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Faith & Parish

Ministers hope to build strong marriages


MILWAUKEE -- Over the past 29 years, Lorrie Gramer helped prepare 25,000 couples for marriage in the Rockford, Ill., diocese.

“On the Friday night before the wedding, I tell the couples that they have paid the florist and the caterer and they’ve gone home,” Gamer said. “But the church is still there.”

The church is more to a marriage than a backdrop for the ceremony -- it is a couple’s lifelong commitment to uphold church teachings.

Gramer is president-elect of the National Association of Catholic Family Life Ministries, a group that attracted some 280 participants to a conference called the “Marriage-building Construction Zone” at Marquette University in Milwaukee Aug. 3-6. Almost all attending were lay parish leaders who had paid their own way, although there were a few priests and permanent deacons.

“Marriage-building is a lay movement,” Gramer said. “The bishops gave us the framework, but this is the third annual conference where this has been our theme.”

Orange diocese increases bid for Crystal Cathedral


ORANGE, Calif. -- The Diocese of Orange has upped its bid to buy the Crystal Cathedral complex in Garden Grove from $50 million to $53.6 million.

Once the home church of the Rev. Robert Schuller, a noted television preacher, the cathedral property was put up for auction earlier this year as part of the Crystal Cathedral Ministries bankruptcy proceedings.

Oakland bishop retracts statement, meets lay leaders


OAKLAND, CALIF. — Bishop Salvatore Cordileone has published an apology for an official statement posted in late June on the Oakland, Calif., diocesan Web site regarding a series of events at St Joseph the Worker Parish in Berkeley, including the pastor's decision to evict the pastor emeritus from the rectory.

In a new statement on the Web site, Cordileone said the original one "was not meant in any way to point fingers, assign blame or impugn anyone's reputation. To the extent that this may have happened to anyone involved in this matter, and to the extent that the statement may have gone beyond what would be appropriate, I apologize and express my regrets."

New Missal preparation resources abound

WASHINGTON -- As Catholics look toward Nov. 27, when the new edition of the Roman Missal goes into use in the United States, there is no lack of resources to help them prepare for the new sound and feel of the liturgy.

Dozens of books and brochures have been published or are in the works, along with many DVDS and audiotapes aimed at specific audiences -- from priests to teens to elementary school students.

Sacrificing children for Catholic identity



For almost 10 years as the executive director of San Francisco Catholic Charities, I was directly involved in efforts to manage the tension between what our church teaches in the area of sexuality, and how we carried out our mission to serve the poor, the vulnerable and the marginalized.

We dealt with many challenges, but the most complex, significant and painful issue was same-sex adoption.

Catholic Charities provides a broad range of services to all in need regardless of their faith. Following the 1906 earthquake, finding adoptive homes for orphans was our first program.

More departures than baptisms, a first for Germany

BERLIN (RNS) -- For the first time since membership records have been kept, more Germans departed the Roman Catholic Church than were baptized into it in 2010, according to new data from Germany’s Catholic Conference of Bishops.

The new statistics, which were released with little analysis or comment, showed 170,339 baptisms for the year, and 181,193 departures from the church. However, 3,576 new members, and more than 7,400 returning Catholics, joined the church last year.

Nevertheless, the long-term prognosis does not look good, with overall church membership shrinking, year-on-year, from 24.9 million in 2009 to 24.6 million. Church attendance figures also dipped slightly.

Catholic church leaders across the country reported officiating at 252,965 funerals and 48,524 weddings.

Monuments not the only sites drawing tourists


WASHINGTON (CNS) -- As the nation's capital, Washington has been visited by millions since its official founding July 16, 1790.

With sites such as the Washington Monument, White House, the Capitol, Library of Congress, the National Archives, Smithsonian museums, and countless monuments and cultural happenings, tourists from across the world come to Washington for a taste of U.S. history.

Lesser known perhaps, but no less fascinating, are the Catholic historical sites around the city that attract pilgrims.

Catholicism in the U.S. was born in the Washington region, and the area still plays a vital part in the U.S. Catholic Church. The District of Columbia is home to the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, seminaries, religious houses of prayer, and three prominent Catholic universities -- The Catholic University of America, Georgetown University and Trinity Washington University.

Diocese bids $50 million for Crystal Cathedral


ORANGE, Calif. (CNS) -- The Diocese of Orange has made a formal bid of $50 million to buy the Crystal Cathedral complex in Garden Grove, once the home church of the Rev. Robert Schuller, a noted television preacher.

The cathedral property was put up for auction earlier this year as part of the cathedral ministries bankruptcy proceedings.

Crystal Cathedral Ministries founded by Rev. Schuller, who is now retired, filed for bankruptcy last October. It was facing debt amounting to more than $50 million.

Cardinal criticizes contraceptives in health plans

WASHINGTON -- A U.S. cardinal expressed strong opposition July 19 to a recommendation that all health plans be required to cover any contraceptives approved by the Food and Drug Administration without a patient co-payment under the new health reform law.

Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo of Galveston-Houston said the recommendation from an Institute of Medicine panel showed that "there is an ideology at work ... that goes beyond any objective assessment of the health needs of women and children."

The institute's Committee on Preventive Services for Women made public July 19 its list of recommendations to the Department of Health and Human Services, which is charged with deciding which health services will be mandated under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

In addition to recommending screenings for gestational diabetes and HIV, breast-feeding support and supplies and counseling for domestic violence, the 16-member panel said all women of reproductive age should have access to "the full range of Food and Drug Administration-approved contraceptive methods, sterilization procedures and patient education and counseling."



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