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SNAP's Isely meets with Austria's Cardinal Schoenborn

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SNAP Midwest Director Peter Isely was part of a delegation of SNAP activists that spent time in Europe recently meeting with survivors there. An email he sent out recently about the trip included the following paragraph:

“The survivors and advocates we met with and joined in Europe were unforgettable. They form with us a single voice of struggle and justice. All of these ancient European capitals are beautiful and majestic. What difference does it make? It is the same pain and anguish, the same sorrow, whether in Berlin or Boise, the same continuous and unbroken chain of trauma, memory and witness. One can only conclude from so many brave souls what Camus did in the final line of his post war epic, The Plague, a book many of us read college (I hope still do) …that what one learns in times of plague is “…that there is more to admire in men than to despise.”

Tar sands pipeline possible site of the next environmental disaster

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If we could go back in time before the BP Deepwater Horizon rig exploded on April 20, what would we learn? What steps would have helped avert what is now the nation's worst environmental disaster? Could this hindsight help us prevent similar catastrophes in the future? Would our political leaders have the moral compass to "get it right" this time around?

A ready-made test case for such an exercise exists in the form of TransCanada's push for a pipeline to transport toxic tar sands oil from Alberta, Canada, through the American heartland down to Houston.

For more on this, see Sarah Hogdon's blog on the Sierra Club's Climate Crossroads.

NCR looked at the issue of tar sand extraction in an article by Sharon Abercrombie that ran in the May 14, 2010 issue.

The exodus of German Catholics

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German Catholics are leaving the church in record numbers, according to the latest figures in this report from Religion News Service: Abuse may lead to exodus of German Catholics

It may have attracted the attention of the hierarchy.

"This high number of departures cannot leave us at peace. Anyone who leaves the church wants to fulfill his faith and his life's desires without the church in the future," said Archbishop Robert Zollitsch of Freiburg, the bishops' president, in a recent statement.

"That kind of decision always raises questions directed at us from which we cannot shy away."

WSJ Gets It Wrong

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The Wall Street Journal has an especially obnoxious column today that asks in its headline, “”In Hospital Deal, How Much Is a Catholic Identity Worth? Just 3 Percent.” This is crazy.

The Caritas hospital system in Boston is in danger of going under. It found a buyer who was willing to pump the necessary revenue into the system. The buyer has said, on the record, that maintaining the Catholic identity of the hospitals is in everyone’s interest. Yes, there is a provision that if that identity becomes untenable for financial reasons, the new owners can secularize the hospitals for a fee equal to 3 percent of the purchase price. Does this intend some nefarious secularist plot? Or is it a legal provision designed as a hedge against some future over-zealous efforts by some of Boston’s many crazies to re-define Catholic identity in ways that make it impossible to keep the hospitals going?

Secrecy in service of the institution

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I know colleague Maureen Fiedler has already picked up on the significance of the piece just posted about secrecy in the Vatican justice system, so excuse the repetition, but the issue gets to the heart of the "how" such a tale of deceit at the highest levels of the church could run its course for so long.

RNS writer Daniel Burke, who has reported and written in a compelling manner in the past about the helplessness that accused priests can experience when subjected to the impenetrable legal processes of the Vatican, has authored another piece here that gives the perspective from the accuser’s side.

Vatican Secrecy

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Religion News Service is reporting on the secrecy that shrouds the Vatican’s handling of sex abuse cases. Many of us know that secrecy is par for the course in what passes for “judicial proceedings” in the Vatican, but here are some findings by RNS reporter Daniel Burke that struck me:

“Participants in church sex abuse trials are bound by oath not to divulge details about the proceedings, or at what stage the case is; not even victims and accused priests are kept apprised…

Even when the trials and appeals are over, participants are not allowed to talk about them. "It's canon law," said the Rev. John Beal, a canon law expert at Catholic University in Washington. ‘But it's a stupid law.’”

It’s refreshing to hear a canon lawyer be so candid.

But there’s more:

“Even reading about the secret trials can be a canonical crime. In 2008, after the Rev. Gerald Vosen, an accused Wisconsin priest, wrote about his experience in a book, the local bishop told Catholics "to destroy the book or return it."

Journalistic ethics?

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The outing of an anti-gay Lutheran pastor in Minnesota by a gay magazine is raising questions of journalistic ethics about undercover reporting.

Why is this a Catholic story? Because the reporter from Lavender Magazine got his scoop by attending meetings of the Catholic group Courage under false pretenses. Courage is dedicated to helping those with same-sex attractions live chaste lives.

A few points:
* Rev. Tom Brock is pretty extreme in his condemnations of anything gay or lesbian. He even once claimed a tornado that hit the convention center where the ELCA was meeting was God's way of punishing the Lutherans for ordaining gays.
* Courage and other groups that claim to "cure" gays of their "disorder" are extremely controversial, to say the least. Many "survivors" of such programs say they cause dangerous self-hatred.

Feliz Fiesta

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A shout out to all our Boricua readers. Today is the Feast of the Birth of Saint John the Baptist, the patron saint of Puerto Rico. If you have never been to that enchanted island, put it on your list of must vacations. In addition to the natural beauty of the island, from the endless beaches and clear waters with every shade of blue imaginable to the magnificent rain forest El Yunque, the island is rich in Church History. The Church of San Jose, undergoing restorations but now open to the public again, is the second oldest church building in the Western hemisphere. The first bishop to arrive in the New World was Bishop Alonso Manzo, the first bishop of San Juan, in 1513. The cathedral in the center of the old city was built in the early nineteenth century after its predecessor was destroyed, but there are two old chapels in the rear of the church that date to the 1520s. An old convent across the street has been turned into a swanky hotel that is a great place to grab a cocktail and check out the old chapel and the great portraits. And, then, of course, there is the food. Fried whole snapper. Mofungo. Pio Nonos. No reason not to go.

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October 10-23, 2014

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