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Faith & Parish

Boulder parents: 'They told us in church to love everyone'

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The pastor of the Sacred Heart of Jesus Parish in Boulder, Colo., earlier this month informed a lesbian couple, active in the parish for three years and with two young girls in preschool that their children would not be able to attend the elementary school beginning in one year. The decision, leaked to the media apparently by a teacher at the school, has caused uproar in the community, and divide the parish.

The women shared their story with NCR editor Tom Fox. The pastor, Fr. William Breslin, explained his decision.

Fox interviewed a number of parents with children at the school to see how the decision is affecting their families. Following is the second of these interviews, edited for length and clarity.

Chris and Cathy Clark are married with three children, two in the Sacred Heart of Jesus elementary school.

NCR: Chris, what is your family connection to Sacred Heart?

Boulder parent: 'Our children could be the next to go'

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The pastor of the Sacred Heart of Jesus Parish in Boulder, Colo., earlier this month informed a lesbian couple, active in the parish for three years and with two young girls in pre-school that their children would not be able to attend the elementary school beginning in one year. The decision, leaked to the media apparently by a teacher at the school, has caused uproar in the community, and divide the parish.

The women shared their story with NCR editor Tom Fox. The pastor, Fr. William Breslin, explained his decision.

Fox interviewed a number of parents with children at the school to see how the decision is affecting their families. Following is the first of these interviews, edited for length and clarity.

Andy Bush and his wife, Anna, have three children at Sacred Heart School.

NCR:tHow has the decision affected your family?

Boulder pastor says Jesus turned some away

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Boulder, Colorado

Father William Breslin, pastor of Sacred Heart of Jesus parish, seemed to be a tired soldier of Christ as he sat outside his parish church March 13 greeting parishioners as they left the five o’clock Saturday Mass.

For more than a week, since word broke he had forbidden two young girls, five and three, to further their education in another year in the parish school because their moms are a lesbian couple, the parish -- and Breslin -- have been under attack, the parish has polarized, and even the school might be threatened with decreased enrollments.

“Let’s pray that we find ways to come together, that we find the means for reconciliation,” he said during the prayers of the faithful only minutes earlier. Already, it was said, long time parishioners had, at least for now, decided to worship elsewhere.

Reconciliation had been the theme of the mass readings and they seemed particularly appropriate. Sacred Heart parishioners are now passionately divided seemingly, though not exclusively, on generational lines, those over fifty likely to support the mindset of their priest more than others.

Children denied Catholic schooling, lesbian couple speaks out

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Boulder, Colorado

Two Boulder women have been at the center of a firestorm of media attention here for the past ten days since news broke that their daughters would no longer be welcome at the Sacred Heart of Jesus parish school because their mothers are lesbians.

Local media have been covering the story seemingly around the clock. Television crews have come to the school. Articles, letters to the editors, and opinion pieces, including one by Denver Archbishop Charles Chaput in support of the expulsion, have appeared. Protesters have shown up outside the church with banners calling shame on parishioners. Police have been called in to patrol the school grounds for the safety of the children. Division has emerged within the parish though many Catholics – and others – here ask themselves how this could possibly have occurred in their progressive, welcoming community.

Referred to as "the mothers" by those who do not know the couple and by those who do and want to protect their identities, the women have avoided all media contacts and interviews – until now. They also asked that they not be photographed.

Archbp defends school's booting children of lesbians

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DENVER -- The decision to refuse re-enrollment at a Boulder Catholic school to two children of lesbian parents was the only outcome that was fair to the children, their teachers, school parents and "the authentic faith of the church," said Denver Archbishop Charles J. Chaput.

"Our schools are meant to be 'partners in faith' with parents," the archbishop said in a column published in the March 10 issue of the Denver Catholic Register, the archdiocesan newspaper. "If parents don't respect the beliefs of the church, or live in a manner that openly rejects those beliefs, then partnering with those parents becomes very difficult, if not impossible.

Homilies should be under eight minutes long

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VATICAN CITY -- Homilies should be no longer than eight minutes -- a listener's average attention span, said the head of the synod office.

Priests and deacons should also avoid reading straight from a text and instead work from notes so that they can have eye contact with the people in the pews, said Archbishop Nikola Eterovic, secretary-general of the Synod of Bishops.

The hermeneutic of dysfunction

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It doesn’t take an expert church observer to understand that those who want to diminish the effect of the Second Vatican Council have come upon an easy sound-bite solution: Put Catholics in one of two “hermeneutics” boxes. Under that scheme, Catholics embody either the hermeneutic of discontinuity, applied to those who believe significant change occurred at the council, or the hermeneutic of continuity, those who hold that the council was merely an affirmation of what went before, but dressed up for the 20th century.

It’s a “you’re for us or against us” strategy of dealing with the complexities and messiness of church reform. While a quick way to tidy the boundaries and square the edges, the strategy does a disservice to serious consideration of the council and it masks deeper problems within the community.

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September 12-25, 2014

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