Pro-life official calls report on Catholic contraceptive use misleading
WASHINGTON (CNS) -- The U.S. bishops' pro-life spokeswoman is disputing a new report from the Guttmacher Institute that says Catholic women -- including frequent churchgoers -- are just as likely as other women to use artificial contraception. "The way the data is presented ... is misleading in a pretty fundamental way," Deirdre McQuade, assistant director for policy and communications at the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops' Secretariat of Pro-Life Activities, told Catholic News Service April 21. In a report released earlier in the month, titled "Countering Conventional Wisdom: New Evidence on Religion and Contraceptive Use," Guttmacher researchers Rachel K. Jones and Joerg Dreweke said "contraceptive use by Catholics and evangelicals, including those who frequently attend religious services, is the widespread norm, not the exception." They said contraception "continues to be perceived as controversial among some policymakers and is opposed by the Catholic hierarchy and some other socially conservative organizations." The report said the USCCB "led the charge against" moves to include contraception as part of the mandated preventive services for women under the new health reform law. "We are not alone as Catholics in objecting to taxpayer funding of contraceptives, some of which are abortifacient," said McQuade, who represented the USCCB at hearings held by the Institute of Medicine's Committee on Preventive Services for Women, charged with making recommendations to the Department of Health and Human Services about what should be included among mandated benefits for women.
Archbishop Vigneron lends 'voice of peace' to vigil at Michigan mosque
DEARBORN, Mich. (CNS) -- Saying he came as a "voice of peace," Detroit Archbishop Allen H. Vigneron joined hundreds of religious leaders at a Holy Thursday vigil outside an Islamic center to condemn intolerance and hatred toward Muslims. The gathering at the Islamic Center of America in suburban Dearborn came a day before a planned Good Friday protest by two Florida pastors who threatened to burn a copy of the Quran outside of the center. The protest never transpired as the pastors, the Revs. Terry Jones and Wayne Sapp, were briefly jailed for refusing to post a $1 bond after a daylong trial April 22 in a Wayne County courtroom. The trial resulted from efforts by prosecutors to seek a $45,000 "peace bond" from Rev. Jones in an attempt to prevent the pastor from disrupting the peace during the demonstration. Archbishop Vigneron said church teaching requires Catholics to respect people of other faiths. "My presence here today at the Islamic Center of America is but a small token of the local Catholic Christian community's support for you at a difficult time," Archbishop Vigneron said to Muslims and members of various religions. "When some voices choose to promote intolerance, and even hatred, I come as a voice of peace."
Young women religious say prayer is big part of discerning vocation
WASHINGTON (CNS) -- When she professed her vows, the ceremony was like a divine wedding, said Sister Bethany Madonna, a member of the Sisters of Life in New York. The church was filled with flowers and the voices of the nuns as they chanted the hymns, she said. "Heaven comes down to earth." Sister Bethany, raised in a Catholic family in Melbourne, Fla., always thought she would be a mother and have a large family. "I always thought I would be married to a wonderful man like my dad." After studying abroad in Italy and living with two communities of sisters, she fell in love with the beauty of religious life, she told Catholic News Service. When a friend invited her to go on a "nun run" -- participants visit several convents in the course of a week -- she was introduced to the Sisters of Life. She was attracted to their commitment to the unborn and their ministry to pregnant women and families. "God created a religious community just for me," said Sister Bethany. On May 15, the Catholic Church will observe the World Day of Prayer for Vocations. Pope Benedict XVI, in a message about the day released earlier in the year, urged youths to consider becoming priests or religious.
Easter takes on special meaning for tornado survivors in St. Louis area
ST. LOUIS (CNS) -- Singing "Alleluia" took on a new meaning on Easter for many parishioners after a tornado on Good Friday leveled homes, tore roofs and walls off others and caused a wide assortment of other property damage. The tornadoes that hit parts of the St. Louis Archdiocese April 22 struck first in New Melle before ripping through the Bridgeton area and cutting a path through North St. Louis County and heading across the Mississippi River into Illinois. Easter is a time to be grateful that no one was seriously injured and "celebrate the victory of Our Lord over death, a victory that also is ours," Father Richard Bockskopf, pastor of Holy Spirit Parish in Maryland Heights, said at the beginning of an Easter Sunday Mass there. During a Good Friday service at Holy Spirit, associate pastor Father Joseph Classen and others saw the church's 40-foot steeple fly by one of the windows as the tornado hit. Holy Spirit parishioners interviewed before and after Masses April 24 noted they were still traumatized by the event, were grateful that they and others survived, and were impressed that others rallied to extend a helping hand to those in need. Ellen Staples and her family reflected on what has happened since they emerged from taking refuge in their basement during the storm and found their neighborhood torn apart. The Staples' home was damaged by a fallen tree. "It was a blessing that, though our house was hurt, it was not so bad. We're fine. So many other people are worse off," she told the St. Louis Review, newspaper of the St. Louis Archdiocese.
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