Council of Europe (CoE) - European Human Rights Court - founding fathers (1949)

Council of Europe (CoE) - European Human Rights Court - founding fathers (1949)
French National Assembly head Edouard Herriot and British Foreign minister Ernest Bevin surrounded by Italian, Luxembourg and other delegates at the first meeting of Council of Europe's Consultative Assembly in Strasbourg, August 1949 (AFP Photo)

EU founding fathers signed 'blank' Treaty of Rome (1957)

EU founding fathers signed 'blank' Treaty of Rome (1957)
The Treaty of Rome was signed in the Palazzo dei Conservatori, one of the Renaissance palaces that line the Michelangelo-designed Capitoline Square in the Italian capital

Shuttered: EU ditches summit 'family photo'

Shuttered: EU ditches summit 'family photo'
EU leaders pose for a family photo during the European Summit at the EU headquarters in Brussels on June 28, 2016 (AFP Photo/JOHN THYS)

Merkel says fall of Wall proves 'dreams can come true'

“ … Here is another one. A change in what Human nature will allow for government. "Careful, Kryon, don't talk about politics. You'll get in trouble." I won't get in trouble. I'm going to tell you to watch for leadership that cares about you. "You mean politics is going to change?" It already has. It's beginning. Watch for it. You're going to see a total phase-out of old energy dictatorships eventually. The potential is that you're going to see that before 2013. They're going to fall over, you know, because the energy of the population will not sustain an old energy leader ..."
"Update on Current Events" – Jul 23, 2011 (Kryon channelled by Lee Carroll) - (Subjects: The Humanization of God, Gaia, Shift of Human Consciousness, 2012, Benevolent Design, Financial Institutes (Recession, System to Change ...), Water Cycle (Heat up, Mini Ice Ace, Oceans, Fish, Earthquakes ..), Nuclear Power Revealed, Geothermal Power, Hydro Power, Drinking Water from Seawater, No need for Oil as Much, Middle East in Peace, Persia/Iran Uprising, Muhammad, Israel, DNA, Two Dictators to fall soon, Africa, China, (Old) Souls, Species to go, Whales to Humans, Global Unity,..... etc.)
(Subjects: Who/What is Kryon ?, Egypt Uprising, Iran/Persia Uprising, Peace in Middle East without Israel actively involved, Muhammad, "Conceptual" Youth Revolution, "Conceptual" Managed Business, Internet, Social Media, News Media, Google, Bankers, Global Unity,..... etc.)

"The Recalibration of Awareness – Apr 20/21, 2012 (Kryon channeled by Lee Carroll) (Subjects: Old Energy, Recalibration Lectures, God / Creator, Religions/Spiritual systems (Catholic Church, Priests/Nun’s, Worship, John Paul Pope, Women in the Church otherwise church will go, Current Pope won’t do it), Middle East, Jews, Governments will change (Internet, Media, Democracies, Dictators, North Korea, Nations voted at once), Integrity (Businesses, Tobacco Companies, Bankers/ Financial Institutes, Pharmaceutical company to collapse), Illuminati (Started in Greece, with Shipping, Financial markets, Stock markets, Pharmaceutical money (fund to build Africa, to develop)), Shift of Human Consciousness, (Old) Souls, Women, Masters to/already come back, Global Unity.... etc.) - (Text version)

… The Shift in Human Nature

You're starting to see integrity change. Awareness recalibrates integrity, and the Human Being who would sit there and take advantage of another Human Being in an old energy would never do it in a new energy. The reason? It will become intuitive, so this is a shift in Human Nature as well, for in the past you have assumed that people take advantage of people first and integrity comes later. That's just ordinary Human nature.

In the past, Human nature expressed within governments worked like this: If you were stronger than the other one, you simply conquered them. If you were strong, it was an invitation to conquer. If you were weak, it was an invitation to be conquered. No one even thought about it. It was the way of things. The bigger you could have your armies, the better they would do when you sent them out to conquer. That's not how you think today. Did you notice?

Any country that thinks this way today will not survive, for humanity has discovered that the world goes far better by putting things together instead of tearing them apart. The new energy puts the weak and strong together in ways that make sense and that have integrity. Take a look at what happened to some of the businesses in this great land (USA). Up to 30 years ago, when you started realizing some of them didn't have integrity, you eliminated them. What happened to the tobacco companies when you realized they were knowingly addicting your children? Today, they still sell their products to less-aware countries, but that will also change.

