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Pope meets parents of U.S. student found dead in Rome

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Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY — Meeting the grieving parents of a U.S. student who was found dead in Rome, Pope Francis mourned the death of the teenager, who had been set to begin a study-abroad program.

Pope Francis talks with Nick and Jodi Solomon, parents of U.S. student Beau Solomon, during a private meeting at the Vatican July 6. Solomon, a native of Spring Green, Wis., was found dead in the Tiber River in Rome July 4. A homeless man was detained as a suspect in the death. (CNS photo/L'Osservatore Romano, handout)

Pope Francis talks with Nick and Jodi Solomon, parents of U.S. student Beau Solomon, during a private meeting at the Vatican July 6. Solomon, a native of Spring Green, Wis., was found dead in the Tiber River in Rome July 4. A homeless man was detained as a suspect in the death. (CNS photo/L’Osservatore Romano, handout)

Beau Solomon, 19, was found dead in the Tiber River July 4 after friends reported last seeing him early July 1.

The pope met with Nick and Jodi Solomon from Spring Green, Wisconsin, July 6, in a private audience. He expressed his “deepest sympathy and compassion” as well as his closeness to them in his prayers “for the young man who died so tragically,” according to a Vatican press release.

The student from the University of Wisconsin-Madison had arrived in Rome June 30 to study at John Cabot University. However, he disappeared less than 24 hours later after spending the evening with friends at a Rome pub, according to the Associated Press.

More than $1,000 had been charged to the student’s credit card after his disappearance, AP reported.

Italian police were investigating the cause and circumstances of his death and arrested a homeless man in connection with the case.

Solomon had survived cancer as a child, the family said.

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Pope appoints priest of Diocese of Superior to be its bishop

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WASHINGTON — Pope Francis has appointed Father James P. Powers, a priest of the Diocese of Superior, Wisconsin, and currently its administrator, to be bishop of the diocese.

Pope Francis has appointed Father James P. Powers, a priest of the Diocese of Superior, Wis., and currently its administrator, to be bishop of the diocese. Bishop-designate Powers, 62, is pictured in a Dec. 15 photo. (CNS/Janelle Roe, Superior Catholic Herald)

Pope Francis has appointed Father James P. Powers, a priest of the Diocese of Superior, Wis., and currently its administrator, to be bishop of the diocese. Bishop-designate Powers, 62, is pictured in a Dec. 15 photo. (CNS/Janelle Roe, Superior Catholic Herald)

A native of Baldwin, Wis., Bishop-designate Powers, 62, was ordained a priest of the Superior diocese May 20, 1990. He has served as administrator of the diocese since December 2014, a month after Bishop Peter F. Christensen was named to head the Diocese of Boise, Idaho.

Bishop designate-Powers’ episcopal ordination and installation is scheduled for Feb. 18 at the Cathedral of Christ the King in Superior.

He said he learned of his appointment while traveling through the diocese Dec. 7. He had no hint of what was coming.

“It was about three miles east of Phillips, heading for Father Mike McLain’s funeral, and I think I almost ran off the road,” Bishop-designate Powers said at a news conference the day of his appointment.

“Thanks for your support,” he said to fellow priests and diocesan officials at the news conference. “I just hope and pray … it is the right choice for the diocese at this time.”

The bishop-designate said he has been praying for nearly a year for the diocese’s next bishop. “This isn’t the answer to my prayer, but hopefully it turns out to be a good one,” he said.

Born Feb. 6, 1953, he grew up on his family’s farm in Baldwin. He worked on the farm and sold insurance before entering the seminary.

Bishop-designate Powers holds a bachelor’s in theology and a master’s of divinity from St. John Vianney Seminary at the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, Minnesota, and at St. Paul Seminary in St. Paul. He pursued graduate studies in canon law at St. Paul University in Ottawa, Ontario.

After his ordination, his pastoral assignments included serving for three years as associate pastor at St. Joseph Church in Rice Lake, Wisconsin. From 1993 to 1994, he was parochial administrator of four parishes in Wisconsin.

For the next four years, he was pastor of St. Bridget Church in River Falls, Wisconsin. In 1995, he was elected to the diocesan priest personnel board and in 1999 was re-elected to the board. In 1998, he served as adjunct vicar general for the diocese.

From 1998 to 2003, he was pastor of three Wisconsin parishes: St. Pius X in Solon Falls, St. Mary in Minong and St. Anthony of Padua in Gordon. From 2003 to 2014, he was administrator of those parishes as well as pastor of St. Joseph Church in Rice Lake.

He was appointed vicar general for the diocese in 2010.

Contributing to this story was Anita Draper in Superior. Draper is on the staff of the Catholic Herald, newspaper of the Diocese of Superior.

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Federal appeals court rules agains Wisconsin abortion law

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CHICAGO — A three-judge panel of the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a lower court ruling that Wisconsin’s abortion law requiring abortion clinic doctors to have hospital admitting privileges was unconstitutional.

In a 2-1 decision Nov. 23, the 7th Circuit in Chicago said the provision of the 2013 law endangered the health of women.

The decision for the majority, written by Judge Richard Posner, said the medical benefit of the requirement was “nonexistent” and “cannot be taken seriously as a measure to improve women’s health.”

“What makes no sense is to abridge the constitutional right to an abortion on the basis of spurious contentions regarding women’s health, and the abridgment challenged in this case would actually endanger women’s health,” Posner wrote.

In response, Heather Weininger, executive director of Wisconsin Right to Life, said the appeals court decision “is detrimental to providing continuity of care for women who suffer complications from an abortion.”

“Wisconsin Right to Life is disappointed that women will continue to not receive the care they need under these frightening circumstances,” Weininger said in a statement from the organization.

Wisconsin Attorney General Brad Schimel planned to ask the U.S. Supreme Court to review the decision, a spokesman said.

Weininger welcomed Schimel’s announcement, saying the health and safety of women across the country were at stake.

The high court is reviewing a case challenging a Texas law that has a similar admitting privilege stipulation. The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans upheld the Texas law and its wider provisions that include regulations that would close three-fourths of the state’s abortion clinics.

In a dissenting opinion on the Wisconsin law, Judge Daniel Manion determined that the requirement for admitting privileges helps ensure that doctors are properly credentialed and promotes continuity of care and informed decision-making by patients.

Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin and Affiliated Medical Services, the state’s two abortion providers, challenged the law soon after it took effect. The lawsuit contended that Affiliated’s Milwaukee office would be forced to close because its doctors could not get admitting privileges. Doctors at Planned Parenthood’s three clinics in the state have admitting privileges at nearby hospitals.

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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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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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House budget chairman defends plan as inspired by Catholic teaching

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Catholic News Service

WASHINGTON — Wisconsin Republican Rep. Paul Ryan defended his party’s 2013 federal budget, which has drawn Catholic criticism, as a way to help all Americans gain a better life, free of government intrusion and overreach, in a speech at Georgetown University.

Citing principles of Catholic social teaching that promote the full involvement of people in the decisions that affect their lives, Ryan invited “well-informed public discourse” on the direction of the country as it debates how best to meet current and future needs in health care, Social Security and job creation.

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Wisconsin bishops urge people to keep guns out of church

November 3rd, 2011 Posted in National News Tags: , , , ,

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MADISON, Wis. — Wisconsin’s bishops have urged Catholics not to take weapons to church even though a new state law went into effect Nov. 1 allowing those with permits to carry concealed weapons.

In a statement issued Oct. 31 to the state’s Catholics, the bishops said they were not mandating that parishes prohibit concealed weapons but advised parishioners to “seriously consider not carrying them into church buildings as a sign of reverence for these sacred spaces.”

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