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Sisters of mercy, devotion -- and dismay

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The Los Angeles Times has chimed in, adding another incredulous voice to many more certain to come, as reasonable observers consider the Vatican's destructive attack on U.S. women religious last week.

Columnist Steve Lopez writes that when he first heard of the Vatican doctrinal assessment of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious, the umbrella group of 80 percent of U.S. women religious now under attack by Rome, he thought it was some kind of satire, "a parody of the out-of-touch Vatican patriarchy."

Jesus without the church?

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Would the "real Jesus" flourish without all the distracting interference of institutional religion to block his true message? A fascinating and concise article online at The New York Times says: nice idea, but, well, no.

Notre Dame philosophy professor Gary Gutting responds in the Times to Andrew Suillivan's Newsweek cover story titled "Forget the Church, Follow Jesus." Sullivan -- like so many before him struggling to find a path to the real Jesus -- advises fellow seekers to push the church aside and just focus on Jesus' words, especially the Sermon on the Mount.

But, as Gutting writes, it just isn't that simple. Jesus spoke often in a language that required interpretation. No one, Gutting says, can really live out the Sermon all the time, every time. Can anyone really turn the other cheek always? Does anyone literally never give a thought for tomorrow?

Cardinal Timothy Dolan lands on Time 100 list

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New York's Cardinal Timothy Dolan has been named one of Time Magazine's most influential people for 2012.

From Time.com:

With his crimson cassock, wide grin and rotund good cheer, Timothy Dolan, 62, the Roman Catholic Archbishop of New York, seems a figure out of the age of the old movies Going My Way and The Bells of St. Mary's -- a warm prelate who leads his flock more by charm than fiat.

Yet in 2012, this priest with a mien dating back half a century did something few other American Roman Catholic leaders have managed in recent times: he put himself and his church back in the center of the national political conversation, a public square long dominated by Protestant evangelicals.

In leading the opposition to a proposed Obama Administration rule that would have required Catholic organizations like hospitals to pay for contraceptive services for female employees, Dolan successfully argued that such a policy violated the nation's principles of religious liberty.

The site also has a video of Dolan.

Portrait of a woman who supports the Vatican and opposes LCWR

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Last night, "PBS NewsHour" dedicated a segment into the Vatican takeover of LCWR. They interviewed two women of opposing views on the issue. Supporting LCWR was Jeannine Fletcher Hill, a professor specializing in feminist theology at Fordham University. Supporting the Vatican was Donna Bethell, a lawyer who serves as the chairman of the board at Christendom College.

Christendom College, for those out of the loop (and I was one of them until last night), is a liberal arts college founded 30 years ago "in response to the devastating blow inflicted on Catholic higher education by the cultural revolution which swept across America in the 1960s."

The college's website boasts, "Catholicism is the 'air that we breathe,' " and "Academic excellence takes the Magisterium as its guide."

Pope Benedict loves Christendom College. And Bethell spent her airtime discrediting women religious for not presenting the "full doctrine of the church" and not helping members "to understand it and to live it." But a web search of Ms. Bethell quickly reveals that some of her most deeply held convictions conflict significantly with Roman Catholic doctrine.

Kathy Kelly: Afghan screams aren't heard

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Kathy Kelly reports after a Skype conversation with a young Afghan Peace Volunteer named Hakim

April 20, 2012

Last weekend, in Kabul, Afghan Peace Volunteer friends huddled in the back room of their simple home. With a digital camera, glimpses and sounds of their experiences were captured, as warfare erupted three blocks away.

Two Afghan youth taking refuge together with the Afghan Peace Volunteers
The fighting has subdued, but the video gives us a glimpse into chronic anxieties among civilians throughout Afghanistan. Later, we learned more: Ghulam awakens suddenly, well after midnight, and begins to pace through a room of sleeping people, screaming. Ali suddenly tears up, after an evening meal, and leaves the room to sit outside. Staring at the sky and the moon, he finds solace. Yet another puzzles over what brings people to the point of loaning themselves to possibly kill or be killed, over issues so easily manipulated by politicians.

A birthday song for a women religious community

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On Wednesday, the Loretto Community will celebrate its 200th birthday.

Loretto Sr. Ann Patrick Ware wrote a birthday song that strikes the right celebratory tone. You might try it yourself for your own birthday. If you are not a woman, remember that "woman" includes "man."

Birthday Song, words by Loretto Sr. Ann Pat Ware

Music is Easter song, Ye Sons and Daughters of the Lord
Come celebrate the day and year!
God's loving kindness brought you here.
It's your birthday,
Come-to-earth day.
Take note of hour day and clime.
There's no such thing as neutral time.
It's your birth day. Alleluia.
Come-to-earth day,
Alleluia, alleluia.

That was no ordinary day.
It marked your life so come and say,
Hail my birthday.
Sing-with-mirth day.
I am a woman who reveres
History's march across my years.
Toast my life span!
It's my strife span.
Toast my insight,
Wisdom's bright light.
Alleluia.

Bishop: President Obama following 'a similar path' to Hitler, Stalin

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From The Huffington Post (seriously, you cannot make this stuff up):

A downstate Illinois Catholic bishop has come under fire after he said in a message at St. Mary's Cathedral in Peoria that President Barack Obama is on "a similar path" as Adolf Hitler and Joseph Stalin.

Roman Catholic Bishop Daniel Jenky of Peoria, according to the Right Wing Watch blog, likened Obama's "radical, pro-abortion and extreme secularist agenda" as violating the First Amendment and proving the president's "intent on following a similar path" as Hitler and Stalin in a Saturday address.

Jenky went on to claim that American Catholics are currently in a "war" due to the Obama administration's ruling on birth control and other issues:

"May God have mercy especially on the souls of those politicians who pretend to be Catholic in church, but in their public lives, rather like Judas Iscariot, betray Jesus Christ by how they vote and how they willingly cooperate with intrinsic evil."

Morning Briefing

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Video -- Vatican Rebuke: Are U.S. Nuns Promoting 'Radical Feminist Themes?'

Editorial -- The Vatican is reining in the leadership conference of American Catholic nuns. That seems a misreading of the very fine work done by nuns across the nation.

Connecticut -- Catholic activists pushing politicians to turn tide against the death penalty

Commentary -- Sex abuse inquiry will find the Catholic Church has been fair by Archbishop Denis Hart of Melbourne, Australia

Ministers reveal odd and wondrous calling of pastoral work

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Last Sunday, the PBS program "Religion and Ethics Newsweekly" aired a segment called "Two Pastors." The two pastors are the Rev. Lillian Daniel and the Rev. Martin Copenhaver, both ministers in the United Church of Christ. They are also co-authors of the book This Odd and Wondrous Calling: The Public and Private Lives of Two Ministers.

The video introduces us to two warm, passionate and compassionate people obviously in love with their vocation. The book reflects on the joys and struggles inherent in leading a parish community.

Many of the experiences mirror our own Catholic experience: the hesitancy in answering the initial call; the hard work of seminary life; learning how to pray; the need for wise mentors; the struggles of shrinking parishes; the joys of breaking open the Word; and facing both criticism and praise from parishioners.

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April 11-24, 2014

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