US Roman Catholic priest is reported missing in Greece

The aunt of a Roman Catholic priest missing in Greece said she fears her nephew is dead but holds out hope because he is known for surviving against great odds.

Sister Marcianne Kappes, a professor at St. Gregory’s University in Shawnee and a Carmelite Sister of St. Therese from Villa Teresa Catholic School in Oklahoma City, said the details of her nephew’s disappearance are sketchy but that his family is sure he is in trouble.

The Rev. Christiaan Kappes, 36, told family members he feared for his life earlier this week. He was dropped off at an airport in Athens on Monday but never boarded the plane and has not been seen since, Sister Kappes said on Thursday.

“I’m waiting from a call from my four younger brothers to find out the latest,” she said. “Either he’s dead or he’s managed to go into hiding, but if they’re holding him I think he’s dead.”

Kappes, who is attached to the Archdiocese of Indianapolis, Ind., has been attending the University of Athens for about three years, said Greg Otolski, a spokesman for the archdiocese.

He was sent there at the request of the Vatican, which is trying to improve relationships between the Roman Catholic Church and Orthodox churches, Otolski told the Indianapolis Star.

The church, the U.S. State Department and the Federal Bureau of Investigation have been notified of his disappearance.

Sister Kappes said her nephew may have gotten into trouble through his translator, but said she’s heard differing reports about his disappearance and declined to speculate further.

Kappes told his family on Monday that he and his translator, a Greek woman, were in danger from her family, who was seeking to take away inheritance money, according to the Star.

A man known for immersing himself in some of the world’s poorest areas, Sister Kappes said her nephew is well-traveled and has escaped trouble before.

A member of the national exhibition wrestling team in the 1980s, he spent a week without food in Eastern Europe after the fall of communism, she said. He previously spent a year working with the poor in Mexico.
“I never give up hope to the last minute, and even to the last minute my family is a little crazy — we believe in life after death, and we believe we will see each other again,” Sister Kappes said.

Her nephew visited Oklahoma City for wrestling clinics nearly every year when he was young, and was well known to some of the monks at St. Gregory’s despite not having visited for the past decade or so.
On Thursday, the university in Shawnee held a special mass to support him.

“I think the interesting thing about Chris is, no matter where he is he works with the poor,” she said. “He’s the kind of guy that is multifaceted; he’s equally at home with a group of dignitaries as he is working with orphaned gypsy boys. You know, you hate to lose kids like him for the world.”

Complete Article HERE!

Women as Priests


REFORMERS within the Roman Catholic Church have been calling for the ordination of women as priests. The Vatican, however, refuses to consider the possibility and uses its power to silence those who speak out. Catholic clergy in Europe, Australia and the United States who have voiced public support for female ordination have been either dismissed or threatened with removal from administrative posts within the church.

For those who disobey the prohibition, the consequences are swift and severe. In 2008, the Vatican decreed that any woman who sought ordination, or a bishop who conferred holy orders on her, would be immediately “punished with excommunication.” It went a step further in 2010, categorizing any such attempt as delicta graviora — a grave crime against the church — the same category as priests who sexually abuse children.

Despite the official church position, clergy and laity have been fighting for the ordination of women since the early 1970s, hoping to expand upon the Vatican II reforms. And according to a 2010 poll by The New York Times and CBS, 59 percent of American Catholics favor the ordination of women.

In the last 10 years the Vatican has had to contend with a particularly indomitable group of women who seem to be unaffected by excommunication or other punishment offered by the church. The movement started when seven women were ordained by three Roman Catholic bishops aboard a ship on the Danube River in 2002. The women claimed their ordinations were valid because they conformed to the doctrine of “apostolic succession.” The group that grew out of that occasion calls itself Roman Catholic Womenpriests. There are now more than 100 ordained women priests and 11 bishops.

I grew up as a Catholic, although I don’t practice now. The first time I saw a female Roman Catholic priest on the church altar, dressed in traditional robes, performing the Eucharist and all of the rituals that I grew up with, I was amazed at how deeply it affected me emotionally. It had simply never occurred to me that a woman could preside over the church.

