Sunday, June 28, 2009

Priests torn between love for spouse and celibacy vows

By Osinde Obare and Vincent Bartoo
The Standard (Kenya)
June 28, 2009

Fr Godfrey Siundu, Kenya’s first head of the Ecumenical Catholic Church of Christ (ECCC), a splinter group from the Roman Catholic Church, has been called a rebel without a cause.

The 38-year-old opened a can of worms when he broke the mandatory celibacy rule and impregnated Ms Stella Nangila, then a nun at Mon Parish in Marakwet.

In May, 2006, they wedded in Kitale.

As a Catholic Father, he was bound by the celibacy creed of the church but felt otherwise. "I was living a double life, but now my conscience is clear," says Siundu.

"I knew it was wrong to have a girlfriend, but I could not leave because I loved her with all my heart."

The awareness of living a lie, he explains, pushed him towards his decision.

"From being with my girlfriend on a Sunday morning, I would rush to church to say Mass hurriedly so that I could go back to her," confesses Siundu.

He says he portrayed the image of an honest priest at the altar but knew he was dishonest.

"I was sinning. I could not live with that guilt anymore."

The decision to marry was not a difficult one, since she was already the mother of his two daughters.

"His proposal came as a surprise because I did not expect it so soon," says Nangila.

Her parents attended her wedding despite first opposing the marriage.

"My mum, who is a staunch Catholic, warned me against marrying him but my father later led me down the aisle," she notes.

Siundu’s actions may have outraged fellow clerics, but he has no regrets.

"When I was ordained priest I promised to remain celibate, but — like any other promise — you can break it if it is not working for you," he says.

Broken vows

As a result, he cannot step onto any Catholic Church altar.

"I have not broken my church rules. I just married my girlfriend of many years, and I do not think I need permission from the Catholic bishops to do that," says Siundu.

A more realistic, practical approach, he says, is needed towards life, sexuality and relationships.

Siundu was on May 31, at Kitale ASK Showground, consecrated bishop by the Church’s head Archbishop Karl Raymond Rodig, at a ceremony attended by about 500 members and witnesses. He holds a degree in Theology from Urbaniana University in Rome and was ordained in 1994.

He first served at the Kapsabet Parish and then moved to Kerio Valley, where he met Nagila.

After the Church’s disapproval of his conduct, Siundu moved to Uganda where he enrolled as a law student at Kampala International University, Uganda.

Defied celibacy

Father Benedict Simiyu, formerly of the Bungoma Roman Catholic Church, was also ordained alongside Siundu as Bishop of the Kitale Diocese of the new church.

Simiyu took the bold step to defy celibacy in 2000 while serving the Catholic Church.

"I publicly got married and still attended services in church before priests started telling the faithful to shun me. But I believed I was doing the right thing and did not want to hide it," says Simiyu.

He says the church mistreated him and he could not take it anymore.

"That is when I joined the then Reformed Catholic Church. I believed the Roman Catholic Church needed reforms," he says.

"It is time the Roman Catholic Church accepted that the celibacy doctrine is failing miserably. Bishops and priests have defied it secretly and they have children out of these affairs," he says.

Fear of exposure

Worse still, he claims, clergy, who fear they would be exposed, have abandoned their children and their lovers.

He says the celibacy doctrine was introduced to ensure clergy remained dedicated to God’s service but he maintains the same could happen even if the church leaders are married.

"You do not need to be robbed of God’s gift to humanity. He did not decree it. We can still serve him with commitment when married," he adds.

Retired Keiyo Roman Catholic priest, Father George Githui, also broke his celibacy vow in 1976 after he fell in love with Ms Lucy Njeri, a nurse.

"I met a nice woman and fell in love with her. Everything stopped to matter when I met her," says the 62-year-old.

For the next 28 years, they lived a secret life but all along, he never thought of abandoning his love and their son.

"Almost all the priests I knew had children or girlfriends. Some colleagues abandoned their families after ‘messing up’. I did not want to be like them," he says.

He was suspended in 2003 and opted to retire from priesthood later in 2005 and officially married his long-time partner.

Photos: Fr Godfrey Siundu and his wife, Stella, on their wedding day; Fr Godfrey with the children at his church's orphanage.

Change of heart: Catholic priests must choose between celibacy and love

Torn between celibacy and love for a woman. It's a dilemma for Catholic priests who love in secret.

By James D. Davis
South Florida Sun-Sentinel
June 28, 2009

The Rev. Bob Deshaies never dated while growing up in Waterbury, Conn. He went to a Catholic high school seminary, then a Catholic college, then a major seminary. "You'd be giving up your ministry for a cheap piece of fluff," his spiritual director told him.

Then he met Deborah Cabral, a youth worker at a parish in Worcester, Mass. He got to know her first as a co-worker, then as a friend, then as a girlfriend. That meeting in 1985, and the relationship that followed, led into marriage, then out of the Catholic priesthood and into the Episcopal Church within two years, preceding Alberto Cutié by two decades.

"When you meet a woman who opens up your heart and soul, it's mind-shattering," says Deshaies, now rector at St. Benedict's Episcopal Church in Plantation. "It got me to rethink everything."

Cutié's exit from Catholic ranks, and his wedding at an Episcopal church this past Friday, have highlighted the issue of priests who are involved with women — relationships kept in the shadows by the requirement of celibacy.

As a handsome TV priest and pastor of a South Beach parish, Cutié made headlines worldwide with his relationship — and drew a loud protest at home.

On May 28, the day Cutié joined the Episcopal Church, Archbishop John C. Favalora said his actions "have caused grave scandal [and] harmed the Archdiocese of Miami — especially our priests."

Non-celibate priests also drew fire from Pope Benedict XVI, even as he announced the Year for Priests. "The Church herself suffers as a consequence of infidelity on the part of some of her ministers," Benedict's June 16 letter said.

Given the stigma, studies of priest-women relationships are rare. But some numbers are available.

In 2002, the late sociologist Dean Hoge of Catholic University of America estimated that 20 percent to 30 percent of resigned priests left because they fell in love with women; 5 percent to 15 percent because they fell in love with men; and 20 percent to 30 percent because they rejected celibacy in general.

According to psychotherapist A.W. Richard Sipe, 25 percent of all American priests have had relations with women at one time or another since ordination. "I think Cutié has done everybody a big service by getting it talked about," says Sipe, whose books A Secret World and Sex, Priests and Power shocked Catholic circles in the 1990s. "The average priest has the identical struggle. They're just not on film or video."

