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Fr. Joseph Dearborn, inclusive language pioneer, passes away

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Recently, someone sent me an obituary for Fr. Joseph Dearborn, a priest from the Archdiocese of Kansas City, Kan., who was once a colleague of mine at the Quixote Center. A couple years ago, Joe returned to Kansas and was quite ill. I just learned that he had died.

However, he deserves to be remembered for much more than the obituary in the Kansas City Star offered. He did pioneering work creating Inclusive Language Lectionaries and the Inclusive Bible.

Has Douglas Kmiec been muzzled?

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He was one of President Obama's earliest supporters among the Catholic intellectual community -- but Douglas Kmiec now finds himself in a battle with Obama's State Department.

According to columnist Tim Rutten in The Los Angeles Times, Kmiec has been muzzled in his role as Ambassador to Malta. He's done an impressive job by all accounts, strengthening ties with a strategically important and conservatively Cathoic country.

What if Roy copped a plea?

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One wag on the internet this morning tells the story of the canon lawyer who suggests (facetiously) Roy Bourgeois consider copping a plea with Vatican officials to see if they might consider dropping the charge against him of advocating women's ordination, punishable by excommunication, to a "lesser” offense, of, say, pedophilia, thereby allowing him to keep his collar.

On this day: St. Martin I, Pope and Martyr

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On this day we celebrate the feast of St. Martin I, the last martyred pope.

"Gregory was unquestionably the greatest Pope of late antiquity and the early Middle Ages, and arguably the greatest Pope ever. . . . In Rome itself, however, there were many who wished to forget or even to repudiate his legacy. . . . These divisions in the Roman Church were highlighted by the rapid turnover of popes in the first half of the seventh century: there were ten elections between Gregory's death in 604 and Martin I's accession in 649. Recurrent elections had the effect of drawing attention to another striking feature of the period, the subordination of the papacy to the emperors at Constantinople."

--Saints and Sinners: A History of the Popes, by Eamon Duffy, Yale University Press, 2006 edition.

Morning Briefing

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Born to Be Wild: Swinging with orangutans, roaming with elephants

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This new IMAX 3D documentary tells the profoundly moving stories of two women “super heroes” working to preserve two endangered species. These are Dr. Daphne M. Sheldrick at the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust in Kenya and Dr. Birute’ Mary Galdikas at the Orangutan Foundation International in central Borneo (Indonesia).

Both are articulate, experienced, quietly passionate and determined women who have spent decades rescuing, rehabilitating, and returning orphaned infant elephants and orangutans to the wild.

In general, I do not care for 3D movies but “Born To Be Wild” is a film 3D was made for. It had me from the opening scene.

The film reaches out and embraces the audience and the narrative gently calls the question: Why save wild animals when they offer humanity no practical benefit?

On Sex Abuse: More Nonsense from Billy the Bully

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According to Bill Donohue, president of the inaccurately-named Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights, if you are age 14 or over you are not a child. Don’t take my word for it, he makes the argument in a full-page ad in yesterday’s New York Times.

“The refrain that child rape is a reality in the Church is twice wrong: let’s get it straight — they weren’t children and they weren’t raped,” writes Donohue. “We know from the John Jay study that most of the victims have been adolescents, and that the most common abuse has been inappropriate touching (inexcusable though this is, it is not rape).”

City begging ban excuses our unkindness

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Sometimes I shock myself at how arbitrarily I decide whether to give to a beggar on the street. Of course I can’t say yes to everyone -- or even a tenth of those who ask. I have one rule, that I don’t open my billfold; I don’t give if I don’t have change in my pocket. But other than that, my decisions are made entirely on the impulse of the moment. I have the power to give, and I exercise it.

But now St. Louis has initiated a campaign to say no to beggars and give instead to registered charities. Lord knows it is easy enough to say no without being instructed by the city to turn our backs on the poor.

Surely anybody who asks for money needs it -- maybe for a drink, yes, but maybe for a sandwich or a blanket. Beggars are needy. That’s why they’re asking. Nobody would stand on a corner asking for money if they didn’t need it.

Morning Briefing

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In This Issue

January 29-February 11, 2016

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