BBC My Story

BBC My Story

This week's theme is love and the winner is Adeline Harris with her story An Unconventional Love.

The full published book can be downloaded for free from the Winners' page.

Pope Cautions Against Dilution of Priestly Ministry

VATICAN CITY, MARCH 16, 2009 ( Benedict XVI is affirming the importance of the ministerial priesthood in the Church, and is calling for greater attention to the education of clergy.

The Pope said this today during an audience with participants of the Congregation for Clergy's plenary assembly, a Vatican communiqué reported. In this meeting, he also announced his intention to convoke a Year for Priests, beginning June 19, on the occasion of 150th anniversary of the death of the Curé of Ars.

The Pontiff cautioned his audience against confusing the baptismal and ministerial priesthood, stating that the two are distinguished on an ontological level, rather than by a variance in degrees. The second dimension, he said, "arises from [the priest's] sacramental configuration to Christ the Head."

The Signs of the Times

Women outside Westminster Cathedral greeted warmly by church goers on the 1st   February after the 10.30 am Sung Mass. There were about 10 members of the group handing out leaflets and there were clearly many people who were in favour of what they were doing.
As the Church continues to lurch to the right, we need to remember that collegiality and the Spirit speaking through its members is still a reality in our Church, at least from those in the pews !
Dialogue is needed and needed soon. We can no longer ignore the signs of the times. The Church is imploading at the expense of regulations that have out-lived their usefulness or purpose. More information at and

Pope praying for vocations

Pope Praying for Many New Vocations

Says They Are "Precious" Gifts to Church
VATICAN CITY, FEB. 1, 2009 ( Benedict XVI is asking the faithful to pray for many new vocations the consecrated life, which he said are "precious" gifts to the Church.

New Website for Europe !

The new web site for the European Federation of Married Priest has been launched.  The site is manually translated into different languages rather than using automatic translation services. The automatic machine translation was removed on request from the Advent Group site due to its inaccuracy. If anyone would like to help in the manual transaltion of the content of this site please contact the web author, Alex Walker.

Priests to Face Sex Drive Test

Pope Benedict has approved new test >

The Roman Catholic Church has issued guidance for future priests to have psychological tests to weed out those unable to control their sexual urges.

A senior churchman said a series of sex scandals had contributed to the rewriting of the guidelines.

The authors said screening would help avoid "tragic situations" caused by what they termed psychological defects.

The guidance says the voluntary tests should also aim to vet for those with "deep-seated homosexual tendencies".

Among other traits that might make a candidate unsuitable for the priesthood, the advice lists "uncertain sexual identity," "excessive rigidity of character" and "strong affective dependencies".

The document also makes reference to heterosexual urges.

Seminarians should be barred if testing makes it "evident the candidate has difficulty living in celibacy: That is, if celibacy for him is lived as a burden so heavy that it compromises his affective and relational equilibrium", it says.

Catholic officials continue to fixate on the offenders and ignore the larger problem
US-based victims group SNAP

The advice stipulates priests must have a "positive and stable sense of one's masculine identity".

The document, approved by Pope Benedict XVI and made public on Thursday, stresses that the screening must always have the candidate's consent.

The Catholic Church has been rocked by a series of sex scandals in recent years involving paedophile priests, notably in the US, Latin America and Europe, triggering lawsuits that have cost hundreds of millions of dollars in settlements.

And a seminary in Austria was shut down in August 2004 after revelations that students openly indulged in homosexual conduct.

Gay rights groups have accused the Church of using homosexuals as scapegoats for abuse scandals.

The Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests (SNAP), a US-based group of victims of sexual abuse, said the revised guidelines did not go far enough.

"Catholic officials continue to fixate on the offenders and ignore the larger problem: The Church's virtually unchanged culture of secrecy and unchecked power in the hierarchy," it said in a statement.

"These broader factors are deeply rooted in the Church and contribute heavily to extensive and ongoing clergy sex abuse and cover up."

European Federation 2008

This is not the official report on the meeting. This report has been compiled by Mike Hyland and Joe Mulrooney, the representatives of the Advent Group. European Federation 2008

Meeting of delegates, 9th and 10th July 2008
Chant d’Oiseau, Brussels

  1. Mike Hyland and Joe Mulrooney represented Advent at this meeting of the European Federation. There were 10 participants, representing 7 groups and 6 countries. The Italian delegate was not able to be present for health reasons.

Beyond Belief - Radio 4

Andy Bebb has taken part in the Radio 4 programme, Beyond Belief on the Fatherhood of God. The programme will be transmitted on Monday 9th June at 4.30 pm. Go to the web site >

More Priests Please

Please read Fr Val Farrell's Blog, priest of the Lancaster Diocese and leave your own comment. Visit

Shortage of Catholic Priests in England and Wales


We, the undersigned Catholics, wish to express our support for our bishops who are preparing the Catholic Church in England and Wales for new forms of ministry and leadership. We request the Catholic Bishop Conference to place the following items on the agenda for their next plenary meeting.

First, Untie God's Hands !

God doesn't have hands of course but I expect you know what I mean. I am suggesting that it is possible for us humans to limit what God can do for us, and the example I'm going to use is Vocations to the Priesthood.


Basil Potter - RIP

It is with sadness that we announce the death of Basil Potter, MBE on Thursday 23rd August after a long illness. Our thoughts and prayers are with Maire and the children.

Pat Olivier - RIP

It is with great sadness that we announce the sudden death of Pat Olivier, a long-standing member of the Advent Group. Our thoughts and prayers go out to Nicola, his wife and to their family.

Leading Catholics call for married and women priests

A GROUP of prominent Australian Catholics is calling on bishops to
consider the ordination of married men and women to deal with what they
call "a major crisis of ministry and leadership in Australian
Catholicism", writes Mark Brolly.

Support for priest who quits to wed

THE DIOCESE of Innsbruck is supporting a Tyrolean parish priest and
continuing to pay him after he has resigned to marry his partner and the
mother of his three-year-old son, writes Christa Pongratz-Lippitt.

Canada Catholics Ordain Married Man

French villagers back priest with partner

Fr Leon and Marga A Catholic priest in south-west France has been forced out of the clergy after admitting to the Church authorities that he was having a sexual relationship with one of his parishioners. The BBC's Emma Jane Kirby says this has set off a fresh debate about celibacy in the Church. BBC story >

Bishops reject married priesthood

Synod Fathers 2005
Bishops reaffirm celibacy as a 'priceless gift'
Catholic bishops say the Church is suffering from a worldwide shortage of priests, but say allowing marriage is not the answer.
Instead, the 250 prelates meeting in the Vatican, reaffirmed the principle of celibacy within the clergy.
They also called on lawmakers to protect marriage and the family, and outlaw abortion and euthanasia.
Their three-week gathering or synod, which closed with 50 proposals, was the first since Pope Benedict's election.

Comments Lost !


The Death of Brother Roger

It is with great sadness that I heard of the murder of Brother Roger on the 16th August whilst on holiday in France. In fact, I was actually flying over France with my family at exactly the same time as the act was being carried out. I was on my way to Vernet les Bains in the foothills of the Pyrenees.

I dedicated the climb I made up the Canagou in memory of the life and ministry of Brother Roger. More information to follow. In the meantime Taize; La Croix; BBC are good sources.

Obituary - Roderick Wright

May 26, 2005
Roderick Wright
June 28, 1940 - May 23, 2005
Kindly and humane Catholic priest who rose to be Bishop of Argyll and the Isles before resigning to live with a divorcée

Beer mat ads to recruit priests

The Catholic Church has decided to use beer mats and posters as part of a campaign to recruit more priests.

Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor will highlight the problem in his Westminster diocese in a letter to be read to church congregations.

Ushaw College


Evening Prayer from Taize


Seminary scandal led to Catholic exodus.


Circular Letter No. 10 from the President IFCMP


Why our clergy feel more and more alienated from the people

David Quinn on the surprise findings of anew report

A new survey of priests showed that 57% of them want the rule of celibacy changed. This was certainly the most startling finding of the poll, but there were other, apparently less interesting, nuggets which actually tell us far more about parish life, and the things that really concern priests, than their attitude to the celibacy issue.

The loneliness of a celibate priest

When  I was  I was training  to be a priest more than 30 years ago , celibacy was considered far superior to marriage. Back then, sex was frowned upon. Its only purpose was procreation. People looked up to those who lived the celibate life. They were seen as  living a clean pure life. In those days, people would say, "Isn't he a great man, leading such a holy life?" How many would say that nowadays?



Is Advent still necessary?


The Proposed Statutes


Adding News Items


Singleness and celibacy - a personal view


Acts of contrition

Acts of contrition

The Catholic church is facing up to its problems over child abuse, but could the closure of the UK's only resident treatment centre for paedophile priests put children at risk? Katharine Quarmby reports

Wednesday November 10, 2004
The Guardian

Church to help Greek priests wed

Church to help Greek priests wed
The Greek Orthodox Church has begun a campaign to help young men who want to become priests find a spouse willing to accept their austere lifestyle.
Greek Orthodox priest

Parishioners arrested

Parishioner arrested after church's final Mass
By Ralph Ranalli and Jack Encarnacao, Globe Staff and Globe Correspondent November 7, 2004

WINCHESTER -- In the first outright confrontation between Catholic clergy and parishioners opposed to church closings in the Archdiocese of Boston, police arrested a 69-year-old parishioner who refused to leave Immaculate Conception Church in Winchester yesterday after the pastor asked officers to remove him after the church's final Mass.

Prudish pontiff

Prudish pontiff
The papal biographer John Cornwell reports
Wives are to blame for violent husbands. Condoms don't work, and Aids is 'a pathology of the spirit'. Has the Pope's view of sex and gender brought the church to its knees?

Before his decline into the late stages of Parkinson's disease, Karol Wojtyla — Pope John Paul II — was noted for his sunny, alpha-male persona, his athletic physique, his cinematic good looks and his ease with women. One of his first decisions when he became pope was to build a sauna, a personal gymnasium and an Olympic-size swimming pool at his summer palace. He was the first pope to take skiing holidays. Here was a pontiff who seemed comfortable with his body.

Will church admit its priests want celibacy

Last week, The Irish Catholic published a survey which "revealed" that a majority of Irish priests want celibacy to be made optional.It was described as "the first of its kind for this country"

Just how bad is it?

Priest shortage worse than experts predicted; laity, foreign priests filling the gap


In the mid-1990s, researchers Richard Schoenherr and Lawrence Young predicted that by 2005 the number of active diocesan clergy would be 21,000, down 40 percent since 1965.

Dublin Parishes to Merge

Dearth of priests forces Dublin parishes to merge
Dearbhail McDonald

DUBLIN parishes are being forced to merge because of a shortage of priests.

Ireland's largest archdiocese, serving more than 1m Catholics, is to "cluster" some of its 200 parishes and cancel Masses because of declining priest numbers and low Mass attendances.

Cardinal James Hickey

Cardinal James Hickey
Unflinchingly conservative US Catholic leader who worked tirelessly to help Aids sufferers, refugees and the homeless

ONE of the elder statesmen of the Roman Catholic Church in America, Cardinal James Hickey revolutionised church provision for the poor in Washington. In 1980 when Hickey was appointed Archbishop there, Catholic Charities, the social services wing of the Washington Archdiocese served 10,000 people with a staff of 45 and a budget of $2.3 million (£1.2 million). Now, four years after Hickey's retirement, it helps 80,000 people a year, with a staff of 350 and a budget of $23 million.

Olympic Protest Priest Cleared


Irish Celibacy Survey

Comment: Sue Denham: Will church admit its priests want celibacy to be optional this time?

Last week, The Irish Catholic published a survey which "revealed" that a majority of Irish priests want celibacy to be made optional. It was described as "the first of its kind for this country".

New Chair of Advent

Basil and Moira Potter to be joint Chair until 2007.

Firefox browser

This site is best viewed using Firefox, an open source browser. It will also increase the text size by going to View > Text Size. It is especially good at blocking unwanted popups. Try it - you won't be disappointed.

Olympic protest priest

Olympic protest priest 'stripped to chase 7-year-old'
By A Correspondent

A DEFROCKED priest who disrupted the men's marathon at the Athens Olympics this summer stripped naked and chased a seven-year-old girl around his room, the Old Bailey was told yesterday

New interactive website


Celibacy should be optional.

Celibacy should be optional, say Australian priests. More than half of Australia's Catholic priests believe celibacy should be optional, according to a report presented to the country's Catholic bishops.

The yet-to-be-released report found that 55 per cent of priests in Australia queried obligatory celibacy. A further 16 per cent saw celibacy in a negative light.

The report, which has been presented to the Australian Catholic Bishops' Conference, is an analysis of the Catholic Church Life Survey of priests in parish ministry conducted in May 2001.

"For many clergy, the maintenance of celibacy is no longer a valued feature of priestly identity", the website Online Catholics quoted the report as saying. "Most believe that it would not be detrimental to the Church if the obligation of celibacy were removed."
The general secretary of the bishops' conference, Fr Brian Lucas, said he had received a summary of the report and sent it to all 43 bishops. It is based on a doctoral thesis at the Australian Catholic University by Dr Jane Power. Power told Melbourne's The Age newspaper that she had found a significant correlation between lack of support for celibacy and thoughts of resigning among priests.

"Priests over 66 were more orthodox in their attitude to celibacy and the readmittance of resigned priests - the subtext of that is accepting married priests", she said. "The youngest priests also show a tendency to be more orthodox. The ones going into seminary now are a lot more conservative, which is not surprising given the culture of the organisation at the moment."

Power said official church attitudes towards homosexuality had negative effects on gay priests. She said dismissive or denigrating responses perpetuated a climate of ignorance and anxiety, while misconceptions about a link between homosexuality and child sexual abuse demonised gay clergy.

"I've had estimates of between 50 and 60 per cent of priests being gay in Australia, but that's just word of mouth", she said. "No one really knows."
Mark Brolly, Melbourne

Circular Letter No 8

Circular Letter No 8 from Aitor Orube


A Prayer for the gift of priesthood and marriage.

Autumn Bulletin


Insert%20your%20text%20here" target="_self">Autumn2004

On Worldwide Priest Shortage

On Worldwide Priest Shortage (by FutureChurch)
Presented to all Cardinals

The surprise May 21-24 consistory of the College of Cardinals and the October synod of Bishops are important opportunities for Catholics worldwide who are concerned about the deepening priest shortage and its impact on the future of Catholic worship.

Reports from Church leaders in Europe, Asia, Australia, Central America, Canada and the U.S. tell of an impending crisis. (see below). Prominent churchman Cardinal Godfried Daneels of Belgium has said that unless an influx of new priests occurs in Europe, Catholics will be starved of the sacraments. Interviewed by the British weekly the Catholic Times (Reported in Catholic Trends May, 2000) he noted that in Belgium "we've reached a very low level. Its the same low level as in Holland, Switzerland, France and even Germany."

Recent statistics released by the Vatican give no cause for hope. The Annuario Pontificio 2001 revealed that from 1998 to 1999 Catholics worldwide increased by 16 million (1.6%), while the number of priests increased by only 383 (.09%). The number of seminarians increased very slightly (0.7% compared to the 1.6% increase of Catholics).

There are now 1.038 billion Catholics in the world but only 405,009 priests, many of whom are aged. In the U.S. there are more priests over 90 than under 30 according to a recent study by U.S.bishops. Vatican statistics also report that of the 3.86 million people working in ministry, 2.44 million are lay catechists. Presumably many of these would accept ordination were it open to them.

With news of the hastily called consistory, the time may be ripe to take action:

The March 3 issue of the respected British Catholic Journal The Tablet reports understanding "from a number of cardinals, that the extraordinary consistory will address the issue of how to increase 'communion' within the Church -Vatican code for spreading decision-making powers among the bishops - and is likely to set the agenda for the Bishops' synod in October."

The power to open ordination to all the baptized to stem the priest shortage does not rest with local Bishops who have been weakened by a centralizing papacy and curial bureaucrats. Presently in the Church, the Cardinals have the most influence... especially as a new conclave nears.

Vatican' II's Lumen Gentium 37 tells us that we "have the right, as do all Christians to receive in abundance...the spiritual goods of the Church, especially the assistance of the Word of God and the sacraments." Canon 212 (par 3) goes even further in informing us of our right indeed our duty "to make our views known on matters which concern the good of the Church."

Most Bishops are already only too aware of the problems as they struggle to staff parishes which risk going without the Eucharist because of the priest shortage.

Our right to the Eucharist and other sacraments is more important than the marital state or gender of the presider.

(Reprinted from Focus on FutureChurch:)

1. The president of the Italian Episcopal Conference, Italian Cardinal Ruini recently decried the lack of vocations in Italy, and warned that in a few years time the problem will be acute. The Camerino-San Severino March diocese has not ordained a local priest in 16 years. (Zenit)

2. The number of priests in England and Wales has fallen from 7,000 in 1980 to 5,500 with half of all priests 60 or older. Worshipers will be asked to travel miles to neighboring parishes and to do many of the parish duties currently handled by the priest. Already, the Catholic Church has started to merge parishes and close churches with the number of parishes in Liverpool having been reduced from 60 to 27. (Nicholas Pyke, UK Independent News)

3. A November issue of the British Catholic newspaper Universe, reported that a growing number of priests in Great Britain are suffering from stress and depression from trying to cope alone in parishes once staffed by three or four priests. (Catholic World News, 2000)

4. Honduras has fewer than 400 priests to serve five million Catholics (The Tablet, 3/3/2001)

5. Edinburgh Archbishop Keith O'Brien recently acknowledged that the ordination of married men was discussed in his group at the European Synod but never became part of the synod statement most likely because of a "lobby" by the curial bishops. O'Brien noted that "tensions" at the synod were not between East and West but "between the Roman Curia and the bishops who are working in our parishes." (The Tablet, 10/30/99).

6. Canadian Bishop Peter Sutton of Keewatin-Le Pas in the Northwest Territories has petitioned the Vatican to ordain married deacons to the priesthood to help with the severe shortage of priests. The diocese has 19 priests to serve 35,000 Catholics and now sees lay led Sunday liturgies and funeral as inevitable. The diocese of Mackenzie, also in the NW Territories has 20,000 Catholics and only 8 priests (Davenport Messenger 5/11/2000).

7. Australian bishop John Satterthwaite has acknowledged that it is inevitable that priests will not be available to celebrate Sunday Mass in all parishes in the diocese of Lismore because of the vocations crisis. He noted that lay people may baptize and officiate at funerals in the absence of ordained clergy. (Internet article).

8. Australia, with five million Catholics has only eighty seminarians for the entire country (internet reports).

9. In a small workshop session at the January Asian bishops' meeting, one bishop told of a fellow bishop who decided that the only way to bring the Eucharist into a large priestless section of his country, was to ordain two married men. Which he quietly did some years ago. (National Catholic Reporter 2/28/00)

10. In the United States 27% of U.S. parishes do not have a resident priest and there are more priests over 90 than under 30 according to a comprehensive study released by the National Conference of Catholic Bishops (From NCCB Website 6/6/00 and CARA). In Europe, the figures are still more severe: 35-45 % of parishes are without resident priest.

11. The Diocese of Green Bay Wisconsin will lose one third of their total priests over the next six years and has completed a plan to close, merge or link dozens of parishes and to increase lay staffing. In 1999 the diocese had 206 parishes and missions served by 150 religious order and diocesan priests. By the end of 2005 it projects it will have only 99 priests.(Davenport Messenger 6/1/00)

12. In response to "several inquiries" the U.S. bishops' Secretariat for the Liturgy said that no sacrament can be received by electronic communication. Director Fr. James Moroney said: "electronic transmission is never a fully adequate substitute for physical presence and participation." (Catholic News Service, 2000)

13. Two senior cardinals spoke out recently about the need for a reformed papacy. Cardinal Carlo Maria Martini of Milan and Cardinal Roger Etchegaray formerly of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace and the Pope's former troubleshooter, both spoke to the need to "re-think" the way the papacy is organized. They alluded to the Pope's encyclical Ut Unum Sint as an encouragement for their remarks. (The Tablet, 11/20/99)

14. In late November Pope John Paul II sought to quell demands for changing church law to allow women to serve as priests. In an address to German bishops he said: "Without a doubt, the dignity of women ... is great. But the human and civil rights of a person are of a different nature than the rights, duties and functions of a church minister.... " (Associated Press 11/20/99)

15. In its December (2000) meeting, the International Theological Commission will focus on a study of the role of "deaconesses" in different periods of history, as well as the forgiveness the church is asking for past faults. (Zenit)

16. A Montreal archdiocesan synod held in November of 1998 supported many resolutions promoting church reform. Of the 600 elected delegates, 74% favored ordaining married men, 73.3% supported women deacons, and 91% supported openness to divorced and remarried Catholics. Garnering 66.33% of the votes instead of the 66.66% needed for adoption, were ordaining women and permitting married priests to return to full ministry, a very close vote indeed.(Bread Rising, April 99)

17. Women delegates to an international meeting of Catholic charities asked that more women be given decision making authority and that programs focus more on improving the lot of the world's women. While women form the majority of Catholic charities employees and volunteers, they "are almost invisible at the national regional and international levels." In many countries, conference rules require that a priest be appointed executive director. (Catholic News Service 2000)

18. On February 22, 2000 the feast of the chair of Peter,over 4000 members of the Roman Curia and Vatican City celebrated their Jubilee. The Pope appealed to the Vatican work force to live this event with "a spirit of conversion," moved by an "authentic interior purification." In the curia there are 1,132 clerics and religious and 1,449 lay persons including 2171 men and 410 women. The Vatican City staff numbers 1403 including 74 clerics , 1294 men and 183 women.(Zenit)

19. Cardinal Paulo Evaristo Arns recently joined Cardinal Franz Koenig in criticizing the curia for being too centralist and bureaucratic. Arns stated that the curia operates independently of the Pope and sometimes ignores his wishes.(The Tablet 6/3/2000)

20. In March 2000, groups in Ireland, Canada, Germany and the US staged prayer vigils at diocesan cathedrals and the Apostolic Nunciatures wearing purple stoles to pray and protest against Vatican refusal to dialogue about women's ordination and persecution of those such as Lavinia Byrne who support it.

21. The first ecumenical symposium on the Petrine office identified papal infallibility and the Bishop of Rome's claim to primatial jurisdiction as the two main stumbling blocks to further ecumenical progress. The symposium, held at Innsbruck western Austria, was attended by bishops, church leaders and prominent theologians including leaders of the Austrian Orthodox Church. (The Tablet 4/8/00)

22. In December 2000, the archdiocese of Ottawa appointed a group of pastoral coordinators, lay people and religious women to oversee administration of some parishes and, when priests are not available, perform marriages, baptisms and funerals. The appointments were made in accordance with the Code of Canon Law. (USCCB Lay Ministry Update Jan/Feb 01).



Survey shows Gozitan priests' views on celibacy

Survey shows Gozitan priests' views on celibacy
Steve Mallia

A survey carried out with the approval of the Gozo Curia shows that nine per cent of Gozitan priests are not observing the Canon law provision on celibacy and 17 per cent say they do not agree with it.

However, the overwhelming majority, 91 per cent, say they are complying with the code in its entirety and 18 per cent disagree with the reasons stated within the provision.

The survey was carried out in recent weeks by Fr Michael Galea, a qualified psychologist. Just over half, or 85, of Gozo's priests responded.

The Canon law provision on celibacy, s.277, states: "Clerics are obliged to observe perfect and perpetual continence for the sake of the Kingdom of Heaven, and are therefore bound to celibacy".

It adds that celibacy also means that clerics are to behave with prudence in relation to people whose company can be a danger to priests' obligation of preserving continence or can lead to scandal.

When contacted for a reaction to the survey, Gozo Bishop Nikol Cauchi said:

"Leading a totally celibate life, as Canon law requires of priests, is a duty that the clergy - by relying on God's grace and taking the necessary precautions - can hope to accept and fulfil with relative serenity. But it would be unrealistic to think that every single priest, without exception and without fail, leads a totally celibate life and, in this regard, Gozo is no different to anywhere else in the world.

"In reality, living in 'perfect and perpetual continence' is a continuous struggle which may differ from person to person throughout the different stages and situations of life, since it means keeping away from occasions of sin, as well as warding off thoughts, desires and attitudes which are in conflict with celibacy.

"The second paragraph of the Canon also requires priests to be prudent in their relations with others who may cause them to fall foul of the provision or give rise to scandal. This sets a very high standard. One has to admit that celibacy requires a strong spirit of sacrifice and no one pretends that it is easy."

In fact, almost a quarter of priests taking part in the survey, 22 per cent, said they viewed celibacy as a burden and 78 per cent were of the opinion that it is not.

Eighteen per cent said that they do not possess self control when it came to this area, while 82 per cent said they did.

Meanwhile, 17 per cent said they are sexually frustrated, 14 per cent are spiritually frustrated, one-third are frustrated because they do not feel fulfilled by their own pastoral activities and 15 per cent are frustrated within themselves.

Fifty-five per cent feel content with their life, and 40 per cent feel they have a long way to go before they are content and five per cent are not.

However, they definitely need to pay more attention to their physical health. Only half feel they have a good diet, while 39 per cent have some way to go and six per cent are not happy with their eating habits. The survey also shows that exercise is not high on the list of priorities, with just 42 per cent of priests saying they do any.

Eight per cent of those who took part in the survey are aged 35 or under, 24 per cent are 36 - 50, 31 per cent are between 51 - 65, while 38 per cent are 66 or over. Seventy-two per cent have done pastoral work abroad and over half studied in a foreign country.

ADVENT application for entry into the Catholic Directory of England and Wales.

Rev. John Danson
ADVENT application for entry into the Catholic Directory of England and Wales.

Information required by schedule.

April 17th 2001.

i.    Priests who had resigned their active ministry in the 1960s founded Advent at Spode House in 1969. Meetings at that time were encouraged and fostered by Fr. Conrad Pepler O. P.

ii.    Ecclesiastical approval was strengthened with the active involvement of Archbishop Derek Worlock in the early 70s who attended meetings in the Midlands and entered into enthusiastic dialogue and correspondence with members, until the Archbishop's death.
In the 70s, 80s and 90s Advent enjoyed the friendship and support of Cardinal Basil Hume, both at Advent meetings and through individual dialogues.

iii.    Key objectives and current programme:

a.    The primary objective of Advent is to be a safe haven of love, support and solidarity for priests, along with their partners and families, who have made the decision in conscience to resign their active ministry either to marry or for other reasons.

b.    To be, as a country wide network, available in every diocese to help, counsel and advise priests who are uncertain of the future direction of their ministry.
In this regard, Advent provides unbiased practical, emotional and spiritual support in a non-threatening environment, enabling them to explore feelings, voice uncertainties and discern vocation in what can be a very painful process.

c.    Advent does not have a constitution, simply a generally agreed set of aims and objectives.

iv.    Current Chair: Philip and Catherine Smith    Coventry
Bulletin Editors:    Pat and Nicola Olivier
Advent Website:    Alex Walker
Officers elected at AGM - Changed or re-elected every two years

v.    Advent is the only organisation in England and Wales which offers pastoral outreach to priests who have resigned active ministry. While there continues to be  no recognised and uniform code of pastoral practice among Bishops dealing with priests who are experiencing a crisis point in their ministry, Advent is a necessary resource in the Church and, as such, should rightfully be included in the Directory.

With special reference to section iii. :

Since its inception in 1969, Advent has sought to remain strong in faith, evangelistic in the basic tenets of the Catholic Church and committed to priesthood, ministry and the Church we love and still seek to serve.
Nonetheless, while the Church continues to wound itself with the imposition of mandatory celibacy, we must endeavour, within the faith community, to work together toward dialogue leading to change, for the Church to remain a credible presence in the 21st Century.

Helpline for priests' secret lovers

Sunday Herald - 19 January 2003
Helpline for priests' secret lovers
By Jenifer Johnston


A support group aimed at helping women who have had affairs with Catholic priests is to open a Scottish branch because its English HQ cannot cope with the number of calls coming from Scotland.
The Sonflowers group, which is based in Daventry, Northamptonshire, helps women who have had long-term relationships and even children with priests.

Adrianna Alsworth, 46, who has two daughters by an English priest, said she has been 'inundated' with calls after placing an advert in a Catholic magazine.

Two women even discovered they were both having an affair with the same Scottish priest who had managed to keep it a secret from his bishop.

She claims the Catholic Church refuses to acknowledge the scale of the problem despite high-profile cases such as Bishop Roddy Wright, the former Bishop of Argyll and the Isles who ran off with a married parishioner after fathering a child with a second woman.

Alsworth says the Church will have to face up to its 'silent mistresses' in the same way it has been forced to address the issue of paedophile clergy.

She said: 'The Church in Scotland wants to pretend this is not a major issue and that it is indeed very rare. But it's only the sad cases that hit the headlines and as long as there's no publicity, the Church is happy to turn a blind eye .

'I know of many older priests who have been in long-term relationships which are an open secret in their parishes.

'Sadly, all the stress and responsibility is placed on the women and it's a heavy burden . If the relationship becomes public, it's the woman, the Church's silent mistresses, who get the blame.'

Alsworth wants to run a dedicated Scottish base , but said she had met opposition when she tried to advertise Sonflowers in parishes or in official church publications.

There are 850 ordained priests working in Scotland, with only 35 in seminaries . In the past five years, at least five priests have left to pursue a relationship.

Alex Walker, chair of the Advent Group, which supports priests who are considering leaving their vocation for a relationship, agreed there was a need for a support service in Scotland.

He said: 'Over the years we have supported thousands of priests who formed relationships with women and who were considering leaving the priesthood.

'I can think of several Scottish priests who are in a hidden marriage, or a long-term relationship with a family of their own. It is almost impossible to lead this double life with any sanity or integrity. Bishops do know about a lot of these relationships, but either advise their priests to pursue them discreetly or move the priest into a different area.'

Plans for a Scottish group were welcomed by one Scottish woman who married a former priest five months ago.

Mhairi, 38, became involved with her partner David, also 38, while he was her priest.

'We actually went to school together, but whatever feelings we had we never acted on because he was going into the priesthood,'' she said. 'Years later David became my parish priest and we realised there were strong feelings between us, but I didn't want the pressure of him leaving the ministry for me.

'David talked to his bishop a lot during that period, and thankfully he was very understanding and supportive. David was unhappy with other things about being a priest, and finally decided to leave.

'We are still involved in the Church and I don't doubt that David did the right thing. We received help at various times from the Advent Group, and a helpline for women like me is certainly something that a lot of people would use, so that you have the support to make the right decision.'

Peter Kearney, director of the media office of the Catholic Church in Scotland, said he had not heard of Sonflowers.

He said: 'I think it is unfair to claim this is a problem that is widespread. If there are all these women and priests out there having affairs, then they are doing very well to keep it a secret.'

He added: 'The bishops expect priests to maintain high standards and, as in any walk of life, there will be some who fail to do so.

'There have been cases of priests who have relationships and children. They would be acting as individuals -- the onus would be on them, not the bishop or the Church, to resolve any issues.'


Copyright © 2003 smg sunday newspapers ltd. no.176088

The growing cost of mandatory celibacy

The growing cost of mandatory celibacy

Bishop Wilton Gregory, head of the U.S. bishops' conference, took a glass half-full approach when he responded earlier this year to Milwaukee Archbishop Timothy Dolan regarding an initiative of 169 Milwaukee priests who urged a reexamination of the discipline of mandatory celibacy for diocesan clergy.



A small note of justification: The behavior which was seriously incorrect of our former Secretary who sent "his" letter to the Episcopal Conference of Spain in the name of the Committee and with an unauthorized signature of the president was severely condemned by the Assembly. Some members even asked for the expulsion of the author of the deeds. Let us leave the reality as is for the sake of brotherhood and harmony.
This general report read at and approved by the Assembly by overwhelming majority which was almost unanimous intends to, with calm and a future perspective, rectif~r the errors of the content of the letter since this was sent to the Episcopal Conference of Spain and the groups of our Federation. Our Assembly is responsible for the statement.


    We have talked so much about "The International Gathering" (Encuentro) of September, 2002 in Madrid and we are already here, celebrating the event.
    Welcome to this quality Event for our society which needs to control its force and for the Church of Jesus which ought to serve men and women of today and to act in a more democratic and co-responsible way also within the institution.
    At this great Event which is ours and of our Federation and was convoked at our Congress in Atlanta (July 31, 1999), more than 400 people from 25 countries of all the continents are participating. The preparatory document in favor of the Church renewal was signed by a number of bishops, theologians and eclesial communities. The document was also supported by a bishop very much committed to the poor and another bishop who has always accompanied us, Jerónimo Podestá.
    Within this great Event "Towards a conciliar process", we celebrated the General Assembly of our Federation. The General Assembly is the maximum and sovereign organ with the representatives from 19 countries of the 26 membership countries.


As President of the Executive Committee, I ought to present a report on these last three years from Atlanta to Madrid. For greater clarity, I will divide the report into two chapters which I will present for your reflection and approval eventually.

First Chapter: Launching, preparation and celebration of the "International Gathering 2002" for a renewed Church

I will highlight the aspects which are more meaningful and which meant more efforts as well as tension at times including some problematic behaviors experienced at the level of the Committee.

a)    It was a good move that we sent the following message from Atlanta, the city of the dreamer Luther King, on July 31, 1999. "Let us dare to dream... we should be ready
to propose an International Gathering, convoked, prepared, financed and directed by a joint committee of eclesial groups that are open-minded and with meaningful presences at national and international level, willing to prepare a Gathering that would tackle the most important aspects of the Church renewal... " The Plenary Assembly of the Congress approved this proposal with applause. (See "Ministerium Novum" No. 27) We who have gathered here launched this Event that nobody could water down nor take away.
b)    One year after (October 2000 in Brussels) already the Church groups interested in the proposal had met and tried to concretize the face of the small creature born in Atlanta. THE CENTRAL THEME: Towards a Church at the service of the humanity in today's world and with greater democracy in its internal functions.
ITS TONE Festive and joyful. Without fear nor excessive haste to want to grow
EXPERIENCE: It should reflect the reality of the People of God, their needs and search. Theologians and teachers can also speak but always with the listening attitude to the People of God.
WALKING AND NETWORKiNG: Each one of the eclesial groups and social movements ... but they go out together sometimes to the public squares with a megaphone to defends the common interests and claims.
WORKING TOGETHER AND THOSE WHO DESIRE AND HAVE DISCOVERED THE JOURNEY... we are conscious of the fact that we are only in the initial stage of this process which is built from below.., the process will continue for years. The Gathering is only the first step of the process to which other groups and the Church networks will join.
c)    When some of the International networks that had been committed to the Gathering decided to withdraw their support, changing the venue and the dates, Paul and Julio, the official delegates of the Federation to the Preparatory Group (CII') were clear about our decision and commitment. They said:
    that the Gathering will take place
    If some groups or networks think differently, they can withdraw. From the start, the project is for those who understand it or those who are understanding it progressively
    The Federation as convenor continues with the Groups and Networks that see the importance of the project
    At any rate, we don't have the "mandate" to change what Atlanta decided
    We accept to change the name of the Gathering to respect the "Catholic
Network for Change" (they prefer to maintain it). It will be called "International Gathering of the Church Renewal"
    The Gathering could be an intermediary stage towards something broader (Annex 4)

d)    At the meeting of the Executive Commette in Madrid (November 1), the importance of the Gathering was reieterated. Some of the committee members, however, did not support it, forgetting that the "mandate" came from the Assembly and that we are obliged to respond. It was recommended that the management and logistic be entrusted to "Corriente Somos Iglesia" which had participated in the CIP and presented a project which was deep and trustworthy. With the Corriente, all the groups and networks that convoked and supported the Gathering ought to be connected.
e)    Paul and Julio, in the name of the convenor Groups and of support, participated in
the first meeting of the New Preparatory Team, convoked by the Corriente Somos
Iglesia. It took place in December, 2001. A document entitled "Toward a Conciliar
Process" was presented which all the delegates considered quite important. The
document reflects the spirit and the objectives of what they bad been working for. At
the end of the meeting, a comunique was prepared to be sent to the Groups of the
Federation, affirming and approving the process.
    the document reflects the spirit of the work accomplished so far
    it maintains the global aspect
    many groups m favor of the Church reform are asking to adhere to the document
    we continue to prepare the Gathering born in Atlanta using the document since it expresses well the objectives of Atlanta

f)    I will highlight the difficulties experienced by the Executive Committee and some aspects that were not properly dealt with
The first instance occurred when some International Networks with which we bad been preparing the Gathering 2002 wanted to change the venue and the dates. This caused much tension because some members were insisting, forgetting the mandate of our Atlanta assembly. The official delegates clarified the Federation's stand:
(Annex No. 4)
The second instance occurred when the Editors of the Federation Buleetin "Ministerium Novum" decided on their own to cancel the Gathering. The Executive Conunitte, through the delegates at the CIP, sent an official note to "Ministerium Novum" in which they explained the official stand:
    The International Gathering will take place
    With the same content and tone decided by the CIP so far
If anyone wants to withdraw, he can do so though the project continues.

The publication of this note in the Bulletin to rectify the decision of the Editors was requested though it has not been realized. You can find a provisional version in the annexNo. 1 and 2.

The third instance occurred when the Moceop through its Coordinator felt the need to send a letter to the Executive Committee. The well thought letter asked us to see to it that the Gathering be well prepared based on the given mandate which carried the blessing of the Assembly. It asked us to continue the preparatory process counting on the commitment of the majority of the Groups. The same letter insisted that the Executive Committee should not be a superbody with decision making power over and above the groups including the Assembly. This serious and reflective letter which was to be sent to the national groups helped the Executive Committee to purify itself. The committee also sent a sincere letter, responding to Ramon, saying:
    we are grateful to your deep critique
    we accept our dysfuncion and errors which became obvious in matters related to the International Gathering and to "Ministerium Novum"
    we unconditionally support the International Gathering for the Church renewal along the line launched by Atlante and concreted in the document "Towards a conciliar process" (See the bruchure pag. 9 and if.)

The fourth instance is related to the decision of our Secretary of the Executive Commette to wage a strike (which we respected in silence and discretion) because of which we could not prepare this Assembly well in a way that the Groups deserved. And when he decides to send his letter to the Episcopal Conference of Spain (with an unauthorized signature of the president) which you can read in the annex No. 5 and 6)

These tense and difficult moments, in a way, helped us to see the things more clearly with a future vision. We could see what things are more important. At our Executive Committee meeting yesterday (with the absence of our Secretary on strike), we could see that the situation could be rapidly redirected.

Also the difficulty helped us to reiterate our support of this wonderful Gathering where more than 400 people from all the continents are participating. We are sure that an International Network for the Church Renewal with a strong emphasis on our prophetic role in the world and greater democracy for the Church's internal life will emerge from here.

Second Chapter: the significance of the 2002 Gathering and some practical conclusions

A.    What Church do we look for: this is what was launched at Atlanta and what we has been reflected and deepened by all the national Groups during these two years. We look for a Church constantly renewed at two levels: on one hand, a Church of greater service to men and women and contemporary cultures in the area of justice, ecology, feminism... (as it is stated in the first objective of the Statutes of our Federation) and on the other, a Church with progressive democratic governance within its internal life.
B.    The need and importance of Networking has been discovered and assumed. There are many international networks and national movements committed to connect with others without minimizing its own identity. They come and join together to work with those aspects of the Church which they believe necessary today.
C.    The experience confirms that this direction only is meaningful to meet the second objective of the Federation (the renewal of the priestly ministry) as it was already published inn our Bulletin (No. 27). a) "The reintegration of married priests is relevant only within a Church committed to people, b) and to the renewal of all the ministries c) without celibacy as the condition according to the practice of Jesus.
D.    Based on this deep significance, we accept this International Gathering as ours. We launched the idea at Atlanta, the majority of the groups were working toward it during these two years and we are witnessing this spectacular Event with a great joy now. More than 400 people coming from all the continents in the names of many bishops, theologians and eclesial communities who are committed to a process to change the Church according to the vision of the Federation which we articulated already many years ago.

Let us enjoy, work and continue what we are going to live during these days, thanks to the contribution of many different people and countries who are committed.

(Of other topics that the Executive Committee has been working during these three years: the renewal of the Executive committee, the adaptation of our Statutes to the Belgian legal formulation, the bulletin "Ministerium Novum", the possible shift to a Confederation, the financial question, the orientation for the next three years, etc... you will be informed of these topics during these coming days by those in charge of them)


September 20,2002 Madrid

Signed: Julio Perez Pinillos (President of FISCC)

(Note: the other data of our General Assembly - commitments and future perspective - will be sent to you after the first meeting of Executive Committee)

How to clean the Catholic clergy

How to clean the Catholic clergy (F. Brassard)

Calgary Herald (Ladysmith, B.C.)
March 3, 2002

How to clean up the Catholic clergy: Those the system has rejected feel they can help stamp out pedophilia and abuse inside the church. Married priest,
Francois Brassard, explains.

By Francois Brassard

How does one explain and resolve clergy sexual abuse in a few crisp words or actions? First, this whole "crisis" is not exaggerated by the media.
However, the sensational quality of the accusations may lead the public to tar all priests with the sins of a few. This can have disastrous, demoralizing effects both on the many good priests who generously model Jesus' message of
love and on the faithful who need the encouragement of devoted leaders in order to live the Gospel message in the day-to-day world. Clergy sexual abuse cannot be blamed on a particular sexual orientation. Indeed, sociological
research (A.W. Richard Sipe, The Secret World) indicates not only a far greater incidence of the sexual abuse of women by straight priests than of children, but that both gay and straight priests have been involved in the
sexual abuse of children. Nor can you blame this evil on mandatory celibacy or a "culture of secrecy within the hierarchy," though both are partially involved. In the view of most knowledgeable men and women in the church
renewal movement, the real culprit is a "clerical system" so entangled in a complex web of history, culture and theology that it is not free to pursue and embrace the discoveries of the modern world. This is a celibate, male-dominated, autocratic system. The men who run this system, well
intentioned as they may be, do not really understand the significant nature of democracy and sexuality. True democracy requires trust and respect for all
members of society and it presumes that the dialogue that flows from those two virtues will benefit society. And the Christian further believes that dialogue will also advance "God's eternal plan" (the Kingdom of God). Modern
research of sexuality has revealed that human sexual pleasure is good, that one's sexuality is a complex mix of factors, that it is designed for interrelationship, that when shared caringly, it leads to intimacy that is productive of joy and creativity. And from a Christian point of view, when
one adds consistent personal commitment to this sharing, one begins to touch "the face of God." God's creative spirit is powerfully released, and God's plan is made manifest. A heightened sense of the value of sexuality in society has increased the awareness of what enforced celibacy imposed from above, chiefly for reasons of power and control, denies to the Catholic clergy. Add to this, the increased pastoral burdens and aloneness of priests
brought on by the priest shortage, as well as an escalating lack of appreciation for the priestly role due to many factors (arrogant autocratic behaviour, indifference to women's issues, public awareness of clergy abuses). All this has contributed to powder-keg feelings of frustration,
demoralization and anger which too often gain expression in addictive behaviour of varying degrees of aberrancy. Unfortunately, in terms of sexual addiction, it is the least powerful members of the Church, women and
children, who become the victims of exploded feelings. What can be done to correct clergy sexual abuse? Briefly, the clerical system needs to be dismantled and leadership freed from the chains of the past and renewed
according to the Gospel principles of respect and caring love. This requires a two-pronged effort of education and action directed not at the hierarchy, but rather at the grassroots faithful. Why? Because the hierarchy is
entrenched and because, historically, almost all church renewal has come from the base, starting with Jesus himself, who confronted the leadership of his
time and initiated a lay movement in favour of the Kingdom of God. The main obstacles in the way of change both in the time of Jesus and today is a lack of information and an attitude of subservience or deference on the part of
the faithful vis-a-vis the powers that be. The present crisis is providing a sad opportunity to correct that situation. More happily, it is being corrected by a number of church renewal groups with specific interrelated objectives that have arisen since the Second Vatican Council (1962-65).
These groups say what they would like to see changed, and why that change is necessary. Until recently, these groups tended to work separately and, for the most part, lobbied the hierarchy to adopt their programs. Hierarchical
indifference and intransigence caused these groups to work co-operatively on the one hand (Catholics Organized for Renewal -- COR -- about 35 groups), and
to direct their programs to "Joe and Mary Catholic" on the other hand. Their hope is that simple, clear information will lead to less deference and more concrete action for change. Some of these groups who seek multiple
structural changes are: the Association for the Rights of Catholics in the Church, Call To Action, Catholics Speak Out, We Are Church and Challenge the Church.
Other groups with a specific renewal agenda are Catholics for a Free Choice (dealing with questions of sexual morality) and Women's Ordination Conference, Women's Ordination Worldwide and Future Church (dealing with
questions of priest shortages and women's ordination). Other groups seeking an optional married priesthood are Corpus Canada and CITI Canada (Celibacy Is
The Issue). The former is a support and advocacy group for married Catholic priests, the latter a lay organization concerned about the lack of spiritual ministrations available to Catholics because of the priest shortage. Members
of the above two groups in Canada and the U.S. have spawned other small groups labouring to correct aspects of clergy sexual abuse. Two such groups are: Good Tidings and Holy Innocents, which provide support to women
impregnated by priests and bishops and offers personal discernment retreats to priests and women in relationships. Holy Innocents provides support and material needs to children who have been abandoned by their priest fathers;
The Linkup provides support, an annual conference and retreats to victims of sexual abuse by clergy or others. These two nonprofit, charitable groups and other individual married Catholic priests who provide varied counselling
services operate on a shoestring with little or no office assistance and no ability to obtain foundation grants because they have been considered controversial by the very same foundations that support the institutional
Church. I would also like to say something about my own faith journey as a married Catholic priest, long involved in married Catholic priest organizations, regionally, nationally and internationally. I have long supported an optional married priesthood of both men and women, regardless
of sexual orientation. I have also been involved in providing a sacramental ministry to Catholics who have been marginalized by questionable church rules. For me, this has been a spiritually enriching experience, one that has
enabled me to redeem my God-given priestly vocation, after the hierarchy took it from me because I chose to receive God's sacrament of love, holy matrimony. Why cannot the two vocations be embraced? Surely if ever there
were a need for models of priestly married love, now is the time. Another faith enlightening and encouraging experience for me has come through my contacts with many resigned priests, married or not, who do what I call
priestly prophetic work outside the jurisdiction of the institutional Church.
It is not sacramental ministry in the narrow ecclesiastical sense; however, their work-a-day witness to the Gospel message of caring love is truly sacramental, for it too profoundly connects one and all to the divine
presence in our midst. I think of those priests involved in counselling, in prison work, in hospice work, in soup kitchens, in self-help groups and in Third World development. Most of these priests have no interest in renewing or reforming the traditional priesthood, and they have little or no interest in connecting with the institutional church, particularly with regard to the caring work they do; they choose to live the Gospel simply and honestly. I
would like to promote the recognition of these resigned priests as prophetic models of the priesthood that Jesus truly intended. Why? So as to encourage many more of the non-ordained to do more of the same. It's like having
living saints to look up to. I know that many non-ordained men and women, Christians or otherwise, have done this in centuries past, as well as today. That's good. I just feel that we need to promote as many examples of Gospel living
as we can, and these resigned priests are good Jesus models to follow.
Catholics need to support both an optional married ordained priesthood and the priesthood of all the faithful. Can you think of a better way to resolve the issue of clerical sexual abuse, to restore the credibility of church leaders, and, more importantly, to build the global Church of the future based on the Gospel values for which Jesus willingly gave up his life?
Francois Brassard was ordained to the priesthood in Lyons, France March 29, 1961, received from the Vatican an Indult of laicization in 1971 and married Connie Kurtenbach (formerly Sr. Loyola of Sion) in 1980. Besides several bachelor degrees, he holds an MA in History and a diploma in Psychotherapy.
For many years he taught Social Sciences in French Immersion programs at the high school level.

Correspondence in relation to the International Federation of Married Catholic Priests


All future correspondence related to this issue will be posted here. Wherever possible I would be grateful if all letters etc could be emailed to me for inclusion. Hard copies have to be scanned and this can take some time. Please use the smartgroup if you would like to make a comment to all, send to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. . If you are not a member of the smartgroup and would like to join please send an email to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. with the subject heading Join Smartgroup

Pat Oliviers letter to Alex re the establishment of a North Atlntic Federation

1 Hart Hill
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Tel: 01483 762615    Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Alex Walker
10 Standen Park House

Dear Alex

Thank you for your letter and enclosures concerning the formation of a North Atlantic Federation of Married Catholic Priests (NAFMCP).

As I said on the phone, I find it difficult to be sure of the true intentions of those involved in forming this federation. My instinct is to follow Mike Hyland's and Joe Mulrooney's advice, since they were at the Madrid meeting representing Advent, and know more of the background and outcome than the rest of us. Drawing (1) on my own knowledge from being at the Atlanta congress of the International Federation, (2) on Joe's report to our AGM, reprinted in our Autumn 2002 bulletin, and (3) on further discussions with Mike at Hammersmith last month, this is the position as I understand it:-

The previously agreed plan that the International Federation should meet jointly at Madrid with 'We Are Church' and other organisations was overturned at a later stage by the committee because of the local bishop's opposition to We Are Church, and some of them wrote to him using the (Spanish) President's name without his knowledge. (Heinz-Jurgen Vogels tries to explain this away in his letter to Mike Hyland of February 2003). In the end Madrid went ahead with two separate conferences, one following on from the other. Several of the former prime movers of the international movement, namely USA, Canada, Germany and Holland were not represented there at all, and a new committee was elected. The Federation's assembly agreed among other things to consult with a view to forming a European federation.

According to the proponents of the new North Atlantic Federation (see their 'history' and also Heinz-Jurgen Vogels' letter to Mike Hyland of February 2003) the Latin-American federation suggested at Madrid that Europe should establish more than one region, as they themselves had done previously. Following this suggestion, a 'working committee' of delegates from Belgium, Canada, Germany, the Netherlands and the United States gathered in Antwerp in late November 2002 and set up the new North Atlantic Federation. (My comment: An odd interpretation of 'European'!) They have invited Austria, England, France North, Hungary and Ireland to join this federation.

Mike Hyland's (and, I understand, Joe's) interpretation of this development is that it is racist and divisive, deliberately avoiding working with Spain and Spanish-speaking groups, and evidence of the US muscling in on Europe. Heinz contradicts this interpretation, saying that it was Lambert van Gelder (Netherlands), Bert Peeters (Belgium) and himself (Germany) who invited the North Americans to work with them. He also argues that culturally North America is connected to Northern Europe. (My comment: How can he possibly be unaware of the huge Italian and Hispanic presence in North America? I recall being told that the Archdiocese of Chicago, for example, has four auxiliary bishops and deliberately appoints one for each of its principal cultural groups, one of them being Hispanic).

Heinz further says that Claude Bertin, the new international secretary and Paul Bourgeois, the treasurer, agreed to the idea of a North Atlantic federation. (My comment: We are not in a position to judge how far they would substantiate that claim. I note however that no southern European is claimed to have supported it).

Whatever the interpretation, it seems to me strange that several old hands should have absented themselves from the Madrid assembly, and the same people then established a new body without southern European participation. It looks on the face of it like a rearguard action by the old guard, to put it crudely. This strengthens my reluctance to join the NAFMCP.

A further argument is that a European federation makes great sense in the context of the developing European community. We should work for stronger ties with the whole of Europe rather than make separate ones involving a non-European nation, which lies thousands of miles away. I have some regret at turning down American enthusiasm and muscle! but if regional federations are the way forward, let's work on realistic regions. The consideration of cost in attending international meetings is reason alone to go for Europe rather than the North Atlantic. As a rider to this, the US is already a federation of states, and Corpus USA is a federation of regional groups, so it is perfectly reasonable for them to be a regional federation by themselves.

You mentioned on the phone the possibility of trying to establish a pan-European federation. If you have the energy to try that, I shall be glad to hear how people respond, and shall be delighted if it succeeds in place of the other. But I personally do not have the strength or commitment to play a part in such an attempt - I am not getting younger or fresher, and prefer to concentrate on what I can do more locally.

I think that Advent in its own mind should not completely close the door on the NAFMCP. If for example no European-only federation emerges which would include the UK, we might want to re-consider. But my vote is that Advent should not at present join the NAFMCP, and should make it clear that we deprecate the method of its founding.

I am attaching a further shorter letter which might serve as a draft response to the NAFMCP, but please feel free to modify or reject it as you and others think proper.

With many thanks for your own time on this business.

Love to you all from Nicola and myself.

Pat Olivier



Dear Lambert

Thank you for your invitation to Advent to attend the first General Assembly of the new North Atlantic Federation of Married Catholic Priests (NAFMCP).

I have consulted with a number of those principally involved in Advent's organisation, and we have agreed that we shall not accept the invitation to join NAFMCP or attend the General Assembly. I must also make clear that I did not make any commitment that Advent would join this federation, and must ask that our name be removed from the official letterhead.

The reasons for this decision are these:

We are not satisfied that the formation of a North Atlantic Federation meets the intentions of the Madrid meeting. According to the report we received, Madrid agreed among other things to consult with a view to forming a European federation. We have heard nothing of such a consultation, nor have we been invited to join a European federation.

We are also concerned that NAFMCP's founder members, as we understand it, were not themselves represented at Madrid but have initiated a new movement different from its proposal.

North America is not part of Europe. It certainly has cultural connections, but they include Italians and Hispanics as well as northern Europeans. In any case, it is in itself a regional federation, vastly bigger and more populous than any European country.

We understand that Claude Bertin, the new international secretary and Paul Bourgeois, the treasurer agreed to the idea of a North Atlantic federation. We should like to know the opinion of the President and others who represent southern Europe.

We believe that a European federation would make more sense in the context of the developing European community. We should work for stronger ties within the whole of Europe rather than make separate ones involving a non-European nation, which lies thousands of miles away. The consideration of cost in attending international meetings is reason enough to opt for Europe rather than the North Atlantic.

I am sorry that this is a negative reply, but it genuinely represents the deep dissatisfaction felt by our principal membership.

Yours etc...

Catholic priest abused children at care home

February 15, 2003  
Catholic priest abused children at care home
By A Correspondent     The Times
A FORMER Catholic priest has been found guilty of sexually abusing two teenagers who were in his care at a children's home in the early 1970s.  Maidstone Crown Court heard that Michael McConville had abused a "position of responsibility" at the St Mary's home in Gravesend, Kent, to form a sexual relationship with a 14-year-old girl. The court was also told that McConville - a trainee priest at the time - had also indecently assaulted a teenage boy.  McConville, now 51, of Walworth, southeast London, admitted having a sexual relationship with the girl but insisted that it was after she had passed the age of consent. However, a jury of nine women and three men dismissed his version of events and found him guilty on three counts of indecent assault on a girl under the age of 16.  They also found him guilty, by a majority, of one count of indecent assault on a 14-year-old boy, but cleared him of four other counts of sexual abuse. McConville was also cleared of sexually abusing two younger girls at the home.  Another former priest, David Murphy, 56, from Edinburgh, pleaded guilty at an earlier hearing to eight counts of indecent assault relating to the sexual abuse of children at the home. The men's crimes first came to light in 1994 when a former resident at the home told a Catholic priest what had happened. The two men will be sentenced at a later date.  A church minister who sexually abused five young male inmates at a juvenile detention centre when he worked there as a prison officer has been jailed for eight years. Neville Husband, 65, of Shotley Bridge, Co Durham, was sentenced at Newcastle Crown Court after a jury found him guilty on ten counts of indecent assault and one of buggery. The assaults took place at Medomsley Detention Centre in Co Durham between 1974 and 1984.     

Priests for tomorrow

Priests for tomorrow
Fritz Lobinger and Paul Zulehner
The Tablet

The shortage of clergy in the Catholic Church offers opportunities as well as crisis. Two authors suggest a new way forward

THE number of priests who live within the call of their parishioners is in dramatic decline in many parts of Europe. Clergy must travel ever greater distances to reach their parishes, and in some cases, as in France, the deaneries have expanded to the size of dioceses. A number of bishops have seen this emergency situation as a chance to put into practice resolutions of the Second Vatican Council concerning the laity which have been slow to be implemented. The shortage of priests, in other words, is helping the development of collaborative ministry in parish communities. More and more of the tasks which have traditionally been performed by priests are now carried out by deacons or lay people in full-time church employment. At the same time, in step with the decline of clergy, parishes are being enlarged or grouped in clusters.
This "holding" operation - a pragmatic way of dealing with the crisis - is in fact highly questionable. There are two other approaches. Traditionalists, for their part, believe the solution is to intensify prayers for more candidates to come forward for the celibate academically trained priesthood, while importing a supply from countries which have more than they need to countries where there is a shortage. On the other hand, reformists want to make it possible for more people to become eligible for the priesthood by changing the rules of admission (ordaining married men and women, and pioneering new sorts of seminary training).
Let us look closely at the pragmatic solution. Church law allows lay people to perform certain traditional priestly tasks, such as distributing Communion, leading services of the Word, giving sermons and conducting funerals. This list is growing longer all the time. In Switzerland, for example, lay community leaders in full-time church employment are now asked to assist at weddings, to baptise, and even to preside over entire communities. In the German diocese of Speyer, for example, lay persons are given the "entire" but not the "final" responsibility for whole communities: the "final" responsibility is reserved for a moderator somewhere in the background who has to be a priest (note the tortuously nuanced wording).
This could be described theologically as "salutary folly": salutary because it is better that someone should perform those tasks than for them not to be performed at all; but folly because it leads to a ministry that is not ordained. "Unordained lay ministers" belittle not only the original lay professions - pastoral and community assistants - but also devalue the ordained priesthood. In fact, they make the priesthood redundant: most of the tasks until recently linked to the priesthood can now also be performed by lay persons, who in most cases are, moreover, married.

One positive aspect of this development is that, quietly and without fuss, women are now performing tasks formerly reserved for priests, and the faithful are getting used to them. But this transitional measure means that the Eucharist is being celebrated less and less often, and that the last sacraments are often not available for the sick and the dying. Church life in more and more regions of western Europe is beginning to resemble that in many developing countries, where the Eucharist is celebrated on just a few Sundays of the year. The Church is already preparing people to make do with fewer sacraments.
All this is dangerous. By the way it is coping with the increasing shortage of priests, the Church is signalling that the faithful can manage without either sacraments or priests. If the sacramental dimension diminishes in importance, the Church itself, as the fundamental sacrament, will be devalued in the eyes of the faithful.
We propose a different way out of the predicament, according to a more profound vision of the Church and renewal on the lines of the Second Vatican Council. The council's documents lead us back to the biblical sources and to the rich tradition of the Church, which show that the faithful in Christian communities should see themselves as the People of God, called by God, enriched by his sacraments and endowed with multiple charisms. To these communities God has given the priestly office whose main task it is to proclaim the Gospel.
In many parts of Europe, where the faithful have for centuries been provided for by priests, they have often become passive. Parish communities must now once again take on full responsibility for their life and work. They have to become self-ministering. But they are less likely to achieve this goal if their parish priest is replaced by a full-time church employee - an ersatz priest. Such a parish would merely go from being run by priests to being run by experts.
Instead of the traditional, the reformist and the pragmatic solutions, we therefore propose a fourth way. Our suggestion is that a new type of priest should be introduced to work alongside and supplement the present clergy. Our inspiration is St Paul, whose letters distinguish the missionary priest, like Paul himself, who founds communities, from priests like the presbyters at Corinth, who are in charge of a community and preside over the Eucharist. Hence our names for the two types: Pauline priests and Corinthian priests. According to our conception, Pauline priests should continue to come from the ranks of celibate academically trained men (although many of the Catholic faithful will feel that at some future time "and women" will be added here). They will usually be full-timers, responsible for founding new communities and for training the Corinthian priests whom they will accompany.
Corinthian priests, on the other hand, will usually be part-time, ordained on a voluntary basis for a particular community, where they will work as a team and where, instead of in a residential seminary, they will receive their initial and later formation. Long active experience in their parishes will have distinguished them as "proven" community leaders and mature men - viri probati. They are likely to be married, and to have held jobs. Many would, one would hope, eventually be women.
The pastoral innovation we suggest would do much to help the Church move beyond its present dilemma over the celibacy rule. The Church would not have to abolish mandatory priestly celibacy, which would remain the norm for Pauline priests (all recent studies suggest that making celibacy optional would make it disappear). A young person wanting to serve the Church would have a clear choice between becoming a full-time celibate Pauline priest, or becoming an active member of his parish while pursuing a worldly profession with the prospect of perhaps being asked to become a Corinthian priest after years of devoted service.
Of course, if viri probati were to fill the positions left vacant by the shortage of priests they could hinder parish renewal as much as could the lay employees. Corinthian priests should therefore only be introduced in active, mature communities. One of the main tasks of Pauline priests would be to promote church renewal in the more passive communities until they too were mature enough to choose leaders from their own communities who would then be ordained as Corinthian priests.
The solution we suggest is not new, but belongs to the deepest traditions of the early Church. By returning to it, we may succeed in giving new emphasis to the age-old task of priests as community builders, infusing the Church with new life.
Fritz Lobinger is Bishop of Aliwal North in South Africa and author of Like his Brothers and Sisters (1998). Paul Zulehner is Professor of Pastoral Theology and Kerygmatics at the University of Vienna. With Jan Kerkhofs he edited Europe without Priests (1995). This is an edited translation of an article in German which first appeared in Christ in der Gegenwart (20 October 2002).

Priests for tomorrow

Priests for tomorrow
Fritz Lobinger and Paul Zulehner
The Tablet

The shortage of clergy in the Catholic Church offers opportunities as well as crisis. Two authors suggest a new way forward

THE number of priests who live within the call of their parishioners is in dramatic decline in many parts of Europe. Clergy must travel ever greater distances to reach their parishes, and in some cases, as in France, the deaneries have expanded to the size of dioceses. A number of bishops have seen this emergency situation as a chance to put into practice resolutions of the Second Vatican Council concerning the laity which have been slow to be implemented. The shortage of priests, in other words, is helping the development of collaborative ministry in parish communities. More and more of the tasks which have traditionally been performed by priests are now carried out by deacons or lay people in full-time church employment. At the same time, in step with the decline of clergy, parishes are being enlarged or grouped in clusters.
This "holding" operation - a pragmatic way of dealing with the crisis - is in fact highly questionable. There are two other approaches. Traditionalists, for their part, believe the solution is to intensify prayers for more candidates to come forward for the celibate academically trained priesthood, while importing a supply from countries which have more than they need to countries where there is a shortage. On the other hand, reformists want to make it possible for more people to become eligible for the priesthood by changing the rules of admission (ordaining married men and women, and pioneering new sorts of seminary training).
Let us look closely at the pragmatic solution. Church law allows lay people to perform certain traditional priestly tasks, such as distributing Communion, leading services of the Word, giving sermons and conducting funerals. This list is growing longer all the time. In Switzerland, for example, lay community leaders in full-time church employment are now asked to assist at weddings, to baptise, and even to preside over entire communities. In the German diocese of Speyer, for example, lay persons are given the "entire" but not the "final" responsibility for whole communities: the "final" responsibility is reserved for a moderator somewhere in the background who has to be a priest (note the tortuously nuanced wording).
This could be described theologically as "salutary folly": salutary because it is better that someone should perform those tasks than for them not to be performed at all; but folly because it leads to a ministry that is not ordained. "Unordained lay ministers" belittle not only the original lay professions - pastoral and community assistants - but also devalue the ordained priesthood. In fact, they make the priesthood redundant: most of the tasks until recently linked to the priesthood can now also be performed by lay persons, who in most cases are, moreover, married.

