WBEZ | Catholic http://www.wbez.org/tags/catholic Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Cupich to be next Chicago archbishop http://www.wbez.org/sections/religion/cupich-be-next-chicago-archbishop-110827 <p><p>The Vatican has picked a replacement for Chicago&rsquo;s <a href="http://www.archchicago.org/Cardinal/">Cardinal Francis George</a>.</p><p>Pope Francis has tapped Bishop Blase Cupich, who leads the diocese in Spokane, Washington. Before that, Cupich was bishop of Rapid City, South Dakota.</p><p>Pope Francis&#39; choice for Chicago has been closely watched. It is his first major U.S. appointment and the clearest sign yet of the direction he hopes to steer American church leaders. Cupich is a considered a moderate &nbsp;among the U.S. Roman Catholic bishops.&nbsp;</p><blockquote><p><strong><a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/meet-bishop-blase-cupich-chicagos-incoming-archbishop-110828">Meet Bishop Blase Cupich, Chicago&#39;s incoming archbishop</a></strong></p></blockquote><p dir="ltr">Cardinal George has been the spiritual leader for two million Roman Catholics in Lake and Cook County for 17 years now. He&rsquo;s 77, and he&rsquo;s battling cancer for the third time.</p><p dir="ltr"><strong>George first Chicago native as archbishop</strong></p><p>The Cardinal -- the first Chicago native to become archbishop here -- has been a polarizing and at times even controversial leader. But there are contradictions between the Cardinal&rsquo;s public and private life that could shape how we remember him.</p><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/168598059&amp;color=ff5500&amp;auto_play=false&amp;hide_related=false&amp;show_comments=true&amp;show_user=true&amp;show_reposts=false&amp;show_artwork=false" width="100%"></iframe></p><p>As former head of the <a href="http://www.usccb.org/">U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops</a>, the Cardinal led a high-profile fight against Obamacare and the birth control mandate. He&rsquo;s become one of the most prominent voices in the church, nationally and internationally, about what he sees as the dangers of secularism, same-sex marriage and most of all, restrictions on <a href="http://www.mormonnewsroom.org/article/cardinal-george-addresses-religious-freedom-in-speech-at-byu">freedom of religion</a>.</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/RS5291_CardinalGeorge_Healing_Garden-scr.JPG" style="height: 240px; width: 320px; float: left;" title="Cardinal Francis George (File)" />The Cardinal&rsquo;s often portrayed as unfeeling, aloof, even imperious. But colleagues &ndash; and even some critics &ndash; said there&rsquo;s more to him than that.</p><p>Despite being a powerhouse in the Roman Catholic church, Graziano Marcheschi &ndash; who worked with him for a dozen years at the Archdiocese &ndash; said George is not overly impressed with himself, or the trappings of his office.</p><p>&ldquo;He&rsquo;ll stand in line, he&rsquo;ll grab the paper plate, he&rsquo;ll get the plastic spoon and fork, and he&rsquo;ll put the food on his own plate, and he&rsquo;ll just go sit where there&rsquo;s a place at any table,&rdquo; Marcheschi said. &ldquo;He&rsquo;s not looking for the &lsquo;quote&rsquo; head table, he&rsquo;s not looking for the other power players in the room. He just goes and sits and he talks to whoever&rsquo;s there.&rdquo;</p><p>That doesn&rsquo;t mean the Cardinal&rsquo;s the touchy-feely type. But people who have gotten to know him say he&rsquo;s kinder and has more compassion than people generally give him credit for.</p><p>Marcheschi, who now heads mission and ministry at St. Xavier University, likes to tell a story to illustrate this.</p><p>George was speaking at a retreat for young volunteer ministers several years ago when a young woman asked him about the issue of female priests. The Cardinal told her the church believes it&rsquo;s God&rsquo;s will for men to be priests, not women.</p><p>&ldquo;And the young woman became very distraught, and began to cry, and ran out of the room,&rdquo; Marcheschi said. &ldquo;Well, Cardinal George was just speechless. And then afterward, he turned to my wife and he said, &lsquo;Nancy, what happened?&rsquo;&rdquo;</p><p>Marcheschi said his wife explained the woman may have felt the church was closing the door on her dreams. Then later some other women at the event asked the Cardinal if they could further discuss the subject of women&rsquo;s ordination later.</p><p>&ldquo;So he said, absolutely, make sure that young woman is part of the group, and I&rsquo;ll be happy to sit down with you,&rdquo; according to Marcheschi.</p><p>The women spent part of a day talking with the Cardinal, but he didn&rsquo;t budge from his view on church teachings prohibiting female priests. (That&rsquo;s a stance he&rsquo;s remained firm on &ndash; in fact, he has asked some priests who openly supported women&rsquo;s ordination to publicly apologize.)</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;Obviously the young woman clearly would have liked to have heard something different and didn&rsquo;t,&rdquo; Marcheschi said. &ldquo;But what did happen is she felt heard, she did not feel dismissed. Here she was with the Cardinal Archbishop of Chicago, a man with a global reach, a man who meets with popes and presidents, and he took an afternoon to meet with this young woman because he had seen how distressed she had been.&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr"><strong>Two views of George legacy</strong></p><p dir="ltr">&nbsp;</p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/cardinal%20george%202014%20by%20LK%202.JPG" style="height: 465px; width: 620px;" title="Cardinal Francis George speaks earlier this year. (WBEZ/Lynette Kalsnes)" /></div><p>Georgetown University Theology Professor Chester Gillis sees two differing views of George&rsquo;s legacy emerging.</p><p>&ldquo;Those who see him as defending the church against what might be kind of an anti-Christian sentiment in culture and society will raise him as a hero and say he stood against gay marriage, he stood against abortion, he stood against a lot of cultural patterns, and they think that&rsquo;s exactly what he should have done,&rdquo; Gillis said. &ldquo;Others will say that&rsquo;s all he did. That&rsquo;s not true that&rsquo;s all he did, but they&rsquo;ll say he was irrelevant.