Posts Tagged ‘US’

LCWR may not be open to reform, commentator worries

Nashville, Tenn., Aug 20, 2014 / 07:50 am (CNA/EWTN News).- Actions by the Leadership Conference of Women Religious at its latest annual assembly suggest that it may be closed to the possibility of reform, one writer on Catholic religious life has said.

“These are educated women, and certainly they have the intellectual ability to understand the doctrinal teachings of the church,” Ann Carey told CNA Aug. 19.

“However, the LCWR leaders seem to be so convinced that they have taken the correct path that I think many of them have closed their minds to the possibility that they may have made some mistakes and need to rethink their positions.”
“Rather than actually engaging some of the doctrinal issues involved, they tend to bring in speakers who reinforce their own views and even propose unproven theories such as ‘conscious evolution’ and ‘new cosmology’,” said Carey, the author of the 1997 book “Sisters in Crisis” and its 2013 edition “Sisters in Crisis Revisited.”

Carey suggested that the conference leadership’s mindset means it will be “very difficult” to have a dialogue with Archbishop J. Peter Sartain of Seattle, who is overseeing the conference’s reform after the Vatican found a doctrinal crisis within the canonically-recognized group of U.S. women religious superiors.

With some 1,500 members, the LCWR constitutes about three percent of the 57,000 women religious in the United States. However, the group says it represents 80 percent of American sisters since its members are leaders of their respective religious communities.

In April 2012, the Vatican released the findings of a multi-year doctrinal assessment of the women’s conference, which raised concerns of dissent from Church teaching on topics including homosexuality, the sacramental priesthood and the divinity of Christ.

Among the assessment’s key findings were serious theological and doctrinal errors in presentations at the conference’s recent annual assemblies. Some presentations depicted a vision of religious life incompatible with the Catholic faith, or attempted to justify dissent from Church doctrine and showed “scant regard for the role of the Magisterium,” the assessment found.

The Vatican Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith granted Archbishop Sartain a mandate of up to five years to help lead reform efforts by working to review and revise the group’s statues, formation materials, presentations, events and links with affiliated organizations.

The LCWR held its 2014 annual assembly in Nashville, Tenn., Aug. 12-16. After the assembly, the conference’s 21-member national board met for three days. Their meeting included a one-hour session with Archbishop Sartain.

The national board then issued a statement voicing their “deepest hope to resolve the situation between LCWR and (the) CDF in a way that fully honors our commitment to fulfill the LCWR mission as well as protect the integrity of the organization.”

The board members said they wanted to continue in conversation with Archbishop Sartain in order “that new ways may be created within the church for healthy discussion of differences.”

“We know that thousands of persons throughout the country and around the world long for places where they can raise questions and explore ideas on matters of faith in an atmosphere of freedom and respect,” the statement continued.

Carey said she was not surprised by the board’s statement.

“LCWR leaders realize the organization would lose many of its members if its canonical status were revoked, so they don’t want that to happen. On the other hand, they do not want to implement the mandate, either. So Plan A seems to be just to keep talking,” she said.

However, she observed, this plan may have to change, given new requirements that assembly speakers be approved by the archbishop.

Carey said the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith has a responsibility to protect the faith, especially when “a high profile entity” like the religious sisters’ leadership conference “expresses doctrinal errors.”

“Many ordinary Catholics do not follow news of the LCWR, but most ordinary Catholics do recognize the importance of adhering to the doctrines of the faith if one is to be a practicing Catholic,” she said.

At the annual assembly, the LCWR presented the conference’s Outstanding Leadership Award to Sister Elizabeth Johnson, C.S.J., a theologian whom the U.S. bishops have criticized for serious doctrinal errors, including misrepresentations of Church teaching on God.

Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith head Cardinal Gerhard Ludwig Muller said in an April 2014 speech that the selection of Sr. Johnson for the award would be seen “as a rather open provocation against the Holy See and the doctrinal assessment.” The decision “further alienates the LCWR from the bishops as well,” he added.

Sr. Johnson used her acceptance speech to strike back at her critics, claiming that the U.S. bishops’ assessment of her book misrepresented it. She said Cardinal Muller and his staff appear not to have read her book or her response to the concerns about it.

She contended that both her book and the LCWR were the objects of “institutionalized negativity.” She suggested that criticism of the LCWR was the product of several factors, including centuries-old historical tensions between religious orders and the bishops and an alleged “patriarchal structure where authority is exercised in a top-down fashion” which prioritizes “obedience and loyalty to the system.”

