California: Priest Concelebrates with Presbyterian Minister

The California Catholic Daily is reporting that a priest of the Diocese of Orange concelebrated Mass with a Protestant minister on February 13. The priest, Father Agustín Escobar, hails from Colombia and “enjoys reading the Bible and books about Buddhism and eastern wisdom,” according to the parish’s web site. “Three years ago in India, he found the treasure of meditation, a great support for his personal and priestly life, and for all those in search of a deeper experience of God in their lives.” The Presbyterian minister, Steve Whitney of Trinity Presbyterian Church in West Sacramento, received Holy Communion and distributed Holy Communion during the Mass, according to California Catholic Daily. Concelebrating Mass with ministers of ecclesial communities that do not have apostolic succession is an “exceptionally serious” crime against the sacraments, according to canonical norms currently in force. Violation of the norm falls under the purview of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and may result in dismissal from the clerical state without an ecclesiastical trial.

The above was in Catholic Culture.

See also California Catholic Daily here.


Does Genocide Await Egypt's Copts?

The Assyrian International News Agency reports:

The Obama administration has repeatedly said it supports giving the Muslim Brotherhood, the Middle East’s oldest Islamic extremist movement, a seat at the table in a post-Mubarak Egyptian government.

Whether Egypt is soon ruled by this terrorist group, or whether it simply descends into anarchy, it looks increasingly likely that Egypt is fast approaching a tipping point of violence against its Christians.

Roughly 10 percent of Egyptians are Coptic Christians. The Copts thrived in Egypt and throughout the Middle East for centuries before Islam existed, but they have been living as second-class citizens for much of the recent past.

During President Hosni Mubarak’s decades in power, converts to Christianity were sometimes arrested, though the government often refused to prosecute crimes against Copts. Sharia law is even enshrined in the Egyptian constitution.

In recent months, Egypt has seen a rise in violence against its Copts. A Christmas Day shooting left six Coptic Christians dead. And 21 people were killed in a bomb attack outside a Coptic church on New Year’s Day.

These events prompted Pope Benedict XVI to publicly urge the Egyptian government and other leaders in the region to protect religious minorities. Egypt’s Foreign Ministry spokesman said the Pope’s remarks were “an unacceptable interference” in the country’s internal affairs. The government then withdrew its ambassador to the Vatican.

As bad as Copts have had it in Egypt, conditions are likely to deteriorate soon, especially if the Muslim Brotherhood takes over. “The overthrow of the Mubarak regime will not by any sense of the imagination lead to the advent of Jeffersonian democracy,” former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations John Bolton recently told the Daily Caller news website. “The greater likelihood is a radical, tightly knit organization like the Muslim Brotherhood will take advantage of the chaos and seize power. … It is really legitimate for the Copts to be worried that instability will follow Mubarak’s fall and his replacement with the Muslim Brotherhood.”

Copts are ambivalent about Mubarak’s ouster. “He’s the best of the worst,” Sameh Joseph, a church worker at a Coptic church in Alexandria, told a Los Angeles Times reporter. “Whoever comes after him might want to destroy us.”

A Washington Post piece highlighted the tension felt by many Coptic Christians. “The current situation for the Copts stinks, but Mubarak is the best of the worst for us,” said the Rev. Paul Girguis of St. Mark Coptic Orthodox Church in Fairfax County, Virginia. “If Muslim extremists take over, the focus will be extreme persecution against Copts. Some people even predict genocide.”

Predictions of genocide might seem like an exaggeration. But it’s a plausible scenario, especially if things go as they have in the fragile democracy that is Iraq…

More here.


Catholic Church in Ireland: On the Edge of Collapse

Because of the fallout from clerical abuse scandals.

The Catholic Herald has this story:

Cardinal Seán O’Malley will reportedly tell Pope Benedict XVI that the Catholic Church in Ireland is “on the edge” of collapse due to the fallout from clerical abuse scandals.

Cardinal O’Malley is one of several senior prelates charged by Pope Benedict with carrying out an apostolic visitation of the Irish Catholic Church following a series of highly critical judicial reports that revealed abuse by priests and a widespread culture of cover-up for decades among Church leaders.

Fr Tony Flannery, a leading member of the Association of Catholic Priests, revealed at a conference of lay people in the Irish capital that “Cardinal O’Malley told the association the Irish Church had a decade, at most, to avoid falling over the edge and becoming like other European countries where religion is marginal to society”.

Fr Flannery said Cardinal O’Malley gave a commitment to the priests’ association that he would deliver the frank assessment to the Pope in a confidential report to be submitted later this year.

Admitting to being previously sceptical about the apostolic visitation, Fr Flannery said that in light of Cardinal O’Malley’s undertaking, “there may be some gleam of hope.”

Cardinal O’Malley could not be reached for comment.

In a mid-November statement, the Vatican said it would issue a comprehensive summary of the investigations’ findings when they are completed.

Fr Flannery said that while the association was ready to campaign for radical change, it was apprehensive that it would be viewed as “a new clericalism”.

The association, which represents more than 400 of Ireland’s 4,500 priests, was formed in 2010. It has proposed a re-evaluation of the Church’s teaching on sexuality and the inclusion of women at every level within the Church.

The first phase of the visitation should be completed by Easter, and it is likely the visitators will meet with senior officials of the Roman Curia in the spring to discuss what Jesuit Fr Federico Lombardi, the Vatican spokesman, described as the next phase of the “path to renewal”.

 Penance is required in Ireland!