&rdquo;</p><p>On the progressive side, many see the Cardinal as rigid &ndash; even doctrinaire &ndash; in his view of church teachings.</p><p>&ldquo;He has been a constant complainer about the inroads of secularism and individualism, that those things have crept into the church, and that people aren&rsquo;t like they used to be, and not talking about how the church should be reacting today,&rdquo; said author Robert McClory. McClory is a charter member of the national Catholic group based in Chicago, <a href="http://cta-usa.org/">Call to Action</a>, and writes for the <a href="http://ncronline.org/authors/robert-mcclory">National Catholic Reporter</a>.</p><p>McClory credited the Cardinal with being a hardworking, conscientious overseer of the Archdiocese, but not an innovator.</p><p>&ldquo;He has followed kind of the directives of Pope John Paul II. Keep the church from moving forward, in fact, to keep the church moving backward,&rdquo; McClory said.</p><p>Cardinal George views church teachings in strict terms. He&rsquo;s a noted conservative intellectual, who has earned master&rsquo;s degrees and doctorates in both philosophy and theology. He personally rejects the terms liberal or conservative as being in the realm of politics, not religion. He describes things as being Gospel truth, or not.</p><p>&ldquo;Jesus didn&rsquo;t die on the cross so you could believe anything you want to,&rdquo; he told WBEZ. &ldquo;There is a faith, and the teachers of the faith are the bishops, with a lot of instruction by others. You can say I&rsquo;m Catholic but I don&rsquo;t believe this, I don&rsquo;t believe that. Well, you&rsquo;ve created your own church.&rdquo;</p><p>Perhaps the sharpest criticism is reserved for Cardinal George&rsquo;s handling of the priest sex abuse scandal. He was instrumental in pushing for reforms in the early 2000s that changed how the church handles abuse across the U.S.</p><p>But <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/survivors-lawyers-say-documents-prove-priest-sex-abuse-cover-109557">church records show</a> he let some <a href="http://www.andersonadvocates.com/Archdiocese-of-Chicago-Documents.aspx">priests stay in their positions despite abuse allegations</a>, and sometimes<a href="http://www.andersonadvocates.com/documents/Key_Chicago_Documents/McCormack%20Ex%20126.pdf"> even after the church review board recommended their removal</a>. Advocates point out the Cardinal also didn&rsquo;t discipline those priests&rsquo; superiors.</p><p>The most notorious case on the Cardinal&rsquo;s watch was that of Daniel McCormack, who was convicted of molesting several boys and named in numerous lawsuits over additional abuse allegations.</p><p>In 2012, the Cardinal told WBEZ: &ldquo;Oh, by far, the most difficult challenge has been the terrible fallout from the sexual abuse of children by some priests. I pray for victims. That&rsquo;s been the overwhelming weight in a sense that has stayed with me.&rdquo;</p><p>The Cardinal&rsquo;s also faced protests from the LGBT community as an outspoken lobbyist against gay marriage.</p><p>He has compared the tactics of some gay rights activists to fascism, and he ignited controversy a few years ago by <a href="http://www.foxnews.com/us/2012/01/07/chicago-cardinal-apologizes-for-linking-gay-pride-parade-to-ku-klux-klan/">likening organizers of Chicago&rsquo;s gay Pride Parade</a> to &ldquo;something like the Ku Klux Klan&rdquo; when he worried that the parade route would disrupt mass at a local church. He later backtracked and apologized for using an &ldquo;inflammatory&rdquo; analogy.</p><p>&ldquo;I wish he was leaving a legacy as someone who was in the trenches with the poor, as someone who was against gun violence that permeates this city,&rdquo; said Martin Grochala, a board member with <a href="http://www.dignityusa.org/">Dignity Chicago</a>, which advocates for LGBT people in the church. &ldquo;I think unfortunately for LGBT people, his legacy is going to be about advocating against gay marriage.&rdquo;</p><p><strong>&quot;A person of vision&quot;</strong></p><p>But supporter Robert Gilligan, who heads the Catholic Conference of Illinois, called Cardinal George a &ldquo;person of vision.&rdquo;</p><p>Gilligan said the Cardinal clearly and eloquently articulated Catholic church teachings on many issues, including the sacredness of life from conception to death, and that will be what George is remembered for.</p><p>Mary Anne Hackett, who heads the conservative <a href="http://catholiccitizens.org/">Catholic Citizens of Illinois</a>, said she thinks the Cardinal was doing just what he ought to, fighting against abortion and for what she calls &lsquo;true marriage,&rsquo; between a man and a woman.</p><p>&ldquo;What he tried to do was to restore the church in Chicago to what the church teaches,&rdquo; Hackett said. &ldquo;You could call that conservative, I would call that Catholic.&rdquo;</p><p>She acknowledged the Cardinal can sometimes be overly blunt. But she doesn&rsquo;t think those moments will be his lasting legacy:</p><p>&ldquo;He&rsquo;ll be remembered as a person that is open to talk things over, to meet with people of all different persuasions and different opinions, to meet with them, and try to resolve difficulties and differences, on a personal one-to-one basis actually,&rdquo; Hackett said.</p><p>Dignity Chicago&rsquo;s Martin Grochala experienced this firsthand when he and his group met with George several times.</p><p>&ldquo;While we did not see eye to eye on church teaching about sexuality, our conversations were warm and respectful,&rdquo; Grochala said. &ldquo;He was very intelligent and quite, quite quick-witted. Very funny.&rdquo;</p><p>The Cardinal has called this kind of contact with parishioners his greatest joy. And he has packed as much of it as he could into his final days in office. Although he&rsquo;s facing cancer for the third time, George has resembled the Energizer bunny of late.</p><p>His battles with cancer aren&rsquo;t the first time he&rsquo;s faced serious illness. As a teen, George fought polio and overcame it, though the disease left him with a limp. Quigley Preparatory Academy turned him away, saying he was disabled and couldn&rsquo;t be a priest. So George found another religious school, before going on to hold high posts in Rome and being appointed a bishop, archbishop and finally cardinal.