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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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Federal judge halts same-sex marriages in Wisconsin during appeal

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MADISON, Wis. (CNS) — A federal judge halted same-sex marriages in Wisconsin while an appeal of her decision to strike down as unconstitutional the state’s ban on such marriages is pending.

U.S. District Court Judge Barbara B. Crabb stopped same-sex marriages in the state a week after her initial ruling June 6. About 500 couples had wed during the period after she allowed county clerks to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

Her order did not address whether the marriages were valid. Read more »

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Pope’s words give inmates hope, say advocates for fair sentencing

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Catholic News Service

WASHINGTON (CNS) — More than 2,000 people across the United States are currently serving life sentences without parole for crimes they committed as children.

“We are looked down on by society, an embarrassment to be swept under the rug and forgotten,” wrote one inmate.

Pope Francis recently sent a message of hope to a group of these prisoners — echoing the words of St. Francis of Assisi, his namesake, who in his indelible “Peace Prayer” implores the Lord to help him sow hope where there is despair. Read more »

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Community says farewell to murdered priest; suspect in attack arrested

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Catholic News Service

PHOENIX (CNS) — Clergy, religious and laity jammed into St. Catherine of Sienna Parish in Phoenix for a standing-room-only funeral Mass for Father Kenneth Walker June 16.

The 28-year-old priest was fatally injured June 11 in an attack at a different church, one that stands in the shadows of the state Capitol buildings. A second priest, Father Joseph Terra, 56, was critically injured.

Father Walker died at the hospital, and Father Terra was hospitalized in critical but stable condition. He has since been released from intensive care. Read more »

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Phoenix police arrest suspect in violent attack on two Catholic priests

June 16th, 2014 Posted in National News Tags:

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Catholic News Service

PHOENIX (CNS) — Police in Phoenix have arrested a suspect in the violent assault on a downtown church that took the life of one priest and left a second priest critically injured.

According to an AP story, a man identified as Gary Michael Moran, 54, was being held on suspicion of first-degree murder, burglary and armed robbery, among others charges, police said June 16. Read more »

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Court rules against temporary injunction on mandate for Catholic groups

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LANSING, Mich. (CNS) — The 6th Circuit Court of Appeals lifted a temporary injunction that had stopped enforcement of the federal contraceptive mandate against several Catholic entities in Michigan and Tennessee while they pursued further appeals of the mandate.

The Catholic plaintiffs include the Michigan Catholic Conference, Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Kalamazoo, Catholic Diocese of Nashville, Tennessee, Catholic Charities of Tennessee, and the Dominican Sisters of St. Cecilia Congregation. Read more »

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Bishops vote to continue religious liberty work three more years

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Catholic News Service

NEW ORLEANS — The U.S. Catholic bishops June 11 unanimously approved by voice vote a three-year extension of the Ad Hoc Committee on Religious Liberty, a proposal for a limited revision of their quadrennial statement offering guidance for election decisions and to continue to use current guidelines for permanent diaconate formation.

The votes came on the first day of the bishops’ June 11-13 annual spring assembly in New Orleans.

To keep down costs, especially since they had only three items requiring a vote, the bishops did not use electronic voting but simply expressed “ayes,” and in this case, no “nays.”

Prior to the vote about extending the Ad Hoc Committee on Religious Freedom for three years, Baltimore Archbishop William E. Lori, the committee chair, compared the body’s work to the “humble beginnings of the pro-life movement.”

He noted that the March for Life, which began a year after the Roe v. Wade decision legalizing abortion, was initially a small gathering and now is the “largest pro-life march in the world.”

Organizers of these initial efforts, he said, didn’t expect changes overnight, but are now seeing shifts in opinion on abortion, especially as polls show how “young people are more pro-life than their parents.”

That effort, he said, has taken a lot of hard work in building bridges, policy work and teaching with pastoral sensitivity about the value of life.

“We find ourselves in a comparable situation with religious freedom,” he said.

Although the ad hoc committee was formed in 2011, the “need for its sustained work is at least as great as when it started,” Archbishop Lori told the bishops.

He noted it has gotten “off to a good start, but there is more work to be done.”

