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Leon Panetta's family legacy


Leon Panetta, the son of immigrant parents, has had an incredible career in public service. He's been a congressman, White House chief of staff, director of the CIA, and secretary of defense. He recently published a new book, Worthy Fights: A Memoir of Leadership in War and Peace.

In the Oct. 14 Wall Street Journal, Panetta explains how a fruit stand on his family's California farm launched his career in politics.

'Power of Sisterhood' illustrates sisters' journey through apostolic visitation


On Dec. 22, 2008, the Vatican Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life announced an apostolic visitation to investigate the lives of sisters in the United States. This announcement begins the book Power of Sisterhood: Women Religious Tell the Story of the Apostolic Visitation, a journey of sisters together across the United States.

Francis is asking us to take sides


When asked "Which side are you on?" — as the song goes — most of us feel uneasy and generally try to sit on the intervening fence.

However, that is the question Pope Francis asked Catholics in his closing address to the bishops and cardinals — and by extension all Catholics — at the extraordinary synod on the Family Oct. 18. Noting the "moments of tensions and temptations" that occurred during the synod, Francis asks us to be honest with ourselves and declare which side we are inclining towards: the "traditionalist" or the "progressive” wing of the church.

Fr. Tony Flannery preaches church reform with a brogue


It was a cool, rainy night Wednesday at Augustana Lutheran Church in Washington, D.C. But the drizzly weather did not keep more than 150 people from coming out to hear Fr. Tony Flannery, a priest from Ireland who has been ordered by the Vatican to sign a statement of orthodoxy and to remain silent. But Flannery -- unlike many theologians before him -- did not sign and won't keep quiet. In fact, this was the first stop in an 18-city speaking tour of the United States, sponsored by a coalition of U.S. church reform groups.

Preview: More work for LGBT and allies before next synod


In the mid-1990s, the U.S. bishops' Committee on Marriage and Family Life drafted a pastoral document addressed to parents who have lesbian or gay children. During the many revisions of the document, Bishop Joseph Charron of Des Moines, Iowa, who chaired the committee at the time, appeared before the 60-member Administrative Board of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops to present the draft.

On the scene for Ferguson October


On Oct. 11, the Ferguson protesters held a march in downtown St. Louis as part of a four-day protest weekend, Ferguson October. I worked as a peacekeeper during the march -- or, in current parlance, a "de-escalator." It wasn't our job to persuade people not to be angry, but to discourage debates with hecklers or among marchers whose chants demonstrated philosophical differences. For example, one chant I'd heard a day earlier in front of the prosecutor's office called for the death of a police officer.


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