Thursday, December 06, 2012

Widow of former priest gets pension rights

Le Figaro

The Strasbourg administrative court ruled that denying Helen B. the survivor's pension of her husband, who married her after his retirement, was contrary to the principle of equality.

In Strasbourg, the Administrative Court ruled in favor of the widow of a former priest giving her the right to a survivor's pension from the state. Following the death of her husband in 2010, Helen B. was denied her right to the pension of her husband, who married her after his retirement.

In Alsace and Moselle, priests, pastors and rabbis are paid by the state because of the Napoleonic Concordat which is still in force. As such, widowers or widows of pastors or rabbis are entitled to a survivor's pension and the payment of the grace quarter (full treatment of the deceased for three months after his death). But not the widows of priests.

Helen B. had sought her husband's pension. But the Budget Ministry had rejected her demand in April 2011. To cancel this decision, Ms. B. lodged a complaint with the Administrative Court of Strasbourg, arguing that "this article is contrary to the constitutional principle of equality of rights and duties irrespective of religion." The Administrative Court ruled in her favor, deeming that Helen. B is entitled to receive a pension under the principle of equality.

For its part, Archbishop of Strasbourg said it was not involved in any way in this case. From the point of view of canon law, the priest -- even when retired -- contravened the rules of the Church by marrying, observed the chancellor of the Archdiocese Bernard Xibaut. But as for the widow, "it seems she was in a difficult financial situation, so it's good for her and her children," he commented.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Brazilian archbishop believes time for optional celibacy has come

Speaking to the Folha da São Paulo, the new Archbishop of Teresina, Dom Jacinto Furtado de Brito Sobrinho, told reporters last week that, regardless of any opinions Pope Benedict XVI may have expressed on the importance of celibacy, the pontiff's words on this question are not infallible. He reiterated the Church teaching that the Pope is only considered infallible on matters of faith and morals and mandatory celibacy doesn't fit in those categories. The bishop added that "the fact that to be a priest you also have to be celibate is a discipline that the Church can change."

Dom Jacinto also commented that many bishops would like to see the celibacy requirement removed. He said that opinion is shifting towards optional celibacy and that the Holy Spirit will blow on the Church and the Pope will decide to give the Latin rite Church both options, as priests in the Eastern rite Church already have. He also pointed to Benedict XVI's willingness to admit married Anglican priests into the Catholic priesthood as a sign that change will come.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Seven suspended in Puebla

Víctor Sánchez Espinosa, the Archbishop of Puebla, Mexico, has placed seven priests in the Archdiocese on  a 2 year leave for vocational discernment for having violated their celibacy vows. The priests have been removed from public ministry during this time but can remain in dialogue with the archbishop as they make the choice between family and the priesthood.

Bishop in beach photo scandal resigns

You would think that after the Padre Alberto affair, priests would learn that it's risky to take your secret lover to the beach. Not (ex) Mons. Fernando Bargalló. Last week, Bargalló, who in 1997 was designated the first bishop of Merlo-Moreno in Argentina, became the latest casualty of photos published of himself cavorting on the beach at a luxury resort in Mexico, with a woman whom he first described as a childhood friend and then admitted was his lover.

Thus a promising 34-year career as a priest -- 18 of them as a bishop, first in Irina and Moron and then of Merlo-Moreno -- came to end as Bargalló submitted his resignation to the papal nuncio to Argentina. Bargalló was also president of Caritas for the Latin American and Carribbean region, a post to which he was elected in 2007. Some sources have suggested that, as one of the younger bishops, he might even have been in line to be the next Archbishop of Buenos Aires.

The couple are evenly matched in age -- he is 57 and she, 55, income, and social status. The woman is María de las Victorias Martínez Bo, long divorced from her physician husband and mother of three children. She is a co-founder and owner of the stylish Jolie Bistro restaurant. Mons. Bargalló performed her wedding and baptized her three children. In fact the couple were friends during childhood and adolescence since their families both owned vacation homes in La Cumbre. They separated only when Bargalló decided to carry on the family tradition of having a priest in each generation and entered seminary.

 Although having a vow of poverty as a priest, Bargalló was also independently wealthy as a result of a substantial inheritance following the death of his mother. It is thought that he used these funds to subsidize his romance with Martínez Bo.

