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Faith and AIDS work

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Here is a companion piece to the CNS story we posted to our website yesterday: Catholic AIDS expert: Study lends credibility to faith leaders' work.

This comes from Ecumenical News International:

Faith leaders warned on statements about HIV and AIDS

Vienna -- Faith leaders can play a key role in the fight against the HIV pandemic if their public statements help combat stigma and discrimination, a meeting of faith groups in Vienna in advance of the 18th International AIDS Conference has heard.

"Religious leaders have the trust and confidence of their communities and can help break these barriers and create a more supportive environment," the Netherlands AIDS ambassador Marijke Wijnroks told a 17 July multi-faith conference in the Austrian capital.

Wijnroks acknowledged that faith communities have been "on the frontline of the response to HIV and AIDS".

Online petition protesting pope's visit removed

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British government removes online petition protesting pope's visit

By Simon Caldwell, Catholic News Service

LONDON -- The British government has removed from its website a petition protesting Pope Benedict XVI's Sept. 16-19 visit to England and Scotland.

The petition had urged the British prime minister to dissociate the government from the pope's "intolerant views" and not to support the state visit financially. The secularist coalition Protest the Pope sponsored the petition, which had attracted more than 12,300 signatures.

U.S. government goes secret.

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Want to read a pretty unsettling first paragraph to an important news story?

The following appeared in the Washington Post today.

The top-secret world the government created in response to the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, has become so large, so unwieldy and so secretive that no one knows how much money it costs, how many people it employs, how many programs exist within it or exactly how many agencies do the same work.

This \"Egg on the Faceî Won't Wash Off

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Apparently, even some men in the Vatican have had second thoughts about the recent document that put pedophilia in the same category of crimes as the “attempt to ordain a woman.”
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Msgr. Charles Scicluna, who works in the Vatican’s doctrinal department, said on Friday, July 16th that these “crimes” are not comparable under canon law.

"They are in the same document but this does not put them on the same level or assign them the same gravity," said Scicluna. He called sexual abuse a “crime against morality,” and the “attempt” to ordain a woman a “crime against a sacrament.” He did not mention that they are both called “delicta graviora.”

It’s evident that the Vatican has egg all over its theological face with this one. And they’re trying to clean it up.

But it won’t wash. They’ve let too much out of the bag. The original statement told us in new language what they really think about women. Their ridiculous comparison of women’s ordination with pedophilia was actually released to the media, apparently without anyone’s questioning it, and no one in the Vatican pulling it back.

Immigration in Europe Reveals Catholic Principle

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As the immigration issue continues to rage on, the church is often accused of acting simply in its own self-interest. After all, the vast majority of undocumented workers in the U.S. are Catholics from Latin America. But an article in the Los Angeles Times demonstrates that the Catholic commitment to justice for immigrants goes much deeper.

In a report from Rome, The Times focuses on the John Paul II Canteen there, which offers immigrants in the Eternal City a place to sit and have a hot meal. But Italy's immigration issue has nothing to do with Latinos -- there, the majority are Muslim.

As the article points out, Catholics advocate for these immigrants in a way that could actually be seen as against the church's ultimate self-interest. As Pope Benedict has noted, the numbers of native born Catholics are on the decline throughout Europe (including Italy) -- without being refreshed by large numbers of Catholic immigrants. Those immigrants are Muslim, instead.

Interfaith Voices this Week: Black Preaching in America

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It’s a fascinating week on Interfaith Voices. We begin with Martha Simmons, co-editor of a new anthology of African American preaching, from the days of slavery to the present. It’s called Preaching with Sacred Fire. Listening to some of these preaching styles, I was reminded that the liveliest liturgies in the Catholic Church are most often found in predominantly African-American parishes.
t
tThen, we explore the Yoruba religious tradition native to Africa as part of our World Religions 101 series. It has also spread in the Americas, especially Brazil and the Caribbean. Its “mischievous” “gods,” or Orishas, are a delight to hear about.

tFinally, we conclude with Jewish music from the 1940’s through the 1980’s, what is wistfully called “Jews on Vinyl.” Follow this link to listen.

New Vatican observer at UN

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The Holy Father appointed Archbishop Francis Assisi Chullikatt, apostolic nuncio to Iraq and Jordan, as Holy See permanent observer to the United Nations in New York.

He became the first non-Italian to hold the post and succeeds Archbishop Celestino Migliore, who is now apostolic nuncio to Poland.

Here's a news report from UCA News:

Top UN posting ‘proves’ Church’s universality

Church officials in Kerala have hailed the appointment of an Indian as the Vatican’s top envoy to the United Nations, saying it demonstrates the Church’s multi-national character.

The appointment of Archbishop Francis Assisi Chullikatt as the Vatican’s Permanent Observer to the UN is a “great recognition” of the Indian Church, said Syro-Malabar Church spokesperson Father Paul Thelakat.

Pope Benedict XVI appointed the 57-year-old former apostolic nuncio to Iraq and Jordan on July 17.

He became the first non-Italian to hold the post and succeeds Archbishop Celestino Migliore, who is now apostolic nuncio to Poland.

A Tribute to Nancy Frazier O'Brien

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Reporters were once prone to treat official Vatican pronouncements with the deference expected of them by the Curia -- authoritative, binding and beyond dispute. The idea that opposing voices could be valid and newsworthy was slow to dawn, aided by the sex abuse scandals and open challenges to church authority. But the old presumption that the only views that count are clerical and hierarchical ones hasn't entiredly disappeared, of course, and coverage can suffer because of it. Besides, it's easier to go along with the notion that the official statement is the last word.

Nancy Frazier O'Brien's piece for Catholic News Service on Archbishop Weurl's attempt to explain the Vatican's yoking together child sexual abuse and women's ordination as "grave crimes" could have limited itself to the archbishop's effort to assure Catholic women that the stigmatizing of women's ordination meant no disrespect for women in general. But she went the extra mile to seek out the executive director of that Women's Ordination Conference and the WomenPriests group for their responses.

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