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Paraguay's president Fernando Lugo diagnosed with cancer

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Paraguayan President Fernando Lugo has been diagnosed with lymphoma, a cancer affecting the immune system, Health Minister Esperanza Martinez said Aug. 6.

The 59-year-old president is a former Catholic bishop. His five-year term is slated to end in August 2013.

The cancer, known as non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, was detected at an early stage, Martinez said.

Ride Your Bike to Church Day for the Gulf

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The oil spill disaster in the Gulf of Mexico could not have come at a worse time. As thousands in the Gulf region struggle to recover from the economic recession and a series of destructive hurricanes, the disaster has added to the misery of those whose livelihoods depend upon the Gulf and left thousands unable to pay their bills and keep food on the table. Meanwhile, the environmental toll continues to mount even as the oil has stopped flowing.

What can your parish do to help? The Catholic Coalition for Climate Change suggests you sponsor a Ride Your Bike to Church Day to raise money for the victims of the oil spill and raise consciousness of the human and environmental cost of our continued oil use.

Come together as a community to:
-Reduce the gasoline usage by riding, walking or taking public transportation instead of driving to church;
-Learn about the impact of the oil spill in the Gulf and our dependence on fossil fuels;
-Contribute the money saved in gasoline to the Catholic Charities response to those in the Gulf region whose livelihoods are now threatened;

Book on Catholic health care and climate change availabe from Catholic Health Association

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A new resource for Catholic health ministry, Faithfully Healing the Earth: Catholic Health Care and Climate Change, is available from the Catholic Health Association. The booklet highlights the many reasons why climate change is an important issue for faith-based providers of health care and consumers of energy.

It was developed to introduce Catholic health care leaders to the issues surrounding climate change and to suggest steps that can be taken to address this escalating, but solvable problem. The 26-page booklet is provided as part of a ministry–wide effort to raise awareness about global climate change being undertaken by the Catholic Health Association.

It's available by setting up an account in a few easy steps then paying for shipping and handling from the CHA Service Center.

Vatican paper comes in praise of altar girls

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Earlier this week, more than 50,000 young altar servers from around the world flocked to Rome for a gathering with Pope Benedict XVI. It's a regular event, but this year there was a twist: For the first time, altar girls outnumbered the boys roughly 60-40.

On the front page of Saturday's edition of L'Osservatore Romano (which is released in Rome Friday afternoon), the official Vatican newspaper, essayist Lucetta Scaraffia styles the post-Vatican II acceptance of altar girls as an important breakthrough, saying that it marks the end of "any attribution of impurity" to females, and corrects a "profound inequality."

Here's the relevant section from Scaraffia's essay, in NCR translation:

Hiroshima Day: Time to act against nuclear weapons

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Today is the 65th anniversary of the dropping of the atomic bomb by the United States on the city of Hiroshima, Japan, incinerating the city and killing at least 140,000 residents. For the first time, an envoy from the U.S. to Japan attended the memorial ceremony making the occasion. It’s about time.

According to New York Times reports, “Hiroshima’s mayor welcomed the [U.S.] Ambassador John Roos and praised President Obama as one of the world leaders who ‘wielded their powerful influence’ to rid the world of nuclear weapons.”

When I read definitions of the word “terrorism,” I often think about Hiroshima and Nagasaki -- cities flattened, civilians murdered en masse, the terror that lasted in the bodies of many people who were contaminated by the fallout. All this makes a car bomb look like a firecracker by comparison.

Shocking decision

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A bishop in the Episcopal Church who concealed his brother's sexual abuse of a minor 35 years ago has been returned to his position in Pennsylvania, reports the Philadelphia Inquirer.

A church appeals court Wednesday reversed a lower church court's order that Bishop Charles E. Bennison Jr. be removed and defrocked, citing the expiration of the church's statute of limitations.

Episcopalians are shocked. So am I. I guess it's not only Catholic bishops who seem to be getting off scot-free. You can read more about Bennison and his brother here.

Ground Zero mosque: Catholics have seen this before

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A few years ago, I visited an exhibit on Catholics in New York put on by the Museum of the City of New York. It was a fascinating look at Catholic culture in an urban setting and the ethnic communities that were shaped by it, particularly in the 19th and early 20th centuries. For a person with two Italian Catholic grandparents and one Irish Catholic grandmother, it was interesting to understand how far we’ve come.

The pure, peaceable, impartial Christianity of Christ

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Re-reading Frederick Douglass’ narrative I came across a stirring confession that resonated deeply with Anne Rice grappling with Christianity she is most recently known for,
t
“I love the pure, peaceable, and impartial Christianity of Christ: I therefore hate the corrupt, slaveholding, women-whipping, cradle-plundering, partial and hypocritical Christianity of this land.”

Rice’s denouncement of Catholicism is one that stirs in the hearts of so many Catholics who desire to be the “pure, peaceable, and impartial Christianity of Christ” for others and are frequently misrepresented by what Rice calls an “anti-gay, anti-feminist, anti-life” faith.

Valerie Elverton Dixon, writer for the Washington Post, writes an open letter to Anne Rice on her pained decision to leave the church. Dixon’s letter asks Rice to consider the other members of the Christian faith who similarly toil with the misrepresentation and seek “to be better witnesses for incarnate Love today than we were yesterday.”

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August 28-September 10, 2015

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