||Virgins promise fidelity
Archbishop Allen H. Vigneron of Detroit prays over three women consecrated as virgins during a June 24 ceremony at the Cathedral of the Most Blessed Sacrament in Detroit. There was not a single groom in sight as the three brides in long, white dresses stood before the altar of the Cathedral of the Most Blessed Sacrament in Detroit. These women are "brides of Christ," and through this ceremony, they have sealed their intention to dedicate their lives to God in perpetual virginity. This particular ceremony of consecration had never been performed before within the Archdiocese of Detroit.
||Cardinal Pell will fight charges
Australian Cardinal George Pell delivers a statement in the Vatican press office June 29. Speaking after Australian authorities filed sexual abuse charges against him, the cardinal denied all charges and told reporters he looks forward to having an opportunity to defend himself in court. Greg Burke, director of the Vatican press office, said Pope Francis had granted Cardinal Pell a leave of absence from his position as prefect of the Vatican Secretariat for the Economy so that he can work on his defense. Cardinal Pell, Burke added, will not participate in any public liturgies while his case is being considered.
||Bonded by kidney transplant
Father Scott Bullock and Christian Brother Stephen Markham pose together in late March in Dubuque, Iowa, about nine months after kidney transplant surgery. "It is without a doubt the greatest gift you can give anyone," Brother Markham said of the donated kidney he received from his priest friend. "It was a great experience," Father Bullock said. "I jokingly say to people, 'I highly recommend it,' but I really do. It really was not that hard and the benefits are so huge." Despite a major post-operative complication and a few other issues, both Father Bullock, 54, and Brother Markham, 73, continue to do well.
DAN RUSSO/THE WITNESS, cns
ORLANDO — It's been nearly four years since Pope Francis released his apostolic exhortation, Evangelii gaudium, or "The Joy of the Gospel." But what does it look like to truly live out the Joy of the Gospel in the U.S.? That's the question behind an unprecedented gathering of Catholic leaders from around the country this summer. Over the weekend of July 4, hundreds of bishops and Catholic leaders from around the country participated in "The Convocation of Catholic Leaders: The Joy of the Gospel in America," a four-day conference to share experiences about the Church engaging with modern U.S. culture.
Democrats' pro-life views
WASHINGTON — Democratic National Committee Chairman Thomas Perez caused an uproar with pro-life Democrats when he released a statement in April stating that the Democratic Party's commitment to "choice" is non-negotiable. Kristen Day, executive director of Democrats for Life of America, along with other Democrats for Life board members and pro-life Democrat political figures, met with Perez and DNC staff June 27 to discuss the state of the Democratic Party and the pro-life cause. "I feel that it was a first step and I think we have a lot of work to do, to continue to educate people," Day said.
Bishop's Communion ban
SPRINGFIELD, Ill. — Bishop Thomas J. Paprocki of Springfield has issued a decree that people in same-sex marriages should not present themselves for Holy Communion nor can they receive the Sacrament of Anointing of the Sick or have a Catholic funeral unless they "have given some signs of repentance." The bishop said in the June 12 decree that no clergy or diocesan staff person or representative "is to assist or participate in the solemnization or blessing of same-sex marriages, including providing services, accommodations, advantages, facilities, goods or privileges for such events."
Court backs liberty
WASHINGTON — Following its decision in Trinity Lutheran Church v. Comer, the U.S. Supreme Court granted a series of petitions to be sent back to state courts June 27. In the Trinity Lutheran ruling June 26, the justices said it was unconstitutional for the state of Missouri to prevent a church-run preschool from receiving state funds through a recycled playground surfacing program. A day later, the court returned four similar cases to state courts in Colorado and New Mexico.
Court will hear appeal
WASHINGTON — The U.S. Supreme Court said June 26 it will hear arguments next term on whether a Denver baker unlawfully discriminated against a same-sex couple in declining to make them a wedding cake. The justices agreed to hear an appeal from Jack Phillips, owner of Masterpiece Cakeshop, after lower courts ruled he had violated Colorado's anti-discrimination law. Phillips has contended that the law violated his rights to freedom of speech and the free exercise of religion.
Regret marriage vote
OXFORD, England — Germany's bishops' conference expressed regret over a June 30 parliamentary vote to allow same-sex weddings, vowing to defend the "Catholic understanding of marriage." The vote by lawmakers "abandons the differentiated perception of various forms of partnership in order to stress the value of same-sex partnerships," said Archbishop Heiner Koch of Berlin, chairman of the bishops' Commission for Marriage and Family.
TORONTO — A new poll suggests more Canadians than ever believe religion does more harm than good, but even the pollsters disagree on what the numbers mean for the future of faith in the country. Ipsos Public Affairs surveyed 1,001 Canadians online from March 20 to 23 and the results suggest more Canadians are moving away from formal religions. About 51 percent of respondents agreed that "religion does more harm in the world than good." That's a seven-point increase from a similar survey in 2011.
Blogger gets 10 years
HANOI, Vietnam — A Vietnamese court sentenced a Catholic blogger to 10 years in prison for propaganda against the Communist government. Rights activists described the sentence as "heavy." Nguyen Ngoc Nhu Quynh, 37, also known as "Mother Mushroom," was tried at the People's Court of Khanh Hoa province in Nha Trang City June 29, ucanews.com reported.
LONDON — In response to an ongoing effort in the U.K. to allow abortions to take place up to birth, a massive group of doctors and medical students signed a letter denouncing the controversial campaign. More than 1,400 medical associates addressed the British Medical Association, saying that a change in policy won't reflect the opinions of all the medical staff or majority of women in Britain — and that it's also an extreme measure that could damage the BMA's reputation.
NEW DELHI — Church leaders have expressed solidarity with ethnic Gorkha people who are on an indefinite strike protesting for a separate homeland in the Darjeeling area of eastern India. Since June 8, Darjeeling district in West Bengal state has witnessed violent clashes between local residents and police.
— Wire service reports
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