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Fall meeting at Vatican to review state of family; 2015 synod to draw up proposals

June 26th, 2014 Posted in Uncategorized Tags: , , ,

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Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY — Representatives of the world’s Catholic bishops, meeting together in a synod, are not expected to make any formal proposals about the church’s pastoral care of families until after a second, larger gathering in 2015.

The extraordinary Synod of Bishops on the family will meet at the Vatican Oct. 5-19, bringing together the presidents of national bishops’ conferences, the heads of Eastern Catholic churches and Vatican officials. The world Synod of Bishops, which will include more bishops, many elected by their peers, will meet at the Vatican Oct. 4-25, 2015.

Introducing the working document for the first synod assembly, formally an “extraordinary” synod, Cardinal Lorenzo Baldisseri, general secretary of the Synod of Bishops, said participants “will thoroughly examine and analyze the information, testimonies and recommendations received” from around the world in response to a questionnaire sent out in November.

The responses to the questionnaire, submitted by about 90 percent of the world’s bishops’ conferences and about 800 Catholic organizations or individuals, formed the basis for the working document for the extraordinary assembly.

The results of the extraordinary assembly will form the basis for the working document for the 2015 meeting, he said.

The general assembly in 2015, “representing a great part of the episcopate and continuing the work of the previous synod, will reflect further on the points discussed so as to formulate appropriate pastoral guidelines,” the cardinal said.

Only the suggestions of the 2015 synod will be forwarded to the pope as formal proposals for church action, he said.

The theme of the extraordinary synod is: “The pastoral challenges of the family in the context of evangelization.” Cardinal Baldisseri said there would be about 190 voting members, plus “fraternal delegates” from other Christian churches as well as observers and experts appointed by Pope Francis.

At a news conference June 26, Cardinal Baldisseri announced that the theme of the 2015 synod would be: “Jesus Christ reveals the mystery and vocation of the family.” That gathering, he said, was expected to include about 250 voting members.

In a letter to families in February, Pope Francis explained that the “extraordinary synodal assembly will be followed a year later by the ordinary assembly, which will also have the family as its theme.”

The pope also noted that the World Meeting of Families would take place in Philadelphia in September 2015; “may we all, then, pray together so that through these events the church will undertake a true journey of discernment and adopt the necessary pastoral means to help families face their present challenges with the light and strength that comes from the Gospel.”

Cardinal Baldisseri announced that Catholics around the world will be asked to observe a day of prayer for the synod and its deliberations Sept. 28.

Italian Archbishop Bruno Forte of Chieti-Vasto, chosen by Pope Francis to be the special secretary of the extraordinary synod, told reporters June 26, “the doctrine of the church is not up for discussion,” but the synod members will be called upon to find ways to improve the “pastoral application” of church teachings, ways to explain it and to help Catholics live it.

 

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Supreme Court strikes down ‘buffer zones’ at abortion clinics

By

Catholic News Service

WASHINGTON — In a June 26 decision, the U.S. Supreme Court unanimously ruled that 35-foot buffer zones around abortion clinics, meant to keep demonstrators away, violates First Amendment rights.

Pro-life activists from Crossroads USA pray across from a Planned Parenthood clinic on Commonwealth Avenue in Boston. (CNS file)

The decision, a victory for pro-life groups, reversed an appellate court decision upholding a 2007 Massachusetts law that made it a crime for anyone other than clinic workers to stand within the yellow semicircular lines painted 35 feet from entrances of Planned Parenthood clinics in Boston, Springfield and Worcester.

Eleanor McCullen, lead plaintiff in the case, McCullen v. Coakley, said she should be able to speak and offer advice to women going to these clinics. McCullen, a 77-year-old who attends Mass at St. Ignatius Church at Boston College said when the case was brought to the Supreme Court that she had helped many women decide against abortion.

The Supreme Court, in its opinion written by Chief Justice John Roberts, said the state law blocked public sidewalks that have been traditionally viewed as open for free speech. It also said the government’s ability to limit speech in those places is “very limited.”

The law in question was put in place in an attempt to prevent violent demonstrations or protests outside clinic entrances. It replaced a 2000 state law that kept protesters from approaching within 6 feet of a person who was within 18 feet of an abortion clinic, similar to a 2000 law in Colorado that the Supreme Court upheld that year.

The Supreme Court’s opinion distinguished protesters from those who “seek not merely to express their opposition to abortion, but to engage in personal, caring, consensual conversations with women about various alternatives.”

