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Faith and Football

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Amid the hype and hard-sell of Super Bowl Sunday this weekend, there's another bit of TV sports viewing that stands out as an island of serious reflection: it called "Faith Bowl III."

The half-hour program is produced for the third year in a row by the Hollywood-based Catholic production company Family Theater -- it's a thought-provoking roundtable discussion by three prominent Catholic athletes, discussing the challenges of living as a Catholic and raising a family in the high pressure world of professional sports.

Paternity claims in Paraguay dropped

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Third woman withdraws paternity claim against Paraguayan president

By Catholic News Service

ASUNCION, Paraguay -- The third woman to have filed a paternity claim against Paraguayan President Fernando Lugo, former Catholic bishop of San Pedro, withdrew the suit Feb. 2, citing "personal reasons."

Hortensia Moran had claimed that Lugo fathered her son, who is now 2. A spokesman for the president denied reports that Lugo had reached a financial settlement with Moran.

A scandal erupted in Paraguay in April 2009, when Lugo admitted having fathered the then-2-year-old son of Viviana Carrillo, a former parishioner, while he was still a bishop. He legally recognized the boy and agreed to pay child support.

Another woman, Benigna Leguizamon, filed a paternity suit against Lugo that month, but withdrew it later in the year. Paraguayan newspapers reported that Leguizamon, who had lived in a shack in a poor neighborhood, has moved to a better home and has a car and a police guard.

On Feb. 2, Lugo's lawyer, Marcos Farina, said he did not know whether financial settlements had been reached with either of the women who withdrew the paternity suits.

Vatican to ponder legacy of John Paul II in twilight

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Though the Vatican has had a Pontifical Council for Health Care Workers for twenty-five years now, and while Christian literature is rich with meditations on the spirituality of suffering, one could nevertheless make the argument that the most powerful recent statement Catholicism has made about the dignity of the ill person was the way John Paul II allowed his own twilight to play out in full public view.

Throughout the latter years of his papacy, John Paul was aware of the voices making the rounds that it was undignified for the pope to continue to travel and appear in public in such a weakened state, badly hobbled by age and by Parkinson's disease. To be fair, that reaction was partly rooted in natural pity for an elderly man struggling just to stay on his feet, or to utter a few slurred words. But John Paul took the opposite view, seeing his determination to keep going as an important counter-witness in a society that often worships youth and physical beauty.

Feb. 5, St. Agatha of Sicily

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Today is the feast of St. Agatha, of Sicily, Virgin, Martyr.

"Every year on February 4 and 5, the men of Catania pull her relics, housed in a bejeweled life-sized effigy through the streets of Catania for two days and two nights, the duration of her martyrdom. It is said to be the second largest religious procession in the world, after the Corpus Domini procession in Cuzco, Peru, and rivals Holy Week in Seville, Spain. Catanians love Agatha like a sister, like a mother, like a girlfriend. Half the women here are named after her, but it is really a feast for the men, who have claimed the girl saint for their own. The citywide rite unfolds like a collective dream."


--Search for "Agatha" in Theresa Maggio's thrilling book, The Stone Boudoir: Travels Through the Hidden Villages of Sicily.


Moral bankruptcy is the road to economic bankruptcy

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The other day I wrote a piece for the web site highlighting a book, "Comeback America: Turning the Country Around and Restoring Fiscal Responsibility," by David M. Walker, former comptroller general of the United States and former head of the Government Accountability Office.

The book argues that current U.S. spending habits are out of line with revenues necessary to pay for them. In that piece I also referred to the Concord Coalition, a bipartisan budget watchdog group also calling for greater fiscal responsibility.

So much for an 'objective' investigation by Cardinal RodÈ

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If anyone actually entertained the thought that Cardinal Rodé was “objective” in launching an investigation of women religious in the United States, she or he need only read what he said in a talk on Feb. 3 in Naples, Italy to be disabused of that idea.

He said, for example, that "the secularized culture has penetrated into the minds and hearts of some consecrated persons and some communities, where it is seen as an opening to modernity and a way of approaching the contemporary world."

Why Italians don't think 'conservative' when the new movements come up

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tWhen Catholics in the States talk about “new movements” in the church, there’s a tendency to think “conservative,” because the few such groups most people have actually heard of – such as Opus Dei (technically a prelature, not a movement), or the Legionaries of Christ (a religious order, with an affiliated lay movement in Regnum Christi) – do tend to lean to the right.

tIn Europe, however, where the new movements have had their greatest success, their ideological profile is far less uniform. That’s certainly the case in Italy, where perhaps the best-known lay movement is the Community of Sant’Egidio. Known for its efforts in conflict resolution, ecumenism and inter-religious dialogue, and service to the poor, Sant’Egidio is generally seen as standing on the ecclesiastical “center-left.”

tToday Sant’Egidio counts affiliates in 70 countries, including a small presence in the United States, with a grand total of some 50,000 members.

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October 10-23, 2014

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