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Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Diocese Well Within Rights to Pull Funding: Portland Press-Herald

editorial:
The dispute between the Roman Catholic Diocese of Portland and Preble Street, an area homeless agency, points out an often forgotten attribute of free speech: It often comes with a price tag.

Just because the government cannot legally restrict an individual or group from making a statement, that doesn't mean that there are no consequences when someone speaks out. When advocates working with Preble Street took a stand on the gay marriage vote last year, they faced the consequence of the agency losing a grant from Portland's Catholic Campaign for Human Development.

That's just what happened, and no one involved should have been surprised.

Critics of the decision seem to forget that CCHD is an arm of the Roman Catholic Church, a religious organization for which charity is just one way it fulfill its mission, which it defines as "spreading the Gospel of Jesus Christ." The church does not give up any of its right to determine how charitable giving fits with that mission when it determines where its money should go.

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Thursday, March 25, 2010

MAD ABOUT BABIES: Jennifer Fulwiler

in Salvo magazine:
...The gravity of this error became clear to me when I came across research that Time magazine published in 2007, citing data from the Guttmacher Institute that showed the most common reasons women have abortions. It immediately struck me that none of the factors on the list—not feeling capable of parenting, not being able to afford a baby, not being in a relationship stable enough to raise a child—were conditions that we encourage women to consider before engaging in sexual activity.

It was then that I could finally articulate the source of the anger I’d felt all those years. In every society, there are two critical lists: acceptable conditions for having a baby, and acceptable conditions for having sex. From time immemorial, the one thing that almost every society had in common was that their two lists matched up. It was only with the widespread acceptance of contraception in the middle of the 20th century, creating an upheaval in the public psyche in which sex and babies no longer went hand-in-hand, that the two lists began to diverge. And now, in 21st-century America, they look something like this:

Conditions under which it is acceptable to have sex:

* -If you’re in a stable relationship
* -If you feel emotionally ready
* -If you’re free of sexually transmitted diseases
* -If you have access to contraception

Conditions under which it is acceptable to have a baby:

* -If you can afford it
* -If you’ve finished your education
* -If you feel emotionally ready to parent a child
* -If your partner would make a good parent
* -If you’re ready for all the lifestyle changes that would be involved with parenthood

As long as those two lists do not match, we will live in a culture where abortion is common and where women are at war with their own bodies.

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Wednesday, March 24, 2010

MAINE DIOCESE PENALIZES HOMELESS AID GROUP: Maine Today

reports:
A social service agency's support for same-sex marriage has cost it local and national funding from the Catholic Church's anti-poverty program.

Preble Street's Homeless Voices for Justice program has lost $17,400 this year and will lose $33,000 that it expected for its next fiscal year.

Officials with the Roman Catholic Diocese of Portland and the Washington-based Catholic Campaign for Human Development say that Preble Street violated its grant agreement by supporting Maine's "No on 1" campaign last fall.

No on 1 opposed a ballot proposal to overturn the new state law legalizing gay marriage. Voters approved Question 1 on Nov. 3. ...

Sue Bernard, spokeswoman for the diocese, said the diocese requires agencies that receive funding to conform to the moral and social teachings of the Catholic Church. She said Preble Street agreed to that requirement when it applied for the money.

She provided the Portland Press Herald with a copy of Preble Street's application, signed by Mark Swann, the agency's executive director.

In the application, filled out on Jan. 7, 2009, Swann wrote "no" when asked if his organization promotes or advocates same-sex marriage. ...

He said Preble Street decided to join the coalition that opposed Question 1 because issues of sexual orientation are the single greatest cause of homelessness among youths.

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Thursday, March 18, 2010

UK CATHOLIC ADOPTION AGENCY WINS COURT BATTLE OVER GAY RIGHTS EXEMPTION: The Telegraph

reports:
A Catholic adoption society has unexpectedly won a High Court battle against legislation forcing it to consider homosexual couples as parents.

Catholic Care had said it would have to give up its work finding homes for children if it was made to comply with the new anti-discrimination legislation.

The Charity Commission had rejected its plea to an exemption under the Sexual Orientation Regulations but a High Court judge this morning allowed the adoption charity's appeal.

Mr Justice Briggs, sitting in London, ordered the commission to reconsider the case in the light of the principles set out in his judgment.

Catholic Care, which serves the dioceses of Leeds, Middlesbrough, and Hallam in South Yorkshire, was the last Catholic adoption charity to continue its fight against the equality legislation.

The Roman Catholic Church lost a battle against the regulations when they were introduced in 2006.

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"BELLA" ACTOR AND 7,000 YOUNG PEOPLE PROMOTE CHASTITY IN GUATEMALA: Catholic News Agency

reports:
During the First Congress for Catholic Youth in Guatemala, more than 7,000 young people, together with Mexican actor Eduardo Verastegui, promised “to work for the virtue of purity” and "lead a chaste life.”

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Monday, March 15, 2010

GEORGETOWN U FUNDS "SEX POSITIVE WEEK": Thomas Peters

blogs:
I’ve been blogging long enough and have witnessed enough scandals that it’s pretty hard to take my breath away anymore.

Well, “Sex Positive Week” at (Jesuit-founded, Catholic) Georgetown University did.

Folks, looking at what activities this week included, it’s pretty clear we’re not even on planet earth anymore. I can’t write about what they talked about, because I don’t want Google to blacklist my blog as pornographic.

Last year (yes, they’ve done it before) coincided with the first week of Lent. ...

Catholic News Agency notes that similar events are taking place at (Jesuit) Loyala University of Chicago and (Jesuit) Seattle University.

more (more)

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BURKE MAY PLAY A HAND IN U.S. MARRIAGE ANNULMENT CRACKDOWN: St Louis Post-Dispatch

reports:
...American Catholics are seeking annulments — the church's declaration that a marriage was invalid — in large numbers. Whether, like Erickson, they're hoping it helps them heal after a divorce, or allows them to get remarried in the church, annulments are in demand, and the church in the United States is granting them.

The St. Louis Archdiocese granted nine out of 10 requests for an annulment last year. American Catholics make up about 6 percent of the global church, but according to the most recent Vatican statistics available, the church in the United States granted 60 percent of the world's annulments in 2006.

Pope Benedict XVI has indicated that he believes that's too many, and some Vatican watchers say the church may decrease the number of annulments granted to divorced Catholics.

In a speech in January to the Roman Rota, the Vatican's highest appellate court, Pope Benedict XVI reiterated the church's teaching on invalidating Catholic marriages, emphasizing the need to balance "justice" and "charity." He also cautioned church tribunals against allowing the growing civil divorce rate to dictate the number of annulments — called decrees of nullity, in church parlance — they grant.

Even after a Catholic couple gets a divorce, the church still considers the marriage valid. An annulment is a tribunal's declaration that a marriage was never valid to begin with, that there was a hidden impediment or "defect of consent" that kept the marriage from being legitimate.

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Wednesday, March 10, 2010

REPLICATE BEFORE YOU SPECULATE TOO MUCH: Mark M. Gray

at the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate blog:
More social science research findings regarding Catholic colleges and universities are being reported and discussed. The focus has been on an article in the peer-reviewed Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion called, “‘Hooking Up’ at College: Does Religion Make a Difference?”

