Catholic

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I remember the crunch of the snow beneath my boots, and the feel of my mitten in his hand, when the time was right to share my secret: “Dad,” I said, “I’m going to be a priest.”

Although it was over 50 years ago, I still remember the look on his face. He was a big shot at General Electric Co., but he was a sensitive, loving man. He stopped and looked at me, with sad eyes and pursed lips, perhaps gathering his thoughts.

Finally, he simply said, “MaryAnn, they don’t let girls be priests.”

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“I think there’s a moment of great creativity for women leaders in the religious sphere,” said the Rev. Katharine Rhodes Henderson, president of Auburn Theological Seminary, and author of God’s Troublemakers: How Women of Faith Are Changing the World.

“I think that we are seeing, in lots of areas of American life, that some of the traditional structures that served well for a long period of time are no longer doing so. … A time of change means there’s a possibility of new types of leadership and new people doing it.”

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Some Protestant churches mark the day as Reformation Sunday, and celebrate it on the Sunday just before, or just after, Oct. 31. More often than not, the hymns sung in church that day include “A Mighty Fortress Is Our God,” with words and music composed by Luther himself. But most members of Lutheran churches — the direct descendants of Luther’s movement — wait until Oct. 31. And that, as we know, is also Halloween, and has led to some creative celebrations for kids.

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Pope Francis leaves on Monday, Oct. 31 for an overnight trip to Sweden, a historically Protestant country that today is one of the most secular in the world.

The visit is to mark the start of observances of next year’s 500th anniversary of the Reformation, which traditionally dates from Oct. 31, 1517, when Martin Luther nailed his 95 Theses to the door of a German cathedral.

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For some, the choice is not clear. Clinton-Kaine may be the more personally religious ticket, but Trump-Pence is more cozy with the religious right, aka the evil empire among atheists. Then there’s Green Party candidate Jill Stein, who has no chance of victory, but is the only candidate who reached out to nonbelievers and asked for their vote.

So what’s an atheist to do?

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The poll, conducted by the Pew Research Center, also found that, of those raised this way, most had one Protestant, or Catholic parent, and one religiously unaffiliated — sometimes called a “none” — parent.

“To be sure, religiously mixed backgrounds remain the exception in America,” the report on the poll states. “But the number of Americans raised in interfaith homes appears to be growing.”

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Religion reporting doesn’t usually put a journalist in harm’s way. We spend much of our time in church pews and at interfaith singalongs. But a few days earlier, Religion News Service had been offered a chance to go with Samaritan’s Purse relief workers as they distributed aid in Haiti to victims of Hurricane Matthew.

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Behind the scenes, for example, the two candidates – who couldn’t bring themselves to shake hands at the third and final presidential debate a night earlier – were brought together by the cardinal during a brief pre-dinner prayer.

“They were both icy from the beginning, you could tell,” Dolan said. “They’re not on each other’s Christmas card list, I can tell you that. You could tell those two had a rather, I’d say, frigid relationship, more than icy.”

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The Indian branch of the Catholic social welfare organization Caritas has announced plans to fight discrimination and recruit transgender people — a striking step for an official church organization.

Caritas India announced the decision earlier this month after holding internal talks about adopting a more inclusive policy. But officials stressed that doesn’t mean it supports gender change.

Stephen Seufert 10-05-2016

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A common misconception is that to be a pro-life Catholic, one simply has to be anti-abortion and anti-contraception. For years this “pro-life” definition has largely been unchallenged. That is, until recently.

A poll conducted in 2014 by the Public Religion Research Institute found a majority U.S. Catholics favor greater government involvement on economic issues via minimum wage increases, infrastructure investments, and universal healthcare. Furthermore, U.S. Catholics believe that to promote economic growth, the government should raise taxes. These aren’t just pro-growth policies, they’re pro-life policies.

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In a telephone interview, Bornhoft stood by his critique, but said he understood the sense of powerlessness that seemed to motivate many liturgy shamers:

“There are a lot of liturgical issues today and they don’t trust that leadership can do anything. So they see liturgy shaming as an important and effective tool we didn’t have before.”

Indeed, diehard traditionalists — who tend to be the main liturgy-shamers — say the stakes are too high and they don’t feel they have a choice.