</p><p>The Cardinal doesn&rsquo;t plan to entirely slow down. He has said repeatedly that he&rsquo;ll help his successor any way he can. He hopes to spend much of his time doing confirmations and hearing confessions.</p><p>&ldquo;The skill of living is to live as if you&rsquo;re going to die tomorrow and still do your job,&rdquo; the Cardinal said. &ldquo;In a sense prayer does that. You live for a while in a moment where you&rsquo;re not in charge, you&rsquo;re just at God&rsquo;s disposition. And as long as that&rsquo;s the case, then, well, I don&rsquo;t want to die tomorrow, but if I did, I&rsquo;m sure the Lord would still be providential in his care of the Earth. It doesn&rsquo;t depend on me.&rdquo;</p><p><em>WBEZ&rsquo;s Lynette Kalsnes covers religion and culture. Follow her <a href="https://twitter.com/LynetteKalsnes">@Lynette Kalsnes</a></em></p></p> Fri, 19 Sep 2014 20:08:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/sections/religion/cupich-be-next-chicago-archbishop-110827 Chicago-area nuns weigh in on Pope's first anniversary http://www.wbez.org/sections/religion/chicago-area-nuns-weigh-popes-first-anniversary-109852 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/pope nuns.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>It&rsquo;s been a tough couple of years for nuns in the U.S.<br /><br />In 2012 the Vatican essentially ordered three male bishops to oversee the group representing 80 percent of American nuns, the Leadership Conference of Women Religious, saying the LCWR promoted &ldquo;radical feminist themes incompatible with the Catholic faith.&rdquo;</p><p>So when a new pope came in exactly a year ago, many in this group wondered what it might mean for them and a range of women&rsquo;s issues from the Vatican investigation of nuns, to birth control, to women&rsquo;s ordination.</p><p>&ldquo;All I had was some hope, not a great deal for anything new or different,&rdquo; said Sister Suzanne Zuercher, a Benedictine at St. Scholastica Monastery on Chicago&rsquo;s North Side.</p><p>&ldquo;Now that a year has passed, I can&rsquo;t believe who it is that that conclave elected,&rdquo; Sister Suzanne said, adding that she was surprised and even amazed by how much Pope Francis has accomplished in a year. She pointed to how he had begun reforming the Curia (essentially the Vatican&rsquo;s top dogs) and cleaning house at the scandal-ridden Vatican bank.</p><p>Sister Suzanne said she appreciated how the Pope had changed the focus of the church from doctrinal to pastoral.<br /><br />&ldquo;The church has so often appeared, and been, grim. That is so different with this man,&rdquo; she said. &ldquo;He&rsquo;s not grim at all, he is relaxed, he&rsquo;s joyous, and he says without being joyful, what do we have to offer people?&rdquo;<br /><br />Sister Suzanne and her Prioress, Sister Patricia Crowley, both said the Pope&rsquo;s popularity and symbolic acts like openly refusing to judge gay priests are creating a new image of the papacy and the church.</p><p>And while they acknowledge he&rsquo;s had a busy first year, they are waiting for him to take on women&rsquo;s issues in the church.</p><p>The Pope previously said he has a &ldquo;vivid hope&rdquo; women will play a &ldquo;more capillary and incisive&rdquo; role in the church. In an interview with Latin American nuns, he told them if they got a letter announcing an investigation similar to U.S. nuns, not to worry.</p><p>Sister Patricia is cautiously optimistic this could translate to action. Someday, she&nbsp; said, she even hopes to see women&rsquo;s ordination. But she admits the church moves slowly.</p><p>&ldquo;I think it&rsquo;s gradual,&rdquo; she said. &ldquo;But basically, I&rsquo;d like to see that women are equal to men within the church because the first witness to the resurrection was a woman, and I think that&rsquo;s a pretty clear gospel message that indeed women are equal to men.&rdquo;</p><p>In the meantime, Pope Frances still hasn&rsquo;t lifted oversight from many U.S. nuns. That doesn&rsquo;t surprise Charles Reid, a Catholic blogger and professor of law at the University of St. Thomas in Minnesota.<br /><br />&ldquo;When he renewed that investigation, he was brand new on the job. He wasn&rsquo;t going to upset apple carts that quickly,&rdquo; Reid said. &ldquo;I do not think he will do what (Pope) Benedict was doing, and that is relentlessly pursue nuns.&rdquo;<br /><br />Reid explained that Pope Francis &ndash; who&rsquo;s a Jesuit &ndash; comes from a tradition that values spirited academic debate.<br /><br />&ldquo;Will he open doors to the ordination of women? No,&rdquo; Reid said. &ldquo;Will he open the doors to scholarship that could lead there in 20 years? Maybe, maybe.&rdquo;<br /><br />That day can&rsquo;t come soon enough for Sister Donna Quinn, a local activist nun. She wants women to have an equal voice and vote in the church.<br /><br />&ldquo;I really don&rsquo;t see any action,&rdquo; Sister Donna said. &ldquo;I see this nice wonderfulness of words and the media. Why doesn&rsquo;t the media pick up on the fact that the church is all men? All men are in power.&rdquo;<br /><br />But Sister Donna sees one hopeful sign in the Pope&rsquo;s more humble lifestyle, including his decision to ditch those fancy red shoes.<br /><br />&ldquo;If he has taken off those expensive shoes and the garb and walked with the people, he is taking that first wonderful step,&rdquo; she said. &ldquo;There&rsquo;s a lot more to follow, hopefully.&rdquo;<br /><br /><em>Lynette Kalsnes is a producer/reporter covering religion, culture and science for WBEZ. Follow her <a href="http://twitter.com/LynetteKalsnes" target="_blank">@LynetteKalsnes</a>.</em></p></p> Thu, 13 Mar 2014 17:16:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/sections/religion/chicago-area-nuns-weigh-popes-first-anniversary-109852 Chicagoan shaped and scarred by her childhood as an orphan http://www.wbez.org/series/storycorps/chicagoan-shaped-and-scarred-her-childhood-orphan-109267 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/Gina and Rosa again.JPG" alt="" /><p><p>When Rosa Salinaz was just three years old, her mother died in childbirth. Rosa&rsquo;s father, an immigrant stockyard worker, tried hiring babysitters, but taking care of the children proved too difficult.