Catholic

Judge Rules for Breakaway Church in St. Louis

Judge's gavel, Kuzma, Shutterstock.com

Judge's gavel, Kuzma, Shutterstock.com

ST. LOUIS--Wading into sensitive church-state territory, a Missouri judge has ruled in favor of an independent-minded Catholic church that claims ownership of its property and autonomy from the Archdiocese of St. Louis.

Judge Bryan Hettenbach's 50-page ruling in favor of St. Stanislaus Kostka Catholic Church is unusual for the strong interjection of a civil court into internal church matters.

In a statement, St. Louis Archbishop Robert Carlson promised to appeal the judge's opinion "all the way to the Supreme Court."

Hettenbach was careful to point out in his ruling that civil courts have no business wading into theological or ecclesiastical issues, or interpreting church law.

But he also acknowledged that the case brought by the archdiocese had given him no choice but to grapple with the Catholic Church's internal canon laws.

St. Stanislaus' lawyers believe Hettenbach succeeded. On Thursday (March 15), Richard Scherrer, one of the church's attorneys called the judge's opinion "unassailable," and a "correct finding of law."

Priest Defends Denying Communion to Lesbian

Photo by Marvin Joseph/The Washington Post via Getty Images

Barbara Johnson was denied communion at her monther's funeral. Photo by Marvin Joseph/The Washington Post via Getty Images

A Catholic priest who was pulled from ministry after a furor over denying Communion to a lesbian at her mother's funeral insists he did the right thing and criticized the Washington archdiocese for disciplining him.

"I did the only thing a faithful Catholic priest could do in such an awkward situation, quietly, with no intention to hurt or embarrass," the Rev. Marcel Guarnizo said of his decision to withhold Communion from Barbara Johnson during a Feb. 25 funeral Mass for Johnson's mother.

Guarnizo, who issued a statement to conservative Catholic news outlets on Wednesday (March 14), explained that he left the altar for a few minutes during the funeral and did not accompany the family to the cemetery because a migraine attack had left him "incapacitated."

While both sides offer differing accounts, Guarnizo said he learned moments before the funeral at St. John Neumann Catholic Church in Gaithersburg, Md., that Johnson was a lesbian and was attending the Mass with her partner. Guarnizo refused Johnson Communion when she approached the altar during the liturgy.

Priest Who Denied Communion to Lesbian Put on Leave

Communion photo, tarczas, Shutterstock.com.

Communion photo, tarczas, Shutterstock.com.

A Catholic priest who allegedly denied Communion to a lesbian at her mother's funeral has been put on leave pending an investigation of unrelated "intimidating behavior toward parish staff and others," the Archdiocese of Washington said.

The Rev. Marcel Guarnizo, a priest from Moscow who has been serving in the archdiocese since last March, lost his assignment at St. John Neumann Catholic Church in Gaithersburg, Md., on Friday (March 9).

Guarnizo made headlines when Barbara Johnson, a lesbian attending her mother's funeral at the church, said he denied her Communion. At the time, the archdiocese said "issues regarding the suitability of an individual to receive Communion should be addressed by the priest with that person in a private, pastoral setting."

Guarnizo's removal is related to other issues and not the Communion incident, a diocesan spokeswoman said. The archdiocese said an official had received "credible allegations" of Guarnizo's behavior that were considered "incompatible with proper priestly ministry."

Pope Benedict XVI, Archbishop of Canterbury to Meet

Vincenzo Pinto/AFP/Getty Images

Pope Benedict XVI waves from his papamobile, arriving for his weekly audience on March 7. (Vincenzo Pinto/AFP/Getty Images)

VATICAN CITY — Despite differences over women's ordination and a controversial Vatican initiative to woo back disgruntled Anglicans, Pope Benedict XVI and Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams will pray together in Rome on Saturday (March 10).

The heads of the Roman Catholic Church and the worldwide Anglican Communion will celebrate vespers to mark the 1,000th anniversary of the Camaldoli monastery in Italy, which is revered by both Catholics and Anglicans.

Benedict and Williams are scheduled to have a private meeting on Saturday morning.

Santorum's Secret Army: Home-Schoolers

Girl working on math homework. Image by Cheryl Casey/Shutterstock.com.

Girl working on math homework. Image by Cheryl Casey/Shutterstock.com.

