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Verbal attacks on Hispanics in church followed by support from Portland community


Catholic News Service

PORTLAND, Ore. — Father Raul Marquez had never seen anything like it. Eight men walked to the front door of St. Peter Church in Southeast Portland Jan. 29 and began bellowing during the Spanish Mass.

Father Raul Marquez of St. Peter Parish in Portland, Oregon, thanks people who came to stand vigil outside his church Feb. 5. The crowd formed a human shield a week after a group of eight men stood outside the front door of the church during a Spanish Mass and yelled insults about Catholicism, immigrants and the morals of the parish women. (CNS photo/Francisco Lara, Catholic Sentinel)

Father Raul Marquez of St. Peter Parish in Portland, Oregon, thanks people who came to stand vigil outside his church Feb. 5. The crowd formed a human shield a week after a group of eight men stood outside the front door of the church during a Spanish Mass and yelled insults about Catholicism, immigrants and the morals of the parish women. (CNS photo/Francisco Lara, Catholic Sentinel)

Dressed like hunters, they accused worshippers of not being true Christians, questioned the sexual morals of the women and harangued the congregation for being made up of immigrants.

The group, which calls itself “Street Preachers,” has been setting up counter-protests at events criticizing President Donald Trump, including a late January demonstration at Portland International Airport.

The St. Peter community, already living in fear because of federal immigration policy proposals, was shocked.

“All that Sunday I felt upset and didn’t understand,” said Father Marquez, a Colombian native who has been pastor of St. Peter for five years. “How I was going to be happy while I heard and remembered the verbal insult? I was looking for an answer.”

The Gospel reading of the day said, in part, “Blessed are you when they insult you and persecute you and utter every kind of evil against you.”

The following Sunday, Feb. 5, an answer to the priest’s question came and the fear was soothed as more than 300 people formed a human shield in front of St. Peter Church during Masses. News of the previous week’s attack had gone out on social media, drawing the crowd that stood in silence, holding signs.

“I didn’t expect this outpouring of love for us,” said Alberto Gonzalez, a native of Oaxaca, Mexico, who has been a member of St. Peter for 18 months. “This time is very difficult for us and here we are surrounded by love of all of the American people, who came to show they are here, we are one, we are one community.”

With tears in his eyes, Gonzalez said he has not felt supported until now. At first, he thought the large group of white people had come to hurl more invective, but then he saw they had come to protect their brothers and sisters.

“This is solidarity,” Gonzalez told the Catholic Sentinel, newspaper of the Portland Archdiocese. “This is love.”

Parishioners got a lesson in nonviolent response to harassment. A table of coffee and sweets was put up near the front door of the church for protectors who came out despite chilly rain.

Joining Father Marquez in a sign of support were Father Ron Millican from nearby Our Lady of Sorrows Church and the Rev. Elizabeth Larson from St. Mark Lutheran Church.

“I wanted to come here and hug each person,” Rev. Larson said.

Father Millican invited his parishioners to come and show support. “We need to be together,” he said. “It is very sad that it takes something like this to make us come together. But it is beautiful, the outpouring of support for the dignity of everyone.”

Nona Carrasco was one of those outside who got completely wet. “This is my community,” Carrasco said. “I don’t stand for bigotry. I will stand for my community and this is what we do.”

Father Marquez received hundreds of messages of support. The first was a letter from Portland Archbishop Alexander K. Sample, who told the people of St. Peter Parish he stands with them.

“I was saddened beyond words to learn of the terrible experience that many of you encountered as you came to church last weekend,” the archbishop said in his letter. “It is so tragic that you were coming to celebrate God’s love and mercy and yet you experienced cruelty and hatred at the hands of severely misguided protestors.

“I am especially upset to learn of the verbal abuse heaped upon members of our Hispanic community” and also what was “directed against women in your community,” he said, calling it “vile behavior.” Archbishop Sample also noted that the same group was targeting other churches as well.

