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'We mean rape'

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When discussing child abuse by clergy, visitors to this web site often make statements like the following, which appeared yesterday:

>>>Do you really think the bishop's only concern was to protect the image of the Church or to shield the abuser? You think the bishop had no concern for the child? Please answer the question directly.

My answer: Read (if you can bear it) the 2005 grand jury report from Philadelphia:

Grand jury findings: Philadelphia cardinals 'excused and enabled abuse, covered up crimes'

By RALPH CIPRIANO
Philadelphia

A grand jury that investigated the Philadelphia archdiocese for more than three years has concluded that two former archbishops orchestrated a systematic cover-up spanning four decades that managed to successfully shield from prosecution 63 priests who had sexually abused hundreds of children.

Changing Hearts and Minds

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People who genuinely change their minds fascinate me partly because they seem so rare. Bribing politicians to switch their votes or coercing group members to conform are much more the rule, undermining the real thing through fear and selfish interest.

No, I'm talking about the exceptions -- those whose honest grappling with ideas and evidence causes them to adopt views they once rejected in whole or in part. That can require both courage and ego deflation.

The Boston Globe this week carried a piece by Joe Keohane(http://www.boston.com/bostonglobe/ideas/articles/2010/07/11/how_facts_backfire/) that looks like bad news for journalists: factual, in-depth reporting doesn't change minds. Those who are prone to agree with certain news accounts srenghthen their convictions; those who are inclined to disagree are likely to further harden their positions. There is little willingness to consider new evidence by either side.

Archangel on Bullet proof vests for bishops

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The bad press deservedly being heaped on the Vatican in the wake of its mindless grafting of women's ordination and clergy sex abuse under the heading of "grave sin" has not let up. For many church observers the moment seemed to be a kind of watershed, a transitional moment. Not yet clear is where this transition leads.

A NCR reader sent me the following take by an 89-year-old retired clergyman, Harry J. Byrne.

It's worth a read.

Catholic Charities president urges federal measures to help Gulf relief

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Since the BP oil spill Catholic Charities agencies have provided services to more than 20,000 individuals and more than 7,000 families in the Gulf but their president, Father Larry Snyder, is fearful about the future. With too few resources, underwhelming donations, and a "growing vulnerable population" Snyder says there is a dire need to access greater funding, and he urges federal involvement. Snyder met with Rep. John Lewis, D-Ga., subcommittee chairman July 20 to discuss how lack of funds has severely impacted Catholic Charities' work. Lewis asked,

"Are you turning families away?" Snyder replied, "We are turning people away. Our reserves are not meeting the needs at this time."

Snyder attributes their inability to raise funds from the American public to a blame game.

"Most of the American public believes BP is ultimately responsible for setting things right after the spill-People have kind of exonerated themselves from any need to take part in relief."

The Bush Catholics

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There was a cadre of Bush II-era Catholics who had inordinate influence and questionable qualifications for the jobs they held under the 43rd president, among them former Special Counsel Scott Bloch. His was quite a case, picked up here in paragraph three of this NCR story.

If you want to spend a strange afternoon, google "Scott Bloch" and just see what pops up. Too weird for words.

In the meantime, the Federal government's actions against Bloch appear headed for resolution.

Hillary Clinton in Vietnam: Dealing with the Legacy of Agent Orange

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I was delighted to read Eleanor Clift's column in Politics Daily in which she says that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, on her visit to Vietnam this week, will focus on the lingering effects of Agent Orange/dioxin on the civilian population and the environment. Hopefully, she will re-trace some of the steps taken by our interfaith delegation in May, when we visited children with horrific birth defects and stood at the DaNang air base where it is still possible to smell this chemical 35 years later!

Joustng on the Commonweal blog

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Opinions are flying over at the Commonweal blog. At NCR on Monday, Fr. Richard McBrien addressed some issues raised in June 4 Commonweal article on the U.S. bishops and health care reform. The article, "Episcopal Oversight," was written by Timothy Stoltzfus Jost, a professor at the Washington and Lee University School of Law.

Over on The Public Discourse blog, Professor Helen Alvaré of George Mason University issued A Health Care Challenge to Commonweal and Timothy Jost. She says Commonweal and Jost "need to reassess their arguments about health care and abortion."

Go below the surface of the Gulf oil disaster

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The Natural Resources Defense Council Web site has a nifty interactive graphic that depicts the damage to the Gulf waters' ecology.

It appears that only a fraction of the millions of gallons of crude oil that have flooded into the Gulf of Mexico rises to the surface. A lot of the oil remains dissolved or dispersed in the Gulf’s waters, contaminating one of the most productive marine ecosystems in the world. Although the gusher has been capped, the adverse effects of the spilled oil must now be dealt with.

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