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Infertility: tough questions, hard answers for Catholics

ST. LOUIS -- "Be fruitful," God instructed Adam and Eve, "and multiply."

They were the first words God spoke to his creation, and his creation has heeded them ever since. But over the years, God's creation has become sophisticated enough to rewrite the original rules of being fruitful, and most of the new rules don't sit well with leaders of the Catholic church.

There is "great confusion among lay Catholics regarding the church's teaching on human reproductive technologies," Philadelphia's Cardinal Justin Rigali said at the U.S. bishops' meeting in Baltimore last November. "There is a need to help Catholics understand specific differences between the Catholic understanding and a secular understanding of human life."

When Rigali was archbishop of St. Louis, he celebrated a Mass for infertile couples, as did the current archbishop, Robert Carlson, on Tuesday (Feb. 16) night.

By celebrating a Mass for infertile Catholics, Carlson walked a pastoral high-wire act that has becoming increasingly familiar to church leaders.

'Hurt Locker,' 'Glee' top Catholics in Media awards


LOS ANGELES -- The new Fox musical-comedy series "Glee" and the Oscar-nominated film "The Hurt Locker" have been named two of the top honorees of the 17th annual Catholics in Media Associates awards.
Sr. Rose Pacatte, a Daughter of St. Paul who has written extensively about film, has been chosen to receive the group's Board of Directors Award.

DeBernardo: 'persistent, gracious, thoughtful, questioning'



I’ve known Francis DeBernardo for a number of years, have read a good deal of what he’s written. I’ve spoken to him at length and I have attended a conference or two conducted by New Ways Ministry. He’s persistent, gracious, thoughtful, and he raises questions that we all need to ponder.

Those involved with leading the ministry, I daresay, have a much deeper appreciation of Catholicism and its traditions than most who take up with one or another Catholic organizations.

I am convinced that DeBarnardo, New Ways ministry, and all the Catholic parents of gay and lesbian children and all of their relatives who love them and experience them as whole and wonderful human beings are not going to go away.

So I find it deeply saddening that the Cardinal Archbishop of Chicago found it necessary for some reason to declare that the ministry was not authentically Catholic and that it “cannot speak on behalf of the Catholic faithful in the United States.”

Informed by the experience of being Catholic


There are people in the world who derive no small pleasure from the game of “major” and “minor.” They think that no major work can be painted in watercolors. They think, too, that Hemingway writing about boys in the woods is major; Mansfield writing about girls in the kitchen is minor. These people join up with other bad specters, and I have to banish them.

-- Mary Gordon, “The Parable of the Cave; or, In Praise of Watercolors” in The Writer on Her Work

For most of her writing life, Mary Gordon has been trying to banish those bad specters who want to pigeonhole her either as a “woman writer” or a “Catholic writer.” Although she is proud to write out of her experiences as both, she knows that such labels have “minor” consequences.

Draft resister wants her country to be better


On a Jerusalem street in mid-June 2002, Maya Wind, then a 12-year-old studying in a religious school, witnessed the killing of a busload of Israelis and others by a suicide bomber.

The horror was a moment of awakening, of seeing the futility of violence, whether caused by lone Palestinian street killers or uniformed death-dealers of the Israeli Defense Forces. Three years later, she joined Face to Face, a group of open-minded Palestinian and Israeli youth brought together to tell their stories and educate each other in the methods of nonviolent conflict resolution -- lessons they certainly weren’t getting from the Knesset or Palestinian Authority.

New archbishop faces tough questions


MILWAUKEE -- For Archbishop Jerome E. Listecki, the honeymoon ended almost before it began.

Installed Jan. 4 as Milwaukee’s 11th archbishop, Listecki was welcomed with a ceremonial cathedral installation and a City Hall reception featuring Polish dancers and the home team’s baseball caps.

However, within days he was also facing tough questions on the archdiocese’s role in the lingering sexual abuse scandal, the possibility of bankruptcy, and his reputation as a tough-minded “political bishop.”

Muslim scholars no longer banned from US


WASHINGTON -- The State Department announced Jan. 20 that two prominent Muslim intellectuals will no longer be barred from traveling to the U.S. based on past accusations that they had supported terrorism.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton signed orders allowing Tariq Ramadan and Adam Habib to re-apply for U.S. visas, said State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley.

Praying for peace: one man's plan


Mission Management

Peace and violence follow us into 2010.

The lives of many are filled with the violence of unemployment, the violence of homelessness, the violence of drugs, the violence of abortion, the violence of illness, and the violence of capital punishment. Our lives are filled with the violence of wanton killings like those in Binghamton, N.Y.; New Haven, Conn.; Fort Hood, Texas; Seattle; Darfur, Iraq; and Afghanistan.

How can we integrate God’s peace into a wickedly violent world?

Notable Brazilian Catholic doctor dies in Haiti


Dr. Zilda Arns Neumann, 75, a pediatrician who founded the Brazilian bishops' children's ministry, was among those who died in the Jan. 12 Haitian earthquake.

She was in the Haitian capital, Port-au-Prince, to participate in missionary meetings and to help the Caribbean country consolidate its children's ministry and create a methodology to combat malnutrition.

Cardinal Geraldo Majella Agnelo of Sao Salvador da Bahia, who helped her create the children's ministry in 1983, said Neumann lived a life dedicated to others.

Neumann was known throughout Brazil for her dedication to improving the health and quality of life of children.

She was the sister of Sao Paulo's retired archbishop, Cardinal Paulo Evaristo Arns. In an interview with Agencia Estado news agency, Cardinal Arns was quoted as saying that his sister died a "beautiful death, because she died for a cause she always believed in."

Mother of five and grandmother of 10, Neumann was a member of the Brazilian bishops' permanent council, Brazil's National Health Council and the National Economic and Social Development Council.

Catholic University philosopher builds bridges


WASHINGTON -- In 40 years of quiet work, Oblate Fr. George F. McLean has traveled the globe -- China, India, Africa, Eastern Europe, Latin America -- promoting intercultural dialogue and understanding on basic human and social issues among thinkers in scores of countries.

“We had 10 meetings behind the Iron Curtain before the [Berlin] Wall came down in 1989,” McLean said, referring to seminars he arranged during the Cold War years involving Western philosophers and leaders of academies of science in communist countries.



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November 21-December 5, 2014


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