What did you do a few years ago when you realized that your bankers were actually selling you homes that they knew you couldn't pay for later? They were walking away, smiling greedily, not thinking about the heartbreak that was to follow when a life's dream would be lost. Dear American, you are in a recession. However, this is like when you prune a tree and cut back the branches. When the tree grows back, you've got control and the branches will grow bigger and stronger than they were before, without the greed factor. Then, if you don't like the way it grows back, you'll prune it again! I tell you this because awareness is now in control of big money. It's right before your eyes, what you're doing. But fear often rules. …

Saturday, April 29, 2017

EU leaders agree tough Brexit stance

Yahoo – AFP, Danny KEMP, Alex PIGMAN, 29 April 2017

EU President Donald Tusk in Brussels at the HQ of the European Council,
on April 29, 2017 for a summit on Brexit negotiating guidelines

EU leaders unanimously backed a tough Brexit strategy at a summit on Saturday, demanding a "serious response" from Britain on the rights of European citizens before trade talks can start.

In a show of togetherness the 27 leaders agreed the negotiating guidelines within minutes and applauded as they met in Brussels without British Prime Minister Theresa May.

EU President Donald Tusk hailed the "outstanding unity" in an often fractious club, saying it was a "firm and fair political mandate" for the Brexit negotiations.

"After four minutes we were ready, it's very promising," former Polish premier Tusk told a news conference.

Britain swiftly warned that the talks could be "confrontational".

The summit was the first since May one month ago formally triggered the two-year process of untangling Britain from the European Union after four decades of membership.

The EU guidelines say talks on a future relationship with Britain can only start once London agrees divorce terms on citizens' rights, its exit bill and the border in Northern Ireland.

But Tusk said the fate of three million EU nationals living in Britain and one million Britons on the continent was the number one priority.

"We need a serious British response," Tusk said."I want to assure you that as soon as Britain gives real guarantees for our citizens, we will find a solution rapidly."

EU President Donald Tusk (R) said that before talks with Britain over Brexit
 "we must first sort out our past" and resolve the key divorce issues of
"people, money and Ireland"

'Underestimate difficulties'

European Commission head Jean-Claude Juncker said May had repeatedly urged him to be "patient" when they had dinner in London this week, but said Britain now needed to get serious on the issue.

"I have the impression sometimes that our British friends, not all of them, do underestimate the technical difficulties we have to face," the former Luxembourg premier said.

Brexit has offered the EU a fresh chance at unity after years of bitter internal divisions over the eurozone debt crisis and migration, plus growing euroscepticism.

May, who has called elections in Britain in June in a bid to shore up her mandate for negotiations, this week accused the EU 27 of ganging up on London.

Her comments were partly in response to German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who said Britain had "illusions" about the talks.

Britain's Brexit minister David Davis said while London wanted good relations with the EU, the talks were "the most complex the UK has faced in our lifetimes. They will be tough and, at times even confrontational."

But Merkel insisted on Saturday that "no one is allied" against London and that the EU was merely protecting its interests following Britain's historic vote to leave last June.

Merkel said the 27 leaders had given a round of applause after "very quickly" adopting the guidelines.

French President Francois Hollande meanwhile praised their common position and said there would "inevitably be a price and a cost for Britain."

The EU 27 have considerably toughened the Brexit strategy since Tusk first unveiled it a month ago.

The guidelines say that trade talks can begin only when EU leaders unanimously decide "sufficient progress" has been made on divorce issues.

Merkel said EU Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier told the leaders he hoped for agreement on the divorce phase by autumn, so the talks can move onto a trade deal.

However, Britain says it wants to discuss the divorce and a trade deal in parallel.

40-60 billion euro bill

In a further move that will rile London, the EU 27 also backed automatic membership for Northern Ireland if it reunifies with Ireland, and called for Spain to have a say over any deal that affects Gibraltar.

Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy insisted he had "no red lines" on Gibraltar, a rocky outcrop off southern Spain that has been a British territory for 300 years.

The leaders discussed for the first time the spoils of Brexit -- the relocation of EU medical and banking agencies currently based in London.

While the EU says citizens' rights is a priority, the most touchy issue of all is likely to be Britain's exit bill.

