National Catholic Reporter

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Faith & Parish

Hidden prospects


ALBUQUERQUE AND LAS CRUCES, N.M. -- New Mexico has about it an austere, out-of-the-way character, long stretches of desert and horizons of abraded, reddish mountains, evocative of the biblical quality of unseen significance. Few might look to New Mexico when conversation turns to the future of the church.

If so, they could be missing something. This land of hidden prospects might hold some answers for the future.

Cleveland Catholics ask Vatican to oversee their bishop

CLEVELAND -- Catholics protesting Cleveland Bishop Richard Lennon's plan to close 50 churches are asking the Vatican to oversee Lennon's actions.

Separately, at least three Cleveland churches received letters from the Vatican last week (Sept. 20-26), saying their appeals of Lennon's orders to close are being reviewed.

Liturgists call for more meaningful feasts, symbols


Makati City, Philippines

Southeast Asian liturgists say new church feasts need to be added to liturgical calendars while religious symbols that that have no meaning in their area need to be replaced.

"Given that time is relative, that situations are provisional, and that culture and traditions are in constant evolution, the church should continue to revise, reinvent, and create liturgical feasts that meet the actual needs of the faithful," the liturgists said in a statement.

Resignation of Martino was no surprise


At the press conference Aug. 31 announcing the resignation of Joseph Martino as bishop of Scranton, Pa., Philadelphia Cardinal Justin Rigali said, Martino's resignation "comes after much prayer and reflection," and the decision "also carries with it a deep concern for the well-being of this local church, with its clergy, religious and laity."

Given Martino's stormy tenure in Scranton, words like "deep concern for ... this local church" have led some to wonder how voluntary the resignation was.

The God in Government blog of The Washington Post reminded readers that Martino "made a rather spectacular appearance at a parish forum last year where members were discussing the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops' document on political responsibility. He ordered the discussion closed, telling the group, 'No USCCB document is relevant in this diocese. The USCCB doesn't speak for me.' "

Making the grade: rating Catholic-sponsored charities


Mission Management

The financial crisis has left charities scrambling to satisfy increased demand for services and to raise the dollars needed to fund programs. This has made charitable giving an even more treacherous endeavor as donors try to figure out which charities manage their resources in the most prudent and transparent manner.

Scranton's Bishop Martino stepping down


Update from Catholic News Service Aug. 31:

Pope accepts resignation of Scranton bishop for health reasons

By Catholic News Service

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- Pope Benedict XVI has accepted the resignation of Bishop Joseph F. Martino, 63, from the pastoral governance of the Diocese of Scranton, Pa., for health reasons.

He has appointed Cardinal Justin Rigali of Philadelphia to be apostolic administrator for the diocese.

The pope also has accepted the resignation of Scranton Auxiliary Bishop John M. Dougherty, who is 77. Canon law requires that all bishops submit their resignation to the pope when they turn 75.

See an update here: Scranton's Martino resigns, citing insomnia, fatigue


NCR News Story posted Aug. 28:

Bishop Joseph F. Martino will resign as head of the Diocese of Scranton, Pa., as early as next week, according to sources within the diocese, it was reported today by several outlets in the Scranton area.

Priests learn best practices in parish management


You don't think there are enough hours in the day for laypeople? Try being a parish pastor.

There's all the spiritual and sacramental ministry the position entails, plus the work that goes along with being, quite often, the only priest in a sizable suburban parish with plenty of staff and even more demands.

How does a pastor handle it all? This summer, in an effort to help answer that question, the International Institute for Clergy Formation at Seton Hall University in New Jersey joined with the Washington-based National Leadership Roundtable on Church Management to offer a "best practices" seminar to 28 parish priests -- most of them from New Jersey and Pennsylvania, which constitute Region III of the U.S. bishops' conference, but also from West Virginia, Florida and Louisiana.

The idea to conduct such a seminar had been in the mind of Father Paul Holmes, a Newark, N.J., archdiocesan priest, since 2000, when he taught at the Pontifical North American College in Rome. But different assignments -- and his own "busy-ness" -- kept him from actively pursuing the idea for several years.



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