Friday, September 28, 2007

Eden Prairie woman ordained as priest

I normally don't blog about the women's ordination movement but this woman's story and perspective is interesting.

By John Molene, Correspondent
Prior Lake American
September 28, 2007

A mild-mannered former librarian, former nun and self-described “cradle Catholic,” Judith McKloskey is an unlikely looking revolutionary.

Judith McKloskey (l) at ceremony with
Patricia Fresen and Alice Marie Iaquinta

But in mid-August, in a controversial ceremony in Minneapolis, she officially became one.

The Eden Prairie resident and another woman say they were ordained into the priesthood of the Roman Catholic Church. It’s a claim church officials vigorously dispute, but one the women and their supporters deeply believe.

Some 60 women in the United States, and many others outside of the U.S., have been ordained in similar ceremonies.

The Roman Catholic Church as a whole, church law and traditions, and the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis specifically, say that only baptized males can be ordained.

“[The Church] holds that it is not admissible to ordain women to the priesthood, for very fundamental reasons,” wrote Pope John Paul II in 1994. “These reasons include: the example recorded in the Sacred Scriptures of Christ choosing his Apostles only from among men; the constant practice of the church, which has imitated Christ in choosing only men; and her living teaching authority which has consistently held that the exclusion of women from the priesthood is in accordance with God's plan for his church.”

Dennis McGrath, a spokesman for the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis, echoed that statement.

“The Roman Catholic church continues to hold — as it has for centuries — based on the example of Jesus himself, that only men may be ordained into the priesthood, so that any ‘ordination ceremony’ is not valid, in spite of their claims,” said McGrath.

The women’s argument that women were ordained as priests in the early days of Christianity also doesn’t hold water, McGrath said. And even if they did, McGrath argued, “so what?”

“The church’s stance on the subject of female ordination has been clear for centuries — it is not permitted,” he said. “It’s not really a valid argument.”

Despite such pronouncements, McKloskey believes she was indeed ordained a Catholic priest.

“In all good faith I believe my ordination was valid,” said the 60-year-old McKloskey.

The women’s ordination movement first gained public notoriety in 2002 when seven women were ordained on a boat on a river in Austria. The “Danube Seven,” were subsequently excommunicated by the Catholic Church. None of the women since ordained has been officially excommunicated, although it has been threatened for several.

With the shortage of male priests growing, many Catholics feel the church will eventually allow women to become priests. A recent Associated Press poll found that 60 percent of U.S. Catholics think women should be ordained.

“All I know is the movement [to allow the ordination of women] is growing rapidly,” said McKloskey.

The Minnesota ordination ceremony — the second in the state following one in Red Wing in 2006 — was organized by Roman Catholic Womenpriests, a group of communities in the United States, Canada and Europe representing an initiative within the church to ordain women without the blessing of Rome. The group’s bishops, including both men and women, have ordained about 25 women as priests since 2002 and another eight as deacons, including the two in Minneapolis on Aug. 12.

A Web site for Roman Catholic Womenpriests notes that more than 130 people — including a few men — are now either clergy or candidates in their preparation program, and that 80 of those are from the United States.

The group advocates changes in the church far beyond women’s ordination, calling for a church that would be “non-hierarchical and non-clerical.”

McKloskey has been advocating for women priests ever since she discovered in fourth grade that girls couldn’t be altar servers. A longtime member of the Women’s Ordination Conference, she has been active in Women’s Worship Circle and Never On Sunday, a group studying lectionary references to Biblical women.

McKloskey attended a Catholic high school and college and managed library networks and religious organizations earlier in her career. She earned a bachelor’s degree in biology from the University of Dayton and a master’s degree in library science from Case Western Reserve. After college, she felt drawn to a religious life and became a member of the Marianist nuns.

“I thought my call was to be a nun, and the vocational call was secondary,” McKloskey said.

That experiment ended in the late 1960s. “I concluded celibacy wasn’t really my bag,” she said.

She switched gears, going to graduate school and then working in libraries and moving to Minnesota to help a hospital set up a library. In Minnesota she met and married her husband Dan Shaw, a pediatric dentist.

Active in parish ministry for many years, Judith prays with several small faith communities, including a national Marianist Lay Community, which has been gathering for retreats since the 1960s. While continuing her theological studies, she has served as a hospice volunteer and a gatherer and encourager of those who hear calls to ministry.

She has been a member and a lay parish minister at Pax Christi in Eden Prairie, and at one time ran the church’s national office for the National Association of Lay Ministers.

