Family Federation for World Peace and Unification and Milingo

Statement of the Family Federation for World Peace and Unification On the Recent Publication of “The Fish Rescued from the Mud” by Archbishop Emanuel Milingo and Michele Zanzucchi

The Family Federation for World Peace and Unification
September 30, 2002

Contents

1. Introduction

2. Why did the family federation (FFWPU) marry archbishop Milingo, who by his catholic faith was pledged to celibacy?

3. Did the FFWPU “chase” or “hunt” archbishop Milingo?

4. Was archbishop Milingo in isolation, or controlled during his nearly three months in America (May 20 – August 6, 2001)?

5. Did the FFWPU “brainwash” archbishop Milingo?

6. Did the FFWPU drug archbishop Milingo?

7. Did archbishop Milingo “escape” from the FFWPU in America, in order to return to the Catholic Church?

8. Did archbishop Milingo ever join the FFWPU or unification church? Did Reverend Moon ask archbishop Milingo to leave the Catholic Church?

9. Did the FFWPU or Rev. Moon have any plan create a “parallel church” in Africa, with archbishop Milingo as its head? Were there any documents drawn up outlining such a plan, or proposals of money to support it?

10. Was the “Milingo affair” simply a battle between two religious organizations for a “prize?” Why did the FFWPU attack the Catholic Church in this way?

11. Conclusion

1. Introduction

The recent publication in Italy of Archbishop Emanuel Milingo’s autobiographical book “The Fish Rescued fi om the Mud,” based upon the Archbishop’s interviews with Michelle Zanzucchi, contains serious allegations and grievous errors of fact regarding the relationship between Archbishop Milingo and the Family Federation for World Peace and Unification (FFWPU), and the reasons for the Archbishop’s decision to marry Maria Sung and their participation in a Blessing ceremony conducted by Reverend and Mrs Sun Myung Moon on May 27, 2001. The purpose of the book’s publication is easy to understand. The entire experience has unfortunately been an embarrassment for the Roman Catholic Church. They did not recognize the union of the Archbishop and Maria, did not consider that Ms. Sung had any rights to meet with the Archbishop or hear his wishes personally, did not intend to deal directly with the FFWPU, and certainly did not wish that this drama be played out upon the world stage, trumpeted by the media. The book may serve the church’s concern to protect its faithful by offering a simple explanation, painting the FFWPU as the villain.

Archbishop Milingo may also have his purposes for participating in the writing of such a book. The original ultimatum of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, issued on July 17, 2001, demanded that His Grace renounce his relationship with the FFWPU, and disassociate completely from Reverend Moon, or face excommunication. After thirteen months in isolation, there is no doubt that the rehabilitation of the Archbishop’s standing in the Catholic Church requires that he clearly distance himself from Reverend Moon and his movement. But still not being able to see or hear from Archbishop Milingo directly, and not knowing the conditions or constraints placed upon him during this past year, many questions remain regarding the true origin and motives of these statements. If we accept them as true, it paints a picture of the Archbishop’s motives and methods that is not flattering. It calls into question his many public statements, and interviews on radio and television, and suggests someone far different than the courageous and saintly man that we came to know and believe in. In his final meeting with Maria Sung on August 29, 2001, the Archbishop explained to Family Federation officials the Holy Father’s direction to him, and precisely why he was choosing to make the marriage a “sacrifice,” as he said and ask Maria to be his sister, not his wife. Though Maria may have struggled to accept this, the FFWPU did not. As we had promised, we accepted his decision, supported his wishes, and issued a clear public statement on September 3, 2001. Any efforts we have made in the past year in relation to the Archbishop have not been to “claim” him, but out of concern for his health and safety. The same is true for Maria Sung, the Archbishop’s family, and the government of Zambia.

But Archbishop Milingo promised during our August 29, 2001 meeting to tell the truth about his relationship with the FFWPU. We believed him then and we believe in him now. We do not fault His Grace for the misrepresentations in this book, for we have no idea of the circumstances or reasoning that led to their inclusion in the book. But fortunately, the Family Federation possesses his recorded interviews with the BBC in London and major networks in the USA. We have photo, video, and newspaper records of his whereabouts and schedule during his time in the USA and Korea, including his “honeymoon. We have pages and pages of his handwritten notes for all of his published documents. These, and the testimonies of hundreds of Christian ministers, both white and black, with whom he met and who are NOT members of the FFWPU, will demonstrate that many of the book’s claims are false and misleading. We summarize this information below, even as we are preparing the material for publication. Our purpose is not to defame the Archbishop, nor to further aggravate the Catholic Church, but to refute the most egregious and scurrilous charges in the book, “The Fish Rescued form the Mud.” There was no brainwashing, no coercion, and no plot against the Catholic Church… NEVER! The easiest answer for Rome, for many faithful Catholics, and perhaps in some way even for Archbishop Milingo, is to place all the responsibility for this tragic story upon the Family Federation, and make it a “scapegoat,” as we say in English, by casually tossing about unproven and undefined charges of “brainwashing” or control by drugs. But these baseless and inflammatory claims are not sufficient and not helpful. The entire story was played out in front of the world, and in our deepest hearts we all know it is not that simple. The long struggle between Archbishop Milingo and the Catholic Church which began years before he ever met the Reverend Moon, is well known, as is the character of the participants. No, we each must take responsibility for our role in this sad historical drama: the Family Federation for World Peace and Unification, the Roman Catholic Church, and Archbishop Milingo. We would like to begin that process now:

2. Why did the Family Federation FFWPU) marry archbishop Milingo, who by his catholic faith was pledged to celibacy?

The FFWPU holds that the first institution created by God, in the Garden of Eden, was the family. Adam and Eve, the scripture teaches, were created not as Catholic, Protestant, Moslem or Jew, but as husband and wife. Their separation from God was not only individual disobedience… it was the breakdown of the first human family, resulting in mistrust between man and woman, and violence and hatred between brothers. While various religions have been the bearers of values, traditions and customs for different peoples at different times and places, ultimately it is the family that is the true school of love and morality, and the basic unit of a good society and a peaceful world. The Catholic Church, exemplary in its focus upon family, has also protected the sanctity of love and the virtue of service through its sacrificial condition of celibacy for priests, following the teaching and example of Jesus for 2000 years.

The FFWPU recognizes that the Kingdom of God will be realized not by any one church, but by recreating the ideal of the God-centred family as it was intended in the Garden of Eden, before the fall of the first ancestors. We seek to work with all religions, to renew and rebuild Godly families. We challenge all people of faith to transcend their own narrow religious viewpoints, and cooperate for this restorative and redemptive work.

Archbishop Milingo had attended previous Blessing ceremonies, joining leaders of other faith traditions in praying for couples of many different religions. But on May 27, 2001, His Grace joined 60 other clergy and their spouses in an interfaith affirmation of the family as God’s holy instrument of peace. Since then, thousands of other clerics have joined in matrimony or reaffirmed their vows in the same manner. On September 14 this year, 800 clergy couples joined together to commemorate the first anniversary of the terror of 911, and proclaim true love and family as the only way to peace; the only answer to terrorism and religious hatred. Among these couples were Christians and Muslims who chose to marry each other in an act of reconciliation and healing. To some it may seem that the willingness to marry an Archbishop is an attack” upon the Catholic faith. Others believe that Reverend Moon’s emphasis upon interreligious and interracial marriage is an attack upon their traditions and beliefs. It is not intended this way at all. We see it as the only way to peace, and we believe that Archbishop Milingo, a faithful Catholic to his bones, saw this simple truth and sought to embrace this broad vision while maintaining his devotion to the church he has always served. When he found this to be impossible, he made the choice that both he and Reverend Moon had always understood was his priority. Christ himself was considered a threat to religious tradition and law by the religious leaders of his day, and so was rejected by the very people prepared to receive him.

3. Did the FFWPU “chase” or “hunt” archbishop Milingo?

The Family Federation is well known for its commitment to interreligious dialogue and its efforts to promote world peace through spiritually based solutions (see www.iifwp.org or www.irfwp.org, www.wango.org, www.members aol.com/scwpeace/, etc). The relationship with Archbishop Milingo developed over several years as he participated in interreligious dialogues and conferences, not with Unificationists alone but with leaders from diverse religious and cultural backgrounds. His Grace was and is deeply loved and respected by Family Federation members for his pure and spiritual ways. A warm and embracing figure, the Archbishop was always considered a good friend and a genuinely loving and inspirational leader. As much as FFWPU members reached out to him, the Archbishop has also made it clear that he saw in our movement a way to continue his ministry once it seemed that the Catholic Church would not allow him to continue at all. To be sure, Reverend Moon challenged all of the religious leaders we worked with to build exemplary marriages and families. In the process, many clergy had their own marriages restored, even after years of separation and divorce As Archbishop Milingo notes in his new book, he made his decision to marry in February of 2001. Reverend Moon did not know of it, nor did any of us, until His Grace appeared suddenly in New York a few days before the scheduled Blessing ceremony on May 27, 2001.

4. Was archbishop Milingo in isolation, or controlled during his nearly three months in America (May 20 – August 6, 2001)?

In the weeks following the Blessing ceremony, Archbishop Milingo visited many American cities, such as New York, Washington, DC, Chicago, Seattle, and Portland, as well as several cities in Korea. He gave press conferences and was interviewed by media in most of these places. He travelled publicly, and preached and healed in a number of Christian churches around the country receiving invitations to many more. He was a guest in the homes of many American ministers, most of whom were NOT FFWPU members. When he stayed at FFWPU facilities in New York or Washington, he had his own car and driver, and occasionally went out on his own, or travelled to visit his friends or Maria Sung’s relatives in the states.

During this period, His Grace met publicly and privately with the leaders of the married priest movement in the US. He taped television shows for CBS, was interviewed by the London Daily Telegraph (“I’ll Have No More Inquisitions,” June 15, 2001), and appeared on the well known BBC radio program, “Religion and Ethics” (excerpts of his BBC interview are attached. The entire interview may be heard at www.archbishopmilingo.org) He also maintained regular contact with his staff and followers in Italy, and the Zambian Helpers Society in Zambia, although the Catholic Church prevented his congregations from communicating with him at all. All of the above is a matter of record, and can be documented.

On the contrary, ever since his public declaration on August 8, 2001, that he wanted to meet his wife and decide their future together, the Archbishop has been totally hidden from the public. None of us can truly be sure where he has been or what he has been through during these past 13 months. After this long ordeal, it is understandable that his many public statements of a year ago are now distant and strange. But given the circumstances, why is the Family Federation being accused of control, rather than those responsible for the Archbishop’s last 13 months?

5. Did the FFWPU “brainwash” archbishop Milingo?

Such dramatic terms, without proof or merit, are merely justifications for the actions taken and appealingly simple explanations for those unwilling to look more deeply. No sleep was deprived, no food was withheld; no locks on doors; no force or restrictions. In the United States, a more religiously diverse and pluralistic society, the Unification Movement of Rev. Moon has been recognized by the courts as a “bona fide” religion, and its rights are protected. Such charges and suspicions were raised years ago, but have never proven to have legal or scientific merit. They are the product not of genuine investigation and personal experience, but of ignorance and narrow-mindedness. They are comparable to the Pharisees’ claim that Jesus’ power to cast out demons came from the devil himself (Matthew 12:24). In his relationship with the FFWPU over the years, Archbishop Milingo heard presentations on Reverend Moon’s teaching, debated and discussed religion with others, engaged in dialogue with leaders of many faith traditions, and gave sermons and homilies in many different churches in America. We believe he was simply moved and inspired by these experiences, nothing more and nothing less.

6. Did the FFWPU drug archbishop Milingo?

Such scurrilous and defamatory charges, which are without merit or cause, have been raised again and again by “unnamed officials,” and should immediately cease. We call upon responsible leaders within the Vatican to publicly refute such charges, which serve simply to justify the actions of Archbishop Milingo and assuage official embarrassment by placing the total responsibility upon the FFWPU.

7. Did archbishop Milingo “escape” from the FFWPU in America, in order to return to the Catholic Church?

Once the Archbishop received the July 17, 2001 ultimatum from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, it was clear that he would be forced to choose between his marriage and his church. Because neither the Archbishop nor Reverend Moon intended that he leave the Catholic Church, an urgent plan was made for him to try and meet the Holy Father directly, by visiting Rome before the deadline for excommunication, which was August 20. He discussed this plan with Family Federation leaders, who supported him completely. The reservations were made by FFWPU. We paid for the tickets, which were issued by an FFWPU-owned travel agency. He had breakfast with Reverend and Mrs. Moon the last few mornings before his departure, and they joined us all in praying for the success of the Archbishop’s journey. We drove His Grace to the airport, and he and Maria were accompanied by Rev. Zagery Oliver and Rev. Phillip Schanker (who flew separately to disguise the date of His Grace’s secret arrival).

Archbishop Milingo prepared and sent several letters to the Holy Father, pointing to the sexual scandals and moral corruption within the church, asking to remain an Archbishop yet married, offering to be a bridge to the many thousands of married priests and nuns who desire to be part of the church, etc. He prepared a detailed presentation for his meeting with the Pope. Copies of his handwritten notes, as well as his air travel reservations, and other proof of these facts, will be made available upon request.

8. Did archbishop Milingo ever join the FFWPU or Unification Church? Did Reverend Moon ask Archbishop Milingo to leave the Catholic Church?

On May 26, 2001, the Archbishop issued a public explanation of his decision to marry. In it, he said, “Reverend and Mrs. Moon have never asked me to deny or abandon my Catholic faith.” On June 10, in a personal letter to Pope John Paul II, released only after the July 17~` ultimatum of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, he wrote, “I am determined to find the way, if at all possible, to work within the confines of the Catholic Church.” I his interview with the BBC Religion and Ethics program on July 22, he said, “I am not a member (of the Unification Church), neither does Reverend Moon want that I become a member. Not at all!” The text of these, and the full broadcast of the BBC interview are available at www archbishopmilingo.org .

9. Did the FFWPU or Rev. Moon have a plan to create a “parallel church” in Africa, with archbishop Milingo as its heads were there any documents drawn up outlining such a plan, or proposals of money to support it?

No such plan was EVER discussed or considered. No funding was ever offered for such a plan. In a July 25, 2001 Press Conference in Washington, DC (available on video tape), His Grace was asked if he intended to start a new church with the African-American ministers he was meeting in America. He clearly stated that this was not his or Reverend Moon’s desire. “I desperately pray that the work he has given me can be fulfilled through the Holy Catholic Church,” he said. “But that is to be decided by others, not by me. It is they who left me no place in my own church, long before this moment. But I now ask openly for what they have denied me for years: an audience with the Holy Father, whom I love and respect.” Such a destructive plan is totally against everything that the Family Federation stands for, and contrary to anything we have ever done. A letter is now being prepared, that will be signed by 20-30 non-Unificationist clergy, to state clearly that no such plan was ever proposed by Reverend Moon. If there was any mysterious document that later disappeared, it was never seen by the FFWPU, and we have nothing to do with it.

10. Was the “Milingo affair” simply a battle between two religious organizations for a “prize”? Why did the FFWPU attack the Catholic Church in this ways?

In August of 2001, the Family Federation went to the media not to attack the Roman Catholic Church. No official representative of the FFWPU ever accused the Catholic Church (on the contrary, the Italian press was filled with scandal and accusation regarding the FFWPU, with much of it attributed to unnamed” Vatican sources. We did not go to the media for publicity, or to promote Reverend Moon. We stated our position quite clearly. We supported the right and responsibility of Archbishop Milingo and Maria Sung to meet and decide their future together, a right that the Vatican clearly did not agree with, and did not wish to support. We promised to support whatever decision was taken. We used the media as the only instrument we had to place Maria’s cause in front of the people of Italy and the world. Despite the fact that the private meeting that Maria requested was never allowed, and the Archbishop was brought in and out under heavy security, and not allowed to say anything publicly, the FFWPU fulfilled its promise completely. Any further actions during the Archbishops exile and seclusion have been for one purpose only: to assure his health and safety, and to speed his return to public ministry.