In a concurrence with the main opinion, Justice Antonin Scalia discusses what he sees as the court’s “onward march of abortion-speech-only jurisprudence.” His concurrence was joined by Justices Anthony Kennedy and Clarence Thomas.

He observed that the court’s majority opinion “carries forward this court’s practice of giving abortion-rights advocates a pass when it comes to suppressing the free-speech rights of their opponents.”

He said that the opinion “has something for everyone,” by invalidating the law in question because it is inadequately tailored to circumstances, is “certainly attractive to those of us who oppose an abortion-speech edition of the First Amendment.”

But the main part of the opinion moves toward creating a version of the First Amendment that applies only to speech about abortion, he said. By concluding that a statute like the one overturned is not content-based and therefore not subject to strict scrutiny under the law, “the court reaches out to decide that question unnecessarily,” Scalia wrote.

Scalia cited ways in which he says the main opinion singled out abortion-only speech in reaching its conclusion that the law was unconstitutional. And he concluded that although he agrees with what the court decided, he thinks it unnecessarily addressed the issue of whether the law was sufficiently narrowly tailored.

“The obvious purpose of the challenged portion of the Massachusetts Reproductive Health Care Facilities Act is to protect prospective clients of abortion clinics from having to hear abortion-opposing speech on public streets and sidewalks,” he said.

“The provision is thus unconstitutional root and branch and cannot be saved, as the majority suggests, by limiting its application to the single facility that has experienced the safety and access problems to which it is quite obviously not addressed,” he concluded.

Justice Samuel Alito also had a separate concurrence. In it he faulted the majority for concluding that the Massachusetts law is viewpoint neutral, but he nevertheless agreed that it is unconstitutional because it burdens free speech more than necessary to accommodate state interests.

Contributing to this report was Patricia Zapor.

 

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Vatican denies Boston parishioners’ appeal to keep churches open

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Catholic News Service

WASHINGTON — Parishioners who have occupied a closed Massachusetts Catholic church for nearly a decade said they plan one final petition to Pope Francis to prevent the building from being sold by the Boston Archdiocese.

Jon Rogers, a member of St. Frances Xavier Cabrini Parish in Scituate, said petitioning the pope was a last resort measure. Despite the step, he said he was not sure it would succeed.

“We promised 10 years ago when we started this we would exhaust every avenue of appeal,” Rogers told Catholic News Service June 24.

St. Frances Xavier Cabrini parishioners have kept an around-the-clock presence in the church since October 2004 in the hope that various appeals based on canon law would be successful. The parish was one of 70 that closed beginning in 2004 in a downsizing plan carried out under Cardinal Sean P. O’Malley.

The parishioners involved in the occupation announced June 21 that the Apostolic Signature, the Vatican’s highest court, denied their final appeal. The decision means the parish is automatically deconsecrated, or in canonical terms, relegated to profane use.

The court ruled similarly on the appeals by parishioners of Our Lady of Mount Carmel Parish in Boston and St. James the Great Parish in Wellesley. Parishioners ended their occupations of the parishes in 2011 and 2012, respectively.

Lorenzo Grasso, a member of Our Lady of Mount Carmel Parish, said parishioners planned to petition Pope Francis as well.

Suzanne Hurley, a St. James the Great Parish member, said the community decided to end its effort to save the church.

“If I knew 10 years ago what I do today, I still would have gone ahead with my action,” she told CNS. “There are times when you may not win because you have to believe in something. You have to fight for things because somebody will benefit from the actions of others.”

Rogers said he preferred to negotiate a deal to buy the Scituate church from the archdiocese. An archdiocesan spokesman said, however, the building would not be sold to the group.

“After 10 years of going through the circuslike atmosphere of the Vatican court and seeing how it operates, we’re glad it’s over and now the time for real hard-nose negotiations is at hand,” a defiant Rogers said.

Peter Borre, co-chairman of the Council of Parishes, a group formed to appeal the closures, said it would take several weeks to prepare the petition to Pope Francis. Borre told CNS he expects to deliver the documents to the Vatican in September, after the usual summer hiatus of church officials.

For now, Borre said, “The canonical process is finished. Rome has spoken.”

Terrence C. Donilon, the archdiocesan spokesman, told CNS June 24 he could not comment on the Vatican’s decision because no notice had been received by the archdiocese.

“We have all gone into this process understanding the rule and the way it could go, one way or the other. It just seems that the process is nearing an end here,” Donilon said.