Luxembourg Prime Minister Xavier Bettel said this was estimated at 40-60 billion euros ($42-65 billion), which mainly covers financial commitments made by the bloc while Britain was a member.

The bill is politically toxic for May in election campaign season.

But it also risks causing divisions among EU states -- split between those that make an overall contribution, and those that are net recipients -- as they debate how to plug any holes in the EU's budget.

"There are some who don't want to pay more and those who don't want to receive less. That is going to be a real debate," Juncker said.

Actual Brexit negotiations are not expected to begin until after the British election, although the EU is set to give an official mandate to Barnier on May 22.

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Merkel, May draw Brexit battle lines

Yahoo – AFP, Frank Zeller in Berlin and Alice Tidey in London, April 27, 2017

Britain's Prime Minister Theresa May accused the 27 other EU member states
of lining up against Britain (AFP Photo/Anthony Devlin)

London (AFP) - British Prime Minister Theresa May accused the other 27 EU countries of lining up to oppose Britain over Brexit after Germany's Angela Merkel said the UK should have no "illusions" over the exit process.

"A third-party state will not have the same rights or even superior rights to a member state," the German chancellor told parliament two days before a key summit in Brussels.

"This may sound self-evident, but I have to say this clearly because some in Britain seem to have illusions on this point," she said. "That would be a waste of time."

Later in the day, May accused the 27 other EU member states of lining up against Britain.

"Our opponents are already seeking to disrupt those negotiations –- at the same time as 27 other European countries line up to oppose us," May told a campaign rally in Leeds, northern England.

"That approach can only mean one thing -– uncertainty and instability, bringing grave risk to our growing economy with higher taxes, fewer jobs, more waste and more debt."

The British leader is currently campaigning after calling a snap election on June 8, hoping to shore up her mandate ahead of two years of gruelling negotiations.

The leaders of the other 27 EU nations have stressed a united stance as they plan to meet Saturday to set down the bloc's "red lines" -- although the talks will not begin until June, after Britain's election.

"The negotiations will be very demanding, without a doubt," said Merkel, the leader of the biggest EU economy.

Brexit regrets (AFP Photo/Gillian HANDYSIDE, Kun TIAN)

Finance question

The EU has toughened its strategy, making new demands over financial services, immigration and the bills Britain must settle before ending its 44-year-old membership of the bloc.

Britain could be required to give EU citizens permanent residency after living there for five years, in a challenge for May's Conservative government, which has vowed to limit immigration.

The EU's latest draft negotiating guidelines, agreed on Monday, seek to ensure Britain does not get a better deal outside the bloc than inside.

According to the document seen by AFP, the other EU countries will seek to hold Britain liable for the bloc's costs for at least a year after it leaves in 2019 -- longer than was previously proposed.

Merkel said that talks from the very start must include Britain's financial obligations, including after Brexit.

She said these issues must be resolved first in a "satisfactory" way before negotiations turn to Britain's future relations with the bloc -- a sequence Merkel called "irreversible".

"Without progress on the many open questions regarding the exit, including the financial questions, it doesn't make sense to hold parallel talks on the details of a future relationship," she said.

'Spirit of unity'

May, after starting the Article 50 process of leaving the EU last month, is seeking to shore up her mandate for the Brexit talks in a snap election on June 8.

Polls suggest her Conservatives will return with an increased majority.

A third-party state will not have the same rights or even superior rights to a 
member state," German Chancellor Angela Merkel told parliament (AFP 

A new survey, by YouGov for The Times newspaper, meanwhile for the first time signalled more people now believe the Brexit vote was a mistake, by a 45-43 percent margin.

May hosted a working dinner on Wednesday with key EU Brexit negotiators, including European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker.

EU ministers met in Luxembourg on Thursday to prepare the ground work for Saturday's meeting.

"It seems that at the moment we are completely united on everything," said Maltese Vice Premier Louis Grech, whose country holds the rotating presidency of the EU.

"Naturally we have to protect the EU's interests."

He said a prime objective was "to ensure that we will conduct the negotiations in a spirit of unity and trust between the 27".

May has committed to pulling Britain out of Europe's single market to end free movement of EU citizens into Britain.

Earlier this week, a German senior finance official rejected this demand, in an interview with AFP.

"What won't work is having access to the internal market without freedom of movement" for EU citizens, said Jens Spahn, state secretary at the finance ministry.

