My World of Religion, Politics, Entertainment and Social Issues

If you are visiting my blog, expecting to see 'Toward a Progressive Catholic Church,' I have changed my title to reflect my wide assortment of interests. Having retired from my secular job, I hope to devote the rest of my life to my hobbies, ministries and perhaps a part-time job that makes good use of my communications skills. This blog will be designed to address my multi-faceted interests.

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Location: Rochester, New York, United States

I have an M.A. in Theology and an M.Div (Master of Divinity) from St. Bernard's School of Theology and Ministry. I am currently a media consultant and promoter of classical music. I am also certified as an officiant by the Federation of Christian Ministries for baptisms, weddings and funerals and minister independently of the Rochester Diocese. My life has encompassed many interesting paths: broadcasting, free-lance writing, video-production, music, ministry and a secular job in government. In addition to this blog, I have a YouTube site at www.youtube.com/priestray and I have a Facebook page.

Friday, April 08, 2005

Notes on Papal Funeral/MSNBC Inquiry

I watched the funeral of John Paul II this morning and was admittedly very moved. It served as a reminder that as much as I loved the man for the world peace he worked tirelessy for, it is simply a shame that he wasn't more open to the roles of women, married men and gays in the church.

As the pontiff's casket was brought before the throngs of people gathered for this morning's Mass, there was thunderous applause (applause well-deserved). When the funeral was over, commentators puzzled over a daunting question: who could possibly step into his shoes?

If the election had been yesterday, the likely successor would have been Cardinal Ratzinger or Cardinal Arinze (both ultra-conservative). However, the momentum for an italian pope continues to build, which means that it could be entirely possible that the conclave will be inspired to elect Cardinal Dionigi Tettamanzi of Milan. Christoph Schoenborn of Austria is being mentioned with increased frequency as well. (My hope still rests in Cardinal Danneels of Brussels. However, I would be O.K. with either Cardinal Terramanzi or Cardinal Schoenborn, for all three of these men are on record for supporting talks on optional celibacy.)

A reporter from MSNBC e-mailed me this morning. She noticed in an article I wrote that I would be opposed to the election of Cardinal Arinze. She wanted to know if I would support any candidate from the third world. My response was that I would be delighted to have a third world pope, as long as he was open to the possibilities of reform. Tragically, Cardinal Arinze made headlines two years ago when he announced he was convinced that condoms were not effective in preventing AIDS. (In the meantime, 25 million Africans are dying of the disease. My position is that Arinze's plea for abstinence is not having noticeable results.) Arinze has also publicly stated that he is not open to discussions on optional celibacy or the ordination of women.

As much as I loved John Paul II for his efforts toward world peace, there are lingering issues that need addressing. One of the little-known facts of Vatican II is that Pope John XXIII was open to discussion on the issue of optional celibacy. However, following his death, his successor (Paul VI) had a spokesman announce over the public address system that celibacy would not be discussed in the concluding sessions of the council. Tragically, John Paul II stifled the discussion as well.

While I continue to mourn the loss of John Paul II, I also pray that the next pontiff will take a close look at the current ministry needs of the church. As the number of Catholics continues to increase, the number of clergy is steadily decreasing. This is why I have been working tirelessly on the celibacy issue.

I will be patient and see what transpires during the conclave that convenes on April 18.

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