The study concluded that Catholic women attending non-Catholic and Catholic colleges “display roughly a 72 percent increase in the odds of ‘hooking up’ compared to those women with no religious affiliation” (p. 544). The study also finds that women [Catholic and non-Catholic] at Catholic colleges and universities “are almost four times as likely to have participated in ‘hooking up’ compared to women in secular schools” (p. 544). Thus, there are results regarding Catholic women at all colleges and for all women at Catholic colleges and universities.

There are some important methodological issues to consider:

* A “hook up” is very widely defined as “when a girl and a guy get together for a physical encounter and don’ necessarily expect anything further” (p. 540). As the authors caution, “‘Hooking up’ may refer to a broad range of physical acts ranging from kissing to sexual intercourse” (p. 548). It is difficult to know just what respondents are reporting in responding “yes.” ...

* Thus, there are only interviews with 39 Catholic women attending Catholic colleges in the study. A conservative estimate of the number of Catholic women attending Catholic college at the time is 85,000. The margin of sampling error for 39 interviews generalizing to a population of 85,000 is +/- 15.7 percentage points.
* Furthermore, these large margins of error are compounded by the small number of Catholic colleges these women attended at the institutional level. ...

The authors have made no mistakes—what they have produced is rather standard practice in academic social science survey research (although I would have strongly recommended controlling for household income which is related to college enrollment and choice). They have identified a compelling statistical association in the data. Rightfully, they note the limitations of the exploratory analysis and welcome additional research. This is what is needed. Replication with a larger sample would tell us if this is an anomaly of small sample size or a real effect (for both religious identity and college affiliation).

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Wednesday, March 03, 2010

DC Same-Sex Marriage Leads Catholic Charities to Adjust Benefits: Washington Post

reports:
Employees at Catholic Charities were told Monday that the social services organization is changing its health coverage to avoid offering benefits to same-sex partners of its workers -- the latest fallout from a bitter debate between District officials trying to legalize same-sex marriage and the Catholic Archdiocese of Washington. ...

The church faced two options with the approval of the new law, said Robert Tuttle, a George Washington University professor who studies the relationship between church and state. One choice was to expand the definition of domestic partner, as the Archdiocese in San Francisco did years ago, to include a parent, sibling or someone else in the household.

The second choice was to do what the Washington Archdiocese has done: eliminate benefits for all spouses.

"For decades, the church has been at the forefront of worker benefits, so this move cuts against their understanding of social justice and health benefits to all possible," Tuttle said. "But obviously, you can see they felt there was a real conflict between those values. They feel they weren't left with much of a choice."

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Tuesday, March 02, 2010

TO AVOID FUNDING GAY MARRIEDS, CATHOLIC CHARITIES IN DC DENIES BENEFITS TO ALL SPOUSES: Amanda Hess

at the Washington City Paper's Sexist blog:
The Archdiocese of Washington has been battling the D.C. government for the right to discriminate against gays and lesbians since D.C.’s same-sex marriage legislation got rolling last year.

One major point of contention: Once gays and lesbians are allowed to marry, the Archdiocese—which employs plenty of locals through Catholic Charities—will be required to provide health benefits to same-sex spouses, an act which it says would fly in the face of the Catholic church’s teachings on homosexuality.

The solution? No spousal benefits for anybody.

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MASS MEDIA: Dahlia Lithwick

in Slate:
Joseph Reyes, an Afghanistan war veteran and second-year law student, converted to Judaism when he married Rebecca Shapiro in 2004. When they split up in 2008, Rebecca won primary custody of their daughter, and Joseph got regular visitation. The couple had allegedly agreed to raise their child Jewish, but Joseph, seeking to expose his 3-year-old to his Catholic faith, had her baptized last November. When she learned that her daughter had been baptized without her consent, Rebecca obtained a temporary restraining order in December 2009, forbidding Joseph from "exposing Ela Reyes to another religion other than the Jewish religion during his visitation." In January of this year, Reyes again took Ela to Mass at Holy Name Cathedral, with a local TV news crew in tow. His ex-wife's lawyers demanded he be held in criminal contempt—with a maximum punishment of six months in prison.

Can a court really tell a parent what religion his child will be? And can a judge possibly back up such an order with the threat of jail time?

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CATHOLIC GIRLS GONE WILD?: Patrick J. Reilly

at Washington Post's On Faith blog:
It was not so long ago, when singer Billy Joel's chiding plea to "Come Out, Virginia" resonated with thousands of young people born into the Sexual Revolution, many of them reveling in American society's defiance of the Catholic Church and traditional sexual mores.

According to a new study, Virginia may not be so reluctant anymore.

Researchers from Mississippi State University considered a survey of 1,000 college students nationwide and were surprised to find that "women attending colleges and universities affiliated with the Catholic Church are almost four times as likely to have participated in 'hooking up' compared to women at secular schools."

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Thursday, February 25, 2010

Cardinal George Urges Catholics and Mormons to Defend Religious Freedom: Catholic News Agency

reports:
On Tuesday, Cardinal Francis George, president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, gave a talk to nearly 12,000 students and faculty at Brigham Young University in Utah. The cardinal dedicated his speech to exhorting the two faiths to defend religious freedom and their place in the public square.

“In recent years, Catholics and members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints have stood more frequently side by side in the public square to defend human life and dignity,” said Cardinal George on Tuesday morning.

The cardinal gave his presentation, “Catholics and Latter-day Saints: Partners in the Defense of Religious Freedom,” at a BYU forum on Feb. 23, at the school's Marriott Center. Receiving a standing ovation at the end of his address, Cardinal George is believed to be the highest ranking Catholic official to ever speak at the Mormon university. ...

Cardinal George also addressed the opposition that Catholics and Mormons have faced for their joint advocacy of human rights and dignity, citing the response from Proposition 8 opponents in California as an example.

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Tuesday, February 23, 2010

CATHOLIC BISHIOPS HOLD FIRM IN REJECTING FERTILITY TECHNOLOGY: Religion News Service

reports:
"Be fruitful and multiply," God instructed Adam and Eve, and men and women have heeded those words ever since. But over the years, God's creatures have become sophisticated enough to rewrite the rules of being fruitful, and most of the new rules don't sit well with leaders of the Roman Catholic Church. ...

The bishops are sympathetic. When Rigali was archbishop of St. Louis, he celebrated a Mass for infertile couples, and the current St. Louis archbishop, Robert Carlson, did the same recently. But many Catholic couples suffering through the heartache of infertility think that the church contributes to their pain by erecting roadblocks to medically assisted pregnancy.

At the meeting in Baltimore, the bishops approved a document on reproductive medical advances, "Life-giving Love in an Age of Technology." The document says: "The church has compassion for couples suffering from infertility and wants to be of real help to them. At the same time, some 'reproductive technologies' are not morally legitimate ways to solve those problems."

Church teaching says technology used to facilitate or support marital conjugation and conception is fine, but any other technology is not. Church teaching allows tests and treatment for low sperm count or problems with ovulation. But artificial insemination, even using the husband's sperm, is prohibited.

