RNS News Briefs
c. 2012 Religion News Service
The Franciscan friars are believed to be the first Catholic religious order
to voice support for the Leadership Conference of Women Religious since
the Vatican announced a full-scale makeover of the group in April.
The Vatican’s “doctrinal assessment” also faulted the
sisters for sponsoring conferences that featured “a prevalence
of certain radical feminist themes incompatible with the Catholic faith.”
Noting that many members of LCWR belong to female Franciscan
orders, the friars pledged solidarity with the sisters and called the
Vatican assessment “excessive,
given the evidence raised.”
The sisters have been wrestling with complex contemporary issues, the Franciscans
said, and those deliberations should not be equated with disobedience to
“The efforts of LCWR to facilitate honest and faithful dialogue on critical
issues of our times must not result in a level of ecclesial oversight that
could, in effect, quash all further discernment,” the Franciscans
Catholics since the Middle Ages have disagreed about how
to apply church doctrine to public policy, the friars argued, and seldom
were those disputes deemed “equivalent to questioning the authority of the Church’s
Many church observers suspect the Vatican crackdown was
at least partially a response to prominent Catholic sisters’ support for President Obama’s
health care overhaul, despite bishops’ objections.
“Rather than excessive oversight of LCWR, perhaps a better service to
the people of God might be a renewed effort to articulate the nuances of our
complex moral tradition,” the friars said.
The LCWR itself has called the Vatican’s assessment “unsubstantiated” and
a source of “scandal and pain.”
LCWR leaders will meet on June 12 in Rome with Cardinal William Levada, the former archbishop of San Francisco who now heads the Vatican’s doctrine office, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.
By LAUREN MARKOE
WASHINGTON (RNS) — The Conservative Jewish movement established guidelines recently for the marriage of gay and lesbian couples. The reaction so far? Hard to find.
“There is a tremendous sense of appreciation, of celebration,” said
Schonfeld. “The guidance is considered thoughtful and helpful to
do what it was intended to do ... to bring sanctity between people who
want to build a Jewish home.”
Conservative Judaism, which sits between the more liberal Reform and
the more traditional Orthodox, lifted the ban on the ordination of gay
rabbis in 2006.
As for same-sex marriages, it has been 12 years since the
Reform movement of Judaism — the largest within the United States — gave
rabbis the right to perform same-sex marriages. For years, though, some
Conservative rabbis have also been performing these marriages.
The new guidelines outline two possible marriage ceremonies for same-sex couples, which clergy are free to adapt. The guidelines passed the Rabbinical Assembly’s Committee on Jewish Law and Standards by a 13-0 vote, with one abstention.
In a May 21 letter obtained by The Plain Dealer, Bishop Richard Lennon said, “I have become aware of a growing disconnect between many of the priests who serve faithfully in this diocese and myself.”
“It saddens me to hear reports,” the bishop continued, “that a number of our priests feel anxious and uncomfortable in my presence and that rather than being co-workers with me, a number of priests feel left out of consultation.”
The bishop’s letter did not offer a reason for the rift he described. But it said he was writing “to assure you of my desire to remedy this situation.”
Lennon has pleaded for “peace and unity” in the diocese following a three-year battle over closed parishes. The Vatican recently overturned Lennon’s decision to close 11 parishes and ordered them reopened.
Lennon has said he hopes to have that process completed
“My own heart calls me to listen carefully, reflect, correct and change what needs to be changed as we move forward,” the bishop wrote. “I would ask and urge you to be present at one of these meetings.”
Diocese spokesperson Robert Tayek said in an email, “We do not wish to go much beyond the statements in the bishop’s letter.”
“Know I am entering this process willingly and open to change,” Lennon
wrote. “Please join me in this sincere effort to improve the spirit,
communication and trust in our relationship.”
(Michael O’Malley writes for The Plain Dealer
Paolo Papanti Pelletier, a law professor at Rome’s Tor Vergata
University who also serves as one of the Vatican court’s judges,
told journalists on Tuesday (June 5) that people who are sentenced to
a jail term in the Vatican City State are routinely sent to an Italian
prison because the Vatican doesn’t have its own jail system.
Paolo Gabriele, who served as Benedict’s “assistente di camera” until
his arrest two weeks ago, appeared on Tuesday for a hearing with the
Vatican investigating judge, Piero Antonio Bonnet, in the presence of
his two lawyers and Nicola Picardi, the Vatican prosecutor.
Bonnet will decide whether Gabriele will have to stand trial or be acquitted.
The pope’s former butler is now in custody in one of the Vatican’s
four “safe rooms” — 12 feet by 12 feet rooms with a
bed, a desk, a window, a bathroom and a crucifix, Papanti Pelletier said.
Gabriele, he stressed, is treated with the “utmost respect” and,
when he attended Mass on Sunday in a “Vatican church,” he
was escorted by two Vatican police officers but was not handcuffed.
Gabriele is accused of “aggravated theft,” a crime that carries
a prison sentence of one to six years, which could be extended to eight
years if more than one “aggravating factor” is found. Additional
charges such as “revealing state secrets” may carry maximum
sentences of up to five years.
Vatican criminal law, according to Papanti Pelletier, envisions “very
mild” sentences: “In Italy, prison sentences are much harsher,” he
The tribunal’s sentence can be referred to an appeals court and,
ultimately, to a supreme court manned by three cardinals, presided by
American Cardinal Raymond L. Burke. This is the only Vatican tribunal
that can try other cardinals, should one of the “princes of the
church” be found to be involved in the Vatileaks case.
In a TV interview on June 4, the Vatican secretary
of state, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, described the leaks as “carefully
aimed, and sometimes also ferocious, destructive and organized.”
Pope Benedict XVI has the power to pardon Gabriele at any moment but, according to Papanti Pelletier, it’s expected that he would wait for the trial to be over before deciding how or if to intervene.
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