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Vietnamese Buddhist monk, Thich Nhat Hanh, interviewed

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Many NCR readers are familiar with Thich Nhat Hanh, the Vietnamese Buddhist monk, author, teacher and peace activist. Nhat Hanh currently lives in Plum Village, a Buddhist meditation practice center and monastery he founded in southern France. He travels regularly throughout North America and Europe to lecture and lead retreats on "the Art of Mindful Living." He was recently interviewed about his life and work. You might enjoy what he had to say.

Why Amend the Health Care Bill?

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Deal Hudson is right when he states that the prospects for a new bill that would amend the just-passed health care bill are nil. He wants bishops to “call out” Catholic members who do not support the new bill which would seek to enhance the current restrictions on the possibility of federal funds being used to cover abortions. But, the reason there is so little support for such a measure is because there is so little need for such a measure.

Catholics support those pushed out of work by the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico

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Catholics in more than 100 parish churches around the metropolitan New Orleans area were asked for donations to support fishing families and others pushed out of work by the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, the Archdiocese of New Orleans said.

In addition, Archbishop Gregory Aymond asked the region's nearly 400,000 Catholics to pray for relief to Our Lady of Prompt Succor, whom Catholics regard as the patroness of the region and protector against natural calamity.

Aymond told pastors to take up special collections anytime over the next three weeks. The money will go to the archdiocese's Catholic Charities arm, which has already begun distributing relief to affected families in St. Bernard and Plaquemines Parishes.

In a letter to all the parishes of his archdiocese he asked for prayers for all the victims of the blast on the oil rig that occurred on April 20. He encouraged prayers for those who died, those injured, and their families, that “God may give them peace in their time of crisis.”

“Pray too for those working to clean up the oil spill and for those that will be adversely affected by the effects of the spill.”

Obama administration sides with Vatican in Oregon case

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By JOHN L. ALLEN JR.

tIn a strongly worded brief for the United States Supreme Court, the Obama administration has sided with the Vatican in an Oregon lawsuit that names the Holy See as a defendant for its role in the sexual abuse crisis.

tIn effect, the brief asserts that the standards for an exception to the immunity that foreign governments enjoy under American law have not been met in the Oregon case.

tFiled on Friday, the brief stops short of recommending that the Supreme Court directly take up the case of Doe v. Holy See, originally filed in federal district court in Oregon in 2002. Instead, it suggests that the Supreme Court set aside the 2009 ruling of an appeals court that allowed the case to go forward, sending it back for further consideration.

Pentecost in Vietnam

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I write this on Pentecost Sunday, an auspicious day to be in Vietnam… but an appropriate day. t

Last night, I arrived in Ho Chi Minh City (formerly Saigon). I am part of an interfaith delegation investigating the lingering effects of Agent Orange and dioxin on the civilian population and the environment of Vietnam. This morning, I went to a Mass at the Cathedral Basilica of Notre Dame in the city. Unexpectedly, the Mass was in English. In his homily, the priest talked about the importance of not being silent when speech is required. That message fits the work of our delegation.

tThe delegation is led by Bob Edgar, President of Common Cause and funded by the Ford Foundation, the leading NGO involved in providing aid to investigate the effects of the poisons, clean up the toxic “hot spots” and promote a high level US/Vietnamese dialogue on the issues.

What is this thing we call the Vatican?

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John Allen gives an indepth look at the issues and implications raised by a lawsuit in Kentucky that is trying to sort out the legal relationship between the Pope and Vatican and the bishops and diocese of the local church. Read John's story, The autonomy of bishops, and suing the Vatican, slowly; it has many subtle points.

Are the pope and the Vatican CEO and corporate office and bishops the managers of the local affiliates? Or are the bishops more like independent operators of locally owned franchises?

A good companion piece comes from the Vatican correspondent for Religion News Service, Francis X. Rocca, who offers up some reactions to the arguments in the lawsuit: Vatican, courts wrestle over who controls bishops

The GOP's Libertarian Problem

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Rand Paul, darling of the Tea Party and now the GOP Senate candidate in Kentucky has gotten himself into hot water about whether or not he would have supported such landmark pieces of legislation as the 1964 Civil Rights Act and the 1991 Americans with Disabilities Act. He has tried in the past few days to reiterate his hatred of racism, which no one has any reason to doubt. But, he is also changing the subject. The issue in 1964 was not about racism, but about whether or not the federal government needed to intervene to eradicate it. The issue, then as now, is the role of government in society.

\"Lost,\" faith and community

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Last night, I headed out to the movie theater to watch an interview with some TV producers: Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse, the guiding hands of ABC's "Lost," appearing in "Times Talk Live" as part of the publicity blitz leading up to the series finale Sunday night.

The tension between faith and empiricism has been a "Lost" theme from early on, and last night's discussion turned to the idea of faith several times. Sometimes "Lost" has dealt with religious themes overtly, but more often it's been presented in sci-fi metaphor.

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July 4-17, 2014

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