</p><p>All four siblings went to live in an orphanage where they had little interaction with each other. Rosa visited the Chicago StoryCorps booth where she was interviewed by her daughter, Gina Salinaz-Yacoub, about her experience as an orphan.&nbsp;</p><p><strong>Gina</strong>: So what was life like in the orphanage?</p><p><strong>Rosa</strong>: &hellip; The first thing you noticed was the smell. It smelled like disinfectant. You got up around 6:30, and then we had mass around 7:00 &hellip; had&nbsp; breakfast, then you had your chores, then you went to school, had supper at 6:00, had study hour at 7:00, and then we were in bed by 9:00.</p><p><strong>Gina</strong>: So it was pretty regimented?</p><p><strong>Rosa</strong>: Yeah.</p><p>Rosa explained that they were taken care of in the orphanage by Benedictine nuns, some of whom were nice, and some of whom were not.</p><p><strong>Rosa</strong>: ... (crying) There&rsquo;s always one or two that could make it like hell.</p><p>To hear more about Rosa&rsquo;s experience in the orphanage, including her treasured visits with her father, and her thoughts on how the experience shaped her, click on the audio above.</p><p><em>Katie Mingle is a producer for WBEZ and the Third Coast Festival.</em><br />&nbsp;</p><iframe frameborder="no" height="450" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fapi.soundcloud.com%2Fplaylists%2F6250422" width="100%"></iframe></p><p>&nbsp;</p></p> Fri, 29 Nov 2013 05:00:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/series/storycorps/chicagoan-shaped-and-scarred-her-childhood-orphan-109267 Local Indian Catholics allege discrimination within their own church http://www.wbez.org/local-indian-catholics-allege-discrimination-within-their-own-church-108652 <p><p>A small group of Indian Catholics is petitioning the Vatican to stop what they claim are discriminatory practices in their U.S. churches. The Knanaya, a small sect estimated at 400,000 worldwide, have concentrated in the Chicago area over the last five decades. Now a rift over whether they should continue their ancient observance of endogamy, where members only marry within their ethnic group, has spilled into public view.</p><p>&ldquo;The Knanaya are essentially a 1700-year old Christian caste,&rdquo; explained Ligy Pullappally, an attorney and Knanite who lives in suburban Chicago. &ldquo;You cannot marry into a Knanaya community and become a Knanaya, you cannot convert to it, because it is a biological-based tradition.&rdquo;</p><p>Pullappally is one of a small, but growing, group of American Knanites who have filed a canonical lawsuit within the Catholic Church&rsquo;s legal system. She and the others have married outside the Knanaya church, an act that they claim has led to discriminatory treatment. In Pullappally&rsquo;s case, her husband is Protestant, and so she says her family is being denied certain rights.</p><p>&ldquo;[T]he right to conduct your wedding at that church, the right to baptize your child at that church,&rdquo; said Pullappally.</p><p>A fellow complainant, Lukose Paret, produced several letters he attempted to send to a priest at one of the two Chicago-area churches, along with receipts showing they were declined and sent back unopened. He and others say they are barred from joining church committees, their homes are shunned during Christmas caroling events, and their children are not welcome to participate in youth activities.</p><p>&ldquo;Basically the Knanaya church is walking a tightrope between maintenance of these age-old endogamous traditions, and knowledge that America is a new land where inclusivity is the rule,&rdquo; said Pullappally.</p><p>The disagreement within the church spilled onto the streets in March, however, when several hundred Knanaya rallied outside their bishop&rsquo;s house in Elmhurst. The protest was in response to a letter issued by Bishop Jacob Angadiath, who oversees the St. Thomas Syro-Malabar Catholic Diocese of Chicago. Angadiath had ordered churches in the diocese to be more inclusive of mixed-Knanaya families, or families where only one spouse is a full-blooded Knanaya. Angadiath did not respond to multiple requests for interview.</p><p>&ldquo;It is totally against our principle,&rdquo; said Tomy Myalkarapuram, president of the Knanaya Catholic Congress of North America, a laypeople organization that claims 20,000 members. &ldquo;We have every right to remain as (an) ethnic group and as (an) endogamous group,&rdquo; he added.</p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Screen%20Shot%202013-09-11%20at%209.26.42%20AM.png" style="height: 224px; width: 300px; float: right;" title="Sacred Heart Knanaya Catholic Parish in Maywood, IL, is one of two Knanaya churches in the greater Chicago area. The Knanaya Catholic church in the U.S. has recently reached new levels of conflict over whether to preserve their ancient tradition of endogamy." /></div><p>Myalkarapuram said endogamy is the essence of the Knanaya community, and that the larger Catholic Church should not ask the Knanaya to sacrifice a defining characteristic of their identity. In fact, since the Knanaya church was folded into the Catholic Church several centuries ago, the concept of endogamy has never sat well with Rome.</p><p>&ldquo;It sounds as if you are excluding people from the church if you have your own separate endogamous church,&rdquo; said Richard Swiderski, an anthropologist who studied Knanaya endogamy in India.</p><p>Swiderski said the Catholic Church held its nose and allowed the Knanaya in India to continue the practice, but that it did not intend for the tradition to be carried over to other countries. However, he noted that any forced change would run afoul of long-held beliefs.</p><p>&ldquo;The practice of endogamy is this very idea that (the Knanaya) represent the pure doctrine, (that) they are hereditary representatives of the pure doctrine,&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;The only way they could maintain that was to continue marrying only among themselves.&rdquo;</p><p>Swiderski said the Knanaya believe they descended from Middle Easterners who settled in southern India in 345 AD., making them racially distinct from other Indians. He said ever since then, they have tried to preserve their spiritual distinction, a belief that they represent a version of Christianity untainted by outside cultures, through endogamy.