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Marquette to make history


Marquette University’s “Golden Eagles” take on the North Carolina Tar Heels tonight as part of the NCAA basketball tournament. I, and millions more, will be watching.

But the real history, the story that will likely be remembered long after the final whistle sounds in Newark, N.J., is likely here, where university president Robert Wild announces that the school will soon offer employment benefits to “domestic partnerships.”

Will the local church hierarchy, Archbishop Jerome E. Listecki most prominently, feel compelled to condemn the expansion of health and other benefits to same-sex couples? Is another mostly tiresome dispute over the “Catholic identity” of a Jesuit institution that enacts such policies about to begin?

I’d bet more money on that than I would on a Golden Eagles victory.

Images of war and peace in my inbox


Images of the depraved and heroically good appeared in my inbox this week.

Tuesday’s email included a link to an article in the German newsweekly Der Spiegel that contained photos of American soldiers smiling and posing beside the corpses of Aghan civilians they have just killed.

This was followed by an exuberant update from my husband, Scott, describing a morning walk through the Afghan capital, Kabul, during which he photographed a man in a shop with a “terrific face” and a beautiful child.

The “Kill Team” photos, first published in Der Spiegel on Monday, show the aftermath of the deliberate murders of Afghan civilians by a rogue U.S. Stryker unit that operated in southern Afghanistan last year. These are the same soldiers who, according to various press accounts, cut off the thumbs of some of their victims for “trophies.”

Pope picks Augustinian nun to write Good Friday meditations


Pope picks Augustinian nun to write Good Friday meditations

By Sarah Delaney
Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Pope Benedict XVI chose an Augustinian nun to author the texts for this year's Way of the Cross procession on Good Friday, the Vatican announced March 25.

Mother Maria Rita Piccione, a contemplative nun who leads the Federation of Augustinian Nuns, wrote the texts that will be read at each of the 14 stations, the Vatican statement said.

Each year, the pope selects a different person to author the texts that mark the steps in the solemn, candlelight ceremony that begins at Rome's Colosseum and leads toward the nearby Forum and Palatine Hill.

Mother Piccione, who lives in the cloistered convent attached to the Four Crowned Saints church in Rome, is the third living woman to be chosen to write the meditations. The previous two were chosen by Pope John Paul: Mother Anna Maria Canopi of the Mater Ecclesiae Abbey in Isola San Guilio, Italy, wrote them in 1993, and Sister Minke de Vries, a nun in the Protestant community of Grandchamp, Switzerland, wrote the texts in 1995.

Newsflash to Dolan: Catholics lead on gay equality


Some of you may have stopped to cringe when Archbishop Dolan, in a segment of his interview webcast on 60 Mintues Overtime, compared the strong desire of a gay couple to be married to his strong desire to play shortstop for the Yankees.

The punch line: “I may have a desire to play short stop, but that doesn’t mean I have a right to it because I don’t have what it takes. And that would be what the church would say about marriage.”

But if you cringed too long (or were distracted by sudden, unusual thoughts of Derek Jeter), you may have missed his following, remarkable statement.

Before I reveal it, I must note that Dolan never once utters the words gay, lesbian or homosexual during his comments on marriage. He consistently uses vague language, as you’ll note in the quote below. This in and of itself is intriguing. But then, while pontificating about who has a right to marriage, he says this:

On this day: Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire


On this day, a century ago, 146 people lost their lives as a result of the fire at the Triangle Waist Company. Most were burned to death. At least fifty jumped out windows to be smashed on the pavement nine stories below.

Click here to read their names. Clicking a victim's name will bring up more information: married or single, religion, counry of origin, how long in the U.S., address, burial place, union member.

Morning Briefing


Bishops reaffirm zero tolerance


The U.S. bishops' conference Administrative Committee met in Washington March 22-23. NCR was told that they discussed the recent scandal in Philadelphia, where a grand jury found that 37 priests remained in ministry despite "substantial" allegations of sexual abuse.

We were told that the bishops pulled back from specifically addressing the Philadelphia situation in a public statement. Instead, Archbishop Timothy Dolan of New York, as president of the conference, issued a statement confirming the bishops' commitment to zero tolerance.

“We remain especially firm in our commitment to remove permanently from public ministry any priest who committed such an intolerable offense,” Dolan said.

NCR senior correspondent John L. Allen Jr. is working on a story, so stay tuned.

The press release from the bishops' media office and the full text of Dolan's statement follows.



Clerics who sexually abuse minors are forbidden from ministry
Backs April Child Abuse Prevention Month for protection of children

Marking Romero's day


Today is Oscar Romero's day.

31 years ago this day the popular Salvadoran archbishop was murdered while celebrating Mass.

As we went about editing and posting reflections from Scott Wright and Jesuit Fr. Dean Brackley to mark the day, I couldn't help but hear the words from the archbishop's last speech over and over in my mind.

A day before his brutal death, Romero made a vocal outcry over the bloody U.S.-backed civil war in his country, calling upon Christians in the army to stop the bloodshed.

Cleveland diocese, city council in stained glass windows 'stand-off'


Stained glass windows in landmark Catholic churches in Cleveland now closed or expected to close are at the center of a dispute about the process of removing them from the buildings.

Should the diocese be required to go through the standard procedure of getting prior permission from the Landmarks Commission or can the diocese side-step the city's rules pursuant to a special one-off deal with the mayor?

All the usual elements are at play: freedom of religion, special treatment for the diocese, threats of litigation, possible political payback by city council members who are angry with the diocese for its massive church closings in Cleveland and abandoning poor neighborhoods, and of course, money.

Cleveland's WYKC Channel 3 reports on the story.

April may be cruel month for relations with traditionalists


For anyone hoping that longstanding ruptures between Rome and the traditionalist wing of the Catholic church are on the brink of swift resolution, it may turn out that April is indeed the cruelest month.

tSometime in early April, two developments are set to come down the pike, each with implications for relations between the Vatican and so-called “traditionalists”, meaning Catholics attached to the old Latin Mass and who harbor deep reservations about the Second Vatican Council (1962-65).

tFirst, the Vatican’s “Ecclesia Dei” Commission, responsible for relations with the traditionalists, will bring out an instruction concerning implementation of Pope Benedict XVI’s 2007 document Summorum Pontificum, which installed the older Mass as an “extraordinary form” of the Latin rite.

tSecond, what could be the final round of talks will take place between the Vatican and the Society of St. Pius X, the traditionalist body founded by the late French Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre, which broke with Rome in 1988.


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November 20-December 3, 2015


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