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Voices Online Edition
Summer 1997 : Volume XII, No. 2

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Religion in the News

Archbishop Francis George has been appointed representative of the US bishops to the International Commission on English in the Liturgy, succeeding Cincinnati Archbishop Daniel Pilarczyk, who served in that office for 11 years the past 5 years as president of ICEL's Episcopal Board.

ICEL is the international body that produces English-language liturgical texts for the eleven countries where English is the primary language used, and fifteen other countries where a substantial minority speak English.

ICEL experts recently completed their work on a massive revision of the prayers used at Mass, the subject of considerable controversy during the past several years of debate and discussion.

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Ralph Reed, head of the Christian Coalition, has resigned to become a consultant to Republican politicians. During the later years of his tenure Reed was often praised by liberal journalists for being "moderate", and after his resignation one reporter lamented on television that, while Reed understood that issues like abortion could not have a conspicuous place on the Republican agenda, his followers did not. Issues of concern to conservative religious believers steadily lost ground during the years Reed headed the Coalition.

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The man who handled finances for the presidential campaign of Robert Dole in l996, John Moran, has written to major Republican donors urging them not to contribute to the party until it abandons its stand on abortion and other issues of traditional morality.

The letter confirms the suspicion, strong throughout the failed Dole campaign, that the Republican presidential candidate was embarrassed by positions to which he was officially committed by the party platform and, if elected, was planning to jettison religious conservatives.

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Congressman Joseph P. Kennedy II of Massachusetts dismissed the Catholic system of marital annulments as "gobbledygook" when his wife told him that she strongly opposed their annulment. Sheila Kennedy says her ex-husband told her that he too thought their marriage was valid but was seeking an annulment so he could marry his legislative assistant. Despite Sheila's opposition, the Archdiocese of Boston granted the annulment. Joseph Kennedy is the son of the late Senator Robert Kennedy and nephew of the late president.

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The Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights, which fights anti-Catholicism in all its forms, has been identified as the fastest-growing civil-rights organization in the country, going from 11,000 members to a quarter of a million in a little over five years. President, William Donohue, 1011 First Avenue, New York, NY 10022. The newsletter,Catalyst, is published ten times a year.

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The We Are Church movement, which had claimed that it was going to collect a million signatures on a petition on behalf of dissent from Catholic Church teachings, has extended its campaign until October, five months beyond its original deadline. Organizers of the petition, who are offering to pay school children to get signatures, refused to say how many have signed so far. The group favors women priests and rejects various aspects of Catholic sexual morality, among other things.

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When some students at St. Louis University opposed university funding for a militant homosexual group called the Rainbow Coalition, Jesuit Father Francis Cleary, a theology professor, revealed that the group had received the full approval of the late Archbishop John L. May. One member of the group, Dale Sweet, published an article in the student newspaper ridiculing Catholic sexual morality. The militant homosexual group Dignity also claimed Archbishop May as a supporter.

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Bishop Edward J. O'Donnell of Lafayette (Louisiana), a member of the board of Common Ground, told a meeting of Catholic health-care officials that too many Church decisions are being made in Rome and that American bishops should be given more autonomy.

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In February, Erie Bishop Donald Trautman, speaking at the University of St. Thomas in Houston, said many people are "chagrined when they hear this text from the Catechism of the Catholic Church: 'Called to consecrate themselves with undivided heart to the Lord and to the affairs of the Lord, they (the ordained ministers of the Latin Church) give themselves entirely to God and to men.' Given homosexual behavior in our society, this is not the appropriate language to promote celibacy in the contemporary culture of the United States. This is an example of why exclusive language is unacceptable."

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Dolores Leckey, long-time executive director of three NCCB secretariats, the bishops' committees on Women, Laity, and Youth, announced this summer that she will retire at the end of the year. No replacement for Mrs. Leckey has been selected.

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Bishop Matthew Clark of Rochester (NY) has imposed severe restrictions on the Catholic Physicians Guild and the Catholic Lawyers Guild in his diocese, after both groups issued statements critical of homosexuality. Bishop Clark, who has been forthright in his support of homosexuals, participated in a recent national conference sponsored by the militant pro-homosexual New Ways Ministry.

Bishop Clark told the two professional groups that henceforth they cannot hold meetings or disseminate literature without his permission and accused them of undermining his authority.

In commemoration of St. John Fisher's feast day, Bishop Clark, former chairman of the NCCB Committee on Women in Society and in the Church, had the following comparison of himself with the martyred English Bishop of Rochester published in the bulletin of his own Sacred Heart Cathedral on June 29.

Other bishops of Rochester ... [observed] ... the diocesan feast day at the cathedral. Yet none showed the resemblance to the English martyr as does the present incumbent, Matthew H. Clark. Both were ordained bishop at an early age: Fisher, 35, Clark 42. The choice followed skilled academic training: Fisher, monks of his day; Clark, the Jesuits of Holy Cross and Rome. Both as bishops desired the best education possible for their priests. Their loyalty to the Pope is strong and unique. Fisher stood alone against all the Bishops of England: for his loyalty he was named a cardinal. Clark, independent of mind and style, recently said in an interview (D&C 4/8/97), "I love the Pope. I really do. I have great admiration for him." Fisher might have said the same. St. John Fisher lives!

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Archbishop Rembert Weakland of Milwaukee has publicly urged that divergent groups within the Church show respect for one another's positions. Simultaneously he published an article charging that the serious liturgical disorders in the United States began in 1984 when special permission was given for celebration of the Tridentine Mass. Such permission has been destructive of liturgical reform, he charged, and implied that Pope John Paul II was ill-advised to permit it. Archbishop Weakland was appointed a member of the Bishops' Committee on Liturgy last year.

The archbishop's article was published in America magazine July 7.

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Father George Parker, a priest of the diocese of Norwich (CT), has taken early retirement after gaining national fame for refusing a gift to his parish from pro-abortion Senator Christopher Dodd, a Catholic. Father Parker had been severely criticized by some of his fellow priests for his action and had been told by Bishop Daniel Hart that he would not be named pastor of the parish where he was serving. Senator Dodd was feted in an annual testimonial dinner given by the Knights of Columbus.

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