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The new spin on Vatican II



Editor’s note: This is the second part of a series exploring the long-standing "liturgy wars" and how they shape today’s understanding of the Second Vatican Council.

Not too long ago, when bishops spoke about the Second Vatican Council, the language you’d hear would often include words like people of God, dialogue and collegiality.

Appointment inspires hope in beset diocese


The beleaguered diocese of Scranton, Pa., has a new bishop, a native son who wasted no time in his first news conference in setting a tone distinctly different from that of his predecessor.

Msgr. Joseph Bambera, who has been handling the day-to-day running of the diocese since the abrupt and early retirement of Bishop Joseph F. Martino in August, was named the 10th bishop of the diocese.

“We have a new age in this town,” said Sr. Margaret Gannon, a professor of history at Marywood University. “Hopefully everything’s going to be just fine.”

Battle lines in the liturgy wars



Editor’s note: This is the first part of a series exploring the long-standing “liturgy wars” and how they shape today’s understanding of the Second Vatican Council.

It would be difficult to find two more incongruous words to utter in the same phrase than “liturgy” and “war.” Yet those are the terms that have been widely used in the English-speaking world to discuss a struggle that has dominated much of the Catholic community’s life since the Second Vatican Council, that remarkable series of meetings of the world’s bishops that occurred 1962 through 1965.

Thousands join campaign to delay changes to missal

WASHINGTON -- A Seattle pastor who was present in St. Peter's Square as a seminarian in 1963 when Pope Paul VI presented the Second Vatican Council's liturgical document, "Sacrosanctum Concilium," is leading a campaign to delay implementation of the latest English translation of the Roman Missal.

Father Michael G. Ryan, pastor of St. James Cathedral in Seattle since 1988, has gathered more than 17,000 signatures from English-speaking Catholics around the world asking that the new translations of the prayers used at Mass be tested through a pilot program at selected parishes for a year before their full implementation.

"It is ironic, to say the least, that we spend hours of consultation when planning to renovate a church building or parish hall, but little or none when 'renovating' the very language of the liturgy," Ryan wrote in America magazine late last year.

As of Feb. 24, his Web site at had registered 17,305 signatures from people who identified themselves as Catholic priests, deacons, religious or laypeople from England, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, the U.S. and other English-speaking countries.

Catholics, Mormons defend religious freedom together


PROVO, Utah -- Catholics and members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints must continue to stand together as a "vital bulwark" against those in American society who want to "reduce religion to a purely private reality," the president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops told a historic gathering at Brigham Young University in Provo.

Cardinal Francis E. George of Chicago spoke Feb. 23 on "Catholics and Latter-day Saints: Partners in the Defense of Religious Freedom" as part of the Mormon school's forum series. He was the first cardinal to speak at the university.

Cardinal George praised the Mormons for their work with Catholics to protect the conscience rights of health care providers and institutions that do not want to participate in abortion or assisted suicide and to defend marriage as the union of a man and a woman.

City seeks tax on shuttered Catholic churches

SYRACUSE, N.Y. -- The doors of St. Peter Catholic Church are chained and padlocked. The sign out front reads "for sale."

St. Peter and four other churches were recently closed by the Diocese of Syracuse to save money. Now the tax man wants his share.

City Assessor John Gamage put St. Peter and two other closed Catholic churches, St. Andrew the Apostle and St. Stephen, on the tax roll for the first time this year.

Conservative Lutherans form new denomination

Saying they're done with efforts to reform the nation's largest Lutheran body, dissidents unveiled blueprints Feb. 18 for a rival denomination, the North American Lutheran Church (NALC).

The new body, which will hew to a more traditional line on issues of human sexuality, is expected to be formally launched in August as a conservative alternative to the 4.6 million-member Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.

Cleveland church gets international help

CLEVELAND -- Former presidential candidate Rep. Dennis Kucinich, joining a battle to save a Hungarian Catholic church from closure, has brought out a big gun: the Hungarian government.

Kucinich met with an aide to Hungarian Prime Minister Gordon Bajnai to discuss St. Emeric church, a 105-year-old parish that has been ordered closed as part of a downsizing plan by the Cleveland Catholic Diocese.

The meeting was a follow-up to a meeting Kucinich had with the prime minister in December, when the congressman urged the Hungarian government to appeal St. Emeric's closing to the Vatican in Rome.

Got a complaint? Chicago Catholics want to listen

CHICAGO -- The ads ask Catholics to return to their pews. But some churches in suburban Chicago want to take it a step further. They’re ready to listen to complaints about the church from inactive Catholics -- and prepared to apologize for any hurt the church has caused.

As part of the “Catholics Come Home” initiative and similar efforts, churches in Chicago, Joliet and Rockford, Ill., have reached out through television ads, special classes, and social nights to attract inactive members before Lent.

When will we actually get a new missal?

WASHINGTON -- When liturgists in the English-speaking world talk about when the new Roman Missal might go into use in Catholic parishes, the date most often mentioned is Nov. 27, 2011, the start of Advent and the beginning of the church's liturgical year.

But is that what Catholics in the United States can expect? It depends, said Father Rick Hilgartner, associate director of the U.S. bishops' Secretariat of Divine Worship.



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October 24-November 6, 2014


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