Charter review, assisted suicide among topics facing bishops in June
Msgr. David Malloy, a priest of the Archdiocese of Milwaukee, also will address the assembly as he concludes a five-year term as general secretary of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. The bishops are expected to look to the 2012 elections as they discuss their perennial "Faithful Citizenship" document on political responsibility, and Cardinal Donald Wuerl of Washington will report to them on progress toward incorporation of Anglican groups into the Catholic Church in the United States under Pope Benedict XVI's November 2009 apostolic constitution "Anglicanorum coetibus." Archbishop Diarmuid Martin of Dublin will speak to the U.S. bishops about the International Eucharistic Congress to be held in his city in June 2012.
New York rallies fight governor's effort to legalize same-sex marriage
NEW YORK (CNS) — With a push on by supporters of same-sex marriage to legalize it in New York State, supporters of traditional marriage — including New York's archbishop — are mounting their own campaigns to keep marriage as a union between one man and one woman. Gov. Andrew Cuomo has made clear that he will sign a bill legalizing same-sex marriage but said recently he will not introduce one in the state Senate session that ends June 20 unless he's comfortable that the votes are there to pass it. On May 24, more than 350 people attended a morning rally outside the Capitol in Albany, and hundreds more met with lawmakers in their offices later that day, according to organizers of the event. Other recent efforts to fight any such measure included a rally in the Bronx that drew several thousand people, a pledge by the advocacy group National Organization for Marriage that it will spend $1.5 million in advertising and campaign contributions to head off same-sex marriage, and a blog posting by Archbishop Timothy M. Dolan saying that the definition of marriage is "hard-wired into our human reason." The archbishop also wrote that he's dismayed to hear that Catholics and others who oppose same-sex marriage are branded as "bigots and bullies who hate gays." "Nonsense!" he wrote in a blog posting titled "Marriage: the core of every civilization."
Initiative launched to share Christian, Jewish, Muslim pulpits
WASHINGTON (CNS) — It will happen for just one Sunday in June, but on that day, dozens of houses of worship across the United States will open their pulpits to clergy from the other two Abrahamic faiths to read from their scriptures. The project, called Faith Shared, is set for June 26. A few synagogues and mosques are among those that have signed up for the initiative, as well as Christian communities across the denominational spectrum, including one Catholic church in North Carolina. "Just having something public is not going to be a big, big deal here, but to have someone come in and read from the Quran and to recognize publicly the existence of Islam and to reverence and respect is a good thing for the church to do," said Jesuit Father Pat Earl, pastor of St. Peter Parish in Charlotte, N.C. The project is co-sponsored by the Interfaith Alliance and Human Rights First. "The United States is the most religiously diverse nation in the world," said the Rev. C. Welton Gaddy, a Southern Baptist minister who is president of the Interfaith Alliance, during a May 18 conference call with reporters. "Crucial to peaceful relationships across this land, as well as to our democratic form of government. are pluralism and religious freedom." Rev. Gaddy said, "We're calling upon congregations to say by means of their actions, 'We come from different traditions, hold different beliefs and engage in different rituals in our churches, mosques and synagogues. have different beliefs yet emphasize religious freedom and search for answers to life's questions through our respective faiths.'"
Anglican-Roman Catholic dialogue begins new phase
VATICAN CITY (CNS) — After a six-year hiatus, the official Anglican-Roman Catholic dialogue began a new phase in May, looking at unity within the church and at the way Christian communities deal with moral questions. The third phase of the Anglican-Roman Catholic International Commission, known as ARCIC III, met May 17-27 at an ecumenical monastery in northern Italy. Pope Benedict XVI and Anglican Archbishop Rowan Williams authorized the new phase of the dialogue, which is focusing on "the church as communion, local and universal, and how in communion the local and universal church come to discern right ethical teaching." Since ARCIC II finished its work in 2005, the Anglican Communion has been experiencing strong internal tensions over the ordination of women as priests and bishops, the blessing of gay unions and the ordination of openly gay clergy. Differing positions on those issues also has created a sense that Anglicans and Roman Catholics are growing further apart, rather than approaching unity. A statement issued at the end of the meeting said the commission hopes to use the "receptive ecumenism" approach in its discussions, an approach "which seeks to make ecumenical progress by learning from our partner, rather than simply asking our partner to learn from us. Receptive ecumenism is more about self-examination and inner conversion that convincing the other," the statement said.
VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Back-to-back speeches at a Vatican AIDS conference illustrated that condoms in AIDS prevention remains a sensitive issue for both church officials and international health experts. Michel Sidibe, executive director of UNAIDS, told conference participants May 28 that he was delighted when Pope Benedict XVI, in his recent book-length interview, "Light of the World," hypothesized that use of a condom to prevent infection could be a first step toward moral responsibility. As Vatican officials listened with rather pained expressions, Sidibe quoted the relevant section from the pope's book. "This is very important. This has helped me to understand his position better and has opened up a new space for dialogue," Sidibe said. A few minutes later, Archbishop Silvano Tomasi also quoted from the pope's book — the part that began, "We cannot solve the problem (of AIDS) by distributing condoms." Like other church officials at the conference, Archbishop Tomasi, the Vatican's representative to U.N. agencies in Geneva, took the view that condom campaigns have failed to tackle the fundamental issue of irresponsible sexual behavior in the spread of the AIDS virus. The two-day conference was billed as a forum for clarifying pastoral practices when it comes to the church's efforts against AIDS. No guidelines were issued, but they may come later; the Vatican typically lays down principles at a gathering like this one, and specific instructions may emerge somewhere down the road.
