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Grace on the Margins

Dolan on 60 Minutes: 'Charmer' or 'Shrill scold'?


When I questioned my students at an area college class about their feelings on religious hierarchy, I received many of the same answers. They do not trust religious leadership. Why? Because they believe that religious leaders are not living out the morality they espouse.

Not only do these students believe that they do not need a mediator between themselves and God, many believe that the mediator may actually taint or obstruct their relationships with the holy.

If these same students tuned into Morley Safer’s interview with Archbishop Dolan on Sunday night, I wonder if any of their opinions might be amended.

Sex abuse and the legacy of lay passivity


This past Ash Wednesday, while most Catholics were being told to turn away from sin, the faithful in Philadelphia were informed that the hierarchy had, once again, failed to do so themselves. After reading the details of this latest fallout of the church’s sex abuse epidemic, I am starting to wonder if there is anything left to say. Even with so much already said, there is still one question that troubles me. Why are we, the Catholic laity, still letting the hierarchy get away with it?

The 'Most Dangerous Place' is outside the womb


I’m not sure if it made national news, but two weeks ago a three-storey billboard posted in the Soho section of Manhattan caused a bit of controversy here.

The billboard featured a picture of an African American girl. Above her head read: “The most dangerous place for an African American is in the womb.”

The billboard was sponsored by the organization , which apparently is led by an African American. Nevertheless, the sign was quickly condemned for its inherently racist tone and its blatant shaming of African American women.

The billboard was removed within a week, sparking a characteristically hysterical reaction from the Catholic League’s William Donohue, who decried the action as “an exercise in urban fascism.”

The abortion rate in New York City, which by some estimates is as high as 41 percent, has received particular attention lately. But other statistics in the city seem to garner less publicity.

Women priests demonstrate profound faithfulness to God


Late last week, a new iPhone app designed to help Catholics prepare for the confessional made its debut. The app tailors its questions to a person’s gender and vocation. So if you punch in both “female” and “priest,” you immediately receive the message “sex and vocation are incompatible.”

The women and men featured in the new documentary Pink Smoke would beg to differ.

Twenty-Something Catholics: The lost generation?


Have young adult Catholics lost their way?

Has the church lost twenty-somethings?

These questions and several others were explored this past weekend at a forum and conference entitled “Lost? Twenty-Somethings and the Church” at Fordham University.

Apparently, these concerns are on the minds of many, since conference organizers had to open up a second auditorium with live web-streaming to accommodate the overwhelming number of registrants.

The twelve steps of Courage: a stairway to denial


At a time when the Roman Catholic Church in the United States is alienating more people than welcoming them, they seem to have found a new friend in Bill W.

The Colorado Springs diocese has decided to launch "The Twelve Steps of Courage," one of the programs of Courage International, which was founded by Fr. John Harvey in 1980.

Courage boasts 110 chapters worldwide dedicated to helping gay Catholics lead celibate lives. As the new program's name indicates, it is modeled after the Twelve Step recovery process practiced by groups like Alcoholics Anonymous.

U.S. women religious have earned place in American history


One week before it’s set to leave for Dubuque, Iowa, I was finally able to catch the “Women and Spirit: Catholic Sisters in America” exhibition at New York’s Ellis Island.

In many ways, the island is a perfect setting for the exhibition, which highlights the immigrant experience of the women religious who came to the New World as missionaries.

Tucson tragedy reveals fruits of courage, seeds of darkness



It is unclear to what extent Jared Lee Loughner, the gunman who attempted to assassinate Representative Gabrielle Giffords, was influenced by the epidemic of hostile, fear-mongering rhetoric that dominates public discourse on critical issues such as health care, immigration, and Islam.

Regardless of whether Loughner’s motivation was induced by the media or mental illness, the incident compels us to take a serious look at the violent overtones of political speeches, and the ways in which misinformation and exaggerations about hot button issues strike fear and trigger aggression in the minds of listeners.


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In This Issue

November 21-December 5, 2014


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