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The Continuing Decline at First Things

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It is sad to see the once prestigious journal, First Things, turn into a mouthpiece for extremist, crackpot conspiracy theories peddled by those who attack the Catholic Campaign for Human Development. But, they have an article up by Father Val Peter that repeats some of the baseless charges leveled against the bishops' anti-poverty program. It is indicative of Peter's bias, intentional or not, that he repeatedly leaves out the first "C" for "Catholic" in the acronym that identifies CCHD.

Two lines caused me especial distress. Peter writes: "Unfortunately, the pastoral needs of today are very different from what they were forty years ago. Rather than change with them, the CHD [sic] has mutated into irrelevance."

Pastor Jeffress in WaPo

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I almost feel sorry for Pastor Robert Jeffress of the First Baptist Church of Dallas, but I shall resist that feeling. Jeffress ignited a firestorm by calling Mormonism a "cult" and arguing that it is better to support a "Christian" for political office than a non-Christian.

In an op-ed in this morning's Washington Post, Jeffress argues confusedly about the role of religion in politics. For example, he writes, "While I prefer a competent Christian over a competent non-Christian, religion is not the only consideration in choosing a candidate. Frankly, Christians have not always made good presidents. We must also consider whether a candidate is competent to lead and govern according to biblical principles." Funny, I missed that article in the Constitution about biblical principles.

Human Trafficking Conference at CUA

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Nezt Wednesday, there will be an important conference on human trafficking here in Washington. Human Trafficking has become an increasingly evil scourge in many countries and the Catholic Church has been at the forefront of efforts to both confront it and to help the survivors.

The conference next week will include a panel of torture and human trafficking survivors. Whether for political activities or as fodder for forced prostitution rings, the twin evils of torture and human trafficking has left countless victims. A second panel in the afternoon will focus on advocacy. Between the two panels will be a keynote address by Ambassador Luis CdeBaca, the State Department's point person on these issues. The entire event will conclude with remarks by Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, the Archbishop Emeritus of Washington whose career supporting a range of social justice issues is second-to-none.

Nouwen Lecture at Sacred Heart University

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Next Wednesday, Sacred Heart University in Fairfield, Connecticut is sponsoring the first annual Henri Nouwen Lecture on Contemporary Spirituality. The event will take place Wednesday, October 26 at 7 p.m. The Schine Auditorium on Sacred Heart’s Fairfield campus will be the venue for this event, which is part of this year’s Presidential Inaugural Lecture Series. The lecture is free and open to the public.

According to a press release from SHU:

Titled “Listening to Henri,” the program will be presented by Kevin Burns, noted producer, editor and broadcaster. He is the producer of the CBC Radio One Ideas series, which will air Genius Born of Anguish: The Life and Legacy of Henri Nouwen next September. He has an extensive background in publishing, having commissioned and edited some 200 non-fiction titles in theology, spirituality, religion, faith and culture, history, philosophy and biography for Novalis. Besides his trade publishing background, his experience teaching at the University of Alberta for 12 years has also introduced him to the ins and outs of scholarly and academic publishing.

The Debate in Las Vegas

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Last night’s GOP debate made headlines because of the sharp elbows thrown, especially between former Gov. Mitt Romney and Gov. Rick Perry. In that exchange, both men lost. Perry seemed truculent and picky, harping on Romney’s having employed a company that, in turn, employed undocumented workers. But, Romney looked weak when he invoked the rules and turned to host Anderson Cooper for help. Very unpresidential on both men’s part.

Rachel Zoll on Perry's Religious Buddies

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Rachel Zoll has done an exhaustive and important service to the nation. Her article at AP about some of the crazier religious views held by those to whom Gov. Rick Perry entrusted the organization of his prayer rally this summer is a must-read.

What to say? We know that Perry's Baptist friend, Pastor Jeffress, thinks that Mormons are a "cult." What to make of these Dominionists?

For all of our troubles, Rome is looking better all the time.

MSW on Roberts' \"The Emerging Church\"

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My colleague, Tom Roberts, has written an important book. The Emerging Catholic Church: A Community’s Search for Itself presents a report about and, to a certain degree, the case for, liberal Catholicism, and I have not read a better presentation of that case anywhere. It is a case with which I have more than my share of disagreements, to be sure, but it is a case that needs to be considered and well-stated.

Pope Invites Atheists to Assisi

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According to Cardinal Ravasi, the decision to invite four prominent atheists to Assisi for the prayer meeting later this month came direct from Pope Benedict XVI. Andrea Tornielli has the story.

Of course, if the atheists were invited to speak on a Catholic college campus in the U.S., I suspect the Cardinal Newman Society would be up in arms. Evidently, the Holy Father understands what the CNS does not, namely, that it is appropriate, even urgent, for Catholics to engage the culture not just shake our fists at it.

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September 26-October 9, 2014

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