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Abortion Battles in the States

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The Washington Post had a good article this weekend about how many states are using a provision of the health care reform law to ban the sale of abortion coverage in insurance policies offered on the exchanges in their states.
This is a story that has, heretofore, slid under the radar. Pro-choice groups did not want to highlight the provision that allowed states to ban abortion coverage for obvious reasons. And anti-Obama groups did not want to highlight the fact that the President had adopted this provision which embodies both pro-life potential and a measure of federalism that undercuts the "government takeover" meme the anti-Obama forces have relied on to whip up opposition to the health care law.

Philadelphia's crisis of faith

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It is a commonplace to say that the sex abuse crisis has become a crisis of credibility for the hierarchy, especially the most recent revelations in Philadelphia which seem to show that the norms adopted by the bishops of America at Dallas either failed or were not followed. True enough.

But, several friends who live in the Keystone State have also expressed a deeper worry in the past week or so, the concern that at its heart, there is a crisis of faith at work in the higher counsels of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia.

Wishing I Were a Fly on the Wall

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From this morning's Bollettino at the Holy See's website:
LE UDIENZE

Il Santo Padre Benedetto XVI ha ricevuto questa mattina in Udienza:

Em.mo Card. Marc Ouellet, Prefetto della Congregazione per i Vescovi.

Wouldn't you want to be a fly on that wall? Card. Ouellet is now the Prefect for the Congregation for Bishops. He took over last year from Cardinal Giovanni Battista Re who was the mentor and patron of Cardinal Justin Rigali. Do you the Holy Father and Card. Ouellet discussed the meltdown in Philadelphia? And, how hemmed in are both men by the fact that, surely, much of the staff at the Cong. for Bishops consists mainly of men put in place by cardinal Re? The Pope is all powerful on paper only - as it should be. If you grant a man virtually unrestricted theoretical power, you had better find ways to restrict his exercise of it. To tackle the situation in Philadelphia as it should be tackled risks a break with a still-powerful cardinal who can cause much mischief and grief. That is asking a lot of two men for whom the meltdown in Philadelphia is distant but the powerful cardinals are down the hall.

Philadelphia's Smoking Gun

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A local television news station in Philadelphia has obtained a document that appears to be a form used to prevent any archdiocesan officials from reporting sex abuse by clergy to civil authorities. The document, which is dated 10/03, was apparently crafted more than a year after the Dallas norms were adopted. Those norms not only required church officials to report criminal acts, but required them to inform victims of their rights under civil law. This document flies in the face of those Dallas norms.
Later today, SNAP is planning a protest outside the Cathedral in Philadelphia that will call attention to this new document, the likes of which they say they have never seen before. According to press release from SNAP:
"The one-page form, titled “Prohibition to Release Information – pertaining to reported sexual abuse by clergy, other religious and lay employees,” appears to have been created in October 2003, more than a year after America’s bishops adopted a national abuse policy that mandates “openness and transparency” in child sex cases.

Cafardi on Philly

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Nicholas Cafardi, Dean Emeritus of the Duquesne University Law School and an original member of the national review board for the protection of children, has a detailed article up about the abuse crisis in Philadelphia over at Commonweal.

Cafardi, of course, wrote the book -- literally -- on the Church's practices before Dallas, and his article sums up some of that history. But if the situation in Philadelphia were not bad enough, Cafardi shows how the rot has spread, detailing the involvement of Bishops Joseph Cistone and Michael Burbridge -- now serving as the bishops of Saginaw and Raleigh respectively -- and how they were involved in some of the questionable decisions at the heart of this mess.

It should be clear by now that the civil authorities will get to the bottom of this, that no deeds will be left in the dark, that the truth will come out.

The Papist's Log

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The American Papist begins his Lenten reflection with these words: "Lent is a time for self-reflection and amendment of one’s ways. It’s a time to ask ourselves, "What more can I do? What must I refrain from doing? What have I done wrong?"" So far, so good.
But, the young Papist does not tarry at the task of self-reflection. Why bother with that log in one's own eye when there is that nasty speck in they brother's eye? The Papist goes on to suggest that Catholics who support President Obama should "come clean" on the subject of the President's supposed anti-Catholic misdeeds. He repeats the usual canards about abortion funding in the health care bill, the horror of the anti-bullying campaign at the Department of Education, etc.
Youth should be forgiven many of its enthusiasms. But, even so, the Papist's screed took my breathe away.

Card. O'Malley: Situation in Philly \"Very Disturbing\"

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In comments to the Boston Globe, Cardinal Sean O'Malley, OFM Cap, called the situation in Philadelphia, where 21 priests were removed from active ministry after investigations were reopened into charges of sex abuse last month, "very disturbing."

You can read the article here.

As well, in an article in the local newspaper in Trenton, Bishop David O'Connell called the situation in Philly "troubling."

These statements follow on one made earlier in the week by New Orleans Archbishop Gregory Aymond, who said the situation in Philadelphia was "embarassing."

One can only hope that these public comments are evidence of the fact that bishops are now seeking to hold each other accountable. While the untrained ear might find such comments very mild, the fact that these bishops are willing to raise questions about a situation in another diocese is somewhat unprecedented.

The King Hearings Begin

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Rep. Peter King made the statement that there was nothing “radical or un-American” about holding his hearings into the supposed radicalization of American Muslims. He is wrong, not complexly wrong, simply wrong.

Part of the American national character, observed sometimes in the breach, has been a commitment to the proposition, enshrined in our Constitution, that the government does not concern itself with a person’s religion. But, these hearings are not focused on the radicalization of religious zealotry per se, only on the radicalization of American Muslims. That kind of singling out of a religious group is akin to the anti-Semitic slurs about the “Jewish lobby” in Washington and the charge of dual loyalty long leveled against American Jews.

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September 12-25, 2014

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