Carey, however, did not agree. She said Sr. Johnson’s remarks “easily could be seen as gratuitous defiance of church authority, particularly in the setting of a canonically-erected conference of women religious.”

“I do not think the LCWR helped its cause by giving her that platform,” she said.

Carey suggested that the criticisms of Sr. Johnson’s book and of the leadership conference are examples not of “institutional negativity” but rather “institutional integrity.”

“The U.S. bishops and the CDF are taking seriously their responsibility to safeguard the integrity of Catholic doctrine,” she said.

In Carey’s view, the LCWR has three options: implement the reform the Holy See requires of it and remain a canonical conference of religious superiors; “go its own way as a professional organization of women who are in leadership positions in religious orders without any canonical status”; or disband.

While Carey hoped the leadership conference would choose reform, she suggested the conference is instead seeking another option that would allow it to go “its own way on doctrinal matters” while keeping canonical status.

“I don’t think the CDF will allow that fourth option, however.”


‘The Giver’ praised for themes on free will, sanctity of life

Washington D.C., Aug 20, 2014 / 12:02 am (CNA/EWTN News).- The new dystopian movie “The Giver” has drawn praise for its deep thematic content on the value of human life, suffering, free will and the dangers of a world that distorts language to do evil.

“We all love to be comfortable,” actor Jeff Bridges, one of the movie’s leads, told EWTN’s The World Over host Raymond Arroyo in an interview broadcast Aug. 14. “The movie asks the questions: ‘What are you willing to pay for that comfort? What does that comfort cost?’”

Bridges told Arroyo that he was drawn to the work because of its themes. “It’s provocative,” he added.

“Hopefully it will have people asking these questions: What am I willing to do just to be comfortable? What is that costing me? Is there any value to the suffering that life has for all of us?”

Bridges plays the title character in “The Giver,” based on the 1993 young adult book by Lois Lowry. The movie, which co-stars Meryl Streep, depicts a futuristic society that seems ideal, but is colorless. The society purports to eliminate passions and suffering, as well as past memories, in the name of sameness and harmony.

Bridges’ character transmits the community’s suppressed memories of its past to Jonas, played by young actor Brenton Thwaites. Thwaites plays the solitary role of a “receiver” of memories who learns the concealed truths about the society he lives in.

Lowry told Arroyo her vision for the book “was to take a young person to perceive the hypocrisy in the world and to try to do something to change it, to forestall a hideous future, and then put myself in the mind of that young boy.”

Michael Flaherty, president of the Walden Media entertainment company and producer of “The Giver,” reflected on one line in the movie: “Have faith that is beyond seeing.”

Flaherty said faith is “central” and “absolutely everything” to Walden Media films like “The Giver,” “The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe” and “Charlotte’s Web.”

“Everything we do is children believing in something and adults telling them that they’re crazy,” Flaherty said of Walden Media’s movies.

In “The Giver,” he said, the main character realizes “the way the totalitarian regime kept control over people.”

The regime imposed control “because they didn’t want people to think that there was an authority that was higher than the government.” The regime wanted to prevent belief in “an actual creator outside of the government” who “had endowed these people with free will.”

Though the leaders in the world of “The Giver” claim to prevent murder, Flaherty explained, “they just call it by a different name.”

Flaherty said the movie’s themes resembled those of dystopian writers George Orwell and Adolus Huxley, who saw that language “is one of the greatest weapons in the totalitarian arsenal.”

The movie shows what happens when rulers “can pervert the language” and “call something entirely different than what it is”

For instance, the movie depicts people who are called “nurturers” but commit infanticide. “Language is so important. You can call them ‘nurturers’, but they are still killers,” Flaherty reflected.

Arroyo said the movie is “one of the films that strikes the heart and speaks to our time.”

“The questions it raises about free will and the preciousness of every human life regardless of what society says are worthy of consideration,” he said.

‘Demography is destiny,’ Archbishop Chaput tells Latino Catholics

Houston, Texas, Aug 19, 2014 / 05:15 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- The Church in the U.S. should not and cannot ignore the ever-increasing Latino population, Archbishop Charles Chaput of Philadelphia said Saturday, because they are the future of the Church in America.