The Roman Catholic Church’s argument against the ordination of women is simple and relies on the logic of tradition: “that’s what we have always done.” Pope John Paul II issued an apostolic letter in 1994 saying that the church had no authority to ordain women because, among other reasons, Christ chose only men to be his apostles. Pope Benedict XVI agrees with his predecessor and insists that the church need offer no further justification for its opposition to women as priests, calling instead for a “radicalism of obedience.”

But contemporary theologians, historians and priests have been challenging the historical basis of the Vatican’s assertion. Recent research suggests that Mary Magdalene, among others, may have been an apostle and that women played leadership roles that profoundly shaped the early church.

Karen L. King’s recent discovery of a scrap of papyrus making reference to Jesus’ wife, and to a female disciple, adds weight to the charge that the Vatican’s opposition to the ordination of women is theologically and historically flawed. The Vatican, however, argues that the document was forged.

I photographed priests and bishops of the Roman Catholic Womenpriests movement to alter my own deep-seated perception of priests as male. I tried to capture their devotion and conviction and pay tribute to their efforts to reform the church.

Complete Article HERE!

A Gay Wedding in Rome

Though it’s still not legal, the home base of the Catholic Church hosted its first known same-sex marriage today. Barbie Latza Nadeau on the new push for civil rights in Italy.

Gay marriage is not legal in Italy, but that hasn’t stopped a number of same-sex couples from tying the knot.

On a rainy Sunday afternoon in the historic All Saint’s Anglican Church near Rome’s Piazza del Popolo, Francesco and Alessandro made their vows of marriage in the presence of friends and family. One groom wore a blue suit; the other a white one. A flower girl dressed in pink and a young ring bearer accompanied the couple, who both smiled and cried tears of happiness like thousands of other newlyweds.

The one-hour ceremony included communion, scripture readings, and lively spiritual music by a visiting choir invited to help celebrate the first same-sex marriage known to be held in Rome, the base of the Roman Catholic Church. The grooms held hands and exchanged rings that had been blessed by Mother Teodora Tosatti, the first woman to be ordained as a priest in Italy under the Vetero Catholics, which is an offshoot of the Catholic Church. “Why should love that does not follow tradition be illegal?” she asked the congregation made up of same-sex and heterosexual couples. “Your vows to each other are as important as any other’s.”

The Rome ceremony is the second same-sex wedding in Italy in a matter of days. Last week, a city counselor in Bologna united Ida and Mariagrazia at a symbolic ceremony that divided the city and prompted staunch criticism from the Catholic Church. Bologna bishop Giovanni Silvagni said the marriage was an affront to unions between heterosexual couples. “This is a move against nature and against the order,” he said in response to the wedding, which was held in a hospice unit of a hospital where one of the brides is fighting terminal cancer.

In Milan, the city council has offered a civil-union registry, but it carries few benefits and is more like a petition for rights of gay couples. Most gay couples that wish to have their unions recognized with a legal document must do so in another country, even though no legal rights transfer back to Italy.

France plans to recognize gay marriages in October, following Belgium, Denmark, Iceland, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Spain, and Sweden, which have all passed laws that give rights to same-sex couples. French politicians who support the new legislation have even introduced a bill that would remove the words husband, wife, mother, and father from legal bureaucratic documents to help pave the way for nontraditional couples and families. French president François Hollande promised to redefine marriage in his election campaign and has introduced a bill that will now define marriage as “a union of two people, of different or the same gender.”

But in Italy, where the Catholic Church still holds significant sway over the political process, gay marriage is still taboo. Rosy Bindi, president of the center-left Democratic Party, said she would consider supporting legislation for rights for same-sex couples under the statutes being revised for common-law marriages and heterosexual civil unions, but she said she would not support same-sex marriage. Nichi Vendola, the governor of Puglia and the country’s most outspoken gay politician, said that it is not enough. “At 54 I want to be able to marry my companion, or at least start the conversation,” he said at a debate on the topic. “As a citizen, as a person and as a Christian I want a real discussion and ask my state and my church why expressions of love cannot be released by an attitude carried over from the Middle Ages.”

Sunday’s ceremony in Rome was not legal, and there were a dozen body guards outside the church to stop anyone who might protest or disrupt the union from entering the church, but it was a landmark ceremony in a city that is largely considered the capital of Catholicism.

“This ceremony may not be recognized by the law,” said Tosatti. “But it is a step in the right direction.”

Complete Article HERE!