The men, therefore, must often sort through the issues alone. So do the women.

Veiling the truth

Nancy Nevius was furious when Tom Brooks told her he was a priest six months into their relationship.

The two were working in the late 1990s as psychotherapists at South County Mental Health in Delray Beach, and he didn't wear a collar on the job.

Then a friend told her of Brooks' other job. "I couldn't imagine a relationship with a priest," she says. She confronted him over dinner, yet he didn't apologize.

"People are often put off when they first hear you're a priest," says Tom Brooks, who's retired but still performs occasional weddings.

"But then we talked about it, and the relationship got more serious after that." He wrote Pope John Paul II and said he was leaving the priesthood. Nevius and Brooks married in 1992 and now live in Tequesta.

Although Tom and Nancy Brooks attend meetings with a group called Celibacy is the Issue (CITI), they don't bother lobbying anymore.

"What's important is not dogma but relationship," says Nancy Brooks. "I feel equal and treasured. Many people don't have that."

'Not lesser people'

Judy Hein enjoyed being with Father Paul Veliyathil, whether helping with his master's thesis, or sharing chicken at KFC, or just walking around the neighborhood near Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore.

His traditional Indian mother objected strongly, and they stayed apart for more than a year. Yet their love lasted, and they married in 1988 over the objections of both their families.

"It seems like a lame excuse, but we had to believe God brought us together," says Judy Veliyathil, a receptionist at a foster care agency.

They now attend Royal Palm Christian Church in Coral Springs, and Paul Veliyathil works with a hospice. He's also with Rent-A-Priest, a network of men like himself who were never laicized, or formally released from the priesthood. They do sacraments such as weddings and baptisms, although the church doesn't sanction them.

Judy calls herself "perhaps naïve," but she prays the church will eventually allow priests to marry.

"It's just too bad that men can't be who they are," she adds. "If they can live celibate, let them go for it. But they're not lesser people because they love."

Disturbing patterns

One of the newer groups dealing with priests and women is the Apostles Wives Club, a blog launched in August by Marcella Paliekara of Fond du Lac, Wis.

She was looking for women like herself who married Catholic clergy. But almost from the start, the focus shifted to women secretly involved with priests.

Paliekara posts her own comments and says she gets 85 to 100 page views a day.

She's reluctant to divulge much of what women tell her, fearful they might feel she's betrayed their confidence. But she says some think "it's something special to love a priest, like being in love with a president or a celebrity."

Another organization, Good Tidings Ministry in Canadensis, Pa., has handled contacts from 2,000 people — 90 percent of them women — since it was founded in 1983. Its current head, the Rev. Cait Finnegan, is hardest on the priests. "We thought priests would be looking to find a way out of their moral dilemma," she says. "We found they just didn't want to get caught. Many of them are playboys, serial womanizers."

That may have been one issue with two ex-pastors at St. Vincent Ferrer Catholic Church in Delray Beach. The Revs. John Skehan and Francis Guinan were found guilty this year of stealing thousands of dollars from church coffers, spending it partly on girlfriends.

Finnegan puts the ball in the priests' court because of the Catholic Church's celibacy rule. "The regulations become the men's personal decision on how to behave. A lot of them are dating, experimenting, like teenagers, at 30 or 40 years old. But without the responsibility of a man."

Organizations like Leaving the Priesthood also get entangled with the issue. The Colorado-based group, founded by an ex-priest in August, has gotten inquiries from about a dozen women who have fallen in love with priests.

The Rev. Robert Kippley, who himself left the priesthood to marry, says he finds patterns on both sides that disturb him.

Some women are frustrated if a priest doesn't express his love, says Kippley, now a Lutheran pastor. Sometimes the priest flirts, leads a woman on — a practice Kippley condemns as "emotional abuse."

For their part, some women are "attracted to forbidden love," he adds. He asked one e-mailer: "What if he left the priesthood and offered to marry you? Where would your love be in six months?" She stopped writing to him.

Almost to a person, the activists want a church-wide discussion of optional celibacy.

"There is so much secret stuff going on," says Deshaies, the Episcopal priest in Plantation. "The church has got to admit it."

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Celibacy Update - 6/27/2009

This morning Catholics in Miami awoke to the news that former priest Padre Alberto Cutié and his wife Ruhama had their civil marriage sealed with religious vows in a private Episcopal ceremony Friday night (see photo taken with someone's cellphone and published in multiple media). The couple pronounced their "I do"s before the Rt. Rev. Leo Frade, Episcopal bishop of Miami, who had previously boasted that Cutié was not the first Catholic priest he had married.

The setting of the ceremony was consummate irony: the St. Bernard de Clairvaux Church. The church served for 700 years as a Catholic Cistercian monastery in Sacramenia, Spain, before being sold, dismantled and transported to the United States in 1925. The building was eventually reassembled in Miami and purchased by the Episcopalians in 1964, changing hands, as Cutié has done, from Catholic to Episcopal. Hopefully this will mean an end to this saga until Cutié is formally installed as an Episcopalian priest a year or so from now.

For those who are still wringing their hands, there is worse news out there. As American Hispanic Catholics are bidding a final adios to their golden boy, the Uruguayan Catholic Church is experiencing its greatest scandal since the 1940s. Mons. Francisco Barboza, Bishop of Minas, has drafted a letter of apology that will be read in all the parishes this weekend. Apparently, Barboza contracted with two prisoners to do some work on his residence. He also invited the two to a dinner, which was followed by sexual activity -- duly captured on a cellphone. The men blackmailed Barboza for a while until he finally decided to "out" himself by bringing criminal charges against them. Now Barboza, who was ordained a bishop in 2004, awaits the Vatican's ruling on his fate.

Again, this incident has its ironies. Barboza was a progressive bishop assigned to a fairly traditional diocese but one that has had the distinction of producing lots of vocations. Barboza himself defended celibacy in an article he wrote in Umbrales de los Padres Dehonianos in 2004. The bishop said: "I admit the possibility that the Church might one day come to ordain married men, what I don't believe will happen in any way is the day when priests are told: "get married" or, "you can get married". It is not a simple law to be changed; it is a vocation and a goal of following Christ who was celibate." Probably should have thought of that when you decided to proposition those two men, Monseñor Obispo...

