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Martin Luther King, Jr. and noisy contemplation

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On this week’s Interfaith Voices, we deal with a number of topics: the religious dimensions of the Arizona shooting tragedy (a wonderful conversation with EJ Dionne), a rundown of the religious composition of the new Congress, and a special look at Eric Cantor, the new House Majority Leader, who is –- religiously speaking -– a rare species: a Jewish Republican. We probe why most Jews are democrats.

But our final interview is with Lewis V. Baldwin, author of a new book: Never to Leave Us Alone: The Prayer Life of Martin Luther King, Jr. Baldwin is a Professor of Religious Studies at Vanderbilt University, and this is the third book he has written on King.

King is someone who inspired me as a young person to become involved in social justice and peace. Since his assassination in 1968, we have heard a great deal about King’s activism, his speeches and sermons. But this is the first work published on his prayer life. And it probably reveals the source of his inner strength.

Hungary bishops resigns amid investigation for fraud, other crimes

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From the Associated Press:

Hungary's Catholic Church says that a bishop whose diocese is being investigated by police and prosecutors for fraud and other crimes has resigned.

The Hungarian Conference of Catholic Bishops says that Pope Benedict XVI has accepted the resignation of Mihaly Mayer and named Andras Veres to temporarily oversee his duties in the Diocese of Pecs, in southern Hungary.

Head of Vatican's finance watchdog named

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Catholic News Service reports:

Pope names head of Vatican investments to new watchdog agency

By Carol Glatz Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Pope Benedict XVI named the president of the Vatican's investment agency to head a new watchdog agency charged with monitoring all Vatican financial operations.

Italian Cardinal Attilio Nicora, 73, is president of the new Financial Information Authority, which the pope instituted Dec. 30 to oversee the monetary and commercial activities of all Vatican-related institutions, including the Vatican bank.

The pope also named the members of the four-person executive board.

Read the full story: Pope names head of Vatican investments to new watchdog agency

Gun Shy but Smelling Smoke

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I'm skittish about using the "smoking gun" analogy with reference to the Vatican's go-slow-on-abuse letter to the Irish bishops. Tucson's still in the rear view mirror and, besides, guns shouldn't smoke either.

But with all due respect to John Allen, his effort to reduce the significance of the Vatican's warning to a "public relations embarrassment" that doesn't rise to the level of a deadly weapon misses the point in my opinion.

The "1997 letter" as it will be exhibited in the court document doesn't itself carry the decisive load of guilt. It is, rather, this item adds to the cumulative stack of evidence of malfeasance.

As burden of proof grows, the efforts to explain the evidence as a misunderstanding of good intentions or as so historically conditioned that it would have made common sense at the time become even less credible. Ambiguity doesn't neutralize primary motivations.

Morning Briefing

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Is Vatican letter on abuse a 'smoking gun'?

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ANALYSIS

A January 1997 letter from the papal ambassador to Ireland, communicating the opinion of the Vatican’s Congregation for Clergy about a set of proposed Irish policies on priestly sexual abuse, confirms that in the late 1990s the Vatican was ambivalent about requirements that bishops be required to report abuse to police and civil prosecutors.

Tucson, assassination attempts and fame

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As the nation examines its civic conscience in the aftermath of the Tuscon shootings, a Secret Service study reveals that politics rarely motivates political assassins. Instead, those shooters are driven by a much more American malady: the quest for fame.

That's the central conclusion of a compelling report on NPR. The radio network takes a close look at the "Secret Service Exception Case Study Project," begun in the mid-1980s, shortly after the attempt on President Reagan's life.

Psychologist Robert Fein worked with the Secret Service, reviewing files of assassins and attempted shooters -- many unknown to the public. Fein and his team also interview some of the infamous, to get additional insight into what propelled them. Their results were published in 1999.

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In This Issue

August 28-September 10, 2015

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