Media Watch

Episcopal Rector Becomes a Catholic in Pennsylvania

THE PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER, Dec. 2 — After 10 years of discerning, and increasing unease with the liberal attitudes within the Episcopal Church, the Rev. Dr. Richard Upsher Smith Jr., rector of All Saints Episcopal Church in Wynnewood, Pa., became Richard Smith, Catholic layman.

Smith, 52, started thinking about Catholicism after a colleague's lecture debunking Anglican belief that the Reformation restored early, pre-Vatican church forms, according to the Philadelphia daily. He went on to study Catholicism with friends in Canada and kept it up when he moved to Wynnewood in 1997. A theologian at St. Charles Borromeo Seminary in Philadelphia pointed him to Catholic apologetics, and Smith read the Catechism of the Catholic Church.

According to a friend, quoted in the Inquirer article, Smith came to the theological conclusion that the “papacy is the essence of the Church.” A retreat last summer got him over his last roadblock: papal infallibility.

“It came to me that the answers I was seeking through historical research were really a matter of faith,” Smith said.

The article also said that the liberal views of Smith's Episcopal bishop — on Scripture, abortion and women and homosexual priests — encouraged him to leave.

Smith, who is married, said he is praying about possible ordination as a Catholic priest but said he is just happy being a Catholic.

Georgia Parish Helps Couples Get Married — for Sure

THE ATLANTA JOURNAL-CONSTITUTION, Dec. 1 — For the second time this year, St. Joseph's Church in Dalton held a multi-couple wedding. The pastor, Msgr. William Hoffman, said he started the practice because of a high number of Hispanic immigrants who have not been properly married.

“For us Catholics, marriage is a sacrament, and sacraments don't happen in courthouses and under trees in the park,” he explained to the Atlanta daily.

Altogether, 14 couples have been “remarried” this year at St. Joseph's, where three-quarters of the 1,900 families are Hispanic immigrants. Most of the immigrant couples Msgr. Hoffman has met hoped eventually to have a Church wedding but felt they could not afford the traditional reception and other accouterments.

The article pointed out that Catholic couples who are not sacramentally married may not receive Communion.

Mississippi Bishop to Head Extension Society

THE COMMERCIAL APPEAL, Nov. 30 — Bishop William Houck of Jackson, Miss., submitted his letter of resignation when he turned 75 on June 26, as required by canon law — but he does not plan to retire. Bishop Houck has accepted an invitation to head the Catholic Church Extension Society, a Chicago-based agency that supports Catholic missionary work in America, the Memphis, Tenn., daily reported.

Catholic Extension said Bishop Houck, who has led the Diocese of Jackson for 22 years, was an excellent choice because of his year of experience in what is considered a “mission diocese.” Jackson is made up of 65 counties and about 45,000 Catholics and has many rural churches.

Bishop Houck said he would continue to lead the diocese until a new bishop is installed.