"Children have a right to be conceived by the act that expresses and embodies their parents' self-giving love," the U.S. bishops say. "Morally responsible medicine can assist this act but should never substitute for it."

According to a 2002 study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 7.4 percent of married women of childbearing age were infertile. About 1 percent had tried artificial insemination as a means of becoming pregnant; about four times as many had tried ovulation drugs. According to the American Society for Reproductive Medicine, 85 to 90 percent of infertility cases are treated with drug therapy or surgical procedures; less than 3 percent required assisted reproductive technologies.

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Monday, February 22, 2010

CATHOLIC COLLEGES AND TESTS OF FAITH: David Gibson

in the Wall Street Journal:
...Are Catholic colleges undermining the faith? Or are they an effective if leaky levee against the growing tide of secularism? The study, "Catholicism on Campus," was released on Jan. 31 by the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate (CARA), at Georgetown University, which compiled the data from national surveys of more than 14,000 students at nearly 150 U.S. colleges and universities. Students were surveyed as freshmen in 2004 and then in 2007 as juniors.

The upshot is that while college-age students at all schools tend to move away from Catholic practices and beliefs, Catholic students at Catholic colleges are less likely to drift than Catholics at non-Catholic schools. ...

Yet nearly a third of Catholic students at Catholic schools were less likely to attend Mass--the baseline of Catholic practice—than they had been before arriving on campus, and just 7% said they were more likely. And the church teachings to which these students at Catholic colleges adhere most strongly are those that, in a sociopolitical context, would be called "liberal." For example, 21% of Catholic students at Catholic schools moved away from the church's teaching against capital punishment, while 31% moved closer to the church's position--a significantly higher shift in that direction than from Catholic students at non-Catholic schools, where it's almost a wash. ...

By contrast, on issues of personal sexual morality generally considered "conservative," students show the furthest drift from Catholic teachings over their college years.

For example, a significant number of all college-age Catholics tended to shift toward a more permissive view of abortion, with 31% of those at Catholic schools saying they were more supportive of legal abortion after their time on a Catholic campus and only 16% saying they had moved closer to the church's teaching. Catholic students' shift away from church teaching on legal abortion was slightly greater at non-Catholic schools. Overall, 56% of Catholic juniors at Catholic colleges say they disagree "strongly" or "somewhat" that "abortion should be legal." On the question of same-sex marriage, 39% of Catholic students at Catholic colleges distanced themselves from the church's opposition and only 16% moved toward that stance—a net change nearly as high as at other universities. By their junior year, only one in three Catholics at Catholic schools disagree "somewhat" or "strongly" that same-sex couples should have the right to marry.

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Friday, February 19, 2010

Politicians Who Support Gay Marriage Are Not Catholic, Says Cardinal: Catholic News Service

reports:
Public officials who openly support same-sex marriage cannot consider themselves to be Catholic, said an Italian cardinal.

“It’s impossible to consider oneself a Catholic if that person in one way or another recognizes same-sex marriage as a right,” said Cardinal Carlo Caffarra of Bologna.

The Vatican newspaper, L’Osservatore Romano, reprinted a portion of a doctrinal note the cardinal released Feb. 14 concerning “Marriage and Homosexual Unions.” The note, which appeared in full on the archdiocese’s Web site, was aimed at helping enlighten Catholics in public office so that “they would not make choices that would publicly contradict their affiliation with the church,” he wrote. ...

“It’s impossible for the Catholic faith and support for putting homosexual unions on equal footing with marriage to coexist in one’s conscience - the two contradict each other,” said the note.

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Wednesday, February 17, 2010

CITING SAME-SEX MARRIAGE BILL, WASHINGTON ARCHDIOCESE ENDS FOSTER CARE PROGRAM: Washington Post

reports:
The Catholic Archdiocese of Washington has ended its 80-year-old foster-care program in the District rather than license same-sex couples, the first fallout from a bitter debate over the city's move to legalize same-sex marriage.

Catholic Charities, which runs more than 20 social service programs for the District, transferred its entire foster-care program -- 43 children, 35 families and seven staff members -- to another provider, the National Center for Children and Families. Tommy Wells (D-Ward 6), the D.C. Council member who chairs the Committee on Human Services, said he didn't know of any problems with the transfer, which happened Feb. 1. ...

Catholic Charities, which receives $20 million from the city, had sounded alarms in the run-up to the council vote, saying programs serving tens of thousands of people were in danger. Being forced to recognize same-sex marriage, church officials said, could make it impossible for the church to be a city contractor because Catholic teaching opposes same-sex marriage.

The church and some experts said the city's measure has narrower exemptions for religious groups than other same-sex marriage laws across the country, particularly when it comes to requiring benefits for the same-sex partners of employees.

City officials knew of no other faith-based groups that said their city contracts were in jeopardy.

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Thursday, February 11, 2010

VATICAN ECONOMIST: RECESSION CAUSED BY LOW BIRTHRATE: Zenit

reports:
Bankers are not the cause of the global economic crisis, according to the president of the Institute for the Works of Religion. Rather, the cause is ordinary people who do not "believe in the future" and have few or no children.

"The true cause of the crisis is the decline in the birth rate,” Ettore Gotti Tedeschi, said in an interview on Vatican Television's "Octava Dies."

He noted the Western world's population growth rate is at 0% -- that is, two children per couple -- and this, he said, has led to a profound change in the structure of society.

"Instead of stimulating families and society to again believe in the future and have children […] we have stopped having children and have created a situation, a negative economic context decrease," Gotti Tedeschi observed. "And decrease means greater austerity."

“With the decline in births,” he explained, “there are fewer young people that productively enter the working world. And there are many more elderly people that leave the system of production and become a cost for the collective.

“In practice the fixed costs of this economic and social structure increase. How dramatically they increase depends on how evidently unbalanced the structure of the population is and how much wealth it has. The fixed costs however increase: The costs of health increase and the social costs increase."

When this happens, the economist stated, "taxes can no longer be reduced.”

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Monday, February 01, 2010

Reject Easy Annulments, Pope Tells Vatican Tribunal: Catholic World News

reports:
Granting easy access to marriage annulments is an offense against both justice and charity, said Pope Benedict XVI on January 29.

The Pope’s message has a particular resonance in the US, whose Catholic Church tribunals account for more than half of the world’s annulment decrees. Pope Benedict, like Pope John Paul II before him, has repeatedly argued for a more vigorous defense of the marital bond.

In an address to the Church’s highest tribunal for marriage cases, the Holy Father warned against “the tendency--widespread and well-rooted though not always obvious--to contrast justice with charity, almost as if the one excluded the other.” He reminded the tribunal’s judges and advocated that the marriage laws of the Church are oriented toward the spiritual welfare of the individuals, and applying those laws properly is itself a work of charity. Ultimately, he reminded them, “the Church's juridical activity has as its goal the salvation of souls.”

“Without truth charity slides into sentimentalism,” the Pope told officials of the Roman Rota, at the opening of its judicial term. “Love becomes an empty shell to be filled arbitrarily. This is the fatal risk of love in a culture without truth.” ...

