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Vatican works to build ties with Vietnam

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Prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples Cardinal Ivan Dias, in Vietnam, conveyed best wishes from Pope Benedict XVI to the Vietnamese people, affirming the Vatican’s goodwill and strong wish to promote good relations with Vietnam.

The meeting between Dias and Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung comes just days after the U.S. filed a protest to the Vietnamese government after a U.S. diplomat was roughed upwhen he was visiting a Vietnamese Catholic dissident priest in central Vietnam.

Relations between church and state in Vietnam continue to be somewhat precarious. Catholics within the church in Vietnam are also somewhat divided in thoughts about how to work with the Hanoi leadership. Some strong anti-communists say cooperation if impossible; others say the church needs to find ways to work with communist officials, especially on matters of pastoral concern.

No 'Exorcism Files' on Discovery, Vatican says

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By JOHN L. ALLEN JR.

tDespite titillating news stories over the weekend, the Vatican has denied that it is collaborating with the U.S.-based Discovery Channel on a series to be called the “Exorcist Files.”

t In comments that first appeared in Entertainment Weekly, Discovery Channel President Clark Bunting reportedly claimed that the network has secured the Vatican’s cooperation for the project, including access to its secret archives.

tThe idea, as Bunting described it, would be to document cases of demonic possession investigated by the Catholic church – including, apparently, joining real exorcists for “ride-alongs” as they perform the church's rituals for casting out demons.

“The Vatican is an extraordinarily hard place to get access to,” Bunting was quoted as saying. “But we explained we’re not going to try to tell people what to think.”

tThe Vatican, however, says that no such project is the works.

Pope rips anti-Christian tide in major foreign policy speech

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ANALYSIS

Pope Benedict XVI today devoted his most closely watched annual foreign policy address to religious freedom, especially what many observers see as a rising global tide of anti-Christian hostility. He denounced assaults on Christians in Iraq, Egypt, Nigeria, Pakistan and China, as well as a growing “marginalization” of Christianity in secular Europe.

On this day: Infallibility

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On this day we celebrate the feast of Pope St. Agatho, who was elected in 678 when he was over 100 years old. He reigned until 681.

The inscription on his tomb reads: "the highest priest Agatho holds firm the covenants of the Apostolic See. There is piety! There is the ancient Faith! The undefiled badges of the Fathers remain, nourisher, through your efforts."

It was a tribute to his stance against Monothelitism. Pope Agatho's judgment that Christ had two wills, human and divine, put an end to the Monothelite heresy. The legates he sent to the Sixth Ecumenical Council at Constantinople in 680 carried letters that "repeatedly affirmed the inerrancy of the Apostolic See". The bishops agreed that "by Agatho, Peter spoke".

Morning Briefing

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Homeless man captures nation's 'theater of mind'

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NBC's Today Show coverage yesterday and today of the story of Ted Williams -- a homeless former radio professional rediscovered by a Columbus, Ohio radio station which took the time to video tape and record him as he stood on the highway with a sign begging for work -- fascinates me.

Everyone loves a redemption story, a second chance. However, William's mom, at 90 years of age, tells it like it is. She does not want to be disappointed again.

They both speak of the role of God in their lives and Ted, now two years sober, seems to want to move forward with life starting with an apartment.

On this day: Lay Associates

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On this day we celebrate the feast of Blessed Angela of Foligno, a laywoman, a widow, who achieved sanctity as a member of the Third Order of Saint Francis.

In October, 2010, Pope Benedict XVI delivered an address during the general audience in St. Peter's Square. In English, he said: "Our catechesis today recalls the medieval mystic Blessed Angela of Foligno, born in 1248. A carefree wife and mother, Angela at one time looked down on the mendicants and observers of strict poverty in religious life. However, tragic events and suffering in her personal life gave her cause to become aware of her own sins, leading her to a decisive moment of conversion in the year 1285. Invoking the aid of Saint Francis, who appeared to her in a vision, she made her confession at San Feliciano. Upon the death of her mother, husband and children, she sold all she had and joined the Third Order of Saint Francis. She died in 1309."

Why I take the tree down on Epiphany

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Nothing makes me sadder than seeing a tree by the curb on Dec. 26. In our house, we don't take the tree down till Epiphany (actually Epiphany Eve last night)--dry needles be damned.

It's not only laziness that has us keeping our decorations up long after most folks have already returned to work and school (We got them up late too). It's that we're trying to pay some attention to the liturgical calendar--not just the secular one. And that calendar says Christmas is not a 24-hour feast.

Now, I know some purists will say that Christmas really ends the Sunday after Epiphany, with the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord. Others will insist it really goes until Feb. 2, on the Feast of the Presentation in the Temple.

But if I waited that long I wouldn't be able to recycle our tree. At least the City of Chicago has moved the deadline for dropping off your tree for mulching past the new year. Maybe celebrating the 12 days of Christmas isn't so countercultural, after all.

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August 28-September 10, 2015

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