11. Conclusion

Archbishop Milingo stated his idealistic belief that he could somehow fmd a way to be embraced by the Catholic Faith even as he sought to renew it through his marriage as an Archbishop. In retrospect and reflection he has realized other motives and purposes which may have impelled his actions. In any case, once he found that he could not have both his beloved church and his wife, he eventually chose to be true to his vow of obedience to the Pope and maintain his devotion to the Catholic faith, which was his stated priority (and Reverend Moon’s) from the start. The famous Italian astronomer Galileo Galilei also recanted his teaching that the earth revolves around the sun, rather than risk censure by the church. This did not change the truth of his proclamation; it merely delayed the time for its expression. The problems that now ravage a celibate but struggling priesthood are apparent in the United States, in Africa, and around the world. These are but symptoms of the moral and spiritual crisis facing the Christian Church and the entire community of faith. We are convinced that the renewal of God s ideal of the family is the only solution that will get to the root of the problems facing the whole of humanity. There will be no peace among nations, or in our society, till we find peace in our homes. As French literary genius Victor Hugo wrote: “Nothing in the world is so powerful as an idea whose time has come.”

http://www.tparents.org/library/unification/talks/milingo/MalingoBook020930.htm

Emmanuel Milingo: Rev. Moon’s Key to Africa?

Richard Bartholomew – talk2action.org
Sun Feb 04, 2007 at 05:28:19 AM EST
The South Korean Hankyoreh reports on the latest development in the saga of Emmanuel Milingo, the former Zambian Archbishop who is now associated with Rev. Moon:

Milingo showed up at a Unification Church gathering held in a central Seoul hotel on January 30, urging in an address that the Vatican allow Catholic priests to marry.

The archbishop is reportedly learning Korean to study the theology of Rev. Sun-myung Moon while staying at a hotel near Seoul, sources said.

…”The reason why we have been mum regarding his visit here is so as not to stoke the anger of Catholics,” a source close to the Unification Church said. “[Milingo] will appear at an international academic gathering to be held at the Marriott Hotel in Seoul between February 20 and 23, and at the birthday party for Moon on the final day of the event.”

This is not Milingo’s first visit to Korea; back in September the Boston Herald reported that

…he said that he traveled to Korea this year “to join the many Catholics and Catholic married priests who are in the Unification movement.”

As has been widely reported, Milingo (whose obsessive emphasis on demons and exorcisms had brought him under Vatican censure some years ago) first became linked with the Unification Church back in 2001, when he rather unexpectedly married a Unificationist, Maria Sung. Before long, however, he had repudiated his actions, and he expressed a negative view of Moon in a book by Italian journalist Michele Zanzucchi. UK Catholic magazine The Tablet provided an English-language summary (not now on-line):

Milingo says some disciples of Sun Myung Moon sought him out with invitations to speak at their conferences. The time he was allotted gradually grew, as did his audiences; soon he was leading mass healings in the packed theatres he had so missed.

…Milingo confesses to “a serious ignorance” about the Moonies; he knew only that they were rich and had mass weddings. He saw the [Family Federation for World Peace and Unification] as an interreligious organisation – his audiences were made up of Buddhists, Muslims, as well as Christians.

…Later he would realise he had “fallen into a trap, and the shock was greater than I had imagined”.

…In order to be appointed an official preacher to the Catholics in the organisation, he was told, he would have to be married in the Moonie rite to a wife selected by Moon himself. “I agreed because, in my stupidity, I thought that this way I could do good.” He was not drugged or hypnotised, he says.

…Meanwhile, the Moonies had plans: to found a well-financed parallel Catholic Church in Africa, autonomous from Rome, with its own hierarchy headed by Milingo. “I would not have gone along with the plan,” says Milingo, who was becoming more and more depressed. “One day, one of the last I spent with Maria Sung, the situation I found myself in seemed so absurd that I raised to God a desperate prayer, whose last words were something like, ‘Let me die, Lord, let me die.'”

A 2002 Guardian report added that Milingo claims to have had a document outlining the details of the proposed African church, but that it “mysteriously disappeared from his suitcase on his return to Italy”.

All was quiet until last July, when Milingo re-surfaced in Washington DC with Augustus Stallings, a defrocked Catholic priest who also has links with Moon: Stallings (who was made an archbishop by a Catholic off-shoot) had hosted Moon’s 2004 “coronation” in Washington DC. The “coronation”, which took place in a governmental building, was famously revealed to the world by John Gorenfeld, who also charted the strange story of how Rev Moon has persuaded several African-American clergy to remove crosses from their churches. Milingo now runs a pressure group, “Married Priests Now!”, which Gorenfeld noted also had links with the Unification Church: the website was registered by David Payer, Moon’s webmaster and an unsuccessful Iowa Republican politician (Payer was discussed on Talk to Action here).

Meanwhile, Milingo’s wife has recently visited Zambia; The Times of Zambia reported that she

…was received at the airport by International Inter-religious Federation for World Peace chairman Malimba Masheke and executive director Adamson Musonda.

Masheke is a veteran Zambian politician, and has served as the country’s prime minister. He is also a Moon enthusiast; when Mrs Moon visited the country last year, his praise was gushing:

…I cannot measure the benefit of Mother Moon’s visit to Zambia. Such a very, very tremendous blessing. When we look around the world from the Middle East to Korea, we see the conflict and struggle, and can see how important is the message we received.

The International Inter-religious Federation for World Peace, of course, is one of numerous Unificationist-run groups.

Back in September, John Allen reported that

Archbishop Emmanuel Milingo says he has no intention of launching a new sect in Africa funded by Rev. Sun Myung Moon as a rival to Roman Catholicism…

…”We have no ambition at all, in any way, to do anything of that kind,” Milingo said.

But with Milingo continuing to delve into Moon’s theology, and with past denials of links to Moon, one is inclined to be sceptical.

Senza categoria

Vatican Statement on Emmanuel Milingo

Holy See Has Imposed Penalty of Dismissal From the Clerical State

VATICAN CITY, DEC. 17, 2009 (Zenit.org).- Here is the statement released today by the Vatican press office concerning the former archbishop of Lusaka, Zambia, Emmanuel Milingo, and the Holy See’s move to dismiss him from the clerical state.

* * *

For a number of years the Church has followed with great concern the difficulties caused by the regrettable conduct of Archbishop Emmanuel Milingo. Many attempts have been made to bring Archbishop Milingo back into communion with the Catholic Church, including the consideration of suitable ways to enable him to exercise the episcopal ministry. Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI were directly involved in those efforts and both Popes personally followed the case of Archbishop Milingo in a spirit of paternal solicitude.

In the course of this unhappy series of events, Archbishop Milingo became irregular in 2001 as a result of his attempt to marry Mrs. Maria Sung, and incurred the medicinal penalty of suspension (cf. Canons 1044 § 1, n. 3; 1394 § 1 of the Code of Canon Law). Thereafter, he headed certain groups calling for the abolition of clerical celibacy and gave numerous interviews to the media in open disobedience to the repeated interventions of the Holy See, creating serious upset and scandal among the faithful. Then, on 24 September 2006 in Washington, Archbishop Milingo ordained four Bishops without pontifical mandate.

By so doing, he incurred the penalty of excommunication latae sententiae (Canon 1382) which was declared by the Holy See on 26 September 2006 and is still in force today. Sadly, Archbishop Milingo has shown no sign of the desired repentance with a view to returning to full communion with the Supreme Pontiff and the other members of the College of Bishops. Rather, he has persisted in the unlawful exercise of acts belonging to the episcopal office, committing new crimes against the unity of Holy Church. Specifically, in recent months Archbishop Milingo has proceeded to several other episcopal ordinations.

The commission of these grave crimes, which has recently been established, is to be considered as proof of the persistent contumacy of Archbishop Emmanuel Milingo. The Holy See has therefore been obliged to impose upon him the further penalty of dismissal from the clerical state.

According to Canon 292 of the Code of Canon Law, the penalty of dismissal from the clerical state, now added to the grave penalty of excommunication, has the following effects: loss of the rights and duties attached to the clerical state, except for the obligation of celibacy; prohibition of the exercise of any ministry, except as provided for by Canon 976 of the Code of Canon Law in those cases involving danger of death; loss of all offices and functions and of all delegated power, as well as prohibition of the use of clerical attire. Consequently, the participation of the faithful in any future celebrations organized by Archbishop Emmanuel Milingo is to be considered unlawful.

It must be pointed out that the dismissal of a Bishop from the clerical state is most extraordinary. The Holy See has felt obliged to act in this way due to the serious consequences for ecclesial communion resulting from repeated episcopal consecrations carried out without pontifical mandate; nevertheless, the Church hopes that Archbishop Milingo will see the error of his ways.

As for those recently ordained by Archbishop Milingo, the Church’s discipline in imposing the penalty of excommunication latae sententiae upon those who receive episcopal consecration without pontifical mandate is well-known. While expressing hope for their conversion, the Church reaffirms what was declared on 26 September 2006, namely that she does not recognize these ordinations, nor does she intend to recognize them, or any subsequent ordinations based on them, in the future. Hence the canonical status of the supposed bishops remains as it was prior to the ordination conferred by Archbishop Milingo.

At this moment, as the Church experiences profound sorrow for the grave acts perpetrated by Archbishop Milingo, she entrusts to the power of prayer the repentance of the guilty party and of all those who — be they priests or lay faithful — have in any way cooperated with him by acting against the unity of Christ’s Church.

Milingo: legal battle to court in Lusaka

Rome, August 18 (Adnkronos) – Milingo in court to get back his land: over 600 hectares of land in Zambia on which, with the valuable aid of the Italians over the years have built a hospital, a school works and other welfare purposes.

In Press agency the ADNKRONOS by well-informed sources, in fact, the former archbishop of Lusaka, self-proclaimed patriarch of Africa last August 15 with a lot of listing prior to the Pope, is trying to continue a legal battle to court in Lusaka to regain possession of what he considers his property and that are directly managed by a ‘local association, the Zambian NGO Helpers Society.



Vatican Dismisses Milingo From Clerical State

Calls Move an “Extraordinary” Measure

VATICAN CITY, DEC. 17, 2009 (Zenit.org).- Retired Archbishop Emmanuel Milingo of Lusaka, Zambia, who attracted the world’s attention in 2001 when he attempted to marry a Korean acupuncturist during a ceremony of Sun Myung Moon’s Unificationist Church, has been dismissed from the clerical state.

A communiqué published today by the Vatican press office notes that the “dismissal of a bishop from the clerical state is most extraordinary,” and adds that the Church “hopes that Archbishop Milingo will see the error of his way.”

Although the scandal of Milingo’s attempted marriage — so noted because the Church doesn’t recognize its validity — garnered much more media attention, the Church didn’t take the extreme measure to dismiss him from the clerical state until after he began in September 2006 to ordain bishops without permission from the Vatican. The ordinations are part of an effort to abolish celibacy in the priesthood.

“By so doing,” the Vatican statement affirms, “he incurred the penalty of excommunication latae sententiae (Canon 1382) which was declared by the Holy See on 26 September 2006 and is still in force today.”

“Sadly, Archbishop Milingo has shown no sign of the desired repentance with a view to returning to full communion with the Supreme Pontiff and the other members of the College of Bishops,” the note continues. “Rather, he has persisted in the unlawful exercise of acts belonging to the episcopal office, committing new crimes against the unity of Holy Church.

“Specifically, in recent months Archbishop Milingo has proceeded to several other episcopal ordinations. The commission of these grave crimes, which has recently been established, is to be considered as proof of the persistent contumacy of Archbishop Emmanuel Milingo.

“The Holy See has therefore been obliged to impose upon him the further penalty of dismissal from the clerical state.”

“While expressing hope for their conversion, the Church reaffirms what was declared on 26 September 2006, namely that she does not recognize these ordinations, nor does she intend to recognize them, or any subsequent ordinations based on them, in the future,” the Vatican affirms. “Hence the canonical status of the supposed bishops remains as it was prior to the ordination conferred by Archbishop Milingo.”

Citing Canon 292, the communiqué explains that dismissal from the clerical state implies the “loss of the rights and duties attached to the clerical state, except for the obligation of celibacy; prohibition of the exercise of any ministry, except as provided for by Canon 976 of the Code of Canon Law in those cases involving danger of death; loss of all offices and functions and of all delegated power, as well as prohibition of the use of clerical attire.”

“Consequently, the participation of the faithful in any future celebrations organized by Archbishop Emmanuel Milingo is to be considered unlawful,” the note says, adding that the Church “entrusts to the power of prayer the repentance of the guilty party and of all those who — be they priests or lay faithful — have in any way cooperated with him by acting against the unity of Christ’s Church.”

From Lusaka to Rome

Emmanuel Milingo, 79, was born in Mnukwa, Zambia. He was ordained a priest in 1958 and was named archbishop of Lusaka in 1969. He was 39.

Before being named archbishop, he had founded the Daughters of Zambia Helpers’ Society and the Daughters of the Redeemer.

In 1983, he was called to Rome to answer accusations of improper use of the powers of exorcism. The Pope accepted his resignation as archbishop and was transferred to the Vatican as a functionary in the Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant People.

Archbishop Milingo spent his time, however, organizing exorcisms and healing services, attended by thousands of faithful. Since these ceremonies were often emotional, with “reinterpretations” of the exorcism ritual, the Italian bishops prohibited Archbishop Milingo from holding them in their dioceses

As a result, the Zambian started holding the services in hotel reception rooms. It also led him to seek recognition of his work from the Unification Church.

In 1999, the archbishop was removed from his post in the Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant People.

In May 2001 — at the age of 71 — Milingo attended a group marriage ceremony with Maria Sung celebrated within Sun Myung Moon’s Family Federation for World Peace and Unification.
Milingo met his future wife — a 43-year-old Korean acupuncturist — two days before the wedding. Although she was chosen by Unification Church founder Moon himself, Milingo said he regarded her as “a twin soul.” He said he had no idea where they would live.

Shortly after the ceremony Milingo visited Pope John Paul II in Rome and expressed his desire to return to the Catholic Church and leave Maria. The reconciliation was mediated by Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, the Pope’s secretary of state, who at the time was an archbishop and the secretary of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

After a long period of spiritual retreat in Argentina, the archbishop returned to his ministry in the town of Zagarolo near Rome.

In 2006, the situation changed. After weeks of keeping out of the public eye, he appeared on July 12 in Washington, D.C., to announce that he would again be living with Maria Sung and would publicly contest priestly celibacy.

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POPE, COSSIGA’S DEATH IS A LOSS FOR THE WHOLE OF ITALY

(AGI) Rome – The Pope called Francesco Cossiga a Catholic statesman, committed to the common good, mourned by the whole of Italy. Expressing his condolences in a message to the ex president’s children, Benedict XVI commented: ‘It is a grave loss for the entire Italian nation’. In a message to President Napolitano, the Pope recalled, ‘this illustrious Catholic statesman and eminent scholar, with affection and gratitude,” describing him as, “fully committed to the promotion of the common good’.

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US Bishops Stress Needs of Haitian Women, Children

Outline Reconstruction Priorities

WASHINGTON, D.C., AUG. 16, 2010 (Zenit.org).- A delegation from the U.S. bishops’ conference noted that reconstruction in Haiti has been slow, and the women and children in that country especially need protection from crime.

