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Chaplains object to same-sex weddings memo

October 13th, 2011 Posted in National News

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WASHINGTON — Archbishop Timothy P. Broglio of the Archdiocese for the Military Services and a group representing hundreds of other Christian military chaplains have objected to a Pentagon memo allowing military chaplains to participate in or officiate at same-sex marriages on or off military installations.

The memo was issued by Undersecretary of Defense Clifford L. Stanley Sept. 30. It followed the Sept. 20 repeal of the military’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy that banned gays from serving openly in the armed forces.

Stanley’s memo said: “A military chaplain may participate in or officiate (at) any private ceremony, whether on or off a military installation, provided that the ceremony is not prohibited by applicable state and local law.”

It also said that “a chaplain is not required to participate in or officiate (at) a private ceremony if doing so would be in variance with the tenets of his or her religion.”

Archbishop Broglio has questioned how the military could allow chaplains in the U.S. armed forces to be involved in same-sex marriage ceremonies when the federal Defense of Marriage Act prohibits such unions.

“The Pentagon’s new policy, as outlined in these two memos, appears to ignore the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), which was signed into law 15 years ago and remains in effect,” Archbishop Broglio said in a statement emailed to Catholic News Service Oct. 12.

“How can Undersecretary Stanley say, on the one hand, that chaplains may take part in any private ceremony as long as it is ‘not prohibited by applicable state and local law,’ and on the other, say nothing of the federal law?” he asked.

A statement from a group called Chaplain Alliance for Liberty, which represents evangelical and Orthodox chaplains, raised the same concerns.

The alliance’s executive director, Ron Crews, told reporters that despite the Pentagon saying that chaplains are not required to participate in same-sex weddings, as stated in Stanley’s memo, he is concerned that a chaplain who refuses to perform such a ceremony will not be seen as “a team player” by the military and would be reassigned.

The Chaplain Alliance for Liberty does not allow its members to perform same-sex wedding ceremonies “under any circumstances,” he said.

Taylor Henry, spokesman for the military archdiocese, told Catholic News Service that it goes without saying that no Catholic chaplain will preside at same-sex weddings. “There is nothing that has changed in church teaching about that,” he said.

In his statement, Archbishop Broglio said the Pentagon’s new policy on chaplains and same-sex marriage “seems to undermine the will of the American people.”

“In no fewer than 29 states, men and women of goodwill have affirmed marriage as the union of a man and a woman,” he said. “Anywhere that the people have been allowed to decide, marriage has been reaffirmed as that union made clear by nature itself. Furthermore 41 states have statutory or constitutional ‘Defense of Marriage Acts.’”

He said the new policy “seeks to circumvent the clear will of the majority, whose unquestionable sovereignty has the last word in the system of government enshrined in the federal Constitution.”

He emphasized that the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act was passed through the “efforts of a substantial, bipartisan majority in Congress” and was signed into law by Democratic President Bill Clinton.

“As a nation we walk down a dangerous path when appointed officials are allowed to undermine the will of the people,” Archbishop Broglio said.

“The women and men I am privileged to serve place their lives on the line every day to defend the country whose government is of the people, by the people, and for the people. Let us pray that the millions who have died to ensure those liberties did not die in vain,” he said.

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More objections to federal rule requiring contraception, sterilization coverage

October 4th, 2011 Posted in National News

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Catholic News Service

WASHINGTON — Catholic organizations filing comments on the federal Department of Health and Human Services’ mandate that health insurance plans cover contraception and sterilization and a proposed religious exemption registered their strong disapproval.

The latest round of comments echoed objections raised in those filed earlier by, among others, attorneys for the U.S. bishops and the Catholic Health Association.
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Healing of Springfield, Pa., man key to Italian priest’s canonization

October 4th, 2011 Posted in National News

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Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY — Thanks to the healing of a young man from the United States, who was severely injured in a rollerblading accident, Italian Blessed Louis Guanella will be among three new saints proclaimed by Pope Benedict XVI in late October.

William Glisson, now 30 and married, was 21 years old when he and a friend were rollerblading down the Baltimore Pike in Springfield, Pa., near Philadelphia. Glisson was skating backward, without a helmet, hit a hole and fell, hitting his head.
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Bishops reissue 2007’s ‘Faithful Citizenship’ with new introduction

October 4th, 2011 Posted in National News

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Catholic News Service

WASHINGTON — A new introduction to the U.S. bishops’ document 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.”

The brief Introductory Note to the 2011 reissue of “Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship” was signed by the president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and the chairmen of nine USCCB committees. It was approved by the bishops’ Administrative Committee at its mid-September meeting and made public Oct. 4.
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Supreme Court term starts with case over church school employment

September 30th, 2011 Posted in National News

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WASHINGTON LETTER By Patricia Zapor
Catholic News Service

WASHINGTON — The constitutionally thorny question of where the line lies between a church school’s religious autonomy and the legal rights of its teachers comes before the Supreme Court Oct. 5, two days after the term starts.

Other cases on the court’s docket this fall include consideration of standards of indecency on network television and at least two cases over what activities warrant deporting immigrants.
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Pro-life groups offer practical help to pregnant women

September 30th, 2011 Posted in National News

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By Carol Zimmermann

For women facing unplanned pregnancies, the price of disposable diapers alone can be daunting.

That’s because they cost an estimated $800 per year and are just one expense among many.

And that’s why Mimi Eckstein, director of the Denver archdiocese’s Gabriel Project — which supports pregnant women and new mothers — makes sure she has plenty of diapers in all sizes to offer new mothers.
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Catholic theologians call for end to death penalty

September 30th, 2011 Posted in National News

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WASHINGTON — More than 200 Catholic theologians, scholars and social justice advocates cite the executions of Troy Davis in Georgia and Lawrence Brewer in Texas in mid-September as the impetus for their call to abolish the death penalty.

In “A Catholic Call to Abolish the Death Penalty,” posted Sept. 26 on the website Catholic Moral Theology, the signers said they protest the state-sanctioned killings of the two men and call for the abolition of the death penalty in the United States.

They said Davis’ execution is “particularly troubling for it shines a stark light upon many long-standing concerns about capital punishment.” While noting that they mourn the death of Mark McPhail, the Savannah, Ga., police officer Davis was convicted of killing, “we believe that a grave miscarriage of justice took place with Davis’ execution.” Serious doubt remains about Davis’ guilt, they said, and he maintained his innocence to his last breath.
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Campus ministries devise ways to sustain college students’ faith

September 30th, 2011 Posted in National News

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Catholic News Service

WASHINGTON — While a new study of evangelical college students finds that up to half of them can drift from their faith while attending school, Catholics in campus ministry say that the findings are applicable to Catholic college students as well.

The study, “Sticky Faith,” found that the drift applied whether a student was living on campus or commuting from home, and that students were just as susceptible even if they were enrolled at a religiously affiliated school.
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