RNS News Briefs
By LAUREN MARKOE
WASHINGTON (RNS) — The Conservative Jewish movement established
guidelines last week for the marriage of gay and lesbian couples. The
reaction so far? Hard to find.
Asked if there had been any pushback, Rabbi Julie Schonfeld,
executive vice-president of the movement’s Rabbinical Assembly, said “just
“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.
Schonfeld said there are rabbis within the Conservative
movement who do not want to perform same-sex marriages. It should be
clear, she said, that they don’t have to.
“We are a big-tent movement,” she said. “There remain people
for whom this is not what they understand Jewish law to dictate. They don’t
have an obligation.”
Rabbi Rick Jacobs, leader of the Reform movement in the
U.S. and Canada, applauded the Conservatives’ move.
“We have been there for quite a while,” he said of the approval
of same-sex marriage rites. “We think it’s great for the Jewish
people, and it’s a hugely important move for everyone in non-Orthodox
Vatican offers special solution for conservative splinter group, SSPX
By ALESSANDRO SPECIALE
VATICAN CITY (RNS) — In a bid to end a decades-long split
in the Catholic Church, the Vatican offered a conservative breakaway
group a special status enjoyed only by the Opus Dei movement.
The offer came during a meeting on June 13 between the head
of the Vatican doctrinal office, Cardinal William Levada, and Bishop
Bernard Fellay, superior general of the Society of St. Pius X (SSPX).
It was announced on June 14.
The status, known as a "personal prelature," would
allow the SSPX to operate directly under the pope's authority, without
The SSPX rejects the modernizing reforms of the Second Vatican Council
(1962-1965), including church acceptance of ecumenism and its rejection
of anti-Semitism. The group officially split from the Catholic Church
in 1988, when its founder, Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre, ordained four
bishops without papal consent.
Ever since his election in 2005, Pope Benedict XVI has tried to reconcile with the SSPX. In 2009, he lifted the excommunication of the four traditionalist bishops and started doctrinal talks with the group.
Jewish groups were
outraged after one of the bishops, Richard Williamson, turned out to
be a vocal denier of the Holocaust.
According to the Vatican chief spokesman, Rev. Federico Lombardi, before the SSPX can be granted a status within the church, it must sign a doctrinal agreement with the Vatican whose text has been under discussion since last September.
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