08/19/17

Catholic bishops create guidelines for priests with children

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‘At a minimum, no priest should walk away from his responsibilities’

Archbishop Diarmuid Martin: psychotherapist Vincent Doyle has set up a website to help people, such as himself, whose fathers were priests. The website has been funded by the archbishop.

By Patsy McGarry

The wellbeing of the child should be the primary consideration for any Catholic priest who becomes a father, guidelines approved by Ireland’s Catholic bishops state.

The guidelines say the priest “should face up to his responsibilities – legal, moral and financial. At a minimum, no priest should walk away from his responsibilities.”

In arriving at any decision concerning his child, it is “vital” that the mother, “as the primary caregiver, and as a moral agent in her own right, be fully involved”. It was also “important that a mother and child should not be left isolated or excluded”.

The guidelines, Principles of Responsibility Regarding Priests who Father Children While in Ministry, were approved by the bishops last May, but have yet to be published on their website or any Catholic diocesan website in Ireland.

They were prepared following discussions with Galway-based psychotherapist Vincent Doyle (34), whose father, Co Longford priest Fr JJ Doyle, died of lung cancer in 1995.

Mr Doyle contacted the Boston Globe and, this week, the American newspaper ran a series on children fathered by priests.

Mr Doyle has also set up the website www.coping international.com to help people, such as himself, whose fathers were priests. The website has been funded by Archbishop of Dublin Diarmuid Martin.

The guidelines state: “In justice and in love, the needs of the child should be given the first consideration. In the case of a child fathered by a Catholic priest, it follows that a priest, as any new father, should face up to his responsibilities – legal, moral and financial.”

They continue: “At a minimum, no priest should walk away from his responsibilities. His relevant church authority (bishop or religious superior) should also direct such a priest in addressing his responsibilities.”

Arriving at a decision, the priest should take into account the best interests of the child; dialogue with, and respect for, the mother of the child; dialogue with church superiors, and take into consideration both civil and canon law.

Asked why these principles had not been announced publicly, a spokesman for the bishops said “it was presumed that Vincent would”.
From the bishops’ guidelines

Upon ordination priests promise to live a life of celibacy in their dedication to Christ and to pastoral ministry in the church. However if, contrary to this obligation, a priest fathers a child, the wellbeing of his child should be his first consideration.

The following principles of responsibility attempt to articulate a position based on natural justice and subsequent rights regarding the children of priests. This does not replace the responsibility of arriving at practical decisions which pertains to those children with the common good (whether in the family, church or State)

1. The birth of a child to a couple brings into being a unique person with a mother and a father. The parents have a fundamental right to make their own decisions regarding the care of their newborn child.

2. In justice and in love, the needs of the child should be given the first consideration. In the case of a child fathered by a Catholic priest, it follows that a priest, as any new father, should face up to his responsibilities – legal, moral and financial. At a minimum, no priest should walk away from his responsibilities. His relevant church authority (bishop or religious superior) should also direct such a priest in addressing his responsibilities

3. Each situation requires careful consideration (*) but certain principles present themselves on which the decision of the priest should be made

-The best interests of the child

-Dialogue with, and respect for, the mother of the child

– Dialogue with church superiors

-Taking into account civil and canon law (**)

4. It is vital in discerning a way forward that the mother, as the primary caregiver, and as a moral agent in her own right, be fully involved in the decision.

5. In arriving at a determination regarding these cases, it is important that a mother and child should not be let isolated or excluded.

*In particular, cultural contexts can have an important bearing. However, the moral agency of the mother will remain important to the cultural contexts

**Such laws or norms may include rights of custody and maintenance (civil law) or the process of laicisation (canon law)

Complete Article HERE!

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08/16/17

Boston Globe Spotlight Team Uncovers Secret Children Of Catholic Priests

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One of the Boston Globe reporters made famous in the movie “Spotlight” has a new bombshell story on the Catholic Church – thousands of people claim they were fathered by priests.

Globe Spotlight reporter Michael Rezendes appeared on CBS This Morning Wednesday to discuss the first part of his report, “Children of Catholic Priests Live with Secrets and Sorrow.”

