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Vatican's rising African star determined to take risks

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Cardinal Peter Turkson of Ghana was named the new President of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace in late October, just as his debut on the global Catholic stage as the relator, or general secretary, of the Synod for Africa ended. It was in some ways a baptism by fire for the 61-year-old Ghanian prelate, introducing him among other things to the press climate in Rome. A few fairly innocent comments from Turkson about condoms, and about the prospect of a black pope, briefly became a cause célèbre in the Italian papers and prompted the Vatican to issue a swift “clarification.”

As Turkson now puts it, he was forced to realize that in conversation he may say things with a smile, but in print “the smile never comes across.”

Still, Turkson said he doesn’t want “circumspection” to get in the way of saying what he thinks. He’d rather speak the truth, he said, and run the risk of being misunderstood.

Read Allen's interview with Turkson here: Vatican's justice-peace head says what he thinks

Condoms & Theology

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My friend and colleague Austen Ivereigh has a must-read post up at America today dealing with the challenge of articulating theology, even good theology, in a controversial atmosphere. The particular issue at hand – condom use to prevent the spread of AIDS – could scarcely be more controversial and more of a challenge for the hierarchy.

Ivereigh notes that the use of a condom to prevent the spread of a deadly disease is not only pro-life, it is in no meaningful sense of the term prophylactic. The moral intent is not to stifle life but to preserve it. But, he reports, citing reporting by the Tablet’s Rome reporter Robert Mickens, that a Vatican official said it was impossible to recognize this moral fact without sowing greater confusion.

Dubuque's Got Sisters! tour

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I just received this news release and thought it was worth passing along.

Interested in Religious Life? Check Out "Dubuque’s Got Sisters!” Tour

DUBUQUE, Iowa -- Are you a woman interested in checking out religious life? Then sign up for “Dubuque’s Got Sisters!” and get ready for a unique experience. Join Dubuque-area Sisters for a 24-hour tour of four tri-state area convents to share life through praying, dining, and storytelling. Local transportation will be provided, and there is no fee to attend.

The "Dubuque’s Got Sisters!" event begins Friday, April 9 at 5 p.m. through Saturday, April 10 at 6 p.m. To register or for more details, e-mail Sister Lou Anglin, BVM, at langlin@bvmcong.org.

Dubuque’s Got Sisters! is sponsored by the Sisters of Charity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Sisters of the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Dubuque Franciscan Sisters, and Sinsinawa Dominican Sisters (Wis).

Resignations 'not on agenda' for Vatican sex abuse summit, Irish bishop says

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By JOHN L. ALLEN JR.
Rome

tA highly anticipated summit with Pope Benedict XVI next week could help the Irish bishops “recapture the ground we’ve lost” in public confidence due to that country's sexual abuse crisis, according to one prelate who will take part, but it will likely not produce a sweeping reconfiguration of the Irish church or additional resignations of bishops.

At the same time, this prelate said, all bets may be off, since the Irish bishops have been instructed to be "frank and honest" and to "speak their minds."

tBishop Joseph Duffy of Clogher in Ireland, chair of the Irish bishops’ Communications Commission, spoke to NCR Friday afternoon by phone.

tThe bishops of Ireland will be in Rome on Monday and Tuesday for a meeting with Pope Benedict XVI and senior Vatican officials to discuss the crisis which has gripped Ireland since publication of the government-sponsored “Murphy Report” in late November. That report documented hundreds of cases of sexual abuse in the Dublin archdiocese since 1975, and suggested that a string of Dublin archbishops and auxiliary bishops had handled those cases poorly.

Feb. 12, Bl. Humbeline, Abbess

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Today is the feast of Bl. Humbeline, the sister of St. Bernard of Clairvaux. She was born at Dijon, c. 1092, and died at Jully-les-Nonnais, c. 1136.

Her parents, Burgundian nobles, had seven children, six boys and one girl. Her mother died when Humbeline was eighteen. After her father and all her brothers had become monks at Clairvaux, Humbeline, heir to the family fortune, married Guy de Marcy, a nobleman of the house of Lorraine.

Update on Card. George and New Ways Ministry

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Catholic News Service issued an update to their story Cardinal George: Group's support of gay marriage not authentic church teaching.

(To recap: Cardinal Francis E. George of Chicago issued a statement Feb. 5 that said that in its ministry to lesbian and gay Catholics New Ways Ministry, based in Mount Rainier, Md., was not providing "an authentic interpretation of Catholic teaching and an authentic Catholic pastoral practice." He said, "New Ways Ministry has no approval or recognition from the Catholic church and ... cannot speak on behalf of the Catholic faithful in the United States.")

Today, CNS offered two updates. First:

In a Feb. 11 response to questions about what had prompted the earlier statement, Cardinal George cited "an often troubled conversation" between New Ways and church leadership over the past three decades and said "opposition to church teaching and governance is clear" in [Francis DeBernardo, executive director of New Ways Ministry,]'s testimony before the Maryland committee.

Five Ways to Help Preserve Clean Water

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Everyday household activities are a major contributor to polluted runoff, which is among the most serious sources of water contamination. When it rains, fertilizer from lawns, oil from driveways, paint and solvent residues from walls and decks and even waste from your pets are all washed into storm sewers or nearby lakes, rivers and streams -- the same lakes, rivers and streams we rely on for drinking, bathing, swimming and fishing. Here are some ways you can help reduce polluted runoff.

In Your Home:

1. Correctly dispose of hazardous household products. Keep paints, used oil, cleaning solvents, polishes, pool chemicals, insecticides, and other hazardous household chemicals out of drains, sinks, and toilets. Many of these products contain harmful substances -- such as sodium hypochlorite, petroleum distillates, phenol and cresol, ammonia and formaldehyde -- that can end up in nearby water bodies. Contact your local sanitation, public works, or environmental health department to find out about hazardous waste collection days and sites. If a local program isn't available, request one.

Anti-Semitism on the Left

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Readers of my blogs here and at America magazine will know that I am an ardent Zionist, and that I am horrified to find an increasing number of liberals dabbling not only in unjust criticism of the actions taken by Israel for her defense, but the way those same liberals dabble in the tropes of classic anti-Semitism.

Christians have a special obligation to learn about anti-Semitism and be alert to even a hint of its reappearance. There was anti-Semitism before Hitler, as there is anti-Semitism after Hitler. Pograms in Poland and Russia happened long before Arab countries expelled Jews. Dreyfuss was sent to Devil’s Island because of the anti-Semitic manipulations of French Catholics. Edgardo Mortara was kidnapped from his parents by the Pope’s police. For every “righteous Gentile” honored for their efforts to save Jewish lives during the Shoah, there were hundreds of Christians who went about their business, even if their business entailed participation in the mass extermination of people who had been their neighbors the day before. If you look at the history of Christian treatment of Jews and do not feel a profound sense of shame, you are not really looking.

Not Enough Dirty Feet Being Washed in Church

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I have to admit that the headline got me to read this story from the Catholic Information Service of Africa.

KENYA: “Not Enough Dirty Feet Being Washed in Church,” cleric declares

NAIROBI, February 2, 2010 (CISA) -The Church is not offering enough service, a Catholic cleric, Rev Dr Eammon Mulcahy said during a forum titled, Exploring Faith in Public Life held at Hekima College in Nairobi on January 30, 2010.

Read the rest.

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