"Or access for UK financial institutions to the European financial market if at the same time there is rampant deregulation in London.

"You can have either one thing, or the other. These things must be clarified."

Monday, April 24, 2017

Hollande urges French voters to block Le Pen

Yahoo – AFP, Clare BYRNE, 24 April 2017

Emmanuel Macron, frontrunner to become France's next president, set up
his En Marche! movement just a year ago

French President Francois Hollande on Monday urged voters to reject far-right leader Marine Le Pen in next month's presidential runoff against pro-EU candidate Emmanuel Macron.

Macron is the clear favourite to become France's youngest-ever president after topping Sunday's first round of voting with 24.01 percent of votes, ahead of National Front (FN) leader Le Pen on 21.30 percent, according to final results.

The vote revealed a country deeply divided, with 39-year-old Macron, an advocate of open borders and free trade, leading the vote in cities and Le Pen topping the polls in rural areas that feel left behind by globalisation.

In a solemn address to voters, Hollande warned of the "risk for our country" of a far-right victory and said he himself would vote for Macron, who served as his economy minister for two years.

The Socialist president joined a long line of politicians urging voters to back Macron in order to thwart the anti-immigration, anti-EU Le Pen.

Le Pen seized on the flurry of endorsements for Macron from the ruling Socialists and main opposition Republicans -- both of which crashed out in the first round -- as proof he was the choice of the discredited old guard.

Visiting a market in the northern town of Rouvroy on Monday, 48-year-old Le Pen lashed out at the "rotten old republican front" -- the ad-hoc anti-FN coalition formed by mainstream parties whenever the party is at the gates of power.

"I've come here to start the second round campaign in the only way I know -- on the ground with the French people," she said.

Marine Le Pen is now trying to cast her rival Emmanuel Macron as the
choice of the discredited old guard

Macron received several congratulatory calls on Monday from European leaders relieved to find him in pole position.

Thanking Hollande in a tweet for his support, the former investment banker called on the French to "remain true to France's values" in the May 7 runoff.

He and Le Pen will take part in a TV debate on May 3.

Healing wounds

France's traditional political class suffered a stunning blow on Sunday, with voters fleeing the ruling Socialists and conservative Republicans who have governed for the past half century in favour of the extremes or outsiders.

Both Macron and Le Pen campaigned as rebels who transcended the left-right divide.

Conservative candidate Francois Fillon was seen as the favourite until January when his campaign was torpedoed by allegations that he gave his British-born wife and two of his children fictitious jobs as parliamentary assistants.

In the end, the Republicans party candidate trailed in third with 20.01 percent, ahead of radical left candidate Jean-Luc Melenchon on 19.58 percent.

On Monday, Fillon told the party's top brass he lacked "the legitimacy" to lead them into parliamentary elections in June.

"I need to rethink my life and heal my family's wounds," he told them, according to a statement.

Fillon and fifth-placed Socialist candidate Benoit Hamon have both rallied behind Macron but Melenchon pointedly avoided endorsing the centrist.

Eurosceptics took around 46 percent of the first-round vote

'Patriots v nationalists'

Addressing thousands of flag-waving supporters in Paris on Sunday evening, Macron said he aimed to unite "patriots" against "the threat of nationalists".

Le Pen, who has been hoping to emulate Donald Trump's victory in the US, said the French faced a choice between "runaway globalisation" and a protectionist France.

Her plans to restore France's borders with its European neighbours, pull out of the eurozone and hold a referendum on leaving the EU had sown fear of another devastating blow to the bloc after Britain's vote to leave.

The euro and European stocks rose Monday, buoyed by polls suggesting Macron would beat Le Pen by more than 20 percentage points in the second round.

After addressing euphoric supporters in Paris on Sunday, Macron spent the evening with friends at a well-known Paris bistro, drawing criticism for what some saw as his triumphalist attitude.

"We need to be humble. The election hasn't been won and we need to bring people together to win," Richard Ferrand, secretary general of Macron's En Marche (On the Move) movement, acknowledged on BFM television Monday.

Le Pen gained over 1.2 million new voters compared with her last presidential bid in 2012, securing 7.7 million ballots, a result she hailed as "historic".

But her share of the vote was far below a March poll high of 27 percent.

