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Catholic News Briefs
NEWS BRIEFS Oct-10-2014

By Catholic News Service


Court's pass on same-sex marriage rulings leaves plenty of questions

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- When the Supreme Court declined to review the appeals on rulings striking down same-sex marriage bans as unconstitutional, many people were left second-guessing why this happened and what it means for the future of same-sex marriages and bans on such marriages. The high court's action -- or more accurately, inaction -- gave the immediate go-ahead for same-sex marriages to take place in Indiana, Oklahoma, Utah, Virginia and Wisconsin, where the lower courts' rulings against bans on such marriages will stand. It also cleared a path for same-sex marriages in six other states within the jurisdictions of these federal circuit courts. Although the implications of the high court's move on the first day of its new session were fairly far-reaching, opponents of same-sex marriage and its supporters -- for different reasons -- were not satisfied. 'Millions of Americans had looked to the court with hope that these unjust judicial decisions might be reversed,' said an Oct. 6 statement from the chairmen of two U.S. bishops' committees. 'The Supreme Court's action fails to resolve immediately the injustice of marriage redefinition, and therefore should be of grave concern to our entire nation,' said Bishop Richard J. Malone of Buffalo, New York, chairman of the Committee on Laity, Marriage, Family Life and Youth, and Archbishop Salvatore J. Cordileone of San Francisco, chairman of the Subcommittee for the Promotion and Defense of Marriage.

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Giving adults with cognitive disabilities time to connect with God

KAUKAUNA, Wis. (CNS) -- Everyone needs the time and space to connect with God. Adults with cognitive disabilities find this space at a one-day retreat designed for them by some special people in the Diocese of Green Bay. The retreat is for adults and these folks are treated like adults, but the activities are designed to meet their needs. 'I believe you treat people at their age level, not their cognitive level,' said Deacon Bill Burkel, who retired this fall as retreat director after 15 years. 'I've had the opportunity to spend a lot of time with some really great people. You can't sell short what they are able to give to our community,' he told The Compass, the diocesan newspaper. 'They give just by who they are. We need to recognize the presence of God in them.' A recent retreat held at St. Katharine Drexel church in Kaukauna had as its theme 'Will You Wash My Feet?' It was developed around the song 'Washing Feet,' which is used during liturgies at Prince of Peace Church in Green Bay, where he serves as deacon. 'These retreatants are called to service just like the rest of us. I developed it around the song, which ends with 'washing the feet of our neighbor ... love to all at our door,' Deacon Burkel explained.

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Students urged to hold their faith 'high like light to guide your way'

TRENTON, N.J. (CNS) -- To Catholic school students, teachers and parents who filled the pews at St. Mary of the Assumption Cathedral Oct. 7, Trenton Bishop David M. O'Connell said, 'Our schools are different and we are different because of our faith. Believing in God, knowing Jesus, praying and going to Mass. ... That's what makes us different, that's what helps us see the world differently, through Jesus' eyes,' the bishop said in his homily during the diocese's annual Catholic schools Mass. 'That's what makes us treat one another differently as Jesus asks us to do. And that's why we are here today in this cathedral,' he said. 'We are one, holy Catholic and apostolic church together from pre-k to 12th grade.' The more than 800 students, teachers and parents in attendance represented the 36 elementary schools and eight high schools in the four counties that make up the Trenton Diocese. Celebrated on the feast of Our Lady of the Rosary, the Mass reflected Marian devotion from the recitation of the rosary before Mass to Bishop O'Connell's final remarks. Catholic students carried a large wooden rosary procured from Ecuador. Smaller rosary beads blessed by Bishop O'Connell were distributed to all students. Worship aids explaining the joyful, luminous, sorrowful and glorious mysteries of the rosary sought to lead the youngsters to a greater understanding of the church's ancient prayer to Mary.

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Avoiding temptation requires vigilance, pope says at morning Mass

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Just as you protect your home from thieves, you need to protect your heart from the temptations of the devil, Pope Francis said in a morning homily. Preaching Oct. 10 during Mass in his residence, the Domus Sanctae Marthae, the pope said Christians should not be shocked that the devil continues to assail them; even after Jesus defeated Satan in the desert, the devil continued to try to tempt him, including when he was dying on the cross. Christians need to guard and protect their hearts, 'just as you protect your home -- with a lock,' the pope said, according to Vatican Radio. 'How often do bad thoughts, bad intentions, jealousy, envy enter?' he asked. 'Who opened the door? How did those things get in?' If one does not safeguard his or her heart, the pope said, it becomes a public 'square where everything comes and goes, a heart without intimacy, a heart where the Lord cannot speak or even listen.'