 According to the newspaper Crónica, the couple took great pains to conceal their romance and the Mexican getaway that resulted in the photos. They took separate flights to the United States and met there before travelling together, first to Mexico City and then to other vacation destinations. They also returned on separate flights.

Immediately after the compromising photos became public, Bargalló issued a terse communiqué in which he apologized for any harm the photos might have caused and reiterated his commitment to the priesthood: "I also want to clearly state that I am completely committed to God and to the Church in the mission that has been entrusted to me in this beloved Diocese of Merlo-Moreno and in the other responsibilities at the service of my brothers and sisters. I have deep feelings for my priesthood and dedication to Jesus the Lord and I want to persevere in it to the end."

In spite of these words, in the end, Bargalló became the second Argentine bishop after the late Jerónimo Podestá to step down because of a woman. Podestá and his wife became active and respected in the Latin American Federation of Married Catholic Priests. We can only hope that Bargalló and Martínez Bo will follow in their footsteps as they put this scandalous beginning behind them and live their love openly.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Celibacy in the Eastern rite churches

OrthoCath, an Eastern rite Catholic blog, has an interesting article analyzing a recent comment by Cardinal Leonardo Sandri during the Eastern rite bishops' ad limina visit to the Vatican about the importance of embracing celibacy since it is the norm for Catholic priests in the United States. The blog writer believes that this is an indirect response from the Vatican to Melkite Greek Catholic Bishop Nicholas Samra's suggestion that he is considering directly admitting married men into seminaries to answer the priest shortage. This is a very thorough article on the celibacy tradition in the Eastern rite churches and includes links to other in-depth articles for those who want to know more about this.

  Full text of article...

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

European Human Rights Court rejects case of married priest

José Antonio Fernández, a Spanish married priest, was dismissed from his job as a teacher of religion in 1997 after a newspaper published a photo of him and his family at a MOCEOP (Movement for Optional Celibacy) event. In Spain, teachers of religion, although they work in secular schools, are selected from a slate of candidates who have the approval of the Catholic Church, per a long-standing legal agreement between the Spanish government and the Church. Having exhausted all legal recourse in Spain to get his job back, Fernandez took his case to the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg, claiming that his firing violated his rights to privacy and freedom of thought and expression.

This week the European Court of Human Rights rejected Fernandez's arguments and upheld the autonomy of the Catholic Church in making these decisions. Fernandez's attorney, José Luis Mazón, says they will appeal to the Court's Grand Chamber.

Court in Colombia orders survivor's pension paid to male partner of Catholic priest


It was a hidden love. They kept it secret for almost 40 years. But after the death of the one, the other decided to come out to tell all and claim his rights. The gay partner of a priest is demanding that the Colombian government pay him a pension. That country's Constitutional Court has agreed with him.

The man, whose identity has been witheld by court order, was the priest's partner for 28 years. In 2009, the priest died and "Pedro" -- as the Colombian media has been calling him -- began steps to be able to receive the pension like any other widower. But the Social Security Institute refused to pay, alleging that the priest could not have a partner because he should have been keeping his chastity vow. However, the Court rejected that argument and ordered payment of the pension.

"Here the take-away is telling couples in the Roman Catholic Church that they also have rights and to demand them because we are in a country where democracy is important and the religious issue is separate, of no interest, since Colombia is a secular country," said attorney Germán Rincón, who is defending the priest's partner.

"The fact taht there's a couple relationship between a priest and a civilian doesn't mean that there aren't any rights," Rincón added.

"Hence this wider concept of family should be compatible with the consitutional prohibition against discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or choice," the lawyer explained.

For the high court, relegating homosexuals to second class citizenship isn't democratic.

Although since 2007 Colombian law has recognized the property, health and pension rights of same sex couples, regardless of their social or religious condition, it's the first time that a pension has been granted to a homosexual couple that includes a priest.

Tuesday, May 01, 2012

From Radio to Reality: Australian priest gets married and gets "busted" for real

Fr. Kevin Lee, police chaplain and currently pastor of Padre Pio Catholic Church in Glenmore Park, Australia, had already been suspended once by the Church in 2002 for participating in a radio contest in which he was "jailed" in a former prison in Melbourne for three weeks. He shared a cell with a former strip club manager. The priest and seven other contestants were required to perform stunts that were filmed and broadcast such as an egg-eating competition and, in Fr. Lee's case, reciting an advertisement for a potency treatment called Horny Devil Weed.