Before launching into his full Aug. 16 address to the Catholic Association of Latino Leaders national conference in Houston, the archbishop paused to remember and to pray for the young undocumented immigrants on the southern border who “are stuck in an ugly kind of limbo.”

“There’s simply no excuse for the suffering of children and families,” he said. “I hope each of us will find time today to pray for the young people caught in our immigration mess, and also for the officials who need to deal with this reality quickly and humanely.”

CALL is a national organization dedicated to the growth and spiritual formation of the Latino leaders of the U.S. in their knowledge and understanding of the faith.

Continuing his talk, Archbishop Chaput noted that one of the biggest challenges facing the Church in America is creating a just and wholesome society in the face of an increasingly secular culture. But changes in culture, he said, must begin with patterning one’s heart and personal life after Christ.

“If we really want God to renew the Church, then we need to act like it. We need to take the Gospel seriously.  And that means we need to live it as a guide to our daily behavior and choices – without excuses.”

But this challenge is not new to the Church, and history often repeats itself, the Archbishop noted.

“Sometimes the best way to move forward as a culture is to look back first,” he said, illustrating his point with a story about the Cathars, followers of a dualistic heresy that flourished in the 12th century.

“That can sound harmless to modern ears,” he said. “But their beliefs had deeply destructive implications for the fabric of medieval society.”

Cathars believed that all matter or anything with a human influence was evil and corrupt. They rejected marriage, family life, government, and the Church, and ultimately believed the human race should stop reproducing in order to be free of the corruption of created matter.

Although their beliefs may sound outlandish, Cathars drew in many followers because of their zeal and simplicity, which threatened the Church and the political order of the day.

Even though the Albigensian Crusade was led to wipe out the Cathars, they were difficult to eliminate completely until one man, Giovanni di Pietro di Bernardone, had a conversion and became known as Francis of Assisi.

The purity, simplicity and zeal of St. Francis and his religious brothers soon surpassed the influence of the Cathars, and the entire Church experienced a revival.

“Francis and his brothers in faith were then — and they remain today — a confirmation of how God renews the Church through a kind of gentle rebellion against the world; an uprising of personal holiness; a radical commitment to Christian poverty, chastity and obedience in service to the Church and the poor,” Archbishop Chaput said.

But what has St. Francis to do with Latinos and the Church in America?

“The Franciscan revolution of love teaches a lesson that Catholics too often forget,” Archbishop Chaput reflected. “Rules, discipline, and fidelity to doctrine and tradition are vital to the mission of the Church.  But none of them can animate or sustain Catholic life if we lack the core of what it means to be a Christian.”

He said that “most of our practicing Catholics are catechized but not well evangelized. Catholics in Canada and the United States may know the ‘lyrics of the song,’ but they don’t always know the tune.”

“In contrast, most Latinos Catholics have a deep sense of God’s grandeur,” he said, noting how Latinos have a deep sense of Catholicism and devotional practice rooted in their culture. It is not uncommon to see Catholic art or hear God referenced in public in their native countries.

Latino Catholics are also more likely to refrain from receiving Communion when not in a state of grace because they truly understand the meaning of how the prayer, “Lord, I am not worthy to receive you…” he said.

Therefore, Latino Catholics may know the “tune” of Catholicism, but not always the lyrics. While many remain Catholic when they come to the U.S., some fall away to protestant or evangelical communities, or, especially among young people, simply become “unaffiliated.”

And because the population in the U.S. is comprised more and more of Latinos – they make up half of the millennial generation ages 14-34 years old – the Church should recognize Latino issues as issues that will affect the future of the Church in America.

“I believe we are at a very powerful ‘Latino moment’ in our Church — a moment that takes nothing away from the dignity or importance of any other ethnic community, but that simply acknowledges, again, that demography is destiny,” Archbishop Chaput said.

The election of the Latino Pope Francis is another example of this “Latino moment”, he said, “because the election of a Latin American Pope dramatically highlights the importance of the Latino community in our country, and it practically shouts out an invitation for Catholic Latino leadership.”

Recognizing that he doesn’t have all the answers when it comes to helping Latino in the U.S. grow in their faith, Archbishop Chaput made a few suggestions.

Bishops can attract more Catholics who are Latino in their diocese by providing more Masses in Spanish, as nearly half of the Latino population prefers Spanish Masses.

“As Pope Francis says: ‘The Church evangelizes and is herself evangelized through the beauty of the Liturgy, which is both a celebration of the task of evangelization and the source of her renewed self-giving,’” he said.