“Please be assured that I, as your archbishop and shepherd, stand firmly with you in the face of such ignorant and hateful words,” the archbishop told parishioners. “You are our brothers and sisters, and as members of the same family of faith, we must hold fast to our unity in Christ. … Be assured of my love.”

After the Feb. 5 Mass, Father Marquez walked out to thank supporters. He could barely move as people hugged him and asked for his blessing.

“This is the time to live the Gospel radically by praying for those men and their few sympathizers and to intentionally forgive them,” the priest said.

By Rocio Rios, editor of El Centinela, the monthly Spanish-language newspaper of the Portland achdiocese.

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Cardinal Dolan urges stronger effort to stop physician-assisted suicide


WASHINGTON — The chairman of the U.S. bishops’ Committee on Pro-Life Activities has called for increased efforts and “renewed vigor” to stop legalized physician-assisted suicide after the practice was approved by voters in Colorado and the District of Columbia City Council.

Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan of New York urged Catholics to join medical professionals, disability rights groups and others “in fighting for the authentic care” of people facing terminal illness in a statement released Nov. 21.

New York Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan speaks Nov. 14 during the annual fall general assembly of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops in Baltimore. (CNS photo/Bob Roller)

New York Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan speaks Nov. 14 during the annual fall general assembly of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops in Baltimore. (CNS photo/Bob Roller)

“The act of prescribing a fatal, poisonous dose, moreover, undermines the very heart of medicine,” Cardinal Dolan said. “Doctors vow to do no harm, and yet assisted suicide is the ultimate abandonment of their patients.”

His concern comes after voters in Colorado passed a physician-assisted suicide measure that was on the ballot Nov. 8. The law also allows insurance companies to refuse treatment of patients they consider terminal.

Colorado became the sixth state in the nation with a so-called “right-to-die law,” joining Washington, Oregon, California, Vermont and Montana.

In Washington, D.C. City Council members in a second vote Nov. 15 approved the “Death with Dignity Act” that permits physicians in the district to legally prescribe the drugs to patients who have been deemed mentally competent and who have received a terminal diagnosis of six months or less. Under the measure, third parties are allowed to administer the drugs used in the procedure. The bill goes to Mayor Muriel Bowser to veto it, sign it or let it become law without any action on her part. If it becomes law, it would be subject to congressional review before it takes affect.

Cardinal Dolan called the district’s measure “the most expansive and dangerous so far” because it opens “the door to even further coercion and abuse.”

“Every suicide is tragic, whether someone is young or old, healthy or sick,” the cardinal added. “But the legalization of doctor-assisted suicide creates two classes of people: those whose suicides are to be prevented at any cost, and those whose suicides are deemed a positive good.

“We remove weapons and drugs that can cause harm to one group, while handing deadly drugs to the other, setting up yet another kind of life-threatening discrimination,” he continued. “This is completely unjust. Our inherent human dignity does not wane with the onset of illness or incapacity, and so all are worthy of protection.”

Seriously ill people require “authentic support, including doctors fully committed to their welfare and pain management as they enter their final days,” the statement said. “Patients need our assurance that they are not a burden; that it is a privilege to care for them as we ourselves hope to be cared for one day. A compassionate society devotes more attention, not less, to members facing the most vulnerable times in their lives.”

The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops issued a statement on assisted suicide 2011 titled “To Live Each Day with Dignity,” the full text is online at http://bit.ly/2ga5cht.  

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U.S. archbishop, pilgrims were celebrating Mass in Norcia when earthquakes struck


Catholic News Service

ROME — U.S. Archbishop Alexander K. Sample was preparing to celebrate Mass Oct. 26 with Benedictine monks in Norcia when the first of two powerful earthquakes struck.

“I had no sooner finished (the vesting) prayer to be protected from the assaults of Satan when bang: It just hit and it hit with a vengeance. It didn’t last very long, but it really shook the building we were in,” Archbishop Sample of Portland, Oregon, told Catholic News Service in Rome the next morning.

