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Jesuit educators back Obama Notre Dame invitation

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The president of the Association of Jesuit Colleges and Universities said he has privately expressed support for the University of Notre Dame in its decision to invite President Barack Obama as commencement speaker and hopes the controversy that has erupted over the invitation leads to substantive talks among college presidents and bishops.

“I think that the bishops have the responsibility to protect the faith of their folks, and so I think this is the kind of thing that really has to be talked out in a conversation between bishops and university presidents. We have to raise the level of the dialogue beyond condemnations,” said Jesuit Fr. Charles Currie in an April 13 phone interview.

He said he and the presidents of the association’s 28 member institutions have privately expressed support to Holy Cross Fr. John Jenkins, president of Notre Dame, who recently has come under attack from right to life groups and some bishops who perceive the invitation as an endorsement of Obama’s pro-choice views on abortion and his support of stem cell research.

Iowa bishops oppose gay marrige decision

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DAVENPORT, Iowa

Iowa's Catholic bishops vigorously disagreed with the Iowa Supreme Court's unanimous decision April 3 that strikes down state law defining marriage as a union of one man and one woman.

"This decision rejects the wisdom of thousands of years of human history. It implements a novel understanding of marriage, which will grievously harm families and children," the bishops said in a statement prepared by the Iowa Catholic Conference.

The bishops vowed to continue to protect and promote marriage as a union between a man and a woman and asked Catholics and other citizens of Iowa to call for a constitutional amendment on marriage.

With the high court's ruling, Iowa becomes the third state in the nation to recognize marriages for gay and lesbian couples, after Massachusetts and Connecticut.

Last May, California's Supreme Court overturned its statute barring same-sex marriage, but a constitutional amendment to define marriage as between a man and a woman was approved by voters in November. That state's Supreme Court is to issue a decision on a constitutional challenge to the ballot initiative.

Civility, respect should be our aim

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It was hard not to be moved by Pope Benedict XVI's recent cri de coeur on the Catholic world's reaction to his remission of the excommunication of the Holocaust-denying Bishop Richard Williamson. "I was saddened by the fact that even Catholics who, after all, might have had a better knowledge of the situation, thought they had to attack me with open hostility," the Holy Father wrote in a letter to all the bishops in the world.

Burke apolgizes for remarks critical of U.S. bishops

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Archbishop Raymond Burke, Prefect of the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura, issued an apology today to “my brother bishops” for statements he made earlier this month that were released yesterday in a videotape at the National Press Club in Washington.

Update: Read Loverde’s and Wuerl’s repsonse

In that video, released by anti-abortion activist Randall Terry, Burke chided bishops for failing to withhold Communion from Catholic politicians who back legalized abortion.

He also said President Barack Obama "could be an agent of death" if his support for abortion rights becomes a model for leaders in other countries.
Burke said the failure of some bishops to stand up by withholding Communion is “weakening the faith of everyone.

He said "It's giving the impression that it must be morally correct to support procured abortion."

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Politicizing Communion harms interests of the church

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It was only a few decades ago that no one questioned a fellow Catholic’s decision either to receive or not to receive the Eucharist. This tradition has been slowly and regrettably compromised over the past 20 years. Holy Communion has become, in some circles, a political football.

The trend is unmistakable:


  • The vice president of the United States was told by the bishop of his native city that he should not present himself for Communion there. The full body of the U.S. bishops at its general meeting in November 2007 approved an election guide called “Faithful Citizenship” intended for all U.S. Catholics. However, the bishop of the vice president’s diocese said he did not regard it as “official.”

  • A former Republican official is circulating a petition among Catholics urging all bishops to bar Gov. Kathleen Sebelius of Kansas, President Obama’s nominee to head the Department of Health and Human Services, from receiving Communion in every diocese in the country, including Washington.

Vatican official chides U.S. bishops on abortion

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Archbishop Raymond Burke, the former St. Louis prelate who now leads the Vatican supreme court, has called on parishioners to pressure reluctant bishops to withhold Communion from Catholic politicians who back legalized abortion.

He also said President Barack Obama "could be an agent of death" if his support for abortion rights becomes a model for leaders in other countries.

The archbishop made his highly unusual comments to anti-abortion activist Randall Terry in a videotaped interview that Terry showed March 25 at the National Press Club in Washington.

"It is weakening the faith of everyone," Burke said. "It's giving the impression that it must be morally correct to support procured abortion."

Terry, tbe former leader of Operation Rescue, came to Rome earlier this month with a delegation of US anti-abortion advocates to ask Vatican officials to remove U.S. Catholic bishops who were not doing enough to stop abortions.

He called for the removal of Bishop Loverde of Arlington and Archbishop Wuerl of Washington DC.

Obama wrestled with ethics of stem cell research

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President Obama, during his press conference March 24th, said he has wrestled with the morality of embryonic stem cell research and abortion and does not take these issues lightly. He said strong moral guidelines are needed in these areas.

The following is a transcript of an exchange with a reporter that elicited his comments.

In your remarks on stem cell research earlier this month, you talked about a majority consensus in determining whether or not this is the right thing to do, to federally fund embryonic stem cell research. I'm just wondering, though, how much you personally wrestled with the morality or ethics of federally funding this kind of research, especially given the fact that science so far has shown a lot of progress with adult stem cells, but not a lot with embryonic?

OK. No, I think it's -- I think it's a legitimate question. I -- I wrestle with these issues every day.

As I mentioned to -- I think in an interview a couple of days ago, by the time an issue reaches my desk, it's a hard issue. If it was an easy issue, somebody else would have solved it and it wouldn't have reached me.

Protesting bishop won't attend Notre Dame graduation

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Today, Notre Dame university said that despite criticism it has received, President Obama will speak at commencement this May. The following statement was issued by Bishop John M. D'Arcy and it appeared March 24th on the Fort Wayne-South Bend, Indiana website.

On Friday, March 21, Father John Jenkins, CSC, phoned to inform me that President Obama had accepted his invitation to speak to the graduating class at Notre Dame and receive an honorary degree. We spoke shortly before the announcement was made public at the White House press briefing. It was the first time that I had been informed that Notre Dame had issued this invitation.

President Obama has recently reaffirmed, and has now placed in public policy, his long-stated unwillingness to hold human life as sacred. While claiming to separate politics from science, he has in fact separated science from ethics and has brought the American government, for the first time in history, into supporting direct destruction of innocent human life.

Despite criticism, Notre Dame firm: Obama will speak

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WASHINGTON -- University of Notre Dame officials were standing firm on their choice of President Barack Obama as commencement speaker at the institution's May 17 graduation, in spite of a large number of Catholics calling on them to rescind the invitation.

The Indiana university, run by the Congregation of Holy Cross, and the White House announced March 20 that Obama would be Notre Dame's 2009 commencement speaker and confirmed he will receive an honorary doctor of laws degree at the graduation.

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