Michael Rezendes.

“We know there are many more than people assume, probably in the thousands. Just recently, about two years ago, a son of a priest in Ireland set up a website called Coping International and he’s heard from scores of people from all over the world who are the sons and daughters of Catholic priests,” Rezendes said.

Rezenedes first heard from a man named Jim Graham, who’s profiled in the Globe story.

“Jim spent many years tracking down evidence that a priest was his father. I was impressed with what he suffered, the pain he endured, and I was impressed with his detective work, but still it was just one person and it wasn’t until Vincent Doyle called me and gave me the information he collected through his website that I realized this was a systemic situation and deserved my full attention,” Rezendes said.

“I think it’s very similar to the situation with clergy sex abuse, whenever there was a scandal, the church treated the situation as if it was exceptional, when in fact it was systemic. And I think we’re looking at the same thing here.”

Many of these children of priests struggle in silence and secrecy as they grow up.

“I think they suffer emotionally, I think they suffer financially, I think they suffer spiritually by not having a loving father and very often by not having a father who provides adequate child support,” Rezendes told CBS.

“These people are coming together, it’s remarkable to see this community being formed right now as we speak and they would like the church, the Vatican to put some policies in place to end the secrecy and also just give some bishops a little bit of guidance on what to do when they learn one of their priests has fathered a child, because right now they have no guidance.”

The Vatican declined to comment on the Boston Globe story.

Cardinal Sean O’Malley.

“If a priest fathers a child, he has a moral obligation to step aside from ministry and provide for the care and needs of the mother and child. In such a moment, their welfare is the highest priority,” Boston Cardinal Sean O’Malley said in a statement to CBS News.

“I think Cardinal O’Malley’s statement is important because I think more often than not the first reaction of a priest is to cover up the fact that he has become a parent. And what Cardinal O’Malley is saying, and I think this is in line with some of the things Pope Francis has said is, ‘No, if you’re a priest and you father a child, your first responsibility is no longer to the church, it’s to your child,” Rezendes said.

Part two of the Spotlight report can be found in the Boston Globe Sunday.

Complete Article HERE!

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04/14/17

Glenstal monk urges church to change attitude on sexual ethics

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Fr Mark Patrick Hederman calls for church to modernise its approach to sexuality

Fr Mark Patrick Hederman: “It is surely time to take a more comprehensive approach to the ethics of sexual behaviour.”

The Catholic Church’s “stifling teachings on sex” need to be dramatically modernised, a Benedictine monk has said.

Fr Mark Patrick Hederman, the former abbot of Glenstal in Limerick, said the church also needs to address its subjugation of women and open a national discussion on sex, celibacy and ethics.

He said the progressive attitude shown by the nation in the marriage equality referendum have not been reflected in all parts of society.

“Now that we have legislated for gay marriage and accepted the fact that sexuality does happen for reasons other than procreation; now that we also recognise that some of the most heinous sexual crimes have been perpetrated within the ‘sanctity’ of marriage; it is surely time to take a more comprehensive approach to the ethics of sexual behaviour,” he said.

“Every or any sexual activity can be good or evil, and the act itself right through to the moment of orgasm is always somewhere on a spectrum between selfish egotism and altruistic communion.”

Fr Hederman (72), a former headmaster in Glenstal Abbey, said that for centuries sex in Ireland was only talked about in the context of “the natural law of God and confined to religious discourse”.

Reality check

However, he believes the time has come to have a greater conversation and for the church to have “a reality check” on its ideals.

In relation to a person’s emotional or sexual life, he said in the past it was as if the church felt such a life did not exist.

“It was presumed that it arrived fully fledged in the marriage bed, the only location where its practice was permitted. Even the most basic courses on love-making teach that a man has to train himself to prevent orgasm occurring prematurely before it can be shared with his partner.

“This does not come naturally. On the contrary, the natural orgasm and ejection of sperm for a man is unencumbered and immediate. That is the biological way, the optimum performance in terms of procreation and reproduction of the species.

