Church

Married Priest: ‘Single Clergy Better Placed to Serve God’

A married Roman Catholic priest from Burnley has said he believes the church is correct to prefer single celibate clergy in their parishes.

The BBC reports:

A married Roman Catholic priest from Burnley has said he believes the church is correct to prefer single celibate clergy in their parishes.

Father Paul Blackburn is the most recently ordained priest into the Salford Diocese.

He is married with three children.

A former Anglican minister, Father Paul embraced Catholicism after growing dissatisfied with the direction the Church of England was taking on some moral issues.

He said single priests are better placed to serve God by giving their entire life to his ministry.

“Whatever the church decides about the future shape of ministry there will always be a need for celibate priests,” Father Paul told BBC Radio Lancashire.

For centuries, the Roman Catholic Church has insisted that its priests be both single and celibate claiming it is God’s will. They say it has apostolic authority and back up the argument with biblical references.

Critics, amongst them some practising clergy in the church, say laws of celibacy are a more earthly ruling and did not apply in the early days of the church. Saint Peter, the first pope, was married and so were some subsequent popes and bishops.

The rule of clerical celibacy is a church law and not a doctrine, thus the Pope can alter the ruling at any time. The current pontiff, Pope Benedict XVI, is staunchly in favour of the status quo. However, he can and does allow former married Anglican minsters to become Catholic priests with each case being viewed on an individual basis.

In recent times this was seen as a gift from the Pope and is also now part of the ordinariate as some Anglicans struggle to remain in the Church of England.

Many Catholics believe that a married priest is a more rounded priest whose experiences can help deal with family issues better than his single colleagues.

Father Paul disagrees. “A celibate priest can give so much more,” he said. “They can give themselves and everything about them. They can give to the church and to the service of God. I can give what I give but a proportion of my time will always go to my family”…

It was there, towards the end of the nineties, that Father Paul began to have worries about the future direction of the Anglican Church…

Father Paul’s first role as a Roman Catholic priest was to join the chaplaincy team at Blackburn Royal Infirmary. “I have met some lovely people at the hospital, both staff and patients, and it is a privilege to minister to them,” he said…

Even though the church is struggling to find enough priests to cover its parishes, Father Paul still isn’t in favour of relaxing the church rules to accept vocations from priests who wish to marry.

“The world around us is changing and there are less and less people going to mass,” he said. “It is almost as if the culture has forgotten that we are a Christian country. Less people are going to church but the people who are there are there because they are committed.”

Read the whole piece here.

Church

Vatican Publishes Internal Abuse Files

The Huffington Post:

The Vatican, reeling from unprecedented criticism over its handling of sexual abuse cases in Ireland, took a pre-emptive strike Wednesday and published some internal files about a priest accused of molesting youngsters in Ireland and the U.S.

The files published on the website of Vatican Radio represent a small, selective part of the documentation the Holy See must turn over to U.S. lawyers representing a man who says he was abused by the late Rev. Andrew Ronan. The man, known in court papers as John V. Doe, is seeking to hold the Vatican liable for the abuse.

A federal judge in Portland, Oregon, ordered the Vatican to respond to certain requests for information from Doe’s lawyers by Friday, the first time the Holy See has been forced to turn over documentation in a sex abuse case.

The partial documentation released Wednesday includes the 1966 case file with Ronan’s request to be laicized, or removed from the clerical state, after his superiors learned of accusations that he had molested minors in Ireland.

The Vatican said the files, a few dozen pages, some handwritten and culled from its internal books, represented the full, known documentation held in the Vatican about Ronan. Assuming it’s complete, the relatively small amount of documentation appears to bolster the Vatican’s contention that Ronan’s crimes were unknown to the Vatican until 1966, when it learned of the accusations and after the abuse against Doe occurred.

The Vatican’s decision to publish some of the discovery documentation on its website marked an unusual attempt at some transparency, particularly given the sensitivity surrounding internal personnel files of accused priests. Victims groups have long denounced the secrecy with which the Vatican handles abuse cases and demanded the files of known abusers be released.

But it comes amid unprecedented criticism of the Vatican’s handling of sex abuse cases in Ireland, and as it still seeks to recover from the fallout over the abuse scandal that erupted last year. Thousands of people in Europe and elsewhere reported they were raped and molested by priests as children while bishops covered up the crimes…

Read on here.

You can read the Vatican documentation released by downloading it here (pdf).

Culture

Moses’ Journey Now a Facebook Game

Speaking of Facebook (which I don’t use), I see that Moses’ journey is now a Facebook game:

(CNN) – Moses is a cartoon with a big head, a small body and beady black button eyes with a spiky grey beard and spongy grey hair in a new game on Facebook.

The art style is meant to reflect “the casual social game” that it is, says Brent Dusing, CEO of Hexify, creator of the first biblically based Facebook game, The Journey of Moses. “It’s a fun, immersive, adventure game, so it’s meant to be fun but respectful to the content and appropriate for the gravity of the story.”

Dusing says “300 million people play social games on Facebook.” That’s close to the population of the United States, so his target audience is “anyone from 13 to over 70 … it’s a timeless story that billions around the world know.”

At the beginning of the game, pharoah’s daughter, reminiscent of a Cleopatra bobble-head, picks up a bundled baby Moses and cradles him in her arms.

Moses is often portrayed as a great stutterer, timid of speaking in public, but in the game he is soon called a man schooled in all the wisdom of the Egyptians, molded into a Moses “powerful in speech and in action.”

“Moses starts out as the grandson essentially of the king of the world,” Dusing said.

From that starting point, any Facebook user who agrees to the terms of the application can invite friends to immerse themselves in a social game revolving around the life and journey of the religious figure.

It’s free, but users can purchase elements along the way to better their experience in the game.

The Journey of Moses, like Facebook itself, is addictive, and advancement through the game, in which there is “no winning or losing,” is contingent on social connections…

Addictive? Well that says it all.

What a total waste of time.

Culture

Two Facebook Users Sentenced to Four Years in Jail for Inciting Riots

Two Facebook users who encouraged rioters to destroy their local towns on the social networking site were jailed for four years yesterday as the courts handed out their toughest sentences yet.

I think they’re making an example of these two:

The men became the first to be sentenced by crown court judges for their involvement in the mass civil disobedience that swept England.

Jordan Blackshaw, 20, and Perry Sutcliffe-Keenan, 22, were jailed for four years each for inciting the disorder on Facebook despite both being of previous good character.

Blackshaw created an event on the site entitled ‘Smash Down Northwich Town’, while Sutcliffe-Keenan encouraging a riot on the same site.

In a separate case, a judge in Manchester jailed three men for between 16 months and two years for either looting or handling stolen goods.

And in a stark warning as he sentenced the trio, Judge Andrew Gilbart QC said   he was sending a “clear and unambiguous message” to future would-be rioters and looters.

He said: “The courts should show that outbursts of criminal behaviour like   this will and must be met with sentences longer than they would be if the offences had been committed in isolation.

“As a starting point, it seems to me inevitable that any adult offender (who took part in the riot) must expect to lose his or her liberty for a significant period.”

The cases came a day after it emerged that magistrates in London had been told they can ignore normal sentencing guidelines in order to hand down tougher penalties for those involved in last week’s disturbances…

Read on here.

See also: Courts under fire for tough justice after riots, here.