Monthly Archives: April 2012

Irish priests won’t break seal of confession

CATHOLIC priests will defy a new law that requires them to report sexual abuse disclosed to them in the confession box — despite the threat of 10-year jail sentences.

It came after Justice Minister Alan Shatter confirmed the mandatory reporting requirement would apply to priests hearing confession.

Fr Sean McDonagh of the Association of Catholic Priests, which represents 800 clergymen, warned last night: “I certainly wouldn’t be willing to break the seal of confession for anyone — Alan Shatter particularly.”

And Auxiliary Bishop of Dublin Raymond Field said: “The seal of the confessional is inviolable as far as I am concerned, and that’s the end of the matter.”

It puts the clergy on a direct collision course with Mr Shatter because new laws oblige every person to report suspected sexual abuse of children and vulnerable adults to gardai.

Mr Shatter said last night: “I would expect that if there was someone going to confession who was a serial sex abuser, I don’t know how anyone could live with their conscience if they didn’t refer that to the gardai.”

His draft legislation, which is due to be introduced later this year, has already drawn a strong response from the church.

It has excommunicated priests in the past for revealing details of confessions.

The Catholic Church has always insisted it has no problem with the reporting of child physical and sexual abuse allegations to the authorities — except when the information is given during confession.

The auxiliary bishop of Dublin was just one leading church figure who moved to stress that priests would not be co-operating with the requirement to report sexual abuse information given during confession.

The Association of Catholic Priests said the legislation was a foolish move that could not be enforced.

Its spokesman, Fr McDonagh, recalled how a New Zealand Columban priest, Francis Douglas, was tortured to death by the Japanese during World War Two because he refused to reveal information received in confession about the Filipino guerrillas.

“He is held up to us as a model of how you deal with this extraordinary sacrament. You shouldn’t put into legislation something that cannot be enforced.

“It makes a mockery of the legislation,” he said.

Fr McDonagh pointed out that confessions were held in private so that priests did not know who was in the confessional box.

And he questioned whether the mandatory reporting requirement would stop even one case of child sexual abuse.

It is the latest flashpoint between the Government and the Catholic Church, following the highly publicised row over Taoiseach Enda Kenny’s criticism of the Vatican for failing to co-operate with clerical sexual abuse inquiries last year.

He declared that canon law would not be allowed to supersede state law. The Irish Embassy to the Vatican was subsequently closed “for budgetary reasons”.


Mr Shatter said the controversy over the confessional was a “side issue” because the Murphy and Cloyne reports into clerical sex abuse had never mentioned it as the cause of the problem.

He pointed out that the main issue had been the failure of the Catholic Church authorities to act on warnings from victims — and the movement of priests accused of abuse from parish to parish.

“As someone who doesn’t frequent confession, I don’t know what information people share in confessions.

“But I don’t think anyone has a substantial knowledge about numbers of paedophiles sharing their exploits through the confessional and being given absolution for it,” he said.

Mr Shatter pointed out that there was also no exemption for the confessional in legislation passed back in 1998 requiring mandatory reporting of offences such as murder, kidnapping and bank robberies.

He said he was not aware of any priest being prosecuted under this legislation.

Children’s Minister Frances Fitzgerald also added that criminal justice legislation passed last year required anyone with knowledge of white-collar crime to report it.

“And there’s no exemptions in relation to the confessional,” she said.

The Irish Catholic Bishops’ Conference said it welcomed the fact that the State was putting the ‘Children First’ child protection guidelines into law — which it had been following since 1996.

– Michael Brennan Deputy Political Editor

from The Irish Independent

Prayer gives essential meaning to our daily activities

Vatican City, 25 April 2012 (VIS) – If prayer and the Word of God do not nourish our spiritual life, we run the risk being suffocated by the many cares and concerns of daily existence. Prayer makes us see reality with new eyes and helps us to find our way in the midst of adversity. These words were pronounced by Benedict XVI in his catechesis during this morning’s general audience, held in St. Peter’s Square in the presence of more than 20,000 faithful.

The Pope explained how prayer encouraged the early Church, though beset by difficulties, and how it can help man to live a better life today. “Ever since the beginning of her journey the Church has had to face unexpected situations, new questions and emergencies, to which she has sought to respond in the light of the faith, allowing herself to be guided by the Holy Spirit”, he said.

