Thousands of demonstrators march in Paris Jan. 13 to protest France's planned legalization of same-sex marriage. Cardinal Andre Vingt-Trois, president of the French bishops' conference, told France's Le Figaro daily, "We're not under a dictatorship." A coalition of 30 French family groups, "Manif Pour Tous" (Demo For All), rallied against a bill allowing same-sex marriage, introduced Nov. 7 by the Socialist government of President Francois Hollande under the slogan, "Marriage for All."
Four new archbishops lie prostrate during their ordination by Pope Benedict XVI in St. Peter's Basilica at the Vatican Jan. 6. Pictured from top to bottom are Nicolas Thevenin, apostolic nuncio to Guatemala; Georg Ganswein, prefect of the papal household and the pope's personal secretary; Fortunatus Nwachukwu, 52, nuncio to Nicaragua; and Angelo Zani, 62, the new secretary of the Congregation for Catholic Education.
Bibles for inauguration
Shown is a detail from the cover of the Lincoln Bible. The velvet-covered Bible was used when Abraham Lincoln was sworn in as president of the United States in 1861. It is a holding of the Rare Books and Special Collections Division of the Library of Congress. President Barack Obama will take the oath of office with this Bible and two others at his Jan. 21 inauguration, just as he did in 2009. Because Jan. 20, the day the Constitution sets for the swearing-in ceremony, falls on a Sunday this year, the president will actually take the oath twice — once officially on the 20th in a small, private event on his wife's family Bible, and for the public ceremony Obama will place his hand on two Bibles, stacked together — one that was owned by Abraham Lincoln and one by the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.
Doctors oppose OTC
QUINCY, Mass. — Some Catholic physicians, including those who do not prescribe contraceptives, are questioning the safety of allowing oral contraceptives to be sold over the counter, as the nation's largest body of obstetricians and gynecologists recommended in December. Dr. Kathleen Raviele, an obstetrician-gynecologist in Atlanta and former president of the Catholic Medical Association, warned that because birth-control pills can raise blood pressure and cause strokes and heart attacks, such drugs should only be prescribed by a physician.
Ethics in business school
WASHINGTON — The Catholic University of America in Washington is spinning off its current economics and business curriculum from its School of Arts and Sciences and fashioning a new business school with the idea of infusing ethics into all course offerings. In 2014, graduates will receive their degrees from the new School of Business and Economics, the university's 13th school.
Good collaboration cited
WASHINGTON — During the past decade, U.S. Catholic college presidents and local bishops have experienced greater collaboration, according to a review of the Vatican document that clarified the relationship between these leaders. The bishops and college leaders gave a 10-year review of "The Application of 'Ex Corde Ecclesiae' for the United States," a document that went into effect in 2001 and outlines how U.S. Catholic colleges and universities should implement the 1990 Vatican document on Catholic higher education called "Ex Corde Ecclesiae" ("From the Heart of the Church"). Bishop Joseph P. McFadden of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, chairman of the Committee on Catholic Education of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, wrote: "Bishops reported that they believe our institutions of Catholic higher education have made definite progress in advancing Catholic identity. … The relationship between bishops and presidents on the local level can be characterized as positive and engaged, demonstrating progress on courtesy and cooperation in the last 10 years."
Changes in bishops
Pope Benedict XVI has accepted the resignation of Bishop Ricardo Ramirez of Las Cruces, N.M., and named as his successor Auxiliary Bishop Oscar Cantu of San Antonio. The Diocese of Las Cruces was established in 1982 and Bishop Ramirez, now 76, was named its first bishop. Bishop Cantu, 46, has been an auxiliary bishop in San Antonio since 2008. Thanking God for the blessings he has received throughout life and for being called to the priesthood, the newly ordained auxiliary bishop of the Boston Archdiocese asked for prayers and support as he began his new role. Speaking near the end of his ordination Mass Jan. 4, Auxiliary Bishop Robert P. Deeley told the congregation gathered in the Cathedral of the Holy Cross that he welcomed the opportunity to continue serving the church of Boston in his new capacity. In Camden, New Jersey, Bishop Dennis J. Sullivan vowed to lead as a pastor, pledging the church will never abandon the city of Camden and offered a greeting to Hispanics in fluent Spanish during his visit to the diocese Jan. 8. Sullivan, an auxiliary bishop in the Archdiocese of New York since 2004, succeeds Bishop Joseph A. Galante, 74, whose resignation was accepted by the pope six months before he turned 75. Msgr. David P. Talley, 62, a former Southern Baptist who became a Catholic at the age of 24 and has served at various archdiocesan parishes, was named by Pope Benedict XVI as an auxiliary bishop of the Archdiocese of Atlanta.
Stem-cell policy stands
WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court Jan. 7 let stand a lower court order allowing government funding of research involving certain embryonic stem-cell lines. The court also scheduled oral arguments for March in two cases over state laws on same-sex marriage. Without comment, the court let stand an August ruling by the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia which dismissed a lawsuit by two scientists who said the funding policy inhibits their chance of getting government grants for their research on adult stem cells, and argued that violates another law.