The Pope went so far as to suggest that tribunals should do their best to save marriages intact whenever that is possible. In most American dioceses, couples are required to file for a civil divorce before submitting an annulment application. But the Pontiff suggest that “effective efforts be made, whenever there seems to be hope of a successful outcome, to encourage the spouses to convalidate their marriage and restore conjugal cohabitation.”

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Tuesday, January 12, 2010

ORPHANS ON DECK: Bobby Ross Jr.

in Christianity Today:
Adoption is arguably one of the Christian social ministries most central to evangelical theology. It has—to a greater extent than church positions on issues such as abortion and marriage—avoided becoming entangled in politics. Until now.

A foster dad's court challenge to a Florida law banning adoption by gays and lesbians has made headlines in recent months. So has a proposed same-sex marriage law in the District of Columbia that the Catholic Archdiocese of Washington warned could force it to cancel its social service programs, including adoption.

At the federal level, U.S. Rep. Pete Stark introduced a bill in October dubbed the "Every Child Deserves a Family Act." The California Democrat's proposal immediately drew the ire of the Institutional Religious Freedom Alliance (IRF). IRF claims the proposed law could run "roughshod over the convictions of many faith-based adoption agencies" and "require every state to forbid every agency that it licenses from preferring mother-father families over gay families or single parents." ...

On the other hand, voters in Arkansas last year passed a referendum banning unmarried couples from adopting or fostering children—a direct attack on gay parenting. Gov. Mike Beebe, a Democrat and active member of an Episcopal Church, voiced concern in November that the law hinders the state's ability to recruit qualified parents.

more (IMAPP's model adoption statute can be downloaded here--Eve)

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Saturday, January 09, 2010

INSIDE BRITAIN'S FIRST MIXED-SEX CONVENT: Clerical Whispers

posts:
...In Western Europe in 2009, the life of a Roman Catholic nun seems bizarre – all very well as the subject for, say, the comedy Sister Act (which has just been turned into a West End musical), but nothing to do with anyone’s real life. And what’s equally extraordinary is that the community Colbran is joining is, in these days of dwindling interest in religious worship in general, and in being a nun or monk in particular, almost brand new.

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Friday, January 08, 2010

CATHOLIC PORTUGAL SET TO LEGALIZE GAY MARRIAGE: Agence France Presse

reports:
Catholic Portugal, traditionally one of Europe's most socially conservative countries, is expected to approve the legalization of gay marriage on Friday with a minimum of fuss.

With the governing Socialists and other left-wing parties enjoying a strong majority, the new law is likely to sail through the first reading debate and gain final approval before a visit by Pope Benedict XVI, due in Portugal in May. ...

According to poll conducted late last year by the Eurosondagem institute, while a strong majority (68.4 per cent) of Portuguese are opposed to adoptions by same-sex couples, they are more evenly divided when it comes to gay marriage with 49.5 per cent against, with 45.5 per cent in favour. ...

Deputies are also expected on Friday to vote two other bills submitted by the Green party, the Left Bloc and others which would grant gay and lesbian couples the right to adopt children.

If the gay marriage proposals do pass through parliament, they will the have to go through a parliamentary commission before coming back for the final approval.

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Monday, January 04, 2010

Safeguard the Family Founded on Marriage: Benedict XVI

in Vatican press release:
Before praying the Angelus on this Sunday of the Holy Family, the Pope reminded the faithful gathered in St. Peter's Square that "God wished to reveal Himself by being born in a human family, and hence the human family has become an icon of God.

"God is Trinity", he added. "He is communion of love, and the family - with all the difference that exists between the Mystery of God and His human creature - is an expression thereof which reflects the unfathomable mystery of God-Love. ... The human family is, in a certain sense, the icon of the Trinity because of the love between its members and the fruitfulness of that love". ...

The Holy Father them addressed some remarks to participants in the Feast of the Holy Family which is being celebrated today in Madrid, Spain. "God, by having come into the world in the bosom of a family, shows that this institution is a sure way to meet and know Him, and a permanent call to work for the loving unity of all people. Thus, one of the greatest services which we as Christians can offer our fellow men and women is to show them the serene and solid witness of a family founded upon marriage between a man and a woman, defending it and protecting it, because it is of supreme importance for the present and future of humankind.

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Wednesday, December 02, 2009

DC COUNCIL APPROVES SAME-SEX MARRIAGE BILL: Washington Post

reports:
The D.C. Council voted overwhelmingly Tuesday to legalize same-sex marriage in the District, a key step in a process that could enable gay couples to marry in the nation's capital by the spring.

After months of debate, the council passed the legislation 11 to 2 after a lively discussion that elicited passionate statements from members about the historical significance of their action. ...

Council member Phil Mendelson (D-At Large), a key sponsor of the bill, said he may still "tweak" the bill to try to accommodate the [Catholic] Church before the final vote, scheduled for Dec. 15. But Mendelson and other members indicated Tuesday that they are not likely to make new broad exemptions.

"Marriage is just not about two individuals who want to marry. It requires that . . . every third party recognize that couple being married," Mendelson said. "Exemptions are a very troublesome slope because it undoes what we are trying to do here."

Susan Gibbs, a spokeswoman for the archdiocese, said that if a compromise is not reached, the Church will continue to provide services but with fewer resources, because it will no longer be able to bid on city contracts.

"We are just asking for a bill that would balance the city's interest in legalizing same-sex marriage and religious groups' interest in following their faith teachings," Gibbs said.

Other religious leaders are turning their attention to a potential court battle over whether the city should allow a public vote on whether to ban same-sex marriage.

Two weeks ago, the D.C. Board of Elections and Ethics ruled that city laws prohibit a public vote because it would discriminate against gay men and lesbians. Jackson and several other opponents have filed suit in D.C. Superior Court seeking to reverse the election board's decision. Jackson noted that last month voters in Maine overturned a same-sex marriage law that had been approved by that state's legislature.

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Wednesday, November 25, 2009

DC'S SAME-SEX MARRIAGE BILL: FINDING THE RIGHT BALANCE: Archbp. Donald R. Wuerl

in the Washington Post:
...Catholic Charities and the Archdiocese of Washington are committed to continuing to serve the people of the District as we have for many decades. That includes partnerships such as St. Martin's. Unfortunately, the D.C. Council is considering legislation that could end these kinds of partnerships.

It doesn't need to be that way. While we do not agree with the council on redefining marriage, we recognize that it is firmly committed to opening marriage to homosexual couples. We are asking that new language be developed that more fairly balances different interests -- those of the city to redefine marriage and those of faith groups so that they can continue to provide services without compromising their deeply held religious teachings and beliefs. The archdiocese has not been alone in requesting broader language. Other groups, including the American Civil Liberties Union, the InterFaith Conference of Metropolitan Washington and nationally recognized legal scholars all called for stronger protections for religious freedom in their testimony on the original bill. ...