This was already evident at the time of the Apostles. In the Acts, Luke the Evangelist recounts “a serious problem which the first Christian community in Jerusalem had to face and resolve, … concerning the pastoral care of charity towards the isolated and the needy. It was not an unimportant issue and risked creating divisions within the Church. … What stands out is that, at that moment of pastoral emergency, the Apostles made a distinction. Their primary duty was to announce the Word of God according to the Lord’s mandate, but they considered as equally serious the task of … making loving provision for their brothers and sisters in situations of need, in order to respond to Jesus’ command: love one another as I have loved you”.

The Apostles made a clear decision: it was not right for them to neglect prayer and preaching, therefore “seven men of good standing were chosen, the Apostles prayed for the strength of the Holy Spirit, then laid their hands upon them that they might dedicate themselves to the diaconate of charity”. This decision, the Pope explained, “shows the priority we must give to God and to our relationship with Him in prayer, both as individuals and in the community. If we do not have the capacity to pause and listen to the Lord, to enter into dialogue with Him, we risk becoming ineffectually agitated by problems, difficulties and needs, even those of an ecclesial and pastoral nature”.

The saints, Pope Benedict said, “experienced profound unity between prayer and action, between total love of God and love for their fellows”. St. Bernard, a model of harmony between these two aspects, “affirmed that too many concerns … often end up by hardening our heart and causing our spirit to suffer. This is an important reminder for us today, accustomed as we are to evaluating everything with the criterion of productivity and efficiency. That passage from the Acts of the Apostles reminds us of the importance of work and commitment in daily activity, which must be carried out with responsibility and dedication, but also of our need for God, for His guidance and His light which give us strength and hope. If we do not pray trustingly every day, our activities become empty, they lose all profundity and are reduced to mere activism which, in the final analysis, leaves us unsatisfied. … Every step, every action in our lives, even in the Church, must be done before God, in prayer and in the light of His Word”.

When prayer is nourished with the Word of God “we see reality with new eyes, with the eyes of the faith and the Lord, Who speaks to the mind and to the heart, gives new light for the journey in all times and situations. We believe in the power of the Word of God and of prayer. … If the lungs of prayer and of the Word of God do not nourish the breath of spiritual life, we risk suffocating in the midst of a thousand daily cares. Prayer is the breath of the soul and of life”.

In conclusion, Benedict XVI noted that when we pray, “in the silence of a church or in our room, we are united in the Lord to our brothers and sisters in the faith, like so many instruments which, each in its own individuality, raise a single great symphony of intercession, thanksgiving and praise”.

Vatican Information Service

Obama’s HHS hires Planned Parenthood spokesperson

WASHINGTON D.C., April 27 (CNA) .- Pro-life leaders see the Obama administration’s recent decision to hire a Planned Parenthood media specialist as an intentional move to make its abortion policies appealing to the American people.

“I’m not surprised at all,” said Dr. Janice Crouse, senior fellow at the Concerned Women for America’s Beverly LaHaye Institute.

Crouse told CNA on April 25 that the Obama administration is following its well-established pattern of offering positions of strong influence to abortion supporters.

“It’s going to be disastrous,” she said. “Here you’ve got someone with a definite agenda.”

On April 20, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services announced that it was hiring Tait Sye, former media director of Planned Parenthood, as its deputy assistant secretary for public affairs.

The Department of Health and Human Services has been under fire in recent months for issuing a controversial mandate that will require employers to offer health plans that cover contraception, sterilization and abortion-inducing drugs, even if doing so violates their consciences.

Sye defended the mandate amid widespread protest, calling contraception “basic health care” and saying, “It should not be left up to a boss’s personal beliefs whether his employees should be allowed birth control coverage.”

According to Reuters, he also chided groups such as the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops who opposed the 2010 health care reform law over concerns that it would provide funding for abortion. Sye accusing these groups of “launching misleading attacks,” despite the fact that the law does provide for the collection of mandatory insurance premiums to fund abortions.

Crouse believes the decision to hire someone with experience in the abortion industry was intentional.

“This is someone who is very skilled at shaping public opinion,” she said.

Moving into an election year, it is important for the president to have people in public relations who can make his abortion policies “palatable to the public,” she explained.

Crouse said that Americans should find it “unconscionable” that the administration would put its abortion ideology before the well-being of women.

