News in Brief
BELLEVUE, Wash. (CNS) — Bishop Salvatore J. Cordileone of Oakland, Calif., urged his fellow bishops June 15 to fight back in the war of words over efforts to redefine traditional marriage. The chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops' Subcommittee for the Promotion and Defense of Marriage said organizations advocating the legal redefinition of marriage have been using words like "human rights" and "hate" in discussions of same-sex marriage. "Strategies of language are crucial here, and what we see happening in the marriage debate with terms such as 'equality' is similar to the manipulation of language found in the pro-abortion rhetoric of 'choice,'" Bishop Cordileone said. "Many of our young people have now come to see what 'pro-choice' really means, and embrace instead a culture of life," he added. "A similar task lies before us in our efforts to protect marriage." As one weapon in the war of words, he cited the video series "Marriage: Unique for a Reason" that is being produced by the USCCB in English and Spanish. He announced completion of the second video in English, called "Made for Life," which focuses on the indispensable place of both mothers and fathers in the lives of their children. "Our culture is one that often forgets the sacred gift of the child, and in so doing it also fails to recognize the vital importance of a mother and a father together for the life and upbringing of that child," Bishop Cordileone said. "In contemporary debates about the meaning of marriage, the rights and dignity of the child should be at the forefront."
Bishops urged to fight war of words to defend traditional marriage
Based on their experiences, speakers oppose physician-assisted suicide
BELLEVUE, Wash. (CNS) — Dorothy Coughlin has no doubt that living in a state where physician-assisted suicide is legal can lead to disrespect for those whose lives are affected by disabilities or serious illness. Her younger sister, Barbara, who was born with severe developmental disabilities, recently experienced just that during an emergency room visit to an Oregon hospital, where she encountered a physician who tried repeatedly to discharge her without diagnosing the cause of her severe pain. "Barbara lives a life that is so dynamic," Coughlin told reporters at the briefing on physician-assisted suicide shortly after the U.S. bishops approved their first statement as a body on the topic. "She's a member of the Red Hat Club, her hobby is making beaded jewelry, she loves going to church, she loves to sing and she knows the words of something like 40 songs," Coughlin added. "Her life is far from limited." But the misreading of a CT scan and the physician's dismissive attitude of a patient with disabilities — he told Coughlin, "In cases like this, I revert to veterinary medicine" — led to unnecessary pain for Barbara, who was properly diagnosed only when she went to another hospital. Coughlin, director of the Office for People with Disabilities in the Archdiocese of Portland, Ore., and a board member of the National Catholic Partnership on Disability, recounted her sister's story to demonstrate the need for the bishops' new statement, "To Live Each Day With Dignity," which passed with overwhelming support at the bishops' spring general assembly near Seattle.
Catholic Volunteer Network loses more than $5 million in funding
WASHINGTON (CNS) — Volunteers with the Catholic Volunteer Network will lose more than $5 million in education awards because of federal budget cuts. The Corporation for National and Community Service — the federal agency that oversees national service, innovative nonprofits and engages retired Americans — in service received $72 million less in the 2011 congressional budget appropriations than the previous year. The agency is responsible for funding the AmeriCorps programs, including the AmeriCorps Education Awards Program run by the Catholic Volunteer Network. AmeriCorps programs across the nation lost $22.5 million. "The loss of this funding is going to have a tremendous negative impact on many people," Jim Lindsay, the network's executive director, said in a statement. "Our organization's mission and outreach initiatives will suffer, but the hardest hit will be the 1,300 volunteers who would have served as AmeriCorps' members at the 900 sites run by our programs in 43 states and the District of Columbia, where volunteers have filled needed roles in schools, soup kitchens and social service agencies." Volunteers that complete the Catholic network's AmeriCorp program for 2011 receive a $5,350 education award for at least 1,700 hours of service or $2,675 for at least 900 hours of service. Lindsay said the money is often used by volunteers to defer their educational loans. "Volunteer service may no longer be an option for many young people," he said.
Containing federal health care costs is issue that goes back decades
WASHINGTON (CNS) — In December 1971, Msgr. Harrold Murray, who oversaw health care issues for the U.S. bishops, predicted that the federal outlay for health care, which was $26 billion in 1960, would grow to more than $100 billion by 1974. Even so, he said, the desire for all Americans to have quality health care at a reasonable price would be the "most torrid" issue in the1972 elections. That prophecy didn't come to pass. However, Medicare costs have already proven decisive in a special election held in May to fill a vacancy in the U.S. House. The Republican, Jane Corwin, backed "The Path to Prosperity," a budget proposal by U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., that would, in 2022, change Medicare into a program of vouchers to be used by future beneficiaries to buy private insurance through a federally created exchange. It will not affect seniors already enrolled in the program or those now 55 who will retire in 10 years. The Democrat, Kathy Hochul, hammered away at Corwin's support of the plan, vowed to preserve Medicare and won a seat representing western New York that had been in Democratic hands for only 10 of the past 58 years. Although would-be Medicare reformers have yet to translate Ryan's plan into success at the polls, it has already demonstrated to be, at least for the time being, a third rail in GOP politics. After Republican presidential aspirant Newt Gingrich called the Ryan plan "right-wing social engineering" on a Sunday morning talk show, he had to eat his words in the face of withering criticism by fellow Republicans.