The delegation from the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops is preparing a report to be released next month, in which they will publicize their findings from a July 26-Aug. 2 trip to the Caribbean region.

The mission committee, led by Archbishop Thomas Wenski of Miami and Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio of Brooklyn, New York, traveled to Haiti to assess the reconstruction efforts after a Jan. 12 earthquake. They also went to the Bahamas and the Dominican Republic to analyze the situation of Haitians in those countries.

Archbishop Wenski observed, “It is clear that efforts to clean up and recover from the earthquake are progressing slowly.”

“The international community must remain steadfast in working with the Haitian government to reconstruct the country and strengthen its institutions,” he stated. “The survival and long-term future of the Haitian people are at stake.”

The delegation focused their assessment on the most vulnerable groups, especially children and women.

Bishop DiMarzio warned that “children, especially those who have lost parents or are separated from them, remain at grave risk.”

He continued, “Without a more concerted effort to protect them and find long-term solutions for their care, they will become even more vulnerable to criminal elements, including smugglers and human traffickers.”

Another delegate, Maria Odom, executive director of the Catholic Legal Immigration Network, Inc, reported: “Women, especially single mothers with children, are struggling to feed and protect their families, but at the same time are themselves exposed to gender-based violence. More must be done to enhance their security.”

Catholic Relief Services

The delegation visited orphanages and camps as well as several program sites operated by Catholic Relief Services, which has been a major part of the reconstruction effort.

The delegates compiled a list of recommendations for moving forward in the aid effort for Haiti, in the short and long term.

They called on the U.S. government officials to provide humanitarian parole to family members of Haitians receiving medical treatment in the United States and to strengthen efforts to help children in shelters locate their relatives.

They called for the implementation of a “proactive asylum screening program for Haitians who are interdicted at sea, with appropriate adjudicators and language specialists aboard Coast Guard ships.”

The delegation encouraged increased partnership with the Haitian government to reconstruct the country, increase security, develop agriculture, and decentralize the economy.

“This is a pivotal moment in Haiti’s history which requires cooperation and patience,” Archbishop Wenski affirmed.

He noted that “Haiti is at a crossroads and it is crucial that the international community not lessen its commitment to the rebuilding process.”

The prelate continued, “It will take time to make Haiti whole again, but it is important that the Haitian people and the children of Haiti — its future leaders — do not lose hope.”

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Seminar Studies Psychology, Spirituality Crossroad

Ministers Learn New Answers to Old Problems

ARLINGTON, Virginia, AUG. 17, 2010 (Zenit.org).- A seminar on the intersection between psychology and spiritual growth gathered people involved in pastoral ministry worldwide to study new methods of caring for others.

Priests, religious, therapists and laity participated in the 4th annual “Pastoral Seminar on Psychology at the Service of Spiritual Growth,” sponsored by the Arlington-based Institute for the Psychological Sciences.

One participant, Chad Kritzberger, is a medical student at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota. He noted, “There is a lot of psychology that takes place in the field of medicine, particularly among patients who are struggling with illness, suffering, and dying.”

Kritzberger affirmed that “spirituality and religious background are integral to helping patients get through their suffering.”

The seminar presenters included two institute professors: Father Benedict Groeschel, author, psychologist, television host and co-founder of the Franciscan Friars of the Renewal; and Paul Vitz, also an author of several books.

Kritzberger stated: “Doctor Vitz said something that I continue to think about: There are psychological problems that do not have psychological answers; rather they have spiritual answers.

“That has played out in my experience in which I have seen individuals struggle with severe psychological issues that ultimately require the Catholic faith to provide hope and give meaning to their struggles.”

Another participant, Sister Olga of the Eucharist, who runs campus ministry at Boston University, noted, “Working with college kids for all these years and especially here in a different culture, I felt I needed to learn more about the pastoral connection between spiritual direction and psychology.”

In particular, she observed that “a lot of women struggle with self-esteem and other psychological issues.”

“They have not accepted that they are made in the image of God, so being here at the pastoral seminar has been really helpful because we are not only taking the psychological perspective but also from a faith background,” the nun added.

Meeting points

Other participants included a husband and wife team who work in the Canadian prison system, seminary directors of formation, and laity from the Philippines, Trinidad, Cameroon and Uganda.

Father John Shimotsu, a Japanese convert who now serves as a U.S. Navy chaplain in Virginia Beach, noted that in his ministry “we do a lot of counseling with sailors and marines and sometimes with their spouses.”

“I think a lot of advances have been made in this field and there are meeting points between the two; psychology seems to be much more open to the insights of spirituality,” he said.

The priest noted, “This in an update from the pastoral psychology course I had in the seminary.”

Father Benedict O’Cinnsealaigh, director of spiritual formation as well as the deacon formation program at the Athenaeum of Ohio, underlined the importance of “having access to a psychological institute that understands and promotes a Catholic vision of anthropology and the nature of the human person from the perspective of intellectual and psychological integrity, while the professors are personally convinced and committed to the Catholic faith.”

“As a seminary formation director, I can trust the insight and advice of the Institute for Psychological Sciences,” he said.

In the seminar, Father Groeschel addressed topics such as personality disorders and ways of growing spiritually. Vitz spoke about hatred and forgiveness, the importance of fatherhood, and the consequences of addictions.

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On the Net:

Institute for the Psychological Sciences

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Caritas Aids 20 Million Pakistani Flood Victims

Appeals for Emergency Relief as Disaster Worsens

PESHAWAR, Pakistan, AUG. 17, 2010 (Zenit.org).- An estimated 20 million Pakistanis have been affected by the worst flooding in that region in 80 years. Caritas is appealing for aid from the international community.

The death count is already at 2,000, and it is expected to rise after aid workers are able to access and assess the damage in remote villages of Pakistan’s Khyber Pakhtunkhwa region.

U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon visited the region on Sunday and stated that it is the worst disaster he has ever seen.

Flooding from heavy monsoon rains that began in July has stricken one fifth of the country’s land. Thousands have been injured, and millions have lost their homes, food stores, and livelihoods.

On Sunday, 20% of the requested $460 million needed for initial emergency relief had been raised.

Caritas is among those groups appealing for aid for the Pakistani people.

Anila Gill, national executive secretary of Caritas Pakistan, stated, “The priority is to ensure people have food, water, shelter and medical help.”

She continued: “There are so many people who are in grave difficulty.

“It’s such a traumatic situation for those who have lost everything and who have to rely on others even for a drink of water.”

Outbreak

The lack of clean drinking water has led to an outbreak of gastroenteritis, diarrhea, and other diseases. On Saturday, the first case of cholera was reported.

Caritas is working to distribute food, provide clean water, shelter and hygiene facilities.

As well, the aid agency is putting together a plan to help reconstruct infrastructure such as roads and bridges, which were already weakened by conflict in that region and were swept away by the floods. In this way, aid workers will be able to access remote villages.

Caritas medical camps are preparing to provide emergency medical treatment, immunization and vaccination services to some 8,000 people for the prevention of epidemic waterborne diseases.

The aid agency is also paying particular attention to helping vulnerable women and children affected by the disaster to protect them from falling victim to crime.

More flooding is expected as rains continue in that region, giving a greater urgency to the relief workers.

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On the Net:

Caritas: Caritas.org

Soccer: I’m no bad boy, says Balotelli after City move

(ANSA) – Rome, August 17 – (ANSA) – Mario Balotelli played down his bad boy image at his presentation at a Manchester City player Tuesday following his big money move from European and Italian champions Inter Milan.

The talented striker, who turned 20 and made his full Italy debut last week, has a reputation for being rebellious after a series of run-ins with former Inter coach Jose’ Mourinho’.

But he is looking forward to warmer relations with the coaching staff from now on after a 28-million-euro transfer that reunites him with former Inter coach Roberto Mancini, who gave him his Serie A debut at the age of 17 in 2007.

”I am not a bad boy, I am just a normal lad,” said Balotelli, who was known by admirers in Italy as Super Mario but has been nicknamed ‘Mad Mario’ by some British tabloids. ”It was very important that Roberto Mancini is the manager here. It was one of the most important factors in my move. If he weren’t here, I probably wouldn’t have come.

”He gave me my start in the senior team at Inter and showed faith in me”.

Mancini’s comments Tuesday suggested that faith is unshaken.

”Mario has everything needed to be a fantastic player,” the manager to reporters. ”We were all problematic when we were young. I think he can develop as a man and as a player. I doubt we can win the Premier League with 20 angels”.

Balotelli, who is of Ghanaian decent, said he was slightly sad to leave Italy despite frequently being the target of racist abuse by opposition fans. ”I’m sorry to leave my family and friends in Italy, but I’m very happy to be here at City from a professional point of view,” he said.

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Desperate Italian offers kidney for job after redundancy

(ANSA) – Udine, August 18 – A man from the northern Italian region of Friuli Venezia Giulia got so desperate after being made redundant that he advertised one of his kidneys online in exchange for a job or 100,000 euros.

The advert was seen by postal police in Udine and removed last Friday as the sale of human organs is illegal. Prosecutors are investigating.

Officers said the 52-year-old’s personal and economic plight worsened after he lost his job as an administrative manager in May 2009 because of the recession. The redundancy led to him separating from his wife, who stayed in the family home with their dependent student children, while he was forced to rent a tiny bed-sit.

Officers said the man had posted many adverts trying to find work before his situation became so critical that he saw selling a part of his body as the only solution.

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Former Italian president Cossiga dies aged 82

Former Italian president Francesco Cossiga died at a Rome hospital on Tuesday at the age of 82.

Cossiga, head of state from 1985 until 1992, had been in critical condition since being rushed to hospital with respiratory problems last Monday. Doctors at Rome’s Gemelli hospital said after his condition suffered “a sudden and drastic deterioration” during the night. Figures from both sides of the political divide united in paying tribute to the former Christian Democrat (DC) heavyweight.

”I’m mourning a very dear, affectionate, generous friend,” Premier Silvio Berlusconi said in a statement.

”I’ll miss his affection, his intelligence, his humour and his support”.

Pier Luigi Bersani, the leader of the centre left Democratic Party (PD), was also deeply saddened.

”A unique, extraordinary person has gone and so has a part of our history”, added the head of Italy’s biggest opposition group.

The Vatican said Pope Benedict XVI was saddened by the news and was praying for the life senator.

Cossiga left four personal letters to Berlusconi, President Giorgio Napolitano, Senate Speaker Renato Schifani and House Speaker Gianfranco Fini.

In the letter to Schifani he urged Italian Senators to do their best to “serve the nation”. “May God protect Italy,” said Cossiga addressing his “valorous and illustrious colleagues”.

A private funeral will take place in a small town near Sassari where his parents were born in his native Sardinia after he ruled out the state funeral former heads of state are accorded. He will be lying in state at Rome’s Gemelli hospital, where he died, from 10 AM local time to 18 PM local on Wednesday.

Cossiga was a leading member of the Christian Democrat party that governed the country for most of the post-war period before its demise in corruption scandals in the early 1990s.

He was interior minister when Red Brigade terrorists kidnapped and killed Christian Democrat leader Aldo Moro in 1978 and resigned after criticism of his handling of the crisis.

He was also the premier of a government that ruled for just over 14 months between 1979 and 1980. The law graduate automatically became a life senator after serving as president.

Napolitano, who visited Cossiga in hospital last week, described him as a ”combative protagonist of one of the most intense and dramatic period’s of our nation’s history”.

”I mourn a courageous, extraordinary man who I was bonded to by sincere friendship that was cemented in dramatic, painful times,” said Giulio Andreotti, another former premier and DC bigwig. ”I recall his fine, long-sighted, concrete political action, built on the Christian Democrat values put coherently into practise and great legal knowledge”.

Former European Commission president and two-time Italian premier Romano Prodi echoed those sentiments. ”With Francesco Cossiga’s death, Italy loses one of the protagonists of the history of the republic,” said Prodi. ”He was at the top of our country’s political class in difficult, extremely complex times. He was able to carry out every role with strong personality and, above all, great respect for the institutions”. The Italian press, citing sources close to the former president, later reported that Cossiga in recent weeks had apparently been suffering from depression and had “let himself go”.

He had been in poor health for some time. Ten years ago he had a hip replacement and a tumour removed from his colon and he had suffered several bouts of depression in recent years.
ansa

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Bishop calls for urgent peace in Mindanao

A southern Philippines bishop has urged the government to immediately resume peace talks with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) amid reports the rebel group is gearing up for war.

“It is urgent that both sides sit down and start negotiations,” Auxiliary Bishop Jose Colin Bagaforo of Cotabato told Radio Veritas 846, ucanews.com reports.

He was speaking a day after a national daily reported a threat by Ebrahim Murad, chairman of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), to launch a war if peace talks did not resume. “The threat is uncalled for,” Bishop Bagaforo said. He also warned that the statement attributed to Murad could trigger the arming of Christians in potential conflict areas.

The 15,000-strong front, which has been fighting since the 1970s for Islamic rule in claimed territories, has engaged in on-off peace negotiations since 1997.

President Benigno Aquino III has appointed a new chief negotiator with the MILF, who said talks will resume after the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan.

Newspaper reports this week, however, quoted Murad as saying the MILF had “amassed an arsenal with help from military gunrunners.”

However, Mohagher Iqbal, MILF chief information officer and chairman of the front’s deactivated peace panel, dismissed the reports, saying it was “ill-timed” for Ramadan.

“It creates an impression that the MILF is bloodthirsty even during Ramadan,” Iqbal said, calling on the Philippine Daily Inquirer newspaper not to “exaggerate what otherwise are straight facts from a particular event.”

Presidential spokesperson Edwin Lacierda said the government is receiving only “positive information from [the MILF] that they are also eager to pursue the peace process.”

“Maybe they (MILF) are worried that the peace process wouldn’t push through,” Lacierda commented in relation to the remarks attributed to Murad.

SOURCE

Bishop calls for urgent peace in Mindanao (ucanews.com)

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Archbishop caught up in Miss GB row

ust weeks before he welcomes Pope Benedict XVI to these shores, the Roman ­Catholic Archbishop of Westminster finds himself embroiled in an ­unseemly legal battle involving a former Miss Great Britain.

Most Rev. Dr Vincent Nichols, who was selected by Pope ­Benedict for the most powerful Catholic job in Britain, has been asked to ­intervene in the dispute — which focuses on the will of Doreen Dawne, who was crowned Miss GB in the early Fifties.

In her youth, Doreen’s male admirers included Frank Sinatra and Bob Hope. For years, Doreen kept up her friendship with Hope, who used to send her ­birthday and Christmas cards.
Papal visit: Most Rev. Dr Vincent Nichols

Papal visit: Most Rev. Dr Vincent Nichols

Now her bijou London apartment at a sought-after address in ­Chelsea is the subject of a bitter dispute. Five years after her death, I learn that probate has still not been granted.

A High Court hearing is ­scheduled for later this year over who is to benefit from her estate.

Her younger brother Terence Gaffney, who lives in Los Angeles, felt obliged to contact the ­Archbishop, and has written him two letters disputing the Catholic Church’s right to the proceeds of the sale of Doreen’s flat.

Also objecting is Doreen’s friend and neighbour Onu Rhaman. The duo insist a will naming nearby St Michael’s Catholic Church as the beneficiary is invalid and they are ­disputing its authenticity.

Says Terence, 76: ‘My sister never married. I have seen her signature on this will leaving everything to the Catholic Church, and it just doesn’t look right to me. I wrote one letter to the Archbishop, to which he replied saying someone else was dealing with the matter.

