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2015 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2015 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 58,000 times in 2015. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 21 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

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This is another true story by one of our readers. It clearly shows the manipulation which goes on the priest’s life as he is carefully kept away from the so called ‘normal’ experience of life for many years during his seminary (place of initial training) formation. At one moment, the priest grows up and the lid on his true feelings disappears! This is something not understood by those who claim that he knew what he promised to God (celibacy). In fact it’s not surprising that most priests have never received a kiss from a woman. It all boomerangs unto the priest when he grows up and starts to meet the normal world. Was his vow of celibacy valid when he was kept in the dark for such a long time?

The oldest of seven children, three brothers and three sisters, 10-year old John’s widowed mother sent him to a seminary in the hopes of giving him a good education. He grew up isolated from the rest of the world, following strict rules and regulations within the typical regimented spirit of a seminary or monastery. He was allowed to go home for brief annual holidays in his earlier years. He loved the contact with nature, the clean bubbly creeks, the snow-packed mountain peaks and the surrounding green pastures and hills.

It happened during one of those outings that he encountered a pretty 22-year old girl who, after several encounters and long conversations took matters in her own hand and planted a kiss on John’s lips. Startled by that demonstration of affection, he blushed and ran down the hill, towards home. Days later he returned to the seminary to continue his theological studies but never forgot the incident with Concetta, to the point that he felt compelled to approach his spiritual director who invariably avoided the subject claiming that “everything will get settled with time.” John did not know what to make of his very first kiss with a young woman. He had never before experienced that form of contact with a person of the opposite sex, so different and so pleasant.

Somehow he felt that something important and immensely beautiful had been left out of his life. Up until then there had been only prayers, time in church, more prayers and more time in church, day in and day out. Because of that kiss his mind and body were going through a series of questions never asked before; very challenging questions. Was he supposed to go through an entire life without those pleasant sensations experienced during that kiss? He was confused and dismissed all that reasoning as the wrong thoughts for a seminarian heading to the priesthood and a life devoted to helping in the Christian way of life, heading to a life of chastity, poverty and obedience. And he chased those thoughts as evil ones. The following four years of theology flew by quickly with a relative calm, mainly dedicated to the study and preparation for the apostolic and missionary life that had been chosen for him.

Having won a scholarship, John’s congregation sent him to the Catholic University in Washington, D.C., to obtain a master’s degree in Social Psychology and to prepare him for a life of teaching in Kenya. He dove into a life of studies between classes and libraries and endless hours poring over books and writing his thesis. Evenings were spent in the recital of the rosary and evening prayers, the reading of a spiritual book, the supper, some ping-pong until 9:00 p.m. when everyone retired to their single rooms to study some more, read or sleep. The routine continued for about two years.

As a priest John was sent to various parishes that needed help on Saturdays and Sundays with a Mass celebration or other activities. John noticed that there were great differences at the way they looked at things in Europe and how Americans looked and dealt with those same things. The seminarians lead a fairly liberal life and were able to travel independently back and forth to the university and other destination where they were needed.

Through his activities at the parish level, John got to meet new people and was often invited to spend time at a birthday party, a wedding or other celebrations. It was during that time period that he noticed to be the centre of attention, mainly from the female population that considered him to be cute and sexy. John naturally enjoyed the attention and the fuss most women bestowed upon him and at various times, he thought to be in love. He was young, inexperienced and fell like a sucker to the various seduction schemes. It was the beginning of a much deeper interest in the female gender and their presence in his life. Then one day it happened, and John wondered why was he having a love affair with a woman 15 years his senior? Where this need for physical contact with a woman came from? Was it merely boyish inexperience or was it the pressing urge to experience sex at 25?

During John’s second year of university he was assigned to help out with more parish duties and so the man-priest continued to be exposed to the possibility of interacting with the female population of the area. Those years could be defined as the awakening of his inner self, to that great physical love forbidden to a priest. Only God could be witness to the various experiences and dilemmas he went through. Probably his greatest sin was to love without being loved. That for him was a terrible experience that left him sour and mad. In a very short period of time, his duties as priest were reduced to the bare essentials, like celebrating Mass and saying the rosary at night with his fellow priests. He frequently dropped the reading of the breviary. On the other hand, his social life outside of the convent intensified to the point of foregoing the community duties. Picnics with his university friends, both boys and girls, with returns to the community house late at night became more frequent.