“Lovers have to learn, discipline themselves, and gain a control which will help them to be sexual in a way that makes them sensitively reciprocal. Otherwise sexuality is the tool of selfish individuality and autistic monologue,” he writes.

Rejected lifestyles

Fr Hederman is a prolific author and his latest book, The Opal and the Pearl, is published this week and calls for a more modernised attitude from the church on sex. The book takes its title from a letter from James Joyce to Nora Barnacle in 1909.

In it, he writes that Catholics who wish to remain “conservative and old-fashioned”, should avoid being “sectarian and supportive of values and lifestyles which have been rejected by the majority of 21st-century families.

“Otherwise we are categorised as out-of-date leftovers from a previous era, such as the Amish communities in America and Canada.”

Fr Hederman said that while he believes in celibacy and the condition of Christian chastity, “I don’t believe that everyone who wants to devote their life to God should be required to be celibate.”
He said the progressive attitude shown by the nation in the marriage equality referendum have not been reflected in all parts of society.

“Now that we have legislated for gay marriage and accepted the fact that sexuality does happen for reasons other than procreation; now that we also recognise that some of the most heinous sexual crimes have been perpetrated within the ‘sanctity’ of marriage; it is surely time to take a more comprehensive approach to the ethics of sexual behaviour,” he said.

“Every or any sexual activity can be good or evil, and the act itself right through to the moment of orgasm is always somewhere on a spectrum between selfish egotism and altruistic communion.”

Complete Article HERE!

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01/27/17

C of E bishops refuse to change stance on gay marriage

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Report says marriage can only be between a man and a woman but says church must stand against homophobia

Bishops have met four times since last July when the two-year process of ‘shared conversations’ on sexuality ended.

BY

Church of England bishops have upheld traditional teaching that marriage can only be between a man and a woman, in a move that has infuriated campaigners for gay rights and risks further alienating the church from wider society.

After two years of intense internal discussion involving clergy and laity – and at least two decades of bitter division within the church – the bishops have produced a report reaffirming that marriage is “a union permanent and life-long, of one man and one woman”.

The church should not “adapt its doctrine to the fashions of any particular time”, said Graham James, the bishop of Norwich, at a press conference to present the report.

However, church law and guidance should be interpreted to provide “maximum freedom” for gay and lesbian people without a change of doctrine – meaning clergy will have some leeway in individual cases – the report said. “Maximum freedom has no definition but it’s part of this exploration we’re engaged in,” said James.

While calling for a “fresh tone and culture of welcome and support” for lesbians and gays, the report offered no concrete change.

Gay campaigners within the church denounced the report as “cruel” and an “utter failure” that could herald an increase in clerical disobedience over issues around sexuality.

Bishops have met four times since last July, when the two-year process of “shared conversations” on sexuality ended. Their report will be discussed at next month’s synod but no vote will be taken on its substance.

The report suggests that everyone seeking ordination or appointment as bishops should face questions about their lifestyle, irrespective of their personal sexual orientation. At the moment, gay ordinands and clergy are required to commit to celibacy even if they are in long-term relationships.

James denied the bishops were proposing a “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy. All ordinands and clergy were expected to commit to “fashion [their] own life … according to the way of Christ” but, James said, current questioning was overly focused on sexual activity, with an explicit expectation that gay and lesbian clergy should be celibate.

Instead, “questioning about sexual morality should form a part of a wider examination” or heterosexual and gay ordinands and clergy.

The bishops also say the church needs to repent of homophobic attitudes of the past and stand against homophobia.

Current advice to clergy, which allows them to provide “informal prayers” to same-sex couples in civil partnerships or marriages, should be clarified, the bishops said. However, the report does not propose official church blessings.

The church said the document represented the consensus of opinion among bishops rather than a unanimous view. The bishops also stressed their report was part of a process rather than an attempt at a final resolution.

However, James acknowledged “it’s possible there will never be an end [to the process]”.

He said: “We hope the tone and register of this report will help to commend it, though we recognise it will be challenging reading for some.

“This is no last word on this subject. For there are very different views on same-sex relationships within the church, and within the house of bishops, mainly based on different understandings of how to read scripture.”

