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Unforeseen consequences

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Church closures spell hard times for candle maker

By Rick Moriarty, Religion News Serivce

SYRACUSE, N.Y. -- One of this city's oldest candle makers is planning to slash its work force in part because of decreased demand from a shrinking number of Catholic churches to buy its products.

Emkay Candle told its 46 employees that as many as 38 of them will be laid off in 90 days. That would leave just eight people to make candles at the company, which has been making them at the same location since its founding in 1925.

The School Case in Boston

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Tom Roberts has the report on the main page about the situation in Boston where a student was denied enrollment in a parochial school because his parents are lesbians.

The most important thing about the statement issued by the Archdiocese of Boston was that it focused exclusively on what is best for the child. That is what schools should do, and it is heartening to know that this was the focus of the Archdiocesan Superintendent of Schools, Mary Grassa O’Neil. She did not seek to blame the pastor, she did not castigate the parents, she said what needed to be said: we will help find a good school for this child and our schools are open to all children.

Amid the crisis, seminarians head to ordination

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The Washington Post today carries a deeply human depiction of seminarians on the brink of ordination as the sex abuse scandal goes global.

Central to the story is Msgr. Steven Rohlfs, the seminary's rector, who had overseen this class for the past six years. Rohlfs is excited for the 24 young men approaching ordination; he also fears for them.

According to the story by William Wan, Rohlfs "had often told them about the job he'd held before becoming the seminary's rector -- the one that sent him to bed many nights a broken man. For seven years, he had investigated priests accused of sex abuse" in the Diocese of Peoria, Ill., before coming to Mount St. Mary's Seminary in Emmetsburg, Md. The piece includes frank interviews with seminarians about sacrifices involved in leaving careers and other ambitions and about dealing with celibacy.

Rigging CYO basketball games

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Hard to imagine a CYO coach spending serious money to rig the outcomes of games in the Harrisburg, Pa. diocese. But it's true.

Michael Kman, 45, of Enola, Pa., is charged with solicitation to rig publicly exhibited contests and harassment.

Kman is accused of offering $2,500 per game to two officials between January 2009 and January 2010 in exchange for fixing the outcome of the games, state police said.

Kman was a basketball coach for a local Catholic Youth Organization program
at Our Lady of Lourdes Parish in Enola, state police said.

The Diocese of Harrisburg immediately released a statement deploring such behavior by this layman and taking swift action against game-rigging, saying,

The diocese suspended the Youth Protection Clearances that allowed Kman's involvement with youth and youth activities in any parish or school in the diocese.

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.”

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