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Vatican to host major conference on the arts

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A report from Francis X. Rocca of Religion News Service:

VATICAN CITY -- More than 250 distinguished artists from around the world will join Pope Benedict XVI in the Sistine Chapel on Saturday (Nov. 21), as part of the pope's effort to restore a historic “alliance” between the church and the arts.

The prominent painters, sculptors, architects, writers, musicians, actors and dancers will hear a short program of sacred choral music by the 16th-century composer Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina, as well as a lecture by the pope.

Daniel Libeskind, architect of the World Trade Center site reconstruction, and Oscar-winning composer Ennio Morricone are among the confirmed guests.

Italians dominate the guest list, acknowledged the event's organizer, Archbishop Gianfranco Ravasi, who noted the Vatican had not offered to pay travel expenses.

Schedule conflicts explain some notable absences, the Vatican said, including that of musician-humanitarian Bono of the group U2.

Nov. 13, St. Frances Xavier Cabrini

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St. Frances Xavier Cabrini, 1850-1917

Mother Cabrini, who founded the Missionary Sisters of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, was the first United States citizen to be canonized.

In 1889, she came to this country from Italy with six of her nuns. "When Mother Cabrini first arrived in the United States, she was promptly informed that nuns were to cover their heads with veils, a custom unfamiliar to her. She immediately sent her Sisters to purchase the cheapest, lightest fabric they could find. Each Sister was given 1 1/2 to 2 yards of fabric. The rest of the habit worn by Mother Cabrini and her Sisters varied little from the traditional attire worn by peasant women in Europe at that time."

"Soon after her arrival in New York City, Mother Cabrini created an orphanage for Italian girls. Shortly thereafter in 1890, she moved the orphanage out of the city to the beautiful country location at a former Jesuit novitiate located on the Hudson River in West Park, New York."

U.S., Japan to issue joint nuclear disarmament statement

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Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama and U.S. President Barack Obama will reiterate their intent to pursue a world without nuclear weapons following their summit meeting Friday, government officials said.

The two leaders will agree to strengthen the Japan-U.S. alliance over the long term, while postponing a final decision on the relocation of U.S. Marine Corps Air Station Futenma in Okinawa Prefecture, a sticking issue between the two countries.

DC city council not intimidated

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According to the Washington Post on Nov. 12, the Catholic Archdiocese of Washington is threatening to end all social service contracts with the government of the District of Columbia if the City Council passes legislation that would legalize same sex marriage in DC. That legislation is expected to pass next month.

Reports today indicate that members of the City Council are not intimidated by this. The sponsor of the bill, David Catania, a big supporter of Catholic Charities, said he is “baffled.” Others said they will not legislate based on threats, and one other Council member called the move by the Archdiocese “somewhat childish.”

Assuming this bill passes (and it is likely to pass), this move by the Archdiocese could do real harm to people in desperate need. And all this is being threatened to preserve the “right” to discriminate based on sexual orientation. Whatever the hierarchy thinks about same sex marriage, it is solid Catholic teaching NOT to discriminate against gays and lesbians. What are they thinking?

A blog entry about blogs

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tAs a rule of thumb, I don’t respond when people go on-line to offer either criticism or praise of something I’ve written, or something I've said on TV or radio. I’ve already had my say, and anyway, the focus ought to be on the story rather than the story-teller.

tRecently, however, I tossed a throw-away line about blogs into the middle of a column on an unrelated topic. That line made the rounds, and some people either still wonder what I meant (in which case they’ve asked for clarification) or they’re pretty sure they know what I meant (and some in that crowd want an apology.)

tSince this subject indirectly connects to some of the themes in The Future Church, I thought I’d take it up briefly here.

Catholic church gives D.C. ultimatum

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Writing at the On Faith blog at the Washington Post, Tim Craig and Michelle Boorstein report:

The Catholic Archdiocese of Washington said Wednesday that it will be unable to continue the social service programs it runs for the District if the city doesn't change a proposed same-sex marriage law, a threat that could affect tens of thousands of people the church helps with adoption, homelessness and health care.

Under the bill, headed for a D.C. Council vote next month, religious organizations would not be required to perform or make space available for same-sex weddings. But they would have to obey city laws prohibiting discrimination against gay men and lesbians.

Fearful that they could be forced, among other things, to extend employee benefits to same-sex married couples, church officials said they would have no choice but to abandon their contracts with the city.

Nov. 12, St. Josaphat Kuncewicz

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Today is the feast of St. Josaphat Kuncewicz, "an Eastern Rite bishop . . . held up as a martyr to church unity because he died trying to bring part of the Orthodox church into union with Rome."

"His favourite pious exercise was to make a poklony (i.e. a reverence) in which the head touches the ground)" while saying the Jesus Prayer: Panie Jezu Chryste, Synu Boga, zmi?uj si? nade mn?, grzesznikiem.

"On 12 November 1623, an axe-stroke and a bullet brought Josaphat his martyr's crown.

"His bloody body was dragged to the river and thrown in, along with the body of a dog who had tried to protect him. . . . in 1867 Josaphat became the first saint of the Eastern church to be formally canonized by Rome."

An image of St. Josaphat.

More about the saint from the web site of St. Josaphat Parish in Cheektowaga, New York.

Lefebvrite bishop to appeal fine

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British Lefebvrite Bishop Richard Williamson who was fined $16,822 in Germany for denying the Holocaust is appealing the fine, The Associated Press has reported.

The AP quotes Williamsno's lawyer, Matthias Lossmann, as saying that Williamson "objected to the fine, which means there will be a trial."

Williamson is one of four traditionalist Society of St. Pius X bishops rehabitliated by Pope Benedict XVI in January.

The Vatican is in the midst of twice-a-month meetings with the Society of St. Pius X folks. Vatican officials have called the talks "cordial, respectful and constructive."

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September 12-25, 2014

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