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Challenges ahead for Vietnam

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Vietnam: Day Six

The interfaith delegation to Vietnam, of which I’m a part, concluded our week by meeting with a variety of officials in Hanoi, the capital. Invariably, Vietnamese government officials and the leaders of various non-governmental organizations greeted us warmly, thanked us for coming, served us the traditional tea and welcomed our efforts to enhance U.S./Vietnamese partnership over the issue of Agent Orange/dioxin.

Church shopping and the polarization of America

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Law professors, June Carbone and Naomi Cahn, wrote a recent book titled, "Red Families v. Blue Families: Legal Polarization and the Creation of Culture."

They suggest that "church shopping" is contributing to the polarization of the country.

They begin this essay with a shocking paragraph about Catholic women and abortion (see below), but the real nut of their research is here:

The figures underlie a striking change in the characteristics of American churches of all denominations: in the '60s, those showing up in church on Sunday might have represented a cross-section of American viewpoints; today, they are more likely to reflect traditionalist views, further driving modernists away from religion altogether -- and intensifying what some have called the “devotional divide” in American politics.

The difference in viewpoints between traditionalists and modernists is profound -- and has dramatic effects on today’s culture wars.

Vietnam: Track Two Diplomacy

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Vietnam: Day Five

How does one translate the human suffering we’ve witnessed into new policies and modes of cooperation between the peoples and governments of Vietnam and the United States?

That is the challenge of days five and six in Vietnam. We’ve seen and hugged the children with distorted limbs and enlarged heads and other birth defects that cry out for healing. We’ve walked on the toxic earth where the U.S. military sprayed Agent Orange/dioxin during the Vietnam War. As people of faith, we can easily describe our task as confessing “social sin,” and making reparations.

But such language does not work well in the world of diplomacy, especially when one party (the United States) refuses to accept responsibility for the effects of the toxin.

Where is the Cavalry Mr. Obama?

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The President listed many steps he is taking to prevent another catastrophe like the one occurring in the Gulf of Mexico, all of which make sense. But, the central difficulty the past few weeks, and the President knows this better than anyone, is that he government charged with protecting our shores lacks the technology to stop the oil gushing from the broken well, and must rely on the same company whose willingness to cut corners created the mess in the first place. None of the steps the president outlined address this difficulty.

More on affinity fraud

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Catholic priests, Fr. Marcial Maciel -- the "efficacious guide to youth," founder and beloved patriarch of the Legionaries of Christ and sexual predator -- Bernie Madoff and others have employed "affinity fraud" to prey on those in a similar religious or ethnic class, as I've previously written.

Today the Securities and Exchange Commission charged a purported money manager, his New York City-based investment company, and two of his associates with conducting an affinity fraud and Ponzi scheme that specifically targeted investors living in the Caribbean and African-American communities of Brooklyn.

Affinity fraud is real and its dangerous. Be alert.

How to Pass Immigration Reform

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In Washington, a prospective policy always faces two hurdles. Is it the right thing to do? And, is it politically feasible to do? Between now and the November midterm elections, the second question becomes more and more difficult and the need for comprehensive immigration reform is in danger of falling by the wayside because of the lack of political will to accomplish a policy that everyone knows must be enacted.

What to do? The President should send up to Congress the exact same proposal on comprehensive immigration reform that his predecessor, George W. Bush, sent to Congress and which was killed in 2007. That proposal may or may not be exactly what the Democrats would want, but it would be a great improvement over the current law. And, the political onus would be placed on those Republicans who supported the Bush proposal then to explain why they do not now support the exact same proposal.

Eucharistic adoration at the Vatican in reparation for abuse

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Check this out at the Catholic News Service blog: Eucharistic adoration at the Vatican in reparation for abuse.

VATICAN CITY — The Vatican is hosting two hours of eucharistic adoration “in reparation for abuses committed by priests and for the healing of this wound within the church.”

The service in St. Peter’s Basilica this Saturday will feature an hour of silent adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, an hour of prayer and meditation, and a solemn blessing at the end.

CNS correspondent John Thavis reports that the Vatican hasn't publicized the event. Invitations were sent by e-mail and word of mouth.

Thavis says the event is being organized by "Catholic university students in Rome. "

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