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Where Catholic Women are Heard -- and Not

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The latest "Room for Debate" in the New York Times pays an indirect tribute to the National Catholic Reporter.

All five of those asked to comment on what the Vatican should do about clerical sexual abuse of children are men.

Every one of them is worthy. Each has something valuable to say. By not including a single woman in the mix, however, the Timesreflects a widespread absence of women's voices in the media's coverage of critical church debates.

Excluding women from official church councils has, of course, been standard practice in the hierarchy's exercise of rule. When the Vatican decided to investigate American nuns, for example, nuns weren't consulted in any formal sense. It was done, as usual, by fiat.

For the mainstream media largely to repeat this pattern of neglect has been irresponsible, lending credibility to a bias against women (my interpretation) and furthering it. Occasionally women are asked to join in, but not nearly often enough.

Church investigators can't be trusted

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Barbara Blaine of SNAP (Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests) writes on the Ms.Blog the church should not be allowed to conduct an investigation into sex abuse allegations by clergy. She says church investigators can't be trusted.

Commentators use phrases like “tsunami” and “wildfire” to describe the Catholic sex abuse and cover-up crisis that is engulfing Europe right now. While the imagery is somewhat helpful, it obscures the origins of the scandal. Thousands of lives were not devastated by some unforeseen and unstoppable natural phenomenon; they were permanently scarred as the result of decades of deliberate and ongoing secrecy, recklessness and deceit by the self-serving Catholic church hierarchy.

Read More.

Catholics on the White House radar

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Catholics and health care reform came up during the press corps briefing by White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs today:

Q: Does [the President] still have confidence [the health care reform bill] is going to pass?

MR. GIBBS: The President still believes we will have the votes, yes.

Q: How close are you? Are you within a handful, or a dozen votes? What do you think?

MR. GIBBS: I don't have a number to predict. I think the President, in the calls and the meetings that he’s having with individual leaders, is making great progress. ....

Q: Does the President think that he can still get Representative Stupak’s vote?

\"Yes, Sister!\"

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It made my day! As I ate breakfast, I was elated reading, "Listen to the Nuns," E.J. Dionne's column in the Washington Post this morning. He was reporting on the courageous stand that the leadership of thousands of nuns took in support of passing health care reform with the Senate language on abortion, not the highly restrictive (and much misinterpreted) Stupak language in the House bill.

I am truly proud of NETWORK (of which I am a member), the social justice lobby leading the effort, the Leadership Conference of Women Religious and Sr. Carol Keenan who announced a similar position for the Catholic Health Association.

Munich archbishop expresses shame in sex abuse cases

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Munich
I walked over to the what the local guide book describes as the "Archbishop's palace" this afternoon and saw a crowd out in front. A demonstration, I thought as I approached the group, it's leader speaking into a hand held microphone.

"And if you look up at the third floor, you will see some beautifully carved..."

... Nope, not a demonstration, an Irish tour group and in a moment they were walking on.

Meanwhile, the archbishop of Munich and Freising, Reinhard Marx, speaking at a hilltop pilgrimage site north of Nuremberg, expressed “deep shame” today for cases of sexual molestation that have shaken the home region of Pope Benedict, and said he was in favor of changing German law so that church officials would have a greater duty to report suspected child abuse to prosecutors.

But Marx defended the overall integrity of the church, in a give and take with reporters, saying it would never be possible to ensure there is no abuse.

Nuns denounce health bill

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Hat tip to OSV for this one. NCR didn't receive the media alert notice.

The Council of Major Superiors of Women Religious, which represents about 10,000 U.S. women religions, issued the statement yesterday. It is also on their Web site: Important message from Mother Mary Quentin regarding the health care proposal

March 17, 2010

In a March 15th statement, Cardinal Francis George, OMI, of Chicago, president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, spoke on behalf of the United States Bishops in opposition to the Senate’s version of the health care legislation under consideration because of its expansion of abortion funding and its lack of adequate provision for conscience protection. Recent statements from groups like Network, the Catholic Health Association and the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR) directly oppose the Catholic Church’s position on critical issues of health care reform.

Cong. Kildee Defends Decision to Support Health Care Bill

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Congressman Dale Kildee, a lifelong pro-life Democrat from Michigan, gave an impassioned defense of his decision to support the final health care bill pending before Congress on a conference call with reporters sponsored by the progressive group Faith in Public Life. “I have always been pro-life,” Kildee said. “I am going to be eighty-one in September and at this stage in my life, I am not going to change my position on abortion and risk my eternal salvation…. I am absolutely convinced that the original intent of the Hyde Amendment is in the Senate bill.”

Kildee supported the Stupak Amendment when it was voted on in the House of Representatives in November. That Amendment failed in the Senate. Kildee noted that the entire health care bill is pro-life insofar as it will help provide coverage to those who currently lack it. “I am a pro-life member of Congress, both the unborn and the born,” Kildee said.

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