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Der Spiegel publishes highly critical Benedict XVI portrait

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The pain of the clergy sexual abuse has been especially acute in Germany these past two months and with this pain has come some very critical assessments of the handling of the crisis by the Germany born pope, Benedict XVI. None, however, has been as dark as the one published this week in Der Spiegel .

Der Spiegel is one of Germany's leading news publications. The piece is entitled "The failed papacy of Benedict XVI."

Whether one agrees with it or not, this, being a home front portrayal, it is likely to have special influence in shaping public opinion

All Eyes Turn to Cardinal Sodano

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Many of those who have defended Pope Benedict’s handling of sex abuse charges argue that as head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, then-Cardinal Ratzinger was zealous in urging the Curia to help root out the cancer. Earlier, I noted that Cardinal Schoenborn of Vienna cited Raztinger’s disappointment when the Secretariat of State succeeded in persuading Pope John Paul II not to order an investigation into Schoenborn’s predecessor, Cardinal Groer.

Today, here at NCR, Jason Berry documents the charge against Cardinal Angelo Sodano, and others, that he protected Father Maciel in exchange for thinly concealed bribes.

Over at Spiritual Politics, Mark Silk focused on Sodano, noting his ties to Pinochet and the unseemly and illegal activities of his nephew, whose real estate frauds landed him in prison.

Come on down!

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There are lots of things Catholic parishes can learn from evangelical mega-churches, but this is not one of them: bribing people to come to Easter services with big-screen TVs, cars and other prizes. That's exactly what a Texas megachurch did this Sunday.

"They're coming for the loot and they're going to leave with Jesus," the pastor said, admitting that the "creative" incentive had drawn criticism from a number of other Christians.

I'm all for making services attractive to newcomers, but this is ridiculous. Next they'll have the Passion play with Mary Magdalene choosing a new car from behind tomb door #3!

The Silence of the Protesting Anglicans Packing for Rome

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Is it just me, or have those Anglicans in exodus to the Catholic church been awfully quiet lately?

This is the band of wanderers who declared their principled indignation at the ordination of women and gays and the presence of gay bishops in the Episcopal church and set sail for Rome. Their appeals were heard by Rome and the harbor was opened with the straight faced assurance that this wasn't done to wreck ecumenism but to show compassion for the morally distressed.

The mechanisms are in place for the union of these righteous ones with the Catholic church. The immigration rules are mostly in place and if all things were equal you'd expect tears of gratitude for imminent arrival in the promised land.

But suddenly it seems the promised land hasn't done a very good job keeping its promises.

Nuclear Posture Review okay, but not ideal

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President Obama’s long-awaited Nuclear Posture Review is out today and according to press reports it will please and displease nuclear arms control advocates.

The idea getting most attention, so far, is that Obama has narrowed the role of nuclear weapons in US defense strategy. However, he has also left significant loopholes in these new limitation moves.

That's not fantasy; it's fact.

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History professor Jonathan Zimmerman adds some prespective to the recent charges of media bias and anti-Catholicism that some in the church heierarchy have leveled at the media and critics of how the church has handled cases of sexual abuse by clergy:

As the church's defenders note, America has a long, hideous history of anti-Catholic bigotry. But whereas earlier attacks on Catholics were based on fantasy, the abuse scandal is altogether real. By ignoring the difference, church apologists end up diminishing the real discrimination that Catholics suffered in the past.

Read Zimmerman's full piece in the Philadelphia Inquirer: Anti-Catholic bias irrelevant to scandal.

LA and Latino Catholics

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Here is what the U.S. bishops' communications office has to say about the appointment of Archbishop Jose Gomez as coadjutor to Los Angeles archdiocese:

"... the LA appointment is historic in its significance for Latino Catholics in the United States. It's hard to think of a more high-profile acknowledgment of this growing segment of the U.S. Church than having a Latino made bishop of our largest diocese."

Read the full blog entry for some stats on Latino Catholics in the USA: LA and Latino Catholics.

Vatican lawyer's statement on Indian priest

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tIn the latest case to raise questions about the Vatican’s handling of the sex abuse crisis, attorneys today released church correspondence involving Fr. Joseph Palanivel Jeyapaul, an Indian priest charged with sexually assaulting a 14-year-old girl in a Minnesota parish in 2004.

tWhen those accusations first emerged in 2005, Jeyapaul returned to India, where he is still serving as a priest in a bureaucratic role for his local bishop. Informed of the case by Bishop Victor Balke of the Crookston, Minn., diocese, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith sent a letter instructing Jeyapaul’s bishop in India to look into it in early 2006.

tThe lawyers representing the young woman are demanding that Jeyapaul be returned to the United States for prosecution.

tThis afternoon, an attorney who represents the Vatican in American litigation, Jeffrey Lena, released a statement about the Jeyapaul case. In effect, Lena makes two points:

•tThe Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith recommended expelling Jeyapaul from the priesthood, but his bishop in India decided simply to restrict his ministry following a church trial.

What to do about sex abuse?

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The trail that the U.S. bishops have trudged since the Dallas Charter in 2002, are a good model for the rest of the Catholic world, says Nicholas Cafardi in this story from Agence-Presse France: Child abuse scandal cost US Catholic church $3 bln

The solutions sought by US bishops are a good model for how the church at large should handle the crisis, said Nicholas Cafardi, a respected canonical law professor and author of "Before Dallas," a history of the clergy child sex abuse crisis.

"We're still in a trust rebuilding process," Cafardi told AFP. "But the only thing that turned that around was the very drastic action the bishops took in 2002."

After years of inaction, the United States Conference of Bishops developed a charter governing how the church would protect children that included a zero tolerance policy, background checks and prevention training.

It also established a National Review Board led by lay people to monitor progress and granted access to church files for researchers from the John Jay College of Criminal Justice.

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July 18-31, 2014

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