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Faith & Parish

Bishops' draft pastoral warns of dangers to marriage


The draft of a new pastoral letter that warns against four fundamental challenges to marriage, describing two of them -- cohabitation and contraception -- as intrinsically evil, will be considered by the U.S. bishops at their November national gathering in Baltimore.

The draft of the letter, "Marriage: Love and Life in the Divine Plan," a copy of which was obtained by NCR, covers familiar territory. It asserts that the church throughout history has taught that marriage "is an exclusive relationship between one man and one woman"; that its dual purpose, the union of individuals and the conception of children, are inseparable; and that each sexual act must be open to the possibility of children. The paper condemns artificial birth control, same-sex marriage, cohabitation and divorce as challenges "directed to the very meaning and purposes of marriage."

The bishops say they are developing the letter, intended as "a theological and doctrinal foundation," as one expression of a 2004 pledge "to be a marriage-building church."

Lutheran leaders declare worship wars 'sinful'

The Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod has warned congregations that disagreements over worship styles that developed into full-fledged worship wars are "sinful."

The eight-page "Theses on Worship" was adopted unanimously in September by the denomination's Council of Presidents, which includes its top officials and leaders of its 35 regional districts.

"The polarization that is affecting the church concerning the issue of forms, rites and ceremonies is sinful and hinders the proclamation of the gospel," it says.

Boston archdiocese taxed for shuttered church

BOSTON -- The Boston archdiocese has suffered a legal setback in its bid to avoid paying taxes on a shuttered church where defiant parishioners have been keeping a round-the-clock vigil for five years.

In a Sept. 28 memorandum, Massachusetts Superior Court Judge Paul Troy indicated the archdiocese must show it plans to sell the St. Frances X. Cabrini Catholic Church and its coveted 30-acre parcel, or else face a six-figure property tax bill from the seacoast town of Scituate.

A spiritual, ecological celebration


PORTLAND, ORE. -- On Saturday night, the space in front of the stage had been packed, with big kids, little kids, grownups of all ages, dancing along to the big sound and outlandish, colorful spectacle of the March Fourth Marching Band, a popular local act that features dozens of musicians as well as dancers and stilt walkers.

The scene late Sunday afternoon was more sedate, but there was still dancing -- including little ones who ran about playing in the straw from the bales that provided seating up front, while adults relaxed, listening to the more folksy sounds of the day’s musical lineup.

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.' "



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