One positive aspect of this development is that, quietly and without fuss, women are now performing tasks formerly reserved for priests, and the faithful are getting used to them. But this transitional measure means that the Eucharist is being celebrated less and less often, and that the last sacraments are often not available for the sick and the dying. Church life in more and more regions of western Europe is beginning to resemble that in many developing countries, where the Eucharist is celebrated on just a few Sundays of the year. The Church is already preparing people to make do with fewer sacraments.
All this is dangerous. By the way it is coping with the increasing shortage of priests, the Church is signalling that the faithful can manage without either sacraments or priests. If the sacramental dimension diminishes in importance, the Church itself, as the fundamental sacrament, will be devalued in the eyes of the faithful.
We propose a different way out of the predicament, according to a more profound vision of the Church and renewal on the lines of the Second Vatican Council. The council's documents lead us back to the biblical sources and to the rich tradition of the Church, which show that the faithful in Christian communities should see themselves as the People of God, called by God, enriched by his sacraments and endowed with multiple charisms. To these communities God has given the priestly office whose main task it is to proclaim the Gospel.
In many parts of Europe, where the faithful have for centuries been provided for by priests, they have often become passive. Parish communities must now once again take on full responsibility for their life and work. They have to become self-ministering. But they are less likely to achieve this goal if their parish priest is replaced by a full-time church employee - an ersatz priest. Such a parish would merely go from being run by priests to being run by experts.
Instead of the traditional, the reformist and the pragmatic solutions, we therefore propose a fourth way. Our suggestion is that a new type of priest should be introduced to work alongside and supplement the present clergy. Our inspiration is St Paul, whose letters distinguish the missionary priest, like Paul himself, who founds communities, from priests like the presbyters at Corinth, who are in charge of a community and preside over the Eucharist. Hence our names for the two types: Pauline priests and Corinthian priests. According to our conception, Pauline priests should continue to come from the ranks of celibate academically trained men (although many of the Catholic faithful will feel that at some future time "and women" will be added here). They will usually be full-timers, responsible for founding new communities and for training the Corinthian priests whom they will accompany.
Corinthian priests, on the other hand, will usually be part-time, ordained on a voluntary basis for a particular community, where they will work as a team and where, instead of in a residential seminary, they will receive their initial and later formation. Long active experience in their parishes will have distinguished them as "proven" community leaders and mature men - viri probati. They are likely to be married, and to have held jobs. Many would, one would hope, eventually be women.
The pastoral innovation we suggest would do much to help the Church move beyond its present dilemma over the celibacy rule. The Church would not have to abolish mandatory priestly celibacy, which would remain the norm for Pauline priests (all recent studies suggest that making celibacy optional would make it disappear). A young person wanting to serve the Church would have a clear choice between becoming a full-time celibate Pauline priest, or becoming an active member of his parish while pursuing a worldly profession with the prospect of perhaps being asked to become a Corinthian priest after years of devoted service.
Of course, if viri probati were to fill the positions left vacant by the shortage of priests they could hinder parish renewal as much as could the lay employees. Corinthian priests should therefore only be introduced in active, mature communities. One of the main tasks of Pauline priests would be to promote church renewal in the more passive communities until they too were mature enough to choose leaders from their own communities who would then be ordained as Corinthian priests.
The solution we suggest is not new, but belongs to the deepest traditions of the early Church. By returning to it, we may succeed in giving new emphasis to the age-old task of priests as community builders, infusing the Church with new life.
Fritz Lobinger is Bishop of Aliwal North in South Africa and author of Like his Brothers and Sisters (1998). Paul Zulehner is Professor of Pastoral Theology and Kerygmatics at the University of Vienna. With Jan Kerkhofs he edited Europe without Priests (1995). This is an edited translation of an article in German which first appeared in Christ in der Gegenwart (20 October 2002).

AGM Minutes for 19th October 2002

NOTES ON ADVENT A.G.M. Saturday 19 October 2002
at The Masterson Room, St Chad's Cathedral, Birmingham

Present: Alex (Chair) & Jan Walker (plus Lucy and Sophie), Philip and Catherine Smith (plus Tim & Andrew), Jackie & Hans (John) Wijngaards, Maire and Basil Potter, Mike O'Kane, Pippa & David Barlow, (plus Adam & Ben), Nicholas Anderson, John Echevarria, John Challenor - representing Catholics for a Changing Church (CCC), Mike Hyland, Joe Mulrooney, Nicola and Pat Olivier.

Apologies: Angie Crawford-Leighton(Secretary), Mary Mulrooney, Gerry McGarvey, Peter Hull, Gerry Cawthorne, Emmanuel Ruffin.

Alex Walker led an opening prayer, uniting us with the gathering of a Pilgrimage of Hope and Healing organised by We Are Church in Westminster Cathedral that same day.

Minutes of last AGM (20 October 2001) were accepted.

Review of the Year
Alex said that Advent was now listed in the national Catholic Directory, though the website ought to be included. Northampton and Plymouth diocesan yearbooks now included Advent and Clifton had been applied for. Nicola and Pat Olivier reported that they were expecting, with other resigned priests in Arundel & Brighton, an invitation to meet the new bishop, and would raise the matter with him. Maire and Basil Potter said they had met with the Cardinal who agreed to have a gathering of resigned priests (Basil was in Westminster). Their current diocesan, Northampton, was not happy to have such a meeting, as he thought "people might think we're inviting you back".

Basil Potter, who attended the National Conference of Priests in September 2002 for Advent, said he had to ask to be invited but was made very welcome. Observers took part in all activities and discussions except voting. Basil had met two Westminster priests whom he asked to help him in contacting the priests of the diocese. One was already going to invite those of his year group to meet. The BBC Sunday Programme were there on the last day and interviewed Basil about being active in ministry. Some of the priest delegates did not know what Advent was. In answer to a question, Basil said that the idea of a telephone helpline for priests in difficulty had had to be dropped for lack of finance and the need for special training for operators. The 2003 NCP would be at Leeds in early September. A volunteer to attend would be welcome.

Treasurer - Mike O'Kane said he thought Advent should pay for its observer to attend the NCP. He reported however that income had dropped drastically, with fewer gatherings where a 'secret bag' could be passed round for donations. In the past year £56 had been collected, including one donation of £30. There had been a 15% increase in the numbers of standing orders, making 17 in all, and Mike appealed to other members to set one up. The balance to date was £873.96. We were paid up with the International Federation, and there were no outstanding expenses.
Joe Mulrooney added that the International Federation subscription was to go up shortly.

It was suggested that a note on the bulletin should say how much it costs and invite contributions. A published Treasurer's report could also be considered.
Mike added that it was agreed last year to send the Secretary a sum for expenses, which he had discussed with her but it had not yet been achieved. He said that Angie was hoping to get a computer.

Miscellaneous Contacts and Activities
Alex continued that he had taken part in radio discussions on celibacy on Radio 4's 'Ageing Faith', on another station's 'Talk Sport', and with Denis Jackson and Donald Cozzens on BBC digital. He had also given an interview to a researcher whilst in Malta for a programme involving Oliver McTernan.

Mike Hyland and Pat Olivier reported on contacts with Lloyd Miller and Antony Thomas, connected with a proposed ITV programme or series. Antony met several Advent members at one of the Hammersmith lunch gatherings. Alex asked any members who had contacts with the media to let him know so that forthcoming programmes or articles could be flagged up on the website. John Wijngaards recalled The Tablet's piece on 'Priests in Search of a Role' and suggested that Advent members could write a series of life stories for them.

Alex said that eleven visitors to the website had registered as members, including people in India, and some who had left India or the USA or Ireland. 5 others had registered as supporting the membership.

There was some concern about people who had formerly been at meetings but had lost touch. But some did not come after repeated invitations and they have to be allowed to make their own decision.

Charitable status - Alex reported that it had been refused in January, on the grounds that:
a)    Advent does not claim to offer relief from diminished medical or physical condition arising from resigning priesthood / religious life, nor to offer a safe haven;
b)    it works for change of the Church of which it claims to be part, which appears contradictory.
Philip Smith mentioned that the Derwent Trust had offered to help with applying for charitable status, but Alex said he had spoken with them, and they were surprised that we were turned down on the 'working for change' grounds. John Challenor said that CCC does not have charitable status but is closely associated with the People of God Trust, which does. John W suggested using wording such as 'to support the Catholic Church, especially looking after its ministers who are in special need'. If the problem continued he offered to approach the trustees of Housetop Care in February, to see whether their charitable status could give Advent a facility.

Alex continued with some thoughts about the Church's crisis over paedophile priests, falling vocations and gay lifestyle.

He recalled that Joe Evans had died in April, leaving a widow and two children, and Norman Haines in July. It was reported that at Norman's funeral the celebrant had placed a chalice and stole on the coffin, mentioning Norman's service as a priest. Alex drew attention to the In Memoriam spot on the website and asked for any names of deceased members to be supplied.

In relation to the Pope's obvious declining health, he suggested that Advent should have a corporate comment to use in case his successor opened the question of returning married priests to ministry.

International Federation of Married Catholic Priests - Madrid, 19-22 September 2002
After the lunch break Joe Mulrooney reported on the meeting of the International Federation he and Mike Hyland had attended as Advent representatives. His report is reproduced at the end of these notes. It was noted that those who attend the international meetings do so at their own expense, and some thought that Advent should try to meet the cost.

John Wijngaards addressed the group on Future Ministry in the Church.
In a brief survey of faith in society, he said that God has now been pushed out of all areas of life. Very early on, although Jesus had died in a most secular place, believers fell back on temple and priesthood notions. We still have an undue sense of the sacred being different, but in reality ordinary people meet God within themselves, and this is where the new generation lies.

The thought patterns of the ancient world changed about the time of the French Revolution, and closed communities such as the Catholic Church, Protestant Church, Communism developed separate systems of thought. Now by contrast we live in a secular metropolis with mingled thought systems. Today clergy are no longer protected by law, nor simply accepted. Everyone is judged by how good they are and what they can do, whether politician or priest.

The former tendency to seek security has shifted to seeking fulfilment and meaning in life. Some say the younger generation have a heightened sensitivity to spiritual concerns. They value action and independence, they are healthy and positive. Few at the top of the professions have allegiance to the Church. Where the priest was the dispenser of wisdom for a passive people, they now do not accept this. Moral judgement is made by the individual rather than by the Church authority. The child abuse issue has brought out the weakness of the Church system. A US study has found only 31% of Catholics there look for hierarchical rule, while nearly 70% own responsibility for themselves.

British Catholics remained in a backwater for a long time. At one point 50 % had never even heard of Vatican II. But the changes we talk about have actually happened in our Catholic population.

The Vatican is presently closed and conservative, but many play it safe and might not reject considerable change under a new liberal regime. Most bishops are pastoral rather than strong intellectuals. John drew an analogy with the breakdown of communism in Russia - the population had already lost faith in the leadership and the system. He commented nevertheless that a rogue bishop recently ordaining some women in Austria was not helpful - we have to change the Catholic community from within.

A discussion followed on what resigned priests can do under canon law, such as being obliged to provide the sacraments for people if they ask and no other priest is available. The irony was mentioned of insisting on Sunday Mass attendance yet not allowing married priests to provide it. The indult forbidding one member any ministry or teaching religion was said to be no longer applicable. Some dioceses (eg Cologne) are in fact using the ministry of resigned and married priests. One view was that the parish system is dying and we need to reinvent house churches. Priesthood needs redefining, so that it does not have to include all the ministries and powers. All the baptised are potential priests. JW outlined the development of priesthood - at first, subsidiary to bishops and deacons, then in the Middle Ages coming to the fore. It is based on the pagan Roman power structure - "The pagans want to boss each other, but it shall not be so among you," Jesus said. Yet it is so among us!

Advent's role was debated - should we be warning, controversial? What do we mean by working for change? Some seem to want to do nothing but wait. How should we react if we were invited to return to ministry? Some are not interested in returning, some find they do minister in other fields, some minister to those who come to them. We can enable ourselves and others to come to terms with what priesthood and ministry really mean and how the Church should develop in future.

Alex also challenged the meeting to confront whether Advent has any real purpose. It was pointed out that new people have made contact in recent times and look for support. There are different views on being more proactive or the opposite. John W described it as more a movement than an organisation, probably with more influence than we think.

Nicholas Anderson, who is an Anglican priest in parish ministry, asked for assistance with his PhD research. He invited Advent members to be interviewed for 1 to 2 hours on what sort of ministry they have and how they see ministry in the future.

JW mentioned that at St James, Piccadilly, London on Sat 18 January at 12.00 there was to be a reconstruction of how women deacons were ordained in the early church.

Covering letter from Mike Hyland & Joe Mulrooney

The Trout Hostelry,
15"'. November, 2002.

To whom it may concern,

Mike Hyland and Joe Mulrooney, Advent's representatives at Madrid (though not in the executive committee of Advent), have met, after consultation with Alex Walker (chair of Advent), to respond to the proposal in the enclosed documentation.

The enclosed is our attempt to be faithful to the democratic decisions taken at the Madrid Assembly and to our understanding of the Church in all its multiplicity.

That we may be one.

Mike Hytand.

Joe Mulrooney.

Letter to Mike Hyland from Heinz J Vogels

Dr. Heinz-JUrgen Vogels
D-53347    Alfter, 9. November 2002 Buschhovener Str. 30

Mike Hyland
20, Kingfisher Way
GB - Beckenham Kent, BR2 4BA


in addition to what I sent you yesterday, I can forward to you a draft from Anthony which he has elaborated during his long discussions with the Canadians, who are very interested in the new foundation. It gives a more concrete vision of what is planned.

If you could join us, even in the meeting in Antwerpen, at least in writing, we would be glad.



Letter to Mike Hyland from Heinz J Vogels

Dr. Heinz-Jurgen Vogels
D-53 347    
Alfter, 8. November 2002 Buschhovener Str. 30

Mike Hyland
20, Kingfisher Way
GB - Beckenham Kent, BR2 4BA

Dear Mike,

since I saw and heard you in Madrid, I did not forget you and your harsh criticism on Lambert! In some way you were right to ask, why he was not there to declare his position. Especially why he put Julio's signature under the letter to the Spanish bishops.

Now, on Sep 26 already, he did so in writing, in a letter to Julio. Since you read and speak French very well, as I heard in Madrid, I send you a copy of his letter. To me it seems, he gives a totally satisfying answer to your question.

If that is true, then I hope you will agree that there are good reasons for creating a European sub-federation, as envisioned by the decision of the General Assembly, and possibly without - or with less influence of- the Spanish group. There are considerations under way to create one, and we - Anthony and myself - would like to invite you, the Advent group, to join that project.

As you can see from the annex, we will meet with Bert Peeters in the near fi~ture. If you could send us (by e-mail, if possible, to: [email protected], de - or to my mail address) or to Anthony, your opinion, we would be very gratefi~l. Germans, Austrians, Czech will join the initiative. Anthony will propose it to the CE on January 10 in Brussels.

Have a good time!
Greetings from Germany

Email from Anthony Padovano to Heinz-Jurgen Vogels

T-Onflne eMai~

Absender:    Theresa & Anthony Padovano <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Datum:    07. Nov 2002 16:42
Empfiinger: Heinz Vogels <>
Betreff~ North American Federation of Priests.doc


The General assembly of the International Federation of Married Catholic Priests, meeting in Madrid in September of 2002, voted to restructure itself as an International Confederation. This will allow regional and cultural organizations to create a series of Federations. The model for this has been set by the Latin American Federation. Such federations can more easily and quickly address the cultural and pastoral need of their own region and can plan more practical strategies for the church and people in their own area.

The Executive committee of the present International Federation suggested that European groups might consider becoming federations. Married priest organizations in Northern Europe and North America plan to create a North Atlantic federation of Married Catholic Priests at a special meeting in Brussels from November 30- December 2. History, cultural bonds, a similarity of pastoral issues and the ready access of English as a common language may allow this federation to serve the International confederation, the movement of married priests, and the reform concerns in this region more effectively.


The North Atlantic federation will consist of some 8-10 countries, connected by cultural and pastoral interests as the Latin American Federation and Spain are at the present moment.

The North Atlantic federation will meet regularly, through its delegates, in a General Assembly of its own. It will be connected to the International Confederation by representatives to the Executive Committee of the Confederation and by attendance at its Congress held every three years.

The North Atlantic Federation will have two officers, as presently envisioned, a president and a secretary-treasurer, elected for limited terms of office. We do not envision financial costs to be any greater than they are now for member nations. The monies collected will be utilized to maintain the North Atlantic federation. A percentage of these funds will be sent to the Confederation to supports its work.

The North Atlantic federation will revive the discontinued Ministerium Novum as its own journal.

It envisions as its most immediate concerns: the abuse of po~ver revealed in the sexual abuse scandal; the role of women in the church; and the need for lay involvement in the solution of these and other matters.

The Executive Committee of the International Confederation will be informed of all these matters at its January 10, 2003 meeting in Brussels. We trust that this new initiative will respond to the mandate given in Madrid and will energize the Married Priest movement in new ways.

Full response from Mike Hyland & Joe Mulrooney to Heinz-J Vogels

Mike Hyland Joe Mulrooney
On behalf of Advent Group, England.
15th• November, 2002.

Dear Heinz-J,
Thank you for your letter and documentation. Let us leave entirely aside the affair of Lambert van Gelder. That is the past and we are more concerned with the future of the International Association of Married Priests. The main concern of this letter is the "proposal" for a North Atlantic Federation.

Let us establish first of all what was decided and voted on at the Assembly in Madrid. The decision was that steps would be taken to consult the various national groups with a view to setting up a European federation, granted that the South American countries had reasonably set up their own federation. In that context the question was posed for discussion and consultation as to the position of North America i.e. The United States and Canada. Would they align themselves with South America or form their own North American federation?

In Anthony Padovano's documentation (6111. October 2002) it states that" A strong proposal has come from a number of European groups to form a North Atlantic Federation of Catholic Married Priests". Included in this federation would be Canada and the United States Qf Canada chases to join!), Austria, Belgium, England, France, Germany, Ireland and Netherlands.

You requested from us, at least in writing if we could not attend the meeting which has already been called, our reaction to this proposal.

1.    Nowhere are we given a list of the European groups from which this proposal originated. England is included in the list of possible participants is such a fashion that it creates the impression that we had been consulted in advance and were in agreement. We would have been less furious if at least we had been consulted in advance on a hypothetical possibility. Instead we are presented with a very concrete proposal, already setting out structure and aims etc and presented in a manner which presumes our participation. We have checked with Alex Walker, chair of Advent, and he assures us that he was not consulted.

2.    We stand by what was discussed and voted through at Madrid and we await the consultations on the feasibility of a European Federation.

3.    We are intrigued as to the motivation(s) behind this proposal. On the one hand Anthony talks of"a greater possibility for practical action and closer cultural focus on common problems". As regards practical action the Atlantic is very, very wide. You, on the other hand, are more explicit re the cultural aspect. You express the desire to create "a European sub-federation, as envisioned by the decision of the General Assembly, and possibly without - or with less influence of the Spanish Group". A few very generalised statistical facts are, I think, relevant here:
    The number of Spanish speaking Catholics as a percentage of the Catholic

Church. The percentage increases if we add in the Portuguese and the Italians who are also left out of the North Atlantic federation.
    The high Spanish population in the USA. (I leave you to look up the figures.)
What really is the motivation here?
    Is it racist? - They are not white Northern Europeans.
    Is it theological? - They have an exciting liberation theology stance which is hard to stomach.
    Is it about power? - That the old guard cannot face stepping down (Should the Pope resign?)

4.    Whatever, we do not go along with this for the following reasons:
a.    Fundamentally because of our ecclesiological stance: "That all may be one"(John 17:20-23).
b.    Also because we see evidence of a pressure group operating outside and without recourse to the democratic structures of the international executive committee and assembly and trying to push the movement in a direction which was not envisaged at the last general assembly.
c.    At the last general assembly a vote was taken to abolish the hard copy of Ministerium Novum and to disseminate that type of material to the national groups through E-mail or web site. The proposal that this North Atlantic Federation will "revive"as its own journal what is not dead, but simply moved into another medium, overturns that vote.. In terms of England's possible financial contribution this is financial madness.
d.    The last paragraph of Anthony's documentation - "The executive committee of the International Confederation will be informed of all these matters at its January 10,2003 meeting in Brussels" - contains:
    An error of fact. There is as yet no International Confederation. That may well be the next step depending on the decisions of the next assembly
    A sin against humility in that the executive committee which we elected "will be u?formed", presumably as a fait accompli.
    Yours sincerely,    

Mike Hyland

Joe Mulrooney

After consultation with Alex Walker, chair of Advent.

Copies to: Alex Walker(Advent chair), Aitor Orube(Chair of executive committee), Paul Bourgeois and Claude Bei-tin(Committee members), Julio Pinillos (an interested party).

AGM Agenda for 19th October 2002

Annual General Meeting
Saturday 19th October 2002
St Chad's Cathedral, Birmingham


11.00        1.    Welcome
                     2.    Apologies
                     3.    Minutes of the AGM of 2001
                     4.    Matters Arising
                     5.    Treasurer's Report (Mike O'Kane)
                     6.    Review of the Year (Alex Walker)
11.30        7.    Advent - Our Purpose, Our Mission? (Discussion Groups)
12.15        8.    Feedback from Groups
12.30        9.    International Federation in Madrid (Joe Mulrooney)

01.00        10    S H A R E D        L U N C H

02.00        11.    The Changing Face of Priesthood (John Wyngaards)
02.30        12.    Discussion Groups
03.15        13.    Feedback from Groups
03.30        14.    Strategy for the Year Ahead
04.00        15.    Mass
04.45        16.    Tea
05.00        17.    DEPART    

Closing Statment from Madrid

Another Church is possible
Universidad Carlos III, Leganés (Madrid)
Organised by Corriente Somos Iglesia
Sunday, 22 September 2002
Message to communities
"All the faithful enjoy a true equality with regard to the dignity and activity which they share in the building up of the body of Christ". - LG 32 c, 80 - The laity are brothers and sisters of the pastors, with an equal call to mission - LG 33a " (Vatican II).
Dear brothers and sisters,
We are writing to you from Leganés, Madrid, where we met from 19 to 22 September 2002, for an International meeting for the renewal of the Catholic Church. We are 500 Catholic Christians, men and women, lay people, religious and priests. We belong to 200 base groups and organisations, from all parts of Spain, and from more than 30 countries around the world. We had the pleasure at this meeting of benefiting from the brotherly, humble presence among us of Bishop Tomás Balduino, president of the Pastoral Commission for the Earth, in Brazil.
We all came to this meeting driven by faith and the desire to see the Universal Church become a true network of communities in the service of humanity, especially for the millions of excluded poor in the world. We were pleased to learn of the community experiences of the Church of God at Chiapas, México, among indigenous people, exploited for five hundred years. We heard how the Church is born again each day, through the power of the Spirit, amid the communities of the campesinos and the poor in Brazil, Ecuador, Guatemala, and other Latin American countries, as well as in Asia and European cities such as Brussels, Madrid and many others.
We accept as our own the petition made to the Pope for a new Council and a conciliar process, participatory and corresponsible, signed by more than 30 Catholic bishops, and which is collecting thousands of signatures of support from around the world.
We feel moved by the Spirit to advance this conciliar process in which we find ourselves, as a path of faith and solidarity.
We have some suggested topics that today concern many communities and much of society; questions that should be debated and calmly considered by all members of the people of God. Among these, we would stress social issues such as the urgency of prophetic action by the churches in the service of peace and against militarism and war; firm action against hunger, which kills millions and on behalf of justice and equality among all human beings, in communion with nature and committed to its protection.
We also add that there is urgent need for dialogue between those representing the Church and those representing the scientific community, on the ethics of biotechnology to confront the attitude that sees science as simply a matter for the markets.
If our churches are always to be signs of the Reign of God, we believe it is important to:
- Reflect on our way of being and organising as Church in the world.
- Open our ecclesial communities to the poor, to the migrants and to those morally marginalised, such as the divorced and homosexuals.
- Comply fully with human rights, in their internal relations and among all their members.
- Reformulate our understanding and way of expressing ministry, opening it up to full participation by women, and without celibacy being a mandatory requirement for fulfilment of the presbyterial ministry.
These questions can only be dealt with in depth in a church which has experienced renewal in the light of the Gospel. May this conciliar process revive the ecclesial springtime of the days of Pope John XXIII who asked for the Church what we all want today: a new Pentecost.
May the peace of Christ be with you,
Your brothers and sisters at the International meeting in Leganés.
We, the 500 participants at the International meeting for renewal of the Catholic Church, feel a prophetic indignation against the militarist, interventionist and unilateral policy of the government of the United States, which, despite international laws and treaties, is moving towards military invasion of Iraq, further injuring a people who have already suffered so much as the result of the embargo that has oppressed them for more than ten years.
We call on our own communities and all Christian churches to raise their voices in favour of peace and international justice, based on respect for the sovereignty of all peoples.
As Jesus said: "Blessed are the meek for they will inherit the earth. Blessed are the peacemakers for they will be called sons and daughters of God, or, in other words, peacemaking is the work of God in the world" (Cf. Mt 5, 5. 9).
Another Church is possible
Leganés (Madrid), Sunday 22 September 2002
Corriente Somos Iglesia This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Email from Anthony Padavano to Heinz J Vogels

T-Online eMail

Absender:    Theresa & Anthony Padovano <[email protected] net> -
Datum:    06. Okt 2002 12:4 1
Empfänger:    Heinz Vogels <>
Betreff:    Fw: International Federation of Married Catholic Prists

Original Message  
From:    Theresa & Anthony Padovano
To:    This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Sent:    Sunday, October 06, 2002 6:38 AM
Subject:    International Federation of Married Catholic Prists

Dear Grant,

I tried to reach four of you by phone on Oct. 5 (contacting Arthur and Francois; leaving messages for Grant and Jim Noonan). Could I ask you, Grant, to forward this e-mail to all four and to all others you think should be included in the discussions.

I send you all greetings and words of gratitude for all your years of work on behalf of God's People and the reform of the Catholic Church.

At the General Assembly of the International Federation of Married Catholic Priests meeting in Madrid on Sept. 20, a decision was made to become an International Confederation by the next Congress in 2005. The Latin Americans were the chief catalysts in this regard. Over the next three years, regional groups will be encouraged to gather as regional federations. The Latin American Federation of Married Catholic Priests is one model for this. Clelia Luro de Podesta, president of the Latin American Federation, suggested that federations should not be overly large. Thus the Latin Americans have divided into three regions, largely autonomous. These regions allow more contact, a greater possibility for practical action, and closer cultural focus on common problems.

Europe is at work in forming a European Federation. A strong proposal has come from a number of
European groups to form a North Atlantic Federation of Married Catholic Priests. This will include
Canada and the U.S.A., if Canada chooses to join. It will also include Austria, Belgium, England,
France, Germany, Ireland, Netherlands.

A meeting will take place in Brussels on Nov. 30 and December 1 to work out a charter, by-laws
and a letter of convocation to create the North Atlantic Federation. I shall present these materials to
the Executive Committee of the International Confederation meeting in Brussels on January 10,
2003 for their review and approval.

If the North Atlantic Federation goes forward, we will have a greater capacity for joint action and witness and an opportunity to be in closer contact with one another.

Canada may send a representative to the November 30 Brussels meeting or delegate me to speak on Canada's behalf in accordance with whatever mandate you choose to give me.

Cardinal awaits decision on charges

September 23, 2002  
Cardinal awaits decision on charges
By Daniel McGrory     
The Times

THE Archbishop of Westminster, Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor, the head of the Roman Catholic Church in England and Wales, is waiting to hear whether he will be prosecuted over allegations that he helped a paedophile priest to avoid criminal charges.  

The Crown Prosecution Service is studying police evidence over the role that he is alleged to have played in protecting the priest.  Surrey and Sussex police forces and Scotland Yard have spent several months questioning those involved in sexual offences against young boys in the 1980s by a priest who was given a job by the Cardinal.  

The prosecution service says that no final decision will be taken on whether to charge the Cardinal, 70, until the police investigation is completed. The Cardinal has not been interviewed by the police.  

A prosecution service spokesman said: "Sussex Police contacted us for advice as part of their inquiries involving the Cardinal and we gave them advice which must remain confidential."  The prosecution service said that it did know long the investigation would take.  

At issue is whether the Cardinal knew of an offence and acted in a way intended to impede a prosecution or pevert the course of justice. It is understood that the investigation is the result of an allegation in a letter sent to police.  Some of the victims of the priest, who was jailed for five years for sex offences, say that the Cardinal was told of the attacks as far back as 1981.  

Two years later the Cardinal, who was then the Bishop of Arundel and Brighton, appointed the priest to his own diocese, where he met his last victim.  

The Cardinal said at the time: "I maintain that, with the facts known to me, the decisions made in this regard were not irresponsible."  He was later quoted as saying that he did not contact the police because he regarded the matter as "more a moral and pastoral problem than a police problem".    

Priest with taste for Versace suits found guilty of sex assault


Priest with taste for Versace suits found guilty of sex assault     

Sep 19 2002    
By Daily Post Correspondent        

A SENIOR Catholic priest has been convicted of indecently assaulting a 19-year-old youth. Father Anthony McCaffrey, who is next to the Archbishop of Liverpool in the church hierarchy, committed the offence just hours after flying back from a week-long trip to the Vatican on church business. The public gallery at the city's Crown Court was crowded with his friends and supporters who gasped and shouted "no" in disbelief. Many broke down in tears when the jury of five women and seven men returned their majority verdict of 11-1 following three hours' deliberation. Judge David Maddison told 41-year-old Fr McCaffrey, who showed no emotion: "You are very much at risk of a custodial sentence." He remanded him on bail until October 17 to enable a pre-sentence report to be prepared. During his five day trial, the victim, who is now a 21-yearold university student, told how Fr McCaffrey, who is known for his love of designer clothing including Versace, had said he and a friend could spend the night at his home rather than sleep on the floor of a nearby club. He thought he would sleep on the floor or a couch but Fr McCaffrey told him to sleep in his bed and he did so, just wearing his boxer shorts, assuming that the priest would sleep on the settee. But he awoke in the morning to find the priest in the bed performing a sex act on him. He immediately asked what he was doing, leapt out of bed, dressed and ran out of the presbytery. The victim said he was crying and shocked and rang his girlfriend who collected him. They then went back to the presbytery and he confronted Fr McCaffrey.            

From celibacy to godliness


Boston Globe Online:

From celibacy to godliness

By James Carroll, 4/9/2002

WHAT IS IT that makes the Catholic sex abuse scandal so radioactive?

A staggering succession of priests accused. A total failure of responsibility by bishops. Concern in every parish. On the positive side, a surprisingly strong consensus for broad reform has taken hold among the Catholic people. On the negative, the obsessive coverage threatens to take on the character of a witch hunt, as headlines blur the distinction between genuine predators and the thinly accused.

The cloud of suspicion shadowing the entire priesthood is unfair, yet the scandal has also surfaced, especially among Catholics, a deep skepticism about priestly celibacy. That, in turn, calls into question the makeup of the sexual imagination of the Catholic Church itself.

I can't help but recall my own experience here. I spent the full decade of my 20s as a celibate man, as a seminarian and as a priest. I was 31 years old when I resigned as Catholic chaplain at Boston University and began to seek dispensation from Holy Orders. The vow of obedience was an issue and so was an alternative vocation to the writing life, but my leaving the priesthood centrally involved coming to grips with the inadequacy of celibacy as what it was defined to be - a spiritual path leading to God.

The virtues of the celibate way of life were clear to me. Living in a community of vital, committed men was like permanent membership in an intellectually challenging seminar, like being on a good team. The shared sacrifice of retiring to rooms alone at night seemed key to the bond, and to our ministries as well.

The elan of the priestly fraternity was invigorating - and, we thought, a witness to something higher. Yet I could never shake a vague sense of the life's great limitation and increasingly noted in myself and my brothers more contradiction than mystery, more narcissism than generosity. I wouldn't grasp the real meaning of what was missing until I'd found it.

The impoverishment of contemporary language about sexuality makes it difficult to make the point, as if the problem with celibacy boils down to hormones, but what I have come to understand, over the last 25 years as a husband and father, is that sexual engagement, the reciprocity of marriage, and the creativity of parenthood are fundamental sources of engagement with God. Loving sexuality offers an intimation of the holy that is simply unavailable in any other experience.

How absurd that such a primal truth should have come to me as a surprise. The holiness of sexuality is, of course, an assumption of the Biblical faith, if not of neo-Platonic Christianity. It is the theme of the ''Song of Songs,'' and Genesis affirms that humans are the ''image of God'' precisely as ''male and female.''

Yet a great thing about sex is the way it refuses to be spiritualized, a permanent reminder that the glory of creation is its very physicality. But abstract knowledge of this truth is nothing compared to lived experience of it, which was inhibited by an emphasis on sexual longing as, mainly, an occasion of sin.

Jansenists in the Catholic tradition, Calvinists in the Protestant - Christianity has been all too ambivalent about sex. Catholicism has affirmed it, at most, from the margins of church thought and life. Why else are the overwhelming majority of canonized saints virgins? Whatever the positive aspects of celibacy are or ever were, its deepest meaning now is as the earth's most dramatic instance of the repudiation of human sexuality, and that is the source of the instinctive skepticism so widely surfaced by the present crisis.

The Vatican's recent declaration that homosexuality among Catholic priests is the disorder that needs correcting clouded this murky issue even more, since the church's problem is with sexuality itself, whether homosexual or heterosexual. To blame the current crisis on priests who happen to be homosexual not only smacks of scapegoating and licenses the witch hunters; it deflects the far more pervasive disorder and the basic change required.

No more than the average parish priest, gay people will not take the fall for a corrupt, misogynist, self-protecting clerical elite. The Vatican's dishonesty on all matters concerned with sex - no birth control, no condoms for AIDS prevention, etc. - is now fully perceived by the Catholic people. Sexual totalitarianism will no longer succeed as an organizing principle of this institution.

The far more important point is that loving sexual union, and all that follows from it, is sacred. The body is Godly. Sensual mutuality is a sacrament. Physical expression is holy. Pleasure is divine. That is what the church must finally affirm, without ambivalence and from the center of Catholic life, instead of the margin.

Or, to put it another way, Catholic priests must be free to marry. Period.

James Carroll's column appears regularly in the Globe.

This story ran on page A19 of the Boston Globe on 4/9/2002.
© Copyright 2002 Globe Newspaper Company.

Catholic bishop backs end to celibacy ruling

Catholic bishop backs end to celibacy ruling

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A SCOTTISH bishop has called for the Catholic Church to look at admitting married men to the ranks of the priesthood to solve its recruitment crisis.

Bishop of Galloway Maurice Taylor said he feared a growing shortage of priests in Europe and central America was making it impossible for many Catholics to attend mass.

While he believed existing priests should remain celibate, the church should consider allowing married men to take up the cloth and continue having a sexual relationship with their spouses after ordination, he said.

Taylor's intervention will be welcomed by many liberal members of the church, but it has caused consternation among conservative groups who said they had "profound objections" to the idea.

But Taylor insists the Catholic Church is facing a major dilemma. "To me we are being faced with a question. What is more important, to allow people a better chance of getting to mass on Sunday or to keep priests celibate?" he said.

"If the current rules are helping to prevent Catholics from getting to go to mass, or will do so in future, then I would be willing to see the rules relaxed to allow married men to become priests."

He also criticised the church's handling of cases of abuse by priests, particularly in the US, Ireland and England.

This was discouraging people from joining the priesthood and even making priests embarrassed to encourage new recruits, he said.

"When people look at priests they don't forget about the abuse scandals, how dreadful they are and how badly they've been handled. Priests are embarrassed and ashamed about that and they feel a certain amount of rejection on the part of the public."

However, the 76-year-old bishop, who is fighting cancer and is expected to retire later this year, says existing priests should remain celibate.

"I would say there is considerable value in the obligation of celibacy so I don't consider it is an unreasonable obligation to ask of single men," he said. "But I want to see a public debate on these questions so the church can talk things through now rather than later on."

The Scottish Catholic Church has 900 priests, to lead services for the country's estimated 800,000 Catholic population. This is down from 1,195 in 1981, with many priests expected to retire in the next decade.

In England, around 200 married priests from the church of England were allowed to join the Catholic Church in 1998 in protest at the Anglican ordination of women, because of "exceptional circumstances".

Taylor said their presence was a sign that the Catholic Church could tolerate married clergy, although he admitted the current Pope, John Paul II, was unlikely to countenance the ordination of married men.

"There quite possibly could be this kind of change further down the line," the bishop predicted. But his comments were given a lukewarm reception by his fellow priests.

Archbishop Keith O'Brien, the president of the Scottish Bishops Conference, said: "Ultimately, each bishop is entitled to his own views on this subject which is a matter of discipline not doctrine ."

While O'Brien described Taylor's view as a "thoughtful contribution" to the debate, he insisted clerical celibacy still had enormous value.

Archbishop Mario Conti, from the diocese of Glasgow, said he did not want to comment. But Ronnie MacDonald, a spokesman for the traditionalist group Catholic Truth, described Taylor as a liberal who was ignoring the Pope, as the pontiff had recently restated the value of a celibate single priesthood.

MacDonald said: "We have profound and pragmatic objections to the idea of married priests. On the spiritual side, the love of God in a priest should be all-embracing and all-consuming, so the priest can be a beacon for Catholic people."

"Married men have obligations to their wives and families and that must detract from the duties expected of a priest. He must devote all his energy to the service of God."

A celibate life

THE scriptural authority for celibacy lies in the New Testament which states "family ties" should be renounced for the sake of the kingdom of Heaven.

In the early church, celibacy was up to priests. However, Pope Gregory VII made celibacy compulsory in the 11th century.

Over the centuries the rule began to be flouted. Priests in the Scottish Episcopal Church were known to have wives in the 15th century, while the 16th-century Reformation swept away the Catholic rules.

The Church of Scotland allows its ministers to marry, while in England, celibacy survived the formation of the Church of England by Henry VIII but was ditched by his successor, Edward VI.

Although the Vatican insists on celibacy, there are churches which are part of the international Catholic church that allow their priests to marry.

Man says mother coerced brother to accuse priest in abuse suit

Man says mother coerced brother to accuse priest in abuse suit     
ALTOONA, Pa. - The older brother of a man who collected $1.2 million in a clergy molestation lawsuit said his two younger brothers lied. Mark Hutchison, 36, gave a sworn statement in which he said his mother prodded the brothers into falsely accusing a priest and that she promised to split the jury award among the seven-member family. An attorney for the Catholic Diocese of Altoona-Johnstown filed a copy of the 95-page statement Tuesday with the Pennsylvania Supreme Court. The court is scheduled to hear arguments Sept. 9 about whether the diocese has to pay another $1 million in punitive damages to Michael Hutchison Jr., 35, who now lives in Akron, Ohio. Michael Hutchison sued in 1987 claiming then-Father Francis Luddy, who was his godfather and parish priest, abused him from 1976 to 1984. A Blair County jury only considered his claims for the years 1983 and 1984 due to a statute of limitations. The lawsuit contended the diocese and retired Bishop James J. Hogan had retained Luddy despite knowing he "had a propensity for pedophiliac behavior." Mark Hutchison testified at the trial that Luddy molested him as a child, which Luddy admitted. But he said he knew nothing about any alleged molestation of his brother, Michael. Mark Hutchison has never sued Luddy and still maintains Luddy molested him, said diocesan attorney Carl Eck Jr. Luddy has repeatedly denied that he molested Michael Hutchinson or another brother, Sam, now 33. "Mark has always testified that he was molested ... and Father Luddy immediately admitted that he had molested Mark, but not the other two boys. And that's been our position since 1987," Eck told The Associated Press on Wednesday. "We defended the case because we didn't believe that Michael or Sammy was molested. There would be no reason for (Luddy) to deny it when he admitted doing it to Mark and that would be sufficient to get him out of the church," Eck said. In the statement, Mark Hutchison claims his mother, Mary Hutchison, of Akron, manipulated Michael by threatening to cut off money to him. Attorney Richard Serbin, who represents Michael Hutchison and his mother, said the sexual abuse led his client, who is borderline mentally retarded, into a life of drug abuse and crime. Serbin, who said he planned to file a response next week, refused Wednesday to address specific allegations made against Michael Hutchison or his mother. "I am satisfied the defendants have no legal basis to assert the scandalous and inaccurate information that is in their motions." Sam Hutchison had also sued Luddy, but dropped the case in 1992. He denied his brother's accusations and said his statements against Luddy were not coerced. Eck contends the diocese isn't to blame for Michael Hutchison's problems, because Luddy was immediately removed from public ministry when Mark's allegations came to light in 1987. Luddy was made to undergo counseling, never returned to active ministry, and was officially defrocked in 1998.        

Jury acquits Rev. Miguel Flores of rape charges

Hanford priest not guilty
Jury acquits Rev. Miguel Flores of rape charges.
By Kerri Ginis
The Fresno Bee
(Published Saturday, August 24, 2002, 9:11 AM)

HANFORD -- The Rev. Miguel Flores looked to the ceiling and breathed a heavy sigh of relief after a Kings County Superior Court jury acquitted him of all charges, including rape, Friday afternoon.

The Roman Catholic priest left the courtroom hugging dozens of his supporters. Many who attended the weeklong trial prayed and cried as eight "not guilty" votes were read.

"I feel real real happy because finally the truth came out," Flores said through a Spanish-language interpreter while wiping tears from his eyes. "Thanks to everyone who has been working really hard in my favor."

The jury took two hours to find Flores innocent of three counts of forcible rape, three counts of statutory rape, dissuading a witness and criminal threat charges. Flores faced up to 27 years in prison had he been convicted.

Flores, 34, said he doesn't know whether he will return to his parish duties at Hanford's Immaculate Heart of Mary Church. He said his immediate plans were "to celebrate."

Flores has been a priest for seven years.

Flores was accused of raping and threatening a 16-year-old San Joaquin girl who worked as his office assistant at churches in Tranquillity and Hanford. He had been free on bond since his arrest in March.

Flores' attorney, Rick Conway, said the jury reached the right decision based on the evidence that was presented during the trial."There is no basis for the allegations," he said after the verdict. "I think the reaction from our standpoint was one of elation and relief. We're very thankful the right decision was made."

Deputy District Attorney Anna Ferguson said she doesn't regret taking the case to a jury: "I'm convinced justice was done. I think the jury did what they thought was appropriate."

The girl, now 17, claimed Flores attacked her in his church residence on three occasions in January and February. She said he threatened to hurt her younger sisters or her family if she told anyone what happened.

But the defense said the girl and her family made up the allegations because they wanted to extort money from the wealthy priest. Flores testified his family sent him money every month to help church members who were struggling financially.

He bought the teenager a 2002 Ford Mustang GT, a cellular phone, jewelry and clothing. He said the gifts were acts of kindness.

Flores' case played out amid months of scandal in which more than 200 priests across the country either have been implicated in or removed from their positions because of sexual misconduct. In the Fresno diocese, which stretches from Bakersfield to Merced and serves 360,000 Catholics, Flores was the only priest facing criminal charges.

Fresno Bishop John T. Steinbock was on vacation and could not be reached to comment Friday, but the diocese issued a statement that said Flores wouldn't return to active ministry until 2003.

For the next several months, Flores will undergo a spiritual renewal, most likely at a retreat house, where he will pray and receive guidance from spiritual directors, said Bill Lucido, communications director for the Diocese of Fresno.The diocese also plans to offer the 17-year-old and her family pastoral and professional counseling.Flores said Friday that he doesn't have any ill feelings toward the victim or her family.

During closing arguments, Conway told jurors that there was no physical evidence the priest had sex with the teenager. He said the case was always about money.

He told of statements made by the teenager to her sister-in-law that she planned to sue Flores for $1 million so she could get a better car than the one Flores gave her.

The teenager, who did not attend court proceedings Friday, will be informed of the verdict through victim services. Ferguson had not spoken to the girl after the verdict was announced but said her "thoughts and prayers" were with her.

Many of the parishioners who attended the trial said they never doubted Flores' innocence."He's a nice priest who helps people all the time," said Christina Lopez, who has known Flores for almost two years. "We knew he didn't do this."

Others said they were thrilled he was cleared of wrongdoing."I'm so happy the truth came out," Tranquillity resident Norberta Delgadillo said. "Thank God for justice."

The reporter can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or (559) 622-2417.

Accused Priests Charge Slander

Accused Priests Charge Slander

ULSA, Okla., Aug. 24 - Hours after the Rev. Paul Eichhoff was forced to leave his Tulsa parish this month, pending an investigation of sexual abuse accusations against him, he filed a suit in county court here, saying he had been slandered.
Like Father Eichhoff, priests in at least three other Roman Catholic dioceses - Oklahoma City, St. Louis and Cleveland - have used the civil courts in recent weeks to strike back against those who have accused them of sexual misconduct.
A fifth priest, the Rev. Anthony Eremito, has used a church tribunal in the Diocese of Trenton to strike back at his accuser. Father Eremito has lodged a defamation action under canon law against a fellow priest, the Rev. John Bambrick, who asserted publicly this spring that he had been abused as a teenager by Father Eremito in New York.
Lawyers for the priests said in interviews that they had prepared their cases independently. But Catholic officials as well as advocates for victims of abusive priests agreed that the multiple defamation suits appear to be early salvos in a counteroffensive by some of the hundreds of priests who have been accused of sexual crimes this year.
Lawyers for accused priests and some church officials say the priests are using the anti-defamation laws to defend themselves against people who make unwarranted accusations. They say some supposed victims are exploiting the scandal roiling the church in hopes of winning financial settlements. Advocates for abuse victims, however, depict the lawsuits as bullying designed to frighten Catholics back into silence.
"We're witnessing a new and aggressive national strategy," said Sylvia Demarest, a Dallas lawyer who has represented victims of abuse by clergymen in civil suits against several Catholic dioceses and has studied the newly filed defamation suits. "People are going to see that if you come forward and allege that a priest abused you, instead of getting pastoral assistance, you're going to get slapped with a lawsuit."
But the Rev. Robert J. Silva, president of the National Federation of Priests' Councils, a Chicago-based organization that represents about half of the nation's 45,000 priests, said he had heard much talk at clerical gatherings in recent weeks about the need to use the courts against those who accuse priests falsely.
"The guys sit back and say, `How can we fight back?' " Father Silva said. "So priests who consider themselves unjustly accused will become more assertive in defending themselves with a civil suit."
Because all five cases have been filed since early July, they have invited comparison. Father Eremito was removed from his duties in the Archdiocese of New York in 1992 after accusations of sexual abuse. But the career records of the four priests in the Tulsa, Oklahoma City, St. Louis and Cleveland dioceses show no accusations of sex abuse beyond the single ones that the priests have contested, church officials said. Because of those otherwise unblemished records, all four priests have received at least private endorsement for their civil lawsuits from their bishops, church officials and the priests' lawyers said.
The bishop of Tulsa, Edward Slattery, said in an interview here on Friday that his diocese had given Father Eichhoff no financial or other support in his defamation suit. But the diocesan newspaper cast doubt on the abuse accusations by a retired Tulsa executive and his son, and in the interview Bishop Slattery praised Father Eichhoff as "an exemplary priest."
The retired executive and his son, who is 33, whose names have not been in the news media, reported to their parish priest in mid-July that Father Eichhoff had sodomized the son in the 1970's, when he was a pupil at St. Mary's Grade School. They did not sue the church for damages, although they requested help to pay for the son's psychological treatment.
On July 30, Bishop Slattery asked the son to detail his accusations in a letter, which the son produced in 24 hours. The next morning, the bishop placed Father Eichhoff on administrative leave, and five hours later the priest sued.
Introducing the letter written at the bishop's request into the official court papers, Father Eichhoff's lawyers made the details of the accusations against him public in a way his accusers had not.
"My clients thought that this would be some sort of pastoral process, and it very quickly became a legalistic, adversarial process," said W. R. Cathcart, the Tulsa lawyer who is defending the retired executive and his son against the slander charges.
Events followed a similar course in the Archdiocese of St. Louis.
Last spring, Arthur P. Andreas, 28, responded to an invitation by Archbishop Justin Rigali for Catholics to report cases of abuse. Mr. Andreas first told church officials, and later told Jennifer Joyce, the St. Louis circuit attorney, that the Rev. Alexander Anderson had abused him in the 1980's, when Mr. Andreas lived at a Catholic boys' home where Father Anderson was chaplain. Mr. Andreas only reported his accusations in private to the church and civil authorities; he did not sue the archdiocese or Father Anderson.
In April, however, Father Anderson himself made the accusations public by denying them from his pulpit at his current parish in Eureka, a St. Louis suburb. In June, after a preliminary investigation, Ms. Joyce announced that she could not successfully prosecute the case because the statute of limitations was about to lapse.
In late July, Father Anderson filed a defamation suit against Mr. Andreas, suggesting that Ms. Joyce had exonerated him and saying he hoped to prevent people from making baseless accusations against priests.
In an interview, Ms. Joyce said Father Anderson's defamation suit "will have a chilling effect on victims, and that's unfortunate."
"It takes huge courage for people to report these abuses so they can get treatment," she said. "This lawsuit will discourage them further."
The Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests used similar reasoning in a recent letter to Cleveland Bishop Anthony M. Pilla. It excoriated the defamation lawsuit filed there by the Rev. Joseph Seminatore as "un-Christian, vengeful-style litigation that may scare others who have been abused and are hurting into remaining silent."
But in the Oklahoma City Archdiocese, where the Rev. James Mickus recently filed a defamation suit against a 40-year-old accuser, and in Cleveland, the priests appear to have their accusers on the defense. They have discovered that among them are men with criminal records who lodged their sex abuse charges as they were preparing lawsuits seeking money from the church.
In Cleveland, for instance, Bishop Pilla suspended Father Seminatore, 60, in April, after learning of an abuse accusation against him. But the Cuyahoga County Department of Children and Family Services investigated the claim and declared it "unsubstantiated."
Still, lawyers for three men who were not identified sued the Diocese of Cleveland last month, saying Father Seminatore abused them in the 1980's at a treatment center for troubled youths where he was chaplain. His defamation suit, filed in a Cleveland court on Monday, names Rodney Dukes as one of the defendants, and calls him "a career criminal" who has spent several stints in prison for felony convictions. Cuyahoga County criminal records confirm Mr. Dukes's criminal record.
Howard A. Schulman, one of Mr. Dukes's lawyers, said a jury will have to decide whether the abuse accusations against Father Seminatore are credible. Mr. Schulman called the priest's defamation suit a public relations exercise, intended only to intimidate.

US nuns put their faith in advertising to find recruits

US nuns put their faith in advertising to find recruits
By Oliver Poole in Los Angeles
(Filed: 18/08/2002)
US nuns put their faith in advertising to find recruits

Dwindling numbers of recruits have forced nuns in America to launch unprecedented advertising campaigns in an attempt to ward off the threatened extinction of some orders.
They have employed the latest in modern marketing techniques, including focus groups, computer graphics and catchy slogans, in campaigns on television, the internet and advertising hoardings in the hope of persuading young women to embrace the convent life.
One poster sent to college campuses shows a close-up of Michelangelo's Creation of Adam with a mobile telephone placed in God's hand. "Do you have a call waiting?" it asks. Another features two young women - one black, one white - dressed for hiking. "Life is short. Eternity isn't" is written below. Bus shelters in Manhattan carry a poster with the slogan: "Looking for the good life or the good in life?"
The Church hopes that the campaigns, initiated by individual orders with the backing of the Roman Catholic hierarchy and costing as much as £150,000, will reverse decades of decline in what remains a devout country. While the number of nuns fell from 180,000 in 1965 to only 78,000 today, their average age increased to 69 from 63 over the past 15 years.
"It's a personnel crisis," said Prof Scott Appleby, the director of the Cushwa Centre for the Study of American Catholicism at the University of Notre Dame in Indiana, who is conducting a study of the advertising campaigns.
"Some of the smaller orders, such as one in Indianapolis which is down to 30 members, are in real danger of disappearing altogether," he said.
"Sisters have been the backbone of the Church this century, and it's absolutely critical to address the question of the next generation and who will succeed them."
The Adrian Dominican nuns in Michigan are in the middle of their "Life is Short" campaign. After a television advertisement appeared during the Oprah Winfrey Show, the nuns' website received more than 4,000 visits the following week compared with the usual 150.
"God is responsible for the call. I'm responsible to be visible," Sister Corinne Sanders said of the four-month, £150,000 campaign - the most expensive advertising campaign ever undertaken by a Catholic order. She hopes that it will help to stop a decline that has seen the order's numbers fall from 2,500 to 1,000 during the past 30 years.
In Indiana, the Sisters of Benedict released an advertisement with the catchline "You don't have to be perfect to be a nun. God knows we're not."
The Sisters of Mercy chapters in New York, New Jersey and Brooklyn teamed up to create the "call waiting" ads aimed at women aged between 21 and 35.
"We needed to connect to the world and also to humour," said Sister Patricia Wolf, the president of the New York order. "If you appear old and inflexible, that becomes an obstacle to anyone wanting to enter religious life."
The dwindling population of nuns - a decline far more precipitous than the drop in the number of Catholic priests - is blamed on the increase in career options for women, the possibility of getting married later in life than was common in the 1950s and 1960s and the replacement of nuns with lay people in Catholic schools and social service agencies.
Sister Mary Bendyna, of the Centre for Applied Research in the Apostolate, said that the marketing campaigns would at least ensure that those considering becoming a nun received an accurate perception of what it involved.
Research by the Church had found that many young women considering taking vows were put off by presumptions that all orders still involved their nuns wearing full black habits and spending a life behind the walls of a convent.
Many orders, including the Adrian Dominicans, now allow their members to wear ordinary clothes and work in the outside world in professions such as teaching, scientific research and in academia. The sisters say it is too early to tell if the campaigns have paid off in attracting new members rather than just casual callers. The path to final vows can take up to nine years.
Tom Denari, a Catholic working at Young & Laramore, an Indianapolis advertising agency, who donated his services free, said: "Whether it's a steak burger or a nun, you just have to ask: What do you want people to think of when you see them? It's all about strategic positioning."

Priests in search of a role

Priests in search of a role
Elena Curti

Hundreds of priests who have married and left active ministry would like still to serve. The Tablet's reporter found that the Church is beginning to use these men more fully, and that the attitude of congregations appears to be changing.

Family Fathers in chasubles

Thanks to Stephen McCann for translating this article which Alex Walker gave to a German reporter Barbara Dreissen.

Family fathers in chasubles - 228 married ex-Anglican priests in England and Wales reinforce the Catholic Church as priests.
By, Barbara Dreissen

Witham (epd). Those who would see Father David Prior celebrating mass standing at the altar, might think he was a completely ordinary Catholic priest. Yet his parish community of Holy Family and All Saints Church in the southern English city of Witham knows that the middle aged woman in the first row of the church is his wife. Also Fr. Prior's four grown sons participate in the liturgy. The kind (sympathetic) man in a chasuble is one of 228 pastors in England and Wales who have switched from the Anglican to the Roman Catholic Church. While they are serving as priests in the Catholic church they are not bound by the vow of celibacy.

In Prior's opinion celibacy as a "call" for priest is something he has never been able to understand: As an Anglican I found it always totally natural to marry. In the Catholic Church it was not so long ago that is was the same: "until some centuries ago the Catholic priest would have also joined in a bond of marriage. It is concerning this law that the Church has freed itself making marriage [once again] conceivable. This choice [to marry], if it might arise again would be forbidden [to the Anglican clergy turned Roman Catholic]. In 1997, he [Fr. Prior] was required discard the right to remarry in at his priestly consecration.

The Catholic Church has become a refuge for many Anglicans who no longer feel at home in their own Church. This change was brought about by a decision in 1992 which allowed women in the Anglican Church to be ordained. In that time many pious and conservative [Anglicans] felt as though the Church had gone too far. Among them was the former Bishop of London, Graham Leonard. Another example was Father John Oldman, who was 88 years old, and already very sick, when he changed his confessions. [Fr. Oldman] He was already connected to a life support machine when he was granted permission to become a Roman Catholic Priest. He died just a few days later.

The new comers are by no means welcomed without restrictions. Many parishioners have approached his change in profession with apprehension (suspicion) admits Prior. Some are not able to befriend their new pastor when they realise he is married. Prior's youngest son was teased by his new Catholic School classmates. Nevertheless Prior assures that his family has been sincerely received by the parish.

Also many Roman Catholic priests stand in opposition to their new colleagues with a mixture of feelings. While many Ex-Anglicans have families and also are busy serving in parish communities, there are those [priests] of long service who see this as unjust. The choice to live with a woman bears irrefutable consequences and they would need to resign their office. Alex Walker thinks this disposition has reached a boiling point. Alex Walker is the leader of Advent, a self help group for married Roman Catholic priests.

I find very unfair, that the Catholic Church opposes its own priest when he wants to start a family, and at the same time welcomes Anglican priests with open arms, complains the 47 year old, who in 1980 had to leave his post as a Catholic priest because of a relationship [with a woman]. Today he is married and has two daughters ages nine and eleven. He thinks it is a "paradox" that the Church which "has become openly taken with a renewed sense marital spirituality. Why then can she not make an exception with her own priests?" he asks.

The work of his organisation is aimed at helping priests in crisis situations. "When a Catholic Priest leaves the Church he is under a giant stigma," said Walker. Not so long ago the his own parish community in Lancaster experienced such a crisis. The residing priest was let go very abruptly and suddenly. From Walker's point of view the young man had been played around [habe Sport getrieben: I am not sure the of the contextual meaning, but generally means to play sports, possibly to go too far]. Only a few days later it was made public that he must leave his office [as priest]. "He was not permitted to speak with anyone, neither with me."

Church can be sued over altar boy sex abuse

June 15, 2002

Church can be sued over altar boy sex abuse
By Oliver Wright
The Times

A FORMER altar boy was given permission yesterday to sue the Roman Catholic Church for the sexual abuse he suffered as a child.
This is the first time that an action against the Church, not an alleged abuser, has reached a court and could lead to many similar claims being made.

The Archdiocese of Birmingham had tried to claim that because the alleged abuse of Simon Grey took place nearly 20 years ago it was now too late to bring a claim.

But at the High Court in London, Deputy Judge John Leighton Williams, QC, dismissed the argument, ruling that Mr Grey could proceed with a £100,000 action for negligence against the Church.

Lawyers for Mr Grey, 36, told the High Court that he had been sexually abused over an eight-year period from 1975 by Father Christopher Clonan, who was then assistant parish priest at Christ the King Church, Coundon, Coventry.

Robert Seabrook, QC, said the weekly abuse began when Mr Grey, an adoptee, was a 10-year-old altar boy and that it had a "devastating effect" on his life and personality.

"He was subjected to appalling abuse," Mr Seabrook said, "(of) the most serious end of the spectrum in the most degrading and humiliating circumstances, all within a community of a devoted Roman Catholic family and parish."

Mr Grey had turned to crime, become an alcoholic, and had injured himself to the extent that he had almost cut off an arm and, on another occasion, set himself alight.

But Father Clonan was never tried and his whereabouts were unknown since he fled the UK when complaints became known in 1992.The Archbishop and the Trustees have denied liability and say that Mr Grey's pre-existing vulnerability and family life were responsible for his injuries.

Prelates' Doubts May Affect Enforcement


Prelates' Doubts May Affect Enforcement
Bishop Wilton Gregory makes a statement after the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops approved a new policy on sexual abuse. (Reuters)                     
By Alan Cooperman
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, June 15, 2002;

DALLAS, June 14 -- Throughout the Catholic bishops' deliberations today, as they struggled to define sexual abuse, debated the meaning of "credible," and weighed the requirements of canon and civil law, Bishop James R. Hoffman had difficulty keeping his mind on abstractions. He kept thinking about Father Fisher.

At the end of the day, after the leaders of the Roman Catholic Church in the United States voted for a policy requiring the removal from ministry of any priest who has committed sexual misconduct with a minor, Hoffman realized he might have to return to the Diocese of Toledo and tell the Rev. Robert J. Fisher that his career is over.
Hard as it was for the bishops to arrive at a nationwide policy, the truly hard part lies ahead: enforcing it. The policy seems stringent. But many of the bishops made clear that they were voting for it with deep misgivings. Some are already thinking about whether they could find other roles within the church for certain offenders.

Bishop Wilton D. Gregory, the president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, declared after today's vote that "from this day forward, no one known to have sexually abused a child will work in the Catholic Church in the United States." But the policy doesn't quite say that. It says child sexual abusers will be "permanently removed from ministry" -- and much could turn on the definition of "ministry," which is not spelled out in the document itself.
Hoffman, for example, must now decide what to do about Fisher, 48, who was convicted of sexually abusing a 14-year-old girl in 1988, served 30 days in jail and spent four years in therapy and counseling. From 1992 until early this year, he served as pastor of St. Michael's Church in Toledo, with overwhelming support from its parishioners, who were fully informed of his past.

"I know the people at St. Michael's, and with very few exceptions, they're behind him," Hoffman said. "The letters I've received about him have all been very pro, because for 10 years he's done excellent work."

In May, as the sexual abuse scandal reverberated throughout the church, Hoffman placed Fisher on administrative leave, despite protests from parishioners. He told the people of St. Michael's that he would wait for the Dallas meeting to provide guidance on Fisher's future. He said today that he fully intends to carry out the policy adopted here, and he acknowledged that it does not seem to allow much leeway in cases like Fisher's.

But, he said, "I suppose I'll begin by re-reading the whole document. Sometimes you think a document says one thing, but when you leave the room and read it later, it's not so clear."

Before they got to Dallas, the draft policy under consideration by the bishops would have required the "laicization," or removal from the priesthood, of any priest who commits child sexual abuse in the future. It would have allowed an exception, however, for some offenders who had committed a single act of abuse in the past, had undergone psychological treatment and had not been diagnosed as pedophiles. Fisher could easily have fit into that exception.

In Dallas, victims' groups angrily decried the "loophole" for one-time abusers, and the bishops removed it. But in a closed session Thursday night, they also removed the requirement of laicization, which is now left to the discretion of individual bishops. Several bishops said today they expect that laicization will be the norm for future cases, but that some past offenders who are now in their sixties, seventies or eighties might be allowed to remain priests with no public duties, living out their lives in monasteries or retirement homes.

Cardinal Theodore McCarrick of Washington said he believes the prohibition on ministry extends to any formal assignment, including administrative work. But Hoffman said he was relieved that he does not have to seek Fisher's dismissal from the priesthood, and might be able to find some constructive role for him.

"One of the things I was wondering about is, I can understand being removed from parochial ministry, but there are a lot of other tasks that people can perform," the bishop said. "Father Fisher has a particular talent in regard to the work he's done with our architecture department. There might be some capacity in which his talents would be used."

The possibility that men such as Fisher could remain priests, possibly in jobs that are not considered "ministry" by their bishops, infuriates victims' groups.

"If you retain the title 'Father,' you still have one of the most important tools of the trade of a sexual predator in the church," said Mark Serrano, a spokesman for the Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests.

Michael Bland, a psychologist who gave an emotional address to the bishops on Thursday describing his sexual abuse by a priest who is now teaching at a leading Catholic university, said he believes that one of the reasons some bishops wanted to distinguish between past and future cases is that future cases are abstract.

"It's easy to say that future perpetrators will be laicized, because you don't know who they are," he said. "The past offenders are real people to them."

Several of the bishops argued that some cases involving priests who have committed abuse in the distant past were not the black-and-white situations portrayed by the victims' groups. At the same time, the bishops recognized that anything short of a blanket policy would not win back the trust of lay Catholics.

"The sense is, if you start fudging, or what looks like fudging, people will say you're not serious about the problem," said Cardinal Francis George of Chicago. "That kind of nuance is not fully compatible with the drive to protect children."

The signal achievement of the Dallas meeting is a commitment by the bishops to eradicate the problem of child sex abuse from the ranks of their priests. In many respects, the policy they adopted is tightly worded. It contains an expansive definition of sexual abuse as any act in which an adult uses a minor as an object of sexual gratification, and it requires dioceses to notify civil authorities of all allegations, without first determining whether they are credible.

One of the most respected voices among the bishops, the eminent theologian Cardinal Avery Dulles, rose to complain that the requirement of permanent removal from ministry of all offenders past, present and future seemed "awfully harsh."

Hoffman said he was as committed as any of the bishops to adopting a tough policy, but kept on thinking throughout the debate about having to apply it to Fisher. Policies in many ways are abstractions, but priests such as Fisher are real men. "We all want to protect children," Hoffman said. "And we're all worried about these borderline cases."

© 2002 The Washington Post Company

US bishops reject total ban on priests who abuse

June 15, 2002

US bishops reject total ban on priests who abuse
From Katty Kay in Dallas     
The Times

AMERICAN bishops passed a watered-down plan last night to act against priests accused of molesting children that stopped short of forcing all abusers out of the priesthood.  

