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Obama administration sides with Vatican in Oregon case

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By JOHN L. ALLEN JR.

tIn a strongly worded brief for the United States Supreme Court, the Obama administration has sided with the Vatican in an Oregon lawsuit that names the Holy See as a defendant for its role in the sexual abuse crisis.

tIn effect, the brief asserts that the standards for an exception to the immunity that foreign governments enjoy under American law have not been met in the Oregon case.

tFiled on Friday, the brief stops short of recommending that the Supreme Court directly take up the case of Doe v. Holy See, originally filed in federal district court in Oregon in 2002. Instead, it suggests that the Supreme Court set aside the 2009 ruling of an appeals court that allowed the case to go forward, sending it back for further consideration.

Pentecost in Vietnam

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I write this on Pentecost Sunday, an auspicious day to be in Vietnam… but an appropriate day. t

Last night, I arrived in Ho Chi Minh City (formerly Saigon). I am part of an interfaith delegation investigating the lingering effects of Agent Orange and dioxin on the civilian population and the environment of Vietnam. This morning, I went to a Mass at the Cathedral Basilica of Notre Dame in the city. Unexpectedly, the Mass was in English. In his homily, the priest talked about the importance of not being silent when speech is required. That message fits the work of our delegation.

tThe delegation is led by Bob Edgar, President of Common Cause and funded by the Ford Foundation, the leading NGO involved in providing aid to investigate the effects of the poisons, clean up the toxic “hot spots” and promote a high level US/Vietnamese dialogue on the issues.

What is this thing we call the Vatican?

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John Allen gives an indepth look at the issues and implications raised by a lawsuit in Kentucky that is trying to sort out the legal relationship between the Pope and Vatican and the bishops and diocese of the local church. Read John's story, The autonomy of bishops, and suing the Vatican, slowly; it has many subtle points.

Are the pope and the Vatican CEO and corporate office and bishops the managers of the local affiliates? Or are the bishops more like independent operators of locally owned franchises?

A good companion piece comes from the Vatican correspondent for Religion News Service, Francis X. Rocca, who offers up some reactions to the arguments in the lawsuit: Vatican, courts wrestle over who controls bishops

The GOP's Libertarian Problem

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Rand Paul, darling of the Tea Party and now the GOP Senate candidate in Kentucky has gotten himself into hot water about whether or not he would have supported such landmark pieces of legislation as the 1964 Civil Rights Act and the 1991 Americans with Disabilities Act. He has tried in the past few days to reiterate his hatred of racism, which no one has any reason to doubt. But, he is also changing the subject. The issue in 1964 was not about racism, but about whether or not the federal government needed to intervene to eradicate it. The issue, then as now, is the role of government in society.

\"Lost,\" faith and community

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Last night, I headed out to the movie theater to watch an interview with some TV producers: Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse, the guiding hands of ABC's "Lost," appearing in "Times Talk Live" as part of the publicity blitz leading up to the series finale Sunday night.

The tension between faith and empiricism has been a "Lost" theme from early on, and last night's discussion turned to the idea of faith several times. Sometimes "Lost" has dealt with religious themes overtly, but more often it's been presented in sci-fi metaphor.

Lincoln, Nebr., Catholics call out their bishop

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The intrepid souls of Call to Action Nebraska were out front of the Lincoln diocese this week, pleading/demanding that Bishop Fabian Bruskewitz participate in the annual sex abuse audits conducted by the U.S Conference of Catholic Bishops.

The Lincoln Diocese is the only one in the United States that refuses to participate in the audit system established in 2002 to address the issues of sexual abuse of children by clergy.

Read the local story here: Catholics clash over lack of participation in sex abuse audit

Bishops have bill to fix health reform flaws

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This just in from the U.S. Catholic bishops' conference: Bishops Urge Congress to Support Bill to Remedy Abortion, Conscience Flaws in Health Care Reform Law

The bishops say H.R. 5111 will apply the Hyde Amendment to new funds and thus fix "profound flaws" in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

Here's the first part of their press release:

WASHINGTON -- Congress should support a bipartisan bill that will remedy the abortion and conscience flaws in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA), according to the Chairman of the U.S. bishops’ Committee on Pro-Life Activities.

In a May 20 letter to Congress, Cardinal Daniel DiNardo of Galveston-Houston said PPACA was an important step toward ensuring access to health coverage for all Americans but was “profoundly flawed in its treatment of abortion, conscience rights, and fairness to immigrants.”

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August 15-28, 2014

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