Thursday, December 6, 2012

The Empire Strikes Back

The Roman Catholic Church hierarchy seems bound and determined to strike back swiftly -- and in most cases ruthlessly -- at priests who won't toe the line. Not counting Fr. Helmut Schüller, who so far has gotten off pretty lightly by simply being stripped of a couple of titles, here are some of the victims this year:

Fr. Roy Bourgeois (United States)

"Crime": Participation in the ordination ceremony of a Roman Catholic woman priest and refusal to recant his participation.

Punishment: Excommunication, suspension a divinis, and involuntary laicization and dismissal from religious order.

Source: National Catholic Reporter

Fr. Bill Brennan (United States)

"Crime": Concelebrating a liturgy with a Roman Catholic woman priest.

Punishment: Partial suspension a divinis (no public sacramental acts), silencing, and cannot leave his diocese without his superior's permission.

Source: National Catholic Reporter

Fr. William Rowe (United States)

"Crime": Refusal to adhere to the specific wording of the Roman Catholic Mass.

Punishment: Forced retirement from his pastorship of St. Mary's Parish, barred from performing any Catholic rites, including celebrating Mass and officiating at weddings. Fr. Rowe is now a volunteer at a different parish.

Source: Belleville News-Democrat

Fr. Greg Reynolds (Australia)

"Crime": Giving a homily supporting women's ordination and supporting a more inclusive approach to ministry to homosexuals.

Punishment: Forced resignation and has been offered only $5,000 for his 32 years of service, whereas the usual payout for priests who resign is $1,500 per year of service. Fr. Reynolds now heads a community called Inclusive Catholics.

Source: Sydney Morning Herald

Fr. Mario Bonfanti (Italy)

"Crime": Came out as a gay man on his Facebook page and revealed his support for same sex unions.

Punishment: Suspended a divinis and excommunicated. Fr. Bonfanti subsequently left the Catholic Church and is now reported to be pursuing the priesthood in the Epsicopal Church.


Fr. Joseph Palacios (United States)

"Crime": Publicly presenting himself as a gay priest and speaking out in favor of same sex marriage. Founding member of Catholics for Equality, which has been politically active on this issue.

Punishment: Put on inactive leave by Archbishop Jose Gomez of Los Angeles, "unable to say Mass or distribute the sacraments, may not wear a Roman collar, and cannot in any way present himself as a priest in public."

Source: Catholic News Agency

Fr. Gastón Garatea (Peru)

"Crime": Publicly voicing support for the same sex civil union proposal in the platform of one of the candidates (who lost) in his country's 2011 presidential election.

Punishment: License to minister as a priest in the Archdiocese of Lima suspended by Cardinal Archbishop Juan Luis Cipriani. He may not celebrate Mass or administer any of the sacraments in that jurisdiction. Fr. Garatea is a Sacred Heart father.

Source: ACIPrensa

These are only the 2012 cases that we know about and so we'll stop here...for now...

POSTSCRIPT - 12/7/2012

The digital ink has barely dried on this post and we have another case, this time involving a deacon.

Deacon William Ditewig (United States)

"Crime":  Co-authoring a book, Women Deacons: Past, Present, Future (Paulist Press, 2012 -- for those who want to show their solidarity by buying this book), which supports the ordination of women as deacons in the Catholic Church.

Punishment: Banned from speaking publicly in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia. Deacon Ditewig, who is the author of 10 books on the diaconate and is the former head of the U.S. bishops' Secretariat for the Diaconate, was due to address a gathering of deacons, their wives, and diaconal candidates in the Archdiocese.

Source: National Catholic Reporter

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Opening new ways

by José Antonio Pagola (English translation by Rebel Girl)
Buenas Noticias: Blog de Jose Antonio Pagola
December 3, 2012

Luke 3:1-6

The first Christians saw in the actions of John the Baptist, the prophet who prepared the way for Jesus decisively. Therefore, over the centuries, John the Baptist has become a call that keeps urging us to prepare ways that allow us to welcome Jesus among us.

