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Thoughts on the resignation of an Irish bishop

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This from the Irish Times.

THE FALL from grace of the Bishop of Limerick, Donal Murray, is a necessary and inevitable consequence of the Murphy report into the cover-up of child sexual abuse in the Dublin diocese.

But it is by no means a sufficient response to the amorality and recklessness detailed in that grim document. Indeed, it would be grossly unfair to Dr Murray were he to be the sacrificial lamb who must atone for the collective sins of the Roman Catholic Church. If his departure were to be seen as the end, rather than the beginning, of a radical process of accountability, the implication would be that his behaviour was the exception rather than the rule. The truth is he operated a system that seems to have been universally applied throughout the church.

Catholics at Copenhagen

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Irish Columban missionary Fr. Sean McDonagh sent this report from Copenhagen today on the Catholic presence at this and previous U. N. climate change conferences:

"Ever since my first meeting of the U.N. Framework Conference on Climate Change (UNFCCC), I have been interested in a ‘Catholic presence’ at these conferences. While Christian Aid and the World Council of Churches had a presence at the Nairobi Conference in 2006, there were very few Catholics in attendance.

In fact, the only Catholic symbol I saw was the Columban logo at the UP in Smoke stand. Columbans in the region of Britain have been involved in funding and producing the The UP in Smoke booklet on how climate change is impacting on the lives of poor people in Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean and Asia for a number of years. Ms. Ellen Teague has worked tirelessly on these publications for the past few years.

Catholic groups praise Sen. Casey health care proposal

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National Catholic social justice organizations, religious orders and the Catholic Health Association are touting a proposal offered by Sen. Robert Casey, Jr. of Pennsylvania that offers a major package of social supports for pregnant women and alternative language to ensure health-care reform does not include federal funding of abortions.

Sen. Casey’s proposal includes strong language on conscience protections for health care workers, and an “opt out” provision that permits individuals to decline abortion coverage in any policy offered in a health-care exchange. It also increases adoption tax credits by $1,000 and ensures segregation of funds in the exchange so that federal subsidies are not used to pay for abortions. The proposal offers significant help to pregnant and parenting women, increases public awareness about resources available to pregnant teens and improves services for pregnant women who are victims of domestic violence.

A tip of the hat to America magaine

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We go to press today with our Dec. 25th issue, our Christmas issue. It's packed with features and news stories, including one about Seattle Fr. Michael Ryan, who has begun a campaign to try to slow down the introduction of a Latinized translation of the Missal. We reported the Ryan story Dec. 10 on this web site, but it is only fair to note again, as we did then, that the story stemmed from an article penned by Ryan that appeared on the America magazine web site and as part of the Dec. 15th issue of America magazine.

Memo to Dems: Ignore the Polls

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A spate of bad poll numbers has Democrats worried. The President’s approval rating has dropped. A survey of Indpendent voters showed them more likely to vote for a Republican in next year’s midterms than for a Democrat. And support for health care reform is also decreasing. What should the Democrats do about these polls? Ignore them and pass health care reform quickly.

Imagine for a moment what the current discussion about health care reform would look like if the economy had not gone into the tank last year. Government revenues would not be decreasing. Federal help for state and local government would not be needed on the large scale it is currently. More Americans would likely feel the country was moving in the right direction. When the economy tanks, especially when it tanks because of what amounts to a swindle by Wall Street, many Americans get angry at everyone and everything. And, they look to Washington for help and instead of talking about creating jobs, Congress seems to be mired in an interminable debate about health care.

Fr. Sean McDonagh reports from Copenhagen on Thursday

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Irish Columban missionary Fr. Sean McDonagh send this report from Copenhagen on Thursday, Dec. 17:

"There was a heavy fall of snow here in Roskilde (40 minutes by train from Copenhagen) last night. A blast of freezing air hit me when I opened the door of the Franciscan house to walk to the train station. That journey normally takes about 15 minutes. It took almost took twice as long today, as the underfoot conditions are treacherous. I nearly came to grief on a slope leading up to the station.

When I finally boarded the train, I chose a quiet carriage and thought immediately how aptly the weather reflects the mood in the Bella Center, where COP 15 is taking place. (Here in Copenhagen some carriages on each train are reserved for those who wish to travel in silence, with no loud music playing or no loud conversations on mobile phones.) To put it in a nut shell, trust seems to have collapsed on many fronts here during the past 10 days.

The last act in the Milingo story?

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tIn what may be the final act of the long-running Catholic drama centering on Zambian Archbishop Emmanuel Milingo, the Vatican announced today that Milingo has been formally removed from the clerical state – in layman’s terms, defrocked.

tAs today’s Vatican statement noted, such a step is highly unusual for a bishop. The Vatican said it was compelled to act because of Milingo’s “persistent contumacy,” especially his decision to ordain several bishops without papal permission for his “Married Priests Now!” movement, which seeks to promote optional celibacy in the Catholic church.

The last case of a bishop being removed from the clerical state came in 2008, with Fernando Lugo, the president of Paraguay and former Bishop of San Pedro who resigned in 2005 in order to pursue a political career. Lugo had requested laicization in 2006 but the Vatican had consistently refused, relenting only after he won the presidency in April 2008.

tMilingo had been considered excommunicated since 2006 on account of his defiance of church authority.

After 35 years, freedom in sight for Florida man exonerated by DNA evidence

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After more than three decades in prison, James Bain , 54, will be allowed to go home for the first time in 35 years -- free from his life sentence thanks to a DNA test that showed he was not the man who took a 9-year-old Lake Wales, Florida, boy from his bed in 1974 and raped him.

Of the 245 people in the United States who have been exonerated by DNA testing, none has spent more time behind bars than Bain, according to the Innocence Project, a national organization dedicated to exonerating wrongfully convicted people through DNA testing.

Yet another example offering support to abolish the death penalty. Mistakes happen.

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