Any priest found guilty of molesting children will be banned from public ministry and working with parishioners, but not automatically defrocked. Instead, some will have the chance to remain priests "in a controlled environment", such as a monastery. They will not, however, be able to wear a clerical collar.  

The policy was part of a final document approved at a conference in Dallas held against the background of a sex scandal that has shaken the Roman Catholic Church in the US.  Bishop Wilton Gregory, the conference president, apologised for the "tragically slow" response of the church in "recognising the horror" of sexual abuse, and said: "From this day forward no one known to have sexually abused a child will work in the Catholic Church in the United States."  The two-day event failed to respond to widespread demands that bishops who knowingly kept abusive priests in their jobs resign. Bishops said that the Church did not allow clerics to police each other: Catholic bishops can be disciplined only by the Pope. But clergy who fail in future to oust paedophile priests will be liable to sanctions.  

The recommendations will be submitted to the Vatican, which is expected to make them obligatory for all US dioceses. One senior bishop said privately that many of the 300 clerics were not happy with the rulings, nor the fact that they would be binding. People who were sexually abused by priests as children countered that the new policy did not go far enough.    

Priests in crisis talks following suicide

Priests in crisis talks following suicide


CATHOLIC priests are to hold a crisis meeting with their archbishop following the suicide of a colleague who felt burned out by the pressures of the job.

Priests will demand urgent help from Archbishop Keith O'Brien and the appointment of "pastoral supervisors" to help those who are stressed-out and fear they cannot cope.

The move comes in the wake of the suicide of Father Gerry Prior, from Livingston, who hanged himself nine days ago. His suicide note said he felt burned out by the pressures of the job, that he had not been involved in any scandal, but had been depressed.

O'Brien, the most senior priest in the Archdiocese of St Andrews and Edinburgh, will meet priests at the meeting to be held on June 20.

Father Ken Owens, the general secretary of the Council of Priests, which represents the archdiocese's 182 priests, said there had to be a "structural" change in support arrangements for priests to prevent the possibility of further tragedies.

Owens, from St John Vianney, in Edinburgh's Gilmerton, said current arrangements were "ad hoc". He said: "If you want help, and you admit you need help, you will be given it and there are numerous cases where people have been given help in those circumstances.

"But people sometimes find it very hard to admit they need help. A system of pastoral supervisors would make it more easy for people with problems to be detected and helped."

He said the Catholic Church should try to emulate the support networks used in many hospitals and hospices. "If you look at the field of healthcare, doctors and nurses who work in the field of cancer care, where they deal with terminally ill patients, often have systems where someone looks out for their welfare. We should have that kind of system," he said.

Peter Kearney, a spokesman for the Catholic Church, said: "We will listen to what people say at this meeting and see what we can do."

Announcing the meeting with members of the steering group of the Council of Priests, Archbishop O'Brien said: "I will listen carefully to the views expressed at this event, mindful of the fact that, as with most other dioceses in the world, we have never before been faced with a situation like this."

The archbishop was one of a group of friends who discovered Prior's body.

He added: "It is difficult to see what action could have been taken to prevent the death of Father Gerry and harder still to see how it could have been predicted."

Father Gerry, 37, killed himself in his home next to St Peter's Church in Livingston.

He had been an active participant in retreats and residential events involving priests from across the arch-diocese and had a number of close priest colleagues but did not tell them of his anxieties.

O'Brien added: "I am never more than a phone call away should any priest wish to speak to me or visit."

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The Bishops and the Vatican

The Bishops and the Vatican

Although the cardinals and bishops who met in Rome in April acknowledged past failures in their handling of sexual abuse by priests, they focused attention chiefly on the future. The participants at that meeting agreed that the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, at its June meeting, should adopt a national policy to be reviewed by the Vatican.
The outlines of this policy became clear last week when a panel of bishops released a set of proposals for the meeting this week in Dallas. The proposals, while quite general, raise all the fundamental issues: penance for past mistakes, pastoral care for victims of past abuses, the establishment of intervention teams and lay-dominated review boards, the reporting of cases to civil and ecclesiastical authorities, administrative action against suspected or guilty priests and the screening process for seminary candidates. Going beyond the draft document, the conference could recommend ways of supporting young priests in the observance of their commitments.
Early reactions to the draft fall into two general categories. One school, adopting slogans like "zero tolerance" and "one strike and you're out," favors rigorous psychological testing of seminary candidates, the exclusion of homosexually oriented seminarians, perfect orthodoxy in the teaching of moral theology (especially on sexual questions), immediate reporting of all accusations to civil authorities, public disclosure of the names of accused priests, suspension of accused priests from the active ministry, and streamlined processes for the dismissal of those found guilty of serious or repeated offenses.
This school will have the support of bishops for whom the first priority is to shield the church against disrepute and liability. Draconian measures will also be welcomed by angry parishioners and by priests who feel betrayed by those of their number - too many, though proportionally few - who have brought discredit upon the clergy and upon the church itself.
The draft proposal takes many of these concerns into account, but it also reflects the concerns of a second school of thought, one that cautions against hasty and simplistic solutions and asks important questions. Is it fair, for example, to remove priests from the ministry if the accusations against them are unproved and if they protest their innocence (as did Cardinal Joseph Bernardin when he was falsely accused a decade ago)? This school will insist on the difference between serious offenses, like sexual activity with minors, and lesser offenses like harassment by words or looks that might be ambiguous and inappropriate.
This school will wonder about what measures should be taken against a priest who committed a serious offense long ago but who has repented, reformed and given decades of irreproachable service. Should such priests be removed from ministry even if it can be shown that they pose no discernible threat to young people in the future? Should priests not be treated as innocent until proven guilty?
The draft document, reflecting many of these concerns, represents a compromise between the two schools of thought I have described. On the issue of dismissal from the priesthood, for example, it seeks to steer a middle course, calling for the return to lay status of any who in the future commit a single act of abuse of a minor and all who in the past have committed more than one such offense.
The issue of dismissal from the priesthood is complex and contentious. Theologically speaking, anyone who is ordained remains a priest forever. To return a priest to the lay population is to obfuscate this theological principle. Is it not better, the second school will ask, for the church to take responsibility for its erring priests and continue to care for them as priests rather than dismiss them, as if expelling them from its ranks would protect society from them? There may be a need to limit a priest's ministry, even severely. He may have to be sent to a monastery for a life of seclusion and penance. But involuntary return to the laity should be very rare and (as the draft recognizes) should never be imposed without due process.
The draft document does not explicitly raise the question of homosexuality, but it is a matter of obvious concern. Noting the large proportion of offenses against adolescent boys, some bishops will seek to screen out all homosexually inclined seminarians. Others will see the issue rather as one of obtaining psychologically mature candidates capable of living up to their commitment to celibacy.
Will the issue of clerical celibacy arise at Dallas? I expect that if it is discussed, the point will be to insist on its being more clearly taught and more faithfully observed. The current rule is firmly in place and has been reaffirmed throughout the 20th century. Priests who make a firm and sincere commitment to celibacy pose no danger to society. The problem comes from the ordination of men who are not convinced of the value of celibacy or are unable to observe it. In our sex-saturated society it is difficult to transmit the church's tradition on this point.
A married priesthood, while it might diminish certain problems, would bring in a host of others, like adultery, divorce or contraception. In addition, the renunciation of mandatory celibacy would violate an immemorial tradition and obscure the Catholic idea of the priest as a person set apart for sacred functions.
The bishops are understandably concerned to show that they are taking bold and decisive measures. But they should take care not to lock the church into positions that will later prove to be unwise. If they yield too much to the present atmosphere of panic, the Holy See can be relied upon to safeguard the theological and canonical tradition. The many levels of authority in the church are a precious resource.
Cardinal Avery Dulles is a professor of religion and society at Fordham University.

Priests seek end to celibacy rule

June 06, 2002  
Priests seek end to celibacy rule
By Ruth Gledhill, Religion Correspondent     
PRESSURE to relax the celibacy rule for Roman Catholic priests is growing as increasing numbers of former Anglican vicars work successfully in Catholic parishes.  

The Roman Catholic Church in England and Wales now has 228 former Anglican clergy as priests, of whom nearly half are married. Their presence is leading to resentment among serving Catholic priests as well as priests who resigned to marry and have a family.     
"The situation is approaching crisis point," Alex Walker, chairman of Advent, a support group for married former Catholic priests, said. "We are the silent workforce which the Church has but is not prepared to use."  Although most of the exAnglicans work in chaplaincies at universities or hospitals, the shortage of Catholic priests means that some have been placed in parishes with the title "priest-in-charge".  

Father David Prior, ordained into the Church of England in 1970, was Rector of Corringham, Essex, when he decided to convert to Catholicism.  Despite being married with four sons, he was accepted for ordination training by the Bishop of Brentwood, the Right Rev Thomas McMahon, and in 1995 went to St John's Seminary at Wonersh. He was ordained in 1997 and is the priest at Holy Family and All Saints Catholic Church in Witham, Essex.  "Day to day life in the Catholic church is very similar but there is a difference in the culture," he said. "I am priest-in-charge because a married priest cannot be a parish priest."  

Although exempted from the standard vow of celibacy at his ordination, he took a form of the vow which means that, should anything happen to his wife, he could not remarry and remain a working priest. "I am not free to remarry if I become a widower," he said.  He described celibacy as a "calling". Not everyone who was called to the Catholic priesthood was called to celibacy, he said. And, as a law of the Church rather than a natural law, it could be changed.  "As an Anglican I always felt it appropriate for a man to feel called to the married state," Father Prior said. "Centuries ago, Catholic priests could be married. I am sure there will be some men who have decided that the priesthood is not for them because it requires celibacy."  

His wife, Kate Prior, who contributed a chapter to Dwight Longenecker's book The Path to Rome, said: "Being a Catholic priest's wife feels no different to being a vicar's wife. The presbytery is as busy as the vicarage.    

Paradoxes and Temptations

Paradoxes and Temptations
image, structure and morality in Christianity

James O'Connell


There is a tight connection between the paradoxes of the Church and its temptations. Many of the temptations come from the paradoxes, that is, they come from apparently contradictory characteristics and tasks that make and bind the Church. However the Church is given life by truths and ways of living that are held in benign tension with one another and out of which initiative and renewal emanate. Not least, in overcoming temptations that belong to the historic situation of humanity the Church grows. But saying these things does not mean that paradoxes may not overbalance into contradictions and that temptations may not lead to a fall. Hence, the case for teasing out both paradoxes and temptations.
B: Paradoxes of the Church                                  
Before reflecting on the paradoxes of the Church I want to reflect on the image of the Church in Western society and on its tendency towards moralism. The image is not always an attractive one, and it does not reflect the inner reality of the Church. Yet we need to take care over images because through them we become known, even in measure to ourselves. We have also however to admit that Church leaders who often address society in highly moralist terms on our behalf do not warrant us a likeable image. For that reason it seems worthwhile to think briefly on the Church and morality. Finally, in the section that examines directly the paradoxes of the Church I want to set out vibrant aspects of the Church of our faith.

1): The image of the Church: Whether we like it or not, we have to admit a particular awkwardness in presenting latterly the Church in Western countries. Mentioning the Church conveys to contemporaries a vision of bishops in exotic garb; it sends a message of negative teaching axed on sexuality; and it conveys an institution propped up by respectable but drab lay persons who would not recognise a socially radical idea if it were explained to them in words of one syllable. Moreover, the actual working of the Church suggests gathering people together once a week for ceremonies that relate little enough to our times. Those who attend church are faced by forms of worship, language and preaching, music and singing that are mostly mediocre and that seem to be out of kilter with the more pulsating parts of contemporary communications and aesthetics.

The Church is organised and presided over autocratically by an ageing and numerically diminishing clergy who are hardly charismatic, greatly energetic or well organised. If the publicised decade of mission had ever succeeded in getting people through the doors of churches, they would not easily have lingered within. In the words of the 8th century Irish poem: if you go to Rome to find Christ, you won't find him there unless you bring him with you. Only when we bring strong faith with us to church, does it remain there at work through the badly sung hymns, the poorly read and often impenetrable readings, the homilies that seldom seem to connect with life, the banal language of the liturgy and the passiveness of Sunday congregations.

2): The misshapen Church of morality:  As we seek to convey the relevance of our faith we need to avoid more than anything else an issues approach, an approach that asks what we have to say about homosexuality, divorce and remarriage, and even about poverty and injustice on local and global scales. Jacques Ellul writes aptly: "In the eyes of most of our contemporaries, Christianity is a morality first of all. And have not many epochs of Christian history been characterized by the church's insistence upon actions and conduct?" (To Will and To Do, Philadelphia, 1969, p. 201). Avoiding an issues approach does not imply insensitiveness to what concerns us and our neighbours.  But if we seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, decent attitudes towards all the other problems will come. We will then as individuals and as churches discern the morality of cases and situations; we will use our resources to support just causes; we will operate as conciliators between groups in dispute; and we will offer witness in compassion. We will not however seek to impose our morality on other persons and groups.

3): The paradoxes of the living Church: There are several paradoxes with which the Church has to live. They come from its divine-human nature. The divine and human elements in the Church are inextricably mixed. No one can say where the divine finishes and the human begins; and it may well be the case that the mixture varies from one epoch of history to another. This is not the place to expand at length on these paradoxes but there is merit in at least attempting to suggest their existence and to sketch their nature.

a)     perfect and flawed, holy and sinful; The Church is meant to be perfect, holy and without spot. Christ has however associated limited, flawed and sinful people with him in his work, and so the Church will remain in history an imperfect vehicle for the kingdom of God. There is for ever a tension between the ideal and the actual. Yet great achievement may come as good Christians strive to overcome the limitations of the human and yet stretch humanity to its finest efforts.

b)     leaven and mass: Christians are the 'salt of the earth' and the 'leaven in the flour'. There is a sense in which it will never be easy to broaden the following of Christ; and there is bound to be an elite dimension to the best Christians. Yet they follow a man who had compassion on the multitude. No matter how necessary it is to form an elite, we may never abandon the masses of the people.

c)    community and organisation: Those disciples who were faithful to Jesus set out to preach to the whole world. In the process they had with time to move from a community to a community of communities, and indeed from a movement to an organisation. Inevitably the question of order arises in an organisation, especially in a large-scale organisation; and where order is required, then law enters in. Christian communities early on had to set aside the temptation to impose Jewish law, and to set aside the even more insidious temptation to attempt to legislate their own communities into morality. Laws of their nature are related to particular historical circumstances. The gospel orientations - the call of Christ to his disciples - endure but that is not true of laws. For one thing, laws have to change as circumstances change; and, for another, laws are by their nature general and must never be applied to individuals except in taking account of their personal and particular circumstances. Law is an easy choice for organisers and administrators but it is no part of the essence of Christianity. Every time we look at the Code of Canon Law and look back from it to the Gospels, we should ask ourselves: did the Gospels need to end up codified in this book?

    Following also from the need to organise comes the role of organisers. In every organisation there tends to be a tension between organisers who follow their professional, and sometimes out-of-touch, agenda, and their own vested interests, and the members of the organisation who have other concerns and interests. In the case of Christianity the issue of organisers became complicated as they turned from the 'supervisors' [bishops] and 'elders' [presbyters] of the early communities into sacred ministers who were ordained sacramentally. All organisations are in constant need of reform but reform becomes more difficult when it has to be carried on against those who have imposed themselves historically as sacred rulers. Yet if they have presided over the triumph of organisation over community, there is no avoiding the struggle of reform against them.

d)     culture and counter-culture: We are meant to be all things to all people. In other words, we meet people in their culture and circumstances. There is no other way to meet them. St. Paul spoke in the synagogues to the Jews about the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob; and he spoke to the Greeks on the Parthenon about the unknown God. Yet cultures and times are like people: limited in their ambitions and values, flawed in their achievements, and sinful in their ways and structures. If we set out to redeem the times, we may have to preach change to the times. The Church is simultaneously cultural and counter-cultural.

5)     repentance and forgiveness: Christians are called to repentance, especially in the call to love our neighbours, whether in loving each neighbour personally and more strongly or whether in striving to rework structures that are unduly limiting or that are unjust to our neighbours. Yet Christians are also called to forgiveness. Not only are they called to forgiveness but they are called to the unlimited renewal of forgiveness. For such reasons we have to live with a tension between repenting and forgiving.

The Church is unthinkable without Christ, being the body of which he is the head. If we want to work for the Church and to work on the Church, we need time and again to go back and read the Gospels. They are bright with a simplicity that we must never forget. Christ called the marginalised and the outcast to him as he did also a Sanhedrin member and comfortably off fishermen. He suggested that we did not try to separate the wheat and the weeds before God's time for doing so. He meant - and he means - his community to call us all to be perfect as his heavenly Father is perfect which stretches us considerably. He meant too - and he means - ours to be community in which we can be comfortably at home.

B: The Temptations of the Church

A central tension

In setting up his community Christ accepted a central and crucial tension: by associating flawed men and women with his enterprise there was bound to be a gap between the ideal and the actual, between the mystical and the institutional, and between saintly and mediocre witness. Yet from the endeavour to bridge that gap have come some of the great achievements of a Church that endured through the early persecutions, came to terms with Constantine and the empire, moved to embrace the barbarian peoples, survived the Great Schism in the Middle Ages and the loss of organisational unity at the Reformation, withstood the attacks of the Enlightenment, joined the population shifts to the New World, seized the fresh global opportunities of the 19th and 20th centuries, and now resists the pervasive agnosticism of our times.

The Church as an institution is however open to special temptations: its organisers (like all bureaucrats) are tempted to put their interests before those of the community; Christian notables, clerical and lay, are tempted to become entrenched elders of their societies; and Christian moralists are tempted to formulate laws for the respectable rather than stress the law of love for everyone. I will look briefly at each of these temptations.

A: The temptation of organisers: Christ founded a community. His followers were united by their allegiance to him; and their sense of belonging together was confirmed by the resurrection-event and the Pentecost experience. This community had however to organise itself. The New Testament documents reveal glimpses of the early organisation, including the roles of apostles such as Peter, James and Paul and the emerging roles of supervisors and elders. The latter leaders came from, and organised, the local communities; and they maintained linkages between the communities. Their roles were modelled on the organisation of the Jewish communities of the diaspora; and in the wake of the apostles they worked to preserve doctrine as well as formulate evangelisation policies. Later on again, as the Church made its peace with the empire it had to organise more comprehensively. Its organisation became increasingly elaborate and in the context of the empire and medieval Europe highly territorial. Its clerics were increasingly educated and professional; and they have remained like that down to our time.

To maintain a large religious community organisation is indispensable but it is not in itself sufficient. The first problem with professional organisers as with all bureaucrats is that they develop interests of their own that do not always coincide with the interests of the community. The second problem is that while the first Christian organisers took their authority from the early apostolic witnesses, the Church with time became permeated by the cultural traditions of pagan Europe and by models of the cultic priesthood of the Jews (the early Christians kept the title of 'priest' for Jesus only and not for their organisers). In consequence, subsequent generations of organisers came to see themselves as sacred rulers because they controlled the deposit of the faith and the Eucharistic assemblies. The term 'hierarchy' itself means sacred rulers. Yet because these men - and they were almost exclusively men - still retained human frailties it was necessary from time to time to seek abler and more upright officials and create more efficient organisational structures. The reforms associated with Gregory VII and the post-Tridentine popes were examples of such movements. So were the reforms set in motion by Vatican II that now seem to have in good measure run into the sand.

Movements of reform were historically apt to collide with a tightly knit, powerful and relatively educated caste who believed that they had, based on scripture and tradition, a sacred right to rule. Even the Reformation churches that initially reacted against priestly or clerical rule became within a short time as clericalised as their Roman opponents.

Moreover, reform was made more difficult by the slow territorial organisation of the Christian bodies which the Lutheran, Anglican and Scottish Presbyterian churches entrenched; and it was paradoxically compounded in the case of the Roman and Catholic Church by a post-Tridentine centralisation that still retained strong territorial features. Eamonn Duffy notes: 'Rome had originally been conceived [in the West] as the court of final appeal: in the course of the twelfth century it took on the role of a court of first instance. The pope became the 'universal ordinary', exercising direct jurisdiction in every corner of Christendom, dispensing judgements which were built into the precedent books and became the basis of law.' By the 19th century Popes had moved far beyond the early ideas of the papacy as preserving a succession from Peter and a right to monitor faith and had begun to claim a universal jurisdiction, for example, in naming bishops everywhere in the world. The exercise of that claim would have been impossible in centuries of less advanced communications. Rome gradually built up a Curial bureaucracy that accumulated power at the expense of the far-flung bishops. Between bureaucratic interests, sacred rule and territorial organisation reform in the Church is for ever both difficult and necessary. Efforts to reform and modernise are however in a highly legalist system readily stigmatised as disobedient and disloyal.

B: The temptation of elders: For historical reasons - and in this connection the leaders of the Church belong to the same tradition as did the leaders of the Synagogue - churchmen came to play a role not only as leaders of a religious community but as notables/elders of society; and there was, and is, constant danger that office-holders in the Church may confuse - or at least not disentangle - their roles as clerics (ecclesiastical administrators) from those of notables/elders (persons wielding political and/or social influence in secular society). One has only to think of the role of the clergy in pre-independence Ireland or, on a lesser scale, the role of a 19th parish priest in a Scottish or Northern English immigrant parish. Indeed in Northern Ireland clerics have come close to being 'chaplains to the warring tribes' as has happened also in the conflict of the Yugoslav break-up.

Though elders tended to pride themselves on being practical men, there was built into the mentality of community elders a conservative inclination to cling to historically inherited organisational structures and moral ideas that should have faced revision as technological and modernising changes took place in societies. In an organisation where practical men carried more authority than intellectuals, ageing Churchmen have had in recent times difficulty in coming to terms with historical and scientific technologies that have challenged accepted interpretations of scripture; they have been slow in taking on board the biological evolution of the human and other species that seemed to contradict creation stories in Genesis; they have not so far integrated the implications of recent discoveries that have challenged the bio-genetic roots of human life; and they look bewildered as they confront newly raised moral issues in contraception, divorce and homosexuality. In earlier centuries they had taken ages to catch up with better technical thinking on interest-taking and with a more humanitarian rejection of slavery. In the last decade they have shown that they have no idea how to deal with a contracting ministry and the sudden loss of younger members to the Church as its traditional enclaves have imploded.

C: The temptation of moralism: Since the commandment of love lies at the heart of Christian behaviour, Christian communities have felt obliged to monitor the behaviour of their members - and indeed of others outside their community - and to institutionalise such monitoring in the form of laws. Over many centuries and in spite of Paul's clear strictures on law, churchmen - and in this area of morality the roles of bureaucrats and elders again converged - laid down social and individual morality for communities. They were, for example, usually oblivious that laws dealing with marital consanguinity derived from the customs of the European aristocracy rather than from Christian love or that Eucharistic fasting laws came more from cultic and legalist notions than from reverence for the sacrament. A recent Roman instruction on celebrating the Eucharist that confines priests at Mass to the sanctuary seems based on the idea of sacred space and the separation of the priestly caste from the laity. One might compare Christ's words to the Samaritan woman (John 4:21-24) that embody a different concept of worship. Against this background a temptation has constantly been to teach Christian morality as a series of binding moral and cultic laws and individualistic injunctions to confessors rather than to emphasise Christ's double commandment of love. In the process rulers have tried to end discussion - whether on re-marriage after divorce, contraception or approaches to Aids - by decisions from the centre with little input from the local churches.

Final Reflection

It is important to be conscious of the temptations of the Church if we are to deal with them. Not for nothing did Christ put into his own very prayer: 'lead us not into temptation' (Matt:18:13). Yet he also said: 'For it is necessary that temptations come' (Matt: 18:7). We must deal with them as they arrive. As an American theologian, McBrien says: the 'Church as such is always in need of radical conversion to the Gospel.'

Fortunately Christ gave us his promise to be with us all days to the end. It is the presence of the Spirit of God whom Christ has sent to the Church that recruits committed clerics who serve the community before themselves, inspires upright social notables who distance themselves from entrenched communal interests and traditions and bear witness to peace and justice, and raises up great saints who witness to the centrality of love rather than support the moralism of the respectable that has enabled the Church to overcome temptations and to endure powerfully. In other words, there is fortunately at work in every generation a leaven of Christians, working through the Spirit, who strive to bring the reality of the Church into conformity with its ideal and who discard the stuffiness of bloated inheritances for the austerity of Christ. For such reasons the Church is ever reformed and ever requiring to be reformed.

Sex abuse, power abuse

Sex abuse, power abuse
James Keenan

Homosexual priests could emerge as the scapegoat for the sex abuse crisis in the United States, a professor of Christian ethics fears. But, he argues, the scandal was brought on not by sex, but by a misuse of power by priests and church authorities.

JUST before the cardinals came to Rome, many of them tried to use the media as scapegoats for their own scandal. But when no less a figure than Cardinal Law acknowledged that the scandal was not the result of a media frenzy, a new scapegoat emerged - priests, and gay priests specifically.

This new ruse first appeared in March when Dr Joaquín Navarro-Valls, the Vatican spokesman, tried blaming gay priests for the scandal. It re-emerged on 23 April when Bishop Wilton Gregory started talking about gays taking over the seminaries. "Ah", I thought, "the new sacrificial lamb".

I was right. By the end of their meeting there were discussions about homosexual priests, about the need to visit seminaries and to screen out those candidates of a homosexual orientation, and about the need to investigate the type of sexual ethics being taught.

After the meeting we heard more about these priests. The New York Times reported Philadelphia's Cardinal Bevilacqua as saying that gays were not suitable for the priesthood, even if they remained celibate. In a particularly ungracious remark, he added, of a gay man who feels called to the priesthood: "By his orientation, he's not giving up family and marriage. He's giving up what the Church considers an aberration, a moral evil."

In St Patrick's Cathedral in New York, Mgr Eugene Clark proclaimed that any seminary that accepted gay men was a "breeding ground for later homosexual practice after ordination, and the manifest danger of man-boy relationships". His remarks were circulated in a transcript his office gave the Associated Press.

Bishop Gregory, Mgr Clark and Cardinal Bevilacqua are in line with the Vatican's position: if there were no gay priests, none of this would have happened. Thus the cardinals cited two urgent tasks in their concluding communiqué: to "promote the correct moral teaching of the Church and publicly to reprimand individuals who spread dissent and groups which advance ambiguous approaches to pastoral care", and to promote "a new and serious apostolic visitation of seminaries and other institutes of formation", to be "made without delay, with particular emphasis on the need for fidelity to the Church's teaching, especially in the area of morality, and the need for a deeper study of the criteria of the suitability of candidates to the priesthood".

Evidently they have found the problem: gay sex. They now propose to censure any moral theologian who has anything positive to say about it, and to screen out any seminarian who may be inclined to it.

In last week's Tablet, Fr Donald Cozzens, a man whose writings are particularly illuminating, kept the focus on gay sex. He wrote: "There is one essential element of the scandal that has not received the attention it deserves. Most priest abusers are not paedophiles - adults whose sexual drives are almost exclusively directed toward pre-pubescent boys and girls - but ephebophiles (from ephebeus, one of the Greek nouns for a post-pubescent youth)."

He continued: "As the distinction takes hold, it is accompanied by the disturbing realisation that most of the reported victims of priest abusers are not children, but teenage boys...the predominance of male teenage victims raises a thorny issue...the presence of significant numbers of homosexually oriented men in the priesthood."

I do not deny that there are many gay priests. Nor do I deny that many of the priests who sexually abused the children abused male teenagers. But I believe that the problem is not the abusing priests' homosexuality, but rather their immaturity and their abuse of power. And their faults, like all the faults in this scandal, are primarily (though not exclusively) about power.

In ethics, I learnt that rape is not primarily about sex, but about power; that sexual abuse is not primarily about sex, but about power; and that sexual boundaries are needed, not primarily because of sex, but because of power.

The molestation and raping of children are not primarily sexual acts; they are violent acts of power. By these actions children are harmed, sometimes destroyed. These actions are about power. In fact, most of the scandalous actions of which we read are about power.

When the bishops moved these priests around and assigned them to new parishes and let them have access again to children, these were not sexual acts, but acts of power.

When the bishops and pastors denounced the parents and relatives who charged that priests had abused their children, these denunciations were acts, not of sex, but of power. When the cardinals tried to blame the media for unleashing a frenzy, these were not charges of sex, but of power.

When Boston's Cardinal Law tried to issue a gag order to prevent the release of the records of one of our more notorious paedophiles, Paul Shanley, this was an act of power, not of sex. Similarly, when Cardinal Law's lawyers faulted a six-year-old boy and his family for not being more vigilant about Shanley, the issue was power, not sex. And when Cardinal Law recently told his priests not to work with an alliance of pastoral councils, his concerns were with power, not sex.

The great task for us to face as a Church is the use of power. Rightly, Dr Mary Jo Bane of Harvard's Kennedy School of Government talks about a culture of accountability - and that accountability is about the use of power.

How is it that the cardinals returned from their meetings in Rome talking not about Bishops Dailey, Banks or McCormack, and all the other bishops and cardinals who made these irresponsible decisions, but instead about gay priests, moral theologians and seminarians? Was it sex or power that led them to take aim at the latter rather than the former?

And what of the gay priests? Why are they so quiet? Is it that they refuse to be open about their sexual identity because they enjoy their hiddenness, their closets, their silence, or is it that they know that the leadership will not tolerate any testimony about how well God works within them? Is their silence about sex or power?

To tell you the truth, I think many priests would be happy to talk about their sexuality. For instance, in my 20 years as a priest, I have belonged at different times and in different places to priests' support groups. In those groups, we have shared the graces and challenges of the priesthood and we are fairly open about many issues, including sexual orientation. My experience there is that straight and gay priests get along very well. Of course, my experience is only anecdotal, but so is Fr Cozzens's and everyone else who speaks on this topic, precisely because those with power are so opposed to such revelations. Still, I find that, for the most part, we priests are happy with the emerging diversity in our ranks and we are glad that the days of ignoring our sexuality by "leaving it outside the door" are over. I find that priests, both straight and gay, believe that.

Nonetheless, I too am for married priests, but not to offset the presence of gay priests. I think married priests would be good, because many are called to marriage and to ministry and because a married priesthood would also be a good for the Church. I think, too, that we have to have women in leadership as well. Again, not because we have gay priests, but because women have these vocations and because the Church certainly needs the leadership of women.

I also want to see the cardinals acknowledge that there are many gay priests and bishops, not to expel them, as some assert, but to recognise that many of these gay men are good, caring, ordered, and generous. I think many gay priests would sob tears of relief were they to be accepted publicly as priests and as gay. I think many of the laity, both straight and gay, would weep as well.

And I think that with such a recognition many seminarians, both straight and gay, would find in such openness a call to healthy and holy maturity, responsibility and honesty.

But we cannot begin to talk about such possibilities until we ask why they are at present so improbable, and the reason is the determinations of those with power.

In fairness to Fr Cozzens, he has advocated an end to the clerical culture. He has encouraged priests to a maturity and ownership of their lives. He is a leading light, but his insistence that we need to recognise the "thorny issue" that many of our priests and bishops are gay is dangerous in that he does not add that many in the Church's leadership, rather than acknowledge that many gay priests function with integrity, would prefer to rid its seminaries and even its rectories of any trace of homosexuality. This is a serious omission on Cozzens's part. It suggests that gay priests are simply unwilling to speak the truth. It fails to recognise the power issues at play. And, worse, it gives considerable support to those who want to make this scandal primarily an issue of sex and not of power.

Seminarians, priests and, even more so, bishops and cardinals do not need stronger or clearer teachings about chastity. We do not need to hear more lessons about the "disorder" of homosexuality. We do not need to hear more about the "deep-seated crisis of sexual morality". We need to know that we have power. We need to know that we have more power than we realise and that, as some of us move up the hierarchical ladder, we grow exponentially in power. And, as we grow in power, we grow in the capacity to abuse power. Unlike the lessons we received about chastity and homosexuality, we were never taught much about power.

We in the priesthood, from seminarians to the Pope himself, need to learn more about power, about sharing power and about accountability in the exercise of power. Certainly, we need to have a visitation of our seminaries - and of our rectories and our chanceries - conducted not by the Vatican but by competent lay people and priests. The aim should be to see whether we are learning about the extent of our power, of the uses of that power, and of our accountability to God and to the People of God. In the light of those lessons, assuredly, we would see the need to recognise the vocations of others.

James F. Keenan SJ teaches at Weston Jesuit School of Theology.

Compensation setback for church abuse victims

May 04, 2002  

Compensation setback for church abuse victims
From James Doran in Washington and Nicholas Wapshott in New York     
The Times

MORE than 80 American Roman Catholics who allege that they were sexually abused by a single priest were left with little hope of compensation yesterday after the Church said that it could not pay a settlement of up to $40 million (£27 million).  

The Archdiocese of Boston, Massachusetts, where 86 people were allegedly sexually abused by Father John Geoghan, reneged on the deal after a meeting of its finance council.  

The settlement, which was provisionally agreed last month after almost a year of negotiations, was cancelled amid growing fears that the abuse scandal has plunged the Catholic Church in America into financial meltdown.  Parishes are worried that settlements will outstrip their finances, and parishioners are reluctant to donate more cash while the allegations of abuse, and legal threats, persist.  

The move is also a stinging blow to Cardinal Bernard Law, the leader of the Catholic Church in Boston and figurehead of the campaign to placate a growing number of alleged victims of sexual abuse in the region, as he personally recommended the settlement to the Church.  

Father Geoghan was defrocked in January and jailed for up to ten years for molesting a ten-year-old boy. He faced accusations from the families of scores of other children.  Church records show that bishops and priests knew that Father Geoghan had been accused of abuse, but kept moving him from parish to parish to avoid a scandal. The settlement was estimated to be worth between $15 million and $40 million, an amount that would have left the Archdiocese virtually bankrupt.  

The finance council said that it rejected the deal because of fears that a growing number of alleged victims of sexual abuse in the Archdiocese would have been left without financial recourse if all the cash had been paid to Father Geoghan's former parishioners.  

David Smith, the Archdiocesan chancellor, said that the Catholic Church in Boston should instead "develop a mechanism which will provide all necessary counselling for the victims and their families".  

The Archdiocese of Boston has paid about $15 million to 40 alleged victims of Father Geoghan since the mid-1990s.  Ralph DelVecchio, one of the plaintiffs, said that he was stunned by the decision of the finance council. "I don't understand why everyone keeps talking about money," he said. "If the Church did what they were supposed to do years ago, they wouldn't be in this position."  

American Catholics have begun to trust their clergy less since the scandal came to light, and the popularity of the Pope has also fallen, according to a New York Times-CBS poll yesterday.  

Support for the Pope has slumped from 69 per cent to 53 per cent in the past two weeks, despite the emergency summit of American cardinals in Rome last week which was intended to draw a line under the affair. Nearly half of Catholics think that the Pope has handled the scandal badly and 58 per cent think that he should have done more to tackle the problem.    

$20m accord seen in Geoghan cases

$20m accord seen in Geoghan cases

By Walter V. Robinson, Globe Staff, 3/5/2002

The Boston Archdiocese and lawyers for 86 people who sued former priest John J. Geoghan reached a tentative agreement yesterday to settle sexual molestation lawsuits whose revelations have severely shaken public confidence in Cardinal Bernard F. Law, sources knowledgeable about the decision said last night.

The settlement, which is scheduled to be finalized today, is expected to cost the archdiocese between $20 million and $30 million, with an arbitrator setting the final award for each claimant.

But even when the lawyers formalize the agreement today, all 86 plaintiffs and the 17 defendants - including Law - will have to sign as well. The actual arbitration process is not expected to start until May.

Since the mid-1990s, the church has paid another 100 victims of Geoghan an estimated $15 million. If the church pays just the minimum, $20 million, under the new agreement, that would put the cost of the pedophilia of one priest at $35 million. The arbitrator's decisions could push that cost higher.

The tentative agreement, reached just after 5 p.m. yesterday, came after 11 months of intense negotiations that took place in secret, even as plaintiff lawyer Mitchell Garabedian and Wilson Rogers Jr., the lead attorney for the archdiocese, battled in public over Garabedian's demands for internal church documents about the oversight of Geoghan as he molested children in six parishes over 30 years.

Just last week, Garabedian made his fourth request to take a sworn deposition this week of the cardinal himself, a prospect that other lawyers said the church was eager to avoid. But that move came as the two sides were apparently inching ever closer to agreement.

The documents that Garabedian wanted were made available to him, but under a court-ordered confidentiality seal that prevented public access to them. In January, those documents were made public after another judge ordered them unsealed on a motion by the Globe.

The tentative agreement will be costly for the church. On average, the payments to the 86 victims would be between $232,000 and $348,000. But according to court files, a dozen or more of the plaintiffs are parents of abuse victims who would receive minimal payments, according to the sources who spoke on condition they not be identified.

And some other victims were not as seriously abused, and probably would receive modest settlements. By some estimates, that means that many victims who were seriously abused as children will receive payments of over $500,000 each.

Last month, Geoghan began serving a sentence of nine to 10 years after being convicted of one count of molesting one child. He still faces criminal charges in two upcoming trials, one of which charges him with raping a child.

Donna M. Morrissey, the spokeswoman for the archdiocese, said last night that she could not discuss the negotiations. But she said: ''We want to make sure there is a fair and equitable agreement as soon as possible. And we want to do what's right for the victims.''

Garabedian could not be reached for comment last night.

It was Garabedian's three-year public battle with the archdiocese that set the stage for the public release of evidence that Law removed Geoghan from one parish in 1984 for molesting children, almost immediately sent him to a new parish in Weston, and returned him to Weston for two more years after he was treated for pedophilia in 1989.

The cardinal has called those decisions, in hindsight, ''tragically flawed'' and apologized profusely. But the Geoghan documents, and disclosures that the archdiocese secretly settled molestation cases involving more than 70 other priests, have caused serious damage to the archdiocese's reputation.

Since the disclosures, Law has had to remove another 10 priests from their positions and, under public pressure, turn the names of about 90 priests over to prosecutors. The scandal in Boston has reverberated nationwide, with dioceses around the country also making admissions about past cases and, in some instances, removing priests from their parishes.

The Globe reported on Sunday that the sex abuse scandal in Boston will be the costliest in the history of the Catholic Church in the United States, with a combined cost estimated at $100 million or more. That figure includes cases settled in the last decade, pending cases, and a surge of new accusations that have surfaced since the extent of the scandal was revealed in January.

In addition to the 84 lawsuits that are headed for settlement, there are four other pending lawsuits against Geoghan, and 48 claims pending against other priests.

This story ran on page A1 of the Boston Globe on 3/5/2002.
© Copyright 2002 Globe Newspaper Company.

Catholics Back Strong Steps on Abuse, Poll Finds

May 3, 2002

Catholics Back Strong Steps on Abuse, Poll Finds

American Roman Catholics say that priests who sexually abuse children and teenagers should be barred from participating in parish life and that any accusations of abuse should be investigated by local law enforcement rather than the church, according to the latest New York Times/CBS News Poll.

Church leaders in Rome last week appeared split about how to handle cases of past abuse - that is, whether to apply a zero tolerance policy to all offenders, future and past - but American Catholics showed few signs of ambivalence as regards "parish life." Nearly 8 in 10 of those polled said a past abuser should be barred from "parish life" even if "church leaders believe he is truly sorry for what happened."

Seventy percent said Catholic lay people should be involved in decisions about cases of abuse by priests, not just the clergy. "We have children and can identify with those families that are being hurt," said Helen Crowley, 73, of Pittsburgh.

Nearly half of the Catholics polled saw "some" progress in last week's meeting of American cardinals at the Vatican - 13 percent saw "a lot" - but there were several signs of continuing, deep discontent.

Indeed, the poll, conducted Sunday through Wednesday, indicates a striking breach between American Catholics and their leadership on these issues. It also suggests that the scandal is taking a toll on the image of Pope John Paul II. Fifty-three percent of American Catholics said they had a favorable view of the pope - a drop of 16 percentage points from a CBS News poll conducted two weeks earlier, before the Vatican meeting was called to deal with the issue.

The nationwide poll interviewed 1,172 adults by telephone, including 433 Catholics. It has a margin of sampling error of plus or minus three percentage points for all adults and five points for Catholics.

The poll was conducted in the aftermath of a two-day emergency meeting at the Vatican on the question of sexual abuse, at which American cardinals and leaders of the bishops conference suggested they would move toward a policy of zero tolerance for future offenders. But they appeared to be divided over whether all past offenders should also be automatically removed.

On many questions in the poll Catholic opinion matched or paralleled that of the total American public. For instance, 62 percent of Catholics said American Catholic leaders had done a poor job of handling the scandal. Sixty-one percent of all respondents held the same view.

But on a few topics Catholics and the total set of respondents expressed contrasting opinions, mostly those with which Catholics have the benefit of greater familiarity. For example, only 28 percent of Catholics said celibacy increased the likelihood of priests abusing minors, while 49 percent of the total polled took that view.

Nearly half the Catholics surveyed said the pope had done a poor job handling the problem of sexual abuse of children and teenagers in the church, and 48 percent said they believed he knew about the problem all along. While 71 percent of Catholics said they felt the pope and other church leaders "took the issue seriously enough" when they met in Rome, 58 percent said the pope should have generally done more to address the problem.

"The pope represents well the philosophies and the goals of Roman Catholics," said Steven Clay, 55, of Lansdowne, Pa., "but I think he's behind the times with the sexual abuse cases. I think he was out of touch or put out of touch by people who shelter him."

Discontent was also voiced about American church leaders; a majority of Catholic respondents said they thought those leaders had done a poor job. Asked if those leaders had gone far enough in publicly apologizing to the victims of cleric abuse, nearly 6 in 10 said they had not.

Poll respondents generally said that the problem of sexual abuse of children and teenagers was as common in other walks of life as in the priesthood. A majority of all those polled also said that the problem was limited to "a few or hardly any priests," a position held by most Catholics as well.

American Catholics were overwhelmingly in favor of allowing priests to marry. More than 7 in 10 supported a married priesthood, up from about half who felt that way 30 years ago.

"We had an exceptional priest for eight years and he left the priesthood because he wanted to get married," said Melanie Baldwin, a 40-year-old teacher from Durango, Colo. "We lost a great man to marriage who had been a priest for 20 years. I support priests marrying because I think it would bring better quality men into the priesthood."

But 6 in 10 Catholics surveyed said they did not believe that celibacy was a cause of the abuse problem.

While most of the Catholics surveyed had no opinion of Cardinal Bernard F. Law of the Boston Archdiocese, now under fire for his handling of these cases, those who did were overwhelmingly negative.

In contrast, Catholics voiced high levels of trust and confidence in their own parish priests, and said the scandal had not affected their attendance at Mass or their contributions. Most Catholics said they still felt comfortable around their parish priest and most - including the mothers of young children - said they would have no trepidation about leaving their child alone with him.

Most Catholics also said they believed that their priest was in touch with the needs of modern Catholics - 65 percent, compared with 40 percent who felt that way about church leaders; men felt particularly attuned with their parish priest. While a majority of Catholics said the pope was more conservative than they are on issues of personal morality, a majority said their parish priest felt about the same as they did on these issues.

A majority also said that if their son or daughter expressed an interest in becoming a priest or a nun, they would encourage them to do so.

The scandal, in fact, highlighted the complicated attitudes American Catholics have toward their church, and the gap in trust between the parish and the hierarchy. For example, 63 percent of Catholics said their priest had done a good job in dealing with the sexual abuse issue; 49 percent said their local bishop had done a good job, and 27 percent said the American leaders of the Catholic church had done a good job.

For all the debate over the question, many Catholics resist connecting the scandal to gay priests. A majority said they did not believe that the presence of gay men in the church raised the likelihood of sexual abuse, which some church leaders have suggested.

A majority of Catholics also said they did not believe that there were more gays in the priesthood than in other walks of life. But American Catholics were divided over whether a gay man should be ordained at all, even if he remained celibate. Men were more likely than women to oppose such ordination, and Catholics older than 64 more likely to oppose it than younger people.

American Catholics also overwhelmingly supported the ordination of women; more than 6 in 10 of those polled said they supported female priests, up from more than half who supported the idea in 1987, when a Times/CBS News poll first asked that question.

As reflected in previous polls, Catholics disagree with the church's position on artificial methods of birth control: 71 percent of those polled favored it, while the church forbids it. Other areas of disagreement include the death penalty, which is opposed by the church yet supported by most American Catholics.

Nuns demand more power in 'male' Church


May 02, 2002  Nuns demand more power in 'male' Church From Richard Owen in Rome
The Times    

AMERICAN nuns are intensifying pressure for changes that will give them more power in the Roman Catholic Church in the United States. They blame male domination by a secretive old boys' network for the paedophile troubles that have divided the Church.  Leading the call for a greater role for women in decision-making is Sister Kathleen Pruitt, head of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious, the biggest organisation of American nuns.  Sister Kathleen arrived in Rome to tell Vatican officials that Catholic women were "deeply troubled by the escalating crisis over allegations of clerical abuse". She said that the Pope's meeting last week with American cardinals on sexual abuse by priests had failed to quell rising anger and concern in the Church and that religious sisters felt betrayed and indignant.  A meeting with the Pope is not planned, but Sister Kathleen, whose organisation represents more than 75,000 American nuns, is expected to meet Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, the head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, today or tomorrow before returning to America.  Cardinal Ratzinger, who defends doctrinal orthodoxy on the Pope's behalf, shares his view that women have an important but limited role to play in the life of the Church, and there is no question of their serving as priests. He also backs the Pope's view that priestly celibacy must be maintained at all costs.  Yesterday, however, it emerged that Cardinal Paulo Evaristo Arns, of Brazil, who said this week that clerical celibacy should be optional, had backed calls by senior prelates for a third Vatican Council to challenge papal conservatism on a range of controversial issues from celibacy to divorce, abortion and contraception. Il Giornale said that supporters of greater Church democracy had opened a Madrid-based website ( for those favouring a third council, a project long advocated by the leading liberal contender for the papacy, Cardinal Carlo Maria Martini, the Archbishop of Milan.  Cardinal Martini, 75, is to be replaced in July as Archbishop and his calls for a "debate to take the Church into the modern world" have been cold-shouldered by the Pope. The eruption of protests in the Church in America over sex scandals, however, has offered Cardinal Martini a pyrrhic victory by opening the floodgates to demands for change. Signatories of an "open letter to the Pope" on the new website include not only Cardinal Arns but also other prelates from Latin America and even a member of the Vatican Curia, Archbishop Stephen Fumio Hamao, of Japan, head of the Pontifical Council for Migrants and Itinerants.  Sister Kathleen, from Bellevue, Washington State, said that the Vatican's failure to deal with the problem of paedophile priests and the "tendency simply to move them from one parish to another" was the result of a protectionist male hierarchy that looked after its own. She said that American nuns were worried by the impact of the scandals on the Church, which was losing moral credibility. She demanded the resignation of Cardinal Bernard Law, Archbishop of Boston, who is accused of failing to act against abusive priests. That, she said, would help in the healing process.  The situation in Boston worsened yesterday when a parish rebelled against Cardinal Law, saying that it would refuse from now on to take part in Church fundraising. In Brooklyn, Church authorities defied a Vatican instruction that paedophilia should first be handled as an internal Church matter by signing a formal deal with the police, agreeing to hand over any priest alleged to have abused children or teenagers.  Sister Mary Boys, from New York, said that she felt betrayed and did not believe that the "culture of Rome" would listen. The male hierarchy had operated an old boys' network that had proved "incredibly insensitive to victims of sexual abuse".  In a statement, the nuns said that the Catholic leadership's pattern of silence was eroding trust in the Church and there was a need for "openness, radical honesty and transparency . . . we believe there is an opportunity to be self-critical rather than defensive and so create a more healthy Church".  Sister Marie LaBollita, from Newton, Massachusetts, said she was outraged that last week's meeting with the Pope had consisted of "white-haired old men in red vestments" without a single victim of abuse, a relation or an expert.  Eugene Kennedy, author of The Unhealed Wound: the Church and Human Sexuality, told the Los Angeles Times that the American Church "owes its success to women . . . these women have a clear consciousness that they as much as the bishops are the Church, and they are going to speak out".  Famiglia Cristiana, the most popular Italian Catholic magazine, said the paedophile scandal had also affected Italy, where seven priests had been jailed.    

Oliver McTernan Resigns


April 29, 2002  
'Celibacy has lost its authenticity'

After 30 years as a priest, Oliver McTernan has decided to return to secular life. Here he explains why     

When I came to Harvard two years ago I had two goals in mind. The first was to spend time researching the causes of religiously motivated violence. The second was to take time away from the active ministry to reflect, in a totally secular setting, upon my own future. The results of my research will be published next year, and I hope that these will attract as much media interest as my personal decision to continue to live and work in a non-clerical environment.  The decision not to return to an active ministry within the Roman Catholic Church was extremely difficult for me, as my 30 years as a priest in inner London have been a humanly rich and spiritually rewarding experience. As a priest, however, you are not a lone operator. In theological language you belong to a sacramental order, a corporate body that shares a common goal and vision to promote gospel values of love, justice and peace. When I was ordained in 1972 the spirit and ideals of priesthood articulated by the Second Vatican Council were beginning to filter through to the parish level. There was a great sense of renewal, especially among older priests, many of whom were excited about abandoning their old style of parish governance in favour of greater lay participation.  In those early years I felt strongly supported and encouraged by the example and friendship of my fellow priests. A few years ago, though, I detected a sea change in attitude among many of the newly ordained, who seemed to be more interested in reviving a the old clerical style of leadership than promoting the reforms endorsed by the Vatican Council. In the milieu of revived clericalism I found myself becoming more uncomfortable and isolated.  To understand what clericalism means one has only to look at the public trauma that the Catholic Church in the US is currently undergoing. The autocratic and secret way in which bishops have dealt with sex-abuse crimes illustrates the clerical obsession with external image. The bishops thought that by hiding the human defects of these troubled men they were rightly safeguarding the public reputation and collective image of the Catholic priesthood. The culture of denial is so ingrained in the clerical mindset that it incapacitates debate on so many issues that are crucial to the spiritual well being and vitality of parish communities.  The style of management in vogue at present feels threatened by any meaningful discussion on the role of women in ministry, ecumenicism, inter-church communion, married priests, celibacy, marriage and divorce, homosexuality, and financial accountability. It is impossible for anyone who holds an official position in the Church even to suggest that these issues need to be aired without running the risk of being marginalised.  In Rome last week the American Cardinals rightly denied any intrinsic link between obligatory celibacy and paedophilia. There is, though, a connection between celibacy and why the authoritarian behaviour of some Catholic clergy often goes unchallenged by their communities. Celibacy presumes a holiness and single-mindedness that puts the priest on another level and beyond human accountability. Even when a priest strives through regular prayer to live up to this high ideal there is a real danger that he seeks compensation for the lack of human intimacy by accumulating material comforts or abusing the enormous authority he enjoys within his community.  In the 4th century, when Christianity became closely aligned with the State, individuals saw celibacy as an alternative to martyrdom as they took to the desert in search of more radical way of witnessing to their faith. For them, celibacy, poverty and vulnerability were inseparable. Today I suspect that the Catholic priesthood is the only middle-class profession that still assures its members economic security for life. Celibacy in these circumstances, for me at least, has lost its authenticity, and this is one of the contributing factors behind my decision. Over the years I have come to recognise in the lives of numerous married friends that marriage calls for even greater commitment and self-giving than celibacy. Whether I choose to exercise that basic human right to marry in the future is a decision that I consider personal, and that should be respected as such.  I am acutely aware that my decision to give up my clerical status may distress some who would prefer to see me remain within the ranks of the clergy and to continue to work for reform. I admire and respect those priests who have made this option, but the cost for me, I fear, would be my own spiritual and psychological wellbeing. My decision to move on is rooted in the strong faith and conviction that the promotion of the gospel values of love, justice and peace will always remain a priority in my life.    

Brazil cardinal questions celibacy


Monday, 29 April, 2002, 03:25 GMT 04:25 UK
Brazil cardinal questions celibacy

The Pope has been addressing Church sex scandals
Tom Gibb  BBC correspondent in Sao Paulo         
A leading member of Brazil's Roman Catholic Church has criticised the obligatory celibacy of priests.
In an interview published by the Brazilian newspaper O Globo, Cardinal Paulo Evaristo Arns said that celibacy should be an option rather than a requirement.
Arns said he was happy being single himself     
He also said that he believed Church policy would not change during the papacy of Pope John Paul II, who last week reiterated that priests should remain celibate.
Cardinal Arns said that celibacy was a rule imposed by the Church, which did not come from the Bible.
He pointed out that the first pope, St Peter, was married.
Why shouldn't those who want to choose marriage do that, he asked?

He said that he himself preferred to be single because it allowed him to dedicate himself completely to the Church, but others, he said, need the companionship of a woman.

Personal opinion
While one of Brazil's senior churchmen, Cardinal Arns is also seen as far more liberal than most of the rest of the Church hierarchy.

There will be no change under the present Pope, says Arns     
Others have hastened to point out that he was expressing a personal opinion, not that of the Brazilian Church.
When asked whether the Church was considering changing its rules, Cardinal Arns said that with Pope John Paul II that would be impossible.

He said the Pope had made his views well known and had even prohibited discussion of the issue.
"We're talking about it now," he said, "because we're free."
In the wake of the scandals in the United States, the Catholic Church in Brazil has also been hit by a number of scandals of priests accused of abusing children.

A debate has started not only about how to deal with paedophile priests but the whole issue of celibacy as well.

Catholic priest's thought for the day: I'm quitting


Catholic priest's thought for the day: I'm quitting
By Jonathan Petre
(Filed: 28/04/2002)
ONE of Britain's best-known Roman Catholic priests is quitting his ministry over his disillusionment with the Pope - fuelling speculation that he has a girlfriend and is planning to marry.
Fr Oliver McTernan, a regular contributor to Thought for the Day on BBC Radio 4, has become increasingly critical of what he regards as the Vatican's authoritarian style.
The priest has told Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor, the Archbishop of Westminster, that he intends to give up his "active ministry", but he has declined to comment on suggestions that he is involved in a relationship.
Fr McTernan's departure will be one of the most high-profile since that of Bruce Kent, the former chairman of CND, in 1987.
The disclosure will come as a shock to many Catholics, particularly in the fashionable parish of St Francis of Assisi in Notting Hill, west London, where he was priest for 19 years before leaving for America 18 months ago.
When Fr McTernan left for America, parishioners complained that his successor lacked his charisma.
Cardinal Murphy-O'Connor, the head of the Catholic Church in England and Wales, bowed to the pressure and Fr Alan Ashton was appointed to another parish.
In 1997, Fr McTernan, 55, who is now on sabbatical at Harvard, pleaded on Thought for the Day for the release of Myra Hindley, the Moors murderess.
A progressive, he had become increasingly critical of the slow pace of reform in the Church since the Second Vatican Council in the 1960s. In The Times last week, Fr McTernan said that the crisis over paedophile priests had exposed a clash in the Vatican between liberals and conservatives who favoured a hierarchical structure.
"John Paul II's papacy began with a sense of renewed excitement, but it soon evaporated as the Vatican's efforts to micro-manage the local churches became more obvious," he wrote. "The Pope replaced the bishops who had spearheaded the reforms of Vatican II with men who felt more comfortable operating in an exclusively hierarchical model of the Church.
"We are seeing the unravelling of this counter-reform movement as it is clear that some of these trusted appointees have feet of clay."
Contacted at Harvard, Fr McTernan refused to comment but the diocese of Westminster confirmed that he had been in contact with the cardinal.

Cardinals debate ‘zero tolerance’ of clerical sex abuse

The Tablet

Cardinals debate ‘zero tolerance' of clerical sex abuse

An emergency meeting of 12 American cardinals in Rome ended on Wednesday after two days of debate over "zero-tolerance" for priests who sexually abuse children. The cardinals were told by the Pope on Tuesday that as well as being "an appalling sin in the eyes of God", sexual abuse was "justly considered a crime". People needed to know, the Pope added, that "there is no place in the priesthood and religious life for those who would harm the young". But he added that, at least in some cases, such behaviour could be reversed. "We cannot forget the power of Christian conversion" which "can work extraordinary change", he said (See Documentation, p.29, for the Pope's address in full).
The cardinals must now debate the implications of the Pope's words with the 300-odd bishops in the United States, reports Robert Mickens from Rome. The question will turn on whether or not to institute a "one-strike-you're-out" policy for offenders, something that could only be made binding in all dioceses by a mandate of the Holy See. The question of how to deal with clerical sex abuse of minors will form part of a wide-ranging review which American bishops will take up in June when they gather in Dallas for their annual conference meeting. It is believed that Vatican officials gave the American cardinals who came to Rome parameters within which to form those discussions.
Cardinal Francis George, Archbishop of Chicago, told journalists there was a difference between those who prey on young children and "an individual who, perhaps under the influence of alcohol", engages in inappropriate behaviour with "a 16- or 17-year-old young woman who returns his affections". The cardinal said civil law considers both to be crimes (in most American states anyone under the age of 18 is considered a minor) but "in terms of the culpability and the possibility for a reform of one's life, they are two very different sets of circumstances". Cardinal George asked: "Given the civil law, can we make such a distinction in ecclesiastical policy?"
The Pope issued no apology to those who have been abused by priests, but he echoed their anguish. "To the victims and their families, wherever they may be, I express my profound sense of solidarity and concern", he said. He also acknowledged that clerical sex abuse had placed a cloud over the whole Church. "Because of the great harm done by some priests and religious", he told the American cardinals, "the Church herself is viewed with distrust."
The Pope also acknowledged that people were "offended at the way in which the Church's leaders are perceived to have acted in this matter". He said the bishops may have made "decisions which subsequent events showed to be wrong", but he attributed this to their ignorance of "the nature of the problem" and the "advice of clinical experts". Furthermore, he said, sexual abuse of the young should be viewed in the context of "a deep-seated crisis of sexual morality" affecting society as a whole.
All but one of the 13 American cardinals - as well as the president, vice-president and general secretary of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) - attended the meetings. Although the Holy See press office had named only three cardinals of the Roman Curia - Joseph Ratzinger (doctrine), Giovanni Battista Re (bishops) and Darío Castrillón Hoyos (clergy) - as participants in the talks, the day before the event it published an expanded list. This named the Pope's secretary of state, Cardinal Angelo Sodano, and the heads of four more curial offices: Cardinals Eduardo Somalo (religious life), Jorge Medina Estévez (worship), Zenon Grocholewski (education and seminaries) and Archbishop Julian Herranz (legislative texts).
The closed-door "summit", which was broken up into four sessions that spanned two mornings and afternoons, was held in the Sala Bologna near the papal apartment and private study. Cardinal Sodano, who chaired the meetings, opened the first gathering on Tuesday, and then invited the first several American cardinals to give prepared speeches. Pope John Paul spoke at the end of the first morning session. In the evening of Tuesday the Americans concluded their comments and then returned to work out proposals for a new set of criteria in dealing with priests who abuse minors. On Wednesday morning they held free-ranging discussions with the Vatican officials, before breaking for lunch with the Pope. The concluding session was held late on the afternoon of Wednesday, the second day.
The crisis over sexual abuse of children by Catholic clergy has overwhelmed the Church in the United States since the end of January. Cardinal Bernard Law, Archbishop of Boston, whose decisions to reassign at least two abusing priests have placed him at the heart of the crisis, apologised to his fellow American cardinals the night before the Vatican meetings began. It was because of "some terrible mistakes" he had made that the cardinals were now all in Rome, he told them. But Boston's battered archbishop, who has discussed with the Pope the possibility of his resigning, seems to have been bolstered by the Vatican summit. Despite a Los Angeles Times report on the eve of the gathering that an "anonymous" cardinal and a group of prelates favoured Cardinal Law resigning, participants at the meetings said the topic never came up. Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, Archbishop of Washington DC, said: "We've passed that point in the discussions. The time for that would have been at the beginning. We're over that."
The mood of the meeting, according to Cardinal George, was "serious, even sombre". Topics discussed included the reassignment of priests who have abused children, the observance of celibacy, seminary screening and formation, and the high number of homosexuals in the priesthood. The USCCB president, Bishop Wilton Gregory, said there was an "ongoing effort to make sure that the Catholic priesthood is not dominated by homosexual men" and that "not only is it not dominated by homosexual men, but the candidates that we receive are healthy in every possible way: psychologically, emotionally, spiritually, intellectually".
Cardinal George said the question should not be whether a candidate for the priesthood is homosexual or not, but whether "he is capable of marriage and family, because an ordained priest is a married man" with the Church as his bride. He said bishops should ask whether candidates have "reserves of generativity and generosity" and could see themselves as being married and bringing forth new life. He said celibacy had been discussed, "not in questioning the rule for the Church", he made clear, "but asking how can we strengthen it".
But the main issue was how to deal with abuser priests. Bishop Gregory suggested that an alternative to a draconian "zero-tolerance" policy would be to allow largely lay diocesan review boards to assist the bishop in deciding whether to reinstate an accused priest. Such a board would consider "mitigating circumstances" while still providing a "prudent and transparent solution" which ensured that children were out of risk of harm. Cardinal George also supported lay involvement in implementing abuse policies. "It seems to me to be clear that the more lay people and others - including the relatives of victims - are involved in applying the policies, the more credibility the actions of the bishop might himself have", he said.
But Cardinal Mahony, Archbishop of Los Angeles, said he read the Pope's speech as support for a zero-tolerance policy. "You can convert hearts and offer reconciliation, but you cannot reassign" priest-abusers, he told journalists. The Pope, he added, "is being as clear as he can be: there is no place for abusers in the priesthood".
Behind the scenes of the summit, a battle was waged between officials from the US bishops' conference and those at the Holy See press office over the nature, number and venue of briefings for journalists. The American bishops and cardinals, whom some Vatican officials have accused of being too open with the press, were insisting on making information available to the public. After some discussion it was decided that briefings would take place twice a day, not at the Vatican press hall, but at the North American College - the nearby residence for American seminarians in Rome. In the end, however, those press meetings were curtailed to a preliminary press conference the day before the summit and a briefing after the cardinals' first session on Tuesday. American officials said the cardinals were "too busy" to keep to the arrangement agreed beforehand, a move interpreted as a victory for those Vatican officials who view the scandal in the United States as a media "witch hunt" against the Catholic Church.

John Echevarria's letter to The Tablet


The Editor,
The Tablet.

Whilst fully endorsing Rowanne Pasco's letter (Tablet, 6 April), it should be pointed out that the ministry of married priests need not be confined to cases of emergency but can be extended to other cases of pastoral need.
It is true that canon law refers to "danger of death" when it allows any priest (including, therefore, married priests) to hear confessions (canon 976) and even administer confirmation (c. 883). But "danger of death" does not mean that death has to be imminent. Any priest can administer these sacraments to the seriously ill in hospital or at home, or even to those who have become weak through advanced age. Also to anyone about to undergo major surgery due to serious illness. Obviously no married priest should be so tactless as to press his services when the parish priest or hospital chaplain could himself easily minister and is able and willing to do so.

Again, any priest is allowed to take holy communion to the sick as viaticum either in a case of necessity or at least when permission to do so can reasonably be presumed (c. 911). This could be, for example, if someone were taken ill and the parish priest could not be contacted, or could not arrive soon enough. Even outside the danger of death, any priest is allowed to anoint the sick if there is some adequate reason (c. 1003).

And any priest is able to give blessings. (c. 1169).
When there is some necessity, or even just genuine spiritual advantage, the faithful are allowed to receive the sacraments of reconciliation, anointing and the Eucharist even from a non-catholic minister (provided his orders are valid) whenever it is physically or morally impossibe for them to approach a catholic priest (c. 844). It would be surprising, therefore, if a catholic married priest felt unable in conscience to administer these sacraments in the same circumstances if asked for them. For example, a group of people who meet together for prayer, bible study or for days of recollection could ask a married priest to celebrate the Eucharist for them in private if there is no other priest able to do so.

