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Irene & Government

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Last summer, I drove with a friend into the mountains of Vermont to visit the Vermont Law School. It is in the small town of South Royalton, which is also famous as the birthplace of Joseph Smith, the founder of the Mormons. Like most small towns in Vermont, South Royalton sits at the foot of steep hillocks and mountains, alongside a river. That day, the river sparkled in the sunshine. The river is fast-flowing at all times, receiving all the rainfall and snowfall from all those mountains, down all those creeks, and channeling all that water towards the nearby Connecticut River. Last summer, it was a beautiful sight.

The past two days, the vistas of Vermont’s beautiful, fast-running creeks and rivers turned horrific. People who are quite accustomed to three foot snow drifts and temperatures hovering near zero in January are not accustomed to tropical storms and neither was their landscape. From Brattleboro in the south, to Royalton in the center of the state, to Montpelier in the north, whole sections of towns were washed away and buildings made unusable, including the state office building in Montpelier that houses most of the state’s government agencies.

NYTimes Praises RC Opposition to AL Immigration Law

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It is not every day that the New York Times editorial page quotes a Roman Catholic bishop approvingly. But, in an editorial this morning, the Times quotes Mobile Archbishop Thomas Rodi in backing his opposition to a new draconian anti-immigration law in Alabama. The archbishop has joined with other religious leaders in a lawsuit to block the law. Rodi said, "The law attacks our core understanding of what it means to be a church." And, so it does.
Let's hope that someone in the next GOP presidential candidate debates asks the candidates their position on the new law.

O'Brien to Rome

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Archbishop Edwin O'Brien's appointment as Pro-Grand Master of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre took most everyone by surprise. There had been talk that Archbsihop Pietro Sambi, who served as nuncio both in the U.S. where the Order raises much of its funds, and in Jerusalem, where the Order undertakes much of its work, would be named to the post, but that talk ended with Sambi's untimely death. There had earlier been talk that Cardinal Justic Rigali was angling for the post, but the release of a second Grand Jury Report detailing a failure to abide by the Dallas Norms on Rigali's watch scotched that talk. Then, there was talk that Cardinal Franc Rode would get the nod, but his advanced age seemed to preclude that possibility.

Evangelicals & Science

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The relationship between faith and reason is one of the fault lines in Western culture. There have always been different schools of theological thinking within the Church to be sure, but the lines became especially fractured after Martin Luther warned his fellow Protestants to “Beware the whore, Reason, for she will go with any man.” In our own day, the fault lines are most frequently found in the “battle” between science and religion and, it appears that the GOP presidential primaries will include at least some attention to these lines.

Prominent RCs Write To Sebelius on Conscience Protections

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At noon Friday, a group of prominent Catholics released a letter to Health & Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius recommending that she amend the proposed rule on mandated health care coverage to provide for more expansive conscience protections for religious organizations. The letter is signed by some of the same academics who penned a letter to Speaker of the House John Boehner in advance of his commencement address at Catholic University in May, calling on him to support policies that reflect Catholic social teaching. The main organizer of both letters is Professor Stephen Schneck, Director of CUA’s Institute for Policy Research & Catholic Studies.

Albacete on World Youth Day

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Monsignor Lorenzo Albacete is to the New Evangelization what Dean Rusk was to NATO - he was "present at the creation." He has a very interesting post up at Sussidiario about World Youth Day and why the mainstream press just can't get their head around the event itself or the Pope's New Evangelization project more generally. The key graphs read (but you should read the whole thing here):

Some Catholics follow these events in the Catholic media, but they seem to share the secularist view that if they have any lasting impact, it is only at the inspirational or individualist moral level. That they could signal or even provoke a cultural change in many areas of human activity beyond sexual behavior -in the areas, for example, of economic policies, world hunger, labor justice, health care, etc. - is simply not seen.

Once again, we see the tragic effects of the split between faith and knowledge of reality, and thus between knowing and judgment.

Bishop Blaire's powerful Labor Day statement

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Bishop Stephen Blaire of Stockton, California, the head of the U.S. bishops' Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, has issued a statement for Labor Day that is simply put one of the most forceful statements from the USCCB in a long time. He sets forth a vision for the nation's economic and political life that could scarcely be more at odds with the Ayn Rand-inspired Tea Party social Darwinism that has come to dominate so much of public discourse.

More Thoughts in Boston & the Critics

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To be clear, a person who has been sexually abused as a child is allowed to be angry for the rest of their lives. I get that. And, to be clear, groups like SNAP and BishopAccountability.org have undertaken an important task of monitoring the Catholic Church’s compliance with its own public commitments regarding the protection of children and the prosecution of clergy predators. I get that, too. Members of SNAP are to the clergy sex abuse crisis what survivors are to the Holocaust, the people whose memory we must always respect and, more to this point, those whose sense of alarm has a particular moral authority.

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September 12-25, 2014

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