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The earth beneath our feet was toxic

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Vietnam: Day Three

On day three of this incredible journey, our interfaith delegation flew to DaNang on the central coast of Vietnam, site of the largest of the U.S. air base during the Vietnam War. This was the storage spot for barrels of Agent Orange, the herbicide sprayed by U.S. planes over a large part of Vietnam in an effort to defoliate the countryside during the war, and deny the Viet Cong the shelter and cover of the jungle.

Eventually, we get it right: burying Copernicus

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It's taken me a few days to catch up with the news that the Catholic Church has seen fit to give proper burial to Copernicus. But what the heck, it took the church 500 years to get it right, so what's a few days?

The reset on this, however, is more than a curiosity. Substitute other issues of the day, issues dealing with matters of Christology, ecclesiology or sexuality over which theologians have been silenced, and what happened in the 16th century becomes more understandable. Or maybe the case is that what is happening in the 21st century is sadly (and dangerously) reminiscent of the 16th century.

Whatever the case, who can begrudge a scientist a proper and honorable burial or not be happy that the church is able to acknowledge that it got something wrong -- even if it takes half a millennium.

A truly Catholic funeral

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It was held in a Methodist Church; the mourners recited the Kaddish; and the homilist quoted the Sufi poet Hafiz. But it was truly one of the most Catholic funerals I've ever attended.

The Archdiocese of Chicago said Janine Denomme, who was ordained through the Roman Catholic Womenpriests organization, could not have a Catholic funeral. They may have threatened the parish priest into refusing her family the use of the building, but that didn't stop the rest of the parish from laying her to rest with a funeral Mass attended by hundreds--on the eve of Pentecost, no less.

Bishop Joan Houk, who had ordained Janine six weeks earlier and presided at the funeral Mass, lamented that Janine never got to have her own "Mass of Thanksgiving" or first Mass. But Houk told the congregation that Janine had lovingly prepared this liturgy as her gift to her friends and family.

Seminar for media on clergy sex abuse

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The U.S. bishops' conference and the Canon Law Society are hosting a seminar for media on clergy sex abuse. Sr. Mary Ann Walsh is Tweeting the event. Follow the tweet stream at: http://twitter.com/usccbmedia. Here are highlights from this morning. Remember you have to read in reverse order:


USA Today and NCR: Where's the balance? Beal: I only have anecdotal evidence. Says it is a concern. 39 minutes ago via web

Fr. Beal says pendulum has swung from priest always being believed over victim to vice versa. 40 minutes ago via web


Answer -- there are frivolous accusations, but innocent priests need to be restored. Not all dioceses have procedures for this. 41 minutes ago via web


NCR follow up: have priests been railroaded out of fear of bishops for bad PR? 42 minutes ago via web


When facts are contestable, canonical process is still cumbersome. That's what happens in any legal system. 43 minutes ago via web


Fr. Beal says canon law dedicated to due process. And committing to a trial is cumbersome. Example: processing accused terrorists. 43 minutes ago via web

'I've sweated rosary beads over this'

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NCR introduced Fr. Matt Ruhl to readers last year during the Catholic Charities annual meeting when we told you about his plan to cross the country on bicycle for poverty awareness.

Well, Sunday was his last day in his Kansas City, Mo., parish. He is in the final stages of preparation for a 5,092-mile journey from Cape Flattery in Washington state to Key West, Fla. He and 11 other people will bike for 100 days, from Memorial Day weekend to Labor Day.

The ride aims at promoting Catholic Charities USA Campaign to Reduce Poverty. A bit of background on that campaign:

Dads and grads, oh my

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Fathers don't get enough respect in this society, honestly. To find Exhibit A, all you have to do is walk into any store -- ANY store: drug store, department store, pet store, book store. In there you will see two words knitted together that drive me crazy: "Dads and Grads!"

The come-on here is that you can kill two birds with one stone -- don't waste all your time looking for a gift for just, well, DAD. While you are here, you can pick up something for a GRAD, too. Now, that's getting value for your investment!

ìLet the Little Children Come to MeÖî

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Vietnam: Day Two

Today, our interfaith delegation from the United States visited the /Center for Children with Disabilities/ in Cu Chi, Vietnam. It is run by a Catholic priest, Father Phan Khac Tu and a wonderful staff.

As we walked into a large room on the ground floor, we were greeted by a couple dozen children sitting on the floor, singing and chanting and welcoming our strange looking group. These children suffer from a wide variety of disabilities, but they were able to be hugged, and to appreciate Bob Edgar’s crazy/wonderful magic tricks.

Upstairs, we visited more severely disabled children, lying on mats. Most had badly crippled limbs, and some had enlarged skulls. One girl, eleven years old, had the body of a two-year-old. Still, they smiled, reached out, and seemed to welcome our visit, and our hugs.

These are just a small fraction of the children with birth defects that are believed to be caused by Agent Orange/dioxin, the poisonous herbicide the United States sprayed over the countryside for ten years during the Vietnam conflict.

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August 29-September 11, 2014

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