National Catholic Reporter

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Faith & Parish

Catholics, Mormons defend religious freedom together

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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.

City seeks tax on shuttered Catholic churches

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SYRACUSE, N.Y. -- The doors of St. Peter Catholic Church are chained and padlocked. The sign out front reads "for sale."

St. Peter and four other churches were recently closed by the Diocese of Syracuse to save money. Now the tax man wants his share.

City Assessor John Gamage put St. Peter and two other closed Catholic churches, St. Andrew the Apostle and St. Stephen, on the tax roll for the first time this year.

Conservative Lutherans form new denomination

Saying they're done with efforts to reform the nation's largest Lutheran body, dissidents unveiled blueprints Feb. 18 for a rival denomination, the North American Lutheran Church (NALC).

The new body, which will hew to a more traditional line on issues of human sexuality, is expected to be formally launched in August as a conservative alternative to the 4.6 million-member Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.

Cleveland church gets international help

CLEVELAND -- Former presidential candidate Rep. Dennis Kucinich, joining a battle to save a Hungarian Catholic church from closure, has brought out a big gun: the Hungarian government.

Kucinich met with an aide to Hungarian Prime Minister Gordon Bajnai to discuss St. Emeric church, a 105-year-old parish that has been ordered closed as part of a downsizing plan by the Cleveland Catholic Diocese.

The meeting was a follow-up to a meeting Kucinich had with the prime minister in December, when the congressman urged the Hungarian government to appeal St. Emeric's closing to the Vatican in Rome.

Got a complaint? Chicago Catholics want to listen

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CHICAGO -- The ads ask Catholics to return to their pews. But some churches in suburban Chicago want to take it a step further. They’re ready to listen to complaints about the church from inactive Catholics -- and prepared to apologize for any hurt the church has caused.

As part of the “Catholics Come Home” initiative and similar efforts, churches in Chicago, Joliet and Rockford, Ill., have reached out through television ads, special classes, and social nights to attract inactive members before Lent.

When will we actually get a new missal?

WASHINGTON -- When liturgists in the English-speaking world talk about when the new Roman Missal might go into use in Catholic parishes, the date most often mentioned is Nov. 27, 2011, the start of Advent and the beginning of the church's liturgical year.

But is that what Catholics in the United States can expect? It depends, said Father Rick Hilgartner, associate director of the U.S. bishops' Secretariat of Divine Worship.

Catholics urged to talk about new missal

WASHINGTON -- The new English translation of the Roman Missal might not be in U.S. parishes for as long as two years, but Father Rick Hilgartner hopes Catholics are talking about it now.

Mention of the upcoming changes in the prayers at Mass might come in the occasional bulletin insert, in adult religious education classes or Bible study groups or in a homily at Mass, said the associate director of the U.S. bishops' Secretariat of Divine Worship in Washington.

'Anything to heighten people's awareness,' Father Hilgartner added in a Feb. 2 interview with Catholic News Service.

Catholic higher ed enhances Catholic identity

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WASHINGTON -- U.S. Catholic colleges and universities produce more committed and practicing adult Catholics than do non-Catholic institutions of higher learning across the country, said two reports at the annual national meeting in Washington of the Association of Catholic Colleges and Universities.

Richard A Yanikoski, outgoing ACCU president and CEO, sharply challenged contrary reports in his presidential address Feb. 1 at the close of the association's gathering.

"Certain well-funded organizations external to the USCCB [U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops] and to Catholic higher education have made it their purpose to convince bishops, priests and the lay faithful that most of Catholic higher education is going astray," he said

"These critics' perceptions are skewed by limited observation and a pre-ordained agenda," he said. He added that their criticisms, often widely publicized in the media, "infect how Catholic higher education is viewed by all who have a stake in the enterprise."

Vatican in final review of liturgy translations

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VATICAN CITY -- The Congregation for Divine Worship and the Sacraments is pulling together the final version of the English translation of the complete Roman Missal, the book of prayers used at Mass.

The Vox Clara Committee, an international group of bishops established to advise the congregation about the translation of the Roman Missal into English, met in Rome Jan. 26-29.

A statement released at the end of the meeting said members "reviewed various reports on the steps being taken for editing, coordination of manuscripts and reviews for internal consistency of the English-language translation" of the Roman Missal.

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.

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