Related Article:

“… With free choice, the percentage of DNA efficiently started to go down as humanity grew. As soon as the DNA started to lose percentage, the gender balance was dysfunctional. If you want to have a test of any society, anywhere on the planet, and you want to know the DNA percentage number [consciousness quota] as a society, there's an easy test: How do they perceive and treat their women? The higher the DNA functionality, the more the feminine divine is honored. This is the test! Different cultures create different DNA consciousness, even at the same time on the planet. So you can have a culture on Earth at 25 percent and one at 37 - and if you did, they would indeed clash. …”

“… You're at 35. There's an equality here, you're starting to see the dark and light, and it's changing everything. You take a look at history and you've come a long way, but it took a long time to get here. Dear ones, we've seen this process before and the snowball is rolling. There isn't anything in the way that's going to stop it. In the path of this snowball of higher consciousness are all kinds of things that will be run over and perish. Part of this is what you call "the establishment". Watch for some very big established things to fall over! The snowball will simply knock them down. …”

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Pope says some refugee centres 'concentration camps'

Yahoo – AFP, Angus MACKINNON, April 22, 2017

Pope Francis blesses the crowd as he leaves the Basilica of St. Bartholomew
 on Tiber Island after the Liturgy of the Word with the Community of Sant’Egidio
 in memory of the "New Martyrs" of the 20th and 21th century, on April 22,
 2017 in Rome (AFP Photo/Alberto PIZZOLI)

Rome (AFP) - Pope Francis on Saturday described some of Europe's refugee centres as "concentration camps" as he paid tribute to an unknown Christian woman slain for her faith in front of her Muslim husband.

"These refugee camps -- so many are concentration camps, crowded with people... because international accords seem more important than human rights," Francis said in impromptu remarks at a ceremony in memory of modern day Christian martyrs.

Departing from his prepared script and appearing unusually emotional as he spoke, the 80-year-old pontiff said he wanted the woman to be remembered along with all the other martyrs commemorated in Rome's Basilica of St Bartholomew.

He revealed that he had met the woman's husband during his visit to a refugee camp on the Greek island of Lesbos last year.

"I do not know what happened to him, if he managed to get out of his concentration camp, and get to somewhere else" Francis said, describing the man as a father-of-three but not revealing his nationality.

"He looked at me and said 'Father, I am a Muslim and my wife was a Christian. In our country we were terrorised ... they saw her crucifix and they asked her to throw it away.

"When she refused they cut her throat in front of my eyes. We loved each other so much."

Saturday's service at the Basilica located on an island in the Tiber river that separates most of Rome from the Vatican, was also addressed movingly by Roselyne Hamel.

She is the sister of Jacques Hamel, the 85-year-old priest murdered by jihadists last year as he was celebrating mass in his church in Normandy in northern France.

"At his age, Jacques was frail but he was strong in his faith in Christ, strong in love for the Gospel," Roselyne Hamel said.

Describing her sibling as "a universal brother," she said she was certain his love for humanity would even have extended to his killers.

Other speakers included Francisco Hernandez, a friend of William Quijano, an organiser of "Schools for Peace" in El Salvador and a victim of gang violence in 2009, and Karl Schneider, son of Paul Schneider, a protestant pastor who died in the Nazi death camp at Buchenwald.

The Basilica where Saturday's service took place is home to a large collection of relics of Christian martyrs across the ages, including recently added momentoes of Schneider, Quijano and Hamel.

Related Articles:

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

May calls for June 8 election before Brexit talks

Yahoo – AFP, Dario Thuburn and Alice Ritchie, April 18, 2017

British Prime Minister Theresa May makes an announcement to the media
outside 10 Downing Street in central London on April 18, 2017 (AFP Photo/

London (AFP) - British Prime Minister Theresa May called Tuesday for a snap election on June 8, in a shock move as she seeks to bolster her position before tough talks on leaving the EU.

May is apparently aiming to cash in on her 20-point lead over the main opposition Labour party to increase her majority and give her a stronger hand in the Brexit battles with Brussels ahead.

Britain started the formal process of leaving the EU last month, but negotiations are not due to begin for weeks -- giving the prime minister a narrow window for a lightning election campaign.

"We need a general election and we need one now," May said in a dramatic announcement outside her Downing Street office that caught the whole country off-guard.

"We have at this moment a one-off chance to get this done while the European Union agrees its negotiating position and before the detailed talks begin," she said.