‘But I have had no reply at all to my second letter. He has just ­completely ignored it, which I think is outrageous.’

The flat was sold quickly after Doreen’s death — for a snip at £300,000 because of its short lease. But the money remains in limbo.

Meanwhile, divorcee Rhaman, a retired aviation consultant who knew Doreen for more than two ­decades and helped her when she became infirm in later years, was named in another will and has called in a handwriting expert to support his claim.

Says a spokesman from the ­Catholic Information Office: ‘This is a private matter.’

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Human rights

“Where, after all, do universal human rights begin? In small places, close to home so close and so small that they cannot be seen on any maps of the world. Yet they are the world of the individual person; the neighborhood he lives in; the school or college he attends; the factory, farm, or office where he works.”

—Eleanor Roosevelt
US Delegate to the United Nations

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Top Mexico court backs adoptions for married gays in capital

MEXICO CITY — Mexico’s Supreme Court on Monday endorsed adoptions for married gays in the capital, with a majority of nine out of eleven votes, a court spokesman told AFP.

The top court this month already validated gay marriages in Mexico City, quashing the first part of a complaint lodged by the federal attorney general.

To deny gay couples the possibility of adopting children “would be constitutionalizing discrimination,” said magistrate Arturo Zaldivar during Monday’s session.

“It got through despite all the conservative voices which generated a lot of social divisions,” leftist deputy David Razu, who sponsored the law, told AFP.

Mexico City’s leftist government approved gay marriage and opened the way for adoptions last December, provoking a wave of uproar among conservatives and the church in the mainly Roman Catholic nation.

Marriages between gay and lesbian couples began in March, in a first for a Latin American municipality.

The Supreme Court earlier Monday censured a top Catholic cardinal who had accused its justices of receiving bribes to condone the capital’s gay marriage law.

“One cannot, under any capacity and with impunity, accuse the 11 justices of the country’s highest court of being corrupt,” said justice Sergio Armando Valls, who put forward a unanimously-adopted vote of censure.

Cardinal Juan Sandoval Iniguez, number two in the Mexican Catholic hierarchy, lashed out at the high court on Sunday, 10 days after it rejected a bid by the federal attorney general to quash the new law as unconstitutional.

“I don’t doubt that (the justices) are bribed by (Mexico City mayor Marcelo) Ebrard. They’re bribed by international organizations,” Sandoval said.

Copyright © 2010 AFP

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Help priests to serve Christ and the Church

To communicate fearlessly to their peers the gift of friendship with the Lord was Benedict XVI’s invitation to more than 55,000 people, mainly young altar servers, who filled St Peter’s Square at the General Audience on Wednesday, 4 August. The Holy Father came into Rome from Castel Gandolfo for the first General Audience after the July break. The altar servers were taking part in the pilgrimage organized by “Coetus Internationalis Ministrantium”, the international altar servers’ association, led by its President, Bishop Martin Gächter. The Swiss Bishop presented a white scarf, the symbol of the altar servers’ pilgrimage to Rome, to the Pope who immediately put it on, recalling his own experience as an altar boy. The scarf was woven by disabled people in the workshop of “Caritas Munich”; scarves were also given to Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, Secretary of State, and to all the Bishops present. Bishop Gächter greeted the Pope on behalf of the pilgrims. At the end of the Audience the Holy Father blessed the statue of the Saint, brought by the altar servers to be placed at the Catacombs of St Calixtus. The following is a translation of the Pope’s Catechesis on the young St Tarcisius: he began with several remarks in Italian but spoke mainly in German.

In Italian:

Dear Brothers and Sisters,
I would like to express my joy at being here with you today in this Square, where you have gathered festively for this General Audience, attended by such large numbers of the great European pilgrimage for altar servers! Dear boys and girls and young people, welcome to Rome! Since the vast majority of the altar servers present in the Square are German-speaking, I shall speak to them first of all in my mother tongue.

In German:

Dear altar servers, dear friends, dear German-speaking pilgrims, welcome to Rome! I greet cordially all of you and Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, Secretary of State. He is called “Tarcisio” like your Patron Saint. You have had the courtesy to invite him and he, who is called Tarcisius after the Saint, is happy to be able to be here among the world’s altar servers and the German altar servers.
I greet my dear Brothers in the episcopate and in the Priesthood, and the Deacons who have wished to take part in this Audience. I warmly thank Bishop Martin Gächter, Auxiliary of Basel, President of “Coetus Internationalis Ministrantium”, for his greeting to me, for the important gift of the statue of St Tarcisius and for the scarf he has given me. It all reminds me of the time when I too was an altar boy.
I also thank Bishop Gächter on your behalf for the great work he carries out among you. I likewise thank your co-workers and all who got together to make this joyful meeting possible. My gratitude also goes to the Swiss sponsors and to all who have worked in their various capacities to make the large statue of St Tarcisius a reality.
How many of you there are! While flying over St Peter’s Square in the helicopter I saw all the colours and the joy filling this Square! Thus not only do you create a festive atmosphere in the Square but you also fill my heart with joy! Thank you!
The statue of St Tarcisius has come to us after a long pilgrimage. In September 2008 it was unveiled in Switzerland in the presence of 8.000 altar servers; some of you were certainly present.
From Switzerland it travelled through Luxembourg on the way to Hungary. Let us greet it festively today, glad at being able to become better acquainted with this figure of the early Church.
Later, as Bishop Gächter told us, the statue will be taken to the Catacombs of St Calixtus, where St Tarcius was buried.
The hope that I express to all is that this place, namely the Catacombs of St Calixtus, and this statue, may become a reference point for altar servers, boys and girls, and for all who wish to follow Jesus more closely through the priestly, religious or missionary life.
May they all be able to look at this strong and courageous boy and renew their commitment to friendship with the Lord, to learn to live with him always, following the path he points out to us with his word and the witness of so many Saints and Martyrs whose brothers and sisters we have become through Baptism.
Who was St Tarcisius? We do not have much information about him. We are dealing with the early centuries of the Church’s history or, to be more precise, with the third century. It is said that he was a boy who came regularly to the Catacombs of St Calixtus here in Rome and took his special Christian duties very seriously.
He had great love for the Eucharist and various hints lead us to conclude that he was presumably an acolyte, that is, an altar server.
Those were years in which the Emperor Valerian was harshly persecuting Christians who were forced to meet secretly in private houses or, at times, also in the Catacombs, to hear the word of God, to pray and to celebrate Holy Mass.
Even the custom of taking the Eucharist to prisoners and the sick became increasingly dangerous. One day, when, as was his habit, the priest asked who was prepared to take the Eucharist to the other brothers and sisters who were waiting for it, young Tarcisius stood up and said: “send me!”.
This boy seemed too young for such a demanding service! “My youth”, Tarcisius said, “will be the best shield for the Eucharist”. Convinced, the priest entrusted to him the precious Bread, saying: “Tarcisius, remember that a heavenly treasure has been entrusted to your weak hands. Avoid crowded streets and do not forget that holy things must never be thrown to dogs nor pearls to pigs. Will you guard the Sacred Mysteries faithfully and safely?”.
“I would die”, Tarcisio answered with determination, “rather than let go of them”.
As he went on his way he met some friends who approached him and asked him to join them. As pagans they became suspicious and insistent at his refusal and realized he was clasping something to his breast that he appeared to be protecting.
They tried to prize it away from him, but in vain; the struggle became ever fiercer, especially when they realized that Tarcisius was a Christian; They kicked him, they threw stones at him, but he did not surrender.
While Tarcisius was dying a Pretoria guard called Quadratus, who had also, secretly, become a Christian, carried him to the priest. Tarcisius was already dead when they arrived but was still clutching to his breast a small linen bag containing the Eucharist. He was buried straight away in the Catacombs of St Calixtus.
Pope Damasus had an inscription carved on St Tarcisius’ grave; it says that the boy died in 257.
The Roman Martyrology fixed the date as 15 August and in the same Martyrology a beautiful oral tradition is also recorded. It claims that the Most Blessed Sacrament was not found on St Tarcisius’ body, either in his hands or his clothing. It explains that the consecrated Host which the little Martyr had defended with his life, had become flesh of his flesh thereby forming, together with his body, a single immaculate Host offered to God.
Dear altar servers, St Tarcisius’ testimony and this beautiful tradition teach us the deep love and great veneration that we must have for the Eucharist: it is a precious good, a treasure of incomparable value; it is the Bread of life, it is Jesus himself who becomes our nourishment, support and strength on our daily journey and on the open road that leads to eternal life; the Eucharist is the greatest gift that Jesus bequeathed to us.
I am addressing those of you who are present here and, through you, all the altar servers of the world! Serve Jesus present in the Eucharist generously. It is an important task that enables you to be particularly close to the Lord and to grow in true and profound friendship with him. Guard this friendship in your hearts jealously, like St Tarcisius, ready to commit yourselves, to fight and to give your lives so that Jesus may reach all peoples.
May you too communicate to your peers the gift of this friendship with joy, with enthusiasm, without fear, so that they may feel that you know this Mystery, that is true and that you love it! Every time that you approach the altar, you have the good fortune to assist in God’s great loving gesture as he continues to want to give himself to each one of us, to be close to us, to help us, to give us strength to live in the right way. With consecration, as you know, that little piece of bread becomes Christ’s Body, that wine becomes Christ’s Blood.
You are lucky to be able to live this indescribable Mystery from close at hand! Do your task as altar servers with love, devotion and faithfulness; do not enter a church for the celebration with superficiality but rather, prepare yourselves inwardly for Holy Mass! Assisting your priests in service at the altar helps to make Jesus closer, so that people can understand, can realize better: he is here. You collaborate to make him more present in the world, in every day life, in the Church and everywhere.
Dear friends! You lend Jesus your hands, your thoughts, your time. He will not fail to reward you, giving you true joy and enabling you to feel where the fullest happiness is. St Tarcisius has shown us that love can even bring us to give our life for an authentic good, for the true good, for the Lord.
Martyrdom will probably not be required of us, but Jesus asks of us fidelity in small tings, inner recollection, inner participation, our faith and our efforts to keep this treasure present in every day life.
He asks of us fidelity in daily tasks, a witness to his love, going to church through inner conviction and for the joy of his presence. Thus we can also make known to our friends that Jesus is alive.
May St John Mary Vianney’s intercession help us in this commitment. Today is the liturgical Memorial of this humble French Parish Priest who changed a small community and thus gave the world a new light.
May the example of St Tarcisius and St John Mary Vianney impel us every day to love Jesus and to do his will, as did the Virgin Mary, faithful to her Son to the end. Thank you all once again! May God bless you in these days and I wish you a good journey home!

(©L’Osservatore Romano – 11 August 2010)

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Belgian Court: Probe Into Sex Abuse May Continue

BRUSSELS, Belgium, AUG. 16, 2010 (Zenit.org).- A Belgian court has decided that the investigation of the Church regarding sexual abuse cases may continue under the supervision of the same investigating magistrate that launched a police raid of church offices in Brussels last June.

Friday’s decision came after the Catholic Church lodged an official protest against the raid, code-named Operation Chalice, during which they seized hundreds of case files on sexual abuse.

In addition to holding the country’s bishops for nine hours, the police drilled holes in the graves of Cardinals Jozef Van Roey and Leon Suenens, deceased archbishops of Malines-Brussels, located in the crypt of the cathedral of the Malines-Brussels Archdiocese. Benedict XVI later expressed his “surprise” at the raids, which he said were carried out in a “deplorable manner.”

However, information on the investigation and court decision was not publicly announced because the judge, Wim DeTroy, has requested confidentiality.

A lawyer for a group of the victims, Walter Van Steenbrugge, was reported Saturday as calling the silence “unprecedented arrogance.” He has organized an appeal to the European Court of Human Rights on the grounds that the victims have a right to know the status of a judicial proceeding.

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Pilgrims at Lourdes Evacuated in Bomb Scare

LOURDES, France, AUG. 16, 2010 (Zenit.org).- The French authorities consider Lourdes a symbolic place that could be the target of a terrorist attacks, which is why an anonymous bomb threat obliged them to evacuate 30,000 pilgrims on the feast of the Assumption.

On Sunday at 7:39 a.m., the Lourdes police station in the French Pyrenees received a telephone call from a man who said he had placed four bombs which were to explode at 3:00 p.m.

“Given the symbolic character of Lourdes, a city that could be the object of a terrorist threat, we had to take this call seriously,” the prefect of the Upper Pyrenees region, Rene Bidal, said on Sunday during a press conference.

The Massabielle grotto, place of the apparitions of the Virgin to St. Bernadette Soubirous (1844-1879), the young visionary who received Our Lady’s message in 1858 that she is the Immaculate Conception, and the other shrines of the city were evacuated peacefully. After the police confirmed that the enclosure was free of explosives, the torch procession was held that night.

The French Council of Muslim Worship condemned “in “the most vigorous way” on Sunday the notification of the bomb and, in a communiqué, was delighted that “the shrines of Lourdes have found again their climate of security, peace and serenity.”

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Lebanon TV stations scrap controversial Jesus show

BEIRUT — Two Shiite Muslim television stations in Lebanon canceled a controversial program about Jesus on Friday, saying they do not want to stir up sectarian conflict in the country.
The 17-episode program, which was produced in Iran, describes Jesus from an Islamic point of view. Muslims believe Jesus was a prophet and a teacher, but not the son of God.
The debate has particular resonance in Lebanon, an Arab nation of 4 million people with a grim history of sectarian strife. The country’s population is divided into 18 sects, including Sunni and Shiite Muslims, Christians and Druse.
Al-Manar, a television station run by Lebanon’s powerful militant group, Hezbollah, and the National Broadcasting Network, NBN, started airing the program this week at the beginning of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.
Christian priests and politicians quickly protested, saying the topic might endanger national coexistence.
The program does not show respect to “Jesus, the church and Christianity,” Catholic Maronite Archbishop Bechara el-Rai told reporters Friday.
Shortly before el-Rai’s news conference, Al-Manar and NBN issued a statement saying the program “shows the great personality of God’s prophet Jesus, the son of Mary, peace be upon him.” But, the statement said, the stations decided to stop airing the program in respect to other Lebanese sects.
Information Minister Tarek Mitri said that even though he is against censorship, he agreed with the cancellation because of Lebanon’s religious diversity.
“There is a special case in Lebanon which is considered a country of dialogue and a country where Christians and Muslims meet,” Mitri said.
After Lebanon gained independence from French rule in 1943, Christians dominated the country. Muslim demands for reform helped trigger the 1975-90 civil war. A 1989 agreement ended the civil war and the two sides have since shared power.
The political system reflects Lebanon’s sectarian makeup. The presidency goes to a Maronite Catholic, the prime minister must be a Sunni Muslim, and a Shiite Muslim must be the parliament speaker. The Cabinet and the parliament’s 128 seats are divided equally between Christians and Muslims.
Copyright © 2010 The Associated Press

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Catholics in New Media: iPadre

by Matthew Warner Friday, August 13, 2010

In a world immersed in iPods, iPads, iTouches and iPhones, it’s only natural that we would have an iPadre. Fr. Jay Finelli is the iPadre. To have snagged the name “iPadre” he certainly isn’t new to the Catholic new media scene. In fact, this week he is celebrating his 5th year of podcasting and his 200th episode of the iPadre Podcast. Congratulations, Fr. Finelli!