John tried to analyze and stigmatize his first contacts and subsequent pains and traumas arising from the discovery of the woman in his adult life. Four were the women that stood out in a special way in his memory, and it was due to these four experiences that made him wonder why the Catholic Church made celibacy a very important aspect of a man entering the priesthood. It namely took the priest further away from the actual life of his flock and turned him into an absurd figure in the society he lived in and worked for. Needless to say that since its inception, priesthood was never a life of chastity, except for a few of them. Through the history of the church, priests having one or more women in their lives were a common fact.

Once finished his studies, John was designated to start his missionary work in Kenya. No more easy life or daydreaming, but getting on with real life, facing his future with courage and especially with an open mind. If Kenya was to be his future, he had to dive into it wholeheartedly and with enthusiasm.
To John, Kenya was then an unknown bit of landscape in this huge earth, and he could even guess that he would fall in love with that exotic piece of earth and for the rest of his life, he would want to go back to it. At that time, he only knew he would be a teacher to secondary or high school students who had passed their Cambridge exams and wanted to become teachers. Needless to say that John’s life had always been and would be a roller coaster of sentimental journeys. The man-priest supposed to observe chastity was often taken over by the urgent need of an affective human link, characterized by a feminine presence.

Several years later, John was assigned a new position in Brazil. He fought this assignment initially as he could never get rid of the nostalgia of a great river, which had just run dry. Its waters would never again turn the big, noisy wheels of the mills which grounded so much work and happiness in the land of wilderness. John wanted to be an apostle as he once was. Would this new land be again a land of activity, of true loving activity? John longed for love and understanding. The love and understanding that would make his work possible and render his dedication absolute. He was in search of a challenge. He was hired as sociologist by a large, international welfare agency.

From behind a mountain of paperwork covering his desk, he discovered Annie, a spitfire, unquenchable, violent, and maddeningly sweet being. The young woman was about 24, although appearances made her out to be a little older. Perhaps it was due to her official look, the formal attire, the way of walking or the experience which lined every pore of her translucent skin. Flowers seemed to dance around her legs as she floated around the office, visiting each desk, leaving a task of love and dedication to each employee with a smile of invitation to accept the task lovingly.

John was fascinated and attracted to Annie and began wishing her good morning, a greeting that drew from her a grave, bashful answering smile. But her eyes never faltered. Those mirroring brown eyes never twitched nervously, but betrayed an absolute unblushing understanding of the hard mysteries of life, combined with an innocence that was sublime.

Informed about John’s background in psychology, Annie one day approached John asking him to analyse her crazy mind. To a certain extent, John was able to explain some of her idiosyncrasies, reactions, thoughts and emotional turmoil. He was also willing to help her understand some bewildering aspects of religion, its mysteries which had puzzled her and for which she had never gotten a satisfying answer from any of her priest friends. Not always one had to be a psychologist to grasp a friend’s state of mind and help him or her with simple gestures and words of comfort.

Day after day their friendship grew stronger. They always found some time to sit down for a beer and confide their problems to each other. Because of her restless nature and unpredictability, for sweeping through a room and through the hearts of people like a tempest, John gave her the nickname of Stormy. He enjoyed her company very much and even invited her to his parish to spend Saturday afternoons playing cards with him and the other confreres. Some other time Annie helped out at weddings by singing Ave Maria while John accompanied her at the organ. She had a beautiful contralto voice.

Annie had become an integral part of John’s life. At that point she was the only one he met who could understand his life and his story. She would treasure it and from her questions more important details would emerge. Piecing them together, Annie could help him understand himself and to make himself more useful, patient and understanding. Often John wondered why couldn’t they stay together forever and why couldn’t people around them understand and accept? People would just criticize, ridicule and try to break them apart. But neither would allow that to happen because day after day, their love for each other just grew stronger. The two were living a great adventure, the greatest adventure of the world, the adventure of true love and they wanted to live it in full and taste all the flavours of this unique adventure.

One evening, while walking along a secluded seaside cliff, John asked Annie if she wanted to become his wife.
“More than anything,” was Annie’s answer.
“We must find a way, faster,” John said.
“Well, you are the reverend,” Annie said, “you can celebrate our wedding right here, under the stars with only God as our witness.”
And so they did celebrate their wedding under a canopy of twinkling stars and with the indulgent complicity of God himself. From that moment forward they considered themselves husband and wife.

