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Naming Pell to Bishops would be a landmark move

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By JOHN L. ALLEN JR.
Rome

tI’m in Rome at the moment, preparing to leave early Tuesday on Pope Benedict XVI’s May 11-14 swing in Portugal. Ecclesiastically speaking, Rome is very much a company town, so speculation about who’s in line for what job is always in the air. These days attention is focused on possible successors to Cardinal Giovanni Battista Re, prefect of the Congregation for Bishops, who’s held the job for the last ten years and who is now 76.

tRecently, the well-connected Italian Vatican writer Andrea Tornielli reported that Pope Benedict XVI has found his man for the job at the Congregation for Bishops: Cardinal George Pell of Sydney, Australia. Pell, who’ll turn 69 in early June, has been the Archbishop of Sydney since 2001 and a cardinal since 2003.

tTrying to predict appointments is a notoriously hazardous enterprise, and until the daily bollettino from the Holy See Press Office appears with Pell’s name on it, nothing’s for sure. Yet if Pell is indeed the new prefect, it would be a landmark move for at least four reasons.

Clapping for Sister Carol

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Sometimes applause is just applause. There is applause that is polite. There is the applause at the end of the singing of the National Anthem. There is the applause from members of Congress when the President says something nice about apple pie or calls attention to the First Lady.

Then there are those moments when a group of people want to express their profound admiration and love for someone and, given the context, the only manner that seems suitable to express those feelings is with applause, even though it does not come close to expressing the depth of feeling. This was the kind of applause that greeted Sister Carol Keehan at NCR’s “Washington Briefing” when she was introduced this morning. The room rose as one. The applause was loud, not to say raucous, and it was sustained.

Arizona, immigration and the need for federal action

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I read with great interest the remarks of Speaker Nancy Pelosi, encouraging church leaders to preach on immigration reform as an issue of justice. She’s right, and it could have an important effect.

After all, religious leaders have long spoken out for reform, but many of the people in the pews (and in the polls) have yet to hear the message!

Schˆnborn attacks Sodano, urges reform

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In the latest issue of The Tablet of London:

Schönborn attacks Sodano and urges reform

The head of the Austrian Church has launched an attack of one of the most senior cardinals in the Vatican, saying that Cardinal Angelo Sodano, dean of the College of Cardinals, “deeply wronged” the victims of sexual abuse by Catholic clergy when he dismissed media reports of the scandal. In a meeting with editors of the main Austrian daily newspapers last week, Cardinal Christoph Schönborn, the Archbishop of Vienna, also said the Roman Curia was “urgently in need of reform”, and that lasting gay relationships deserved respect. He reiterated his view that the Church needs to reconsider its position on re-married divorcees.

John Zogby's presentation at NCR Washington Briefing

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John Zogby, the president and CEO of Zogby International, the global polling company, presented the results of his company's latest survey of American Catholics' beliefs and attitudes today during a lunch time presentation to participants of "Washington Briefing for the Nation’s Catholic Community," cosponsored by Trinity Washington University and National Catholic Reporter.

SOA looking for interns

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Just got this note from SOA Watch, the organization founded by Maryknoll Fr. Roy Bourgeois and dedicated to closing the Army training school for Latin American soldiers located at Fort Benning, Ga.

SOA Watch Internships in Washington, DC

These are the internship positions in the DC office of SOA Watch
(click on the title for a detailed description)

Organizing Intern

Communications Intern

Fundraising Intern

Internships last for two to four months and interns commit to a certain number of hours per week. The minimum commitment is 20 hours per week; 32-40 hours per week is most common.

NCR Briefing: implications of the sex abuse crisis

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Who are we as a church? What is our leadership about? What kind of culture does it create?

These are just a few of the ever so narrow questions NCR senior correspondent John Allen and editor at large Tom Roberts just dealt with during a panel on how Catholics are confronting the abuse scandal at our briefing in Washington, DC.

“The sex abuse crisis isn’t so much to do about sex as it is about the culture of the church,” said Roberts. The question is “how do we address the clerical culture?”

Allen addressed three implications of the current scandal on the church's public image and its public policy: that the church, in the short term at least, will continue to be self-defensive; that the scandal has made it impossible to tell any other story about the church; and that it may accelerate the shift in the church's population from the global North (Europe, U.S.) to the global South (Latin America, Africa).

Next up is law professor Helen Alvare on 'Abortion and the Significance of the Law.' What questions would you ask of her?

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September 12-25, 2014

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