Luke has summed up his message with this cry taken from the prophet Isaiah: "Prepare ye the way of the Lord." How do we hear that cry in the Church today? How do we open the way so that we men and women of our time might meet him? How do we welcome him into our communities?

The first thing  is to realize that we need a much more living contact with him. We can't nourish ourselves with religious doctrine alone. It's not possible to follow a Jesus who has been converted into a sublime abstraction. We need to get vitally in tune with him, let ourselves be drawn to his lifestyle, become infected with his passion for God and for human beings.

Amid the "spiritual desert" of modern society, we must view and form the Christian community as a place where Jesus' Gospel is welcomed. Experience the meeting of believers, those who believe less, those who believe little and even non-believers around the gospel story of Jesus. Give it the chance to penetrate our problems, crises, fears, and hopes with its humanizing force.

We mustn't forget it. In the gospels, we don't learn an academic doctrine about Jesus, inevitably destined to grow old over the centuries. We learn a way of living that can be achieved in all times and in all cultures: the lifestyle of Jesus. Doctrine doesn't touch the heart, convert it or make it fall in love. Jesus does.

Direct and immediate experience with the gospel narrative makes us be reborn to a new faith, not via "indoctrination" or "theoretical learning", but through living contact with Jesus. He teaches us to live the faith, not by force but by attraction. He makes us live the Christian life not as a duty but as something contagious. Through contact with the gospel, we regain our true identity as followers of Jesus.

By running through the gospels, we find that the silent invisible presence of the Risen One acquires human traits and regains a real voice. Suddenly everything changes. We can be accompanied by Someone who brings meaning, truth, and hope to our existence. The secret of the "new evangelization" is to put ourselves in direct and immediate contact with Jesus. Without him, it's impossible to engender new faith.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Catholics in Basel may vote on the abolition of celibacy and women's ordination

Le Croix (With APIC; English translation by Rebel Girl)

On Tuesday, November 27th, the synod of the Roman Catholic Church in Basel, Switzerland, recognized the validity of the "Initiative for Equality in the Church" which requires notably the abolition of priestly celibacy and the ordination of women. "We take the concerns of the initiative seriously, Christian Griss, the chairman of the synod, declared Thursday to the Basler Zeitung daily.

In the neighboring canton of Basel Land, a similar initiative has been launched and will be submitted to the synod when it meets in Liestal on Monday, December 3rd. But the executive of the Synod has already asked that it be considered valid.

Nearly 3000 signatures, including those of several theologians, were collected to support this "Initiative for Equality in the Church" launched jointly in the two half-cantons of Basel. If passed by the synod of Basel Land, it may be submitted to a popular vote before the summer of 2013, and if accepted, the cantonal ecclesiastical authorities would be required to commit to the abolition of priestly celibacy and the ordination of women.

The scope of this initiative is however limited to church civil law structures and will not effect the ecclesial level. However, its supporters hope to have a effective means of pressure against diocesan and Roman authorities.

In Switzerland, the Catholic Church is organized in a two-tier system: in addition to the canonical structures specific to the Catholic Church (dioceses, parishes), there is effectively a system of ecclesiastical corporations benefiting from a public law statute both at the cantonal and communal levels. These corporations, which are democratically elected, notably distribute the church taxes they receive, but do not have the right to modify the conditions of admission to Catholic ministries, which remains the responsibility of the Magisterium.

Text of the Initiative for Equality in the Church (short version)

In recent years and decades in governments and corporations, the demands for gender equality have been implemented more and more. Similar development in the Roman Catholic Church is moving forward slowly or is even blocked. The exclusion of women from the priesthood solely because of their sex is contrary to the fundamental right of gender equality as well as the Gospel of Jesus, which calls for a community of equals. Discrimination against women in the Roman Catholic Church is unacceptable to us, and we need to set an example.

The backlog of reforms and other yet unresolved issues makes our Church not credible. Therefore, many people find it more difficult to identify with her and to remain a member.

Because quite a bit has been done within the church in recent years, but with little effect, we, the women and men of the Roman Catholic Church of Basel-Stadt and the Roman Catholic Church of Basel-Land, are resorting to the democratic means of an ecclesial constitutional initiative.

