||Walk for freedom
An unidentified man July 31 leads a pilgrimage group from Hancock, Md., to Baltimore. The 100-mile trek showed support for religious freedom and called attention to the federal health care mandate requiring all employers, including most religious employers, to provide insurance coverage for sterilizations and contraceptives.
Tom McCarthy Jr./cns
Retired Navy Adm. James Watkins died of congestive heart failure July 26 at his home in Alexandria, Va., at age 85. A former chief of naval operations, he also was chairman of President Ronald Reagan's AIDS commission and was energy secretary for President George H.W. Bush. His son, Msgr. James D. Watkins Jr., said his father approached every job, and every difficult decision, relying on his Catholic faith, his conscience and an unwavering personal integrity.
Nellie Gray, a pro-life leader who founded the March for Life in 1974 to protest the 1973 Supreme Court decision legalizing abortion nationwide, died at her Washington apartment Aug. 13 at age 86. Gray said she wasn't a Catholic as a child, but said "I had elements of the Catholic faith in my life."
Ryan a Catholic
Republican Mitt Romney chose U.S. Rep. Paul Davis Ryan, R-Wis., as his vice presidential running mate Aug. 11. Ryan, a lifelong Catholic whose children attend their parish school in Wisconsin, chairs the House Budget Committee. Ryan, 42, was born and raised in Janesville, Wis., where he lives with his wife, Janna, and their three children.
Allison Schmitt of the U.S. reacts after taking first place in the women's 200 freestyle heat at the London 2012 Olympic Games July 30. Schmitt, 22, a parishioner at St. John Neumann in Canton, Mich., was among several US Catholics who earned medals. She finished the Olympics with three gold medals, a silver and a bronze.
Coping with drought
DES MOINES, Iowa — For weeks farmers in southwest Iowa have been checking the forecasts and clear skies for the hint at some relief in the form of rain during the worst drought since 1936. "This is the worst drought we've experienced in 37 years of farming," said Larry Rayhons, a grain farmer and parishioner of St. Patrick Church in Lenox. Rayhons and other members of his parish have been praying the rosary before every Mass for rain.
Judge rules on same-sex
HONOLULU — U.S. District Court Judge Alan Kay in an Aug. 8 ruling said Hawaii's laws banning same-sex marriage "are not unconstitutional" and he threw out a lawsuit that had argued otherwise. The Hawaii Family Forum, a Christian educational organization, had intervened in the case to defend Hawaii's marriage statutes, and its attorney, Jim Hochberg, said he was pleased, Kay "agreed with every argument," except one, "made on behalf of" the forum.
Bishop Malone installed
BUFFALO, N.Y. — At his Aug. 10 installation Mass as the new bishop of Buffalo, Bishop Richard J. Malone, said his call to the western New York diocese was to respond to the new evangelization envisioned by Blessed John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI. More than 1,000 people filled St. Joseph Cathedral to witness the installation of the former bishop of Portland, Maine.
No logo decision
STEUBENVILLE, Ohio — The City Council of Steubenville has not reached a final decision on whether it will keep a silhouette of Franciscan University's chapel in an unofficial city logo. News outlets reported in late July that the city has been threatened with a lawsuit by the Wisconsin-based Freedom from Religion Foundation, which claims the use of the chapel image in a public logo raises constitutional questions.
Blessings from pain
CLINTON, Md. — When Father Jaime Hernandez talks to people facing tragedies that seem insurmountable, he counsels them, not only with what he learned from books and training as a priest, but with compassion learned during his own painful experience. At age 11, he became a victim of El Salvador's 12-year civil war, losing his leg as he stepped on a land mine. The consequences of the war continue for him, sometimes in painful circumstances, such as when the 38-year-old can't kneel as he celebrates the Eucharist, but also in good ones when he's able to offer comfort as he tells his tale to others. He reminds them that unexpected blessings can flow from pain.
Peoria against mandate
PEORIA, Ill. — Saying that he has "an obligation to protect the church's ability to freely practice our religion," Peoria Bishop Daniel R. Jenky has added his diocese to the list of those suing the federal government to overturn a requirement that employers provide contraceptives and sterilization to their employees.
Child porn charge
BOSTON — The Boston Archdiocese placed a Franciscan priest on administrative leave from his pastoral duties following his arrest on child pornography charges that involved the use of a computer located in the parish rectory. Father Andrzej Urbaniak, a Conventual Franciscan who serves at Our Lady of Czestochowa Parish, was arrested July 31 and charged with possessing and distributing child pornography. At his arraignment the next day, he pleaded not guilty.
Serra promotes vocations
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — Facing the likelihood of an unfavorable court ruling in its legal battle against Serra International, the leaders of the organization's USA Council plan to form a new, independent organization to promote vocations to the priesthood and religious life in the United States. Serra International is a lay organization whose objective is to foster vocations to the priesthood and religious life. In December 2010, its board of trustees passed a resolution to dissolve its USA Council, citing overlapping functions and excessive costs associated with maintaining two separate offices in Chicago, where both entities have their headquarters.
African spirituality, culture
BETHESDA, Md. — Catholics of African descent — as well as all Catholics — are called to understand their faith, have confidence in what they believe and be willing to share the faith with others, Cardinal Donald W. Wuerl of Washington told participants at the second African National Eucharistic Congress. More than 1,000 Catholics representing more than 20 African nations attended the Aug. 3-5 congress, which met at the Bethesda North Marriott Hotel and Conference Center. Nnamdi Okonkwo said he was surprised by how moved he was by participating in the congress. "I did not expect to be this excited about sharing my faith with others," he said.
— Catholic News Services