“Father Jay Finelli is a priest of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Providence in the state of Rhode Island. He began building web pages in 1995 and started podcasting in September of 2005. This is a great new means of evangelization. Pope John Paul II said that we are in need of a new evangelization. Podcasting is a small part of this new work of evangelization. All of us need to do our part in spreading the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

I was able to speak with him a little bit at the CNMC last weekend in Boston. He’s such a peaceful, friendly and genuine guy. I really enjoyed finally getting to meet him in person. I have an interview of him (along with many other bloggers and podcasters) that I’ll be posting in various pieces over the coming weeks. And I was honored to be interviewed (along with lots of other great people) in his latest podcast, as well.

In addition to his podcast, Fr. Finelli also runs a blog, a videocast, a chantcast and “live streams” liturgical celebrations and devotions from his parish. All can be found on his happenin’ website: www.ipadre.net

He even has his own iPhone App!

Aside from providing excellent content for Catholics through everything he does, Fr. Finelli represents so much more. There are few priests who have embraced new media as fully as he and even fewer who did it starting way back in 2005. He is a true pioneer of the digital continent.
ncregister.com


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Renegade Priest Leads a Split St. Louis Parish

By MALCOLM GAY

ST. LOUIS — Some say he is on a mission from God. Others say he is the devil. But no matter whom you ask in this city’s tight-knit community of Polish Catholics, the name of Marek Bozek is seldom met with a shrug.

To supporters he is a holy man who has risked his soul’s damnation to rescue St. Stanislaus Kostka church during a long-running dispute over financial control with the Archdiocese of St. Louis. To detractors he is a charlatan — a disgraced priest who has wrested command of the parish and ushered in a vision of Roman Catholicism so progressive as to be unrecognizable to the faithful.

But one thing is clear: Last Sunday, parishioners rejected a proposed settlement that would have ended a lawsuit brought by the archdiocese and returned them to the archbishop’s good graces. Instead, they opted to yoke their church’s fate to the portly priest with thinning hair and a fashionable patch of whiskers just beneath his lower lip.

“They give the church to the devil,” fumed Mary Bach, 75, in heavily accented English after casting her vote to accept the settlement. “People are blind. They don’t see what he’s doing. This is belief in Bozek, not in God.”

The vote nearly brought some parishioners to blows. Nevertheless, it is but the latest chapter in the extraordinary history of St. Stanislaus, a cause célèbre for those with progressive leanings in this deeply Catholic city by the river, and a source of scandal for traditionalists.

For more than a century, St. Stanislaus has enjoyed a rare role within the archdiocese. A lay board of directors governs the parish, and church property and financial assets are owned by the congregation. That relationship began to shift in 2003, when the archdiocese proposed that St. Stanislaus’s property and assets — then estimated at $8 million — be brought under an archdiocese-managed trust.

Fearing the archbishop would close the parish and use its proceeds to combat the sexual-abuse scandal, the congregation balked. As negotiations dragged on, Archbishop Raymond L. Burke, arguing the parish was out of compliance with canon law, turned up the pressure on the church by removing its archdiocesan priests — effectively denying communion to parishioners.

With its isolated congregation withering under censure, the board reached out to several archdiocesan priests who surreptitiously conducted Mass. Eventually, the congregation approached Mr. Bozek, a young Polish-born priest from the neighboring Diocese of Springfield-Cape Girardeau.

“The people of St. Stanislaus had been abandoned for almost two years,” said Mr. Bozek, 35, who said his first Mass at the embattled church at a 2005 Christmas Eve service that attracted an estimated 2,000 people. “As a Catholic priest I felt responsible to provide the sacraments to people who have been spiritually starved by their shepherds.”

In anticipation of the renegade Mass, Archbishop Burke, a canon lawyer by training who now serves in the Vatican as prefect of the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura, the church’s highest judicial authority, proclaimed in December 2005 that the actions of the board and Mr. Bozek constituted “schism,” which carries with it “the automatic penalty of excommunication.” The archbishop added that as an excommunicated priest celebrating Mass, Mr. Bozek would commit “a most grave sin.”

The Vatican has since affirmed Archbishop Burke’s order of excommunication, and last year Pope Benedict XVI formally laicized Mr. Bozek, prohibiting him from functioning as a Roman Catholic priest.

“His actions have caused great harm, scandal and sadness within the Church,” Bishop James V. Johnston of the Springfield-Cape Girardeau Diocese, wrote in a statement announcing the Vatican’s decision. “While Marek Bozek no longer has the status of a priest, I continue to hope for his reconciliation with the Catholic Church.”

Nevertheless, Mr. Bozek continues to preside over the holy sacraments at St. Stanislaus. Dressed in gleaming green raiment, he baptized a child on a recent Sunday, and he boasts that under his stewardship the church’s membership has swelled to roughly 500 families.

“I just do not acknowledge the validity of the penalties,” Mr. Bozek said. “I was born Catholic. I am a Catholic priest, and I don’t believe that one piece of paper signed by one human being undoes my priesthood.”

In the subsequent years, Mr. Bozek has become an increasingly vocal advocate for a more progressive Catholic church. In 2008 he presented parishioners with what he called his “vision,” which included the right of priests to marry, and that of women and homosexuals to become priests.

“He has opened our eyes,” said Melissa Kirkiewicz, 35. “His vision is what we perceive as the future of the church. He’s going in the direction I want to go as a Catholic.”

For many others, however, Mr. Bozek’s progressive views, coupled with his excommunication, have become too much to tolerate.

“He has his own agenda,” Grzegorz Koltuniak, 53, said after the vote. “He’s not a priest anymore, but he’s fooled everyone. Why are we even talking about religion? This is about property, but he makes it about religion.”

Though Mr. Bozek says church membership has grown since his arrival, about 200 families have stopped attending the church since the dispute first arose. In 2008, Mr. Bozek cast the deciding vote to dissolve the board, which was later reconstituted with a majority of members who support him. Several former board members have now reconciled with the archdiocese and joined as plaintiffs in the lawsuit for control of St. Stanislaus.

“It’s been hellacious,” said Robert Zabielski, a former board member who is now a plaintiff with the archdiocese. He added that somewhere along the line the question had ceased to be about “power and money” and was now “about the man.”

But religion loomed large last Sunday as parishioners weighed a draft settlement put forth by the new archbishop of St. Louis, Robert J. Carlson, that would have allowed the congregation to maintain control of the church’s property and financial assets. The settlement provided no guarantee, however, that the parish would remain open. The archbishop would have final say in the appointment of new board members, and, significantly, Mr. Bozek would leave the church.

After the vote, 257 to 185, to reject the proposal, Archbishop Carlson said he was disappointed with the outcome, but remained “committed to working toward a resolution.” Lawyers for St. Stanislaus said they would continue negotiations.

Still, many parishioners said they did not believe future archbishops would honor any agreement.

“I don’t trust the archdiocese,” Patrick Schneider said. “I’ve witnessed how it’s closed other parishes. All they needed to do was bring somebody down to speak — instead they sent lawyers.”

Mr. Bozek said he was prepared to leave if the congregation had accepted the archdiocese’s offer.

“The only reason for my coming to this parish was because they were abandoned by their shepherds for almost two years without sacrament and without Mass,” Mr. Bozek said. “I have fulfilled my role, I believe.”

But congregants like John McCall said they were not willing to accept a settlement at this point that did not include Mr. Bozek.

“The man is the faith,” said Mr. McCall, 76, who voted against accepting the settlement. “I’ll follow Father Marek wherever he goes. I told him, ‘Don’t stop fast because I’ll run into you.’ ”
www.nytimes.com



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FORMER ITALIAN PRESIDENT IN STABLE CONDITION

12:50 13 AGO 2010

(AGI) Rome – Former Italian President Francesco Cossiga’s condition has improved, according to a Gemelli hospital press release. This has allowed doctors to reduce artificial support of vital functions including breathing, which is still assisted. “Sedative reduction is gradual and cautious,” said the bulletin, “We expect to reevaluate the situation in the next 48 hours.” .

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Dormition in Turkey. Liturgy on the Black Mountain

It is being celebrated by the patriarch of Constantinople, for the first time after many years, at an historic monastery that has fallen into ruin, with thousands of faithful including many from Greece and Russia. But Christians don’t trust the concessions of the Turkish government

by Sandro Magister


ROME, August 13, 2010 – The news was released at the end of June by the agency “Fides” of the Vatican congregation for the evangelization. For August 15, which for the Orthodox is the feast of the Dormition of the Holy Mother of God, the Turkish government has authorized the celebration of a liturgy in a place that is a symbol of the Christian faith of the East, as much of its flourishing as of its violent uprooting: the monastery of Sumela or (its Greek name) of the Mother of God of the Black Mountain.

The concession was greeted with surprise by the Orthodox community, not only in Turkey, where the Greek-Byzantines of the patriarchate of Constantinople have been reduced to a few thousand, but also abroad, especially in Greece and Russia.

Nonetheless, it’s still a concession limited to a few hours. The liturgy will be allowed to be celebrated only once, outside of the monastery, in front of the ruins.

The monastery of Sumela, in fact, after withstanding the storms of history for fifteen centuries and staying alive even during Ottoman rule, was emptied and reduced to ruins in 1923, with the expulsion of the Greek Orthodox by the modern Turkish state.

Since then, it has been forbidden to celebrate the liturgy there. The monastery, a small portion of which has been restored, has become a destination for tourist excursions from nearby Trabzon, the city on the Black Sea where on February 5, 2006, a young Muslim killed the Catholic priest Andrea Santoro.

For August 19, the Turkish government has made a similar concession for the Armenians. It has authorized the celebration of a liturgy in the Church of the Holy Cross in Akhtamar, on an island of Lake Van.

This church, which had also fallen into ruin, was renovated in 2007. But it was set up as a museum, and until now the liturgy has not been permitted to be celebrated there.

When the Armenian patriarch asked for permission to place a cross on top of the renovated church, the Turkish authorities refused. The church had to remain without a cross, without bells, without sacred markings, without pastors, and without faithful. Instead, the ceremony for the conclusion of the renovations prominently featured images of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, the founder of the modern Turkish state.

The liturgies at Sumela and Akhtamar on August 15 and 19 will be attended by a few thousand faithful, many of them from abroad: an unusual number for Turkey, a cradle of the early Christianity propagated by Paul and for centuries a land of flourishing Christianity, but where today the Churches – or the little of them that remains – don’t even have legal recognition.

Moreover, last August 5 two churches dating back to the fourth and sixth centuries in the village of Yemisli in the region of Mardin in southeastern Anatolia were reopened for worship. The buildings were renovated by seventy-two families of the Syriac Orthodox community, which numbers about five thousand faithful in Turkey.

The concessions made this August by the government of Ankara are being interpreted as a move on the chessboard of Turkey’s problematic entry into the European Union, which is impossible without minimal standards concerning religious freedom.

But these and other appearances of openness continue to be accompanied by massive and persistent constraint. One of the reasons why the Turkish authorities oppose religious freedom is the fear that an increase in places of worship would bring out into the open the many secret Christians, registered as Muslims, believed to be living in the country.

On the two imminent celebrations, and in particular on the history and symbolic significance of the monastery of Sumela, here is what was written for the August 1 issue of “L’Osservatore Romano” by a highly informed expert on the subject, Franciscan Fr. Egidio Picucci.

_____________

CELEBRATION AT THE MONTE CASSINO OF THE EAST

by Egidio Picucci

The month of August will be remembered in Turkey for two extraordinary religious events: on the 15th, after 87 years, the “divine Eucharist” will be celebrated in the former monastery of Sumela, on the outskirts of Trabzon, ancient Trebizond, abandoned by the monks in 1923; and on the 19th, another will be celebrated in the Armenian church of the Holy Cross in Akhtamar, built on an island in the splendid Lake Van, in the eastern part of the country.

The Turkish government has granted the authorization, greeted with surprise and satisfaction by the ecumenical patriarchate of Constantinople, which is organizing itself so that everything will go smoothly, seeing that about ten thousand Greek and Russian Orthodox are expected (seven thousand at Van), with the attendance of a few politicians from these two countries.

Greek television will broadcast the entire celebration live, so that in particular the descendants of the Greeks who had to leave the Pontus during the Turkish occupation will at least be able to see the places where their ancestors lived and come to know one of the most significant places for Eastern Orthodoxy.

In fact, Sumela is known as the Monte Cassino of the East, because for fifteen centuries, from 385 to 1923, it was the monastery-guide for the safeguarding of Greek tradition, art, history, and culture, and of religion all over the territory of the Pontus, whose inhabitants heard their own language being spoken by the apostles in Jerusalem on the day of Pentecost.

The monastery is located fifty kilometers from Trabzon, among the gorges of the Altindere (Torrent of Gold), at an elevation of 1,200 meters, spanning forty meters of a long rocky outcrop of Mount Zigana, at the precipice of a deep ravine.

According to tradition, it was the Virgin herself who showed the place to the Athenian monks Barnabas and Sophronios, who, coming from the Chalkidiki peninsula, turned the smaller caves of the mountain into cells and the largest one into a church, displaying there the most artistic of the three icons venerated at that time in Athens and attributed to Saint Luke.

The fame of the mountain shrine and of the sanctity of the two monks, who died in 412 (on the same day, tradition assures us), drew pilgrims, obtained donations, and above all summoned other monks, becoming the leading center of culture and pilgrimage in all of northeast Asia Minor.

Even the emperor Justinian mingled among the humble people who braved the nearly inaccessible mountain, on the way back from one of his campaigns against the Persians, leaving a silver urn to house the relics of Saint Barnabas and the text of the four Gospels written on gazelle skin.

In spite of everything, the monastery was an easy target for bandits, who did not spare even the monastery, pillaged and burned in 640, but rebuilt four years later by Christophoros of Vazelon, a courageous monk who restored the morale of his fellow monks and fortified the construction so ingeniously that Athanasios of Trebizond reproduced it in building the Great Lavra of Mount Athos.

Experience, nonetheless, taught the monks that in order to protect themselves they needed stronger, military-style fortifications, so they made the monastery an almost inaccessible perch, turning it into an oasis of peace in the midst of a growing turmoil of wars and struggles, allowing it to reach its greatest splendor at the time of the empire of the Komnenos family, the rulers of nearby Trebizond.

In 1350, Alexios III asked to be crowned emperor there, and left a “chrysobull,” or golden seal, there. With him, the monastery became a masterpiece of Byzantine art. Manuel III was also crowned there, leaving as a gift a relic of the cross, which was placed in the treasury; a great relic in a great reliquary.

The monastery’s activity was not even interrupted by the Turkish conquest in 1461. On the contrary, Mehmed II Fatih (“the Conqueror”) paid a very respectful visit there, leaving a “firman,” an imperial decree, guaranteeing the monks ownership of the surrounding land. Selim I also held it in high esteem, staying there during a hunting expedition and later sending five huge spiral candlesticks, as tall as himself, encrusted with jewels and gold inscriptions. He returned there on the eve of the war against Ismail of Tabriz, and a third time after his victory, to deliver two massive golden candelabra taken from his enemy.

Gifts and privileges came from other sultans and from various patriarchs, sign of a devotion that placed the “Panàgia tu Mèlas,” the All-Holy of the Black Mountain (the name Sumela seems to be derived from a corruption of “tu Mèlas”) above even the shrine of Hagia Sophia in Trebizond, the glory of the city nestled on the coast of the Black Sea.

The life of Sumela seemed imperishable: faith, art, technology – it is said that an ingenious communication system permitted messages to be sent between the monastery and Trebizond in just ten minutes – and culture had made it the soul of the Pontus, a cardinal point of the spirit for pilgrims, scholars, and artists; the monks had turned it into a balcony wide open to heaven, and not just a way station in the countryside. Its reddish doors seemed to be painted with the blood that saved from death.

