November 8, 2013 – Combing the Headlines

Well it was a pretty quiet week in my little corner of the world, so I thought I would just rummage through some of this past week’s headlines and see what looked interesting.  In an expected yet disappointing move, the Illinois House of Representatives passes legislation which paves the way for legalizing same-sex marriages in the state.  It passed the Senate earlier this year, and Governor Quinn (devoted Catholic that he is – cough) has said that he will sign it into law, which will then go into effect in June of next year.  This outcome rises many concerns, including the continued threat to our religious freedom.  There is language in the bill which states that “no church or clergy will be forced to solemnize any same-sex marriage or rent their parish or fellowship halls for any type of same-sex wedding recognition.”  This looks good at first glance.  However, such inuendo was heard about three years ago when, as Catholic Conference of Illinois director Bob Gilligan points out, “Illinois lawmakers promised during floor debate on civil unions legislation that no faith-based social service organizations would be affected. But within six months of civil unions becoming law, all Catholic Charities in the state were pushed out of their longtime mission of caring for abused, abandoned, and neglected children. The state refused to renew contracts for foster care and adoption services because of Charities’ religious belief of not placing children with unmarried couples, be they heterosexual or homosexual.”

The bill offers no specific protection regarding employment practices. If a current church employee chooses to “marry” a same-sex partner, the legislation offers no specific protection regarding the church being forced to pay — from funds collected every Sunday from faithful church-goers in the pews — for benefits for the “spouse.”  The legislation offers no conscience protections to health-care facilities, educational facilities, or social service agencies. So, faith-based hospitals, colleges, and universities that own and operate venues for rent are not protected.  Individuals and independent business owners whose religious beliefs do not condone same-sex marriage are also unprotected. There are the stories about the photographers, bakers, florists, and bed-and-breakfast owners who have come under fire for refusing to serve same-sex weddings.  There are many more implications that I could list, but I think you get the point that we must continue to fight to protect our religious freedom (and to take back what has already been lost).

Next week the Bishops of the U.S. (USCCB) will gather in Baltimore for their annual Fall General Assembly.  There are many items awaiting them on the agenda.  They will hear a presentation for a proposal to create a formal statement on pornography, as studies continue to confirm concerns about its devastating social and spiritual effects.  Liturgical items will be discussed, including the Spanish translation of the book of Mass prayers, and draft translations for the Order of Confirmation and the Order of Celebrating Marriage.  Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone of San Francisco, who heads the USCCB’s Subcommittee on the Promotion and Defense of Marriage, will deliver a presentation on the state of marriage in the United States.  They will hear a report on their current strategic pastoral plan, “The New Evangelization: Faith, Worship, Witness.”  They will perform the required canonical consultation on the sainthood cause of Mary Teresa Tallon, servant of God.  Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz of Louisville, Kentucky, vice president of USCCB, will present the cause to the bishops for a discussion and a voice vote.  Episcopal consultation is a step in the Catholic Church’s canonization process.  Tallon was born in Waterville, New York, on May 6, 1867, to Irish immigrants. She entered the Holy Cross Sisters at age 19, worked as a Catholic school teacher and instructed poor and neglected children. In 1920, she founded the Parish Visitors of Mary Immaculate, a New York City-based community focused on contemplation and door-to-door, person-to-person ministry.  She died in 1954.

The agenda item getting the most buzz, however, is the selection of a new President of the USCCB.  Current President Cardinal Timothy Dolan has completed his 3-year term, and a new President and Vice-President must be chosen.  The front-runner for President would appear to be Archbishop Joseph Kurtz of Louisville, KY.  He is the current vice-president, and many times in the past the vice-president has received the bump to President, although this was not the case when Cardinal Dolan was elected in 2010.  There are 10 nominees for President ad Vice-President, and the USCCB website has provided some brief information on each of them.  Here is a link to this article:

http://usccbmedia.blogspot.com/2013/11/the-presidentialvp-slate-2013.html

As you regular readers know, I am a total honk for Cardinal Dolan.  I think he has been a wonderful spokesman for the church during these past 3 years.  However, I’m sure he won’t mind taking a little step back and letting someone else do some of the “political dirty work” of the church in letting our legislators know our positions on social and economic issues.  So Cardinal Dolan, well done, good and faithful servant.

Just a couple more brief things to wrap up.  This Monday we of course mark Veteran’s Day.  We thank all of those who sacrificed so much in service to our country and for preservation of our freedom.  We also continue to pray for our troops all over the world who continue to be in harm’s way, that the Lord protect them and return them safely to their loved ones.  Here is a link to various prayers for our troops:

http://www.usccb.org/prayer-and-worship/prayers/prayer-for-troops.cfm

Also, here is a link to an article about a WWII veteran who says that the time he endured as a Nazi POW actually strengthened his Catholic faith:

http://www.catholicnews.com/data/stories/cns/1304513.htm

Finally, we pray for those in the Philippines who have been victimized by the typhoon.  Initial reports are that it may not be as bad as originally feared, but there will still be many victims.  I will post updates on our Facebook page, and also follow news outlets such as Catholic News Service.

Have a great week.  It sounds like winter time may be making an early appearance!  Peace.

 

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