Fr. Lee won the competition, winning a car -- which he kept -- and A$20,000 in prize money which he donated to a hostel for homeless men in Sydney. The priest also claims that attendance at his church increased dramatically, especially among young people, following the competition, and that he even managed to convert the strip club manager to Christianity during the time of their "incarceration". He also claimed that his bishop, the Rt Rev Kevin Manning, had approved of his involvement and even tuned in occasionally. Nonetheless, following complaints from some parishioners about the contest, Fr. Lee was suspended for a period.

Fr. Lee's latest "stunt", however, will likely result in a permanent suspension. This week, the priest stunned his congregation and readers of his weekly column in The Glenmore Gazette, by going on 7 News and revealing that he has been secretely married for over a year to a woman he met in the Philippines named Josefina and has simply been "going through the motions" of being a priest.

Fr. Lee, who has been a priest for over 20 years, said he no longer wants to live a double life. He told his interviewer that mandatory celibacy "has to go" and that he knows too many other priests who are falling down and, like himself, living double lives. He is promising to write a tell-all book on the subject. His final newspaper column, not yet available online, is a public apology to his parishioners.

Monday, April 09, 2012

Bishop of Antwerp would welcome opportunity to ordain married men

Msgr. Johan Bonny, the bishop of Antwerp, Belgium, told De Standaard this weekend that while he values celibacy as a prophetic sign in a society that trivializes sexuality, he would be happy to be able to ordain married men, not just because of the priest shortage but because they would enrich the pastoral ministry. He mentioned that the Church already has married priests in the Eastern rite churches, as well as the married men from other denominations who have been brought into the Roman Catholic priesthood through the Pastoral Provision.

On the other hand, he told the newspaper that ordaining women was a more complex question theologically and biblically. He said that while he believed women priests would be accepted in Belgium, he wasn't sure they would on a worldwide basis. He added, however, that he tries to promote women who are active and committed to positions of responsibility in his diocese.

Still celebrating in the Philippines

By Tara Yap
Manila Bulletin
April 9, 2012

Three Catholic Ilonggo priests with families are calling fellow Filipino priests who have children or who are married to continue celebrating the Eucharist.

“We, the married priests or priests with families from Iloilo, urge our brother priests to go back to their fundamental calling and celebrate the Eucharist,” said Fathers Hector Canto, Jesus Siva and Jose Elmer Cajilig.

“Begin with your family, especially on the day of the Lord,” they said, addressing the Philippine Federation of Married Catholic Priests Inc., which is holding its 13th national convention in Dumaguete City, Negros Oriental.

The three priests are continuing their priestly function even as they urge the Vatican to grant optional celibacy to priests.

Canto is married with three children while Siva and Cajilig are unmarried priests who also have children.

The three perform weekly Sunday masses at a mountainous village in Lambunao, Iloilo and also perform rites for baptism and burial in various Iloilo towns and even in Iloilo City.

Canto and Siva are said to have been suspended from functioning as a member of the clergy by deceased Jaro Archbishop Alberto Piamonte in 1998 while Cajilig took an indefinite leave in 1997.

Oh, by the way, you're defrocked...

Sometimes the glacial pace of Vatican disciplinary bureaucracy can be downright amusing. Last week, Archbishop Peter Kairo of the Nyeri Archdiocese in Central Kenya openly read a letter from the Vatican from the pulpit formally removing Rev. Dr. Peter Njogu Kibutu from the Roman Catholic priesthood.

That would be approximately one year after the priest was consecrated a bishop of the Restored Universal Apostolic Church by former Roman Catholic Archbishop Milingo (photo) in an elaborate and very well publicized ceremony in Nyeri. Bishop Njogu is married and has three children. He was part of a group of ten priests who publicly left the Roman Catholic church in 2009 to affiliate with Milingo over the mandatory celibacy issue. He says he left the Roman Catholic priesthood seven years ago.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Another Argentine priest leaves to get married

La Voz del Interior

The Catholic community in San Francisco, Argentina, is stunned. Baldomero Britez, priest and director of the Don Orione shelter in that city, has left the priesthood after falling in love with a woman who had been active in the choir and other activities in his parish.

The priest is seeking to be released from his vows. Britez is originally from Corrientes and moved back a few days ago to that province to settle there with his partner, according to some parishioners.

Britez was known for his warmth and good mood when celebrating Mass. He was also known for his sense of solidarity and carrying out fundraising campaigns to benefit the charitable organizations for which he was responsible.

