National Catholic Reporter

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Peace & Justice

Pax Christi treasurer: More communication with bishops, youth needed

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COLUMBUS, GA. -- Pax Christi USA's newly appointed National Council Treasurer Jack McHale doesn't mind getting kicked in the leg from under the table once in a while.

That's what happened to McHale one Saturday morning when he starting speaking frankly about the challenges facing Pax Christi as the organization tries to be more relevant in its role as the U.S. church's only major peace organization.

McHale, who was in town for the annual SOA Watch gathering Nov. 19 and 20 at the gates of Fort Benning, invited Pax Christi regional coordinators to a downtown Columbus coffeehouse to talk peace.

As McHale started to talk about strategies to raise Pax Christi's visibility and influence, he received his first kick from someone at the table who thought McHale should be more guarded in his comments in front of a reporter.

However, McHale, a 60-year-old father of four adult children, is an experienced fundraiser, a top-flight organizer and a person known for speaking his mind.

Catholics, Jews urged to work together to promote religious freedom

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NEW YORK -- Catholics and Jews can most effectively capitalize on five decades of progress in their relations by joining forces to promote religious freedom, defend immigrants, face a common threat from fanatics and advocate for civility in politics and society, said New York Archbishop Timothy M. Dolan.

Adviser resigns following column linking same-sex attraction with devil

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WASHINGTON -- A policy adviser to the U.S. bishops has resigned following a controversy over an opinion piece he wrote suggesting that same-sex attraction could be the work of the devil.

Daniel Avila, policy adviser for marriage and family to the U.S. bishops' Subcommittee for the Promotion and Defense of Marriage since June 20, offered his resignation Nov. 4 and it was accepted, effective immediately.

Supreme Court won't reopen roadside crosses fight

WASHINGTON -- The Supreme Court announced Monday that it will not reopen a case in which a lower court ruled that highway crosses memorializing Utah state troopers are unconstitutional.

The court's decision was harshly criticized by Justice Clarence Thomas, the lone dissenter, who said it "rejects an opportunity to provide clarity" to an area of church-state law that is "in shambles."

Dave Silverman, president of American Atheists, which filed the suit in 2005, said he hopes the court's announcement will bring the case to an end and lead to an alternative way of honoring troopers who died in the line of duty.

"Erecting divisive religious icons that violate the very Constitution the fallen troopers had sworn to uphold is not the way to honor those troopers who gave the ultimate sacrifice for the citizens of their state," he said.

The conservative Alliance Defense Fund, which asked the court to consider the case, was disappointed.

"Justice is not well-served when unhappy atheists can use the law to mow down memorial crosses and renew the suffering for the survivors," said ADF Senior Counsel Byron Babione.

Accusation university mistreats Muslim students 'without foundation'

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WASHINGTON -- The president of The Catholic University of America has disputed a complaint filed with the District of Columbia's Office of Human Rights over the ability of Muslim students to engage in worship at the university.

"That charge is completely without foundation," declared president John Garvey in a statement sent to all students, faculty and staff Oct. 28.

Pope: Believers must oppose violence

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ASSISI, Italy -- Taking 300 religious leaders with him on pilgrimage to Assisi, Pope Benedict XVI said people who are suspicious of religion cannot be blamed for questioning God's existence when they see believers use religion to justify violence.

"All their struggling and questioning is, in part, an appeal to believers to purify their faith so that God, the true God, becomes accessible," the pope said Oct. 27 during an interfaith gathering in the Basilica of St. Mary of the Angels.

Marking the 25th anniversary of the first Assisi interfaith gathering for peace, hosted by Blessed John Paul II in 1986, Pope Benedict brought together the religious leaders and -- for the first time -- four philosophers who describe themselves as humanists or seekers who do not identify with any single religion.

After a train ride of almost two hours from the Vatican, Pope Benedict and his guests arrived in Assisi and were driven to the Basilica of St. Mary of the Angels for the morning gathering focused on "testimonies for peace."

Bishop to Congress: Religious freedom subject to 'rapid erosion'

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The bishop placed in charge of the U.S. bishops' new ad hoc committee for religious liberty testified Wednesday in Congress that religious freedom in the country is subject to "ever more frequent assault and rapid erosion."

In testimony before the House of Representatives' subcommittee dealing with issues of constitutional rights Wednesday, Bishop William Lori said the bishops want to call congressional attention to "grave threats to religious liberty" that are "grim validations of the bishops' recognition of the need for urgent and concerted action."

Lori, head of the Bridgeport, Conn., diocese, was announced as the head of the bishops' new committee Sept. 30.

At the time of the announcement, Archbishop Timothy Dolan, the bishops' conference president, said an assault on principles of religious liberty is coming "in an increasing number of federal government programs or policies that would infringe upon the right of conscience of people of faith or otherwise harm the foundational principle of religious liberty."

Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace urges major economic reform

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Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace urges major economic reform

The Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace released a document Oct. 24 calling for a radical reform of the world's financial and monetary systems. It also proposed the creation of a global political authority to manage the economy and a new world economic order based on ethics.

The note entitled “Towards reforming the international financial and monetary systems in the context of the global public authority” was presented to journalists at a press conference today presided over by the President of the Council, Cardinal Peter Turkson.

“We are talking about finding solutions to issues, finding solutions to problems”.

Cardinal Turkson also told Lydia O’Kane, who participated at the conference, that the document was also a way of giving a voice to the voiceless.

“Definitely, that’s part of it and in fact in asking the G20 to pay attention to this or currently start doing a reflection in this direction, it is actually in view of those who suffer from this phenomenon, so giving a voice to the voiceless, that’s what it is”.

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September 12-25, 2014

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