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O'Connell to Trenton

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Regular readers will know of the high regard in which I hold Father David O’Connell, CM, the President of the Catholic University of America for the past 12 years. Evidently, my opinion is shared by Pope Benedict XVI who named O’Connell this morning as the Coadjutor Bishop of Trenton, New Jersey. I am told that it is a gem of a diocese and they are getting a gem of a new bishop. Tanti Augurri.

A tale of two conventions

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This is a big week for Catholic publishers, with dueling conventions in New Orleans and outside Chicago. The Catholic Media Convention, in the Big Easy, gathers diocesan and other newspaper journalists as well as those who work on Catholic magazines, websites, and audiovisual media, plus PR and communications folks. Meanwhile, Catholic book publishers and booksellers are meeting outside the Windy City at the Religious Booksellers Trade Exhibit (RBTE).

I used to attend the former regularly, back when it was just the Catholic Press Association (CPA). And yesterday I attended the latter.

RBTE's lunch keynote speaker Joan Chittister challenged book publishers and sellers to continue their "ministry to honor the great spiritual questions of today." The previous day Joyce Rupp spoke on the "The Bookseller as Compassionate Presence." (Both women, by the way, are NCR columnists.)

Meanwhile, the Catholic Media Convention had Republican commentator Mary Matalin, who stepped in for her Democratic husband, James Carville, who apparently couldn't make it. And a panel on the role of Catholic media with three archbishops and two bishops.

Sex in the City 2: Girls just wanna have fun

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Back in 2008 I saw the first Sex in the City film I thought it actually had its moments. I objected on a Busted Halo Sirius Radio interview with Fr. Dave Dwyer, CSP, that it was not a “chick flick” but had a heart-felt theme of authentic forgiveness. I don’t like the term “chick flick” because it lets men dismiss films with female leads and interests so I dared him to see it, which he did. He even invited me back on the show to chat about his thoughts on the film.

Hitchens Strikes Out

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Christopher Hitchens, the controversialist, bon vivant, intellectual and self-appointed Inquisitor of all religions but especially of Holy Mother Church, has come out swinging against Elena Kagan and the Obama administration for taking the side of the Vatican in a law suit that seeks to remove the legal protection the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act. The Vatican and the Obama administration agree that the Vatican is covered by the act. Hitchens, and the plaintiffs, think it should not be and that American bishops and clergy should be considered personnel of the Vatican. Full disclosure: Mr. Hitchens and I have shared more scotches than I can remember. Our views on many subjects could not be more different, but he has always been very kind to me. More than that, he has never written a boring sentence in his life, and that counts for a lot in my book.

Jim Wallis on the Deepwater Horizon spill

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Jim Wallis is an evangelical Christian writer and political activist, best known as the founder and editor of Sojourners magazine and of the Washington, D.C.-based community of the same name. He is author of God’s Politics: Why the Right Gets It Wrong and the Left Doesn’t Get It (Harper) and The Soul of Politics (HarperCollins).
I interviewed him June 2.

Some additional questions for seminarians

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Some years ago,a priest psychologist I was interviewing who had reviewed years of files of sexually abusive priests who had been treated, summed up the situation by saying the problem of clergy sexual abuse and inappropriate sexual behavior in general among Catholic clergy would not abate until there were honest discussions of sexuality among priests and bishops.

At least part of that has begun to happen, if awkwardly and under somewhat forced circumstances, according to a recent story in The New York Times. What's lacking, of course, are the questions about the culture that spawned the scandal.

Cell phones: bee killers?

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It's something that's been puzzling scientists, farmers, and Pooh Bears looking for honey over the past few years. Bees across the world are disappearing. Now, according to a report from The Daily Telegraph, we may have a cause: radiation from cell phones.

Now researchers from Chandigarh's Punjab University claim they have found the cause which could be the first step in reversing the decline: They have established that radiation from mobile telephones is a key factor in the phenomenon and say that it probably interfering with the bee's navigation senses.

They set up a controlled experiment in Punjab earlier this year comparing the behaviour and productivity of bees in two hives – one fitted with two mobile telephones which were powered on for two fifteen minute sessions per day for three months. The other had dummy models installed.

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July 18-31, 2014

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