And worse, last week the Spanish magazine "Vida Nueva" published an interview with Cardinal Hummes, Prefect for the Congregation of the Clergy, in which the Cardinal, while trying to put the church sex scandals into perspective, estimated that fewer than 4% of Catholic priests are pedophiles. Other journalists did the math and quickly came up with around 20,000 pedophiles among the clergy. I suppose, charitably, that this figure includes priests who are not acting on their preferences, because it conflicts with comments that Hummes made to L'Osservatore Romano and picked up by Zenit in January 2008 where he estimated that fewer than 1% of all priests are unfaithful to their celibacy vows.

And now for the breath of fresh air -- the following courageous letter , published today in The Daily Pilot by Monsignor Wilbur Davis of Our Lady Queen of Angels Church in Newport Beach, California:

The Catholic Church does have married priests. Our Eastern-rite churches have always allowed married men to become priests. Our Latin church requires celibacy but dispenses from this when married ordained Protestant ministers and Episcopalian priests are accepted into our priesthood.

Celibacy is not essential to the Catholic priesthood; but it is a long-established spirituality that supports the sacredness of marriage and human sexuality. Priests who are whole, happy and pastorally zealous can be a challenging sign in the community that even a beautiful family is not the ultimate value. In turn, married couples are signs to us priests that we must not be selfish bachelors but rather people lovingly and sacrificially committed to serving the larger community. Together we seek the Kingdom of God above all.

However, the life of committed celibacy does not fit with every Catholic who experiences a calling to the priesthood and whom the community validates in that calling. They are excluded, and this is a loss. Moreover, we mourn the departure of many fine priests who have left the ministry only because they discovered that they could not freely and joyfully live a celibate life.

Optional celibacy provokes heated discussions at all levels within the Church, exchanges that are largely fragmentary and thus of little profit. With many others I believe it is time for Church leadership to place the question in the public square as a wisdom opportunity for seeking the best understanding of the present reality and wise counsel toward the future.

Msgr. Wilbur Davis
Our Lady Queen of Angels Church
Newport Beach

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

French support married priests

A survey on vocations taken of 1,000 French citizens last month (27-28 May, 2009) by the polling group La Sofre for La Croix shows that:

* 83% support ordaining married men to the priesthood (up from 69% in 1982)

* 82% support allowing priests to get married (71% in 1982)

*80% support ordaining women to the priesthood (45% in 1982)

There was no statistically significant difference between the responses of Catholics and respondents as a whole, presumably because France is still a predominantly Catholic country.

Those surveyed also consider the celibacy requirement to be the factor that most explains the decline in vocations. Among those who identified themselves as Catholics in the survey, 82% believed that the celibacy requirement explains the decline. Other factors seen as contributing to the decline:

* individualism -- cited by 71% of Catholic respondents
* the Church's position on social issues -- 69%
* living conditions of priests -- 54%

Nebraska Ordains First Married Priest

GRAND ISLAND, Neb. -- Nebraska’s first married priest celebrated mass Sunday at a church near Grand Island. Under a rare exception in the Catholic Church, the pope himself approved the ordination of Father Sidney Bruggeman.
In an exclusive television interview, Bruggeman told KETV NewsWatch 7 about his unusual journey to the priesthood.

During Sunday’s mass, Bruggeman served communion to his wife, Carol. The couple has been married for 38 years. They have four grown children and 10 grandchildren.
Bruggeman began his unusual path to the priesthood by entering a Protestant seminary in 1986.
“I found my seminary experience a very troubling experience. Spiritually, it was one of the darkest, bleakest times of my life,” Bruggeman said.
The priest said he was troubled because he couldn’t find the answer to basic spiritual questions.
More than a decade later, while serving as a pastor in the Disciples of Christ Church, he found what he was looking for in the Catholic Catechism.
“I began to read it and look at it,” he said. “It was kind of like an experience of where’s this been all my life?”
Bruggeman resigned from the Protestant church. He and his wife converted to Catholicism. After 14 years of careful discernment and training, and with the help of the Grand Island Bishop and approval from the pope himself, Bruggeman answered the call to become Nebraska’s first married priest.
The exception is granted only to married men who previously served as protestant clergy then converted to Catholicism. An estimated 100 married priests have been ordained in the United States under the exception.
Some Catholics wonder if such exceptions may open the door to more diversity, such as allowing priests to marry or allowing the ordination of female priests.
Father Paul Hoesing is the Vocations Director for the Omaha Diocese and recruits new priests. Omaha didn’t ordain a single priest over the past year. Still Hoesing sees no need to expand the priesthood beyond the tradition of celibate men.
“Really, the priesthood models Christ and he himself was celibate. This is why we’ve kept it in the tradition,” Hoesing said. “The exception won’t become the rule.”

Being a conservative catholic, Father Bruggeman said he feels he's caught between two points of view.
Bruggeman finds himself caught between two sides. As a conservative Catholic, he agrees with Hoesing and not with those who want to create more exceptions.
“And they’re always disappointed in me that I’m traditional in that I embrace and stand with the church,” Bruggeman said.
Bruggeman said he reconciles the question of celibacy by pointing out the commitment to marriage and the commitment to celibacy are essentially the same.
“If a person understands the betrothal between two lovers, their fidelity, their faithfulness, then a person has some insight into what celibacy is supposed to mean,” he said.
Bruggeman is the parish priest at churches in St. Libory and Greeley near Grand Island.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Fathers who are fathers

On Sunday (6/21/09), the Argentinian newspaper La Voz del Interior published this wonderful Fathers Day special about three priests who are -- or will soon be -- fathers. We have translated it into English.

Here are the stories of three priests who left the priesthood and sought refuge in the love of a woman and children. One of them is Victor Hugo Casas, the priest from Saturnino María Laspiur who two and a half months ago, at the end of Mass, spoke of his decision to leave the ministry. Another is Adrián Vitali, who rediscovered his sexuality at 30 years of age. And the third is Alberto Garione, who made an option for the poor and went to live in a poor community, but the yearning for fatherhood was stronger. All agree that it is difficult to embrace celibacy and all defend one maxim: loving a woman can never be a sin.

“I asked God for a sign and He sent me a daughter”

"The last two years were very difficult. At that time, I needed a sign. I asked “Tata” God: if it is the ministry, then let it be the ministry, but if not, that He send me a child. And God in His merciful love sent me a daughter, Catalina, who is on the way.”

