The second weekend in August on Beaver Island, Mich., marks the Homecoming dinner -- an 80-year tradition where the island's yearlong and summer residents come together at Holy Cross Catholic Church on Kings Highway to share a meal and each other's company as summer nears its end.
Faith & Parish
PHILADELPHIA -- The former chief financial officer of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia will spend the next two to seven years in state prison for embezzling more than $900,000 from the church over seven years.
Common Pleas Court Judge Ellen Ceisler sentenced Anita Guzzardi, 44, to prison at a hearing Aug. 24 in Philadelphia on her third-degree felony conviction of theft by deception. Guzzardi will also serve seven years' probation on two other convictions, forgery and unlawful use of a computer. She had pleaded guilty to the three charges July 29.
Guzzardi sat downcast in a black business suit as Assistant District Attorney Lisa Caulfield described what she called the "lavish lifestyle" Guzzardi fueled through funds she embezzled in her work as a trusted senior financial officer of the archdiocese.
Beginning in late 2004, Caulfield said, Guzzardi began to write archdiocesan checks to cover her expenses on her American Express credit card. The deception grew to a second Amex card and a Chase card, expenses for which she covered by cutting more than 300 checks over time totaling $906,000.
WASHINGTON, D.C. -- U.S. priestly ordinations have been steady in recent years, but they need to increase significantly if they are to replace the large number of priests retiring or dying, says a new study by the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate.
PHILADELPHIA -- The Archdiocese of Philadelphia announced Monday the planned sale of select real estate holdings, on a case-by-case basis, to address its operating deficit in the current fiscal year.
A deficit of at least $6 million is expected even before any extraordinary costs may be incurred.
Properties included are the previously announced sale of the archbishop's residence in the Overbrook section of Philadelphia, and Villa St. Joseph by the Sea in Ventnor, N.J.
Added to the list are Holy Family Center and a large portion of the adjacent Archdiocesan Pastoral Center parking lot in Philadelphia and the Mary Immaculate Retreat Center in Northampton, Pa.
"To address the cash flow challenges caused by the deficits, the church is faced with hard decisions," Philadelphia Archbishop Charles J. Chaput said in a news release. "It's similar to what families have to do when their expenses are greater than their income. We just can't afford to maintain and hold assets like Villa St. Joseph by the Sea and my residence. Holding on to these properties at this time would be inconsistent with the mission of our church."
How should bishops conduct themselves in the public square? The question is especially urgent today when so many divisive issues, including contraception mandates and same-sex marriage, complicate the nation's politics. Economic concerns still dominate the public's interest, but it is these hot-button issues that get people's blood pressure rising.
MILWAUKEE -- The killing of six Sikhs at their temple Sunday in the Milwaukee suburb of Oak Creek brought an outpouring of spiritual support from leaders in the Catholic community, as well as a call for the entire community to examine violence in U.S. culture.
WASHINGTON -- Catholic Relief Services said that $5.3 million in emergency funding it provided to the humanitarian organization CARE in 2010 under a U.S. government grant did not violate Catholic teaching.
In postings on its website July 20 and July 24, the U.S. bishops' international development and relief agency explained that the money it provided to CARE was specifically used for water and sanitation and food and nutrition programs for poor families in Central America and Africa and could not be transferred to other services which CARE provided.
The postings came in response to an online report that CARE provides contraceptives to women and other family planning services.
CRS said the report, which made its way to several websites, contained "inaccurate and scurrilous accusations."
"CRS is not in agreement with CARE's policy on contraception because we do not support any positions that would be in violation of Catholic teaching on human dignity and the sanctity of human life," the church relief agency said in an updated posting July 24.
VATICAN CITY -- The Vatican has withdrawn the titles "Catholic" and "Pontifical" from a university in Peru after decades of discussions over the school's Catholic identity and after tensions between university officials and the local cardinal over control of the school's assets.
Unbelief is on the uptick. People who check "None" for their religious affiliation are now nearly one in five Americans (19 percent), the highest ever documented, according to the Pew Center for the People and the Press.
The rapid rise of Nones -- including atheists, agnostics and those who say they believe "nothing in particular" -- defies the usually glacial rate of change in spiritual identity.
Barry Kosmin, co-author of three American Religious Identification Surveys, theorizes why None has become the "default category." He says, "Young people are resistant to the authority of institutional religion, older people are turned off by the politicization of religion, and people are simply less into theology than ever before."
Kosmin's surveys were the first to brand the Nones in 1990 when they were 6 percent of U.S. adults. By the 2008 survey, Nones were up to 15 percent. By 2010, another survey, the biannual General Social Survey, bumped the number to 18 percent.
SAN FRANCISCO -- San Francisco Auxiliary Bishop Robert McElroy, opening a four-day conference here, July 19-22, on the role of trustees in U.S. Catholic high schools and colleges, said the strong sense of mission, developed and maintained so ably by religious women and men over the past two centuries, is now the prime responsibility of lay boards in most schools, and he urged trustees to fully embrace their role in sustaining it.