Protest for Catholic education
A woman religious holds a sign March 5 at a rally in San Juan, Puerto Rico, to protest a proposed tax law that Catholic school leaders say threatens the survival of primary and secondary Catholic education in the U.S. territory. As part of a comprehensive reform of its tax structure, the Puerto Rican government proposes replacing the current sales tax of 7 percent with a value-added system that would amount to a 16 percent tax, which Catholic school officials say would hurt Catholic education particularly, and private education generally, when applied to tuition, lunches, uniforms and textbooks.
Wallice Jusino de la Vega/CNS
Army chief of chaplains
Father Paul K. Hurley, a priest of the Archdiocese of Boston and a military chaplain for about 15 years, was confirmed March 27 as the U.S. Army chief of chaplains in a voice vote by the U.S. Senate. With the appointment comes a promotion in rank from colonel to major general. He will become the Army's 24th chief of chaplains. He will succeed Msgr. Donald L. Rutherford, himself a major general in the Army and a priest of the Diocese of Albany, New York, who will soon retire after serving in the post since 2011.
U.S. millennials, born between 1980 and 2000, don't want to be pigeonholed into categories. They are predominantly religiously unaffiliated and not identified by any political party. They are more ethnically and racially diverse than the general population. This group of 18- to 35-year-olds doesn't like to be labeled as "pro-life" or "pro-choice." They mostly approve of the use of contraception and they support policies to make contraception more widely available and affordable. They also have a predominantly positive view of marriage, not viewing it as old-fashioned or out of date. These findings are from a study released March 27 by the Public Religion Research Institute, which surveyed 2,314 young adults online in February. The margin of error was plus or minus 2.7 percentage points.
'Broader lens' urged
WASHINGTON — The issue of conscience rights should be examined "with a much broader lens" than just the marriage debate, said a speaker at a panel discussion regarding religious liberty legislation in light of same-sex marriage. Hosted in Washington by the Brookings Institution, the discussion, focused on legislation passed by the Utah Legislature — and now signed into law by Republican Gov. Gary Herbert — that is designed to accommodate proponents of same-sex marriage, while protecting the freedoms of conscience and religion of those who oppose it.
Human dignity origin
UNITED NATIONS — Archbishop Bernardito Auza, the Vatican's U.N. nuncio, said he was glad world leaders talk about human dignity in dialogues today about human rights, but he said they must recognize that such dignity begins at conception. In a March 19 presentation at the United Nations, he said humans cannot be reduced to "the sum of their body parts, vital signs, or physical or intellectual attributes" and that human dignity is "not a scientific category but an ethical one. Every person has this dignity by the very fact of being human. We bear that dignity at conception," he said, adding that Christians believe human dignity "flows from our relationship with God."
Assyrian patriarch dies
Catholicos Dinkha IV, patriarch of the Assyrian Church of the East, died March 26 at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota. A virus infection and pneumonia were cited as the cause of death. He was 79. The majority of the Assyrian Church of the East's faithful lives in the diaspora, mostly in the U.S. — about 300,000 — but also in Australia and Europe.
New auxiliary bishop
NEW ORLEANS — Never before in the nearly 300-year history of St. Louis Cathedral have Catholics seen a dancing bishop. But when Bishop Fernand "Ferd" Cheri III, a Franciscan priest and native son, made his first remarks to the nearly 1,000 people gathered for his ordination as auxiliary bishop March 23, the hometown boy in him couldn't resist breaking into several spirituals and even moving a few body parts. Very reverently. Bishop Cheri, 63, spoke briefly after giving Communion to his 87-year-old mother, Gladys, seated proudly in the front pew just six weeks after she had fallen and broken her right hip.
"Look after the earth"
LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Prince Charles and Louisville Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz entered the Cathedral of the Assumption in downtown Louisville March 20 shoulder to shoulder before a crowd of about 700 people — some hoping to catch a glimpse of the prince and others interested in what he had to say about sustainable living. The Prince of Wales visited Louisville on the last day of his four-day trip to the United States. He and his wife, Camilla, the Duchess of Cornwall, visited several local organizations where they met with students and spoke about "harmony and health," the subject of a book the prince published in 2010.