Finally, there is another canon (c. 1335) dealing with the case of a priest who for some reason incurs an automatic censure and is therefore suspended from administering the sacraments. Nevertheless he is still allowed to do so for any just reason if he is asked for them. A married priest who has been dispensed and under no censure could well consider himself justified in responding to any such request.
All this is in conformity with the supreme law of the Church, viz. the salvation of souls (c. 1752) and with the duty (c. 843) of any sacred minister not to refuse the sacraments to those who have an adequate reason to request them and are suitably disposed. In fact, they have a right to them (c. 213).

But how can lay people avail themselves of the services which married priests can provide unless they know who such priests are? In every parish in which there is a married priest living (and there must now be very many such parishes) his name and telephone number should be clearly displayed in the church porch. Otherwise the Church in its own law is offering the laity spiritual services whilst at the same time denying them the possibility of using them!
The laity should be made aware of all the above so as to enable them to enjoy a more plentiful service from all their priests including married priests, as they are able to do in several other countries where the ministry of married priests is more widely known. They may well, of course, then come to think that if married priests are allowed to minister to them in these various ways, why not officially lift all restrictions on them? This may well be why these canons are not made better known! The experience of married priests is that lay people are perfectly happy to receive the sacraments from them when they have come to know and respect them as priests, and many take a dim view of the Church's non-use of them officially. It might help to produce some change in this matter if lay people were to make mor e emplatic use of canon 212 which gives them the right to make known their views to the hierarchy. After all, the Holy Spirit works through them, the majority, as well as through the clergy, the minority. Even in doctrinal matters the sensus fidelium has its place, but the use or non-use of married priests is a merely disciplinary matter about which lay people could suitably become more out-spoken - especially when threatened with becoming members of a priestless parish.

John de A'Echevarria,
43 Greenways,

Text of pope's U.S. sex abuse speech


Text of pope's U.S. sex abuse speech

ROME, Italy --Pope John Paul II says child sex abuse by priests is "rightly considered a crime" by society and that there was no place in the Church for it.

He said it was a "symptom of a crisis affecting not only the church but society as a whole."

The pope was speaking on Tuesday to U.S. cardinals gathered at the Vatican for a summit on a crisis that has damaged the credibility of the Catholic Church in America. (Full story)

This is the text of his speech:

"Dear Brothers,

"Let me assure you first of all that I greatly appreciate the effort you are making to keep the Holy See, and me personally, informed regarding the complex and difficult situation which has arisen in your country in recent months.

"I am confident that your discussions here will bear much fruit for the good of the Catholic people of the United States. You have come to the house of the successor of Peter, whose task it is to confirm his brother bishops in faith and love, and to unite them around Christ in the service of God's people. The door of this house is always open to you. All the more so when your communities are in distress.

"Like you, I too have been deeply grieved by the fact that priests and religious, whose vocation it is to help people live holy lives in the sight of God, have themselves caused such suffering and scandal to the young.

"Because of the great harm done by some priests and religious, the church herself is viewed with distrust, and many are offended at the way in which the church's leaders are perceived to have acted in this matter. The abuse which has caused this crisis is by every standard wrong and rightly considered a crime by society; it is also an appalling sin in the eyes of God. To the victims and their families, wherever they may be, I express my profound sense of solidarity and concern.

"It is true that a generalized lack of knowledge of the nature of the problem and also at times the advice of clinical experts led bishops to make decisions which subsequent events showed to be wrong. You are now working to establish more reliable criteria to ensure that such mistakes are not repeated.

"At the same time, even while recognizing how indispensable these criteria are, we cannot forget the power of Christian conversion, that radical decision to turn away from sin and back to God, which reaches to the depths of a person's soul and can work extraordinary change.

"Neither should we forget the immense spiritual, human and social good that the vast majority of priests and religious in the United States have done and are still doing. The Catholic church in your country has always promoted human and Christian values with great vigor and generosity, in a way that has helped to consolidate all that is noble in the American people.

"A great work of art may be blemished, but its beauty remains; and this is a truth which any intellectually honest critic will recognize. To the Catholic communities in the United States, to their Pastors and members, to the men and women religious, to teachers in Catholic universities and schools, to American missionaries in all parts of the world, go the wholehearted thanks of the entire Catholic church and the personal thanks of the bishop of Rome.

"The abuse of the young is a grave symptom of a crisis affecting not only the church but society as a whole. It is a deep-seated crisis of sexual morality, even of human relationships, and its prime victims are the family and the young. In addressing the problem of abuse with clarity and determination, the church will help society to understand and deal with the crisis in its midst.

"It must be absolutely clear to the Catholic faithful, and to the wider community, that bishops and superiors are concerned, above all else, with the spiritual good of souls. People need to know that there is no place in the priesthood and religious life for those who would harm the young.

"They must know that bishops and priests are totally committed to the fullness of Catholic truth on matters of sexual morality, a truth as essential to the renewal of the priesthood and the episcopate as it is to the renewal of marriage and family life.

"We must be confident that this time of trial will bring a purification of the entire Catholic community, a purification that is urgently needed if the church is to preach more effectively the Gospel of Jesus Christ in all its liberating force. Now you must ensure that where sin increased, grace will all the more abound (Romans 5:20). So much pain, so much sorrow must lead to a holier priesthood, a holier episcopate, and a holier church.

"God alone is the source of holiness, and it is to him above all that we must turn for forgiveness, for healing and for the grace to meet this challenge with uncompromising courage and harmony of purpose. Like the good shepherd of last Sunday's Gospel, pastors must go among their priests and people as men who inspire deep trust and lead them to restful waters (Psalms 22:2).

"I beg the Lord to give the bishops of the United States the strength to build their response to the present crisis upon the solid foundations of faith and upon genuine pastoral charity for the victims, as well as for the priests and the entire Catholic community in your country. And I ask Catholics to stay close to their priests and bishops, and to support them with their prayers at this difficult time.

"The peace of the risen Christ be with you!"

Archbishop opposes Pope's defence of celibacy


April 22, 2002  
Archbishop opposes Pope's defence of celibacy
By Philip Pank
The Times    
ONE of the most senior members of the Roman Catholic Church in Scotland said yesterday that he was in favour of ending the celibacy of priests, a view opposed by the Pope.  Pope John Paul II told bishops in Nigeria over the weekend that priests must continue to live celibate lives. However, the Most Rev Keith O'Brien, Archbishop of St Andrews and Edinburgh, said yesterday: "I have no problems with celibacy withering away.  "There is no great theological argument against celibacy ending, nor any theological problem with it ending," he told the Sunday Herald. "A number of priests are very happy being celibate but the loss of celibacy would give greater liberty to priests to exercise their God-given gift of love and sex rather than feeling they must be celibate all their lives."  His position stands at odds with that of the Pope, who said: "The value of celibacy as a complete gift to self to the Lord and his Church must be carefully safeguarded."  Senior figures within the Church sought to play down talk of a rift. The debate has been raised at a sensitive time for the Church, which is reeling from a child sex abuse scandal in America. Senior Catholics, however, said that Archbishop O'Brien was right to reopen debate on the issue. Mark Morley, the director of communications for the Bishops' Conference of England and Wales, said of Archbishop O'Brien: "If people of his calibre are saying that this needs to be discussed, then it does need to be discussed."     

Pope rejects calls for an end to priestly celibacy


April 22, 2002  
Pope rejects calls for an end to priestly celibacy
From Katty Kay in Washington     
The Times

THE Pope has rejected demands for an end to priestly celibacy, dashing hopes that tomorrow's meeting with American cardinals to discuss the sex-abuse scandal will produce significant results.  

In his most extensive comments on the crisis in the Roman Catholic Church, he insisted that avoiding scandal in the Church was a priority and ordered bishops to "diligently investigate" allegations of sexual misbehaviour in the priesthood.  

American cardinals, on a mission to restore their own much-damaged credibility, prepared to meet the Pope with a plan to wipe out abuse in the Church, and at least one US cardinal said that the meeting must include a discussion of celibacy.  

On the eve of their departure, Cardinal Edward Egan, of New York, who has been accused of protecting paedophile priests, acknowledged for the first time yesterday that he might have made mistakes in how he had dealt with the abusive priests.  

There are growing indications of wide gulfs in the expectations of the Vatican, the American cardinals and the American laity from this meeting and many American Catholics do not believe that the Pope recognises either the seriousness of their complaints or the ferocity of their demands for substantial reforms.  

A CBS News opinion poll this weekend showed that a 60 per cent majority of America's 64 million Catholics are highly critical of the way the Catholic hierarchy, and the Pope in particular, have handled accusations of abuse against priests.  

The Pope did not directly refer to the three-month-old scandal in America, in which numerous priests have been accused of raping or molesting children, but his comments, which reflected a desire for discipline over reform, were unlikely to satisfy US Catholics, for whom an end to enforced priestly celibacy has become an urgent demand.  Yet the Pope made clear that ending celibacy was not up for discussion. "The value of celibacy as a complete gift of self to the Lord and his Church must be carefully safeguarded," he said.  

He made his remarks in a meeting with Nigerian bishops, who are fighting allegations that priests in Africa have had sexual relations with nuns. He told the bishops that avoiding scandal was vital.  

Although the Vatican has been accused of covering up for abusive priests by ordering American dioceses to keep information about them secret, the Pope said the Church must now be more open.  "It is of the utmost importance," he said, "that openness, honesty and transparency should always be the hallmark of everything that the Church does."  

American bishops and cardinals have been accused of a systematic conspiracy to protect clergy at the expense of the welfare of children.  

The cardinals, who are under enormous pressure, have made it clear to Rome that they expect more than an expression of sympathy from their meeting. They will propose a range of measures to deal with the problem, including the creation of a unified Church response to abuse; the ability to unfrock a priest more easily; a reconciliation of canon law with secular authorities; and discussion, at least, of priestly celibacy.  

Cardinal Roger Mahony, of Los Angeles, the largest Catholic community in America, said that he would also push the Pope to consider broader changes, such as allowing priests to marry and women to be ordained.     

Funeral Notice of Joe Evans

Joseph Patrick

On 22nd April 2002, aged 61 years.
Beloved husband of Vicky, darling daddy of Claire and Benedict, loving father-in-law of Graham, adoring grandpa of Hugo and Flora, dearest son-in-law of Moppy, and much loved by his cats Lucy, Fred and Bubbles.
Requiem Mass and burial at St. Mary's, Great Eccleston, on Friday 26th April at 10.30 am.
Please do not wear black, as Joe would have wanted people to wear brightly coloured clothes.
No flowers, but donations please to CAFOD c/o the Funeral Directors, Dewhurst McKenna, 10 Newton Drive, Blackpool. Tel. 01253 301237

The end of celibacy?

Sunday Herald - 21 April 2002    
The end of celibacy?  

As the Pope prepares to meet American cardinals to discuss the paedophile priest crisis, Home Affairs Editor Neil Mackay looks at the outcry that could transform the Catholic church   'PAEDOPHILE priest jailed for sex with under-age boy' is a headline which has almost become a clichZ. But the trial of Father John Geoghan in January this year in Boston for child sex abuse wasn't just another disposable story about child abuse and the clergy; it has set in train the biggest shake-up within the Catholic Church since the 1960s. The aftermath of the Geoghan case will be the crucible in which the Roman Catholic Church is forged in the 21st century.  On Tuesday 13 American cardinals will sit down with the Pope in the Vatican and discuss just how the Church is supposed to deal with the seemingly endless series of accusations and arrests for paedophilia which are dogging Catholicism across the world. America, Ireland, Germany, Poland, England and Scotland have all had a taste of scandal.  The Geoghan case, with its claims that some of the highest-ranking clergymen in the US moved the priest from parish to parish as his crimes were discovered and then covered up by the hierarchy, has forced the Church to take a cold, stark look at itself and its priests.  Cardinal Francis Stafford, an American who heads the Vatican's Pontifical Council for the Laity, said the meeting would cover celibacy, gay priests and the ordination of women. Everything, it seems, is open to debate. This scandal isn't just rocking America, though. The clergy in England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales is also tearing itself apart over the question: Where now for the Church? In Scotland, leading Catholic clergymen and theologians are preparing to tear up the rule book.  One of the bravest comments given to the Sunday Herald in an exhaustive round of interviews with senior clergy scholars and prominent Catholic lay people came from Keith O'Brien, Archbishop of St Andrews and Edinburgh . 'I have no problems with celibacy withering away,' he said. 'There is no theological problem with it ending. The loss of celi bacy would give liberty to priests to exercise their God-given gift of love and sex rather than feeling they must be celibate all their lives.'  As president of the Scottish Bishops' Conference, O'Brien is seen as first among equals in the Scottish Catholic hierarchy. His words carry considerable weight, though on the reactionary wing of the church his views could be seen as tantamount to heresy. Lining up beside him is the renowned Dominican scholar Fr Fergus Kerr. As regent of Blackfriars Hall at Oxford University and an honorary senior lecturer in philosophy and theology at Edinburgh University, Kerr is perhaps the most eminent Catholic thinker in the country.  He believes it is inevitable that priests will one day be allowed to marry. 'Celibacy will become an optional extra for the Catholic clergy,' he said. 'I would assume that priests will be marrying in under 20 years.'  Kerr said priestly celibacy was introduced to stop the children of priests inheriting church property. 'The big problem in terms of ending celibacy is money -- not theology,' he said. 'It's always been about money. Historically, it was about property; now it's about salary. It's easy to support a celibate priest, but supporting a married priest with children would be a big drain on resources. Accepting married Anglican priests into the Church when they broke away over women in the priesthood was the beginning of the end of celibacy.'  Kerr went further by championing women in the clergy. 'There are theological arguments against having women in the priesthood, but I don't think they are very impressive,' he said. 'One argument is that Jesus didn't ordain women. The answer to that is that He didn't ordain any non-Jews either.  'Others say the Eucharist is a rerun of the Last Supper, and the celebrant was Jesus so the priest must be a man. The counter-argument is that those who believe this are just taking symbolism to the extreme, and symbols aren't inviolable. I'm not opposed to celibacy falling away or women in the clergy -- we have to start looking at the arguments.'  It's little wonder Scotland's most powerful Catholics are now wrestling with such hard questions as the tremors from the US abuse scandal are felt around the world. Some even predict it could cause the US church to split from Rome. More than 450 people in the Boston area alone claim they've been sexually abused by priests. Across the country at least 62 clergymen have been suspended for alleged sexual abuse since January, but in total some 3000 priests face allegations of paedophilia.  The public is clamouring for the resignation of Boston's Cardinal Bernard Law, who has admitted allowing Fr John Geoghan, a man he knew to be a paedophile, to continue as a priest. Geoghan, who was jailed for 10 years, has been accused of molesting up to 200 children. In 1994 Fr John McCormack, then secretary for ministerial personnel under Cardinal Law, offered to find Geoghan a 'safe house'. McCormack is now bishop of Manchester in New Hampshire. Cardinal Law also allowed another child abuser, Fr Paul Shanley, to continue to have access to children, despite having full know ledge of his crimes through a church-ordered psychiatric evaluation.  Law also moved Shanley from diocese to diocese without informing officials of his history. There had been 15 complaints against Shanley, dating back 30 years. The Church also had information about a speech Shanley gave at a meeting in the 1970s in which he defended paedophilia. The meeting led to the formation of the North American Man-Boy Love Association. Some dioceses have already paid millions of dollars to settle lawsuits brought by victims, with Boston footing a bill of around $30 million. The total cost to the church in the US is somewhere in the region of £1 billion. A number of dioceses are facing bankruptcy .  From Boston the allegations spread across the US. In Los Angeles a special unit of detectives has been set up to investigate 70 allegations involving 50 priests. Cardinal Roger Mahony of the Los Angeles Archdiocese has admitted responsibility for transferring Fr Michael Wempe, who was accused of child molestation, to a hospital with a paediatric unit without telling medical staff.  Other dioceses accused of covering up for serial child molesters include New York and Milwaukee, and Church authorities are also dealing with allegations in St Louis, Florida, California, Philadelphia and Detroit. In Cleveland, Ohio, Fr Don Rooney killed himself this month after been accused of sexual misconduct from 1980. Two men have taken legal action against the Vatican itself -- an unheard of and historic move. The lawsuits allege that the Church protected priests accused of molesting children in Florida and Oregon by transferring them to other states to avoid prosecution.  Although 70% of America's 64 million Catholics believe revolutionary changes such as ending celibacy will end child abuse, few of Scotland's Catholic thinkers believe scrapping the chastity vow will magically remove paedophilia from the priesthood. There are just as many paedophiles in the Church of Scotland or the Free Church or among Jews or Muslims, they say, as among Catholics. However, most admit that celibacy feels like an odd, even medieval, hangover. And it raises eyebrows. Celibacy seems to predicate a twisted or stunted sexuality -- at least to the public mind, which appears to equate a celibate priest with a potential paedophile.  For Philip Esler, professor of biblical studies at St Andrews University, abandoning celi bacy won't just do the Church the world of good in terms of public relations -- it will also help tackle another crisis facing Catholicism, the massive fall in the numbers of men choosing a life in the priesthood. Esler, a practising Catholic, says: ' People aren't entering the priesthood. Abuse is deterring potential priests and members of the congregation. In some places it is getting hard for the public to get to Mass as there are too few priests.  'The church needs a radical solution. To suggest that celibacy is central to the ministry is nonsense. Once one Anglican priest who was married joined the Catholic Church, that became the exception that destroyed the rule. We need suitable people to conduct Mass whether they are married or not.  'What is wrong with taking a good, married Catholic and ordaining him? The days of celibacy are numbered. The Church is resisting because those who run the Church have been socialised by celibacy. It is all they know. They wanted to marry and have children, so to say to them 'celibacy is unnecessary' would by like saying, 'You made a huge mistake -- that harsh, lonely existence you opted for was pointless.' Celibacy is central to their identity, but they have their heads in the sand.'  Esler is equally frustrated by the establishment's refusal to budge on women priests. 'The Church has set its face against this, and I'm really sorry for that,' he says.  Professor John Haldane, a devout Catholic who teaches divinity, philosophy and humanities at Cambridge, St Andrews and Georgetown University in Washington DC, says: 'The world is so heavily sexualised that you could see it, symbolically, scantily-clad and clutching a bottle in its hand. Anyone who tries to choose a life of restraint or celibacy today is in for a tough if not impossible time.'  Haldane says he knows of many priests who have been 'privately and secretly' married, who wish celibacy would end so they could reclaim a 'real life'. He suggests a middle ground for the Church. 'Maybe we need to get to a situation like the Eastern Church, where you can't marry when you are a priest, but you can become a priest if you are married.'  Not all Scotland's Catholic thinkers are of the liberal variety, and there are signs of a split emerging. Dr Francesca Murphy, who teaches at Aberdeen University's School of Divinity, wants celibacy retained. 'Celibacy,' she says, 'is a beautiful thing. A man without a woman is a person who has totally abandoned the world -- and that is what religion is all about.'  She does, however, have some suspicion that celibacy may play a part in paedophilia. 'Celibacy is about loneliness,' Mur phy says. 'Perhaps we need to see priests and bishops living together in a community to get rid of paedophilia. Someone on his own has more opportunity to fixate on his sexuality.'  Dr Mario Aguilar, a Chilean former priest and senior lecturer in divinity at St Andrews, says there is 'no dogmatic reason why we need celibacy'. He suggests leading clergymen who favour an end to the rule call a Vatican Council to debate it. The most recent Vatican Council, the liberalising Vatican II, was in 1962; the only other one took place in 1870.  'Many people say we need a new Vatican Council for the 21st century, a few like-minded bishops should get together and convince the Pope the issue needs to be debated,' says Aguilar, who supports women in the priesthood. 'Only a Vatican Council could change this. If a Vatican Council backed change, then so would I. Many Catholics wouldn't care if their parish priest was married or not.'  Patrick Reilly, emeritus professor of English at Glasgow University and a philosophy lecturer at Scotus College seminary in Bearsden, is concerned that some men may be attracted to the priesthood because 'the vocation allows access and opportunity to exploit children'. He wants celibacy to remain, however, and he believes the problem of gays or women in the priesthood is insuperable.  He stands for the old guard. 'In the eyes of Christianity, being gay is a disorder. The Christian view is that men and women should be together in a faithful marriage, which is best for children, the family and the state. On the issue of women, only a man can be a representation of Christ in his role as a priest. To think of a woman as a priest is as illogical as thinking a woman could be a bridegroom. Christ didn't commission any women to act as his apostles.'  For Reilly, new-fangled ideas like ending celibacy are no panacea for collapsing numbers in Catholic congregations or the woes of Mother Church. He has his own rather innovative solution to the crisis in Catholicism. 'In Asia, Africa and Latin America, the number of priests is rising and their congregations are rising too,' he says. 'Perhaps we need priests from those countries to become missionaries in Europe. They can do for us what we did for them -- minister to the masses and make converts. That's what's important.'  

Got an opinion? Air it on the Sunday Herald forum.      
Copyright © 2002 smg sunday newspapers ltd. no.176088    

The sins of the Fathers


April 19, 2002  Reportage  The Times
The sins of the Fathers
by Peter Stanford

Engulfed by child abuse scandals, the Catholic Church is under pressure to change its law on celibacy. 50 per cent of priests break it anyway, and five clerics describe their experiences     

The Catholic Church in both America and Ireland is again under siege. Bishops and cardinals accused of covering up the activities of paedophile priests are facing demands that they should fall on their mitres.  

The issue is one that the Vatican prayed had gone away in the mid-1990s. But it hasn't. And now the finger of accusation is beginning to point beyond individuals to something at the very core of the Catholic Church's mission - its demand that priests must be celibate.  

The drumbeat of opposition to celibacy is now louder than at any stage since it was made mandatory at the Second Lateran Council in 1139.  

For the first half of Christian history a married priesthood was the norm. The New Testament makes it clear that St Peter, the first pope, was married. A passage in Matthew's Gospel (xix, 12), in which Jesus calls on His followers to be "eunuchs for the sake of the kingdom of Heaven", seems in context to be part of His teaching on the indissolubility of marriage. And anyway, He concludes: "Let anyone accept this who can."  The cult of virginity did, however, establish a foothold in the early church. In the 5th century, Saint Augustine wrote that "nothing is more calculated to cast a man's spirits down from the citadel than the blandishments of a woman". Most priests ignored such a misogynist warning, but the authorities were increasingly concerned that the local clergy was not distinct enough from the laity. What reforming popes such as Gregory VII in the 11th century wanted to see was a dedicated, disciplined army marching in step with their bishops and wearing their cassocks as a uniform with pride. The reality was a ragbag if ill-educated men (there were no seminaries, and only a three-day oral exam to be accepted into the priesthood) who, by their marriages, were assimilated into their community and who then tried to parcel off church land for the benefit of their children. Thus, the decision in 1139 was the culmination of a drive to bring order and discipline. It promised an end to married priests who besmirched the good name of the church by their sexual infidelities, and to property disputes over who owned church land.  

A sizeable number of married priests remained at least until the middle of the 16th century, when the Council of Trent in 1545 tried to close loopholes, and the uncelibate priesthood was still around at the time of the French Revolution. Indeed there are still married Catholic priests today in the Uniat churches of the East, which owe allegiance to the Pope; in Britain, convert Anglican clergymen disillusioned by the Church of England's stance on female ordination have been given a special Vatican dispensation to be ordained as priests even when they have wives.  

Evidence from within the Catholic priesthood of the failure of this man-made rule of celibacy is compelling. Richard Sipe, an American psychiatrist at Johns Hopkins University, spent 25 years working with 1,500 priests who were suffering from what the Catholic Church often coyly describes as "broken celibacy". He estimated that 2 per cent abused small children and 4 per cent were sexually attracted to adolescents. That, it should be noted, is considerably higher than among the population as a whole.  Sipe reckoned that just 10 per cent of priests were successfully celibate - that is, they had embraced the idea and found it empowering - and 40 per cent stuck by the rule but did so reluctantly. The remaining 50 per cent, Sipe recorded, had at some stage during their ministry been sexually active, with up to about a third of that group being homosexual. Or, to put it another way, half of all priests are hypocrites. They fail to practise what they preach.  

Peter Stanford's Heaven: A Traveller's Guide is published by HarperCollins. He is former editor of The Catholic Herald    

Vatican Meeting on Abuse Issue Is Set to Confront Thorny Topics


Vatican Meeting on Abuse Issue Is Set to Confront Thorny Topics

April 19, 2002


ROME, April 18 - A top Vatican official said today that
next week's meetings with American cardinals about the
sexual abuse scandals in the church would cover
controversial issues like celibacy, the screening of gay
candidates for the priesthood and the role of women in the

The official, Cardinal J. Francis Stafford, an American who
heads the Vatican's Pontifical Council for Laity, gave a
preview of the agenda as cardinals in the United States
prepared to travel to Rome for what experts say is an
extraordinary meeting reflecting the Vatican's realization
of the crisis in the American church.

Another American cardinal, Roger M. Mahony of Los Angeles,
said in an interview today that he would be pushing Pope
John Paul II and other top church officials to consider
changing centuries of church doctrine to permit priests to
marry and women to be ordained.

Cardinal Mahony stopped short of endorsing the changes,
saying only that he felt the time was ripe for an open
discussion of the issues at the highest levels of the

"It's not a panacea that you have married clergy or women
clergy," he said. "At this point, I'm a proponent of the
discussion. I want to hear a lot more."

The pope summoned his American cardinals here, for meetings
on Tuesday and Wednesday, after a contingent of American
bishops who met with him last week convinced him that the
problem was grave - and specifically asked for the
Vatican's guidance, Cardinal Stafford said.

"The American bishops indicated it would be helpful to have
the wisdom of the Holy Father," he said. "So the response
was, `Let's have a conversation.' "

They want the Vatican to clarify what changes the pope
would favor before a June meeting in which American bishops
intend to come up with national protocols to prevent sexual
abuse by priests.

Asked if how gay candidates for the priesthood are screened
would be a particular focus, Cardinal Stafford said,
"Without question, it does have to be looked at." He added,
"We'll definitely be talking about that."

The meetings will be led by Cardinal Dario Castrillon
Hoyos, who leads the Vatican's Congregation for Clergy. But
the marathon, 14-hour sessions bear the earmarks of an
American-style affair, including plans for daily and
perhaps twice-daily press briefings that are certainly not
the norm at the Vatican.

Now that the Vatican has been convinced of the severity of
the problem, it seems to be trying to respond with the kind
of openness that American Catholics have been calling for.

"We're dealing with an American phenomenon that requires
an American response," said Cardinal Stafford, the former
archbishop of Denver, who was among the first American
church officials to formally tackle the sexual abuse issue
when he issued a handbook spelling out policies for his
archdiocese in 1991.

Of course, the Vatican understands the power of symbolism
and grasps that the gesture of calling the meetings will
begin to answer critics who have said it has been
indifferent to the crisis in the American church and to the
issue in general.

"It's in part a P.R. exercise, a dramatic way to say to
critics, `The pope gets it now,' " said John Allen, who
covers the Vatican for The National Catholic Reporter and
wrote a biography of one of the officials who will be
leading the meetings, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, director
of the Vatican's doctrinal office.

But an overarching reason for the meeting, Cardinal
Stafford said, is to address the cultural differences
between American church leaders and Vatican officials, who
have struggled to grasp the impact of the scandals and the
way they have been handled.

For one thing, American tort law makes liability much more
of an issue and has driven the response in a way that has
been difficult for Europeans to understand. In addition,
while American church leaders have been criticized for a
lack of openness back home, they seem altogether too open
to some in the Vatican.

"These are men who've lived in a much different tradition,"
Cardinal Stafford said.

Church leaders cannot hope to hash out so many complicated
issues in two days. Still, Cardinal Stafford said they
would at least begin an important discussion about the role
and the roots of priestly celibacy.

"If it's something that developed simply in the 12th
century for unworthy motives like inheritance," he said,
"then it's difficult for me to see it being sustained."
Celibacy rules enabled the church to hold on to property,
rather than allowing priests to pass it on to children.

"But if celibacy is of apostolic origins and has important
connections" with church tradition, Cardinal Stafford went
on, "then this experience in the U.S. is not going to
undermine that." He said "the formation of seminarians
should involve a more in-depth understanding" of celibate

Asked to name other important themes the meetings would
address, he said: "The issue of privacy is worth
discussing, as is the role of women in the church and their
greater involvement. I would strongly be in favor of that."

The ordination of women, however, is definitely not on the
table, he said. "Rome can't be open to changing the faith,"
he said. "That's clearly a part of the faith and we can't,
we don't have the power to change it even if we'd like to."

Cardinal Mahony, whose Los Angeles archdiocese is the
largest in the United States and who is considered one of
the more liberal church leaders, differed with Cardinal
Stafford on the need for discussion of that issue and of

Cardinal Mahony noted approvingly that, in its early
centuries, the church permitted priests to be married and
that in some circumstances the Eastern Orthodox Church
ordains married men.

Cardinal Mahony made his comments in interviews today with
several Los Angeles television stations. A few newspaper
reporters were permitted to sit in on the interviews, which
were part of what appears to be a concerted effort by
senior church officials across the United States to take
the initiative in communicating their views to the public
and to create a sense of a church more open to change.

In recent days, Cardinal Theodore E. McCarrick of
Washington and Cardinal Francis E. George of Chicago have
also talked extensively with the news media about their
expectations for the Vatican meetings.

Cardinal Mahony has publicly commented before that he felt
the church ought to debate allowing priests to be married,
but now, he said, he will take his message directly to the

In fact, he said he intended to argue that many fundamental
changes had to be considered, and not just in the United
States. He said he would push to use this crisis to create
a larger role for the laity, to make the church's decision
making more transparent and to create "a church that's more

He added that he hoped to bring these messages to the pope

"He's also going to learn that this is not a United States
problem," the cardinal said, referring to the cases of
sexual abuse.

Cardinal Mahony said he would specifically ask Vatican
officials to shorten the process for removing from the
priesthood those found guilty of sexual abuse. He
implicitly conceded that the church had made mistakes in
its handling of pedophile priests and others involved in
sexual misconduct.

He said the procedures set up years ago by his archdiocese
to deal with such cases were based on an outdated notion
that the priests suffered from moral lapses rather than
more deep-seated and intractable psychological problems.

But he said he now supported a zero-tolerance policy, where
priests found guilty of sexual offenses are removed
promptly without the prospect of a second chance. That is
the policy in the Los Angeles Archdiocese. He also said he
supported handing information over quickly to the police
for possible criminal prosecution.

Cardinal Stafford suggested that discussions next week on
screening prospective priests would be complicated.

"The term `homosexuality' is a relatively recent
terminology in Western culture," he said, "and we're still
coming to grips with sexuality in terms of modern science.
We need a more profound understanding of how one's identity
as a man or woman is formed."

The role that homosexuality may be playing in the current
scandal is already a common topic in church circles here.

The pope's American biographer, George Weigel, said today:
"They have to talk about homosexuality next week. It's
clear this problem of clerical sexual abuse has multiple
parts. One is pedophilia, which is the most revolting, then
there are problems of heterosexual misconduct.

"But the largest portion of what's come to light in the
last few months is a pattern of homosexual clergy not
living their celibate promises."

The Rev. Keith Pecklers, a Jesuit who teaches at the
Pontifical Liturgical Institute, disagreed, saying: "It's
very unfortunate they're bringing homosexuality into this.
The church has always distinguished between orientation and
acting out. What does need to happen in seminaries is that
they have to learn to deal with people maturely."

Some of those who will participate in next week's meetings
fear that expectations may be unrealistically high.

Bishop Wilton D. Gregory, president of the United States
Conference of Catholic Bishops, whose meetings here last
week with the pope and others led to the Vatican's decision
to call in the cardinals, also emphasized that it was still
up to the American church to solve its problems.

Bishop Gregory said that although the meetings would be
important, any new policies for the American church still
had to be set in June at a meeting of the United States
Conference of Bishops in Dallas.

"The media has hyped this as though next week the problem
will be solved," Bishop Gregory said. "In some sense,
there's such anticipation generated over this meeting that
we have to be careful. We're not going to be there in June
simply to say `yes' to something the Holy See has already

Late and Lacking

By Mary McGrory
Thursday, April 18, 2002; Page A21
Late and Lacking

The pope in Rome and the president of the United States are in the same boat. They are both coping with the consequences of a failure to recognize a crisis.
For John Paul II, it was the pedophile scandal, which enraged the faithful in an unparallelled way. The Holy Father, who rightly expects a place in history as the liberator of Poland, was apparently preoccupied with cosmic diplomacy and missed the significance of crimes committed by a clergy that was protected, promoted and even pampered by the hierarchy. He made the mistake of thinking that Catholics care more about their church than their children. Now His Holiness has called 11 U.S. cardinals to an emergency session at St. Peter's.
In a similar way, George W. Bush turned a blind eye to trouble that only he could solve. He sees himself not as a peacemaker but as a warrior against terrorism. For the first 15 months of his term, he refused to lend his prestige or even his attention to the ugly developments in Israel and the West Bank. The Middle East, to his way of thinking, was a hobby of Bill Clinton's, which was reason enough to bypass it. Besides, it chewed up intervenors; both sides were bent on extermination and were best left to their own devices.
But the moment inevitably arrived when nothing but the might of the United States could halt the carnage -- on one side, suicide-bombers shattering Passover, on the other, bulldozers bringing houses down on blameless inhabitants. At length, Bush sent Colin Powell to the scene and ordered Ariel Sharon to stop the invasion. Sharon thumbed his nose at the leader of the Free World. Israeli soldiers are still shooting at faces in the windows on the West Bank, and Manger Square bristles with tanks. Powell returns empty-handed. Sharon ignored Bush's demand.

The pope's crisis summit seems equally doomed. If the pope were as concerned about the sexual abuse of children in rectories and seminaries as his calling of the conference is meant to suggest, why is Bernard Law, the author of the major coverup, still in office?

Law enjoys the special favor of the pope. He is doctrinaire and inflexible, and he treated the uproar over pedophile priests precisely as the pope did; that is, he ignored it as long as he could. When the Boston Globe started to publish the bad news, the Supreme Pontiff finally spoke. In an Easter letter to the clergy, he suggested it was just a few bad apples and devoted his sympathy to the good priests who were smeared by the scandal. Adding to Catholic outrage, Cardinal Law wrote a preposterous letter to the priests in his diocese in which he presented himself as "determined to provide the strongest leadership possible in this area." In other words, the murderer will solve the homicide.
Boston, usually a docile and deferential archdiocese, talks of indicting His Eminence. Some of the pious are withholding their money from the collection plate. Big givers have folded their checkbooks. Students at Catholic colleges have petitioned the authorities to disinvite Law from their commencements.

Yet Law traveled secretly to Rome for a parley with the pope, who, he says, "encouraged" him in his efforts to "provide the strongest possible leadership" in the cleanup. Members of the U.S. bishops' conference recently convinced the pope of the gravity of the situation, but not of Law's radioactivity.

Meanwhile, Bush partisans have found a way out of the embarrassment attendant on being dissed by the head of a thoroughly beholden ally. They pretend that Bush never demanded Sharon's withdrawal; they have diluted the macho "demand" to the wimpy "request" and lamely cite the bulldozers' retreat from some areas. The talk is of "solidarity"; the spin is that Bush made a slight faux pas on a bad day.

A telling moment at the huge pro-Israel rally held on Capitol Hill on Monday came with the appearance of Paul Wolfowitz, deputy secretary of defense, who was there as the special representative of the president. He mentioned statehood for Palestine and was roundly booed. The idea of one of Washington's most ferocious hawks, a zealot for the invasion of Iraq, as a martyred peacenik was a light moment in a heavy week.

Bush, standing in the rubble of his Mideast coalition, may feel that he was vindicated in his initial refusal to go near the witches' brew. Or maybe the experience will deter him, at least for a while, from blasting into Baghdad.
Now if he wants a cease-fire, he must play hardball and threaten a curtailment of the $2 billion plus we pay to subsidize Israel. The pope, if he wishes to retrieve moral authority from the scorched earth left by the scandal, must relieve Law of his red hat. These are hard choices. But they are the only kind available to world leaders who refused to lead in clear and present crises.

© 2002 The Washington Post Company

Once Cardinal's Top Aides, Bishops Now Share Shadow


April 18, 2002
Once Cardinal's Top Aides, Bishops Now Share Shadow By PAM BELLUCK
This article was reported by Pam Belluck, Fox Butterfield and Sara Rimer and was written by Ms. Belluck. BOSTON, April 17
- It is a testament to the influence of Cardinal Bernard F. Law, the archbishop of Boston, that five of the men who worked as his trusted lieutenants have been appointed to lead dioceses around the country. Now as Cardinal Law fights to overcome the stain of a sprawling sexual abuse scandal, the intense spotlight focused on him is also casting shadows on several of those aides. Documents and interviews show that the deputies had roles in the way the Boston Archdiocese responded to accusations of sexual abuse by priests. Together they paint a portrait of officials who seemed solicitous and compassionate to problem priests, dismissive or perfunctory toward those who accused the priests of molesting them or simply slow to respond to warning signs.  Most of the bishops have either apologized or explained their actions during their time in Boston. Indeed, when the cardinal issued a statement on Tuesday night, saying that a secret trip to Rome had reaffirmed his decision to remain as archbishop, experts on the Roman Catholic Church suspected that the Vatican had decided to keep him on in part out of fear that ousting Cardinal Law could lead to some or all of the bishops losing their jobs. "Rome has an incentive not to want him to step down because they're worried about a domino effect, especially with the bishops who served with him," said Stephen J. Pope, chairman of the theology department at Boston College. Noting that Cardinal Law is the most senior and thus most influential Catholic leader in the United States, Dr. Pope added, "The Vatican knows the thinking will be, if Cardinal Law's vulnerable to this kind of pressure, perhaps anybody could be." The bishops - John B. McCormack of Manchester, N.H., Robert J. Banks of Green Bay, Wis., Thomas V. Daily of Brooklyn and Alfred C. Hughes of New Orleans - all served as high-ranking officials under Cardinal Law after he became archbishop in 1984. They have been named as defendants in lawsuits filed by people claiming they were molested by priests. All have denied wrongdoing. Another former deputy, Bishop William F. Murphy of Rockville Center, N.Y., has also been named in lawsuits, but few of the documents refer to his role. Not surprisingly, experts said, Cardinal Law's deputies reflect his philosophy. Eugene Kennedy, a former priest and author of "The Unhealed Wound: The Church and Human Sexuality," said that like the cardinal, they were advocates of a paternalistic, top-down structure in the church, not one that fostered the more democratic, grass-roots model that was encouraged by the Second Vatican Council. "These fellows often carry out something they are asked to do, even though their own better judgment tells them that's not what they should do," said Mr. Kennedy, who tends to be liberal on church issues. In Boston, church documents released in the cases of the Rev. John J. Geoghan and the Rev. Paul R. Shanley include only one indication that any of Cardinal Law's top aides had voiced objections to a known sexual abuser being allowed to continue as a parish priest.  That bishop was John M. D'Arcy, who wrote to Cardinal Law in 1984, just after Father Geoghan was assigned to a new parish. Bishop D'Arcy raised concerns that Father Geoghan might cause more scandal in light of his "history of homosexual involvement with young boys." Bishop D'Arcy, who leads the Diocese of Fort Wayne/South Bend in Indiana, declined to discuss his time in Boston.  The documents portray other senior officials as compassionate and sometimes clubby toward priests and concerned about avoiding scandal and preserving secrecy.  Bishop John B. McCormack  The names that come up most often in court documents are Bishop McCormack, Bishop Banks and Bishop Daily. Bishop McCormack, 66, appears to have played a role in handling the cases of at least six priests, according to documents, interviews and newspaper reports. Now chairman of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops' ad hoc committee on sexual abuse, Bishop McCormack became a part of Cardinal Law's administration in 1985 when he was appointed secretary of ministerial personnel. He later was asked by Cardinal Law to handle allegations of sexual abuse against priests.  In one case, a young man who claimed he had been abused by the Rev. Ronald H. Paquin met with Father McCormack in 1990, at the urging of the Rev. Frederick E. Sweeney, pastor of the church where Father Paquin was assigned. In an interview, the young man, who asked not to be identified, said he told Father McCormack that Father Paquin had touched him inappropriately when he was 14, and that he knew of other boys Father Paquin had molested. "He showed no emotion, just sat there with his hands folded on his lap," the young man said of Father McCormack. Then, he said, Father McCormack asked, " `What do you want?' " The young man said it appeared that Father McCormack was offering him money, and he responded that all he wanted was for Father Paquin to be removed from parish work and hospitalized.  "I said, if he isn't removed from the church, I would go to the press or to prosecutors," the man said. "Then he clapped his hands together, and said, `Consider it done, boys.' " Father Paquin was removed from the parish and sent for treatment, but he was later installed as a hospital chaplain and lived in a rectory near his old parish. Ultimately, after Father Sweeney complained again, Father Paquin was sent to a home for priests. At least one other abuse complaint followed the meeting with Father McCormack, and the archdiocese later settled several lawsuits against Father Paquin, who admitted in an interview in January with The Boston Globe that he had molested boys.  A spokesman for Bishop McCormack, Patrick McGee, answered some questions about the Boston cases this week, but cut the interview short before he could be asked about the Paquin case.  The Shanley case provides the most extensive record of Bishop McCormack's involvement, and his notes and memorandums portray him as collegial to Father Shanley and slow to inform officials in other dioceses about the priest's background.  The record begins in 1985, when Father McCormack wrote to Father Shanley, then a priest in Newton, Mass., forwarding a complaint by a woman from Rochester, N.Y., about a speech in which Father Shanley had apparently spoken approvingly of sex between men and boys.  "Would you care to comment on the remarks she made," Father McCormack wrote. "You can either put it them in writing or we can get together some day about it."  Five years later, after Father Shanley was transferred to a parish in San Bernardino, Calif., Father McCormack became his principal contact in the archdiocese, promising, among other things, to help get him more money for living expenses.  In one letter, Father McCormack, who was a seminary classmate of Father Shanley, wrote sympathetically of "the loneliness that comes with leaving a parish where you and the parishioners have meant much to each other," and invoked Tennyson's words: "Better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all." In 1991, Father McCormack visited Father Shanley in Palm Springs, Calif., at a time when Father Shanley was apparently a co-owner of a gay resort hotel. Mr. McGee, the bishop's spokesman, said the visit was for official reasons, and he did not know if Father McCormack was aware of the hotel.  In a statement last Friday, Bishop McCormack said that he "did not know about any sexual misconduct with a minor by Paul Shanley until 1993," and that he responded by informing the San Bernardino diocese, which removed Father Shanley from the parish. Mr. McGee said that not all the documents released in the Shanley case last week had been in Father Shanley's file during Bishop McCormack's tenure, and that the bishop planned to review his time in Boston and respond further next week.  The documents do not specify what happened in 1993. But that same year a nun wrote Father McCormack about a young man's allegations that he had been forced to masturbate in front of Father Shanley. Documents suggest that Father McCormack had some idea about Father Shanley's problems earlier than that. In December 1990, he wrote to Bishop Hughes that Father Shanley "still appears not to be well," and "If he came back" from California, "I do not know what we would do with him."  The next year the archdiocese settled a lawsuit against Father Shanley, The Boston Globe has reported. And in December 1991, Father McCormack wrote another memorandum to Bishop Hughes saying, "It is clear to me that Paul Shanley is a sick person," and recommending against bringing him back to Boston.  Even after 1993, Father McCormack's handling of the Shanley case raises questions. In a 1994 letter to Father Shanley in San Diego, where he moved after being ousted from San Bernardino, Father McCormack mentioned that people who had accused Father Shanley of sexual abuse had asked where he was and if he was being supervised. Father McCormack said he had not informed the diocese of San Diego about Father Shanley.  "Anything I can do to help you, let me know," Father McCormack wrote in closing.  One document suggests that Father McCormack placed restrictions on Father Shanley at some point. A 1996 letter to Father Shanley from the Rev. Brian M. Flatley, then handling sexual abuse allegations for the archdiocese, referred to restrictions Father Shanley said Father McCormack had placed on him, though it is not clear when. The restrictions included not wearing clerical attire and celebrating Mass only in private. In his statement, Bishop McCormack defended his approach to Father Shanley, saying, "At all times, even though I was disturbed by what he had said and done, I treated him with the same pastoral respect that I do for all people to whom I minister. I feel I was firm while still at the same time kind."  Bishop Robert J. Banks  Bishop Banks, 74, was put in charge of administration for the archdiocese for several years until 1990, when he was made bishop of Green Bay. In an interview in Green Bay last week, he said the 12 major departments of the archdiocese reported to him, and documents show that he was involved in the Shanley case and the case of Father Geoghan, who has been convicted of indecent assault and accused of molesting nearly 200 children.  When Father Shanley was being transferred to California, Bishop Banks wrote to San Bernardino officials saying he was a priest "in good standing" who "has no problem that would be a concern to your diocese."  In the interview, Bishop Banks said he "did not know of any allegations" before writing that letter. He did not recall whether he had looked in Father Shanley's file before writing that letter, but if he had, he did not see any cause for concern.  In 1988, however, Bishop Banks mentioned in a memorandum that a patient in a psychiatric hospital where Father Shanley was chaplain accused the priest of "coming on to him" by graphically discussing sadomasochism. In the interview, Bishop Banks said Father Shanley had denied the allegation. "A patient in a mental hospital says the priest came on to him, and the priest denies it," Bishop Banks said. "What do you do?" Bishop Banks's role in the Geoghan case is more complex. In April 1989, Bishop Banks took notes from a conversation with one of Father Geoghan's doctors: "You better clip his wings before there is an explosion. You can't afford to have him in a parish." As a result of that conversation, Father Geoghan was sent for another round of treatment. But seven months later, after Father Geoghan was already back in the parish, Bishop Banks received a psychiatric evaluation from the treatment center that described Father Geoghan as "narcissistic and manipulative" and diagnosed him with "atypical pedophilia, in remission."  Bishop Banks wrote to the institute, saying he was "disappointed and disturbed by the report" because in earlier conversations with the doctors "I was assured that it would be all right to reassign Father Geoghan to pastoral ministry." The bishop asked for a letter from the center expressing "the assurance I was given orally about Father Geoghan's reassignment." He received one saying it was safe for the priest to return to ministry.  "I agonized over that one," Bishop Banks said last week. "Clearly, he seemed to me, he was a pedophile. I didn't think he could be cured. I wanted him out of parish work. I was shocked that the two highly respected psychiatrists who had him in residential treatment for several weeks said he had been cured, that he was one of their best patients, that it was all right to put him back in parish ministry. I said, `You put that in a letter.' "  Bishop Thomas V. Daily  Bishop Daily, 74, who was chancellor and vicar general of the archdiocese until he left in late 1984 to become bishop of Palm Beach, Fla., and then Brooklyn, was a pivotal figure in handling one of the most serious complaints about Father Geoghan. In 1982, two years after Father Geoghan had admitted abusing seven boys in a single family and been treated for pedophilia, members of that family met with Bishop Daily to complain that Father Geoghan had been seen with young boys at an ice cream parlor in their neighborhood. The bishop told the family he would "act responsibly," but he allowed Father Geoghan to go on a planned two-month sabbatical to Italy, then return to the same parish near the family the priest had already victimized. The family, the Dussourds, said that during their meeting Bishop Daily encouraged them to keep quiet about their accusations, something Bishop Daily acknowledged in a later deposition that he may have done. He also said in his deposition that when he placed Father Geoghan in the new parish, in 1981, he did not recall telling the parish's pastor about the complaints by the Dussourds. It was not until 1984, after one of the Dussourd relatives wrote to the new archbishop, Cardinal Law, complaining that Father Geoghan was still taking boys out at night, that the priest was removed from the parish. Bishop Daily's deposition makes it clear that he considered it important that public scandal be avoided, and his notes to Father Geoghan while he was in treatment were generally encouraging about him returning to parish ministry.  Last month, Bishop Daily issued a statement, saying that he profoundly regrets some of his decisions in Boston.  Bishop Alfred C. Hughes  The few documents that refer to Bishop Hughes's involvement in the Geoghan and Shanley cases do not indicate that he knew of specific problems, but suggest he might not have paid attention to revealing signals. For example, in late 1991, according to his testimony at the Geoghan criminal trial, when the archdiocese received a complaint that Father Geoghan was "proselytizing" among boys at a pool, Bishop Hughes, aware that Father Geoghan had been treated for pedophilia, told him not to return to the Boys and Girls Club, but Father Geoghan was allowed to continue being a priest. In a January statement, Bishop Hughes said: "There was no allegation about physical abuse" regarding Father Geoghan "brought to me during my tenure." In a newspaper column that same month he admitted that the Boston Archdiocese made mistakes in the Geoghan case. Bishop Hughes wrote, "The continued acceptance of John Geoghan for priestly assignment was a tragic error."

Copyright 2002 The New York Times Company | Privacy Information         

Bishop Agrees to Hand Over All Allegations


Bishop Agrees to Hand Over All Allegations
April 11, 2002


Prodded by prosecutors, Bishop Thomas V. Daily, head of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Brooklyn, said yesterday that he would give them the names of all priests in his
jurisdiction who had been accused of sexually violating
minors in the last 20 years. And shifting the diocese's
stance, he promised to funnel any future accusations
directly to prosecutors.

Bishop Daily had resisted handing over the information, a
step taken by bishops around the country as the priest sex
scandal has continued to fire the anger of Catholics and
the zeal of prosecutors. Cardinal Edward M. Egan of New
York handed over old cases last week and Bishop William
Murphy on Long Island did so on March 28.

"I am doing so as it represents the best way to cooperate
with the spirit of the law," said Bishop Daily in a news
release. The first names will go out Friday to the district
attorneys of Brooklyn and Queens, the two boroughs that
make up the Diocese of Brooklyn with its 1.6 million
Catholics. "We will cooperate with them in any
investigations they may wish to pursue."

Taking action against abusive priests is especially
sensitive for the bishop.

While a top official of the Boston archdiocese nearly 20
years ago, he played a role in allowing a serial molester,
the Rev. John J. Geoghan, to continue serving in parishes
despite complaints about the priest, court documents show.
Bishop Daily has apologized for not acting more forcefully.

The bishop's spokesman, Frank DeRosa, said that all new
allegations would be turned over immediately to the
district attorney.

In the past, charges were handled internally. The policy
goes beyond new guidelines issued by Cardinal Egan, who
established a special committee to decide whether to turn
over a particular case.

Nearly a month ago, the Brooklyn district attorney, Charles
J. Hynes, called publicly for cooperation from the diocese
after Bishop Daily had made it clear he would not volunteer
old case files.

On March 28, after a Holy Thursday Mass in honor of the
diocese's priests, the bishop was pressed by reporters
about Mr. Hynes's request. He pointed out that he had not
heard directly from the district attorney.

"No phone call, no letter, or anything like that," Bishop
Daily said. "I'll deal with it when it comes."

The direct contact finally came during a meeting on Tuesday between diocese officials and representatives of Mr. Hynes.

A meeting with officials from the office of the Queens
district attorney, Richard A. Brown, took place on Monday.

Yesterday, Mr. Hynes said that he was pleased by the
diocese's promise to deliver old cases as well as to
provide new allegations "without conditions." Mr. Brown
called the announcement a "positive and productive step."

The formal requests, coupled with promises of
confidentiality, contributed to the bishop's decision to
turn over the names, Mr. DeRosa said yesterday.

"He was concerned about the confidentiality question," Mr.
DeRosa said. "That's sort of pivotal."

The safety of children was the church's main concern,
Bishop Daily said in yesterday's statement, but he added,
"We are also concerned that there be no breach of the
confidentiality and privacy that many persons have sought
when making allegations to the diocese."

Church officials around the country have often stressed
that one reason they do not immediately turn over sex abuse charges to prosecutors is that they are compelled to
protect the confidentiality of the accuser as well as the

The accusers in old cases will be asked for their
permission before the diocese hands over their files, Mr.
DeRosa said.

But in future cases, the diocese will carry the charges
straight to prosecutors, regardless of whether the accusers
object, he said.

As in other dioceses, many questions remained about just
what information was being handed over and how significant it was. Mr. DeRosa said that prosecutors would receive a synopsis of a case and would be given further information if they asked for it.

Bishop Daily did not say how many cases were involved from the last 20 years, what the nature of the allegations were or when they were said to have occurred. Most of the abuse cases now emerging around the country occurred too long ago to prosecute because of statutes of limitation.

Nevertheless, gaining access to old case files could be
fruitful, prosecutors say. Even if some cases fall beyond
the statute of limitations, technical loopholes could be
found to allow prosecutors and the police to learn about
the presence of potential child molesters.

Bishop Daily has said that the number of accused priests is
"very low." At least five living priests who were attached
to the diocese or who have worked in it are known to have
been accused of sex abuse of minors. Two were convicted of crimes, two disciplined by the diocese and one was cleared.

Church to study sex abuse claims


Wednesday, 10 April, 2002, 12:59 GMT 13:59 UK
Church to study sex abuse claims

A senior Catholic clergyman in Northern Ireland has said the church will investigate allegations of child sex abuse by priests dating back more than 60 years.
It follows an emergency meeting at Maynooth when the church revealed it was establishing its own inquiry into how it dealt with such complaints.
The church's 30 bishops in the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland met on Monday to discuss their contribution to the Irish Government's inquiry into alleged abuse by priests, which is to be led by an Irish lawyer.
On Wednesday, the Auxiliary Bishop of Down and Connor, Bishop Donal McKeown, said guidelines would now be reviewed.
Bishop Donal McKeown: "Files going back 62 years will be investigated"     
He told the BBC: "What we are looking for now is not just to implement and to revise the guidelines, but to investigate all complaints over the past 62 years.
"And to publish a report on how they were handled, and to hold up hands up over any information that will come out that things were covered up or that the truth was not out."
The Archbishop of Armagh, Dr Sean Brady, has already said an independent audit will be held into the controversy surrounding the alleged abuse.
The terms and reference of the audit are still being drawn up.
Victims protest The bishops' meeting in Maynooth followed a demonstration by more than 150 people in Dublin at the weekend.
The protesters called for the resignation of Dublin Archbishop Cardinal Desmond Connell, who was celebrating a Mass to mark the birth of the founder of the Christian Brothers religious order in Ireland.
Many of the protesters said they had been abused by Christian Brothers.
Bishop Brendan Comiskey admitted he had not protected children      
Cardinal Connell refused to comment as he went into the Christian Brothers' bicentenary celebration at the Royal Dublin Society headquarters on Sunday.
But in his homily, he acknowledged many Christian Brothers had "betrayed a trust" and that "unthinkable harm" had been caused.
The Christian Brothers have had a strong link with Irish education for more than 60 years and ran many schools in the Irish Republic and some in Northern Ireland.
The latest controversy has followed allegations that a Catholic priest, Father Sean Fortune, who committed suicide three years ago, sexually abused children.
On Saturday, the Pope accepted the resignation of Dr Brendan Comiskey, the Bishop of Ferns in County Wexford.
Dr Comiskey resigned after criticism of how he handled the case of Father Fortune, following a BBC television documentary last month.
Dr Comiskey admitted he had not done enough to protect children in his County Wexford diocese.
The Ferns case has triggered fresh claims of clerical sex abuse incidents and a flood of anger in overwhelmingly Roman Catholic Ireland, where the Church's image has been severely damaged by a string of scandals in the last decade.
Pressure on the Catholic Church has also increased elsewhere in recent months, with a number of abuse allegations in the United States culminating in legal action against some of the most senior figures in the Church's hierarchy.

The cardinal must go


The cardinal must go

By Brian McGrory, 4/9/2002

Enough, cardinal, enough. Enough of the brazen disregard for the believers in your midst. Enough of the tens of thousands of dollars you're throwing at public relations companies. Enough of the self-centered hope that you can salvage your reputation before you ride off to retirement in Rome.

No longer are you part of the problem. No longer have you contributed to the problem. You are now, as one disgusting revelation after another tumbles out, the core of the problem. There is no criminal act committed by any pedophilic priest that's worse than your practice of repeatedly and knowingly putting children in harm's way.

And now there is no possibility of reform, no measure of organizational penance, no ability for the thousands of victims to reconcile the past until you are finally done and gone. So please, cardinal, for the sake of a city and the church that in many ways dominates it, pack up and get out of our town.

You should have done this two months ago. You should have done it after this paper made it stunningly clear for the world to see that you knowingly, insidiously transferred a predatory priest, John Geoghan, from one parish to another, endangering a new community of children.

It was obvious that you cared not for the flock as much as you cared for the shepherds, though your main concern, then and always, seems to be about yourself. Pass off the problem. Demand silence. Pay whatever it takes to lawyers and victims to keep the crimes out of the public eye.

Still, Geoghan was one priest, your treatment by no means excusable, but possibly aberrant. Since then, though, we're seeing a tawdry routine, with you at the front and center.

After Geoghan came word of the Rev. Joseph Birmingham, transferred from one place to another with full knowledge of his criminal ways. Then accusations broke of the Rev. Frederick Ryan molesting teenaged boys right in the chancery.

And most recently, yesterday's allegations - that you allowed a predatory priest to feed his habit of boys - were so graphic and emotional that reporters in the room were shedding tears. Do you have any idea what it takes to make a veteran reporter cry?

You knew the Rev. Paul Shanley was a criminal. He was there when that freak-show of a group, the North American Man-Boy Love Association, was founded. Yet you kept him in a Newton parish, then shipped him off to a California church with a letter of assurance and a heavy dose of relief, someone else's problem, no longer yours.

In a 1996 letter, you commended his ''impressive record.'' You said you were ''truly grateful.'' You wrote, ''For thirty years in assigned ministry you brought God's Word and His Love to His people and I know that that continues to be your goal despite some difficult limitations.''

Difficult limitations?

Now what? The problem in Boston isn't about selling off property to pay the victims. It's not yet about the church's failed call for celibacy and its dreadful treatment of women. For now, the core of the problem is you, and not until you've resigned or retired will this Catholic community make its first small steps toward recovery.

There are still priests out there who feed the hungry, who clothe the poor, who wash the sick, and who house the homeless. But even as they do God's work, they're relegated, for now, to a quiet world of unnecessary shame, tarnished by their association with a church led by someone as misguided as you.

You are the problem, cardinal. And for that reason, you will never be the solution. Every day you insist on hanging onto your job is another day of negative revelation, another day of heartbreak, another day of elusive reform.

Think of of someone other than yourself. Think of all the people who need a religion that is good, if not pure. And step aside in a Christian act toward a church you're no longer qualified to lead. Enough, cardinal. Enough.

Brian McGrory's can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

This story ran on page B1 of the Boston Globe on 4/9/2002.
© Copyright 2002 Globe Newspaper Company.

US Catholics in shock as abuse claims spread


April 09, 2002  
US Catholics in shock as abuse claims spread
From Katty Kay in Washington     
SIX New York priests have been suspended because of allegations of sexual abuse as the scandal engulfing the Roman Catholic Church in the United States spread from the pulpit to the prosecutor's office.  

The identities of the priests were kept secret, but they were asked to leave their duties and "are not to represent themselves as priests".  

They will not be allowed to say public Mass or perform weddings, confirmations or any other church ceremonies until their cases have been resolved.  

Since January at least 62 priests nationwide, including one bishop, have been suspended in cases of sexual abuse and criminal prosecutors are beginning to pursue the Catholic Church more aggressively than ever before.  

The Church has been widely criticised for trying to deal with abuse as an internal matter and for failing to disclose information about priests accused of abuse by parishioners or law enforcement agencies. As the scandal spreads and every day seems to bring fresh allegations, Catholics have been left bewildered.  

The Archdiocese of Boston, under pressure from local media, released documents yesterday showing that it had transferred a priest accused of raping a teenage boy to a California parish in the 1990s without warning anyone there of the allegation.  

In Ohio, Father Donald Rooney, a priest accused of molesting a teenage girl, shot himself dead last Thursday. The state's diocese has since received further allegations against him.  It was announced on Sunday that the Rev Thomas Sellentin, a Nebraska-based priest, had been dismissed after being accused of sexually abusing boys more than 30 years ago.  

The six men in New York were removed from their duties just days after the Archdiocese of New York was forced to hand over to legal authorities a list of all its priests who had been accused of sexually abusing children. That list contained 36 names and was given to the Government only after weeks of pressure from the authorities.  

The latest suspensions and the decision to hand over the longer list of accused priests marks a dramatic shift in the Catholic Church's approach to the abuse crisis. Cardinal Edward Egan of New York last month publicly refused to co-operate with prosecutor's demands to turn over all information about abuse cases.He was forced to change tack after a newspaper disclosed that the Cardinal himself had been involved in covering up for abusive priests by moving them to other parishes without telling either the police or parishioners about the allegations.  

The Catholic Church is still allowed in more than half America's states to deal with sexual abuse cases as an internal matter and is under no legal obligation to pass on allegations of abuse to civilian authorities.  

In all states, except California, elderly priests who committed sexual abuse in the 1960s and 1970s are protected to varying degrees by the statute of limitation.  Prosecutors are now increasingly trying to find new ways to interpret the law which would allow them to press charges against priests even when the statute of limitation appeared to have run out.  Despite the huge number of accusations, only one case is before the courts. Father Don Kimball, a priest who worked with young people and combined a love of rock music and massage with his church duties, is accused of raping a 14-year-old girl 25 years ago.  

Father Kimball, now 58, is on trial in California. Lawyers said that no other state would be able to try him because the alleged rape happened so long ago.Closing arguments in the trial are expected this week.    

Priest calls for end to celibacy

Priest calls for end to celibacy
He says sex abuse scandal shows need to rethink requirement
By JEFF COLE of the Journal Sentinel staff

A south side priest, the latest in the archdiocese to speak out about sex abuse problems in the Roman Catholic Church, used the pulpit Sunday to call for an end to celibacy as a requirement for the priesthood - remarks that led his congregation to give him a standing ovation.


The church has had some very sick attitudes about human sexuality. It has had some very unhealthy, some very negative attitudes about sexuality. Jesus did not put those attitudes into our community.

- Father Thomas Suriano pastor, Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic Church

Father Thomas Suriano, 63, pastor of Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic Church, also apologized from the altar to all the victims of sexual abuse by priests. He said it is time that the church be as open as possible about the issue of sexual abuse by priests. Suriano had made similar remarks in a homily during services on Saturday.

The problems stem from the church's attitude about human sexuality, Suriano said.

"The church has had some very sick attitudes about human sexuality," Suriano said. "It has had some very unhealthy, some very negative attitudes about sexuality. Jesus did not put those attitudes into our community."

The congregation listened quietly during most of Suriano's homily but twice broke into spontaneous standing ovations. At the end of the service, many of the parishioners hugged the priest and congratulated him for what he had said.

Among the people listening to Suriano was Sister Mary Howard Johnstone, a member of the five-member commission appointed by Archbishop Rembert Weakland to examine how the archdiocese has handled allegations of sexual abuse of minors by priests.

"I appreciated his message," Johnstone said. "He has named the bigger issue."

In addition to serving as a parish priest, Suriano has been a professor of Scripture at St. Francis Seminary's School of Pastoral Ministry.

Suriano started the service by telling the congregation he was going to discuss the issues surrounding recent revelations of priests who have sexually abused children.

"It is very difficult to talk about," he said. "It is just about impossible to deal with perfectly."

Requiring celibacy has stopped many believing, caring people from becoming priests, Suriano said.

"Are you aware in the United States today there are more priests over 90 than there are under 30?" Suriano said. "There are 433 over 90 and 290 under 30 years old.

Standing at the altar, Suriano spread his arms wide to indicate the entire membership in the Catholic church.

He then halved the distance between his hands, indicating Catholic women who are barred from becoming priests because of their gender. He then put his hands very close together, saying this represented the elimination of all of the men who might be willing to be priests but will not be because they do not want to be celibate.

"I am afraid the church is not always getting the best of the best," Suriano said. "If the pool is small enough, even if you get the very best (of that pool), they may not be good enough. I am embarrassed to say this."

Among those listening to the homily was Eugene Bleidorn, 86, who said he left the priesthood in 1970 because of his dissatisfaction with the way the church was governed. Nine months after he left the priesthood, Bleidorn married.

Suriano said he was told recently by some men in his congregation that the only thing preventing them from becoming priests is the requirement of celibacy.

The damage done by priests who have abused children has been horrific, Suriano said. Ending celibacy is one way to prevent that, he said, because the pool of candidates will increase.

