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Don't know whether to laugh, cry or scream!


Sit down. Get calm. You need to be in a cool place for this news. According to a July 9 report from Catholic News Service, the Vatican is preparing to update its norms for dealing with sex abuse of minors by priests. But -- in the same document -- it says that the “attempted ordination of women” is as grave an offense against the sacrament of Holy Orders as is pedophilia! Both are “delicta graviora.”

Yeah, I know. It’s hard to believe, but that’s what they are saying. They are equating the ordination of women with the rape and torture of children.

An interesting reflection on Pierce's essay


On Friday, I called attention to a thoughtful and provocative essay by Charles Pierce written for the Boston Globe Magazine.

One of those responding, Nancy Dallavalle, who teaches at the Jesuits' Fairfield University in Connecticut and writes a blog, links to a longer response she wrote with a particularly interesting observation from a woman's point of view. It's the kind of Catholic exchange and critique that, it seems to me, benefits the larger community.

Writer Charles Pierce on remaining Catholic amid the chaos


A fundamental rule of his Catholicism, says Charles P. Pierce, Boston Globe magazine writer (and the guy many may know as the wise-cracking half of a weekly conversation on the NPR show "It's Only A Game") is "nobody gets to tell me I'm not Catholic."

Don't get the impression, though, that this piece, written for this Sunday's Globe, is all wisecracks and fun. It is a deeply moving and insightful essay by a cradle Catholic. It will undoubtedly resonate among many who have had similar experiences and realizations as our lives were shaped through Catholic institutions and practice.

"The sexual-abuse scandal, then," he writes "erupted within a church that already was struggling with serious demographic pressures. The scandal placed the doubts of much of the laity into sharp relief. Many Catholics are out of patience with intramural church solutions that seem to do little more than push the cases down the road and keep in place the sclerotic institutional structure and the paranoid mania for secrecy that allowed the corruption to flourish in the first place.

Spirituality Replacing Religion


A new widely cited report from LifeWay Resources states that 72% of people between the ages of 18 and 29 consider themselves to be "more spiritual than religious" Washington Post’s Joan Ball examines the trend of young Christians leaving the dogmatic faiths with which they were raised and moving toward a more “organic expression of their faith”, arguing that it is an effort to distinguish themselves from the structures they believe "give Jesus a bad name".

Putting Your Best Foot Backward


The Campaign for Human Development has been a bright spot on an increasingly bleak Catholic landscape for three decades now. But at least 10 bishops would rather risk that singular asset by refusing to collect funds for the Campaign in their dioceses.

In so doing, the defecting bishops invoke their own form of subsidiarity by choosing to funnel money to local projects. On the face of it, their justifications make a certain sense. Most dioceses are in financial straits and struggle to meet Catholic Charity goals. The idea of collecting and spending funds on hometown needs rather than sending money to a "national bureaucracy" echoes the wider instincts of the Tea Party movement. "Don't trust anyone over 30 miles away," or something or that sort.

In memory of Professor RamÛn Eduardo Ruiz


I received a call that my mentor Professor Ramón Eduardo Ruiz had died on Tuesday, July 6. The caller was Olivia Ruiz, his daughter, whom I have known since she was a young girl. Without Prof. Ruiz, I would not have become a university professor. He selected me to be his first graduate student when he left Smith College in 1969 to join the faculty at the still developing University of California, San Diego. He guided me through my Ph.D. program and through my own personal ups and downs. He stood up for me when other faculty members did not.

After receiving Olivia’s call, I felt that I had inadequately responded to her father’s death.

New Vatican Vietnam appointment spawns confusion


The Vatican late last month announced that Pope Benedict would soon name "a non-resident representative" to Vietnam, a highly unusual move that seems to have divided local Catholics and taken some Vietnamese church leaders by surprise.

"In order to deepen the relations between the Holy See and Vietnam, as well as the bonds between the Holy See and the local Catholic Church, it was agreed that, as a first step, a non-resident representative of the Holy See for Vietnam will be appointed by the Pope," the Vatican said in statement.

Vietnam has Asia's second-largest Catholic population and has been holding talks with the Vatican for years on forging diplomatic ties.

“I’m really confused,” said Father Jean Baptiste Huynh Cong Minh, an aide to
Cardinal Jean Baptiste Pham Minh Man of Ho Chi Minh City reportedly told a local paper , “because this morning when I met with the cardinal he seemed to know nothing about the move either.”

Quote of the Day


Religion News Service offers this as the quote of the day:

Quote of the Day: Presbyterian Church (USA) Moderator Cindy Bolbach

“Who poses the greatest threat -- Larry King, who's been married seven times, or a gay couple in Washington, D.C., who have been together for 62 years and who got married two weeks ago?”

-- Cindy Bolbach, the newly elected moderator of the Presbyterian Church (USA), quoted by Presbyterian News Service. Changing the church's definition of marriage to include gay and lesbian couples is among the resolutions being debated at the church's General Assembly in Minneapolis.

Vatican to heighten women's ordination sin level


The Catholic News Service reported this morning in soon to be released documents, updating norms dealing with priestly sex abuse will also come heightened penalties for the "attempted ordination of women." Such acts, it said, would be on the list of the most serious crimes against church law, or "delicta graviora," CNS quoted Vatican sources as saying.


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In This Issue

September 25-October 8, 2015


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