The archdiocese and Catholic Charities are committed to continuing to provide services in the District. Despite the headlines, there has been no threat or ultimatum to end services, just a simple recognition that the new requirements by the city for religious organizations to recognize same-sex marriages in their policies could restrict our ability to provide the same level of services as we do now. This is so because the District requires Catholic Charities to certify its compliance with city laws when applying for contracts and grants. This includes contracts for homeless services, mental health services, foster care and more. Since Catholic Charities cannot comply with city mandates to recognize and promote same-sex marriages, the city would withhold contracts and licenses.

Each year, 68,000 people in the District rely on Catholic Charities for shelter, nutrition, medical and legal care, job training, immigration assistance and more. This assistance is offered to whoever needs it, regardless of race, religion, gender, nationality or sexual orientation. Many of the programs are offered in partnership with the city, which turns to Catholic Charities and other ministries when it cannot provide social services on its own. Catholic Charities has a proven track record of high-quality service, supported through caring, qualified staff, thousands of dedicated volunteers and millions of dollars in financial support from parishioners all over the region. This legislation won't end Catholic Charities' services, but it would reduce unnecessarily the resources available for outreach.

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Friday, November 20, 2009


Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Church and District: Jay Tea

blogs:
There's a bit of a hubbub going on in the District of Columbia of late. The City Council is weighing a sweeping gay rights move, bundling together gay marriage, gay adoption, partners' rights, and whatnot, and the Catholic Church -- as is to be expected -- is resistant.

Resistant to the point where they say they will simply pull the plug on their entire charitable works in the city should it pass.

Critics are denouncing the Church (as is their wont), saying that the Church must be bluffing, that the Church is overreacting, that the Church is being hypocritical because it hasn't made the same threats in other places where gay marriage has passed, and it's all a big to-do about nothing, because the law explicitly says the Church doesn't have to perform gay marriages if it doesn't want to.

They're right on that last point. They're wrong on every single other one. ...

One doesn't have to be Catholic to see the value of the Church's charitable works. One doesn't have to subscribe to Church teachings to respect their right to abide by them as they see fit. And one doesn't even have to be a believer to see the threat to the common good being posed by this move by the DC City Council.

And that's coming from an agnostic gay marriage supporter who is still uncertain as to whether the Catholic Church has been a net boon or bane to modern civilization.

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Monday, November 16, 2009

CATHOLIC PRIEST HEADS TO THE ALTAR: The Toronto Sun

reports:
Canada's first openly gay Catholic priest wants another milestone under his robe.

Father Karl Clemens is getting married Saturday to his partner, Nick.

Clemens says he'll be the first man of the Catholic cloth to enter into a same-sex marriage in Canada, and maybe even in North America.

"I'm not doing it to start a revolution, but if people want to exercise their right, and so forth, that's terrific," he told Sun Media yesterday. "I feel very strongly about it.

"I'm leading the way, or pioneering, as it were, in something that I think is very important," Clemens said. "It's a human right."

Clemens, who's nearing 70 and retired from the Kingston diocese after serving there for 33 years, moved to Toronto more than a decade ago to work in, and advocate for, the city's gay village on Church St.

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Friday, November 13, 2009

CATHOLIC CHURCH GIVES D.C. ULTIMATUM: Washington Post

reports:
The Catholic Archdiocese of Washington said Wednesday that it would be unable to continue the social service programs it runs for the District if the city won't change a proposed same-sex marriage law, a threat that could affect tens of thousands of people the church helps with adoption, homelessness and health care.

Under the bill, headed for a D.C. Council vote next month, religious organizations would not be required to perform or make space available for same-sex weddings. But they would have to obey city laws prohibiting discrimination against gay men and lesbians.

Fearful that they could be forced, among other things, to extend employee benefits to same-sex married couples, church officials said they would have no choice but to abandon their contracts with the city.

"If the city requires this, we can't do it," Susan Gibbs, spokeswoman for the archdiocese, said Wednesday. "The city is saying in order to provide social services, you need to be secular. For us, that's really a problem."

Several D.C. Council members said the Catholic Church is trying to erode the city's long-standing laws protecting gay men and lesbians from discrimination.

The clash escalates the dispute over the same-sex marriage proposal between the council and the archdiocese, which has generally stayed out of city politics.

Catholic Charities, the church's social services arm, is one of dozens of nonprofit organizations that partner with the District. It serves 68,000 people in the city, including the one-third of Washington's homeless people who go to city-owned shelters managed by the church. City leaders said the church is not the dominant provider of any particular social service, but the church pointed out that it supplements funding for city programs with $10 million from its own coffers.

"All of those services will be adversely impacted if the exemption language remains so narrow," Jane G. Belford, chancellor of the Washington Archdiocese, wrote to the council this week.

The church's influence seems limited. In separate interviews Wednesday, council member Mary M. Cheh (D-Ward 3) referred to the church as "somewhat childish." Another council member, David A. Catania (I-At Large), said he would rather end the city's relationship with the church than give in to its demands.

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Tuesday, October 27, 2009

HELP TURN A GOOD MARRIAGE INTO A GREAT MARRIAGE: Bp. Robert Finn

column:
...About 800 weddings are recorded in our diocese each year, and our pastors and parish staffs do many things to help these couples prepare for the most important moment in their life together. Many couples have found and continue to discover, in Worldwide Marriage Encounter, a wonderful program of “ongoing formation” for marriage.

A Marriage Encounter Weekend is not a retreat, or a marriage clinic, or group sensitivity, or a substitute for counseling; but a time for spouses to rediscover their love for each other in a new way, and to invite Jesus Christ more deeply into their vocation: “to help turn a good marriage into a great marriage.” ...

Inviting You to a Special Mass - For nearly 30 years, Worldwide Marriage Encounter has held an Annual World Marriage Day. This year our Diocese and the Archdiocese of Kansas City in Kansas will celebrate a special Mass together on that day, Sunday, February 14, 2010, at 3:00 in the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception. I plan to be there, as will Archbishop Naumann. We would like to invite not only all couples who have made a Marriage Encounter Weekend at some time, but also other couples, to join us in asking God to bless and strengthen your individual marriages, and also the sacrament and vocation of marriage in our community. I hope you will join us!

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Monday, September 21, 2009

PHILIPPINE CATHOLIC SCHOOLS SEEK WOMEN'S LAW EXEMPTION: Manila Daily Inquirer

reports:
Insisting on their religious and academic freedoms, Catholic educational institutions are seeking exemption from a provision in the new Magna Carta of Women banning the dismissal of unwed mothers from employment or school.

Monsignor Gerardo Santos, national president of the Catholic Educational Association of the Philippines (CEAP), said the CEAP would ask that a provision on such an exemption be inserted into the new law’s implementing rules and regulations. ...

Women’s rights activists have said that under the new law, unwed mothers who are kicked out can file a civil case and sue for damages while government officials who dismiss them can be sanctioned under administrative and civil service laws.

Santos insisted on the Catholic schools’ right to have an unwed pregnant student or employee go on leave “after due process,” or to enforce other disciplinary action.

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Tuesday, August 18, 2009

CATHOLIC "BIRTH CONTROL": Betty Duffy

blogs (in February, but I only just saw it today, & I thought a humor break might be fun...):
...The utterly ridiculous thing is that my husband is ovulating too. It happens. He sniffs me out, and the drive to procreate becomes just as fierce in him as it does in me.

