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Experts skeptical as climate talks begin

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Just two years ago, a United Nations panel that synthesizes the work of hundreds of climatologists around the world called the evidence for global warming “unequivocal.”

But as representatives of about 200 nations began talks Monday in Copenhagen on a new international climate accord, they were doing so against a background of renewed attacks on the basic science of climate change.

In this essay Bill McKibben, explains why he is worried -- and why we should be to. Unlike health care, or any other political issues, which can be modified later, climate change cannot be. Time has run out, he says.

The Meaning of Public Relations -- Notre Dame Style

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The University of Notre Dame has attracted magnified, national attention twice this year.

The first was sparked by its decision to award President Obama an honorary degree. A fierce debate ensued between supporters of the decision and protesters who argued that Obama's pro-choice position on abortion should have made him ineligible.

The second cause has been triggered by the dismal performance of the football team and the subsequent firing of coach Charlie Weis. The school has moved on this issue with a kind of delicacy one might expect of a bomb squad in action.

The Obama controversy got nasty, and has repercussions. In certain respects I think it was a political move to demonstrate a type of broadmindedness that would appeal both to the Catholic mainstream and to American public's sense of toleration, real or not. But whatever the motives on either side, it was unmistakably a legitimate religious moral debate.

An Exchange between Terrence Tilley and Fr. Thomas Weinandy

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In the current issue of the Quarterly of the Fellowship of Catholic Scholars, Capuchin Fr. Thomas Weinandy, executive director of the U.S. bishops' Secretariat of Doctrine, charges that Terrence Tilley of Fordham University, past president of the Catholic Theological Society of America, was guilty of "doctrinal ambiguity and error" in an address last June on the Incarnation.

In response, Tilley has written the following open letter to Weinandy, which is posted here with Tilley's permission.

Why I Hate the Rich

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This morning’s Washington Post had a truly stunning story headlined “Some Obama donors are feeling left out: They lament not getting access to president, other traditional perks.” The article notes that President Obama has not rewarded big time contributors with government jobs. “The numbers pale in comparison to Clinton’s administration – during which coziness with donors was legendary – or to that of George W. Bush, who gave hundreds of jobs and other perks to wealthy supporters over the course of his presidency.” Bush, according to the non-partisan watchdog group Public Citizen, gave 40 percent of his largest campaign “bundlers” jobs in the administration.

A Hollywood consultant named Andy Spahn told the Post, “Under Clinton, we did spend time at the White House. We did spend time in Camp David. We did spend time with the president in Los Angeles. There has been real frustration in the donor community in general. There is so much less of that than I think ever occurred in the past.”

Gumbleton on Obama's Afghan strategy

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Every Thursday we post the transcript of the homily that Bishop Thomas Gumbleton delivered the Sunday before. The homily we posted yesterday is for the First Sunday in Advent.

Gumbleton was speaking two days before President Obama announced his strategy in Afghanistan, namely, that he was sending in more troops. This announcement had already been leaked by the time Gumbleton preached Sunday morning, and the war was very much on the bishop's mind.

Read the homily (or listen to it, an audio player is at the bottom of the homily). It is Gumbleton at his most passionate, his most eloquent. A sample:

So perhaps we too, as we enter into this Advent season and we look for this new coming of Jesus into our lives and the feast of Christmas, we must plead for peace, beg for peace, work for peace, make peace the constant theme of our lives ...

Doctrine chief for U.S. bishops takes on leading theologian

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In the most recent issue of the Quarterly of the Fellowship of Catholic Scholars, Capuchin Fr. Thomas Weinandy, executive director of the U.S. Bishops’ Secretariat of Doctrine, subjects the June presidential address of Terrence Tilley, a Fordham theologian and past president of the Catholic Theological Society of America, to a withering critique -- in effect, suggesting that it offered clever rhetoric masking “doctrinal ambiguity and error.”

Read Allen's full story here: Bishops' theologian critical of Fordham theologian

Papal princes immune to censure

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Writing an opinion essay in the Irish Times this morning, Jason Berry, who has published two books on the clerical abuse crisis and has written on the subject dating back to the mid-1980s in NCR, writes: "The Catholic Church’s hypocrisy [on dealing with clergy sex abuse] starts right at the top of the organisation."

He argues that while priests have been defrocked for their abuses no bishop has yet similarly been punished.

"Since the 1990s, the Vatican has forced at least 15 bishops and one cardinal (the late Hans Hermann Groer of Austria) to step down for sexual abuse of youngsters," Berry writes. "The Vatican has defrocked dozens of priests but not one bishop has been so punished – they have been removed from office but not from the priesthood."

Cardinal Egan's Shamelessness

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The release of documents, under court order, from the Diocese of Bridgeport makes one literally sick to one’s stomach. The moral callousness displayed by then-Bishop Egan is so at odds with even the most basic standards of human, let alone Christian, decency, that everyone who reads them is understandably upset.

Well, almost everyone. Remember that while these documents are being seen by the public for the first time, they have been available to church officials all along. Why was Egan not removed from office? I know the Bible says, “You are a priest forever” but it doesn’t say anything about remaining as the cardinal-archbishop of New York when there is such bald evidence of moral turpitude.

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August 1-14, 2014

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