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An old rugged cross

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You see some odd things on California beaches in the summer, but this one stood out: a grizzled man in a dark hat, dragging a wooden cross along the sand.

And the cross had wheels.

We were up along the beaches of the Central California coast this holiday weekend, staying in a small town known for its deliberately off-the-wall Fourth of July parade: a float of tap-dancing seniors from the local center; a life-sized, home-made yellow submarine; and two guys on uni-cycles tossing a giant American flag back and forth down Main Street.

As the parade ended and the crowd thinned out, I walked past the town pier and toward the beach. That’s when I saw him: in weathered jeans and weathered face, hauling his wooden cross over his shoulder.

Oil spill hymn

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The Gulf oil spill probably doesn't make you feel like singing, but a hymn written for the occasion calls for contrition and stewardship.

Written by Presbyterian minister Carolyn Winfrey Gillette in response to the ongoing oil spill from the Deepwater Horizon offshore drilling rig, "O God, the Great, Wide Seas Are Yours" laments:

Forgive us when we disobey
And fail to care for what you’ve made.
Consuming more than what we should,
We harm the waters you call good.

Its final verse implores:

God, may we hear your call anew
To care for all these gifts from you.
May we protect the sea and shore
By using less, conserving more...

Male teachers in Catholic schools

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A great discussion over on America's blog: Do Catholic Elementary Schools Need More Male Teachers?

Approximately 11 percent of teachers at Catholic elementary schools are male (including priests and brothers). Some say that is far too low.

The elementary school my kids attend has two male teachers on a staff of about 24 serving around 400 students. I'd say that is too low.

My oldest son had a bit of a shock when he moved to high school last year and had just two women among the eight teachers he saw every day.

Top-10 stories for June

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Top 10 most visited pages on NCRonline.org in June:

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  1. NCR Today, our group blog

  2. Apostolic Visitation: Why Bother? Why be Bothered?, a column by Sr. Joan Chittister

  3. Pope sees the Devil behind timing of sex abuse crisis, reporting by John L. Allen Jr.
  4. t
  5. Mandatory celibacy at the heart of what's wrong, commentary by James Carroll

  6. Ethicists fault bishop’s action in Phoenix abortion case, reporting by Tom Roberts

Connecticut clergy grossly negligent

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Under Connecticut's state law known as the Religious Corporation Act, which codifies the church's Code of Canon law, the ordinary (in this case Archbishop Henry Mansell), the vicar general (in this case just-retired Bishop Peter Rosazza), and the pastor (in this case Fr. Kevin Gray), along with two lay trustees, had the fiduciary duty to the Sacred Heart Parish Corporation for the financial and overall well-being of Sacred Heart Parish Corporation in Waterbury, Conn. According to this extraordinary report by the Hartford Courant, Fr. Gray used over $1 million for personal use for some seven years.

Based on these published facts, a first-year law student would conclude that Archbishop Mansell and Bishop Rosazza were grossly negligent in fulfilling their fiduciary duty to the parish corporation under state law.

For the Vatican, summer begins today

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By JOHN L. ALLEN JR.
Rome

tFamously, the Vatican has its own sense of time, and today is a good reminder of the point. In the rest of the Northern Hemisphere summer officially began this year on June 21, but in the Vatican summer really begins today, after the conclusion of Pope Benedict XVI’s General Audience in St. Peter’s Square, when the pontiff heads for Castel Gandolfo.

tThe Prefecture of the Papal Household has announced that while Benedict is at his summer residence, all private and special audiences will be suspended, and for the next three weeks (July 14, 21 and 28), there won’t be any general audiences either.

In effect, that means Benedict won't be doing much official business for the rest of the month. Among other things, that could afford him time to put the final touches on the second volume of his book Jesus of Nazareth. The pope told American Rabbi Jacob Neusner, whose writings Benedict quoted extensively in the first volume, that the manuscript was essentially complete in a meeting in a January. The writing had been slowed down last summer when Benedict broke his wrist at the start of his summer vacation.

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August 28-September 10, 2015

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