National Catholic Reporter

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NCR Today

When does this end?

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How long does this go on? When will this end? The "this," of course, being the, oh, so dispiriting saga, now generically called "the clergy sex abuse" story. We've been on this story since 1985 when we first published reports by freelance writer Jason Berry as he covered a trial in his native Louisiana of a priest, Fr. Gilbert Gauthe, accused of having molested several young boys. We began editorializing about it that year as we began to see the story's ubiquitous twin patterns of priest abuse and episcopal cover-up.

Letter shows Ratzinger resisted defrocking Calif. priest

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This story is at the top of the AP news wire now:

LOS ANGELES -- Church files show that before becoming pope, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger resisted defrocking a California priest who molested children.

A 1985 letter signed by Ratzinger cited concerns about the effect that removing the priest would have on "the good of the universal church."

The correspondence was obtained exclusively by The Associated Press. It is the strongest challenge yet to the Vatican's insistence that Ratzinger, now Pope Benedict XVI, played no role in blocking removal of pedophile priests while head of the Catholic Church's doctrinal watchdog office.

The letter is part of years of correspondence between the diocese of Oakland and the Vatican about the proposed defrocking of the Rev. Stephen Kiesle.

The Vatican confirmed Ratzinger's signature on the letter but declined comment on its contents.

More to come

Knights of Columbus novena for the pope

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Got this notice from the Knights of Columbus. Follow the link below and you can pray along with a video of Bishop William Lori of Bridgeport, Conn.

Novena for Pope Benedict XVI

All Knights of Columbus are encouraged to join in a special novena for Pope Benedict XVI, beginning Divine Mercy Sunday, April 11, and concluding Monday, April 19, the fifth anniversary of the Holy Father’s election in 2005.

We pray for the pope and for his pastoral mission, asking God to protect, strengthen and uplift our beloved Holy Father at this time of considerable challenge.

Pope Opera--Ouch!

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Leave it to Jon Stewart to find a fresh angle on the sex abuse crisis.

Earlier this week, "The Daily Show" led with a segment in which "Vatican correspondent" Samantha Bee compares the media exposure of the abuse and cover-up to a witch hunt, an inquisition, a crusade, unfair censorship of ideas and the Cathari (look it up).

When Stewart tries to point out that those are all things perpetrated by the church throughout history, she responds, "Oh, puh-lease. Where'd you get that, the New York Times?"

Stewart rightly points out that any other organization handling a crisis so poorly would be finished. "For God's sake, look at how sorry Domino's was for their f$%*&ing pizza. They only had a bad sauce recipe. But they've been out there nonstop: 'We're so sorry. Here's some crazy bread.'"

He's harsh, but right. Too bad cute kitties can't really make it all go away. Watch the whole video here.

A.P.B. on greengail47

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We try to give our readers what they want, and our readers are asking for more from greengail47.

greengail47 has a talent for satire (Dear Mother Millea, We are so excited by your visit and Dear Mother Millea, I cannot tell you how deeply shocked I was) and readers have contacted this office by phone, fax and e-mails asking for more.

greengail147, if you see this, please contact us: dcoday@ncronline.org.

Confederate Pride

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Pride goeth before the fall. Virginia’s Governor Bob McDonnell thought it a fine idea to reinstate “Confederate History Month” in the Commonwealth, a celebration that had lapsed under the previous two governors. In his initial proclamation, he omitted any reference to slavery and he has now apologized for that omission and sought to correct the mistake.

Hello? The omission of a reference to slavery was only half the problem. The Civil War was an insurrection. It was an act of treason. It did not undermine, it defied the Constitution. Alas, with Republicans in Texas talking about secession (let’ em go, I say), and South Carolina politicians invoking “nullification” and a variety of Southerners invoking “states rights,” McDonnell probably does not want to call the Confederate cause what it was. Shame on them all. And, for the record, if there are two words that have uglier associations in modern American political history than “states rights” I do not know them.

More on Maciel

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[CORRECTED] Jason Berry, who began reporting on sex abuse in the Catholic church for NCR in 1985, has more to tell about the late Fr. Marcial Maciel, founder of the Legionnaries of Christ. Just last week, after decades of denying it, top officials of the Legionaries of Christ acknowledged that Maciel, sexually abused young seminarians, and they asked forgiveness for failing to listen to his accusers.

After investigating allegations that Maciel had sexually abused young seminarians, in May 2006 the Vatican ordered him to stop practicing his ministry in public and to live a life of prayer and penitence. At the time, Legion officials defended Maciel's declaration of innocence and compared him to Christ for his suffering. Maciel died in January 2008 at age 87.

Berry's newest reporting tracks Maciel's rise to influence in the Vatican. The story is on our Web site: Money paved way for Maciel's influence in the Vatican.

Steppes to a new ewe

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  • A recent study shows 12th-century conqueror Genghis Khan’s direct patrilineal descendants today include 16 million living men who carry his Y-chromosome. In other words, Genghis Khan had about 800,000 times the reproductive success of the average man of his age, an outsize contribution to the gene pool. What was his secret?

  • A spokesperson for a nationwide bookselling chain said half of their sales last year were in the self-help category.



I’m here with author Baba Tang Thiksken. His latest book The Indigenous Can Do No Wrong has hit its tenth week on the best-seller list.

Mr. Thiksken, what would you say has so far been the pinnacle of your career?

T. I’d say it was that unforgettable evening I channeled the world’s best known hunter-gatherer and “old soul,” Genghis Khan.

You chatted with Genghis Khan?

T. In fact, in one of my past lives I was him so the lines through the holographic cinemaplex inside my head were up and running, so to speak.

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