Catching up after a week ‘away’

I’m back from my week-long furlough.

It’s always good to get some down time (but it’s better with a paycheck).

I’ve gone through my 1,088 new emails and am ready, I think, to refocus on religion news.

What did I miss?

Over in Connecticut, a bizarre bill that would have changed the structure of Catholic parishes apparently caused quite a stir before dying a quick death.

The idea was to force Catholic parishes to be financially accountable by forcing pastors to report to boards of directors.

The authors of the bill must have missed those lessons in grade school, high school and college about the Constitution. They might want to take a peek at the document at some point in their political careers, no?

Anyway, thousands of Connecticut Catholics rallied in Hartford to oppose the bill, which was quickly pulled. (ADD: A reader notes that the bill could be revived at some point.)

What else?

Cardinal Egan, in a radio interview, suggested that the Catholic Church might consider opening the priesthood to married men. “I think it has to be looked at,” he said.


Apparently, Egan has been influenced by the lack of vocations to the priesthood in New York. Okay, but isn’t this a strange time to be bringing up such a weighty matter that has long been debated by lay Catholics?

Interesting that Egan noted that priests in the Eastern Catholic churches are allowed to be married. I’ve heard this argument made countless times by “progressive” Catholics. Now I can only wonder if Egan, in the waning days of his tenure, will follow up his radio interview with a more elaborate explanation of his position on this much-debated question (check out some of the comments on this David Gibson blog post).

What else?

The Pew Forum finds that church attendance has NOT increased during the recession.

And the recession continues. St. Matthew’s Lutheran Church in White Plains has had to evict a food pantry after 27 years. The church is running a deficit and needs to find a tenant who can pay.

I wrote my last FaithBeat column about a ministry at St. Patrick’s Catholic Church in Yorktown Heights that has been helping job seekers for 20 years. I went to a meeting attended by some 50 people who are out of work.

On a happier note, tomorrow is St. Patrick’s Day.

Cardinal Egan will get a send-off of sorts, as he waves to parade-goers from the steps of St. Patrick’s for the last time as archbishop.

And the parade will be dedicated to the Sisters of Charity, who are celebrating their 200th anniversary of serving New York’s poor.

Happy (secular) St. Pat’s

Happy St. Patrick’s Day to those wearing green.

tjndc5-5j6f4qnd9y0i51g7jka_layout.jpgFor Catholics, it’s really only half a St. Patrick’s Day. The secular celebration is, of course, underway. The big NYC parade is going off as scheduled. And lots of green beer will be swilled.

But the liturgical St. Patrick’s Day was Friday. It had to be moved because Holy Week is now underway.

Cardinal Egan’s Mass at St. Patrick’s Cathedral this morning was for Holy Monday, not for St. Patrick’s Day. But for those assembled outside the cathedral, it probably doesn’t matter a whole lot…

Easter is when? Why? And what about St. Pat’s Day?

And St. Patrick’s Day is…

March 17, right? That’s when the NYC Parade will be.

Or March 14, when churches in the Archdiocese of New York will celebrate the Mass associated with St. Patrick?

tjndc5-5e07qc8fe3c14gp7so55_layout.jpgI have an article running in the next few days about how Catholic dioceses have had to reschedule the liturgical St. Patrick’s Day this year because March 17 falls on the Monday of Holy Week.

Easter is extremely early this year, on March 23. So Holy Week, the week that begins with Palm Sunday and leads to Easter, is also early, backing up onto ‘ol St. Patrick.

The reason for Easter’s early arrival is, well, complicated.

A fourth century church council wanted to keep Easter near Passover and decided that Easter would be the first Sunday following the first full moon after the spring equinox. Got that?

The system hasn’t exactly worked, though. Passover this year begins on April 19.

There has been talk for decades of the major Christian traditions agreeing to set Easter on the same date every year. The Orthodox Christian churches use an entirely different calendar and will celebrate Easter this year on April 27 — a full five weeks after the Western churches.

A 1997 summit of church leaders set the stage for deciding on a new universal Easter date, but…these things tend to take a while.

Next year Easter will return to April 12.

And Holy Week won’t overlap with St. Patty’s Day again until 2160.