Also important is the teaching of the faith, he said, “so that our Latino brothers and sisters get to own more profoundly the substance of what we believe.”

Finally, Archbishop Chaput specifically challenged those present at the CALL conference.

“Ask yourselves if you’re really putting all your talents, all your efforts, and also  your material resources into making sure that Latino Catholics receive appropriate formation,” he said, “from the most basic catechesis, to the preparation of our senior lay leaders, to the education of our future Hispanic priests.”

And so, inspired by Pope Francis and the Holy Spirit, the joy and energy of the American Latino Catholics “will mark the dawn of a new Catholic witness in this, the nation we share and love.”

St. Louis archbishop urges prayer in face of Ferguson violence

St. Louis, Mo., Aug 19, 2014 / 05:12 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- Following more than a week of protests after the death of an African-American teen, the Archdiocese of St. Louis is asking Catholics to offer special prayers for peace in the coming days.

“We are all aware of the turmoil and tragedy our St. Louis community is experiencing. The residents of Ferguson, Missouri, are struggling to find peace in the chaos. As people of Christ, we are struggling to find direction in the unrest,” said Archbishop Robert J. Carlson of St. Louis in an Aug. 18 letter.

“In all circumstances, but especially in these difficult times, we are all called to be instruments of peace through our words and actions.”

Appealing for peace, the archbishop announced he will be celebrating a Mass for Peace and Justice at the Cathedral Basilica of Saint Louis, on Wednesday, Aug. 20, and will host a special collection “to assist food pantries and parishes in the Ferguson area that offer assistance to those who have been affected by the looting and destruction of property.”

Archbishop Carlson invited all the parishes “to offer Masses for peace in our community,” as well as to arrange Holy Hours, rosaries and additional special collections.

He also stated that Catholic schools within the archdiocese will “begin a daily rosary for peace and to offer special intentions during all school Masses,” as Catholic schools begin classes.

The archbishop – referencing Pope Francis’s encouragement “to ask Our Lady, the Undoer of Knots, to intercede for us in difficult circumstances” – asked Catholics to ask Mary for her prayers “for peace and justice in our community.”

The town of Ferguson, Mo., along with other communities surrounding St. Louis, have erupted in demonstrations and protests following the Aug. 9 shooting of unarmed African-American teenager Michael Brown. Eyewitness reports conflict, with some saying that the 18-year-old was holding his hands in the air in a gesture of surrender as he was shot.

According to an Aug. 15 announcement by Ferguson police, Brown is an alleged suspect in a convenience store robbery that occurred earlier on the day of the shooting, though the officer who shot Brown did not know of these allegations at the time of the confrontation.

In the days since the shooting, vigils and protests have taken place around the St. Louis area. Some demonstrations have escalated into violence or been taken advantage of by looters. Local police have also come under criticism for the targeting of minority communities, as well as for the use of SWAT teams, tear gas and rubber bullets to disrupt peaceful demonstrations and unarmed protesters.

Reporters covering the protests, as well as numerous community members, have been arrested during the protests.

In some cases, protesters have reacted by volleying back tear gas canisters and objects towards the police.

In the days since the beginning of the protests, law enforcement duties have been transferred from local police to state highway patrol officials.

Archbishop Carlson said that he has “personally visited Ferguson and Michael Brown’s memorial to offer my prayers for everyone affected by this tragedy,” and expressed that he found strength in the face of the situation “in the prayer of St. Francis of Assisi: ‘Lord, make me an instrument of your peace.’”


Church can learn social media tips from Jesus, archbishop says

Houston, Texas, Aug 18, 2014 / 05:06 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- If Christianity could be contained in one tweet, it might read: God creates man, man sins against God, God sends his only Son into the world to bring man back to Him.

It’s a difficult task to fit the entire Gospel into 140 characters or less. But that doesn’t mean the Church shouldn’t try.

That was Archbishop Jose Gomez’s Aug. 16 message on media and the New Evangelization at the Catholic Association of Latino Leaders (CALL) conference in Houston, Texas.

In fact, he said, the Church can learn from the brevity of some of Jesus’ teachings and the prayers of early Christians when creating social media content.  

“Jesus spoke in ‘brief’ but memorable forms,” the archbishop reflected, “think about his beatitudes, his parables, and his aphorisms. The Desert Fathers and early Christian monks used proverbs and short prayers drawn from the Psalms and the Scriptures.”