"Now, I don't know how many times I have had someone tell me that celibacy does not cause pedophilia," Suriano said. "I know many pedophiles are married.

"But there is another implication we need to discuss about the celibacy policy. Celibacy does not cause pedophilia, but it does limit the pool of candidates who choose to be priests."

People with sexual dysfunction are sometimes drawn to the priesthood because of celibacy, he said.

Along with dealing with celibacy, the church has to look at how it governs itself, Suriano said.

"I pray through all this mess that there is a change in the functioning model of the church," Suriano said. "We know from the New Testament that the primary recipient of the Holy Spirit is the community."

If the Holy Spirit rests with the people, than decisions on the church should not be made an ocean away, Suriano said.

A seminary on the rack


April 05, 2002  
A seminary on the rack
by Martin Fletcher  

A Spanish seminary which has been training English priests for the past 400 years is threatened with closure because of dwindling numbers of recruits      
One hundred miles northwest of Madrid, in a city called Valladolid - once the Spanish empire's capital - stands an ancient and extraordinary English institution whose future is as precarious as its past is dramatic.  It is the Colegio de Los Ingleses - the English College - founded by Philip II in 1589, one year after the defeat of his mighty Armada, to pursue his war against post-Reformation England by other means. Its purpose was to train Englishmen as Catholic priests, then smuggle them home to preach the faith in a Protestant land where - if caught - they faced torture and execution. No fewer than 23 of its students met their death that way. Most were hanged, drawn and quartered. Six were subsequently made saints.  The college continued to train English priests throughout the Inquisition, the fall of the Spanish empire, occupation by Napoleon's troops during the Peninsular War, the Spanish Civil War, the Second World War and General Franco's dictatorship. It has amassed breathtaking treasures, including some of the world's oldest and rarest books. But after 413 years, it faces perhaps the biggest threat to its existence - an almost total dearth of students.  Barely a decade ago the college was full to capacity, with 30 or 40 young men training for the priesthood. In 1907 it boasted a soccer team that trounced Madrid Football Club, the Spanish champions and precursors of Real Madrid, 6-2. But today its 12 academic and domestic staff have just two young men training for the priesthood, and four others doing a nine-month preparatory course before returning to England. With one of the two finishing his six-year course this summer, next year could be even bleaker.  The college is hidden away behind austere brick walls and barred windows in the busy Calle Don Sancho in the heart of Valladolid, which has become an industrial hub, with the largest Renault factory outside France. It occupies its original 16th-century building, but few voices now echo in the broad, oak-beamed corridors and central quadrangle. The magnificent refectory, where Philip II once dined when he was the world's most powerful man, has been partitioned to hide the empty pews and tables. The 150-seat theatre - a more recent addition - has not been used for five years, and the sports hall is rented out.  "It's very sad," says Father Peter Dooling, the affable 60-year-old Yorkshireman who serves as rector. "We couldn't possibly go on with just two students, or even one, which is possible next year . . . we've never been this low, but every seminary will tell you that."  Indeed, a commission set up by England's Roman Catholic bishops is to report soon on the future of this and the six other seminaries, serving England and Wales. There is a real possibility that a couple will be closed. Father Peter refuses to believe that the English College could suffer such a fate, given its long and unique history, but he does accept that its role must change. It may, for the first time, have to accept foreign students, or offer post-ordination courses. After four centuries, he candidly admits, "the college is entering a new era, whatever that era is".  The English College was founded in an age of intense hostility and suspicion towards Catholics. Henry VIII had broken with Rome half a century earlier, and England saw papal plots around every corner. The Armada apart, Elizabeth I had executed the Duke of Norfolk, England's leading Catholic peer, in 1572. In 1587 she had executed her Catholic rival, Mary, Queen of Scots, for allegedly conspiring against her, and Guy Fawkes's Gunpowder Plot would follow in 1605.  But while the practice of Catholicism was banned, the faith was not entirely snuffed out. There were two seminaries for Englishmen in northern France, though the presence of English spies meant that their trainee priests had frequently been identified before they returned home. So, in 1589, six young Englishmen arrived on foot from France at Philip II's court in Vallalodid seeking to be trained for the priesthood. Initially they were treated as spies and thrown into prison. An English Jesuit, Robert Persons, finally persuaded Philip that they were genuine, and the monarch agreed to establish a seminary for the Englishmen financed by alms and run by Spanish Jesuits.  All students had to swear to return to England on completion of their training. The newly ordained priests were then smuggled home through Ireland or the Spanish Netherlands. There they travelled the country disguised as servants of sympathetic nobility and hiding in the concealed priest-holes of English manors.  The College's Corridor of Martyrs testifies to the bravery of those men, and the peril of their work. Hanging on the whitewashed walls are the portraits of 23 alumni who were executed at places such as Tyburn, Lancaster and Newcastle between 1595 and 1675, and the artists spared few details. The college's first martyr was Henry Walpole, who converted to Catholicism after being splashed with blood while watching another Catholic priest being hanged, drawn and quartered at Tyburn. Walpole went on to become the college's vice-rector. He was seized when he landed in England and tortured 14 times before being hanged at York. Prominent in the background of his portrait are a set of gallows and a man spreadeagled on the rack.  In addition to the six martyrs from the college who were later canonised, six were beatified and 11 venerated. Three other former students died in prison and William Weston, a former rector, died in exile after years of imprisonment. One alumnus whose portrait does not hang in the college is Titus Oates, re-putedly a spy sent from England in 1677 to infiltrate the college by posing as a student. He was rumbled and expelled after five months, but is believed to have taken a list of the students with him.  The students were more than the clerical equivalent of Special Forces, however. They were also men of learning and letters, as the college's astonishing libraries bear witness. The most impressive is called the Pigskin Library, because every one of the 2,883 ancient books that line its walls is bound in pigskin. Its treasures include a rare copy of The Nuremberg Chronicle, an account of the principal cities of the world that was published in 1493, just 43 years after Gutenberg invented the printing press.  The additional 6,765 volumes in the "Biblioteca" upstairs include not only priceless first editions, but also numerous books that were censored, either by the Inquisition itself or by college priests seeking to pre-empt the Inquisition's dreaded henchmen. Open them and you can actually run your fingers across whole passages crossed out in black ink by those religious zealots. John Speed's 1707 Historie of Great Britaine, for example, is only lightly censored until the chapters on Henry VIII, when the Inquisitors went berserk; some pages were so full of heresies that they were cut out altogether.  The college used to own a first-edition Shakespeare folio, published in 1618, from which the Inquisition had excised anti-papal references in the historical plays such as King John and Henry VIII. Unfortunately, it sold the book to Washington's Smithsonian Institution in the early 20th century for about £10,000. Today it would be worth tens of millions of pounds.  The exquisite college chapel contains, and is dedicated to, another treasure - Our Lady Vulnerata. This is a wooden statue of Mary that British sailors seized from Cadiz cathedral when they sacked the city in 1596. The desecrated statue was retrieved by the Count and Countess of Santa Gadea, and the college's students begged to be given it so that they could make amends for their compatriots' atrocities.  Four centuries later, the "Wounded Virgin" still stands above the altar, her nose cut off, her right cheek disfigured by the deep gouge of a sword, her arms mere stumps and, on her lap, the feet of the infant Jesus broken off at the ankles. The college's students and staff still perform an "act of reparation" before the statue every Wednesday evening.  The college's key role in keeping Catholicism alive during its darkest days in England does not guarantee its continued existence, of course. Father Peter acknowledges the intense pressure on England's bishops to send their increasingly rare recruits to struggling seminaries much closer to home.  "There's hardly a bishop in England and Wales who would not support this college, but the answer they give us is that they have no one to send us, and I believe them," he says.  When Father Peter lobbies the bishops on visits to England each year he argues that sending trainee priests to Valladolid broadens their horizons and makes them realise that they are part of a worldwide Church. He argues that the college has unsurpassed facilities, including a country retreat. "There are not many seminaries with a swimming pool and sauna," he laughs.  But he also argues - perhaps most tellingly - that the college's overwhelming sense of history, and the martyrs' inescapable presence, give young men entering the priesthood the sort of inspiration that they will desperately need in modern England. "You are on holy ground here," he says. "Great and good men have walked these corridors. By studying, here they built up the moral fibre to go back to England and face almost certain death.  "The students today are doing much the same thing, in the sense that they are preparing to take a very unpalatable message back to a largely unlistening society. These lads won't suffer martydom, but they will suffer rejection. They are going to suffer for what they believe in an unbelieving world.    

No consensus on what to do next as sex scandals multiply


Church in Crisis

No consensus on what to do next as sex scandals multiply

U.S. Catholics seeking a Holy Week respite from the sordid stories of clerical sexual abuse of minors got no relief. Instead, between Palm Sunday and Good Friday, additional allegations were leveled against priests across the country, and bishops came under heightened scrutiny for the manner in which they deal with the priestly predators and their victims.
"We need a plan of action," said Bishop Wilton Gregory, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops in an interview with USA Today. On that point -- the need for a comprehensive approach to a scandal that goes to the heart of episcopal legitimacy and lay morale -- Catholics of all stripes agreed. The bishops will take up the subject at their meeting in June.
But what precisely is on the table? Many see the scandal as a symptom of a deeper crisis requiring a full-scale reassessment of church practice and doctrine -- including such longstanding untouchable issues as priestly celibacy, the all-male priesthood and clerical authority.
Others look for a reassertion of leadership within current structures with an emphasis on priestly formation and straight talk in seminaries about the burdens and benefits of clerical chastity.
The bishops themselves face constraints on their collective ability to act, explained Msgr. Thomas Green, professor of canon law at The Catholic University of America. Through their conference, the U.S. bishops have authority over local bishops in approximately 40 non-doctrinal areas, such as establishing the age to receive the sacrament of confirmation. However, no such authority exists in church law granting the conference binding authority over its individual members -- diocesan bishops -- on matters related to the sexual abuse of minors.
The church's administrative structure is ill suited to dealing with a crisis of the current magnitude, argued Scott Appleby, director of the Cushwa Center for the Study of American Catholicism at the University of Notre Dame. "You have bishops who consider themselves to be autonomous, answering only to the pope, so they can take the principles they want from the national conference of bishops or they can leave them," he told "The Lehrer Newshour." Many such statements, principles and guidelines have been issued by the conference over the past decade.
"Then on the other side," continued Appleby, "the Vatican has been reluctant in the past to really give binding authority even on such matters that don't deal with doctrine or dogma, as this does not."
Said Appleby: "The Vatican has to get behind the national conference to implement transparent policies that are accountable on this question, and I think also on the financial issue of how settlements are made and how the resources of the church are spent."
Others see concerns about bureacracy and process as so much fiddling while the institution burns. "The bishops have got to find ways to exercise their authority differently," said Capuchin Fr. Michael Crosby of Milwaukee. "The whole paradigm is breaking down -- there are huge fissures in it," said Crosby, author of The Dysfunctional Church: Addiction and Codependency in the Family of Catholicism. Operating in a climate of fear and suspicion, said Crosby, there are many bishops "who don't dare say what they really think" about such issues as clerical authority, celibacy and the all-male priesthood. "Society won't allow it to continue," predicted Crosby.
Some bishops apparently are daring to say things that they would not have spoken publicly just weeks ago. After a Mass in Long Beach, Calif., Los Angeles Cardinal Roger Mahony said that discussion of married priesthood remains open. According to a report in the Los Angeles Times, the cardinal said, "I've never said that we can't discuss these things." He noted that Eastern rite Catholic priests can marry and "It works out fine."
Archbishop Rembert Weakland of Milwaukee wrote in a March 19 e-mail to priests, "Perhaps this will be the moment when the larger issue of priestly ministry in the church will be faced."
He also mentioned Eastern Orthodox priests who marry and noted that married Episcopal priests who convert to Catholicism have been ordained.
Top-down reforms may be necessary, said Boston College theology professor Lisa Sowle Cahill, but they are not sufficient. "Who are the people who should have authority over what a bishop should do?" she asked. A bottom-up approach -- through parish councils and lay-led diocesan oversight commissions -- is another alternative.
Those who argue that clerical sexual abuse is a symptom of an authoritarian church are incorrect, argues papal biographer George Weigel. "It is exactly the opposite."
The problem begins, and can be largely solved, he said, at its root: the seminary. "It seems clear to me that the reform of the seminaries needs to go further and deeper," said Weigel. Such an approach would deemphasize the theraputic -- discussions of chastity are not something "that should be left to the staff psychiatrist" -- and highlight conversion. "Men who truly believe that they are what the Catholic church teaches that they are -- icons of Jesus Christ in the world -- do not behave like this."
Beyond any discussion of solutions are the people in the pews, more than half of whom, according to a recent Zogby poll, disapprove of the way the bishops have managed revelations of clerical abuse. There is near unanimity on one issue: 83 percent of the 1,500 Catholics surveyed said that when they hear an allegation against a priest they tend to believe it.

Freelance writer Joe Feuerherd lives in Maryland.
National Catholic Reporter, April 5, 2002

Worker's warnings on priests led to her firing


Worker's warnings on priests led to her firing
By Stephen Kurkjian, Globe Staff,

ROLLA, Mo. - Last month's resignation of Palm Beach, Fla., Bishop Anthony J. O'Connell following accusations that he molested a Missouri seminarian did not surprise youth worker Donna Cox.
A decade ago, after O'Connell became a bishop, Cox complained about possible sexual misconduct at the seminary O'Connell ran for a quarter century.
But instead of acting on her complaints, which included six other priests, the chancellor of the Jefferson City Diocese swore Cox to secrecy - and then fired her after Cox expressed concern that nothing was being done.
No investigation was ever conducted, even though Cox said she passed on allegations involving two priests at the seminary for high school boys and four priests who served elsewhere, and raised questions about O'Connell's stewardship of the seminary.
In the intervening years, O'Connell was elevated to bishop of Palm Beach from a similar post in Knoxville, Tenn. His resignation brings to five the number of priests Cox identified for the diocese who were later removed from service after subsequent accusations of abuse.
The ensuing decade has brought change for Cox as well. Because of her brusque treatment by the diocese, she left the Catholic Church. She now belongs to a nondenominational church, and works with special needs students at the public high school in this city about 100 miles southwest of St. Louis.
Cox's story is a case study of a whistle-blower ignored, and scorned. But her treatment is far from unique. Other dioceses and archdioceses, including Boston's, often have reacted with hostility, indifference, or false promises of action when confronted with similar accusations, according to victims, attorneys, and people like Cox who went to church officials.
In Middleton, Mass., for example, parents of several students passed on to the Boston Archdiocese reports that youth worker Christopher Reardon may have been acting inappropriately with teenagers months before he was arrested; he later pleaded guilty to multiple counts of child molestation. Their complaints were never pursued. In Springfield, Mass., the Rev. Bruce Teague contended he was removed as pastor of his Amherst church by Bishop Thomas L. Dupre, leader of the diocese, after Teague reported to police that the Rev. Richard Lavigne, who had been convicted of child molestation, was hanging around the church. Teague said he had made the report to police only after the diocese had failed to respond to his warnings about Lavigne's presence around his church.
''In my 17 years of dealing with this problem, I've found that the common denominator among dioceses when faced with an allegation has been to maintain secrecy and avoid scandal,'' said the Rev. Thomas P. Doyle, a victims' advocate who coauthored a study of clergy sexual abuse for the US Conference of Catholic Bishops in 1985. ''Whenever an allegation was raised, the response was to ignore it, shuttle it aside, or coerce the victim into keeping silent.''
Sister Ethel-Marie Biri, current chancellor of the Jefferson City Diocese, said she could find no record of Cox's discussions with the diocese in 1991, or that the complaints were ever investigated. But she said she has no reason to doubt Cox's account.
''I think I would like to leave it with this: Most of the names that Donna Cox brought to us have been dealt with in other cases. They are no longer in active ministry,'' said Biri.
Randy H. Kollars, former head of the the diocese's Youth Ministry program, confirmed that Cox brought the allegations to the church's attention several months before she was fired.
Kollars said that in 1992, he was ordered by the chancellor at the time, Sister Mary Margaret Johanning, to stop contracting with Cox for youth work. Johanning was the diocesan official Cox alerted about the sexual misbehavior.
Cox said Johanning, who has since died, promised her after their initial meeting that the diocese would conduct a private investigation.
Cox recalled that Johanning even brought her in to discuss her suspicions with Jefferson City Bishop Michael F. McAuliffe. McAuliffe listened silently, she said, and when Cox told him, ''Go in peace,'' as he left, she said, he remarked: ''Hearing this, I don't know how I can.''
Biri said McAuliffe, now retired, does not recall meeting Cox.
When months went by without action, Cox confided in her parish priest. When he sought an explanation from the diocese, Cox said, she was immediately called by Johanning and upbraided, and then removed from her job.
''It was a great loss to the diocese and the youth ministry to lose Donna because she was such a gifted counselor,'' Kollars said. ''But there was no discussion of the matter. I was told not to use her any longer.''
It was during her work as a youth ministry counselor that Cox learned of the inappropriate behavior. Starting in the early 1980s, Cox led teenagers from the diocese in retreats, rallies, and confirmation classes. During those sessions, many of them met with Cox or other counselors to talk about personal problems.
''Too often, I would be told that they were being made to feel uncomfortable by a certain priest. Either it was being hugged for too long, or touched in the wrong place, or suggestive talk about sex or alcohol even,'' Cox said. ''After a while, I realized I was hearing the same [priests'] names.''
Separately, she discovered one of her sons had to fend off a priest's advances. Also, she said she continually heard complaints about improper advances on teenage boys at St. Thomas Aquinas Seminary in Hannibal, the high school run by O'Connell that trained youths intending to enter the priesthood.
One teenager told her his brother was raped by a priest at the seminary, while others told her they warded off advances from several priests there. Cox provided Johanning names of three former seminary priests: O'Connell, its rector from the mid-1960s to 1988, when he was named bishop of Knoxville; and the Revs. Manus P. Daly and John H. Fischer, who had moved on to parish posts. Daly and Fischer have been unavailable for comment.
The diocese could not sidestep another allegation that arose in 1995. Christopher Dixon, a former student at the seminary, informed the diocese that he had been sexually abused by O'Connell, Daly, and Fischer during the 1970s. A confidential settlement was soon reached between Dixon and the diocese on his complaints against all three men.
After Dixon went public with his story last month, O'Connell resigned, apologizing for his behavior and expressing regret to Dixon. Two other former seminary students since have filed separate lawsuits against O'Connell, alleging that he molested them while he was rector of St. Thomas Aquinas. Also in March, Daly was removed by Jefferson City Bishop John R. Gaydos. Fischer had been forced into retirement by the diocese in 1993, Biri said in an interview, after credible allegations of abuse involving children surfaced against him.
In addition, Cox said she told Johanning that students had complained about the conduct of two other priests, Stephen L. Faletti and Kevin P. Clohessy. Biri told the Globe that both had been removed from active priesthood in the mid-1990s after credible accusations emerged that both had molested children.
Neither Faletti, now retired, nor Clohessy, head of a local Red Cross chapter, could be reached for comment. Clohessy's brother, David, is a leading advocate for victims of clergy sexual abuse, having himself been abused by a priest during his boyhood.
No subsequent complaints have been lodged against a fifth priest named by Cox in 1991. As for the sixth, Cox said she only alleged that he was sexually active with adult males. Biri said that priest was sent to serve as a prison chaplain outside the diocese after a credible allegation of misconduct against him surfaced.
Cox wonders if other abuse might have been avoided if the diocese had investigated her accusations in 1991. ''If the diocese or chancellor had just said something about the problem back then, everyone would have been put on notice,'' Cox said. ''We would have all avoided a lot of heartache.''
Stephen Kurkjian can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..
This story ran on page A1 of the Boston Globe on 4/5/2002.
© Copyright 2002 Globe Newspaper Company.

A website dedicated to the scandal in Boston

Catholics: Church in Midst of A 'Crisis'

Catholics: Church in Midst of A 'Crisis'
Handling of Scandal Stirs Anger, but Poll Finds Strong Faith     
By Richard Morin and Alan Cooperman
Washington Post Staff Writers
Thursday, April 4, 2002; Page A01
A growing majority of Catholics are sharply critical of the way the Roman Catholic Church has handled instances of child abuse by priests and believe the scandal has deeply tarnished the church's reputation, according to a national survey by The Washington Post, ABC News and
The survey suggests that weeks of media reports about priests who are sexual predators have led many devout Catholics to wrestle with long-held beliefs and assumptions about their church and its leaders.
Most American Catholics now acknowledge what a majority of them had recently denied: Pedophilia is a serious problem in the priesthood. Seven in 10 Catholics said sexual abuse of children by priests is a "major problem that demands immediate attention," up from fewer than half in a similar survey in late February.
"You heard stories, but you never realized it was such a big problem," said Kate Hickey, 45, a college English teacher in Suffern, N.Y., where she attends Sacred Heart Catholic Church. "Now I think it is. First it was allegations; now it's a fact."
The poll's questions fell into three areas: the scandal's impact on the faith of individual Catholics, its impact on the church and how the church should respond. Broadly speaking, the results show no lessening of faith, despite damage to the church's reputation and a nearly unanimous rejection of past practices that Catholics say allowed sexual abuses to be concealed.
A total of 1,086 randomly selected adults were interviewed for the poll, including 503 self-identified Catholics. Seven out of 10 of the Catholics characterized the scandal as a "crisis" for the church.
Most Catholics disapproved of the way the church and its national leaders have responded to the widening scandal, though most absolved their parish priests from blame. A large majority said the church had worked harder to cover up instances of sexual abuse than to prevent them from occurring.
"That is the real tragedy: These situations have not been dealt with forthrightly, honestly and in a timely fashion," said Darren Burgess, 33, an attorney in Columbus, Ohio, who attends St. Brendan's Catholic Church. "It's a problem with the culture that the church has where it's all denial, hush-hush, the quieter the better."
At the same time, the survey found that the revelations of clerical misconduct have done little to shake the faith of an overwhelming majority of Catholics -- particularly those churchgoers who attend services every week.
Fewer than one in 10 Catholics said they've cut back on donations to their church. One in seven -- 14 percent -- of all Catholics said the revelations have caused them to re-examine their faith. Only 3 percent said they might leave the church over the scandal.
"It has affected my own view of the church, but it hasn't affected my faith," said Cheryl Melillo, 36, a homemaker who lives in North Haven, Conn., and attends Our Lady of Mount Carmel in nearby Hamden. "I am more mistrusting of the people between me and God. But my faith in God hasn't changed."
R. Scott Appleby, director of the Cushwa Center for the Study of American Catholicism at the University of Notre Dame, said the "silver lining" of the poll's findings is that "although people are upset by the scandal, there is a sense that the church is both bigger and smaller than this: bigger because the church belongs to the whole people of God, not just to the clergy . . . and smaller because they are satisfied with the church and their priests at the parish level."
But other experts said the results dovetail with many years of previous polling that has found growing numbers of Catholics turning away from the church's teachings on divorce, birth control, homosexuality and sex outside of marriage.
"An unexpected source -- pedophilia -- has become the locus for open struggle and unhappiness with the leadership," said Catholic University sociologist William D'Antonio. "The disagreement is not over the life, death and resurrection of Jesus -- the heart of Catholicism. The issues are democratic participation in the church, returning married priests to active ministry, the ordination of women and the church's teachings on sexuality and marriage."
Most Catholics surveyed said they believe the church is now working to prevent pedophilia instead of merely attempting to hide it from public view. Seven in 10 were at least somewhat confident that the church would be able to "solve the problem of sexual abuse of children by priests" -- a view far more likely to be expressed by more observant Catholics than those who went to church infrequently.
"They're trying to come out with it and solve this," said Bill Crawford, 69, a retiree living in Southhampton, N.J., who attends Mass weekly at St. Mary's of the Lakes in nearby Medford. "They've admitted to their wrongs, even though some of these charges are 25 years old. The church has been around a long time. They've gone though many battles. I don't believe this will bring them down."
The survey also found that accusations of sexual abuse of children by clergy members are not a problem just for the Catholic Church. Six percent of all Catholics said they were aware of instances of sexual misconduct in their parish -- but so did 6 percent of all non-Catholics.
The poll was conducted by telephone from March 25 to 28. Margin of sampling error for the overall results is plus or minus 4 percentage points and plus or minus 5 percentage points for Catholics. A similar poll was taken Feb. 19 by ABC News.
The difference in the results of the two polls appears to reflect the recent tide of accusations, admissions and resignations as the scandal has spread from Boston, where it began with one priest accused of molesting more than 130 children, to dioceses across the country.
Sixty-four percent of Catholics said the scandal has hurt the church's reputation, up from 51 percent in late February. Overall, about seven in 10 Americans believe the Catholic Church has been harmed by the revelations.
The survey found that 73 percent of all Catholics continue to hold a favorable view of the church. That's down from 88 percent in February. Among all Americans, 55 percent had a positive view of the church, an eight-point drop.
Two in three Catholics disapproved of the way the church has handled the scandal. Nearly half of all Catholics -- 45 percent -- said they "strongly" disapproved. Nearly six in 10 said the church was not doing enough to deal with the issue. An even larger majority were either "dissatisfied" (34 percent) or "angry" (36 percent) over the church's response.
Majorities of Catholics supported the way their parish priest and their bishop have handled the issue. Sixty percent said they would still "completely trust" their parish priest around children.
But many were more critical of national church leaders: 52 percent said they disapproved of the way the leadership has responded to the crisis, including about half of all Catholics who attend church every week.
"My priests and the bishop in our area are great, but the bishops in other areas have covered things up," said Jane Cornforth, 70, a retiree living in Fort Myers, Fla., who attends St. Andrews Catholic Church in Cape Coral. "They're mostly of the old school: Keep things quiet and under the table. But that's wrong these days. Nowadays you have to have all these things out in the open."
The survey also found that Catholics were clear about what should be done to help stop the problem of pedophile priests: End the secrecy and call the police.
Eight in 10 Catholics said the refusal of churches to report suspected child abuse to the police was a major contributor to the problem.
Three out of four Catholics also said the practice in some dioceses of quietly transferring suspected pedophile priests from parish to parish was a significant part of the problem -- and that it should stop.
An overwhelming majority of church members said parishioners should be informed when a local priest has been accused of sexually abusing a child. Seven in 10 said their diocese should release the names of priests who have been accused of abusing children.
Assistant director of polling Claudia Deane contributed to this report.
© 2002 The Washington Post Company

Secrets, Celibacy and the Church

Secrets, Celibacy and the Church


NEW ORLEANS ? The crisis facing the Catholic Church is a tragedy that has been decades in the making. It was to conceal sexual activity in a culture of celibacy that many cardinals and bishops resorted to deception and dishonesty, even about crimes committed by priests. Only recently has the church been forced by the public and the victims to acknowledge this record of abuse. The larger truth about the sexual revolution tearing at the church, however, has barely begun to unfold.

Celibacy does not cause pedophilia. But celibacy has given rise to a secretive culture in which sexual behavior in any form must be hidden. In such a context, homosexual activity is something to be ashamed of. Under Catholic teachings, it is considered a sin.

The problem, of course, is that pedophilia is not just a sin, it is a crime. But the same secrecy and shame that hides homosexuality in the church produces an atmosphere that has concealed acts of pedophilia. Just as bishops like Cardinal Bernard Law of Boston tolerated pedophiles in their midst, they have largely failed to reckon with the development of a complex culture of gay priests. One narrow strand of this culture consists of those priests who have molested teenage boys.

No reliable survey has been done to determine how many priests are homosexual. But a growing literature on the issue underscores the crisis. The priesthood is becoming a gay profession, the Rev. Donald B. Cozzens, a respected former seminary rector, wrote in his recent book "The Changing Face of the Priesthood." As the Rev. Andrew M. Greeley wrote in 1989: "Blatantly active homosexual priests are appointed, transferred and promoted . . . . National networks of active homosexual priests (many of them church administrators) are tolerated. Pedophiles are reassigned."

Of course, there is a distinction between celibate homosexual priests and sexually active gay priests. But the celibate homosexual priest is made to feel guilt over his sexual orientation because of the official teaching of the church that homosexuality is a "moral disorder." Last month the pope's spokesman, Joaquín Navarro-Valls, voiced his opinion that "people with these inclinations" should not be ordained.

It needn't have turned out this way. The crisis dates to the reform-minded Second Vatican Council of the early 1960's. As priests voiced misgivings about celibacy, the influential Jesuit theologian John Courtney Murray predicted the law would soon be changed. Instead, Pope Paul VI issued his 1967 encyclical upholding celibacy as the church's "brilliant jewel" ? psychologically and clerically.

Soon after, an exodus began. In the last four decades, the number of priests in the United States has dropped from 60,000 to 40,000 (with 7,000 retired), even as the Catholic population has grown to an all-time high of 63 million. Over the last three decades, an average of 1,200 men have left the priesthood annually, most of them to marry. The aging clerical culture has failed to foster a successor generation. Since Vatican II, seminary enrollment has dropped 75 percent.

In this drama of attrition, the proportion of gay priests rose. With the celibacy law restricting the pool of candidates, bishops grew desperate to attract unmarried men. The Catholic News Service, a division of the United States Catholic Conference, reported last month that the Vatican is concerned about "the negative effects of homosexuality within the priesthood." Yet it has taken no action.

The problem is the power structure. Obsessed with secrecy, the bishops have denied the implications of the changes in ecclesiastical culture. In 1992 I published a book on sexual abuse by priests, with a long section on the gay clergy. Much of my research was based on lawsuits filed by abuse victims. In scores of sworn depositions I read, the plaintiffs' legal strategy was clear: to show that a hierarchy that allows priests to break its own ecclesiastical rules would also shelter those who violated state criminal laws.

I interviewed several dozen gay priests across America. With assurances of anonymity (lest their bishops punish them for coming out of the closet), they promptly began discussing their sex lives. I asked why, if they could not practice celibacy, they didn't leave the priesthood. Most saw themselves as leading the church toward the reform of outdated moral teachings ? including celibacy.

Many Catholics believe that some of the church's rules are archaic and should be changed. Yet we also expect priests not to lead closeted lives of sexual activity.

Most liberal Catholics find it difficult to call attention to this situation for fear that criticism of any dimension of gay culture is homophobic. But the issue is hypocrisy, not homophobia. Conservative Catholics, meanwhile, should recognize that celibacy is a failure, practically and morally. They should also acknowledge that homophobia is immoral. Conservatives and liberals alike should acknowledge that sexual secrecy is destroying the church, and one way to save it would be to make celibacy optional.

The requirement of celibacy is not dogma; it is an ecclesiastical law that was adopted in the Middle Ages because Rome was worried that clerics' children would inherit church property and create dynasties. (Now the church is selling property to pay for the abuse scandal.) A history of monastics and desert ascetics provided a celibate spirituality. But the requirement could be changed by a stroke of the papal pen.

Pope John Paul II, so brilliant on the geopolitical stage, so visionary in fostering a dialogue with Jews, has shut off internal reform. His failure to confront the pathology of sexual secrecy is his papacy's deepest flaw.

Jason Berry is the author of "Lead Us Not Into Temptation: Catholic Priests and the Sexual Abuse of Children."

Copyright 2002 The New York Times Compa

Call for an African to be next pontiff


Call for an African to be next pontiff

Pope John Paul's chief theologian says successor should be black

John Hooper in Berlin and Philip Willan in Rome
Wednesday April 3, 2002
The Guardian

The prospect of a black Pope yesterday won backing from the most influential quarter when the current pontiff's chief theologian said he would like to see the next head of the Roman Catholic church come from Africa.
Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, who heads the Vatican's congregation for the doctrine of faith, said: "I personally feel that this would be a good sign for Christendom in its entirety." His comment was seen as backing for the candidacy of the Nigerian prelate Francis Arinze.
Cardinal Ratzinger's remarks, in an interview with the German daily Die Welt, were exceptional in more than one respect. It is highly unusual for anyone in the Vatican, let alone such a senior figure, to speculate openly on the papal succession. It is considered gross bad taste, implying as it does that the reigning pontiff's days are numbered.
Die Welt's interview, moreover, was published at a time of renewed and intense speculation about John Paul II's health. During Easter, the pontiff appeared at times to be barely able to carry out his official functions.
It is even more unusual for a figure of Cardinal Ratzinger's standing to express his preferences so blatantly. Asked if the next pope might come from Latin America or Africa, the Bavarian cardinal ignored Latin America completely.
"In the west, for all that people deny being racist, there are ever greater reservations with regard to the Third World," he said. "Yet in Africa, for example, we have truly great figures, at whom one can only marvel. They are fully of the stature needed for the job."
Cardinal Ratzinger is a hardline conservative who has kept an iron grip on the department in the Vatican charged with preserving doctrinal orthodoxy. Austen Ivereigh, executive editor of the English Catholic weekly the Tablet, said this might explain his preference for an African pontiff.
"The African bishops tend to be more conservative doctrinally and morally than the Latin American bishops. Some Latin American bishops are extremely conservative, but on the whole they are more concerned with issues like social justice. That is why the Vatican sees Africa as a great continent of hope."
Though there are several highly regarded African prelates, the only one with the experience considered necessary for the job is Cardinal Arinze, 69, the president of the pontifical council for inter-religious dialogue.
As the Roman Catholic church's "minister" for relations with other faiths, and in particular Islam, he has been at the leading edge of many of its most adventurous recent initiatives. In January, he secured Iran's participation in the "prayers for world peace" organised by the Pope in Assisi.
An outsider who is some times mentioned is Cardinal Christian Tumi, 71, of Cameroon. A respected member of Vatican bodies dealing with evangelisation and Catholic education, and a member of the pontifical council for culture, the archbishop of Douala is nevertheless considered to be insufficiently well-known in Rome to be among the favourites.
Vaticanologists attribute a greater chance of election to Latin Americans. "One of the major problems of the Catholic church today is to change its image from Europe-centric to global. Given that the majority of Catholics now live outside Europe, it is highly likely that the next Pope will come from another continent.
"It probably won't be from Africa though, but rather from Latin America," said Jacek Palasinski, a Polish Vaticanologist.
Among those spoken of as possible Latin American successors to John Paul are Dario Castrillon Hoyos, 72, the Colombian head of the powerful Vatican congregation for the clergy, Claudio Hummes, 67, the Franciscan archbishop of Sao Paolo in Brazil, Javier Errazuriz, 68, the archbishop of Santiago, Chile, and the relatively youthful Oscar Maradiaga, 59, the archbishop of Tegucigalpa in Honduras.

Bishop Comiskey announced his resignation in Wexford

Abuse victim calls for church inquiry

Bishop Comiskey announced his resignation in Wexford

A victim of the paedophile priest, the late Sean Fortune, has called on the Catholic Church to co-operate fully with any inquiry into the scandal.
The Bishop of Ferns in County Wexford, Brendan Comiskey, announced his resignation on Monday after admitting that he failed to deal adequately with the activities of Father Fortune.

The priest committed suicide in 1999 while on bail facing 29 charges of serious sexual assaults on young boys.

One of his victims said the scandal went to the very top of the church.

It would be sad if he was ultimately scapegoated in all this and the church failed to accept full responsibility

Colm O'Gorman  

"Brendan Comiskey is not alone in responsibility in this," said Colm O'Gorman.

"In this case complaints had been made to Cardinal O'Fiaich, to the Papal Nuncio and in a letter from the Papal Nuncio, he confirmed to local people that he had made the Holy Sea aware of their concerns about Sean Fortune.

"It is clear that complaints about this man had gone to the highest levels of the Catholic Church so there is a much wider responsibility than Brendan Comiskey.

"It would be sad if he was ultimately scapegoated in all this and the church failed to accept full responsibility."

Dr Comiskey had been under growing pressure to step down since the broadcasting of a BBC television documentary last month, about his handling of the case of Father Fortune.

The bishop said he had "done his best" to deal with the affair but "clearly that was not good enough".


He said he had found Fr Fortune "almost impossible to deal with".

After his death, it emerged the police in Northern Ireland had questioned him about child abuse allegations.

They related to complaints made by three children at a youth club during the time he worked at a south Belfast orphanage in the 1970s.

Dr Comiskey said he would travel to the Vatican later this week to formally hand in his resignation.

The bishop apologised to four men whose cases were featured in the documentary and to "all who have been abused by priests of the diocese".

Dr Comiskey said he had confronted Fr Fortune regularly, removed him from ministry, sought professional advice and "tried compassion and firmness".

'Deeply saddened'

"And yet I never managed to achieve any level of satisfactory outcome."

Dr Comiskey said he now recognised he was not the person to achieve unity and reconciliation between the diocese and the priest's victims.

Archbishop Sean Brady and Cardinal Desmond Connell of the Irish Episcopal Conference said they were "deeply saddened" by Dr Comiskey's resignation.

They condemned the "grave and repugnant evil" of child abuse by priests and said the affair had damaged the reputation of the church.

In a joint statement they said: "We realise that the whole Church in Ireland is suffering at this time from the scandal caused by this evil and the manner in which it was dealt with at times.

"It is a scandal which has evoked entirely justified outrage."

The purge of Boston


The purge of Boston
James Keenan

As American Catholics progress through Lent, they have been shaken to the roots by revelations about clerical sexual abuse. A priest looks at how they have reacted. James Keenan is Professor of Moral Theology at Weston Jesuit School of Theology.
HERE IN Boston, we have lived through an incredible Lent. The scandals are enough to place us all in sackcloth and ashes. If Lent cultivates a communal sense of shame, then this has been the most fertile Lent in my 50 years; no other disposition captures what we Catholics feel about our Church and its leadership in this revolting and disgraceful tragedy.
The stories never stop. As a noted lay leader in Boston said to me last Sunday as she arrived for the liturgy, "We're only on page five of a 500-page Russian novel". As I write, the radio has just reported three new incidents involving a bishop in another diocese, a high-ranking Boston priest and a local religious priest. How accurate these latest accusations are is certainly questionable, but for the most part they seem to be credible. Indeed, the New York Times captures the depth and breadth of this crisis in its lead editorial of 20 March: "The accounts that have come out of the Roman Catholic Church's sexual abuse scandal could hardly be more horrific - altar boys lured into bed by priests; children entrusted to the Church's care forced to perform oral sex."
Almost every day a priest is removed from his assignment: nationwide, more than 55 priests have been removed since January. The number of reported settlements against priests is astonishing: Boston alone settled for 89 priests over the past several decades. One diocese after another is being investigated by an aggressive press which recognises the enormity and universality of this crisis and that most of their Catholic readers want these stories brought to light. The Lenten move from darkness to light is clearly a necessary and painful one for all of us, but it's also an expensive one. The New York Times estimates that the Church's legal liability could run as high as $1 billion; Boston alone is paying $45 million in settlements to the victims of John Geoghan, the notorious defrocked priest accused of molesting scores of children.
Bringing these stories to light has taken a great effort from the press and from the victims. They have to struggle against the enormous legal and political shroud of secrecy that many bishops employed as a strategy for decades to thwart any awareness of the scope of these violent actions. In the light, nothing captures the ugliness of this tragedy - in which hundreds of children were raped or molested - but the testimony of the parents who entrusted their children to these priests. One mother, active in the Church along with her husband, regrets that she did not see what was happening earlier. "It tore a hole out of my heart", she said between sobs. "There were some things that, unfortunately, we missed."
No one is missing them now. Reading the many painful narratives of bishops suppressing these accusations, we are inevitably led to ask, why did members of the hierarchy mislead us all?
In trying to answer this question, the laity have clearly taken the lead. They recognise that this tragedy reflects church practices and not matters of faith. The moral theologian Lisa Sowle Cahill made this claim in her op-ed piece in the New York Times: "A Crisis of Clergy, Not of Faith". Her claim was substantiated by a poll of Boston Catholics which showed that 91 per cent of those interviewed said their faith was not diminished by these events. The laity in Boston identified the number one issue as the idea that the Church's image was more important than their children. Cahill saw here "the problem of a closed society largely insulated from the realities and values of ordinary people and in denial of many aspects of human sexuality".
As we approach Holy Week and Easter, we witness the laity's commitment to the Church by their leadership. As a letter writer to the New York Times commented the other day, the laity are no longer traumatised, but rather galvanised. They are writing and speaking about these events everywhere. Readers of The Tablet were treated to one eloquent testimony on 9 March by Professor Robert Kiely of Harvard who called on all Catholics to "repair the Church". His proposal echoes one earlier made by the noted Catholic writer James Carroll when he called for Catholics to "Take Back the Church" in the Boston Globe. Whether they write essays or letters calling for or opposing the cardinal's resignation, advocate reforms of structures that promote secrecy and isolate the Church's leadership from urgent concerns, or criticise or praise the media's own investigations, the laity's voice has never been more robust. For instance, as I write this I am reading news reports of specific and critical reactions from the president of a local college, the theology chairman of a major Boston-area university, and the director of a centre for the study of American Catholicism. All comment on the disappointingly brief remarks by the Pope in his Maundy Thursday letter to priests on penance issued on 21 March.
As they address the structural problems in church leadership today, the laity carefully differentiate their pastors' lives and service from the actions of the cardinal and his auxiliaries in reassigning known paedophiles. Kiely, for instance, acknowledges "the priests who struggle every day to keep their faith communities together". His respect for pastors is reinforced by the Boston Globe poll which reported that while 51 per cent of the 800 Catholics interviewed considered the cardinal's actions unfavourably, only 4 per cent viewed their pastors negatively. Thus, in an article in the Boston Globe, Professor Mary Jo Bane of Harvard called upon Catholics to withhold any financial contributions to the archdiocesan chancery, but insisted on maintaining - if not actually increasing - contributions to the local parish. This is a position not unlike the one taken by Cahill in her article. Not only in the press, but also in the parishes, pastors note that their parishioners frequently express compassion and concern for them.
Pastors, in turn, are responding in kind to their parishioners. During Lent, clergy have found that the Sunday readings have provided a context to examine the present crisis. As the laity heartily receive these sermons, pastors in neighbouring parishes become more confident about bringing their own perspectives to the fore. No doubt pastors around the country will have applied the Passion narrative to this tragic situation.
Similarly, pastors throughout the archdiocese have hosted "listening sessions" in their parishes, inviting the faithful to express their views on the present crisis. These have had an enormous impact, demonstrating that the deeper anger directed toward bishops comes not from progressive Catholics but from the many stalwart, elderly churchgoers who are simply fed up with the news. These pastoral actions in Boston have led to similar responses elsewhere. One New York pastor reported that fellow priests were under increasing pressure from their parishioners to respond to the crisis there.
We are witnessing a sea change here in the relationship between pastors and laity. The way I explain this change is by comparing it to an earlier shift. Until the 1950s, nurses in the United States identified themselves primarily with the physician, but then shifted their advocacy role to the patient. Similarly, pastors, especially on the east coast, have often held a fealty to their local ordinary that superseded all other loyalties. Now, however, the pastor is more clearly defined by his responsiveness to his parish.
For instance, here in Boston, three pastors formed a priests' forum. Originally conceived of as a support group, before the scandals broke, it consisted of 50 priests. It grew to 75 last month when they invited the Notre Dame theologian Fr Richard McBrien to address them. McBrien said that the group no longer sees itself as a support group but as "having a responsibility as a group of pastors to take some leadership, with or without the cardinal's support or involvement, in helping to address the issues which are tearing apart the Church in Boston and leaving lay people confused and embarrassed. If the priests hold back or defer to the cardinal, laity are going to conclude that the priests are part of the problem." Since that meeting, the group's membership has surpassed 100 and their three leaders are now widely recognised by priests and laity alike.
Like them, the cardinal himself held a listening session recently with over 3,000 members of parish councils and other leadership positions. The cardinal stated: "I stand before you recognising that the trust which many of you have had in me has been broken...because of decisions for which I was responsible, which I made...With all my heart, I am sorry for that, I apologise for that, and I will reflect on what this all means." Though he pledged himself to find the course to take us where we need to be, many called for him to resign as a sign of penitence and as a recognition of the need for new leadership.
The laity are insistent about church leadership being responsible and they are particularly impatient with any "buck-passing". When, for instance, Roman authorities tried to assert that this tragedy stems from the moral corruption of contemporary cultures, the laity demanded that the Church take the blame rather than casting it aside. Similarly, when the Vatican spokesman, Dr Navarro-Vals, tried to suggest that clergy who are gay are part of the problem, most dismissed the claim as evident scapegoating. Finally, when others suggest that this is only a local issue, the laity retort with cases from other dioceses in the United States as well as those from Australia, Canada, England, Ireland, Mexico, Poland, Spain and elsewhere. As one leader attending the cardinal's listening session remarked: "I would be very disappointed if this catastrophe in Boston ends like the catastrophes in Dallas and Chicago, where the structural elements of the Church at large are not addressed."
Lay leaders have focused their concern about the need for church reform by proposing a culture of accountability to counter-balance what they call "a culture of extreme clerical deference". In a manner of speaking, they want evident structures that assure the entire Church that our way of proceeding is ethical.
In proposing this culture of accountability, any attempt to preserve the bella figura of the hierarchy and its clergy is no longer seen as credible but damaging. The laity and their pastors perceive that the hierarchy's frequent cover-ups, using evasive silences and secrecy, affected the life of the Church in the world. They are particularly sensitive to self-serving efforts to maintain the Church's image at all costs. Appropriately, a 16-year-old high school student captured this general sentiment when he said: "By doing this, they're defeating the whole message of ‘Love one another' just so they won't look bad".
Similarly, the laity and their pastors are concerned about what Cahill calls "the weaknesses of a virtually all-male decision-making structure which puts a high priority on secrecy and image". They want discussions about the nature of the clergy.
Certainly, some of these discussions are about celibacy, married priests, women priests and gay priests. On the last topic, some specialists, such as Eugene Kennedy and Fr Donald Cozzens, author of The Changing Face of the Priesthood, have given ample commentary that a priest's sexual and emotional maturity and not his sexual orientation is their matter of concern. My own experience confirms this. Among the clergy, gay and straight men work more easily with one another and with the laity when they are mature and at ease with their own sexuality. Matters become strained, however, when seminarians and priests are inhibited by their own sexuality or attempt even to deny it altogether because prevailing church teachings so frequently criticise the life of gay people.
Discussion of this topic is almost overwhelmingly problematic. Priests know that they cannot publicly address the issue because those who do must inevitably acknowledge their own sexual orientation, a revelation that few bishops tolerate. Moreover, among gay and straight priests today, many fear that zero tolerance towards paedophilia could lead erroneously to zero tolerance towards gay priests. Such a move would be supported both by those who want to restore an illusory image of the priesthood and by those homosexual men afraid of their own sexuality and willing to deny it at any cost. Such a move would be a return to the self-deceptive days in which a man thought he could "leave his sexuality at the door" as he entered seminary life. Those days were days of delusion, harmful to the seminarians (both gay and straight) and harmful to the laity. As we go forward out of Lent, we will have to find a way of talking about gay priests who are good priests, mindful of the fact that our own church teachings about homosexuality have never acknowledged the gay person as a competent, caring professional.
This will not be an easy task, precisely because the clerical culture itself is such a pervasive reality. Donald Cozzens has said frequently on many national radio and television programmes that the clerical culture is one of the last remnants of medieval lifestyles and that it has inhibited the growth of the clergy. Moreover, as we have seen in this crisis and as Cozzens has noted, this clerical culture suppresses honest dialogue.
During this Lent we recognised the need to begin dismantling this culture. Priests like those in the forum have found ways of expressing in honest dialogue the problems they face, not only about sexuality, but also about community, integrity, moral courage and leadership. We have found, too, by talking honestly with our fellow clergy and with our parishioners, that honest dialogue lightens the darkness of clerical culture considerably. And, we have found, like the laity themselves, that working honestly and collaboratively, we can mature as a Church as well.
Nonetheless, our emerging Easter hope is tempered by realism. We know that there are other obstacles before us. Consider, for instance, another story from Boston. In a rather astonishing move, the archdiocesan newspaper, the Boston Pilot, published an editorial raising questions about celibacy, promising to do the next issue on women's ordination. In fact, nearly the entire issue was dedicated to the present crisis. Boston-area Catholics greeted the paper warmly and the editor, anticipating that response, brought out 100,000 copies - four times the normal weekly run. Many laity expressed a hope that Lent was coming to an end and that the light of the Resurrection after all this death would yield fresh discourse about the nature of the clergy and of leadership in the Church today. But later in the day, the cardinal commented that the editorial "unfortunately created confusion".
The cardinal's response struck me as odd. The days of worrying about upsetting the laity with newfangled ideas are over. This Lent has matured most of us rather abruptly. As our pastors are learning, the laity expect to be treated as adults. They expect responses to their questions. They expect to be brought into greater collaboration with the ordained on all levels of church governance.
As Boston's Catholics prepare on Easter Sunday to stand by the open tomb, we stand having been tested ourselves. We want more tolerance, less posturing, greater openness. We want change; but above all we want greater responsibility exercised by the leadership.
Many questions remain before us. How will we effectively prevent this from happening again? How will we minister to those who were victims? How will we overcome the enormous loss of authority to comment, as a Church, on moral matters, whether of life, sexuality, or justice? How will we convince others elsewhere that what is hidden must eventually be brought to the light? How will the laity, particularly women, be more clearly incorporated into church governance? How will we promote a culture of accountability and tolerance in the Church? How will we recognise a significant percentage of our clergy as gay when the hierarchy so resolutely suppresses any acknowledgment of a priest's sexual orientation? How will we learn to trust one another?
These questions are many, but after Palm Sunday and a week of following Jesus to his death on the Cross, we will find ourselves standing by the open tomb. We hope to find our bishops there with us.

Cardinal enters celibacy row

March 28, 2002  
Cardinal enters celibacy row
From Nicholas Wapshott in Washington     
Times Online

THE Roman Catholic doctrine that priests should be unmarried and celibate has been questioned by Cardinal Roger Mahony, the head of America's largest Roman Catholic community.  

The Cardinal, Archbishop of Orange and Los Angeles, is the most senior American Catholic to stray from the Vatican line, which was confirmed in a recent declaration by the Pope, who said that celibacy and marriage among priests were not to be discussed by members of the Church.  

The Cardinal added his voice to a growing number of senior Catholic clergymen discussing the issue in the light of the child sex scandal engulfing the Church in America. He welcomed an editorial in the newspaper Pilot Catholic suggesting that the "scandals have raised serious questions in the minds of the laity that simply will not disappear", including the Church's position on celibacy, with which, it said, most of America's 62 million Catholics disagreed.  

The article, in the official organ of the Boston archdiocese, was written by Monsignor Peter Conley, a close confidant of Cardinal Bernard Law, a Conservative on theological issues. Boston was the first diocese to be affected by the child abuse scandal after the conviction in January of Father John Geoghan for molesting a child. He is accused of abuse by 130 others over 30 years.  

Speaking after a Mass at Our Lady of Refuge church in Long Beach, California, Cardinal Mahony said: "I've never said that we can't discuss these things." He added that some Orthodox Catholic priests can marry, saying: "It works out fine."  

But Cardinal Mahony said that there was no correlation between the Church's current mandate of celibacy and child abuse. Sexual abusers, he said, were often married men.  

Cardinal Mahony told about 300 Catholic priests at the Mass that he would support victims of child sexual abuse by priests who now wanted to break confidentiality agreements, but said that he would not release the names of their abusers. The Cardinal said that in his 40 years as a priest he had never felt so devastated as he had by the child abuse scandal. A new standard of openness and frankness had been established on abuse by clergy, he said, and since July his diocese had adopted a policy of zero tolerance.  

Archbishop Rembert Weakland of Milwaukee, one of America's most liberal bishops, wrote last week: "Perhaps (the scandal) will be the moment when the larger issue of priestly ministry in the Church will be faced." He said he had become more open to the notion of married clergy since visiting Eastern Orthodox churches abroad. He added that the doctrine that vetoes marriage was diluted when the Pope allowed married Episcopal priests to convert to Catholicism, and that the example could encourage the Church to move ahead in unexpected ways.    

Polish Archbishop Resigns in Wake of Allegations

Polish Archbishop Resigns in Wake of Allegations
But Juliusz Paetz of Poznan Says He Is Innocent

VATICAN CITY, MARCH 28, 2002 ( John Paul II accepted the resignation of Archbishop Juliusz Paetz of Poznan, Poland, following a Vatican investigation and newspaper allegations that the prelate had sexually harassed priests and seminarians.

The Polish newspaper Rzeczpospolita published anonymous testimonies of individuals who accused Archbishop Paetz, 67, of sexual harassment. The Vatican announced Feb. 23 that investigations were under way.

"The Holy See has been informed of these circumstance and I can affirm that it is also following the subject with great attention and responsibility, in order to safeguard the rights of all," Vatican spokesman Joaquin Navarro-Valls said.

Archbishop Paetz has repeatedly stated his innocence.

In announcing his retirement, at the end of the Chrism Mass today in the Cathedral of Poznan, the archbishop told the faithful: "My generosity and spontaneity have been abused. My words, gestures and acts have been distorted."

The archbishop said the Holy See has not presented him with an "accusation." He added: "There has been no specific accusation, no interrogation."

The Pope appointed Auxiliary Bishop Stanislaw Gadecki, 52, of the Archdiocese of Gniezno, as the archbishop's successor.

Letter of John Paul II to Priests for Holy Thursday 2002


Dear Priests,

1. With deep emotion I am sending you this traditional Holy Thursday Letter, taking my seat beside you as it were at the table in the Upper Room at which the Lord Jesus celebrated with his Apostles the first Eucharist: a gift to the whole Church, a gift which, although veiled by sacramental signs, makes him "really, truly and substantially" present (Council of Trent: DS 1651) in every tabernacle throughout the world. Before this unique presence, the Church bows down in adoration: "Adoro te devote, latens Deitas"; she is unceasingly moved by the spiritual raptures of the Saints and, as the Bride, she assembles in an intimate outpouring of faith and love: "Ave, verum corpus natum de Maria Virgine".

To the gift of this singular presence, which brings him to us in his supreme sacrifice and makes him our bread, Jesus, in the Upper Room, associated a specific duty of the Apostles and their successors. From that time on, to be an apostle of Christ, as are the Bishops and the priests sharing in their mission, has involved being able to act in persona Christi Capitis. This happens above all whenever the sacrificial meal of the Body and the Blood of the Lord is celebrated. For then the priest as it were lends Christ his own face and voice: "Do this in memory of me" (Lk 22:19).

How marvellous is this vocation of ours, my dear Brother Priests! Truly we can repeat with the Psalmist: "What shall I render to the Lord for all his bounty to me? I will lift up the cup of salvation and call upon the name of the Lord" (Ps 116:12-13).

2. Joyfully meditating once again on this gift, I would like this year to speak to you about an aspect of our mission to which I called your attention last year at this same time. I believe that it warrants further reflection. I mean the mission which the Lord has given us to represent him not just in the Eucharistic Sacrifice but also in the Sacrament of Reconciliation.

Between the two sacraments there is a profound relationship. The Eucharist, the summit of the sacramental economy, is also its source: all the sacraments in a sense spring from the Eucharist and lead back to it. This is true in a special way of the sacrament charged with "mediating" the forgiveness of God, who welcomes the repentant sinner back into his embrace. It is true that as a re-enactment of Christ's Sacrifice, the Eucharist also serves to deliver us from sin. The Catechism of the Catholic Church reminds us: "The Eucharist cannot unite us to Christ without at the same time cleansing us from past sins and preserving us from future sins" (No. 1393). Nevertheless, in the economy of grace willed by Christ, this purifying power, while it directly cleanses from venial sins, only indirectly cleanses from mortal sins, which radically compromise the believer's relationship with God and his communion with the Church. "The Eucharist," the Catechism continues, "is not ordered to the forgiveness of mortal sins. That is proper to the Sacrament of Reconciliation. The Eucharist is properly the sacrament of those who are in full communion with the Church" (No. 1395).

In insisting on this truth, the Church in no way wishes to detract from the role of the Eucharist. Her intention is to grasp its significance in relation to the whole sacramental economy as instituted by God's saving wisdom. This, after all, is what Saint Paul clearly indicated when writing to the Corinthians: "Whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of profaning the body and blood of the Lord. Let a man examine himself, and so eat of the bread and drink of the cup. For any one who eats and drinks without discerning the body eats and drinks judgement upon himself" (1 Cor 11:27-29). In line with this admonition of Saint Paul is the principle which states that "anyone conscious of a grave sin must receive the Sacrament of Reconciliation before coming to communion" (Catechism of the Catholic Church, No. 1385).

3. My dear Brothers in the Priesthood: in recalling this truth, I feel a pressing need to urge you, as I did last year, to rediscover for yourselves and to help others to rediscover the beauty of the Sacrament of Reconciliation. In recent decades and for a variety of reasons, this sacrament has passed through something of a crisis. More than once I have drawn attention to this fact, even making it the theme of a gathering of the Synod of Bishops, whose reflections I then presented in the Apostolic Exhortation Reconciliatio et Paenitentia. On the other hand, I cannot fail to acknowledge with deep joy the positive signs which, in the Jubilee Year especially, have shown that this sacrament, when suitably presented and celebrated, can have a broad appeal, even among the young. Its appeal is enhanced by the need for personal contact, something that is becoming increasingly scarce in the hectic pace of today's technological society, but which for this very reason is increasingly experienced as a vital need. Certainly, this need can be met in various ways. But how can we fail to recognize that the Sacrament of Reconciliation ?- without confusing it with any of the various forms of psychological therapy ?- offers an extraordinarily rich response to this need? It does so by bringing the penitent into contact with the merciful heart of God through the friendly face of a brother.

Yes, great indeed is the wisdom of God, who by instituting this sacrament has made provision for a profound and unremitting need of the human heart. We are meant to be loving and enlightened interpreters of this wisdom though the personal contact we are called to have with so many brothers and sisters in the celebration of Penance. In this regard, I wish to repeat that the usual form of administering this sacrament is its individual celebration, and only in "cases of grave necessity" is it lawful to employ the communal form with general confession and absolution. The conditions required for this form of absolution are well known; but perhaps we should remember that for absolution to be valid the faithful must have the intention of subsequently confessing their grave sins individually (cf. Catechism of the Catholic Church, No. 1483).

4. With joy and trust let us rediscover this sacrament. Let us experience it above all for ourselves, as a deeply-felt need and as a grace which we constantly look for, in order to restore vigour and enthusiasm to our journey of holiness and to our ministry.

At the same time, let us make every effort to be true ministers of mercy. We know that in this sacrament, as in others, we are called to be agents of a grace which comes not from us but from on high and works by its own inner power. In other words -? and this is a great responsibility -? God counts on us, on our availability and fidelity, in order to work his wonders in human hearts. In the celebration of this sacrament, perhaps even more than in the others, it is important that the faithful have an intense experience of the face of Christ the Good Shepherd.

Allow me therefore to speak to you on this theme, imagining as it were all the places ? cathedrals, parishes, shrines or elsewhere -? in which you are daily engaged in administering this sacrament. Our minds turn to the pages of the Gospel which reveal most directly the merciful face of God. How can we fail to think of the moving meeting between the prodigal son and his forgiving Father? Or the image of the sheep which was lost and then found, and which the Shepherd joyfully lifts onto his shoulders? The Father's embrace and the Good Shepherd's joy must be visible in each one of us, dear Brothers, whenever a penitent asks us to become ministers of forgiveness.

In order to bring out certain specific aspects of the unique saving dialogue that is sacramental confession, I would like to use the "biblical icon" of the meeting between Jesus and Zacchaeus (cf. Lk 19:1-10). To me it seems that what takes place between Jesus and the "chief tax collector" of Jericho resembles in a number of ways the celebration of the sacrament of mercy. As we follow this brief but powerful story, we try to capture in Christ's demeanour and in his voice all those nuances of wisdom, both human and supernatural, which we too must strive to communicate if the sacrament is to be celebrated in the best possible way.

5. The story, as we know, presents the meeting between Jesus and Zacchaeus as if it happened by chance. Jesus enters Jericho and moves through the city accompanied by the crowd (cf. Lk 19:3). In climbing the sycamore tree, Zacchaeus seems prompted by curiosity alone. At times, God's meetings with man do appear to be merely fortuitous. But nothing that God does happens by chance. Surrounded by a wide variety of pastoral situations, we can sometimes lose heart and motivation because so many Christians pay too little attention to the sacramental life, and even when they do approach the sacraments, they often do so in a superficial way. Those who hear many confessions and see how people ordinarily approach the sacrament can be disconcerted by the way certain penitents come to confession without even a clear idea of what they want. Some come only because they feel the need to be listened to. Others because they want advice about something. Others have a psychological need to be released from burdensome feelings of guilt. Many, on the other hand, feel a real need to restore their relationship with God, but they confess without being really aware of the obligations which this entails. They may make a poor examination of conscience because they have little knowledge of the implications of a moral life inspired by the Gospel. Is there any confessor who has not had this experience?

This is precisely the case of Zacchaeus. Everything that happens to him is amazing. If there had not been, at a certain point, the "surprise" of Christ looking up at him, perhaps he would have remained a silent spectator of the Lord moving through the streets of Jericho.

Jesus would have passed by, not into, his life. Zacchaeus had no idea that the curiosity which had prompted him to do such an unusual thing was already the fruit of a mercy which had preceded him, attracted him and was about to change him in the depths of his heart.

Dear Priests, with so many of our penitents in mind, let us re-read Luke's magnificent account of how Christ behaved: "When Jesus came to the place, he looked up and said to him, 'Zacchaeus, make haste and come down; for I must stay at your house today'" (Lk 19:5).

Every encounter with someone wanting to go to confession, even when the request is somewhat superficial because it is poorly motivated and prepared, can become, through the surprising grace of God, that "place" near the sycamore tree where Christ looked up at Zacchaeus. How deeply Christ's gaze penetrated the Jericho publican's soul is impossible for us to judge. But we do know that that same gaze looks upon each of our penitents. In the Sacrament of Reconciliation we are agents of a supernatural encounter with laws of its own, an encounter which we have only to respect and facilitate. For Zacchaeus, it must have been an stunning experience to hear himself called by his name, a name which many of his townsmen spoke with contempt. Now he hears it spoken in a tone of tenderness, expressing not just trust but familiarity, insistent friendship. Yes, Jesus speaks to Zacchaeus like an old friend, forgotten maybe, but a friend who has nonetheless remained faithful, and who enters with the gentle force of affection into the life and into the home of his re-discovered friend: "Make haste and come down; for I must stay at your house today" (Lk 19:5).

6. Luke's account is remarkable for the tone of the language: everything is so personal, so tactful, so affectionate! Not only is the text filled with humanity; it suggests insistence, an urgency to which Jesus gives voice as the one offering the definitive revelation of God's mercy. He says: "I must stay at your house", or to translate even more literally: "I need to stay at your house" (Lk 19:5). Following the mysterious road map which the Father has laid out for him, Jesus runs into Zacchaeus along the way. He pauses near him as if the meeting had been planned from the beginning. Despite all the murmuring of human malice, the home of this sinner is about to become a place of revelation, the scene of a miracle of mercy. True, this will not happen if Zacchaeus does not free his heart from the ligatures of egoism and from his unjust and fraudulent ways. But mercy has already come to him as a gratuitous and overflowing gift.

Mercy has preceded him!

This is what happens in every sacramental encounter. We must not think that it is the sinner, through his own independent journey of conversion, who earns mercy. On the contrary, it is mercy that impels him along the path of conversion. Left to himself, man can do nothing and he deserves nothing. Before being man's journey to God, confession is God's arrival at a person's home.

In confession, therefore, we can find ourselves faced with all kinds of people. But of one thing we must be convinced: anticipating our invitation, and even before we speak the words of the sacrament, the brothers and sisters who seek our ministry have already been touched by a mercy that works from within. Please God, we shall know how to cooperate with the mercy that welcomes and the love that saves. This we can do by our words and our attitude as pastors who are concerned for each individual, skilful in sensing people's problems and in delicately accompanying them on their journey, and knowing how to help them to trust in God's goodness.

7. "I must stay at your house". Let us try to penetrate these words still more deeply. They are a proclamation. Before indicating a choice on the part of Christ, they proclaim the will of the Father. Jesus appears as someone with a precise mandate. There is a "law" which he too must observe: the will of the Father which he accomplishes with such love that it becomes his "food" (cf. Jn 4:34). The words which Jesus speaks to Zacchaeus are not just a means of establishing a relationship but the declaration of a plan drawn up by God.