In a question-and-answer period, bishops voiced their support for the ad hoc committee. Archbishop J. Peter Sartain of Seattle said that to stop it would “send a bad message to our own” and to those who oppose its work.

Others said the ad hoc committee’s efforts, particularly through materials it provides to dioceses, have been helpful. One bishop pointed out how lay Catholics have gotten behind the issue of religious liberty and hoped the momentum would continue.

For the U.S. church, chief among threats to religious liberty is the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ mandate that most employers provide insurance coverage for contraceptives, sterilization and some abortion-inducing drugs.

Another item the bishops passed was the vote for a limited revision of their quadrennial statement offering Catholics guidance for election decisions and drafting a new introductory note for it. The most recent iteration, in 2007, is called “Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship: A Call to Political Responsibility from the Catholic Bishops of the United States.”

The revision and draft will be presented to the U.S. bishops at their annual fall assembly in November.

The introduction to the current statement on political responsibility reminds Catholics that some issues “involve the clear obligation to oppose intrinsic evils which can never be justified,” while others “require action to pursue justice and promote the common good.”

Since 1976, the Catholic bishops have issued a quadrennial statement linking church teachings to political responsibility. In October 2011, the bishops issued a new introduction to the document.

A note in the 2011 introduction clarifies that the document “does not offer a voters’ guide, scorecard of issues or direction on how to vote.” Instead, it “applies Catholic moral principles to a range of important issues and warns against misguided appeals to ‘conscience’ to ignore fundamental moral claims, to reduce Catholic moral concerns to one or two matters, or to justify choices simply to advance partisan, ideological or personal interests.”

Nine bishops’ committees: pro-life, migration, education, communications, doctrine, domestic justice, international justice and peace, cultural diversity, and laity, marriage, family life and youth are weighing in on the document signed by the president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and the chairmen of these committees.

In asking bishops to consider revising the document, Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo of Galveston-Houston, the USCCB’s vice president, noted that to do nothing to the document would leave out the magisterium of Pope Benedict XVI and Pope Francis and to start from scratch on a new version of the document would fail to acknowledge the work that went into the 2007 version.

The cardinal proposed a limited revision of the 2007 document, which the bishops unanimously approved. He also recommended the drafting of a new introductory note that would be submitted to the general assembly for possible approval. The bishops unanimously approved of that decision as well.

The bishops also voted to permit the USCCB Committee on Clergy, Consecrated Life and Vocations to seek a renewal of Vatican approval, or “recognitio,” for the National Directory for the Formation, Ministry and Life of Permanent Deacons in the United States. Vatican approval would be for another five-year period.

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Murderous attack on two Phoenix priests stuns parish, community

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PHOENIX — The Diocese of Phoenix is “stunned and deeply saddened” about the “tragic assault” on a downtown Phoenix church that took the life of one priest and left a second priest critically injured.

Father Kenneth Walker, 28, died of a gunshot wound. Father Joseph Terra, 56, survived the June 11 attack and remained hospitalized in critical but stable condition.

Police tape and vehicles are seen outside Mater Misericordiae (Mother of Mercy) Mission in Phoenix the morning after a priest was killed and another critically injured during an attack at the mission the night of June 11. Sgt. Steve Martos of the Phoenix Police Department said police received a 911 call at about 9 p.m. reporting a burglary. (CNS photo/Nancy Wiechec)

“The police are still gathering information and trying to sort through the details of this senseless act of violence,” the diocese said in a statement. “We ask that people offer prayers for both priests, the religious community, their families and the parish.”

The priests, members of the Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter, served at Mater Misericordiae (Mother of Mercy) Mission, where they were attacked during a nighttime burglary.

Father Walker was pronounced dead at the hospital. A police spokesman described Father Terra’s injuries as severe and said that it appeared he was beaten by intruders.

At a news conference at the Phoenix Police Department the morning of June 12, Police Chief Daniel Garcia asked the community for assistance in solving the crime. He remained tight-lipped about the attack and would not comment as to whether the murder took place in the church itself or the rectory.

Father Terra made the 911 call, Phoenix police say, shortly after 9:30 p.m. June 11.

“We have an extensive investigation underway as of last night,” Garcia said. “The Phoenix Police Department will exhaust its resources to bring to justice the individuals who have committed this crime.”

