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Faith & Parish

Archbp defends school's booting children of lesbians


DENVER -- The decision to refuse re-enrollment at a Boulder Catholic school to two children of lesbian parents was the only outcome that was fair to the children, their teachers, school parents and "the authentic faith of the church," said Denver Archbishop Charles J. Chaput.

"Our schools are meant to be 'partners in faith' with parents," the archbishop said in a column published in the March 10 issue of the Denver Catholic Register, the archdiocesan newspaper. "If parents don't respect the beliefs of the church, or live in a manner that openly rejects those beliefs, then partnering with those parents becomes very difficult, if not impossible.

Homilies should be under eight minutes long


VATICAN CITY -- Homilies should be no longer than eight minutes -- a listener's average attention span, said the head of the synod office.

Priests and deacons should also avoid reading straight from a text and instead work from notes so that they can have eye contact with the people in the pews, said Archbishop Nikola Eterovic, secretary-general of the Synod of Bishops.

The hermeneutic of dysfunction


It doesn’t take an expert church observer to understand that those who want to diminish the effect of the Second Vatican Council have come upon an easy sound-bite solution: Put Catholics in one of two “hermeneutics” boxes. Under that scheme, Catholics embody either the hermeneutic of discontinuity, applied to those who believe significant change occurred at the council, or the hermeneutic of continuity, those who hold that the council was merely an affirmation of what went before, but dressed up for the 20th century.

It’s a “you’re for us or against us” strategy of dealing with the complexities and messiness of church reform. While a quick way to tidy the boundaries and square the edges, the strategy does a disservice to serious consideration of the council and it masks deeper problems within the community.

Our brains are wired for liturgy


With their scientific research into the biology and anthropology of religious behavior, Andrew Newberg and the late Eugene d’Aquili, both physicians at the hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, have shed light on the origins of ritual and liturgy in the human sphere and in particular on the tensions that underlie the “liturgy wars.”

Liturgist: Pope aims to 'propose' practices


ROME -- For the better part of five years, plenty of experts on Catholic liturgy have been waiting for the “real” agenda of Pope Benedict XVI, known as a traditionalist on matters of worship, to emerge from beneath a façade of patience seemingly built on dropping hints rather than imposing sweeping new rules.

Now, however, the pope’s own liturgist insists that the patient façade is actually the agenda.

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.


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