The bedroom dialogue when I’m ovulating:

Husband: “Come here. Let me just rub your back. We won’t do anything. I promise.”

I hide in the bathroom, picking my zits or something. “Just a minute.” I peak through the crack in the bathroom door to see if he’s fallen asleep yet. Much as I want that backrub, I know where they lead. They’re dangerous. Dangerous.

Contrast with bedroom dialogue when I’m not ovulating:

Husband: “Wanna do it?”

Me: “Is that foreplay?”

Husband: “Yeah, but if it helps, I’ll let you see me naked too.”

Ooooh….That’ll do it.

Well, I’m not falling for it this time. I’m not going in for that backrub. I am going to invest my creative energies in something other than procreation. The [Natural Family Planning] experts say that spouses should not avoid one another during fertile periods--that they should not abstain from signs of affection while they are abstaining from sex. I find that advice a little naïve.

If I have to go seven days without showering or brushing my teeth, I’ll do it. I’ll wear the hijab. I’ll hide in the closet when my husband comes fee, fie, foe, fumm-ing home from work. I’m serious this time.

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A WINNER IN THE THEOLOGY OF THE BODY SCRIPT CONTEST

has been announced.

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Friday, August 14, 2009

Marriage Is the "Real Vocation Crisis": NY Archbishop

in Catholic News Agency interview:
Archbishop Timothy Dolan of New York told CNA last week that the Catholic Church is currently facing many challenges, four being: the vocation to marriage, the state of Catholic parishes and schools, the great number of lapsed Catholics and finally the difficulties in a culture desperate to keep the Church and morals out of the public square. ...

The archbishop then broke down Jesus’ words into four practical challenges the Church currently faces in preaching the Gospel to all people, the first being the instability of marriage and family.

“That’s where we have the real vocation crisis,” he remarked, noting that “only 50% of our Catholic young people are getting married.”

“We have a vocation crisis to life-long, life-giving, loving, faithful marriage. If we take care of that one, we’ll have all the priests and nuns we need for the church,” Dolan said.

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Tuesday, August 04, 2009

CATHOLICS LIKELY TO SUPPORT (SOME) GAY CAUSES: The Advocate

reports:
A study to be published by Columbia University will examine how a state’s percentage of Catholic residents affects its opinion of gay marriage.

A similar survey by Mark Silk of the blog Spiritual Politics suggests that in issues related to marriage, adoption and civil unions, a conservative majority would win. However, when presented with issues concerning hate crimes, health benefits and job protection, research shows Catholics typically sympathize with civil rights causes despite guidelines passed down from Vatican City.

more [I'm assuming this is everyone who answers "Catholic" to pollsters, rather than e.g. weekly Massgoers; still of course it's notable, and in line with other data I've seen--Eve]

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Friday, July 31, 2009

PORTUGAL'S HIGH COURT KEEPS GAY MARRIAGE BAN:

reports:
Portugal's Constitutional Court on Friday upheld the country's ban on gay marriage, rejecting a challenge by two lesbians who are seeking to wed.

The court said its five judges ruled 3-2 against an appeal lodged by the women two years ago.

Teresa Pires and Helena Paixao, divorced mothers in their 30s who have been together as a couple since 2003, were turned away by a Lisbon registry office when they attempted to marry in 2006 because the law stipulates that marriage is between people of different genders.

Portugal's constitution, however, also forbids discrimination based on sexual orientation. The women took the case to a Lisbon court, which rejected their unprecedented challenge. ...

In the meantime, the two intend to take their legal battle to the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg, France, she said.

Gay marriage is permitted in five European countries — Belgium, the Netherlands, Spain, Sweden and Norway.

In Portugal, which is an overwhelmingly Roman Catholic country, efforts to introduce gay marriage have hit resistance from religious groups and conservative lawmakers.

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Saturday, July 25, 2009

FULL SPEECH OF HEAD OF UK CATHOLIC MARRIAGE-PREP PROGRAM TO GAY CATHOLIC CONFERENCE

speech:
...For example, from the point of view of Church, a proper family must have a marriage in it – as I have just said, we have had this repeated over and over. As I have said elsewhere, I am more interested these days in the concept of the sacrament of relationships, rather than merely marriage, but this is certainly a bridge too far for our own Church. So, we do get a clear idea from Church, even if we don’t subscribe to it, of what family is, or isn’t!

The State is much more open to other forms and is perhaps driven by other considerations, not least the views of the electorate. But it is ironic that the State appears to be much more pastoral and compassionate in its acceptance of what family is. The fact that there are all kinds of benefits available for different family forms, and legal imperatives to support families suggests that the State is even more concerned for families than Church. ...

The cohabitation of the late ‘60s and early ‘70s bears no resemblance, other than in purely external form, to the current cohabitation of hetersexuals. Where wedding ring and suburban housing once were consequences of marriage, the modern day wedding ring is a mortgage, children, and a personal and private decision to be together. Duncan Dormor writes well on this phenomenon in his book, Just Cohabiting, where he suggests that modern cohabitation is akin to Mediaeval betrothal.

Add to this the increasing openness, and tolerance, of same-sex unions and the picture of today’s family society starts to come into focus. The Civil Partnerships legislation in this country was somewhat ground-breaking in giving gays and lesbians similar legal rights to heterosexual partnership. The real consequence of this is the legal acceptance, and partial social acceptance, of this family form.

We know, nevertheless, that there are many who are outrightly opposed to same-sex unions having any legal status. Our own Church is particularly active in some areas on this front, perhaps missing the point that when we look at intimate relationships, we should be less concerned, as Church, with the purely civil, and focus on sacrament that is more about the expression of the presence of God mediated through commitment, consent and covenant. Where this exists in married couples, in cohabiting heterosexual couples and same-sex couples, there is sacrament, I believe.

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Tuesday, July 21, 2009

MATRIMONY: IS IT STILL HOLY?: Bp. Thomas J. Tobin

in the Rhode Island Catholic:
...This column was to be entitled, “Why Priests Hate Weddings,” but I thought that might be a bit too strong. Nevertheless, ask any priest about his work and he will quickly share with you the challenge of dealing with the Sacrament of Matrimony today.

The problem, in a nutshell, is that the real practice of weddings and marriage today is far different than the ideal of Holy Matrimony as instituted by Christ and taught by the Church.

It begins with the fact that so many couples (perhaps 40%) are living together before they are married. This cohabitation, along with the sexual activity that presumably accompanies it, reveals a lack of understanding about the sanctity of the marriage covenant. ...

Wedding liturgies themselves become parties rather than prayer, making it nearly impossible to maintain any sense of decorum, any sense of the sacred. Guests arrive late, the bride goes into hiding, the groomsmen have been sitting in the church parking lot drinking; flower girls and ring bearers are very cute but too young to walk up the aisle without crying; the music is chosen from the “top forty list” and the photographer scrambles over the pews to direct the action rather than record it.

It’s exceedingly difficult for the priest to stand in the pulpit with any degree of conviction; to speak about the permanence of marriage when guests are involved in their second or third marriage; about fidelity when spouses have been or will be unfaithful; about sanctity when the newlyweds process out of church never to be seen again; about children when so many brides and grooms carry a contraceptive mentality into their marriage.