A collapsed church is seen Oct. 27 after an earthquake in Borgo Sant'Antonio near Visso, Italy. Archbishop Alexander K. Sample of Portland, Ore., was preparing to celebrate Mass Oct. 26 with Benedictine monks in Norcia when the first of two powerful earthquakes struck. (CNS photo/Max Rossi, Reuters)

A collapsed church is seen Oct. 27 after an earthquake in Borgo Sant’Antonio near Visso, Italy. Archbishop Alexander K. Sample of Portland, Ore., was preparing to celebrate Mass Oct. 26 with Benedictine monks in Norcia when the first of two powerful earthquakes struck. (CNS photo/Max Rossi, Reuters)

No casualties were reported from the quakes. According to the U.S. Geological Survey, an earthquake measuring 5.5 struck shortly after 7 p.m. local time and a 6.1 magnitude quake followed two hours later. Both were centered in Italy’s Marche region, not far from Norcia.

Archbishop Sample and other Portland pilgrims were visiting Norcia, the birthplace of St. Benedict, during a trip to Italy for the fifth annual Populus Summorum Pontificum pilgrimage, an international gathering for Catholics devoted to the extraordinary form of the Mass.

Speaking by telephone from Norcia, the archbishop said that despite feeling aftershocks during the Mass, he finished celebrating and was already in his hotel room when the second earthquake struck.

Although things seem to calm down, “there were a number of aftershocks” throughout the night, he said.

“I think about three times during the night, I was halfway out of bed to get to the door,” he said. “I confess, I’m a bit of a chicken and I slept in my clothes last night in case I had to run outside; I wanted to be properly attired. It was not the most restful night.”

While Archbishop Sample was with the Benedictine monks, he said another group from Portland, led by Father John Boyle, also had “a harrowing experience” during the earthquake while celebrating Mass in the crypt of the Basilica of St. Benedict in Norcia.

“Father Boyle was just beginning the preparatory prayers for holy Communion when it hit and he took shelter underneath the altar and instructed the other pilgrims to take cover under the pews,” the archbishop said.

When the earthquake ended, Archbishop Sample said, the pilgrims went outside the church and Father Boyle brought them Communion.

The archbishop said that Father Boyle found it “very moving to see the people kneeling on the ground to receive holy Communion; it was beautiful.” After Mass, several monks helped retrieve the pilgrim’s personal items from the church before they returned to their hotel.

Pope Francis took to social media to express his solidarity with those affected, tweeting: “I am close in prayer to the people struck by the new earthquake in central Italy.”

The earthquakes, which came two months after a powerful quake devastated several towns in the region, left several churches with major damage.

Avvenire, the newspaper of the Italian bishops’ conference, reported that one of the destroyed buildings was the 13th-century church of San Salvatore in Campi, just outside the center of Norcia.

The church “no longer exists,” Archbishop Renato Boccardo of Spoleto-Norcia told Avvenire. “I’m trying to contact the pastor but communications are interrupted at this time.”

The rose window of Sant’ Eutizio Abbey, one of Italy’s oldest monasteries dating back to the 5th century, also collapsed following the first earthquake.

The 6.1 quake Oct. 26, the U.S. Geological Survey said, “is currently the largest aftershock” of the Aug. 24 quake that struck central Italy. The epicenter of the August earthquake was close to Norcia; with a magnitude of 6.2, it caused the deaths of close to 300 people.


Follow Arocho on Twitter: @arochoju.

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‘Unite suffering’ with those grieving victims of shooting, archbishop tells Oregon Catholics


Catholic News Service

PORTLAND, Ore. — St. Joseph Parish in Roseburg hosted an emotional Mass the evening of Oct. 1 for 10 people who died in a shooting that morning at Umpqua Community College. Auxiliary Bishop Peter Smith traveled from Portland for the liturgy.