It was time to take action, John thought. If he could not openly continue his missionary work with Annie on his side as wife, then he had to decide which of the two to elect as his life purpose, no matter what the consequences. The first step, to return to his layman condition had to be requesting dispensation of his vows from the church authorities, which in itself was a lengthy, bureaucratic, complicated process, filled with countless obstacles, heart-breaking situations and decisions. Despite the many hurdles, however, the two lovers did not falter and faced all difficulties with courage and determination. A year and a half later they were joined in matrimony in the Duomo di Milano by the bishop himself

Not many priests have the necessary courage and endurance to fight for their right to happiness and love, and that is due to the fact that most become an outcast in the eyes of their own families first and then the world around them. Most cannot count on that much needed support to get through the transition, spiritual, emotional and psychological. Some are deeply troubled by a sense of futility, failure and even guilt because of the abrupt way they broke with the order and the priesthood. Yet there are many who have become successful businessmen, married and with children, who still keep in touch with their former superiors and continue to live within the Christian spirit of the Catholic Church and contributing better to their community through their practical experience within a family unit. It is their belief, and rightfully so, that the Lord does not love them any less than those who remained in their priestly activity.

The woman who falls in love with a priest must prepare herself to be most understanding, patient and forgiving. Sometimes it will require more giving than receiving. She must be strong to help, guide and assist him through difficult moments of depression and doubts because a priest, despite his outer austere shell, deep down, is extremely vulnerable and in need of all the support and love he can get.

This kind of news is truly incredible. I cannot hide my excitement and joy. I’m updating the blog on a Friday instead of the usual Sunday as I cannot wait till Sunday to break the news to all our loyal readers.  There were many people who had lost faith in the Catholic Church. Others who accused us of alienating the people with our married priest concept. Others classified our work as totally heretical. Others shared out thoughts but were very sceptical about ever reaching our goal. Well it seems that what was considered heretical or totally not Catholic, the Pope had the courage to say yes. He is a true pastor who knows the needs of the church. We cannot let many communities without celebrating the Eucharist. It’s a great challenge for the Church. Obviously we are still waiting for the official go ahead from the Vatican but we are full of hope that it will happen soon. This is the wind of change which nobody can stop. These are the signs of the times which we always wrote about. It is the Holy Spirit who is blowing and calling the church for changes.  Let’s pray more in the coming months!

We are publishing the full article as published on the internet by Christa Pongratz-Lippitt

A bishop who met with Pope Francis in a rare private audience on 4 April has said in an interview that the two men discussed the issue of the ordination of “proven” married men – viri probati – in a serious and positive way.

Bishop Erwin Kräutler, Bishop of Xingu in the Brazilian rainforest, spoke to the Pope about Francis’ forthcoming encyclical on the environment, and the treatment of indigenous peoples but the desperate shortage of priests in the bishop’s huge diocese came up in the conversation. According to an interview the Austrian-born bishop gave to the daily Salzburger Nachrichten on 5 April, the Pope was open-minded about finding solutions to the problem, saying that bishops’ conferences could have a decisive role.

“I told him that as bishop of Brazil’s largest diocese with 800 church communities and 700,000 faithful I only had 27 priests, which means that our communities can only celebrate the Eucharist twice or three times a year at the most,” Bishop Kräutler said. “The Pope explained that he could not take everything in hand personally from Rome. We local bishops, who are best acquainted with the needs of our faithful, should be corajudos, that is ‘courageous’ in Spanish, and make concrete suggestions,” he explained. A bishop should not act alone, the Pope told Kräutler. He indicated that “regional and national bishops’ conferences should seek and find consensus on reform and we should then bring up our suggestions for reform in Rome,” Kräutler said.

Asked whether he had raised the question of ordaining married men at the audience, Bishop Kräutler replied: “The ordination of viri probati, that is of proven married men who could be ordained to the priesthood, came up when we were discussing the plight of our communities. The Pope himself told me about a diocese in Mexico in which each community had a deacon but many had no priest. There were 300 deacons there who naturally could not celebrate the Eucharist. The question was how things could continue in such a situation.

“It was up to the bishops to make suggestions, the Pope said again.”

Bishop Kräutler was then asked whether it now depended on bishops’ conferences, as to whether church reforms proceeded or not. “Yes,” he replied. “After my personal discussion with the Pope I am absolutely convinced of this.”