The meeting unfolds against the background of the Word of God, which is one with the Word and the Face of Christ. It is here too that the encounter which is at the heart of the celebration of Penance must begin. How poor if everything were reduced to the skills of human communication! Awareness of the laws of human communication can help and should not be overlooked, but it is the Word of God which must sustain everything. That is why the rite of the sacrament provides for the proclamation of this Word to the penitent.

This is a detail that should not be underestimated, even if it is not always easy to implement. Confessors very often find it hard to communicate what the Word demands to those who have only a superficial knowledge of it. Obviously, the actual celebration of the Sacrament is not the best time to make up for the lack. This should be done with pastoral insight during the time of preparation, by offering basic pointers that allow penitents to measure themselves against the truth of the Gospel. In any event, the confessor should not fail to use the sacramental encounter to lead penitents to some grasp of the way in which God is mercifully reaching down to them, stretching out his hand, not to strike but to save.

Who can deny that the dominant culture of our time creates very real difficulties in this regard? Even mature Christians are often hindered by it in their efforts to live by God's commandments and follow the guidelines set out on the basis of the commandments by the Church's magisterium. This is the case with many issues in the area of sexual and family morality, bio-ethics and professional and social morality; but it is also true of problems regarding obligations in the area of religious practice and participation in the life of the Church. For this reason there is a need for a catechesis which the confessor cannot offer at the moment of celebrating the sacrament. It would be best to make this catechesis part of a deeper preparation for confession. With this in mind, penitential celebrations with community preparation and individual confession can be very helpful.

To clarify all of this, the "biblical icon" of Zacchaeus provides yet another important cue. In the sacrament, the penitent first meets not "the commandments of God" but, in Jesus, "the God of the commandments". To Zacchaeus, Jesus offers himself: "I must stay at your house". He himself is the gift that awaits Zacchaeus, and he is also "God's law" for Zacchaeus. When we see our encounter with Jesus as a gift, even the most demanding features of the law assume the "lightness" of grace, in line with that supernatural dynamic which prompted Saint Paul to say: "If you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law" (Gal 5:18). Every celebration of Penance should cause the soul of the penitent to leap with the same joy that Christ's words inspired in Zacchaeus, who "made haste and came down and received him joyfully" (Lk 19:6).

8. The availability and superabundance of mercy should not however obscure the fact that it is only the premise of salvation, which reaches fulfilment to the extent that it meets a response in the human being. In fact, the forgiveness granted in the Sacrament of Reconciliation is not some external action, a kind of legal "remission of the penalty", but a real encounter of the penitent with God, who restores the bond of friendship shattered by sin. The "truth" of this relationship requires that we welcome God's merciful embrace, overcoming all the resistance caused by sin.

This is what happens in the case of Zacchaeus. Aware that he is now being treated as a "son", he begins to think and act like a son, and this he shows in the way he rediscovers his brothers and sisters. Beneath the loving gaze of Christ, the heart of Zacchaeus warms to love of neighbour. From a feeling of isolation, which had led him to enrich himself without caring about what others had to suffer, he moves to an attitude of sharing. This is expressed in a genuine "division" of his wealth: "half of my goods to the poor". The injustice done to others by his fraudulent behaviour is atoned for by a fourfold restitution: "If I have defrauded any one of anything, I restore it fourfold" (Lk 19:8). And it is only at this point that the love of God achieves its purpose, and salvation is accomplished: "Today salvation has come to this house" (Lk 19:9).

Dear Priests, this journey of salvation, so clearly described in the story of Zacchaeus, should guide us and help us accomplish with wise pastoral balance our difficult work in the ministry of the confessional. It is a ministry always beset by two opposite extremes: severity and laxity. The first fails to take account of the early part of the story of Zacchaeus: mercy comes first, encouraging conversion and valuing even the slightest progress in love, because the Father wants to do the impossible to save the son who is lost: "The Son of Man came to seek and save the lost" (Lk 19:10).

The other of the two extremes, laxity, fails to take into account the fact that the fullness of salvation, not just offered but also accepted, the salvation which truly heals and restores, involves a genuine conversion to the demands of God's love. If Zacchaeus had welcomed the Lord into his home without coming to an attitude of openness to love and reparation for the harm done, without a firm commitment to living a new life, he would not have received in the depths of his heart the forgiveness which the Lord had offered him with such concern.

We must always be careful to maintain a proper balance in order to avoid falling into one or the other of these extremes. Severity crushes people and drives them away. Laxity is misleading and deceptive. The minister of pardon, who exemplifies for penitents the face of the Good Shepherd, must express in equal measure the mercy already present and at work and the pardon which brings healing and peace. It is on the basis of these principles that the priest is deputed, in dialogue with the penitent, to discern whether he or she is ready for sacramental absolution. Undoubtedly, the delicacy of this meeting with souls, at such a personal and sometimes difficult moment, demands the utmost discretion. Unless it appears otherwise, the priest must assume that, in confessing his or her sins, the penitent is genuinely sorry and is determined to make amends. This can be more readily assumed if there are suitable pastoral aids for sacramental Reconciliation, including a time of preparation for the sacrament, in order to help penitents come to a more mature and satisfactory sense of what it is that they are looking for. Clearly, when there is no sorrow and amendment, the confessor is obliged to tell the penitent that he or she is not yet ready for absolution. If absolution were given to those who actually say that they have no intention of making amends, the rite would become a mere fiction; indeed, it would look almost like magic, capable perhaps of creating the semblance of peace, but certainly not that deep peace of conscience which God's embrace guarantees.

9. In the light of what has been said, it is all the more evident why the personal encounter between confessor and penitent is the ordinary form of sacramental Reconciliation, while the practice of general absolution is only for exceptional circumstances. It is well known that the practice of the Church moved gradually to the private celebration of penance, after centuries in which public penance had been the dominant form. Not only did this development not change the substance of the sacrament ?- and how could it be otherwise! -? but it actually expressed this substance more clearly and made it more effective. This happened not without the aid of the Holy Spirit, who here too fulfilled the mission of leading the Church "into all truth" (Jn 16:13).

The ordinary form of Reconciliation not only expresses well the truth of divine mercy and the forgiveness which springs from it, but also sheds light on the truth of man in one of its most fundamental aspects. Although human beings live through a network of relationships and communities, the uniqueness of each person can never be lost in a shapeless mass. This explains the deep echo in our souls when we hear ourselves called by name. When we realize that we are known and accepted as we are, with our most individual traits, we feel truly alive. Pastoral practice needs to take this into greater account, in order to strike a wise balance between gatherings which emphasize the communion of the Church and other moments which attend to the needs of the individual. People ordinarily want to be recognized and looked after, and it is precisely this nearness to them that allows them to experience God's love more strongly.

Seen in these terms, the Sacrament of Reconciliation is one of the most effective instruments of personal growth. Here the Good Shepherd, through the presence and voice of the priest, approaches each man and woman, entering into a personal dialogue which involves listening, counsel, comfort and forgiveness. The love of God is such that it can focus upon each individual without overlooking the rest. All who receive sacramental absolution ought to be able to feel the warmth of this personal attention. They should experience the intensity of the fatherly embrace offered to the prodigal son: "His father ... embraced him and kissed him" (Lk 15:20). They should be able to hear that warm and friendly voice that spoke to the tax collector Zacchaeus, calling him by name to new life (cf. Lk 19:5).

10. Accordingly, confessors too need to be properly trained for the celebration of this Sacrament. It must be celebrated in such a way that even in its external form it has all the liturgical dignity indicated in the norms laid down in the Rite of Penance. This does not exclude the possibility ofadaptations for pastoral reasons, where the situation of the penitent truly calls for them, in light of the classical principle which holds that the suprema lex of the Church is the salus animarum. Let us make the wisdom of the Saints our guide. And let us move with courage in proposing confession to young people. We must be close to them, able to be with them as friends and fathers, confidants and confessors. They need to discover in us both of these roles, both dimensions.

While we remain firmly anchored in the discernment of the Church's magisterium, let us also make every effort to keep our theological training truly up-to-date, especially where emerging ethical issues are concerned. It can happen that in the face of complex contemporary ethical problems the faithful leave the confessional with somewhat confused ideas, especially if they find that confessors are not consistent in their judgments. The truth is that those who fulfil this delicate ministry in the name of God and of the Church have a specific duty not to promote and, even more so not to express in the confessional, personal opinions that do not correspond to what the Church teaches and professes. Likewise, a failure to speak the truth because of a misconceived sense of compassion should not be taken for love. We do not have a right to minimize matters of our own accord, even with the best of intentions. Our task is to be God's witnesses, to be spokesmen of a mercy that saves even when it shows itself as judgment on man's sin. "Not everyone who says to me, `Lord, Lord', shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven" (Mt 7:21).

11. Dear Priests! Know that I am especially close to you as you gather with your Bishops on this Holy Thursday of the year 2002. We have all experienced a new momentum in the Church at the dawn of the new millennium, in the sense of "starting afresh from Christ" (Novo Millennio Ineunte, 29 ff.). We had all hoped that this momentum might coincide with a new era of brotherhood and peace for all humanity. Instead we have seen more bloodshed. Once again we have been witnesses of wars. We are distressed by the tragedy of the divisions and hatreds which are devastating relations between peoples.

At this time too, as priests we are personally and profoundly afflicted by the sins of some of our brothers who have betrayed the grace of Ordination in succumbing even to the most grievous forms of the mysterium iniquitatis at work in the world. Grave scandal is caused, with the result that a dark shadow of suspicion is cast over all the other fine priests who perform their ministry with honesty and integrity and often with heroic self-sacrifice. As the Church shows her concern for the victims and strives to respond in truth and justice to each of these painful situations, all of us ?- conscious of human weakness, but trusting in the healing power of divine grace -? are called to embrace the "mysterium Crucis" and to commit ourselves more fully to the search for holiness. We must beg God in his Providence to prompt a whole-hearted reawakening of those ideals of total self-giving to Christ which are the very foundation of the priestly ministry.

It is precisely our faith in Christ which gives us the strength to look trustingly to the future. We know that the human heart has always been attracted to evil, and that man will be able to radiate peace and love to those around him only if he meets Christ and allows himself to be "overtaken" by him. As ministers of the Eucharist and of sacramental Reconciliation, we in particular have the task of communicating hope, goodness and peace to the world.

My wish is that you will live this most holy day in peace of heart, in profound communion among yourselves, with your Bishop and your communities, when we recall, with the institution of the Eucharist, our own "birth" as priests. With the words of Christ to the Apostles in the Upper Room after the Resurrection, and calling upon the Blessed Virgin Mary, Regina Apostolorum and Regina Pacis, I warmly embrace you all as brothers: Peace, peace to each and every one of you. Happy Easter!

From the Vatican, on 17 March, the Fifth Sunday of Lent, in the year 2002, the twenty-fourth of my Pontificate.


Pope Expresses Profound Sorrow Over Scandals Caused by Priests

Pope Expresses Profound Sorrow Over Scandals Caused by Priests
Justice and Truth Must Prevail, He States

VATICAN CITY, MARCH 21, 2002 ( In his Letter to Priests for Holy Thursday, John Paul II expresses his sorrow over the widely publicized scandals caused by priests.

"As priests, we are personally and profoundly afflicted by the sins of some of our brothers, who have betrayed the grace of Ordination in succumbing even to the most grievous forms of the 'mysterium iniquitatis' at work in the world," the Pontiff laments. Sex-abuse scandals involving priests, especially in the United States, have received wide media attention in recent months.

The Holy Father refers to the "grave scandal caused, with the result that a dark shadow of suspicion is cast over all the other fine priests who perform their ministry with honesty and integrity, and often with heroic self-sacrifice."

Faced with this situation, the Bishop of Rome has given a double response.

In the first place, "the Church shows her concern for the victims and strives to respond in truth and justice to each of these painful situations," John Paul II writes.

In the second place, the Pope appeals to priests, "conscious of human weakness, but trusting in the healing power of divine grace," to "embrace the 'mysterium Crucis' and to commit ourselves more fully to the search for holiness."

"We must beg God in his Providence to prompt a whole-hearted reawakening of those ideals of total self-giving to Christ which are the very foundation of the priestly ministry," the Pope continues.

John Paul II ends his letter by explaining that faith in Christ "gives us the strength to look trustingly to the future."

"We know that the human heart has always been attracted to evil, and that man will be able to radiate peace and love to those around him only if he meets Christ and allows himself to be 'overtaken' by him," the Holy Father emphasizes.

"As ministers of the Eucharist and of sacramental Reconciliation, we, in particular, have the task of communicating hope, goodness, and peace to the world," the Pope concludes.

Called Back to Service

From Germany

It has been confirmed today by a professor at the university of Koblenz, who is a priest, classmate of the married priest concerned. His name is Klaus Dornseifer (60), resigned priest and former president of a Labour Exchange (employment exchange) office in East Germany. He was a priest of the diocese of Muenster and now lives in the diocese of Aachen (Aix-la-Chapelle) at the Belgian and Luxemburg border. He recently received a letter (from the vicar general or perhaps even from the bishop, don't know) of Aachen that he is entitled to administer the sacraments, including the celebration of the eucharist, whenever there is a necessity, and if the parish community agrees to be served by a married priest. Dornseifer himself called his classmates (not my professor himself, but another one who contacted my professor) to tell him the most astonishing news. Dornseifer was not available on the phone the whole day. But he had told his classmate of another married priest of his diocese who got the same permission. His name is Karl-Heinz Driessen.

Younger Priests Happier, Less Progressive

Younger Priests Happier, Less Progressive
America Magazine

A new sociological study of U.S. Catholic priests has found that the views of younger priests in 2001 on many church issues were similar to those held by older priests In 1970. In 1970, for example, half the priests ages 35 and under thought the idea of a priest as a ³set a part² was a barrier to realizing true Christian community, but only 14 percent of over-65 priests considered it a barrier. In 2001, only 15 percent of the priests 35 and under held that view, a smaller percentage than any group of priests over 35.

The study found that priests as a whole were happier in 2001 than in 1970, that fewer were thinking of leaving the priesthood or thought they would marry if celibacy became optional. On the other hand, it found that priests in 2001 were more concerned about overwork and unrealistic demands by lay people-a function possibly of the fact that the Catholic population increased more than 30 percent during that time while &quot;the total number of nonretired priests declined 30 percent to 35 percent between 1970 and 200l.The new study was summarized in a 30-page report, Changing Commitments and Attitudes of Catholic Priests, 1970-2001, by Catholic University of America sociologist Dean Hoge and Jacqueline Wenger, a doctoral student.

When compared with their elders, younger priests today ³believe, more than older priests, that priests are ontologically different after ordination³ the report said. ³They are less prepared than older priests to invite resigned priests, married or not, back to active ministry. They are less in favor of making celibacy optional for diocesan priests. And they are less in favor of empowering lay ministers as parish leaders.... They are less critical of the Œpractices of governance at the international level in the church¹ and less bothered by the way Church authority is exercised.³

Church's wound stays unhealed

Church's wound stays unhealed
By Eugene Cullen Kennedy, Globe Staff, 3/10/2002

The infection of conflicted sexuality in the Roman
Catholic clergy, its festering long veiled like a
leper's sore, has now been publicly lanced. How,
people ask, could it have been left unattended for so long?
While church leaders say that the doctors never told
them how serious the condition was, and victims find
their voice and lawyers file their claims, the most
important question remains not only unanswered but
unasked: If sexual abuse of children is the tainted
surface symptom, what is the underlying wound?
We find both the healing question and the answer in
Wolfram von Eschenbach's version of Parzival, who sets
out to find and cure the Grail King. Like other mythic
figures, the king's wound is sexual in nature. He
sustained it on his search for the Holy Grail, the cup
of the Last Supper that represents Western emphasis on
the spirit.

Before becoming king, the Grail seeker from the West,
who symbolizes the spirit, encounters the Black Knight
riding out of the East, who represents nature. In a
clash, the future king slays the Knight of the East but
is wounded by a spear that passes through his genitals.
In vanquishing nature, spirit sustains a wound that
will not heal. His court members fear to speak of it
lest they say something that may endanger their places
of preferment.

Having imitated the silent courtiers on his first
visit, Parzival returns to ask the simple human
question that heals the king's wound: ''What is it that
ails you?'' Thus Parzival rends the court's cloak of
self-serving silence by speaking the plain truth that
so threatens its members.

Myths are the tales in which we store the truths of our
human condition, protected by poetry from the effects
of history. In this ''Parzival,'' we find the story of
the official Catholic Church in the aftermath of this
sex abuse crisis. The latter flows from the wound this
earthly church suffered when it lost sight of the
wholeness with which its founder, Jesus Christ, viewed
human beings.

The priest pedophilia crisis is but one symptom of the
unhealed wound that resulted from the official church's
strike at the unity of human personality. That blow
divided the person into two warring components: spirit
and nature, soul and body. Spirit and soul were good
while nature and body were evil. Human beings were made
to feel guilty for being human and sexual, and the
organizational church has controlled its people by
keeping that wound open and manipulating them through
the false guilt they feel for being human. This
official church, seeking to overpower nature, wounds
itself and its people whenever it blindly enters or
boldly distorts the most intimate area of their lives.
The members of the church's ecclesiastical court are
afraid to speak about this great sexual wound oozing
beneath their bureaucracy. Nor can they recognize, in
the sexual abuse of children, the same pattern of
behavior that some of them employ in their everyday
dealings with people.

The wound has, therefore, become systemic in the
officialdom of Catholicism. In the way some church
officials deal with dissidents, or those seeking
annulments of their marriages, for example, we observe
the same dynamics that are present when a priest
seduces a child. Both are exercises of power, both
insist that the other ''submit,'' both demean and
debase the other, the child by sexual assault, the
dissidents by an emasculation that renders them
impotent. Modern dissenters, such as theologians Hans
Kung and Charles Curran, and minister to gay Catholics,
Sister Jeannine Gramick, are forbidden to call
themselves Catholic or to teach, preach, write, and in
any way express themselves in church work.
In myriad ways, church officials have dominated women
for centuries, elevating them in the abstract, while
treating them as inferior in concrete daily life. Women
are demeaned when they are told that they cannot be
priests because they do not look like men and therefore
do not reflect Jesus, a classic but weak theological
argument to preserve the all-male priesthood. The
officials who behave this way are gratifying their own
displaced sexual need just as pedophile priests do,
rationalizing it so as not to face its essential truth.
This is a failure of the organizational church, not the
pastoral church. The church as a religious mystery, as
a family for believers, does not hold the divided view
of humanity that its officials do. The church as a
source of the sacraments embraces sinners, affirms
life, and encourages lovers. That is a different church
from the one still trying to please its wounded king by
silence and circumlocution.

This wound may be clearly seen. For this style of
sexually abusing the innocent that goes unnamed by
those powerful members of the church court who commit
it is the same one observed in every squalid seduction
of an innocent by a troubled priest who cannot name it
but asks for the same future silence about the
manipulation that has occurred.

Many good bishops hesitate to ask what ails the
official church that it has kept its silence and
demanded it of others for so long on such primitive use
of others. That is what is at the heart of the
confusion and uncertainty in so many chancery offices.
They cannot disentangle themselves from the officialdom
to which they have been asked to give, at a price they
never understood before, their unquestioning support.
What is it that ails this officialdom if not an asexual
bent that finds women unacceptable in the priesthood
because they are not men? What is it that ails it if
not an asexual disdain for human sexuality that
motivates such hostility to homosexuals that they are
branded as bearing an intrinsic disorder within

This problem cannot be settled by lawyers, new
policies, or promises that attention will be paid in
the future. A wound has been exposed to sunlight and
fresh air. The church, of which its officialdom is a
prominent but lesser part, is ever ready to face the
truth that it knows will make it free. What it needs
are churchmen as true as Parzival who will risk their
careers and save their souls by asking of the
bureaucratic church, What is it that ails you?
Eugene Cullen Kennedy, a psychologist and former
priest, is the author of ''The Unhealed Wound: The
Church and Human Sexuality

Bishop Conry on the shortage of priests

Letter to Parishes, Lent 2002
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Bishop of Arundel and Brighton    

In October I wrote to the diocese about the challenges facing us as a result of the growing shortage of priests and how this will have some effect on all of us: no parish will remain immune from the consequences.

Five years ago Canon Jim McConnon prepared a report about the situation. In that he predicted that this year there would be about 120 priests on active service in the diocese. If we take out the religious communities like Worth Abbey (where there are more than 20 priests) then Canon McConnon's predictions were very accurate. It is all the more disturbing, then, when he predicts that in the year 2020 there will be just 27 priests under the age of 75. That is how serious the picture is.

The purpose of this letter is to keep you informed of how things are moving. I have had meetings with priests in various areas and with some parishes. A number of points emerge from these meetings:

Each area will have to be treated differently to meet local needs;
In looking at the future of churches in the area, all factors will have to be taken into account, even down to the size of a church car park;
The demands that will be made of the priest will not be just or even primarily the provision of Sunday mass, but the daily ministry to a large area;
Existing parishes have shown a strong desire to survive as communities, but in order to do this they will need a considerable amount of training in the running of the community to enable it to continue fulfilling its mission;
Lay people will have to accept and be given a much greater responsibility for the future of existing communities;
The present Deanery boundaries might not be best suited to the shape of future parish clusters;
Where a particular parish might in the future still have a resident priest, it must be clear to people that he is not the parish priest of that place alone, but will have equal responsibility for a number of other communities;
Even where some radical changes have taken place already, these changes are by no means final;
The shortage of priests and increased demands on them will have its effect on chaplaincies to places like hospitals and schools;
The simple idea of substituting Eucharistic services for mass is not a good idea and will have to be examined carefully.
The idea is that most areas will have a draft plan ready for Advent this year and that this plan will be submitted to existing parishes for discussion and response. A final plan for the area should then be ready for Advent 2003. The plan should be for the situation envisaged for 2010, when each Deanery will have approximately SIX priests. There seems no point altering plans every year as the shortage of priests increases. This will mean that at the beginning the plans might seem unnecessarily extravagant and harsh, but we must be used to the idea of a reduced priestly ministry when it is finally forced upon us.

The picture in eight or nine years will all be very different, but we need to take steps now to ensure that we are well prepared for it. It is an exciting challenge and the first responses to that challenge have been of enthusiasm and determination.

We must pray for the guidance of the Holy Sprit in all of this and be confident that the Lord is calling us to be his Church in a way that is different from what we are used to. But it is his Church, not ours, and he will not let us fail.

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Bishop of Arundel and Brighton


Letter to Parishes, Lent 2002
©, Diocese of Arundel & Brighton, 2002
Created: 27/2/2002 Last Updated: 27/2/2002
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Abuse scandals strain an already crumbling institution

Abuse scandals strain an already crumbling institution  
National Catholic Reporter

One must visit the 19th century to understand the problems that have been visited on Boston's Cardinal Bernard Law at the beginning of this one. The great god Brahmin ruled complacently: "No Irish Need Apply" signs hung everywhere, and Henry James, so enamored of the Italians in Florence and Rome, was appalled that they were moving into Boston. Catholic priests mediated everything for their immigrant flocks, from paying the rent to organizing unions and filling out their citizenship papers. The people paid them back in the small but true coins of trust, admiration and a protectiveness that gave exempt status to priests in everything from parking tickets to personal foibles. These immigrants, whose women waited on the tables of the wealthy as their husbands patrolled their streets, took great pride in their archbishop's living in a mansion as big as any in Back Bay. The cold shadow side of that old respect for priests has fallen now on Law, who is being pilloried for allegedly shifting a known pedophile priest, John Geoghan, from parish to parish with no warning label attached, making new and trusting victims available to him in a succession of communities. The Boston Globe broke this story and, describing the cardinal on Jan. 29 as, "stripped of moral authority," called for his resignation. Thou art a priest forever Law was ordained a priest in 1961, a year before John Geoghan. The general culture, and that of the clergy within it, seemed intact. Hindsight allows us to see that both were actually in extremis. Vatican Council II convened in October 1962, to embark on reforms whose transformation of the "changeless" Catholic culture was symbolized by the end of worship in Latin, the departure of many priests to marry, and a rapid decline in the number of seminarians. A year later the assassination of a president in the streets of Dallas set violence and protest loose in assaults on every symbol and institution of authority. The flag flaked into ashes in the flames of protest against the Vietnam War, and America's vision blurred at the rise of a ragged counterculture ethic, a sexual revolution, generational estrangement, police called "pigs" and a president forced out of office. John Geoghan was a marginal candidatefor the priesthood whose intellectual ability was doubted by one rector who also noted his "very pronounced immaturity." His seminary record is moth-eaten with leaves of absence, illnesses and a two-year interval at Holy Cross College. Described by a priest uncle at one point as "nervous" and "depressed," he is remembered by classmates as slight, soft and immature. As with many similar candidates, he needed the support and control of a stable general culture, and the Catholic culture within it, to maintain his adjustment. When these pillars crumbled, his ability to cope vanished in the debris cloud of the collapsing temple. The archbishop of Boston in 1962 was the plainspoken populist Cardinal Richard Cushing who gave up attending Vatican Council II, claiming that he could not understand the Latin. He may have sensed a threat to the clerical world in which he had risen to power as he gradually withdrew from his once dominant role, retiring in 1970, bewildered by the changes symbolized by a strike of his own seminarians. He was perhaps the last of a generation of public figures inside and outside the church whose personal problems -- in his case, a serious, sometimes public, drinking difficulty -- were covered up by a benign media conspiracy. Cushing was Geoghan's superior during Geoghan's first eight years in the priesthood. In America at large, the Titanic of professional privilege was on course for the iceberg but, at that time, as with Cushing, its first-class passengers were treated with a long-since-vanished respect and courtesy. The prevailing general cultural practice was to allow the alcoholic or sexually compromised congressman, judge, surgeon or even movie star to get help, often at a discreet private institution, and be returned to work without publicity about their failings. Beneath the wreckage A counterpoint tragedy of that lost and gone time involved the victims -- who were left largely voiceless and invisible -- of the sins, failures or indiscretions of the professional classes. Victims were at times intimidated, as female rape victims were routinely, by suggestions that they played a role in the incident in question, and, with the worldly wise complicity of the culture, they were often urged to keep quiet and go on with their lives. In a variant of the hoary philosophical question, does the felled tree make a sound if there is nobody in the forest to hear it, did the victims exist if nobody listened for their cries? Victims were found huddled where they had been hidden, in the catacombs beneath the wreckage of the institutional culture. Bishops and religious superiors had subscribed to that culture's ethic of reflexively supporting its privileged and professional members. They accepted this baptized version of the caste system as in the nature of things. Church leaders at every level were conditioned to believe that, by virtue of their office, their own words and actions incarnated the will of God. Their subjects were trained to hear God's voice in that of the bishop or the abbot and to forsake their own feelings and judgment if they conflicted with those of the superior class. To this day, many bishops firmly believe that their ordination grants them a share of the infallibility attributed to the pope. These conditions meant, in effect, that superiors became, by their appointment, agents of the divine will who could never make a mistake, and no layperson or member of the lower clergy could contest their decisions. Seminarians, in turn, were prepared to serve in this culture by accepting the seminary rule, a book of regulations, as God's will for them. The psychological bonds thus formed strongly reinforced the general Catholic culture in whose waning days both Bernard Law and John Geoghan were ordained priests. This was the Lacordaire era of the priesthood, exalted on thousands of holy cards in that celebrated 19th-century French preacher's romanticized description of its singular and sacred nature. The calling to the priesthood separated a young man from his peers and invested him with automatic respect and honor. Those who left the seminary were considered, along with those who later left the priesthood, to be failures, "deserters," as the prince of melancholy, Pope Paul VI once put it, "spoiled priests," as women said shaking their heads as they chatted after morning Mass. Because they wanted to marry, these men were judged to have given in to the flesh and to be incapable of the self-discipline and virtue of those who persevered until ordination. The latter were endowed with a presumed but at times illusory virtue. All priests were considered chaste, they were celibate, they were "pure" and had a "higher" calling than their departed brothers who were left with rue in their hearts for leaving the seminary for a lesser life. Or, as the late Cardinal John Krol, in a phrase that captures the vulgar triumphalism of the day, described resigned priests when the study of the priesthood commissioned by the bishops was released in 1971, "They want to change their power over the Body of Christ for power over the body of a woman." Beneath this enormous cover and support, many candidates for the priesthood were quite ordinary persons as they entered time-locked seminaries or novitiates that froze their immaturity in place. This faux innocence was curiously rewarded rather than challenged during their years of highly controlled training. Innocent of knowledge of themselves, none of them consciously chose the priesthood in order to find trustworthy positions from which to prey sexually on the young. Significant numbers of them, however, passed through the seminary in a state of psychological suspended animation that was sustained by the external supports of the overlapping clerical and general cultures that invested them with the idealized masculinity of actors, such as Spencer Tracy and Gregory Peck, who played them in the movies. Many of the candidates, destined to become and to cause problems of sexual abuse later, chose celibacy without conflict or hesitation because their own sexual identities remained undeveloped and whispered inaudibly, if at all, inside them. They were good boys, the more charming for their untested innocence, who only began to grow internally after leaving the isolated seminary for the world of people. Only then did many of them, to their bewilderment and bedevilment, experience the rushes and longings of long-stalled erotic needs. Psychological mirror Celibacy was not a problem, for neither before or after ordination were they attracted to an adult relationship with a woman in marriage. Only gradually did they find themselves seeking unnamed sexual release in relationships with children. This choice of children reflected their own lack of maturity, their own groping for something they did not understand, found difficult to control, and whose significance they could not comprehend. They found their psychological selves mirrored in these children, so innocent, so trusting, so unaware of what was happening to them. Here, in a tragic shadow world of gospel and priesthood, were found the fields ripe for the harvest by men honored and protected because they were numbered among the laborers who were said to be few. The victims and their families, following the prevailing cultural practice, were to put this out of their minds, never talk of it to anyone. After all, you don't want to hurt Father, do you? Keep this to yourself, in the mantra of that culture's ultimate undoing, for the good of the church. Bishops believed that the good of the church justified denial, delay and evasion in managing the problems of priests. Bishops are chosen, as generals are, to maintain the institution against the assaults of history. In the turmoil of adjustment that followed Vatican II, thousands of priests and religious nuns and brothers sought dispensations in order to marry. The number of candidates to replace them dropped sharply, and soon bishops were faced with managing a church that was growing rapidly with a clergy declining at what seemed an even faster rate. In the last third of the 20th century, bishops inherited a greatly changed Catholic and clerical culture. The glory days were long gone. Keeping even marginally adjusted priests functioning became an unexpected imperative for them. America's bishops, therefore, decided not to follow up on the multidisciplinary study of the priesthood that they commissioned and whose reports, in 1971, identified significant weaknesses and emotional problems in certain groups of priests. Like their counterparts in business and government, many bishops doubted the usefulness of psychological assessment. To this they added their own belief, common in the Catholic subculture, that the call to be a priest was so sacred as to be beyond any measurement or evaluation. Many of them expected that the old days of plentiful candidates for seminaries would return, that everything would eventually "come back." Bishops, like other institutional leaders, kept on doing what they had always done, the best they could with fewer priests and seminarians, and, confident of divine guidance, were not inclined, despite evidence about Catholics breaking out of their own culture to become part of the general culture, to examine subtle questions about the transformations of Catholics or the priesthood. Make do with the troops at hand was the order of the day and recruit priests from places as familiar as Ireland and as far away as India. Keep faltering clergy on life-support, get them help to carry on, and send the more serious cases for treatment to private, campus-like hospitals such as Baltimore's Seton Psychiatric Institute. The unquestioned goal was to rehabilitate the priest so that he could be returned to parish work. The idea that a man should be forced out of the priesthood was, at that time, even in a changing Catholic culture, virtually unthinkable. All the difficulties had arisen, some traditionalists urged, because these priests had not prayed enough. Put aside the psychology, trust God, and prayer would make all things right again. An ailing culture was treating itself and inadvertently nursing its worst problem at the same time. Going Geoghan's way In this shifting universe, John Geoghan served as other problem priests had before him, with timeouts for periods of treatment and rehabilitation when necessary and with kindly support so that they could get back to their identifying work. Professionals still got a pass in the general culture and priests certainly got one in the Catholic subculture. Very scanty records were kept about impaired professionals, and none was kept for the first 18 years of his priesthood. John Geoghan's history -- and his official treatment -- do not seem as singular or unusual when viewed in the context of this problematic cultural background. His first dozen years as a priest resemble those of that substantial minority of priests whose immaturity was not removed by the imposition of the bishop's hands at ordination. His work history sounds like a railroad timetable out of "Our Town" as he was moved from Saugus to Concord to Hingham, Mass., always trailing a cloud of gossip about "boys in his room" or "fooling around" with them in questionable ways. As regularly as a whiskey priest being signed periodically into the sanitarium, Geoghan was sent for treatment, including time at the Seton Psychiatric Institute. Then, and always with his doctors' approval, he was permitted to go back to work. The doctors, of course, were part of the general culture of privilege and often part of the Catholic give-Father-a-break subculture as well. Cushing's successor, Cardinal Humberto Medeiros, followed the traditional game plan in managing Geoghan and other problem priests, getting him help and getting him back to work. The timetable adds stops at Jamaica Plain and Dorchester, Mass. Geoghan's story is that of scores of other priests who were furtively preying on children, almost exclusively boys, but who, unlike their confreres resigning to marry, were regarded as assets because these priests were at least staying in the priesthood. There are fewer scenes sadder than that of men as tortured and inadequate as Geoghan, in and out of treatment, propped up by medical OKs, the reluctance of people to testify, the uncertain recollections of brother priests, and their own manipulative pleading, disappearing and resurfacing, their eyes ever out for available boys, come to my room, I've got something I want to show you. ...  By the early 1980s the fault lines in the hierarchical culture of privilege were clear in every sphere of activity: The country had elected the fifth president in a baker's dozen of years, the ROTC had been banned from many campuses, the CIA had been gutted of much of its power, General Motors was about to invest millions in trying to revamp its tottering hierarchical structures, and the professional class, led by physicians, was being charged with malpractice. Victims had found their voices and their attorneys and, in Louisiana, investigative reporter Jason Berry had begun to look into what he would soon write -- the first public exposé of the costs, emotional and financial, of covering up accusations of child sexual abuse against a priest in the diocese of Lafayette. ‘Excellent care' After his 1980 removal from St. Andrew's in Jamaica Plain, Geoghan wrote to Medeiros that he had been receiving "excellent care" from "two wonderful Catholic physicians." Medeiros, again following accepted practice, approved his return, and urged a woman, Margaret Gallant, who had written a letter of complaint, to "keep silent to protect the boys," a response that did not satisfy the relatives of the victims. Two years later, relatives of victims met with Boston Auxiliary Bishop Thomas Daily to demand that Geoghan be removed from the ministry for abusing boys where he was then assigned. Geoghan was relieved of his duties again, remanded for treatment and, in a practice that seems far more extraordinary now than it was a generation ago, was also sent on a two-month, expense paid sabbatical to Rome before being returned to work. A bittersweet bit of clerical philosophy at the time observed that good hardworking priests were at a disadvantage because the healthy were never rewarded. If, however, a priest had a serious problem, he was likely to be treated like a top draft choice, with a trip around the world thrown in for sticking with the team. Later, Geoghan, tracing the same path as other priests with sexual conflicts, was treated at the distinguished Institute for the Living in Hartford, Conn. When a written diagnosis seemed to clash with oral reassurances that had been given to a Boston archdiocesan official, the evaluation was altered by a staff member at the institute to argue in favor of Geoghan's return to work as a priest. By then the Willy Loman of problematic clergy, Geoghan argued his own case with the skills of a beggar on a good street corner: It's all been bad luck, I'm a priest put upon by others, but I'm feeling great now, ready to get back to work, why won't you make me a pastor? Geoghan symbolizes the cohort of priests who, in Boston alone, and to heartbreak all around, survived for a long time in forgiving ecclesiastical surroundings. On the cusp of old age, he remains the confused boy, the underdeveloped human being who has little idea of the level at which he functioned as he repeatedly corrupted the innocent and walked away, corruptly innocent himself, and still unable to admit or understand it, you've got me all wrong. It appears that a clear trail must have been left in crisp snow but, in the last days of the culture and the first years of Bernard Law's presence in Boston, the marks would not have been easy to trace had anyone been determined to do so. In the reconstruction reported in The Boston Globe, these events are described less in the language of proven fact than in that of clerical gossip and generalized rumor. Police found, in some circumstances, that when they investigated reports of sexual misbehavior, people withdrew their complaints or refused to testify. Even the pastors under whom these men worked sometimes offer vague or varied recollections about how much they knew about the history of priests like Geoghan when they dropped their suitcases in the front hall of their rectories. So Msgr. Francis S. Rossiter, Geoghan's new pastor at St. Julia's in Weston in 1984, assigned "him to oversee the altar boys and two other youth groups," claiming that he was not informed of his new curate's history. Asked under oath, however, if he knew of Geoghan's problems, he replied, "I really can't say," according to the Jan. 24 Boston Globe. Regarding cases investigated by the Boston police, police spokesperson Mariellen Burns told the paper that "there was no physical evidence in either case, and in both cases, the victims and their families refused to cooperate in any prosecution," according to the Globe. The paper concludes that with "just one exception, the Geoghan records and the transcripts of church officials contain no hint that anyone around the cardinal urged him to remove children from Geoghan's reach until 1993." Unsettled questions Even today, the general American culture is by no means finally settled or fully sophisticated about sexual behavior. Divided on even defining the nature of abortion, politicized over "reproductive rights," still reeling from the rationalized hairsplitting of a president's denying that oral sex constituted sexual relations, it is stymied about questions of sexual freedom and responsibility as it struggles to respond to grave problems of sexually transmitted diseases, impotence and an epidemic of heartbreak in unhappy marriages and relationships. While The Boston Globe has demanded Law's resignation, it did not act so boldly when President Bill Clinton admitted, in a way as slyly self-serving as the confessions of Geoghan, that he had taken sexual favors from an intern in the Oval Office. For several intoxicated months, the media accepted a public relations "war" declared by political consultant James Carville on Special Counsel Kenneth Starr for trying to find the facts and on presidential victims, like Kathleen Willey, who dared to tell their stories in public. Pundits and columnists then discounted sexual failings, saying that everybody failed, everybody lied, too, what's the big deal? The case may be made, against the grain of current revelations, that it was Law who finally recognized Geoghan's pathology and removed him from parish work and from the priesthood. In context, Law initially acted in harmony with both the general and the specialized ecclesiastical culture in which he had so remarkably succeeded and Geoghan had so conspicuously failed. Arriving in Boston in 1984 and, in the "one exception" noted by the Globe, Law was alerted by a letter from Bishop John D'Arcy pointing to Geoghan's questionable fitness for parish work. Within the week, Law received reassuring comments from two doctors who had treated the priest, and then approved his new assignment. Only later was it learned that these doctors were themselves part of the enabling subculture and that one of them was a general practitioner with no psychiatric training and the other a psychiatrist with no experience in dealing with pedophiles. Law acted as dozens of other bishops and religious superiors have in responding to a cultural crisis whose true dimensions and meaning they did not understand, acknowledge or attempt to investigate. Feeling responsible for maintaining the Catholic church as an institution, they drew on reflexes from the high era of clerical culture, strongly seconded by lawyers and insurance advisers, by trying to protect their assets and manage their parishes and schools with declining numbers of available priests. America's Catholic bishops have yet to adopt a national policy on dealing with pedophile priests. They are still trying to manage clergy who have largely abandoned the clerical culture once filled with wood paneled rectories, mother substitute housekeepers, hats tipped to Roman collars, and the blissful dream of a chaste and isolated existence in a protected universe. The hardest working American priests, symbolized by those who rose to the pastoral challenges that erupted when the World Trade Center towers collapsed, no longer live the way their predecessors did half a century ago and a world away. They live rather alone, cooking for themselves and cleaning their own apartments or small houses, and they oversee parishes in which laypersons carry out most of the ministries of the church. Their closest relationships are no longer with their brother priests but with the people they serve. These active priests now question the privileged and vacuum-sealed worlds in which priests were once prepared and in which they served. That culture is now comparable to that of the Confederacy in its never-questioned assumptions about the nature of the universe and the structure of human personality. A still little-understood aura of sexual mystique surrounded slaves and priests. Both groups were defined by their being institutionally subservient to other men, to an indentured impotence that was accepted and strongly reinforced as God's will. It is almost cruelly ironic that the word bishop comes from the Greek for overseer. Such comparisons are, of course, unacceptable in the controlled dialogue of the church where investigations of the impact of ecclesiastical culture on the psychosexual maturity of seminarians and priests are neither contemplated nor encouraged, despite widespread sexual conflicts among church personnel. As servitude was rationalized as a happy dependent state in the Confederacy, so were illusions of problem-free celibacy among apple-cheeked volunteers in the collapsed universe of clerical life. Unexamined, both kept, and to some degree, still keep, men from experiencing the full truth about themselves and the freedom and hazards of living outside an institution's domination. The epidemic of sexual abuse by priests and other religious personnel reveals the long-denied structural faults of that environment. That leaves bishops resembling Confederate generals who seem not to understand that the war is over, that further loss of life is sheer folly, and that the way of life they have been defending has come to an end. But bishops, too, are men subject to authority and, although many would wish to, they have been forbidden by the present pope from discussing or experimenting with new ways to recruit proven and mature Catholics to serve as priests. No man may be appointed a bishop if he has ever spoken a sympathetic sentence about ordaining women to the priesthood. The Beau Geste tactic Rome expects them to operate as if there were no unmanageable problems with the clergy, neither a shortage nor a plague of criminal behavior, and, like corporation heads all around them, they feel compelled to defend their institution with the organizational solutions provided by lawyers and insurance advisers: Admit nothing, settle and seal cases, protect assets and make do with the personnel you have to keep the organization functioning. Such a strategy means that they must use Beau Geste tactics. In that story, the beleaguered Foreign Legionnaires prop dead men up on the battlements of their desert fort to preserve an illusion of strength. Sworn to obedience themselves, bishops must prop up the dead men walking of their problem priests while wearing out their best priests. It wears out bishops, too. Holding out this way, overriding their own opinions, is what they are expected to do "for the good of the church." A few years ago, Rome made confidential inquiries in every American diocese about the scope of priest pedophilia but has kept the findings secret and, despite news from virtually all corners of the globe about the reality of this problem, has issued no enlightening documents beyond one that places these cases under the Congregation of The Doctrine of the Faith, once the Holy Office, where they will be handled sub secreto. The financial losses to the institutional church, in settlements reached on cases throughout the world, now reaches into the hundreds of millions of dollars. Geoghan stands for the dozens of priests whose pathetic, furtive and impoverished searches for intimacy leave them and their families now as ruined and desolated as the children and families whose trust they abused. These broken men have been valued for what service could be squeezed out of them in a priest-poor time. Unfortunately, little attention was paid to the fact that they were unfit to serve because of their unresolved psychosexual conflicts. Many observers feel that these ill-conceived and ill-fated compromises have been made to maintain what the pope insists on -- despite its lack of theological or scriptural support -- an exclusively celibate male clergy. Leaders like Law must often go against their own consciences and pastoral intuitions in order to carry out what Rome expects of them. This long-accumulating tragedy cannot be laid solely at Law's door. It is rather the terrible collapse in our day of a great ecclesiastical structure whose foundations began to erode generations ago. This is the sad death of the respect and trust for the clergy that was earned in immigrant days by predecessor priests. It is a time of grief for the best of priests whose burdens are increased by the revelations of how widespread, ill-understood, and impossibly managed have been the numerous priests suffering with problems that passed suffering on to unnumbered innocents. Law has for many years been without rival as the most powerful American bishop, deciding individual careers and diocesan boundary lines, who shall become a bishop and where they shall serve. When he learned, for example, in 1995 that Chicago's Cardinal Joseph Bernardin was suffering from pancreatic cancer, he quickly had the little-known bishop of Yakima, Wash., Francis George, named to head the Portland archdiocese. Thus, George became an archbishop eligible to be moved to Chicago when Bernardin died. Handsome, white-haired and now 70, Law has been the kingmaker and keeper of the Catholic church in America for at least 15 years. Now, having acted by his lights and according to the expectations of the culture to whose peak he has climbed, he is in danger of becoming the foremost but not the first victim of its final collapse. Eugene Cullen Kennedy is emeritus professor of psychology at Loyola University, Chicago, and author of The Unhealed Wound: The Church and Human Sexuality, published by St. Martin's Press. National Catholic Reporter, March 8, 2002 Next: Inside NCR  Top of page         

A Crisis of Clergy, Not of Faith

March 6, 2002

A Crisis of Clergy, Not of Faith

BOSTON - More than 80 priests have been accused of
sexual molestation in the archdiocese of Boston. This
scandal - and similar allegations of abuse in
Philadelphia, New Hampshire and Maine - does more than
simply reveal an institution in crisis. It calls into
question the credibility of the Roman Catholic Church
in America.
The church and its bishops want to provide moral
leadership for Catholics and non-Catholics alike, not
only on issues like abortion but also on capital
punishment, health care, welfare reform and foreign
policy. Their traditional commitment has been to stand
up for the rights of society's vulnerable. But
revelations that the church has allowed some members of
the clergy known to be pedophiles to remain in the
ministry may call the sincerity of this commitment into
Catholics who are divorced and remarried, for instance,
or openly gay, cannot fully participate in the rites of the church. Yet priests who have committed a worse offense against Catholic teaching can administer those same rites. It is not necessary to agree or disagree with any
particular Catholic teaching to object to the hypocrisy
of the church's position.
Moral authority depends on credibility, which in turn
requires honesty. The cover-up of the church's
pedophile scandal - in Boston, officials admitted to
settling claims after The Boston Globe published a
series of investigative articles about the problem -
exposes the weaknesses of a virtually all-male
decision-making structure, which puts a high priority
on secrecy and image. There is little concern for
transparency and accountability, even to its own
regulations against allowing accused pedophiles to
minister to youth.
The problem is not simply celibacy; religiously
committed celibates can and do lead lives of service
and commitment. The problem is a closed society largely
insulated from the realities and values of ordinary
people and in denial of many aspects of human
sexuality. In such an atmosphere men who molest young
boys can find opportunity and refuge. Protecting the
reputation of the institution is more important than
protecting the welfare of children. Most parents know
that children's safety must be the highest priority of
anyone entrusted with their care. Most institutions
that deal with children, like schools or even sports
leagues, are much more open about their policies.
These institutional flaws, unfortunately, reach far
beyond Boston. A culture of control and complacency
reaches all the way to Rome. In the church, a pervasive
authoritarian mentality hurts the clergy and laity
both. Church staff members and parishioners
unquestioningly accept clerical actions and decisions,
even where children are involved. Bishops capitulate to
Vatican expectations that they avoid public
embarrassment at any cost, often by paying off victims.
What can the church do to restore its moral authority
and regain a respected voice in our national debate? It
might start by establishing judicious policies to deal
fairly and legally with facts and accusations, and
committing publicly to a more open and collaborative
model of governance - including women and lay men at
the highest levels, for instance. Such changes would be
difficult under the current leadership, especially in
the face of Vatican opposition.
Fortunately, the Roman Catholic Church is more than its
bureaucracy. There are many priests and pastors, and
even some bishops, who share the bewilderment and anger of their congregations and are struggling with them for justice and reconciliation. And there is the strength
of the laity itself.
Letters, petitions and public demonstrations are not
likely to make much of a difference; they are too easy
for unrepentant bishops and Vatican officials to
ignore. One approach that could force the church
bureaucracy to listen is for all Catholics to withhold
funds from diocesan and Vatican collections and
organizations. This may seem severe, but at least in
the short term, change requires this kind of jolt.
Far-reaching reform can only take place when lay people
have a more powerful voice in church decisions, on both
the local and national levels. This does not
necessarily mean that they must organize in opposition
to their pastors, for many priests are allies in this
struggle. It is merely to say that lasting
institutional change will require the equal
participation of the laity, priests, bishops and the
Vatican itself.
This crisis may mobilize Catholics to demand a greater
role in the church, and in doing so they may strengthen
its moral authority and enlarge its sense of
responsibility. Better yet, it may help them to realize
that the future of any religious tradition, no matter
how ancient, is in the hands of all its believers.

Lisa Sowle Cahill is a professor of theology and ethics
at Boston College.

Law looks to rebuild public trust

Law looks to rebuild public trust
By Michael Paulson, Globe Staff, 3/5/2002
Cardinal Bernard F. Law, seeking to restore public trust shaken by his handling of sexual abuse by priests, has chosen one of his closest aides to oversee the scandal and is preparing to triple the size of the office charged with investigating allegations and reaching out to alleged victims and accused priests.
The cardinal's chief secretary, the Rev. John J. Connolly Jr., has taken on what he described in a 12-page letter to priests over the weekend as ''the long-term project [of] the restoration of trust.''
Connolly said the cardinal today will meet with priests to consider ''alternative strategies'' for his ambitious $300 million
Allegations raised against two priests who taught at Boston College High School. B4.
fund-raising effort, which some priests have suggested should be delayed or scaled back.
He also said the cardinal has chosen a telegenic and articulate priest, the Rev. Christopher J. Coyne, to represent the archdiocese in television interviews, which the church had refused for the first several weeks of the crisis.
And Connolly acknowledged that some small fraction of the Sunday collection from parishes is being used to pay for liability insurance that covers, in part, sexual abuse by clergy, and that the cost of that liability insurance has risen because of settlements paid to victims of sexual abuse.
The letter represents part of an intense effort by the cardinal to reach out to priests, whom he views as essential to his ability to weather the crisis. Connolly wrote that ''the cardinal recognizes that the people's trust in him is and will be in great measure mediated through the trust of the priests in him.''
Law has held five regional meetings with priests, and sponsored workshops yesterday and today at Boston College for priests struggling with stress over the clergy sexual abuse scandal.
''A clear message that has been received, from priests and laity alike, is that trust, on many levels, has been severely damaged,'' Connolly wrote in the letter, which was dated Saturday and faxed to priests over the weekend.
''The trust that people placed in the archdiocese as an institution and in the cardinal personally has been shaken. The trust that many priests have in the cardinal has been similarly impacted.''
Connolly wrote that over time, ''the anger, the sadness, the confusion, even the pain will dissipate and go away.'' However, he wrote, ''what will remain as the long-term project will be the restoration of trust.''
The letter was welcomed by priests, many of whom are feeling depressed that their vocation has become so closely associated with the abuse of children. Some priests also fear Law has become too quick to oust priests before fully substantiating allegations.
''The letter was very open - it admits there in black and white that there is a lack of trust by some priests in the bishop - and it is an attempt to reach out to priests personally, and I applaud that,'' said the Rev. Walter H. Cuenin, pastor of Our Lady Help of Christians in Newton and one of the leaders of the nascent priests' organization.
Cuenin also praised the selection of Connnolly to oversee the clergy sexual abuse effort and reach out to priests, saying, ''John is a wonderful man and very sensitive in dealing with priests, so he's a real ace in the cardinal's hand.''
Connolly's letter is addressed to priests, but the cardinal has also been trying to reach out to other constituencies. This Saturday he will meet with an estimated 2,500 parish leaders during the church's annual convocation, and he has met with Catholic business leaders. Law has said he will seek to reach out to victims as well.
Connolly did not detail how the capital campaign might change, but wrote, ''Cardinal Law recognizes that there is a widely held view that some reconfiguration of the capital campaign is in order, and he has already indicated that an adjustment will be made.''
He then outlined a series of ways in which the church is responding to the crisis. He said the cardinal has chosen several priests to coordinate a spiritual response, is about to announce a reconfiguration of the office that investigates actual claims, and has hired a crisis communications firm in the hopes that ''our public and media relations will improve.''
He said the church needs to improve communication between parishioners and priests, and priests and bishops.
And Connolly said the church is moving ahead with its effort to establish a committee that will review the archdiocese's policy on sexual abuse and consider establishing a national center for the study, treatment and prevention of child sexual abuse. Church officials say that Dr. Michael F. Collins, the president of Caritas Christi Health Care System, is assembling the panel and trying to make sure it includes women, who were not represented on the initial panel of medical school deans assembled by Law.
The church is also preparing programs for the training of clergy, staff, and volunteers on their obligations as mandated reporters of suspected sexual abuse to state authorities, and is seeking to continue settling lawsuits against the church and provide assistance to victims who are not litigating their allegations.
Connolly urged priests to keep ''this devastating situation in perspective.''
''Despite all the attention being given this issue, there has not been, as yet, any new allegation of sexual misconduct with a minor by clergy in ministry today,'' Connolly wrote. ''What we have been dealing with is the fallout of cases of past misconduct. The recognition of this fact does not negate the terrible gravity of the past acts, but it does, I pray, provide some measure of hope.''

Michael Paulson can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..
This story ran on page A1 of the Boston Globe on 3/5/2002.
© Copyright 2002 Globe Newspaper Company.

Vatican stance on gay clergy criticized

Vatican stance on gay clergy criticized

Scholars see a ban slashing priesthood

By Michael Paulson, Globe Staff, 3/4/2002

The Vatican, in its first comments on the clergy sexual abuse crisis, declared this weekend that gay men should not be ordained as priests.

The comments by Joaquin Navarro-Valls, the chief spokesman for Pope John Paul II, were made at a time when a growing body of research suggests that a large proportion of Catholic priests are gay, and scholars who study sexuality and the priesthood said any effort to bar them would lead to a dramatic reduction in the number of priests in the United States.

''If they were to eliminate all those who were homosexually oriented, the number would be so staggering that it would be like an atomic bomb; it would do the same damage to the church's operation,'' said A. W. Richard Sipe, a former priest and psychotherapist. Sipe has been studying the sexuality of priests for 25 years and has written three books on the subject.

''It would mean the resignation of at least a third of the bishops of the world. And it's very much against the tradition of the church; many saints had a gay orientation, and many popes had gay orientations,'' Sipe said. ''Discriminating against orientation is not going to solve the problem.''

Navarro-Valls made his comments in an interview published yesterday in The New York Times. He said ''people with these inclinations just cannot be ordained'' and suggested that just as a marriage can be annulled if the husband turns out to be gay, so the ordination of gay men might also be made invalid.

''That does not imply a final judgment on people with homosexuality,'' Navarro-Valls also said. ''But you cannot be in this field.''

Although scholars have established no connection between homosexuality and pedophilia, the Vatican's comments were apparently provoked by the fact that many of the victims of clergy abuse in Boston, as elsewhere, have been adolescent boys, and not the prepubescent children who are victimized by the standard pedophile.

Efforts to reach Navarro-Valls in Rome yesterday were unsuccessful, and another Vatican spokesman, Ciro Benedettini, declined to comment. Cardinal Bernard F. Law of Boston would not speak to reporters after Mass, and Law's spokeswoman, Donna M. Morrissey, declined to comment.

Specialists studying sexuality in priesthood Sipe estimates that half of all priests are honoring their vows of celibacy. He said his studies have shown that ''over twice as many priests are involved with adult women as with boys.''

''Homosexually oriented priests don't violate their celibacy any more or less than heterosexually oriented priests,'' Sipe said.

The Vatican has not suggested new ordination regulations to respond to violations of celibacy vows by heterosexual priests.

Numerous scholars have attempted to estimate the percentage of priests who are gay. They have arrived at varying results, but there is a consensus that the number of gay priests vastly exceeds the percentage of gay men in the general population.

''At issue at the beginning of the 21st century is the growing perception, one seldom contested by those who know the priesthood well, that the priesthood is, or is becoming, a gay profession,'' the Rev. Donald B. Cozzens, then rector of a Catholic seminary in Ohio, wrote in ''The Changing Face of the Priesthood,'' a book published in 2000 by Liturgical Press. The book was well reviewed; the spiritual director of St. John's Seminary in Boston declared in The Pilot, the archdiocesan newspaper, that ''nothing of what he said is untrue.''

Several studies have concluded that about half of priests and seminarians are gay, Cozzens wrote. The number of gay priests is so high that seminaries have become increasingly uncomfortable places for heterosexual men, he wrote.

In a telephone interview yesterday, Cozzens professed disappointment at Navarro-Valls's comments, although he said the remarks were similar to a statement attributed to a top Vatican official, Archbishop Tarcisio Bertone, several years ago.

''This statement is a significant spiritual setback for the many fine Catholic seminarians and priests who are gay that I've had the privilege of working with. Their interior life must be rocked by this, and we're talking about a good number of priests and seminarians,'' Cozzens said.

''The number of priests is already down, and if we were not to ordain gay seminarians who are committed to celibacy, we would have an even lower number.''

Eugene Kennedy, a specialist on sexuality and the priesthood, also lamented the comments. Kennedy, a former priest, is a professor emeritus of psychology at Loyola University in Chicago and is the author of a new book, ''The Unhealed Wound: The Church and Human Sexuality.''

''We have always had gay priests, and they have often been models of what priests should be,'' Kennedy said. ''To say that these men should be kept from the priesthood is in itself a challenge to the grace of God and an insult to them and the people they serve. The church has not only many gay priests, but many gay bishops, and they are some of the most wonderful priests I've known.''

Kennedy said most priest abusers are ''not people who have well-defined sexual development, heterosexual or homosexual, but people whose overall personality development is stunted.''

''The big question is not whether they are gay or not, but do they form healthy relationships with the people they serve,'' he said.

The Catholic Church has not in the past barred gay men from becoming priests - many seminaries ask potential priests about their sexual orientation and knowingly admit gay men who promise to be celibate - and current church teaching focuses on condemning gay activity rather than a gay orientation.

Rome turned up pressure for tough stance on gays

In the past 15 years, the Vatican has repeatedly pushed American bishops to take tougher stands against gays, and has disciplined priests and theologians who have questioned church teachings on homosexuality. The Catholic catechism declares gay and lesbian acts to be ''intrinsically disordered'' and ''contrary to natural law'' and says that ''under no circumstances can they be approved.'' The catechism declares that gays and lesbians are to remain chaste.

''The Church teaches that homogenital behavior is objectively immoral, while making the important distinction between this behavior and a homosexual orientation, which is not immoral in itself,'' the American bishops wrote in ''Always Our Children,'' a document updated in 1998.

Specialists and victim advocates say they do not believe there is a link between the high number of gay priests and clergy sexual abuse.

''There is no research that indicates that a person who says he is gay, or who is sexually attracted to an adult person of the same gender, is more likely to be sexually interested in children,'' said David Finkelhor, director of the Crimes Against Children Research Center at the University of New Hampshire.

David Clohessy of St. Louis, national director of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, called the Vatican comments ''a narrow, misguided statement.''

''The fact that there seem to be a disproportionately higher number of gays in the priesthood - I don't think it has a direct relevance to the pedophilia problem,'' he said. ''The relevance of gay priests is somewhat like the relevance of celibacy in that both contribute to a culture of secrecy and that culture enables abuse to go undetected. But celibacy doesn't make one molest kids, and neither does one's sexual orientation.''

Michael Paulson can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

This story ran on page A1 of the Boston Globe on 3/4/2002.
© Copyright 2002 Globe Newspaper Company.

Pope´s Address Focusing on Vocations Crisis

Date: 2002-03-04
Pope's Address Focusing on Vocations Crisis
"Often the Result of the Weakening of Faith"

VATICAN CITY, MARCH 4, 2002 ( Here is a translation of John Paul II's address to the Roman clergy on Feb. 14 during their traditional meeting at the start of Lent. He focused on the crisis in vocations, especially in the West, and said that the reason was often "the weakening of faith and of spiritual fervor." The address was given in Italian.

* * *

Your Eminence,
Brothers in the Priesthood,
Dear Roman Priests,

1. For me, this meeting with the Roman clergy that is held every year at the beginning of Lent is a heartfelt joy. I greet each one of you with affection and thank you for being here and for your service to the Church of Rome. I greet and thank the Cardinal Vicar, the Vicegerent, the Auxiliary Bishops and those who have addressed me.

"And he went up on the mountain and called to him those whom he desired; and they came to him. And he appointed twelve, to be with him, and to be sent out to preach" (Mk 3,3-15). At the beginning of the Lenten journey, these words of the Evangelist Mark, on which you have based your diocesan pastoral programme, remind us priests of that search for intimate closeness with the Lord, which for every Christian, but particularly for us, is the secret of our life and the source of the fruitfulness of our ministry.

These same Gospel words shed a very clear light on the deep bond that exists between the divine vocation, received in the obedience of faith, and the Christian mission of witnessing to and announcing Christ, humble but courageous collaborators in his work of salvation. So you do well to pay special attention to vocations and particularly to those to the priesthood and to the consecrated life, within the great missionary orientation that characterizes the life and pastoral work of our diocese.

The greater the number of lay persons who are involved, the more necessary become the presence and work of the ordained

2. We all know how necessary vocations are for the life, witness and pastoral action of our ecclesial communities. And we also know that the decrease in the number of vocations in a diocese or in a nation is often the result of the weakening of faith and of spiritual fervour. Therefore, we must not be easily satisfied with the explanation that the scarcity of vocations is compensated for by growth in the apostolic commitment of lay people, nor even less that it is desired by Providence to foster this growth. On the contrary, the more numerous are the lay people who intend to live their own baptismal vocation generously, the more necessary are the presence and pastoral work of the ordained ministers.

This does not make us want to deny the well known difficulties that today, in Rome, as in a large part of the Western world, stand in the way of a positive response to the Lord's call. Indeed, for many reasons it has become difficult to conceive of and embark on great and demanding lifelong vocations that require full and definitive commitment and not partial or temporary involvement. And it is even more difficult, for many, to see plans of this kind as born in the first place from God's call, from the plan of mercy that he has conceived for each person from eternity, and not as something for which they alone are responsible, the result of their own decisions and ingenuity.

At the base of the Church's promotion of vocations, there must therefore be a great common commitment, which challenges the lay faithful as well as priests and religious and consists in rediscovering that basic dimension of our faith through which life itself, every human life, is the fruit of God's call and can only be positively fulfilled as a response to this call.

3. It is within this great reality of life as a vocation and, in concrete, of our common baptismal vocation, that the vocation to the ordained ministry, the priestly vocation, manifests its full, extraordinary importance. It is in fact a gift and mystery, the mystery of God's free choice: "You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide" (Jn 15,16).

Yes, dear Brothers in the priesthood, our vocation is a mystery. As I wrote on the occasion of my priestly Jubilee, it is "the mystery of a 'wondrous exchange' admirabile commercium between God and man. A man offers his humanity to Christ, so that Christ may use him as an instrument of salvation, making him as it were into another Christ. Unless we grasp the mystery of this 'exchange', we will not understand how it can be that a young man, hearing the words 'Follow me!', can give up everything for Christ, in the certainty that if he follows this path he will find complete personal fulfilment" (Gift and Mystery [English edition], Pauline Publications, Africa 1996, p. 88).

Therefore, when we speak of our priesthood and give witness to it, we must do so with great joy and gratitude, and also with equally great humility, conscious that "God ... called us with a holy calling, not in virtue of our works but in virtue of his own purpose and the grace which he gave us" (2 Tm 1,9).

Prayer for vocations is not the result of resignation but is putting ourselves in the Lord's hands and confiding in him

4. It thus becomes rather clear why the first and principal activity in favour of vocations can only be prayer: "The harvest is plentiful but the labourers are few; pray therefore the Lord of the harvest to send out labourers into his harvest" (Mt 9,37-38; cf. Lk 10,2). Prayer for vocations is not and cannot be the result of resignation, as though we were to think that we have already done all we can for vocations, with very meagre results, and therefore, there is nothing else to do but pray. In fact prayer is not a kind of delegating to the Lord so that he can act in our place. Instead it is confiding in him, putting ourselves in his hands, which makes us in turn confident and ready to do God's work.

Consequently, prayer for vocations is certainly the mission of the whole Christian community, but it should be practised intensely, primarily by those who are of the age and condition to choose their own state of life, as are the young.