The concept of the Church employing the latest media to share the Gospel is not a new one, the Archbishop noted. Evangelization has always been about communication, and technology has always helped further that mission, beginning with the printing press and continuing with radio, T.V. and the internet.

For the 23rd World Communications Day in 1989, even before the internet was standard household technology, Pope St. John Paul II observed: “The question confronting the Church today in not any longer whether the man in the street can grasp a religious message, but how to employ the communications media so as to let him have the full impact of the gospel message.”

That question remains relevant as technology continues to change and advance.

“We are living in the first generation where the Internet, computers, mobile phones and social networking media such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram are a “given” part of ordinary daily reality,” Archbishop Gomez observed.

The way people think, express themselves, learn, and form relationships are all affected by this reality, he said, and the Church must respond, seeing the media as an opportunity rather than as a challenge to the Gospel.

The archbishop himself has a Facebook page and a Twitter account, with about 235,000 followers and 14,000 followers respectively.

“My goal is to make connections with my people, to build friendship and community, to address peoples’ spiritual needs, and to nourish their faith,” he said.

His own diocese of Los Angeles is employing a social media strategy with four goals: to provide news and information about the Church, to provide the Church’s interpretation of current events, to share Church doctrine, and to defend and explain the Church’s teachings.

The Church must also be savvy when it comes to the culture of the “digital realm”, he said, recognizing that social media often makes use of brief snippets that tend to appeal more to emotions and experiences rather than arguments and explanations.

“The Church holds the most extraordinary human-interest stories ever imagined – in the lives and adventures of our saints and mystics, in the stories of our missionaries and martyrs,” he said.

“What we need today is a new zeal and fresh imagination to bring out the riches from the vast treasury of our Catholic spiritualities.”

And despite the widespread secularization of today, social media reveals humanity’s need for connection and love, and ultimately their hunger for God.

“People are searching the social channels of the Internet for ‘answers’ and for spiritualities that will bring them holiness and wholeness and communion with God and other people,” he said, which is why social media must be “mission territory” for the Church.

However, all social media must be used as a means to an end – to help people encounter the living God, outside of the digital world.

“But we need to remember…that our Catholic faith is incarnational and sacramental,” he said. “There is nothing ‘virtual’ about the Christian religion. That means our message will always be in a kind of fundamental tension with the ‘virtual’ realities and ‘virtual’ communities of the digital continent.”

So regardless of what form of social media interaction the Church engages in,“it’s all about bringing people to Jesus.”

“(They must) experience of the reality of the living God who loves us, who forgives us, who cares for us like a Father. And this reality is only experienced fully in the Church and in the sacraments.”

CALL is a national organization dedicated to the growth and spiritual formation of the Latino leaders of this country in their knowledge and understanding of the Catholic faith.

Pilgrimage to Czestochowa shrine in Indiana proclaims faith

Gary, Ind., Aug 17, 2014 / 06:02 am (CNA/EWTN News).- Last weekend, thousands of pilgrims walked more than 30 miles from a Chicago parish to an Indiana shrine dedicated to the famed Marian icon of Our Lady of Czestochowa, revered by Poles and Polish-Am…

Ethicist: IVF mix-up shows danger of artificial reproduction

Washington D.C., Aug 16, 2014 / 03:01 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- The accidental swapping of children conceived through IVF procedures before implantation, which recently occurred in Italy, points to the moral pitfalls surrounding artificial reproduction, some ethicists say.

Brendan Foht, assistant editor of the bioethics journal “The New Atlantis”, told CNA that “this kind of mix-up is just the sort of thing that is liable to happen when you have human life being made and stored in the lab.”

On Aug. 8, the Turin daily La Stampa reported that an Italian woman identified only as Francesca had successfully delivered two children and was “very happy.” The children, she explained, had been registered as hers, as Italian law states that whoever gives birth to a child is its mother.

However, while she delivered the children, Francesca and her husband are not the children’s biological parents: on Dec. 4, 2013 both Francesca and the children’s biological mother underwent fertility treatment to implant embryos at a hospital in Rome.

The two couples’ children were mixed up during the procedure – the wrong children were implanted in each mother’s womb – and while one set of twins successfully implanted and led to Francesca’s successful pregnancy, the biological mother’s IVF pregnancy ended in a miscarriage.

The genetic parents were identified through DNA testing earlier this year.

