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\"Holier than Dow\"

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I stole that headline from Jon Stewart's "Daily Show." It refers to a segment last week in which correspondent Samantha Bee profiles two priests and a nun calling for corporate responsibility from Wall Street, specifically Goldman Sachs.

Featured were Father Seamus Finn, OMI, from Investing for Catholics, Maryknoll Father Joe LaMar from the Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility, and Sister Barbara Aires, coordinator of social responsibility for for the Sisters of Charity of St. Elizabeth, N.J. (A fourth woman on screen is not identified.)

Bee plays devil's advocate: "Jesus wants us all to be rich. The pope gets it. Have you even seen his ceiling?

But LaMar is quick with the comeback: "He moved in after it was done, so he had nothing to do with that."

Despite the potshots (calling Sister Barbara "the money nunny"), the piece does show priests and nuns working to bring the gospel to Wall Street by demanding more "transparency" from CEOs at shareholder meetings.

Cheer the D'Antonios: 60 years together

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Anyone looking for an antidote to this restless age of sound bites, tweets, post-modern relativism and a general sense of impermanence would have found it Sunday in Washington at a gathering of friends celebrating the 60th wedding anniversary of Bill and Lorraine D’Antonio.

Bill was a member of the NCR board for nearly 20 years during the 1980s and 1990s. He taught at the University of Notre Dame from 1957-71, was Fulbright Senior Fellow in Italy in 2004 and today is an adjunct professor of sociology at Catholic University in Washington.

He pioneered an ongoing study of American Catholics, the first of which was sponsored by NCR in anticipation of Pope John Paul II’s second visit to the United States in the fall of 1987. Additional studies followed every six years. In all, four surveys have been completed, all of which have been extensively reported in NCR and have also eventually been published as books.

Bill and Lorraine have six children (in six states: Alaska, Arizona, California, Kentucky, New York and Connecticut); 14 grandchildren; and eight great grandchildren.

Two new serious cases of priest thefts

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Archdiocese of Hartford - new


Archdiocese of Boston - new


Diocese of Bridgeport case - still not prosecuted - complete silence even after a blistering parish report
Fr. Michael Moynihan theft case

Conn. Catholic charity involving sexual abuse, lost funds
Doug Perlitz case - ongoing prosecution by Feds

In the Connecticut cases, Atty Gen. Blumenthal has been completely silent all these years.

Vietnam: Important Plan of Action

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Last week, several of us who were on the Interfaith Delegation to Vietnam in May gathered at the Aspen Institute in Washington, DC to release of a Plan of Action to begin to deal with the toxic legacy of Agent Orange/dioxin in that country.
That plan calls for a three-phase program to clean up toxic “hot spots” where Agent Orange and dioxin were stored and spilled – and where the smell of these chemicals still lingers 35 years later. It also calls for expanding the work with people with disabilities, especially children with birth defects, some of whom we saw on our journey.
The price tag is $300 million over ten years. The joint US/Vietnam Dialogue Group on Agent Orange/Dioxin recommends that some of that money come from the U.S. government, and some from private philanthropists.
This is a moral “no-brainer.” Of course, we should do this… and more.
But this has implications beyond Vietnam. What have we left behind in Iraq and Afghanistan? What about the poisons we use in the environment generally, like the “dispersants” being used in the Gulf of Mexico now? This plan of action calls us to look at a larger picture… the preservation of a non-toxic Planet Earth.

Beloved NYC priest set to retire

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The venerable New York Times ran an excellent story on the pending retirement of Father John C. Flynn, an 80-year-old Roman Catholic priest with bright blue eyes and thick white hair. Father Flynn was ordained in 1955 and worked in the 1960s and ’70s at the Church of St. Raymond’s in Parkchester, in what was then a largely Irish neighborhood in the Bronx. As he tells the story, he wanted to integrate the church with black and Hispanic parishioners, but faced resistance.

Finally, a church official said to him, “If you love them so much, why don’t you go live with them?”

“And so,” Father Flynn said, recalling the scene from his spartan office, “I did.”

“I love my life,” Flynn said afterward. He is retiring somewhat begrudgingly, though he is looking forward to playing more golf. He has played a standing game with other priests every Monday for years.

He has promised that he will return to the neighborhood often.

“I have a lot to do,” Father Flynn said. “But I don’t have much time to do it.”

A hint of accountability in new Vatican financial scandal

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By JOHN L. ALLEN JR.

tOnly half in jest, I’ve sometimes suggested that the pace of change in the Vatican amounts to, “Talk to us on Wednesday and we’ll get back to you in 200 years.” It’s an institution, in other words, decidedly not built for speed.

tRecent days, however, have brought an intriguing hint of a culture shift in the direction of accountability, perhaps accelerated by fallout from the global sexual abuse crisis.

tAlready reeling on that front, the Vatican now faces an embarrassing financial scandal: Cardinal Crescenzio Sepe of Naples has been named a target by Italian prosecutors for his role in alleged corruption in public works contracts while he was Prefect of the Vatican’s Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples from 2001 to 2006.

tThe investigation of Sepe comes as part of a widening corruption scandal in Italy known as the “Great Works” probe, which has already linked an array of politicians and businessmen to an alleged network of kickbacks in major public projects, such as the Jubilee Year of 2000 and the recent meeting of the G8 in earthquake-damaged L’Aquila, Italy.

tSepe is the first former Vatican official implicated in the scandal.

Cardinal Mahony testimony: 'dark and disappointing moment'

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It's a dark and disappointing moment for Catholics in Los Angeles -- at the request of the Los Angeles Times, the courts last week made public a deposition earlier this year by Cardinal Roger Mahony, in the case of former priest Michael Baker, a convicted child molestor who was shuttled around to various parishes in the 1980s.

As I've written before, Mahony is one of the good guys on some many things that matter to Catholics in California: human rights, social justice, immigration reform. But when it comes to the still-growing sex abuse scandal, he seems to be just another person-in-power looking first to protect the church's reputation.

In the deposition, Mahony acknowledges that Baker (who is now serving ten years in prison for molestation) came to him and confessed his actions. The cardinal sent the priest off to a "treatment center" used by the church, and then the church swung him around to several parishes - including some with elementary schools.

Reports of abuse by Baker continued but nothing more was done.

Religion on the Right & Left

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Michael Gerson and E. J. Dionne have both commented recently on the religious aspect of the ideological wars afflicting the Republican Party in ways that are noteworthy but also deficient.

Gerson wrote about Mitch Daniels, the Governor of Indiana, who is catching some wind in establishment GOP circles but who has angered the religious right by calling for a “truce” on the social issues, such as abortion and stem cell research, to focus on the economic and fiscal plight facing the country. Says Daniels, “If there were a WMD attack, death would come to straights and gays, pro-life and pro-choice. If the country goes broke, it would ruin the American dream for everyone.” But, in certain social conservative circles, this is heresy because they believe country’s ills can be traced to the removal of God’s protection from America because of the national sin of abortion and/or the spread of homosexuality. What Daniels does not grasp is that there is no American dream, there are many American dreams, and many of them conflict and conflict so strongly that you cannot call a “truce.”

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September 12-25, 2014

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