Vatican AIDS conference focuses on need to change sexual behavior
Pope meets members of German sodality he joined 70 years ago
VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Pope Benedict XVI joined a men's Marian sodality when he was 14 years old, but as a teen he never had a chance to participate in a sodality function because World War II scattered the members "to the four winds," he said. Meeting May 28 with members of the Marianische Manner Congregation, the Bavaria-based fraternal organization, the pope said he had joined the group in 1941. "They were dark times — there was the war," the 84-year-old pope said. "Hitler had conquered, one after the other, Poland, Denmark, the Benelux countries and France, and in April 1941 — about this time 70 years ago — he occupied Yugoslavia and Greece. It seemed that the continent was in the hands of this power that put into question even the future of Christianity," he said. The pope said he was accepted into the Marian sodality, "but soon after, the war against Russia began. The seminary was dissolved and the congregation — before it was able to meet — was already scattered to the four winds."
Spanish court indicts 20 ex-Salvadoran soldiers for 1989 Jesuit murders
MADRID (CNS) — Spain's National Court has invoked a special law to order the arrest and trial of 20 former Salvadoran military officers for the 1989 murder of six Jesuit priests, their housekeeper and her daughter. Five of the six Jesuits were naturalized Salvadorans of Spanish birth. In announcing the charges, the Spanish court invoked its universal jurisdiction law, which says that some crimes are so grave they can be tried anywhere. Issuing an indictment May 20, Judge Eloy Velasco Nunez said El Salvador's juridical process "was a defective and widely criticized process that ended with two forced convictions and acquittals even of confessed killers." Among those he indicted were a former Salvadoran defense minister. A 1993 U.N. Truth Commission report said high-ranking Salvadoran military officials were responsible for ordering the murders and ordered a cover-up. The six priests and two women were murdered Nov. 16, 1989, at their residence on the campus of Central American University. The U.N. report concluded that units of the U.S.-trained Atlacatl battalion forced their way into the Jesuits' residence, ordered them into a garden, shot them and did away with witnesses, such as the housekeeper and her daughter. Before leaving, the soldiers scribbled graffiti blaming leftist guerrillas for the killing.
Oregon Jesuit priest confirmed as new House chaplain
WASHINGTON (CNS) — Jesuit Father Patrick J. Conroy was unanimously approved as the next House chaplain in a May 25 vote. Father Conroy, 60, a native of Washington state, had been nominated by House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio, himself a Catholic, as the ideal candidate for the position. The Jesuit succeeds Father Daniel Coughlin, a priest of the Chicago Archdiocese who retired in April after 11 years on the job. Father Conroy most recently was a theology teacher, campus ministry assistant and coach at Jesuit High School in Portland, Ore., and long served as a pastor to Native Americans in the Pacific Northwest. Boehner, who attended Jesuit-run Xavier University in Cincinnati, decided he wanted a Jesuit to serve as the next pastor and confidant to House members and staff. Father Conroy's nomination initially was held up by House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi of California, who expressed concern that the Jesuit belongs to the Oregon province of the Society of Jesus, which agreed in March to pay about $166 million in settlements to 500 people who have sought damages for abuse they said they suffered under Jesuits at schools and parishes in the Northwest. She later dropped her objections. Father Conroy has not been accused of any involvement in the sexual abuse of minors or any cover-up of such abuse.
Feuerherd, NCR's editor-in-chief and publisher, dies at age 48
ROCKVILLE, Md. (CNS) — Joseph Feuerherd, editor-in-chief and publisher of the National Catholic Reporter, died May 26 after an 18-month battle with metastasized soft tissue sarcoma. He was 48. He died at the Montgomery Hospice's Casey House in Rockville with his family at his side. A funeral Mass was scheduled for June 1 at the Theological College of The Catholic University of America in Washington. Interment was to take place at Holy Name of Mary Cemetery in Montrose, Pa., at a later date. Feuerherd had been editor-in-chief and publisher of the lay-edited weekly newspaper, based in Kansas City, Mo., since October 2008. At the time of his appointment, he said he was thrilled the NCR board had chosen him, but he was also "humbled and energized by the opportunity to lead a publication that is vital to American Catholics who love their church." Before taking the top post, he had spent about 24 years filling a variety of roles at the paper, ranging from intern to Washington correspondent. Arthur Jones, NCR's editor in the 1970s who had hired him as an intern during his time as the paper's Washington bureau chief, posted a lengthy tribute to Feuerherd on NCR's website, www.ncronline.org. "As publisher he crisscrossed the country; as editor he firmly and generously crossed swords with many public figures on contentious issues, and heartily applauded others. He had strong opinions, but a moderate approach; he was a centrist who heard people out," wrote Jones, who is now NCR's books editor.