On Jan. 9, 1994, however, McKloskey said she had an epiphany. On that day she discerned she should become a priest.

“I look back on that now as my private ordination,” she said. “It was so clear, so specific. It changed my life. Every day since then I’ve lived as a priest in every way I could. It’s turned my life upside down. It made it clear that this was my call from the beginning.”

A lifelong Catholic, McKloskey well knew she was swimming against church orthodoxy.

“It was the forbidden dream in my church, and I was a compliant and loyal member,” she said.

McKloskey and others would argue that women were ordained as deacons, priests and bishops in the early days of the Catholic Church. Evidence exists of women bishops and until at least the ninth century, the church gave women the full sacramental ordination of deacons, they say. Women priests existed in the West during the fourth and fifth centuries, according to Roman Catholic Womenpriests.

Far from being revolutionary, McKloskey views the women-as-priests movement as a return to the earliest traditions of the church.

“I see it as we’re returning to the way Christianity was lived in the early days,” she said.

With the decline in male priests reaching critical mass in many parts of the world, McKloskey also believes the time is right for church leaders to consider ordaining women.

“I ask that question all the time,” she said. “Especially with women who have been serving. There is no priest shortage — only a shortage of recognition in priestly service. And it’s not funny anymore because they’re closing parishes right and left.

“We believe all baptized people are called to a common priesthood,” McKloskey said. “Priests are culled from within the community to serve the community and not to dominate the community of faith.

She also believes time is on her side. “In 100 years, people will be asking, ‘What was the fuss about?’”

She added: “We believe God calls women. That our baptism gives us the right and responsibility to God and Jesus ... and that our physical appearance doesn’t really matter.”

She will minister to those who ask for her guidance.

“I will do that when people approach me and when a community invites me,” she said.

McKloskey lives in Eden Prairie with her husband. The couple has one adult daughter.

She no longer is a member of Pax Christi, or indeed any recognized parish, choosing instead to worship and pray with several small communities.

“I stopped because of the women’s issue,” she said. “Many, many people from Pax Christi can accept me. But officially they [church leaders] would consider me outside the bounds.”

Despite her obvious disagreement with current church teachings on ordination of women, McKloskey considers herself a practicing and faithful Catholic. She certainly has no plans to convert to any denomination that does allow women priests. Even excommunication wouldn’t shake her beliefs, she said.

“Yes, I’m a faithful Roman Catholic,” she said. “And yes, the sacraments are very important to me. A piece of paper wouldn’t do it.”

Thursday, September 27, 2007

And in the North, the priest shortage continues...

Also from Canada, we want to share this excerpt from an article by Ramon Gonzalez on Bishop Denis Croteau of the Mackenzie-Fort Smith diocese, Western Catholic Herald, 9/24/2007:

...One of the biggest challenges for Croteau is that he has never had enough priests to minister to the nearly 20,000 Catholics in the diocese. So how has he managed? With the help of some volunteer priests from the South and a lot of help from the laity.

In the mid-1990s Croteau made a national case out of the fact he only had a half-dozen aging priests to cover Mackenzie, the world's largest diocese geographically with 1.5 million square km and 40 parishes and missions. He got a few priests from the South and some dioceses committed themselves to man certain parishes.

But it was never enough, so at one point he divided the diocese in five regions and appointed a priest in each region. Some regions have seven or eight missions so the priest goes one Sunday here, the other Sunday there. When the priest is not there, the lay people run the service.

When Croteau came north in 1960 the diocese had 62 priests, but that number declined steadily over the years.

After his plea for help, he reached 10 priests, then eight. Today he has seven, including two diocesan priests he recently ordained, a former Anglican pastor and a priest from Nigeria.

Educating the laity in the art of running parishes and missions on their own has always been one of Croteau's main priorities. To make it happen, he built a spirituality centre 11 km out of Yellowknife called Trappers Lake soon after he became a bishop. The goal is to give Christian formation and discover possible leaders.

"So we have given sessions of all kinds in the last 20 years, I would say - in Bible, in leadership, in liturgy, in Church music and in healing," Croteau said.

"The diocese has spent a lot of money and a lot of effort trying to develop the religious leadership among the native people. That's been the big challenge."

As a result of Croteau's efforts, today in Mackenzie, lay people are basically in charge, leading services, giving Communion, marrying and burying people.

The diocese is said to have a list of almost 20 people, mostly women, who can perform weddings, funerals and Baptisms. They serve communities such as Norman Wells, Fort Simpson, Fort Providence, Deline, Tulita and Fort Good Hope.

