National Catholic Reporter

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Faith & Parish

The meaning of a Cristo Rey high school graduation

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KANSAS CITY, MO. -- With proud parents looking on, their cameras clicking, 60 once unlikely high school graduates eagerly grabbed their diplomas at a ceremony here June 4. As they did, they gave strong affirmation to a novel and still relatively new model of Catholic education.

Cristo Rey, located in the heart of this city, is a Jesuit-inspired, Catholic-operated and community-backed high school and this month it graduated its first senior class.

“Look forward to the future that is yet to be,” the goal-oriented Charity Sr. Vickie Perkins told a beaming graduating class. It would be the last time the students would hear her well-worn encouragement before heading on to college.

For four years the students of Cristo Rey listened to Perkins as she talked about their futures, careers they were carving out day by day by staying faithful to goals they had set for themselves with her encouragement.

This graduation event was special for several reasons:


  • It was memorable for teary-eyed parents who had never had the opportunities their children now have.

Gray areas of excommunication

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Analysis

Editor’s note: NCR editor at large Tom Roberts in the June 11 issue looked at the case of Mercy Sr. Margaret Mary McBride through the lens of Catholic ethicists. This week NCR Washington correspondent Jerry Filteau examines it through the lens of Catholic canon lawyers.

On May 14 Bishop Thomas J. Olmsted of Phoenix issued a statement saying that Mercy Sr. Margaret Mary McBride, the highest-ranking member of her order at Mercy-run St. Joseph’s Catholic Hospital and Medical Center in Phoenix, was “automatically excommunicated” because as head of the hospital’s ethics committee she approved an abortion to save the mother’s life.

Was she really excommunicated?

One nationally prominent canon lawyer in Washington said no when contacted by NCR. Another said the case in question has many gray areas that would cause him at least to question whether an excommunication had been merited or incurred. A third, who teaches at a seminary in Detroit, said definitely yes, McBride was excommunicated for her actions.

Bishop says new Mass likely in late 2011

ST. LOUIS, Mo. (RNS) A historic change in the way Roman Catholics participate in Mass will likely begin Nov. 27, 2011, according to an Illinois bishop who's been active in preparing for the changes.

Bishop Edward Braxton of Belleville, Ill., a former member of the U.S. bishops' liturgy committee, said the official date for the introduction of the new Roman Missal had not yet been set, but “it is very possible, however, that the date will be the First Sunday of Advent 2011.”

The Roman Missal is the ritual text of prayers and instructions for the Catholic Mass. Many of the changes involve parts of the Mass in which the laity respond to prayers said by the priest.

The changes will affect some of the most recognizable parts of the liturgy. That includes the familiar greeting and sign-of-peace response, “and also with you,” which will become “and with your spirit.” Changes to the Nicene and Apostles' creeds have also been made.

Other church officials agreed that because Nov. 27, 2011, is the beginning of the liturgical year, it's a natural date to launch the new missal.

Catholic school has no decision on gay marriage course

SOUTH ORANGE, N.J. -- No decision was reached June 3 by a committee studying whether Seton Hall University should cancel a course on gay marriage after the local Roman Catholic bishop objected.

The fate of the undergraduate class, which is scheduled for the fall, has been in question since Newark Archbishop John J. Myers issued a statement last month saying the course “is not in sync with Catholic teaching.”

The Seton Hall Board of Regents asked its Mission and Identity Committee to evaluate the course, said Thomas White, a Seton Hall spokesman. The committee's dozen or so members has met behind closed doors on the South Orange campus, though it is unclear how they will proceed or how long they will take to make their recommendation.

“It's rather fluid and rather undefined at this point,” White said.

The elective course was designed to explore the social and political issues surrounding gay marriage, without advocating for either side. So far, 20 students are registered for the 25-seat class, campus officials said.

Parishes, schools in Nashville serve flood victims

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (CNS) -- Once Charlene Garrett got a close look at the flood damage that left so many of her neighbors surrounded by piles of ruined furniture and debris, she was determined to help.

So she organized a command center at St. Matthew Church in Franklin, where she serves as director of stewardship and development for the church and school, to help move volunteers and supplies to those in need after the unprecedented rainfall and flooding in middle Tennessee in early May.

Vatican court upholds closing of 10 Boston parishes

WASHINGTON -- The Vatican supreme court has denied the appeals of parishioners trying to save 10 parishes in the Archdiocese of Boston from closing, according to a spokesman for a group fighting the closures.

Peter Borre, co-chairman of the Council of Parishes, which was formed to oppose the archdiocese's 2004 decision to close 64 churches, said he learned of the May 7 decision by the Supreme Court of the Apostolic Signature from a canon lawyer representing the group in Rome.

The decision from the Vatican's highest tribunal means that the archdiocesan process to close the parishes -- suppression in church parlance -- complied with canon law.

The decision also means that parishioners have no further recourse within the church to bring their concerns to church officials.

Parish representatives and the council will meet in early June after they receive the official documents from the court before deciding its next step, Borre told Catholic News Service. He did not rule out the possibility of a lawsuit to overturn the closings based on civil law violations.

Boston Catholic schools will enroll children of same-sex parents

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The Archdiocese of Boston does not prohibit children of same sex parents from attending Catholic schools, and officials there have offered to help a child refused admittance to an elementary school because his parents are lesbian to enroll in another archdiocesan school, according to a statement released late this afternoon.

"We believe that every parent who wishes to send their child to a Catholic school should have the opportunity to pursue that dream," said Mary Grassa O'Neill, secretary for education and superintendent of schools for the archdiocese. "Our schools welcome children based on their parent's understanding that the teachings of the church are an important component of the curriculum and are part of the students' educational experience."

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