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JUDGE JOHN G. Roberts raises his hand as he is swom in as the 17th chief justice of the United State~ by Supreme Court Justice ~ohn Paul Stevens as Roberts' wife, Jane, watches during a ceremony In the East Room of the White House September 29. (eNS photO from Reuters)

Under new chief, court hears cases on religious rights', end of life' issues WASHINGTON (CNS) - As if having a new chief justice and soon one new associate justice on the Supreme Court weren't enough, the October term also will bring a busy session of cases that have implications for churches

and their interests. The justices were starting their flrst week with a case on the constitutionality of Oregon's law permitting assisted suicide. Farthest out on the court's calendar to date is a case just accepted for early

2006 that raises questions about a campaign finance law that restricted the type of ads Wisconsin Right to Life was allowed to ron during last year's congressional election campaign. In between, the docket in-

Secularism, materialism make vocations work a challenge By JEAN GONZALEZ CATHOLIC NEWS SERVICE TAMPA, Fla. - The environment for breeding vocations is not what it used to be.' Catholic schools used to be feeder systems to the seminaries. Religious Sisters used to be prominent flxtures in schools and parishes to offer words of encouragement and to plant the seeds of priestly vocations. The rise of secularism, materialism and careerism and a lack of commitment among young people do not generate vocations. Those ideas are not lost on vocation directors or the U.S. bishops, who have made the promotion of vocations one of the top three priorities in the Catholic Church, according to Father Edward J. Burns, executive director for vocations and priestly forma~ tion for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. "With today's secularization we don't have the feeder system we used to," Father Bums said recently at the 42nd annual convention of the National Conference of Diocesan Vocations Directors. ''The materialism of society fosters a lack of commitment among young people and a feeling to live life for one's self." The September 24-28 convention - with the theme "Called to Follow the Son" - drew about 200 vocations directors to Tampa. Father Burns said the "live-forself' agenda not only affects the

priesthood but other service jobs, such as teaching and nursing, which also are suffering shortages. But the priesthood, he said, has a double whammy - it is a life of service and a life of commitment. "As far as society is concerned, it is absurd to live a life of commitment and service," he said. "It might be noble,- but it doesn't flt in a materialistic society." Despite those issues, Father Burns said the number of young, people who attend World Youth Day and the millions of young people who were at the funeral of Pope John Paul II show that young people are in search of the troth and can be open to an invitation路 of commitment and service. ''The men in our seminaries are wholesome, healthy, holy, dedicated men/, he said. "I look forward to the day I can call them holy priests." Father Burns is amo'ng the priests and bishops from the United States appointed by Rome to participate in teams who will visit U.S. seminaries and houses of vocations within the next eight months. By May 1, 158 U.S. seminarians and houses of formations will be visited by one ofn t~ams of apostolic visitors - there are an average of three to four people per team - to evaluate various aspects of the houses. Although Father Burns would not go into what would be evaluated or whel1 a team would visit what seminary, he said the results

would be compiled into reports and sent to the Holy See. . During a workshop, a vocation director asked Father Burns about how to foster vocations when some see the Church's ban on married priests or its prohibition against ordaining women as a justice issue. "Vocation directors don't ignore those questions or thoughts, but they must perform their ministries within the context of what the Church teaches today," Father Bums said. "YQu can address those concerns in a charitable way and then move swiftly to continue your ministry within the teachings of the Church." Highly publiciZed sexual abuse scandals that have hit the Church and the media's negative perceptions of the priesthood have affected promotion of vocations, according to Steven Covington, executive director of the National Conference of Diocesan Vocation Directors. But for American young people, materialistic motivations are a bigger issue, he said., "We have a society that is . highly motivated by self-gratiflcation and the success of affluence. The concept of a vocation is lost . in a careerist mentality," said Covington. "It used to be families were proud to have a priest in the family," he added. "But now there are families who form their children within that careerism mentality."

cludes cases dealing with how the death penalty is applied in different states and laws affecting minors who want abortions and protesters outside abortion clinics. After opening Monday with new Chief Justice John Roberts presiding, the court'.s makeup will ch~ge again, perhaps as soon as this fall. When she announced her retirement in June, Justice Sandra Day O'Connor said she would stay until her replacement is on the bench. When Chief Justice William Rehnquist died in early September, Roberts, who had be'en nominated to replace O'Connor; was renominated for the chief's post. . On the weekend, Harriet Miers, a Texas lawyer and current White House counsel, was nominated by President George W. Bush to be O'Connor's replacement. Assuming a smooth Senate conflrmation hearing, it remains unlikely that whoever is approved would not be seated until at least late November or early December. At a Supreme Court brieflng hosted by Georgetown University Law School September 19, panelists from the faculty discussed the ramiflcations of O'Connor's pending departure on the court's logistics. For in~tance, if early cases come down to a flve-four vote among the justices with O'Connor in the majority, "there is a reasonable'claim that they ought to hold off' on further action until after her replacement is seated, said Professor Viet Dinh. The last time a retiring justice's replacement was not in place, at the beginning of the 1991 term, Justice Thurgood Marshall announced at the beginning of October that rather than remain on the court, as he had offered, his resignation would be effective immediately, Dinh said. Should O'Connor do that, the court would be in the position of potentially having four-four splits on some cases and having to wait until the new justice is seated to reconsider how to rule, he explained. On Wedn~sday, in Gonzales v. Oregon, the court was to review a ruling by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals that said thenAttorney General John Ashcroft overstepped his authority and un~

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dermined Congress's intentions in passing the Controlled Substances Act when he attempted to prohibit doctors from prescribing lethal doses of medicine as laid out in Oregon's assisted suicide law. , In another case, the USCCB opposes the government's application of the Controlled Substances Act in Gonzales v. 0 Centro Espirita Beneficiente Uniao Do Vegetal. That case being argued November 1 reviews a ruling by the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals that upheld 路the . right of members of the small Brazilian-based church to use hoasca in religious ceremonies. The Drug Enforcement Administration classifies the tea as a Schedule I drug because it contains the controlled substance dimethyltryptamine, known as

DMT. November 30 will bring an abortion law case and two dealing with abortion protesters. The court will hear for the third time arguments about the application of federal racketeering law against abortion clinic protesters in Scheidler v. National Organization for Women and Operation Rescue v. NOW. The cases, being heard together, ask the court to rule on whether the 7th U.S. Circwt Court of Appeals correctly applied the Supreme Court's 2003 ruling that protesters cannot be criminally prosecuted under the racketeering law. The same day, in Ayotte路 v. Planned Parenthood of Northern New England, the court will consider the constitutionality of New Hampshire's law requiring parental notiflcation before a minor can obtain an abortion. At issue is whether the law is constitutional without a provision alloWing for minors to bypass the requirement if the pregnancy poses a health . risk to the mother. Another four cases throughout the term raise questions about the application of the death penalty under various state laws and procedures.

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