The twin’s genetic parents have said that while Italian law is does not currently grant them parenthood rights, they will challenge the case “at all the legal levels.”

Foht said that this mix up “is just the sort of thing that is liable to happen when you have human life being made and stored in the lab,”  and should offer an opportunity to question the creation and storage of human persons in IVF clinics.

He explained that the swapping of embryos is, in fact, not  uncommon as a service “regularly chosen by couples at IVF clinics.”

Couples, Foht said, will donate “spare” embryos to other couples, “leading to the deliberate, rather than accidental, distinction between a child’s birth parents and her genetic parents.”

Through these practices, he noted, parenthood “is divorced from any natural facts, and becomes a matter of choice for the parties involved.”

Given the acceptance of these practices, it seems that this case is controversial “not because children are being born to women who are not their genetic mothers, or because genetic parenthood has been deliberately separated from social and even gestational parenthood, but because the IVF customers have not gotten what they have paid for.”

“So, when people look at this story and rightly see it as quite outrageous that we have uncertainty and legal conflicts over who the real parents of these children are,” Foht said, “we should also consider how the practices of assisted reproduction technology necessarily lead to questions about who will be the parents of embryos created in IVF clinics.”

Calls for peace abound after shooting of Missouri teenager

St. Louis, Mo., Aug 16, 2014 / 06:03 am (CNA/EWTN News).- Amid protests and heavy police action following the shooting of the teenaged Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo., political and faith leaders have called for peace and just action from both civilians…

Interreligious leaders call for two-state solution in Holy Land

Washington D.C., Aug 15, 2014 / 04:08 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- More than 30 Christian, Jewish, and Muslim leaders in the United States called for a two-state solution to the Israel-Gaza conflict in a strongly-worded statement issued on Thursday.

“This tragic escalation of violence demonstrates once again that there is no such thing as a stable status-quo in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict,” the leaders insisted in the Aug. 14 message. “It is more urgent than ever that the United States and the international community press for a two-state peace agreement.”

The recent conflict between Israel and Hamas has halted for a ceasefire which ends Monday at midnight.

Both a return to the “previous status quo” and the sustainment of the conflict are dangerous, the religious leaders warned. The two-state agreement, they insisted, is “the only realistic resolution of the conflict in which both people can live in peace, security, and mutual recognition.”

“We strongly supported Secretary of State Kerry’s efforts to achieve a negotiated peace agreement, and urge the United States to renew efforts to reach a two-state agreement as soon as possible,” the statement read.

Such a solution might not currently be set in stone but would be based upon previous agreements, the group stated.

“While none of the previous plans present a complete outline, the Taba Agreement (2000), the Arab Peace Initiative (2002), People’s Voice Initiative (2003), Geneva Accord (2003), and the (unofficial) Israeli Peace Initiative (2011) are sources for principled and practical ideas to help resolve all the issues, including borders and security, settlements, refugees and Jerusalem,” the group stated.

“We were appalled by the kidnappings and murders of Israeli and Palestinian teenagers. We believe the loss of even one human life is a tragedy that grieves God. In the recent weeks of war between Hamas and Israel, we mourn the innocent civilians killed. We offer our prayers as well for the wounded and for the families of all the victims of violence,” the leaders stated.

The latest round of violence began July 7, following the June kidnapping and murder of three Israeli teens, and the July 2 killing of a Palestinian teenager in Jerusalem.

Israeli airstrikes have killed more than 1,900 Palestinians, most of them civilians. Among Israelis, on the other side, 64 soldiers have been killed, and three civilians.

The statement was signed by 34 Christian, Muslim, and Jewish leaders representing the National Interreligious Leadership Initiative for Peace in the Middle East.

The Catholic signatories were Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, Archbishop Emeritus of Washington, and Bishop Richard Pates of Des Moines.

Among the other Christian signatories were Archimandrite Nathanael Symeonides, ecumenical officer of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America, and Katharine Schori, an Episcopal bishop.

Other signatories were David Saperstein, a rabbi and president Obama’s choice for ambassador-at-large for international religious freedom, and Mohammed Magid, an imam and president of the Islamic Society of North America.

Va. asks Supreme Court to delay same-sex marriages in Virginia

Washington D.C., Aug 15, 2014 / 02:00 am (CNA).- Local Virginia representatives are asking the Supreme Court to uphold the definition of marriage as existing between a man and a woman following a federal Appeals Court’s decision not to postpone s…

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