But in the winter between 1915 and 1916, the dream was shattered for the first time in fifteen centuries: the war forced the monks to leave mountain and monastery. They returned after the Russian occupation, and again following the armistice of 1918. It was a parenthesis of five years, because the Greco-Turkish war of 1923 drove them away forever, while unknown hands tried to obliterate Sumela with fire.

The memory of the monastery lived on in time thanks to European scholars who sifted among the ruins, bringing to light the remains of frescoes of surprising freshness and of intense spirituality. The monk Ambrosios saved the most precious relics walled up in the church of Saint Barbara: the icon of the Virgin was taken to the monastery of Dovràs, near Veria, in Greece, and the manuscript of the Gospels went to the Byzantine museum of Athens.

Today, not a few enthusiasts confront the mountain to visit the ancient relic amid the vegetation, so surprisingly attached to the mountain that it seems suspended between heaven and earth. Even if the remains of a few heavy windows seem like the eyelids of death, behind them flutter recollections of life. The library, the remains of the church of the Dormition, the refectory, the 72 cells for the monks distributed over four floors, the lookout spot on the fifth floor pulse with memories and are a genuine balcony over the infinite, cradled by the waters of the Altindere, snaking through rocky ravines.

Led by ecumenical patriarch of Constantinople Bartholomew I, the Orthodox will therefore experience at Meryemana Monastiri, the present Turkish name for Sumela, moments of profound emotion, proud that such ancient vestiges of faith have withstood the fury of time and of men.

Senza categoria

Why Rome scorns resignations, and a great week for wonks

by John L Allen Jr on Aug. 13, 2010
ncronline.org

It may be a measure of how somnambulant Rome becomes during the ferragosto vacation period that the big Vatican story this week was actually something that didn’t happen. It turns out that two Irish bishops implicated in that country’s sexual abuse crisis, Dublin auxiliaries Eamonn Walsh and Raymond Field, won’t be resigning after all, because Pope Benedict XVI wants them to stay on.

Two other Irish bishops cited in the November 2009 “Murphy Report” for failing to adequately respond to abuse in the Dublin archdiocese had already stepped down, and both Walsh and Field submitted their resignations last December. News broke this week, however, that Benedict XVI has rejected the resignations, so the two bishops will be reassigned to new duties instead.

Unsurprisingly, that decision has not gone down well with victims’ groups — SNAP said the pope is “rubbing more salt into already deep and still fresh wounds” — or with the Irish media. The Irish Times editorialized that the decision sends “the most contradictory of messages” and undercuts Archbishop Diarmuid Martin of Dublin, who has led the charge for reform.

I don’t have any insight on why Walsh and Field in particular were spared, but I can offer four broad reasons why the Vatican is always reluctant to see a bishop resign under fire, whether in Ireland or anyplace else.

First, the Vatican doesn’t want to feed impressions that public opinion and media hostility can bring down a bishop. Rome wants bishops to be willing to say and do unpopular things, on matters ranging from abortion to immigrant rights, and it would obviously be a deterrent if the bishop has to worry that Rome might capitulate to pressure campaigns seeking to run him out of town on a rail.

Such blowback, of course, is a special risk in the early 21st century, when the Internet and 24-hour cable news channels have created a whole new industry of outrage generation.

Second, allowing a bishop to resign, even if it’s entirely merited, can create an avalanche which buries other bishops who don’t share the same level of responsibility. If that happens, a good chunk of a country’s episcopacy could be wiped out — further destabilizing an already volatile situation, not to mention creating pressure to find replacements quickly and perhaps without sufficient thought.

Third, the Vatican also tends not to remove problem bishops because, in the institutional culture of the church, retirement has traditionally been seen as a reward for a job well done. A retired bishop has all the privileges of rank and few of the burdens, so the tendency is not to let a man walk away until he has cleared his desk.

The case of former Cardinal Michele Giordano of Naples offers an illustration. Giordano, who finally exited the scene in 2006 after turning 75, twice faced criminal charges for shady accounting, and once was actually convicted and sentenced to house arrest. Both times, rumors abounded that Giordano would be removed, and both times the Vatican instead let him stew in his own juices. Officials later said, on background, that they never had any intention of letting Giordano off the hook. That’s how they held him accountable: Not by firing him, but by forcing him to stay on the job and clean up his own mess.

Fourth, and perhaps most fundamentally, the Vatican does not like the idea of a bishop resigning for poor performance because, in their view, it’s bad theology. As they see it, a bishop isn’t a corporate CEO or a football coach, who should be sacked when profits sag or the team goes on a losing streak. The episcopacy isn’t a job but a sacramental bond akin to marriage, with the bishop as the father of the diocesan family. In the early centuries of the church, it was considered almost heretical for a bishop to move from one diocese to another on precisely this basis.

That’s the core ecclesiological reason Rome favors a bishop staying put in times of crisis: Like a father, or so the traditional reasoning goes, a bishop shouldn’t abandon his family if he’s let them down and they’re feeling angry and betrayed. Instead, he should “man up” and make things right.

Of course, none of this means the bias against removing bishops is always correct; even if one accepts the sacramental view, there are times when an abusive father needs to be removed from a household. It does, however, suggest that the Vatican sometimes may have reasons beyond denial or arrogance for being reluctant to act.

* * *

The past week has been a great one for Catholic policy wonks, with three new empirical studies out offering important data relative to various aspects of the church’s life and mission. We begin with a stunning new x-ray of religion in Italy.

By way of preface, I’ll concede there’s no reason in principle why the vicissitudes of the church in Italy should count for more than, say, the Democratic Republic of the Congo or the Philippines, or for that matter the United States — all countries whose Catholic populations exceed that of il bel paese. Yet Italy nonetheless looms disproportionately large, for at least two reasons. First is the historic role of the church and the papacy in Italy, so virtually anything that happens, or fails to happen, is viewed as a referendum on the church’s influence. Second, Italy is like a second home for a broad swath of the church’s policy-makers, intellectuals and activists.

As a result, when the Italian church sneezes, the Catholic world tends to catch cold.

In that light, Catholics everywhere might want to stock up on chicken soup and Robitussin before picking up the current issue of Il Regno, a popular Italian Catholic magazine published by the Dehnonian Fathers, which features the results of a massive survey of Italian religious behavior and belief by sociologist Paolo Segatti of the University of Milan.

Segatti’s sobering conclusion is that within a generation, Catholics could be a minority in Italy. The study carries an intentionally provocative title — “Religion in Italy: From Catholic to Generically Christian.”

To be sure, the results aren’t all bad news for the church:

* 81.3 percent of Italians self-identify as Catholic (officially speaking, 96 percent were baptized as Catholics).
* Almost 28 percent of Italian Catholics go to Mass on at least a weekly basis, a rate comparable to the United States and extraordinarily high by European standards.
* Almost 60 percent of Italians say they feel personally offended when they hear someone speak badly of either the church or the pope.
* Almost half of Italians say it’s important to be Catholic in order to be a “true Italian.”
* More than two-thirds of Italians, 67.8 percent, say they trust the church, a significantly higher result than either the national parliament or political parties.

These seem basically impressive results for a nation at the heart of contemporary Western Europe, where secularism is part of the basic cultural package, like TNT and ESPN come with basic cable. One can understand why some experts have talked about secularization actually being “arrested” or even “reversed” in Italy.

Yet drilling down, the most striking aspect of Segatti’s data is the vast generational divide between those born after 1981 — meaning anyone under 30 — and older Italians, especially those 65 and above:

* While 27 percent of Italians overall go to Mass at least once a week, it’s 44 percent for the 65+ cohort and just 13 percent for the under-30 crowd.
* While 72 percent of Italians say they “always” believe in God, it’s 80 percent of those above 65 and barely above half of those under 30.
* Only 14 percent of Italians under 30 say they “often” think of themselves as Catholics, and only 28 percent think there’s any connection between being Catholic and being Italian.
* While 77 percent of Italians over 65 say they trust the church, that figure falls to less than half, 44 percent, for those under 30.

Looking at the beliefs and practices of the youngest Italians, Segatti writes, “One has the sense of observing a different world,” a world which “offers a glimpse of a future in which believers are a minority.”

There’s a further set of disquieting results for Catholic leaders, which is the weak role of the church in public debate.

Offered a long list of hot-button social questions — including end-of-life care, abortion, homosexuality, unemployment, immigration, and the personal moral conduct of politicians — majorities of Italians in virtually every case said it should not be part of the church’s mission to speak out on the issue. The lone exception was unemployment, where 51 percent said the church should make its position known — perhaps reflecting the tradition of Catholic social teaching, as well as the important role of organized labor in Italy.

Segatti draws the conclusion: “The religiosity of Italians has taken on characteristics which force ecclesiastical institutions, if they want to play a role in the public sphere, to compete with secular forces. More often than may appear, they succumb to those secular forces in shaping the opinions of their own faithful on public questions.”

The future of religion in Italy, Segatti concludes, will be “more diversified and evanescent,” as “a country once Catholic becomes generically Christian.”

* * *

Speaking of surveys which ought to give church leaders pause, there was also an Associated Press-Univision poll released this week which found that younger Hispanics in the United States, and those who speak more English than Spanish, are less likely to identify with the Catholic church.

Overall, 62 percent of Hispanics in America identify themselves as Catholic. As in Italy, however, there’s a clear generational divide: Only 55 percent aged 18 to 29 self-identify as Catholics, compared with 80 percent of those 65 and above.

The poll also found that religious belief and practice tends to be keener among Latino/a Protestants, especially those who belong to an Evangelical or Pentecostal church. Such Hispanics are twice as likely to attend religious services on a weekly basis, they’re more likely to see the Bible as the Word of God, and more likely to hold traditional views on issues such as same-sex marriage and abortion.

At least three questions suggest themselves:

* Is there something about Catholicism in America that offers Hispanics less insulation from the pressures of secular culture than Evangelical and Pentecostal churches?
* Is there something about the transition from Spanish to English that’s associated with a decline in Catholic faith and practice? (For instance, is the sort of Catholicism that’s developed in Anglo-Saxon culture, with its emphasis on individualism, congregationalism, etc., sometimes uncongenial for Hispanics?)
* What programs of outreach or evangelization among younger Latino/a Catholics seem most promising?

For obvious reasons, all of this ought to be of live concern to pastoral leaders in American Catholicism.

A recent Pew Forum study of the American religious landscape projected that in 2030, the Catholic church in the United States will reach a demographic milestone: For the first time, whites will not be a statistical majority of the Catholic population. They’ll still be a plurality, at 48 percent, but Hispanics will represent 41 percent. Around mid-century, Hispanics will likely become the Catholic majority.

Given that demographic reality — which Luis Lugo, director of the Pew Forum, calls the “browning” of American Catholicism — the fate of the faith among younger Hispanics will have a great deal to say about the American Catholic future.

* * *

Finally, there was also a study out this week which offers some unalloyed good news for the Catholic church.

Thomson Reuters, which is a secular, for-profit source of business and professional data, released a study of 255 health systems in the United States, grouping them into four categories: Catholic, other church-owned, secular non-profit, and investor-owned for-profit. The bottom line is that Catholic health systems had the highest scores for overall quality, as well as for the quality of services offered to the communities they serve.

Factors taken into consideration included:

* Overall mortality rates
* Complication rates
* Patient safety index
* 30-day risk-adjusted mortality rate for heart attack, heart failure, and pneumonia
* 30-day risk-adjusted readmission rate for heart attack, heart failure, and pneumonia
* Average length of stay
* Patient ratings of overall hospital performance

Catholic systems, along with church-owned systems generally, significantly outperformed both for-profit providers and secular non-profit health systems.

“Our data suggest that the leadership teams (boards, executives, and physician and nursing leaders) of health systems owned by churches may be the most active in aligning quality goals and monitoring achievement across the system,” the study concluded.

The last year or so, to be honest, has been a turbulent period for Catholic health care in America. A bruising political battle over health care reform opened a rift with the U.S. bishops which still isn’t completely closed, and there are hard questions about the economic viability of Catholic hospitals and systems in some parts of the country. At the moment, the proposed sale of Caritas Christi Health Care in Boston to a venture capital group, which has aroused indignation in some Catholic circles, illustrates the point.

Especially in that context, it’s consoling to see a clear public acknowledgment, and from an objective secular source, of the extraordinary quality of Catholic health care in America. Complimenti!

John L. Allen Jr. is NCR senior correspondent



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Excommunicated Milingo to become ‘patriarch’ of parachurch

August 13, 2010 – catholicculture.org

Emmanuel Milingo, who was excommunicated in 2006 after illiclitly consecrating bishops and was reduced to the lay state in 2009, has been named the Ecumenical Catholic Apostolic Church of Peace’s patriarch of southern Africa. Milingo had served as the Catholic archbishop of Lusaka (Zambia) from 1969 to 1983 before working for the Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant Peoples.

Others “look at me and feel that using my spiritual experience I have greatly contributed to the Church unity,” Milingo said. “They have seen how I have silently suffered many injustices.”

Milingo married Maria Sung at a 2001 ceremony organized by Sun Myung Moon of the Unification Church.

Source(s)
Milingo to be installed as patriarch (Lusaka Times)
Zambia: Milingo to be installed as patriarch
Former Lusaka Catholic Archbishop Emmanuel Milingo will this weekend be installed as a patriarch of Africa in charge of the southern African region.

The outspoken cleric will be installed as the third patriarch of Africa on Sunday at Barlastone Park School near Twikatane Farms in Lusaka by several church denominations.

Archbishop Milingo told the Times in Lusaka that the ceremony would follow a similar one held in Cameroun which was organised by five churches.

He said the gathering would be held under the auspices of the Ecumenical Catholic Apostolic Church of Peace and would be witnessed by several married bishops.

Archbishop Milingo said he would be installed as a patriarch of Africa in charge of southern Africa which includes Cameroun, Congo Brazzaville and all the other countries in the neighbourhood.

He said he was humbled to be honoured and expressed confidence that he would competently represent the churches that had recognised his contributions to humanity.

Among the churches which would be represented are the Old Catholic Church, Orthodox, Liberal Catholic of Spain, Charismatic Church of Brazil, Independent Catholic and others from the United States of America and other parts of the world.
“My installation has two meanings: The first one is that the African Church leaders think I have reached the age to be an elder of bishops.

“Secondly, they look at me and feel that using my spiritual experience I have greatly contributed to the Church unity. They have seen how I have silently suffered many injustices,” Archbishop Milingo said.

Founder of Imani Temple of America, Augustus Stallings is among the clerics expected from the US.

Archbishop Stallings is a former Jesuit bishop in the Roman Catholic Church.

“My installation has two meanings: The first one is that the African Church leaders think I have reached the age to be an elder of bishops.

“Secondly, they look at me and feel that using my spiritual experience I have greatly contributed to the Church unity. They have seen how I have silently suffered many injustices,” Archbishop Milingo said.

Archbishop Milingo, who stunned the world when in 2001, while serving as a Roman Catholic archbishop married Maria Sung, said most of the churches involved followed almost all the Roman Catholic Church doctrines and conducted mass in a similar fashion.

He said the ceremony on August 15 would start with a traditional prayer service from a Ngoni traditional group and would be followed by a Catholic mass.

Africa currently has two such patriarchs in Alexandria, Egypt, and in Ethiopia, and Archbishop Milingo said his installation would mark a milestone for southern Africa.

The 80-year-old priest heads the Married Priests Now Prelature, which he founded following his marriage.
[ Times of Zambia ]


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Paraguayan president, a former bishop, ordered to take paternity test

AFP

Paraguayan President Fernando Lugo has been ordered to take a DNA test to determine whether he is the father of a two-year-old boy as the child’s mother claims, legal officials said on Wednesday.