“They’ve had some pretty harsh things to say recently which are insensitive and not respecting the process,” Donilon added in reference to St. Frances Xavier Cabrini parishioner statements. “They went into this fully aware knowing of what the possibilities were. Now it appears when it’s not going their way, they want to change the rules.”

The spokesman urged parishioners to join a neighboring parish to take advantage of the full life of the Catholic Church.

“No one is saying we want them to not be part of a parish or the church anymore. We want them to join an open parish and help in ministry work that’s there, whether that’s serving on the parish council, helping with religious ed or helping with the food bank. The whole spectrum of ministries a parish offers, they’re not experiencing,” Donilon said.

Rogers promised that parishioners would stay in the church building as long as necessary.

“They’re going to have to arrest us (to remove us), but we hope the time for real negotiations is at hand,” he said.

Donilon, however, declined to speculate on what actions the archdiocese might take to remove parishioners from the church.

“My hope is that through prayer and reflection, reason will emerge in their internal deliberations,” he said.

“This was not an enjoyable experience for anybody. It can’t go on forever and it won’t.”

 

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Church community is essential for faith; there is no such thing as ‘do-it-yourself,’ pope says

June 25th, 2014 Posted in Vatican News

By

Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY — Christians are not made in a laboratory, but in a community called the church, Pope Francis said.

At his weekly general audience June 25, Pope Francis continued his series of audience talks about the church, telling an estimated 33,000 people that there is no such thing as “do-it-yourself” Christians or “free agents” when it comes to faith.

At his weekly general audience June 25, Pope Francis described as “dangerous” the temptation to believe that one can have “a personal, direct, immediate relationship with Jesus Christ without communion with and the mediation of the church.” (CNS photo/Gregory A. Shemitz, Long Island Catholic)

Every Christian, he said, can trace his or her faith back to parents, grandparents, teachers or friends. “I always remember the nun who taught me catechism. I know she’s in heaven because she was a holy woman,” he said.

In the Old Testament, the pope said, God called Abraham and began to form a people that would become a blessing for the world. “With great patience, and God has a lot of it, he prepared the people of the ancient covenant and in Jesus Christ constituted them as a sign and instrument of the union of humanity with God and unity with one another.”

Pope Francis described as “dangerous” the temptation to believe that one can have “a personal, direct, immediate relationship with Jesus Christ without communion with and the mediation of the church.”

Obviously, he said, it is not always easy to walk the path of faith with other people. “Sometimes it’s tiring. It can happen that a brother or sister creates problems for us or scandalizes us, but the Lord entrusted his message of salvation to human beings, to us, to witnesses,” he said.

“It is through our brothers and sisters with their gifts and their limits,” the pope said, “that he comes to us and makes himself known. This is what belonging to the church means. Remember: being Christian means belonging to the church. If your first name is Christian, your last name is Member of the Church.”

At the end of his talk, the pope asked people to join him in praying that they would never “give into the temptation of thinking you can do without others, without the church, that you can save yourself, of thinking you can be a laboratory Christian.”

Christians, he said, are not manufactured in isolation, but belong to a long line of believers who handed on the faith and challenged one another to live it fully.

The audience was the last the pope was scheduled to hold before beginning a reduced summer schedule.

The text of the pope’s audience remarks in English is available online at www.vatican.va/holy_father/francesco/audiences/2014/documents/papa-francesco_20140625_udienza-generale_en.html

 

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Sudanese woman rearrested at airport

June 24th, 2014 Posted in International News Tags: , , ,

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KHARTOUM, Sudan — Meriam Ibrahim, a Catholic woman originally sentenced to death for marrying a Christian, was released from prison June 23, but apprehended again the next day at the Khartoum airport with her husband, who is a U.S. citizen, and their two children, her lawyer said.

Antonella Napoli, head of an Italian aid organization, tweeted a photograph of her telephone text message exchange with the lawyer who said the couple was arrested at the airport by the Sudanese secret service early June 24. The family had been planning to go to the United States.

CNN reported it received the same information from Ibrahim’s lawyer and that its reporters spoke briefly with her husband, Daniel Bicensio Wani, who said he and his family were being held at the national security office.

Ibrahim had given birth to a daughter in late May, and her 1-year-old son also had been in prison with her.

She joined the Catholic Church shortly before she married Wani in December 2011, said a mid-June statement signed by Father Mussa Timothy Kacho, episcopal vicar for the Archdiocese of Khartoum, which had urged the courts to review her case. In mid-May, she was convicted of apostasy and sentenced to death by hanging. Sudan’s penal code criminalizes the conversion of Muslims to other religions, which is punishable by death.

