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New Israeli settlements foment more terrorism

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Ten years ago, I visited Israel as a guest of the government. I was part of a group of Catholic journalists invited to the Holy Land in hopes we would return to the U.S. and write articles encouraging travel to Israel. I have many memories of that trip, but a few stand out:


  • Going to the Holocaust museum and realizing that what was done to Jews then is similar to what Jews do to Palestinians now. For instance, the Germans made Jews wear yellow stars; in Israel, Palestinians have to have green license plates.

  • Interviewing the mayor of Jerusalem and naively asking, “Why can’t you just share the land?” and flinching as he snapped, “You Americans and your 200-year-old history. You know nothing of history!” He went on to describe with disdain the U.S.’s vision of starting fresh every day.

  • Getting a phone call from a priest I’d met there and hearing him describe a complaint he’d received from a parishioner who had been stopped at an Israeli checkpoint as his pregnant wife labored in the back of the car. They were detained until the woman’s water broke and then, finally convinced she was actually pregnant, let them through.

University of St. Thomas' next president could be a lay person

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From the Star Tribune:

The next president of the University of St. Thomas won't have to be a priest to get the post.

The St. Paul university's governing board changed its bylaws last month to allow a Roman Catholic layperson serve as president.

It will still show priests "strong preference."

The move acknowledges the shrinking number of Catholic priests interested in and qualified for colleges' top jobs. Seton Hall University in New Jersey recently hired a layperson after its first search -- for priests only -- was unsuccessful.

About 60 percent of Catholic colleges are now led by lay people, said Michael Galligan-Stierle, president of the Association of Catholic Colleges and Universities.

A note on comments

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Dear Readers:

Many of you have noticed that we turned off the commenting function for much of today. Behind the scenes, we were being flooded with wave after wave of spam comments. To get a handle on the situation we had to stop accepting comments.

This was a drastic measure because of the unprecedented flow of spam comments. We are hit with such things from time to time, but nothing like what we saw today.

The good news is that it did not interrupt the flow of web site content to you. If you missed the chance to comment today, come back tomorrow. We are open for business.

I apologize from the inconvenience.

Whither the Diaconate?

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Invitation to NCR readers:

Deacon William Ditewig, a professor of theology at St. Leo University in Florida, is speaking at Boston College tonight (March 15) on the topic "Wither the Diaconate." Ditewig wrote the lead essay in the NCR special section on deacon Feb. 4. His essay was titled, "A letter to a newly ordained deacon."

The talk is scheduled for 7 p.m. in the Murray Function Room of the Yawkey Center, Lower Campus, Boston College

For more information: church21@bc.edu or call (617-552-0470)

Amidst Nuclear Crisis, A Good Question from a Key Quarter

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“If the competent and technologically brilliant Japanese can't build a completely safe reactor, who can?” syndicated columnist Anne Applebaum asks today. Applebaum’s question is perhaps the one that will be most discussed and debated in the months and years ahead.

Just as important is who’s asking it. Applebaum is no classic anti-nuke type. Far from it. She previously served, for example, as an adjunct fellow at the influential American Enterprise Institute (AEI), Washington’s foremost neo-conservative think-tank.

Bottom line: If some good number of conservatives and neo-conservatives begin to publicly question the efficacy of nuclear power, then its future as an energy source – already a big question mark – is doubtful, if not doomed.

Gluten intolerance and First Holy Communion

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In several weeks' time, youngsters will be receiving their First Holy Communion. Today's Wall Street Journal has a story titled, "Clues to Gluten Sensitivity," of the increasing understanding of "gluten intolerance," as a separate condition from Celiac Sprue disease.

The Committee on Divine Worship of the U.S. Catholic bishops conference has helpful information on the subject titled, "A Short Introduction to Holy Communion and Celiac Sprue Disease," which can be found here.

Parents should work with their parish leaders to prevent unnecessary complications for those children (and adults), who suffer from gluten intolerance or Celiac Sprue disease.

Catholic University honors Ambassador Thomas Melady

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WASHINGTON – The Catholic University of America March 14 honored an alumnus and former U.S. ambassador to the Holy See, Thomas P. Melady, for a lifetime of achievement in service to his church, his country and the academic world.

The university's Institute for Policy Research and Catholic Studies presented Melady with it first Bishop John Keane medallion, which bears the Latin inscription, "Academia, patria, ecclesia" – "Academia, country, church." It is intended to be awarded annually from now on.

Hear Tom Roberts on the Philadelphia scandal

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As most NCR readers know, the sex abuse scandal broke out anew in February in the Philadelphia Archdiocese. A grand jury issued a scathing report, indicating that as many as 37 priests with credible accusations of child sexual abuse or inappropriate activity with a minor were still functioning as priests.

Initially, Cardinal Justin Rigali, the Archbishop of Philadelphia, denied that any such priests were still in ministry. Six days later, three were suspended. And within the past week, 21 more were suspended.

After reading these facts, which fly in the face of the “zero tolerance” policy enacted by the U.S. Catholic Bishops in their famous “Dallas Charter,” I was stunned.

And this immediately raised for me other questions: Is Philadelphia the only place where bishops are not in compliance? Can we trust the bishops to follow their own directives and guidelines? Is there need for someone to enforce compliance with the Dallas Charter?

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