Catholic

Communion or Chaos?

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.

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Joe Biden and Pope Francis Meet to Talk Cancer Care

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.

Planned Parenthood’s Cecile Richards to Speak at Georgetown University

Image via RNS/Georgetown/Richards.

As word of the planned event circulated on social media it was even criticized by South African Cardinal Wilfrid Napier, who tweeted that it reflects “the disjuncture” between the call to teach the gospel and the “obsession” to be fair about moral issues. “Georgetown’s hosting Cecile Richards is an obvious case!” he said.

The Lecture Fund noted on its website that the event will be for members of the university community. “The event is not open to the public and only those with a Georgetown University ID will be allowed to attend,” it said.

WATCH: Stephen Colbert Gets Quizzed on Catholic Trivia

Screenshot via The Late Show with Stephen Colbert/Youtube

“Are you challenging me to a Catholic throwdown?”

Thus commenced Stephen Colbert and Patricia Heaton’s Catholic-off on the Jan. 18 episode of the Late Show. The famously Catholic TV host wanted to give his guest a fighting chance though. So, he produced a family photo of Heaton’s family with approximately enough people to fill a village.

Catholics and Lutherans to Worship Together at Reformation Anniversary

Image via /Shutterstock.com

Catholics and Lutherans have made another step toward joint commemoration of the 500th anniversary of the Reformation in 2017 by issuing common liturgical guidelines for ecumenical services to mark the occasion. The guidelines, in a booklet called “Common Prayer,” provide a template for an ecumenical service, complete with suggested prayers, appropriate hymns, and themes for sermons.

Belgian Archbishop Seeks Euthanasia Opt-out for Catholic Hospitals

Arcchbishop Jozef De Kesel. Image via REUTERS/Eric Vidal/RNS

Belgium is embroiled in a religious freedom controversy after the new head of the country’s Roman Catholic Church demanded that faith-run hospitals and nursing homes have the right to refuse euthanasia to patients.

A 2002 law decriminalized euthanasia for terminally ill adults and it has the support of a large majority of public opinion and politicians. But opposition in this historically Catholic country has grown as lawmakers extended the practice to including terminally ill children and people with severe psychological problems.

How a Married Gay Catholic Couple Lives Their Faith

Tom Molina-Duarte and Bryan Victor. Image via Eric Seals / Detroit Free Press / RNS

Because their Catholic faith is against same-sex marriage, Bryan Victor and Thomas Molina-Duarte made their wedding vows this summer before a Protestant minister in a Detroit Episcopal church.

Those in attendance included many family members, including Victor’s uncle, who is a Catholic priest and Macomb County pastor. The Rev. Ronald Victor did not officiate but was there because, he told his nephew, the Catholic Church “needs more examples of gay holiness.”

When Victor and Molina-Duarte attend Mass every Sunday, the couple go to a Detroit Catholic church, where Bryan Victor’s mom and dad join them in the pew. In their shared Catholic faith, Victor and Molina-Duarte find spiritual sustenance. And at their parish, they’ve also found acceptance.

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