Thousands of pilgrims from around the world are headed to Medjugorje as the town marks the 28th anniversary of what is said to be the Virgin Mary’s first appearance there. Some years back, in the late 1980s, I traveled to Medjugorje to check it out for myself. I spent some time with the young men and women who were claiming to see Mary and was with three of the youngsters at the very time they said Mary was appearing. We were on a small loft in the rear of the local church.
According to an article posted on the Council on Hemispheric Affairs Web site, Congress is scheduled to vote today on an amendment to the Defense Authorization Act that would require the former School of the Americas (renamed the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security and Cooperation) to release to the public the names, ranks, countries of origin, courses taken and dates of attendance of all the students and instructors at the institute.
The Anglican Church in North America -- that's the conservative group that broke with the Episcopal Church (USA) and the Anglican Church of Canada and claims 100,000 members in 700 parishes -- invited megachurch pastor and best-selling Purpose Driven Life author Rick Warren to address its first assembly Tuesday in Bedford, Texas. The headline in the Dallas Morning News says Rick Warren shows support for breakaway Anglicans at Bedford gathering
Roots of the split among Episcopalians are deep but the wedge issue that forced the break was the ordination to bishop of an open, partnered gay man. (If you need more background do a search on NCR for "Gene Robinson" and you should find a few stories.)
Warren told the new Anglicans: "We stand with you in solidarity as God does something new in your midst."
"Sudan faces a lot of challenges. There is an ongoing humanitarian crisis. People don't have access to healthcare, education, water and protection from high levels of violence," said Bishop Eduardo Kussala of Tombura Yambio.
"Caritas and the church are the only sources of education, health and social services in many places," said the bishop.
A shaky peace holds in the South Sudan and half of the 4 million refugees who fled decades of fighting have returned to their homes. However, the number of killings is now believed to have overtaken Darfur where 300,000 people have been killed and 2.7 million uprooted.
How in God's name can the world sit by and not intervene in Darfur and end the killings and dislocation?
In a letter to leaders participating in the G8 Summit in Italy, July 8-10, the presidents of the Catholic bishops’ conferences of the G8 nations urged Summit leaders to “take concerted actions to protect poor persons and assist developing countries.”
It seems that a more enlightened school structure has been identified in the Brooklyn diocese."The conversion of a parochial school into an academy separates pastoral, educational and management roles. The parish priest would still oversee the spiritual needs and religious portion of curriculum, while the principal tends to 'teacher development' and a Board of Directors administers the school."
There are many aspects of the current “Apostolic Visitation” of active women’s communities in the United States and the investigation of the “doctrinal adherence” of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious which trouble me.
For decades – from at least the time Joe Torre was a backup first baseman with the Milwaukee Braves – and ever further back than that, the political right has complained that government is the problem, government programs don’t work, and are too costly and inefficient. Meanwhile the right’s mantra has also been that private enterprise does everything better because it's more creative, innovative and efficient than government.
Incidents in the Middle East and in the drug wars in Mexico have brought beheading back into the headlines. This swift and macabre form of execution was common in the ancient world. Herod's dispatching of John the Baptist, like the brutal fate of all the male infants in Nazareth under Herod's father, sent a signal that a faltering and corrupt royal house would do anything to preserve its sovereignty.
John's beheading also served as metaphor for the gospel writers who emphasized that his greatness was as the last great prophet under the Law. He dies without understanding the new dispensation of grace he had ushered in by pointing to Jesus. He serves as the blind wedge that opens new vistas for God's unconditional and universal love. As a faithful servant, he enters what he could not have imagined, the last martyr of one story and the first hero of the next, arriving headless into the kingdom of God.