Authorities in Roseburg, in green rolling hills 180 miles south of Portland, identified the shooter Oct. 2 as 26-year-old Chris Harper Mercer, but did not give details about him. The names of those he fatally shot had not yet been released. Nine others were wounded.

Women console one another during a candlelit vigil following a mass shooting at Umpqua Community College in Roseburg, Ore., Oct. 1. (CNS photo/Steve Dipaola, Reuters)

Women console one another during a candlelit vigil following a mass shooting at Umpqua Community College in Roseburg, Ore., Oct. 1. (CNS photo/Steve Dipaola, Reuters)

FBI investigators say the gunman brought six legally purchased weapons to the small college and was wearing a flak jacket. A witness reports he asked students what their religions were before he began shooting.

One student at the college and the sister of a second student both told news organizations that Mercer 26, told people in classrooms to stand up and declare whether they were Christian. If they responded yes, they were shot in the head. If they answered no or gave some other answer, they were shot elsewhere.

The attack ended when the gunman shot himself on campus.

At a Roseburg news conference Oct. 2, after Douglas County Sheriff John Hanlin refused to answer more questions, a foreign reporter called out, “Why does this keep happening in America?”

Portland Archbishop Alexander K. Sample rushed a letter to the people of Roseburg hours after the shooting.

“I am saddened beyond words over the tragedy that has struck your local community,” the archbishop wrote. “Even though I am unable to be physically present with you at this particular moment, know that I am very much united with all of you in spirit and in prayer. We are one body in Christ, and when even one member suffers, we all suffer with them. My heart is indeed very heavy with sorrow as I grieve with all of you.”

The archbishop went on to say he cannot begin to make sense of the tragedy.

“Why such shooting tragedies continue to happen is hard to understand,” he wrote. “Sadly, we live in the midst of a culture that does not value the dignity and sacredness of every human life as it once did.”

The archbishop told Catholics in Roseburg to “unite their suffering” with those directly affected and to pray for healing and strength of those who lost loved ones.

Some of the injured were taken to Mercy Medical Center in Roseburg. More critically injured patients were transferred to PeaceHealth Sacred Heart Medical Center in Eugene. Of those transferred patients, two were in critical condition and one is serious, a PeaceHealth spokeswoman said.

Many Catholic parishes in Oregon are sending what organizers call “Posters of Hope” to St. Joseph Church in Roseburg. Teens have been writing messages of encouragement and love for Roseburg residents.

Comments have come from around the nation.

“There’s another community stunned with grief, and communities across the country forced to relieve their own anguish, and parents across the country who are scared because they know it might have been their families or their children,” President Barack Obama said at the White House Oct. 1.

He added, “It cannot be this easy for somebody who wants to inflict harm on other people to get his or her hands on a gun. … I’d ask the American people to think about how they can get our government to change these (gun) laws and to save lives and to let young people grow up, and that will require a change of politics.”

“What should have been a sanctuary for education and a symbol of bright futures will now become the latest memorial of victims lost to America’s gun violence epidemic,” said Dan Gross, president of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence.

“All of our faith traditions abhor violence, and Ecumenical Ministries of Oregon has joined the National Council of Churches in calling for action to prevent gun violence,” said Jan Elfers, interim executive director of Ecumenical Ministries of Oregon. “Our prayers go out to all whose lives have been impacted by this terrible tragedy; to the victim’s families and friends, and to the entire Roseburg community. We are grateful to those who responded to the emergency and undoubtedly prevented the loss of even more lives.”

“Mass shootings like this happen too often and Oregon has not been immune,” said the Rev. Chuck Currie, director of the Center for Peace and Spirituality and University Chaplain at Pacific University in Oregon. “Today we offer our prayers for those killed and injured. We also lift up the families of those impacted. Still, we must also work to take steps that reduce gun violence this day so that there are no more days like this.”

