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reader Dan Vrooman

The martyrs of El Salvador

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The Commonweal blog has remembrances of four American churchwomen -- lay missionary Jean Donovan, Maryknoll sisters Ita Ford and Maura Clarke, and Ursuline sister Dorothy Kazel -- who 30 years ago today were brutalized and then killed by Salvadoran National Guardsmen.

See: The martyrs of El Salvador.

The blog also reprints the 1992 review of the documentary "Roses in December" that longtime El Salvador resident and journalist Gene Palumbo wrote for NCR.

Scranton bishop invites input on diocesan future

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From Scranton's The Times-Tribune:

The new bishop of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Scranton has invited members of the 11-county church to tell him what they hope for their parishes and schools as he begins to shape a stated "vision" for the diocese.

The invitation was conveyed in a pastoral letter Bishop Joseph C. Bambera delivered Sunday, the first of Advent.

In it, he outlined broad elements of his vision for the diocese and asked clergy and parishioners to reflect on the needs and challenges facing the church in a series of response questions they can submit to his office.

The responses are due by Feb. 28 and Bishop Bambera said he hopes to announce a formal vision in April, near the first anniversary of his installation.

Papal fashion

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This morning I was doing a quick review of Catholic news from the past week, looking for stories I might have missed or neglected. I came across this tidbit from Francis X. Rocca, the Vatican correspondent for Religion News Service, reporting on the release of The Light of the World, Pope Benedict's a book-length interview with German journalist Peter Seewald.

Vatican offers ësmoking gun' to defend pope's record on sex abuse

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By JOHN L. ALLEN JR.

tAmid ongoing debate over Pope Benedict XVI’s role in the sexual abuse crisis, the Vatican today claimed that a newly unearthed piece of correspondence shows that as far back as 1988, then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger pressed Rome to adopt “swifter and more simplified procedures” for punishing priests guilty of “grave and scandalous” conduct.

The conduct Ratzinger had in mind, the Vatican implied, included the sexual abuse of minors.

tRatzinger's recommendation was not adopted at the time, a senior Vatican official said, because of stalled debates over the penal section of the church’s Code of Canon Law. Yet Ratzinger kept at it, the official asserted, and today his suggested reforms have largely become binding church law.

t The revelation came in an essay authored by Spanish Bishop Juan Ignacio Arrieta, the number two official at the Vatican’s Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts, which was published today in slightly abbreviated form by the Vatican newspaper L’Osservatore Romano, and is scheduled for full publication tomorrow in the semi-official journal Civiltà Cattolica.

More documents on Fr. H case

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From Der Speigel:

New documents show how the former Archbishop Joseph Ratzinger -- now Pope Benedict XVI -- and his successor Reinhard Marx failed to properly deal with a suspected pedophile. Despite massive allegations of abuse, the archdiocese allowed the priest to continue working with children.

Read the full story: Archbishop Ratzinger Failed to Deal with Suspected Pedophile Priest

Catholic alum to be sentenced for abusing Haitian boys

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This from the Connecticut Post:

NEW HAVEN -- A federal judge refused to delay the Dec. 21 sentencing of Douglas Perlitz, who established Project Pierre Toussaint, an educational program for homeless boys in Haiti. He has admitted to sexually abusing at least one of his students.

... the defense claimed that damage from a January earthquake, Hurricane Tomas in October, the recent cholera outbreak and civil violence and riots have prevented them from being able to investigate the prosecution's claims that Perlitz abused at least 13 victims. They also claim all this forestalled efforts to meet with witnesses who would speak on Perlitz's behalf.

Perlitz, a 40-year-old graduate of Fairfield University, a Jesuit school near Bridgeport, Conn. Read more: Judge says no to delaying Perlitz sentencing date.

Overdoing Advent

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Is it just me, or do more people have their Christmas trees all decorated, their lights all up and their shopping all done this year? More and more of my Facebook friends seem to have finished their Christmas preparations before the Thanksgiving leftovers are even gone.

Update: WikiLeaks and the Vatican

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Just saw this note from Religion News Service:

(Contrary to many news reports, including that linked to below, these documents were NOT part of the Wikileaks trove, but were obtained by La Stampa using the less glamorous method of a FOIA request. However, the Italian newspaper, capitalizing on its lucky timing, ran a headline that suggested otherwise.)

The U.K. newspaper Catholic Herald is reporting that the Italian newspaper La Stampa has found among the U.S. State Department memos on WkikiLeaks, a telegram from Rome to Washington dated April 19, 2005, that said Rome-based diplomats were "shocked" and "speechless" about the election of Cardinal Ratzinger as pope.

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