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Four more priests named for appealing Cleveland parishes

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Bishop Richard G. Lennon of Cleveland named pastor assignments Tuesday afternoon for four more parishes as they and others move closer to full restoration.

Each of the four pastors will begin their new assignments July 16.

The announcement leaves only two parishes -- St. Peter and St. Emeric parishes in Cleveland -- without new pastors among the 11 parishes that successfully appealed to the Vatican's Congregation for the Clergy to reopen their churches. Since August 2010 parishioners of St. Peter had broken away and formed their own community while their appeal moved through the Vatican.

Lennon had announced five previous assignments June 27.

The Congregation for the Clergy ruled in early March that Lennon erred procedurally and substantively in his closing of the appealing parishes.

How do we agree on restoration of the church?

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I found myself near St. Patrick's Cathedral in Manhattan on Thursday and walked in. It's always an odd dissonance there: part holy space, part tourist destination, along with nearby Rockefeller Center and Times Square.

This was the day the Supreme Court announced its decision on the Affordable Care Act, and -- given New York Cardinal Timothy Dolan's outspokenness on everything President Barack Obama -- I wanted to see if there was any kind of "reaction" in the cathedral.

Along the sides of the great space, tourists wandered up and down, taking photos of the impressive stained-glass windows and stopping at one of the 12 side chapels. They darted around metal sheets and scaffolding: The cardinal has undertaken a massive repair and renovation project of the cathedral, inside and out, scrubbing off several decades of accumulated grime since the last restoration project, launched by Cardinal Francis Spellman in the early 1960s.

Restoration of former grandeur seemed to me, as I stood at the entrance, an apt symbol for what it appears the church is trying to do now: looking backward as a way of moving ahead.

U.S. Congress takes to YouTube in support of sisters

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Seventy-five members of the U.S. House of Representatives have taken to YouTube to show support for Catholic sisters in the wake of a Vatican's harsh critique of the group which represents the majority of their ranks in the U.S.

Speaking one after another on a video posted on the popular video-sharing service Monday, the Congressional representatives say "thank you" again and again to the sisters for their work, mentioning at times the way they've influenced the country's direction and history.

The video, which was posted on the YouTube account of NETWORK, a Catholic social justice lobby in Washington headed by Social Service Sr. Simone Campbell, comes after news last week that a resolution had been proposed in Congress expressing the "deepest appreciation" for the sisters’ work.

That resolution currently has 174 cosponsors.

Among those expressing support for the sisters in the video is Congressman John Lewis of Georgia, a noted civil rights advocate and leader who mentions that it was a sister who cared for him after he was injured during the march from Selma to Montgomery in March, 1965.

God May Work In Mysterious Ways But Not So Much the Vatican

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It's understandable that beleaguered nuns and their ardent supporters would look for a silver lining in Benedict XVI's naming of Bishop Gerhard Ludwig Muller as his next attorney general with privileges.

To many of us outside the circle it seems like an exercise in denial but within the church it may be deemed necessary for survival as Catholics.

The straw is that Muller is said to be buddies with Gustavo Gutierrez. So maybe, just maybe he's a closet liberation theologian who's about to assert his real identity.

Plenty of opposites sip tea together. Ted Kennedy supped with Orrin Hatch. Bill Buckley schmoozed with John Kenneth Galbreath. For all I know, George Custer smoked the peace pipe with Sitting Bull's brother.

The intrigue in such cases stems from the difference, not in conversion of one by the other. Gutierrez may have wooed Muller into the liberation camp without our knowledge, but where would we find evidence?

Obama's health care law is moral and just

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What a week of drama surrounding the Supreme Court.

First, a majority of the justices ruled for the most part against Arizona's anti-immigrant legislation, then later in the week, a majority led by Chief Justice John Roberts declared the Affordable Care Act to be constitutional, albeit not on the grounds that the Obama administration argued.

My thoughts on the latter coincide with what President Barack Obama said when he made his administrative decision to exempt undocumented young people from the threat of deportation. He then said, "It was the right thing to do." The same applies to the health care legislation -- it is the right thing to do. The moral principle behind the act is to help provide health care for those who can't afford it or who for other reasons don't have it but want it. This is taking care of our neighbors, and if not our neighbors -- depending on where we live -- taking care of our fellow human beings who are in need.

Places in the world to get universal health care coverage

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CNN reports:

"Nearly 50 countries have attained universal or near-universal health coverage by 2008, according to the International Labor Organization. Several well-known examples exist like the UK, which has the National Health Service, and the Canadian public health care system."

The story summarizes universal health coverage in Brazil, Thailand, Chile, South Korea, Rwanda, Moldova, Kuwait and China.

Meanwhile, over at Bloomberg News, a former Goldman Sachs banker is on the forefront of trying to privatize some of Britain's government-run hospitals, so far with unclear results.

Philippines archbishop: Spend to stop child labor, not on condoms

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MANILA, Philippines -- The president of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines on Sunday urged the government to spend the money allocated for contraceptives on programs to curb high incidence of child labor in the Philippines instead.

Interviewed over church radio Veritas 846, Archbishop Jose Palma of Cebu said instead of buying condoms, the government must use the funds to provide "worthy programs" that would employ parents of working children. He pointed to increased use of child labor as a "more urgent" issue than birth control.

Morning Briefing

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Philadelphia -- Ex-archdiocese official admits $900,000 theft

Election 2012 -- Romney plans trip to Israel as Bain problem hits the big screen (with video)

Catholic nuns’ bus tour concludes in nation’s capital

The Catholic nuns finish “Nuns on the Bus” tour blasting the GOP budget as “immoral” (with video)

Pope appoints doctrinal watchdog with links to 'Marxist' Catholics Gerhard Ludwig Müller, who has defended liberation theologists and written a book on the poor, will lead key department.

Nuns on the Bus tour ends in Washington, D.C.

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I have just come from the sidewalk across the street from the Supreme Court and the U.S. Capitol, immediately in front of the Methodist Building. (All sorts of interfaith meetings for justice and peace take place at the Methodist Building every week.) It was an apt spot at which to greet the returning Nuns on the Bus.

It was about 95 degrees in the shade, but a breeze helped moderate that heat for the enthusiastic crowd of about 300 people gathered to welcome the nuns home.

These nuns had just completed a nine-state tour calling for economic justice, specifically the defeat of the federal budget authored by Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI). That budget would cut programs for the poor and vulnerable, gut Medicare and Medicaid, and provide large tax breaks for the wealthy. "Immoral," they called it, and the crowd responded with resounding applause.

Vice President Biden visits home base of LCWR president

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Vice President Joe Biden quietly visited the motherhouse of the Sisters of St. Francis in Dubuque, Iowa, where the head of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR) is based, during a campaign trip last week, reports David Gibson of Religion News Service.

The visit, which was unusually kept under-the-radar, apparently involved the delivery of ice cream and an audience of about 150.

Reports Gibson:

Why the secrecy, Joe? These days everybody loves the nuns. Yet while the media covered Biden's various events as he appealed to the usual constituencies in the battleground state, there was nary a word about his stopover last Tuesday (June 26) to bring dessert to the sisters.

“The Vice-President got to know the sisters through an old friend in Dubuque, during a previous trip to the city,” said a campaign official, speaking on background. "This was nothing more than a private, casual reunion of friends of faith over ice cream and cookies." There were about 150 people at the gathering.

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