Not another one!

The U-turn caps a tumultuous few years in British politics that has seen two historic referendums -- one on Brexit, one on Scottish independence -- and a prime ministerial resignation.

An early election would be the fourth big vote in four years and there are signs that the British public is beginning to suffer from election fatigue.

In a BBC video widely shared on social media, a woman called Brenda told her interviewer in Bristol when asked about the election: "Not another one! Oh for God's sake. I can't stand this!"

MPs will vote on the move on Wednesday and May needs two-thirds of lawmakers to support her but Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has already said he is behind the plan.

"We look forward to showing how Labour will stand up for the people of Britain," said Corbyn, a veteran socialist who became leader in 2015 and has strong support in the party's leftist grassroots but has struggled to secure wider appeal.

And recent opinion polls over Easter weekend showed the size of the challenge ahead of him.

The Conservatives polled at 38 percent to 46 percent, while Labour stood at 23 percent to 29 percent, according to the polls by YouGov, ComRes and Opinium.

'Game playing'

May explained her policy U-turn with an attack on her domestic political opponents, many of whom support Britain's continued membership of Europe's single market, accusing them of "game-playing" over Brexit.

"I have concluded that the only way to guarantee certainty and stability for the years ahead is to hold this election and seek your support for the decisions I must take," May said.

Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, the leader of the pro-independence Scottish National Party which has 54 of 59 Scottish seats in the Commons, said May was making a "huge political miscalculation".

But in a boost to May, the IMF also on Tuesday significantly raised its forecast for Britain's growth in 2017 to 2.0 percent from a previous estimate of 1.5 percent.

The pound, which has fallen because of the Brexit vote and plunged ahead of May's announcement Tuesday, rose sharply against the euro and the dollar after it.

Stocks instead suffered their worst fall since the Brexit vote last June, since the rising value of the pound hits multinationals.

EU leaders except Britain's PM Theresa May will hold a summit on April 29 to 
map out the strategy for negotiating Britain's departure from the bloc in 2019
(AFP Photo/Daniel LEAL-OLIVAS)

New battles loom

European Council President Donald Trump tweeted that he had had a "good phone call" with May following her announcement.

He then likened the latest twist in British politics to a movie by Alfred Hitchcock, often referred to as the "Master of Suspense".

"It was Hitchcock who directed Brexit: first an earthquake and then the tension rises".

The Brexit negotiations themselves are not expected to start until June at the earliest -- and Brussels said this timetable would not change.

The European Commission has said it wants the exit talks to be concluded by October 2018 at the latest, to allow time for the deal to be ratified.

But while May secured the parliament's support to trigger Article 50 of the EU's Lisbon Treaty last month, eurosceptics and europhiles alike are gearing up for further battles over the details of the negotiations.

German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel said in a statement that "hopefully" the new elections "will lead to more clarity and predictability in the negotiations with the European Union".

One European source said Tuesday that May would be better placed to enter the negotiations -- and give "concessions" -- if she had a stronger hand.

"We have some hope that this will lead to a strong leader in London that can negotiate with us with strong backing by the electorate," said another.

The other 27 EU leaders are set to hold a summit on April 29 where they will agree on a strategy for negotiating Britain's expected departure in 2019.

Friday, April 14, 2017

With too few priests, Portuguese women step up

Yahoo – AFP, Thomas CABRAL, April 14, 2017

Social worker Claudia Rocha is one of a number of women to lead services in
churches in Portugal because of a shortage of Catholic priests (AFP Photo/

Reguengos de Monsaraz (Portugal) (AFP) - Facing a shortage of Roman Catholic priests, women churchgoers have stepped in to lead Sunday services in villages in southeastern Portugal, a sign the ageing communities are open to change.

In the tiny church of Carrapatelo, a village overlooking the vineyards of the Reguengos de Monsaraz region, Claudia Rocha stands before a dozen mostly elderly female churchgoers wearing a black dress and sneakers.

Her leather jacket and smartphone sit on the front-row bench as the 31-year-old leads what the church terms "Sunday Celebrations in the Absence of a Priest" with ease.

After prayers and church hymns, she makes comments on the day's biblical reading, a form of preaching.

At the end, Rocha hands out communion wafers representing the body of Christ that were blessed by the priest beforehand, but wine is not part of the ceremony.

