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Catholic Voice

 December 12, 2011   •   VOL. 49, NO. 21   •   Oakland, CA
News in Brief


Caption U.S. Catholics: 25 years ago and today
Findings from a 2011 survey commissioned by National Catholic Reporter newspaper show 63 percent of U.S. Catholics are white, compared to 86 percent at the time of a 1987 survey.
CNS graphic/Emily Thompson

New Fresno bishop
Pope Benedict XVI has named Bishop Armando X. Ochoa, 68, of El Paso, Texas, to head the Diocese of Fresno. The California native succeeds Bishop John T. Steinbock, who died Dec. 5, 2010, after battling lung cancer.


Bishop Sheridan dies
Auxiliary Bishop Patrick J. Sheridan, a retired vicar general and one of the best-known and most popular priests in the New York Archdiocese, died Dec. 2. He was 89.
CNS graphic/Emily Thompson

New N.D. bishop
Bishop David D. Kagan of Bismarck, N.D., former vicar general of Rockford, Ill., was installed Nov. 30 at the Cathedral of the Holy Spirit in Bismarck. Bishop Kagan succeeds Bishop Paul A. Zipfel, who headed the diocese for 14 years and retired at the age of 76.

Seminary enrollment up; numbers not whole story

WASHINGTON — A trend of rising seminary enrollment is being duplicated around the country: At the Pontifical College Josephinum in Columbus, Ohio, 40 new seminarians arrived this year, bringing total enrollment to 186, the highest level since the 1970s; St. Paul Seminary School of Divinity at the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, Minn., welcomed 30 new graduate-level seminarians, making its class of 100 seminarians the largest since 1980. The influx forced 24 seminarians and two priests off campus into leased space at a former convent; In the Diocese of Scranton, Pa., where the St. Pius X diocesan seminary closed in 2004 because of declining enrollment, the number of seminarians has more than doubled from eight to 17 in the past two years.

Focus shifts to Irish abuse scandal in 2011


WASHINGTON — In 2011, the epicenter of the Catholic Church’s clergy sex abuse scandal moved from the United States to Europe, prompting a church-state crisis in Ireland and a heightened response from the Vatican. But problems persisted in the U.S., where Bishop Robert W. Finn of Kansas City-St. Joseph, Mo., avoided a possible criminal misdemeanor indictment for failing to report a priest suspected of child abuse and, following a devastating grand jury report in Philadelphia, a former archdiocesan secretary of the clergy was facing criminal charges of failing to protect children from alleged abusers.

Archdiocese wins SF tax case after 3 years


SAN FRANCISCO — A Superior Court judge Nov. 18 issued an opinion that would throw out an attempted multimillion-dollar “delinquent” tax bill imposed on the Archdiocese of San Francisco by the San Francisco assessor-recorder after a more than three-year legal fight. Judge Richard A. Kramer issued a 43-page “Tentative Statement of Decision” in favor of the archdiocese. A case management conference is scheduled for Jan. 9. The archdiocese fought the attempt by Phil Ting, head of the Office of the Assessor-Recorder, to impose transfer taxes on more than 200 parish and school properties involved in an internal reorganization by the archdiocese.

Judge nixes questioning Vatican in U.S. abuse case


PORTLAND, Ore. — A federal judge in Portland has declined to order face-to-face questioning of Vatican officials in a lawsuit claiming that the Vatican was the employer of an abusive priest in the 1960s. U.S. District Judge Michael W. Mosman ruled Dec. 1 that attorneys for the plaintiff in the case, John V. Doe v. Holy See, had not proven the need for an exception to the immunity given to foreign nations under U.S. law.

HHS defends decision on funding program


WASHINGTON — A U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops program aiding victims of human trafficking was denied funding after its administrators declined to propose alternatives to a government requirement that female victims receive “the full range of legally permissible gynecological and obstetric care,” a Department of Health and Human Services official told a congressional committee.

Leaders to defend traditional marriage


BALTIMORE — Leaders of a newly formed pro-marriage coalition came out swinging against efforts to legalize same-sex marriage in Maryland, pledging in a Nov. 30 news conference to rally citizens across the state to defeat legislation that would alter the traditional definition of marriage. Gathered at First Apostolic Faith Church International in Baltimore, representatives of the interfaith, nonpartisan Maryland Marriage Alliance said they will not be intimidated by those who would call their position “bigoted.”

Changes in parishes set for Detroit Archdiocese


DETROIT — Nine metro Detroit parishes will close over the next five years if Archbishop Allen H. Vigneron, former bishop of Oakland, accepts the recommendations a mostly lay advisory board approved Nov. 30. An additional 60 parishes would be merged down to 21 if the recommendations of Detroit’s Archdiocesan Pastoral Council are accepted as presented. Altogether, the changes would reduce to 222 — down from 270 — the number of parishes in the six counties of the archdiocese.

Diocese of Orange buys Crystal Cathedral


ORANGE — A bankruptcy court judge has ordered the sale of the Crystal Cathedral and its nearly 31-acre campus in Garden Grove to the Catholic Diocese of Orange for $57.5 million. U.S. Bankruptcy Court Judge Robert N. Kwan’s Nov. 17 ruling confirmed a decision by the Crystal Cathedral Ministries board of directors to accept the diocese’s offer over a competing bid from Chapman University, which recently raised its offer to $59 million. The Crystal Cathedral, founded by the Rev. Robert H. Schuller and the site of his nationally broadcast “Hour of Power” TV program, will lease back the church and other buildings for up to three years.

Obama seeks balance on contraceptive coverage


WASHINGTON — A White House spokesman said the Obama administration is working to “strike the right balance between expanding coverage of preventive services and respecting religious beliefs” as it decides on a religious exemption to the mandate that all health plans cover contraceptives and sterilizations by Jan. 1, 2013. “This decision has not yet been made,” said Jay Carney, press secretary, in response to a question at the Nov. 29 White House press briefing.

Criticism grows over “holiday tree” label


PROVIDENCE, R.I. — A 17-foot Colorado blue spruce is standing tall at the center of controversy in the Rhode Island Statehouse rotunda for what it is being — or more importantly, not being — called. Gov. Lincoln D. Chafee invited the public to attend a “Holiday Tree Lighting” ceremony Dec. 6 at the Statehouse, leaving many, including Providence Bishop Thomas J. Tobin, to question the governor’s choice of such secular terminology in referring to a symbol most commonly associated with the Christian celebration of Christmas.

Prop. 8 backers may appeal


SAN FRANCISCO — The faith-based groups that sponsored Proposition 8, the state’s 2008 voter-approved ban on same-sex marriage, have the right to appeal a federal judge’s 2010 ruling the ban is unconstitutional, the California Supreme Court said in a unanimous opinion Nov. 17. Catholics are among the backers of Proposition 8 who appealed to the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals the ruling that it discriminates on the basis of sexual orientation and gender.

It was a victory for ProtectMarriage.com, and it allows the 9th Circuit now to resolve the critical question in the case — whether or not Proposition 8 is constitutional.

 

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