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Message to TLM Crowd: Leave Card. Wuerl Alone

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The Paulus Institute had planned to host a Traditional Latin Mass next month at the National Shrine here in Washington. Last year, you may recall, they had invited Cardinal Castrillon Hoyos to celebrate the Mass but he declined at the last minute after letters emerged in which he had praised a bishop for not cooperating with civil authorities regarding their investigation of a priest-predator. Bishop Slattery stepped in at the last minute and presided at the Mass. It was beautiful in its way, not my cup of tea anymore than a folk Mass is my cup of tea, but, hey, it's a big church.
This year, Archbishop J. Augustine DiNoia, of the Congregation for Divine Worship, was supposed to celebrate the Mass but he, too, at the last minute had to withdraw for what the press release from Paulus Institute termed "changed circumstances." Now, the Paulus Institute has cancelled the Mass entirely. Thus, began a flurry of activity at certain conservative blogs and the start of a conspiracy theory worthy of Oliver Stone.

March Madness

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Amidst all the crushing concerns of the world, from the earthquake-tsunami tragedy in Japan to the fresh outbreak of sex abuse cover-up in Philadelphia, to the normal ups-and-downs of quotidian existence, it is good every once in awhile to find something that lifts the human spirit. That something, this time of year, is known as March Madness.

College basketball is simply the best sport going in America today. The level of competition is unlike that found in any other sport. On any given night, any of the top twenty-five or even fifty teams can beat any other team. For something like eight weeks in a row, the team ranked #1 in the nation lost the following week and someone else claimed the top spot, only to be bested in turn, and bumped in the ratings the following week.

With Friends Like This...

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Bill Donohue, of the Catholic League for Civil Rights, has offered an apologia for the meltdown in Philadelphia, complete with the requisite fear-mongering about Muslims. This is not, as Donohue suggests, about the constitutionally protected rights of the clergy. The situation in Philadelphia is about the Cardinal-Archbishop's willingness ot ignore the Dallas norms adopted by the US Bishops in 2002.
I almost feel sorry for Donohue this is so lame.

Health Care Reform: Still a Hot Potato

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Politico has a great piece today on the fact that the health care reform law enacted last year remains a source of great contention among the electorate.
The Obama Administration has done a very poor job promoting the new law.
They need to put a face on this reform. They need to find a five year old who had been denied coverage for a pre-existing condition but who now has that coverage because of the law. As I have pointed out previously, when America was introduced to Ryan White, the entire debate about AIDS funding changed. The Obama Administration needs to find their Ryan White for this new law. Not five faces. Not policy explanations. Not out-year deficit projections. A Human face.

Mark Silk v. Bill Donohue: Round II

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Once again, Bill Donohue has managed to "step in it." An intellectual fight between Silk and Donohue is not really a fair fight, of course. Silk is learned, measured, thoughtful. Donohue is all bombast. But, shame on Donohue for feeding the flames of fear surrounding sharia law. The Crusader mentality is not made less medieval and frightening because it now comes via the Internet.

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.

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