Where seminarians struggle to survive
Seminarians in Venezuela are giving up their studies to support their families in the country’s economic crisis, reported Jonathan Liedl in the National Catholic Register.
He described the case of Oscar, a gifted 19-year-old in his second year of formation. His mother is “living alone and unable to work or walk much after losing part of her foot to diabetes”. As the youngest of seven, he feels the pressure to support her – and is trying to get a passport so he can work abroad. “He’s making plans somewhat on the fly, and, at least when we first spoke about it, he hasn’t even told his rector or bishop yet.” He plans to return to his studies eventually.
According to some Church leaders, Liedl said, as many as a tenth of seminarians have interrupted their formation in the past five years to look after their family.
For those who stay, there is conflict. Luis, 37, is a year away from his ordination as a deacon, but struggles with thoughts of pausing his studies. In 2013 his father died after the family could not access medication for a treatable heart condition. His mother now lives alone in a rural village. In order to continue at seminary, Liedl said, Luis “sometimes has to ‘turn off’ thoughts about his family”.
For Fr Hermes, the rector at the seminary at Ciudad Bolívar, finding enough food for the students is “one of the hardest parts of the job”. The diet is minimal. One student pointed to his ribs when Liedl asked him how he was affected by the country’s crisis.
Other seminarians recalled happier times, when each “received a cake on his birthday and meals were filling”. At least, said Fr Hermes, the crisis “is teaching the future priests to trust in the Lord and to remain joyful in difficult times”.
The crisis the Catholic world is ignoring
At firstthings.com, Fr Thomas Berg argued that one aspect of the abuse crisis had been ignored for too long: “the connection between priests who abuse minors and priests who are sexually active with adults.” As Richard Sipe, the psychiatrist and ex-monk, has written in one of his studies of clerical abuse: “Exposure of one part of the system –abusive priests – necessarily threatens to expose a whole system that supports a lack of wide-scale celibate conformity within the priesthood.”
Thus, wrote Fr Berg, turning a blind eye to sexually active clergy actually reinforces the networks of secrecy which enable abusers. Bishops can address the problem by unambiguously preaching the Church’s teaching on sexual morality, and by making it easier for whistleblowers to approach them without fear of reprisals.
Bad excuses for missing Mass
Churchpop reported on a meme that was really about terrible reasons for skipping Mass, but was ostensibly entitled: “13 reasons never to take a shower.” Reasons included: “I was forced to shower as a child”, “People who shower are hypocrites. They think they are cleaner than everyone else”, and “There are so many different kinds of soap, I could never decide which one was right.”
✣ ✣ Katy Perry has said she is “reconnecting” with God after being moved to tears at a Mass. She told Vogue that during the Asia leg of a recent tour she went to Mass with her mother, a Pentecostal pastor who was raised a Catholic. “She hadn’t sung those songs in 40 years and watching her made me cry,” Perry said.
She also told the magazine that she was a “big fan” of Pope Francis, whom she met in April. “It’s a combination of compassion, humility, sternness and refusal,” she said. “He is a rebel – a rebel for Jesus.” She said that “reconnecting with divinity” had given her a new “wholeness”. (see Kipper Williams cartoon)
✣ Croatian footballer Mateo Kovačić has dedicated his World Cup silver medal to St Anthony of Padua. The Read Madrid star posted a picture of himself wearing the medal and holding up a banner of the saint on Instagram. Kovačić, 24, is a former altar server who talks often about his faith and who met his wife through a parish. He told Crossroads, a Croatian Catholic publication, that the Virgin Mary occupied a “special place” in his life. “One day we will all come before the Lord,” he said, “so it’s better not to spend time on stupidity and quarrels, but to make our lives as beautiful as possible.”
✣The week in quotations
Anyone who knows Fr Morris will know he is a gentle giant … well loved by the students Glasgow Caledonian University’s Catholic society Statement responding to Fr Mark Morris’s dismissal
Artificial contraception is intrinsically wrong Mgr Marengo, head of a Vatican commission on Humanae Vitae Q&A at the Maryvale Institute
Don’t let us die. Please intervene Nicaraguan priest Fr Augusto Gutierrez Spanish radio network COPE
I’m checking best practices Bishop Cantú on judging a weeping statue of Mary Catholic News Agency
✣Statistic of the week
4,000 The number of Eucharistic ministers being asked to serve at a papal Mass in Dublin Dublin Archdiocese