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Feliz Fiesta

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A shout out to all our Boricua readers. Today is the Feast of the Birth of Saint John the Baptist, the patron saint of Puerto Rico. If you have never been to that enchanted island, put it on your list of must vacations. In addition to the natural beauty of the island, from the endless beaches and clear waters with every shade of blue imaginable to the magnificent rain forest El Yunque, the island is rich in Church History. The Church of San Jose, undergoing restorations but now open to the public again, is the second oldest church building in the Western hemisphere. The first bishop to arrive in the New World was Bishop Alonso Manzo, the first bishop of San Juan, in 1513. The cathedral in the center of the old city was built in the early nineteenth century after its predecessor was destroyed, but there are two old chapels in the rear of the church that date to the 1520s. An old convent across the street has been turned into a swanky hotel that is a great place to grab a cocktail and check out the old chapel and the great portraits. And, then, of course, there is the food. Fried whole snapper. Mofungo. Pio Nonos. No reason not to go.

Millionaires buying art, jets, giving less to charity

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As millionaires’ assets rebounded in 2009, they put more money in tangibles such as art, jets and gems, according to a report released this week by Capgemini SA and Merrill Lynch & Co.

“It was such a severe crisis, the investor psyche has really shifted,” said Ileana van der Linde, the Capgemini principal who managed the research, in a phone interview. “They don’t fully trust the financial markets and regulatory bodies. That’s why we are seeing a trend toward putting money into tangible assets like art and gold.”

Six “passion” investments listed in the “World Wealth Report”typically account for about a third of a millionaire’s total holdings, Van der Linde said: luxury collectibles such as yachts, jets and high-end cars; art; jewelry, gems and watches; other collectibles such as wine and coins; sports investments, including teams and race horses; and a “miscellaneous” category comprising club memberships, musical instruments and other items.

Giving Less

Police raid home, offices of Card. Danneels

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Belgian police have raided the offices and home of Cardinal Godfried Danneels in relation to the sex abuse scandal in the church, according to the Associated Press and other outlets. Read the full report here.

Police did not say whether Danneels himself was accused of abuse.

"The raids followed recent statements to police 'that are related to the sexual abuse of children within the church,' said Jean-Marc Meilleur, a spokesman for the Brussels prosecutor's office," according to the AP report.

The story continued: "Police also searched the office of a committee that is investigating sexual abuse claims with help from the church, but did not immediately give details. The committee has already opened 120 abuse cases but expects the number to soon double.

"Police took documents, but did not question Danneels at his home in the city of Mechlin, just north of Brussels, said Hans Geybels, the spokesman for the former archbishop."

Listening to victims a 'model for ministry,' bishop says

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By JOHN L. ALLEN JR.
Philadelphia

tListening to sexual abuse victims can be an “opportunity to recalibrate” the whole of a bishop’s ministry, Bishop Blase Cupich of Rapid City said today, because it’s a powerful reminder that “there are voices out there which the leadership doesn’t usually hear.”

t Cupich spoke as part of panel on lessons learned from the U.S. sexual abuse crisis sponsored by the National Leadership Roundtable on Church Management, which is holding its annual meeting June 23-25 in Philadelphia. Cupich serves as the chair of the U.S. bishops’ Committee for the Protection of Children and Young People.

tThe other participants in the panel were Diane Knight, chair of the bishops’ National Review Board, and Teresa Kettelkamp, executive director of the bishops’ office of Child and Youth Protection.

tSpeaking via Skype, Cupich said that over the years he’s met with victims of clerical sexual abuse frequently, calling it a “painful and difficult” experience, but also one of “real grace.”

Is bishop statement end of discussion?

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One can almost hear, in the statement released by the U.S. bishops addressing the anguishing case out of Phoenix involving Mercy Sr. Margaret McBride, a punctuating sentiment: And that’s it! No more discussion! See story (and the bishops’ statement) here.

The bishops didn’t actually say that, but it is the essence of the conclusion by the doctrine committee of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. What occurred in Phoenix was a direct abortion, they determined, and “Nothing … can justify a direct abortion. No circumstance, no purpose, no law whatsoever can ever make licit an act which is intrinsically illicit, since it is contrary to the Law of God which is written in every human heart, knowable by reason itself, and proclaimed by the Church."

The statement seems to end all discussion of the matter, though one wonders if a declaration simply ends all questions, including those posed by church ethicists.

Obama's Firing of McChrystal

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The President did what he had to do: He fired Gen. McChrystal. Conservatives were ready to pounce at the President’s removal of a commanding officer from the line of battle. But, then the President pulled a Petraeus out of the hat and all the conservative angst went away. Sen. John McCain was the first to praise the selection but soon virtually everyone was on-board.

Virtually everyone. Mr. Limbaugh, of course, was not appeased by the choice and falsely charged that then-Senator Obama had failed to criticize MoveOn.org when it ran an especially stupid and juvenile ad that played on the general’s name; the ad was entitled “Betray Us.” Obama did, in fact, criticize MoveOn.org for the ad. I have little regard for MoveOn.org. They are to the left what the Tea Party is to the right. But, here is the difference. For weeks now, Chris Matthews has issued an open challenge to any Republican willing to come on his show and denounce just one of the many outrageous comments that spew forth from Mr. Limbaugh. We are still waiting. Obama criticized MoveOn.org. Is there not one honorable member of the GOP willing to challenge the radio showman?

Oil vacuums and ministry

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When I interviewed Craig Taffaro, the president of St. Bernard Parish, La., about the impact of the BP oil disaster on his parish, I asked (the obvious question) what his greatest need was. That was June 8 and he said, "Primarily we just need some additional resources to fight the oil as it approaches … we want to be able to actively attack it in the water and not wait for it to get near shore or on our shorelines."

A week later, in a written response to President Obama's national address on the oil disaster, Taffaro said much the same: "First and foremost, we are grateful that the president has made four trips to this region and I believe he's engaged. But part of what we continue to fight is a lack of actual resources on the ground to be able to attack this oil in the water … I think [Obama] understands [the situation], but we need to have the resources."

Next generation

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At first glace, the report about Smith College in Massachusetts firing its three chaplains seemed to be about the big-bad administration cutting the budget at the expense of religious life at the school.

Turns out, however, that there wasn't much "religious life" going on. According to the school's dean of religious life, only about 50 students were participating in regular religious services offered to Catholics, Protestants and Jews.

This, out of a student body of 2,600--all women, who at least traditionally have been more regular church-attenders than men. Of course, Smith is not a school with religious roots, and some 40% of students check "no religious affiliation" as incoming freshmen, the New York Times article said.

Granted, attending formal religious services isn't the only way to be religious, especially during one's college years. And it's sad that today's financial realities have made head-counting like this a necessary way to determine which services stay and which go.

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September 12-25, 2014

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