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Michigan bishops call judge’s ruling on same-sex marriage ban ‘regrettable’

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LANSING, Mich. — A U.S. District Court judge’s March 21 ruling that Michigan’s ban on same-sex marriage is unconstitutional does not change the fact “marriage is and can only ever be a unique relationship solely between one man and one woman,” said the state’s Catholic bishops.

“Nature itself, not society, religion or government, created marriage. Nature, the very essence of humanity as understood through historical experience and reason, is the arbiter of marriage, and we uphold this truth for the sake of the common good,” they said in a statement released by the Michigan Catholic Conference in Lansing.

“The biological realities of male and female and the complementarity they each bring to marriage uniquely allows for the procreation of children,” they said.

The Catholic conference is the public policy arm of the state’s bishops.

April DeBoer and Jayne Rowse, a Detroit-area couple who are raising three children together, filed suit in 2012 to challenge the voter-approved ban on same-sex marriage. The law also prohibits same-sex couples from jointly adopting children; only heterosexual married couples are allowed to do so.

U.S. District Judge Bernard Friedman in Detroit overturned the same-sex marriage ban, which voters passed overwhelmingly in 2004, saying it violated the U.S. Constitution because it deprives same-sex couples the same rights guaranteed to heterosexual couples. He also said barring same-sex couples from adopting children was unconstitutional.

“Many Michigan residents have religious convictions whose principles govern the conduct of their daily lives and inform their own viewpoints about marriage,” Friedman wrote in his 31-page ruling. “Nonetheless, these views cannot strip other citizens of the guarantees of equal protection under the law.”

Friedman did not stay his ruling, and Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette filed a request for an emergency stay with a federal appeals court March 21 to prevent same-sex couples from getting marriage licenses immediately.

Late March 22 the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati granted the stay until at least March 26. Before the appeals court acted, however, several hundred same-sex couples went to county clerks’ offices around Michigan to get married.

With Friedman’s ruling, Michigan becomes the 18th state to allow same-sex marriage.

An AP story said that DeBoer and Rowse were not among the couples who went immediately to get a marriage license. The couple will get married, DeBoer told AP, “when we know our marriage is forever binding.”

In their statement, Michigan’s Catholic bishops said the judge’s decision “to redefine the institution of marriage by declaring Michigan’s Marriage Amendment unconstitutional strikes at the very essence of family, community and human nature.”

“In effect, this decision advances a misunderstanding of marriage, and mistakenly proposes that marriage is an emotional arrangement that can simply be redefined to accommodate the dictates of culture and the wants of adults,” they said. “Judge Friedman’s ruling that also finds unconstitutional the state’s adoption law is equally of grave concern.”

“Every child has the right to both a mother and a father and, indeed, every child does have lineage to both,” the bishops said. “We recognize not every child has the opportunity to grow in this environment, and we pray for those single mothers and fathers who labor each day to care for their children at times amid great challenges and difficulties. They deserve our constant support and encouragement.”

The bishops declared, “Persons with same-sex attraction should not be judged, but rather accepted with respect, compassion and sensitivity.”

“We rejoice with those brothers and sisters in Christ living with same-sex attraction who have found great freedom through Jesus’ call to chastity communicated through the church,” they said, adding that those struggling to live “in harmony” with church teaching on sexuality continue to pray and seek the Lord “with the help and guidance of the church.”

The Catholic Church teaches that sex outside of marriage between one man and one woman is sinful.

They also said they would work through the Michigan Catholic Conference and with other supporters of Michigan’s ban on same-sex marriage to appeal Friedman’s “most regrettable ruling.”

Signing the statement were Detroit Archbishop Allen H. Vigneron; Bishop Earl A. Boyea of Lansing; Bishop Paul J. Bradley of Kalamazoo; Bishop Joseph R. Cistone of Saginaw; Bishop John F. Doerfler of Marquette; Bishop David J. Walkowiak of Grand Rapids; and Msgr. Francis J. Murphy, diocesan administrator of Gaylord.

 

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Two priesthoods that span 75 years of ministry in the diocese

March 24th, 2014 Posted in Our Diocese Tags: ,

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Father Williams Jennings, left, ordained in 1940, is the oldest priest of the Diocese of Wilmington. Father Chris Coffiey, was ordained in 2013. for the diocese. (Courtesy Diocesan Vocations Guild)

The oldest priest of the Diocese of Wilmington, Father William Jennings, left, who will celebrate his 101st birthday in June and was ordained to the priesthood in 1940, meets the youngest priest of the diocese, Fr. Chris Coffiey, age 26, ordained in 2013, at the Little Sisters of the Poor’s Jeanne Jugan Residence in Newark.  Father Coffiey, associate pastor at St. Mary of the Assumption in Hockessin, was at the Jeanne Jugan Residence on March 22, where Father Jennings lives, to conduct a Lenten Day of Reflection for the Diocesan Vocations Guild.

