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Bishops defend affordable housing

VOTERS IN Massachusetts will decide in November whether or not to repeal a law, first passed in 1969, that provides incentives for property developers to include affordable, low- and moderate-income housing in any large-scale housing developments, writes Michael Sean Winters. Last week, the state’s Catholic bishops joined the discussion, urging voters to reject the repeal effort. The effort to repeal the law comes from property owners who worry about the value of their homes being diminished by having low-income housing in their neighbourhoods. “As the Roman Catholic bishops in

Massachusetts, we appeal today to the Catholic community and to our fellow citizens of Massachusetts to sustain and support the Massachusetts affordable housing law,” the bishops said in a statement. “As Catholics, we believe in the dignity of the human person, and that a home is central to that dignity.” John Belkis, a Catholic leading the repeal effort , said: “There’s a lot of Catholics who aren’t always happy with what comes out of [Cardinal Patrick O’Malley’s] office.”

Public censure

for sex book THE DOCTRINAL Committee of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) has issued a public censure of a theology book published by two professors at Creighton University, a Jesuit school in Nebraska, writes Michael Sean Winters. The book, The Sexual Person: toward a renewed Catholic anthropology, was written by professors Todd Salzman and Michael Lawler. The former Archbishop of Omaha, Elden

Curtiss, and his successor, Archbishop George Lucas, asked the committee to examine the work. It concluded the authors “base their arguments on a methodology that marks a radical departure from the Catholic theological tradition” that prohibits premarital sex, homosexual acts, contraception and artificial insemination.


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36 | THE TABLET | 2 October 2010


Schools ‘have right to bar gay teachers’

Jonathan Luxmoore In Warsaw

LEADING POLISHCatholics have defended the right of their country’s church schools to refuse employment to homosexual teachers, after gay rights groups called for the resigna- tion of a government minister who spoke out on the issue. “Schools have a right to choose teachers according to their own criteria,“ said Fr Adam Boniecki, editor of the Catholic Tygodnik Powszechny weekly. “This is logical thinking, so I think the attacks on this min- ister’s standpoint are tendentious and unfair.” The Marian order priest was reacting to criticism of Elzbieta Radziszewska, govern- ment plenipotentiary for equal rights, after she confirmed that Catholic schools were en- titled to dismiss gay or lesbian staff. The official was also backed by one of

Poland’s best-known Catholic bishops, who praised her for “standing up for the rights of Catholics”. “What she said is correct – she could even have said it more strongly,” Bishop

FRANCE Laity organise first ‘Assembly of Christianity’

ABOUT 2,500 people attended a national meeting last weekend in Lille organised by the lay Catholic magazine La Vie to give voice to a “Christian civil society” in “post-secularist” France, writes Tom Heneghan. La Vie editor-in-chief Jean-Pierre Denis said the “Assembly of Christianity” aimed to bring together “Catholics who don’t talk to each other”. One of the main examples was a well-attended debate between a feminist Catholic writer and the head of the French branch of the traditionalist Priestly Fraternity of Saint Peter. Three plenary debates among theologians, academics, clergy and lay activists focused on the role Catholics should play in public debates, the place for evangelisation and the meaning of life in modern French society. Mr Denis said recent controversies in the

■COLOMBIA:The Church has urged that the killing of the guerrilla hardliner Víctor Julio Suárez Rojas, alias Mono Jojoy, should lead to the initiation of peace talks in the five- decade long civil war, writes Jon Stibbs. Archbishop Ruben Salazar Gomez of

Church had raised the question of the future of Catholicism in secularised societies. At the same time, changes within the Church meant the sharp lines between progressives and tra- ditionalists were blurring, opening a path to more discussion among Catholics. “The idea of this assembly is to show that

Christianity can’t be reduced to the Pope and his gaffes,” he said. “A Christian civil society has to emerge ... after the long series from the Williamson affair to the debate about pae- dophilia, we thought it was necessary to show Christianity is [not] just sterile polemics.” Lille Archbishop Laurent Ulrich told the

meeting that France had become “post-sec- ular”. “The process of secularisation, which was seriously thought to be the worst enemy of religion, now permits a very interesting advance in religious liberty,” he said.

Barranquilla, president of the Colombian Bishops’ Conference, hoped that with the death of their second-in-command “the Farc will now open a process of political dialogue, seeking the reinitiating of peace talks with the Government”. The Archbishop warned

the guerrillas what they now needed to do. “It is necessary that Farc change their attitude of war and accept the basic conditions proposed by the Government, which are nothing more than respect for international humanitarian law” in order to start a real peace, he said.

Tadeusz Pieronek, former bishops’ conference secretary-general, told the Catholic website. “An attack is now being made on her, but I didn’t see any cause for her dismissal.“ In an interview with the Catholic Gosc Niedzielny weekly, Ms Radziszewska said church-owned schools and colleges could refuse jobs to declared homosexual staff and sack those already employed, “in line with their values and principles“. The claim was criticised as a violation of anti-discrimination laws by Elzbieta Czyz, a director of Poland’s Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights, and rejected by the head of the country’s Campaign against Homophobia, Tomasz Szypula, who said the minister’s “hurtful statement” was in conflict with European Union norms. A late-September survey by the Warsaw- based CBOS polling agency showed public approval of the Church’s activities had dropped by 10 per cent since June, largely over its failure to resolve disputes over the placing of a Cross by opposition supporters outside the capital’s presidential palace.

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