For the same reason, prayer must be guided by pastoral care that has a clear and explicit vocational stamp. From the moment when they begin to know God and to develop a moral conscience, our children and young people must be helped to discover that life is a vocation and that God calls some to follow him more closely, in communion with him and with the gift of themselves. With regard to vocations Christian families thus have an important and irreplaceable mission and responsibility and should be helped to respond to it with awareness and generosity. Likewise catechesis and the whole pastoral approach to Christian initiation must include a first presentation of vocation.

Of course, this suggestion should become more insistent and penetrating, but always with full respect for the conscience and freedom of the person, as adolescence gradually replaces childhood and then youth. Care and concern for vocations is one of the fundamental criteria of pastoral care for youth, schools and university. Nevertheless, in the end, all the members and groups of every parish and Christian community must feel co-responsible for the presentation and the necessary direction of the special vocations.

Priestly vocations come from personal contact

5. However, it is clear, dear Priests, that pastoral care vocations primarily challenge us and are entrusted in the first place to our prayer, to our ministry, to our personal witness. Indeed, it is difficult for a vocation to the priesthood to be born without a relationship with a priest figure, without personal contact with him, without his friendship, his patient and caring attention, and his spiritual guidance.

If children and young people see priests overwhelmed with too many things to do, quickly irritated and complaining, neglectful of prayer and the tasks proper to their ministry, how can they be fascinated by the way of the priesthood? If, on the other hand, they experience in us the joy of being ministers of Christ, generosity in the service to the Church, promptness in taking charge of the human and spiritual growth of the persons entrusted to us, they will be impelled to wonder whether this might not be, for them too, the "good portion" (Lk 10,42), the most beautiful choice for their young lives.

Dear Brother Priests, let us entrust this special concern for vocations to the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of Christ, Mother of the Church and, in particular, Mother of priests. Let us also entrust to her our Lenten journey and especially our personal sanctification: indeed the Church needs holy priests, to open to Christ even doors that seem the most closed.

The Holy Father then spoke extemporaneously:
I saw that most of the speakers had prepared a written text, so I followed them. But then I also saw that some were improvising. Perhaps I too can improvise a little.

The words stay with me: "the apple of his eye" (pupilla oculi). The "apple" of the bishop's eye is the seminary, because through the seminary, he sees the Church's future. I am prompted to say this by the experience I have had of being bishop for so many years, first in Krakow and then in Rome: in Krakow for 20 years, in Rome already for 24. This is very true, this is the "apple of his eye". And I hope that all the bishops of Rome, those who will come after me, and all the bishops of the world, will maintain this principle and will look with hope at our seminaries. May vocations not be lacking! Thanks be to God there is no lack of vocations in Rome. Thanks be to God! I also remember that in my past, certain historical moments in the life of the Church in Poland gave rise to more vocations. For example, the millennium, but not only that: also the peregrinatio of Our Lady of Czestochowa, and other events.

So I have tried to imitate not only those who read, but also those who improvised!

[translation by L'Osservatore Romano]

Harvard’s Catholic professors call on Law to resign

The Tablet
Harvard's Catholic professors call on Law to resign
Ten prominent Catholics on the faculty of Harvard University have called on the Archbishop of Boston, Cardinal Bernard Law, to resign over his handling of a child abuse scandal which is increasingly being seen as a crisis for the entire Catholic Church in the United States, writes Richard Major from Washington DC.
The letter to Cardinal Law, dated 25 January, was made available this week to The Tablet. It was signed by Professor Robert Kiely, a Harvard lecturer in English literature, and nine other prominent Catholics teaching at the university. Boston Catholics, said Professor Kiely, "feel scandalised and betrayed" by the archdiocese's failure to protect children over the past 20 years. "Some of us have become accustomed to being embarrassed by the actions and words of the hierarchy", the professor says, "but to be ashamed is too much to ask us to bear." The signatories accuse the cardinal of having given comfort "to those who despise the Church and see it as a fossilised institution of repression, secrecy and hypocrisy" and argue that resignation would be a fitting act of penance for pain inflicted on the Church, on the diocese's laity and clergy, and most of all on the children molested by priests.
Cardinal Law has apologised repeatedly for his archdiocese's failures in handling clerical abuse, most spectacularly over Fr John Geoghan, who was recently sentenced to ten years' imprisonment for molesting a boy in a swimming pool. Although he was convicted on that count alone, the judge took into consideration accusations against him from 130 other boys, some alleging rape.
What has convulsed Boston in recent weeks has been less the crimes than their cover-up. The trial of Geoghan, a particularly consistent molester of boys over decades, has coincided with an investigation by the Boston Globe of sealed court papers which showed that the Church had habitually settled out of court with minors claiming to have been abused by priests, paying heavy damages in return for silence (The Tablet, 9 and 23 February). Cardinal Law has so far resisted calls to resign over the scandal, insisting that it was ignorance of the compulsive nature of paedophilia, rather than bad faith, which lay behind what he now recognises as "tragically incorrect" judgements in his handling of paedophile priests.
But the Harvard signatories do not accept Cardinal Law's defence. "Was it not obvious in the 1980s that molesting little boys was a bad thing?" they ask. Cardinal Law should resign, they say, because, as the symbol of the Catholic Church in Boston, he is the only one able to perform "the symbolic act of repentance" for which the crisis calls.
Cardinal Law has responded to the furore by implementing the most radical, root-and-branch policy on clerical child abuse seen anywhere in the Church. His policy of handing over the names of priests suspected any time in the past of abuse has been increasingly adopted by other dioceses throughout the country, which one by one have begun to reverse decades of an approach which gave priority to averting scandal. Dioceses in New England, Philadelphia and Los Angeles, among others, have been reviewing their files for allegations, and have as a result suspended dozens of priests. They have also forwarded the names of accused perpetrators to prosecutors, although not always details or names of victims. Without such evidence, sometimes privileged by the sacrament of confession, criminal prosecutions leading to conviction can be extremely difficult.
But the Boston scandal has made the US Church highly sensitive to any imputation of a cover-up. In Maine, for example, two priests were accused of molesting teenaged boys 20 years ago; on that occasion, their diocese informed civil authorities, who chose not to prosecute. But last week the diocese published their names, because, as a spokeswoman, Sue Bernard, put it, "we felt under pressure to make sure we were disclosing everything we needed to disclose". Whether the two priests will be allowed to remain in their parishes will depend largely on the response of their congregations.
The Archdiocese of Philadelphia also announced last week that a review of its archives had produced "credible evidence" stretching back over the last half century against 35 priests, many of whom had been routinely moved to new parishes. Cardinal Roger Mahony, Archbishop of Los Angeles, has declared that any priest or deacon who is found to have sexually abused a minor "will not be reassigned" and should seek laicisation. "He will never return to active ministry", the cardinal promised.
But in Boston this policy has led to accusations of injustice. This week the tenth serving priest so far to be suspended - in this instance over a 30-year-old allegation - has been protesting his innocence. A spokeswoman for the archdiocese says that officials had held separate meetings with Fr George Spagnolia of St Patrick's, Lowell, a city north-west of Boston, and with his accuser. They had concluded that there was "reasonable cause" to believe that abuse of a then 14-year-old boy had occurred back in 1971. But "Fr Spag", as he is known to his parishioners, insists he has "done nothing". He is refusing to leave his parish until the charge against him is investigated, but says he will refrain from celebrating Mass in the meantime. He says the archdiocese's new "zero tolerance" policy has denied him due process of law.
A number of Fr Spagnolia's parishioners have come to his defence. They accuse Cardinal Law of leading a witch-hunt as a means of deflecting criticism from his own guilt over protecting paedophile priests. A number of lay people as well as priests have reminded the Archbishop of Boston and journalists that accusations can be false. They cite the case of Cardinal Joseph Bernadin, the late Archbishop of Chicago. In 1993 a former seminarian accused Cardinal Bernardin of molesting him but later retracted the charge.
The president of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), Bishop Wilton Gregory, last week offered an apology "as a pastor and a teacher of faith and morals, to the victims and to their parents for this failure in our pastoral responsibilities". Bishop Gregory, who was one of Cardinal Bernadin's suffragan bishops in Chicago, described the damage to the US Church caused by the crisis as "immeasurable".
But he said the Church had "tried to reach out pastorally and sensitively to victims of this outrageous behaviour". He also said he had been "heartened by the professionals who work with both victims and abusers, who tell us there is not another institution in the United States that is doing more to understand and address the horror of sexual abuse of minors". Very few of "the more than 40,000 wonderful priests in our country" were involved in such crimes. "We bishops intend to maintain careful watch," he said.
How that watch is kept varies widely across the country's 194 dioceses and archdioceses. Since 1985 most American dioceses have had to deal with of accusations of clerical paedophilia, paying out a total of some $500 million to settle cases against more than 100 priests. The USCCB's 1992 guidelines on sexual abuse, "The Five Principles", urged that alleged offenders be quickly removed from ministry, with their names being passed to the civil authorities where the law requires it. Yet dioceses are under no obligation to adopt these principles, and their implementation has been until now inconsistent.
Statistics released this week show that the Catholic Church in the United States is big, rich, and growing. There are now almost 64 million Catholic Americans - 23 per cent of the US population, more than six per cent of the world's Catholics - served by 46,000 priests.

24 Hour Confidential Helpline for priests and religious

Back in 1998 the National Conference of Priests unanimously agreed to a 24 hour helpline for priests and religious. Unfortunately, the standing committee said there wasn't enough time to consider it. Maybe now is the time for such a proposal to be resurrected and acted upon, especially with morale being so low at this present time. If you have any thoughts on this issue please This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. me.

24-hour helpline for clergy and religious male and female. National Conference of Priests, 1998, Resolution 1

"Despite a unanimous vote at the 1998 NCP Conference, the standing committee said it did not have enough time to consider it."

Below is the original resolution. It was proposed by Nick Kern, of Shrewsbury Diocese, and Nick France, of Portsmouth.

That the conference set up a 24-hour helpline for clergy and religious male and female. National Conference of Priests, 1998, Resolution 1

It would:
§ Respond to the immediate feelings and concerns of callers
§ Explore with the caller whatever practical and/or emotional issues raises
§ Provide information when it might be useful to the callers
§ Let callers consider and choose for themselves what they want to do or happen next

The distinguishing features of the helpline would:
§ Give callers easy and confidential access to individuals and a choice whether or not to reveal him or herself
§ Let callers end the call when they wish
§ Allow callers to remain anonymous which makes the helpline particularly helpful for taboo or embarrassing subjects

England & Wales. The 0800 number is routed to who-ever is on duty

Immediate existing support is unavailable, asleep, too far away, or not known to caller. The caller may perceive their diocese or congregation to be part of the problem

WHO for?
Priests and deacons and religious

WHO by?
Priests, religious sisters & brothers and laity who are supervised, trained and working to set standards

The helpline is an opportunity
§ to listen at depth with no time or place constraints
§ to provide information about spiritual direction, counselling, appropriate psychiatric and medical support, retreats and existing other areas of support
§ to provide feedback to Bishop's Conference about areas of concern to priests and religious

COST? See attached

Finally If the help is already there, do priests and religious sisters and brothers
§ Know about it?
§ Have confidence in it?
§ Use it?
§ If not, why not?

Spanish Priests Call for an end to compulsory celibacy

Spanish Priests Call for an end to compulsory celibacy

Dear Friends,

I would like to draw your attention on a group of priests in Spain, in Girona, who have come out publicly for the abolition of mandatory celibacy and the ordination of women.

They are around 80 priests, 1/3 of the diocese's effectives, and they have written an open letter to their bishop asking to put an end to mandatory celibacy and to admit women to ordination.

As you can imagine, this has caused a great media event in Spain, and has galvanized the Church reform movement in Catalonia and in Spain. The answer of the bishops was to put on their web-site the documents of the Vatican on
WO, declaring that the exclusion of women from priesthood was " part of God's plan for his Church". This could be interpreted, to certain extent, as an easy way of pointing with their finger to the uggly ones in Rome who cause
all that mess.

The issue of celibacy seems to have been treated with sereinity by the bishop. He is probably one of those who see that the future of a sacramental Church is not possible with the maintainance of the actual structures of access to ordination.

I suggest that you send messages of solidarity to those priests.

Here the name of a contact person, a signatory of this call. He is pastor in one of the parishes in Girona:

Ignasi Forcano: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


Scandal’s cure lies in tackling deeper issues

Scandal's cure lies in tackling deeper issues

We are passing through another dark moment of modern American Catholic history -- the sexual abuse scandals. The secular media has fastened its teeth into the issue and escalated it into a national discussion. Those stories concentrate essentially on the surface issues of sexual crime and legal punishment.

In the face of this media onslaught, apologies notwithstanding, the U.S. Catholic bishops as leaders and as a group appear frozen, immobile, devoid of insights into actions that might restore a rapidly eroding trust and credibility -- and salvage the church's soul.

It did not have to be this way. The warning signs have been there for years. The bishops have had almost two decades to take steps to reach out to families and individuals who complained and to sequester or oust abuser priests.

This publication, for example, wrote its first story on the pedophilia phenomenon in 1983. Nearly 17 years ago, on June 7, 1985, with priest sex abuse cases taken up in the legal system across the nation and as we witnessed unsettling patterns of cover-up and denial by church officials, we wrote the following on NCR's front page:

In cases throughout the nation, the Catholic church is facing scandals and being forced to pay millions of dollars in claims to families whose sons have been molested by Catholic priests.

These are serious and damaging matters that have victimized the young and innocent and fuel old suspicions against the Catholic church and a celibate clergy. But a related and broader scandal seemingly rests with local bishops and a national episcopal leadership that has, as yet, no set policy on how to respond to these cases.

All too often complaints against the priest involved are disregarded by the bishops or the priest is given the benefit of the doubt.

Frequently, local bishops exhibit little concern for the traumatic effects these molestations have on the boys and their families -- even though mental disturbances and, in one recent case, suicide, have followed such molestations.

Only legal threats and lawsuits seem capable of provoking some local bishops into taking firm actions against the priests. In some cases the priests, once identified for their offenses, have been moved to other parishes and again placed in positions of responsibility.

Victims were coming forward to us with their pain. We were not the only ones speaking out. But we were a Catholic voice with a national platform. Despite sustained protests that bringing these cases to light was "causing great scandal," NCR continued to report the sex abuse cases. As we saw it then and see it now, the cause of the scandal was not the reporting; it was the failure of the church leadership to respond to the gravity of the charges and their patterns of denial so evident then, so evident today.

In our Jan. 8, 1988, issue we pleaded again for the bishops to act:

Three years ago, we took notice of a relatively new phenomenon in society: growing numbers of aggrieved and frustrated parents who were going to court with charges their children had been sexually abused by Catholic priests. Looking into the matter, we learned of several dozen cases nationwide. As unsettling as these cases were, within them we often found something even more disturbing, a pattern of institutional cover-up. We found bishops far more focused on protecting the image of their diocese than on aiding the pedophilia victims. We found bishops who failed to remove known molesters from active church ministry and, instead, transferred them to locations where they continued their ways.

Again, we call upon the U.S. bishops to seize the initiative on this grave issue.

By the early 1990s, victims groups were organizing -- and disaffection was spreading. The U.S. bishops were talking about "guidelines" for responses, but policy statements continued to be viewed as out of line. Settlements continue to be made with huge sums threatening bankruptcies in dioceses. And still the church leadership was incapable of tackling the spreading scandal.

In our Nov. 13, 1992, issue we reported the following grave threat.

A potentially crippling rift is growing between U.S. lay Catholics and their clergy, and the issues involve sex and authority in the church. If they are not acknowledged and examined, further divisions can only grow.

At one level, the issue causing much of the strain is human sexuality and increasingly divergent views concerning what constitutes a healthy Catholic sexual morality. At another level, the issue is more about power and who gets to define morality. These issues have become so tightly wrapped together that they have virtually merged into one. The result is tearing at the foundations of the church.

And still church leaders seemed to operate in denial.

Again, on Aug. 15, 1997, reflecting a wider exasperation among the laity, we wrote:

Twelve years have passed since NCR revealed to the wider world that some Catholic priests were betraying their priesthood in the most heinous way, by sexually abusing children.

One might reasonably expect that by now the scandal would have been subdued, that church leaders would have done everything necessary to rekindle the trust of the everyday Catholic and to reclaim the church and the priesthood for the pursuit of holiness.

Instead, we have had 12 years of bishops and others, with a few notable exceptions, doing what was minimally required, too often driven by legal and financial imperatives rather than by justifiable outrage at the violation of innocence and by heartfelt pastoral care for the victims.

Those among the hierarchy who are so ready to chase out loyal laity, who gasp in horror at the prospect of altar girls and lay eucharistic ministers, who sniggle endlessly over inclusive language and who assert their authority by requiring congregations to kneel during the consecration, ought to be spending their time chasing down the real assaults against the body of Christ.

It is long past time to abandon the silly and lame approaches used by the nation's hierarchy in addressing this awful issue. The church is long ago discredited in its reasoning that the scandal involves but "a few bad apples." It is time for church leaders to act as leaders and to stop hiding behind lawyers and further abusing good people who have already been victimized.

Today U.S. bishops seem to have gotten part of the message -- in the short run. Victims of clerical sex abuse -- whatever the form -- now become the central concern and responses to them apparently are more characterized by Christian compassion than by the previous institutional obfuscation. No tolerance policies for pedophilia acts are being forced upon the bishops as a national standard.

The needs are many and mounting. Certainly outside experts need to be called in to work with church leaders, to study the sex abuse problem and the priesthood. To illustrate that the work is being done, the bishops must pledge themselves to share publicly the results of those studies and to implement suggested changes.

To deal with more than the symptoms of the crisis, however, the bishops will have to confront two issues, inextricably bound up in the current scandal, that they have been reluctant or afraid to face: ordination and sexual morality. The first calls for a broad reevaluation of Catholic teaching on who may be ordained. NCR has received dozens and dozens of letters on these topics. One mother and grandmother, who has a master's degree and a doctorate in human development, and a master's in family therapy, wrote of her son "who felt he had a vocation to the priesthood but not a vocation to celibacy. He was somewhat put off by an openly gay priest and concerned about working with homosexual priests all along the way. In our discussions, it was also clear that marriage was not something he wanted to forego. It was the celibacy issue, and he realized he could not live the rest of his life without a life partner. He now has a great wife and three wonderful children and is planning to leave teaching and go into a Methodist seminary, and his wife is his staunch and loving support. It grieves me that everyone dances around the celibacy issue, claiming that it's got nothing to do with anything problematic in our church. Doesn't take a Ph.D. to figure that out."

She's correct, of course. It doesn't take a Ph.D., and celibacy is a main issue in ordination. This preoccupation with celibacy is an indicator, too, that the Catholic teaching on sexual morality is too frequently held hostage by teachers whose own sexual identity is based on a partial and unfulfilled understanding of what sexual intimacy actually is and actually means in life.

The needs of the Catholic people for the Eucharist in an increasingly priest-short church requires a new approach to ordination. The needs of the Catholic people for an enlightened, grown-up, mature approach to sexuality, based on the lived experience of the faithful, requires a fresh approach to the teaching.

To tackle both may take a church council. If that council ever materializes, there should be as many married and single laypeople present as there are bishops. Otherwise, the seeds of the weeds that have produced this present bramble-filled thicket will flourish to ensnare the church for another half century or more.

National Catholic Reporter, March 22, 2002

Pope frail at Easter ritual

Pope frail at Easter ritual
by John Phillips
Times Online

THE Pope looking increasingly frail as he struggled to perform the traditional Good Friday ceremonies at the Vatican yesterday. His public duties over Holy Week have already been cut because of his failing health.
The pontiff, who will be 82 in May, suffers from Parkinson's disease and an arthritic right knee. He began the day by hearing the confessions of ordinary Roman Catholics, five women and four men, for an hour in St Peter's Basilica.

He took part in a Good Friday service at the Colosseum last night, and was due to perform an Easter Vigil service tonight and celebrate an Easter Mass in St Peter's Square tomorrow.

On Holy Thursday, for the first time in his 23-year pontificate, the Pope was unable to perform the ritual of the washing and kissing of the feet of priests, symbolising Christ's humility. He ceded his place to Cardinal Angelo Sodano and Cardinal Roger Etchegaray. During the Mass, the Pope's left hand trembled and his speech was slurred. Vatican sources said that Cardinal Sodano may take over the liturgical celebration in the Easter Vigil tonight

Is the Catholic Church Denying its own Priests Justice?

Ex-Priest in Child Abuse Case Sentenced to 9 to 10 Years

February 22, 2002
Ex-Priest in Child Abuse Case Sentenced to 9 to 10 Years

AMBRIDGE, Mass., Feb. 21 - A priest whose sexual abuse of boys has ignited a scandal in the Roman Catholic church in Boston received the maximum sentence of 9 to 10 years today for fondling a 10-year- old in a swimming pool.

The defrocked priest, John J. Geoghan Jr., has been accused of molesting more than 130 children over 30 years in half a dozen parishes. Evidence that church officials badly mishandled his case had reached the highest echelons of the church hierarchy here, forcing Cardinal Bernard F. Law to apologize and fueling calls for his resignation.

In sentencing Mr. Geoghan (pronounced GAY-gan), Judge Sandra Hamlin of Superior Court in Middlesex County harshly criticized his actions. "This defendant hid behind his collar," Judge Hamlin said, calling Mr. Geoghan's behavior "reprehensible and depraved." She said his victims were helpless.

"They were unprotected," the judge added. "The defendant thought that no one would believe them."

Mr. Geoghan is one of about 24 priests to be sentenced to prison for abusing children, said David Clohessy, national director of the Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests, a support group.

"That certainly is among the more steep sentences," Mr. Clohessy said, adding that he was encouraged by "the increased willingness by prosecutors and judges to treat the church like any other institution."

Mr. Geoghan could be eligible for parole in six years.

Judge Hamlin ordered him to be placed on probation for life, facing strict monitoring. She sent Mr. Geoghan directly behind bars, even though Geoffrey Packard, his lawyer, intends to appeal. Mr. Packard said after the sentencing that it was difficult to say anything to mitigate his client's behavior, because "any explanation is looked upon as a justification or a rationalization."

He said the sentencing had stunned Mr. Geoghan. "He's just been sentenced to state prison," Mr. Packard said, "and he's 66 years old, and he's never been in an institution other than the Roman Catholic Church in his life."

The case has set off disclosures here and elsewhere about how the Catholic church has often handled pedophile priests, allowing them to remain in parishes, not reporting their activities to law enforcement authorities and settling victims' suits in secret.

Cardinal Law, the nation's senior Catholic leader, publicly apologized last month for letting Mr. Geoghan be reassigned to a parish even though he knew of the priest's long history of pedophilia. Documents released in civil suits by people who say Mr. Geoghan molested them suggest that church officials were more concerned with avoiding scandal than ensuring that he had no further contact with children.

Many of the archdiocese's two million Catholics have called for the cardinal to resign. Three times, he has explained why he would not step down.

In recent weeks, the archdiocese has given prosecutors the names of nearly 90 priests accused of molesting children. Nine of those were practicing. They have been suspended.

Other dioceses, including those in New Hampshire and Maine, have begun to give law enforcement officials the names of priests accused of molestation.

The sentence today, on a charge of indecent assault and battery, was striking, in part because it was given in a case that involved less severe accusations against Mr. Geoghan than those that have been made by dozens of boys, some of whom have said he raped them.

Mr. Geoghan's accuser in this case, now a 20-year-old college student, testified that in 1991, when he was 9 or 10, Mr. Geoghan offered to help him practice diving at a suburban Boys and Girls Club. The young man said Mr. Geoghan coached him for about 15 minutes and then squeezed his buttocks with his hand.

Mr. Packard, Mr. Geoghan's lawyer, pointed out in the trial that the witness did not remember the exact day, time or year of the incident and that some of his recollections differed from those of his mother.

Judge Hamlin said her sentence was not motivated by "the action or inactions of other priests or of the Roman Catholic Church." She said she made her decision based on this case, on Mr. Geoghan's admitted history of pedophilia and his attitude toward the accusations against him.

"There is no doubt the defendant is dangerous," Judge Hamlin said, adding that Mr. Geoghan should be severely punished because "he would use his office and his position as a Catholic priest to target" boys from broken homes. The judge said Mr. Geoghan, a small puckish-looking man who chatted with his sister and chuckled during much of the trial, showed "a total lack of concern for the damage his sexual molestation may have done."

The sentencing memorandum that prosecutors submitted to the judge includes a memorandum by Mr. Geoghan that offers a critique of an evaluation of him by doctors at an institute in 1995. The doctors wrote, "Father Geoghan has a long history of pedophilic behavior."

In his critique, Mr. Geoghan suggested that his behavior was somehow prompted by the fact that the children he encountered were "from dysfunctional families" who needed affection and, in some cases, were unable "to distinguish between normal and abnormal, good or bad, right or wrong."

The archdiocese has settled 50 civil suits against Mr. Geoghan and church officials for a total of $10 million. Some 84 civil suits against him and the church are pending, as are 2 other criminal trials.

The archdiocese issued a statement saying it was pleased by the sentence. "While we hope today's sentencing brings some measure of peace to victims, we also understand it cannot erase the tragic scarring many individuals have suffered," the statement said. "This case has helped trigger the comprehensive reform of the archdiocese's policies with regard to sexual misconduct by clergy."

For people who say Mr. Geoghan abused them, that could not be a better outcome.

"It's just a small first step in filtering out all pedophiles out of my church," said Patrick McSorley, 27, who said he was molested when he was 12 and Mr. Geoghan took him out for ice cream to comfort him after his father committed suicide. "He was never a priest. He's a predator."


Pope's Speech to Session of Congregation for Catholic Education
VATICAN CITY, FEB. 21, 2002 ( John Paul II addressed the members of the Plenary Session of the Congregation for Catholic Education on Feb. 4, at the beginning of their meeting. Here is a translation of his address.

* * *

Your Eminences,
Dear Brothers in the Episcopate and in the Priesthood,
Dear Brothers and Sisters,

1. I am very happy to welcome you at the beginning of the Plenary Session of your Congregation. As I greet you warmly, I want to thank your Prefect, Cardinal Zenon Grocholewski for expressing your heartfelt sentiments of respect and homage.

I was attentive to what the Cardinal Prefect explained about your programme and I also saw the material prepared for these days of intense reflection. The Church lives on the continuous fraternal dialogue between the Roman Curia and the Episcopal Conferences. This dialogue normally takes place by
way of regular correspondence, but at times it requires more sustained moments of sharing and dialogue. Your Plenary Congregation is one of these moments, that help to develop fruitful collaboration and reinforce the union of minds in the constant readiness for the service of ecclesial communion.

Educate psychologists who appreciate the Christian life and psychology

2. You are going to examine some Guidelines for the use of psychological expertise in the admission and formation of candidates to the priesthood.
This document is intended to be a useful tool for those involved in the work of priestly formation, who are called to discern the suitability and vocation of a candidate for his own good and that of the Church. Of course, the contribution of psychology has to be incorporated in a balanced way within the process of vocational discernment where it becomes part of the
overall process of formation in a way that safeguards the great value and role of spiritual direction. An atmosphere of faith in which, alone, the generous response to the vocation received from God can mature, will lead to a correct understanding of the meaning and use of psychology, that does not eliminate every difficulty and tension, but, encourages a broader awareness
and freer exercise of personal freedom so that the candidate can take up an open and honest struggle; with the irreplaceable help of grace.

It will therefore be right to pay attention to the formation of expert
psychologists, who, with good scientific qualifications, will also have a sound understanding of the Christian vision of life and of the vocation to the priesthood, so as to provide effective support for the necessary integration of the human and supernatural dimensions.

Apostolic and ecclesial charity

3. I also noted with pleasure the great commitment you have made to concluding the Apostolic Visitations to seminaries of common right and your desire to offer them a synthetic overview of the visits to guarantee their effectiveness.

Today, because of the general situation of the Church, it is especially important to pay attention to the seminaries. The intellectual and spiritual formation they impart must be of the highest calibre. The candidates must be introduced to the practice of prayer, meditation and personal asceticism,
based on the theological virtues lived in daily life.

It is especially necessary to foster in the students joy in their own
vocation. Celibacy for the Kingdom of God must be presented as a choice that is eminently favourable for the joyful proclamation of the risen Christ.
Along the same line, it will be important to instil in the souls of the seminarians the taste for ecclesial and apostolic charity: living in communion with Christ, with superiors and companions, is the most suitable preparation for their future ministerial obligations.

Formation of students in canon law

4. You also intend to discuss the formation of the students in canon law. This is a very relevant subject: canon law, based on the juridical and legislative legacy of a long tradition, is considered as a means that, within the primacy of love and grace, secures a just order in the life of the ecclesial society and of the persons who belong to the Church by virtue of Baptism.

In the present circumstances, the Church needs specialists in this discipline, to face today's juridical and pastoral needs that are more complex than they were in the past. The reflections you are proposing in this regard, with the contribution of the Fathers of the Plenary Session who have come from various parts of the world, will enable you to formulate the appropriate instructions for the future action of the Congregation.

Consecrated persons in the education apostolates

5. During these days you will also be focusing on the role of consecrated persons (men and women religious), in the world of education. The Church is indebted to consecrated persons for the marvellous pages of holiness and dedication to the cause of education and evangelization they have written,
especially, during the last two centuries. In the Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation Vita consecrata I was able to highlight their indispensable role in the world of education. Today, while I am well aware of the difficulties of many religious families, I renew my invitation to consecrated persons to continue "to bring to bear on the world of education their radical witness
to the values of the Kingdom" (n. 96).

A particular feature of the educational community operating in Catholic schools consists in the presence of both consecrated persons and lay people. Both can and must enrich the educational programme with their own experience. This will happen if, in their spiritual, ecclesial and professional formation, they are able to realize the goal of a shared mission.

World Day of Prayer for Vocations and Third Congress for Vocations in Montreal

6. In the area of vocations, there is the valuable work of the Pontifical Society for Ecclesiastical Vocations, that since 1941 has fostered the pastoral work of promoting vocations. The foremost action (actio princeps) is prayer in obedience to the mandate of Christ: "Pray therefore the Lord of the harvest to send labourers into his harvest" (Mt 9,38; Lk 10,2). Thus
the World Day of Prayer for Vocations, now in its 39th year, is very valuable for it involves all Christian communities in a common intense prayer so that the Church may have priestly and religious vocations.

I note with satisfaction that through the influence of this Pontifical
Society, the idea of holding continental congresses on vocations to priestly ministry and consecrated life has continued. In the coming month of April, after a fruitful involvement of the diocesan and regional communities, the
Third Congress for North America will be celebrated in Montreal, after those for Latin America and Europe. It is an event that the whole Church will follow with prayer, as I asked in my Message for the upcoming World Day of Prayer for Vocations. I trust that this important ecclesial event,
providentially close in time and place to the celebration of the World Youth Day in Toronto, may bring about in the local Churches a renewed dedication to the recruitment of vocations and a more generous enthusiasm among the Christians of the "New World".

Continue your service for the support of the pastoral care of vocations, in a spirit of joyful gratitude to the Lord for his continuous gift of vocations to the ordained ministry and to consecrated life. With creative confidence tackle the motives for concern caused by the lack of vocations in some parts of the world, and the serious challenges of the discernment and
formation of those who are called.

I thank you for your daily service to seminaries, universities and schools

7. Finally, I thank you for your daily service as a Congregation to the Church in the area of seminaries, universities and schools, in a word, in the vast sector of education. Educational institutions are expected to make a fundamental contribution to building a more human world, founded on the values of justice and solidarity.

As I assure you of my special prayer for your work during the plenary meeting, I invoke an abundance of heavenly light upon you all, for which I cordially impart my Blessing to you.

[from L'Osservatore Romano]


`Psychological sickness' in the priesthood

Thomas Cahill: `Psychological sickness' in the priesthood
By Julia Keller
Tribune cultural critic
Copyright (c) 2002, Chicago Tribune

With the kind of timing that smacks of divine intervention, Thomas Cahill's new book is about the recent history of the Roman Catholic Church -- an institution rocked in recent weeks by a widening scandal involving pedophile priests.

Cahill, author of the best-selling "How the Irish Saved Civilization" (1995) and religious histories such as "Desire of the Everlasting Hills: Before and After Jesus" (1999), penned "Pope John XXIII" (2002) as part of the Penguin Lives series of brief biographies. It celebrates the pope who, before his death in 1963, "transformed the office" of the papacy, Cahill said.

Cahill, a Catholic, has thought a great deal about the current state of the powerful but embattled institution. The church is still reeling from reports late last week that the Boston archdiocese has provided prosecutors with the names of more than 80 former and current priests accused of sexually abusing children over the past four decades. During a recent visit to Chicago, Cahill reacted to the news. The following is an edited transcript:

Q. Accusations of child abuse against Catholic priests are increasing. What's going on?

A. There is a psychological sickness at the heart of the American Catholic priesthood. This has to do with a change in the society that was never registered within the church. In the society I grew up in -- the 1940s and '50s -- nobody talked about sex. There's a real shift in consciousness now. People are willing to talk about sex. It's no longer stuffed under a rug. People are always interested in it. More and more, we have a sexualized society. It's everywhere. There are things that are just a part of our culture that would have been unthinkable just a few years ago. I checked into a local hotel and I have three different choices for movies in my room: first-run movies, some other movies and adult entertainment.

Q. How does that affect priests?

A. Priests live in the same world that we live in. When they check into a hotel, they also get access to pornography. In the world of the 1930s and '40s, you still had priests like the Bing Crosby character in [the 1944 film] "Going My Way." They offered up their sexuality on the altar for the greater good. There were people like that in that period who were priests and nuns. They're not there anymore. The reason they're not is that no one thinks they should offer up their sexuality for a lifetime of greater good. I don't care who they are, they don't believe that anymore.

It's simply a form of double-think on the part of the official church to pretend that there are still such people. There's no one going into convents. Surprise, surprise.

Q. What kind of men are becoming priests?

A. The psychological profile of the typical seminarian is somebody sexually infantile and narcissistic. What that means is, they don't see other people as real human beings; they see other people as part of their movie. Because they are infantile and narcissistic, they go in the direction of altar boys.

Q. What should happen to Bernard Law, cardinal of the Boston archdiocese, who has admitted that he transferred priests such as John Geoghan from one parish to another, knowing about allegations of abuse against them, and also secretly settled lawsuits against the church by the parents of abused children?

A. To force Law's retirement is a good move. I think he should retire. I think all the higher-ups in the church who have been part of this cover-up should be forcibly retired. We'd need a completely new set of managers because most of them would be gone.

Q. What will happen next?

A. This is not going to go away. It's going to get worse. There are any number of dioceses that will go bankrupt [from settling claims against priests brought by parents of abused children]. It's going to have to be taken over by the laity. It's the laity who has to protect these children, not these priests. There has to be a change. Or else people will walk away in droves saying, "No, I'm not interested in this anymore. I'll be a Methodist or whatever, or pray to God in the privacy of my home. I don't need to be a part of this nonsense."

Q. What should the change be?

A. The response that's needed is a true reformation, which would include making celibacy optional. To create a different kind of clergy, which is desperately needed.

Q. Could that really happen?

A. Sure. It could happen tomorrow afternoon. As I point out in the book ["Pope John XXIII], the clergy were not always celibate. It's not part of doctrine.

Q. Why haven't church officials stopped the abuse of children?

A. The higher clergy, the bishops, those charged with setting policy in the church, have taken the ostrich route. They simply will not look at this for what it is.

Q. Why not?

A. They're part of the problem. I'm not saying that they're active pedophiles. But they came out of the same circumstances as these priests. They have blinders on. One of the great political plays of all time is Sophocles' "Oedipus." Oedipus says to the people of Thebes, "I am going to get to the bottom of this, this contagion." He is the source of the contagion and he doesn't know it. He doesn't know it until almost the last words of the play. Of course he's not going to get to the bottom of it. The one thing he can't see is himself. That's exactly the dynamic that's going on with these bishops.

Q. You've said the laity must get involved. What can they do?

A. The only way the laity can take charge is by manipulating the one lever they have under their control: contributions. . . . And if the actual church decides to rise up, they can do it tomorrow afternoon.

Q. Why do church authorities insist on celibacy?

A. I think the real reason is that a celibate clergy is far more under their thumb than a married clergy would be. If the pastor of the church has a wife and children, he has a lot of considerations other than just obeying his bishop. It's a question of control. In Protestant churches, the pastor is afraid of his congregation, which can fire him. In the Catholic churches, the clergyman is afraid of his bishop, who can remove him. Unfortunately, neither situation is ideal, because both situations encourage the supression of courage. They encourage docile human beings.

Q. And the result of that will be what?

A. That's a much larger question for Christianity as a whole. Are we stamping out the role of the prophet by the way we organize our churches?

Q. Is the Catholic Church at a crucial crossroads in its history?

A. Yes. There are always choices -- the good choice and the bad choice. But Christianity is always at a crisis, always at a turning point. Try to find the moment in Christian history when everything was quiet. I don't know where the moment is. There's always a big crisis.

Q. What do you say to those who claim that the church, despite the present controversy, has lasted a long time doing things its own way?

A. That is the knee-jerk reaction over and over again: Well, that's the way we do it. So whatever stupid thing we're doing, we have to continue it.

Subject: NIGHTLINE: Sins of the Fathers
Thursday, February 21, 2002

TONIGHT'S SUBJECT: The Catholic priest in Boston that we reported on about a month ago was just sentenced to nine to ten years in prison for assaulting a young boy. That was just one of the many cases that he has been accused of. In the meantime, the diocese has given authorities the names of about 90 current and former priests who have also been accused of assaulting children.


I have been sitting here at my keyboard for a while, trying to figure out what to say about tonight's broadcast. I have just watched the sentencing of the priest on television. As you probably remember from our last broadcast, the Church has faced mounting criticism over how these cases have been handled. As part of its response, the diocese said it would turn over to authorities the names of other priests who had been accused of molesting children over the past several decades. They came up with a list of about 90 names. Now the authorities have complained the information is vague and incomplete. But 90 names.

Now that raises questions about what has been happening in other diocese around the country. A few, in the New England area, have begun to come forward with the same type of information, but clearly there is a much larger problem here. And why wasn't this information brought out long before today?

For victims of molestation, the physical trauma is bad enough. But when the perpetrator is someone who is respected in the community, someone who is spoken of in glowing terms, it makes things worse. A sense of betrayal is added to the already horrific pain of the act itself. And I think that is true whether the person is a priest, a teacher, a coach, or whatever. If the allegations aren't taken seriously, or nothing is done, the psychological impact can be devastating, and long-lasting.

In the case of this one priest, today's sentencing is one step towards justice. But I keep going back to that number 90. What of the victims in those cases, when there was no justice? What can possibly be done now to make this right?

These are difficult questions, and we'll try to address them tonight. Correspondent Ron Claiborne will report on today's developments, and what has been happening since the last time we covered this story, and Ted will interview a contributing reporter for the newspaper The National Catholic Reporter who has helped to break these stories, and former Boston Mayor and ambassador to the Vatican Ray Flynn, an advisor to the diocese.

Leroy Sievers
Executive Producer Nightline Offices Washington, D.C.

Do the Maths
divided by

U.S. Catholics Top 63 Million

There are 63,863,030 Catholics in the United States, 23% of the population, according to statistics released by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

The nation's faithful represent 6.2% of the world's 1.01 billion Catholics.

The United States has 46,041 priests: 30,655 diocesan clergy and 15,386 vowed to a specific order.

Seminarians number 4,917, including 3,400 in formation for the diocesan priesthood. Permanent deacons number 13,348. Vowed religious comprise 79,462 sisters and 5,565 brothers.

In Catholic education, 7,061 elementary schools have 1.94 million students;
1,596 high schools have 680,947 students. The 235 Catholic colleges and universities educate 705,059 students.

40,000 wonderful priests
Statement of Bishop Wilton D. Gregory
President, United States Conference
of Catholic Bishops
February 19, 2002

I want to say a word about the more than 40,000 wonderful priests in our country who get up every morning to give their lives in full service to the Church as witnesses to Jesus Christ in our midst. I am very saddened that the crimes of a few have cast a shadow over the grace-filled and necessary work that they do day-in-and-day-out for society and for the Church. The Priesthood is a unique treasure of our Church, and I give you my assurance that we are doing everything to ensure that we have worthy and healthy candidates for the Priesthood and to strengthen the many priests who faithfully fulfill their ministry on behalf of all of us.

He's Spain's first openly gay priest

'Thank God, I'm gay'
Jose Mantero has shocked much of Catholic Europe by coming out. Why? He's Spain's first openly gay priest. Giles Tremlett meets him
Giles Tremlett
Thursday February 21 2002
The Guardian

The Spanish nun who walked into Father Jose Mantero's confessional was not wearing a habit, but that was not what was troubling her. "I have fallen in love with one of the sisters, with another nun," she whispered through the grille separating them. "She wanted me to call her a monster and a sinner. Instead I told her about a gay association in Seville. She was furious and stormed out. I didn't even have time to give her absolution," says Mantero. "That's what the Roman Catholic church does to homosexuals."

Now Mantero has decided it is time to bring the issue out of the confessional and into the open. He has done so in the most public and, for many, shocking way imaginable - on the front cover of a glossy gay magazine, smiling over the top of his dog collar and saying: "Thank God I am gay."

He goes down in history as the first Spanish priest to come out. He may also be remembered as the man who finally blew the whistle on a taboo subject at the Vatican - gays in the clergy. In his interview with Zero magazine, Mantero not only came out but also admitted that he had ignored, and intended to continue ignoring, his vow of celibacy. Two weeks later, he has been suspended from his job as one of two parish priests at the baroque Our Lady of Rest church in Valverde del Camino, a town of 12,000, mainly catholic, souls. He is now waiting to be hauled over the coals by his boss, the Bishop of Huelva.

"They have special places where they send gay priests, where they try to brainwash you with verses from the Bible and offer chemical castration with pills," he says.

Another option might be "a remote mission in Latin America". Sitting in the Madrid offices of Zero, he smokes his way through a packet of cigarettes but otherwise seems remarkably unruffled by the scandal he has provoked. The dog collar is gone and, in his plum-coloured, open-necked shirt, grey jeans and brown boots there is nothing, not even a crucifix, to say he is a priest. A single silver hoop hangs from his left ear, a little silver ball welded to the bottom - a small token of nonconformity. He drags one leg as he walks, the result of polio as a baby.

The 39-year-old, who has 15 years of ministry behind him, has enraged church conservatives. Spanish bishops have declared him "sick" and talked of "moral disorder".

"A sceptic boil has appeared on the face of the Spanish church and covered it with pus," raged Cardinal Dario Castrillon, Prefect for the Congregation of the Clergy at the Vatican.

At the same time, however, Mantera's email queue is full of messages of support from gay Catholics. "Last time I looked there were nearly 300 messages," he says. There is no lack of gay priests, monks or nuns in the Catholic church.

"Pope Paul VI was a great queer," says Mantero. "And when I say that I mean it with respect. He was also a great pope."

Mantero realised he was gay when he was 12. He was watching a television film with his friends. "They were all going on about how they fancied the blonde girl and I found I was thinking hey, I like that trucker with her."

Being gay is not a sin to the Catholic church - until you have sex. "The church says we must have compassion for homosexuals, which means it thinks there is something wrong with us. For many gay priests this is a personal hell. They see themselves as defective beings."

When Mantero took his vows he had no experience of sex and was convinced he would have no trouble remaining celibate. Then, seven years ago, he fell in love with his first boyfriend. His partners, and he admits to several since then, have mostly been Catholic.

Breaking his celibacy vow drove home the duplicity of his position. In Valverde del Camino he was "Don Jose" or, to the young, plain "Pepe". In gay internet chat rooms he was "Kyrlian". He would travel to Madrid, visit gay bars and go to "hairy bear" parties (a sub-genre of the gay scene, whose clientele consists chiefly of big paternal men with beards).

Last year he wrote a piece in a local Catholic magazine supporting Gay Pride day. Zero heard about it and rang him for an interview. He agreed, then rang back to say: "By the way, I am gay myself."

Mantero will not be accepting the offer of a trip to the church's Venturini centre in Italy or the Salt Lake centre in the US, where chemical castration with the drug depoprovera is allegedly on offer. He aims, instead, to stand his ground. "Being gay is a gift from God," he explains. "The reaction of the church's hierarchy is abominable. This church should be about love and justice. Now it is just worried about sex." Gays in the clergy, he says, should "kick down the closet doors."

Surely, though, by relinquishing celibacy, he has betrayed the trust of his congregation, regardless of who he has sex with? But Mantero wants this changed too. He is by no means the first priest to argue against celibacy. But, he says, there are double standards. "There are priests who actually live with the woman who is their partner... Sometimes it is well known, but nobody complains.

"The church hierarchy, from the Pope down, is deeply homophobic. I have even heard one bishop, who admitted to me that he was gay, giving rabidly anti-homosexual sermons."

That does not mean, however, that he is in favour of outing clergymen. One gay activist has threatened to out three bishops whom he had had sex with while studying at a Spanish seminary, if they act against Mantero. "That is blackmail, I don't agree with it," he says.

Some gays have criticised him for not turning his back on the church. "He must abandon a church that discriminates, rejects and offends - and all the other gay priest should go with him," said Eduardo Mendicutti, one of Spain's leading gay writers.

In Valverde del Camino, news of Mantero's coming out has caused surprise, but not rejection. He is considered an excellent priest, able, among an ageing Spanish clergy that has had to start importing priests from Latin America, to engage with the young. "If it was put to a vote, most would want him to stay," neighbours told the hordes of Spanish journalists who descended on the town.

Some time ago, Mantero remembers hearing the confession of a young man in Valverde. "Father I have sinned. I have had sex with a man. There must be something wrong with me," he said. "Don't worry, I am gay too. Do you think there is anything wrong with me?" the priest replied.

"I can see him slowly coming to terms with it," he says. "I'd like to think I helped."

Copyright Guardian Newspapers Limited

Ireland: Priest shortage and women's

Ireland: Priest shortage and women's

The Irish Independent
February 20, 2002

Drop in new recruits but still no place for women

THERE was a time when the Catholic Church in Ireland sent missionaries around the world.

Now the process is being reversed and, if the trend continues, parishes of the future will see significant numbers of priests from Africa and eastern Europe making up

for the shortage of Irish vocations. There is another option ... the ordination
of women. Dr Willie Walsh, Bishop of Killaloe, says he would have no difficulty
with the concept "if the Pope and the Church generally changed its mind". But
there is little sign of such change.

Over 100 years ago there were 2,980 diocesan priests in the country. By 1950
that figure had risen to 3,450. But by the year 2000 the figure had dropped back to 2999.

The country's assistant director of vocations, Father Donal Roche, agreed yesterday that recruiting from abroad was a far more likely scenario than the
ordination of women priests becoming a reality in the future.

Vocations to the priesthood over the past couple of years are still in decline with
only one ordination in the Dublin diocese this year.

Last year, there was also a single ordination in Dublin which brought to seven
the number of ordinations of diocesan priests since 1998 in a diocese catering to
over one million parishioners spread over 200 parishes.

Coupled with a greying priesthood, the Church has a job of work to do in covering an ever increasing workload as the number of new recruits fail to offset falling numbers. Figures last year showed that of the 750 Dublin priests less than 10pc were under 30.

Fergus Black


The Irish Independent
February 20, 2002

Women priests alone will not solve the problem

THERE WILL be surprise among the Irish bishops at remarks made by their Episcopal colleague, Bishop Willie Walsh of Killaloe, which once again raises the extremely divisive issue of women's ordination.

Some may take the view that his remarks are courageous in the light of the Vatican's defining its opposition to women priests as a settled question which is not open to debate, and the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith declaration that this is infallibly taught as part of the "deposit of faith".

Others however, won't thank Bishop Walsh for opening up a debate that has raged for years yielding nothing but two polar positions and little room for compromise.

The Church's position is well known and is essentially based on the argument that Christ chose 12 men as apostles and successive Popes have upheld that norm historically. Those opposed to the Church's argument in favour of a male-only priesthood says it is not terribly convincing and from a theological and
scriptural point of view, it is not well thought out.

The Pope has declared that the Church does not have the authority to change 2000 years of a strongly held belief and that the issue is now closed.

While the Pope is criticised as suppressing honest debate, the Church's clarification of Catholic teaching on women priests in 1995 was part of a document called 'To Defend Faith'; and was a reactive text to the debate. The Vatican's line is that it isn't going to change its mind so the usefulness of continuing to debate this issue is futile as there is no room for compromise.

Whatever the Bishops and indeed the Vatican think of Bishop Walsh's remarks, for those who want to see real change in the Church, it is disappointing that one of the more progressive of the Irish Bishops is still singing from the old clerical hymn sheet, which goes, "if we have more priests, all will be well".

All is far from well and while there is no doubt there are fewer priests than before,
it does not follow that more priests means a healthier Church. In fact what  existed before the vocations crisis was a Church that was heavily clericalised and paid little attention to lay people.

For Bishops like Willie Walsh who have seen days when priests were ordained in classes of fifty or more, it is understandably that less priests should now seem a "shortage". On the other hand, lay people who have grown up in the shadow of the reforming Vatican II Council, a less clericalised Church is the best chance of building a Church that cherishes and includes its laity, and above all, accedes power and responsibility to them.

Only this week, Masses have been discontinued at three Churches on Achill
Island but Bishop Michael Neary of Tuam was keen to point out that the Masses had been introduced many years ago as "extras" to accommodate people who had no transport.

Now, people no longer have to walk miles to get to Mass, and the modern Church has met a modern phenomenon, rationalisation. And, as with any rationalisation plan, less is always better than more.

The challenge facing the modern Irish Church therefore is not ordaining new
priests, whether they be more young celibate men or newly ordained women.

It is of little comfort to lay people if the priest holding a tight grip on power in
their parish happens to be a woman.

The real position of inequality, which the Church recognised in Vatican II but has
failed to implement, is that of the laity.

This is the bigger picture that is being missed by those who believe women's
ordination will be solve the current crisis in the Church. The crisis stems from the
Church's complete failure to pass on the Christian tradition to its own members.

The Bishops as modern day apostles are charged with this duty and have singularly failed to rise to the challenge. This may seem harsh, but is it not borne out by the facts?

Only a Church where laity are educated in their own faith, are actively involved in
the day to day running and decision making activities, and can work alongside priests, can be a healthy church with a true spirit of equality.

Why sing the clericalism tune any longer, even if it is dressed up in more inclusive terms?

Priesthood is essential to the Church but we must stop this definition of lay
involvement in terms of more priests, the failed clericalism of the past.

The Church's future rests in the ability of the Bishops to find imaginative ways of
bringing their often disillusioned or apathetic flock back into the fold.

When that comes about, a healthier Church will be mature enough to decide if it needs and wants more priests, and whether or not they should be women.

Garry O'Sullivan is a journalist and writer
with The Irish Catholic

Garry O'Sullivan

Vocation vacancies for white collar jobs challenges the Church

Vocation vacancies for white collar jobs challenges the Church
By Rónán Mullen

OF all the characteristics possessed by the Bishop of Killaloe, Dr Willie Walsh, it is his capacity to make highly imaginative, and sometimes controversial, gestures which most sets him apart from fellow priests and bishops.
It was Dr Walsh who scored the biggest hit of the Church's Jubilee Year when he braved strong winds, rain and hailstones to make a pilgrimage walk around his diocese in December, 1999.
He did this in reparation for the wrongs committed in the name of the Church, including sexual and physical abuse by Church personnel. The gesture touched a chord in the hearts of people and the bishop was joined by hundreds of pilgrims each day during his three-week tour.
Less popular with some people was Dr Walsh's decision to champion the cause of Travelling people in his diocese. In 1997 he invited them to stay on the grounds of his house in Ennis, and the following year he gave shelter to a family which had been evicted twice from sites in the town.
Last week he told a local newspaper, The Nenagh Guardian, that he would have no difficulty if the Church decided to ordain women as priests, but he didn't see such a change occurring in his lifetime.
The bishop's view will be shared by those who believe the Church can no longer afford its ban on women priests, now that vocations to the priesthood have hit an all time lowin Ireland.
Last year, only 22 men were ordained in Maynooth. In the 1950s the number of men ordained would have run into several hundred per year. Already many parishes have lost a priest and older priests are shouldering a heavier workload at a time when other people are enjoying their retirement. A number of seminaries have closed and students for the Dublin Archdiocese now study in Maynooth instead of Clonliffe College.
But for Pope John Paul, it is not a question of not wanting to ordain women. Instead, the Pope believes he doesn't have authority from the Holy Spirit to do so. In his Apostolic Letter (Ordinatio Sacerdotalis On the Ordination of Priests) the Pope wrote: "The Church has no authority whatsoever to confer priestly ordination on women and this judgment is to be definitively held by all the Church's faithful." The Church is holding firm to the view that since Christ didn't ordain women, neither should bishops. According to theologian Rosemary Swords, the challenge for today's Catholics "is to make sense of why Jesus instituted a male-only priesthood, particularly given the new focus on women and rights".
Swords argues the sexual differentiation between men and women is itself part of the Church's sacramental theology. In particular, maleness is a sacramental symbol for the person of Christ and femaleness represents the Church, traditionally referred to as the bride of Christ.
Such thinking won't cut much ice with those who regard the priesthood as just another job, and one which should be available on an equal opportunities basis. But, as Swords says: "Though the church andsociety both say Yes to women's equality, the Catholic Church is playing a prophetic role by insisting on the richness of differing and complementary roles." So the Church must find another solution to its vocations shortage. One possibility is to bring in priests from other countries where vocations numbers are up. It is a little known fact that since the present Pope took office in 1978, the number of vocations has risen world wide by 65% thanks to the growth of the Church in Africa and Latin America.
Some Irish dioceses have turned to advertising to get young men thinking of the priesthood. A few years ago the Dublin diocese ran an award-winning campaign called the Men in Black and recently produced a promotional video called 'Curriculum Vitae' featuring the life and ministry of Fr John Kelly, now a chaplain in Tallaght Hospital.
Last year, the Passionist Order ran a series of posters and radio ads under the heading of Passion for Life. Meanwhile, the Kerry diocese told its flock that "Some white collar jobs are more challenging than others." These campaigns will not bring in vocations overnight, Church spokesmen say, but they are part of a wider strategy to get people thinking about the priesthood and the work that priests do. They point to the scandals which have tarnished the image of the clergy and say that the ads are a positive reminder of the supportive role that priests have played in most people's lives.
While the Church insists it will not ordain women or married men, last year the Irish bishops applied to Rome for permission to ordain married men as deacons. Whereas, in recent times, the diaconate was a stepping stone to priesthood, there is a long history of married deacons in the Church. These acted as assistants to bishops in carrying out the pastoral mission of the Church.
Already the diocese of Boston has 200 such deacons, who can officiate at weddings, conduct funeral services, visit the sick, distribute Holy Communion - and preach. Although the Bible refers to some women as deacons, Church authorities believe the sacramental roles of deacons have always been filledby men.
But while the bishops stress priests are essential for celebrating the sacraments, they also feel the vocations crisis might spur lay people to find their true role in the Church.
In October 1998, the parish of Killanena-Flagmount in Willie Walsh's diocese of Killaloe became the first Irish parish without aresident priest. A parish council of 16 members was elected from a pool of over 100 nominations.
"The key message of the Second Vatican Council was the call of all Christians to holiness. One of the problems in Irish Catholic life was that lay people left everything to the priest," says Fr Brendan Quinlivan, a communications officer for the diocese of Killaloe and formerly a priest in the parish of Killanena.
"Priests themselves may have been to blame for this but our challenge now is to persuade Catholics that most of the Church's work must be done by lay people."
"In future a lot of work formerly done by priests will be done by a committed group of lay people, who will be responsible for spreading the Gospel in their parishes.
"But we will always need prieststo lead the community in the sacraments," said Fr Quinlivan.
The Irish Examiner

Celibacy Through History by James Baehr

Book Review February 4, 2002    
Celibacy Through History by James Baehr

A History of Celibacy by Elizabeth Abbott is an excellent book: expansive, entertaining, playful and highly recommended. Abbott's book is so historically thorough, that it oftentimes feels like much more than a history of celibacy. The focus on the role that religions have played in the pursuit of celibacy makes her book a short primer on the major and minor faiths. In describing the cultural context in which the individuals and groups she covers turn to chastity, she establishes a striking sense of time and place. Celibacy as a concept and a practice has extended throughout human history, and thus, her work becomes as expansive as that topic. She tackles it brilliantly, beginning with ancient Greece and Rome, traveling through early and later Christianity, turning to the East with chapters on celibacy's place in Hindu and Buddhist practice, before extending into our own age, celibacy's role in such modern issues as abstinence education and homosexual celibacy to deter the spread of AIDS.  The stories Abbott relays are fascinating, and her deft language makes the book immanently readable. In her chapters on early Christianity, Abbott's descriptions of the ascetic pursuits of the Church Fathers are dramatic. One early Christian, Origen, castrated himself in order to avoid the sins of the flesh. Saint Simeon built a pillar 60 feet tall and lived atop it with nothing to protect himself from the elements except the passion of the worship of God. Abbott writes, "With Simeon at its apex, the pillar became an altar and its lonely inhabitant the incense wafting upward to heaven." In later chapters, Abbott discusses celibacy's meaning for Hindu brahmacharya (the process of becoming a Hindu male ascetic) Ð not as a soul/body duality, but instead as a way to conserve and channel creativity through the conservation of their bodily fluids. The most famous practitioner of brahmacharya, Gandhi, she notes, would test his chaste will by sleeping "with lovely, and usually naked, young women." In America's own short past, one Father Divine led a movement of racial and sexual equality for whom celibacy was tantamount. These stories are hardly the exception: tales both eerie and fascinating fill Abbott's book, and she tells them masterfully. Chastity is not merely a program for ascetics, however: Abbott makes much of women, in both Eastern and Western traditions, who use celibacy to gain freedom and respect in male-dominated societies. "In a suitable, serious cloister, the sky was both literally and figuratively the limit for a determinedly devout virgin," Abbott dramatically states, "The convent gave European women more freedom to develop and express themselves than any other institution, including the family." Later in the book, Abbott speaks of famous women leaders Elizabeth I and Florence Nightingale--two whose refusal of sex meant a life of achievement. However, though Abbott is a firm feminist, her focus on these elements are neither preachy nor trite, but instead fit well with her overarching themes. Her ideology does not impede her telling of good history.  Celibacy today is almost universally viewed in the west as a stodgy and stiff conception, whereas sex is viewed as an endlessly interesting pastime. Abbott exploits this parallel to the fullest--constantly toying with the sexual in her stories involving the lack of sex. At rare points, this frankness becomes overbearingly graphic, as in her depiction of Lysistra's ultimatum, a comedy by Aristophanes that describes how Athenian women and Spartan women force an end to war by denying sex to their husbands for six days. In all, however, Abbott's use of sexual language is inescapable considering the subject matter, and handled tastefully. Perhaps Abbott's book is so entertaining because in our sexually drenched culture, the rejection of sex is, in itself, something fascinating. The prerogatives and pursuits of so many thousands throughout history to lead a life empowered or ennobled through celibacy is something to ponder upon. Abbot's greatest achievement is her ability to delve into the depth of an oft-ignored subject and bring to bear a new understanding of what is often labeled antiquated, mostly Christian asceticism. Abbot's interpretation, that the richness of celibacy lies in its ability to empower men and women of all faiths and cultures, deserves reflection in an age of unremitting decadence.  Mr. Baehr is a freshman at the College and a contributor to The Dartmouth Review.    

Drop in new recruits but still no place for women

The Irish Independent
February 20, 2002

Drop in new recruits but still no place for women

THERE was a time when the Catholic Church
in Ireland sent missionaries around the world.

Now the process is being reversed and, if
the trend continues, parishes of the future
will see significant numbers of priests
from Africa and eastern Europe making up

for the shortage of Irish vocations.
There is another option ... the ordination
of women. Dr Willie Walsh, Bishop of
Killaloe, says he would have no difficulty
with the concept "if the Pope and the
Church generally changed its mind". But
there is little sign of such change.

Over 100 years ago there were 2,980
diocesan priests in the country. By 1950
that figure had risen to 3,450. But by the
year 2000 the figure had dropped back to

The country's assistant director of
vocations, Father Donal Roche, agreed
yesterday that recruiting from abroad was
a far more likely scenario than the
ordination of women priests becoming a
reality in the future.

Vocations to the priesthood over the past
couple of years are still in decline with
only one ordination in the Dublin diocese
this year.

Last year, there was also a single
ordination in Dublin which brought to seven
the number of ordinations of diocesan
priests since 1998 in a diocese catering to
over one million parishioners spread over
200 parishes.

Coupled with a greying priesthood, the
Church has a job of work to do in covering
an ever increasing workload as the number
of new recruits fail to offset falling
numbers. Figures last year showed that of
the 750 Dublin priests less than 10pc were
under 30.

Fergus Black


The Irish Independent
February 20, 2002

Women priests alone will not solve the problem

THERE WILL be surprise among the Irish
bishops at remarks made by their Episcopal
colleague, Bishop Willie Walsh of Killaloe,
which once again raises the extremely
divisive issue of women's ordination.

Some may take the view that his remarks are
courageous in the light of the Vatican's
defining its opposition to women priests as
a settled question which is not open to
debate, and the Congregation for the
Doctrine of the Faith declaration that this
is infallibly taught as part of the
"deposit of faith".

Others however, won't thank Bishop Walsh
for opening up a debate that has raged for
years yielding nothing but two polar
positions and little room for compromise.

The Church's position is well known and is
essentially based on the argument that
Christ chose 12 men as apostles and
successive Popes have upheld that norm
historically. Those opposed to the Church's
argument in favour of a male-only
priesthood says it is not terribly
convincing and from a theological and
scriptural point of view, it is not well
thought out.

The Pope has declared that the Church does
not have the authority to change 2000 years
of a strongly held belief and that the
issue is now closed.

While the Pope is criticised as suppressing
honest debate, the Church's clarification
of Catholic teaching on women priests in
1995 was part of a document called 'To
Defend Faith'; and was a reactive text to
the debate. The Vatican's line is that it
isn't going to change its mind so the
usefulness of continuing to debate this
issue is futile as there is no room for

Whatever the Bishops and indeed the Vatican
think of Bishop Walsh's remarks, for those
who want to see real change in the Church,
it is disappointing that one of the more
progressive of the Irish Bishops is still
singing from the old clerical hymn sheet,
which goes, "if we have more priests, all
will be well".

All is far from well and while there is no
doubt there are fewer priests than before,
it does not follow that more priests means
a healthier Church. In fact what existed
before the vocations crisis was a Church
that was heavily clericalised and paid
little attention to lay people.

For Bishops like Willie Walsh who have seen
days when priests were ordained in classes
of fifty or more, it is understandably that
less priests should now seem a "shortage".
On the other hand, lay people who have
grown up in the shadow of the reforming
Vatican II Council, a less clericalised
Church is the best chance of building a
Church that cherishes and includes its
laity, and above all, accedes power and
responsibility to them.

Only this week, Masses have been
discontinued at three Churches on Achill
Island but Bishop Michael Neary of Tuam was
keen to point out that the Masses had been
introduced many years ago as "extras" to
accommodate people who had no transport.

Now, people no longer have to walk miles to
get to Mass, and the modern Church has met
a modern phenomenon, rationalisation. And,
as with any rationalisation plan, less is
always better than more.

The challenge facing the modern Irish
Church therefore is not ordaining new
priests, whether they be more young
celibate men or newly ordained women.

It is of little comfort to lay people if
the priest holding a tight grip on power in
their parish happens to be a woman.

The real position of inequality, which the
Church recognised in Vatican II but has
failed to implement, is that of the laity.

This is the bigger picture that is being
missed by those who believe women's
ordination will be solve the current crisis
in the Church. The crisis stems from the
Church's complete failure to pass on the
Christian tradition to its own members.

The Bishops as modern day apostles are
charged with this duty and have singularly
failed to rise to the challenge. This may
seem harsh, but is it not borne out by the

Only a Church where laity are educated in
their own faith, are actively involved in
the day to day running and decision making
activities, and can work alongside priests,
can be a healthy church with a true spirit
of equality.

Why sing the clericalism tune any longer,
even if it is dressed up in more inclusive

Priesthood is essential to the Church but
we must stop this definition of lay
involvement in terms of more priests, the
failed clericalism of the past.

