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Add meaning to your Christmas card wishes

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Want to add more meaning to this Christmas season? Want to help a prison ministry with each Christmas card you pen? Consider supporting the Christmas card project, a ministry of the capable and caring Mercy Sister Camille D’Arienzo.

Many Catholics are already familiar with D’Arienzo. Writer, teacher, radio commentator, former Leadership Conference of Women Religious president, she is also founder of the anti-death penalty group, Cherish Life Circle. The group is perhaps best known for its Declaration of Life.

Peoria diocese drops Archbishop Fulton Sheen canonization process

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Although the Diocese of Peoria has dropped its nine-year crusade to get sainthood for Fulton Sheen, efforts to have the El Paso-born evangelist canonized will continue.

"We're very positive this is going to get resolved," Monsignor Stanley Deptula, executive director of the Archbishop Fulton John Sheen Foundation, said Tuesday. "It's a matter of negotiations; a matter of discernment."

Earlier this month, Peoria Bishop Daniel Jenky suspended the local effort. His official statement said this was done "with great sadness and disappointment," and he hoped the Archdiocese of New York would pick up the cause. As yet, there is no official word if that will happen.

"Bishop Jenky is kind of calling the question," Deptula said.
And the question is where the potential saint's body will spend the rest of eternity.

Let's be thankful for reasonableness

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This year, I am particularly thankful for reasonableness.

A political season has just ended, a season enveloped with fear and anxiety, and the lack of reasonable debate that often brings. To me, this group blog has stayed a pretty steady course -- I've always read more light than heat in the words others contribute here. Different places on the web -- not so much.

But these are anxious times; anxiety and reasonableness rarely function together. Still, there are signs of hope that a political class facing stubborn problems will rise above itself: Speaker-to-be John Boehner has struck a mostly steady chord since the election; yesterday in Kokomo, Indiana, President Obama shelved the rhetoric of the mid-term campaign and returned to a style closer to 2008.

The Silence of the Yams (or How to eat and stay alive)

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I took a short cut through Barnes & Noble ‘s last week, the one across the lobby from the best theater in Los Angeles, to get to the parking garage. Actually, it was really my regular detour. I love to browse the new releases. But it was a small book on the paperback table that chose me: “Food Rules: An Eater’s Manual” by Michael Pollan. I bought it to read on my flight to my sister’s house for Thanksgiving.

Pollan, a journalist turned food detective and defender, was one of the experts who contributed to the excellent and worrisome 2008 documentary “Food, Inc.” He also wrote “The Omnivore’s Dilemma”, “In Defense of Food” and others that explore the food industrial complex and the consequences of genetic manipulation of food and eating what passes for food in America.

The Benefits of Benedict's Fretting

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Having driven ourselves into a societal frenzy, America in its infinite capacity for seizing opportunity has created an industry for stress reduction. The ideal is to avoid worry. Alfred E. Newman "What Me Worry" is our stiff-upper-lip aim.

But worry has its uses, as Pope Benedict has illustrated in his whatever-it-means statements about condom use. It shows that the pope is worried about a cluster of issues around sexuality, issues that have presumably been as unbudgeable as items in a vault.

That speaks to the humanity and sweeping intelligence of Benedict. Perhaps the same kind of fretting has troubled previous popes in secret, but he has made his quandary public and therefore opened a window into a sanctuary that has seemed so immutable and impervious to change.

The reality of that worry -- and the implication it carries that settled doctrine isn't so settled after all -- provides encouragement to the recently sainted Cardinal Newman who believed that doctrine developed over time through an agency that was subject to error and distortion.

Archbishop appears in Crucifixion scene, upsets parishioners

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In another case of "you can't make this up," The Los Angeles Times writes about the former bishop of Orldano, Fla., Tom Wenski, now archbishop of Miami, who is prominently placed in a stain glass image of the Crucifixion:

When the renovated St. James Catholic Cathedral is dedicated here Saturday, the new stained-glass windows will feature a few familiar faces: Jesus Christ, the Virgin Mary — and Archbishop Thomas Wenski.

Wenski, dressed in his bishop's red robes and gold miter headgear, is depicted kneeling at the foot of the Crucifix, opposite Roman soldiers and in front of Mary, his hands clasped in prayer and his head tilted upward toward Christ. The Wenski window measures about 4 feet wide and 8 feet, 8 inches tall.

The inclusion of Wenski, who was bishop of the Diocese of Orlando during the downtown cathedral's $10-million renovation and expansion, keeps with the Roman Catholic tradition of incorporating images of the clergy responsible for a church's construction or remodeling, diocese spokeswoman Carol Brinati said.

Dolan and the disaffected

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Archbishop Timothy Dolan, newly elected president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, told New York Times reporter Laurie Goodstein in a recent interview that one of his top priorities will be to reach out to the tens of millions of disaffected Catholics in the U.S. population.

I was particularly interested to hear that because when I recently wrote about the phenomenon in a piece headlined "The 'had it' Catholics" -- former Catholics, if considered as a group, would make up the second largest denomination in the country -- I called the USCCB to ask if anyone was tracking or investigating the development. The answer: No one was looking into it.

In the recent interview, Dolan cited recent studies showing that only half of young Catholics marry in the church and that weekly Mass attendance has dropped from a high of 78 percent during the 1960s to 35 percent today.
He expressed urgency in finding out what he can do to help people return to the church.

Catholics and Park51

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I’m a few weeks behind, but I was both startled and saddened to see the Gallup poll that showed that Catholics and Mormons, among religious groups, were most likely to support the idea of moving the Park51 mosque to another location. Interestingly, the survey also indicated that Catholics and Jews, even more than Muslims and Protestants, were well aware of the controversy. Jews, however, were far less likely to believe that the solution is for the mosque organizers to move to a separate location.

Catholics were inundated with messages about the Park51 controversy, including a piece by William McGunn in the Wall Street Journal referencing Pope John Paul II’s asking Carmelite nuns to move a convent they had proposed to build on the edge of the Auschwitz concentration camp site. Many used this example to justify their belief that the more “prudent” action would be for the mosque organizers to move to a different location.

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April 22-May 5, 2016

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