Wani, who lives in New Hampshire, was refused custody of their son because, under Sudanese law, a Christian man cannot raise a Muslim child.

In Washington, Rep. Chris Smith, R-N.J., chairman of the House Africa and global human rights subcommittee, had called Ibrahim’s release “a huge first step,” and added, “but the second step is that Ms. Ibrahim and her husband and their children be on a plane and heading to the United States.”

Earlier, the Khartoum archdiocese said Ibrahim’s Sudanese Muslim father abandoned the family when she was 5, and she was raised according to her mother’s faith, Orthodox Christian.

“She has never been a Muslim in her life,” the archdiocese said.

“There are many people trying to persuade Meriam to renounce Christianity in order to be freed, but she is refusing. Some people are pleading with her husband to convince her to abandon Christian faith in order to save her life, but to no avail,” the archdiocese said.

In a May joint statement, Sudan’s churches said the charges against Ibrahim were false and appealed to the Sudanese government to free her from prison.

 

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Vatican names adviser to Legionaries of Christ

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

By

Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY — The Vatican will name a special “assistant” to advise the leadership of the troubled Legionaries of Christ, whose revised constitutions Pope Francis has still not approved four months after they were submitted to him.

Father Eduardo Robles Gil, general director of the Legionaries, made the announcement in a video message sent to the congregation’s members June 22 and now accessible on YouTube.

Cardinal Joao Braz de Aviz and Archbishop Jose Rodriguez Carballo, respectively prefect and secretary of the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life, informed Father Robles Gil of the plan for an adviser at a recent meeting, the general director said.

“We asked if this assistant would have a role in government, but we were told that no, our government was autonomous,” Father Robles Gil said in the video.

The general director said he had not been told the identity of the assistant, but hoped to learn more at a July 3 meeting with the cardinal and archbishop.

Father Robles Gil said he also hoped to find out “how the constitutions are coming along, and if there is something we need to adapt or change.”

The Legionaries’ extraordinary general chapter, which closed Feb. 25, approved a new constitution that requires final approval by the pope, and chose Father Robles Gil as the congregation’s first elected leader after nearly four years of Vatican-supervised reform.

The seven-week gathering of 61 Legionary priests from 11 countries also issued a letter condemning the “reprehensible and objectively immoral behavior” of the congregation’s founder, Father Marcial Maciel Degollado, citing his “abuse of minor seminarians,” “immoral acts with adult men and women,” “arbitrary use of his authority and of material goods,” “indiscriminate consumption of addictive medicines” and plagiarism.

The chapter was the culmination of a reform process that began with a Vatican-ordered apostolic visitation in 2009. That investigation was prompted by revelations that Father Maciel, who died in 2008, had fathered at least one illegitimate child and sexually abused boys in his own seminaries.

In 2010, the Vatican announced that Father Maciel had been guilty of “seriously and objectively immoral behavior” and “real crimes,” and had lived a “life devoid of scruples and of genuine religious meaning.” That same year, Pope Benedict XVI named Cardinal Velasio De Paolis to supervise the Legionaries’ reform.

 

 

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‘Paradoxical’ social media presents challenges, opportunities for youth coaches, Neumann professor says

By

Staff reporter

 

ASTON, Pa. – Social media is a force in our society, particularly among young people, and coaches and administrators who interact with them on a regular basis need to know how to make the online activity positive and handle what can be sticky situations, a Neumann University professor said earlier this month.

Margaret C. Stewart, who teaches communication and media arts, led a session on “The Good Use of Social Networks” at the Soul of Youth Sport conference, which was sponsored by the National Catholic Education Association and held at Neumann from June 15-17. She told approximately two dozen coaches and administrators about the “paradoxical” nature of social media — online platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram can be used for such positive purposes, but also may be very detrimental. Read more »

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Fortnight for Freedom: Catholics should be free to serve with ‘eucharistic heart,’ says Baltimore archbishop

By

Catholic News Service

BALTIMORE — The Eucharist conforms Catholics to “the pattern of Christ’s self-giving love” and compels them to see the dignity of the poor and perform acts of mercy, Baltimore Archbishop William E. Lori said at the June 21 opening Mass for this year’s Fortnight for Freedom.

The Little Sisters of the Poor were among those Baltimore Archbishop William E. Lori thanked for their service June 21 during the celebration of the third annual Fortnight for Freedom Mass at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Baltimore. (CNS photo/Tom McCarthy Jr., Catholic Review)

The Mass coincided with the feast of Corpus Christi.

