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Faith & Parish

Louisiana cemetery to take in unclaimed bodies

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Since his death in October 2009, the remains of Brian Walker have sat inside the coroner’s morgue in Lafayette, La. When he died, no one claimed his body. But on April 28, Walker will finally be put to rest, along with 90-plus other unclaimed persons.

Through a steadfast partnership stretching over two years between the coroner’s office, the Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist and a Catholic Service worker, 95 unclaimed persons, as well as numerous fetuses, will receive a proper burial in the cathedral’s nearly two-century-old cemetery.

Methodists to debate gay clergy and same-sex unions

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As nearly 1,000 delegates from across the world gather in Tampa, Fla., for the United Methodist Church's General Conference, gay and lesbian activists have printed pamphlets promoting their cause in five languages, including Portuguese and Swahili.

The UMC's global reach, stretching from the Philippines to Philadelphia, compels the multilingual lobbying. Nearly 40 percent of the delegates, who meet through May 4, live outside the United States, according to church leaders.

"We see it as a challenge to deal with the cultural differences," said Bishop Rosemarie Wenner of Germany, who will be installed in Tampa as president of the UMC's Council of Bishops. "But we also see it as a gift."

Convened every four years, General Conference legislates decisions on everything from pensions to prayer books. But few debates garner as much attention and acrimony as the role of gays and lesbians in the UMC.

The homosexuality debate dates to 1972, when a phrase calling homosexual activity "incompatible with Christian teaching" was added to the Book of Discipline, which contains the denomination's laws and doctrines. The UMC also bans noncelibate gay clergy and same-sex marriage.

Mission stressed at convention for Catholic educators

BOSTON -- Catholic educators who gathered April 11-13 in Boston did not shy away from tough issues they face, such as declining enrollments, school closures and competition from charter schools.

During multiple workshops at the National Catholic Educational Association’s annual convention, educators were advised to do more lobbying, strengthen their boards and school leaders, and put strategic plans in place. Above all, they were urged to be true to the mission of their Catholic school.

Cleveland parishes meet reopening news with relief, skepticism

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Saying "it's time for peace and unity" in his diocese, the bishop of Cleveland will not appeal the rulings of the Congregation for the Clergy regarding his 12 closed parishes. Instead, he will begin the process to restore them and reopen the churches as places of worship.

"I will not appeal the decrees to the Apostolic Signatura," said Bishop Richard G. Lennon in a statement Tuesday. "Doing so would prolong the process a number of years and would create more uncertainty and continue to divide our Catholic family."

Bishop to reopen 12 closed Cleveland parishes

CLEVELAND -- Roman Catholic Bishop Richard Lennon on Tuesday (April 17) announced that he will reopen 12 churches whose closings were reversed by the Vatican last month.

The 12 parishes had filed appeals with the Vatican after Lennon, between 2009 and 2010, closed 50 churches in the eight-county diocese, citing changes in demographics and shortages of priests and cash.

Originally, reports indicated that there were 13 churches that had won appeals. But Lennon said this morning that only 12 had appealed.

Lennon said that he had decided not to appeal the Vatican rulings, adding that "it is time for peace and unity in the Diocese of Cleveland."

The 12 churches had appealed to the Vatican's Congregation for the Clergy, arguing they were vibrant, self-sustaining parishes that should not be closed. The panel ruled that the bishop did not follow church laws and procedures when he closed the churches.

The churches have been standing empty since their closings. The diocese, which has sold a number of closed churches, could not, under church law, sell a church or its contents while it was under appeal.

Pittsburgh priests to bishop: Listen to laity on contraception

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Several priests of the Pittsburgh diocese have met with Bishop David Zubik -- the prelate who said in January that the Obama administration's mandate regarding coverage of contraceptives in health care plans told Catholics, "To Hell with you" -- telling him his stance on the issue was alienating women and creating "a lot of anger" among laypeople.

Artists painstakingly transfer sacred stained glass windows

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NEWARK, N.J. -- For almost a century, the stained glass portrait of St. Patrick looked down on parishioners -- as if from the heavens -- from the massive nave of Sacred Heart Catholic Church.

But the Irish saint, as well as stained-glass depictions of St. Anna, St. Cecelia, Moses and Isaiah, were recently brought down to earth and will now watch over visitors at a new home 30 miles away, the Maryrest Chapel Mausoleum in Mahwah.

Unusual study asks former Catholics why they left church

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WASHINGTON -- In an unusual study whose main results were released at a Catholic University of America conference in Washington Thursday, Villanova University in Philadelphia asked former Catholics in the Trenton, N.J., diocese why they left the church.

While the results themselves were not surprising, the researchers said, the study suggests new ways the church can approach Catholics who are dissatisfied with what the church teaches or how it acts -- including those so dissatisfied that they have decided to leave.

One of their key recommendations was for pastors, bishops and other church officials to respond consistently to questioning or angry Catholics with constructive dialogue rather than a simple reiteration of church rules or policies.

Catholics eye Cleveland closures for national precedent

CLEVELAND -- Before a recent prayer service in a shuttered Catholic church in Holyoke, Mass., parishioner Victor Anop stood before 120 people and made an urgent announcement:

"The Vatican has ordered the bishop of Cleveland to reopen 13 closed churches."

"Everybody broke into applause," Anop said in a telephone interview. "People are still talking about it. What happened in Cleveland brings us hope."

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July 18-31, 2014

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