From CNS, Staff and other sources
Two Reports Show Ecumenical Progress

Despite differences, there are many parallels in the way Catholics and Methodists foster and express communion with God and one another through their respective church structures, says a report released on May 13 by the U.S. Catholic-United Methodist dialogue. The 20,000-word report, titled Through Divine Love: The Church in Each Place and All Places, is the result of nine dialogue sessions over the past five years. Through the biblical concept of koinoniacommunion or fellowshipit clarifies the theology of the church as developed in the Catholic and Methodist traditions, with their different understandings of local and universal church. It explores the church as a means of grace and differences and commonalities in Catholic and Methodist views of mission, baptism and Eucharist. In its conclusion the report cites the imperative of common mission for all. It encourages Catholics and Methodists to continue current collaboration and develop new ways of deepening common witness.

A statement of agreement on Mary released by the Anglican-Roman Catholic International Commission means that Mary is no longer a church-dividing issue, said Archbishop Peter F. Carnley of Perth, Australia, at a news conference in Seattle. Overall, he said, we’re making the whole concept of Mary accessible to people so that people who perhaps have not explored the topic before can understand why it is significant in the Catholic tradition, and they’ll be able to find something which will enrich and develop their own Christian faith. Archbishop Carnley is the Anglican co-chairman of the commission, and Archbishop Alex J. Brunett of Seattle is the Catholic co-chairman. The two church leaders spoke at a news conference on May 16, hours before celebrating a solemn vespers service in St. James Cathedral. The statement released by ARCIC the same day, titled Mary: Grace and Hope in Christ, said: We believe there is no continuing theological reason for ecclesial division on these matters.

High Court Accepts Case on Abortion

This fall the U.S. Supreme Court will hear its first case about access to abortion in five years, when it considers the constitutionality of a New Hampshire law requiring parental notification before minors can have abortions. The court agreed on May 23 to review a ruling of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit that the parental notification law of 2003 was unconstitutional, because it did not provide for an exception in case of a medical emergency. The state’s appeal said other state laws would apply to override the notification requirement if the mother’s health was at risk, so such a provision was unnecessary in the 2003 law.

Pope’s Death a Lesson on End-of-Life Treatment

The treatment of Pope John Paul II during his last days demonstrated that medical personnel are not ethically required to do everything when someone is dying, a priest-physician said on May 19. Myles N. Sheehan, S.J., senior associate dean at Loyola University’s Stritch School of Medicine in Maywood, Ill., noted that the pope did not die in the intensive care unit of a hospital, but remained in his apartment. The pope’s doctors also did not go through the whole menu of possibilities to carry out every medical procedure, according to the priest. In his final days, when the pope was informed of the gravity of his condition, he asked if hospitalization was necessary. When doctors said it was possible to care for him in the Vatican, the pope decided to stay in his apartment, a spokesman told reporters at the time. Overly aggressive intervention can be medically and morally wrong, and distract from the patient’s preparation for the end of life, Father Sheehan said.

Sister-Citizen Willing to Serve but Not Bear Arms’

When she arrived at the federal building in downtown Baltimore, Aine O’Connor, of the Sisters of Mercy, who is Irish through and through, was nonetheless looking forward to taking the oath of allegiance that is the final act in becoming a U.S. citizen. There was just one problem: a part of the oath to which the assistant to the president of Mercy Medical Center in Baltimore could not and would not agree. It was the section about swearing to bear arms on behalf of the United States when required by law. She said she could not reconcile the call to arms with her religious training, personal belief and her order’s mission to reverence the dignity of each person and pursue integrity of word and deed in my life. Before she went to the swearing-in ceremony on May 4, she had requested permission to take the oath without the bearing arms requirement. After checking its legality, a federal officer told her that when she took the oath, you don’t have to say that piece of it. Sister Aine said there was another military-related section of the citizenship oath to which she was willing to swearthe part that calls for the performance, if required, of noncombatant service in the armed forces. I was able to say yes to this, she said. The Sisters of Mercy have a strong tradition of serving as nurseson both sides of the Civil War, in the Spanish-American War and [during] the influenza and yellow fever epidemics. I would also be willing to serve the needs of the people of Iraq and Afghanistan.

Austria Honors Pope’s Elder Brother

In the presence of his younger brother, the pope, Msgr. Georg Ratzinger was awarded Austria’s highest honor for contributions to science and art. Helmut Turk, Austria’s ambassador to the Vatican, presented the Austrian Cross of Honor for Science and Art to the 81-year-old monsignor during a brief ceremony on May 19 at the Vatican. The presentation took place in a small room next to the Vatican audience hall before Monsignor Ratzinger and Pope Benedict XVI joined thousands of people to watch a movie about the life of Pope John Paul II. Monsignor Ratzinger is a musician and composer who for years directed the renowned boys’ choir of the cathedral in Regensburg, Germany.

Bishops Mark 50 Years of CELAM

Bishops from throughout Latin America met in mid-May to celebrate the founding of the organization that has provided them with a platform for reflection and joint action over the past five decades, amid the revolutions, dictatorships and economic and political crises that have rocked the region. The Latin American bishops’ council, known by its Spanish acronym CELAM, was a surprising new idea, born of joint reflection by the bishops of Latin America, Guzmán Carriquiry, under secretary of the Pontifical Council for the Laity, told prelates and guests in a lecture at the opening of the assembly on May 17 in Lima, Peru. The assembly ended with a Mass on May 20. CELAM grew out of the first conference of the region’s prelates in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, in 1955. Although the assembly meets each year, subsequent conferences were held in Puebla, Mexico; Medellín, Colombia; and Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. A fifth conference is tentatively scheduled for February 2007 in Ecuador.

No Action Planned Against Legionaries’ Founder

The Vatican has confirmed that it plans no canonical process against the founder of the Legionaries of Christ, Marcial Maciel Degollado, L.C., who was investigated for alleged sexual abuse of teenagers under his care. The Vatican confirmation came after the Legionaries issued a statement on May 20 saying that there is no canonical process under way into our founder, Father Marcial Maciel, L.C., nor will one be initiated. Father Maciel has consistently denied the accusations made against him. The confirmation was issued by Ciro Benedettini, C.P., a Vatican spokesman, after Catholic News Service asked him about the Legionaries’ statement. The decision not to start a canonical process comes after Msgr. Charles J. Scicluna, an official of the Vatican Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, traveled to Mexico and the United States earlier this year to interview adults who said they were abused by Father Maciel, now 85, when they were teenage seminarians of the Legionaries.

Latin Patriarch Calls for Reconciliation

The Latin Patriarch Michel Sabbah of Jerusalem prayed for God to reconcile the hearts of Palestinians and Israelis in his homily on Pentecost, May 15. He noted the date marked both Israeli independence day and the day Palestinians call Il-NakbaArabic for catastrophewhich Palestinians commemorate as the day of the loss of their land. Palestinian Christians are an integral part of those two events, he said. The fate of all human beings concerns us, whether it be their successes or their failures, their aspirations or their sufferings, said Patriarch Sabbah in his homily. Consequently, on this Pentecost Sunday, both events are part of our prayer.... We ask God to fill us with his Spirit and to recreate and reconcile the hearts of Palestinians and Israelis, and particularly the hearts of their leaders, so that they might become instruments of peace and justice for all.