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Priests in legal limbo

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Every time we’ve covered the sex abuse crisis on Interfaith Voices, I wondered about the possibility of false accusations against priests. When guests say that priests should be removed from ministry if there is a “credible accusation,” I wondered, what makes a charge “credible?” And who decides?

Now, Daniel Burke of Religion News Service has broken a story on this issue, and NCR has covered it. We feature it this week on Interfaith Voices

It's dialogue or death, pope says in Portugal

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By JOHN L. ALLEN JR.
Porto, Portugal

tIn a strong missionary appeal coupled with a call for dialogue, Pope Benedict XVI today urged his flock to resist the lure of a sort of “ghetto Catholicism,” closed in on itself.

t“We have to overcome the temptation to limit ourselves to what we already have, or think we have, that’s securely ours,” the pope said.

"That would be a slow death."

Benedict XVI made thos comments during an open-air Mass in Porto, an urban area of roughly two million in northern Portugal.

tBenedict seemed almost impatient to get things moving, saying that Christ’s comforting words about being with the church to the end of time “do not excuse us from going out to meet others.”

t“How much time has been lost, how much work has been delayed, because of carelessness on this point!” he said.

tAs he has throughout his four-day trip, Benedict stressed the need for dialogue with those outside the Catholic fold.

t“Today the church is called to face new challenges, and is ready to dialogue with different religions and cultures, seeking to construct the peaceful co-existence of peoples with every person of good will.”

You're hired--NOT!

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I just returned from a nice visit to my home state of Wisconsin, where I caught up on the latest Catholic scandal there: Marquette University's decision to rescind a job offer for a dean's position to an openly gay candidate who is also a lesbian scholar. The story has everyone discussing issues of academic freedom, Catholic identity and discrimination.

The latest:
* Milwaukee Archbishop Jerome Listecki and Marquette University president Robert A. Wild acknowledged Tuesday that they had discussed the appointment. The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel reports that Listecki and the archdiocesan judicial vicar contacted Wild with "red flags."

* In her first interview since this story broke last week, Professor Jodi O'Brien has said she had already signed the contract, prompting speculation about a possible breech of contract lawsuit.

A Tale of Two Fatimas

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By JOHN L. ALLEN JR.
Fatima, Portugal

t In a sense, there have always been two Fatimas in the popular Catholic imagination.

One is a gentle devotion focused on Mary’s appearances to three illiterate shepherd children, an icon of God’s special favor for the simple ones of the earth.Then there’s the other Fatima, a darker and harder-edged subculture focused on speculation about the errors of Russia, nuclear annihilation, and the great apostasies of the Catholic church after the Second Vatican Council (1962-65).

tThat second Fatima, according to some, has often obscured and perverted the first. Writer and commentator Carlos Evaristo, for example, says feverish devotees can become so engrossed by the second Fatima that they almost have to be “deprogrammed.”

“Unfortunately, many people who have a devotion to Fatima start with the regular devotions of the rosary and the First Saturdays, and then they get into some of the more exoteric literature,” Evaristo said.

“Once you get people into that mentality, it’s very hard to get them back.”

My brief encounter with Mr. Donohue

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Some years ago, I had my first – and last – on air encounter with William Donohue (who responds here to an NCR column), then not quite as well known as now. It was for a version of Chris Matthews’ Hardball, a show I rarely watched. My vantage point was the darkened studio of a local public television station in Kansas City, Mo., where I sat, plugged in only by an earphone as the show got underway.

My recollection is that for most of the next 20 minutes Mr. Donohue screamed. I had never quite met anyone like him. He shouted incessantly -- non sequiturs, insults, bromides, broadsides, a veritable firehose of mischaracterizations and conclusions all delivered at a decibel level that would have been outlawed in any other industry.

I must say I went home somewhat marveling at the man’s capability for delivering so little at such great volume.

A Reply to Bill Donohue's Reply

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You can always count on Bill Donohue to put the “id” back into “idiocy.” For Donohue, the world is a small place, and he fills it substantially with his pseudo-intellectual obesity. His rebuttal to the article by Joe Feuerhard claims he intends to rebut the charges leveled against him one by one, but he mostly obfuscates the issues, all the while showing why he has become the favorite Catholic blowhard on the cable channels.

Donohue defends his exorbitant salary, noting that Sister Carol Keehan makes significantly more than he does in her role as head of the Catholic Health Association. He fails to note that Sister Carol, who is a Daughter of Charity, has taken a vow of poverty and so she never sees a paycheck because it goes to her religious order. He also fails to note that to earn Sr. Carol’s salary he would have to learn something about health care, a subject on which his rantings have been even more obtuse than usual.

Pope lauds 'maternity of God' as counter-sign to egoism

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By JOHN L. ALLEN JR.
Fatima, Portugal

tIn the teeth of a world inclined to sacrifice unity “on the altar of base egoisms of nation, race, ideology, the group and the individual,” Pope Benedict XVI today proposed Fatima as a counter-sign of the “wondrous maternity of God.”

tThe comments came in the pontiff’s homily this morning for an open-air Mass in the world’s premier Marian shrine, before a vast and tightly-packed crowd estimated at half a million. Today is the feast of Our Lady of Fatima, recalling the reported apparitions of Mary to three shepherd children in this spot between May and October 1917.

tBenedict’s use of feminine imagery was striking, though in context the phrase “maternity of God” appeared to refer to Mary’s role as the Mother of God. Benedict said that Mary testifies to the “sweet joys” of God’s love for humanity.

tThe pope lauded the three young visionaries of Fatima, saying they had “an experience of grace.” At the same time, the pontiff insisted that Christian faith does not depend upon such dramatic confirmation.

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September 26-October 9, 2014

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