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Mission Management

When the budget is a moral failure, who will speak for the poor?

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Commentary

The House of Representatives has passed a budget based largely on a plan proposed in late March by Congressman Paul Ryan, R-Wis., — a practicing Catholic — and later endorsed by presumed-Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney. The plan is structured to spare military spending from mandatory cuts. It is a vicious, anti-life austerity budget that, if implemented, would hammer the poor, the sick, the vulnerable and elderly.

Pastoral councils are a work in progress

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MISSION MANAGEMENT

Diocesan and parish pastoral councils have recently been in the news. First, the beleaguered Philadelphia archdiocese announced the formation of its first "archdiocesan pastoral council," as Archbishop Charles Chaput tries to create almost from scratch a well-functioning enterprise.

Then there's the case of Florian Stangl, a 26-year-old gay Austrian man in a registered domestic partnership, whose pastor had prohibited him from serving on the parish council to which he had been elected by a wide margin. Cardinal Christoph Schönborn of Vienna overrode the pastor and allowed Stangl to serve on the council.

Today, half of the 195 U.S. dioceses have diocesan pastoral councils, while three-fourths of the 18,000 parishes have parish pastoral councils, according to a 2003 survey by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

But what exactly is a parish pastoral council? Where do they come from? What is their mission? And how do they operate?

Catholic Charities moves on childhood obesity

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Theologians who study Pope John Paul II’s theology of the body might consider adding a new chapter to that work, a chapter the late, athletically inclined pope would no doubt approve, a chapter for the too many Americans in deep, deep trouble. The wrong kind of calories and not enough exercise have created an unprecedented childhood obesity epidemic in the United States.

Quietly witnessing: missionary outreach to Middle-Eastern Christians

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In September 2011, Msgr. John Kozar of the Pittsburgh diocese became president of the Catholic Near East Welfare Association (CNEWA), the New York City-based papal agency. Kozar succeeded Msgr. Robert Stern, who led the organization for a quarter century.

The association, founded in 1926 by Pope Pius XI, serves in the Middle East, Northeast Africa, India and Eastern Europe. It has a fourfold mandate: to support the pastoral mission and institutions of the Eastern Catholic churches, to provide humanitarian assistance to all, to promote Christian unity and interreligious understanding and collaboration, and to educate people in the West about the history, cultures, peoples and churches of the East.

St. Vincent de Paul Society president steps down

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Mission Management

After six pivotal years, Joe Flannigan will step down as president of the National Council of the St. Vincent de Paul Society. Those who have worked with Flannigan are quick to praise his outstanding leadership.

"Joe worked very hard to make the society's councils and conferences really feel connected to each other and to the National Council and the National Council to the International Council," said Sheila Gilbert, who was commissioned to succeed Flannigan -- the first woman to hold the position -- on Sept. 3 at the society's national meeting in Dallas. Gilbert, who has served as the society's national secretary, said Flannigan made these connections "by seeking dialogue, discussion and feedback prior to making significant decisions."

NJ parish blossoms under first-time pastor

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Mission Management

The number of U.S. parishes is declining at a steady rate. According to the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate (CARA) at Georgetown University, the total number of U.S. parishes is 17,958 in 2010, down from their peak of 19,331 in 1995. Closures and mergers seem to be the norm in most dioceses.

A mere 22 percent of all Catholics attend Mass on a weekly basis. A recent Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life study points out that Catholicism has experienced the greatest net losses as a result of affiliation changes.

Vatican and biopharma company collaborate

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Mission Management

The political and moral battle lines around embryonic stem cell research are well-defined. However, scientific research into the medical uses of adult stem cells has taken an interesting step this past year. The Vatican’s Pontifical Council for Culture has implemented a joint initiative agreement with a U.S. publicly-traded, for-profit company, NeoStem Inc., an international biopharmaceutical company.

The joint initiative will be implemented through each organization’s charitable arm: NeoStem’s Stem for Life Foundation, and STOQ International (Science, Theology and the Ontological Quest), which is a new partnership between the Pontifical Council for Culture, the six pontifical universities and the University of Notre Dame’s Reilly Center for Science, Technology and Values in Indiana.

Church can learn a lot from 'servant leadership'

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Mission Management

Jesuit Fr. William J. Byron is a university professor of business and society at St. Joseph’s University, Philadelphia. He was president of The Catholic University of America from 1982-92. His book Next-Generation Leadership will be published in the fall. NCR contributor Tom Gallagher spoke with Byron about “servant leadership” as the optimal model of leadership for the church.

A story of what it means to be a pastor

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Mission Management

As the 2009-2010 “Year for Priests” concludes, it is worth asking a fundamental question: What does it mean to be a pastor? The life of Fr. Stanley Rother, an Oklahoma City archdiocesan priest (1935-81), provides a compelling answer to this question.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church states that the “the pastoral care of the parish is entrusted to a pastor as its own shepherd under the authority of the diocesan bishop.”

An ancient and contemporary pathway to God

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Mission Management

The Catholic church in the United States is facing a daunting challenge in trying to reach and provide spiritual formation for its estimated 65 million members.

According to a recent survey, 64 percent of U.S. Catholics do not attend Mass on a weekly basis. The survey, published in 2009 by Trinity College in Hartford, Conn., indicates that the fastest-growing segment of U.S. believers is the “Nones,” those who are “spiritual” but practice no formal religion. In 1990, the Nones accounted for 8.1 percent of the population, or 14 million people. By 2008, that number had risen to 15 percent, or 34 million people. And of that group, 35 percent identify themselves as former Catholics.

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July 18-31, 2014

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