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'Almost Christians' learn to be nice

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Hat tip to the Religion News blog over at the Pew Forum for Religion and Public Life. The story comes from the tennessean.com

Catholics have been commenting on this issue for years now.

God loves you and wants you to be happy.

Be nice to other people and pray if you get into trouble.

That's what most teenagers are learning in church these days, says Kenda Creasy Dean, professor of youth, church and culture at Princeton Theological Seminary. Instead of learning the Bible, young people are drawn to a cult of niceness, Dean said. Being nice is OK, but it doesn't have much to do with Jesus, she said.

"The problem is that it's an incredibly selfish way to look at faith," Dean said. "It means that God is out there to make us happy."

A major study of religion in youth found that many young people are "almost Christian" — they believe in God, but they don't believe Christian doctrines.

State pays for Mother Teresa train

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This report from Ecumenical News International shows that while Americans hesitated in how to celebrate Mother Teresa's birthday, Indians had not such compunction. (I added the bold.)

More than 25 000 people gathered at Sealdah railway station in Kolkata [formerly Calcutta] for the launch of the "Mother Express" train, a highlight of the centenary celebrations of the birth of Mother Teresa.

"Mother has become a household name here and the people are proud that she belonged to this city," said Mamta Bannerji, a Hindu who is India's federal railways minister and who hails from Kolkata, before she flagged off the special train funded by the railway ministry.

Painted in white and blue, the color of the Missionaries of Charity congregation founded by Mother Teresa, the air-conditioned "Mother Express" is a mobile exhibition about the life of Mother Teresa. It is to travel across the country to spread her message of love and care.

Campaign for Human Development Model?

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On its website, the Catholic Key, newspaper of the Kansas City-St. Joseph Archdiocese, offers some suggested guidelines for Catholic Campaign for Human Development funding.

How much these suggestions differ from what the national CCHD program actually supports I simply don't know. But it is hard to argue with the results. The programs the archdiocese actually recommends for national funding based on these criteria seem quite worthwhile, worthy recipients of funds designed to further the church's social justice mission.

Am I missing something here? Or might such a model be the basis of a cease-fire in the CCHD wars?

Danneels latest symbol of a culture in need of reform

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Some will be surprised at the revelation that Cardinal Godfried Danneels of Belgium urged a victim who was abused by his uncle, a bishop, to remain quiet, accept a private apology and allow the bishop to retire and not “drag his name through the mud.”

Secretly made recordings of meetings among the cardinal, the victim and the perpetrator leave little room for Danneels to explain his way out of his own words. He didn’t call the police, he didn’t immediately seek removal of the bishop, he didn’t act immediately to find out whether there had been other victims.

Ten most toxic fish

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Food & Water Watch just released its 2010 Smart Seafood Guide.

Why it's worth checking out: While some guides only address human health issues (like mercury) and environmental problems (like overfishing), Food & Water Watch also considers seafood's socioeconomic impact. "For example, lobster is a a key part of the economy up in Maine," says Marianne Cufone, director of Food & Water Watch's fish program. "Knowing that fact is really important to some consumers." The guide is also searchable by taste and texture, which makes it easy to use for recipe substitutions.

To see Food & Water Watch's "dirty dozen" list of seafood that failed to meet at least two of the group's criteria, click here.

The taming of Martin Luther King

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In this Orwellian era, when a TV entertainer like Glenn Beck is able, if only for a day, to somehow claim to advance the vision of Martin Luther King Jr. while urging listeners to flee from churches that preach social justice, a major reality check is in order.

Beck isn’t the only one, however bizarre his interpretation, who sees the King legacy wrapped up in his dream speech, which Beck says he is out to “restore and finish” with his rally at the Lincoln Memorial today. Most of the culture refuses to get near the most powerful lines of King’s prophetic life.

From previous pieces in NCR:

King’s is a challenging and complex legacy, one that continues to confront the conscience of this country, particularly as we continue to deal with matters of racism and discrimination. Unfortunately, what doesn’t get talked about much is the absolute centrality of nonviolence to his approach to social reform and how that conviction influenced his view of the conduct of the United States in the wider world.

Priest allegedly fathered child of teenage girl

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The Diocese of Allentown, Pa., was recently sued by a couple who said their daughter was seduced by a priest who was a chaplain at a Catholic high school.
According to a report in The Morning Call of Allentown:

"A Roman Catholic priest allegedly seduced a 17-year-old girl while she was a senior at a Catholic high school in Reading into a sexual relationship that resulted in her giving birth at age 19, according to a civil lawsuit filed by her parents in Berks County Court.

"According to the lawsuit, the Rev. Luis A. Bonilla Margarito was removed as chaplain of Reading Central Catholic High School and pastor of St. Joseph Church in Reading after the parents secretly video-taped him having sexual intercourse with their daughter in the basement of their home in November."

Read the entire story here.

Parish Closings

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About two weeks ago, I visited my hometown of Lockport, N.Y., for my 50th high school class reunion. DeSales High School: Class of 1960! Who would believe it? Nostalgia struck me big time when I looked at our yearbook and realized that John XXIII was pope at the time! Ah, for those days of open windows and new thinking! My classmates, I must say, have never lost their taste for that era.

But parishes are closing in Lockport, and I discovered just how sad, upsetting and divisive that can in a place like Lockport (diocese of Buffalo) when parishes have a long history in the community.

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