</p><p>The controversy may ultimately be resolved by people within the community: a younger generation of Knanites who debate whether endogamy makes sense in an American context.</p><p>In the meantime, Pullappally says the church has already lost one of its youngest members -- her son. Days before he was baptized, she explained her decision not to have it done in a Knanaya church.</p><p>&ldquo;He&rsquo;s going to be baptized in a Roman Catholic Church, but not the Knanaya church,&rdquo; said Pullappally.&nbsp; &ldquo;I don&rsquo;t want the occasion of something joyful, like a baptism, to be marred by hostility.&rdquo;</p><p><em>Odette Yousef is WBEZ&rsquo;s North Side Bureau reporter. Follow her <a href="https://twitter.com/oyousef">@oyousef</a> and <a href="https://twitter.com/WBEZoutloud">@WBEZoutloud</a>.</em></p></p> Wed, 11 Sep 2013 09:17:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/local-indian-catholics-allege-discrimination-within-their-own-church-108652 Historic walls of Bronzeville's St. James church come tumbling down http://www.wbez.org/blogs/lee-bey/2013-07/historic-walls-bronzevilles-st-james-church-come-tumbling-down-108144 <p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/DSCN0492.jpg" style="width: 600px; height: 450px;" title="" /></div><p>St. James Roman Catholic Church is one of the city&#39;s oldest houses of worship.</p><p>Or at least it was. The neo-Gothic edifice at 2936 S. Wabash, is being demolished now.</p><p>It was too expensive to repair, the Chicago Roman Catholic Archdiocese said, citing a $12 million pricetag. This blog first reported on the St. James&#39;s woes &mdash; and the archdiocese&#39;s wishes to demolish the nearly 140-year-old church &mdash;&nbsp;<a href="http://www.wbez.org/blogs/lee-bey/2012-10/st-james-infirmity-distressed-century-old-catholic-church-heads-toward">last October.</a></p><p>Reader Peggy Ryan took the above last weekend and sent it to me. Less than a year ago, St. James, though shuttered, still stood strong...<img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/PA270899_0.jpg" title="" /></p><p>...so seeing it laid open in Ryan&#39;s pictures was like a punch to the gut. Presevationists within the congregation and around the city have spent the past several months rallying to save the church, but to no avail. Ryan&#39;s photo of the wrecked interior of St. James:</p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/DSCN0524.jpg" style="width: 600px; height: 450px;" title="" /></div><p>&quot;While walking under the el tracks to photograph the church, I clearly understood&nbsp;<a href="http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=9601376">what Richard Nickel felt</a>&nbsp;about the demolition of the old Stock Exchange and how he came to be found in the rubble,&quot; Ryan wrote. &quot;A love of history and beauty can do this to you.&quot;</p><p>Indeed, it can.</p></p> Tue, 23 Jul 2013 05:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/lee-bey/2013-07/historic-walls-bronzevilles-st-james-church-come-tumbling-down-108144 Latinos leaving their Catholic faith, and their culture, behind http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/latinos-leaving-their-catholic-faith-and-their-culture-behind-106279 <p><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fapi.soundcloud.com%2Ftracks%2F84916613&amp;color=ff6600&amp;auto_play=false&amp;show_artwork=false" width="100%"></iframe></p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Jose Alvarado.JPG" style="float: left; height: 400px; width: 300px; margin: 5px;" title="Jose Alvarado, 39, was raised Catholic but has since become an atheist. It’s a point of contention for his devoutly religious family. (WBEZ/Aurora Aguilar)" />Jose Alvarado was born in Mexico, where an estimated 90 percent of residents are baptized under the Catholic faith. Jose was among them. On this Psalm Sunday, most of his family was headed to church. But not Jose.</p><p>As part of a growing but still small group of <a href="http://www.meetup.com/The-Chicago-Latino-Atheists-Meetup-Group/">Latino atheists</a>, he&rsquo;s always searching for places to <a href="http://www.hafree.org/">debate big issues</a>, like religion, economics and ethical dilemmas.</p><p>Jose goes to the Ethical Humanist Society in Skokie, Ill. Normally, this non-descript building brings in speakers on controversial topics. On the day we visited with Jose, it was folk singers. Which did not make Jose happy.</p><p>He joked that he was halfway interested until they started singing. The performers sang silly songs for the kids before they headed off to Sunday School. Only, this wasn&rsquo;t Bible studies. It was mostly drawing and other activities. Jose&rsquo;s 5-year-old daughter, Alina, sat quietly as older kids read Asian fables about floods and dragons.</p><p>A visit to the society on a Sunday is not how 39-year-old Jose was brought up. His family moved from Mexico to the West Side of Chicago when he was one. And as devout Catholics, many traditions followed them. He attended seven years of Catholic school and was at mass, at least physically, every day.</p><p>He says he recalls being bored and often sleepy.</p><p>&ldquo;You just showed up, it was something you had to do before you went to class,&rdquo; he said.</p><p>Jose really started questioning his faith in his 20&#39;s, while earning a psychology degree. It was then he began to worry that the devoted often unwisely rely upon their faith to make important life decisions.</p><p>Many Latinos, for example, have an unwavering belief that praying to their patron saint, La Virgen de Guadalupe, can fix all. Jose says they&rsquo;re believing in something unproven by empirical evidence. Latinos say &ldquo;Adios,&rdquo; or &ldquo;Go With God,&rdquo; without meaning it as a blessing. These examples become routine. Jose wishes there was more active awareness of religion and how it affects the lives of its followers.</p><p>He says that it&rsquo;s hard for poor, poorly educated people to really understand and explore their religion.</p><p>&ldquo;When my parents got home from work late because they had been working 10 plus hours a day, there isn&rsquo;t any real time to delve into the finer points of what&rsquo;s really in the Bible. The way that it&rsquo;s set up culturally, it&rsquo;s not something people do on a regular basis, to think critically what their cultural beliefs are,&rdquo; he said.