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Archive of August 3, 2013

Gay couple to sue Church of England for marriage rights

London, England, Aug 3, 2013 (CNA/EWTN News) - Following legislation that permits same-sex marriage in the U.K. yet prohibits the Church of England from performing the ceremony, a gay couple are planning to sue to be able to marry in their church.

“We are happy for gay marriage to be recognized – in that sense it is a big step. But it is actually a small step because it is something we still cannot actually do,” Barrie Drewitt-Barlow told the Essex Chronicle Aug. 1.

“We need to convince the church that it is the right thing for our community for them to recognize as practicing Christians.”

On July 17, the U.K.'s gay marriage bill became law, meaning that beginning next year same-sex couples – who can already obtain civil unions – can become married in England and Wales, though not in Scotland or Northern Ireland.

The legislation allows churches and other religious groups to conduct weddings for gay couples at the church's discretion, though the U.K.'s established church, the Church of England, is barred from doing so.

Drewitt-Barlow and his partner Tony are members of the Church of England, and are upset that they will not be able to marry in their own church.

“I want to go into my church and marry my husband … it upsets me because I want it so much – a big lavish ceremony, the whole works, I just don't think it is going to happen straight away,” Barrie said.

“As much as people are saying this is a good thing I am still not getting what I want.”

The new legislation allows all religious groups except the Church of England to perform same-sex weddings.

“If I was a Sikh I could get married at the Gurdwara, liberal Jews can marry in the Synagogue – just not the Christians … the only way forward for us now is to make a challenge in the courts against the church.”

“We don't want to force anyone into marrying us – it is supposed to be the happiest day in my life and that would make me miserable and would spoil the whole thing … aren't Christians meant to forgive and accept and love?”

“It is a shame that we are forced to take Christians into a court to get them to recognize us,” he added.

The Drewitt-Barlows had indicated their willingness to sue for the right to be married in the Church of England as early as December, when the marriage bill was just being introduced.

They told the BBC Dec. 17 that a ban on gay marriages in the Churches of England and Wales would “legally discriminate” against them.

The bill has raised considerable concerns over religious liberty and conscience protection.

The Catholic Church and her officials could be subject to law suits similar to the Drewitt-Barlows'  under human rights laws, for refusing to solemnize the marriage of same-sex couples. Such couples could sue for discrimination.

The British government has assured that religious groups would be protected from such suits.

Earlier, it had assured that religious groups would be barred from performing gay weddings, so as to provide for conscience protections.

In the government's consultation document, written ahead of the legislation's introduction in Parliament, Theresa May, the Home Secretary, wrote that “the Government is not seeking to change how religious organizations define religious marriage and any subsequent legislation would be clear that no religious organization could conduct a religious marriage ceremony on religious premises for same-sex couples.”

The Drewitt-Barlows' plans to sue are not the first time the Church of England has been pressured over its opposition to performing gay marriages.

A month before the legislation was finally adopted, some Members of Parliament were demanding that the Anglican chapel in Westminster Palace be transformed into an inter-denominational or inter-faith chapel so that same-sex marriages might be solemnized there.

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Women say contraception mandate takes jab at motherhood

Washington D.C., Aug 3, 2013 (CNA/EWTN News) - Women from around the country gathered in front of the White House on August 1 to protest national policies that are “hostile” to the ideas of family, motherhood and religious liberty.

The federal contraception mandate, issued by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, presents “a very hostile message about whether or not we are welcome as mothers,” explained George Mason University law professor Helen Alvare.

She told CNA on August 1 that policies regarding women need to take into account “the fact that a majority of women will become mothers.”

Alvare also stressed that “religious freedom is distinctly important to us,” and that the contraception mandate poses a threat to religious liberty.

The protesters were part of Women Speak for Themselves, a grassroots movement comprised of an estimated 40,000 women who oppose the contraception mandate on religious freedom grounds.

Women from around the country came to the rally, with buses arriving from other states, including Pennsylvania and Delaware, to protest.

The controversial mandate requires employers to offer health insurance plans that cover contraceptives, sterilization and some drugs that can cause early abortion.

In recent months, the mandate has become the subject of dozens of lawsuits from over 200 plaintiffs arguing that it forces them to violate their deeply-held religious convictions. While houses of worship and their affiliated organizations are not required to provide the coverage, other religious non-profits are subject to a modified version of the regulation, and for-profit companies run by religious individuals receive no protection at all. 

Dr. Marguerite Duane, a family practitioner in Washington, D.C., told CNA that “women should not bear the burden” of the medical side effects of contraceptives and abortion, stressing that “it takes two to plan a family.”

Under the mandate, she argued, “childbearing is seen as a curse instead of as a gift to society,” and this attitude “does not help women, it harms women.”

“The HHS mandate is completely unjust: it goes against women, it goes against good healthcare, and most importantly, it goes against the right to religious freedom.”

Gloria Purvis, a pro-life advocate in the African-American community, added that policies relying upon contraception and abortion for women's advancement are “actually demeaning to women, and set “a dangerous precedent.”

“When you start to have corporations paying for women to be childless,” Purvis explained, “they will want a return on their investment.” 

“There's going to be a tacit requirement that you be childless in the workplace,” she warned. “Forget the glass ceiling - it will be making the womb our biggest obstacle.”

“Because we have a society that's hostile to motherhood,” women need to rely upon contraception and abortion for advancement in society, Purvis observed. But this understanding fails to recognize motherhood as a state in life compatible with the work place, “taking away those options for us.”

“We need to have a different approach in recognizing that family is not the enemy of progress,” Purvis suggested.

She emphasized that the respect for both the family and women's progress motivates many of those involved in the Women Speak for Themselves movement.

“We don't just do this for ourselves, we do this for our daughters, for future families,” she stressed.

“The hope is that we wake up to what really matters, and what it really means to love, cherish, and respect women.”

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Archbishop Pozzo returns to Ecclesia Dei office

Vatican City, Aug 3, 2013 (CNA/EWTN News) - Pope Francis has appointed Archbishop Guido Pozzo as secretary of Ecclesia Dei, the curial office charged with reconciling the ultra-traditionalist Society of St. Pius X.

Archbishop Pozzo has already served as secretary of the Pontifical Commission, from July 8, 2009 to Nov. 3, 2012. 

He had been removed from the commission to become head of the Office of Papal Charities, where he has served until his re-appointment as Ecclesia Dei secretary Aug. 3.

Ecclesia Dei was founded in 1988, months after the head of the Society of St. Pius X illicitly consecrated four bishops, a “schismatic act” according to the document of Blessed John Paul II establishing the Pontifical Commission.

The office is meant to facilitate “full ecclesial communion” of those associated with the Society “who may wish to remain united to the Successor of Peter in the Catholic Church.” 

Since the 2007 motu proprio of Benedict XVI providing for a more liberal use of the liturgy as it was said prior to the reforms of Vatican II, the Ecclesia Dei has also served those who have a special dedication to this traditional form of the Roman liturgy.

On July 2, 2009, Benedict XVI linked the Pontifical Commission to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, noting that the problems in dialogue with the Society of St. Pius X were “doctrinal in nature.”  

He then appointed Archbishop Pozzo, then a monsignor, as Ecclesia Dei's secretary. Archbishop Pozzo had worked with Benedict XVI for several years on the staff of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

Archbishop Pozzo was replaced as head of the Office of Papal Charities today by titular Archbishop Konrad Krajewski, who has served as a Papal Master of Ceremonies and is a priest of the Lódz archdiocese, in Poland.

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