“We pray for the victims and their families, and we call for reasonable gun violence control measures to save more innocent lives from meeting the same tragic ends,” said an Oct. 2 statement by the Jewish Committee on Public Affairs. “What’s more, it appears this crime may have been motivated by anti-Christian bias. Crimes based on prejudice and hatred are deplorable and are anathema to the fundamental values of democracy upon which this nation is founded.”

The statement added, “The overwhelming carnage from the endless stream of mass shootings is utterly unacceptable. Comprehensive and fully enforced gun regulation and violence prevention is needed to restore the safety of our schools, communities, and public spaces. While no single solution will prevent all future tragedies, we are committed to supporting efforts to save lives.”

Pax Christi USA said it “a profoundly sad reality that gun violence … is now so commonplace that it is difficult to remember and recall all of the mass shootings which have taken place in our nation over the past few years.”

“It is time that we shake off our collective lethargy and root ourselves in a deep, sustaining and holy anger which will fuel a movement to end this insanity once and for all,” the statement added.


Langlois is a staff writer at the Catholic Sentinel, newspaper of the Archdiocese of Portland. Contributing to this story was Mark Pattison in Washington.

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Woman’s suicide called tragedy, symbol of ‘culture of death’


PORTLAND, Ore. — Brittany Maynard, a young California woman who was suffering from terminal brain cancer and gained national attention for her plan to use Oregon’s assisted suicide law, ended her life Nov. 1. She was 29 years old.

“We are saddened by the fact that this young woman gave up hope, and now our concern is for other people with terminal illnesses who may contemplate following her example,” said Janet Morana, executive director of Priests for Life, in a Nov. 2 statement.

“Our prayer is that these people will find the courage to live every day to the fullest until God calls them home,” she said. “Brittany’s death was not a victory for a political cause. It was a tragedy, hastened by despair and aided by the culture of death invading our country.”

Several days before Maynard’s suicide, Portland Archbishop Alexander K. Sample urged Maynard and others in similar situations: “Don’t give up hope!”

“We are with you. As friends, families and neighbors we pledge to surround you with our love and compassion until the sacred moment when God calls you home,” he said in a statement issued just before the feasts of All Saints on Nov. 1 and All Souls on Nov. 2.

He said assisted suicide offers the illusion that humans can control death.

“It suggests that there is freedom in being able to choose death, but it fails to recognize the contradiction,” the archbishop said. “Killing oneself eliminates the freedom enjoyed in earthly life. True autonomy and true freedom come only when we accept death as a force beyond our control.”

Oregon became the first U.S. state to allow doctors to prescribe lethal overdoses. Voters approved the Death With Dignity Act in 1994 and then reaffirmed it three years later. Since then four other states have since passed similar laws — Washington, Montana, Vermont and New Mexico.

The Oregon law says a patient must be of sound mind and must prove to a doctor he or she is a legal resident of the state. The patient must swallow the lethal drug without anyone’s help.

At the start of 2014, Maynard, a newlywed, learned she had brain cancer. A few months after she underwent two surgeries, doctors delivered the news that the cancer had returned and that most patients die from such tumors in about a year. She decided against further treatment.

Maynard and her husband, Dan Diaz, moved to Oregon, to become legal residents of the state and thus able to take advantage of its assisted-suicide law.

On Nov. 1, as she had planned, she took a legal overdose. AP reported she died at home peacefully in “in the arms of her loved ones,” quoting Sean Crowley, a spokesman for the advocacy group Compassion & Choices.

At one point Maynard, who would have turned 30 Nov. 19, said she might postpone taking her life to see how the disease progressed, but she stuck with her original plan. In interviews she said her husband and other family members accepted her decision to end her life.

Archbishop Sample in his statement said: “Cutting life short is not the answer to death.”

“Instead of hastening death, we encourage all to embrace the sometimes difficult but precious moments at the end of life, for it is often in these moments that we come to understand what is most important about life,” he said. “Our final days help us to prepare for our eternal destiny.”