</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Jose%20in%20church_0.JPG" style="float: right; height: 263px; width: 350px; margin: 5px;" title="Jose Alvarado seeks places for camaraderie and good debate. Places like the Ethical Humanist Society in Skokie, Illinois. (WBEZ/Aurora Aguilar)" />Jose says Latino clergy can forget about teachings on kindness when machismo comes into play. A friend sought protection against an abusive husband. And the priest called her a sinner, or a <em>pecadora</em>.</p><p>&ldquo;The priest (called her) a <em>pecadora</em>, basically acknowledging that the man is the head of the household and that whatever she did, she needed to go through him first, and he pretty much sent her home,&rdquo; Jose recalled.</p><p>But it was September 11th that really took Jose over the edge. The thought that people would kill thousands in homage to their God made Jose join a quietly growing number of Latinos who are becoming atheists.</p><p>Timothy Matovina, a professor of theology at the University of Notre Dame, says it&rsquo;s an unknown and, to date, largely unsurveyed part of the Latino population. He says surveys of religious practices show that more Latinos are saying they follow no religion and that could mean they&rsquo;re non-practicing, agnostic or atheist.</p><p>Historically, the longer a family is in America, the more likely they are to leave their church, and this often causes divisions within families.</p><p>&ldquo;Because it involves emotional, familial, ties of tradition, people are not just choosing a new religion, they are also breaking away away from the religion of their own families and ancestors,&rdquo; Matovina said.</p><p>Religion is so seamlessly woven into Mexican culture that it&rsquo;s often hard for atheists like Jose to ignore some of the pervasive customs. He&rsquo;s even baptized his best friend&rsquo;s son. But he no longer believes any part of the faith.</p><p>He was the first of the Alvarados to break away from Catholicism. There are five siblings. His sister followed shortly after. The person who had the hardest time with this has been, by far, their mother Josefa. Her faith guides her daily life.</p><p>&ldquo;With my mother, this was praying the rosary, sometimes by force, and going to church, sometimes by force,&quot; Jose said. &quot;There were little pinches under the arm if you got out of line. She was forceful and I know she meant well.&quot;</p><p>Jose&rsquo;s mother now lives in El Paso, Texas. He calls her often, usually waiting until she&rsquo;s gotten out of church. The two of them speak in the formal <em>Usted</em>. It&#39;s a sign of respect. He asks how mass went, makes a dig about it and quickly, the conversation turns heated.</p><p>Josefa regularly tells her son that she believes his and his sister&rsquo;s souls are in danger. She&rsquo;s told them that she knows she&rsquo;ll end up in heaven, eternally worried about her children burning in hell. He argues that he&rsquo;s a good person, a good father who lives his life morally. Isn&rsquo;t that enough? But it&rsquo;s not just his soul she&rsquo;s worried about.</p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Jose%20and%20Alina.JPG" style="height: 340px; width: 255px; float: right; margin: 5px;" title="Jose considers himself a moral person and good father to Alina, 5. (WBEZ/Aurora Aguilar)" />In the conversation, Jose learns that his mother is worried his and his sister&rsquo;s lack of faith will reflect poorly on her. She thinks that will be an obstacle to her entering heaven.</div><p>Those beliefs are what Jose calls superstitions. But he misses being able to connect with his mother spiritually. For example, the time he got a flat tire while on a road trip and serendipitously found a friend nearby who could help, his mother said that was God looking out for him. It&rsquo;s a blurry memory for him now, but he recalls being somewhat comforted by that thought.</p><p>Still, he wouldn&rsquo;t give up being an atheist. It provides too much freedom, he said.</p><p>&ldquo;We really don&rsquo;t know what happens to our consciousness. I don&rsquo;t want to call it (a) soul, but we don&rsquo;t know what happens to it. All evidence turns to it just being a light switch turning off. And I think that makes me value this current life more so than if I thought I had a reset,&rdquo; he said.</p><p>His mom thinks Jose will have one last chance to &quot;reset,&quot; to follow the light on his deathbed. He admitted to me that at her deathbed, he might lie and say he believes once again. But he&rsquo;ll be saying it so she won&rsquo;t worry that he&rsquo;ll spend eternity in darkness.</p><p>Until then, he&rsquo;s spending time trying to create a safe place for Latino atheists to gather and discuss heavy topics. He hopes to one day have a center built in a predominantly Latino neighborhood like Little Village or Pilsen.&nbsp;</p></p> Tue, 26 Mar 2013 05:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/latinos-leaving-their-catholic-faith-and-their-culture-behind-106279 Chicago Cardinal urges opposition to gay marriage http://www.wbez.org/sections/religion/chicago-cardinal-urges-opposition-gay-marriage-104642 <p><p>Chicago&#39;s Cardinal Francis George is urging parishioners to let state lawmakers know they oppose gay marriage.</p><p>George&#39;s letter to priests in the Roman Catholic archdiocese comes as Illinois legislators are poised to consider a bill that would legalize same-sex marriage. State Sen. Heather Steans and state Rep. Greg Harris could introduce the Religious Freedom and Marriage Fairness Act to legalize same-sex marriage as early as this week.</p><p>George wrote that allowing gay couples to marry would be &quot;acting against the common good of society.&quot;</p><p>Previously, some clergy members sent a letter pushing for gay marriage and some of Illinois&#39; top companies and executives have also voiced their support for the legislation after Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel asked CEO&#39;s to sign such a letter.</p></p> Wed, 02 Jan 2013 08:29:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/sections/religion/chicago-cardinal-urges-opposition-gay-marriage-104642 Catholics expected to split vote in Obama's backyard http://www.wbez.org/sections/religion/catholics-expected-split-vote-obamas-backyard-103633 <p><p>The Roman Catholic Church has been especially active this political season. The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, which includes&nbsp;Chicago&rsquo;s Cardinal Francis George, have called some Obama policies an &quot;assault on the Catholic church.