Last September the Vatican Secretary of State, then-Archbishop Pietro Parolin – who was then Apostolic Nuncio to Venezuela – answered a question put to him by El Universal newspaper by stating that priestly celibacy “is not part of church dogma and the issue is open to discussion because it is an ecclesiastical tradition”. “Modifications can be made, but these must always favour unity and God’s will,” he said. “God speaks to us in many different ways. We need to pay attention to this voice that points us towards causes and solutions, for example the clergy shortage.”

In 2006 Brazilian Cardinal Claudio Hummes issued a clarification in the Holy See Bollettino reiterating his support of church teaching and tradition just hours after telling a Sao Paolo newspaper: “Celibacy is a discipline, not a dogma of the Church … Certainly, the majority of the apostles were married. In this modern age, the Church must observe these things, it has to advance with history.”

The topic of ordaining “viri probati” was raised with a question mark over it in a speech by Cardinal Angelo Scola of Venice, at the October 2005 Synod on the Eucharist – the first synod of Pope Benedict XVI.

“To confront the issue of the shortage of priests, some … have put forward the request to ordain married faithful of proven faith and virtue, the so-called viri probati,” he said. Cardinal Scola, who read his speech in Latin in the presence of Pope Benedict, did not say which bishops from which countries had suggested discussing the ordination of older married men.

Above: Lay Catholics have become familiar with the sight of married priests who were formerly in the Anglican or Lutheran Churches, or who minister in international dioceses of Eastern Rite Churches such as the Maronite Church. (From The Tablet at http://www.thetablet.co.uk/news/659/0/pope-says-married-men-could-be-ordained-priests-if-world-s-bishops-agree-on-it-)

We are happy that the election of a new Pope has brought back the Catholic Church into the world’s stage. Everybody was discussing the Catholic Church. It’s a special time for showing the teaching of the church. One has to capitalize on such moment.

We are happy too that the new Pope has chosen the name of Francis.  He himself declared that he is inspired by St. Francis of Assisi. Considering what’s being published on the internet and the printed media, we may make a safe assumption that the new Pope has had a warm welcome. People are eager to see what’s going to happen next. Many have very high hopes. The poor feel so rich in having a Pope who can truly speak for them.

It’s interesting to know something which is not being said at the moment on St. Francis. St. Francis of Assisi was just a lay person (not a priest). He was forced to become a deacon in order to preach as lay persons were prohibited. He brought a revolution in the Church (this Pope included). He did not reflect on the life of a Pope or cardinal. He started to read the gospel, which in those times was prohibited for the normal Catholics because it was always assumed that the laity where ignorant and had to be taught everything about religion!! So indirectly, St. Francis broke one of the fundamental rules of the Church then: to read the gospel all alone!!

St. Francis started a new Christian life which was unheard of in those times: giving all to the poor and trusting in God’s grace. It was an indirect criticism to the church in his days as some of the Cardinals were super and filthy rich! No wonder he was considered to be crazy, especially after his lavish living in his early youth years! Slowly but surely he became a living testimony against another part of the church which was siding with the rich people at the expense of the rest of the people! St. Francis was a protagonist. He did NOT wait for the others to approve his way of life. In fact, at the very beginning, neither did he think of establishing a new order of friars! He started and others followed! And he was just a lay person!

St. Francis wanted his way of life (or rule). to be approved by the Pope. It had to be a charismatic Pope to accept his way of reaching out to God. The Pope realized that St. Francis was reading the signs of the times. He was truly sincere and loving in his proposal. He immediately grabbed the situation and approved his rule. He approved a way of life which was already being lived by St. Francis and his followers!

Now the million dollar question: Will the governing body of the church listen to lay people as they did in the time of St. Francis? Pope Francis may become truly the voice of the poor. His message will get across many people of the world. Yet what about the Western World? People are fed up waiting for a Pope who understands their contemporary needs. The author uses the word ‘weary’.  He uses fatigue too. Just visit the following link.

Here people are accustomed to a team spirit. No organization  would survive if the head manager works all alone. Now what about the Church? Can the church be appealing to the young ones if decisions are continuously taken by higher authorities? When they hear some messages from those who hate gays, divorced people etc……Other Catholic people wish to promote the role of women. Others are already living their own sexual life (which obviously is not just a few moments in bed – this is a psycho definition of some priests who might have problems in dealing with life’s basic needs). Our sexual behaviors determine who we are! We cannot keep pushing forward an irrelevant  definition of a christian sexual life! It’s not just a few crazy lay people who are asking for changes. These changes were legalized by Vatican II. We don’t wish to use the word legitimate or illegitimate. Yet one knows for sure that Vatican II has been betrayed (Vatican II was a meeting for all Catholic Bishops of the world which took place between 1962 and 1965). Vatican was the hope of the new world because the Catholic Church listens to everybody including non believers or of other faiths. It promises a community type of work where each and everyone has a role to play.

