FAIRFIELD, CONN. -- In late October, on the day an out-of-season snowstorm some have called “epic” and “historic” broke nearly 200-year-old weather records and almost shut down parts of the Northeast, something else happened that was perhaps unprecedented: A Catholic university hosted a daylong formal discussion on the topic of homosexuality within communities of nuns and priests.
When the U.S. bishops have their annual November meeting in Baltimore, sometimes the most interesting vignettes are discovered away from the large ballroom in which the plenary sessions are held.
Note to believers everywhere: God apparently wants a do-over.
The first couple was Adam and Steve, not Adam and Eve, according to a new divine memoir. The Book of Mormon is "a preposterous, laughable and absurd series of fairy tales," and Jesus -- well, there's no easy way to say this -- pleasured himself as a teenager.
Blasphemous? Most definitely. And that's exactly the point.
Former "Daily Show" executive producer David Javerbaum has assumed the voice of God in his new book, "The Last Testament: A Memoir by God." As might be expected, it's already too hot to handle for some major retailers.
Released on All Saints' Day by Simon & Schuster, the satiric faux tell-all has its own Twitter account, The Tweet of God, which has amassed 53,000 followers with such comic bits as, "The pope just sent me a friend request. Dammit! I hate it when employees try to suck up."
Javerbaum isn't shy about his intentions.
"This book was not written primarily to be polemic," he said. "It was written to sell a lot of copies and become a best-seller."
But there is a bit of a higher purpose -- creating a comic tome that his fellow unbelievers can get behind.
WASHINGTON -- African-American Catholics are much more engaged in their church on a variety of levels than are white Catholics, concludes the first National Black Catholic Survey.
WASHINGTON -- Confronted with what one called "a choice between our faith and our jobs," 12 nurses are suing University Hospital in Newark, N.J., over a new policy requiring them to care for patients before and after abortions, even if they have religious or moral objections to abortion.
The hospital, part of the University of Medicine & Dentistry of New Jersey, said that because "no nurse is compelled to have direct involvement in, and/or attendance in the room at the time of," an abortion, its policy does not violate state or federal conscience protection laws.
U.S. District Judge Jose L. Linares issued a temporary restraining order Nov. 3 directing the hospital not to compel adherence to the new policy until after the case comes before his court Dec. 5.
At a Nov. 14 news conference outside the hospital in Newark, Rep. Chris Smith, R-N.J., joined the nurses and their attorneys in criticizing the new policy, which was announced in September.
As lawmakers debate how they will trim budgets everywhere and reduce the federal deficit, Catholic health care organizations, like the wider health care industry, continue to deal with the challenges of delivering medical care with fewer resources. Like others, they are looking for new ways to treat poor and uninsured patients, bring physicians to rural areas despite a nationwide shortage, and continue to survive in a rapidly changing landscape.
The call to mission has transformed the lives of priests, religious and people in U.S. and Latin American parishes and dioceses. One dramatic example is the story of Fr. Stanley Rother and Santiago Atitlán, Guatemala.
Rother, an Oklahoma City archdiocesan priest, became pastor of Santiago Atitlán, just 10 miles west of San Lucas Tolimán, in 1965. Guatemalan government death squads murdered him in 1981 because of his work with the poor.
CLEVELAND -- Northeast Ohio native Suhad Hasan says neither her Muslim faith nor her headscarf should be an issue where she works.
But she said they were while she was a sales associate at the Old Navy clothing store in Santa Clara, Calif., three years ago. Hasan said she was assigned to work in the fitting room and was never offered training for other positions, despite her repeated requests.
After several months, Hasan moved back to Ohio, only to be denied what she said was supposed to be an automatic transfer to a job in another Old Navy store. She found herself without a job.
"I was born and raised in the United States and I pay taxes like everybody else," said Hasan, 39, now a Parma, Ohio, resident who has sued Gap Inc., the parent company of Old Navy. "What I wear on my head and the God that I believe in should not be an issue in the workplace."
Artist Rita Corbin, whose tender line drawings graced the pages of Catholic Worker journals for decades, died Nov. 17 from injuries suffered in a car crash. She was 81.
Corbin decided early in life to become an artist, choosing to major in art while attending Cathedral Girl's High School in New York City.
"The school was keen on turning out secretaries," she said, "but I refused to learn to type. I knew I didn't want to go into business on pure instinct, I guess. I needed a major and art appealed to me the most."
For Corbin, the artistic endeavor could not be separated from one's political and religious consciousness. She considered the work of the artist to be "a real struggle to bring some kind of form and feeling out of the materials one uses and the society one lives in."
Corbin's society included the natural world as well as the poor. Both were frequent subjects of her illustrations. Her etchings and pen and ink drawings of trees, flowers and birds have been described as lyrical celebrations of nature. Her figurative work has been likened to that of German painter, printer and sculptor Kathe Kollwitz.
As the U.S. bishops, meeting in Baltimore in mid-November (See story), warned about growing threats to religious liberty, a scenario was playing out in Illinois that some would argue makes a strong case for their alarm.
The Belleville diocese announced Nov. 10 that Catholic Social Services of Southern Illinois was separating from the diocese in order to continue to provide foster care and other social services in the poorest corner of that state. The separation was necessary, said a statement posted on the diocesan website, because the agency was no longer able to carry out its mission under the recently enacted Illinois Religious Freedom Protection and Civil Union Act, which requires state-funded adoption agencies to place adoptive children with same-sex couples.
The move signaled the end of decades of Catholic involvement in adoption services in Illinois. Previously, three other dioceses had ended similar programs because of the new law. In the past, the church referred unmarried couples, including same-sex couples, to other agencies.