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The 'Francis effect' goes beyond the laypeople in the pews

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In the past year, many have noticed a "Francis effect" taking place around the world as throngs of disaffected Catholics have given the church a second look. Yet we may rightly wonder whether this is actually a double effect -- for not only are lay Catholics returning to the pews, but some clergy are feeling empowered to reach toward the ambiguous margins of modern belief.

Lessons from the Levant

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The picture was perfect. Four patriarchs of the Maronite, Melkite, Syrian Orthodox and Syrian Catholic churches with the catholicos of the Armenian Apostolic Church sat side by side on the stage on Thursday in Washington at the In Defense of Christians Inaugural Summit. More remarkable was the coherence of the patriarchs' message: Not just Christians, but all religions of the Middle East, including Islam and Judaism, need protection. The future of the region, they declared, must be found in pluralism and inclusion.

Condemning the Islamic State and the 'caliphate'

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President Barack Obama's speech to the nation Wednesday focused attention on the problems and threat created by the Islamic State.

The name is significant. The group changed its name from the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria to simply the Islamic State. For them, the underlying vision is something found in Muslim history: the caliphate. And they don't want to be geographically limited; they want to fashion the world in their image.

NCR readers in KC area: Save this date

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On Nov. 1, NCR will co-host a one-day seminar with Rockhurst University, in Kansas City, Mo.. “Pope Francis: Becoming a Church of Mercy” is a day of discussions on the global impact of Francis’ papacy.

The event takes place on the Rockhurst campus. Speakers include Rockhurst president Fr. Tom Curran and Rockhurst theology faculty and yours truly along with NCR Vatican correspondent Josh McElwee and NCR senior analyst Fr. Tom Reese. NCR CEO/president Caitlin Hendel will moderate a panel.

NCR readers in Joliet, Ill.: Save this date

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NCR columnist Phyllis Zagano will speak Sept. 18 at the University of St. Francis in Joliet, Ill.

"Women Deacons: A Promise of Vatican II" will be 7 p.m. Sept. 18 in San Damiano Hall, 500 Wilcox St., Joliet. Presented by Catholic scholar Zagano, senior research associate-in-residence and adjunct professor of Religion at Hofstra University in New York, this is a Bishop Joseph L. Imesch Women in the Church Lecture Series presentation.

Attention NCR readers in Rochester, NY

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NCR senior analyst Jesuit Fr. Tom Reese will be in Rochester, N.Y., Sept. 11 and 12 for two speaking engagements with the Shannon Chair Catholic Studies Lecture of Nazareth College.

Topics, times and venues are:

Pope Francis and the Challenge of Reforming the Church
Sept. 11, 7 p.m.
Forum, Otto A. Shults Community Center

Listening to the Laity: Pope Francis and the Upcoming Synod on the Family
Sept. 12, 1:30 p.m.
Linehan Chapel, Golisano Academic Center

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October 10-23, 2014

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