Finally, in St. Francis steps, reading the gospel, we might discover that most of the apostles were married! So we have every right to keep pushing our agenda: that of married priests! It’s not just the thinking of some priests who have married and who want to continue serving the people of God but other lay people are pushing forward the idea. Sometimes a high member in the church shares the same thinking. People are seeing priests having an alienated way of life. They wish to see them living a normal life in order to testify to the gospel in a better way. So what are we waiting for?

In our title we tried to summarise the main challenges facing the Catholic Church in these days. Parishes are closing down in the western hemisphere. This fact alone brings new challenges in the church which cannot be ignored. If we deny the Eucharist to many many people than we are asking for big trouble. All communities need the Eucharist. They need the once a week gathering to grow in faith. Not celebrating regularly in a parish means that the faith of the common people is slowly being eroded. Consequently we’ll have a generation of atheists (with all due respect), or else people who will be totally ignorant of faith and its consequences.
Parishes are closing down

We have much less priests today than in the last 100 years (again in Western Europe). A priest is one of the best assets in any church. If we have less priests we should ask why. Then we proceed to do something about it. We cannot serve people if we have less priests! People now demand more attention from its pastors (as in family, shop or in class). In this sense, even if we have the same number of priests as that of many years ago, it won’t suffice by today’s standards. In this regards we feel that in the catholic church, if they’ll ever admit this problem, they’ll never do something about it in practice. We suggest that opening priesthood to married people will be in line with the biblical experience. Secondly it would for sure increase the number of priests as those wanting to join married priesthood is on the increase.

The sexual abuse has served to take away the people’s trust in today’s priesthood for sure. We are very slow in commenting so as not to mix different things together. But some scientific data has proved that because in the Catholic Church priests don’t get married, the church is attracting the wrong people to priesthood. The common people know that most gay people feel so at home in the Catholic Priesthood because it’s just a boys’ club. Consequently it’s more convenient to hide secrets and ways of life.

Secondly, bringing in a different type of candidates for priesthood especially married people will help priesthood to gain some balance. One of the things married priesthood will bring in the church is surely the sexual needs of priests. In common language we know that if one does not enter by the door, one will do so by the windows. The sexual drive in all human beings is really big. If priests are not trained and reach maturity in celibacy, then in one way or another they’re going to satisfy their sexual needs (women, men or boys). We have scientific results as well to prove our point.
A Catholic Married Priest.

Married priesthood will bring the priest closer to practical life. Imagine one preaching in front of one’s wife and children! They know him because they live with him 24/7 hence his homilies will be much more sincere and proven by everyday life. For the unmarried priest it will be easier to play the role of a saint because there is no one who knows him inside out!

But the best move came from Pope Benedict himself as he opened the back door for married priesthood by allowing married Anglican priests to work as Catholic priests. So the obvious question will be: why is it yes for them and no for many others who want to love a woman sincerely and be a priest at the same time no? People don’t believe in words but rather in action. This action has proved the best catalyst for married priesthood so far.

Somebody is already trying to solve some possible challenges with married priesthood.
Looking for possible challenges in married priesthood….money, children, wife…..

In conclusion, as we enter the year 2011, and having less priests, we urge the move to married priesthood.

Homilies (in Maltese).

WE normally publish our thoughts every fortnight. Unfortunately next weekend we can’t. So we will be back with more thoughtful articles the following weekend, 6th and 7th June. Thanks. You are invited to read the ones published, and, why not, write your comments!

We welcome all people who are Catholic in heart but for some reason they feel left out of the Catholic Church. Married priesthood makes the priest live a normal life with all its challenges. Hence we are in a better position to understand your married life. We welcome all those who live in irregular or complicated situations. We cannot play the role of judges but rather be like Christ who did not condemn anyone except the priests of his time!

We have just changed our website. From the old website maltesemarriedcatholicpriest.bravehost.com to this one. Unfortunately we had to change as bravehost started to ask for money in order to host our site. So we moved to this popular blog site wordpress. We hope you’ll enjoy this new site and please do participate by sending your comments or posts.