“Our city lost a young priest,” said Mayor Greg Stanton. “Although we don’t know who did this, be assured that our very capable police department is working around the clock.”

Father Fred Adamson, the diocese’s vicar general and moderator of the curia, also spoke at the news conference. Phoenix Bishop Thomas J. Olmsted was in New Orleans for the U.S. bishops’ spring general assembly June 11-13.

The vicar general said Father Terra administered last rites to Father Walker in spite of his own suffering.

“They (the two priests) have been there four year years and felt it was a safe place to live,” Father Adamson said when asked whether there were security problems with the church being close to the state Capitol grounds.

Father Terra is “a pretty strong man, he’s not afraid of anybody, and if anyone came in there and asked him, he would give them the shirt off his back. That’s the type of priest he is, a real servant of God,” Father Adamson said.

Both priests were known for their stalwart efforts on behalf of the unborn. Bishop Olmsted, in comments he made in New Orleans, said the two priests often participated in prayer vigils at abortion clinics.

“Every time that I went to pray during the ‘40 Days for Life’ at the abortion places, (Father Walker) was there with Father Terra,” he said, calling them “faithful priests, joyfully serving their people.”

Father Walker, a priest since 2012, was parochial vicar at Mater Misericordiae. Father Terra, a priest since 1989, was the pastor. Both were ordained for the Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter. The order is dedicated to celebrating the Mass in the extraordinary form, commonly known as the Tridentine rite.

“They loved their people. It couldn’t be something they provoked,” Bishop Olmsted said of the attack. “There has to be some other reason this violence happened.”

Despite the tragedy, the bishop offered words of hope. “We need to keep in mind that we’re people of hope, because death is not the last word, ever.”

Bart Tesoriero, a Mater Misericordiae parishioner, is a longtime technician with Radio Family Rosary and recently recorded a number of radio programs with Father Walker.

“I am really saddened,” Tesoriero told The Catholic Sun, Phoenix’s diocesan newspaper. “Father Walker was a very pure young man who was devoted to his priesthood. He was a beautiful person.”

Catholics were quick to react to the news of the attack on social media. “Horrible!” one woman posted on Facebook. “Our place of peace so horribly violated. Lord be with us all.”

Crosier Father Robert Rossi, presided at a noon Mass at the diocesan pastoral center June 12. A group of staff members had gathered before the Mass for a rosary on behalf of the two victims.

“We’re gathering at this table with great sadness,” Father Rossi said. “It’s a tragedy for our church and for our friends.”

He told diocesan staff the Gospel selection for the day’s Mass, Chapter 5, Verses 20-26 of St. Matthew’s Gospel, was particularly poignant in light of the attack because it mentioned murder and pointed to the importance of about being reconciled.

“Jesus called us to ask where does anger take root,” Father Rossi said. “The person who pulled the trigger must have been a very angry person and that anger built up. It’s a wake-up call for all of us.”

Members of Mater Misericordiae, many of the women wearing chapel veils, crowded into the Ss. Simon and Jude Cathedral for a prayer vigil June 12.

Clarissa Quiring, who moved to the Phoenix area in December and joined Mater Misericordiae, attended the prayer vigil.

“They are men of profound prayer, with a deep respect for the Eucharist,” Quiring said of the two priests. “They understand that the Eucharist is central to the spiritual life and to our life in general.”

In his homily, Father John Lankeit, cathedral rector, described the two priests as courageous.

He, too, referred to how Father Terra, though badly beaten in the attack, administered last rites to Father Walker.

“In that moment facing darkness, he brought a soul into the hands of Jesus. He needs our prayers,” Father Lankeit said. “He has our admiration.”

 

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No ruling can change nature of marriage, says Wisconsin bishop

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MADISON, Wis. — Marriage is “and can only ever be” a relationship “solely between one man and one woman, regardless of the decision of a judge or any vote,” said Bishop Robert C. Morlino of Madison.

“This is not based on any private sectarian viewpoint, but on the natural moral law that is universally binding on all peoples, at all times, and inscribed into our human nature, as man and woman from the beginning of creation,” he said.

