Tuesday, January 26, 2010

73% of Belgian Catholics support married priests

The Beligian newspaper, Le Soir, this week published the results of its survey of Catholics and their beliefs and practices in that country in a series of articles under the general title "The Jesus Crisis". Among the findings: 73% of Belgian Catholics now support allowing priests to get married. This is up from 66% in favor of abolishing mandatory celibacy in 2005.

The survey also finds the same disconnect on issues of sexual morality and "life" between Catholic laity and the Magisterium that has been noted in surveys in other countries:

  • Only 1% of Catholics surveyed said that they always follow the teachings of the Church to the letter in sexual matters while 48% said that they "never" follow the Church on these issues
  • 90% of Catholics surveyed supported the use of artificial contraceptives
  • 61% supported euthanasia
  • 39% were tolerant of abortion

All of which may explain the most dramatic finding in the survey and one which should give the Church in that country pause: one out of three Beligian Catholics has abandoned the faith. While 87% of those surveyed were born into Catholic families, today only 60% still consider themselves Catholic. According to the survey, the percentage of Belgians who consider themselves Catholic has been steadily declining from 72% in 1980 to 68% in 1990 to 60% today.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Postcard Campaign for Optional Celibacy

Supporters of this blog should click on the link and join in this electronic campaign. The e-postcards go to Cardinal Claudio Hummes with an optional copy to your local bishop...

Local group wants Catholic priests to be allowed to marry
By Ken Robinson,
Newsradio WTAM 1100
Sunday, January 24, 2010

(Cleveland) - A Lakewood-based organization called FutureChurch.org has started an electronic campaign to make priesthood celibacy optional for Catholics.

Sister Christine Schenk says their site has sent more than 3,000 postcards urging catholic leaders to discuss the concept.

Schenk explains that the move toward celibacy only started in the 16th century and throughout most of Catholic history, priests were allowed to marry.

Schenk contends that married priests have a better concept of how to live a Christian life. She says one of the main reasons behind the current priest shortage is the desire of men to have a family.

A 2005 gallop poll indicated that 75% of Catholics were open to having married men ordained as priests.

Schenk says her group would also like begin discussions about the ordination of women.

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

Priests in Puebla Dismissed Over Children

UPDATE 1/6/2010: Eugenio Lira Rugarcía, spokesperson for the Archdiocese of Puebla, has issued a communique clarifying that four priests have been dismissed and that they are also suspended a divinis. On a more interesting note, Cambio reports that Rugarcia suggested that once the priests have fulfilled their obligations as fathers of minor children, they could ask to be returned to the priesthood though, he said, this seldom happens. And, in a further development, La Jornada de Oriente reports that the Jesuit rector of the Universidad Iberoamericana, David Fernández Dávalos, has offered his opinion that it is time for the Church to end mandatory celibacy for priests which he describes as a source of disenchantment for the faithful. “It is necessary to review whether it is appropriate for celibacy to continue to be practised in the Catholic Church, because it is not linked to any revelation, it is not in the gospel. The obligation of celibacy has been imposed since the 12th century. It is a human law that can be ended at any given moment. The religious [monastic] life in which one voluntarily accepts a way of life freely, without having the commitments of a family or partner, is something else."

Several priests in the Archdiocese of Puebla, Mexico, have been dismissed from their parishes over the last year after the archbishop, Mons. Víctor Sánchez Espinosa, learned that they had fathered children. The exact number of priests who have been dismissed varies in the news accounts on the subject. Milenio claims three priests are involved; El Sol de Puebla says four. The reports are also contradictory as to whether the priests have also been suspended a divinis or not...

Saturday, January 02, 2010

Uganda Catholic Priests Form New Church

I post these stories not because I approve of creating separate schismatic Catholic sects but simply as a warning: as long as the Vatican does not allow Catholic priests to marry, more and more of these sects will emerge. Let's pray that the new year brings a real change in policy and not just the admittance of a few more disgruntled married Anglicans into the RC priesthood. -- RG

New York Times
Published: December 31, 2009
Filed at 3:26 p.m. ET

KAMPALA, Uganda (AP) -- Twenty renegade Catholic priests who are either married or want to marry have broken from the mainstream Roman Catholic Church here and formed a new church where celibacy is not required, members said.

The Ugandan government said Thursday it was investigating the breakaway Catholic Apostolic National Church in Uganda and would ban it if found to be illegal. Vatican officials said the priests were now considered ''outside'' the Catholic Church and would likely be excommunicated.

The creation of the splinter church underscored the increasingly vexing problem of enforcing celibacy for Roman Catholic priests in Africa, which has the world's fastest-growing Catholic population but where there have been several cases of priests living openly with women and fathering children.

Earlier this year, the Vatican summoned African bishops to Rome for a three-week meeting on problems of the church in Africa, and celibacy was a key topic of discussion. The Vatican, however, has remained firm that priests must not marry, although there are exceptions for priests of the Eastern rite and for converts from Anglicanism.

The breakaway Ugandan church has as its head a former Zambian Catholic priest, the Rev. Luciano Anzanga Mbewe, who was excommunicated earlier this year for having founded what the Vatican called a schismatic church, the Catholic Apostolic National Church of Zambia, which allows for a married priesthood.

The Ugandan offshoot is located in the eastern town of Jinja. Mbewe is expected to visit soon to officially launch the church and ordain new priests, said Rev. Leonard Lubega, who says he has been appointed bishop-elect by Mbewe.

Mbewe has said he was inspired by the former Zambian archbishop, Emmanuel Milingo, who was married in 2001 to a South Korean woman by the Rev. Sun Myung Moon of the Unification Church.

Milingo was excommunicated in 2006 after installing four married men as bishops in the United States. Two weeks ago, the Vatican defrocked Milingo entirely, stripping him of his priestly functions so any future ordinations by him would be invalid.

Lubega said the Catholic Apostolic National Church in Uganda already has over 12,000 followers.

''We are Catholics but not Roman Catholics,'' Lubega said, adding that the new church -- while not under Pope Benedict XVI -- recognizes him and prays for him.

At least three of the priests have said they are married. One is Rev. Henry Mutto, who said he recently got married. ''Some of us already have wives. Others will get (one) soon,'' he said.

Uganda's vice president, Gilbert Bukenya said authorities were investigating the church, which he called a sect.

''We want to know its roots. If we discover that it is illegal we will ban it,'' he said.

Archbishop Cyprian Kizito Lwanga, the Roman Catholic archbishop of Kampala, called on the government not to allow such renegade religious groups to operate, saying they might cause confusion among Ugandans.

''I call upon government to avoid registering such new churches,'' he said. ''They can bring about religious conflicts.''

Photo: Rev. Fr. Leonard Lubega, the bishop-elect, and Fr. Matovu Seguya of the Catholic Apostolic National Church in Uganda

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