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Boston cardinal, abuse survivor named to Vatican panel on protecting minors

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Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY — Cardinal Sean P. O’Malley of Boston, four women— including a survivor of clerical sex abuse — two Jesuit priests and an Italian lawyer are the first eight members of the new Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors.

Pope Francis established the commission in December; announcing the first members March 22, the Vatican said they would help define the tasks and competencies of the commission and help identify other potential members.

Irish abuse victim Marie Collins has been named to the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors. CNS/Reuters

Cardinal O’Malley is also one of eight members of the Council of Cardinals advising Pope Francis on the reform of the Roman Curia and governance of the church. When the child protection commission was announced, Cardinal O’Malley told reporters it would take a pastoral approach to helping victims and preventing abuse, given that much of the Vatican’s attention thus far had been on implementing policies and legal procedures for investigating allegations of abuse and punishing guilty priests.

The cardinal said the commission would look at programs to educate pastoral workers in signs of abuse, identify means of psychological testing and other ways of screening candidates for the priesthood, and make recommendations regarding church officials’ “cooperation with the civil authorities, the reporting of crimes.”

The first eight members of the commission include Marie Collins, who was born in Dublin. At the age of 13, she was sexually abused by a Catholic priest who was a chaplain at a hospital where she was a patient.

Addressing a major conference in Rome in 2012 on the protection of children, she said being abused led to depression, despair and deep loss of trust in the Catholic Church. “Those fingers that would abuse my body the night before, were the same fingers that would give me holy Communion the following day,” she said.

In 1997, the priest that had abused her, and other young girls over a period of three decades, was finally brought to justice. She founded an organization to help victims of sexual abuse, worked with the Archdiocese of Dublin to set up its child protection office and helped draft the child protection policies of the Catholic Church in Ireland.

Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, Vatican spokesman, said the commission would take “a multi-pronged approach to promoting youth protection, including: education regarding the exploitation of children; discipline of offenders; civil and canonical duties and responsibilities; and the development of best practices as they have emerged in society at large.”

“In this way, and with the help of God, this commission will contribute to the Holy Father’s mission of upholding the sacred responsibility of ensuring the safety of young people,” Father Lombardi said.

Jesuit Fathers Hans Zollner and Humberto Yanez, who also were appointed to the commission, were instrumental in organizing the 2012 conference where Collins addressed representatives of bishops’ conferences and religious orders from around the world.

Father Zollner, a German psychologist and psychotherapist, chaired the committee that organized the conference at the Pontifical Gregorian University and is chairman of the steering committee of the Center for Child Protection that developed out of the conference. Father Yanez, director of the moral theology department at the Gregorian, was a member of the conference’s theological board.

Meeting reporters in 2013 to discuss follow-up to the conference, Father Zollner said: “Unfortunately, the matter will be with us for a long time. The church is working much more than people know, but is also the object of criticism because of its errors, its failures and the sins of the past. This is why it is extremely important to continue the work of prevention with every available means.”

In addition to Collins, the other women on the commission are: Hanna Suchocka, a former professor of law, who served as prime minister of Poland, 1992-93, and Polish ambassador to the Vatican, 2001-13; Catherine Bonnet, a French child psychiatrist specializing in helping victims of incest; and Baroness Sheila Hollins, a mental health specialist who has focused her research on people with learning disabilities.

The eighth member of the commission is Claudio Papale, an Italian who holds degrees in both civil and canon law and works in disciplinary section of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. The office is responsible for investigating allegations against priests.

 

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Pope tells Mafiosi to ‘weep and convert’

March 24th, 2014 Posted in Vatican News Tags: ,

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Catholic News Service

ROME — Surrounded by survivors of innocent people killed by the Mafia, Pope Francis made an emotional appeal to Italian gangsters to give up their lives of crime and avoid eternal damnation.

“Men and women of the Mafia, please change your lives, convert, stop doing evil,” the pope said at a prayer vigil March 21. “I ask on my knees and for your own good.

Pope Francis embraces Father Luigi Ciotti, founder of the Italian anti-Mafia group Libera, at Rome’s Church of St. Gregory VII March 21, during a prayer service for victims of the Mafia. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

“This life you have now, it will not give you pleasure, it will not give you joy, it will not give you happiness,” the pope said. “The power, the money you have now from so many dirty deals, from so many Mafia crimes, blood-stained money, blood-stained power — you will not be able to take that with you to the other life.”

“There is still time not to end up in hell, which awaits you if you continue on this road,” Pope Francis said. “You had a papa and a mamma. Think of them, weep a little and convert.”

