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Miguel Diaz profile

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The Minneapolis Star Tribune has a very well done article about the U.S. ambassador at the Vatican: Abortion debate dogs envoy to Vatican

As the son of Cuban immigrants, Miguel Diaz was drawn to Barack Obama for his ability to cross cultures and engage people from different backgrounds.

Now, plucked from the relative obscurity of central Minnesota to be President Obama's envoy to the Vatican, the St. John's University theologian finds himself in the vortex of an unwelcome battle over what it means to be a Catholic in the service of a president who supports abortion rights.

Saint of the Day, Leo the Great

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In the Office of Readings for today's feast of St. Leo the Great, Pope, Church Father, and Doctor of the Church, the saint reminds us that we all are kings, and we all are priests:

"For all, regenerated in Christ, are made kings by the sign of the cross; they are consecrated priests by the oil of the Holy Spirit, so that beyond the special service of our ministry as priests, all spiritual and mature Christians know that they are a royal race and are sharers in the office of the priesthood. For what is more king-like than to find yourself ruler over your body after having surrendered your soul to God? And what is more priestly than to promise the Lord a pure conscience and to offer him in love unblemished victims on the altar of one’s heart?"

Raphael's "Repulse of Attila" depicts the meeting in 452 between Pope Leo and Attila the Hun on the banks of the Mincio River.

An invitation to readers

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I’m a big baseball fan, making me part of the core audience for TV’s “MLB Network” that launched last January. One of my favorite shows is called “Prime 9,” featuring a run-down of the nine best center fielders of all time, the nine biggest home runs, and so on. The show’s motto is, “Designed to start arguments, not settle them.”

If I had to choose a slogan for my new book The Future Church, I’d probably end up with something a lot like that.

Vatican investigation of U.S. women religious

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Since the Vatican announced an apostolic visitation of U.S. women religious late last year, NCR has been following the story. To date we've published about three dozen stories about the visitations, including, news, analysis, commentary and a couple editorials.

Nearly every day, we receive a request for one or other of these stories. To make those searches a little easier, we have created an index page with links to the stories that we have done.

And to make it easy to find that page, we gave it a unique URL: NCRonline.org/apostolicvisitation. Share that link with friends, family and interested parties.

The 'anti-Catholic!' cry is a cheap, easy accusation

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It is unfortunate that Archbishop Timothy Dolan of New York, new to the national stage and responsible for one of the most visible and potentially most influential sees in the nation, chose to play the tired anti-Catholic card so early in his tenure. His recent blog posting accused The New York Times and the wider culture of indulging in rampant anti-Catholic activity.

In doing so, he wastes the authority of his office by aligning it with such imprudent screamers as William Donohue and his Catholic League, which exists to raise money so it can continue to scream Fire! in the crowded theater of overcharged religionists.

The reality is, of course, that it is increasingly difficult to establish an anti-Catholic case of any substance or depth in the culture when so much -- industry, politics, finance, academia, the Supreme Court itself -- is in the hands of high-profile Catholics.

Why do the media 'go after' the church?

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Before my current job, which I took about three years ago, I was in the news business for nearly all my adult life. And throughout that time, fellow Catholics would regularly quiz me about why the news media so often "went after" the church.

I'm guessing an article by The New York Times' public editor this Sunday is going to have my phone ringing again.

In his Sunday piece, Clark Hoyt discusses the negative reaction a Times' feature and a Times' column has provoked from New York's archbishop, Timothy Dolan. The two works include columnist Maureen Dowd's recent brush-back of the Vatican's investigation into the lives of American nuns, and a front-page article about a priest who fathered a son after a long relationship with a parishioner.

Profile of Bishop Lori

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The Hartford Courant has a profile of Bishop William E. Lori of Bridgeport, Conn.: Bridgeport Bishop Is An Energetic, Outspoken Defender Of Church

Since becoming bishop of Bridgeport in 2001, the confluence of the spiritual and the secular has shaped [Lori's] public profile, placing him at the forefront of church-state issues in Connecticut.

He has waged a persistent and forceful legal battle to prevent the disclosure of documents relating to the clergy sex abuse scandal in the diocese and, earlier this year, he helped lead a high-profile campaign against state legislation that would have sharply altered the governance structure of Catholic parishes.

In both cases, Lori staked out a position as an energetic and outspoken defender of the church in the face of what he and his supporters view as unconstitutional government intrusion.

Saint of the Day, Nov. 9

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When St. Patrick returned to Ireland in 433, "he passed a few days at the home of an Irish chieftain named Sechnan, in Meath. The whole family was converted, and the chieftain's young son, Benignus, was so impressed with the Christian bishop that he sat by him while he slept, strewing flowers on him. . . . Benignus went with Patrick and became his dearest disciple and eventually his successor as bishop of Armagh. He was also a bard, sang with a lovely voice, and was nicknamed 'Patrick's psalmodist.'"

What did it mean to be a bard in fifth-century Ireland where "the systems of law, medicine, poetry, and music . . . were set to music, being poetical compositions"? The "bards, specially selected from amongst noble youths of conspicuous stature and beauty, 'had a distinctive dress of five colours, and wore a white mantle and a blue cap ornamented with a gold crescent.'"

A bishop named Marx takes on neo-cons, capitalism

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By JOHN L. ALLEN JR.

One of Europe’s most influential prelates, and someone widely viewed as close to the thinking of Pope Benedict XVI, has come out swinging against American “neo-cons” and in defense of a strong social welfare state.

Ironically, this critique of laissez faire capitalism comes from a bishop named Marx.

Archbishop Reinhard Marx of Munich and Freising made the comments in an interview with the prestigious Catholic journal 30 Giorni, published in its September issue. Marx, 56, is widely expected to become a cardinal in the near future. He was appointed by Benedict XVI in 2007 to head the archdiocese once led by the pope, while he was still Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger.

In the new interview, Marx reflects on the twentieth anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall, arguing that what was needed after the collapse of Communism was a “morally alert market economy, oriented towards global welfare,” but that instead what has prevailed is “radical capitalist ideology.”

Marx charges that what he calls “turbo-capitalism” has led “to a deterioration in the daily situation of millions of people.”

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July 18-31, 2014

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