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Sex scandals come home for the Vatican

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tAs sexual scandals of various sorts have washed through the Catholic church around the world, the Vatican has typically tried to play a subordinate role – treating them as matters of grave concern, to be sure, but ultimately something for which local bishops must take the primary responsibility.

tTwo developments this week, however, bring those scandals home for the Holy See. One involves two lay Vatican employees fired after reportedly being caught up in a gay prostitution ring, the other turns on reports of abuse by priests connected to a German choir once directed by the pope’s brother.

tThe first story centers on an Italian layman named Angelo Balducci, a prominent public works official in Italy who was already at the center of controversy as a result of corruption charges. Balducci, who has enjoyed close relations with senior figures in both the Vatican and the Italian church, has denied any wrongdoing.

Bishops to the Rescue

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According to a report in Politico.com, the USCCB is willing to help ensure that enough Senators will vote to allow a rules change that would permit the reconciliation process to address the issue of abortion funding in health care reform. The vote would require 60 votes in the now no-longer filibuster-proof Senate. They may not realize it, but the USCCB is calling the Republicans out.

It is increasingly clear that Speaker Nancy Pelosi will need the votes of twelve or so members of the House that insist on the language contained in the Stupak Amendment. That amendment was part of the bill that passed the House last year but it was not passed in the Senate. The House is set to pass the Senate bill but only if certain changes are made which, in turn, would be sent to the Senate under reconciliation rules that only require a simple majority. The GOP opposes the use of the reconciliation process but it is perfectly permissible under Senate rules as the Republicans well know, having used the procedure many times in the past.

Coffee, not Tea, please

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By now Internet and Facebook addicts have probably heard about the Coffee Party USA -- or should it be called a "movement"? It's a kind of progessive answer to the Tea Party movement.

Here's what they say about themselves:

We want a society in which democracy is treated as sacrosanct and ordinary citizens participate out of a sense of civic duty, civic pride, and a desire to contribute to society. The Coffee Party is a call to action. Our Founding Fathers and Mothers gave us an enduring gift — Democracy — and we must use it to meet the challenges that we face as a nation.

Check out how the Coffee Party Movement began. See video here.

80,521 have become Coffee Party USA fans on Facebook by March Fourth!!

Onward!

After 'Taliban Catholicism,' now 'Taliban Orthodoxy'?

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tWithout really trying, I’ve generated controversy in some quarters by coining the phrase “Taliban Catholicism” to describe a psychological tendency (as opposed, let the record be clear, to any actual person or group) in today’s church. I understand it as the equal-and-opposite extreme from what George Weigel has usefully described as “Catholicism Lite,” meaning a kind of supine assimilation to secularism.

t“Taliban Catholicism,” then, is an exaggerated allergy to anything that smacks of secularism, liberalization, or corruption by modernity – an angry form of the faith that knows only how to excoriate and condemn.

tOf course, Catholicism hardly enjoys a monopoly on the “Taliban” instinct, which is more akin to a potential distortion within any religious system. In some ways it may be especially virulent within ultra-traditional and nationalist strains of Orthodoxy, as a recent “Patriarchal and Synodal Encyclical” from Archbishop Bartholomew of Constantinople makes clear.

More Macial children come forward

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John Allen begins his analysis of the clergy sexual abuse scandal unfolding in Germany this way: "In James Joyce’s Ulysses, Stephen Dedalus famously describes history as 'a nightmare from which I am trying to awake.' "

I don't know the Spanish translation for "a nightmare from which I am trying to awake" but I bet the Legionaries of Christ in Mexico do: More abuse allegations against Maciel surface in Mexico

The Oscars 2010: Movies that Connect Us -- Part 3

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Sr. Rose Pacatte looks at Oscar nominated films for 2010 using the theme of "human connections" as lens through which to view them.

Best Motion Picture of the Year

Out of the ten films nominated, I think this may come down to "The Hurt Locker" or "Avatar." In the interest of full disclosure I admit that I have been a fan of "The Hurt Locker" since September 2008 when I was president of the Catholic Jury at the Venice Film Festival and we gave it the SIGNIS Award. It was the best film in competition at Venice that year. My vote goes to "The Hurt Locker," but anything can happen.

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