This initiative will require the authorities of the Roman Catholic Church of Basel-Stadt and the Roman Catholic Church of Basel-Land (ie, the synods and councils of the churches), to work towards the Roman Catholic Church allowing equal admission to the priesthood, regardless of marital status and gender.

This means:
- the abolition of compulsory celibacy and
- the admission of women to the priesthood

We hope that other cantonal churches will follow the path of an ecclesiastical constitutional initiative.

The proponents of the Initiative profess to be acting out of love for the Church, and say tehir actions are in keeping with canon 212(2) which states that "the Christian faithful are free to make known to the pastors of the Church their needs, especially spiritual ones, and their desires." (CIC). Stay tuned...

Photo: Boxes of initiative signatures

Monday, December 3, 2012

Teresa Forcades takes on the HPV vaccine

Sr. Teresa Forcades, the Benedictine nun, theologian, and medical doctor, is perhaps better known for her positions on medical issues than theological ones. She became a media sensation after making a video in which she questioned the fear mongering associated with the Influenza A (H1N1) epidemic, as well as the moves to promote widespread use of the vaccine against the disease. The video, narrated in Forcades' usual reassuring and intelligent voice, became as viral as its subject matter.

Now, according to her friend, singer and blogger Lidia Pujol, Dr. Forcades is making a new medical video -- this time questioning the widespread promotion of the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine, especially for adolescent girls.

In the following interview last month (11/27/2012) with Javier Neira Valencia of, Dr. Forcades explains why "parents shouldn't put their daughters at risk through the HPV vaccine."

Doctor and Benedictine nun. This woman religious from the monastery of San Benet (Montserrat) who became famous for her criticism of the Influenza A vaccine has warned about the risks of the HPV vaccine, which caused the death a girl in Gijon in September.

Javier Valencia Neira: Why are you opposed to the HPV vaccine?

Teresa Forcades: It's unsubstantiated; it's only experimental. It's premature and dangerous to introduce it into the immunization schedule. Parents shouldn't put their daughters at risk through the HPV vaccine.

What are you basing that on?

I've made a video where I explain it. I cite some authors from Canada, from the University of British Columbia, where a few weeks ago they demonstrated a causal relationship between the HPV vaccine and the deaths of healthy girls.


Seventy percent of uterine cancers are caused by papillomavirus types 16 and 18. That's how it is in most countries of the world. But not in Spain. We're unique. They account for only 56%. We have seen that the vaccine is fully effective against viruses 16 and 18. So does it prevent at least 56% of the cases? Well, no. Logic is one thing and biology is something else. The rest is made up of eight other viral types. If you eliminate 16 and 18 through the vaccine, that ecological niche will be occupied by the rest, the other eight types of virus.

Even so...

This cancer takes 20-40 years to develop, so we won't know until 2026 if the vaccine prevents even one case of cancer. In any case, fewer than 41% would be prevented, fewer than half of the potential ones. That in terms of efficacy, because in terms of safety...

It's worse?

It's supposedly preventive for some 13 year-old girls for when they're over 50. In the North American vaccine registry we've seen that 60% of the adverse vaccination effects refer to the two HPV vaccines. And there are more than 35 vaccines. They should have 2% of the adverse effects but no, it's 60% -- hence the alarm. And of that 60%, 64% have suffered paralysis and even permanent disability. Eighty-two percent of deaths correspond to the two HPV vaccines, according to official data from the U.S. In the medical literature, such data is always multiplied tenfold because the registries are voluntary. So if the actual figures [are] 400 cases of permanent disability and 37 deaths, they would have to be multiplied by ten.

What's the denunciation based on?

A few weeks ago, the Canadians discovered the cause of the problem. Two girls aged 14 and 19, who were healthy, were vaccinated and died from brain swelling without a cause. To explain it, they did a new test and found vaccine antibodies in the inflamed tissue. They were victims of an autoimmune cerebral vasculitis. They found a profusion of Type 16 antibodies. It's a clear causal relationship.

What's the mechanism?