"I think his main contribution to the Church in the North has been educating the people, the church workers," Loomis said. "He is always updating us."

One reason native people don't line up to become priests is the celibacy requirement. "In the native culture family is extremely important and to sacrifice family is not very easy for the native people to do," Croteau said. "So I don't think we'll ever get a big number of native vocations."...

Married man ordained a priest for Victoria diocese

By Jeff Graham
The B.C. Catholic
September 24, 2007

Photo: Father Dean Henderson blesses his son Dominic after his ordination at St. Andrew’s Cathedral.

"How can you be a married man and a Catholic priest?" is a question Father Dean Henderson is asked frequently. Father Henderson, ordained this summer by Bishop Richard Gagnon for the Diocese of Victoria, is married to wife Linda and has four children, and is a former Anglican minister.

"It's exceptional," said Father Henderson about being a married priest. "It's complicated, and it's impossible apart from the grace of God and the approval of both the bishop and the Holy Father."

For Father Henderson, complicated has been the best word to describe the process of becoming a married Catholic priest. His application had to go all the way to Rome for evaluation, and in it was a 13-piece dossier of information to demonstrate satisfactory theological and liturgical knowledge, along with a comprehensive psychological assessment.

There are important conditions placed on Father Henderson, the most notable being that he is excluded from "the ordinary care of souls," which he says essentially means that he is "not meant to be a parish pastor."

Instead of being the pastor of a parish, Father Henderson is an assistant at St. Andrew's Cathedral and the Pastoral Care Co-ordinator at Mount St. Mary Hospital. He said those two postings have kept him on his toes so far, and he explained he is "both busier and happier than I can express."

Father Henderson's ordination is just another plot twist in God's plan for his life and the life of his family.

"In 1999, after a lengthy process of thought, prayer, study, and discussion, my family and I were received into full communion with the Catholic Church at Christ the King Parish in Courtenay. What makes my story of ongoing Christian conversion somewhat different from the other candidates and catechumens in RCIA programs throughout the diocese is that I was an ordained Anglican minister in active ministry on Vancouver Island."

The precedent for ordaining married former Anglican ministers goes back to 1980, when Pope John Paul II granted the bishops of the United States approval to ordain married former Anglican ministers who had entered into full communion with the Catholic Church. In 1986 Canadian bishops were given similar permission.

Although he is married, Father Henderson has deep admiration and reverence for priestly celibacy. "I would like to especially acknowledge the diocesan priests whom I join in a unique way," he told his brother priests after his ordination in Victoria. "Thank you for your example of holy self-offering in a society that needs your Christ-like witness of joyful and sacrificial celibate life."

Father Henderson also recognizes the role his wife and children will play in his priestly ministry, and is thankful for the role they played in helping him get to where he is today.

"My own family obviously shares in this exceptional sacrament in a special way," he said. "Without the support of Linda, with whom I share the sacrament of marriage, I would not be here."

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

And Spain stays busy...

In the Archdiocese of Oviedo, an Asturian pastor has been separated from his parish when it was discovered that he had a woman partner and son. However, the Vicar General, Fr. Juan Antonio Menéndez, was careful to explain to the press that paternity was not the determining factor in the decision. "Por tener un hijo no se aparta a un sacerdote del ministerio sacerdotal. No está bien, pero no es la causa. Sí lo es el mantener una relación estable con una mujer, ya que va contra la promesa del celibato." ("One does not separate a priest from his priestly ministry for having a child. It's not good, but it's not the reason. What is a reason is maintaining a stable relationship with a woman, which goes againt the promise of celibacy.")

So an unstable relationship would be preferable??? It's more acceptable for the child to be brought into an UNSTABLE family situation? Dios guarda!

Anyway, the father has been given time off to reflect on his choices.

Meanwhile, five Mallorcan priests have recently asked for dispensation in the last couple of years -- all but one in order to get married...And, according to sources quoted in the article, "if celibacy were optional, half of all laicizations would not occur."

The Irish ask: "Should priests be allowed marry and raise a family?"

Carlow People
Wednesday September 12 2007

Twenty years ago, the Parish Priest was the backbone of every Catholic parish in Ireland. His position of power made him a figure to be revered and respected.

But the Emerald Isle in the late 20th century had a rapidly changing society, one that would change even further when the foundations of the Catholic Church were shaken by an onslaught of scandal.

