San Francisco archbishop posts open letter on same-sex marriage debate

Archbishop Niederauer. (CNS/Greg Tarczynski)

Archbishop Niederauer. (CNS/Greg Tarczynski)

In case you missed it, there’s been a development in the California debate over same-sex marriage: an open letter from the archbishop of San Francisco appealing for both sides to be more tolerant of each other. The money quote:

We need to stop hurling names like ‘bigot’ and ‘pervert’ at each other. And we need to stop it now.

Here’s our story, and here’s a link to the full text of the letter.

The letter also discusses some of the other issues that have been swirling in California since voters approved the same-sex marriage ban last month. From our story:

In the letter, the archbishop also:

– Stated that the Archdiocese of San Francisco “did not donate or transfer any archdiocesan funds” to support Proposition 8.

– Strongly criticized “voices in the wider community” which charged Proposition 8 backers with “hatred, prejudice and bigotry.”

– Defended faith communities’ involvement in the political arena.

– Underscored Proposition 8 backers’ “defense of the traditional understanding and definition of marriage” as their motivation, rather than seeking to attack “any group” or “to deprive others of their civil rights.”

Louisiana student contributes to alma mater and environment

Our pope, cardinals, bishops and pastors have been preaching to us for years that we need to be good stewards of the environment God created.

One Catholic high school student in Louisiana must have paid attention because for his Eagle Scout project he helped rig his former elementary school with solar panels, taking some of the carbon footprints away from powering that facility.

In an article titled “Solar panels energize St. Margaret of Scotland Catholic School” on the Diocese of Lake Charles, La., Web site, readers are treated to an inspirational story about how a student integrated his Catholic faith with science.

Most-viewed CNS stories for November

Would it surprise you that the majority of our most-viewed stories for November on our public Web site, catholicnews.com, were on the results of the presidential election? No, I didn’t think so.

1. Obama phones pope to thank him for congratulatory message (Nov. 12)

2. Pope sends congratulatory message to Obama (Nov. 5)

3. Bishops cite abortion deregulation fears in postelection statement (Nov. 12)

4. Vatican newspaper: Biblical illiteracy can lead to easy manipulation (Oct. 30)

5. Priest’s remarks on Obama voters said not to reflect church teaching (Nov. 14)

6. Obama more forthright about religion than McCain, Knights leader says (Nov. 7)

7. FOCA’s effects seen as dire, but chance of it passing considered slim (Nov. 26)

8. Bishop backlog: ‘Ad limina’ visits no longer occur every five years (Nov. 14)

9. Despite Vatican warning, Father Bourgeois firm on women’s ordination (Nov. 13)

10. Bishops’ conference opens with nod to historic presidential election (Nov. 10)

(To check out previous months’ most-viewed CNS stories, click here.)

50 years ago today: ‘The fire that changed everything’

A priest blesses a deceased child after the Dec. 1, 1958, fire at Our Lady of the Angels School in Chicago. (CNS/Catholic New World)

A priest blesses a deceased child after the Dec. 1, 1958, fire at Our Lady of the Angels School in Chicago. (CNS/Catholic New World)

I had forgotten until I saw a story online in the Chicago Tribune over the weekend that today is the 50th anniversary of the fire at Our Lady of the Angels school in Chicago that killed 92 children and three BVM sisters. The Catholic New World in Chicago took note of the anniversary in its latest edition and is working on a story and photos of anniversary events that we hope to run later this week. (UPDATE: Here’s their story and one of the photos of theirs that we posted for our clients.)

My awareness of that great tragedy didn’t come until years later — I was only 6 at the time of the fire — but I can still remember the indirect effect it had on me, even though I didn’t grow up in Chicago.

Fire drills were a regular part of our routine at my Catholic elementary school in Dayton, Ohio, as they probably were at yours.  It took a while, though, for me to connect those drills to the Chicago tragedy. I still remember one of the nuns at our school exploding in anger one time when I was in third or fourth grade. Some of the boys — I don’t think it included me! — were goofing off instead of taking that day’s fire drill seriously, and that drove sister over the edge. I vaguely remember someone even mentioning that children in some other school had once died in a fire, but it wasn’t until years later that I connected the two events.

So you didn’t even have to grow up in Chicago to have the fire have an effect on your life.

Anyone else have memories of growing up at the time of the fire? Feel free to share your comments below.

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