At the end of last year, Britez announced that he would leave the leadership of the shelter, but he denied at the time that he was leaving the priesthood to start a family.

This is the second time recently that a priest has left the priesthood in that diocese. In April 2009, Victor Casas, priest of the parishes of Saturnino María Laspiur, Las Varas and Colonia Prosperidad, announced his decision to leave his role in the Church. He did it during Mass, publicly acknowledging that he had fallen in love with a young woman who was expecting his child.

Cases of priests leaving the ministry have multiplied in recent years. In the province of Cordoba, it is estimated that some 20 priests have left in the last five years. Most of the cases were in the city of Cordoba and most of them left to get married.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

What a difference a year makes...

In February 2011, Delémont Journal interviewed a young Swiss priest, Abbé Jean-Noël Theurillat, and they asked him specifically how he dealt with mandatory celibacy. Fr. Theurillat gamely responded: "At a time of discernment, I did not put that obligation in opposition to the priesthood. It was clear that one didn't go without the other. Either I took the "package", that is to say everything, or nothing. But there is confusion in people's minds. Celibacy doesn't mean loneliness. I have a great professional and social environment, a family, friends, and many activities. Obviously, I've also given up sexual relations and consequently starting a family. This doesn't prevent emotions or affectivity. Nor, indeed, the questioning of my choice. But the real challenge, beyond the decision, is to know what one is going to make of it. Me, I blossom where I am, in the exercise of my vocation at the heart of humanity and reality." A vocations director could not have given a more perfect answer.

One year later, Fr. Theurillat, who was ordained in 1999 in the Diocese of Basel and served 10 years in parish ministry in val Terbi, Courroux, Courrendlin, Rossemaison and Châtillon before joining the ecumenical chaplaincy service of the Hospital of the Jura, has changed his tune. This week, hinting that he has met someone, the young priest told RFJ Radio he has been questioning celibacy for more than a year, that the questioning came well before he had a specific person in his mind and heart. With that, he became the first priest in the region to resign in more than 25 years. He has now joined the world of the laity...and the unemployed but, he says, "I feel very free, my motivation is intact. I don't know what the future of my professional life will be, but I'm approaching it with energy, motivation and enthusiasm." Fr. Theurillat has studied both theology and social work.

The Diocese issued a statement saying that it "respects the decision of Father Jean-Noël, well thought out and given with a concern for truth and openness. This choice doesn't cast doubt on the priest's personal investment and professional competence...He has exercised his priestly ministry without fault and with great commitment." They thanked him for his work and wished him every success in the future.

Now we'll see how long Jura Pastoral keeps this video (in French) of the handsome Fr. Theurillat waxing eloquently and enthusiastically about his priesthood on its website. Except for the outcome of this story, it's really a great promotional video for vocations to the religious life...

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Celibacy in priesthood is 'soon to be a thing of the past'

The Vatican might be a little surprised at the prognostication delivered by Fr. Shay Cullen (photo) during an interview with the Irish TV program "The Meaning of Life." Fr. Cullen, a priest in the Missionary Society of St. Columban and founder of the Preda Foundation which works primarily to protect the human rights of women and children in the Philippines, told program moderator Gay Byrne that celibacy in the Catholic Church was a "business arrangement" that would soon be a thing of the past.

"Celibacy is only a practice mostly to keep property out of the hands of married couples," Fr. Cullen said. "It's more sort of a business type of arrangement...All of the other Christian churches manage very well and many Anglicans who were married and had family and children and came over to the Catholics and were warmly accepted. Now we have many married priests in the Catholic Church and it is working, so why not? It is only another step to abolishing this celibate thing and getting on with life."

The priest, who has been nominated three times for the Nobel Peace Prize, then went on to discuss his work protecting children from the abuses of the sex trade...

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

My life as a married Catholic priest

By R. Scott Hurd
Washington Post

This priest is a married RC priest with three children and Vicar General for the Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of Saint Peter.

"...In my new role as Vicar General of the Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of Saint Peter, established on January 1 by Pope Benedict XVI, I’ll continue to serve with married clergy. This time, however, they will be married priests. I happen to be one of them. By the end of 2012, there may be as many as 140 married priests in the U.S....

...When we answered God’s call to Catholic ministry, we didn’t set out to break the mold. None of us, to my knowledge, want to be “poster boys” for a new paradigm of priesthood. Instead, we wished to be obedient, and wanted an opportunity to serve. We’re deeply grateful for the opportunity we’ve been given...