With this decision, she said, it is pushing the sexual revolution forward and encouraging promiscuity, which research clearly shows to have negative results.

“In the long run, it’s going to hurt women,” she warned.

Controversy surrounding Planned Parenthood has grown in recent months. The organization is currently the subject of a Congressional investigation due to allegations of fraud and illegal failure to report cases of sexual abuse. Such allegations have also led several states to initiate efforts to defund the organization.

But in spite of this controversy, Dr. Charmaine Yoest, president and CEO of Americans United for Life, believes that “the ties between the abortion industry and this administration grew stronger with this appointment.”

Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of the Susan B. Anthony List, agreed, saying that Planned Parenthood and the Department of Health and Human Services “have practically become synonymous.”

“We’ve seen repeatedly that as soon as a state defunds Planned Parenthood, HHS steps in and threatens to take funding away from vulnerable populations,” she added.

Eric Scheidler, executive director of the Pro-Life Action League, noted that “Americans should be horrified” by the close relationship between the Obama administration and Planned Parenthood.

He told CNA that he’s disappointed to see the administration partner with Planned Parenthood in health care issues rather than with the Catholic Church, which has a rich legacy of the caring for the sick and needy.

The decision is particularly troubling, he added, because “Planned Parenthood is a lightning rod of controversy.” The allegations surrounding the organization should prohibit its top employees from holding positions of government authority, he said.

However, Scheidler explained, the administration realizes that people are not happy with its policies, such as the contraception mandate.

Planned Parenthood has a great track record with public relations and maintaining a “positive public image,” he observed, so hiring someone like Sye is a huge step to “sell the American people” on the administration’s proposed health care policies.

“It makes perfect sense,” he said.

from Catholic News Agency

Vatican Congregation sends Letter to Priests

VATICAN CITY, APRIL 26, 2012(VIS) – Leading up to the World Day of Prayer for the Sanctification of the Clergy, held on the feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus (this year, June 15), the Congregation for Clergy has written a letter to priests. It is signed by Cardinal Maura Piacenza, the prefect, and Archbishop Celso Morga Iruzubieta, secretary.

Dear Priests,

on the forthcoming solemnity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus (June 15, 2012), as usual, we shall celebrate World Day of Prayer for the Sanctification of the Clergy. The expression found in Scripture “This is the will of God: your holiness!” (1 Thess 4:3), though addressed to all Christians, refers to us priests in particular, for we have accepted the invitation to “sanctify ourselves” and to become “ministers of sanctification” for our brothers. In our case, this “will of God” is, so to speak, doubled and multiplied to infinity, and we must obey it in everything we do. This is our wonderful destiny: we cannot be sanctified without working on the holiness of our brothers, and we cannot work on the holiness of our brothers unless we have first worked on and continue to work on our own holiness.

Ushering the Church into the new millennium, Blessed John Paul II reminded us that this “ideal of perfection”, which must be offered to everyone, is normal indeed: “To ask catechumens: ‘Do you wish to receive Baptism?’ means at the same time to ask them: ‘Do you wish to become holy?'”[1]

On the day of our Priestly Ordination the same baptismal question surely resounded in our heart, calling for a personal answer; but it was also entrusted to us so that we might address it to the faithful, cherishing its beauty and preciousness. This does not mean that we are not aware of our personal shortcomings, or of the faults committed by some who have brought shame upon the priesthood before the world. Ten years later – considering that the situation has grown ever more serious – we must let the words pronounced by John Paul II on Holy Thursday of 2002 resound in our heart with greater strength and urgency: “At this time too, as priests we are personally and profoundly afflicted by the sins of some of our brothers who have betrayed the grace of Ordination in succumbing even to the most grievous forms of the mysterium iniquitatis at work in the world. Grave scandal is caused, with the result that a dark shadow of suspicion is cast over all the other fine priests who perform their ministry with honesty and integrity and often with heroic self-sacrifice. As the Church shows her concern for the victims and strives to respond in truth and justice to each of these painful situations, all of us – conscious of human weakness, but trusting in the healing power of divine grace – are called to embrace the ‘mysterium Crucis’ and to commit ourselves more fully to the search for holiness. We must beg God in his Providence to prompt a wholehearted reawakening of those ideals of total self giving to Christ which are the very foundation of the priestly ministry. “[2]

As ministers of God’s mercy, we know that the search for holiness can always begin again through repentance and forgiveness. But we also feel the need to ask for it, as individual priests, on behalf of all priests and for all priests.[3] Our faith is further strengthened by the Church’s invitation to cross the Porta fidei again, accompanying all of our faithful. As we know, this is the title of the Apostolic Letter with which the Holy Father Benedict XVI called the Year of Faith that will begin on October 12, 2012.

