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Faith & Parish

Winning altar design announced for papal Mass in Washington

The crowd of people who will gather at Pope Francis' open-air Mass in Washington in September won't be able to experience the interior beauty of the Basilica of the National Shine of the Immaculate Conception during the Mass.

So the winning students of an altar design contest decided to bring the architecture of the grand church out to the people.

WWII soldier's sister receives decorations decades after his death

The house at the end of Herman Street where the Krempecki family once lived is long gone, a victim of flooding from the body of water that gave the borough its name.

But in 1941, 11-year-old Stella Krempecki's heart was filled with joy when she saw a familiar face near her home, which was then filled with several siblings and her recently widowed father.

Music chief for Pope Francis' Phildelphia Mass quits in dispute with Archbishop Chaput

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The head of liturgical music for the Philadelphia archdiocese, who was also to play a key role orchestrating the huge outdoor Mass concluding Pope Francis' trip to the U.S. in September, is resigning his post over long-standing differences with Archbishop Charles Chaput.

John Romeri, who has headed the archdiocesan liturgical music office for five years, said he will resign effective June 30 because "there are simply irreconcilable differences" with Chaput over the role and style of music at Mass.

Possible Boy Scout gay leadership change has religious groups weighing options

The phone calls and emails have been pouring in at Trail Life USA since Boy Scouts of America President Robert Gates said his organization should remove its ban on gay leaders.

"I think this is the major public turning point," said John Stemberger, chairman of Trail Life USA, which bills itself as a Christian alternative to the Boy Scouts. "The handwriting is on the wall."

New pastoral looks at Catholics' identity, today's challenges to faith

Washington Cardinal Donald Wuerl has issued a new pastoral letter "about who we are as Catholics."

"We will reflect on our identity as disciples of Jesus -- followers of Christ -- adopted children of God," he notes in the introduction.

A key part of the pastoral looks at "our freedom to be who we are as followers of Christ, and some of the challenges of our age as we try to live and share our faith," he says.

New Jersey priest fired as Seton Hall chaplain comes out as gay

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A Catholic priest in New Jersey who says he was dismissed from his campus ministry job over a Facebook post against anti-gay bullying and racism has come out as gay.

Fr. Warren Hall told Outsports, a magazine for gay athletes, that while he remained committed to his vocation as a priest and to his vow of celibacy, he was not going to hide his sexual orientation.

"I have to be myself," Hall said. "I can't worry what other people think."

Forget the numbers. The big story is that religion has lost social influence

"Religion plays a less important role in American life." Or maybe, "Religion declines as powerful source of American public authority."

I doubt those headlines would have garnered the attention the Pew Research Center recently received with its subtitle "Christians Decline Sharply as Share of Population."

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