Revelations that two darlings of the people, Bishop Eamonn Casey and Fr. Michael Cleary, both had relationships with women and both fathered children furthered damaged the people's faith in the Catholic institution.

This issue of whether priests should adhere to their vows of celibacy was re-ignited last week with the showing of RTE 1's programme, At Home With The Clearys', which showed footage of Fr. Cleary's bizarre home life.

So, should priests adhere to their vows as they're supposed to? Or should they be allowed to marry and raise a family?

Olivia Jenkinson points out that marriage and family life wouldn't take away from a priest's duties to his parishioners.

There are plenty of men out there who have good faith, who could get married and still be a good priest,' she reasons. It's human nature, men are men. Look at the 12 apostles, they were married. Eventually it'll be that women will have to be the priests.'

Eileen O'Leary was upset by RTE's programme about Fr. Michael Cleary. To her, he was a man who wanted everything.'

I was sick looking at that programme,' she told the Carlow People. I think it's awful that he didn't recognise his son, Ross.'

Eighteen-year-old, Thomas Hickey, is of an age where he has only ever seen scandal in the Catholic Church.

The church needs to reform itself to attract the younger people,' he says. if it modernised itself and allowed priests to be married, they'd get a lot more respect.'

The notion of celebacy for Tina Fennelly in the first place isn't natural' and she, too, thinks that marriage could only add to a priest's life.

A priest's job is like any other,' Tina says. A good settled background would only add to it.'

Raymond Mahon is a father himself and he argues that if priests were allowed to marry, the church wouldn't be in the crisis that it's in now about falling numbers of vacations.

If they were allowed to marry, we'd have a lot more priests here in Ireland,' he speculates. The way it is now is that if a priest wants a relationship, then he has to leave the church. That puts a lot of pressure on them.'

Not allowing priests to get married causes more problems than if they were allowed to have sexual relationships, according to Jenny Sheil.

It just creates problems if they don't marry,' Jenny explains. Any trouble in the past, like (sexual) abuse, has stemmed from the current situation where they're not allowed to marry. It's just too old fashioned. A priest should be allowed to have a private life.'

The final word on the subject goes back to Thomas Hickey.

Raising a family is one of the most God-given things in the world to do,' he concludes. I don't see why priests should be denied that.'

The Curia: "We're shocked, shocked..."

(We're not, not...)

Dominicans surprised at Dutch proposal for priestless Masses
By Carol Glatz
Catholic News Service (

VATICAN CITY (CNS) – The general curia of the Dominicans expressed surprise over a booklet published by its order in the Netherlands recommending that laypeople be allowed to celebrate Mass when no ordained priests are available.

In a written statement released by the Vatican Sept. 18, the Dominicans' Rome-based leaders said that, while they "laud the concern of our brothers" over the shortage of priests, they did not believe "the solutions that they have proposed are beneficial to the church nor in harmony with its tradition."

The statement, dated Sept. 4, acknowledged the Dutch Dominicans' concerns about the shortage of vocations to the priesthood and the difficulty in offering the faithful in the Netherlands a wider celebration of the Eucharist.

But while the statement said Dominican leaders shared those same concerns it said they did "not believe that the method they (Dutch Dominicans) have used in disseminating" a booklet to all 1,300 parishes in the Netherlands was an appropriate way to discuss the issue.

An open dialogue about the availability of the Eucharist and the priestly ministry should be carried out through a "careful theological and pastoral reflection with the wider church and the Dominican order," the statement said.

"The booklet published by our Dutch brothers was a surprise to the general curia of the Dominican order," it said.

In late August, the Dominicans in the Netherlands distributed a 38-page booklet, "Church and Ministry," that proposed parishes in need of an ordained priest choose their own person to become the Mass presider. The parish could then present such candidates -- "women or men, homo- or heterosexual, married or single" -- to the local bishop to ask that they be ordained, according to the booklet's summary on the Dutch Dominicans' Web site.

However, basing its recommendation on practices within the early church, the booklet said if the bishop chooses not to ordain the candidate -- for example, because the person cannot meet the requirements of celibacy -- then the elected candidate and the congregation could speak the words of the consecration together.

"What is important is an infectious attitude of faith," the booklet said.

Because of the priest shortage in the Netherlands, some parishes have a Liturgy of the Word and a Communion service with preconsecrated hosts. In some cases, local church officials advise Catholics to drive to a nearby parish that has a priest.

In an interview posted on the Dutch Dominicans' Web site, Dominican Father Harrie Salemans, one of the booklet's authors, said: "The church is organized around priests and finds the priesthood more important than local faith communities. ... This is deadly for local congregations."

