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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.

Lincoln, Nebr., Catholics call out their bishop

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The intrepid souls of Call to Action Nebraska were out front of the Lincoln diocese this week, pleading/demanding that Bishop Fabian Bruskewitz participate in the annual sex abuse audits conducted by the U.S Conference of Catholic Bishops.

The Lincoln Diocese is the only one in the United States that refuses to participate in the audit system established in 2002 to address the issues of sexual abuse of children by clergy.

Read the local story here: Catholics clash over lack of participation in sex abuse audit

Bishops have bill to fix health reform flaws

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This just in from the U.S. Catholic bishops' conference: Bishops Urge Congress to Support Bill to Remedy Abortion, Conscience Flaws in Health Care Reform Law

The bishops say H.R. 5111 will apply the Hyde Amendment to new funds and thus fix "profound flaws" in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

Here's the first part of their press release:

WASHINGTON -- Congress should support a bipartisan bill that will remedy the abortion and conscience flaws in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA), according to the Chairman of the U.S. bishops’ Committee on Pro-Life Activities.

In a May 20 letter to Congress, Cardinal Daniel DiNardo of Galveston-Houston said PPACA was an important step toward ensuring access to health coverage for all Americans but was “profoundly flawed in its treatment of abortion, conscience rights, and fairness to immigrants.”

Out of the Mouths of Babes

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Most everyone has by now seen the video clip of First Lady Michelle Obama speaking with students at a Silver Spring school. One of the girls said that her mother was worried because “Barack Obama is taking away everyone who doesn’t have papers” and then she disclosed that her mother did not have papers. Out of the mouths of babes.

I suppose there will be some whose ideological blinders will keep them from feeling a basic empathy with the child’s plight. I am sure such people will be on Fox News around the clock.

Dublin archbp. warns of 'strong forces' in church working against truth

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In an article titled Martin warns again of strong forces but 'it's not the Vatican', The Catholic Herald of London reports that Dublin Archbishop Diarmuid Martin "reiterated his warning of 'strong forces' in the Catholic church which do not want the truth about clerical sex abuse to come out -- but failed to identify them."

Sr. McBride: Intent to kill?

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I have a confession to make. Catholic moral teaching has me utterly confused.

It's the recent news of a Mercy Sister's decision to allow an abortion to take place that has brought the confusion upon me. And I think Sr. McBride, who let doctors in a Phoenix hospital go forward with a procedure to separate an 11 week old fetus from her mothers womb in late 2009, must have been faced with something similar to my confusion.

Here's some background. I live at a Catholic Worker House. As part of our way of life here we try (and frequently fail) to live out Christ's mercy. Two of our guideposts are Matthew 5 and 25, particularly the bits that say 'love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you' and 'what you do for the least of these, you do for [Christ].'

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July 4-17, 2014

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