&quot; They&rsquo;ve directed priests to give sermons and pass out pew cards encouraging political involvement.</p><p>The flurry of activity was sparked by a U.S. Health and Human Services mandate that includes contraception, which the U.S. Bishops call an &ldquo;infringement on religious freedom.&rdquo;&nbsp;</p><p>Polls show Catholics nearly evenly divided, with Obama up 2 percent.</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Rally.JPG" style="height: 199px; width: 300px; float: left; " title="(WBEZ/Cassidy Herrington)" /></p><p>Chicago had one of the biggest turn-outs at the recent &quot;Stand Up for Religious Freedom Rally.&quot;</p><p>Nearly 2,000 Catholics and pro-life supporters chanting &quot;Vote for freedom&quot; marched up Dearborn Street last month. They were protesting abortion and requiring insurance coverage for contraception. &nbsp;</p><p>A giant, yellow Vatican flag billowed over the procession of marchers that met in Daley Plaza.</p><p>The rally was billed as a non-partisan event. Numerous signs reading &ldquo;Stop Obama&rsquo;s HHS Mandate&rdquo; were dispersed among posters of Lady Guadalupe. One participant held up a homemade &ldquo;Obamunism&rdquo; poster that depicted Obama&rsquo;s logo alongside hammer and sickle.</p><p>Rev. Rocky Hoffman, a Catholic talk radio personality, was the first to take the podium. He opened with a prayer and led the crowd in repeating the GOP convention chant, &ldquo;We Built This.&rdquo;</p><div class="image-insert-image "><div class="image-insert-image ">Hoffman told the crowd that their tax dollars constructed the plaza they occupied, so it was their duty to demonstrate their dissatisfaction with the law.</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">The rally was one of more than 450 across the country, part of a series of events led by Catholic leaders over several months to protest the mandate and other issues, culminating in the election.</div></div><p><img alt="Eric Scheidler, the executive director of the Pro-Life Action League, stands in Daley Plaza after the Stand Up for Religious Freedom Rally." class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Scheidler.JPG" style="height: 199px; width: 300px; float: left;" title="(WBEZ/Cassidy Herrington)" /></p><p>The co-chair of the rally, Eric Scheidler, said abortion and contraception should be pivotal to Catholic voters. He&#39;s the executive director of Chicago-based advocacy group, The Pro-Life Action League.&nbsp;</p><p>&ldquo;You can&rsquo;t be given a chance at a great education if you&rsquo;re not even allowed the chance to be born,&rdquo; Scheidler said. &ldquo;Logically it&rsquo;s the most prior issue of all.&rdquo;</p><p>Another Chicago-based organization, CatholicVote.org, runs a national campaign that has &quot;enthusiastically&quot; endorsed Romney and uses blogs and social media sites to reach voters.</p><p>The Catholic Church itself cannot endorse candidates because of church teaching and its 501(c)(3) tax status.</p><p>But Scheidler said he wants his parish priest to openly support a candidate.</p><p>&ldquo;I do hope and pray that the 5013c restrictions that were snuck into the IRS code will be struck down and churches will be freer to talk about politics from the pulpit,&rdquo; Scheidler said. &ldquo;I don&rsquo;t think we have anything to fear from any individuals or associations of individuals (like churches) to be involved actively in politics.&rdquo;</p><p>Sister Helena Burns, who attended the rally, said she thinks the bishops acted appropriately in their firm stance against contraception.<img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/rallyclose.JPG" style="height: 199px; width: 300px; float: right; margin: 5px; " title="(WBEZ/Cassidy Herrington)" /></p><p>&ldquo;People will say &lsquo;Oh you shouldn&rsquo;t be a one-issue voter,&rsquo; which you shouldn&rsquo;t, but we&rsquo;re looking at the most fundamental right of all rights, the right to life.&rdquo; Burns said. &ldquo;And if we see the most sacred part of life, which is life and love, is under attack, then sometimes you need to have a priority and a hierarchy of values, a hierarchy of issues.&rdquo;</p><p>Not all Catholics are comfortable with the church&rsquo;s involvement in politics this year.</p><p>A Pew Research Survey from October says 69 percent of Catholics do not want churches to favor one candidate over another.</p><p>Father Christopher Robinson, the pastor at St. Vincent DePaul Parish, said parishioners are so influenced by their priest that it would be an &ldquo;abuse&rdquo; of power to endorse a candidate.</p><p>&ldquo;We&rsquo;re talking about thousands and thousands of people, whose vote would be influenced. I mean, even I can&rsquo;t even speak in conscience if my cardinal told me I must preach from the pulpit,&rdquo; Robinson said.&nbsp;&ldquo;If people are worried about church attendance now, I think it would just splinter, we&rsquo;d lose all credibility.&rdquo;</p><p>Robinson firmly believes that it all comes down to &ldquo;individual personal conscience&rdquo; when Catholics enter the voting booth. &nbsp;</p><p>&ldquo;If somebody says &lsquo;Father tell me how to vote,&rsquo; I will say, &lsquo;Well, you walk into the booth and you look at the ballot, that&rsquo;s how you vote.&#39; I&rsquo;m not going to tell you who to vote for.&rdquo;</p><p>He says one singular &ldquo;Catholic Vote&rdquo; simply doesn&rsquo;t exist.</p><p>&nbsp;&ldquo;It&rsquo;s very interesting when you have Catholics who are on two extremes in one community, and I certainly have this here. We have individuals who are extremely vocal about their beliefs and also about who they&rsquo;re going to vote for. There&rsquo;s no ambiguity whatsoever.&rdquo;</p><p>One parishioner, Therese Rowley, is voting for Obama. While the church has been focusing on contraception and religious freedom, she says Obama is the best representative of Catholic teachings on service toward the poor.</p><p>&ldquo;I think the church needs to become more democratic, and they need to understand that life happens with the people, and they out to learn from what&rsquo;s going on in the street, rather than the other way around,&quot; Rowley said.