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Unsealed documents in Memphis

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The (Tennessee) Commercial Appeal posted today documents from $2 million law suit settled by the Catholic Diocese of Memphis that the courts unsealed on Tuesday.

According to the Commercial Appeal’s Web site, the records “show that at least 15 priests have been accused of sexual misconduct over some four decades in the Memphis diocese. More than 10,000 pages of depositions, pleadings and documents also show abusive priests were moved quietly from parish to parish and diocese to diocese to avoid scandal and to protect the priests, the plaintiff's attorney said.”

Thou shalt fall in love at least three times a day

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The late Fr. Thomas Berry was asked once what he thought was the most important element of a spirituality for everyday living. He answered: “Enchantment!”

In order to engage an active spirituality that makes sense, that works and is effective for our times, Berry urged the awakening of an energetic sense of awe and wonder within us. Enchantment comes as we see the whole universe, and especially the earth that gave us birth, as vast, sacred mysteries. We have been lost in the gaunt grip of a centuries-old split in our thinking and in our religious sense between the divine and the world, between the sacred and the secular, the holy and the ordinary, the consecrated and the congregation, between heaven and earth, saint and sinner.

In our day this profound split in our consciousness is beginning to heal as we rediscover a more creation-centered view – one that recognizes the interconnectedness of all things and the nagging, pervasive presence of the divine mystery always and everywhere within our world.

The One Catholic Gathering You Shouldn't Miss

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Please pardon the shameless self promotion.

But we're a month away from what is shaping up to be a terrific two-day conference -- “A Washington Briefing for the Nation's Catholic Community,” -- on Thursday and Friday, May 6 and 7, 2010, cosponsored by Trinity Washington University and NCR. The conference will be held on Trinity's campus with hotel accommodations at the Hyatt Regency Washington on Capitol Hill.

A few things you can do:


  • If you haven't yet registered but plan to, please do so today (and please take advantage of the $395 group rate.) This will help us nail-down some of the logistics (meals, materials, etc.) You can register here: https://ncrnews.org/NCRsecuredpage/registration_form.html

  • Please share this posting with anyone and everyone -- colleagues, friends -- you think might be interested in this event. Encourage them to attend! (They too are eligible for the group rate.)

  • Please place information about the conference in your electronic newsletters and communications.

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.

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