on religious freedom
This is a scene from the PBS documentary "First Freedom: The Fight for Religious Liberty." The documentary, which premieres on PBS stations 8-9:30 p.m. Dec. 18 (check local listings) looks at the origins of the religious guarantees enshrined in the First Amendment. Narrated by Brian Stokes Mitchell, Lee Groberg's film uses interviews with scholars, archival images and re-enactments to chart the shifting fortunes of religious liberty in the New World from the 1630 founding of the Massachusetts Bay Colony to the death of James Madison in 1836. It also explores the varied views of the divine held by such seminal figures as George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, Patrick Henry and second cousins Samuel and John Adams.
The former Maryknoll was dismissed from the priesthood by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith because of his participation in the invalid ordination of a woman and simulated Mass.
The Catholic jazz musician and composer born in Concord died of heart failure Dec. 5 in Norwalk, Conn., after being stricken while on his way to a cardiology appointment. He would have turned 92 the following day.
The new president of the March for Life Education and Defense Fund succeeds Nellie Gray, a pro-life leader who founded the March for Life in 1974 and died Aug.13 at age 86.
Oblates of St. Francis de Sales founder beatified
Blessed Louis Brisson's feast day will be Oct. 12.
St. Francis de Sales/cns
TROYES, France — Cardinal Angel Amato, prefect of the Congregation for Saints' Causes, presided over the beatification of French Father Louis Brisson, founder of the Oblates and the Oblate Sisters of St. Francis de Sales.
Father Brisson was ordained a priest of the Troyes Diocese in 1840. The order he founded is known today as the DeSales Oblates.
Cardinal Amato told Vatican Radio that Father Brisson's life and mission were marked by his familiarity with the teaching of St. Francis de Sales and by his concern for young people.
In the mid-1800s, Troyes was a bustling city of factories, a mix of wealth and squalor. As a young priest, Father Brisson began workshops and opened hostels for young workers. Rather quickly, he founded the religious orders for women and for men, launching congregations that continue to run schools, colleges and parishes.
When France adopted a strict church-state separation law in 1905, religious schools were closed and many priests and nuns were expelled from France.
Cardinal Amato said Father Brisson reacted with "strength and perseverance in doing good. During those years of affliction, his great serenity and his unlimited faith in divine providence shone through. He died piously Feb. 2, 1908, the feast of the Purification of Mary, at the age of 91."
"That same day," the cardinal said, "his house, the furniture and even the bed upon which he died were put up for auction."
Before beatification, the Vatican must recognize a miracle obtained through the intercession of the candidate. In Father Brisson's case, it involved the 1953 healing of an Ecuadoran boy, Carlos Luis Penaherrera, whose foot was crushed under a tractor wheel. Although doctors feared for his life and told his parents he would never walk without a limp, within a month his foot healed completely. Penaherrera went on to serve in the U.S. Air Force during the Vietnam War and now lives in Ecuador.
Some 2,500 people, including a dozen bishops and more than 200 priests, filled the Troyes Cathedral in France for the beatification Mass Sept. 22. Hundreds more watched the ceremony from the cathedral steps.
'Like' new translation
WASHINGTON — A wide majority of Massgoers are satisfied with the new English translation of the Roman Missal introduced a year ago at Advent, a survey showed. Seventy percent of Catholics responding agreed that the translation is a "good thing," according to results of the survey conducted by the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate at Georgetown University. Half of respondents agreed with the assessment while 20 percent strongly agreed with it, the survey found. That still left three in 10 Catholics saying they disagreed with such an assessment.
College's gay support
SOUTH BEND, Ind. — The University of Notre Dame released a pastoral plan "grounded in the Catholic mission" of the university that will expand support and services for students "who identify" as gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender and those "questioning" their own sexual orientation. The plan, released Dec. 5, is titled "Beloved Friends and Allies: A Pastoral Plan for the Support and Holistic Development of GLBTQ and Heterosexual Students at the University of Notre Dame."
