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Faith & Parish

Judge closes bankruptcy case against Iowa diocese

DAVENPORT, Iowa -- The Davenport Diocese's bankruptcy case is closed nearly six years after its attorneys filed a Chapter 11 petition and four years after the diocese reached a $37 million settlement with creditors.

Bankruptcy Judge Lee Jackwig entered the final decree June 15 in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of Iowa, following a teleconference call between attorneys for the diocese and victims of clergy sexual abuse, who were the major creditors in the bankruptcy case. Jackwig noted that the diocese has met the requirements of the bankruptcy plan, but must continue to comply with ongoing nonmonetary terms as set forth in the plan.

Among the ongoing nonmonetary terms are posting on the diocesan website the names of all credibly accused perpetrators, providing outreach to survivors of clergy sexual abuse and publishing announcements about training for prevention of abuse.

Diversity shows at bishops' meeting


ATLANTA -- Looking across the hotel conference room, one is struck by the seeming homogeneity of the U.S. bishops, gathered here for their annual spring meeting. But the uniform black suits, Roman collars and pectoral crosses disguise the diversity of the group, a diversity of temperament, politics and perhaps theology.

More than half of the June 13-15 meeting was held behind closed doors, but in the sessions that were public, that diversity shone through.

Appealing Cleveland parishes receive new pastors


Full restoration continues to inch closer for 11 shuttered parishes in Cleveland.

Bishop Richard G. Lennon announced Wednesday afternoon the names of pastors and opening dates for five of the 11 parishes that successfully appealed their closure to the Vatican’s Congregation for the Clergy in early March. A 12th parish required restoration in name only.

The new pastors and assignments are:

  • Rev. Gary Chmura, St. Adalbert parish in Cleveland, effective July 2;

  • Rev. A. Jonathon Zingales, St. John the Baptist parish in Akron, effective July 2;

  • Rev. Eric Orzech, St. Casimir parish in Cleveland, effective July 9;

  • Rev. Joseph Hilinski, St. Barbara parish in Cleveland, effective July 16;

  • Rev. Joseph Workman, St. James parish in Lakewood, effective July 23.

Victims group urges Philadelphia archbishop to defrock convicted priest


The leading advocacy group for victims of sexual abuse by clergy is urging Philadelphia Archbishop Charles Chaput to defrock the priest convicted last week of shielding other clerics who preyed on children. But laicizing Monsignor William Lynn is not as simple as it sounds.

Lynn oversaw clergy assignments in the Philadelphia archdiocese for a decade and is the first high-ranking church official ever found guilty of covering up for abuse, not committing it.

Shuttering of Philadelphia newspaper inspires nostalgia for how things were



I was working on an essay on the state of things ecclesiastical as we approach the Fortnight for Freedom when a long-ago colleague emailed a link to a story by Philadelphia Inquirer writer David O'Reilly reporting that a projected deficit of $17 million in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia has forced Archbishop Charles J. Chaput to announce "a massive restructuring that will include the immediate closure of the archdiocesan youth office and the monthly newspaper," The Catholic Standard & Times.

My reporting of recent years has led me to conclude (repeatedly and also -- some unabashed self-promotion here -- in my book, The Emerging Catholic Church) that the church has changed significantly in the last 50 years and that it will keep changing by dint of new theological and scientific insights and by force of sheer demographic changes. Although some people are loudly insisting that it hasn't really changed and shouldn't change any more.

Conservatives rally across U.S. for 'religious freedom'


WASHINGTON -- Hundreds gathered on Capitol Hill and at rallies across the nation Friday in a double-barreled attack on President Barack Obama's health care law and a mandate to require employers to provide insurance coverage of birth control.

Speakers such as Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn., and anti-abortion activist Lila Rose rallied conservatives in one of 160 coordinated noontime rallies across the country.

Bachmann, a former GOP presidential candidate, emphasized that the fight over the insurance mandate is not about birth control or women's rights, but the freedom to practice religion without government involvement.

"This is about, at its heart and soul, religious liberty first and religious liberty always," she said. "We will fight this and we will win."

The rally comes on the heels of 12 lawsuits filed by 43 Catholic groups against the Department of Health and Human Services in May over the insurance mandate. Meanwhile, the Supreme Court is expected to rule this month on Obama's landmark 2010 health care law.

Crystal Cathedral to move to smaller Catholic church

In a building swap, the Crystal Cathedral has announced it will move its congregation to a smaller Roman Catholic church after the iconic Protestant megachurch was sold to the Catholic Diocese of Orange, Calif.

The cathedral, plagued by huge debt and squabbles among family members of founder Robert H. Schuller, will move to a space with less than half of its current seating capacity. Sheila Schuller Coleman, Schuller's daughter and the recent pastor at the cathedral, started a new church nearby in March.

Last fall, a bankruptcy judge approved the diocese's $57.5 million purchase of the glass-walled building in Garden Grove. The cathedral's congregation is exercising an option in the sales agreement that permits it to move to St. Callistus Catholic Church in June 2013.

The Catholic congregation at St. Callistus, and later, the administrative offices of the diocese, will move to the Crystal Cathedral site.

The Cathedral congregation will pay $25,000 in monthly rent for two years starting January 2014, with the cost escalating in a predetermined formula after that. The cathedral said the length of the lease agreement has not been determined.

Theological society backs Vatican-criticized nun


ST. LOUIS -- The board of the largest membership organization of U.S. theologians issued a statement of support Thursday afternoon (June 7) for Mercy Sr. Margaret Farley, a member in their ranks who was the subject of harsh criticism from the Vatican just days ago.

Writing that it considers Farley’s work “reflective, measured, and wise,” the leadership of the some 1,500 member Catholic Theological Society of America (CTSA) says in the statement it is “especially concerned” that the Vatican’s criticism presents a limiting understanding of the role of Catholic theology.

Building community at heart of lay ministry, conference speakers say


ARLINGTON, Va. -- The head of Catholic Relief Services urged an audience of lay ministers to work with one another and develop a sense of community.

And one key to building that community is charisma, said Carolyn Woo, CEO of Catholic Relief Services, the U.S. bishops' overseas relief and development agency.

"Charisma is the ability to take people as you find them, like them for what they are, and do not dislike them for what they are not," she told attendees at the annual conference of the National Association for Lay Ministry.

The meeting, which featured prayer, speakers and informational booths, was held in the Crystal City area of Arlington May 31-June 2.

Woo urged empathy and a capacity for others. "This capacity for others is grace," she said, emphasizing that the word "grace" should be spelled with a capital "G" -- "because grace is what God gave us."

Grace, she continued, is the key to having the empathy that keeps lay ministers from competing with one another and instead builds a community of lay ministers.

Open letter to American priests


I am watching my 2-week-old grandson sleep. It is my time to be on watch so that his mother can sleep. When he wakes and cries, I will bring him in to her to nurse.

You may find this an odd opening sentence for a letter to American priests, arguably as far as any imaginable cohort from the day-to-day realities of newborn babies, nursing mothers. But it is the presence of this little boy, so new to the world, that has broken through my paralysis, my despair, because nothing breaks through paralysis and despair like a new birth.


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May 22-June 4, 2015


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