At the press conference, the bishop acknowledged the church faced a tension between “fidelity to the scriptures, the traditions … and the culture of our times. This is why it’s such a testing issue for the church to deal with. But I don’t think that if the church adapted its doctrine to the fashions of any particular time, that would mean it would be expressing the historic faith.”

Jayne Ozanne, a prominent campaigner for equality within the C of E, said the report was “unbelievable, unacceptable and ungodly”.

“Being nice to us whilst hitting us is still abuse,” she said, adding: “The nation will look on incredulous, and yet again will recoil from a church that fails to show love or understanding to those it has constantly marginalised and victimised.”

The report “fails to recognise the mounting evidence that was given of the prolonged and institutionalised spiritual abuse that has been meted out against the LGBT community. To demand that they be celibate for life because of their sexual orientation, and to only recognise one interpretation of scripture on the matter is cruel, unjust and ungodly.”

Andrew Foreshew-Cain, a vicar who married his partner in 2014 in defiance of church rules, said the report was an “utter failure of leadership”.

The trust that bishops had demanded from gay and lesbian Christians had been betrayed, he said, adding: “Now it’s time to get on with it ourselves, to start trying to provide what they have failed to provide: a genuine welcome to gay Christians.”

He anticipated an increase in clergy offering de facto services of blessing to same-sex couples in civil partnerships or marriages.

The church said it recognised that some clergy were defying church rules at the moment. “But there’s much less disobedience than people imagine,” said James. “Rebel clergy” would be dealt with on an individual basis by bishops, the church said.

Simon Sarmiento, the chair of the LGBTI Mission, said the key feature of the report was procrastination. But he added: “The bishops’ intent to change the tone of the C of E debate will be a serious challenge for conservative Christians.”

Reform, a conservative organisation within the C of E, said it was grateful that the bishops were not proposing changes to the church’s doctrine of marriage. But it voiced concern about “permitting maximum freedom within this law. In adopting a framework which seeks to take a middle path between biblical truth and cultural sensitivities, the bishops have ensured theological incoherence and hypocrisy will prevail for the foreseeable future.”

Complete Article HERE!

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01/20/17

Retired Catholic priests call for abolishment of celibacy

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‘What moves us is the experience of loneliness – as elderly people who are unmarried because our office required this from us, we feel it vividly on some days after 50 years on the job’

By Lucy Pasha-Robinson

The Catholic Church should end the celibacy vow, a group of senior priests in Germany has said.    

In an open letter, the group of 11 high ranking clerics said every man should have the right to choose to take the vow or not. 

The retired clerics were ordained in Cologne in 1967, and wrote the letter as part of a review of their 50 years in the Catholic church. 

“We believe that requiring that every man who becomes a priest to remain celibate is not acceptable,” group member Franz Decker told DW

“We think, every Catholic should be allowed to choose if they would rather be celibate or not, regardless of whether they want to work as priests or not – just like in the Protestant Church or the Orthodox church, really, every church but the Catholic Church.”

The group argue celibacy causes many modern priests to suffer from seclusion and believe the men have little to gain from church-imposed solitude. 

“What moves us is the experience of loneliness – as elderly people who are unmarried because our office required this from us, we feel it vividly on some days after 50 years on the job… We agreed to this clerical life because of our jobs, but we didn’t choose it,” the group wrote. 

The letter also makes a number of suggestions as to how the Catholic Church could “modernise”, including allowing women to join the clergy. 

Clerical celibacy has often been an issue of contention in the Catholic Church. 

The discipline, believed to have been introduced in the fourth century, requires men to be unmarried in order to be ordained, and to practise sexual abstinence. 

Proponents of clerical celibacy see it as “a special gift of God” where they can devote themselves to their religion more freely. 

However, according to theologian Wunibald Müller, many priests struggle with the vow. He says some overcompensate for their  loneliness by over-eating, drinking to excess or worse. 

“Even if you decide to live celibate, your sexuality is still there,” he said 

“If someone suppresses their desires, for warmth, for intimacy, this can backfire – they are more likely to cross a line, to abuse their position of trust to get intimacy.”

Complete Article HERE!

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