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US Bishops to screen cruise ship chaplains

Amidst concern about the employment of former priests by cruise companies as chaplains, the US Catholic Bishops are to screen those who can represent the Church as chaplains in an official capacity.

According to a report in The Guardian newspaper the bishops have approved more than 650 priests to work on cruise lines in a process designed to weed out unsuitable candidates such as clergy who were suspended in the church's sex abuse scandal or those who have left the priesthood.

The paper says priests who apply for the program, which started a year ago, must have their bishops' approval and are subject to yearly review. All dioceses conduct their own background checks on priests, said Doreen Badeaux, secretary general of the Apostleship of the Sea.

The Guardian report says Celebrity and Holland America lines are working with priests approved by the Apostleship, while other cruise lines continue hiring clergy privately or using agencies such as Rent-A-Priest, a group that provides former, now-married priests who are no longer authorized to conduct Mass.

Bishops Screen Catholic Priests on Cruises (Guardian 16/1/05)

19 Jan 2005