Across the country in the Diocese of Raleigh, North Carolina, a 30-year-old Catholic seminarian facing the same disease as Maynard wrote a poignant essay in mid-October responding to Maynard’s announced decision to end her life.

Philip Johnson called her story heartbreaking and one “that really hit home,” because he was 24 when doctors told him he had inoperable brain cancer. The news came when he was “beginning an exciting career as a naval officer with my entire life ahead of me. I had so many hopes and dreams, and in an instant they all seemed to be crushed.”

“I have lived through six years of constant turmoil, seizures, and headaches. I often changed hospitals and doctors every few months, seeking some morsel of hope for survival. Like Brittany, I do not want to die, nor do I want to suffer the likely outcome of this disease,” he wrote. “I do not think anyone wants to die in this way.”

His doctors have told him that as the disease progresses he likely will gradually lose control of his bodily functions as a result of paralysis and incontinence. “It is very likely that my mental faculties will also disappear and lead to confusion and hallucinations before my death,” Johnson said.

“This terrifies me, but it does not make me any less of a person,” he continued.

“My life means something to me, to God, and to my family and friends, and barring a miraculous recovery, it will continue to mean something long after I am paralyzed in a hospice bed,” he said. “My family and friends love me for who I am, not just for the personality traits that will slowly slip away if this tumor progresses and takes my life.”

He noted that he has lived longer than expected, which is its own miracle.

Johnson added: “I know exactly what she is going through. I still get sad. I still cry. I still beg God to show me his will through all of this suffering and to allow me to be his priest if it be his will, but I know that I am not alone in my suffering. I have my family, my friends, and the support of the entire universal church. I have walked in Brittany’s shoes, but I have never had to walk alone. Such is the beauty of the church, our families, and the prayerful support that we give to one another.”


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Phila. archbishop calls same-sex marriage ruling ‘a mistake’ with negative consequences – updated


Catholic News Service

PHILADELPHIA — The 1996 Pennsylvania law that recognizes marriage between one man and one woman is unconstitutional, a federal judge ruled May 20, clearing the way for same-sex marriage in the state.

Reaction to the ruling in the Catholic community was swift and strong.

Archbishop Charles J. Chaput of Philadelphia in a statement called the decision by U.S. District Court Judge John E. Jones III to strike down Pennsylvania’s Defense of Marriage Act “a mistake with long-term, negative consequences.”

Gov. Tom Corbett said May 21 he would not appeal Jones’ ruling, saying a different outcome from a higher court was “extremely unlikely.” As a Catholic, he said in a statement, “the traditional teaching of my faith has not wavered. I continue to maintain the belief that marriage is between one man and one woman.”

A day earlier, a federal judge in Oregon repealed that state’s constitutional marriage amendment defining marriage as between a man and a woman. The Oregon Catholic Conference called it “a travesty of justice that marriage, as the foundation of society, received no defense in the U.S. District Court.”

Oregon officials prepared to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples, after the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals rejected a bid by the National Organization for Marriage to stay the ruling.

With Oregon, 18 states have legalized same-sex marriage. It also is legal in the District of Columbia. Other courts’ decisions have been stayed, pending appeals. That includes Idaho, Utah, Oklahoma, Virginia, Texas and Michigan.

In Arkansas, the state Supreme Court May 16 stayed a May 9 state court judge’s ruling that struck down a ban on same-sex marriage. Several marriage licenses were issued in the intervening days.

In Indiana, Ohio, Kentucky and Tennessee, federal judges have ruled that out-of-state marriages must be recognized in those states.

In Pennsylvania, Archbishop Chaput said state laws that defend traditional marriage “were enacted for sound reasons, namely to defend the rights of children and contribute to the well-being of the larger community.”

“Marriage is more than a private arrangement between two people,” he said. “It’s a public commitment of love and fidelity, and it’s ordered not just to companionship but to creating and rearing new life. This is why every child deserves a mother and a father in a loving marriage, and the child is the fruit of that love.

