07/29/17

Nun celebrates Catholic wedding in Canada

The Vatican authorized Sr Pierrette Thiffault of the Sisters of Providence to officiate at a wedding in a rural diocese in western Quebec. And in spite of her initial apprehensions, the ceremony went well.

By Mélinée Le Priol

Cindy and David had their religious wedding on Saturday, July 22, celebrated by… a woman.

The exceptional ceremony took place in a Catholic church at Lorrainville, 650 km west of Montreal in Canada.

In the rural diocese of Rouyn-Norand in the Abitibi-Témiscamingue region, the lack of priests is such that the bishop called on the assistance of Sr Pierrette Thiffault of the Sisters of Providence.

Why Sr Pierrette?

“You need to ask my bishop,” she smiles, explaining that in this zone several priests are responsible for up to seven or eight different parishes each.

“I was happy and proud to be able to provide this service for my diocese,” she says.

Authorized by Rome

Although rare, such an event is in fact authorized by canon law.

“Where there is a lack of priests and deacons, the diocesan bishop can delegate lay persons to assist at marriages, with the previous favorable vote of the conference of bishops and after he has obtained the permission of the Holy See,” says Canon 1112.

“A suitable lay person is to be selected, who is capable of giving instruction to those preparing to be married and able to perform the matrimonial liturgy properly.”

Hence, on May 23, Sr Pierrette received the necessary mandate in the form of an authorization from Rome after her name was proposed by the Congregation of Divine Worship and for the Discipline of Sacraments.

A member of the Sisters of Providence the past 55 years, Sr Pierrette is a pastoral worker in the parish of Moffett, which neighbors Lorrainville, where the wedding took place on July 22.

In fact, it was as a catechist that she came to know David, the husband when he was a high school student.

Proud

During the three months prior to the ceremony, she met the couple on three occasions.

“It was a mission of evangelization, that’s for sure,” Sr Pierrette comments, noting how she had had to explain various aspects of the ceremony to the gathering.

Unable to conceal her joy at being able to celebrate the wedding, she says she was proud of her bishop’s decision.

“It is a beautiful step forward for women in the Church.”

However, she is equally proud of the couple she wed, and even “a little” proud of herself. And in spite of her initial apprehensions, the ceremony went well.

She is now ready to do it again whenever requested and she has no doubt that in future lay people will be called to play an increasingly significant role in the liturgy.

Complete Article HERE!

07/24/17

St Bride’s RC Church praised for issuing strong public message on homosexuality

Catholic church in Cambuslang praised for issuing strong public message on homosexuality

By Aftab Ali

A Catholic church in Cambuslang has earned the admiration of thousands after issuing a strong public statement on its stance on homosexuality.

St Bride’s Roman Catholic Church in the town’s Greenlees Road took to its social media page on Sunday afternoon to insist that “all gay Catholics are accepted and welcomed in this parish.”

Endorsed by the head of the parish, Father Morton, the statement added: “Every single human person is loved by God and created to love by Him; this is a fundamental belief of our faith. No one is ever excluded from God’s love or his concern or his care or his plan for them.

St Bride’s Roman Catholic Church

“In God’s house, all are welcome and are the blessed and loved children of God. There should be no place in our language or our attitude which allows for prejudice or exclusion.”

Reaching out to anyone who is gay and wishes to speak with Father Morton, St Bride’s has urged them to head along for a talk.

“We must do everything we can to redress the harm that has been done in the past by the negative stance we seem to have taken up. We must join with others who are seeking to build a more inclusive society,” the statement added.

Father Morton’s message comes just two months after he issued a similar one in which he acknowledged how gay people feel “excluded” from the Catholic Church.

He added at the time: “We wish to emphasise in the strongest terms that we are a welcoming and inclusive parish.”

Yesterday’s message has gone down a storm on social media and is continuing to gather praise and positive reactions both at home and further afield.

“Fr Morton is such an amazing man. Lucky parish to have such a wonderful priest,” said one follower, while another added: “What a courageous statement. Hopefully others will follow this Christian lead. Time to stop burying our heads in the sand. Well done Fr Morton.”

The statement comes as religious leaders in Glasgow spearhead gay rights in the UK.

Just last week, St Mary’s Cathedral in the west end of the city became the first in Britain to confirm it has started taking bookings for same-sex weddings following a decision earlier this year in the Scottish Episcopal Church’s General Synod.

The Provost of the cathedral, the Very Rev Kelvin Holdsworth, said: “I want to live in a world where same-sex couples can feel safe walking down the street, hand in hand, and in which they can feel joy walking hand in hand down the aisle of a church too.”

Complete Article HERE!

07/22/17

Mary Magdalene: The Single Best Argument for Women Priests

By Kerry Walters

On 22 July each year, the Christian community venerates a saint who is the single best argument for why women should be priests: Mary of Magdala, more commonly called Mary Magdalene and traditionally known as the “Apostle to the Apostles.”

Given what we know about her, it’s a scandal that some Christian communities—most notably the Roman Catholic Church and the Southern Baptist Convention—still consider women unworthy of ordination.