Victor Hugo Casas (38) is speaking, the priest who surprised the faithful of Saturnino María Laspiur by announcing at the end of Mass that he would be leaving the priesthood. “I am leaving because I want to form a family like yours…”, he said emotionally.

That was barely two and a half months ago. “I met my wife, Mariana (36), while working in the communities where I was a priest. My love grew until recently I began to realize that the priesthood wasn’t for me, that I wanted to be a father, to have a family. This was growing stronger inside me and I could no longer keep it down. Our falling in love was something very natural,” he said.

Victor Hugo confesses that his decision to abandon the priesthood was precipitated when he knew he was going to be a father. “When I realized that we were expecting a child, this decision-making process was accelerated. However, it was something that I felt very anxious about inside," he says.

His resignation as a priest is now on its way to Rome and Victor will have to wait until he is 40 to be able to marry in the Catholic Church, a requirement under Canon Law for priests who ask for papal dispensation.

“Personally, my situation was unsustainable, the only thing I did was straighten out my situation, something that some don't bother to do”, he says.

Víctor Hugo and Mariana live in Villa Carlos Paz. He is resurrecting his titles of Philosophy professor and Construction technician to find a job. But for now that doesn’t seem to concern him. He seems to be immensely happy with his new life.

The issue of priestly celibacy, as one might predict, slips into the conversation. “During our formation as priests, celibacy was taught from a more spiritual and academic point of view, through encyclicals that raised the question. As far as experience, in real life, we faced it recently when we got out. Those of us who dated before entering seminary, we had more elements at the time of decision. But celibacy is heavy. In my case, as time went on something very important grew stronger in my heart: the love for a woman. And this is what we openly defend: loving a woman is not a sin. Love is not a sin.”

Víctor Hugo Casas was a priest for seven years, but he says that he felt God’s love and mercy more than ever when he decided to leave the ministry. “Now I am extremely anxious. My daughter will be born in two months. The reality of fatherhood is a miracle that has increased my faith.”

“The traditional form of the priesthood never touched me”

Alberto Garione (48) was a priest for 12 years. He says that his exit from the ministry was a long process. “I would say six years. I suffered a lot. I tried experiences that seized my life and gave it meaning. That is why I went to live in the poor communities. But I didn’t want to keep the other side down or hide it. I wanted to fill my life with meaning, through commitment. A search that went beyond being a couple or fatherhood,” he indicates.

Alberto continues to explain: “As time goes on, one also finds meaning in the priesthood, that never touched me in its traditional form. I continued to try, to struggle; without a doubt the social commitment, the option for the poor, for whom I had decided to be a priest and tried to find radical aspects that gave meaning to this commitment, helped me at that moment. But it was obvious that this was an irreversible process. Then, thinking over life, the issues of love and fatherhood linked inseparably, I said to myself: I have found what I am looking for. "

The now former priest says that at the end of the process he made a decision from the standpoint of fatherhood. “As 'fathers' our view of spirituality -- trying to give meaning to the institutional role of the priest -- is definitely associated with an authority figure, or in the best cases, that of provider. Never the idea of generating life, nurturing it, caring for it, accompanying it. And one continues to have the need to be a father, which one doesn’t reach through the ministry. Real fatherhood puts you in a different place”, he says.

Alberto Garione lives in Villa Allende with his family. He works in a dispensary in Córdoba. He asserts that he never had a crisis of faith, “but, yes, anger at the Catholic Church, to which I should say – he clarified – I am now reconciled. Now I am more aware of the historic processes of the institution. What happened was that at the time I felt like a victim. Instead, now I want to change things.”

“It was a whole issue accompanying my wife to her ultrasound”

“My exit from the priesthood was a process that began when I found my sexuality again at 30 years of age. Up until then, I had never had a relationship. I liked ‘girls’, but I was an uncouth jerk. I entered seminary at a very young age – 17 or 18 – and I was ordained at 27. Soon, about three years later, I began the relationship with the woman who is now my wife. And the truth is that I felt extraordinary, I celebrated the best Masses, I didn’t sleep at night. When she got pregnant, I thought my head would explode,” he says enthusiastically.

Adrián added that it was a whole issue accompanying his wife to get her first ultrasound. “I was at the clinic with my wife and we still hadn’t straightened out the situation. Then someone we knew from the neighborhood shows up and says: ‘What are you doing here, Father?’ I quickly answered: ‘Nothing, just keeping the lady company.’”

Vitali questions the celibacy that the Catholic Church imposes on its priests. “It would seem that celibacy has come to be more important than the Kingdom of God. Presentation, form have become more important and content has been lost. That is how the Church has lost its presence in the community,” he says.

However, he now experiences fatherhood as something transcendental, he feels that his children have made the concept of being a father real. “One is a father when one has given life. And, to state the obvious. For this to happen you need the feminine element. Fatherhood works with all the adjectives. It’s not about having life, but accompanying it, living it. Fatherhood is never just a personal thing, you always need the other. When one has just become a father, one receives oneself as a son. Now I understand what my parents felt when they gave me another coat,” he reflects.

“Now I really understand what the act of giving up a son means, like in the Biblical story of Abraham and Isaac. You have no idea until you have your own. This helped me understand that God would never ask this of me. I discovered a normal, fabulous God…If one is good to one’s children, how would God not be good to us?”, he says.

Obviously, Adrián’s eyes light up whenever he talks about his children: “I am very gratified – he explains –; the kids keep changing and we are the conservative ones who think they are still children. My oldest son is entering puberty and he is constantly changing…I love to play with my children, to make up stories.”

Vitali, who lives in Río Tercero with his family, tells an anecdote involving his youngest son, one that still stirs up his feelings of fatherhood. “On day, Renzo, my youngest son, asked me if life ended at death. I answered yes but he corrected me: 'No, daddy, life doesn’t end because you passed your life to me and then I will pass it to another. Life never dies.’ He gave me chills,” he said, moved.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Anna and Vicente: A Love Story Ends

One of the great love stories between a priest and a lay woman ended this week with the death of Vicente Ferrer from a stroke. Ferrer was a Spanish Jesuit missionary in India who left his order to marry Anne (Anna) Perry, a British journalist. Perry met Ferrer when she was covering his initial expulsion from India for the news weekly "Current". She was so impressed by Ferrer that she ended up leaving her job to campaign for his return to India and then joined in his work on behalf of the poor. In 1970, one year after Ferrer returned to Anantapur, he left the Jesuits and married Anna.

