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Church leaders on the Middle East crisis: Benedict XVI

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Faced with violence such as that in Lebanon, in which religious differences play a significant role, one temptation for believers is to retreat into a kind of vague humanitarian language, soft-pedaling any confessional approach for fear of making things worse. Some believers worry that striking spiritual notes while the world burns flirts with naiveté; as Woody Allen once put it, if there really is a God, the best that can be said of him is that he’s an under-achiever.

Church leaders on the Middle East crisis: And others

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As a sidebar to the humanitarian mobilization for Lebanon, the German-based Catholic charity, Aid to the Church in Need, released a statement on July 25 saying the number of families affected by the ongoing military clashes to be more than 100,000. The charity said many of these families are taking refuge in Catholic convents and other church buildings.

Some odds and ends

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On the margins of Benedict XVI’s Angelus address on Sunday, outgoing director of the Vatican Press Office Joaquin Navarro-Valls gave a live interview to the main Italian television news broadcast Tg1, speaking about the pope’s new Secretary of State, Salesian Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone of Genoa.

The U.S. bishops respond to the crisis

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On July 17, Bishop Thomas G. Wenski of Orlando, chair of the U.S. bishops’ Committee on International Policy, issued a statement faulting Hamas and Hezbollah for triggering the present crisis, criticizing Israeli attacks on civilian infrastructure, expressing solidarity with the Lebanese, and asking the United States to exercise greater leadership to bring a halt to the violence.

A social action summer institute

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Nowhere else on earth does a local church invest the time and treasure fine-tuning the art of pastoral ministry on a local level as in the United States. The sheer volume of conferences, in-services, studies, academic programs and publications devoted to “best practices” and on-the-job training is staggering, making it one reason that parish ministry in America is the envy of the Catholic world.

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August 15-28, 2014

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