Catholics eclipse Congress
WASHINGTON — The 113th Congress includes some slight shifts in religious makeup over the previous session, with a few more Catholics, the first Buddhist in the Senate and the first Hindu to serve in either chamber. It's a historic high for the number of Catholics in Congress, with 163, although that's just two more seats than the previous high point, when there were 161 Catholics in the 111th Congress of 2009-10. That's an increase of seven seats over the 156 Catholics had in the 112th Congress.
Judge says reveal names
LOS ANGELES — The Archdiocese of Los Angeles must reveal the names of church officials included in 30,000 pages of personnel files that will be released with information related to allegations of child sexual abuse by church employees, a Superior Court judge ruled Jan. 7. The Associated Press and Los Angeles Times reported that Judge Emilie H. Elias reversed a previous ruling by a retired federal judge who had said that material to be released should have names redacted to prevent the documents' use to "embarrass or ridicule the church."
Justice denies injunction
WASHINGTON — Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor denied two companies' request for an injunction while they challenge part of the Department of Health and Human Services' contraceptive mandate in court. In an order filed Dec. 26, Sotomayor ruled that the owners of the Hobby Lobby craft store and the Mardel Christian bookstore chains did not qualify for an injunction while they challenge requirements of the Affordable Care Act. On Dec. 30, a federal District Court judge in Michigan granted a temporary restraining order to Tom Monaghan, the founder of Domino's Pizza, allowing him to decline to provide contraceptive coverage to the employees of his current business, Domino's Farms Office Complex.
Warning against law
CHICAGO — Cardinal Francis E. George told Chicago-area Catholics that the passage of a same-sex marriage law in the state would be "acting against the common good of society. This proposed legislation will have long-term consequences because laws teach; they tell us what is socially acceptable and what is not, and most people conform to the dictates of their respective society, at least in the short run," he wrote in a Jan. 1 letter.
Shelters shift perceptions
SALTILLO, Mexico — During Mass on the feast of the Epiphany, Father Pedro Pantoja asked a group of parishioners in attendance to pray for his Central American guests — all of whom were seeking to sneak into the United States. Father Pantoja said the migrants cling to their Christian faith along the way and often invoke a higher power for protection. Yet he said "99 percent" of the guests arriving at his shelter are not Catholic; only three of the approximately 50 migrants attending the Jan. 7 Mass received Communion. The priest, founder of two migrant shelters, expressed no dismay at the religious confessions of his guests. He said he prefers instead to view the arrival of so many evangelicals as an opportunity to show the best of the Catholic Church, which is often attacked and belittled by pastors in Central America.
More aid needed
AMMAN, Jordan — Snow, driving rain and howling winds in early January compounded the already desperate situation for Syrians caught up in 22 months of civil war seeking to oust President Bashar Assad. Now, the extremely frigid temperatures have put both those internally displaced inside Syria and refugees fleeing to neighboring countries in even greater danger. Aid workers in Jordan, Turkey and Lebanon say they are stretched to the limit because they need additional funds to provide food supplies and other basic necessities to the refugees in such freezing weather.
New Maronite leader
VATICAN CITY — Pope Benedict XVI named the priest in charge of coordinating his papal visit to Lebanon to head the Maronite Catholic community in Canada. Bishop-designate Marwan Tabet replaces Maronite Bishop Joseph Khoury, 76, who stepped down for reasons of age, the Vatican announced Jan. 10. The 51-year-old new bishop-designate will head the Diocese of Saint-Maron of Montreal as bishop for the Maronite Catholics of Canada.
Strains in Mideast
JERUSALEM — Bishops who traveled to the Holy Land to assess the local church's needs noted the "profound anxiety" that the "dark and dramatic events" of the past year have caused in the region. The civil war in Syria has resulted in an increasingly large number of refugees pouring into other countries, putting an enormous strain on national and government resources, they said. The situation within Israel and Palestine has also become increasingly polarized, they added.
Church ends inquiry
BERLIN — Germany's Catholic Church has withdrawn from an inquiry into sexual abuse by clergy, citing a breakdown of trust with researchers. However, the project director, Christian Pfeiffer, accused bishops of trying to "censor and control" his work, which aimed to analyze victim statements, the behavior of molesting priests and reactions by their superiors.
Mexico limits religion
SALTILLO, Mexico — Although church-state relations have thawed in the past 25 years, Saltillo Bishop Raul Vera Lopez said he remains dissatisfied with government restrictions on religion. "The Religious Associations Law continues leaving us being as controlled as we were previously," he said as he celebrated 25 years of being a bishop. "We have to report where our priests are to the Interior Ministry," he said. "A soccer player can come on and off the field. ... If I change priest's parish, I have to report that."
— Catholic News Service