For the following, keep two points in mind.
Priests will tell you that they often hear some pretty amazing confessions when they visit a parish where they are not usually assigned, or even when they are traveling. It is a common opinion among priests that this is because people are feel freed up by even greater anonymity.
We also know that anti-Catholicism is on the rise.
His dictis, a reliable and very well-known priest friend sent the following about the decision of a famous cruise line to severely curtail providing for priests on board their cruises, who say Mass, hear confessions and see to the spiritual needs of passengers and crews.
The note was sent out by the Apostleship of the Sea and it concerns Celebrity Cruises.
I am a member of the Apostleship [of the Sea] even though the only time I have made use of this was to be chaplain [once]. It is a good group providing priests on board various cruise lines around the world. Personally, I have heard some very moving and deep confessions on board, probably due to the fact that faithful felt freer to pour out the hearts to someone they would never see again (another good reason for the grill, but I digress).
This just came from them regarding a new policy from Celebrity Cruises which smacks of anti-Catholicism, or at least a profound misunderstanding of the role of the priest in the lives of the Catholic faithful verses that of ministers.
Apostleship of the Sea of the United States of America
[NOTA BENE...] My thought is that if the Faithful themselves knew of this decision they might want to make other arrangements in the panning of the choices for cruises. [In other words, don't use Celebrity Cruises]
I have never been on any cruise and haven’t been inclined to this point. But I must agree with my priest friend. This is a really bad move.
Here is the message sent out about this, which was attached to my friends e-mail.
We have received word from Celebrity Cruises [File that name away... Celebrity Cruises which doesn't want priests....] that a significant change will take place for the year 2010.
Celebrity Cruises will only require priests for Easter and Christmas sailings in the year 2010. This does not include Ash Wednesday or Palm Sunday cruises. [Which are two huge days also for fallen away Catholics! And let's not even talk here about people who want daily Mass.]
We know that many of your have already volunteered for and been assigned to many cruises for Celebrity for the year 2010. However, only those assigned to Easter or Christmas sailings will now be sailing.
This is a great shock and disappointment to us, and we clearly know that this is a tremedous disappointment to each of you as well.
Please see the message from Celebrity [which doesn't want priests...] below [This comes from Celebrity Cruises... which doesn't want priests...]:
Celebrity Cruises values the relationship and partnership with the Apostleship of the Seas. It is with great confidence that we can use the services of the AOSUSA to ensure that all priests are properly vetted, supported, and are in good standing with their own church.
While we do meet the needs of many guests onboard by supplying a priest, we have recently encountered a great deal of negative feedback pertaining to the "selective" support of one particular religion/faith. While Celebrity Cruises is unable to provide one minister/religious leader of every faith onboard every sailing, we have had to make areduction in the number of Roman Catholic Priests placements onboard.
After many internal discussions, external research, and marketing investigations,[of course!] Celebrity Cruises [which doesn't want priests] will only place Roman Catholic Priests on sailings that take place over the Easter and Christmas holiday. This has not been an easy decision for the corporate office, and many hours of meetings, reviews, emails, discussions, and conversations took place.
This change will be effective upon the first sailing of each vessel in 2010.
I will be in touch with the dates of 2010 that will require a Roman Catholic Priest. Thank you for your understanding. Please let me know if there are any questions.
The note from the Apostleship of the Sea continues:
AOS USA regrets this decision by Celebrity Cruises [which doesn't want priests]. We have always enjoyed a wonderful working relationship with them. We are thankful that they have chosen to stay onboard with our program to ensure valid priests in good standing for those cruises that they choose to place priests onboard.
We know that from time to time, there have been some negative comments from non-Catholic passengers, as Celebrity mentions in their note. [How many members of other churches or religions have a practice of a daily service?] However, we also believe that some of the recent issues with improper conduct from some of our priests and/or their guests onboard, has unfavorably weighed in on this decision as well. [Is this really the issue? It sounds like an excuse.]
When we received this note last week, we initially requested that Celebrity [which doesn't want priests] allow those assigned to January thru March cruises to sail. We also requested continued placement of priests for Ash Wednesday and Palm Sunday cruises. However, it was stated that the new policy authorizes priests only for Easter and Christmas.
We have requested further instruction from Celebrity [which doesn't want priests] regarding how airfare cancellations or revisions will be addressed. We have not received response to this as of this time.
Eash[sic] of these sailings have already been filled. So please do not apply for these.
We have asked Msgr Harriman and Fr. Dominic Hahn with Holland America Line to work with priests whose assignments are now cancelled, to see if we can transfer some of them to similar cruises where possible. [So... Celebrity doesn't want priests, as a matter of policy. Holland American does. I hope that helps you make any decisions about travel.] They have both kindly agreed to do so. I will give more information on how to proceed with this in another note.
We know your disappointment, as we share in it. This will significantly impact the number of cruises we have for placement of priests in the year 2010. We are currently renewing membership for 2010. If you choose not to renew at this time, we will certainly understand.
We appreciate those of you who have been true representatives of Christ onboard, and hope that you will continue to pray for the ministry to the People of the Sea and those who serve them. Pray too that they year 2010 will bring more cruise lines onboard.
If you are planning any vacation involving cruises, remember that you won’t find a priest on Celebrity Cruises.
You probably will on any other cruise lines, but not Celebrity Cruises. They aren’t interested enough in the needs of Catholics to provide for priests for their time aboard.