Retired New Orleans archbishop, now 98, moves to elder care facility
NEW ORLEANS (CNS) — Retired New Orleans Archbishop Philip M. Hannan, 98, moved June 15 from his private residence in Covington to Chateau de Notre Dame, a senior apartment complex and elder care facility he first envisioned and then dedicated in 1977 to provide for seniors in the Archdiocese of New Orleans. Archbishop Gregory M. Aymond, the current head of the archdiocese, said he and the Hannan family, which includes Archbishop Hannan's lone remaining sibling, Jerry Hannan, 89, of Bethesda, Md., decided the move would be in "the best interest of Archbishop Hannan as his health declines." Archbishop Hannan, who has become increasingly frail because of a series of strokes and other health problems, celebrated his 98th birthday May 20. He is the third-oldest U.S. bishop, behind Archbishop Peter L. Gerety of Newark, N.J., who will turn 99 July 19, and Auxiliary Bishop Bernard J. McLaughlin of Buffalo, N.Y., who will turn 99 on Nov. 19. In 2010, Archbishop Hannan published his memoirs, "The Archbishop Wore Combat Boots" (OSV Publishing), which documented his colorful career as a seminarian in Rome in the 1930s during the buildup to World War II, his service as a paratroop chaplain for the 82nd Airborne and his confidential relationship with President John F. Kennedy when he was an auxiliary bishop of Washington. Archbishop Hannan and Kennedy were so close that the Kennedy family asked him to deliver the eulogy at the assassinated president's funeral Mass on Nov. 25, 1963, at St. Matthew's Cathedral in Washington. He served as the 11th archbishop of New Orleans from 1965 to 1988 and was revered for his forceful statements on civil rights and the defense of unborn human life.
Seminarians want to be 'part of the solution' in addressing abuse issue
WASHINGTON (CNS) — Most of them weren't born yet when the events occurred that came to define the U.S. crisis of sexual abuse by priests. But for men who entered the seminary in the past decade, a point of commonality seems to be that they want to prove that priests are good people. A decade after the U.S. Catholic Church scandal about clergy sex abuse exploded in the news, several seminaries contacted by Catholic News Service reported the same motivation among the men who have entered the schools in the past decade: "They all said they want to be part of the solution," as Father Thomas Baima, vice president and provost at Mundelein Seminary in Illinois put it. Seminaries have adapted their admissions process and their curriculum somewhat to reflect an increased emphasis on understanding the role and demands of celibacy and on what is called "human development" in academia. But the common theme voiced by seminary administrators asked about what has changed was that applicants say they want to counteract the negative image of the priesthood that the abuse scandal created. "More often than not they say they come because they want to prove that there are good priests," said R. Scott Woodward, dean at the Oblate School of Theology in San Antonio. "They want people to know that religious life, the priesthood, are still valuable. They feel that's a part of their mission." Father Peter Drilling, rector of Christ the King Seminary in East Aurora, N.Y., said he also has noticed a marked change in attitudes in the 25 years he has been associated with the seminary. More recent applicants are much more aware of and willing to discuss the problems behind the abuse scandal. "Just yesterday," he said, one of the five men interviewed as part of the admission process said "one reason he wanted to pursue the priesthood is that he has had good experiences with priests and he wants to show that priests are good and that priests are part of the solution."
Use of musical settings for new Roman Missal can begin in September
BELLEVUE, Wash. (CNS) — Instead of requiring that implementation of all parts of the new Roman Missal wait until the first Sunday of Advent, bishops who head dioceses can authorize the gradual introduction of the musical settings of the people's parts of the Mass beginning in September. Archbishop Gregory M. Aymond of New Orleans, chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops' Committee on Divine Worship, announced that decision June 16 at the USCCB spring general assembly near Seattle. The change was authorized by Archbishop Timothy M. Dolan of New York, USCCB president, and adopted by the committee to allow parish communities to learn the various parts of the new translations "in a timely fashion and an even pace," Archbishop Aymond said. It primarily affects the Gloria, the Holy, Holy, Holy and the memorial acclamations. "I ask you to encourage this as a means of preparing our people and helping them embrace the new translation," Archbishop Aymond said. Archbishop Michael J. Sheehan of Santa Fe, N.M., asked whether some implementation would be allowed before September, but Archbishop Aymond replied, "We would suggest not, in order that there be some uniformity." In addition, Archbishop Aymond cited difficulty in introducing any liturgical changes during the summer months.