&nbsp;</p><p>She added that church officials should give more emphasis to the &quot;quality of life,&quot; with economic programs and benefits for the poor.</p><p>&quot;I think Jesus was telling people at the hierarchy, &lsquo;You guys aren&rsquo;t getting it,&rsquo;&quot; Rowley said. &quot;He worked at the street level. He talked to prostitutes and had dinner with tax collectors.&rdquo;</p><p>&ldquo;As long as we trust each other to do the hard work, to pray, to really read, to study, I think we trust each other to go into the voting both doing the very best they can,&rdquo; said her pastor, Father Robinson.</p><p>But he said if Catholics don&rsquo;t think either candidate fits the bill, they can just leave that spot on the ballot blank.</p></p> Sat, 03 Nov 2012 08:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/sections/religion/catholics-expected-split-vote-obamas-backyard-103633 Dennis O'Toole explains how it works to be a practicing Catholic in 2012 http://www.wbez.org/blog/onstagebackstage/2012-01-19/dennis-otoole-explains-how-it-works-be-practicing-catholic-2012-956 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/photo/2012-January/2012-01-19/4341223.jpg" alt="" /><p><p><img alt="" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/insert-image/2012-January/2012-01-19/4341223.jpg" style="margin-right: 10px; margin-top: 10px; margin-bottom: 10px; float: left; width: 300px; height: 260px; " title="">Writer, performer and comedian Dennis O'Toole&nbsp;takes on the religion beat, and explains how on earth he can be a practicing, progressive Catholic in 2012. Read an excerpt, or listen below.</p><p><em>"Imaginary people ask me all the time: 'Dennis, what's it like being a practicing Catholic in 2012?' Well, I say, you know when you're at your sister's wedding and you get into a fist fight with the DJ because the guy doesn't have any Blue Oyster Cult? Then your brand-new brother-in-law tries to intervene. So your dad kicks him in the nuts, and then pukes on him? It kind of feels like that."</em></p><p><audio class="mejs mediaelement-formatter-identified-1332483854-1" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/sites/default/files/dennis o'toole.mp3">&nbsp;</audio></p><p>This Saturday at the Horseshoe, you'll see Steve Waltien of the Second City main stage, Kate James of Schadenfraude, puppeteer Noah Ginex, and a tribute to the late Chicago comic Mike Enriquez by Ryan Patrick Dolan.</p><p><a href="http://thepapermacheteshow.com/" target="_blank">The Paper Machete</a>&nbsp;<em>is a weekly live magazine at the Horseshoe in North Center. It's always at 3 p.m., it's always on Saturday, and it's always free. Get all your</em>&nbsp;The Paper Machete Radio Magazine&nbsp;<em>needs filled&nbsp;<a href="http://wbez.org/thepapermachete" target="_blank">here</a>, or download the podcast from iTunes&nbsp;<a href="http://itunes.apple.com/podcast/the-paper-machete-radio-magazine/id450280345" target="_blank">here</a>.</em></p></p> Thu, 19 Jan 2012 19:30:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/blog/onstagebackstage/2012-01-19/dennis-otoole-explains-how-it-works-be-practicing-catholic-2012-956 St. Sabina protests suspension of Father Pfleger http://www.wbez.org/story/st-sabina-protests-suspension-father-pfleger-85817 <p><p>Members of St. Sabina Catholic Church marched in front of the home of Chicago's top Roman Catholic leader today. They protested Cardinal Francis George's decision to suspend their outspoken priest, Father Michael Pfleger.<br> <br> Two busloads from St. Sabina started out in front of the Cardinal's home, but police said they couldn't protest there, and shuffled them across the street to a park. They bowed their heads in prayer.</p><p>The parishioners came to ask the Cardinal to meet with them and to lift Father Pfleger's suspension. The Cardinal suspended Pfleger after he reportedly said he'd consider leaving the Catholic church, rather than accept a transfer to serve at a Catholic high school.</p><p>In a letter, Cardinal George said that violated Pfleger's vows to obey, adding, "If that truly is your attitude, you have already left the Catholic Church, and therefore are not able to pastor..."</p><p>He asked Father Pfleger to take a few weeks to pray over the situation. In the meantime, Father Pfleger will keep the office of pastor, "but without permission to function."</p><p>But St. Sabina leaders said the Cardinal took Pfleger's remarks out of context.</p><p>Isadore Glover Jr., who chairs the parish council, said there's a succession plan underway for Pfleger to mentor a priest who will replace him in a few years.</p><p>"It is not Father Pfleger or his remarks that have short-circuited the process, but rather the Archdiocese who has never honored the St. Sabina transition planning process," Glover said.</p><p>Associate minister Dr. Kimberly Lymore said Pfleger feels hurt, angry and disrespected.<br> <br> "This has hit us like a ton of bricks, but we are not down, and we are not lifeless," she said.</p><p>The church leadership said the parish was devastated. They said media learned about the suspension Wednesday afternoon before the parish or Father Pfleger did.<br> <br> Pfleger's assistant, Vince Clark, said Pfleger and the church's reaction was: "Shock, devastation, we all feel the same pain, we were blind-sided yesterday."<br> <br> Clark said St. Sabina's the only place many parishioners feel welcome as African-Americans in the church.<br> <br> "You can't just put a rent-a-priest in St. Sabina church and think you're going to have business as usual," he said. "That's not it, the people there want more. They want to be black and Catholic without giving up either one."<br> <br> He predicted some members will leave St. Sabina if Pfleger does.<br> <br> His wife, Cheryl, is one of them. She said the situation has been going on too long, and she'd "absolutely not" stay if the priest is compelled to go.<br> <br> "You pray and you pray things will get better, but it gets to the point at which you become outraged," Cheryl Clark said.<br> <br> The Archdiocese of Chicago had no further comments today. They directed people back to the Cardinal's letter released Wednesday, saying it "provides extensive and clear information."</p></p> Thu, 28 Apr 2011 21:20:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/story/st-sabina-protests-suspension-father-pfleger-85817