“By entering the dynamic of Christ’s self-giving eucharistic love, we are impelled … to work for a loving and just society where the dignity of human life is respected from conception until natural death and all the stages in between,” he said in his homily.

More than 1,000 people packed the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary for the opening of the third annual Fortnight for Freedom, two weeks dedicated to prayer, education and advocacy for religious freedom.

Concelebrating the Mass were Auxiliary Bishop Martin D. Holley of Washington; Auxiliary Bishop F. Richard Spencer of the U.S. Archdiocese for the Military Services; Auxiliary Bishop Denis J. Madden of Baltimore; Bishop Mitchell T. Rozanski, an auxiliary bishop of Baltimore and bishop-designate of Springfield, Mass.; and a dozen priests.

Archbishop Lori is the chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Ad Hoc Committee for Religious Liberty, formed in 2011. In 2012, it published a letter titled “Our First, Most Cherished Liberty” and launched the Fortnight for Freedom event in response to government infringement on religious freedom rights in the United States and abroad.

Chief among those perceived threats are the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ mandate that most employers, including religious employers, provide insurance for artificial birth control, sterilization and abortion-causing drugs. Archbishop Lori and the Archdiocese of Baltimore are among plaintiffs in 100 lawsuits nonprofit and for-profit organizations and businesses have brought against the federal government over the mandate.

In his homily, Archbishop Lori criticized the mandate, as well as state laws criminalizing churches that serve immigrants living in the country illegally and “discrimination against Catholic humanitarian services because they refuse to provide so-called services that violate Catholic teaching.”

Subtle threats

Archbishop Lori acknowledged that in other countries, people are killed for professing their faith. In the United States, he said, the challenges to religious freedom are more subtle yet very real.

“Increasingly, government at all levels is asserting itself in the internal life of churches, telling them that houses of worship are fully religious, whereas religious schools and charities that serve the common good are less so, and therefore less deserving of religious freedom protections,” he said.

The 2014 fortnight theme is “The Freedom to Serve” to emphasize the charitable works of Catholic organizations and individuals. During the Mass, Archbishop Lori distinguished the church’s work from that of nongovernmental agencies, as Pope Francis has done, adding that Catholics “are to be more than an NGO” by virtue of a “eucharistic heart.”

“We are seeking for the church and for church institutions no special privileges,” he said. “We are seeking the freedom to serve, or as Pope Francis once put it, the freedom to proclaim and live the Gospel in its entirety.”

He asked Catholics to keep “in the forefront of our heart” people whom U.S. Catholic humanitarian agencies, parishes and individuals serve.

“Let us look at them not merely as statistics but as persons created in God’s image and called to enjoy friendship with God,” he said.

Among the Mass attendees were members of the Baltimore-based Little Sisters of the Poor, plaintiffs in a well-publicized lawsuit against the federal government over the HHS mandate. The U.S. Supreme Court granted the sisters a temporary injunction in January.

In an interview after Mass, Mother Loraine Marie Clare Maguire, the Little Sisters’ provincial superior, urged Catholics to pray for religious freedom.

“Religious freedom is very important to us and to our mission of caring for the elderly,” she told The Catholic Review, Baltimore’s archdiocesan newspaper. “You can’t do anything without prayer, and the Eucharist is the summit of our prayer life. It’s what brings us together as a community to pray.”

The Fortnight for Freedom will culminate with a July 4 Mass at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington.

 

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Christ the Teacher student creates meal fit for the First Lady

By

Staff reporter

 

BEAR – When Roisin Liew returns to Christ the Teacher School in a few months, she will have a great story to tell her friends about how she spent a couple of days in July.

Roisin (pronounced ROH-sheen), who is entering fourth grade, is one of 54 children from across the United States, the District of Columbia, Guam, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands to be named winners of the 2014 Healthy Lunchtime Challenge and Kids “State Dinner.” She and her mother, Shannon, will travel to Washington, D.C., on July 17 for two days of activities, culminating with dinner with First Lady Michelle Obama on the 18th. Read more »

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Citing Marianist mission, University of Dayton divests from fossil fuel

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Catholic News Service

WASHINGTON (CNS) — Ohio’s Marianist-run University of Dayton plans to divest from fossil fuel companies in an effort to more closely follow the order’s charism and church teaching on the environment.

In a June 23 announcement, the university said the decision came in a unanimous board of trustees vote May 15. The university is believed to be the first Catholic institution of higher education to divest from coal, oil and natural gas industries. Read more »

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