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Same-sex marriage and Calif. Catholics

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Does your view of God color your stance on same-sex marriage? A new poll of Californians says, yes it does -- and shows many Catholics in this state much more supportive of the issue than evangelicals are.

Last year, California voters passed the controversial Proposition 8, which outlawed gay marriage in the state. The measure received strong support from the church and church-related groups like the Knights of Columbus.

Whom did Jesus call friend?

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Was this notice timed to coincide with the Feast of Saint Mary Magdalene?

The Vatican press office announced today that Pope Benedict XVI has written a children's book called, The Friends of Jesus. His friends were 12 men, acccording to the book.

The prologue, by Spanish Fr. Julian Carron, president of the Fraternity of Communion and Liberation, begins: ""One upon a time there was a small group of men who, one day two thousand years ago, met a young man who walked the roads of Galilee . Each had his own job and family but, in an instant, their lives changed. They were called Andrew and John, Peter, Matthew, Thomas, etc. They were twelve and we know them today as the 'Apostles'. ... In Jerusalem at that time everyone knew that they were Jesus' 'friends'. ... Later they were joined by St. Paul ..."

Best Web site for finding farm products in your area

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It's the height of summer, and time to visit your local farmers' market for fresh sweet corn, green beans, squash and tomatoes. The best organic food is what's grown closest to you. Use the Local Harvest Web site to find farmers' markets, family farms, and other sources of sustainably grown food in your area, where you can buy produce, grass-fed meats, and many other goodies. Support this great site. Shop in their catalog for things you can't find locally.

Scattered throughout the site are tips for gardening, recipes, together with links to blogs from individual family farms around the country that use sustainable growing practices. The blogs are fascinating reading and informative on the ways people meet the challenges family farming faces today.

'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.

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