Thus began nearly four decades of a life and ministry together that produced three children, the Rural Development Association, and the Vicente Ferrer Foundation which does extensive charitable work in India. Ferrer won numerous international honors for his philanthropic endeavors including the prestigious Premio Principe de Asturias de la Concordia in 1998.

Earlier this year, Perry published a book about their relationship titled Un pacto de amor. Mi vida junto a Vicente Ferrer (Editorial Espasa, 2009). The Spanish newspaper El Mundo printed some excerpts. Here, translated into English by Rebel Girl, Perry shares a humorous anecdote about the couple's inauspicious beginning:

The return to Anantapur marked the beginning of our life together as husband and wife and, of course, as work partners.

A few details...For example, what should I call my husband? In the past, like everyone else, I had called him "Father". It would have been difficult to continue to call him "Father"; it would have been really...strange...He didn't have any problem addressing me; he simply continued to call me "Anna", but he certainly had a bit of difficulty when he had to introduce me. For a while it felt strange to him to utter those words: "This is my wife." He used to say: "This is....well...hmmm...hmmm..." and finally he would conclude: "This is Anna." Some time passed before he could say: "This is my wife."

Most of the Indian press printed positive articles about the fact that Father Ferrer had left the priesthood to get married. They generally said that he had decided to leave the Company of Jesus to dedicate himself body and soul to the welfare and betterment of the poor peasants in the Anantapur district. Then there were also people who were not in favor of Father Ferrer leaving the priesthood and getting married and by coincidence I bumped into one of them in Mumbai. This is one of those stories one hopes will never of those that only happen to other people.

Shortly after we were married, I traveled to Mumbai and passed by to greet Sheila, the secretary to the director of "Current", the weekly for which I used to work. Sheila invited me over to eat at her house. I had never been there before, nor did I know her husband.

At her house, Sheila introduced me briefly to Joe. "Anna, this is Joe." Then Joe said unexpectedly: "Have you heard what that shameless Ferrer has done? He's gone off and got married! Who does he think he is...marrying a girl half his age? Who could the stupid woman be...? What was she thinking, marrying Father Ferrer? Maybe she couldn't find anyone better?"

I sat unperturbed and looked askance at Sheila, who was in a real state of shock, mortified. "Joe, Joe,..." she interrupted, but Joe wasn't paying attention to her and continued ranting about "priests who get married and women who don't use their heads."

Finally, Sheila couldn't take it any more and screamed: "Joe, this is Anna Perry, who worked in my office and now lives in Anantapur and is married to Father Vicente Ferrer!" You could have heard a pin drop...

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Austrian Cardinal Presents Celibacy Petition to Pope

English-only readers are unfortunately stuck with the very limited Catholic News Service version of this encounter. Here is the translation of a more detailed article about it in French. It is refreshing when a Cardinal is willing to stand up for lay people and bring our concerns to the Pope, whether he wants to hear them or not.

VATICAN: The Cardinal of Vienna presents a petition against celibacy for priests

On the eve of the opening of the Year For Priests sought by Pope Benedict XVI, the question of priestly celibacy was again forcefully raised at the Vatican.

Cardinal Christoph Schönborn, one of the most influential cardinals of the Church, who is also a close collaborator of Pope Ratzinger, raised the issue. During the two days of meetings that the Pope and the most important representatives of the Roman Curia had on June 15-16 with the Archbishop of Vienna and other representatives of the Austrian Church, discussion was not limited to the case of Gerhard Marie Wagner, the ultra-conservative priest named auxiliary bishop of Linz and later forced to step down because of a revolt by priests and laity in the diocese.

At the Vatican, Cardinal Schönborn also presented a supposed “Lay Initiative” (Laieninitiativ), that is, a call launched at the beginning of the year by important Austrian Catholics, demanding the abolition of the celibacy requirement, the return to duty of married priests, opening the diaconate to women, and the ordination of so-called «viri probati».

Schönborn, who had met with the promoters of the initiative a few days before arriving in Rome, explained in an interview with Vatican Radio that “while not agreeing with any of its conclusions, as I have said several times”, he presented the “Memorandum” by the Austrian laity – accompanied by a note written by himself -- to Cardinal Claudio Hummes, prefect of the Congregation for the Clergy, “asking him to read it attentively.”

“I think ,” he explained on the German language program of Vatican Radio, “that it is important for someone in Rome to know what some of our lay people are thinking about the problems of the Church.”

According to the official agency of the Austrian bishops, KAP, Schönborn, during his meeting with the promoters of the petition, promised them that he would present their motives and suggestions to Rome, as well as a detailed rendering of the consequences that the priest shortage has had in the 46 parishes, especially in the rural areas.

During this meeting, the Archbishop of Vienna expressed his “understanding of the concerns of the lay people”, because he also holds the “pastoral care of the parishes” in his heart, and more so at this time of crisis for families.

“Undoubtedly,” he added, “the lack of priests is linked to the growing number of people who are alienated from the Church and the faith.”

Naturally, the cardinal reaffirmed the “great tradition” of celibacy in the Church. “However,” he added, “as ordinary for the Byzantine rite Catholics in Austria, whose clergy are mostly married, I am comfortable with married priests.”

The promoters of the call, according to Schönborn, should look “not only at what, under current conditions, is desirable in the long term, but also what is definitely possible”, and he invited them to complete their initiative with encouragement to young men to choose the priesthood such as it is today. This invitation was quickly welcomed by the promoters, among whom are three eminent politicians of the Austrian Peoples’ Party: a former secretary-general, a former president of Parliament, and former Austrian chancellors. Therefore it wasn’t coincidental that, while not being the main subject, many of the themes raised by the Austrian lay people’s petition were brought up during the Vatican’s talks with the Austrian bishops.

According to Schönborn, Pope Benedict XVI at the beginning and the end of the two days of meetings forcefully reaffirmed the importance of priestly celibacy, linking it to the Year For Priests that will open tomorrow [sic – actually on Friday] at the Vatican.

“The Holy Father,” the Archbishop of Vienna explained, “said something that struck us with respect to the celibacy question, which in Austria and especially in the region of Linz, has naturally been a very “hot” subject. He said that the question deep down is whether or not we believe that it is possible and makes sense to live a life based simply and only on one thing -- God.”

