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What are the odds...?

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As has become the custom, the two bishops from the cities competing in the World Series have entered a friendly wager on the games.

If the Phillies win, Archbishop Timothy Dolan of New York will ship a dozen bagels to the City of Brotherly Love; if the Yankees prevail, Cardinal Justin Rigali of Philadelphia will send a case of Tastykakes to the Big Apple, according to a press release from the Philadelphia Archdiocese.

If you don't know what Tastykakes are, you're not missing much. Kind of like Twinkies or Ho Hos. Still, I root for the Phillies, being married to a native Philadelphian and all.

Trying not to be cynical, but wondering if these little human interest stories are specifically designed to make the hierarchy seem, well, more human.

German court fines Holocaust-denying bishop

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The day the Vatican opened talks with the traditionalist Society of St. Pius X (a.k.a. the Lefebvrites) and scheduled twice-a-month meetings over the coming months, a German court fined one of the society's bishops for his denial of the Holocaust. Reuters reports:

BERLIN -- A German court has fined traditionalist bishop Richard Williamson 12,000 euros ($17,860) for incitement because he publicly denied the Holocaust, a spokesman for a Nuremberg court said Tuesday (Oct. 27).

The Bavarian court had Monday approved a request from state prosecutors in Regensburg for the fine but British-born Williamson has two weeks to contest the ruling.

"If he decides not to accept it, there will be a hearing," said the court spokesman, adding there was as yet no indication of Williamson's intentions.

Denying the Holocaust is classified as a hate crime in Germany.

Come on in, the water's holy!

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Stephen Colbert gave his take on the pope's invitation to Anglicans last night. Lots of funny one-liners: calling the Archbishop of Canterbury "the diet pope" and Fox news analyst Father Jonathan Morris "Father Cute Priest."

Morris called the pope's controversial offer a sign of Christian unity. To which Colbert responded, "Nothing brings Christians together like excluding gays and women."

Guest Episcopalian Rev. Randall Balmer publicly declined the invitation to join the Catholic Church, saying, "Holy water's fine. Let's not drink the Kool-Aid."

Watch the clip (commercial first) to see why Colbert compares the Catholic Church to the National League and the Anglicans to the American League.

Yes, the Church 'in' the Modern World!

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You can always count on James Carroll to offer an insightful perspective. His latest column in the Boston Globe begins with these words:

The single most eloquent expression of the Catholic Church’s Second Vatican Council in 1965 was a preposition - the word “in.’’ The title of the council declaration “The Church in the Modern World’’ could readily have been expected to be “The Church against the Modern World,’’ reiterating a long-held opposition. Or, a little more positively, it might have been “The Church and the Modern World,’’ defining a gulf between the sacred and the secular that devalues both realms. But instead, the council fathers stated their conviction that the church, neither above nor detached, is integrally a part of the contemporary human condition - happily so. The decree’s Latin title “Gaudium et Spes’’ translates as “Joy and Hope’’ - an even stronger signal of the council’s affirming mind-set.

Yes it is Ecumenism

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I am distressed at the way many Catholics are responding to the Vatican’s initiative regarding Anglicans seeking full communion with the Catholic Church. The latest is in these pages, below, where my colleague Ken Briggs assertion that the proposed apostolic constitution is a “slap in the face” to the churches of the Reformation and decidedly not an instance of ecumenism.

Also critical was James Carroll, who writes in the Globe, “Last week’s anti-Anglican salvo from Rome shows how far the Catholic leadership has fallen from the heights of Vatican II.” Actually, the Pope who approved the apostolic constitution, who in fact puts the “apostle” in “apostolic” was also at Vatican II. Now, it is not unknown in the history of our civilization that some people rise with their years and others diminish, but where is the evidence for this fall Carroll sees?

Ecumenism as a Cover Story

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Some analyses of the "welcome home" party being thrown for dissident Anglicans refer to the pope's invitation as the culmination of ecumenism.

That sounds to me like calling the invasion of Iraq a product of the peace movement.

Ecumenism implies good will and mutual respect. The gallery of historic Protestant churches (silly me thinks they're actually churches) have trooped to reconciliation talks with Catholics for decades. They come up with wonderful agreements and lasting friendships. When these accomplishments get to Rome, however, they have been either called deficient or reduced in importance.

The green light to angry Anglicans is, therefore, indicative of a general disrespect Rome shows toward the rest of Christianity. The price of dialogue is capitulation to the Roman Catholic Church, pure and simple.

The Reformation churches have reason to be furious at this slap in the face. They've played the part of fools in thinking ecumenical talks meant something other than surrender.

Christians have always played one-upsmanship, of course. One group lords it over another, regions square off and disputes go on, as we know, for hundreds, even thousands of years.

Cardinal RodÈ photos: a meditation

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Cardinal Franc Rodé, Prefect of the Congregation for the Religious, and the person charged by Pope Benedict to conduct the Apostolic Investigation of U.S. women religious congregations, last March ordained six new deacons for Institute of Christ the King Sovereign Priest at the institutes mother house in Gricigliano, Italy, near Florence, Italy.

Looking at these photos, one is reminded of the cultural, ecclesial, and socio-psychological diversity that make up our church. Living, as we do, in the early 21st century, we should recognize we are products of a mix of complex and unprecedented pre-modern, modern, and post-modern influences and temperaments.

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August 1-14, 2014

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