"This church would be closed if I wasn't here. Who cares if I am a woman, a deacon or a priest? What matters is having someone from the community who maintains our connection with the priest, even when he isn't here," she tells AFP.

No misgivings

A divorced social worker without children, she is one of 16 laypeople -- eight men and eight women -- chosen by Father Manuel Jose Marques to help ensure regular attendance at the seven parishes he presides over.

The practice of Sunday services being led by laypeople in a priest's absence 
take place in a number of countries, including  Canada, France, Germany,
 the Netherlands, Portugal, Switzerland and the US (AFP Photo/PATRICIA

"It might seem strange and new, but we haven't invented anything here. It's a tool that has long been set out in the Church's guidelines, for cases when it's absolutely necessary," says the 57-year-old priest.

The practice of Sunday services being led by laypeople in a priest's absence take place in a number of countries, including Canada, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Portugal, Switzerland and the US.

It began in the 1980s, when services were prepared with a priest or ordained clergy member, resembling mass but without the rite of consecrating bread for communion or the Eucharistic prayer.

The Vatican and many clergy members have refused to encourage the practice, fearing a trivialisation of the tradition of Mass.

Father Manuel had no such misgivings.

To him, the need to set up Sunday services without a priest became apparent as soon as he took on his seven parishes around 16 years ago.

Before, there had been three priests for the seven parishes in Reguengos de Monsaraz, a town in the region of Alentejo between Evora and the Spanish border.

He assembled a group of 16 volunteers aged between 24 and 65 from varied backgrounds.

"These are people who have experience with faith and welcoming Christ, and who know how to talk about it," he says, noting he makes no distinction between men and women.

Due to a shortage of catholic priests, laywomen lead Sunday services in 
churches of rural parishes in some areas of Portugal (AFP Photo/PATRICIA

Lay women step in, too, in other rural parts of Portugal, whose population of 10 million is overwhelmingly Catholic but only counts around 3,500 priests for 4,400 congregations.

'Very sensitive subject'

Last August, Pope Francis set up a group to study the role of women deacons in the early days of Christianity.

While he ruled out the possibility of ordaining female priests, the move was considered a potentially historic opening towards a place for women in the Church.

"It is a very sensitive subject, but what we have done is very simple. In this tiny village, we are quite a bit ahead of the Vatican," says Rocha.

The progressive Father Manuel says he believes "women would be very good priests and deacons" but is quick to add: "It's not the opinion of one priest, or even 10 that makes theology."

"We are living in the heart of an open community, the difference between men and women is no longer as strong as it was in the past," says Dora Cruz, who teaches catechism in Campinho, a village of 700 people.

"But women's equality doesn't necessarily come from priesthood," adds the 31-year-old mother and kindergarten teacher.

Members of the congregation approve of having a woman behind the altar.

"People found it strange at first -- a woman leading Mass? But now we're used to it," says Angelica Vital, a 78-year-old pensioner.

"If we're short of priests, I think they should be allowed to marry -- they are men, like any other!" she adds, with a devilish grin.

Related Articles:

Clerics at the Church of England synod in York take a 'selfie' as they celebrate
after the vote to allow female bishops. Photograph: Lindsey Parnaby/AFP/Getty

"The Recalibration of Awareness – Apr 20/21, 2012 (Kryon channeled by Lee Carroll) (Subjects: Energy, Recalibration LecturesGod/CreatorReligions/Spiritual systems  (Catholic Church, Priests/Nun’s, Worship, John Paul Pope, Women in the Church otherwise church will go, Current Pope won’t do it),  Middle East, Jews, Governments will change (Internet, Media, Democracies, Dictators, North Korea, Nations voted at once), Integrity (Businesses, Tobacco Companies, Bankers/ Financial Institutes, Pharmaceutical company to collapse),  Illuminati (Started in Greece, with Shipping, Financial markets, Stock markets, Pharmaceutical money (fund to build Africa, to develop)), Shift of Human Consciousness, (Old) Souls, Women, Masters to/already come back, Global Unity.... etc.) (Text version)

“… I gave you a channelling years ago when Pope John Paul was alive. John Paul loved Mary, the mother. Had John Paul survived another 10 years, he would have done what the next Pope [The one after the current one, Benedict XVI] will do, and that is to bring women into the Church. This Pope you have now [Benedict XVI] won't be here long.* The next Pope will be the one who has to change the rules, should he survive. If he doesn't, it will be the one after that.

