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Cleveland bishop will reopen 12 parishes after Vatican decrees

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Catholic News Service

Bishop Richard G. Lennon of Cleveland said he will reopen 12 parishes as directed by the Vatican to promote “peace and unity” in the diocese.

His announcement came a month after the Vatican’s Congregation for Clergy overturned the closings of the parishes in 2009 and 2010 and said the churches must be restored for worship.

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Peoria bishop urges ‘heroic Catholicism’

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Catholic News Service

PEORIA, Ill. — “Heroic Catholicism, not casual Catholicism” is required to confront state and federal threats to religious liberty and the church’s public ministries, Peoria Bishop Daniel R. Jenky told more than 500 Catholic men who marched through the city’s downtown in a steady rain April 14 in a public defense of the faith.

“We can no longer be Catholics by accident, but instead be Catholics by conviction,” said Bishop Jenky.

He warned participants in the “A Call to Catholic Men of Faith” rally that Catholic schools, hospitals, and Newman Centers the fall of 2013 “could easily be shut down” rather than cooperate with the government’s mandate that most health plans cover the cost of contraception, sterilization and some drugs that can induce abortion.

“Because no Catholic institution, under any circumstance, can ever cooperate with the instrinsic evil of killing innocent human life in the womb,” the bishop said.

After joining the men on a silent, mile-long walk from the Peoria riverfront to St. Mary’s Cathedral, Bishop Jenky used some of the strongest language yet by a church official in protesting the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ contraceptive mandate.

The bishop mentioned President Barack Obama three times in his homily at the rally Mass.

“In clear violation of our First Amendment rights,” said Bishop Jenky, “Barack Obama with his radical, pro-abortion and extreme secularist agenda now seems intent on following a similar path” as other governments throughout history who “have tried to force Christians to huddle and hide only within the confines of their churches.”

The Obama administration’s contraceptive mandate includes a religious exemption, but leaders of various Catholic and other faith-based organizations say it is too narrow and they will still be forced to provide coverage they oppose. The administration has defended the mandate as “preventative care,” but religious groups that oppose it say it infringes on their religious liberty.

A new federal proposal issued March 21 suggested third-party administrators pay the costs of contraceptives for religious employers who object, but the U.S. bishops said even with that, the mandate remained flawed.

To sustained applause, Bishop Jenky said no matter what happens in this passing moment, “Christ wins” and the church will survive current threats, just as it has endured persecutions from the Roman Empire through Nazism and communism.

“In the power of the Resurrection,” Bishop Jenky said forcefully, “the church will survive the hatred of Hollywood, the malice of the media, and the mendacious wickedness of the abortion industry.

“The church will survive the entrenched corruption and sheer incompetence of our Illinois state government,” he continued, “and even the calculated disdain of the president of the United States, his appointed bureaucrats in HHS, and of current majority in the federal Senate.”

Bishop Jenky said “this is not a war where any believing Catholic may remain neutral.”

Dermody is editor-in-chief of The Catholic Post in Peoria.

 

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Keeping emphasis on Jesus will keep faith alive, educators told

April 16th, 2012 Posted in National News

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BOSTON (CNS) — A workshop titled “Will there be faith?” answered its own question with a resounding “yes” — with the caveat that Catholic school teachers and catechists emphasize the life and ministry of Jesus and also follow his teaching style.   The workshop, one of hundreds offered during the annual National Catholic Educational Association convention April 11-13 in Boston, did not stress any new programs or teaching styles but instead highlighted Gospel passages.

Thomas Groome, director of Boston College’s Institute of Religious Education and Pastoral Ministry, told a packed room of educators April 13 that Jesus — described as a teacher 150 times in the New Testament — should be their role model.

He noted that obviously Jesus didn’t use PowerPoint or even a microphone, but said today’s teachers should “be consistent with his approach.”     According to Groome, the particular teaching style Jesus used engaged people in their daily lives, often through parables, invited them to stop and look at their lives, then turned their views upside down and motivated them to live differently based on this faith understanding. Read more »

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More Anglican parishes join church

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WASHINGTON — Anglican parishes in Philadelphia and Indianapolis were received into full communion with the Roman Catholic Church in early April, and two Anglican bishops in Canada were slated to lead their clergy and congregants into the church later in the month.

The Anglicans are joining the new U.S. Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter, based in Houston, a structure for Anglicans to become Roman Catholics while retaining some of their Anglican heritage and traditions, including liturgical traditions.