It may be useful to reflect on the circumstances of this invitation. It takes place on the fiftieth anniversary of the opening of the Second Vatican Ecumenical Council (October 11, 1962) and on the twentieth anniversary of the publication of the Catechism of the Catholic Church (October 11, 1992). Furthermore, the General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops will be held in October 2012, and its theme will be “The new evangelization for the transmission of the Christian faith.”

We will therefore be expected to work in depth on each of these “chapters”:

– on II Vatican Council, so that it may be accepted once again as “the great grace bestowed on the Church in the twentieth century “: “a sure compass by which to take our bearings in the century now beginning “, “increasingly powerful for the ever necessary renewal of the Church”[4];

– on the Catechism of the Catholic Church, that it may be truly accepted and used as “a valid and legitimate instrument for ecclesial communion and a sure norm for teaching the faith”[5];

– on the preparation of the next Synod of Bishops in order that it may truly be “a good opportunity to usher the whole Church into a time of particular reflection and rediscovery of the faith.”[6]

For the time being – as an introduction to this work – we can meditate briefly on this indication provided by the Pope, towards which everything converges: “It is the love of Christ that fills our hearts and impels us to evangelize. Today as in the past, he sends us through the highways of the world to proclaim his Gospel to all the peoples of the earth (cf. Mt 28:19). Through his love, Jesus Christ attracts to himself the people of every generation: in every age he convokes the Church, entrusting her with the proclamation of the Gospel by a mandate that is ever new. Today too, there is a need for stronger ecclesial commitment to new evangelization in order to rediscover the joy of believing and the enthusiasm for communicating the faith.”[7]

“The people of every generation”, “all the peoples of the earth”, “new evangelization”: before such a universal horizon, we priests must ask ourselves how and where such statements can come together and stand. So we can begin by recalling that the Catechism of the Catholic Church itself begins with a universal outlook, recognizing “Man’s ‘capacity’ for God”[8]; but it does so choosing – as its first quotation – the following text of the Second Vatican Ecumenical Council: “The root reason (“eximia ratio”) for human dignity lies in man’s call to communion with God. From the very circumstance of his origin man is already invited to converse with God. For man would not exist were he not created by Gods love (“ex amore”), and constantly preserved by it (“ex amore”); and he cannot live fully according to truth unless he freely acknowledges that love and devotes himself to His Creator. Still, many of our contemporaries have never recognized this intimate and vital link with God, or have explicitly rejected it.” (“hanc intimam ac vitalem coniunctionem cum Deo”)[9].

How could we forget that, with the text quoted above – and in the richness of the wording chosen – the Conciliar Fathers intended to speak directly to atheists, upholding the immense dignity of the vocation from which they had departed? And they did so with the same words used to describe the Christian experience, at the peak of its mystic intensity! The Apostolic Letter Porta Fidei also begins stating that it “ushers us into the life of communion with God”, which means that it allows us to become directly immersed in the central mystery of the faith we are called to profess: “To profess faith in the Trinity – Father, Son and Holy Spirit – is to believe in one God who is Love ” (ibid. n. 1).

All this must resound in a special way in our heart and in our mind, making us aware of what is the greatest tragedy of our times. Christianized nations are no longer tempted to surrender to a general sort of atheism (as they were in the past) which results from having forgotten the beauty and warmth of the Trinitarian Revelation. Today it is especially priests, in their daily worship and ministry, who must refer everything to the Trinitarian Communion: only by starting from it and by immersing oneself in it can the faithful really discover the face of the Son of God and of His contemporariness, and really reach the heart of every man and the homeland they are all called to. Only this way can us priests restore contemporary man’s dignity, the sense of human relationships and social life, and the purpose of the whole of creation. “Believing in only One God who is love “: no new evangelization will really be possible unless us Christians are able to surprise and move the world again by proclaiming the Nature of Our God who is Love, in the Three Divine Persons that express it and that involve us in their own life.

