Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Culture Notes: Glass Halo

Another novel out this month on the subject of Catholic clerical romances. The author is Colleen Smith, founder of Friday Jones Publishing and an award-winning Catholic writer residing in Denver, where she is also a dedicated Vincentian volunteer with the poor and homeless. The title is Glass Halo (Friday Jones Publishing, September 2010, ISBN: 9780984428908). The novel is among the finalists in this year's Santa Fe Writers Project Literary Awards. The plot, from our perspective, is well-summarized in the opening paragraph of the review in ForeWord Reviews:

When a man becomes a Catholic priest he relinquishes the chance for marriage, family, or sexual intimacy. He gains a life of spiritual devotion and many find this a fair exchange. Sometimes, however, as in the case of Father Vin DiMarco, the handsome priest in Colleen Smith’s debut novel, Glass Halo, the temptations of earthly love prove too strong to resist... still my heart...For the record, Smith says that the priest in her novel, "is a composite of a number of progressive priests I've known from my years attending Catholic schools and my 20 years of working in communications for the church."

This novel even boasts its own YouTube trailer:

Friday, September 24, 2010

German Catholic bishops say church must discuss taboos, compensate abuse victims

From today's Deutsche-Welle:

The Catholic Church must be prepared to confront and discuss taboo topics such as sexual morality and the celibacy of priests, the head of the church in Germany, Archbishop Robert Zollitsch, said on Friday.

Speaking at the conclusion of the two-day autumn plenary assembly of the German Bishops' Conference in the central city of Fulda, Zollitsch said "the issue of the ... personal, spiritual and sacramental life of our clergy has long been pressing."

The Bishops' Conference was now "taking the initiative toward dialogue that involves itself as well as the diocese," he said.

"That includes ways to talk about awkward subjects in the area of sexuality, the vow of celibacy or the receiving of the sacrament by divorcees," he said...

Last week the Belgians, now the Germans. Hello, Your Holiness, are you listening to your own hierarchs?

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Bishop of Bruges questions celibacy

UPDATE 9/28/2010: Another Belgian prelate has added his voice to the call for optional celibacy. Bishop Johan Bonny of Antwerp joined his colleagues from Bruges and Hasselt this week and Josian Caproens, chairman of the Interdiocesan Pastoral Council, a group of lay people working in the church, joined in the chorus. “The time is now really ripe, certainly in Western Europe, for priests to be able to choose a celibate life or not,” Caproens said.

UPDATE 9/20/2010: A second Belgian bishop, Msgr. Patrick Hoogmartens of Hasselt has also gone on record as supporting optional celibacy. "I can imagine two sorts of priesthood. Those who live celibately and those who have a relationship — are married," Hoogmartens told VRT radio. A spokesman for Archbishop Andre-Mutien Leonard, the head of Belgium's Roman Catholic Church, said in reaction to the two bishops's comments that any discussion of structural issues surrounding the church should be held at a global level, and not be limited to Belgium.
Sat 18/09/2010 - 12:34

The new Bishop of Bruges Jozef De Kesel has questioned celibacy for priests and called for an open discussion on the position of women in the Church. Monsignor De Kesel made his comments on VRT Radio’s news and current affairs programme ‘De Ochtend’.

Jozef De Kesel took over the reigns of the Bruges Diocese after the former Bishop Roger Vangheluwe resigned when it was revealed that he had sexually abused his nephew during the 1980’s.

The new Bishop of Bruges believes that the Church shouldn’t be blind for the suffering of the victims of child sex abuse by members of the clergy.

Jozef De Kesel believes that celibacy should no longer be a prerequisite to becoming a priest.

“I think that the Church should ask itself if the mandatory character of the rules governing celibacy should be upheld.”

“You could argue that those for whom celibacy is impossible at a personal level should also be given the chance to join the priesthood."

The Bishop went even further.

When asked if women should be allowed to become priests he replied that “It certainly could be discussed and I hope it will be.”

“However, it’s an even more sensitive issue than the problem of celibacy."

“I think that the issue of celibacy will be acted on much sooner than that of women priests.”

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Majority in Ireland say priests should be allowed marry

The vast majority (87 per cent) of Catholics believe priests should be allowed to marry, according to an Irish Times /Behaviour Attitudes social poll. It is one of a series of findings that point to a wide gap between the views of Catholics and the teachings of the church on issues ranging from celibacy to women priests and sex before marriage. Some 79 per cent of Catholics say they are in favour of women being allowed to join the priesthood, while just 10 per cent are opposed to such a move...

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Half of UK Catholics think celibacy rule should be relaxed

...The poll, conducted for BBC News by ComRes - a member of the British Polling Council - surveyed a random sample of 500 Roman Catholics across the UK between 6 and 9 September 2010...The poll results also suggest that a large number of Catholics think that the Pope should drop his insistence on clerical celibacy. Just under a half of those polled, 49%, said the celibacy rule should be relaxed, compared to 35%. A further 17% were uncommitted. And 62% of those questioned say women should have more authority and status in the Catholic Church...

Writing for The Guardian, John Hooper puts this figure in perspective: "For a start, you have a substantial number of British Catholics who are not progressive at all. Just look at the BBC's recent poll in which "Nearly half thought he should drop his insistence on clerical celibacy". Well, nearly half is a very low percentage when compared to other countries. Fourteen long years ago, an American poll found that in every developed country it surveyed (it left out Britain), a majority of the Catholic population favoured having married priests. The only country with a percentage lower than the 49 per cent of today's British Catholics was in the Philippines."

John Deery, director of "The Conspiracy of Silence", also scheduled a screening of his film and a public debate on optional celibacy earlier this week in anticipation of the Pope's visit to the UK.