The Roman Church’s refusal to ordain women is succinctly stated in its official Catechism:

The Lord Jesus chose men to form the college of the twelve apostles, and the apostles did the same when they chose collaborators to succeed them in their ministry…For this reason the ordination of women is not possible. #1577

The Southern Baptist Convention bases its refusal on several passages in the Pauline letters to Titus and Timothy that seem to disallow women from serving as pastors. (Never mind that biblical scholars agree that the letters were almost certainly not written by Paul himself.) Predictably, perhaps, the Convention adds that pastoral ministry would interfere with women’s single-minded dedication to their God-appointed “family roles.”

Such objections to the ordination of women strike rational people, including millions of Christians, as absurd. But Dominican priest Wojciech Giertych, who served as theologian of the papal household for Pope Benedict XVI, adds risibility to absurdity when he argues that women simply don’t have the mechanical know-how of men, and so would be helpless when it comes to guy-stuff like church repairs.

I don’t know how handy she was with a hammer or screwdriver, but the scriptural accounts of Mary Magdalene certainly confound these arguments against women priests and pastors. Her prominence in the New Testament is indisputable.

She’s presented as one of the earliest disciples of Jesus, joining his band of followers after being cleansed of “seven demons” (Mark and Luke). Although she actually isn’t the New Testament “sinner” who washed Jesus’ feet with her tears or anointed them with precious oil she’s often thought to be—this is an identification invented by Gregory the Great in the 6th century—she’s still mentioned more often in the Gospels, no fewer than 12 times, than nearly all the male apostles.

The gospels of Mark, Matthew, and John recognize her as one of the women who followed Jesus to Golgotha, when all the male apostles except John had fled in terror. All four gospels also announce that she was either the very first person (Mark and John) or one of the first (Matthew and Luke), her companions also being women, to whom the Risen Christ appeared, and that she was the messenger who carried the good news to the male apostles.

Luke tells us that the other disciples didn’t believe her, either because she was a woman or because the tale was so fantastical, and ran to see the empty tomb for themselves. In the apocryphal Gospel of Mary, dating from sometime in the 2nd century, the disbelief of the male apostles, especially the brothers Andrew and Peter, is clearly rancorous. “Did he then speak secretly with a woman, in preference to us, and not openly? Are we to turn back and all listen to her? Did he prefer her to us?” In the later Gospel of Philip, another apocryphal text, the anger directed against Mary by the male apostles is even more intense.

These texts suggest that even at this early stage in the Church’s history, animosity toward women in leadership positions was present. But the more important point here is that both canonical and non-canonical texts affirm Mary as the witness-bearer for the risen Christ. There simply is no debate in the ancient texts about her centrality.

We have nothing but legend to fall back on for the rest of Mary’s life. She isn’t mentioned in either the Acts of the Apostles or any of the New Testament epistles. Some stories say she retired to Ephesus with Mary, Jesus’ mother, after the Resurrection. Others say that she undertook missionary work, even appearing before the Roman emperor Tiberias and astounding him with a miracle.

But these legends, charming as they are, aren’t necessary for establishing her bona fides. Scripture does that. Mary Magdalene, like so many women, was one of Jesus’ earliest followers; she remained loyal to him, at great risk to herself, when the male apostles fled in doubt and terror; the Risen Christ appeared first to her; and she carried the good news to the male apostles, who refused to believe her testimony. Even John Paul II, who declared the topic of women’s ordination settled and done (a position unfortunately affirmed by Pope Francis), acknowledged that this rightly made her the Apostle to the Apostles.

So if men are qualified to ordained ministry because of the male apostles, wouldn’t Mary’s primacy over them qualify women?

The answer’s pretty clear, isn’t it?

Complete Article HERE!

07/20/17

First same-sex marriage at Anglican church in UK to be held this summer

St Mary’s Cathedral in Glasgow will conduct wedding ceremony for couple from England, provost says

St Mary’s Cathedral in Glasgow

By

The first same-sex marriage at an Anglican church in the UK is expected to take place in Glasgow later this summer.

St Mary’s Cathedral has become the first in the country to be given permission to conduct gay weddings, a month after the Scottish Episcopal church general synod voted overwhelmingly to allow its churches to host the ceremonies.

The vote resulted in canon law being changed to remove a doctrinal clause stating that marriage was between a man and a woman. On Thursday the Rev Kelvin Holdsworth, provost of St Mary’s, became the first Anglican celebrant to be registered to perform same-sex weddings.

Holdsworth said the cathedral had already had one booking from a same-sex couple in England who could not get married in their local Church of England parish. “We are glad to be able to welcome them and expect there will be many others who will follow them,” he said.

The congregation at St Mary’s were active in the campaign to allow gay marriage in Scotland. “I’m a gay man myself and so initially for me it was about coming out and then, having come out, it was about helping the church to come out,” said Holdsworth.

“The church was always a place that was good for me when I came out. It was a very supportive place and it seemed to me important to get the church to tell the truth that it was accepting about people in same-sex relationships and then gradually members in this congregation started to help in the push for gay marriage.”