Cleric leaves priesthood saying he can't get 'fair hearing' on charges
WASHINGTON (CNS) — Father John Corapi, a priest of the Society of Our Lady of the Most Holy Trinity, declared June 17 he was leaving the priesthood, contending he could not get a "fair hearing" on misconduct allegations that were lodged against him in March and which included what the priest said were sexual abuse charges. The announcement, which took the forms of a YouTube video and a blog posting on one of his websites, www.theblacksheepdog.us, was made two days before his 20th anniversary of priestly ordination. "For 20 years I did my best to guard and feed the sheep. Now, based on a totally unsubstantiated, undocumented allegation from a demonstrably troubled person I was thrown out like yesterday's garbage," Father Corapi said. "I accept that. Perhaps I deserve that." A spokesman for the Society of Our Lady of the Most Holy Trinity told Catholic News Service June 20 that Father Corapi had not formally notified the order, founded in 1958, of his intent to leave. "Not directly," said Father Gerard Sheehan, the order's regional priest-servant and Father Corapi's superior. "We heard it just like everyone else did, from YouTube. We're as surprised as everyone else is." Father Corapi had been suspended from priestly ministry by his religious order shortly after the allegations first surfaced. Eternal Word Television Network also took his television program off the air in March, saying it would not knowingly put a priest on the air whose priestly faculties had been suspended. Although a spokesman for the order had said in March the suspension "in no way implies Father Corapi is guilty of the allegation," Father Corapi had complained from the outset, as he reiterated June 17, that the process means "you are for all practical purposes assumed guilty until you can prove you are innocent."
After fire destroys shrine, threatens thousands, bishop leads prayers
TUCSON, Ariz. (CNS) — Across the state from the more publicized Wallow fire, a second wind-whipped wildfire forced thousands of people in southern Arizona to evacuate their homes and destroyed a Marian shrine. Just a fraction of the size of the enormous Wallow fire farther northeast that had burned more than 511,000 acres as of June 20, the fast-moving Monument fire in the Chiricahua Mountains south of Sierra Vista had left more than 27,00 acres and about 50 homes in ashes. More than 10,000 people were evacuated June 29 from the southern subdivisions of Sierra Vista, a city of about 43,000 adjacent to the Army's Fort Huachuca. Meanwhile, Tucson Bishop Gerald F. Kicanas celebrated Mass at St. Andrew the Apostle Parish in Sierra Vista June 18, leading the community in prayers for the firefighters. He also reminded the congregation packed into the church that God's mercy and love can be seen in times of crisis in the way people step up to help those in need. Bishop Kicanas also visited two shelters in Sierra Vista for evacuees, accompanied by Father Greg Adolf, pastor of St. Andrew. Father Adolf told the New Catholic Vision, newspaper of the Diocese of Tucson, that "volunteers were everywhere. People have been bringing food, clothes, blankets and pillows. ... Kennels have been set up for displaced animals. The whole community has come together in support of the people who have lost homes and animals."
Vatican official: Sexual abuse of minors requires strong response
VATICAN CITY (CNS) — The phenomenon of the sexual abuse of minors within the church requires a strong response that is not "not inertia, a culture of silence or repression," said the Vatican's top investigator of clerical sex abuse said. Msgr. Charles Scicluna, promoter of justice for the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, said that the church must do all it can to respond to the problem and emphasize that protection of children is integral to the good of the universal church. Msgr. Scicluna spoke at a news conference to present an upcoming symposium on sexual abuse that organizers hope will contribute to a "global culture" of transparency and commitment to keeping children and young people safe within the Catholic Church. The symposium, to be held in Rome in February, will give bishops and other church leaders a chance to learn from experts the best practices learned over the last several years about sexual abuse of minors from psychological, juridical, sociologic and child-protection standpoints. At the news conference June 18 at the Pontifical Gregorian University, where the symposium will be held, promoters explained that it was part of a long process to make reparations and undergo deep change in the wake of the scandal that has shaken the church. Titled "Toward Healing and Renewal," the symposium will help bishops and religious orders comply with a recent circular letter from the doctrinal congregation. The letter requires each bishops' conference to submit a set of guidelines on how it deals with accusations of abuse and ministering to victims by May 2012.