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Peace & Justice

Carr: Cutting social programs has moral costs

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WASHINGTON -- The U.S. bishops' point-man on poverty and justice issues reminded Catholic social ministry leaders that when they met last year, a blizzard enveloped the nation's capital.

There's no snow on the ground this year, John Carr said, but the annual Catholic Social Ministry Gathering is meeting in the midst of another storm: elected politicians ready to turn their backs on the poor.

Carr, executive director of the Department of Justice, Peace and Human Development at the U.S. Catholic bishops' conference, addressed the 2011 Catholic Social Ministry Gathering in Washington, a four-day annual gathering of more than 300 social ministry workers from around the country.

Catholic college disallows union, federal officials question religious identity

A small Catholic college in Riverdale, N.Y., last month got some news that sent shivers across religious higher education: part-time faculty have a right to form a union on campus.

But that wasn’t the worst of it. The National Labor Relations Board also isn’t convinced that the Catholic school is actually Catholic.

In gun control debate, Catholic position elusive

DETROIT -- Avid outdoorsman and hunter Fr. Joe Classen, associate pastor at Holy Spirit Parish in Maryland Heights, Mo., has a permit to carry a concealed weapon.

"I rarely ever conceal and carry, but sometimes if I'm in a very bad area, I do take protection," he said. "I tell people all life is sacred, including mine."

A few states away, Fr. Theodore Parker said he knows he has the constitutional right to own a gun, but can't see any reason why he would. The pastor of two inner-city Detroit parishes said, "The real purpose of a gun in our culture is violence." And there's just too much of that, he contends.

One point on which both priests agree is that personal responsibility is mandatory for those who possess firearms.

The shooting rampage at U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords' Jan. 8 community meeting in Tucson, Ariz., which left Giffords and 12 others wounded and six dead, has renewed debate on gun control.

Ohioís bishops urge end to death penalty

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COLUMBUS, Ohio -- The Catholic bishops of Ohio are calling on Gov. John Kasich and state lawmakers to abolish the state’s death penalty.

The bishops said they concur with recent comments by Ohio Supreme Court Justice Paul Pfeifer, who charged the state’s capital punishment law is discriminatory and applied unevenly and should be replaced with a penalty of life in prison without parole. Ohio in recent years has executed more death row inmates than any state except Texas.

“Just punishment can occur without resorting to the death penalty. Our church teachings consider the death penalty to be wrong in all cases,” the 10 bishops said in a statement issued Friday (Feb. 4).

“Life imprisonment respects the moral view that all life, even that of the worst offender, has value and dignity.”

Pfeifer, a Republican, helped write the 1981 law that instituted the death penalty, but said the safeguards he and other lawmakers put in place at the time to prevent inequities have not worked. He called the use of capital punishment a “lottery.”

“It has bothered me from the beginning,” Pfeifer told reporters on Jan. 19.

Pentagon: No change for chaplains with gay ban repeal

WASHINGTON -- The pending repeal of the U.S. military's ban on openly gay members will not change policies related to chaplains, the Pentagon stated Friday (Jan. 28).

“There will be no changes regarding service member exercise of religious beliefs, nor are there any changes to policies concerning the chaplain corps of the military departments and their duties,” reads a six-page memo about implementing the repeal the Don't Ask/Don't Tell policy.

Drone protesters convicted of trespassing

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Fourteen peace activists who oppose the U.S. military’s use of automated attack drones abroad were found guilty of criminal trespass Thursday for a 2009 act of civil disobedience at a Nevada Air Force Base.

The sentencing came four months after activists’ hopes for acquittal had been raised when, during their initial September trial, the judge said he would need “at least three months” to study the issues of international law surrounding their trespass.

Bishop: March for Life participants are pilgrims

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WASHINGTON -- Bishop William E. Lori of Bridgeport, Conn., likened people coming to Washington to take part in the annual March for Life to pilgrims.

And in that effort, they are linked to "the most blessed of all pilgrims -- the Blessed Virgin Mary," Bishop Lori said in his homily at a Jan. 24 Mass that concluded an overnight National Prayer Vigil for Life at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington.

"Our journey is not necessarily an easy one," Bishop Lori said. "We got up earlier than we ever thought imaginable to get on a plane to be here" or "had to be cooped up for hours in bus rides" for the march, which is held each year to protest the 1973 Supreme Court decision that permitted abortion virtually on demand.

But Mary's pilgrimage to see her cousin Elizabeth, who was pregnant with John the Baptist, "was not easy," he noted. "She didn't have buses or roads or fast-food franchises. She made her way along narrow paths or mountain roads upon which she walked."

Now, Bishop Lori said, "Mary joins us in this pilgrimage dedicated to the cause of life ... from the moment of conception until natural death."

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August 29-September 11, 2014

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