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Clerical courage in Milwaukee

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It has been rare, when writing about the priest sex abuse scandal, to find a member of the clergy who will publicly cut against the instincts of the clergy culture with a call for greater transparency and disclosure. Dominican Fr. Thomas Doyle would head the list, so would retired Auxiliary Bishop Thomas Gumbleton of Detroit. Fr. Donald Cozzens has spoken and written with great insight about the flaws of the culture that lead to such wide deception. Msgr. Kenneth Lasch in New Jersey has long been a strong and outspoken advocate for victims.

Solar-powered, electric popemobile? Why not?

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From The Seattle Times:

The Vatican says Pope Benedict XVI would gladly use one as another sign of his efforts to promote sustainable energy and safeguard God's creation.

Cardinal Giovanni Lajolo, who runs the Vatican City state, said Wednesday that the pope would certainly prefer an electric popemobile to a traditional one. But he says one has to be offered.

His comments came during a presentation of a book on the Vatican's use of solar energy. The Vatican in 2008 installed photovoltaic cells on the roof of its main auditorium and a year later installed a solar cooling unit for its main cafeteria.

The technology has won awards and garnered Benedict a reputation as the "green pope."

Family Research Center: Hate parading as religion?

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One of the Family Research Center’s primary activities is opposing any civil consideration for same sex orientation and unions, often using fatuous claims and statistics. That the assertions of the group, deeply rooted in the religious right, are wrong is almost immaterial. The make their claims with a preacher’s thunder and a God’s-on-our-side certitude.

Is it protected speech, even if a concoction of lies and slander, or is it free speech? The LA Times’ Tim Rutten weighs in on the question in a recent column, “Hate Under Cloak of Religion.”

A morning class with Fr. Greg Boyle, founder of Homeboy Industries

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I had just finished getting some coffee. I was getting ready to cross the street when I saw a light-colored sedan. I quickly realized that inside was my guest speaker for that morning’s Introduction to Chicano Studies class, one I teach with about 400 students. I pointed to the parking spot where my guest could park and where I could give him the parking pass so he wouldn’t get a ticket.

2010 Right Livelihood Award

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Dr. Ruchama Marton, an Israeli psychiatrist, and Bishop Erwin Krautler of Xingu, Brazil, are among four honorees to receive the 2010 Right Livelihood Award Dec. 6 in Stockholm, Sweden.

The Right Livelihood Award, popularly known as the Alternative Nobel Prize, annually honors those who offer “practical and exemplary answers” to urgent challenges of the day, the award’s Web site says.

The martyrs of El Salvador

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The Commonweal blog has remembrances of four American churchwomen -- lay missionary Jean Donovan, Maryknoll sisters Ita Ford and Maura Clarke, and Ursuline sister Dorothy Kazel -- who 30 years ago today were brutalized and then killed by Salvadoran National Guardsmen.

See: The martyrs of El Salvador.

The blog also reprints the 1992 review of the documentary "Roses in December" that longtime El Salvador resident and journalist Gene Palumbo wrote for NCR.

Scranton bishop invites input on diocesan future

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From Scranton's The Times-Tribune:

The new bishop of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Scranton has invited members of the 11-county church to tell him what they hope for their parishes and schools as he begins to shape a stated "vision" for the diocese.

The invitation was conveyed in a pastoral letter Bishop Joseph C. Bambera delivered Sunday, the first of Advent.

In it, he outlined broad elements of his vision for the diocese and asked clergy and parishioners to reflect on the needs and challenges facing the church in a series of response questions they can submit to his office.

The responses are due by Feb. 28 and Bishop Bambera said he hopes to announce a formal vision in April, near the first anniversary of his installation.

Papal fashion

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This morning I was doing a quick review of Catholic news from the past week, looking for stories I might have missed or neglected. I came across this tidbit from Francis X. Rocca, the Vatican correspondent for Religion News Service, reporting on the release of The Light of the World, Pope Benedict's a book-length interview with German journalist Peter Seewald.

Vatican offers ësmoking gun' to defend pope's record on sex abuse

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By JOHN L. ALLEN JR.

tAmid ongoing debate over Pope Benedict XVI’s role in the sexual abuse crisis, the Vatican today claimed that a newly unearthed piece of correspondence shows that as far back as 1988, then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger pressed Rome to adopt “swifter and more simplified procedures” for punishing priests guilty of “grave and scandalous” conduct.

The conduct Ratzinger had in mind, the Vatican implied, included the sexual abuse of minors.

tRatzinger's recommendation was not adopted at the time, a senior Vatican official said, because of stalled debates over the penal section of the church’s Code of Canon Law. Yet Ratzinger kept at it, the official asserted, and today his suggested reforms have largely become binding church law.

t The revelation came in an essay authored by Spanish Bishop Juan Ignacio Arrieta, the number two official at the Vatican’s Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts, which was published today in slightly abbreviated form by the Vatican newspaper L’Osservatore Romano, and is scheduled for full publication tomorrow in the semi-official journal Civiltà Cattolica.

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