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Seattle parishes can gather signatures for marriage referendum

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SEATTLE — Now that the Easter triduum has passed, parishes in the Archdiocese of Seattle are free to participate in gathering signatures for a referendum challenging a Washington state law that legalized same-sex marriage.

Seattle Archbishop J. Peter Sartain, who testified against the measure when it was still under consideration by the Legislature, had asked parishes not to collect signatures on Palm Sunday or Easter Sunday.

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Nearly all US dioceses’ abuse policies found to comply with charter

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Catholic News Service

Ten years after passing their “Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People,” the heads of nearly all U.S. dioceses are in full compliance with the 17-point document, according to recently completed audits.

Two dioceses — Baker, Ore., and Lincoln, Neb. — and six Eastern Catholic eparchies refused to participate in the audits, as they had in past years, and were found to be noncompliant.

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Church’s only Puerto Rican cardinal dies

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SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico — Cardinal Luis Aponte Martinez, the second Puerto Rican to be ordained a bishop and the only Puerto Rican cardinal, died April 10 at Hospital Espanol Auxilio Mutuo in San Juan after a long illness. He was 89.

The head of the San Juan Archdiocese for nearly 30 years, he retired in 1999. Cardinal Aponte participated in the two 1978 conclaves that elected Pope John Paul I and Blessed John Paul II, but he was already over 80 and ineligible to vote by the time Pope Benedict XVI was chosen.

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U.S. bishops report on 2011 child abuse allegations

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Catholic News Service

WASHINGTON — Although allegations of child sex abuse by U.S. priests and deacons continue to surface, the vast majority involve actions taken decades ago by clergy who have since died or been removed from ministry, according to a new report.

The 2011 survey of abuse-related allegations and costs conducted by the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate at Georgetown University in Washington was released April 10 by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

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Catholics urged to resist unjust laws, join in ‘fortnight for freedom’

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Catholic News Service

WASHINGTON — American Catholics must resist unjust laws “as a duty of citizenship and an obligation of faith,” a committee of the U.S. bishops said in a new statement on religious liberty.

Titled “Our First, Most Cherished Liberty,” the 12-page statement by the Ad Hoc Committee on Religious Liberty also calls for “a fortnight for freedom” from June 21, the vigil of the feasts of St. John Fisher and St. Thomas More, to July 4, U.S. Independence Day.

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Judge rules Kansas City bishop must stand trial

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. — A Missouri judge declined to dismiss misdemeanor charges of failing to report suspected child sexual abuse against Bishop Robert W. Finn and the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph, which he heads.

The ruling by Circuit Court Judge John M. Torrence paves the way for Bishop Finn and the diocese to stand trial, set for September. Both the bishop and the diocese have pleaded not guilty to the charges.

Torrence denied motions by attorneys for the bishop, who had argued during a hearing March 27 that the charges should be dismissed because they were unconstitutionally vague and that Bishop Finn was not the diocese’s designated official responsible for reporting sexual abuse to authorities.

“The court finds that the evidence in this case is sufficient to allow a jury to conclude that Bishop Finn was a designated reporter as defined by Missouri law,” Torrence wrote.

He also ruled that “this court finds and concludes that persons of ordinary intelligence have no difficulty understanding the meaning of ‘immediately report.'”

Diocesan spokeswoman Rebecca Summers referred inquiries to the attorneys in the case. Attorneys Gerald Handley and J.R. Hobbs, representing Bishop Finn, and Jean Paul Bradshaw II, representing the diocese, did not immediately return calls seeking comment.

Torrence also denied a defense motion to have the bishop and the diocese tried separately, explaining that there was no reason to have two trials in a case involving most of the same facts.

In mid-October, Bishop Finn and the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph entered pleas of not guilty to misdemeanor charges of failure to report child abuse brought by the prosecutor in the case of Father Shawn Ratigan.

Father Ratigan was arrested in May on state charges of possessing child pornography and charged in nearby Clay County. In August, federal prosecutors charged him with13 counts of child pornography. He remains jailed awaiting trial.

The charges stem from the discovery of child pornography on a church computer in December 2010.

Another diocesan official reported the findings to police in May.

The charge against Bishop Finn carries a maximum penalty of a $1,000 fine and one year in jail. The diocese faces a fine of up to $5,000.

 

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