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The challenge of being a parent, God's grace, and Charlie Sheen


Every time there is another report about Charlie Sheen entering rehab, spewing weirdness on the Today show, or being the butt of late-night talk shows, all I can think is, “Poor Martin.”

It can’t be easy to watch your son implode on every media outlet willing to take advantage of someone who is obviously really ill. While his behavior is somewhere between “spoiled, rotten, brat” and “colossal jerk”, I think it shows fairly clear signs of mania, be it natural or drug-induced, and responsible media should know better than to offer him a platform from which to take a high dive.

Regardless of the cause, Sheen’s behavior is no doubt bringing enormous pain, worry and frustration to his parents. That’s because no matter how old your offspring are, you still love them with a passion untamed.

It is a love that gives and believes and hopes and -- if your child goes astray -- aches worse than anything one can imagine.

Influence of African American Churches Felt in Maryland Marriage Vote


The Washington Post reported last week that the Catholic hierarchy’s lobbying campaign against Maryland’s pro-gay marriage legislation has been ineffectual. This despite the fact that the state’s political leadership – the governor and the leaders of the House of Delegates and State Senate – are each Catholic.

Yesterday, two sponsors of the legislation in the House of Delegates absented themselves from a key vote on the bill rather then move it forward. They were reacting, at least in part, to pressure from African-American churches, many of which have spoken out vociferously in favor of traditional marriage and oppose its expansion to include gays.

(Another) Gay professor fired from Catholic college


For the past fifteen years, James St. George has taught religious studies part-time at Chestnut Hill College, a Catholic college in Pennsylvania.

Last week he received a letter from the college telling him that his services were no longer needed.

Two interesting details about St. George: he has been in a committed relationship with a man for the past fourteen years. He is also the pastor at St. Miriam, an Old Catholic parish.

Administrators at Chestnut Hill have known all along that St. George was an ordained priest in this tradition. In fact, Chestnut Hill asked him to take a faculty position at the suggestion of some of his parishioners who also work at the college.

St. George’s students who googled him were also aware that he is a gay man. Though he didn’t speak about it in the classroom, the information could be found through a cursory web search.

In what is surely not a coincidence, just days before St. George was notified that his contract wouldn’t be renewed, a local lawyer, James Pepper, wrote a letter of concern to Cardinal Rigali and two Chestnut Hill officials.

Sex abuse ruling in Los Angeles doesn't affect Vatican, attorney says


ROME -- Refusal by a federal judge in Los Angeles to dismiss a sex abuse case against the Catholic church both in the United States and Mexico, under a law that allows American courts to consider foreign claims, has no implications for efforts to sue the Vatican, the lawyer who represents the Vatican in U.S. litigation said today.

'Sex abuse is the Catholic 9/11'


ROME -- Massimo Franco is a veteran journalist who writes for Corriere della Sera, the most prestigious daily newspaper in Italy. Recently he published a book titled C’era Una Volta un Vaticano (“Once Upon a Time, there was a Vatican”), arguing that underneath the PR meltdowns and internal crises of the Vatican under Benedict XVI lies a radical historical shift – from the Vatican as the chaplain of the West, to the Vatican as representative of a minority subculture.

For centuries, he argues, the Vatican thought and acted like the representative of a cultural majority in the West – a mentality forged in the era of Christendom, and given new life during the Cold War, when the Vatican and the great Western powers were fundamentally on the same page. It’s no longer adequate to the changed cultural landscape of the 21st century, he says – and the inability of senior Vatican personnel to adapt to this new world is the fundamental force, he argues, beneath their apparent disorientation.

My essay on Franco’s book can be found here: Diagnosing the 'implosion' of Benedict's Vatican

Penny wise, peace foolish


Fr. Ted Hesburgh, former University of Notre Dame president and adviser to several U.S. presidents, is among those admonishing the U.S. House for cutting funding to the U.S. Institute of Peace (USIP), a bipartisan governmental organization created during Ronald Reagan's administration.

"Now is not the time, in the face of global adversity, to cut peace," Hesburgh wrote in an opinion piece in the Washington Post. "As a man of faith and reason, I know that we need to balance our budget. But I also know that you cannot balance a budget on the backs of our men and women in uniform. Nor can we take the risk of making our nation less safe."

And the USIP does just that: make our nation safer. A commenter to Hesburgh's article asked what the return on investment was to U.S. taxpayers. Rep. Michael Honda of California explains how the USIP is making America safer from terrorism in his article in support of the institute:

    Wisconsin governor gets one right


    Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker deserves an “F” in labor relations. And he clearly has an inflated view of his own significance. But when it comes to rudimentary history, he scores higher marks than some of his critics.

    In the now infamous prank phone call in which blogger Ian Murphy posed as billionaire conservative bankroller David Koch, Walker offered a not-so-subtle comparison between his actions and those of the fortieth president, conservative icon Ronald Reagan.


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    November 20-December 3, 2015


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