Every year since 1996, the Italian anti-Mafia group Libera has observed March 21, the first full day of spring, in memory of innocent victims of organized crime. According to the group, the approximately 700 people gathered with Pope Francis in a Rome church this year represented the families of an estimated 15,000 such victims across Italy.

In his greeting, Father Luigi Ciotti, founder of Libera, denounced the Mafia as the “assassin of hope” and recalled a range of its victims. The priest mentioned women caught up in human trafficking, people fallen ill owing to illegal disposal of toxic waste and even children, including Domenico Gabriele, an 11-year-old shot to death while playing soccer in 2009, and Nicola Campolongo, a 3-year old murdered in January, reportedly to avenge an unpaid drug debt.

Father Ciotti thanked the pope for coming, saying, “We thought we had found a father, we have also found a brother.”

The pope listened for about 45 minutes, head bowed and hands folded in prayer, as members of the congregation stepped up to the lectern and recited, in some cases with breaking voices, the names of people killed by the Mafia.

“Let us pray together to ask the strength to move ahead,” the pope said, “to be not discouraged but to continue to struggle against corruption.”

 

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Our Lenten Journey, Monday, March 24, 2014

March 24th, 2014 Posted in Uncategorized Tags:

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Click here for today’s Scripture readings:
http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/032314.cfm

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Viewpoint: Francis and the cult of celebrity

March 23rd, 2014 Posted in Opinion Tags:

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One year ago in Rome, Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio called his local newsstand in Argentina to cancel his subscription to a daily paper. He had been elected pope, and his reading material at the Vatican would change.

That phone call became an example of the pope’s modest personality and gave his former newsstand a long “15 minutes” of fame. Read more »

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Our Lenten Journey, Sunday, March 23, 2014

March 23rd, 2014 Posted in Uncategorized Tags:

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Click here for today’s Scripture readings:
http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/032314.cfm

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Learn to Build Intercultural Connections in Milford

March 22nd, 2014 Posted in Our Diocese Tags: ,

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The Building Intercultural Connections (BIC) program will be presented on April 5 at St. John the Apostle, Milford.  BIC will start at 9:30 a.m. and conclude at 5 p.m. with a multi-cultural Mass.

The day includes presentations from a curriculum developed by the Secretariat of Cultural Diversity from the U.S Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB).  Those who attend this conference will increase their capacity to welcome, receive, and encourage all emerging cultural groups in the Catholic Church.

A luncheon, featuring an international menu and folk dancing, will be served.

BIC has been offered in the Diocese of Wilmington and throughout the United States during the past two years.

Clergy, religious, catechists, liturgists, youth and outreach ministers, lay leaders, and all interested faithful are encouraged to attend.  Registration is free. A 5$ offering can be made for coffee, pastries, and lunch.

To register for the conference, contact 302-655-0518, chrisposch@gmail.com, or complete online registration at www.cdow.org, scroll into the News and Upcoming Events Section, and click BIC.  The registration deadline for BIC at St. John the Apostle is March 31.

 

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Our Lenten Journey, Saturday, March 22, 2014

March 22nd, 2014 Posted in Uncategorized Tags:

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Click here for today’s Scripture readings:
http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/032214.cfm

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Morning homily: Humility and prayer needed to hear the word of God

March 21st, 2014 Posted in Vatican News Tags: , , ,

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Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY — Anyone who desires to hear the word of God must first be humble and then capable of prayer, Pope Francis said March 21 during his early morning Mass in the Domus Sanctae Marthae, where he lives. Without humility and prayer, people take possession of God’s word and turn it to their own uses, said the pope.

Pope Francis’s homily was based upon a parable Jesus recounts in the Gospel of Matthew, in which a landowner loses his vineyard to thieves who kill his servants and son.

Jesus then interprets the parable for the chief priests and elders whom he is addressing: “The kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people that will produce its fruit.”

The same happens among ourselves when we are not open to and obedient to the word of God, said the pope, according to a report by Vatican Radio.

In this way, the pope continued, the word of God itself becomes as if dead. The Holy Spirit becomes a prisoner of the desires of those who would take the word of God as their own, according to their interests, their ideologies, their theologies.

“This is the drama of such people, but also our own,” Pope Francis said. “To preserve this, they kill. This is what happened to Jesus.

“But there is a phrase which gives us hope,” said Pope Francis. “The word of God may be dead in the hearts of people like this, and can die even in our own hearts. But it does not end because it is alive in the hearts of the simple and the humble, of the people of God.

“The simple flock that followed Jesus because what Jesus said was heartwarming,” the pope said, “did not use the word of God in their own interest; but listened and tried to be a little bit better.”

What can each of us do so as not to kill the word of God, and not imprison the Holy Spirit? the pope asked. “Two simple things — first, humility, secondly, prayer.”

— By Judith Harris

 

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