Today’s world, with its ever more painful and preoccupying lacerations, needs God- The Trinity, and the Church has the task to proclaim Him. In order to fulfil this task, the Church must remain indissolubly embraced with Christ and never part from Him; it needs Saints who dwell “in the heart of Jesus” and are happy witnesses of God’s Trinitarian Love. And in order to serve the Church and the World, Priests need to be Saints!

From the Vatican, March 26, 2012 Solemnity of the Annunciation of the B.V.

Mauro Card. Piacenza, Prefect

Celso Morga Iruzubieta, Tit. Archbishop of Alba Marittima, Secretary

— — —


[1] Apostolic Letter Novo millennio ineunte, n. 31.

[2] JOHN PAUL II, Letter to Priests on Holy Thursday 2002.

[3] CONGREGATION FOR THE CLERGY, The priest, minister of Divine Mercy. An aid for confessors and spiritual directors, 9 March 2011, 14-18; 74-76; 110-116 (the priest as penitent and spiritual disciple ).

[4] Cfr. Porta fidei, n.5.

[5] Cfr. Ibid., n. 11.

[6] Ibid., n. 5.

[7] Ibid., n. 7.

[8] Section One. Chapter I.

[9] Gaudium et Spes, n. 19 and Catechism of the Catholic Church n. 27.

Vatican Information Service

Seal of Confession challenged in Ireland

Seems like the Minister of Justice in Ireland has said that in cases involving child abuse, the state will not recognize the Seal of Confession, and will try to force priests to reveal information obtained under the sacramental seal. Needless to say, the Church will have no part of it.

The Concho Padre

Turn off the heat!

Second day of 104 degrees here in San Angelo, and it’s still April.
Please pray that the temperatures lower, and that God sends us lots of rain.
We are in a very bad situation, water-wise.

I’ll be back with more when things calm down and I cool off!

The Concho Padre

Vatican Bureau of Investigation?

In a rare move this morning, the Vatican Secretary of State announced that the Holy Father has ordered an investigation into leaks of classified or confidential Vatican information. Several months ago there was a flurry of activity regarding correspondence by Archbishop Vigano, now the nuncio to the United States. The documents claimed the archbishop was appealing to the Holy Father to not move him to the US position because he was investigating questionable activities in the Vatican. At the time, the archbishop was the governor of the Vatican City State.

Here is the English Translation of the Announcement:

“In the wake of recent leaks of reserved and confidential documents on television, in newspapers and in other communications media, the Holy Father has ordered the creation of a Commission of Cardinals to undertake an authoritative investigation and throw light on these episodes.

His Holiness has determined that the said Commission of Cardinals, which will act at all levels on the strength of its pontifical mandate, shall be presided by Cardinal Julian Herranz, and shall have as it members Cardinal Jozef Tomko and Cardinal Salvatore De Giorgi.

The Commission of Cardinals celebrated its first sitting on 24 April to establish the method and timetable for its activities.”

Cardinal Herranz is of Opus Dei, Cardinal Tomko is a retired Slovak cardinal who served as prefect of the Congregations for the Evangelization of Peoples, and Cardinal is the Archbishop emeritus of Palermo, Sicily.

Stayed tuned, folks. This could get very interesting!

The Concho Padre

First Holy Communion

Tomorrow I have the distinct honor and privilege of giving First Holy Communion to some 18 youngsters in the parish. This will take place at the 5:00 p.m. Saturday Mass in the Cathedral.

This is always one of my favorite days of the year, and most favorite activity as a priest.

Everyone in the parish is invited and encouraged to attend, giving your approval and love to our little ones!

The Concho Padre



The Concho Padre

Vatican Internet WIDGET in honor of Pope’s 7th anniversary as Pontiff


As of today, 19 April 2012, seventh anniversary of the Election of the Holy Father Benedict XVI, a new WIDGET will be available to users of the Internet.
By using this interface it will be possible, automatically and dynamically, to transfer some of the most important content contained in the institutional website to another user’s website.
Pontifical Magisterium is thus enriched with another means of communication, making the content of the institutional website more widely known, and using all the opportunities technology offers in order to spread the word of the Holy Father.

In particular, using the new widget it will be possible to export all the principal novelties, the Sunday Angelus, Audiences and the Bulletin of the Holy See Press Office.
The “Focus” area of the homepage contains the mail address at which users may request the code to insert on the own homepage of their own websites in order to visualise the “ widget”.

Vatican Information Service

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