During the interview with Vatican Radio, Schönborn also said that during the talks a great deal of time was devoted to the role of the lay people and that the case of the Linz Diocese – shaken, as is the Austrian Church, by “divisions” and “deep tensions” that it is pointless to deny because they are “facts” – is a positive example because of the large number of active lay people, as reflected for example in the Sunday Mass participation which is greater than the national average.

“There was agreement between the representatives of the Roman Church and the Austrians that it is an asset that there are so many committed lay people in the region…We have an urgent need for lay people to be an active part of society.”

After the Wagner case, in the Linz Diocese, several cases emerged of priests who had been living with a woman for years, which contributed to drawing the attention of Austrian public opinion to the priestly celibacy problem.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Ciao, Donne Co-Si!

The Italian support group for women involved in relationships with priests, Donne Contro Il Silenzio (aka Donne Co-Si) has shut down their Web site, formerly at Most of the site is still accessible in Google's cache.

I'm not sure if this means that the organization itself has also folded. It's hard to tell from what's out there. Does anyone know? If so, please leave a comment.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

The African Schism: 2. Zambia

Vatican excommunicates former Catholic priest from Zambia
By Mwansa Pintu
Catholic News Service
June 13, 2009

LUSAKA, Zambia – A former Catholic priest from Zambia who is an advocate of optional celibacy for clergy and the ordination of women has been excommunicated from the Catholic Church.

Bishop George Lungu of Chipata, president of the Zambia Episcopal Conference, announced the excommunication of Father Luciano Anzanga Mbewe June 9.

The bishop said in a statement that the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith took the action because Father Mbewe entered into schism for establishing the Catholic Apostolic National Church of Zambia.

“This decision to excommunicate Rev. Luciano Anzanga Mbewe is motivated by two main facts, the foundation of a schismatic church, Catholic Apostolic National Church of Zambia, and his declaration to have received a so-called Episcopal ordination by clergy linked to the old Catholic Church of Europe,” Bishop Lungu said.

The bishop said Father Mbewe is no longer a member of the Catholic Church and any religious ceremonies he leads are being done outside of the church.

“Even if signs and symbols as well as attire being used during the services resemble those of the Catholic Church, the services conducted are not part of the Catholic Church,” the bishop said.

Bishop Lungu urged Catholics to continue praying for Father Mbewe even though he is separated from the church.

Father Mbewe, 54, formerly of the Ndola Diocese in Zambia, was forced to resign from the priesthood in 2001 by Bishop Dennis DeJong, now deceased. At the time, Bishop DeJong said Father Mbewe was “having difficulties in being faithful to mandatory celibacy” after the former was discovered to have fathered two children while serving as a priest.

However, Father Mbewe still continued to perform pastoral duties and advocated for what he termed “the restoration of a married priesthood in the church” as well as the ordination of women to the priesthood.

In 2006, Father Mbewe was ordained bishop by excommunicated Zambian Archbishop Emmanuel Milingo. Together they founded a splinter church, known as the Catholic Apostolic National Church of Zambia, which they launched in December 2007 with a call for more Catholic priests to join them.


Photo: Bishop Luciano Mbewe with his wife

The African Schism: 1. Kenya

There has been a lot of news lately about the schismatic congregations that have emerged in Africa among Catholic priests who have left in the Roman Church in opposition to the celibacy requirement. These groups are interesting because they keep most of the Roman Catholic rites and beliefs but not the institutional structure. It is one facet of the revolution that is taking place so we like to keep an eye on them...even if they have decided to throw in with Milingo...(sigh)...

Rebel priests await Milingo visit
Daily Nation
June 13, 2009

Another 10 priests have broken away from the Catholic Church over celibacy.

And controversial Zambian archbishop Emmanuel Milingo is set to rub his former church the wrong way as he arrives in the country in a fortnight to ordain two bishops of the Married Priests Now! movement.

The priests, from Machakos, Nairobi, Nakuru and Nyeri dioceses, converged in Machakos to lay ground for their big day.

The occasion was the largest gathering of renegade priests since the local Catholic Church started witnessing rebellion among its clergy.

The priests met at the home of the Rev (Dr) Fr Daniel Kasomo in Katelembo on Saturday, where they celebrated Mass and then had lunch with some worshippers.

Introduced wife

Their host introduced his wife and four children to the group, saying he was no longer living a life “full of deception”.

Dr Kasomo, who teaches at Maseno University, and his counterpart from Methodist University, Fr (Dr) Peter Njogu, formerly of the Nyeri Diocese, led their colleagues in declaring that they had no regrets for joining the new outfit.

The priests in the new group include Fr John Ndung’u, formerly of Murang’a Diocese, Fr Chrisantus Muasya, Fr Joseph Makau, Fr Peter Kaloki, Fr Justin Kilonzo and Fr Joseph Makau.

Seven deacons - Justus Mukili, Cosmas Mule, Stephen Kathukya, Andrew Kioi, Geoffrey Ngare, Thomas Musinya and Peter Kinyanjui - also broke ranks to join the new out fit.

The movements founder, Archbishop Milingo, who is married, was excommunicated from the Catholic Church in 2006 after he ordained four married men as bishops.

Two weeks ago, another faction, the Reformed Catholic Church, ordained its new head in Kenya at Kitale and a new priest at a function in Kisumu.

The renegades say they have not run away from the Roman Catholic Church but want to bring change from within.

Priests from the Married Priests Now! movement, formed early last year, are expected to be officially incorporated into the new church and given higher roles after attending a conference in Lang’ata, Nairobi, on June 28.

The conference will be followed by the consecration of new bishops, Fr Kasomo, formerly of Machakos Diocese, and Fr Benoit Mitchel from Canada.

During the function at his home, Dr Kasomo said more priests were ready to join the new church.

“Many priests are tired of living a life full of lies. They want to openly admit what they have been hiding from for many years,” he said.

The latest move has ignited sharp reactions from the church and in some quarters Dr Kasomo’s crusade is viewed with suspicion.

With the Vatican’s new orders giving bishops authority to excommunicate errant faithful, the dice seems to be cast for the rebel priests.

Dr Kasomo, a senior lecturer in Religion, Theology and Philosophy, says plans are underway to set up a cathedral in Machakos. This is likely to bring him into sharp conflict with his former boss, Bishop Martin Kivuva, who has cautioned the faithful to be careful with the new outfit.