...In our day, debates about celibacy swirl in Catholic circles. This ancient and biblical discipline has both its defenders and critics. Speaking for myself, I feel uncomfortable when circumstances like mine are used to further an argument or make a point. I’m simply honored to serve the Lord I love while being blessed with a family I love. I can’t imagine life without either--and I’m glad I don’t have to. .."

Well, you get the idea...I find this whole "I've got mine, Jack, so I'm not gonna risk my position by denouncing injustice so you can get yours too" attitude that Fr. Hurd and the other married pastoral provision priests have adopted to be really infuriating. Yes, you men ARE poster children for why the Church can -- and should -- make celibacy optional. Every day, just by doing your jobs, you prove that there's no fundamental conflict between a vocation to the priesthood and married life. Maybe if the Vatican opened its eyes, it would see that too.

Losing his vocation, not his religion

By Manya A. Brachear
Chicago Tribune
January 15, 2012

Like many Roman Catholic men who feel called to the priesthood, the Rev. Jim Hearne wrestled with whether ordination was right for him.

The youngest of seven in an Irish Catholic family, he saw the joy of family life firsthand and never could quite extinguish the desire to one day have children of his own. But spurred to help stem the priest shortage and strengthen the integrity of the cloth, Hearne donned a priest's collar in 2005 at age 25.

Now he wonders if his six years in the pulpit as "Father Jim" might have been preparation to become Jim, the father. After a six-month leave of absence from St. Giles Roman Catholic Church in Oak Park, Hearne has decided he will not return to the pulpit, but he will stay in the pews and pray to one day start a family of his own.

He has no intention of turning his back on Catholicism. Rather, he wants to be more faithful to the church he calls home, and faithful to his feelings.

Hearne has fallen in love....

Full text of article...

Photo: Jim Hearne in his new uniform as a security guard.

Friday, January 06, 2012

The Vatican's problem with fathers who are fathers

by Sophia Deboick
The Guardian
January 6, 2012

Last week it emerged that Gabino Zavala, the auxiliary bishop of the Catholic archdiocese of Los Angeles for nearly 18 years, has a secret family. The existence of his two teenage children has been deemed a sufficiently "grave cause", as defined by Canon 401 of the code of canon law, that he has been obliged to resign. Memories of other notable cases resurface: the Eamon Casey scandal of the early 90s, when revelations that he fathered a child two years before his episcopal appointment led to his resignation as Bishop of Galway; the more recent case of the founder of the Legionaries of Christ, Father Marcial Maciel, who had as many as six children (although accusations of paedophilia and incest make this alleged offence pale into insignificance). Zavala is hardly the first priest to break his vow of celibacy in such spectacular fashion, and in fact the church has struggled with the problem of "Fathers who are fathers" for centuries.

The children of Catholic priests have historically presented a double problem to the Latin Rite church: clearly they give the game away about dad's lack of conformity to the requirement for celibacy, but they also put a financial burden on his employer....

Full story...

Wednesday, January 04, 2012

Bishop resigns after disclosing he is father of two children

By John Thavis, Catholic News Service
National Catholic Reporter
Jan. 04, 2012

Los Angeles Auxiliary Bishop Gabino Zavala has resigned after disclosing to superiors in mid December that he was the father of two minor teenage children who live with their mother in another state. Bishop Zavala told Archbishop Gomez that he had submitted his resignation to Pope Benedict XVI. Since that time, Bishop Zavala has not been in ministry and "will be living privately," Archbishop Gomez said.

"The archdiocese has reached out to the mother and children to provide spiritual care as well as funding to assist the children with college costs. The family's identity is not known to the public, and I wish to respect their right to privacy," Archbishop Gomez said...

Bishop Zavala, a native of Guerrero, Mexico, has also been the bishop-president of Pax Christi...

Seminary is not exactly a traditional education nor would it work for an online degree program as well as other subjects would Community, fellowship and discussion are integral, in addition to personal studies. As more seminaries close, men who dream of becoming priests may have to travel farther to complete the education they need.

NOTE: Seminary is not exactly a traditional education nor would it work for an online degree program as well as other subjects would Community, fellowship and discussion are integral, in addition to personal studies. As more seminaries close, men who dream of becoming priests may have to travel farther to complete the education they need.