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Weakland controversy resurfaces

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A new piece of artwork that portrays former Milwaukee Archbishop Rembert Weakland is causing a stir in Milwaukee. The bronze relief pedestal to the Mary statue at the Cathedral of St. John depicts Weakland with Mary, St. John and other figures, including children.

Among those criticizing the artwork is SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests. Weakland resigned in 2002 after revelations that he had had a relationship with an adult seminarian whom he paid to keep quiet about the affair. He also has admitted to moving around pedophile priests.

Conservative Catholics also have blasted the pedestal as well as the fact that Weakland was on the altar at new Archbishop Jerome Listecki's installation last week.

Study guide developed for Catholic teaching on climate change

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The Catholic church calls us to be responsible stewards of this planet and to put into action Catholic social teaching. The National Catholic Rural Life Conference (NCRLC) has developed a web-based study guide to introduce you to a structured approach to help move through the steps of understanding and applying Catholic teachings as these relate to climate change.

Climate Change: A Catholic Response Study Guide is designed to help you apply Catholic social teaching to climate change and prudent energy use. Visit the Rural Life Conference website and use the guide for a self-guided study session.

Jan. 12, St. Marguerite Bourgeoys, co-foundress of Montreal

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Today is the feast of St. Marguerite Bourgeoys, 1620-1700, observed by Catholics and by the Anglican Church of Canada.

"She is rightly considered co-foundress of Montreal, with the nurse, Jeanne Mance, and the master designer, Monsieur de Maisonneuve." She "initiated a school system and a network of social services which gradually extended through the whole country, and which led people to refer to Marguerite as 'Mother of the Colony.'"

-- from the Vatican biography of St. Marguerite Bourgeoys

Marguerite Bourgeoys, who founded the Congrégation de Notre-Dame, lived to be eighty, and she crossed the Atlantic seven times.

A Presbyterian on Pius XII

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Presbyterian pastor Michael Jinkins, professor and dean at Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary in Austin, Texas, questions the beatification of Pope Pius XII, especially the Vatican's explanation that it's OK to separate one's private faith from public actions--in this case, anyway.

In a post on the Duke Divinity "Call & Response" blog, Jinkins took particular offense with the almost Orwellian defense by Vatican spokesman Father Federico Lombardi that the Vatican wasn't evaluating "the historical impact of all his operative decisions."

Jinkins quotes Thomas Merton: "If you want to have a spiritual life you must unify your life. A life is either all spiritual or not spiritual at all. No one can serve two masters."

Gerson on Hume on Tiger

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Michael Gerson is sometimes a lonely voice for faith-inspired input in the Washington Post’ op-ed pages. Sometimes, alas, the inspiration is lacking. His column from last week, defending Brit Hume’s proselytizing on Fox News, didn’t seem worthy of a comment but then my ride home from the archives today was interrupted by his repeating his claims on my favorite radio show, Michel Martin’s “Tell Me More.

Gerson contends that it is a faux-pluralism that insists there is no place for statements of faith in the public discourse of the nation. Yes, and the Sun rises in the East. Agreed. But, the problem with Hume’s urging Tiger Woods to abandon his Buddhism in favor of Christianity because the latter offers more in the way of redemption and forgiveness was not that the Hume’s urging was religious. The problem is that it was ridiculous.

One bishop on health care reform

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Bishop Gabino Zavala, a Los Angeles auxiliary and bishop-president of Pax Christi USA, has an op-ed piece in his local newspaper, the San Gabriel Valley Tribune: Protecting working families in health reform

Here are some highlights:

As debate over health care reform comes down to the wire in Congress, it's essential that elected officials put the needs of struggling families ahead of special interests and partisan politics. ...

For many decades, religious leaders and faith-based organizations have made the case that a broken health care system makes a mockery of our nation's ideals and values. Catholic bishops have been leading advocates for universal health care as a fundamental human right, not simply a luxury for the privileged few. ...

There are several important and often contentious issues that must be addressed in the coming days. ...

One of the most critical challenges that lawmakers have yet to adequately resolve is the obligation to ensure that health care reform truly makes coverage affordable. ...

Report on aging has much to ponder

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Bloomberg reports today on a United Nations study on aging: "The elderly will outnumber children for the first time in 2045, ratcheting demand on nursing homes and increasing the burden on working-age people to support retirees, a United Nations report found."

"The proportion of the world’s population older than 60 years will reach 22 percent over the next four decades from 11 percent in 2009 and 8 percent in 1950, the UN’s Department of Economic and Social Affairs said in the report, titled World Population Ageing 2009."

The U.S. Nuclear weapons posture must not be politicized

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Keep a close eye in the coming weeks on Senate politics where all Republican senators recently expressed support for modernizing U.S. nuclear weapons.

Washington is negotiating with Russia to replace the START treaty, which expired last month. It is the central framework between our two nations for reducing nuclear aresenals.

It is important to remember that the U.S. bishops, in their Peace Pastoral of 1983, offered only limited conditional moral support to the U.S. nuclear deterrence system, as long as our nation is moving toward the elimination of all nuclear weapons.

Modernizing U.S. nuclear wepaons takes us in the opposite direction.

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