Dr Kasomo confesses that he had a steady girlfriend who had his first child by the time he was ordained a priest in 1992.


“The child was born in 1987 and is in the university. Her mother, a secondary school principal, is today my wife and a proud mum of four children, the last born being just two years old,” he said.

He claims the traditional Catholic Church is in dire straits because of a shortage of priests. Priests are serving up to 30 parish stations, he says.

“In the face of this crisis, there are married men who can also be called to the priesthood”, he said.

The priest says that their main goal is to return married priesthood as it was with St Peter, the first pope.

“From the time of Christ up to 12th century, priests, bishops and popes were married. Christ called Married Men,” he defended himself.

Related Stories:

Sunday, June 07, 2009

In Kenya, Grandfather Catholic priest bares it all

By Kipchumba Some
The Standard (Nairobi, Kenya)
June 7, 2009

Three years ago, Fr George Githui would have been ashamed to tell anyone he is a grandfather. As a priest of the Roman Catholic Church, he is sworn to celibacy.

As such, getting romantically involved with women is not only forbidden but also grounds for being defrocked.

But when one month ago his son, 32, informed him he was a grandfather, tears of joy welled in his eyes. He reckons that breaking that vow might have been the best single mistake he has made in life so far.

"There are no words to describe the feelings that swept over me when I was informed I was a grandfather," he says.

Fr Githui broke his celibacy vow in 1976, after he fell in love with Ms Lucy Njeri, a nurse in Eldoret. He was ordained into priesthood the same year. He was then serving at St Patrick’s Parish in Iten.

"I met a nice woman and fell in love with her. Everything stopped to matter when I met her," says the 62-year-old. The two lovers got their son in 1977.

Tired of hiding

For the next 28 years, they lived a secret life. But all along, he never thought of abandoning his family.

"Some colleagues abandoned their families after "messing up". I did not want to be like them," he says.

But as he rose within the church, he began to question the rationale for the celibacy vow.

"Almost all the priests I knew had children or girlfriends," he says.

He says his immediate superiors knew of his family, but told him it was alright if only he kept quiet about it.

However, as a professor of Theology at the Catholic University of Eastern Africa, he used intellectual forums to challenge the church’s celibacy law.

He reckons this was perhaps the reason for his suspension in 2003, after church leaders got wind he had a family.

"I had reached a point where I proudly told my peers about my family. I was becoming a thorn and an "embarrassment" to the church," he says.

But in 2005, he opted to retire from priesthood and married his long-time partner.

Got married

Their wedding ceremony, he says, was at held Kasarani Private Chapel in Nairobi and presided over by a senior bishop of the church who has since retired.

"After living in "sin" for 28 years, I decided to be truthful with my God," he said.

It is such stories that have re-ignited debate on whether it is time the world’s largest Christian church rethought its dogma. The debate has been sparked by last week’s ordination of a married former Roman Catholic priest as a bishop of a breakaway church.

The Ecumenical Catholic Church, formed by former Roman Catholic priests who revolted against the celibacy vow, last week ordained Fr Godfrey Shiundu as its first bishop in the country.

Theologians within the Roman Catholic Church and in the academia reckon the incident is just another manifestation that the church is in need of reforms.

However, Bishop Cornelius Korir of the Eldoret Diocese defends the doctrine, saying the reforms being advocated would erode the church’s identity.

"There is no problem with the law, the problem is the people who observe it. The church is not about to change its doctrine to meet the worldly desires of a few," he reiterated.

Clerical celibacy has split the Catholic faithful across the world. The conservatives are opposed to suggestions by liberals to make celibacy optional. Pragmatists have questioned the rationale for the vow, especially after the church was hit by sexual scandals in the US and Europe involving senior priests and boys.

"How does the church stand up to proclaim itself a paragon of morality yet its leaders portray a totally different image?" asked Fr Githui.

Celibacy unnecessary

During a visit to Boston, US, in 1993, the late Pope John Paul II stated that celibacy was not necessary for priesthood.

"Debate about celibacy seems to have fizzled out," says Prof Eric Nandi, a lecturer of religion at Masinde Muliro University of Science and Technology.

"But it remains a pertinent issue the church needs to tackle," says he.

However, Dr Emily Choge, a lecturer of Theology at Moi University, defends the church’s position and blames the dissenting voices for not remaining true to the vows they took.

It is estimated more than 150,000 priests have left the church since the Second Vatican Council or Vatican II in 1965, ostensibly to marry. As a result, a number of parishes around the world have been left without ministers.

While agreeing it is perhaps time the church started serious debate over the celibacy issue, Fr Joseph Njino, a lecturer of Religious Studies at Masinde Muliro University of Science and Technology, says it is not time to change the law.

"Debate is certainly due on the issue of celibacy. It is one of the pillars of the church and we should only change it after careful consideration," he said.

Saturday, June 06, 2009

1-1: the Pastoral Provision Marches On

We just lost Fr. Cutié to the Episcopalians because we wouldn't allow him to get married and now we have picked up Fr. Bruggeman (plus wife, kids and grandkids) from the Protestants. Is the irony lost on everyone else but me?

Catholic Church Ordains First Married Priest in Nebraska
Posted: June 5, 2009 07:47 PM EDT
Updated: June 5, 2009 07:47 PM EDT

After a five year drought where the Grand Island Catholic Diocese did not ordain a single new priest, Friday they ordained three, including the state's first married priest.

It was with nervous anticipation, wedding day jitters almost that Father Sidney Bruggeman was ordained as a Catholic priest.

"When I say it's kind of like getting married, it's from personal experience," he said. "It's the same sense of feeling I had when I got married."

At a time when the Catholic Church struggles to replace aging pastors, Nebraska welcomes three, including the state's first married priest.

Most Rev. William Dendinger the bishop of Grand Island said, "There's only about 100 in the United States I think this is the first one in Nebraska, but it's a very, very small exception to the policy of mandatory celibacy for all those who are priests."

Bruggeman said he's used to the questions. "It's a difficult question for a lot of Catholics to approach. A married priest is like 'that can't be. There's some mistake here. Somebody's trying to pull a fast one.'

Bruggeman left his position as a protestant minister, became a practicing catholic, and received a special dispensation from the pope himself.