The issue of priestly celibacy and the potential role of married priests came up at the Synod of Bishops on the Eucharist in late 2005. Both synod participants and Pope Benedict XVI reaffirmed the obligation of celibacy for priests in the Latin rite.

The pope's 2007 apostolic exhortation, "Sacramentum Caritatis" ("The Sacrament of Charity"), and his special November 2006 meeting with top Vatican officials reaffirmed the value of priestly celibacy.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Dutch Dominicans call for laity to celebrate Mass

William Jurgensen

THE DOMINICAN Order in the Netherlands has issued a radical recommendation that lay ministers chosen by their congregations should be allowed to celebrate the Eucharist if no ordained priests are available.

In a booklet posted to all 1,300 parishes in the country, it says that the Church should drop its priest-centred model of the Mass in favour of one built around a community sharing bread and wine in prayer.

"Whether they are women or men, homo- or heterosexual, married or single, makes no difference. What is important is an infectious attitude of faith," said the brochure, which has been approved by the Dutch order's leaders. However, the Dutch bishops' conference promptly said that the booklet appeared to be "in conflict with the faith of the Roman Catholic Church". It said it had no prior knowledge of the project and needed to study the text further before issuing a full reaction.

The 38-page booklet, Kerk en Ambt ("Church and Ministry"), reflects the thinking of the Belgian-born Dominican theologian Fr Edward Schillebeeckx. In 1986 the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith under the then Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger warned Fr Schillebeeckx that his views on the Eucharist and lay ministry were "erroneous" but took no action against him.

The booklet was written by four Dominicans including Fr André Lascaris, a theologian at the Dominican Study Centre for Theology and Society in Nijmegen. Fr Lascaris was involved in peace work for Northern Ireland from 1973 until 1992 and has published numerous articles and books on conflict, violence, forgiveness and reconciliation. The other authors are Fr Jan Nieuwenhuis, retired head of the Dominicus ecumenical centre in Amsterdam, Fr Harrie Salemans, a parish priest in Utrecht, and Fr Ad Willems, retired theology lecturer at Radboud University, Nijmegen.

The booklet says that many Dutch Catholics are frustrated that combining parishes and closing churches is the main response to the challenge of a dwindling clergy. "The Church is organised around priests and actually finds the priesthood more important than local faith communities," said Fr Salemans in an interview posted on the order's Dutch website. "This is deadly for local congregations."

Using the early Church as its model, the booklet said a congregation could choose its own lay minister to lead services. The minister and the congregation would speak the words of consecration together. "Speaking these words is not the exclusive right or power of the priest," the booklet said. "It is the conscious expression of faith by the whole congregation."

The ranks of Dutch Dominicans have thinned along with those of other clergy, and now number only 90 men. Since 2000 around 200 parishes in the Netherlands have been closed due to the lack of priests and the fall in church attendance.

Internet enhances traditional worship

By William Loeffler
Sunday, September 9, 2007

Can we get an e-men?

Skeptics said that folks would never give out their credit card numbers to buy a pair of shoes on the Internet. Others sneered at the prospect of obtaining a college diploma from an online university.

With those realities as ho-hum as e-mail, could online churches be far behind? Will Catholics eventually confess their sins to a priest via videocam? Will Baptists log on for Sunday services?

Church authorities and some local parishioners say no. But with church attendance among young people declining, some Internet entrepreneurs and evangelists are stepping into the breach.

Many churches now host Web sites where parishioners can find Mass schedules, birth announcements, death notices, inspirational messages, even the "saint of the week." Web sites outside mainstream religions include, which lists 300 married priests across the country who will perform wedding ceremonies for couples who can't be married in the Catholic church.

Then there's

The nondenominational video-sharing site has received nearly 3 million visitors since its official Aug. 8 launch. claims more people visit the site on an average Sunday than attend the largest mega-church in America, televangelist Joel Osteen's 35,000-member Lakewood Church in Houston.

"The church is having difficulty reaching the 20- to 30- (year-old) generation," says founder Chris Wyatt, a former television producer who attends Dallas Theological Seminary. "They've kind of lost touch. They don't respond to direct mail as their parents did. They don't respond to e-mail solicitation. We created to cast a much larger net -- to speak the language, if you will, of the younger generation." members can participate in video discussions of Christian theology or watch videos of Christian hip-hop. Video testimonials include that of a mother who was reunited with her estranged daughter. Point and click, and you can watch a video sermon from Crossroads Christian Fellowship in New Jersey or view a bible study in Mandarin Chinese.