The order, issued by a family court judge on Tuesday as Lugo travelled to a Brazilian hospital to have a cancerous tumour examined, compounded problems the president – a former Catholic bishop – faces after a string of women alleged he fathered their children.

Lugo, 59, admitted last year to having a child, now aged three, with a 26-year-old woman after she sued.

Two other paternity lawsuits have been lodged against him, including by the woman in Tuesday’s judgement, Hortensia Damiana Moran, who said Lugo fathered her son Juan Pablo.

“I am happy because at last we’re going to put an end to this drawn-out and stressful process,” Moran told reporters.

The judge, Ana Ovelar, gave Lugo until August 24 to carry out the DNA test.

If the test is not done, the boy will be named Lugo’s son by a court judgement and bear Lugo’s last name.

The Paraguayan leader flew to Sao Paulo in Brazil on Wednesday for examination of a malignant cancer.

Paraguayan officials say the cancer is “potentially curable,” and Lugo will likely undergo chemotherapy.

Moran said of Lugo’s illness: “Hearing the news causes me much pain. I hope he gets better. As a Christian, I know that sooner or later we pay for the evil we do. The time has come for him to redeem himself.”

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International Day of Peace, or "Peace Day," is marked on September 21

Peace Day

International Day of Peace, or “Peace Day,” is marked on September 21 each year by the United Nations. A unanimous United Nations resolution in 1982 made Peace Day a global holiday celebrated by all 192 Member States and highlights efforts of individuals, communities, nations and governments to end conflict and promote peace. Millions of people around the world celebrate Peace Day.

In an effort to unite the strengths of existing organizations, projects and peoples in building a Culture of Peace for future generations, the Culture of Peace Initiative (CPI) was developed. CPI serves as a vehicle for bringing to light the previously unseen and unheard Peacebuilders working towards Peace along diverse pathways. Many of the events surrounding the United Nation’s International Day of Peace highlight these stories and can be celebrated on the CPI web site. CPI also supports UNESCO’s International Decade for the Culture of Peace and Non-Violence for the Children of the World (2001-2010).

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Women priests offer differing approaches to valid ordination


There has developed a movement, Roman Catholic Womenpriests, which presently claims four women bishops and 45 women priests in the United States, as well as others in Europe and Canada. This movement has shaped a thoughtful ecclesiology defining itself both as in valid succession in the Roman Catholic tradition and also as a valid reform that is reclaiming the authentic discipleship of equals of the earliest church based on the redemptive mission of Christ.

By Rosemary Radford Ruether

In 2002 seven Roman Catholic women were ordained in Austria on the Danube River by an independent Catholic bishop, Romulo Antonio Braschi. Later unnamed Roman Catholic bishops ordained some of these women priests as bishops. These women bishops, in turn, have been ordaining other women deacons, priests and bishops. From this beginning there has developed a movement, Roman Catholic Womenpriests (RCWP), which presently claims four women bishops and 45 women priests in the United States, as well as others in Europe and Canada. This movement has shaped a thoughtful ecclesiology defining itself both as in valid succession in the Roman Catholic tradition and also as a valid reform that is reclaiming the authentic discipleship of equals of the earliest church based on the redemptive mission of Christ.(1)

Rejecting the papal declaration of May 28, 2008, that the women and the male bishops who originally ordained them are “excommunicated latae sententiae” (automatically), RCWP declared that “we will continue to serve our beloved church in a renewed priestly ministry that welcomes all to celebrate the sacraments in inclusive, Christ-centered, Spirit-empowered communities wherever we are called.” RCWP claims to stand in “apostolic succession” based on the validity of the episcopal ordination of their founding bishop:
The ordinations of Roman Catholic Womenpriests 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. Therefore, our bishops validly ordain deacons, priests and bishops. Consequently, all qualified candidates, including baptized ministers and priests from other Christian traditions, who are presented to our bishops for ordination are ordained by the laying on of hands into the same line of apostolic succession in the Roman Catholic Church.(2)

Clearly the pope does not agree with this view. For him the women bishops, priests and deacons — as well as the originating bishops — are automatically excommunicated, based on the fact that these ordinations took place against church teaching and without papal approval. Besides this, there is the theological assumption that women by their very nature are incapable of receiving valid ordination as priests in the Roman Catholic Church.(3) (The Vatican mentality toward women was revealed on July 15, 2010, with the release of a document lumping sexual abuse of children by priests and women’s ordination as both “very grave crimes.”) What then is the concept of “apostolic succession” and “full communion with the pope” that this movement assumes can be unaffected by this profound conflict with papal authority?

Before discussing this issue, let us look at a different approach to valid ordination that has emerged in a faith community in San Diego, Calif., under the leadership of one of the Roman Catholic Womenpriests, Jane Via. Desiring to create and be a part of a vibrant Catholic community that reflected her vision of what such a community should be, Via, a religious educator and lawyer, developed, with the help of ex-priest Rod Stephens, the Mary Magdalene Apostle Catholic Community (MMACC) in 2005.

For some years Nancy Corran, a woman of Protestant background who holds a degree in theology from Oxford and a Master’s of Divinity degree from the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley, Calif., has served with Jane Via and Rod Stephens as a pastoral associate. In 2009 Corran decided that she wanted to become a Catholic in the context of the Mary Magdalene community. The leadership of the Mary Magdalene church decided to call her as a priest to their community. However they decided not to call a bishop from the RCWP movement to come and ordain her, but rather to ordain her as a collective action of their faith community. They based their right to do this on their reading of early church history in which they learned that Christians in the early centuries had called priests and ordained them through the collective action of local faith communities. This ordination of Corran to the deaconate and then to the priesthood by the collective action of MMACC took place July 30 and 31, 2010. Everyone in the community, including the children, laid hands on Corran and signed the official paper as her ordainers.

This decision by MMACC has caused consternation among some in the RCWP movement. Some have even suggested that this action undermines the “apostolic succession” of their movement. By implication the ordination of Corran would be outside of this lineage of “apostolic succession.” The emergence of this difference sparks inquiry into the basis of this concept of “apostolic succession” which has become so important for the RCWP movement, and upon which they base the validity of their own ordinations, despite its repudiation by the pope. Why does the leadership of MMACC feel they can disregard this, even though Via was herself ordained in this movement? What does “apostolic succession” as the basis of valid ordination of priests by bishops mean?

This concept of apostolic succession is widely contested. Although claimed by Roman Catholicism, most Protestants, based on historical studies of early Christianity, see this as an historical fiction with little basis in “apostolic” or first century Christianity. In the view of most modern church historians, first and second century Christianity was highly diverse. Christianity manifested itself in several movements that reflected a variety of world views of the time. In many cities of the eastern Mediterranean, such as Alexandria, some of the first Christian groups were Gnostics of various kinds.

According to the gospels, Jesus chose 12 disciples in his life time.(4) After his death, one of them, Judas Iscariot, the traitor of Jesus, was replaced by Matthias by collective action of the remaining 11 disciples (Acts I: 15-26). But these 12 disciples have left little record of evangelizing Gentiles and founding churches around the world. In fact, the original idea of the 12 disciples probably was intended to represent the 12 tribes of Israel, not a group of worldwide founders of churches from which a succession of bishops descended.

The concept of a Gentile church drawn from all nations originated with the evangelizing mission of Paul, himself not a member of Jesus’ original disciples, but rather a convert to the Christian movement after Jesus’ death. In the story of the spread of Christianity outside Palestine, the names of most of the 12 disciples disappear. The only ones claimed to be related to areas outside Palestine are Peter, associated with Antioch and also with Rome (in death), John in Ephesus, although not as a church founder, and Thomas in India, the last of questionable historicity.(5)

The concept of a monarchical episcopacy; that is, city-based churches headed by a bishop in hierarchical power above elders (presbyters) and deacons, emerged slowly between the late first and early third centuries. Ignatius of Antioch claimed such a monarchical episcopacy for himself in the church of Antioch in letters written in the early 2nd century on his way to martyrdom in Rome, but he makes no mention of Peter as the founding apostle of his church.(6) Irenaeus of Lyons, combating various gnosticisms in his writings Against the Heresies in the late second century, expounds the idea of a succession of teachers that guarantee apostolic teaching versus gnostics. For him the church of Rome is the primary example of such a succession of bishop-teachers. (7)

Several “tools” of orthodoxy emerged in this period. One was a canonical New Testament composed of writings known to be of older tradition and hence as “apostolic.” These were seen as distinguishable from the plurality of writings circulating among the churches that used the names of apostles — such as the Gospel of Peter, the Acts of Peter and the Revelation of Peter, the Acts of Andrew and the Acts of John — but perceived as heretical in content.(8) A historical lineage of teaching going back to the 1st or early 2nd centuries, guaranteed by a succession of bishop-teachers, was seen as validating this apostolic tradition. These tools emerged in order to separate what was being defined as orthodoxy against the plurality of other traditions of a more gnostic type.

In the process of defining this “apostolic tradition” against the “heresies,” writers like Irenaeus constructed an historical argument that posited that what was emerging as “orthodoxy” in the late 2nd century was the original teaching of Jesus and the apostles — while the various other forms of Christianity were decried as later deviations. Modern historians generally have decided that the historical reality was more the opposite of this schema. In other words, many variant Christianities were actually earlier. What was being defined as orthodoxy was a construct that emerged later. The successful purge of this earlier diversity allowed the emerging orthodoxy to claim historical originality.(9)
Hippolytus of RomeHippolytus of Rome
A lineage of bishops descending from founding apostles of leading churches was the key idea in this emerging claim of “apostolic teaching.” In this construct the twelve disciples were sent forth around the world, founded churches in key cities with themselves as founding bishops, and gave each church an apostolic teaching that was identical. The succession of bishops descended from the founding apostle carried this same teaching unchanged through the generations. This concept of apostolic succession, with successions of bishop-descendents of founding apostles, bears little basis in the historical reality of how Christianity actually spread, although it was a useful (and doubtless sincerely believed) idea to define an emerging orthodoxy for churches seeking a common front against their rivals.

Rome was an early claimant for this role of guarantor of apostolic teaching, although, interestingly enough, the monarchical bishop appears to have been slow to emerge there. The 2nd century “orthodox” Roman church was one among several Christian groups in the city. But this emerging church maintained into the third century a more collective form of church government in which the bishop was a leading elder, rather than a monarchical bishop in hierarchical relation over the other elders. (10)

A significant document that testifies to the tradition of this Roman church is that of Hippolytus of Rome, a Greek-born presbyter of this church who wrote in the early 3rd century a treatise called The Apostolic Tradition. Hippolytus was a rigorist thinker who sought to exclude various heresies from acceptance. He was briefly elected bishop as a rival to a more lax leader of the church, Callistus, who later tradition defines as “pope” from 217-222 A.D. Hippolytus, writing in The Apostolic Tradition, reflects his own memory of how things were done in this church back into the mid-second century. Significantly he assumes a collective authority in which the church as a whole or “all the people” together call the bishop. The presbyters and “any bishops who happen to be present” give their consent and lay hands on this leader. Clearly what is understood as the church order of mid-second to early third century Rome is one of collective calling and ordination by the local faith community as a whole.(11) This is the tradition claimed by Mary Magdalene Apostle Catholic Community today.

The notion of the “apostles,” that is, the 12 disciples chosen by Jesus, founding churches and inaugurating a succession of monarchical bishops, became formulated in its historical form in the late second and third centuries and appears as a set idea in the History of the Church by Eusebius, who wrote successive versions of this work from 305 to 330 AD. For Eusebius, orthodoxy was guaranteed by apostolic succession through the foundation of churches by apostles and the passing down of identical apostolic teaching through their succession of bishops in each church. Eusebius has many references to bishops of various churches from Asia Minor to Italy, but he can only produce continuous lists from apostolic times to his own time for four leading churches: Jerusalem, Alexandria, Antioch and Rome.(12) He has a few partial lists for other churches, such as Corinth, but does not claim apostolic founders for them.
Eusebius of CaesareaEusebius of Caesarea
Careful examination of his lists for the four leading churches raises the question whether any of these were actually founded by one of the 12 apostles. Jerusalem claims as its founding leader, James, the brother of Jesus, who was not a disciple in Jesus’ time, but was converted to Christianity after his death. The names of 12 Jewish leaders of this church “of the circumcision” are claimed from the time of James until the Roman destruction of the city in 139 A.D. when this church disappeared. But it is hard to imagine that this extensive list actually represents a succession of monarchical bishops, rather than names of coexisting leaders. When this church disappeared in 139 A.D., a second list of bishops is claimed for a gentile church in a newly founded Roman city near Jerusalem, but one is puzzled about how this list can be seen as continuing the line from James, Jesus brother.

The lineage of Alexandria does not claim an apostle founder but cites Mark, author of the Gospel of that name, as its founder. But the succession of bishops of that city is likely a later construct, as orthodoxy gradually asserted itself against earlier gnosticisms. In Antioch, “where the disciples were first called Christians” (Acts11:26) Peter was apparently present on more than one occasion. Eusebius claims Peter was the first bishop of Antioch, with Ignatius as his second successor,(13) but Ignatius himself seems unaware of this.

Rome, which became the model for the idea of apostolic succession, claims both Peter and Paul as founders. But we know that the church of Rome already existed at the time of Paul’s ministry in Greece, when Peter had not been to Rome. Peter may have been martyred there, but did not found the church of Rome and was probably not a leader there, much less a “bishop.” So, in each case, the connection of later bishop lists to a supposedly founding apostle fades on examination.

Not only is there a historical gap between apostles and later bishop lists, but also, this original concept of apostolic succession that developed in the late second to fourth centuries did not originally have anything to do with passing down the priestly power to do Eucharist from Jesus to apostles to bishops (who were thereby empowered to ordain other bishops and priests with the charism to do Eucharist). Apostolic succession was originally about apostolic teaching,(14) not priestly power to do Eucharist. It was a way of claiming a unitary form of Christian teaching from Jesus through the apostles for a lineage of bishop-teachers that could be defined across churches against heretics, thus ruling out the earlier diversity of forms of Christianity.

The idea of apostolic succession as a transmission of Eucharistic power from Jesus and the apostles to bishops is a later idea that emerges slowly to replace the earlier emphasis on a lineage of apostolic teaching. It becomes fully developed only in the 12th century when a concept of priesthood is defined based on the power to “confect” the Eucharist (that is, the power to turn the bread and wine into the body and blood of Christ), as the central idea of ordination, excluding earlier ideas of ordination based on installation into various offices. This earlier view of ordination as installation into holding offices allowed various people to be seen as ordained, including women as queens, abbesses and deaconesses.

As ordination came to be linked primarily with priesthood and its ability to “confect” the Eucharist the idea of ordination as installation into an office was eliminated and, with it, the possibility of women being ordained. Only men who share Christ’s maleness could inherit this power to do Eucharist which was supposedly passed down from Christ himself to his twelve apostles and from them to their bishop-descendents. Thus the triumph of a priestly eucharistic concept of ordination, passed down through apostolic succession, is itself an integral part of a process in which women were eliminated as ordainable.(15)

Ironically, it is this 12th century concept of apostolic succession as the transmission of the power to do Eucharist which is claimed by the RCWP movement as they lift up the episcopal ordination of their founding bishops as proof of the validity of their own ordinations. This concept of valid ordination, transmitted through the apostolic succession from their founding bishops, works only if one implicitly assumes a mechanistic view of the transmission of this power from one bishop to another. In other words, ordination in apostolic succession is assumed to transmit a kind of spiritual power as a personal “possession” which the ordained persons can dispose of as they wish — apart from agreement with the pope as authorizer in the Roman Catholic Church of who can or should be ordained.