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Cameron "Sacrificed RC Adoption for Gay Vote": Christian.org.uk

writes:
Conservative leader David Cameron has been accused of contributing to the closure of Roman Catholic adoption agencies in order to win homosexual voters.

In 2007 Mr Cameron voted for new ‘gay rights’ laws forcing adoption groups to consider gay couples as potential adopters without any protection for religious agencies.

Newspaper columnist Gerald Warner says the Conservative leader had “calculated that it was worthwhile insulting Catholics (8 per cent of the electorate) to please homosexuals (0.8 per cent) because he believed (correctly) that the former do not constitute a bloc vote and imagined (incorrectly) that the latter do”.

The new laws have now seen most of these agencies – known for their work with ‘hard to place’ children – either cut ties with the Roman Catholic Church or drop out of adoption work.

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Monday, July 20, 2009

Gay Altar Server Contests Firing: Canada's National Post

reports:
A gay man has filed a complaint with the Ontario Human Rights Tribunal against a Catholic bishop after he was removed from his volunteer job as an altar server because of his sexual orientation.

The case is the latest involving the human rights tribunal to address whether Church doctrine should be subject to review by a secular body.

Jim Corcoran, who owns a high-end resort and spa near Cobourg, was asked this year to step down from his role at St. Michael's Church after 12 of his fellow parishioners complained to the Diocese of Peterborough.

"In their letter the group had tried to establish that I am married to my same-sex partner, that I am a homosexual leading an open homosexual lifestyle, and they implied I may be in relationship [with my priest]," Mr. Corcoran wrote.

"[The parishioners] have used their distaste towards homosexuality to limit my right to serve the Church."

In an interview, Mr. Corcoran said he was told by his parish priest in April that he and his partner would have to end their altar duties.

He said it was Bishop Nicola De Angelis's decision and the priest had no choice.

Mr. Corcoran added that he and his partner of 19 years have been chaste for years, which makes the decision to remove them even more difficult to comprehend. (Mr. Corcoran's partner does not want to be named and did not file a complaint with the tribunal.) ...

Mr. Corcoran said he is seeking $20,000 from each parishioner and $25,000 from the bishop. He said he wants the money to be donated to a charity of his choice.

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Thursday, July 16, 2009

CATHOLIC CHURCH MUST "RETHINK" THE FAMILY: HEAD OF CHURCH-FUNDED MARRIAGE COUNSELING: LifeSite

reports ["homosexualist"? still, I found this of interest]:
Homosexuals can "lay equal claim to their married heterosexual counterparts when bringing up children in stable relationships" the head of the highly regarded British Catholic marriage counselling service, Marriage Care, will tell a gathering of homosexualist activists this weekend.

Marriage Care is registered as a Catholic charity whose president is the sitting Archbishop of Westminster, Vincent Nichols, who is represented on the board by Fr. Michael Cooley. The organization, formed after the Second World War, calls itself "a Christian organisation, developed from within the Catholic community." The group operates from 80 locations and 53 relationship counselling centres in England and Wales.

Terry Prendergast, Chief Executive of Marriage Care, is to be keynote speaker at the annual conference of the homosexualist organisation Quest, a group that is trying to convince the Catholic Church to abandon its "policies" on sexuality and the nature of marriage. Prendergast will call upon the Catholic Church to "rethink" the nature of the family this weekend.

"Statistically, children do best in a family where the adult relationship is steady, stable and loving," Prendergast will tell the group in his prepared remarks. "Note that I stress adult, not married, since there is no evidence that suggests that children do best with heterosexual couples," he will add.

In a press release, Quest said it was looking forward to the appearance of Prendergast at its annual conference this coming weekend, the theme of which is "We Are Family: New Thinking for the Twenty First Century." Quest describes Prendergast's upcoming talk as focusing on the "romantic image" built up by the Church of a "golden age of the nuclear family" which excludes those who "do not fit." These, the group says, include single parent families, "and also co-habiting and same-sex families." ...

Terry Prendergast told LifeSiteNews.com in an interview that a significant source of the group's funding and other support comes from Catholic dioceses, one of which pays the rent for offices, and from individual parishes across the country. But, he said, the group's purpose is not necessarily to uphold the Catholic teaching on marriage and family.

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Thursday, July 09, 2009

Caritas in Veritate: Pope Benedict XVI

excerpted:
44. The notion of rights and duties in development must also take account of the problems associated with population growth. This is a very important aspect of authentic development, since it concerns the inalienable values of life and the family. To consider population increase as the primary cause of underdevelopment is mistaken, even from an economic point of view. Suffice it to consider, on the one hand, the significant reduction in infant mortality and the rise in average life expectancy found in economically developed countries, and on the other hand, the signs of crisis observable in societies that are registering an alarming decline in their birth rate. Due attention must obviously be given to responsible procreation, which among other things has a positive contribution to make to integral human development. The Church, in her concern for man's authentic development, urges him to have full respect for human values in the exercise of his sexuality. It cannot be reduced merely to pleasure or entertainment, nor can sex education be reduced to technical instruction aimed solely at protecting the interested parties from possible
disease or the “risk” of procreation. This would be to impoverish and disregard the deeper meaning of sexuality, a meaning which needs to be acknowledged and responsibly appropriated not only by individuals but also by the community. It is irresponsible to view sexuality merely as a source of pleasure, and likewise to regulate it through strategies of mandatory birth control. In either case materialistic ideas and policies are at work, and individuals are ultimately subjected to various forms of violence. Against such policies, there is a need to defend the primary competence of the family in the area of sexuality,111 as opposed to the State and its restrictive policies, and to ensure that parents are suitably prepared to undertake their responsibilities.

Morally responsible openness to life represents a rich social and economic resource. Populous nations have been able to emerge from poverty thanks not least to the size of their population and the talents of their people. On the other hand, formerly prosperous nations are presently passing through a phase of uncertainty and in some cases decline, precisely because of their falling birth rates; this has become a crucial problem for highly affluent societies. The decline in births, falling at times beneath the so-called “replacement level”, also puts a strain on social welfare systems, increases their cost, eats into savings and hence the financial resources needed for investment, reduces the availability of qualified labourers, and narrows the “brain pool” upon which nations can draw for their needs. Furthermore, smaller and at times miniscule families run the risk of impoverishing social relations, and failing to ensure effective forms of solidarity. These situations are symptomatic of scant
confidence in the future and moral weariness. It is thus becoming a social and even economic necessity once more to hold up to future generations the beauty of marriage and the family, and the fact that these institutions correspond to the deepest needs and dignity of the person. In view of this, States are called to enact policies promoting the centrality and the integrity of the family founded on marriage between a man and a woman, the primary vital cell of society, and to assume responsibility for its economic and fiscal needs, while respecting its essentially relational character.

