Bishops criticize court ruling on same-sex marriage

Both the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and the California Catholic Conference issued statements this afternoon criticizing the federal appeals court ruling  striking down the California ban on same-sex marriage.

The USCCB news release:

WASHINGTON—Cardinal-designate Timothy Dolan, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, joins the bishops of California in denouncing the February 7 decision of a federal court rejecting the constitutionality of Proposition 8, a voter-approved  initiative in California that recognizes marriage as the union of one man and one woman.

“Today’s court ruling is a grave injustice, ignoring the reality that marriage is the union of one man and one woman,” Cardinal-designate Dolan said. “The Constitution of the United States most assuredly does not forbid the protection of the perennial meaning of marriage, one of the cornerstones of society. The people of California deserve better. Our nation deserves better. Marriage deserves better.”

The decision of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the August 4, 2010 decision of a federal district judge who had ruled Proposition 8 unconstitutional.

“Our society does not operate in an amoral or value-less vacuum,” said Bishop Salvatore Cordileone of Oakland, chairman of the Subcommittee for the Promotion and Defense of Marriage. “To flourish, it must be infused with moral direction that is grounded in the truth. Of course, the true meaning of marriage, like the gift of human life, is ultimately not subject to a vote or court ruling. But in California, as in every other state where marriage has been put to a vote, the people justly upheld the truth of marriage. How tragic for California, for the nation, and especially for children, that this correctly-informed judgment has now been set aside.”

The California Catholic Conference statement:

We are disappointed by the ruling today by a panel of the Ninth Circuit that would invalidate the action taken by the people of California affirming that marriage unites a woman and a man and any children from their union. However, given the issues involved and the nature of the legal process, it’s always been clear that this case would very likely be decided by the U.S. Supreme Court. Marriage between one man and one woman has been—and always will be—the most basic building block of the family and of our society.

In the end, through sound legal reasoning, we believe the court will see this as well and uphold the will of the voters as expressed in Proposition 8. We continue to pray for that positive outcome.

US bishops’ new communications chair talks about challenges

Our friends at Salt + Light, Canada’s premier Catholic media ministry, last week posted an interview with Bishop John C. Wester of Salt Lake City and Tim Reidy of America magazine on modern communications challenges and on U.S. immigration issues. Bishop Wester is former chairman of the U.S. bishops’ Committee on Migration and was elected last fall to head their Committee on Communications. Reidy is America’s online editor.

Here they discuss the challenges — and opportunities — facing the church in spreading the Gospel to a mobile society. Later in the interview they discuss immigration reform and the responsibility of the church to speak out for principles that recognize the humanity of immigrants coming to the United States.

Text of Cardinal Levada address opening Rome symposium on abuse

By Francis X. Rocca
Catholic News Service

ROME — Cardinal William J. Levada, prefect of the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, gave the opening address Monday at “Toward Healing and Renewal,” a weeklong symposium in Rome aimed at improving efforts to stop clerical sexual abuse and better protect children and vulnerable adults. Here is the text of Cardinal Levada’s address:

“Toward Healing and Renewal” is the title given to this Symposium for Catholic Bishops and Religious Superiors on the Sexual Abuse of Minors.  For leaders in the Church for whom this Symposium has been planned, the question is both delicate and urgent.  Just two years ago, in his reflections on the “Year for Priests” at the annual Christmas greetings to the Roman Curia, Pope Benedict XVI spoke in direct and lengthy terms about priests who “twist the sacrament [of Holy Orders] into its antithesis, and under the mantle of the sacred profoundly wound human persons in their childhood, damaging them for a whole lifetime.”  I chose this phrase to begin my remarks this evening because I think it important not to lose sight of the gravity of these crimes as we deal with the multiple aspects the Church’s response.

As I begin my presentation, I want to offer a word of gratitude to the Pontifical Gregorian University for this initiative.  Even those of us who have been dealing with this issue for decades recognize that we are still learning, and need to help each other find the best ways to help victims, protect children, and form the priests of today and tomorrow to be aware of this scourge and to eliminate it from the priesthood.  I hope that this Symposium will make a significant contribution toward these goals.  I thank in particular Fr. Francois-Xavier Dumortier, S.J., the Rector of the University, and Fr. Hans Zollner, S.J., and his team for organizing these days together. Continue reading

Honoring the ‘Immortal Chaplains’ of World War II

The chaplains were honored with a commemorative stamp in 1948. (Courtesy CatholicHotdish.com)

The editor of The Catholic Spirit in St. Paul, Minn., Joe Towalski, points out that flags are flying at half-staff today in Minnesota to honor the heroic sacrifice of four Army chaplains who died while saving others after their troop transport ship was torpedoed in the North Atlantic 60 years ago during World War II. Towalski notes that we had a story in 2002 on the chaplains’ sacrifice. You can read that story here after you read Towalski’s piece, which also includes links to the Immortal Chaplains Foundation to perpetuate the legacy of the men.

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