NEWS BRIEFS•NEWS BRIEFS
British Diocese Downsizes. The diocese of Lancaster currently has 108 parishes and estimates by 2020 it will have just 53 priests. Consequently, a new plan has been proposed to reduce the number of parishes from 108 to 70 over the next twelve years. (The Tablet 6/28/08)
Irish, Brits Call For Married Priests. Two-thirds of Irish Catholics believe priests should be allowed to marry according to a poll commissioned by The Irish Catholic newspaper and published this past Spring. In June, thousands of British Catholics, including Lord (Chris) Patten and Baroness (Shirley) Williams, signed a statement asking for married priests and discussion of women priests. The petition will be presented to the Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales later this year. (The Tablet 5/31/08 and 6/21/08)
Czech Church Regularizes Married Priest. The Czech church recently re-ordained a married father of four, regularizing his clandestine ordination in the 1950s. An estimated 250 priests and bishops were ordained under “emergency powers” granted by Pius XII to serve the Czech church suffering under Communist persecution. Several women were ordained by Bishop Felix Maria Davidek, but a Vatican declaration in 2000, expressed “serous doubts” about Davidek’s ordinations. (The Tablet, 6/14/08)
Restore Latin Consecration at Mass? According to Italy’s Panorama magazine, Pope Benedict has asked the Congregation for Divine Worship to study restoring Latin for the words of consecration at Mass as well as to formulas used in Baptism, Confirmation, Reconciliation and the other sacraments. (The Tablet 7/12/08)
Bishops Reject Some Liturgy Translations. In a mail vote following their June meeting, U.S. bishops failed to get the two- thirds majority vote required to approve the English translation of the Proper of Seasons, the prayers for Sundays and feast days. The changes are part of a ten-year effort by the Vatican to more closely align the texts to Latin. Many bishops felt the translations were inaccessible because of the use of lengthy complicated sentences and archaic word choices. The rejected section will come before the bishops again at their November meeting. U.S. bishops have already approved the Sunday and weekday Lectionary readings for Lent. Officials do not expect the new Order of Mass to be implemented until the entire new Roman Missal in English has been processed by bishops and confirmed by the Vatican. The earliest the Vatican could receive the final sections would be November 2010. (The Tablet 7/12/08 and Catholic News Service 7/25/08)
Priests’ Compensation Rises. The National Federation of Priests’ Councils released a recent survey reporting that the 2007-2008 median total taxable income and support for Catholic priests is $43, 170 up from $39,361 in 2004-2005. The study contains data from 90 percent of U.S. dioceses and includes cash allowances, housing-related financial issues, food, and other in-kind benefits in addition to salary compensation. (The CARA Report Summer, 2008)
U.S. Most Generous, but Vatican in Red. For the first time in three years the Holy See is in the red, reporting a 2007 operating deficit of approximately $13.6 million against income of roughly $355 million and expenses of $368 million. Officials blamed a weak dollar, investment losses and increased operating costs for the Roman curia, worldwide nunciatures and media operations.
Contributions by U.S. Catholics to the annual Peter’s Pence fund were far and away the most generous. MacedoniaOnline reported almost a quarter of the $79.8 million or about 19 million U.S. dollars came from parish collections for the Pope’s charitable “works of evangelical solidarity.” After the United States, the largest offerings came from Italy and Germany where churchgoers gave $8.6 million and $4 million respectively. The Holy See also reported receiving $14.3 million from a “donor who wanted to remain anonymous.”
Among Bishops’ Conferences, German bishops are the most generous, contributing $9.3 million. They were closely followed by the U.S. bishops who gave $8.3 million and then by Italian bishops who gave $5.5 million.
A separate financial statement for Vatican City State (which includes the museums, security, postal and other services) showed a 6.7 million euro ($10 m) surplus. (Reports from The Catholic News Agency, 7/11/08 and The Tablet 7/19/08)
Fr. Roy Bourgeois Participates in Forbidden Ordination. Maryknoll Fr. Roy Bourgeois participated in the August 9 ordination of Janice Sevre-Duszynska by the RC WomenPriest movement. Church officials say those being ordained in such ceremonies automatically excommunicate themselves. Bourgeois is well known internationally for his 19 year effort to close the School of the Americas. He said he reflected prayerfully and at length before deciding to participate: "In conscience I felt I had to be there," he said. "Who are we as men to say to Janice and these other women that we are called but not you? ... I feel we are tampering with the sacred, that we are in a way overwriting God's call. I've come to the realization that women could be ordained in our Catholic Church." Bourgeois concelebrated at the liturgy, gave the homily and participated in the laying on of hands. The ceremony was held in a Unitarian Church in Lexington, KY. On August 18 Bourgeois met with Maryknoll superiors who gave him a canonical warning but pledged to work with him to address justice issues related to women in the Church. (Catholic News Service 8/14/08)
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