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Monday, July 06, 2009

MARRIAGE CAN WAIT??: Msgr. Charles Pope

at the Archdiocese of Washington's blog:
OK guys, time to man up and ask her out on a date! Too many of you men are slow in looking for a bride. When I was ordained twenty years ago I had a lot of marriages. Today there are far fewer, and those that marry are much older. Perhaps maturity is a good thing PRIOR to marriage but couples are really waiting a long time these days. Now I was not born yesterday and I know that part of the reason for the delay is that couples are often fornicating and are just plain shacked up as well. True marriage is delayed as false notions of sexuality and marriage are indulged.

But there is also another phenomenon that is harder to understand. I have quite a number of young women, who are very attractive I might add, tell me that they are seldom asked out on dates, that young men don’t seem very good at taking initiative when it comes to dating and marriage. Now come on guys, be a man and get out there and ask her out!

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Wednesday, June 17, 2009

CONSCIENCE PROTECTIONS SOUGHT FOR NEBRASKA PSYCHOLOGISTS: Catholic News Agency

reports:
Responding to concerns that psychologists might be required to counsel homosexual couples about strengthening their relationship, Catholic leaders in Nebraska are asking for conscience protections for psychologists who refuse to treat or refer clients because of religious or moral convictions.

Speaking during a licensing rules hearing before the Board of Mental Health Practice, Nebraska Catholic Conference executive director Jim Cunningham proposed a “convictions of conscience” rule for psychologists. The Lincoln Journal Star reports that he warned that Catholic Charities in Omaha and Catholic Social Services in Lincoln might have to stop hiring licensed counselors and psychologists if they are not protected by the law. The Lincoln agency provides about $100,000 in free mental health services. ...

The Nebraska Catholic Conference has also argued for conscience protections for social workers and marriage and family therapists.

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Monday, June 08, 2009

SAN FRANCISCO'S BLAST AT VATICAN WAS LEGAL, COURT RULES: The San Francisco Chronicle

reports:
San Francisco didn't cross into constitutionally forbidden territory of government hostility to religion when the Board of Supervisors denounced a Vatican order to Catholic Charities not to place adoptive children with same-sex couples, a federal appeals court ruled Wednesday.

The 2006 resolution condemned the Vatican's "hateful and discriminatory rhetoric" and urged local church officials to defy the order by Cardinal William Levada. The Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights sued, contending the city was expressing hostility toward Catholicism in violation of the Constitution.

A federal judge threw out the suit, a decision that the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco upheld Wednesday. It said the supervisors had acted for a legal secular purpose - to protect gay and lesbian couples from discrimination - and not to express the city's disapproval of Catholicism.

"The board's focus was on same-sex couples, not Catholics," Judge Richard Paez said in the 3-0 ruling. Promoting equal treatment for those couples in adoptions isn't anti-religious, he said, "regardless of whether the Catholic Church may be opposed to it as a religious tenet."

Judge Marsha Berzon, in a separate opinion, said the resolution was close to the constitutional boundary and might have been invalid if it contained binding regulations or was part of a "pervasive public campaign" against the Catholic Church. ...

In response, Catholic Charities of San Francisco stopped placing children for adoption, the same step it has taken in Massachusetts and other areas with similar nondiscrimination policies, said Brian Rooney, a lawyer at the Thomas More Law Center, which sued San Francisco on behalf of the Catholic League.

more (the Catholic Key blog has posted the resolution here, so you can decide for yourself whether it expresses "disapproval of Catholicism")

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Friday, March 20, 2009

Catholic Bishops Revealed as Key in Marriage Battle: Bay Area Reporter

reports:
From California to Maine, Catholic bishops are increasingly taking on public roles on behalf of what LGBT activists call a "politicized" U.S. Catholic Church. Aiding the faith leaders in their campaign against same-sex marriage is the Knights of Columbus, a tax-exempt fraternal beneficiary society known as the church's "strong right arm."

And nowhere is the full impact of the Knights of Columbus' efforts felt than in the fight against awarding same-sex couples marriage rights.

In what turned out to be the largest total contribution from a single organization, $1.4 million of the Yes on 8 campaign's coffers came from the tax-exempt Knights of Columbus, based in New Haven, Connecticut. The Catholic Church operates its legislative efforts through the little understood entity, of which nearly all Catholic bishops and priests are members.

But the church's involvement in repealing same-sex marriage rights in California has been largely obscured by the intense public and media attention Mormon leaders received last year for their efforts to pass Proposition 8. After voters passed the anti-same-sex marriage constitutional amendment in November, LGBT protesters rallied outside the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints' temples throughout the state rather than Catholic churches. Campaign finance reports indicate that while California's Conference of Catholic Bishops, as an organization, did not contribute to Prop 8, money did come nationally from the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, which contributed $200,000 to the Yes on 8 campaign. The minuscule amount belies the fact that Catholic officials played just as a substantial role as their Mormon counterparts in the anti-gay campaign. ...

Harry Knox, the religion and faith program director for the Human Rights Campaign, said the community must engage in dialogue with representatives from the Knights of Columbus.

"The Knights of Columbus do a great deal of good in the name of Jesus Christ, but in this particular case, they were foot soldiers of a discredited army of oppression," Knox told the B.A.R. , referring to its role in the Prop 8 campaign.

Knox noted that the Knights of Columbus "followed discredited leaders," including bishops and Pope Benedict XVI. "A pope who literally today said condoms don't help in control of AIDS," Knox said Tuesday, shortly after the pope's comments were released.

Catholic officials, however, have deliberately cloaked their actions in opposing marriage equality from public view.

Case in point, San Francisco Archbishop George Niederauer, who quietly reached out last summer to Mormon leaders he had met while stationed in Salt Lake City to ask them to become involved in the Prop 8 campaign. It wasn't until after the election that the archbishop's letter surfaced. ...

A key component of the Catholic Church's strategy has been the Knights of Columbus.

Obscure Catholic group

On its Web site the group proclaims itself as "the strong right arm of the Catholic Church."

To LGBT activist Jerry Sloan, the group is "an obscure and uniquely tax-exempt insurance company acting under the guise of a fraternal order."

Classified by a 19th century IRS code as a 501(c)8, the fraternal beneficiary society is able to operate as a tax-exempt organization providing "$70 billion in force" worth of life insurance to its members, according to Patrick Korten, vice president of communications and past grand knight of the organization.

According to the IRS Web site, a 501(c)8 is unlike other 501(c) nonprofit organizations. It is not required to abide by the non-discrimination clause required by Congress for other nonprofits. Rather, one IRS qualifier for the tax-exempt code states, "membership must be limited." Like the priesthood, the Knights of Columbus membership is restricted to Catholic men. Among those men are "almost every, if not all, bishops and most priests," explained Korten.

Besides providing life insurance to members, Korten told the B.A.R. that the purpose of the organization is to promote and lobby for the social issues important to the Catholic Church, including opposition to stem cell research, abortion, gay rights, and assisted suicide. ...

"I think it is fair to say the Knights of Columbus have been involved in virtually every one of the 31 states that have had referendums," on same-sex marriage, Korten said.

Korten also said the organization opposes civil unions.

"We support the church on that," Korten said. "And quite simply because the [heterosexual] family is the most important fundamental unit of society. A mother and a father is unquestionably the ideal. The purpose of the church is to provide the optimal environment in the begetting, raising, and education of children."
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