RNS News Briefs
By ALESSANDRO SPECIALE
VATICAN CITY (RNS) — Pope Benedict XVI has tapped a fellow German
to lead the Vatican doctrinal office he headed for 24 years before being
elected to the papacy.
The Vatican announced on July 2 that Bishop Gerhard Ludwig Mueller will
replace American Cardinal William J. Levada as prefect of the Congregation
for the Doctrine of the Faith.
The congregation that was once known as the Inquisition still focuses
on enforcing orthodoxy in the Catholic Church, and it remains one of
the most influential departments in the papal bureaucracy.
The CDF, as it is called, launched the Vatican investigation of the Leadership
Conference of Women Religious, the main association for the various communities
of American nuns. In recent years its mission has expanded to include
dealing with reports of sexual abuse by priests all over the world.
The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, a leading
U.S.-based support group for victims of sexual abuse by clergy, criticized
appointment because in 2004, while serving as bishop of Regensburg in
Bavaria, Mueller had returned a local priest, the Rev. Peter Kramer,
to pastoral work without alerting the parish to previous charges of sexual
abuse against Kramer.
“Pope Benedict had hundreds of options here. Yet he deliberately elevated
a bishop who knowingly put kids in harm’s way,” SNAP said in a
statement. “This choice rubs salt into the already deep and still
fresh wounds of thousands of suffering victims and millions of betrayed
In 2010, Mueller rejected criticism over his handling of the case, saying
that reinstating Kramer in parish ministry had been done in collaboration
with parish officials.
Mueller, 64, is considered a close follower of Benedict’s teachings
and he is the curator of the German edition of the pope’s complete
works. But Mueller has also raised eyebrows among conservatives for some
of his connections to liberation theologians and his criticisms of schismatic
traditionalists who Benedict is trying to woo back into the Roman fold.
By ADELLE M. BANKS
(RNS) — First lady Michelle Obama held up the church as the place to deal with political issues and the catalyst for getting people to the polls in a keynote speech June 28 to members of the African Methodist Episcopal Church.
“And in a more literal sense, neither is citizenship.”
She noted that Jesus, too, did not keep his work within the walls of
“And to anyone who says that church is no place to talk about these issues,
you tell them there is no place better — no place better,” she
said. “Because ultimately, these are not just political issues — they
are moral issues.”
Obama said those issues — whether discussed in city
council meetings or by Washington politicians — should resurface
in grassroots locations like church parking lots, barbershops and beauty
“Find that nephew who has never voted — get him registered,” she
The first lady urged about 10,000 people at the conference
to resist those who think their vote doesn’t count.
“Let’s be very clear,” she said. “While we’re tuning out and staying home on Election Day, other folks are tuning in.”
Archbishop of Canterbury slams Christians who feel 'disgusted' about homosexuality
By AL WEBB
LONDON (RNS) — Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams criticized
some Christians for feeling so "embarrassed and ashamed and disgusted" over
homosexuality that they seem unwelcoming to outsiders and convey a lack
Addressing a group of Christian teenagers at his Lambeth
Palace residence in London, the spiritual leader of the Anglican Communion
said Anglicans and other Christians are still in "quite a lot of tangles" about
homosexuality. The confusion sometimes leaves the church "scratching
its head and trying to work out," Williams said.
His comments came barely two weeks after he slammed the British government
for its plans to legalize same-sex marriages -- something that Williams
said would be a mistake. The Anglican Communion itself has been deeply
divided over homosexuality. The Episcopal Church, the communion's U.S.
branch, allows gay bishops and sanctions same-sex commitment ceremonies,
while more conservative leaders in Africa strongly denounce homosexuality.
According to a report in the Daily Telegraph newspaper,
Williams said that "what's frustrating is that we will have Christian
people whose feelings about it are so strong, and sometimes so embarrassed
and ashamed and disgusted, that it just sends out a message of unwelcome,
or lack of understanding, or lack of patience."
"So whatever we think about it," Williams added, "we
need, as a church, to be tackling what we feel about it."
Williams, who is retiring as Archbishop of Canterbury at the end of this
year, also spoke about the upcoming Church of England Synod, in York,
England, next week, where the controversial issue of women priests is
expected to take center stage.
Such much debate has resounded over that one subject, the
archbishop said, that the impression is left that sex is "the only
thing the church is interested in."
Williams also told his youthful audience that some non-Christians
might consider Christians to be "weird," "mad" and "primitive."
"As somebody who doesn't spend all his time with other Christians, I'm quite conscious, too, of the fact that people think we are weird," Williams said.
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