March 4, 2013 • VOL. 51, NO. 5 • Oakland, CA
12,000 youths gather
Bishop Dorsey dies
ORLANDO, Fla. — Bishop Norbert M. Dorsey, a music composer who headed the Diocese of Orlando during a 14-year period when the Catholic population nearly doubled to 400,000, died Feb. 21 after a long bout with cancer. He was 83.
WASHINGTON — Eleven Republican members of Congress filed a brief supporting conscience provisions in one lawsuit fighting the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' contraceptive mandate. In their friend-of-the-court brief, filed Feb. 21, the congressmen invoked the Religious Freedom Restoration Act in supporting the Hobby Lobby craft store chain in its bid for an exemption from the mandate.
Religious brothers 'vital'
RYE, N.Y. — Religious brothers say they are an invisible group in the church, but that it's not such a bad thing because it allows them the freedom to be ordinary men performing an extraordinary ministry. That's the view of brothers and other participants at a think tank convened last fall to examine their vocation. "Our vocation is one of the church's best-kept secrets," Holy Cross Brother Paul Bednarczyk, executive director the National Religious Vocation Conference, told Catholic News Service. "We are vowed religious who commit ourselves to a particular ministry, live in community and share prayers. We are not part of the hierarchy of the church, which gives us more freedom in ministry to respond to those most in need. Our vocation complements the religious priesthood," he said. The number of religious brothers in the United States fell from 12,271 in 1965 to 4,477 in 2012, according to statistics compiled by the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate.
Steps followed to close parish
WASHINGTON — Rarely is closing a parish easy. Even though the task has been undertaken countless times in the history of the U.S. Catholic Church as neighborhoods change and faith communities evolve, the process has received wider attention in recent years as the number of closings has escalated, prompted by changing demographics, fewer priests and tighter finances. A parish closing more often than not is an emotional experience, particularly for parishioners feeling dejected, disappointed and even angry with the loss of their spiritual home. But bishops, too, have found that whether they are faced with closing one parish or dozens, it is hardly an enjoyable task to undertake. When a closing is considered, the process is guided by specific steps outlined in canon law, or church law. Broadly, canon law plainly states that bishops alone have the authority to erect (open) or suppress (close) any parish. The canons also explicitly assert that a bishop must consult with the diocesan presbyteral council prior to making a decision and that parishioners have a right to express their views before a final decision is reached. Further, canon law allows for an appeal of a bishop's decision on a closing — as well as other decrees — through a complex set of actions that can take parishioners on a laborious trek through the inner workings of the Vatican. The issue of parish closings and the steps outlined in canon law was discussed during a workshop sponsored by the Canon Law Society of America prior to its annual convention last October.
Cardinal asked about abuse
NEW YORK — A Feb. 20 deposition was a "long-awaited opportunity" for New York Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan to discuss decisions he made on clergy sex abuse cases as Milwaukee's archbishop, his spokesman said. Joseph Zwilling said the three-hour closed session, first reported by The New York Times, gave the cardinal a chance "to talk about his decision nine years ago in Milwaukee to publicize the names of priests who had abused children and how he responded to the tragedy of past clergy sexual abuse of minors" as head of the Milwaukee Archdiocese.
Dr. Billings dies at 95
MELBOURNE, Australia — Dr. Evelyn Billings, who with her husband, John, pioneered research that led them to develop a form of natural family planning supported by the Catholic Church, died Feb. 16 after a short illness. She was 95. The Australian pediatrician joined her physician-husband's team in 1965 as he was researching a more reliable method to prevent pregnancies than the rhythm method, known as the "calendar" method, which was developed in the 1930s. By the late 1960s, the research team had established the procedures for identifying fertile days and teaching centers began to be set up around the world. The method, known as the Billings ovulation method, allows women to monitor periods of fertility through close examination of naturally occurring physiological signs, and use that information to prevent pregnancy or space births
Center to close in June
WASHINGTON (CNS) — The Jesuit-run Woodstock Theological Center, on the campus of Georgetown University in Washington — another Jesuit-run institution — will close at the end of June, a victim of the shrinking number of Jesuits available to staff it. Hopes are that Georgetown will assume the center's work and assets.
Church workers terrified
CAPE TOWN, South Africa — Zanzibar's bishop said priests and other clergy in his diocese are terrified after a priest was murdered outside his parish church in what is seen by many as a terrorist attack. "We are very afraid," Bishop Augustine Shao said, noting that clergy "were warned of attacks" before and after the Feb. 17 murder of 56-year-old Father Evaristus Mushi.
Indonesian Cardinal won't go
VATICAN CITY — At least one of the 117 cardinals eligible to elect a new pope will not come to Rome because of illness. Indonesian Cardinal Julius Darmaatmadja, the 78-year-old retired archbishop of Jakarta, told the Rome-based AsiaNews agency Feb. 21 that his health and particularly the "progressive deterioration" of his eyesight led to his decision not to travel to Rome.
Vatican, South Sudan links
JUBA, South Sudan — The Vatican announced it was establishing diplomatic relations with South Sudan, but a church official in Juba said the move was unlikely to happen soon. The move means South Sudan will open an embassy in the Vatican, while the church will open an apostolic nunciature in Juba.
Cardinal Ries dies
VATICAN CITY — Belgian Cardinal Julien Ries, who died Feb. 23 at the age of 92, never tired of "witnessing to the faith in a spirit of dialogue," Pope Benedict XVI said. The cardinal was professor emeritus of the Catholic University of Louvain-la-Neuve. He founded the Center for the History of Religions at the university and served as president of its Oriental Institute from 1975 to 1980. From 1979 to 1985, he was a consultant to the Vatican office that became the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue. He retired in 1991 and is considered one of the great religious anthropologists, having written extensively in the field.
— Catholic News Service
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