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Women's ordination advocates bring message to Vatican embassy

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The Vatican embassy in Washington D.C. probably has other matters on its mind with the publication in The New York Times of articles drawing into greater question the pope's role in the handling of clergy sex abusing priests while he headed the Munich archdiocese and while he headed the Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith.

Nevertheless, embassy staffers looking out the embassy window yesterday had to contend with some 20 supporters of the Women’s Ordination Conference who were there with signs to celebrate the 16th Annual World Day of Prayer for Women’s Ordination.

WOC members made the point that this year’s day of prayer coincides with the Vatican declared "Year of the Priest" - a year of honoring the priesthood that ends with a jubilee celebration at St. Peter's this June.

The elephant in the room at Catholic University

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I was honored to be present for the First Annual Dean Hoge Memorial Lecture at Catholic University on March 24. It was delivered by Bishop Gerald F. Kicanas of Tucson, Ariz., vice-president of the U.S. bishops' conference. Jerry Filteau’s account of that evening provides a good summary of what he said.

I want to talk about what he did not say. I knew Dean Hoge when he headed the Life Cycle Institute and discussed his ongoing research interests with him on occasion. He focused much of his work on Catholic priests, but one of his major concerns was mandatory celibacy for priests. Yet Bishop Kicanas omitted that issue in his address. It’s not hard to figure out why he omitted it. It’s a “hot button” issue, and the Vatican shows no sign of wanting to change the rules. Bishops like Kicanas probably don’t want to raise any eyebrows in the Vatican.

Waiting for Holy Week

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Forgive me reader, for I have sinned. I am tired of writing about abortion restrictions in the health care law. I am tired of reading documents from or to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith relating to the sexual abuse of minors. I am tired of reading about some rightwing nut job attacking a congressman’s office or his brother’s house or a religious sister with the courage to state her convictions. I am tired of writing only about serious topics – and the three just mentioned could scarcely be more serious.

Papal preacher tries to buck up the troops

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For his weekly Lenten meditation today, Capuchin Fr. Raniero Cantalamessa, preacher of the papal household, focused on readings from the Book of Lamentations and the Book of Jeremiah. He said the readings have "particular significance if they are read in reference to the present moment of serious hardship we priests of the Catholic Church are experiencing."

Maybe Cantalamessa was playing to his audience, Pope Benedict XVI and other top Vatican officials, but -- given "the present moment" -- that statement begs the question: What about hardships we non-priests of the Catholic church are experiencing?

Read the full CNS story here, but check this out:

The preacher addressed the pope specifically and reminded him that God told Jeremiah that before his detractors he would make him "a solid wall of brass. Though they fight against you, they shall not prevail. For I am with you to deliver and rescue you."

. . .

"The media's tenacity -- and we have seen it in other cases -- in the long run will bring about the opposite effect that they had hoped for," he added.

That darn media.

Vatican dismisses today's NY Time story

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VATICAN CITY, 26 MAR 2010 ( VIS ) - The following communique was released late this morning by the Holy See Press Office:

"Holy See Press Office Director Fr. Federico Lombardi S.J., questioned by journalists concerning a new 'New York Times' article [titled Memo to Pope Described Transfer of Pedophile Priest] which appeared on 26 March and concerns the period in which Cardinal Ratzinger was archbishop of Munich, referred them to this morning's public denial in a communique published by the archdiocese of Munich, which reads:

"'The article in the New York Times contains no new information beyond that which the archdiocese has already communicated concerning the then archbishop's knowledge of the situation of Father H.'

"Thus the archdiocese confirms the position, according to which the then archbishop had no knowledge of the decision to reassign Father H. to pastoral activities in a parish.

"It rejects any other version of events as mere speculation.

Bishop Kicanas: Church should make better use of research

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WASHINGTON – Bishops and other church leaders should rely on research and make better use of it, Bishop Gerald F. Kicanas of Tucson, Ariz., said March 24 at the Catholic University of America.

Decision-making based on “one’s instincts, hunches and untested opinions” rather than on sound research “can lead to tragic results,” he said.

Bishop Kicanas, who is vice president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, delivered the inaugural Dean Hoge Memorial Lecture, sponsored by CUA’s Institute for Policy Research and Catholic Studies, formerly known as the Life Cycle Institute.

Hoge, who died in 2008, was one of the nation’s leading sociologists of religion. He taught at Catholic University for more than 30 years and headed the Life Cycle Institute from 1999 to 2004.

Kicanas focused his talk on Hoge’s extensive research on Catholic priests and its implications for bishops.

Watch CNN at 10 a.m.

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A media alert form Voice of the Faithful:

Dan Bartley, VOTF’s President, is scheduled to appear Friday morning, March 26, at 10 a.m. on CNN. [I suppose that's eastern time.] The topic is the recent revelations about additional sex abuse cases and documents showing that the Vatican apparently refused requests to defrock abusive priests.

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