The Church's future rests in the ability of
the Bishops to find imaginative ways of
bringing their often disillusioned or
apathetic flock back into the fold.

When that comes about, a healthier Church
will be mature enough to decide if it needs
and wants more priests, and whether or not
they should be women.

Garry O'Sullivan is a journalist and writer
with The Irish Catholic

Garry O'Sullivan

The 95 Theses of Raymond Grosswirth

Archbishop quits after paedophile row

Archbishop quits after paedophile row BY HELEN STUDD  The Times
THE Archbishop of Cardiff suddenly left his position as head of the Roman Catholic Church in Wales yesterday amid speculation that he had been dismissed.

Milingo in a marriage knot

Saturday, 1 September 2001              
Milingo in a marriage knot
David Willey

Anxiety is increasing in the Vatican as the wife whom Archbishop Milingo married in a mass ceremony conducted by the Revd Sun Myung Moon continues her hunger strike. Maria Sung says she will not stop until her husband meets her. The BBC's correspondent in Rome has been following the romance and separation.  As dusk fell in Saint Peter's Square one torrid night last week, a small crowd of about 200 people, many of them carrying candles, gathered outside the barriers which close off the piazza from public access after hours. A car swept into view, and a pale-faced slightly dumpy Korean woman stepped out, supported by friends as she could barely walk. She was weakened by a hunger strike, having taken only water for the past fortnight. Television cameramen and journalists jostled for a place as she joined protesters standing behind a banner which asked, "Where is Archbishop Milingo"?  Led by the Revd T.L. Barrett, a black American evangelical pastor, and the Revd Philip Schanker, vice-president of the Unification Church of the Revd Sun Myung Moon, they sang "Amen" and "When the Saints Go Marching In". If the Pope had been watching from his study window overlooking the piazza (he is in fact staying at his summer residence at Castel Gandolfo outside Rome), he might well have been puzzled as to what was going on below.  The lady was Maria Sung Milingo, a Korean acupuncturist whose picture has appeared on the front pages of every Italian newspaper this holiday season. She has been coming to Saint Peter's Square each day at dawn to pray that God (and the Pope) might save her controversial marriage to Archbishop Emmanuel Milingo, an African faith healer who for two decades has been an embarrassing thorn in the side of the Vatican.  I first met Milingo in Rome in April 1982 when an African student arrived in my office bearing a scribbled handwritten note from the archbishop asking for my help. Milingo explained he was being held against his will in the convent of the Passionist fathers just behind the Colosseum. He had been summoned to Rome by his ecclesiastical superiors after incurring the displeasure of the Vatican on account of the healing ministry which he was exercising in the football stadium in Lusaka. His healing sessions attracted huge crowds, but he had been accused of "witchcraft" by some of his fellow clergy. He was sacked virtually overnight and ordered to Rome to undergo psychiatric tests.  The story the archbishop told me when I visited him in his monastic cell - where he was indeed a virtual Vatican prisoner - suggested that the truth was not perhaps quite so simple. "You in the West have your psychiatrists", he said, "and we in Africa have our belief in spirits. I am only following in the footsteps of Jesus Christ when I cast out evil spirits."  Consecrated bishop at the age of only 39 by the late Pope Paul VI during his historic visit to Uganda in 1969, Milingo related how he felt betrayed by the Church which he felt he had served faithfully all his life. He made it clear he had no ambition to found a schismatic African Church. But he was deeply hurt by the lack of understanding he had encountered in Rome.  "I don't expect any ecclesiastical coup détat in Africa against Rome", he remarked. "I simply say, ‘I have got some different kind of flowers'. Instead of saying, ‘How beautiful those flowers are!', the Vatican says, ‘Oh, no! those flowers are pois-onous!'"  Fast forward to 2001. Today the Vatican believes that Milingo's "poisonous flowers" are the more dangerous because of his affiliation with the Unification Church of the Revd Sun Myung Moon. The Moon organisation is relishing its role as guardian and press agent of Mrs Milingo. The archbishop's wife, who speaks only Korean peppered with a few halting words of Italian, remains determined to have a private meeting with her husband to discuss their future.  Philip Schanker told me he had been appointed by Archbishop Milingo this summer to be his adviser as well. The vice-president of the Unification Church accused the Vatican of using the same brainwashing techniques which critics of the Moon organisation claim they use upon their members. Schanker rejected the statement put out by the Vatican which quoted the words of Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, Archbishop of Washington, to the effect that Archbishop Milingo's "marriage" performed by the Revd Moon in a New York hotel last May "had nothing to do with true marriage and still less to do with Christian marriage".  While McCarrick would consider only a Catholic marriage valid, Schanker said, he himself took a more ecumenical view. "Milingo himself has said his parents were married according to traditional African rites. Does that mean their marriage was also invalid?"  In an interview from New York with the BBC's Sunday programme, Milingo explained the reasons for his marriage before his return to Rome and his meeting with the Pope:  "Marriage is a natural state for a man. I myself have served the Church for so many years and then at a certain moment have understood the importance of marriage, that it is so important to restore family values. Unless we do that, we cannot bring peace to the world. The church authorities must listen to the people. Vox populi, vox Dei. At this time there are 120,000 priests who don't want to be called ex-priests but married priests."  Archbishop Milingo arrived in Milan from New York on 6 August with his new wife and members of the Moon organisation. After checking in at an airport hotel, he managed to give them the slip and turned up at the Pope's residence at Castel Gandolfo on the evening of the following day asking for an audience. He was granted this the next day, since when he has disappeared from public view. He gave one brief interview to Italian TV and to a handful of Italian newspapers publicly bidding farewell to his wife, whom he referred to as his "sister" - and for whom, he promised, he would always offer his prayers.  The Vatican says merely that the archbishop is on a spiritual retreat and that he will fix the details of his final meeting with Maria Sung himself when he feels ready to do so.  Meanwhile some Italian bishops are beginning to feel uneasy about the cavalier attitude of the Vatican towards Mrs Milingo after her husband appeared to do a U-turn in his views on the right of priests to marry, following his meeting with the Pope.  Alessandro Maggiolini, Bishop of Como and moral theologian, chosen by the Pope as the only Italian representative on the commission which wrote the new Catechism of the Catholic Church, has strongly criticised his brother bishop for the way in which he has treated Maria Sung.  "Sung has been abandoned and humiliated. Her dignity has been abused. After suddenly abandoning her, someone must compensate her, not only with more or less sincere mea culpas but with something more concrete and lasting. Someone must safeguard her rights. And that someone can only be Mgr Milingo."  The archbishop in his rather strained appearance on Italian TV seemed to rule out further husband-and-wife relations with Maria. But Mrs Milingo, sounding ever more as if she was reading extracts from a Mills & Boon love story, has been waxing lyrical about her brief love affair in innumerable interviews given from her hotel room near the Vatican, or after praying in Saint Peter's Square. She told the correspondent of Turin's La Stampa:  "The love that he has always shown towards me will break the ice and cause the chains which keep us apart to fall away. They know in the Vatican that ours is a true relationship, a fusion of body and soul. That's why they don't want us to be alone face to face. They fear that the spark will revive our immense love for each other. . . .  "He was forced to say he would love me like a sister. For 40 days after our marriage we lived a period of purification which demands complete abstinence from sexual relations. We exchanged a kiss and slept in separate beds, in order not to give way to temptation.  "But afterwards there was a progressive increase in our intimacy. He used to call me ‘little one' and we exchanged sweet words all the time.  "I have been looking at the videos of our news conferences in the United States. There Emmanuel has a serene and decisive expression on his face, quite different from the prostrated and weakened figure who appeared on Italian TV reading a letter addressed to me but certainly not written by him. I seemed to be in front of a person who was mechanically repeating meaningless words.  "As soon as we see each other again, our love will break all boundaries like a river in flood. And everything will begin again with a kiss."  In Catholic clerical culture, when a priest goes astray with a woman and later repents, she is generally expected to fade into the background while the priest wrestles with his interior demons. The woman is seen as an occasion of sin rather than a party to the conversation. Maria Sung, however, who this week repeated that she is prepared to fast till death, seems determined not to go down in history as the meek victim of a priest's sin. She has successfully projected her story as that of a wife's desperate struggle to reclaim her husband - who, she has said repeatedly, is a man before he is an archbishop.  Why has the Vatican vacillated so much in its treatment of their errant bishop? He was originally given a deadline of 20 August to recant or to be formally excommunicated, but after his audience with the Pope this threat was discreetly withdrawn. One explanation could be the forthcoming Synod of Bishops which is due in Rome to discuss the whole role of the Catholic bishop in the modern Church. Unless the Milingo affair is settled quickly and in private, this soap opera could continue for weeks, filling the columns of newspapers with a juicy Vatican story.  Another is that there is a real problem about celibacy for African clergy. In a continent where polygamy has for centuries been the cultural rule rather than the exception, and where celibacy is often seen as an eccentric European import, the spectacle of an African bishop standing up openly for married priests could add fuel to the growing demand among Catholics in other parts of the world for the Pope to abandon his veto on even discussing such a revolutionary change.  And, finally, is Archbishop Milingo once again the virtual prisoner of the Vatican? Shall I receive another scribbled note shortly saying, "Help!"?        More by David Willey Contents Page More on Africa More on International Church More on Other Faiths More on Personalities More on Vatican Affairs         

© The Tablet Publishing Company                    

Priest urged to resign over 'maverick' views

Priest urged to resign over 'maverick' views
A CONTROVERSIAL priest who compared his superiors in the Catholic Church to the Gestapo has been told to resign by his family's parish priest.
The move is part of a concerted campaign by conservative Catholics to oust Father Steve Gilhooley from the church for his left-wing political views.
By Stephen Fraser
Scotland on Sunday

Statement Mrs. Maria Milingo, wife of Archbishop Milingo

Statement Mrs. Maria Milingo, wife of Archbishop Milingo

August 11, 2001
Rome, Italy

On May 27, 2001, I was married to His Grace, the Archbishop Emmanuel Milingo in an interfaith ceremony in New York, with 60 couples of religious leaders from many different faiths, officiated by Reverend and Mrs. Sun Myung Moon. Although neither of us had dreamed that we would share our future together, we both have a deep faith in God, and have completely offered our marriage to serve His will. In the nearly three months that we have been together, we rise each morning before dawn for prayer, we study God's word, and my husband teaches me many things about the ways of his faith. 

I know that my husband feels a deep sense of mission for Africa, and to bring healing and blessing to the people of Italy, Europe and the world. He has not forgotten the many thousands who love and support him in this country and elsewhere. He wants to fulfill his mission in the Catholic Church, despite many painful experiences he has told me about. Archbishop Milingo knows that wherever he goes and whatever he decides to do, I will follow him with all my heart.

My husband is a wise, loving man with a joyful and giving spirit. Everyone who is near him long enough comes to feel his warm heart and simple humility. That is why so many people love him so very much. He is a strong, disciplined by many years of priestly life and unafraid to follow God's will no matter where it leads him. He is a righteous man, chosen by God for holy work. He has suffered so much, and been so misunderstood. I only want to help him fulfill his mission, to support him and take care of him. He has a deep and living relationship with Jesus, and he married only because the Lord guided him to do so. As we departed for Italy, my husband warned me that we would face a difficult situation, but that I must trust him. Most of all, he promised to protect me from any danger. When we arrived in Milan last Monday, we were greeted by Ms. Alba Vitali, as we had planned. Ms. Vitali invited me to be her guest at the Villa Malpenza Hotel, and promised to be in touch soon. Then she and my husband left to see the Holy Father, as he had told me they would. But I have heard nothing from Ms. Vitali for 5 days. I was abandoned and ignored by her. When I called her at her home yesterday, just to ask how to reach my husband, Ms. Vitali hung up the phone, refusing to speak with me.

I have remained in prayer and at peace until now, because I believe in my husband, and that he is following God's guidance. But whenever we are apart, my husband is so concerned to keep in close touch with me. This time, however, I have heard from him only once, on Wednesday. He told me to leave the hotel in Milan, and go to a safe place. He told me he was facing a difficult fight, and that he was not free to talk, but would call back soon. That's the last I heard from him, except when I saw him on TV. And there, from his own mouth, I heard him say, just as you did: "I am no longer single. I must consider my wife. She is not a rag, but a human being with rights." He said we would decide everything together, and that he wanted to meet me. I believe what my husband said.

But then my husband disappeared from public view, and someone else now says that he speaks for Archbishop Milingo. Mr. Maurizio Bisantis said my husband wants to leave me, and return to the Catholic Church. But my husband never left his Catholic faith. Mr. Bisantis said my husband would make a big announcement yesterday, but my husband never appeared. Now Mr. Bisantis says he will be in seclusion for 15 or 20 days. But my husband would NEVER disappear without saying anything to me. I do not believe Mr. Bisantis. I want to see my husband. My husband wants to see me. Why won't they tell me where he is? Why won't they let me see him?

Mr. Bisantis said he rescued my husband from America. That is a lie. He said that I went back to America. That is also untrue. If Mr. Bisantis is doing God's work, why does he have to lie? I called him, asking for my husband, but he did not answer his phone or respond to my messages. If my husband wants to see me, and that's what he said every time he has appeared, then why won't they let him? I do not believe Mr. Bisantis. I do not believe he speaks for my husband at all. I do not believe Ms. Vitali. I believe my husband. I want to see his face, to hear his voice. If he does not want to be with me, then I want to hear it from his own lips. He would NEVER leave me without a word.

I am afraid that my husband is not free to speak with me. Mr. Bisantis and Ms. Vitali said that Archbishop Milingo is in the care of the Holy See. I am asking the church that my husband loves to tell me where he is. Let him come to me. I have not seen him in almost a week, and I am afraid. My husband asked them to respect my rights, but why won't they let him see me? Today I will begin to fast until the church will let me see my husband, or until I die. He told me that he would give his life to protect me. But I don't know where he is, and I am afraid for what is happening to him. So now, I am willing to give my life to find him. I ask the church for mercy. I ask the church for justice. I ask the church to let me see my husband. I implore the Holy Father, whom my husband risked everything to come and see, to intervene so that my husband and I can make our decision together.

Now I ask you, the members of the media, to help me find him. Ask Mr. Bisantis, ask Ms. Vitali: where is Archbishop Milingo? They know where he is and what is happening to him. But they will not tell me. If you have any respect for the rights of my husband and I, please help us. Many have told me to go to the police, but I prefer to ask the Catholic Church to be true to the Christian faith it professes.

Prelate who strayed finds a way to the Pope’s door

The Scotsman -

Prelate who strayed finds a way to the Pope's door

Foreign staff

ONE of the Catholic church's most prodigal sons found his way home to the doorstep of the Vatican yesterday.

Archbishop Emmanuel Milingo scandalised the Catholic world in May when he defected to the sect of the Reverend Sun Myung Moon and married a Korean acupuncturist in a mass wedding.

But he arrived unexpectedly at the papal summer residence at Castelgandolfo, southeast of Rome on Monday to demand - and a day later receive - a personal audience with the Pope.

"The meeting was the start of dialogue that one hopes can lead to positive developments," the Vatican said yesterday.

Milingo, wearing a dark suit and open-necked shirt, made no comment when he left the papal villa but tapped his fingers on his lips in silence. Until the last minute, it was unclear if the former archbishop of Lusaka, Zambia would be admitted.

Exactly what welcome greeted the 71-year-old prelate is also something of a mystery. Milingo may have wanted to make amends to a Pope who backed his unorthodox prelate despite in the past despite charges of unauthorised faith-healing and exorcism.

But the meeting came just two weeks before an August 20 deadline by which Milingo, to avoid excommunication, has been told in no uncertain terms he must publicly return to the Catholic fold.

Last month, the Vatican spelled out how he must comply with conditions laid down by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

He was told to "(a) Leave (wife) Maria Sung; (b) Sever all links with the sect Family Federation for World Peace and Unification; (c) Declare publicly his fidelity to the doctrine and ecclesiastical discipline of celibacy and manifest his obedience to the Supreme Pontiff by a clear and unequivocal act."

Yesterday, however, a spokesman for Moon's sect said the archbishop had consummated his marriage and intended to start a family.

"He has begun conjugal life," said the Rev. Phillip Schanker.

Milingo had sought the papal audience to explain his reasons for marrying and his belief that priests should be allowed to have families, Mr Schanker said. Excommunication is a total severance from the Church. In modern times it has been rare, particularly for high-ranking prelates.

But last May's wedding service in New York could not be overlooked. One of 60 performed during the day, it was personally conducted by Moon, who chose Milingo's bride.

Milingo has worked in Italy since 1983. But in defiance of diocesan bishops, he presided at colourful masses and meetings at which he carried out impromptu exorcisms.

Last September he was quietly stripped of his job in a Vatican department.

In November, the Vatican issued strict new rules on exorcism and faith healing. Milingo was not mentioned by name, but many of the rules seemed to have been drafted expressly with him in mind.

Archbishop who wed sees Pope

The Guardian - 08/08/01
Archbishop who wed sees Pope

Emmanuel Milingo, the 71-year-old charismatic faith healer, exorcist, and archbishop who defected to the Moonies and got married, met the Pope yesterday in an apparent effort to heal the rift and halt his planned excommunication by the Catholic church on August 20.

Mr Milingo surprisingly showed up at the papal summer residence near Rome on Monday after he had been told to either leave his wife and the sect, and come back into the Catholic fold, or face excommunication. Reuters, Rome

Sex abuse priest must pay £64,000

Sex abuse priest must pay £64,000

Special report: religion in the UK
Jeevan Vasagar
Wednesday July 25 2001
The Guardian

A Roman Catholic priest who sexually abused a vulnerable parishioner was ordered to pay £64,000 damages yesterday.

Father Terance Fitzpatrick told Pamela Brown, now 47, the "sex games" would prove therapeutic and were "in the name of our Lord".  

Mrs Brown, a divorcee, said she had been traumatised after 30 years of severe abuse when she turned to him for spiritual help.  

The priest accompanied her to counselling sessions then coaxed her into a series of "terrifying" sexual encounters.  

When the crown prosecution service decided against pressing charges she brought a civil action for assault and battery.  

Judge Frances Kirkham, sitting at Birmingham county court, awarded the damages to Mrs Brown as compensation and to cover the cost of future psychiatric treatment.  

The court heard that Fitzpatrick, 65, a Benedictine monk, abused Mrs Brown over two years after which she suffered flashbacks.  

Gavin Millar QC, representing Mrs Brown, told the court Fitzpatrick had opted not to challenge his former parishioner's claims of abuse. The priest, who was Mrs Brown's parish priest at St Osburg's in Coventry, is now based at Douai Abbey in Berkshire.  

As he left court, Father Fitzpatrick issued a statement acknowledging that he had acted foolishly and apologised.  

"I very much hope that Mrs Brown is now able to move on and find a measure of healing and peace in her life." Mrs   Brown's solicitor, Mark Hollinghurst, said his client was satisfied with the amount of damages, which will reach £70,480 including interest.  

"The award reflects the pain and suffering she had been through as a result of the assault at the hands of Father   Fitzpatrick. Mrs Brown had maintained her dignity as best she can throughout the course of the court proceedings. She leads a desperately difficult and isolated life.  

"This was no affair, it was an unspeakable breach of trust by a priest whose help was sought by a vulnerable parishioner after years of earlier abuse."  

Gavin Millar QC, for Mrs Brown, said Fitzpatrick only admitted liability for the assaults a month ago, previously claiming the activities were consensual. Assessing damages, Judge Kirkham criticised the priest for telling the court that he had been "led on" by Mrs Brown.  

He awarded Mrs Brown £63,50,000 in general damages, £4,000 for future psychiatric treatment, £3,000 in aggravated damages and £6,480 interest.

Copyright Guardian Newspapers Limited

Advent is approved entry into the National Catholic Directory for 2002

Advent is approved entry into the National Catholic Directory for 2002

Launch of a new book by John Wijngaards.

Launch of a new book by John Wijngaards.
On Wednesday, 4th of July, at 6.00 p.m. Lavinia Byrne will launch "The Ordination of Women in the Catholic Church. Unmasking a Cuckoo's Egg Tradition", by John Wijngaards, publisher Darton, Longman and Todd, London 2001. The venue will be Mowbrays Bookshop, 28 Margaret Street, near Oxford Circus. Everyone is welcome! Please, put the date in your diary!

In this book John Wijngaards explains in a methodical and eminently readable fashion how the practice of not ordaining women in Catholic Tradition came in from outside the Church. It was a 'cuckoo's egg tradition', to use a term coined by the author. It did not find its origin in Sacred Scripture or in other Christian sources, but in pagan Roman law which had excluded women from holding any public responsibility.

The issue of the ordination of women to the priesthood will not go away. Throughout the Catholic Church, unease with the current position is increasing. Many Catholics instinctively feel that women should be ordained. Would Jesus have refused women? they ask themselves. Does the exclusion of women from holy orders not contradict the full equality of men and women in God's sight?

In this landmark book the biblical scholar and historian John Wijngaards shows how this Catholic intuition has been proved right. He examines the historical evidence and the traditional arguments that underlie the Vatican's position. Scripture itself leaves the question open. During the early centuries there were natural developments in the Church, such as the sacramental ordination of women deacons, which would have led to priestly ordination of women in the course of time. However, social prejudice prevailed and was eventually institutionalised by the Church's adoption of
principles from ancient Roman Law which barred women from holding any position of leadership or authority.

The non-ordination of women thus became what the author calls 'a cuckoo's egg tradition', a tradition that entered church practice not from Christian but from pagan sources. In a brilliant and original analysis, Wijngaards traces the authentic Catholic tradition preserved in the sensus fidei, the sacramental ordination of women deacons, the age-long devotion to Mary Priest, and the persistent witness of women called to the priesthood. At the same time, prejudice against women hardened in countries dominated by Latin culture. When the Church adopted the framework of Roman law, it resulted in a pagan idea being mistaken for authentic doctrine.

The author looks at the Vatican's case for rejecting the ordination of women, critically examining the historical evidence and the theological arguments that underlie Rome's position. He includes extracts from key historical records, and supplies website links to comprehensive documentation, making this the most complete and authoritative resource on the issue, indispensable for anyone with an interest in the future of the priesthood and the place of women in the Catholic Church.
More information about the book on

Draft constitution of Advent




The name of the association shall be "Advent (UK), hereafter referred to as "Advent".


The aims of Advent are:
To promote the welfare of priests and religious who have left the active ministry and their partners;
To assist, advise and counsel priests and religious who are taking decisions about their future ministry;
To support those who are emotionally involved with priests and religious;
To promote dialogue about ministry and celibacy within the Roman Catholic Church.


In furtherance of these aims, bit not otherwise, ADVENT shall have the power to:
Hold regular meetings of its members;
Publicise its aims and objectives;
Make available appropriate practical, emotional and spiritual support;
Raise funds from its embers and supporters.
ADVENT shall have the power to do all things necessary for the fulfilment of its aims.


Membership of ADVENT shall be open to people facing issues of ministry and celibacy - encompassing those taking decisions about their ministry and those affected by those decisions.


The affairs of ADVENT shall be managed by a committee, which shall meet not less than two (2) times per calendar year.

The committee shall be made up of not less than four and not more than eight members of ADVENT who will be elected by members at each Annual General Meeting (AGM) to serve for a period of one year.
Any member shall serve only until the next AGM.

Minutes shall be kept of committee meetings.

The quorum for meetings shall be three members.


At the AGM the members shall elect a chairperson, a Treasurer and a Secretary who shall serve until the next AGM.


Once in every year (preferably the Saturday preceding the first Sunday in Advent) the AGM shall be held.
The meting will:
Consider a report by the committee on the activities of the previous year;
Approve the accounts;
Elect the committee of officers;
Deal with any other business notified in advance.

Two weeks notice shall be given of the date of the AGM to all members. This notice will make clear the time, date and place of the meeting; invite nominations for membership to the committee and to inform members how to submit nominations or motions for the meetings.

The quorum for the AGM shall be one third of the membership or ten members whichever is the fewer.

Votings at AGMs shall be by simple majority vote.
Each member shall have one vote. However, in the case of a split decision, the chairperson shall have a second or casting vote.


All money raised by ADVENT shall be used to further the aims of ADVENT and for no other purpose.

The Chairperson, the Secretary and one other committee member (not being the Treasurer) shall be the signatories for any bank account or building society account held by ADVENT. All authorisations for financial transactions shall be signed by two of the three signatories.

The Treasurer shall keep proper accounts of the finances of ADVENT.
At the end of each financial year the Treasurer shall prepare accounts which shall be presented to the AGM.


This constitution may be altered at an AGM of all members called for that purpose, provided that a majority of those present vote for the amendment.


The group may be wound up at an AGM or at a special meeting of all members called for that purpose, provided that a majority of those present vote for the amendment.
Any assets remaining after the group is wound up (once any outstanding liabilities have been met) shall be used in accordance with the aims of the group.

Pope appoints new Bishop to Lancaster

Patrick O'Donoghue was born in Mourne Abbey, Co Cork, on 4th May 1934, and is the middle of five children [three girls, two boys] of farmers Daniel and Sheila O'Donoghue. He was educated at the Patrician Academy in Mallow, Co Cork. He came to Britain in 1959 for seminary training, first at Campion House, Osterley, Middlesex, then from 1961-67 at Allen Hall seminary when it was at St Edmund's, Ware, Hertfordshire. He was ordained priest for the Archdiocese of Westminster on 25th May 1967. The Second Vatican Council coincided with his student days as a seminarian, and its spirit and teaching have influenced and directed his ministry through the years.

As a newly ordained priest he worked in the parish of Our Lady of Willesden from 1967-70. He was on the Diocesan Pastoral Mission Team from 1970-73, where he gained experience in 27 parishes in the Archdiocese. From 1973-77 he was Pastoral Director at Allen Hall Seminary in Chelsea. From 1977-78 he was with the team ministry at the parish of St Thomas of Canterbury, Fulham. His varied experience led to the conviction that renewal at every level in the Church was urgently called for, combined with a need to grapple with the new challenges facing the Church, preaching the Gospel in a fast-changing world.

Bishop O'Donoghue was Sub-Administrator of Westminster Cathedral from 1978-85, and Administrator from 1990-93. In between times he was Rector of Allen Hall Seminary from 1985-90. Twenty years spent in the Seminary and at the Cathedral further heightened his desire for change. But there were other challenges too, especially inner-city life with its extraordinary wealth and search for, or absence of, faith, and all too much poverty [street homeless, addicts, dispossessed, young and elderly]. It was necessary for the Church to champion the poor, and to this end he and others established The Cardinal Hume and Passage Centres, which continue to flourish.

He is a former Chair of the Archdiocese of Westminster Senate of Priests. He was ordained as Auxiliary Bishop for the Archdiocese of Westminster by his friend and mentor Cardinal Basil Hume on 29th June 1993, and was appointed to the West London Pastoral Area. During the past eight years he has given himself to the pastoral care of its 41 culturally-mixed parishes. He simultaneously worked among the more disadvantaged of our society, retaining his contact with the Passage Day Centre, where he is Chair of Trustees.

Bishop Patrick has been Chairman of the Westminster Diocesan Pastoral Board since 1996 and Chairman of the English and Welsh Bishops' Committee for Migrants since 1993. He has been constantly to the fore, not least in the media, in advancing the cause of this most vulnerable section of our community. Just two weeks ago he launched a strongly-worded document "Any Room at the Inn? - Reflections on Asylum Seekers". He wrote this to mark the 50th anniversary of the UN Refugee Convention, and specifically in the run-up to the General Election. Earlier this year he was appointed a member of the Pontifical Council for Inter-Religious Dialogue. For him, working with other Christians and people of other faiths is a priority.

Bishop O'Donoghue has a special interest in contemporary religious art, particularly in its value as an aid to prayer and as part of the liturgy. He has been instrumental in staging exhibitions at Westminster Cathedral. He lists his hobbies as theatre, football, and country walking.

On hearing of his appointment to his new challenge as Bishop of Lancaster, a Diocese which stretches from Preston in Central Lancashire to the Scottish Border, and takes in the whole of the Lake District and the West Cumbrian Coast, he had this to say:

"My appointment as Bishop of the Diocese of Lancaster comes as a big surprise: in my wildest dreams I had not really expected this appointment. Of course, it's a huge joy and honour to be chosen by the Holy Father, Pope John Paul II, to serve the Church in Lancaster. The North West is a beautiful part of the country, and I've been there many times as a tourist and hiker. Now I come as a pilgrim and one who desires only one thing, and that is to learn and to serve. I know something of the traditional faith of the people: it will be my privilege to share in this and to confirm it. It will be difficult leaving Westminster, where I have spent 40 years as student, priest and bishop. I will carry with me great memories of the City and Diocese, but most of all the friendships that were mine in this multi-cultural society. My motto as Bishop of Lancaster will be 'Beati pauperes' ['Blessed are the poor'], a quote from Luke's Gospel [Lk 6.20]. I humbly ask your prayers."

Bishop Patrick will be officially Installed as Bishop of Lancaster at a special Mass in Lancaster Cathedral on Wednesday 4th July at 12 noon. Archbishop Patrick Kelly, Archbishop of Liverpool, will lead the ceremony. His Eminence Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor, Archbishop of Westminster, will preach at the Mass. His Excellency Archbishop Pablo Puente, Apostolic Nuncio, will be in attendance.

Obituary: Professor Adrian Hastings

THURSDAY MAY 31 2001 - The Times


Professor Adrian Hastings

Priest who became a prolific theologian and historian, and who opposed injustice wherever it might be found - even within his own Church

Adrian Hastings was a Roman Catholic priest who believed in going his own way, and a historian and theologian who continued to write on a great range of subjects in the face of fashionable specialisation. He spoke out against injustice wherever he found it, most notably when, in 1973, he revealed to the world the atrocities committed by the Portuguese army at Wiriyamu in Mozambique, and again during the conflicts in the former Yugoslavia in the 1990s.
He continued to speak out even when this entailed criticism of his own Church. Yet although he technically excommunicated himself by his decision to marry, there were many who admired his courage and integrity, and he was always able to find a priest willing to administer Communion to him. In 1995 he said a Mass to celebrate the fortieth anniversary of his ordination, which was attended by seven of those closest to him.

Hastings often described himself as a Protestant Catholic, while emphasising that he considered that the best place for Protestants to be was within the Catholic Communion. Born in Kuala Lumpur where his father practised law, Adrian Christopher Hastings was, from the age of two, raised near Great Malvern in Worcestershire, where his family had been prominent Anglicans for generations, and these affectionately remembered roots may have contributed to his later passionate ecumenism.

He was educated at the Benedictine Douai Abbey School and read history at Worcester College, Oxford. While at Oxford, Hastings, who had been aware of a vocation since early childhood, felt a call to go to Africa as a missionary. His seminary education is described in candid detail in his book In Filial Disobedience (1978).

After a time with the White Fathers, he took the unheard-of step of applying directly to Bishop Kiwanuka of Masaka in Uganda (at the time the only black African Catholic bishop) for acceptance as a seminarian. Hastings completed his training in Rome, was ordained in 1955, and travelled to Uganda in 1958.

After an initial period as a curate, he spent five years teaching at the minor seminary of Bukalasa, where one of his great joys was the production of Shakespeare plays. But he was beginning to question the appropriateness of the kind of Westernised education his students were receiving for the job that lay ahead of them. He also felt the first rumblings of an opposition to the Catholic ban on married clergy in a culture to which celibacy was so alien.

After leaving Masaka diocese, in 1966 Hastings was commissioned to produce commentaries on the documents of the recently completed Second Vatican Council and disseminate them to some seventy East African dioceses. He was also invited to join the Anglican-Roman Catholic Preparatory Commission, an almost unprecedented ecumenical enterprise, and contributed significantly to its final report.

Despite the great affection he held for Africa, Hastings decided to return to Europe in 1970, influenced by a combination of worsening malaria and increasing scepticism about the benefits to the developing church in Africa of being lectured by a white intellectual. Back in England, he was commissioned to make a study of marriage in Africa by the Anglican Communion, leading to his book Christian Marriage in Africa (1973). His contact with the Anglican Church continued when he accepted an invitation to work as a tutor at the ecumenical campus of Selly Oak in Birmingham in 1972.

The following year Hastings suddenly found himself the centre of international attention for his role in the Wiriyamu controversy. The Catholic Institute for International Relations, of whose Education Committee Hastings was a member, was disturbed at the British government's plans to celebrate the sixth centenary of the Anglo-Portuguese alliance at a time when Portugal was engaged in a brutal colonial war in Africa. A meeting was planned, at which he was to speak, to draw attention to this overlooked dimension of the celebrations. In the meantime, he came across reports of a massacre of several hundred civilians by the Portuguese army in and around the village of Wiriyamu in Mozambique. His article based on the reports was published in The Times a week before the Portuguese Prime Minister, Dr Caetano, arrived in London for the celebrations. Hastings later wrote a book about the affair, Wiriyamu (1974).

From 1973 to 1976 he was engaged in African research at the School of Oriental and African Studies of the University of London. This resulted in two major publications: the introductory African Christianity, written in six weeks, and A History of African Christianity, 1950-1975, a lively and perceptive survey.

With his considerable moral muscle strengthened by the Wiriyamu controversy, Hastings launched himself into public awareness once again in 1979 when he married without renouncing his vocation, thus putting into practice a principle he had been upholding for many years. Hastings emphasised that his opposition was not to clerical celibacy itself, but to its being compulsory. His bride was a fellow lecturer at Selly Oak, and the wedding took place in the college chapel. For a time it was unclear whether the Catholic authorities would permit Hastings to continue receiving the sacraments, but he found a supporter in Bishop Conti of Aberdeen (in which city Hastings was now lecturing).

In 1982 he returned to Africa as Professor of Religious Studies at the University of Zimbabwe. It was there that he wrote the bulk of his acclaimed work A History of English Christianity, 1920- 1985 (recently updated to 2000). This was published shortly after he became Professor of Theology at Leeds Univ- ersity in 1985, where he remained until retirement in 1994. The department grew and flourished under his leadership, and he was well re- spected in the university, not least for his forthright interventions in Senate.

His prolific writing continued throughout his academic career and into retirement. He deliberately moved away from African scholarship after the publication in 1994 of his magnum opus, The Church in Africa, 1450-1950, and developed a new specialism in the study of nationality and nationhood, partly stimulated by an invitation to give the Wiles Lectures in Belfast in 1996, published the following year as The Construction of Nationhood: Ethnicity, Religion and Nationalism. His last book, a biography of Bishop Oliver Tomkins, will be published by SPCK in October of this year.

His magisterial breadth of interest made him the ob- vious choice to edit the new Oxford Companion to Christian Thought, published in 2000, to which he also contributed more than seventy articles. He was almost as well known for his editing as for his writing, notable among his other achievements of the 1990s being Modern Catholicism (1991) and A World History of Christianity (1999). He relinquished his editorship of the Journal of Religion in Africa at the end of 1999 but had already planned the issues for the following year.

Hastings remained politically active, particularly as a defender of the Bosnian and Kosovan causes. He was a pertinacious writer of letters to the press, and his many articles on current affairs in The Tablet were appreciated by its national and international readership.

In private as in public, Hastings was erudite, brilliant and a superb organiser. He was generous in giving praise, if scathing in rebuke, and never held a grudge. Many younger scholars benefited from his enthusiastic support. His network of friends across the world will miss his regular correspondence and his fascinating conversation.

Shortly before he died, he heard that it was proposed to elect him to Fellowship of the British Academy, news which gave him enormous pleasure. Unfortunately his death came before the formalities of election could be completed. He is survived by his wife Ann.

Professor Adrian Hastings, theologian, was born on June 23, 1929. He died on May 30, 2001, aged 71.

Vatican's rebel archbishop weds Moonie

MONDAY MAY 28 2001
Vatican's rebel archbishop weds Moonie

AN ARCHBISHOP from Africa was facing excommunication by the Vatican yesterday after marrying a Korean woman at a mass wedding in New York presided over by the Rev Sun Myung Moon.

The marriage of Mgr Emmanuel Milingo, 71, and Sung Ryae Soon, 43, who was chosen for him by Mr Moon, was the last straw for the Vatican. Mgr Milingo has defied the Pope for years by carrying out exorcisms and unauthorised healing services. He released a bestselling CD of rap music inspired by African rhythms.

Before taking part in the mass wedding at the Hilton Hotel yesterday Mgr Milingo, who is from Zambia, said that after "a lifetime devoted to the Church of Rome and my priestly vows" he had been "called by the Lord to take a step which will change my life for ever". He added that he expected his marriage to "alter my relations with the Roman Catholic Church", but that as far as he was concerned he remained a Catholic.

The news at first met with disbelief in Vatican City. "I hope it is not true," Joaquín Navarro-Valls, the Pope's chief spokesman, said. In a statement from New York, Mgr Milingo confirmed that it was and said that he had informed the Pope of his plans last week.

The Unification Church, known as the Moonies, said that Mgr Milingo was "not converting to another Church . . . he remains deeply committed to his own Church".

Mgr Milingo became Archbishop of Lusaka at the age of 39, a meteoric rise. The Vatican soon became alarmed, however, by reports of his unorthodox behaviour. In 1983 he was summoned to Rome and made deputy head of the Pontifical Council for Migrants in the hope that that would enable the Curia to "contain" him. He was barred from holding church services, but continued to hold unauthorised "healing" Masses and exorcisms in halls - often with packed congregations. In 1999 he became involved with the Moonies. Eventually he was stripped of his Curia post.
He and his bride were among 60 couples married by Mr Moon. Like all couples involved in such weddings, they had not met before.

Summary excommunication would normally follow, Vatican officials said, because violation of celibacy was a clear breach of canon law. The Pope may opt for the lesser penalty of suspension pending a definitive judgment.

Sexuality in the seminary

12/05/2001  The Tablet
Sexuality in the seminary
James O'Keefe

A high proportion of homosexuals is found in some local Churches among Catholic priests and Catholic seminarians. Does it matter? How should these Churches react? These questions are considered by the rector of the Ushaw seminary in Durham.

THE questions raised by Mark Dowd in his Tablet article ("Gays in the priesthood", 5 May) and in his television programme Queer and Catholic are very important.

We must be clear, however, for a start, that the Catechism of the Catholic Church does not say that homosexual orientation is "intrinsically disordered". It does say that "homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered".

Mark Dowd writes in his Tablet article that Archbishop Bertone, secretary to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, declared recently that "men with a homosexual orientation should not be admitted to seminary life". The quotation comes from a Catholic News Service (CNS) report following the publication of the book La Confessione, containing conversations with a homosexual priest, by the Italian journalist Marco Politi. The CNS report went on: "In a written statement provided to CNS, Archbishop Bertone said: ‘It cannot be denied that when homosexuality becomes widespread or acceptable in a certain cultural or geographical region, this can have negative effects even within the priesthood.' Although the homosexual inclination is not sinful in itself, it ‘evokes moral concern' because it is a strong temptation to actions that ‘are always in themselves evil', the archbishop said."

Some believe that the archbishop described the homosexual orientation as "objectively disordered". This is not what the report says. CNS itself, however, is quite inaccurate when it goes on to remark that "the Catechism of the Catholic Church calls the homosexual inclination ‘objectively disordered'". It does not. At the very least, there needs to be consistency of expression, clarity and compassion in approaching this extremely sensitive subject. Many people are hurt and confused not only by the language, but by what can appear to be a different approach when an "official statement" differs from a statement in the catechism.

I know from those of my friends who are gay in orientation that the Church's uncompromising stand does present a real challenge for many. It need not be a particular problem for seminary rectors, however, because of the Church's expectation that priests in the Catholic Church are to be chaste celibates. Men and women who can embrace chastity and celibacy can offer courageous witness in our world to non-possessive love, to an openness to vulnerability, availability and personal integrity.

I would personally be very sad if there was ever a time when there was no witness to celibacy among secular priests. Of course celibacy is a matter of discipline in the Catholic Church, not an intrinsic dimension of ordained priesthood, and the present rule could change at some time in the future.

The current presumption is that there are more gay seminarians and priests today than there were in the past. How can we know? I started in junior seminary in 1959; we simply did not have the language to talk about the affective side of our lives, or about sexuality or orientation. It is true, however, that a significant number of priests gave up active ministry after 1968, and many of them married. It may be that these departures left a higher proportion of homosexuals in the secular priesthood.

Certainly, the proportion of gay men in formation for ministerial priesthood in the Catholic Church is higher than that in the population as a whole. I am very cautious about the percentages suggested by the American seminary rector Donald Cozzens, who appeared on the television programme, and the researcher Richard Sipe. Some of my colleagues in the United States are very critical of the ways they have reached these conclusions. None the less, the proportion of gay men in Catholic seminaries and the Catholic priesthood does raise questions.

One adverse effect of these large proportions of homosexuals may be that heterosexuals who have made the sacrifice involved in accepting celibacy for the sake of the kingdom begin to feel that the sign value of what they have done is being negated. For while they have had to give up the prospect of marrying, becoming a parent and having children, no such choice has been made by gay men. Some (not many) seminarians have given as their reason for leaving the seminary and formation the preponderance of homosexual seminarians in the community. Men whose own human development needs to include relationships with women are at some disadvantage.

Homosexual students and priests have their own difficulties to overcome. There are very few role models for them. As one friend of mine says: "What is missing is the narrative." In other words, the story of gay priests cannot yet be told; many of us might not know how difficult it is for gay clergy to operate in a society which is still so prejudiced.

I do not believe for one moment, however, that Sr Jeannine Gramick is right, as quoted by Mark Dowd, when she says that "homosexuality is a time bomb ticking in the Church". I am certain that seminary rectors are more concerned about the personal, spiritual, academic and pastoral formation of all their students than the sexual orientation of any of them.

Our society is obsessed with sex (not the same as sexuality), but is not well informed about it. We are only approaching the low foothills in our appreciation of the mystery of sexuality and the integration of sexuality into our personality. It is only since the first half of the 1900s, following the work of Freud and Jung and others, that we have been able to talk about these things. It is only 50 years ago that the advice to seminarians before their summer holidays included the phrase: "And beware of women, especially those of the opposite sex."

THE real issue for us is maturity and integrity, not orientation. It is vital that future priests are able to relate at real depth to a wide range of people. If a student is misogynist or homophobic or only comfortable with other gay men, then I believe that he is not called to diocesan priesthood. I do not believe that a seminarian should be asked to leave a seminary just because his orientation is homosexual. It is far more important that he is passionate about being a herald of the Gospel, can preach and preside in the local community.

The work and guidance of the Holy Spirit is what fundamentally attracts us to the Catholic priesthood, but it is always useful for us to reflect at the human level on our motives, which are unconscious as well as conscious. We could benefit from some honest reflection on what it is about the local worshipping community that attracts a preponderance of gay men to enter the priesthood. Various explanations have been advanced: that these men feel safer in a virtually all-male environment; that gay seminarians are relieved at not having to admit that they are not attracted to women; that the priesthood has resemblances to the caring and acting professions, for elements of both are included in the role of the priest. Others wonder if the pull is towards a cultic or conservative priestly profession which can appear to give clarity and security in a complex world.

It seems that we are not yet able to have an informed and honest discussion about such things. We certainly need clarification about judgements such as "intrinsic disorder". I would have serious concerns about a student who seemed only interested in pursuing comfort or status. I am inclined to call these intrinsic disorders, yet we do not use such language about the abuse of power. The effects of original sin are alive and well in all of us. At the same time, our baptismal commitment invites us to make moral choices which are increasingly life-giving and motivated by real love.

So there are questions to be asked about the sexual integration and maturity of all future priests, including those who are gay. We need to look carefully at the basic principles involved in human and personal development, affirming that we are all loved by God and that our sexuality is a gift from God.

Observers and commentators such as Mark Dowd are pushing a political agenda alongside pastoral concern for gay people in general and seminarians in particular. There is nothing wrong with that, but the two need separating out. The political debate needs to be carried on with rigour and consistency. Pastoral attitudes must be compassionate and open to change. But conversion of heart must always be the beginning and end of any truly Christian approach.

Gays in the priesthood

05/05/2001 The Tablet
Gays in the priesthood
Mark Dowd

There has been an influx of homosexuals into the Catholic priesthood. This taboo subject is to be explored in a Channel 4 film today. Its presenter, a former Dominican friar, thinks the phenomenon demands a revision of Catholic teaching.

‘HOMOSEXUALITY is a time-bomb ticking in the Church and I think it could explode very soon." These aren't the words of the gay-rights campaigner Peter Tatchell, nor of some trendy sociologist, but of Sr Jeannine Gramick, the School Sister of Notre Dame who has refused to obey the Vatican's silencing order on this most taboo of all subjects. What does she mean and is she right?

Time to put some cards on the table. I am a gay Catholic and a former Dominican friar. I've always been intrigued by the conundrum of why a Church that describes the homosexual orientation as "a strong tendency towards an intrinsic moral evil" should have so many gay men in its ranks. Donald Cozzens only stated in his book The Changing Face of the Priesthood last year what many have felt secretly for a long time, namely that in many parts of the world the priesthood is becoming a gay profession. Fr Cozzens is in good company. The outgoing rector of Allen Hall, James Overton, recently backed up Cozzens in The Tablet, as does the present rector of St John's seminary at Wonersh, Kevin Haggerty. He told me that "a reasonable proportion" of men in seminary life are gay, and warns of the dangers of students dividing into cliques along gay or straight lines.

Kevin Haggerty also told me that the issue switches on "amber lights if not red lights" for the Catholic hierarchy. In Rome Archbishop Bertone, secretary of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, stated recently that "men with a homosexual orientation should not be admitted to seminary life". The very orientation itself, it seems, is suspect. Cardinal Ratzinger's deputy says being gay evokes "moral concern" because it is "a strong temptation towards acts that are always in themselves evil". It's the irony of all ironies: a Church with a growing manpower crisis depends on a large cohort of men whose very sexual orientation it treats with grave suspicion.

Does all this really matter? "Celibacy makes equals of us all", is the common refrain. Yes, it does matter in my opinion and here is why.

First, it is not in the wider Church's interest to have a large number of its priests being described as "objectively disordered" by the teaching authority. It flies directly in the face of much of the common-sense teaching that the Pope evoked in his encyclical on priestly formation, Pastores Dabo Vobis, in the early 1990s, which emphasised an acceptance of all the priest's complex psychological make-up and humanity. Instead, present doctrine leaves whole swaths of the clergy feeling second-rate and flawed.

Those who are concerned about the disproportionate numbers of gay men in priestly life need look no further than the heady cocktail of the Vatican's hostile language on the matter and the celibacy law for an explanation. If a young homosexual man takes these words to heart, does not the priesthood appear to offer him, perhaps unconsciously, the promise of a life which will guarantee sexual abstinence and a way of dealing with the marriage question? I remember the relief I felt as a young Dominican when I was able to head off enquiries from curious relatives about the conspicuous absence of a girlfriend on the scene. "Oh, but of course you can't tie the knot with a young girl can you, you're giving your life to God and the Church?" Quite. I am not suggesting that thousands of clergy are acting in bad faith: vocations are subtle and complex mixtures of psychological and spiritual forces. But I am convinced that, at least in part, a combination of obligatory celibacy for the secular priesthood and the Vatican's utterances on homosexuality have fed off each another to bring us to our present position.

The psychological testing and questioning introduced at the selection stage prior to entry to seminary have been introduced to give superiors a clearer idea of the sexual make-up of aspiring candidates. Whatever one might think of such procedures (and I have nothing against them myself), it is patently contradictory to encourage ease and openness about sexuality in prospective seminarians who are homosexual against the backdrop of the Church's hostile language on the subject.

It was notable in James Overton's interview with The Tablet that he was hasty to point out that there was no evidence of sexual practice among gay men at Allen Hall. I have no reason to doubt his sincerity. But I heard a different side to this matter from two former students of the English College in Rome, Chris Higgins and Dennis Caulfield. These are men of deep integrity who managed to square the nightmare situation of being lovers in a seminary by ultimately acting out of honesty: leaving their priestly surroundings and living out the truth of their lives with family and friends. But their accounts of the underground world of sexual repression in Rome give food for thought.

Such was the taboo nature of this subject that a number of gay students "acted out" their sexual inclinations in a climate where they felt they could not discuss the matter with superiors or spiritual directors. Admission of "failure" on homosexual practice was thought to carry certain threat of expulsion. Chris and Dennis recall men going off to parks in Rome and clubs for sexual liaisons and then later adamantly justifying that their celibate status was still intact. "For some men", says Chris, "celibacy was simply defined as not falling in love so you could have sex with someone without getting involved and still remain ‘celibate'. What you did with your body was just flesh."

THAT is not all. Chris's partner Dennis recalls that there were other extraordinary mind-games at play among the students. "Some of the people who were the most anti-gay and inclined to invoke the Church's teaching to put other people down were people who I knew to be gay themselves", he says, "and mixed in gay circles with other gay men."

The tabloid press will no doubt home in on these incidents and depict them as salacious and scandalous. The real scandal is what lurks beneath all this behaviour: the inability of the Catholic Church to have a serious and truthful dialogue about an issue which goes right to the very heart of its power structures and sexual teaching. The brave Fr Cozzens told me that this subject is a "can of worms" for the hierarchy because it begs so many questions about those aspects of Catholic life that we have come to see as part of the furniture. The emerging gay sexual identity of large numbers of the priesthood is an advancing and unwelcome gift for the Church. I will be mocked for using the word "crisis" but even compared with five years ago, the genie is well and truly out of the bottle and the contradictions are more evident than ever before.

The option that Rome should take seems to me clear-cut: come clean and attempt an intelligent theological explanation of the phenomenon. Explain why God might want to call to priestly service a number of "objectively disordered" men which is out of all proportion to the numbers of gays in society. Or if that does not suit, then have a re-think. Perhaps the gay orientation is not "disordered" after all, and if it isn't, then I am not the only homosexual Catholic waiting to see how my Church can fashion a way forward that allows me to express my love for another human being unreservedly while being relieved of the label "sinner", "self-indulgent" and "morally evil".

Bishops agree on child abuse shield


Bishops agree on child abuse shield


ROMAN Catholic bishops have agreed to accept all the recommendations of the Nolan review into child abuse by the Church's priests. They are to advertise for a person to head a new national child protection unit to root out child abusers by vetting clergy, lay staff and volunteers.
The bishops pledged that this person need neither be ordained nor be a Catholic, though they would "not be prejudiced" against a Catholic.

Announcing the rapid implementation of the proposals Cardinal Murphy-O'Connor, the Archbishop of Westminster, said: "We are committed to ensuring the Church becomes the safest of places for children, and indeed an example of best practice in the whole field of child protection."

Entry for Catholic Directory of England and Wales 2002

Entry for Catholic Directory of England and Wales 2002,  as required by section viii. of Schedule (no more than 40 words).


A support group of priests and religious who have resigned active ministry. Advent also provides unbiased, confidential counselling and support to priests and religious uncertain of the future direction of their ministry.

Contact: Angie Crawford-Leighton
Web site:

Draft entry 2002


Entry for Catholic Directory of England and Wales 2002, as required by section viii. of Schedule (no more than 40 words).


A support group for priests and religious who have resigned active ministry. Advent is a safe haven for priests and religious uncertain of the future direction of their ministry, offering unbiased, confidential counselling and support.

Web site:

Rev. John Danson
ADVENT application for entry into the Catholic Directory of England and Wales.
Information required by schedule.
April 9th 2001.

Priests who had resigned their active ministry in the 1960s founded Advent at Spode House in 1969. Meetings at that time were encouraged and fostered by Fr. Conrad Pepler O. P.

Ecclesiastical approval was strengthened with the active involvement of Archbishop Derek Worlock in the early 70s who attended meetings in the Midlands and entered into enthusiastic dialogue and correspondence with members, until the Archbishop's death.

In the 70s, 80s and 90s Advent enjoyed the friendship and support of Cardinal Basil Hume, both at Advent meetings and through individual dialogues.

Key objectives and current programme:

The primary objective of Advent is to be a safe haven of love, support and solidarity for priests who have made the decision in conscience to resign their active ministry either to marry or for other reasons.

To be, as a country wide network, available in every diocese to help, counsel and advise priests who are uncertain of the future direction of their ministry.

In this regard, Advent provides unbiased practical, emotional and spiritual support in a non-threatening environment, enabling them to explore feelings, voice uncertainties and discern vocation in what can be a very painful process.

Advent does not have a constitution, simply a generally agreed set of aims and objectives.

Current Chair: Philip and Catherine Smith Coventry

Bulletin Editors: Pat and Nicola Olivier

Advent Website: Alex Walker

Officers elected at AGM - Changed or re-elected every two years
Advent is the only organisation in England and Wales which offers pastoral outreach to priests who have resigned active ministry. While there continues to be no recognised and uniform code of pastoral practice among Bishops dealing with priests who are experiencing a crisis point in their ministry, Advent is a necessary resource in the Church and, as such, should rightfully be included in the Directory.

With special reference to section iii.:
Since its inception in 1969, Advent has sought to remain strong in faith, evangelistic in the basic tenets of the Catholic Church and committed to priesthood, ministry and the Church we love and still seek to serve.

Nonetheless, while the Church continues to wound itself with the imposition of mandatory celibacy, we must endeavour to work together toward dialogue leading to change, for the Church to remain a credible presence in the 21st Century.

A very human Cardinal

A very human cardinal
John Wilkins

In Westminster, Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor faces a very different challenge than in Arundel and Brighton, where he was a much-loved bishop for 22 years. The toughest questions about the Church and society confront him. A year after his installation, he shared some reflections with The Tablet's editor.

It is not surprising that Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor does not always seem at home in the marble halls of Archbishop's House, Westminster, where he now resides. For this is an exceptionally human man who does not take to palaces. He has a gift for conviviality, and he meets you on your level. His predecessor, Cardinal Hume, was a monk, who seemed to carry his cell with him wherever he went, and to speak from it, as it were. With Cormac Murphy-O'Connor, what you see is what you get.

He has a brother and a cousin who are priests, and it is as a priest that he is at his most impressive. When he goes to a parish and preaches about the true freedom that is the Christian life, the congregation knows that they are listening to someone who is testifying from experience. When he is talking about the Gospel, he speaks directly heart to heart. When I met him recently in Archbishop's House, beside Westminster Cathedral, he started musing at one point about the sins of modern society. "Money, sex and power: it always comes back to those three. Lust for power is the worst, because it is shaming in a different sort of way. ‘I am me', people say, ‘and it is my truth and my will and my wants that matter.' The Lord said he couldn't forgive that, not because he didn't want to, but because people didn't feel contrite about it."

At the age of 68, when most people are enjoying retirement, he finds himself plucked out of the rural environment of the diocese of Arundel and Brighton, where he was bishop for 22 years, and plunged into the urban stress of cosmopolitan, multi-ethnic London.

He interrogates himself constantly about modern society. "There is a deep unease amongst good people all round the country. There is concern about marriage break-up and the disintegration and fragmentation of the family. And there is anxiety about the young people, caught in the consumerism that consumes them also."

He has made marriage and the family a central plank of his platform. Does he ever have a feeling that William Hague's domestic policies are more attractive than Tony Blair's? He laughs. "I am not going to be drawn into party politics. But just as under Margaret Thatcher the Church of England was a sort of opposition, so the Catholic Church needs to be able to oppose tendencies in government or society." He is particularly concerned that abortion and genetic engineering negate the sanctity and gift of human life. But isn't there a danger that the Catholic Church will come to be seen by society as a pro-life pressure group? "That would be a great pity. Our March statement on the Common Good makes it clear that Catholics should not regard the coming general election as a single-issue referendum. Life issues are of supreme importance but we stress also the dignity of every human person and the perspectives of family and society."

He thinks the political parties are genuine in the surprising initiatives they are taking to court faith groups. They are not just out to catch votes. "The party leaders have a real worry about the fragmentation of society. They want to reanimate the sense of community. That is why they seek to enlist the faith groups, because these are the only people who meet regularly once a week in every town in the country."

The cardinal seems to have recovered from the baptism of fire he underwent at the beginning of his time at Westminster, when he came under concentrated BBC attack, accused of naïvety in his treatment of the paedophile priest Michael Hill. Now he wants to move on, and as part of that process has set up the Nolan inquiry into the Church's guidelines for cases of clerical sexual abuse. He understands the anger he encountered, he says (he admitted at the time that in seeking to rehabilitate Hill he made "a serious mistake"), but thinks one cause of it was that "this society is not familiar with real forgiveness. It lets the News of the World name and shame, but even in paedophile cases we must have forgiveness somewhere." And he would not be human, after his experience, if he did not retain some fear of the media. "The media are very powerful and very important. In a way too important. Suppose for example they switched over and proclaimed that Britain should join the euro zone. People would be swayed."

A suspicion of the media could be an obstacle to evangelisation, however, particularly since the cardinal is determined to speak out on the national stage. "I will try to strike a chord about the kind of society we are breeding. What have we to do if we are to be a healthy nation? What is it that seems to be breaking up? What is it that people feel deep down? I have been heartened to find that people do want to hear about that, and they can't hear it in the same way from politicians."

So perhaps it may not ultimately matter that this is a man without the delicately tuned political antennae of Cardinal Hume. He will try to speak the truth, and people should surely therefore make allowances if he does not go in for slick soundbites. His many friends and admirers will wish him well, for already a year of his term at Westminster has gone by, and there is much to do.

The recent reports by the Queen's Foundation in Birmingham painted a disturbing picture of the Catholic Church in Britain. This survey under the aegis of an ecumenical institution and backed by Catholic bishops found that there was "no national strategy" for dealing with the structural problems such as the decline in vocations, the difficulty in reaching young people and the gap between Church and world. Is he as alarmed about this as the report was? "The answer is no." But surely the Church has to work out a strategy for the future? "The answer is clearly yes. We have to be proactive."

But what then is the strategy? He stresses the growing co-operation between priests and lay people, and the role of women. "In running every parish nowadays, there should be a team of men and women, some of whom will be religious sisters, working with the priest. This collaborative ministry has developed in an extraordinary way over the last 30 years."

Nevertheless, at national level the picture so far remains as it was under Cardinal Hume: there is no pastoral institute to promote renewal and train lay facilitators, no biblical institute, no catechetical institute, no institute for spirituality, and only an embryonic liturgical institute. The Corpus Christi catechetical centre in London, which in the late 1960s and early 1970s promised so well, was later allowed to fade away by Cardinal Heenan, and has never been replaced. Cardinal Murphy-O'Connor is not short of recommendations about what to do, and is exploring the options. He will need to show that he can consult widely, in a way that was not similarly required in his previous diocese of Arundel and Brighton. Any day now he will be receiving two new bishops as auxiliaries, and other changes of staff are imminent.

He refuses to be deterred by the alarming forecasts for the supply of clergy in England and Wales 10 or 15 years from now, during which time the present number of priests is expected to halve. He brushes aside my question about closing down parishes. "England and Malta have a higher proportion of priests to Catholic people than anywhere else in the world. The Church here is not going to crumble because of the shortage of priests." He explains that part of the reason for the drop is the changed situation in Ireland. "When

I was first a bishop 22 years ago, I had many priests who had come straight from Ireland, and most of the older priests were Irish-born. Today, most have been born and bred in England. So has there in fact been such a fall-off in vocations? I doubt it, particularly in the south of England."

Yet there is only one new seminarian in the English College this year, and for the first time for four centuries the Jesuits in England and Wales have no novices. The cardinal does not believe that the celibacy rule is at the root of the vocations crisis, though like Cardinal Hume before him, he has no difficulty in principle in envisaging the ordination to the priesthood of married men. But "you could have married clergy tomorrow and not meet the challenge. Because I think it's really a crisis of faith".

But what strategy do you adopt, then, when you have fewer priests? The cardinal, who has drawn attention by praising Opus Dei, thinks the Church should be more like one of the new movements. "When I was a curate many years ago, I organised in my small parish a community meeting once a month. The participants read the word of God, and looked at how it related to their daily lives. The parish became more itself, a living community. It was less structured than one of the movements, but it developed a much more communitarian communion. If the parishes were to develop in this way, we could use the movements better than they are used now, when they tend to be élitist."

In his homily in Westminster Cathedral for his installation Mass on 22 March last year, Cormac Murphy-O'Connor made joy and hope - the opening words of the Second Vatican Council's constitution on the Church in the modern world, which he chose for his motto - the keynotes. "I do not believe these are gloomy times for the Catholic Church in this country", he told the congregation on that occasion. "When the skies are dark, the light shines more brightly."

The Catholic Church in England and Wales has always had its folk memory, he points out, of being a persecuted minority, and indeed of almost ceasing to exist in the eighteenth century. It knows, therefore, that numbers are not ultimately what counts. "Whether the number of Catholics is going to be great or small, that is up to God and up to the spirituality and the sense of evangelisation of the Catholic people. What concerns me most of all is that we in the Catholic community today should have the generosity and courage which comes from faith. That ultimately is what will draw people to the Church and to priesthood."

This is a good man. Can he recognise, in a Church that has gone too far towards identifying itself as a counter-culture, that the signs of the times are positive as well as negative, as shown in the spiritual search that is widespread, the deepening religious enquiry? Can Cardinal Murphy-O'Connor make that joy and hope real to the Catholics whom he leads?

Concerning married Anglican Priests

Pastoral Message of Bishop Cormac Murphy-O'Connor

to be read at all Masses on Week-end of 1 - 2 July 1995
Concerning Married Former Anglican Clergy

My dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ

At the present time the Catholic Church is welcoming into full Communion married clergymen of the Church of England, often together with their wives, and in some cases, their children. We, the Bishops of England and Wales, are of one mind in welcoming them.

Many of these clergy wish to be ordained priests in the Catholic Church. We are engaged in discerning God's will for each one of them. We are convinced the the minsitry of these men, whether married or unmarried, will enrich the Church.

With the full approval of the Holy See, arrangements will shortly be in place in this country for considering the application for the ordination to the priesthood of these former married Anglican clergy. Permission for each ordination has to be given by the Holy Father, but in thes new circumstances, the procedure leading to this decision have been entrusted to this Bishop's Conference.

The Holy Father has asked us to be generous. We are confident that you also will welcome and appreciate these new priests when, in due course, they begin to sreve in different capacities in the life and mission of the Church.

The permisision being given for the ordination of these married men is by way of exception and in recognition of the journey of faith which they have made. Such permission does not take away from the general norm of the Catholic Church which requires priests to live celibate lives.
It is not the thin edge of the wedge of change. In fact all who are ordained, whether single or married, are required to express their consent to this discipline of the Church. The commitment made by the celibate priest, which gives shape to all his friendships and experience of love, speaks eloquently of this total dedication to the Lord and the hope of the fulness of life and love which is the promise of heaven.

A sensitive issue at this time is the situation of those Catholic priests who have left their minstry as priests in order to marry. They, and many who wish to speak on their behalf, may feel hurt by this inclusion in the priesthood of those who are married while they themselves are excluded from its ministry. While acknowledging thes feelings, it is important to note that the two situations are not quite the same. One involves those who gave the solemn undertaking of life-long celibacy; the other does not. What is being permitted now is in response to a personal journey of faith from a Church which permitted the marriage of its clergy. The Catholic tradition has not included such a permission. Even the Orthodax tradition permits such marriages, but only before ordination and never after that irrevocable step has been taken. At this time it is important that we are sensitive to those who feel so excluded, while encouraf=ging them to continue in their life of faith and service, as the disciplines and practices of the Church permit.

The special provision under which married former Anglican Clergy will be ordained priests are being granted for a period of four years. During thhis period, we have been asked by the Holy Father to be generous in our response to those of the Church of England who find themselves in difficulties of conscience. As your bishops we are confident that such generosity will be forthcoming and that we weill be ready not only to welcome our new priests, and their wives and families, but also to be enriched by the experiences and insights which they will bring to us all.

With an assurance of my prayers and kind wishes,



Yours devotedly in Christ,

 Bishop of Arundel and Brighton

Therapeutic hideaway for wayward priests

Therapeutic hideaway for wayward priests

Steven Morris and Stephen Bates
Wednesday April 18, 2001

Our Lady of Victory near Stroud, Gloucestershire, is one institution where errant Roman Catholic priests have long been sent for rehabilitation. Built on a terrace in a picturesque valley with lawns sloping down to woods, it has the appearance more of a Cotswold manor house than a clinic.