||$175M to restore cathedral
A statue of St. Patrick overlooks the nave of St. Patrick's Cathedral in New York March 17. "America's parish church and the soul of the capital of the world," will undergo a $175 million, five-year restoration project that is necessary for its survival, according to Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan of New York. Cardinal Dolan made the announcement on the steps of the cathedral March 17, hours before reviewing the 251st St. Patrick's Day Parade up Fifth Avenue. He said the 133-year-old landmark faces a sorely needed response to crumbling bricks, splitting windows, aged heating, a leaky roof and a grit-encrusted facade.
CNS photo/Gregory A. Shemitz
Archbishop of Canterbury
Archbishop Rowan Williams of Canterbury, spiritual leader of the worldwide Anglican Communion for 10 years, announced March 16 he will step down from his post at the end of the year to take a job as master of Magdalene College at the University of Cambridge, England, beginning in January. Queen Elizabeth II, the supreme governor of the Church of England, has the ultimate responsibility of appointing archbishops of Canterbury.
Coptic pope dies
Coptic Orthodox Pope Shenouda III of Alexandria, Egypt, patriarch of the Coptic Orthodox Church for 41 years, died March 17 at the age of 88. The vast majority of Christians in Egypt belong to Pope Shenouda's church, which includes about 10 percent of Egypt's population of 82 million people, and his four decades as patriarch often involved standing up for the rights of the country's Christian minority and working with the Muslim majority to promote human rights and the common good.
Rev. Felix Varela is depicted in an illustration from a U.S. postage stamp issued in his honor in 1997. The Cuban-born priest, known as a promoter of human rights, freedom for slaves and independence for Cuba from Spain, immigrated to the United States in 1823. He founded Transfiguration Church in New York and served as vicar general of the Archdiocese of New York. The Cuban bishops initiated his cause for sainthood in the 1980s, which could take a leap forward during Pope Benedict XVI's stay in Cuba March 26-28.
Supreme Court gets the health reform law
WASHINGTON (CNS) — Although there are no specifically Catholic issues under consideration when the U.S. Supreme Court hears oral arguments March 26-28 on various aspects of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, Catholics will play some key roles.
With six of the nine current Supreme Court justices being Catholics, it is almost inevitable that a Catholic justice will be a "swing vote" determining the outcome in at least one of the cases. And Catholic groups and individuals have not been shy about filing friend-of-the-court briefs seeking to sway the justices toward their hoped-for outcome.
The lawsuits before the court have nothing to do with the contraceptive mandate set by the Department of Health and Human Services — and the First Amendment religious freedom questions raised by it — which has been the subject of a number of other suits in lower courts.
Dozens of organizations and individuals have filed friend-of-the-court briefs in the cases, including a number of Catholics.
Seminary gets 484 acres
CHARLOTTE, N.C. — A community of cloistered nuns and the Te Deum Foundation have jointly acquired land in North Carolina's Cleveland County for a new monastery and a future seminary. Mother Dolores Marie of the Poor Clares of Perpetual Adoration, abbess of St. Joseph Monastery, and Wilhelmina "Billie" Mobley, president of the Te Deum Foundation, announced the purchase of 484 acres in Mooresboro, about 60 miles west of Charlotte.
Employee faces charges
PHILADELPHIA — Anita Guzzardi, former chief financial officer of the Philadelphia Archdiocese, turned herself in to Philadelphia police March 13 after she was charged with theft, forgery and unlawful use of a computer. Guzzardi, 43, is believed to have embezzled more than $900,000 from the archdiocese's general operating fund to pay her own gambling debts and credit card bills before she was fired in July 2011.
Slain journalist dedicated
OYSTER BAY, N.Y. — The mother of slain journalist Marie Colvin told reporters the day after she was killed Feb. 22 in Homs, Syria, that her daughter was "totally committed to what she did." She knew "the importance of telling the story and writing it and getting it out to the world no matter what. That was her life," Rosemarie Colvin said. Marie Colvin's body arrived at John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York March 6.
Parish closings reversed
CLEVELAND — A Vatican congregation has overturned the closing of 13 parishes in the Diocese of Cleveland and said the churches must be restored for worship, a person involved with the cases said. The ruling reverses some of the closings ordered by Bishop Richard G. Lennon since 2009 under a diocesanwide reconfiguration plan. The Congregation for Clergy's ruling in support of parishioners who appealed the closings is a rare instance, explained Peter Borre, a leader with the Council of Parishes in Boston, who has been advising parish groups nationwide on their appeals.
Schools standards set
WASHINGTON — A set of national standards and benchmarks for Catholic schools — defining what makes them unique and providing ways to measure their effectiveness — was released March 7. The publication: "National Standards and Benchmarks for Effective Catholic Elementary and Secondary Schools" is the result of a collaborative effort by the Center for Catholic School Effectiveness at Loyola University Chicago's School of Education, the Roche Center for Catholic Education at Boston College's Lynch School of Education and the National Catholic Educational Association.
Advice to pastors: eat
WASHINGTON — Harvard public policy professor Robert D. Putnam has a tongue-in-cheek suggestion for pastors: "Spend less time on the sermons, and more time arranging the church suppers." That's because research by Putnam and Chaeyoon Lim, assistant professor of sociology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, shows that the more church friends a person has, the happier he or she is.
$2M donated to Africa
VATICAN CITY — A Vatican foundation has awarded more than $2 million in aid to projects aimed at halting desertification in Africa's Sahel region and to promoting rural development, education and irrigation. The foundation works to fight poverty, protect natural resources, end desertification and promote and coordinate charity in Chad, Gambia, Burkina Faso, Cape Verde, Guinea-Bissau, Mali, Mauritania, Niger and Senegal.
Legislation a 'threat'
KIEV, Ukraine — The major archbishop of the Ukrainian Catholic Church, Sviatoslav Shevchuk of Kiev-Halych, said government-backed legislation to transfer control of key national Christian shrines to the Orthodox Church was "a clear threat to the interdenominational peace and agreement established in our state during recent years." Ukraine's Communist Party and governing Party of Regions introduced legislation under which major shrines such as Kiev's Monastery of the Caves, currently under state ownership, would be handed over to the largest Orthodox denomination, the Ukrainian Orthodox Church-Moscow Patriarchate. Archbishop Shevchuk said church property claims required a "complex settlement" and should be "considered fully and transparently from all viewpoints" by Ukraine's Council of Churches and Religious Organizations, which represents 18 churches and faiths.
Rebuild efforts on way
SANTO DOMINGO, Dominican Republic — Haitian and Dominican bishops said they will create a commission that will work to help reconstruct Haiti more than two years after a major earthquake destroyed the Caribbean nation. Several Catholic groups have been working on the ground toward reconstructing the country. The commission will differ in that it will focus on recruiting volunteers and encouraging donations from the private sector.
— Catholic News Service