Bishop Dendinger said, "Father Bruggeman was pretty crystal clear. He'd been Catholic for years and had thought about this a long time so it was not a snap decision it was well thought out."

Bruggeman joins a traditional seminary student and an immigrant from Mexico. The three new priests bring hope to a diocese that had not ordained a single priest in five years.

Father Jorge Canela-Rodriguez said it was a day of celebration. He said, "Being in seminary for almost ten years finally I came to the day, this is the day the Lord has made and my heart is full of joy and gratitude to the Lord."

Now Bruggeman, a father of four becomes a Catholic father.

"It's a joyful day," he said.

Father Bruggeman is married with four children and several grand children. He will be pastoring churches in Greeley and St. Libory.

Reporter's Notes by Steve White:

Bishop Dendinger said, "The ordination of a former Protestant minister, still married, is not new. Since late 1950 Pope Pius XII started the process of granting a dispensation from the required celibacy in this limited situation... It has been a practice for more than 50 years and there are some 100 former Protestant ministers, still married, in the United States presently."

He added, "This event cannot be interpreted that the Catholic Church will relax the requirement of celibacy for ordination to the priesthood. That requirement has more than 1500 year tradition and there is no present movement to change it for the Roman Catholic Rite."

Friday, June 05, 2009

On the run in Nicaragua

Yesterday's El Nuevo Diario reports that Fr. Juan Pablo Astorga, the 33-year old parish priest in El Castillo, Nicaragua, ran off with 18-year old Tania Ruiz, a volunteer assistant in the dispensary that was part of the parish's social ministry. The couple disappeared on May 26th.

Apparently the young lady went by boat to nearby Boca de Sábalos where the priest met her on his motorcycle and they both sped away to Juigalpa. Eventually Tania's mother and grandmother tracked her down and tearfully tried to persuade her to come home but she said she was in love with Fr. Juan Pablo and was not going to leave him. She got on the phone with the padre and he persuaded her to go home with promises that he would return too and that he would leave the priesthood and marry her. He also phoned her mother and, after admitting his mistake and apologizing, also assured her that he wanted to marry Tania.

So far, says Notimex, the Diocese of Chontales y Río San Juan is not commenting on the incident. Stay tuned...

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Pope grants congregation power to more easily laicize some priests

By Cindy Wooden
Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Pope Benedict XVI has granted the Congregation for Clergy new powers to dismiss from the priesthood and release from the obligation of celibacy priests who are living with women, who have abandoned their ministry for more than five years or who have engaged in seriously scandalous behavior.

The new powers do not apply to cases involving the sexual abuse of minors by a priest; those cases continue to be subject to special rules and procedures overseen by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

The new faculties were announced by Cardinal Claudio Hummes, prefect of the clergy congregation, in an April 18 letter to the world's bishops. Catholic News Service obtained a copy of the letter in early June.

Cardinal Hummes told CNS June 3 that the new, quicker administrative procedure for dismissing priests was prompted by "many situations where canon law did not seem adequate for meeting new problems."

As an example, the cardinal said the 1983 Code of Canon Law made no provision for a bishop to initiate a process to laicize a priest who had abandoned his ministry.

Usually when a priest leaves the ministry of his own accord, he informs his bishop and sooner or later will request a formal dispensation from the obligation of celibacy, the cardinal said.

But others "leave, they marry (in a civil ceremony), they have children. In these cases, the bishops did not have a way to proceed because it was up to the person who left," he said.

"But if the one who left is not interested (in regularizing his situation), the good of the church and the good of the priest who left is that he be dispensed so that he would be in a correct situation, especially if he has children," the cardinal said.

Cardinal Hummes said a priest's "children have the right to have a father who is in a correct situation in the eyes of God and with his own conscience. So helping these people is one of the reasons there are new procedures. In these cases, the initiative begins with the bishop."

The cardinal said he did not have statistics on how many priests have abandoned their ministry without seeking laicization, but it was a problem bishops have raised with the congregation.

Cardinal Hummes' letter to the world's bishops said that while the church teaches that properly performed sacraments are valid whether or not the priest officiating is living in a situation of holiness, the discipline of the Latin-rite Catholic Church is to insist that priests strive for moral perfection and to imitate Christ, who was chaste.

"The church, being the spouse of Jesus Christ, wishes to be loved in the total and exclusive manner with which Jesus Christ loved her as her head and spouse. Priestly celibacy is, therefore, the gift of oneself in and with Christ to his church, and expresses the service of the priest to the church in and with the Lord," the cardinal wrote.

"The vast majority of priests live out their priestly identity daily with serenity and exercise faithfully their proper ministry," he wrote, but when situations of scandal arise a bishop must be able to act quickly and firmly.

The cardinal's letter dealt separately with the situation of priests who simply abandoned their ministry for "a period of more than five consecutive years." It also addressed the more serious cases of those priests who have attempted or contracted a civil marriage, are having a consensual sexual relationship with a woman or have violated another church or moral law in a way that caused serious scandal.

"Situations of grave lack of discipline on the part of some clergy have occurred in which the attempts to resolve the problems by the pastoral and canonical means foreseen in the Code of Canon Law are shown to be insufficient or unsuitable to repair scandal, to restore justice or to reform the offender," the letter said.

In every case, however, Cardinal Hummes' letter insisted that the local bishop carry out a careful investigation of the facts and, when the evidence confirms wrongdoing, "he should proceed formally to correct or admonish the accused."

"Yet when this does not suffice to repair the scandal, restore justice and bring about the rehabilitation of the person, the bishop should proceed with the imposition of penalties," the letter said, outlining the obligatory steps to be taken.

At every stage of the process, the cardinal told CNS: "The right of a priest to defend himself is sacred, including in these cases. The right to defend oneself is internationally recognized and always preserved."

Prior to Pope Benedict's approval of the new norms Jan. 30, bishops seeking to dismiss a priest for abandoning the ministry or attempting marriage had to initiate a formal juridical trial against the person.

In the interview, Cardinal Hummes said that although the procedures have been streamlined, "each case will be reviewed individually, including with the aim of ensuring that the rights of the person interested were protected."

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Panamanians Support Marriage for Priests

Pánama América reports on a new IPSOS poll taken last month of 1,200 Panamanians that shows that 64% support the right of priests to get married. Breaking it down along religious affiliation lines:

Catholics (892) : 60%
Other Religions (242): 76%
No Religion (66): 81%