"It's our hope that we will be holding regular bible study and services in a virtual environment," Wyatt says. "We'll even be having a video confessional."

Ken Barner, associate pastor at Crossroads Ministries/Library Baptist Church, an independent church in Finleyville, Washington County, has uploaded several videos to, including one of a missionary trip to Mexico. His church's Web site,, also features links to

"I believe that the church has to use the current means to communicate to the next generation," Barner says. "The church must choose its children over its traditions. Methods change, but our message doesn't."

The Rev. James Wehner, director of the St. Paul Seminary, understands the appeal of the Internet for those who might want to search outside the boundaries of traditional church teachings.

"They're interested in their belief in God, but they might have difficulty with institutional religion," Wehner says. "People are looking for an alternative way to practice their faith."

The Archdiocese of Pittsburgh has its own Web site that it uses to inform parishioners and spread the word of God. Former Pittsburgh Bishop Donald Wuerl used his Sunday morning television show for much the same purpose, Wehner says.

But the Internet is no substitute for the fellowship of church worship, Wehner says. A church is its people, after all.

"The Muslim, the Jew, the Christian -- all believe that God has revealed himself to the community," Wehner says. "To believe in God or worship apart from the community is a deficient approach to faith. Me sitting behind a computer trying to appeal to my desire to know God can be -- at least -- dangerous."

The Rev. Robert Lubic, 41, launched his own Web site,, more than two years ago. Now pastor of St. John the Baptist Church in Perryopolis, Lubic says he has counseled people via e-mail who click on the "Ask" link of his site. The questions range from matters of sex to church policy regarding tattoos. One 15-year-old correspondent was going to be baptized as a Christian but wanted to know more about the Catholic church. Lubic also has spoken with people via instant message.

"Sometimes there, you get people dealing with very delicate things," Lubic says. "They were happy with the anonymity of being behind the computer screen."

Visitors to his site will hear Christian rock bands, such as The Vandals, which covers the traditional church hymn "Here I Am, Lord."

"People do ask from time to time if they can get a confession over the Internet," Lubic says. "I say, 'No, can't do that,' because ... the church emphasizes the importance of human interaction. Even if you're behind a so-called screen, it's a physical interaction."

Megan Boerio, 21, of Latrobe, will begin her senior year at the University of Pittsburgh in Oakland. She grew up attending Holy Family Parish and now attends Mass at St. Paul Cathedral.

"I'm not surprised," she says about the creation of "You can find anything online right now. Half of what you can find online right now you can't trust, either."

She says she can't see genuflecting in front of a computer.

"I think that some people feel that it could be a replacement," Boerio says. "People already go online instead of actually going physically to school."

GodTube's Wyatt, himself a Baptist, says he wants to use to steer people back to the physical church.

"It really is no substitute for the community of church," Wyatt says. "What we're trying to do is reach the young generation using the tools they understand."

Friday, September 07, 2007

And the winner is Amore by 200-17!

This story gets curiouser and curiouser...and, for the sake of objectivity, it should be noted that in the Italian press the jury is still out on whether this Father is the father of his beloved's little boy...For those who speak Italian and want details, Il Gazzetino Online provides a summary timeline of the main developments titled "La Telenovela"...And did we mention that Don Sante has started his own Web site, Chiesa Cattolica Dei Peccatori ?

Rome, Sep. 6, 2007 ( - The Italian news agency ANSA is reporting that on September 4, a parish priest who had declared his love for a local woman and is alleged to have fathered her child held a vote to determine whether his parishioners support his intention to remain at the parish in Monterosso, Italy.

While 17 parishioners agreed with the local bishop’s statement that Father Sante Squotti should resign, more than 200 others voted in favor of the embattled clergyman.

Before the vote, Father Squotti announced that he had expelled a parishioner from the church for having exposed his romantic interest. The priest admits to being in love with a woman in a "chaste way," but denies fathering her child. He and the woman, whom he has known for 8 years, are to be engaged in a ceremony this December. According to the priest, "Canon law does not forbid a priest to fall in love or become engaged in a celibate manner. I want to remain in the Church and so I will obey the celibacy rule.”

"I believe falling in love is a fundamental stage in life. A person can't be a good priest or nun or anything else in life unless he has experienced love at least once," he said.

The priest argued in a press conference last month that the Church's celibacy requirement meant that "only the most closed and narrow-minded priests, the least humane ones, get ahead".