Bishop Morlino made the comments in response to a late June 6 ruling by U.S. District Court Judge Barbara Crabb, who declared as unconstitutional a 2006 amendment to the Wisconsin Constitution that outlawed same-sex marriage.

Almost immediately, county clerk offices in Wisconsin began issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples. Crabb was to decide later whether she would stay her decision while an appeal moved through the courts. Wisconsin Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen has asked an appeals court to stop such marriages while he appeals Crabb’s decision.

The American Civil Liberties Union sued Wisconsin ultimately on behalf of eight same-sex couples. It argued the state ban on same-sex marriage violated the plaintiffs’ constitutional rights to equal protection and due process.

In a June 9 statement, the Wisconsin Catholic Conference, public policy arm of the state’s bishops, said that with an appeal to be filed with the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, Crabb’s ruling “is not the last word on the subject.”

“Whatever the outcome of this case, our public conversation over the definition of marriage will continue,” it said, adding that the bishops encouraged Catholics “to witness their support for this unique relationship.”

“If married, they can do this by living out their own marriage vows. If not married, they can support others who have made a marriage commitment,” the statement said.

At the same time, they urge Catholics “to witness as well to our belief in the dignity of all people by engaging in civil discourse on this sensitive topic. We are true to our values when we recognize the good faith and humanity of all people, whether or not they share our views.”

Crabb and the court have “shaken one of the most precious and essential building blocks of our civilization,” Bishop Morlino said in his statement.

First, he said, “it bears repeating that, we must respect, love, and care for every individual we encounter, regardless of who they are, where they come from, or how they define themselves. This will never change. It is at the core of who we are as members of Christ’s church.”

Christ’s love and mercy “can heal all divisions that separate us,” he added. “However, however, we must acknowledge the divisions that exist — notably those we choose through our actions.”

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

Bishop Morlino said he was “deeply saddened” by Crabb’s ruling. “I will continue to speak strongly about the truth and beauty of marriage and encourage my brother priests and deacons, and all the lay faithful, to do the same.”

 

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Cleveland ends fees for marriage annulments

June 10th, 2014 Posted in National News Tags: , ,

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Catholic News Service

WASHINGTON — Couples seeking a marriage annulment in the Diocese of Cleveland no longer have to pay a fee for the service.

Under a plan announced by Bishop Richard G. Lennon June 4, all fees in annulment cases were eliminated. Cases already filed as well as marriage dispensations and marriage permissions also are covered by the policy change.

Bishop Lennon said in a press release that he hoped the change will encourage men and women in irregular marriages, especially those who have been divorced and remarried, to undertake greater participation in the life of the church.

The diocese’s judicial vicar said the announcement was welcomed by the diocesan marriage tribunal staff.

“It is important because the process is difficult to begin with and to put another stumbling block in the way of individuals, who especially in this time are experiencing financial difficulties, seems to be rather unfair,” Father Gary Yanus said.

“People who want to address their right as Catholics to the sacramental life of the church, it seems the fee discourages a number of people from presenting a case which has merit. This is a good way of encouraging people to come forward and see where they stand with the church and reflect on their life with the Lord and the church as well,” Father Yanus said.

Cleveland is the most recent diocese to waive fees for annulments. Cardinal Edmund C. Szoka, as archbishop of Detroit, eliminated fees for tribunal services in the 1980s. The Diocese of Columbus, Ohio, ended its fees in 2000.

The decision comes at no small cost to the Cleveland diocese. In 2013, with 512 annulment cases filed and the diocese’s estimated average cost of $450, the diocese is forfeiting more than $230,000 in fees.

Father Yanus said the diocese is on pace to receive 500 to 600 annulment applications in 2014. He said he was unsure whether the number would rise in the future because of the change.

The waiver includes all fees related to any psychological assessments that must be undertaken as a case winds its way through the marriage tribunal.

“People (at the marriage tribunal) think of their jobs as ministry and are very pleased that hopefully we’ll be able to reach more people,” Father Yanus said. “We see this as a reconciling ministry as well and to take a significant obstacle out of the way is really a great thing.”

Bishop Lennon cited Pope Francis’ oft-repeated called for mercy within the church in making the announcement.

“This is an effort to promote the common good for the faithful of Cleveland,” the bishop said.

 

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