National Catholic Reporter

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Faith & Parish

On annulments, pope warns of 'pseudo-pastoral claims'

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VATICAN CITY -- True pastoral charity and concern can never lead the church to grant an annulment to a Catholic whose marriage is valid according to church law, Pope Benedict XVI said.

"One must shun pseudo-pastoral claims" that look only at the desire of divorced Catholics to return to the sacraments, the pope said Jan. 29 in his annual speech to officials of the Roman Rota, a tribunal that mainly deals with appeals filed in marriage annulment cases.

Landmarking battle between city, church heats up

CLEVELAND -- Rebuffing the concerns of church leaders over the fate of shuttered church buildings, the city's Landmarks Commission is recommending that six more Catholic churches be designated as historical city landmarks.

The designation, which would give the buildings some protection against demolition or structural changes, is opposed by the Diocese of Cleveland, which is in the midst of closing some 50 parishes.

US churches urged to revive mission outreach

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Every year John and Sylvia Ronsvalle, longtime experts on church finances and consultants on stewardship, offer fascinating views of how U.S. Christians could change the world — and their own lives — if they actually tithed to their churches.

In their latest report, "The State of Church Giving Through 2007," they give a snapshot of what might happen in the nine U.S. archdioceses currently or traditionally headed by a cardinal.

Getting Catholics invested in the mission

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WASHINGTON -- U.S. church institutions are "horribly underfunded" and will face growing cutbacks if Catholics don’t begin to give more and make greater commitments to the church’s mission, said Francis J. Butler, president of Foundations and Donors Interested in Catholic Activities. Butler has headed FADICA, a membership organization of many of the leading Catholic-oriented foundations in the country, for more than 25 years. NCR asked him to spell out some of the main issues for Catholic philanthropists today. The following are excerpts from that interview.

NCR: What are some of the main concerns of Catholic foundations and philanthropies these days?

Butler: Well, I can tell you what FADICA itself has as a focus at the present time. There would be four areas. One cluster of concerns is around Catholic schools. Another would be the area of generosity, giving and stewardship. Connected to that is the fact that so many Catholic institutions these days are horribly underfunded. So we talk a lot about the operations of Catholic institutions, particularly dioceses and parishes. An additional area is engagement of young people in the church and their participation in the life of the church.

A two-word action plan: Just ask

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Commentary

The Catholic church is clearly a leader in elementary and secondary education and in providing social services that impact the poor, the homeless, the hungry and more. The church’s reach ranges from children to seniors and transcends religious denominations.

The current economic crisis has exacerbated all of the problems of homelessness, hunger and poverty and dramatically alters the ability of church organizations and other groups to deliver solutions.

Collection plate boycott called to protest closings

CLEVELAND -- A grassroots group that's fighting the ongoing closing of churches in the Cleveland Catholic Diocese is urging parishioners to boycott Sunday collections.

The group, Endangered Catholics, has begun circulating forms that parishioners can fill out, saying they are withholding their money until Bishop Richard Lennon reconsiders some of the closings.

A place for renegades

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22nd in the "In Search of the Emerging Church" Series.

CAMDEN, N.J. -- Chris Haw, in describing his religious upbringing, speaks of himself as “a mutt.” He was raised Catholic for a time as a youngster and then went with his family to Willow Creek Community Church, the famous and highly influential nondenominational mega-congregation just outside of Chicago.

While at Eastern University, a school near Philadelphia with Baptist roots, he went with friends to services at Episcopal and Mennonite churches. He also traveled to Belize to take part in a theology and ecology study program and returned intent on refashioning his life and finding work that would “connect faith with creation care.”

Seattle pastor begins effort to review new missal translations

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Saying he woefully aware of how difficult it is going to be to ‘sell’ faithful Catholics on the new translations of the Catholic missal, a Seattle pastor has begun a nationwide campaign to slowdown the program.

"For some time I’ve followed the bishops’ debates, read many of the new texts, discussed them with brother priests, and visited about them with Catholics in the pews, and I’ve become aware of how difficult it’s going to be to ‘sell’ ordinary, faithful, good Catholics on the new, Latinized translations of the Missal," said Father Michael G. Ryan, pastor of St. James Cathedral for more than two decades.

“And with good reason, because some of them, in my opinion, are very poor and the principles underlying the translations are highly questionable.”

Ryan said he is “troubled” when he realizes that it’s “almost exclusively the overburdened pastors of this country who will be saddled with the task of getting people to understand why they are getting new translations and why the translations will be better than what they’re used to.”

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November 21-December 5, 2014

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