There is a large struggle within the Church, even right now, and great dissention, for it knows that it is not giving what humanity wants. The doctrine is not current to the puzzles of life. The answer will be to create a better balance between the feminine and masculine, and the new Pope, or the one after that, will try to allow women to be in the higher echelon of the Church structure to assist the priests.

It will be suggested to let women participate in services, doing things women did not do before. This graduates them within church law to an equality with priests, but doesn't actually let them become priests just yet. However, don't be surprised if this begins in another way, and instead gives priests the ability to marry. This will bring the feminine into the church in other ways. It will eventually happen and has to happen. If it does not, it will be the end of the Catholic Church, for humanity will not sustain a spiritual belief system that is out of balance with the love of God and also out of balance with intuitive Human awareness.  …”

"Recalibration of Free Choice"–  Mar 3, 2012 (Kryon Channelling by Lee Carroll) - (Subjects: (Old) SoulsMidpoint on 21-12-2012, Shift of Human Consciousness, Black & White vs. Color, 1 - Spirituality (Religions) shifting, Loose a Pope “soon”2 - Humans will change react to drama, 3 - Civilizations/Population on Earth,  4 - Alternate energy sources (Geothermal, Tidal (Paddle wheels), Wind), 5 – Financials Institutes/concepts will change (Integrity – Ethical) , 6 - News/Media/TV to change, 7 – Big Pharmaceutical company will collapse “soon”, (Keep people sick), (Integrity – Ethical)  8 – Wars will be over on Earth, Global Unity, … etc.) (Text version)

“ … Spirituality (Religions)

Number one: Spirituality. The systems of spiritual design on your planet are starting to change. This is not telling you that certain ones are going to go away. They're simply going to change. Some of the largest spiritual systems, which you would call organized religion on the planet, are shifting. They're going to shift away from that which is authority on the outside to authority on the inside. It will eventually be a different way of worship, slowly changing the rules while keeping the basic doctrine the same.

The doctrine of the Christ has always been to find the God inside. The teachings were clear. The examples of the miracles were given as an example of what humans could do, not to set a man up for worship as a God. So when that has been absorbed, the teaching of the Christ can remain the teaching of the Christ. It simply changes the interpretation. 

The teachings of the great prophets of the Middle East (all related to each other) are about unity and love. So once the holy words are redefined with new wisdom, the Human changes, not the words of the prophets. In fact, the prophets become even more divinely inspired and their wisdom becomes even more profound.

You're going to lose a pope soon. I have no clock. Soon to us can mean anything to you. The one who replaces him may surprise you, for his particular organization will be in survival mode at that point in time. That is to say that fewer and fewer are interested in starting the priesthood. Fewer and fewer young people are interested in the organization, and the new pope must make changes to keep his church alive. That means that his organization will remain, but with a more modern look at what truly is before all of you in a new energy. It is not the fall of the church. It is instead the recalibration of the divinity inside that would match the worship that goes on. It's a win-win situation. The new pope will have a difficult time, since the old guard will still be there. There could even be an assassination attempt, such is the way the old energy dies hard. That is number one. Watch for it. It's a change in the way spiritual systems work. It's a realignment of spiritual systems that resound to a stronger truth that is Human driven, rather than prophet driven.…”

“… With free choice, the percentage of DNA efficiently started to go down as humanity grew. As soon as the DNA started to lose percentage, the gender balance was dysfunctional. If you want to have a test of any society, anywhere on the planet, and you want to know the DNA percentage number [consciousness quota] as a society, there's an easy test: How do they perceive and treat their women? The higher the DNA functionality, the more the feminine divine is honored. This is the test! Different cultures create different DNA consciousness, even at the same time on the planet. So you can have a culture on Earth at 25 percent and one at 37 - and if you did, they would indeed clash. …”

“… You're at 35. There's an equality here, you're starting to see the dark and light, and it's changing everything. You take a look at history and you've come a long way, but it took a long time to get here. Dear ones, we've seen this process before and the snowball is rolling. There isn't anything in the way that's going to stop it. In the path of this snowball of higher consciousness are all kinds of things that will be run over and perish. Part of this is what you call "the establishment". Watch for some very big established things to fall over! The snowball will simply knock them down. …”