“All men and women are formed in the image of God and deserve our respect. But attempts to redefine the nature of marriage, no matter how well-intentioned,” he said, “damage a cornerstone of our human interaction and ultimately work against human dignity itself.”

The Pennsylvania Catholic Conference, the public policy arm of the state’s Catholic bishops, said the judge’s ruling “speaks to the confusion and misunderstanding among many today about the fundamental building block of society: the family. Every child has a basic right to a mother and a father united in marriage as a family. Today’s decision does not change that.”

In its statement, the Catholic conference reiterated consistent Catholic teaching that all people are made in the image of God and that everyone has inherent dignity, adding that no one should face discrimination.

“But human experience, considerable social data, as well as our religious convictions, lead us to see clearly that children thrive best in a stable family grounded on the marital union of one man and one woman,” it said.

“Catholic opposition to same-sex marriage is not a statement about the worth of human beings who experience same-sex attraction, but a statement about the nature of marriage itself.”

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

In his 41-page opinion, Jones said Pennsylvania’s laws that prohibit same-sex marriage and do not recognize the marriages of same-sex couples in other states violate the due process and equal protection clauses of the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution “and are therefore unconstitutional.”

In Oregon, Catholic leaders said they were grieved by U.S. District Court Judge Michael McShane’s decision to repeal that’s state’s law upholding traditional marriage and by Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum’s refusal to defend that law.

Her decision was “an extreme dereliction of her sworn duty to uphold the law” and represent “the interests and the people of Oregon,” said the Oregon Catholic Conference’s statement. “It is a sad day for democracy when one federally appointed judge can overturn, without any representation, the express will of the people of Oregon.”

“Despite the judge’s ruling, authentic marriage remains what it has always and only been according to God’s design: the loving union between one man and one woman for the mutual benefit of the two who have become one flesh and any children born of their union,” the conference said.

In other developments concerning same -sex marriage, the Michigan Catholic Conference May 14 filed a friend-of-the court brief with the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to defend a 2004 voter-approved amendment to the Michigan constitution that defines marriage as the union of one man and one woman.

The state has appealed a lower court’s ruling that found the Michigan Marriage Amendment unconstitutional.

“The Catholic Church holds strongly to her teachings that those with same-sex attraction should be treated with respect and sensitivity, and that marriage can only be recognized as the union of one man and one woman,” said a statement from Paul A. Long, conference president and CEO.

“The legal briefs make clear that support for natural marriage does not impugn the dignity that must be afforded to all human persons, regardless of their orientation,” he said.

Also filing a brief in support of the appeal was the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, joined by the National Association of Evangelicals; the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints; the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention; and the Lutheran Church — Missouri Synod.

In Indiana, a division of the University of Notre Dame’s undergraduate student government denied recognition of a proposed campus group called Students for Child-Oriented Policy, aimed at advancing the Catholic Church’s position on children and family and its support for traditional marriage.

In an April 30 letter to the prospective club president released online by supporters of the proposed club, Margaret Hnastusko, the university’s director of student activities for programming, said the mission of the proposed club “closely mirrored that of other undergraduate student clubs on campus.”

The letter did not specify what existing clubs have the same mission, but said recognition of a new campus club rests on a number of factors including “uniqueness to campus.”


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N.J. priest dies climbing Mount Hood


By Catholic News Service

HOOD RIVER, Ore. — A 57-year-old Catholic priest from the Archdiocese of Newark, New Jersey, fell to his death on the northeast side of Mount Hood in Oregon the morning of May 12.

Father Robert J. Cormier, of Jersey City, fell nearly 1,000 feet near Eliot Glacier on the south side of the mountain, say officials. Another climber who witnessed the fall, which happened at about 8 a.m., said the priest was on the summit and looked north, when he fell through a cornice, an overhang of snow, to his death.

Father Cormier was climbing in a party of three people, according to Sgt. Pete Hughes of the Hood River County Sheriff’s Office.