Holdsworth said the cathedral was one of the most beautiful church buildings in the country and that the surrounding area was “buzzing”. “It’s a fantastic place to get married,” he said.

Following the vote in June, the bishop Andy Lines from Gafcon, which represents conservative Anglicans worldwide, told a press conference that the church was “not at liberty to tamper with [God’s] words” and that he would offer support to those “who wish to maintain the authority of the Bible”.

Despite opposition within the Anglican church to the Scottish decision, Holdsworth said he had encountered no opposition to the move from the local community. “People sometimes say that support for gay marriage is the biggest change in social attitudes that has ever been measured,” he said.

“People used to disagree with gay relationships quite strongly and now they support them very strongly. All the time as we’ve been pushing for more and more equality, we’ve been seeing people becoming more accepting.”

He said the move to allow same-sex couples to marry in Scottish Anglican churches was not just important to gay people. “I think there are lots of straight people who want to get married in churches that are practising equality,” he said. “I find that the more that I go on about equality for gay folk, the more I get young families coming here because they want their kids to grow up in that kind of church.”

Complete Article HERE!

07/20/17

Another child sex abuse scandal uncovers crisis of celibacy in Catholic Church

Instead of considering the damage caused by enforced abstinence, the Church’s requirement for clergy to be celibate has made child sexual abuse all the more likely


Cardinal George Pell is the highest ranking Vatican official to face sexual assault charges.

by

One of the most senior Roman Catholic clergy in the world, a champion to conservative Catholics, has been charged with multiple sexual offences. 

Cardinal George Pell, Australia’s most senior Catholic, was charged last month. He is the highest-ranking Vatican official to face sexual offences.

Australians are still in shock after an inquiry revealed that 7 per cent of the country’s Roman Catholic clergy abused children between 1950 and 2010, and in one religious order more than 40 per cent of the members were involved. More than 4,400 people claim to be abuse victims of the Catholic Church in Australia, according to The Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sex Abuse.

None of this should surprise Canadians. 

There is hardly any part of Catholic Canada that has not been tarnished by child abuse cases. The same can be said for the United States, Britain, Ireland and elsewhere. 

At the infamous Mount Cashel Orphanage in Newfoundland, for example, 300 children were abused by the Christian Brothers, a Roman Catholic religious order. In 2009 Bishop Raymond Lahey of Antigonish announced that his diocese had reached a $15 million settlement with abuse victims. Shortly afterwards Lahey himself was found to have child pornography. He pled guilty to charges in 2011. More troubling is that fact Lahey was observed by the Church to be in possession of child pornography as early the mid-1980s but was still made a bishop. 

Sexual abuse is in no way confined to any one institution. It happens in families, sports clubs, schools and in religious institutions of all types. 

But within the Roman Catholic Church it is made all the more likely for a number of reasons.

First, celibacy 

There is no Christian requirement for clergy to be celibate. Even the Roman Catholic Church has wavered on the teaching over the centuries. 

Some religious people are called to the priesthood and it deepens their faith and vocation. 

But it’s also true that the culture of secrecy and lies in the Church when it comes to historical cases of sexual abuse, has been exploited by pedophile priests.

The image of the child-like cleric who has no sexual desire is a dangerous fantasy. In the Boston abuse crisis, in particular, many of the younger priests were some of the most horrendous abusers.

It’s also no secret that there are an enormous number of gay men in the Catholic Church. Many are, in fact, in consensual and loving same-sex relationships. 

But instead of considering the damage caused by enforced celibacy, systemic homophobia and manic secrecy in the Church, the Vatican has made it impossible for any man who has had even a shadow of same-sex attraction to enter the seminary. 

This stridently anti-gay policy has become even worse under the allegedly more liberal Pope Francis. 

The absence of women in positions of power

All-male societies lack balance and tend to accentuate the worst of male sexual dysfunctions. One of the gruesome findings of various inquiries into sexual abuse in the church is how few priests came forward to report their concerns about what their colleagues might have been doing. Would women have been similarly silent? 

The cult of clericalism and secrecy 

There is a hierarchy in many institutions, but it’s especially pronounced when religion is involved. 

In Roman Catholicism, the priest is the man who offers the body and blood of Jesus to the congregation during mass. He hears their confessions and gives absolution as the representative of God on Earth. He is often considered above and beyond criticism. The clerical class is to be obeyed and respected – and they in turn keep their authority to themselves. 

In more conservative circles, they are especially insular. It is not for the congregation to know or to be consulted. 

That has changed to a certain degree in the past 30 years but is still the overwhelming reality of Catholic life. The general response to criticism of the Church is to accuse critics of anti-Catholicism, even when that condemnation comes from within the church itself. 

But with the latest revelations around Pell that card has been played too often and the assumptions of reverence and silence within Catholic culture are fading fast. 

Put simply, abusive priests simply can’t get away with it the way they did for so long, so often. Alas, it’s still too late for many of the victims.

Complete Article HERE!