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Archive for March, 2014

By Francis X. Rocca
Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — In their first encounter, Pope Francis received U.S. President Barack Obama at the Vatican March 27 for a discussion that touched on several areas of tension between the Catholic Church and the White House, including religious freedom and medical ethics.

During an extraordinarily long 50-minute meeting, the two leaders discussed “questions of particular relevance for the church in (the U.S.), such as the exercise of the rights to religious freedom, life and conscientious objection as well as the issue of immigration reform,” the Vatican said in statement.

The mentions of religious freedom and conscientious objection presumably referred to the contraception mandate in the new health care law, which has become a major source of conflict between the administration and the church.

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By Catholic News Service

Plaintiffs April Deboer and partner Jayne Rowse celebrate at a news conference March 21 in Ferndale, Mich., after a federal judge in Detroit ruled the state's ban on same-sex marriage is unconstitutional. Michigan's Catholic bishops in a statement issued by the state Catholic conference said, "Marriage is and can only ever be a unique relationship solely between one man and one woman, regardless of the decision of a judge or future electoral vote." (CNS photo/Rebecca Cook, Reuters)

Plaintiffs April Deboer and partner Jayne Rowse celebrate at a news conference March 21 in Ferndale, Mich., after a federal judge in Detroit ruled the state’s ban on same-sex marriage is unconstitutional. Michigan’s Catholic bishops in a statement issued by the state Catholic conference said, “Marriage is and can only ever be a unique relationship solely between one man and one woman, regardless of the decision of a judge or future electoral vote.” (CNS photo/Rebecca Cook, Reuters)

LANSING, Mich. (CNS) — A U.S. District Court judge’s March 21 ruling that Michigan’s ban on same-sex marriage is unconstitutional does not change the fact “marriage is and can only ever be a unique relationship solely between one man and one woman,” said the state’s Catholic bishops.

“Nature itself, not society, religion or government, created marriage. Nature, the very essence of humanity as understood through historical experience and reason, is the arbiter of marriage, and we uphold this truth for the sake of the common good,” they said in a statement released by the Michigan Catholic Conference in Lansing.

“The biological realities of male and female and the complementarity they each bring to marriage uniquely allows for the procreation of children,” they said.

The Catholic conference is the public policy arm of the state’s bishops.

April DeBoer and Jayne Rowse, a Detroit-area couple who are raising three children together, filed suit in 2012 to challenge the voter-approved ban on same-sex marriage. The law also prohibits same-sex couples from jointly adopting children; only heterosexual married couples are allowed to do so.

U.S. District Judge Bernard Friedman in Detroit overturned the same-sex marriage ban — which voters passed overwhelmingly in 2004 — saying it violated the U.S. Constitution because it deprives same-sex couples the same rights guaranteed to heterosexual couples. He also said barring same-sex couples from adopting children was unconstitutional.

“Many Michigan residents have religious convictions whose principles govern the conduct of their daily lives and inform their own viewpoints about marriage,” Friedman wrote in his 31-page ruling. “Nonetheless, these views cannot strip other citizens of the guarantees of equal protection under the law.”

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By Cindy Wooden Catholic News Service

the_vaticanVATICAN CITY (CNS) — Cardinal Sean P. O’Malley of Boston, four women — including a survivor of clerical sex abuse — two Jesuit priests and an Italian lawyer are the first eight members of the new Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors.

Pope Francis established the commission in December; announcing the first members March 22, the Vatican said they would help define the tasks and competencies of the commission and help identify other potential members. (more…)

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St. Joseph Altar Photo Gallery

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By Cindy Wooden Catholic News Service

Pope Francis has set April 27 as the date for the canonization of Blessed John XXIII and Blessed John Paul II. The two pontiffs will become saints on Divine Mercy Sunday. John XXIII is depicted in a painting from a museum in his Italian birthplace. John Paul II is shown in a composite featuring a image of him by Polish photographer Grzegorz Galazka. (CNS)

Pope Francis has set April 27 as the date for the canonization of Blessed John XXIII and Blessed John Paul II. The two pontiffs will become saints on Divine Mercy Sunday. John XXIII is depicted in a painting from a museum in his Italian birthplace. John Paul II is shown in a composite featuring a image of him by Polish photographer Grzegorz Galazka. (CNS)

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Just over five weeks before the canonizations of Blesseds John XXIII and John Paul II, Rome hotels are reporting they are almost fully booked and the Vatican has confirmed the Mass will take place in St. Peter’s Square, despite knowing that hundreds of thousands of people will have to watch the ceremony on large video screens.

Pope Francis had announced in late September that he would proclaim the two popes saints in a single ceremony April 27, Divine Mercy Sunday.

Less than two weeks after the date was announced, the Prefecture of the Papal Household issued an advisory that access to St. Peter’s Square would be first-come, first-served and warned pilgrims that unscrupulous tour operators already were trying to sell fake tickets to the Mass.

With perhaps more than 1 million people expected to try to attend the liturgy, rumors abounded that the Vatican would move the ceremony to a wide-open space on the outskirts of town. But the Vatican confirmed Feb. 27 that the Mass would be held in St. Peter’s Square, just outside the basilica where the mortal remains of the two rest. (more…)

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Conference focuses on family

HFcon8More than 2,000 Southeast Texans came together to learn about everything from family communication to their place in the universe as the 6th Annual Hispanic Family Conference got underway March 15 at the Beaumont Civic Center.

The day was packed with guest speakers for the adults and youth including NASA engineer Dorothy Martinez. (more…)

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Editors: Adds comment from Good Will Publishers in new 15th through 17th paragraphs. UPDATED version of MANDATE-LAWSUIT of March 12, 2014:

By Dennis Sadowski Catholic News Service

cns-logoWASHINGTON (CNS) — A coalition of nearly 200 Catholic dioceses, agencies and businesses has asked a federal court in Oklahoma to block enforcement of a Department of Health and Human Services mandate that it says would force its members to violate their religious beliefs.

Under the banner of the recently formed Catholic Benefits Association, the entities contended in a class action lawsuit filed March 12 that the mandate’s requirement that they provide health insurance coverage for contraceptive drugs, abortifacients, surgical sterilizations and related counseling is contrary to the First Amendment’s free exercise, establishment and free speech clauses. (more…)

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