10-04-2016

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The bullet-ridden body of the Rev. Jose Lopez Guillen was found Sept. 24 on the highway outside Puruandiro in the western state of Michoacan, [Mexico], a region plagued by violent conflict. The 43-year-old cleric had been abducted from his home in nearby Janamuato five days earlier.

“He was an engaging personality,” said Maria Solorio, a regular at Lopez’s church. “He was an excellent priest and very devoted to the community. … What happened to him was a great injustice.”

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What’s your number?

It’s not a pickup line. At least, it wasn’t at the pre-conference portion of an event called “Why Christian?,” which was back for its second year at Fourth Presbyterian Church in Chicago.

No, this inquiry is actually just a standard part of the Enneagram, an ancient personality typing system that recently has exploded in popularity in Christian circles.

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“This is the first I know of an evangelical seminary with a free-standing requirement for graduation to participate in this kind of discrete training. There are other seminaries where sexual boundary, sexual abuse issues are part of another course or class. But it would not be a free-standing event, as Dallas is doing.”

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The Rev. James Martin is a Jesuit priest and popular author who wrote about his lifelong fascination with the saints and the many aspects of sainthood in the Catholic tradition in the best-selling book My Life With the Saints.

Loyola Press is issuing a 10th anniversary edition of Martin’s memoir in September, which also coincides with the Sept. 4 canonization of Mother Teresa of Calcutta, who even during her lifetime – she died in 1997 – was regarded by millions as a “living saint” for her work with the destitute in India and around the world.

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Pope Francis is the king of Twitter and other social media outlets but he’s still not on Facebook, the most dominant digital platform in the world.

Will that change following his meeting with Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg on Aug. 29?

Jim Wallis 07-29-2016

Celebratory balloons fall from the ceiling of the convention hall as the Democratic National Convention concludes.

Last night, Hillary Clinton made history as the first woman to accept the presidential nomination of a major party. She also answered the important question of why she has committed her life to public service

Chris Graves 05-31-2016

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Judge William Mallory enjoys handing out creative sentences from his bench over at the Hamilton County Courthouse.

But the one he meted out in his Municipal Court room Wednesday wasn’t even his idea.

And boy, oh boy did he like it.

Michael Plekon 05-02-2016
Pavel L Photo and Video / Shutterstock

Pavel L Photo and Video / Shutterstock

EASTERN ORTHODOX churches often pass beneath the media radar, despite their status as truly ancient. The attacks by ISIS on Orthodox communities in Syria, Iraq, and elsewhere have brought into focus dwindling populations of Christians in the Middle East. Russia’s invasion of Crimea and popular uprisings in Kiev raised the alarm on the tenuous position of Ukrainian Orthodox churches.

In February, headlines were made again when Pope Francis and Patriarch Kirill met in Cuba, the first-ever meeting of a pope and a Moscow patriarch. Additionally, a historic meeting will be held in June on the Greek island of Crete, bringing together leaders of all 14 loosely linked Orthodox churches for the first time in 12 centuries.

Both the pope-patriarch encounter and the troubled preparations for the convening of the pan-Orthodox leaders are extremely complex; one might call them Byzantine.

The meeting between the pope and the patriarch of the Russian Orthodox Church was years—and several papacies—in the making. There were always obstacles, not the least of which was the Soviet system and bitter internecine church wars in Ukraine that pitted the Roman Catholic-affiliated Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church against the Russian Orthodox Church. After the end of the Soviet regime, the UGCC entered a renaissance and the Orthodox churches in Ukraine splintered, which Moscow has cited as a reason for refusing any meeting between the Russian Orthodox and Roman Catholic Church.

Image via Reuters/Max Rossi/RNS

It may be a sign of the shifting dynamics in the Catholic Church that Biden was welcomed on April 29 to the Vatican to address a church-sponsored conference on cutting-edge therapies to treat diseases such as cancer, and he was warmly greeted by the local bishop of Rome — aka Pope Francis.

Biden in turn praised the pontiff, and noted that the pope met with him and his family during Francis’ visit to the U.S. last September and “provided us with more comfort” after the death of Biden’s son Beau, who succumbed to brain cancer nearly a year ago.

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