“We have had this happen a few times where people have gone to take a look over to the north side of the mountain and actually fallen off the north side, which is a sheer face,” said Hughes.

Father Cormier was in active ministry in the Archdiocese of Newark for 31 years. He was ordained in 1982 by Pope John Paul II in Rome. At the time of his death, he was administrator of St. Patrick and Assumption/All Saints, a merged parish in Jersey City. He also was an author and pilot and enjoyed sailing and scuba diving.

Father Cormier’s climbing group ascended from Timberline Lodge, the traditional south side approach to the summit of Mount Hood, and left at about 1:45 a.m. Officials said the priest was climbing ahead of his party because another climber in the group had a leg cramp.

Conditions on the mountain were clear May 12, with temperatures ranging from the 50s at Timberline Lodge to the 30s near the summit. Avalanche danger has been high because of the warm conditions and recent heavy snowfall.

Searchers located Father Cormier’s body on the Eliot Glacier headwall, in a crevasse, at about 10,500 feet above sea level, according to the sheriff’s office.

Because of the avalanche dangers, efforts to recover the priest’s body would not take place until a crew could do it safely, deputies said.

James Goodness, Newark archdiocesan communications director, said learning of Father Cormier’s death was a shock for the archdiocese, noting the priest was named parish administrator in Jersey City just a couple of months earlier.

“He was both a passionate and compassionate priest who truly invited every person he met to find a deeper and more personal relationship with Christ,” Goodness said in a May 15 statement to Catholic News Service. “His work with Hispanic and multicultural communities in urban settings brought him very close to people and reflected his own desire to bring different groups together as one family.”

St. Patrick’s/Assumption and All Saints Parish “has perhaps four or five very distinct ethnic groups,” he said, adding that parishioners decided to cancel the regular schedule of weekend Masses May 17 and 18 “and celebrate only one Mass this Sunday at 2:30 p.m. as one community.”

The Cranford Chronicle, a New Jersey newspaper, quoted Gwendolin Herder, head of Crossroad Publishing Co., who had worked with Father Cormier on several books on spirituality he published.

“Father Bob,” as he liked to be called, “was passionate about God, a God who, he was convinced, did not want to hide behind formulas removed … from people’s life experience today,” Herder told the paper. “Everything Father Bob thought, said, wrote and did was in the service of the truth that all of us, every human person, already have what it takes to see the truth of faith for him or herself, that this truth makes ultimate sense, and that faith is the only thing that ever can fill our desires, and make us truly happy.”

His books included “Better Than We Believed,” “Why We Look Up” and “A Faith That Makes Sense.”

Father Cormier spoke several languages, including Spanish. His parish assignments included 25 years at St. Rose of Lima Church, where he ministered to the Spanish-speaking community.

He also had worked in education, on the grade school and high school level, and served as a prison chaplain and a rehab counselor.

He had a weekly program on an Internet-based radio station called Radio Inmaculada, for which he also served as spiritual director.

Father Cormier, who grew up in Cranford, had a degree in philosophy from The Catholic University of America in Washington and a licentiate in theology from Rome’s Pontifical Gregorian University.


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Judge rejects request to question Vatican officials in abuse case


PORTLAND, Ore — A federal judge in Portland has declined to order face-to-face questioning of Vatican officials in a lawsuit claiming that the Vatican was the employer of an abusive priest in the 1960s.

U.S. District Judge Michael W. Mosman ruled Dec. 1 that attorneys for the plaintiff in the case, John V. Doe v. Holy See, had not proven the need for an exception to the immunity given to foreign nations under U.S. law.

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Death penalty opponents praise Oregon governor

November 29th, 2011 Posted in National News Tags: , , ,


PORTLAND, Ore. — Catholic and other opponents of the death penalty praised Oregon Gov. John Kitzhaber for placing a moratorium on the use of the death penalty for the rest of his term.

“Those of us who respect the dignity of human life from conception to natural death applaud this decision,” said Portland Archbishop John G. Vlazny.

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