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Matthew Fox talks obedience and courage, young adults and the church

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This is the second part of Jamie Manson's interview with theologian and writer Matthew Fox. Part I can be found here.

You begin your most recent book, The Pope's War, by taking a look at the childhood of Pope Benedict XVI and his time in Hitler Youth. How do you think that experience might have impacted his view of the church?

Former Dominican sees church's demise as blessing in disguise

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It has been 20 years since Matthew Fox was expelled from the Dominican order after a 12-year battle with then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger and the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. In the decades since, Fox has continued writing, teaching and ministering to various communities. In 1994, he was welcomed into the Anglican Communion as an Episcopal priest. Fox has authored 28 books, the most recent being The Pope's War: Why Ratzinger's Secret Crusade Has Imperiled the Church and How It Can Be Saved. The book has been translated into German, and the Italian version will be released this week.

Filmmaker seeks answers in Simone Weil

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"What response does seeing human suffering demand of us?"

This question, which opens the new documentary An Encounter with Simone Weil, couldn't be timelier. From the unfathomable violence in Syria and Afghanistan to the epidemics of disease and famine in the global South, the suffering in our world is so overwhelming it is difficult to conceive of any response, let alone an adequate one.

Denying Eucharist deepens our deprivation of God's presence

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As painful as it has been to hear the story of Barbara Johnson, an openly lesbian woman who was denied Communion at her mother's funeral last week, I have been heartened by the national attention the story has received.

Those who read NCR are sadly aware that many Catholics, whether gay, lesbian, transgendered, divorced, cohabitating or pro-choice, have been either denied the Eucharist or threatened with denial of the Eucharist.

Finding the meaning of Ash Wednesday in a darkened movie theater

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I didn't set out on Ash Wednesday not wanting to participate in its rituals. To be perfectly honest, it wasn't until I was on a ferryboat ride to Manhattan and saw the foreheads of some of the passengers that I even realized it was Ash Wednesday.

How could I have forgotten? I was at a church event the previous weekend and was reminded of the day and time of the community's service.

What an abortifacient is -- and what it isn't

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"One of the well known truisms in ethics is that good moral judgments depend in part on good facts."

So wrote Dr. Ron Hamel, senior director of ethics for the Catholic Health Association of the United States (CHA) in the January-February 2010 issue of their journal Health Progress.

This edition of Health Progress focused on emergency contraception, particularly on the just treatment of women who check into hospital emergency rooms after suffering rape.

Why the bishops will never be satisfied

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When Archbishop Timothy Dolan's initial reaction to President Barack Obama's compromise on the contraception mandate was "It's a step in the right direction," I knew it was too good to be true.

I knew this because, the night before the compromise was announced, I had listened carefully to Anthony Picarello, general counsel for the USCCB, imply that the bishops were seeking conscience exemptions for far more entities than Catholic institutions. As he said on PBS's "Newshour," the exemptions should cover "both religious employers and employers with religious people running them or other people of conviction who are running them."

Church's ban on contraception starves families and damages ecosystem

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Editor's note: Starting this week, Jamie Manson's column, Grace on the Margins, will be posted on Mondays.

As the battle over contraception coverage raged in our national debate last week, a small report on "PBS NewsHour" demonstrated the devastating effects that the Catholic church's ban on contraception has on poor nations.

The unconscionable consequences of conscience exemptions

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Of all of the reactions that I've read to the Department of Health and Human Service's refusal to change the rules on contraception coverage, I've noticed that few commentators have referred to the formal name of the government mandate the bishops are fighting.

The provision is called the Affordable Care Act. This new law is intended to ensure the just treatment of women and couples who cannot afford adequate medical treatment when it comes to contraceptives and who want to raise families in a safe, responsible manner.

Guns and poses: violent women dominate movies this month

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Is it me, or are a lot of young women kicking butt on the silver screen lately?

Today, not one, but two movies will be released that promise to deliver female lead characters with a supernatural command of martial arts and some very big guns.

The trailer to the forthcoming Haywire opens with a question: "She is our nation's most valuable weapon, so why did they betray her?"

Next, we see actress Gina Carano's character talking to a brute who is trying to coerce her into his car. After he strikes her, she retaliates with a series of sweep kicks, punches and, finally, a slap in the face with a gun that sends his teeth flying.

But that's only the beginning. What follows is a manic montage of Carano's extraordinary acts of violence against men. One is strangled, one is shot in the neck at close range, and another, after being knocked out, gets a steel storefront gate dropped across his abdomen. "You'd better run," Carano snarls at the trailer's conclusion.

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