Archive of July 2, 2012

Catholic media production network re-launches website

Konigstein, Germany, Jul 2, 2012 (CNA) - The Catholic Radio and Television Network has re-launched its website to help present Catholic programming and highlight special liturgical or news events.

Mark von Riedemann, the network’s managing director, said the website’s new Special Campaigns section is a response to the frustration of many Catholic television broadcasters who are searching for programming related to important events.

Many broadcasters, he noted, do not have the time to search for content across all producers, while many Catholic producers do not have the time or the means to communicate what they have made.

“We hope that CRTN will go some way in bridging and correcting this marketplace reality,” he said June 29.

“Whether for the opening of the Year of Faith, secular events such as World AIDS Day, the canonization of future saints such as Bl. Pope John Paul II, or simply for Easter or Christmas, there is a need to regroup and communicate those Catholic programs.”

Catholic media producers and television stations may register for free at the network website Producers may upload their programs and join more than 200 other producers already in the network.

The website provides information on Catholic media funding opportunities, production resources and an image exchange service.

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Minn. Catholic school drops teacher over 'gay marriage' support

St. Paul, Minn., Jul 2, 2012 (CNA) - A Catholic school in Moorhead, Minn. has declined to offer a contract to a longtime teacher after learning she supports same-sex “marriage,” drawing media attention ahead of the November vote on the state’s marriage amendment.

St. Joseph’s School superintendent Msgr. Mike Foltz and principal Tony Biebl explained the decision in a June 6 letter to parents of children at the kindergarten through eighth grade school.

They said “as a school, we hold ourselves to a standard to embrace and hold dear the Church’s teachings, particularly Sacred Scripture and Sacred Tradition.”

The principal and superintendent said they have a “fiduciary responsibility” to parents and students, to the two parishes that support the school and to the universal Catholic Church to be “exactly what we are, a Catholic-Christian school.”

They voiced appreciation fifth grade teacher Trish Cameron’s “many gifts and talents” and expressed “sadness” at the outcome.

The school declined to offer a contract to Cameron, who had taught at the school for 12 years. In a self-evaluation, she had said that she does not agree with all Church teachings “on a personal level,” adding that she does not bring her opinions into religion classes.

The response led to further discussion, Cameron said in a June 3 letter the school sent to families of the schoolchildren.

“I clearly stated that I have an issue with the Catholic Church’s position on gay marriage -- I do not agree with the Church’s stance,” she explained.

She said that Msgr. Foltz had told her he could not offer her a contract while aware of her dissenting opinion. She agreed to write a statement of resignation.

“This is not the outcome that I wanted, but I understand the decision because of the underlying nature of the issue,” she said.

Msgr. Foltz and Biebl said the resignation was handled with “diligence” and seriousness, saying that the outcome left the school with “an air of sadness.”

Cameron said she believes her firing was unjustified but she is not planning legal action.

While she initially did not speak on the issue except for her letter to the school’s families, she has since criticized the school in comments to Minnesota Public Radio. She said she objected to Bishop Michael Hoeppner of Crookston’s support for the state’s proposed marriage amendment in a classroom visit last fall.

Cameron said that she won’t turn away from the Catholic Church in the near future, but also said if the Church does not engage questions about same-sex marriage she will find a different place to worship.

This November, Minnesota will have a ballot measure to define marriage as a union of one man and one woman. The state presently defines marriage as such a union, but amendment proponents want to prevent the legislature from redefining marriage to recognize same-sex couples as spouses.

The effort has the backing of the Catholic bishops, though proponents of marriage redefinition have engaged in activism to try to split Catholic voters.

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Pope names German bishop as new head of doctrinal office

Vatican City, Jul 2, 2012 (CNA/EWTN News) - Pope Benedict XVI has appointed Bishop Gerhard Ludwig Muller of Regensburg, Germany as Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and leader of three other important commissions.

Bishop Muller, whom the Pope elevated to archbishop, will also head the Pontifical Biblical Commission, the International Theological Commission and the Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei, which oversees Catholics who celebrate the traditional Latin Mass.

He will succeed the American Cardinal William Levada, who submitted his resignation upon reaching the age of 75.

Archbishop Muller was born in Mainz-Finthen on Dec. 31, 1947. He was ordained a priest in 1978 and served as a chaplain and as a religion education teacher in secondary schools, according to the Diocese of Regensburg.