Marriage major issue
WASHINGTON — After a string of 32 straight referendum successes in states in defining marriage as the union of one man and one woman since 1998, supporters of the traditional definition of marriage saw defeat in three states at the polls this November. On Election Day Nov. 6, voters in Maryland, Maine and Washington — albeit by slender margins — approved of allowing same-sex marriage. In Minnesota, a referendum bid to define marriage as that between one man and one woman also failed. Archbishop Salvatore J. Cordileone of San Francisco, chairman of the U.S. bishops' Subcommittee for the Promotion and Defense of Marriage, said it was a disappointing day for marriage and called for renewed efforts to strengthen and protect traditional marriage and family life. "The meaning of marriage ... cannot be redefined because it lies within our very nature," he said. Catholic teaching says that same-sex unions violate the authentic Christian understanding of marriage of being between one man and one woman. The legal definition of marriage in the nation's most populous state, California, remained unsettled. A 2-1 majority of a three-member federal appeals court panel ruled in February that Proposition 8, a ban on same-sex marriages approved by voters in 2008, was unconstitutional because it violated the 14th Amendment guarantee of equal protection under law. In upholding a lower court ruling, the panel said a right once given — as the state had prior to the vote — could not be taken away. The Supreme Court will take up in the spring two cases — California's and one out of New York over the federal Defense of Marriage Act, which defines a marriage as being between one man and one woman. The cases likely will be on the court's calendar for argument in March, with a ruling before the end of the term in late June.
Deductions in peril
WASHINGTON — As Congress and the White House scramble to find new sources of revenue to go with budget cuts to achieve deficit reductions and avert a so-called "fiscal cliff," one tempting source for creating revenue is a ceiling on tax deductions. Father Larry Snyder, president of Catholic Charities USA, predicted that if tax deductions are capped, "there will be a definite decrease in the philanthropy that charities will see." Leaders of charitable organizations flew en masse to Washington Dec. 4-5 to lobby members of Congress and White House staffers to leave charitable contributions alone.
Material reaches troops
WASHINGTON — American troops have a strong presence around the globe, serving in 75 percent of the world's countries, yet "one soldier told me they are starving for spiritual support," said Cheri Lomonte, founder of Frontline Faith. The Catholic nonprofit organization gives MP3 players loaded with the Mass, stories and prayers to active-duty members of the military. In the two years since its founding, Frontline Faith has distributed 30,000 MP3 players. The organization started with Lomonte, a Catholic radio host from Austin, Texas, creating a Catholic MP3 player with recordings of Mass, prayers, Scripture readings and words of encouragement to members of the military.
Land given to ordinariate
HOUSTON — A five-acre piece of property has been given to the Catholic Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter, based in Houston, to be used as the site of its future chancery. Purchased by anonymous donors for $5 million, the five-acre property is contiguous with Our Lady of Walsingham Catholic Church, the seat of the ordinariate established by Pope Benedict XVI almost a year ago in response to requests by Anglicans seeking to become Catholics.
BATON ROUGE, La. — Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal called it "wrong-headed" and a "travesty" that a state judge ruled Nov. 30 that a voucher program passed by the Legislature last spring is unconstitutional. State District Judge Tim Kelley said the state cannot use funds set aside for public education to pay for children in failing schools to attend nonpublic schools.
26 schools may close
NEW YORK — The New York Archdiocese has announced that 26 of the 159 regional, parish and archdiocesan elementary schools are at risk of closing next June. In addition, St. Agnes Boys High School in Manhattan also is at risk of closing at the end of the current school year. The Nov. 26 announcement of "at risk" schools comes two years after the archdiocese closed 20 schools as part of a reconfiguration plan.
Transplant pioneer dies
BOSTON — Joseph Murray, the Catholic surgeon who conducted the world's first organ transplant, died Nov. 26 at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston, the same hospital where he performed that groundbreaking surgery. Murray, who won a Nobel Prize and a Laetare Medal among his many honors, was 93 years old. He had suffered a stroke on Thanksgiving.
Prince Albert II of Monaco and his wife, Princess Charlene, speak to Monaco Archbishop Bernard Barsi as they leave the cathedral after a Mass for Monaco's National Day in Monte Carlo Nov. 19. The special day is the occasion for the national community to celebrate its identity and traditions. The Mass marks the community's ties to the Catholic faith.