This power can then be assumed to continue in force, even allowing the bishop ordaining the women to be described as in “full communion with the pope” despite being excommunicated by the pope. Thus being in “communion” with the pope in this context has nothing to do with being in agreement with the pope on who can be ordained, but rather as possessing this ordaining power as a personal endowment that can be transmitted to others by engaging in the sacramental act of ordaining.

By contrast, the leaders of Mary Magdalene Apostle Catholic Community go back to a much earlier view of church and ordination closer to apostolic times, manifested in Hippolytus’ treatise on The Apostolic Tradition. Here ordination has to do with installing a person in an office of teacher and worship leader for a faith community who “all the people” of that community call and ordain collectively.

Does this mean that the MMACC community is “right” in their views, and the RCWP should abandon their faulty claims to apostolic succession? This is not the point. Rather both movements can recognize their common ground on which both can claim the validity of their divergent forms of ordination. This common ground lies in a history and tradition of Christian churches as faith communities linked to the past through memory and through constant imaginative efforts to reconstruct what is most life-giving in their traditions and to base themselves on faithful reproduction of that life-giving tradition. RCWP and MMACC are both seeking to be “apostolic” in their thinking and living through different versions of that process.

—————————————————————-

(1) “Ordinations,” romancatholicwomenpriests.org
(2) Ibid.
(3) This view of women’s incapacity to be ordained due to the defective nature of femaleness was developed by Thomas Aquinas, based on Aristotelian anthropology. See Kari Borreson, Subordination and Equivalence: The Nature and Role of Women in Augustine and Thomas Aquinas (Washington, D.C.: University Press of America, 1981), pp. 236-239.
(4) The lists of 12 apostles are found in Matthew 10:2-4, Mark 3:16-19, Luke 6:14-16. Acts 1:13 contains eleven names, dropping Judas Iscariot. The lists are not fully consistent. Matthew and Mark list a Thaddeus. Luke and Acts lack this name, but have Jude, son of James instead.
(5) See the Wikipedia articles on “John the Apostle” and “Thomas the Apostle.”
(6) See The Letters of Ignatius of Antioch, Gerald G. Walsh, trans. The Apostolic Fathers, The Fathers of the Church, vol. 1 (NY: CIMA Publishing Company, 1947), pp. 83-127.
(7) Irenaeus, Against the Heresies, III.3,23
(8) See Harry Y. Gamble, The New Testament Canon: Its Making and Meaning (Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1985).
(9) The scholar whose work helped establish this view is Walter Bauer, Orthodoxy and Heresy in Early Christianity (Philadelphia: Fortress, 1971).
(10) See Kurt Aland, A History of Christianity, vol. 1 (Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1985), p. 120.
(11) The Apostolic Tradition of Hippolytus, Burton Scott Easton, trans. (Archon Books,1962).
(12) Eusebius, The History of the Church from Christ to Constantine, G.A. Williamson, trans. (Minneapolis, MN: Augsburg Publishing House, 1965) appendix, pp. 415-17.
(13) Ibid., p. 145 (Book III.36)
(14) See Irenaeus, op.cit., who refers to the succession of bishops at Rome as teachers who all agreed in teaching “right doctrine,” offering no “secret teaching.”
(15) For a key book showing the development of this kind of view of ordination and the suppression of earlier forms of ordination that included women, see Gary Macy, The Hidden History of Women’s Ordination (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2007).

Copyright © The National Catholic Reporter Publishing Company

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Unity in diversity

The promulgation of Anglicanorum Coetibus on the 9th November2009 poses a question to Married Priests – a glimmer of hope or a retrograde step?

1. The European Federation is a union of groupings of Roman Catholic married priests from Belgium, Germany, France, Italy, Spain, Austria and the United Kingdom. Hence there is a variety of cultures and social contexts. There are also links with other Federations of Roman Catholic married priests. In no way can there be a unanimous point of view on every minute theological detail or, indeed, on all matters of praxis and strategy. The history of the movement evidences a long period of reflection, tensions and often passionately held differences. Out of that the following voice of unity emerges, much of which is at odds with the contents of Anglicanorum Coetibus. In addition to uniting support groups for Roman Catholic married priests and their families, when confronted with the ever growing crisis of the dearth of ‘male, celibate, clerical’ candidates for the office of priesthood, the federation speaks out strongly against the obligatory law of celibacy and, positively, focuses on the community base which should be the nursery for supplying candidates for priestly office. It wishes to shift the emphasis from a focus on one particular type of ministry to a re-examination of the plurality of baptism based ministries in the service of the people of God. On the principle that justice cannot be divided, their reflections on the Gospel principles of truth and justice have led them to take aboard all forms of discrimination both in society and especially internally in the church. Discrimination against the laity and, in particular, against women is to the fore.
2. It might be thought that Rome’s response to the petition of groups of Anglicans to be received “into full Catholic communion individually as well as corporately” and the setting up of “personal ordinariates” for those who wish to enter in a corporate manner, following the reception of other Anglican married priests over the past number of years, might suggest a glimmer of hope at least as a gradual move to change the obligatory law of celibacy. A close reading of this brief document Apostolic Constitution Anglicanorum Coetibus suggests rather that this is a retrograde step on so many fronts: the obligatory law of celibacy, ecumenical endeavours, the attempts to move to a more collegial, transparent and democratic exercise of pastoral office in the church.

3. The document has a simple structure: the occasion (par.1). ecclesiological principles (par 2-4) and the regulation of the pastoral ordinariates (a further three pages of the document, excluding footnotes). Granted the legal character of the document, that may be as expected, but, nonetheless, the emphasis is rather ominous.

4. Reaction to the document has been varied – ‘proselytising’, ‘unecumenical’, ‘welcoming’, ‘pastoral’. Since the invitation is a response to a petition it may very well be that a charge like proselytising is beside the point. However, what is not said is important also. It is never mentioned that the petitioners are from a traditional wing of the Anglican Church (if we may be allowed to use that language) who find themselves at odds with what might be termed the more liberalising tendencies in the Anglican Communion. Individuals or groups for that matter, making an option for change on positive grounds is one thing – moving over, not as a move towards, but as flight from is another matter. The opening words of the Constitution attributes that petition to the movement of the Holy Spirit: “In recent times the Holy Spirit has moved groups of Anglicans to petition repeatedly…” These words seem to jar with the Gospel of John 3:8: “The wind blows where it wills; you hear the sound of it, but you do not know where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone who is born from the Spirit”. This play on the Greek word ‘pneuma’ (wind/spirit) at least raises the question, ‘Could that same Spirit be animating those Anglican groups who are endeavouring to grow in dialogue, not only with their past tradition, but with their contemporary situation in a very different social and cultural context?’ Rome seems to be attributing to the voice of the Spirit what it actually wants to hear and one remembers the attempts to bring into unity similar ’right wing’ groups in the Roman church, such as the Lefebvre group, Pius the X liturgical groups and others. What are the criteria for discernment? Again what is not said is interesting. In a document which amply cross references Vatican II no mention is made of the primacy of conscience. That might make us think of such groupings in the Roman Catholic Church as The European Federation of Married Priests, We are Church and many other networks, which have remained loyal members of the Church and are fighting their corner, pushing for dialogue and openness over against a very traditionalist church institution.

5. Before moving to the ecclesiological principles it is worth noting how

language can be a great revealer or betrayer. The personal ordinariates are for those who are entering into full communion with the Catholic Church. The Anglicans would certainly already see themselves as catholic, as a branch of the universal Catholic Church – the root meaning of the word catholic being universal. An editorial in the Tablet of 14th. November 2009 claims that the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faithhas failed to grasp what Anglo-Catholicism is all about: its main aim was to reassertthe Catholic credentials of the Church of England as the ‘ancient Catholic Church of these lands, identical to the medieval English Church’. What then is the goal of the invitation? The document’s insistence on Rome’s mandate to guarantee the unity of the episcopate and to preside over and safeguard the universal communion of all the churches and its characterising every division among the baptised as a wound would suggest that what they are offering is full communion with the Roman Catholic Church. In dealing with ecclesiological principles, to say that the single church of Christ “subsists in the Catholic Church governed by the successor of Peter and his bishops” seems lacking in a certain sense of history and is a curious way of thinking incarnationally. Certainly, the church, analogous to the mystery of the Word incarnate, as the document claims, is not only a spiritual invisible communion but also visible. However, the Word was incarnate, not in a generic essentialist human being, but in a 1st century male Jewish man. That incarnationalist way of thinking, of dealing with the paradox of the transcendence and immanence of the divine, underpins much of our scriptures all the way from Genesis 1, the entrance of God into our space/time continuum in relationship with God’s creatures. That encourages us not to see that 1st century incarnation as a one off, unique event, important though that was. Much less should we see the subsistence of the universal church in one institution which pays lip service to the elements of truth found outside its borders. Just as internally the insights of Vatican II about collegiality and subsidiarity have been largely ignored and bishops and bishops conferences are treated as, and act as, in feudal service to Rome, thus ignoring the variety of social and cultural contexts into which spiritual realities must be incarnated, so these personal ordinariates are in danger of entering into fiefdom to the Roman Pontiff and curia. The lack of discussion, before the promulgation of the Apostolic Constitution, with either the Anglican Communion or the appropriate local Catholic bishops bears this out. Once again we see Ultramontanism in conflict with Vatican 11’s focus on collegiality. The response of the English bishops in obediently setting up a commission to manage what had already been decided without consultation says a lot. One letter writer to the Tablet concludes that “nothing less than a collective demonstration of Episcopal moral testosterone is required, but I will not be holding my breath”. According to Nicholas Lash (Tablet of14th November 2009)a major structural innovation in Roman Catholicism has been introduced without consulting the bishops of the Catholic Church. This is major structural innovation and comparison with the so called ‘Uniate’ churches will not do. Each of these latter is primarily a church, with its own identity, history and character. The proposed ‘ordinariates’, whatever that term is supposed to mean, are not churches but groups of disaffected members of the Anglican Communion.

6. There is also damage to ecumenical relationships. Why, for example, was all of this matter placed in the hands of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, in which Joseph Ratzinger served for 23 years, and not handled by the Pontifical Commission for promoting Christian Unity? It looks very much like a pre-Vatican 11 approach to evangelisation, i.e. ‘Return to Rome’, rather than working to overcome theological differences, as was evidenced in the tireless work of the joint commissions which produced the ARCIC documents.

7. The regulations which are based on such unecumenical and undemocratic principles are not surprising. There are a great many unanswered questions in these scant regulations. The following are the trenchant points:
1. Each ordinariate is juridically comparable to a diocese, though without geographical boundaries, but what is the extent of such and how would it work? Though it is entrusted to the pastoral care of an ordinary appointed by the Roman Pontiff we are left wondering if this is the appropriate local bishop. All falls under the shadow of Rome. Their expression of faith is that of the Catechism of the Catholic Church. If such Anglicans had come over individually, as was possible, following the traditional route of the Rite of Christian Initiation a much less elaborate and simple formula of doctrinal assent was all that would have been required. Government is subjected to the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith and other dicasteries of the Roman curia. A look at Rome’s history of parachuting in compliant ‘yes men’ bishops and its ignoring of Vatican II’s focus on collegiality suggests that little independence would remain.
2. Certainly such ordinariates can maintain their own liturgical traditions. For how long under such strict controls and in an institution where everything liturgical right down to having girls as altar servers has to be referred to Rome and where there is current unrest about the imposition of a new form of Eucharistic text in Latinised English?
3. The Constitution was published in English and Italian – the Latin text is not yet forthcoming. The discussion of the ‘potestas’ of the ordinariate (‘Power’ in the English translation) seems more concerned with authority than with power and that potestas is to be exercised in the name of the Roman Pontiff.
4. In spite of the Anglican tradition of a house of the laity as part of governance the only governing body mentioned is to consist of at least six priests. There is no mention of the laity and would that be possible if they are held to all the obligations of the Code of Canon law? In that code all lay councils are advisory only. Standard practice in most of the Church of England is that the laity has a deliberative voice and bishops are elected by clergy and laity.
5. “Those who ministered as Anglican deacons, priests or bishops may be accepted by the Ordinary as candidates for Holy Orders in the Catholic Church”. That is, they do not come over as ordained priests in their communities but only as candidates. Anglican orders are still being treated as invalid. Bishops who are married may be ordained as priests but, in spite of some peculiar honorary arrangements will not be able to function as bishops. Those who are married are subject to the norms established by Pope Paul VI. The Ordinary, presumably the appointed pastoral ordinary, will admit only celibate men to the order of presbyter and married priests will be admitted on a case by case basis according to norms established by the Holy See. That does not bode well when one considers the history of discrimination against the exercise of their ministry by married priests in the Uniate Churches when they are outside their own territories. One writer refers to it as ‘clericalised version’ of Anglicanism. Whereas the ‘clergy family’ is an important part of the Anglican patrimony the aim seems to be to produce a celibate clergy within an Anglican form Catholicism.

8. The simple answer to the original question in the title of this reflection would seem to be in the negative. There is little of hope in the document or in the way in which it was launched which would raise our expectations about ecumenism, about the abolition of the obligatory law of celibacy, about the cessation of discrimination, especially against women, or about the moves to a more decentralised, democratic and responsible exercise of the pastoral ministry in the church of Rome. In addition, a systems approach to change in any institution demands that one thinks through the intended and unintended consequences of that change on the institution in all its parts. Is it too cynical to think that Rome is using a systems approach and sees clearly the effects of the entry of such large numbers of disaffected traditionalists from the Anglican Communion into what are in reality dioceses without geographical boundaries? Rome is well aware that there are many voices within its own borders which are in favour of women priests, and even bishops, and who are not at all happy with Rome’s stance on the question of homosexuality. Is Rome drafting in support for its own entrenched positions?

J. Mulrooney/ M. Hyland. July 2010

Senza categoria

Lutheran ceremony admits gay “Bay Area Seven” to clergy roster

Seven gay pastors were reinstated recently into the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America after having been barred from service for some 20 years.

The pastors, also called the “Bay Area Seven” are Reverends Jeff Johnson, Paul Brenner, Dawn Roginski, Ross Merkel, Megan Rohrer, Craig Minich and Sharon Stalkfleet.

They will be officially recognized on the ECLA clergy roster, making them eligible to serve in any of the denomination’s 10,500 Lutheran churches.

In September, three more gay pastors will be admitted and in October, one gay pastor in Chicago and two in St. Paul-Minneapolis will be welcomed. All in all, a total of 46 openly gay pastors are slated to be welcomed to the clergy roster.

The ceremony, which was held at St. Mark’s Lutheran Church in San Francisco, is the first of many more that have been scheduled since the ELCA decided last year to accept non-celibate gay ministers who are in committed relationships.

In the past, gay men and women could become Lutheran pastors only if they took a vow of celibacy.

According to The New York Times Rev. Johnson said, “Today the church is speaking with a clear voice. All people are welcome here, all people are invited to help lead this church, and all people are loved unconditionally by God.”

Johnson said the ECLA’s former policy “ruined lives, destroyed faiths.”

Rev. Rohrer said she viewed the ceremony not as her first day as a pastor but a day when “the church gets to receive me as a pastor.” She is a missionary for the homeless and serves in four churches, the San Francisco Chronicle said.

The ECLA, which has 4.6 million members, is the largest Protestant church in the U.S. to admit non-celibate gay clergy. The decision has led 185 of its 10,396 congregations to separate from the denomination.

The United Church of Christ and the Episcopal Church permit gay clergy, and the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) may soon follow suit as its general assembly voted to allow non-celibate gay clergy to serve, however this needs ratification by a majority of the PCUSA’s 173 regional presbyteries.

theundergroundsite