He earned his doctorate in 1977 under Fr. Karl Lehmann, who would later become Bishop of Mainz and a cardinal. The future Archbishop Muller’s doctorate concerned the Church, the Sacraments and the thought of German Protestant theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer.

He became Professor of Catholic Dogmatics at Ludwig-Maximilian University in Munich in 1986, becoming one of the university’s youngest professors. He has published over 400 academic works.

He was named Bishop of Regensburg in 2002. His pastoral initiatives include an effort to re-evangelize the diocese.

The archbishop has worked with the German Bishops’ Conference on ecumenical relations and on international development issues. He helped resume theological dialogue between the German bishops and the Russian Orthodox Patriarch. He was the Catholic head of the International Lutheran/Roman Catholic Commission on Unity.

Archbishop Muller hosted Pope Benedict’s 2006 visit to Regensburg, during which the Pope made his famous speech on the relation of reason and revelation.

The new head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith is also involved in collecting Pope Benedict’s writings. In 2008, he established the Pope Benedict XVI Institute to help publish the Pope’s collected works and to examine the contexts in which they were written.

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Thousands flock to Kansas religious freedom rally

Topeka, Kan., Jul 2, 2012 (CNA/EWTN News) - Several thousand people rallied outside the Kansas Statehouse on June 29, where Catholic bishops, Gov. Sam Brownback and others addressed threats to religious freedom posed by the federal contraception mandate.

Michael Schuttloffel, Executive Director of the Kansas Catholic Conference, estimated that 4,000 people gathered in the sweltering heat for the Topeka event.

“We hope that our rally, in concert with all the other rallies and events across the country, sends a message loud and clear to the president and to the administration and to all of our policymakers at the federal level that we’re taking this extremely seriously,” Shuttloffel told CNA July 2.

“This is just the beginning of this issue, not the end of it,” he continued. “We are not going to comply with this policy.”

Rose Hammes, Director of Communications for the Archdiocese of Kansas City, said that having thousands of people turn out on “such a hot day” shows that the issue is really of concern to Catholics in the state.

“If things don’t change in the political realm, it will happen again,” she said.

The June 29 rally was part of the Fortnight for Freedom campaign organized by Catholic bishops in response to the Department of Health and Human Services mandate. A federal rule announced Jan. 20 now requires most employers, including many Catholic institutions, to provide insurance coverage for sterilization and contraception, including some abortifacient drugs.

The religious freedom exemptions are narrow and the details of a proposed accommodation from the Obama administration are not yet clear. Catholic charities, health systems and colleges and universities are unsure whether they can fulfill the mandate in good conscience.

Over 40 Catholic institutions, including the University of Notre Dame and the Archdioceses of New York, St. Louis and Washington, D.C., have filed suit against the mandate.

Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann of Kansas City said the controversy raises questions about the direction of the United States as a country.

“Where are you going America?” the archbishop asked. “Where are you going America, when our own federal government attempts to limit severely religious freedom, the first constitutional right in our nation’s Bill of Rights?”

He said that the administration’s religious exemption is so narrow that Mother Theresa’s Missionaries of Charity would not qualify.

“The reality is that we are gathered here today to just maintain the status quo, not to advance any agenda, the archbishop continued. “It is the administration who has chosen to pick this fight at this particular time.  It is they who are waging a war against women and men of faith.”

He warned that if the mandate stands it will provide a precedent to coerce other Americans to “violate their deeply held moral convictions on any other matter.”

Archbishop Naumann promised that Catholics and others will pray, advocate and vote and will never give up their religious liberty.

Gov. Brownback told the crowd that the federal government “cannot be allowed to break religious Americans to the saddle of a federal mandate.” He contended that the Obama administration’s policies “mandate a disregard for conscience and require the faithfully religious to violate their beliefs.”

Other speakers included U.S. Sen. Jerry Moran (R-Kan.) and Dr. Timothy Boyd of the Kansas-Nebraska Convention of Southern Baptists.

Cathy Ruse, Senior Fellow for Legal Studies at the Family Research Council, was the rally’s keynote speaker.

Schuttloffel said Ruse was “very direct” in criticizing those mandate supporters who claim opposition is part of a “war on women.”

He said Ruse described this as “entirely an election year contrivance.”

“There are a lot of Catholic women who oppose the mandate and resent the fact that they’re really just being used as pawns in  a political game.”

While Schuttloffel said the rally was a “tremendous success,” he also voiced frustration at “the unwillingness or inability of the media to cover this subject properly, or to cover it at all.”

“This really is about religious freedom, it’s not about contraception,” he said.

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