Through the vaccine, an antigen is introduced into the body. It's not an actual infection and the body doesn't pay much attention to it. Therefore an irritant is also introduced so that the immune system takes the invasion seriously. That irritant is made up of aluminum salts. Thus they manage to create ten times more antibodies than normal. Because aluminum is neurotoxic, it acts in the brain, so that the blood vessels become more permeable. The girls had edema, hemorrhaging, brain lesions and they died. Aluminum has been used for 90 years in vaccines, so they investigated again. They reviewed the tests and found a serious irregularity...


Tests are always double blind. One group is vaccinated and the other is given a placebo. Initially they saw that the side effects were the same in both groups. There wasn't a problem. But it has just been discovered that the control group wasn't injected with water, but with aluminum. That is, it was a pseudoplacebo.


Let's see: Merck Laboratories manufactures Gardasil, the HPV vaccine that's used in Spain. Well, in 1999, Merck put an anti-inflammatory on the market called Vioxx and five years later they had to withdraw it because it had produced more than 30,000 heart attacks and strokes. In the U.S., they were sentenced to a multi million dollar fine because it was shown that they knew. In previous studies, they saw that there were infarcts and they hid it. So my study is titled Crimes and Abuses of the Pharmaceutical Industry. From 2000 to 2003, the big pharmaceutical companies have been convicted in the criminal courts. Merck's fine was huge, but less than what they earned from that drug. This can not be. The conviction was in 2007 and here we are in 2012 with new suspicions.

You paint it darkly.

Even worse. Aluminum is neurotoxic and can cause lesions similar to those of Alzheimer's. They begin to vaccinate people at 65 against the flu with a vaccine containing aluminum. Thus, year after year, vaccine after vaccine. And when they reach 75, alas, it turns out that grandfather has Alzheimer's. It's that he's been poisoned for ten years; that's the problem.

Gustavo Gutierrez wins Peruvian culture award

Capping a year of celebrating the 40th anniversary of the publication of his seminal work A Theology of Liberation, Peruvian theologian Gustavo Gutierrez will be receiving an award from his government's Ministry of Culture.

On December 11th, Fr. Gutierrez will be awarded the Premio Nacional de la Cultura in the "Trayectoria" (think "Lifetime Achievement") category. This is the first time the prize, which is now being sponsored by the Peruvian oil company Petroperú as a result of a 2011 agreement signed with the Ministry of Culture, has been given after a break of 32 years. Other 2012 winners include painter Cristian Bendayán in the "Creatividad" ("Creativity") category and the Asociación Arena y Esteras for "Buenas Prácticas Culturales" ("Good Cultural Practices"). Fr. Gutierrez is being honored for "his many excellent contributions to the culture of Peru and the world."

The award Fr. Gutierrez will receive carries with it a trophy designed by Peruvian artist Carlos Runcie Tanaka and a cash prize of 45,000 nuevo soles (approximately US $17,442).

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Christmas greetings from Pedro Casaldáliga

At the beginning of Advent, Dom Pedro Casaldáliga has posted his usual annual Christmas reflection. We are sharing it here in Spanish, with our translation into English. -- RG

Centinela, ¿qué hay de la noche? ¿Qué hay de la crisis?
¿Desde dónde preguntas?
¿Preguntas desde el hambre
o desde el consumismo?
¿El grito de los pobres sacude tus preguntas?

Pastores marginales
cantan la Buena Nueva,
con flautas y silencios,
los medios de los grandes.

Nos ha nacido un Niño,
un Dios se nos ha dado.
Hay que nacer de nuevo,
desnudos como el Niño,
descalzos de codicia,
de miedo y de poder,
sobre la tierra roja.

Hay que nacer de nuevo,
abiertos al Misterio,
ungidos de Esperanza

Watchman, what of the night? What of the crisis?
From where do your questions come?
Are they questions from hunger
or from consumerism?
Does the cry of the poor shake up your questions?

Marginalized shepherds
sing the Good News
with flutes
as the major media are silent.

Unto us a Child is born,
unto us God is given.
We must be born again,
naked as the Child,
feet bare of greed,
of power and fear,
on the red earth.

We must be born again,
open to the Mystery,
annointed with Hope.