A firefighter bows his head during a Sept. 11 ceremony in St. James, N.Y., marking the 13th anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks that claimed the lives of nearly 3,000 people in New York City, Shanksville, Pennsylvania, and at the Pentagon. Among the victims were 343 members of the New York Fire Department.
Gregory A. Shemitz
Protesters carry a banner in front of the White House during an immigration march and rally in Washington Aug. 28. President Barack Obama drew sharp rebukes after he said Sept. 7 he would delay announcing executive measures on immigration until after the November elections, a political calculation to protect vulnerable Democrats from being linked to potentially unpopular actions. The New York Times and Politico reported that several Senate Democrats facing tough re-election bids had urged Obama not to act until at least after the elections.
Kevin Lamarque/Reuters, cns
Cardinal Leonardo Sandri, prefect of the Congregation for Eastern Churches, leads a prayer during an ecumenical service at the Omni Shoreham Hotel in Washington Sept. 9. Nearly a thousand Christian leaders, politicians and laypeople gathered to launch a massive effort on behalf of the minority communities of the Middle East. High-ranking church leaders representing Pope Francis and Coptic Orthodox Pope Tawadros II, patriarchs of Eastern churches, members of Congress and Christians in the diaspora came together for the inaugural In Defense of Christians summit.
Resting place for the living
Amanda Thursfield, director of the Non-Catholic Cemetery in Rome, poses among graves Aug. 28 in Rome's Non-Catholic Cemetery, a garden of breezes and greenery, of crickets, birdsong, roses and pomegranate trees. It is a magnet for visitors: Students reading under trees by the graves of John Keats and Percy Shelley; young mothers pushing babies down shady paths flanked by graceful statues; and an older crowd milling around the little chapel which, like the cemetery, is still in use. "A cemetery is not just a place for dead people; it needs to be kept alive," Thursfield said.
Cardinal Pell nixes change on Communion for divorced, remarried
VATICAN CITY — In a book coming out just before October's extraordinary Synod of Bishops on the family, Cardinal George Pell rules out proposed changes to church practice that would allow divorced and civilly remarried Catholics to receive Communion.
"Doctrine and pastoral practice cannot be contradictory," writes Cardinal Pell, a former archbishop of Sydney who now serves as prefect of the Secretariat for the Economy. "One cannot maintain the indissolubility of marriage by allowing the 'remarried' to receive Communion."
The cardinal calls for a clear restatement of traditional teaching, to avoid the sort of widespread protests that greeted Pope Paul VI's affirmation of Catholic teaching against contraception in 1968.
"The sooner the wounded, the lukewarm, and the outsiders realize that substantial doctrinal and pastoral changes are impossible, the more the hostile disappointment (which must follow the reassertion of doctrine) will be anticipated and dissipated," writes the cardinal, who will participate in the synod.
The eligibility of divorced and civilly remarried Catholics to receive Communion is bound to be a major topic of discussion, inside and outside the synod hall, during the Oct. 5-19 gathering. According to church teaching, Catholics who remarry civilly without an annulment may receive Communion only if they abstain from sexual relations, living with their new partners "as brother and sister."
Pope Francis has said the predicament of such Catholics exemplifies a general need for mercy in the church today. In February, at the pope's invitation, German Cardinal Walter Kasper addressed the world's cardinals at the Vatican and argued for allowing some Catholics in that predicament to receive Communion.
Archbishop cause stalls
WASHINGTON — The canonization cause of Archbishop Fulton Sheen has been suspended indefinitely, according to a statement issued Sept. 3 by the Diocese of Peoria, Illinois, where the archbishop was born. The suspension was announced "with immense sadness," the diocese said. "The process to verify a possible miracle attributed to Sheen had been going extremely well, and only awaited a vote of the cardinals and the approval of the Holy Father." Archbishop Sheen, who gained fame in the 1950s with a prime-time television series called "Life Is Worth Living," died in New York in 1979. The diocesan statement said the Archdiocese of New York denied a request from Bishop Daniel R. Jenky of Peoria, president of the Archbishop Sheen Foundation, to move the archbishop's body to Peoria. Deacon Greg Kendra, in a Sept. 3 posting on his blog The Deacon's Bench, said the reason for the request was for "official inspection and to take first-class relics from the remains." A Sept. 4 statement from Joseph Zwilling, communications director for the New York Archdiocese, said Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan of New York "did express a hesitance in exhuming the body" absent a directive from the Vatican Congregation for Saints' Causes and family approval. The statement added that Archbishop Sheen's "closest surviving family members" asked that the archbishop's wishes be respected and that he had "expressly stated his desire that his remains be buried in New York."
Timothy M. Dolan
Gay ban is lifted
Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan of New York said he continues to support the city's St. Patrick's Day Parade Committee after it lifted a ban prohibiting gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender groups from marching openly in the annual event. The cardinal, who will be the grand marshal of the 254th St. Patrick's Day parade in March, said in a statement Sept. 3 that neither he nor his predecessors determined who could or could not march in the parade. The parade committee's decision comes in an effort to defuse the controversy that arose prior to this year's parade over the exclusion of gay banners in the annual celebration of Irish and Catholic heritage.
Pope urged to visit Detroit
WASHINGTON — A grass-roots effort is underway to persuade Pope Francis to come to Detroit should he make a pastoral visit to the United States in 2015 as many hope. Leading the charge are students from the city's Catholic schools, who have written hundreds of letters to the pope asking him to come. While the Archdiocese of Detroit isn't pushing the effort, it's certainly not opposing it.
Norman C. Francis
Xavier president retires
NEW ORLEANS — Norman C. Francis, 83, the longest-serving university president in the United States, patriarch of the Xavier family since 1968, told thousands of students, faculty and staff Sept. 4 that he would step down in June 2015 as president of the only historically black Catholic university in the Western Hemisphere. He was honored in 2006 by President George W. Bush with the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation's highest civilian honor.
Investing in Portland
PORTLAND — Catholic teaching and Portland hip have found common ground. John Burnside, a financial adviser who sits on the investment council of the Archdiocese of Portland, has become a spokesman for impact investing, a movement holding that venture capitalists can do good and make money simultaneously. "I love the idea of doing good works," said Burnside, a member of St. Philip Benizi Parish in Oregon City. "I think companies can lead by example. And there is no reason a company with a social mission can't make a substantial profit." Impact investing aims to turn the power of the market to human benefit, investing in firms focusing on sustainable agriculture, affordable housing, accessible healthcare, clean energy and financial services for poor people.
Cirilo B. Flores
Bishop Flores dies at 66
SAN DIEGO — Bishop Cirilo B. Flores of San Diego died Sept. 6 of complications from prostate cancer. He was 66. On Sept. 4, Bishop Flores had been transferred from the cancer center of the University of Southern California to Nazareth House in San Diego for hospice care. The bishop's prostate cancer was disclosed Aug. 25 by the diocese. Bishop Flores had been ailing since mid-April, when he suffered a stroke four days before Easter.
DENVER — The federal government is pursuing its case against the Little Sisters of the Poor in an attempt to get the religious order to comply with newly issued interim rules regarding the Department of Health and Human Services' contraception mandate under the Affordable Care Act. The government filed a brief Sept. 8 in the U.S. 10th Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver, where the Little Sisters of the Poor run a home for the aged. Other plaintiffs in the case include Southern Nazarene University in Denver and Reaching Souls International, an Oklahoma nonprofit. Attorneys for the Little Sisters of the Poor said they would continue to fight the contraceptive mandate.
— Catholic News Service
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