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Married life is better with NFP, say couples at synod

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Catholic couples who ignore church teaching on contraception 'don't know what they are missing,' said a U.S. couple invited to address the extraordinary Synod of Bishops on the family. Alice and Jeff Heinzen, family life leaders in the Diocese of La Crosse, Wis., spoke at the synod Oct. 7, urging efforts to find new ways to share its teaching about the beauty of family life. Although the couple has practiced natural family planning for 27 years and taught natural family planning -- Alice is a member of the NFP advisory board for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops -- they did not speak specifically about family planning in their presentation to the synod. However, in an interview with Catholic News Service Oct. 9, the couple said church teaching about married sexuality, openness to life and against the use of artificial contraception is clearly a place where new ways of presenting the message are needed. The good news, they said, is that natural family planning is good for a marriage, good for one's health and good for the environment. 'Natural family planning is really a skill set that allows you to maintain your vow of openness to life,' Alice said. 'When you look at other things, like being faithful to one another, if you're going to be faithful you better have the skill of conflict resolution so that you can work things out. If you're going to stay permanently married forever, well then you better be able to forgive one another. That's another skill set.'

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Synod sends message, prayers to families suffering because of war

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Gathered with Pope Francis, members of the Synod of Bishops on the family issued a message of solidarity, support and prayers for all families suffering the impact of war and violence, especially in Iraq and Syria. The members prayed particularly for those who, 'because of the Christian faith they profess or because they belong to other ethnic or religious communities, have been forced to abandon everything and flee toward a future that lacks any kind of certainty.' The Vatican published the message Oct. 10, the middle of the Oct. 5-19 synod. Members echoed Pope Francis' words in condemning the claim -- used by the Islamic State militants, among others -- that they are acting in God's name when they commit violence and murder. Thanking international organizations and individual countries that have come to the aid of 'the innocent victims of the barbarity,' they also asked for coordinated international action 'to re-establish peaceful coexistence in Iraq, Syria and throughout the Middle East.' While particularly concerned about the suffering of families there, synod members also offered prayers for 'families split apart and suffering in other parts of the world that are subject to persistent violence. May the merciful Lord convert hearts and give peace and stability to those who are undergoing trials,' the message said.

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Synod fathers ask: Does the church need to watch its language?

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- In official reports of the closed-door talks at the Synod of Bishops on the family, an emerging theme has been the call for a new kind of language more appropriate for pastoral care today. 'Language appeared many, many times,' Basilian Father Thomas Rosica, the briefer for English-speaking journalists, told reporters Oct.7, the assembly's second working day. 'There's a great desire that our language has to change in order to meet the very complex situations' the church faces. One bishop, whom Father Rosica did not name in accordance with synod rules, reportedly told fellow participants that 'language such as 'living in sin,' 'intrinsically disordered' or 'contraceptive mentality' are not necessarily words that invite people to draw closer to Christ and the church.' ('Intrinsically disordered' is a term used by the Catechism of the Catholic Church to describe homosexual acts.) Speaking to the synod Oct. 7, Archbishop Diarmuid Martin of Dublin spoke of the need for new language with which to communicate with married couples. 'To many, the language of the church appears to be a disincarnated language of telling people what to do, a one-way dialogue,' the archbishop said, according to excerpts of his remarks published by the Irish bishops' conference. 'The lived experience and struggle of spouses can help find more effective ways of expression of the fundamental elements of church teaching.' Following the same session, Cardinal Wilfrid Fox Napier of Durban, South Africa, told Catholic News Service that 'language is something we've overlooked for a good while; we've used language that is out of touch with the way people speak today.'

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Eradicating extreme poverty chief concern for Vatican, says U.N. nuncio

UNITED NATIONS (CNS) -- Significant progress has been made to reduce global poverty, child mortality and maternal deaths in keeping with the U.N.-coordinated Millennium Development Goals but 'more remains to be done,' said the apostolic nuncio to the United Nations. 'It can only be done if we all work together,' added Archbishop Bernardito Auza, the Vatican's permanent representative at the U.N. in New York. He made the comments in an Oct. 8 address during general debate at a session of the U.N. Economic and Financial Committee. The target for reaching the Millennium Development Goals is 2015. Set in 2000, the eight goals address issues such as hunger, education, inequality, child and maternal health, HIV/AIDS and the environment. They were accepted by 189 member nations and reconfirmed by 45 nations in a 2007 call to action. The 69th session of the General Assembly is reviewing progress on the goals and looking to set a development agenda beyond 2015. 'No development goal is more important for the Holy See than the eradication of extreme poverty,' said Archbishop Auza. 'This moral imperative has always underlain the social commitment of the Catholic Church.'


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