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Morning Briefing

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What's the matter with the Catholic church?

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When Kansas newspaperman William Allen White sat down in 1896 to write his famous editorial about a provincial, stuffy and self-satisfied Midwestern state that couldn’t admit its prejudices, he was addressing his own neighbors and, of course, himself. The question was really, “What’s the matter with us?”

Likewise today, any loyal Catholic who dares to critique his or her church is in the same fix. Emotions are running so high, the only positions one can take on the sex abuse/cover up crisis are as either an enemy of the church engaging in a “vile defamation campaign” (L’Osservatore Romano) or as a staunch hear-no-evil defender of the church. It is better (and safer) to shut up and say nothing.

A new archbishop ñ but will he ìgetî Los Angeles?

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Retiring Archbishop Roger Mahony has had a rough road of late – the sex abuse scandal has left him somewhat sullied, as it has for many other princes of the church.

But the outrage against Mahony among Los Angeles Catholics has been relatively muted – far less visceral than the anger other bishops have faced as the abuse tsunami has traveled the globe. That’s because – for all his problems - Mahony has always felt like “one of us.”

Trampling on the Human Rights of Immigrants

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The fate of comprehensive immigration reform is anybody’s guess. But, the Obama administration does not require congressional action to take swift action with its own Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency. And, make no mistake: Urgent, remedial action is necessary.

Over at the Center for American Progress, they detail the atrocities of justice being perpetrated against undocumented workers. An internal government report focused especially on the use of local law enforcement officials in enforcing immigration laws. Other recent reports show other abuses, including the detention of 30 Haitians who were mistakenly put on a plane out of that country. As if they have not suffered enough.

Here is a political issue for the bishops to get their backs up about. Some of the more vocal bishops were unrelenting in their criticisms of the health care reform, often on highly specific, and debatable, points of the law. Here, there is little controversy. The ICE’s deportation methods are obscene. I am hoping to see bulletin inserts from the USCCB next weekend.

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.

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