of the American games, on the other hand, receive the pot in long-term instalments, which often work out to be more or less the interest on the capital won over a 20-year period, or a single, reduced prize.

Furthermore, SuperEnalotto winners can, and usually do, remain anonymous.

The Italian Treasury, however, is the biggest winner in SuperEnalotto because it receives 49.5% of all bets made, far more than other national betting games which pay it between 20% and 25%.

The pool itself receives 38% of bets, slip vendors receive 8% and game organizers Sisal take a 4.4% cut.

Last year SuperEnalotto raked in over 3.3 billion euros, which meant that the state pocketed some 1.6 billion euros.

In order to win at SuperEnalotto jackpot betters must pick the correct six numbers drawn from one to 90. Draws are held three times a week: Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays.

The game also offers a big payout for a so-called 5+1 win in which an extra, seventh number is drawn and can be matched up with any five of the six winning numbers.

SuperEnalotto also pays out minor prizes for five, four and three correct guesses.

Each six-number combination costs 50 cents with a minimum two-combination or one-euro bet.

Senza categoria


(AGI) Rome – Italian deputies will be receiving 1000 euros less in their paychecks. In line with the austerity plan the Presidency office has decided to cut 500 euros from their travel per diems and other 500 euros for their office dogsbodies. Deputies earning over 90,000 euros will receive a further 5% cut in their salaries and those gaining over 150,000 euros will get a 10% reduction. Savings are expected to amount over 60 million euros.

Senza categoria