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Grafting Thin Skin on Thick Skin

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The Vatican's document lumping child sex abuse with the ordination of women as "grave crimes" strikes me as preposterous on its face and I understand the outrage it's triggered.

On the other hand, I can imagine how it makes gut-level sense to the command post in Rome. Both of these activities pose enormous threats to the church's efforts to preserve its corporate identity.

We've already seen how devastating the sex abuse scandals has been on the church, and it's not over by a long shot. The new "norms" won't end that. The thick-skinned forces absorb the hits and march on without major adjustments.

But the ordination of women reveal the thin-skinned side and constitutes a backhanded compliment. The pope's entourage is entirely justified in viewing this movement as a threat of even bigger proportions in the long run. Women in the priesthood could cause untold havoc with the established order.

Fla. diocese gets $9.7 million from HUD

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The Catholic Diocese of Venice, Fla., has been awarded a grant of $9,724,600 from the Department of Housing and Urban Development. The money will be dedicated to constructing an apartment facility for low-income elderly people of all faiths, as an outreach of the Diocese of Venice through Blessed Pope John XXIII Roman Catholic Church, according to a news release.

Surprising defenders of academic freedom

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Of course, conservative Catholics are up in arms about the recent firing of an adjunct professor at the University of Illinois, who taught the Catholic position that homosexual acts are wrong--and followed up his classroom lecture with an email that emphasized that he personally believed the position.

* Chicagoan Tom Roeser railed against the "sense of liberal fascism that the school exhibits over freedom of thought."

* First Things blogger David Mills quotes an anonymous friend in academia who says this case shows the need for tenure to help administrators do the right thing, i.e., protect academic freedom.

Roman Catholic Women Priests respond to Vatican document

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Roman Catholic Women Priests issued a statement late last night (North America time) anticipating the release this morning of the Vatican's revision of certain church laws, which as expected, added the "attempted ordination of women" to list of "grave crimes."

The release opens by objecting to having women's ordination and sex abuse of minors by clergy in the same category of sin, which fellow blogger Maureen Fiedler wrote about earlier (Don't know whether to laugh, cry or scream!).

Here is the rest of the Roman Catholic Womenpriests statement:

The Strength to be Bold

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My admiration for those who exercise heroic courage for justice testifies in part to my own lack of anything close to it.

Mostly my efforts to right the wrongs as I see them stops at the computer terminal with occasional jeremiads directed at a cluster of targets. But that all takes place at a safe remove. I'm not much of a street campaigner or a speaker of "truth" to power out in public.

That's why I need constant prodding from those who provide me models. Two of them died this week.

One was a Protestant minister, a mainline one no less, named George W. Webber. "Bill" He'd been formed at Harvard and Union Theological Seminary in the days when those credentials won entry to the now extinct Protestant Establishment. While a dean at Union, however, he heard one of those diffenent drummers calling him to battle against racism and poverty.

He moved to East Harlem and helped begin the East Harlem Protestant Parish and lived there for decades. He became immersed in an increasing number of justice initiatives. A quiet, self-effacing man with a radiantly spiritual manner, he and the ministry became a magnet for young people who identified with its example and its stature.

Judge drops Haiti abuse charges against Fairfield alum

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A federal judge has dropped all charges against Douglas Perlitz, a Fairfield University alum who was charged with using his position as head of a youth charity organization he founded to prey on poor, homeless boys in Haiti. The story was reported on The Hartford Courant Website.

The judge dismissed the charges because the federal prosecutor brought the action in the wrong jurisdiction. The judge later agreed to delay dismissing the charges until July 23 in order to allow federal authorities to re-indict Perlitz, who will remain in custody, in another jurisdiction.

Imperiled Cleveland parishes still have a prayer

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This report from Religion News Serivce

CLEVELAND — At least five Catholic churches that had been ordered closed have received letters from Rome alerting them that the deadline for the evaluation of their appeals had been extended.

The news buoyed spirits among members of St. James in Lakewood, Ohio, and the Cleveland churches of St. Patrick, St. Emeric, St. Wendelin and St. Peter, five of the 10 parishes in the Cleveland diocese that are appealing orders from Bishop Richard Lennon to close.

Another lay mission story

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In Tom Robert's latest installment in his In Search of the Emerging Church series, he proclaimed that Laypeople are the future of mission work. (BTW Tom has another installment coming in the July 23 print issue.)

If anyone needs more proof than Tom Robert's word on that, here is more evidence: Abuse Victim Becomes Trained Advocate. It is an inspiring story of one (lay) woman making a big difference.

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September 12-25, 2014

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