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Newsbriefs - Summer 05newsbriefs

Anglicans Approve Female Bishops by a two-thirds majority vote on July 11. Christina Rees, a senior member of the synod, said: “This is the right outcome. I think it shows us where I believe the Church to be already: overwhelmingly accepting women’s priestly ministry and looking forward to their Episcopal ministry.” Some fear the move may lead to a mass “defection” to the Catholic Church by opponents. However, Rees says special guidelines, acceptable to the vast majority, could be established to provide pastoral care for those opposing to the decision. (The Tablet 7/16/05)

Pastoral Musicians Survey Spiritual Impact of Hymns. The National Association of Pastoral Musicians has posted a survey on its website (www.npm.org) asking participants to identify a song that has made a difference in their faith journey. The survey is open to all American Catholics until September 30.
(Catholic Trends 7/2/05)

Portland Parishioners Named Defendants in Diocese Bankruptcy. 389,000 registered Catholic parishioners are now defendants in the Portland, Oregon bankruptcy case. The unusual legal maneuver by diocesan attorneys is designed to limit financial liability by bolstering the case that parishioners own their parishes, not the diocese. If the court finds against the Portland diocese, it may be required to sell parishes and schools to pay an estimated $400 million in legal damages owed to victims. Parishioners will appear before U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Elizabeth Perris on October 12. (Associated Press 7/23/05)

Women’s Ordination Worldwide held its second international ecumenical conference July 22-24 in Ottawa, Canada with an unexpectedly high attendance of over 500 people. On July 25 seven Catholic women were ordained as priests and deacons by three women bishops from the group Roman Catholic WomenPriests. The women bishops were consecrated in secret in Europe a year ago to avoid reprisals from the Vatican toward the male bishops who ordained them. The women say that they have chosen to be ordained “contra legem” (against the law) because the law is unjust and they are willing to accept the consequences of excommunication until the institution repents of its sexist policy. Leaders of the Roman Catholic WomenPriests group report there are about sixty-five women waiting to be ordained. Their program requires candidates to have already completed theology studies. Forty of the women are from North America. (From news and internet reports).

American Catholics Let Consciences Guide over Papal Teaching. Two national polls conducted in April after the election of Pope Benedict XVI, found that 81 per cent of Catholic respondents approved of the new pope, even as 74 per cent said their moral decisions on difficult moral questions would be guided by their own consciences. (Davenport Catholic Messenger, 5/12/05)

Women in Church Still Face ‘Stained-glass Ceiling’ Despite the Church’s “long, wonderful tradition of women in leadership,” women still face a “stained-glass ceiling” in church employment, said Carol Fowler, Chicago archdiocesan director of
personnel speaking at “Women of Faith: A Conference on Participation and Leadership,” a two-day meeting of national Catholic philanthropy leaders who belong to FADICA, Foundations and Donors Interested in Catholic Activities. Conference participants discussed a need for better compensation for women employed by the Church, more theological resources for and about women, and greater outreach to young women. They said increasing women’s leadership is important for the good of the Church itself and stressed that changes are needed at every level. (Catholic News Service)

Document on Lay Ecclesial Ministry Planned for November.
At their June meeting, U.S. bishops heard panel presentation about lay ministry and a draft document entitled “Co-Workers in the Vineyard: Resources for the Development of Lay Ecclesial Ministry,” that will be presented for approval at their November meeting. Chair for the lay ministry subcommittee, Bishop Gerald F. Kicanas of Tucson, AZ said that among the topics the document will address are the theological foundations of lay ecclesial ministry, the pathways to it, formation for it, guidelines for the official authorizing of people as lay ecclesial ministers, and workplace issues. (Catholic News Service)

Catholics Increase, Priests Decrease and Sacramental Practice Decreases. The 2005 Official Catholic Directory shows the U.S. church had 560,000 more Catholics in 2004 bringing the total to to 67,820,833. However sacramental practice shows an alarming decline with fewer infant baptisms, first Communions and church recognized marriages than in prior years. Even though the Catholic population increased by 40% from 1970, the number of marriages dropped by half to only 223,862 in 2004 compared to 426,000 in 1970. In 2004 Diocesan and Religious Order Priests declined
by 800 from 2003 levels to 43,422. (Catholic News Service as reported in Davenport Messenger 7/14/05).

Survivors Network asks Federal Investigation of Church Abuse. On July 21 three representatives of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP) met with Republican Senator Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania and Senators Edward Kennedy and John Kerry of Massachusetts to seek support for a Justice Department investigation of the Catholic Church over the sex abuse crisis. SNAP national director, David Clohessy said the Justice Department had never responded to an initial, private, request and so the decision was made to go public. Staffers from all three Senators agreed to press the Justice Department for a response. (Catholic News Service as published in the Davenport Catholic Messenger 7/28/05)


Summer 2005







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