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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.

An example of the sex abuse cases being reported in the German press

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Those of you who have been following the German sex abuse story in these and other pages have read that German Catholics feel anger and shame as these stories continue to appear almost daily in the German press.

These are fair characterizations of German reactions, as best I can determine by being in Munich this past week.

This story, first reported in the German press, has now appeared on the BBC web site. You might find it worth reading to get a sense of what is so upsetting to German Catholics. For those who have followed this tragedy over the years, the case sadly has a familiar ring.

Anti-Catholic Bias

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We all make mistakes. But I encountered the same mistake twice this past week, both instances in the work of British writers and it leads me to believe that their ignorance is at the service of their animus in a way that should give us pause.

In an article at Slate.com, Christopher Hitchens wrote a remarkably uninformed article about Pope Benedict’s involvement with the sex abuse scandal, which Hitch used as an opportunity to attack Pope Benedict XVI. Compared to the writings of my colleague here at NCR, John Allen, well, there is no comparison. Within his diatribe, Hitchens writes of Benedict that ‘he was put in charge of the so-called ‘Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith’ (formerly known as the Inquisition).” Ohhh-Ahhhh. The Inquisition. Images of torture chambers and burnings at the stake.

Diocese penalizes homeless aid group

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Remember the Bishop of Portland, Richard Malone, leading the charge to repeal the gay marriage law in Maine? Now he is penalizing those groups that supported gay marriage, denying assistance to an organization that helps the homeless.

Diocese penalizes homeless aid group: The bishop and a national organization end financial support after Preble Street backs same-sex marriage.

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