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Kasper resigns; Koch takes his spot

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As John Allen reported yesterday (Triumph of theologians over diplomats in Vatican) Pope Benedict XVI today appointed Bishop Kurt Koch of Basel, Switzerland, as president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity. Koch succeeds Cardinal Walter Kasper, who has reached retirement age.

Here is the first reaction I have seen to Kasper's resignation: The Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, said:

What Benedict means by 'new liturgical movement'

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By JOHN L. ALLEN JR.
Rome

tSometime soon, the Vatican is expected to release a motu proprio, meaning a legal document under the pope’s authority, which will transfer responsibility for an aspect of marriage law from one Vatican office to another. Though it will probably fly below the public radar, the document provides a glimpse into Pope Benedict XVI’s approach to liturgy, meaning how the church celebrates the Mass and its other rituals.

tSpecifically, Benedict is expected to encourage the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, the Vatican's office for liturgical policy, to focus on promoting what he describes as a “new liturgical movement." The obvious question, of course, is what exactly he means by that.

New study: when waterboarding ceased to be torture

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There's a fascinating new study out of Harvard's John F. Kennedy School of Government that's the subject of a story on Salon.com.
According to the Salon piece: "This new study examines how waterboarding has been discussed by America's four largest newspapers over the past 100 years, and finds that the technique, almost invariably, was unequivocally referred to as "torture" -- until the U.S. Government began openly using it and insisting that it was not torture, at which time these newspapers obediently ceased describing it that way." The study itself can be found here.

Pax Christi to honor LCWR

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The Catholic peace group Pax Christi USA has announced that it will honor the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR) with its Eileen Egan Peacemaker Award during Pax Chrisit's national conference in Chicago July 18.

In announcing the honor, Pax Christi head Dave Robinson said, “Everyone in Pax Christi USA knows and recognizes that women religious are the backbone of the Catholic peace and justice movement."

I'm in Charge Here, No?

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Mel Brooks proclaimed "it's good to be the king" as he pranced around as Louis XVI in "History of the World Part I," oblivious to the fate that awaited him.

The Revolution was about to separate his head from his torso, but there he was, in full divine right glory, denying reality.

Benedict XVI, on the other hand, must have no illusions that it's any fun being the religious counterpart, the supreme pontiff, both because he isn't a sinister hedonist and no doubt understands fairly well that the natives are plenty restless.

Still, he or his support staff persist in portraying the papacy in medieval, royalist privileges that alienate it further from the egalitarian ideologies that undergird, at least in theory, the modern world.

I refer to the pope's insistence that he alone is entitled to rap the knuckles of cardinals. Another cardinal may not. Let's be clear, as President Obama might say, I'm the pope and, in case you forgot the rules, I'm the critic in chief. The rest of you keep your sniping to yourselves, or at least within the college of cardinals dining hall.

Crazy Stuff: The KC Catholic Key on Kagan

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Last week, I offered some praise for “The Catholic Key Blog,” the online presence of the Kansas City-St. Joseph archdiocesan newspaper edited by Jack Smith. Smith offers some provocative and generally well-written commentary that reflects the views of the conservative bishop he serves (or so it seems) and a good number of the faithful of the church.

But there’s provocative and then there’s … well, bizarre. Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan, Smith writes this week, is “thoroughly totalitarian.” (You have to scroll down a bit to see this posting.)

Accusing someone in political life of being “thoroughly totalitarian” is, to my mind, the equivalent of charging that someone is a fascist or communist, a Holocaust denier, a racist, an anti-Catholic, an anti-Semite, a bigot; someone, in other words, whose ideas and actions make them, by definition, illegitimate, not worthy of consideration in the civil discussion. Someone to be shunned.

Web site allows veterans to tell their stories

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The War Project is a just launched Web site for veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan to tell their stories. The first story is from Staff Sgt. Fred Minnick.

This is from the Web site's "About" page:

About the war project

The War Project is an independent online project created and edited by freelance journalist and photographer Susannah Breslin. The site presents the as-told-to stories of veterans of the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Interviews are conducted in person and edited and condensed prior to publication.

Created & edited by Susannah Breslin

Susannah Breslin is a freelance journalist, photographer, and blogger. She has written for Newsweek, Details, Harper’s Bazaar, The San Francisco Chronicle, The LA Weekly, The San Francisco Examiner Magazine, Variety, Slate, Salon, The Daily Beast, Wired News, The New York Post, and Playboy.com, among many other publications, and appeared on CNN, Fox News, “Politically Incorrect,” and National Public Radio.

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