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After 28 years, Catholic worker honored by Kansas City, Mo.

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Catholic workers don't normally grab much attention. For one brief moment here last Thursday that changed.

After 28 years of service at the Holy Family Catholic Worker House, Christian Br. Louis Rodemann was honored by the mayor and city council of Kansas City, Mo. with an official city proclamation.

Citing his efforts to feed the hungry for the past three decades - going so far as to even mention his time 'dumpster diving' for discarded food that could still be used in the nightly meal - the council called Rodemann someone who exemplifies the true 'Kansas City spirit.'

Beyond the official recognition, though, the council gave Rodemann something most people - let alone Catholic workers - get the chance to have: their full attention.

After presenting the award to Rodemann, Mayor Mark Funkhouser gave the former teacher the microphone. With most of the city council present, Rodemann did what he's done for most of his adult life: he spoke of the need for justice for the city's economically impoverished and marginalized.

Kennedy and Daschle to Head Health Care Campaign

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This, reported in "Mike Allen's Playbook" from Politico, is significant, and, for those who want health reform to work on both a policy and political level, smart. (You have to scroll a bit to get to the item after the link).

"Tom Daschle and Victoria Kennedy, the late senator’s wife, are expected to be named co-chairs this week of a well-funded campaign White House allies are rolling out to defend health reform against critics and help states implement it. The Health Information Center is being started by Andrew Grossman, a veteran Democratic operative who founded Wal-Mart Watch, a labor-backed group to challenge the world’s largest retailer. Grossman told us the lessons of Wal-Mart Watch will be helpful on health reform: 'When you treat people with respect and try to understand how they interact with businesses and politics, you can move them.'

Spare Ireland Vatican's misguided strategy

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If John Cooney's report in The Irish Independent is correct,the Vatican's intent in sending foreign prelates to help the Irish will result in another practical and public relations train wreck.

"The nine-member team led by two cardinals will be instructed by the Vatican to restore a traditional sense of reverence among ordinary Catholics for their priests, the Irish Independent has learned," Cooney writes in the June 7 issue.

He said that priests will be instructed to end their public questioning of church policy on such issues as the church ban on artifical birth control or the banning from communion of divorced Catholics who have remarried without obtaining a church annulment.

"A major thrust of the Vatican investigation will be to counteract materialistic and secularist attitudes, which Pope Benedict believes have led many Irish Catholics to ignore church disciplines and become lax in following devotional practices such as going on pilgrimages and doing penance."

EWTN Continues Its Attack on Sister Carol

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Raymond Arroyo, the boyish looking host of EWTN’s news program “The World Over” continued his attacks on Sister Carol Keehan this week because of her support for the health care reform bill passed by Congress earlier this year. Arroyo and his guest, Bill Donohue of the Catholic League, accused Sister Carol of being disloyal to the bishops who opposed the law.

This is rich. EWTN, you will recall, questioned the orthodoxy of Cardinal Roger Mahony because of a pastoral letter he issued on the Eucharist. Last time I checked, it is the Eucharist, not House Bill 3962, that is the “source and summit” of the Catholic faith but that centrality did not prevent EWTN from being “disloyal” to the bishops.

God is not one

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God Is Not One is the title of a new and iconoclastic book jolting the interfaith movement. Most folks involved in inter-religious dialogue spend their waking energy searching for the commonalities among faith traditions. Some even say that different faiths are simply different paths to the same God.

“Not so,” says Stephen Prothero, a professor of religion at Boston University, and one of the most lucid writers in the world of religion that I have encountered. The full title of this newest book is: God is Not One: the Eight Rival Religions that Run the World and Why Their Differences Matters. I interviewed him this week on "Interfaith Voices."

Church in Belgium opts for transparency

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The Catholic Church in Belgium is taking new strides to regain its credibility, according to a report in The New York Times, and that effort begins with greater transparency and cooperation with a government commission.

Increasingly, it appears, the way to credibility is being paved by churches in largely Catholic countries, such as Ireland and Belgium, where leaders have wearied of hiding the facts and placing blame elsewhere and are now willing to divulge the breadth and depth of the offenses that occurred.

Good News Bad News

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While I'm pleased to see that a majority of Catholics in the reported survey want sisters to speak out on vital issues, I'm also dismayed that there is so little apparent concern for the investigation that has resulted largely from sisters doing what the laity favor: speaking or acting out a justice based set of convictions. Those actions have incurred the wrath of the hierarchy which, in turn, has sent the investigators in motion.

Perhaps most Catholic lay people think the Vatican's probe into the affairs of nuns is child's play or simply a routine inspection that anyone in any organization should expect, like a yearly review by the boss.

It's not a harmless exercise or a polite review in my opinion. Sisters have been singled out because many of the biggest wigs in the church complain that too many nuns have been thinking for themselves and speaking their minds in concert with other sisters on a variety of justice issues inside and outside the church.

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September 12-25, 2014

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