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Faith & Parish

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."

'Together is better!'

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NOTRE DAME, IND. -- “We are a historic church. Some of that history isn’t pretty, but we believe God will guide us to where he wants us to be,” began Bishop Jaime Soto of Sacramento, Calif.

Soto, chairman of the U.S. bishop’s Committee on Cultural Diversity in the Church, set the tone for the Catholic Cultural Diversity Network Convocation sponsored by the bishops' conference at the University of Notre Dame May 6-8. The U.S. bishops wanted participants to share their histories, but also wanted them to talk and pray about the future of an increasingly diverse American Catholic church.

The bishops' conference has made the recognition of cultural diversity in the church one of its five priorities. Nineteen bishops were among the hand-picked group of 305 church leaders at the convocation. Apostolic Nuncio to the United States Archbishop Pietro Sambi conveyed a blessing and words of encouragement from Pope Benedict XVI.

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