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COMMENTARY: Everyone's Irish today

North Dakota Catholics told not to donate to groups, no giving to or working with the March of Dimes, UNICEF, Susan G. Komen for the Cure, or Crop Walk

Discussion on The Wall Street Jouranl discussion page: How should the Catholic Church and Catholics respond to the Philadelphia clergy-abuse allegations?

Editorial: A few bad apples don’t spoil the bunch, The 96 percent of good priests deserve a better fate and reaction from the public.

Chicago: Fr. Mike Pfleger’s tenure at St. Sabina Parish may be ending

Santorum Picks the Wrong Founding Father to Make a Point


This year’s crop of Republican presidential candidates are having a difficult time with colonial history.

First, Michelle Bachmann (R-MN) places Lexington and Concord in New Hampshire. And now Rick Santorum (R-PA) has Thomas Jefferson “spinning in his grave” over John F. Kennedy’s famous September 1960 address on church and state. Santorum takes particular issue with Kennedy’s assertion that church-state separation should be “absolute.”

KofC sued for sex abuse


NEW HAVEN, Conn. — The Knights of Columbus, citing a statute of limitations, asked a judge to dismiss lawsuits by two men who say a youth leader sexually abused them decades ago.

The men sued the New Haven-based group in December and said a former leader of the Columbian Squires, the Knights' official youth program, abused them in Texas in the 1970s and 1980s. Their attorney has said the lawsuits appear to be the first against the Knights, the world's largest Catholic lay organization, to allege sexual abuse of children.

Maureen Dowd on the Philadelphia scandal


New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd weighed in on the sex abuse scandal in Philadelphia yesterday.

Here's a snippet:

Even with a global scandal that never seems to stop disgorging disgusting stories, the Philadelphia grand jury report is especially sordid.

It tells the story of a fifth-grade altar boy at St. Jerome School given the pseudonym Billy. Father Engelhardt plied him with sacramental wine and pulled pornographic magazines out of a bag in the sacristy and told the child it was time “to become a man,” the report says.

A week later, after Billy served an early Mass, the report states that Engelhardt instructed him to take off his clothes and perform oral sex on him. Then the priest told the boy he was “dismissed.”

Considering our treasure, the Penatgon


Where our treasure is, there our heart is also. Our treasure is lodged in the Pentagon. Well, lodged might not be the right word. Perhaps squandered is a better word. Whatever. Military spending tells us a lot about our national heart.

Right now Congress is debating whether to permanently end funding of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, which would leave some rural areas at the mercy of corporate news casting and endanger Sesame Street and other commercial-free children’s television. The cut would reduce the deficit by about $400 million.

It is difficult for me to get my mind around how much a million dollars is, especially since I heard yesterday that a poll of millionaires reports most wouldn’t feel really rich unless they had at least seven and a half million dollars.

But take a look at ballistic missile defense. The Pentagon has been trying to do it -- that is, acquire the capacity to shoot down incoming enemy missiles while they are still in the stratosphere -- since 1961. We have spent $135 billion on this effort and the Pentagon has budgeted another $40 billion for the next four years. And we still don’t have the hang of it.

What is a \"Vatican II parish\"?


As a freelance writer, I compose my columns for NCR, first in my head and then on the computer screen, in solitude. Then I email them off to the editors and wait to see them in print or online. So it's always interesting to see what touches people--or hits a nerve.

In my most recent piece, "In religious education, actions speak louder than words," I wrote about the importance of parents teaching the faith through example.

Not a whole lot to debate about there. But it seems one small phrase in the column prompted a number of comments. After remembering how our family made a monthly trek to a soup kitchen, I noted that the lessons learned there were reinforced at our "Vatican II parish."

"A "Vatican II" parish?" asked one commenter. "As opposed the other, Vatican I parishes? Are you claiming some special insight into doctrine or ethics or theology that other Catholics don't have?"

New Israeli settlements foment more terrorism


Ten years ago, I visited Israel as a guest of the government. I was part of a group of Catholic journalists invited to the Holy Land in hopes we would return to the U.S. and write articles encouraging travel to Israel. I have many memories of that trip, but a few stand out:

  • Going to the Holocaust museum and realizing that what was done to Jews then is similar to what Jews do to Palestinians now. For instance, the Germans made Jews wear yellow stars; in Israel, Palestinians have to have green license plates.

  • Interviewing the mayor of Jerusalem and naively asking, “Why can’t you just share the land?” and flinching as he snapped, “You Americans and your 200-year-old history. You know nothing of history!” He went on to describe with disdain the U.S.’s vision of starting fresh every day.

  • Getting a phone call from a priest I’d met there and hearing him describe a complaint he’d received from a parishioner who had been stopped at an Israeli checkpoint as his pregnant wife labored in the back of the car. They were detained until the woman’s water broke and then, finally convinced she was actually pregnant, let them through.

University of St. Thomas' next president could be a lay person


From the Star Tribune:

The next president of the University of St. Thomas won't have to be a priest to get the post.

The St. Paul university's governing board changed its bylaws last month to allow a Roman Catholic layperson serve as president.

It will still show priests "strong preference."

The move acknowledges the shrinking number of Catholic priests interested in and qualified for colleges' top jobs. Seton Hall University in New Jersey recently hired a layperson after its first search -- for priests only -- was unsuccessful.

About 60 percent of Catholic colleges are now led by lay people, said Michael Galligan-Stierle, president of the Association of Catholic Colleges and Universities.


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In This Issue

November 20-December 3, 2015


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