Strapped for cash and staff, Rick Santorum has enlisted a ragtag but politically potent army to keep his campaign afloat: home-schoolers.

Heading into today's Super Tuesday, Santorum was urging home-schoolers to organize rallies, post favorable features on social media and ring doorbells on his behalf.

"Santorum has been very aggressive in reaching out to the home-schooling community, especially in the last month," said Rebecca Keliher, the CEO and publisher of Home Educating Family Publishing.

Drawing on his experience as a home-schooling father of seven, the former Pennsylvania senator has also sought to rally enthusiasm by pledging to continue that course in the White House.  

"It's a great sacrifice that my wife, Karen, and I have made to try to give what we think is the best possible opportunity for our children to be successful," Santorum said during a March 1 campaign stop in Georgia. "Not just economically, but in a whole lot of other areas that we think are important — virtue and character and spirituality."

Catholic Voter Guide Differs From Two Catholic Candidates

Photo by Sandy Huffaker/Getty Images.

Voting station in a California Catholic church, 2008. Photo by Sandy Huffaker/Getty Images.

A group of Democratic-leaning Catholics on Wednesday (Feb. 29) released a 2012 voter guide that seeks to expand the concept of "pro-life issues" beyond abortion to also include war, euthanasia and poverty.

The nine-page guide from the group Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good —  one of the first to be released for the 2012 elections —  highlights economic issues as top concerns Catholics should weigh as they consider their vote.

The guide is markedly different from others circulated by conservative Catholic groups, which stress opposition to abortion rights as a non-negotiable stance for American Catholics.

Gotham is No Gomorrah: New York's New Cardinal Timothy Dolan

Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York. Photo by Getty Images.

Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York hugs an American journalist outside St. Peter's Basilica Saturday. Photo by Getty Images.

VATICAN CITY — On the eve of his elevation to cardinal, New York's Archbishop Timothy Dolan said he would like to change the caricature of his city as a modern-day Gomorrah.

"New York seems to have an innate interest and respect for religion and I'm going to bring that up because I don't like that caricature that New York is some neo-Sodom and Gomorrah," Dolan told Reuters after celebrating Mass here on Friday (Feb. 17).

"I have found the New York community to be very religious and innately respectful of religion, interested in religion," he said.

The "War on Religion" and the Contraception Debate

There likely was little Sabbath-ing for politicians and journalists this weekend, as the debate over health policy raged across the campaign trail and in the television studios.

In a fiery comment piece in The Los Angeles Times, David Horsey reported that at CPAC, Mitt Romney pledged that he would “reverse every single Obama regulation that attacks our religious liberty and threatens innocent human life in this country.”

Speaking on Face The Nation, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell stated that the contraception controversy is an issue of religious freedom.

Republican Presidential Candidate Rick Santorum laid out his position on the situation very clearly on Meet The Press.

What They're Saying About the Contraception Compromise

Birth control pills. Image via Wiki Commons, http://bit.ly/z6otrO.

Birth control pills. Image via Wiki Commons, http://bit.ly/z6otrO.

President Obama on Friday said that all insurers — not all religious institutionswill be required to offer free contraceptive services to women.

Here's what people are saying about it:

President Obama:

"We’ve been mindful that there’s another principle at stake here –- and that’s the principle of religious liberty, an inalienable right that is enshrined in our Constitution.  As a citizen and as a Christian, I cherish this right."

Archbishop Timothy Dolan, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops:

“Today’s decision to revise how individuals obtain services that are morally objectionable to religious entities and people of faith is a first step in the right direction. We hope to work with the Administration to guarantee that Americans’ consciences and our religious freedom are not harmed by these regulations.”

Family Research Council:

"Liberals say keep your morals out of the bedroom, yet the President's plan forces everyone to pay the cost for someone else's contraceptive use in the bedroom. That's not freedom, it's a mandate."

Sojourners' Statement on Obama Administration's Contraception Policy Change

The Obama Administration announced earlier today a change to its policy regarding conscience exemptions and contraception coverage for faith based organizations.

Sojourners released the following statement:

We applaud the Obama Administration’s decision to respond to the concerns of many in the faith community around respecting religious liberty. This compromise respects the conscience concerns of those persons and institutions opposed to the use of contraception while still allowing greater access to those services for women who seek it. Expanded access to contraception is important for women’s health and is a key part of our country’s efforts to prevent unintended pregnancies and thereby reduce abortions.

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