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The 'Had it' Catholics, Part II

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Tom Roberts' recent piece "The 'Had it' Catholics" has been attracting more comments on our Web site than we can keep up with.

It seems readers are intrigued by the by the central phenomenon of the story: that Catholicism is experiencing the largest loss of faithful of any religious denomination in America.

Now, Peter Steinfels over at Commonweal is weighing in on the subject with a massive exploration of what he calls 'The American Church's Crisis of Attrition.'

After looking into all sorts of reasons -- from all sorts of angles -- for why Catholics are leaving the church in such high numbers, Steinfels highlights what he sees as the key problem with the crisis: that the church hierarchy is simply not acknowledging it exists.

His conclusion is to change that, immediately:

Latina Magnificat: What women know about immigration

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If you have childhood memories of travel, your mother probably figures prominently in the images you carry. Women take care of the details -- the packing, the food, first-aid -- and the needs of the children, physical and emotional.

Try to imagine a mother from Central America getting ready to set out with her daughter on the long journey to the border. Or the women waiting by the phone in Mexico for word that their husband and teenage son have made it across and are somewhere safe.

So You Want to Ride Homer Simpson's Coat-tails?

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The line between evangelizing and commercializing can be a thin one.

The claim by the Vatican newspaper that Homer Simpson is a Catholic is a good illustration.

In these dark days of Vatican history when the Catholic "brand" isn't doing so well, L'Osservatore Romano's embrace of Homer could be a marketing strategy to bolster its image.

Basking in the glow of Homer's popularity won't work, however, unless Rome is ready to accept a form of Catholicism that includes the following features:

Gay marriage. When the law permitted them in Springfield, HJS speedily got himself marrying credentials and opened up a wedding chapel in his garage. Did right well, too.

Church unity, achieved. Homer most often attends services in the Protestant sanctuary of the Rev. Mr. Lovejoy, but has never shown an inclination to place any church, or any religion for that matter, above another. They're all the same for him if there's something in it for him. He even did a brief missionary stint on a South Pacific island.

Conservative Kansas town reduces energy use, saves money

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They don’t believe in climate change. They can’t stand Al Gore. But the residents of the deeply conservative town of Salina, Kansas are committed to saving energy thanks to the Climate and Energy Project.

A fascinating article in today’s New York Times says that the project is aimed at reducing the heartland’s dependence on coal and oil.

The beauty that serves no purpose

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If efficiency and simple cause-and-effect were in charge of things, we wouldn't have autumn's colors. Trees are models of efficiency in most of their processes and activities -- the photosynthesis that goes on in their leaves, their unique system of drawing water and nutrients from the ground through roots and turning it into sap, which is performed without waste.

But in technical terms the color that comes to autumn leaves is waste, sheer excess and leftover. It is created by substances revealed only when the tiring tree seals off the sap circulation and no longer charges up the chlorophyll in the leaves. The old clorophyll disintegrates and yellow pigments called carotene and xanthophyll become visible. The reds and purples appear when the sun has oxidized sugars and acids the tree has abandoned in the leaves. When the leaves have passed their peak in color and fall from the trees, they molder into humus which eventually will feed the parent tree. But the color adds nothing to the humus.

Fortunately, for us, there is no efficiency expert or stern taskmaster that abhors superfluous qualities monitoring the trees. As a result, we get fall's magnificent coloration.

Interview with Cardinal Roger Mahony of Los Angeles

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By JOHN L. ALLEN JR.
Rome

tCardinal Roger Mahony of Los Angeles is one of two representatives of the American bishops in the Oct. 10-24 Synod of Bishops for the Middle East, along with Archbishop Allen Vigneron of Detroit. Mahony sits on the Congregation for Eastern Churches, and presides over what is arguably the most multi-cultural diocese in America, which includes outposts of all six of the Eastern Catholic churches of the Middle East: Armenian, Chaldean, Coptic, Maronite, Melkite, and Syrian Catholics.

Mahony is already anticipating his retirement in February 2011, with the transfer of power in Los Angeles to Archbishop Jose Gomez. Nonetheless, he remains vitally engaged in issues facing Catholicism in America, especially the case for immigration reform.

tHe sat down on Oct. 18 for an interview with NCR about the Synod of Bishops for the Middle East.

Meeting at Mass

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As my community celebrated Mass Oct. 16 in our chapel here in Culver City, Calif., a young man was marrying the love of his life during a wedding Mass at a parish in Staten Island, N.Y. The groom's parents have been friends of our community in New York for 35 years, and I have known them since Josh was a little tyke. We asked our chaplain here to celebrate the Mass for the intentions of the happy couple.

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