Parishioners at St. Lucy Parish in Suchitoto, El Salvador, wait to have their palms blessed during a Palm Sunday Mass March 29.
Pope clear about message
NEW YORK — The church is transforming itself with Pope Francis leading the way by placing new emphasis on familiar tenets of the faith, according to one of his "classmates" from the February 2001 consistory of the College of Cardinals. "This Holy Father has been and will be faithful to the doctrine and teaching of the church," said Cardinal Theodore E. McCarrick, retired archbishop of Washington. "He says it clearly and I guess there are some people who don't like clarity. ... He's not an obfuscator. He tells it like it is, because he wants people to hear it as it truly is."
Gay group marches
NEW YORK — For the first time in its history, the St. Patrick's Day Parade in New York, the nation's oldest and biggest parade, allowed a gay contingent to march, alienating some Catholics and angering others who wanted more gay organizations to be included in the event. New York Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan was this year's grand marshal, leading the 254th annual procession for a ways on Fifth Avenue. He then returned to St. Patrick's Cathedral, to review the parade from the steps of the church. Earlier, he had been the main celebrant of a special noon Mass at the cathedral to honor St. Patrick, the fifth-century bishop, apostle of Ireland and patron saint of the New York Archdiocese.
Trend turning around
WASHINGTON — The number of Catholic marriages in the United States is at its lowest point since 1965. Georgetown University's Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate keeps records of Catholic Church statistics going back to 1965, tracking such things as the total number of priests, the Catholic population of the United States, and the number of baptisms and marriages per year. The statistics show that while there were over 420,000 Catholic marriages in 1970, that number has dwindled to just over 154,000 for the year 2014. "There's no definitive answer" for this trend, according to Mark Gray, a senior research associate and poll director at the center. He cited some of the leading hypotheses about the decrease. "We're seeing an increase in cohabitation," he said, which can "create a hurdle to receiving the sacrament of marriage, depending on the parish or diocese's policies," Gray said in an interview with Catholic News Service.
New auxiliary appointed
Pope Francis has appointed Father Mario E. Dorsonville, a priest of the Archdiocese of Washington, as an auxiliary bishop of that archdiocese. Bishop-designate Dorsonville, 54, will assist Washington Cardinal Donald W. Wuerl in the pastoral care of the 620,000-member archdiocese. His episcopal ordination will take place at a Mass April 20 at the Cathedral of St. Matthew the Apostle in Washington. He currently is vice president for mission for Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Washington, its social ministry outreach arm, and he is director of the Spanish Catholic Center.
Company wins injunction
DENVER — A U.S. District Court in Denver issued a permanent injunction March 16 in favor of a Colorado-based heating and cooling company owned by a Catholic family that stops enforcement of the federal contraceptive mandate. Hercules Industries was the first business to obtain a preliminary injunction and now "has achieved final victory in its lawsuit," said Alliance Defending Freedom, whose attorneys are representing Hercules Industries and its owners, the Newland family.
ROME — A traditionalist bishop who has denied the Holocaust has been automatically excommunicated along with the priest he illicitly ordained a bishop. British Bishop Richard Williamson violated church law when he ordained Father Jean-Michel Faure, 73, a bishop without papal approval during a ceremony in Nova Friburgo, Brazil, March 19, the feast of St. Joseph. While the Vatican did not comment immediately, canon law provides automatic excommunication for the newly ordained bishop and for the bishop ordaining him in cases where the ordination goes against the will of the pope.
Blind students protest rape
BHUBANESWAR, India — Students at a Hindu-run school for the blind joined a nationwide outcry over the gang rape of a 74-year-old Catholic nun. The 50 students at the Helen Keller School near the convent where the nun lived chanted "Mother we cannot see, but we can feel your pain," March 17, after news of the incident three days earlier reached them, Bishop Joseph Gomes of Krishnagar, India, told Catholic News Service. The show of solidarity by the students was part of a series of demonstrations throughout India calling on authorities to hasten their investigation and charge the 10 suspects being detained in connection with incident.
— Catholic News Service
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