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Cardinal Egan's Shamelessness

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The release of documents, under court order, from the Diocese of Bridgeport makes one literally sick to one’s stomach. The moral callousness displayed by then-Bishop Egan is so at odds with even the most basic standards of human, let alone Christian, decency, that everyone who reads them is understandably upset.

Well, almost everyone. Remember that while these documents are being seen by the public for the first time, they have been available to church officials all along. Why was Egan not removed from office? I know the Bible says, “You are a priest forever” but it doesn’t say anything about remaining as the cardinal-archbishop of New York when there is such bald evidence of moral turpitude.

Forget Tiger Woods. Is your marriage solid?

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Some food for thought here, an essay in the Christian Science Monitor by Angela Kays-Burden, a licensed master social worker who holds Christian ministerial credentials through Elim Gospel Fellowship.

Kays-Burden writes:

Tabloids have pounced on Tiger Woods for his apparent failure to uphold family values. Their stories use traditional morals to define adultery as scandal and include words like "sin" and "confession."

At the same time, the purveyors of our pop culture often portray marriage itself as an arcane institution that our progressive society should move beyond.

In recent years, television shows and Hollywood movies have promoted our acceptance of – and even our appetite for – infidelity. Major networks are complicit in helping to erode the significance of life-long commitments and loving relationships between husbands and wives.

The same adulterous affair that in real life becomes a threat to reputation, career, and endorsements, produces laughs and envy on prime time. Sex is sold as a need-based commodity rather than an expression of shared, committed intimacy.

Public sees GOP friendlier than Democrats to religion

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Just got this media release from the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life:

Who Is Friendly Toward Religion?

More Americans continue to view the Republican Party as friendly toward religion (48%) than rate the Democratic Party that way (29%). President Barack Obama's administration, however, is seen as friendly toward religion by more people (37%) than the Democratic Party as a whole. And all three get higher ratings for friendliness toward religion than the news media (14%), scientists (12%) or Hollywood (11%).

Keep up the good fight

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Among the news stories, commentaries and blog postings about the Bridgeport, Conn., diocese releasing more than 12,000 pages of documents concern clergy sex abuse, is this story today from the Connecticut Post, titled "Law, attitudes toward sex-abuse claims have changed" and subtitled "Officials: Claims would be treated differently today."

Now before anyone jumps in with commentary one way or the other about the assertion "claims would be treated differently today," first read the story.

And second, consider this. I have to believe that the assertion is true. I say this as a tribute to SNAP (Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests) and Voice of the Faithful and BishopAccountability.org and countless individual Catholics who have refused to allow this scandal in the church go unanswered.

We owe these groups and these individuals untold thanks.

File under Bah Humbug!

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File this under Bah Humbug!

Bishop rips beloved carols as 'nonsense'

LONDON (RNS) -- A leading Church of England bishop has slammed a number of the world's favorite Christmas carols, saying some have "nonsense" words that are embarrassing and others reek of "Victorian behavior control."

Bishop Nick Baines of Croydon said "all sorts of fantasies have grown up around Christmas" that leave many people thinking of the celebration as "nothing more than some sort of fairy story."

In his new book, "Why Wish You a Merry Christmas," Baines cites the line in "Away in a Manger" that goes "no crying He makes," and wonders, "How can any adult sing this without embarrassment?"

"It's nonsense," he says, adding that he finds it "slightly bizarre" that parents could sing that carol "as if it actually related to reality."

In the carol "Once in Royal David's City," a particular favorite in Britain, its line "mild, obedient, good as He" smacks of "Victorian behavior," Baines said.

For good measure, the bishop attacks another well-loved Christmas hymn, "O Come, All Ye Faithful," suggesting that it should more accurately be called "O Come All Ye Faithless."

A referendum against Muslim 'steeples'

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This week, in a major setback for religious freedom, about 57 percent of the Swiss electorate voted to outlaw the building of “minarets” in their country. These are towers near mosques, and in predominantly Muslim lands, they are used for the Call to Prayer, so it can be heard at a distance. Right-wing political movements in Switzerland apparently convinced a majority of voters that these minarets were some kind of symbol of political Islam, a notion that is patently ridiculous.

This is akin to outlawing church steeples, where the bells in the tower have often filled the same function as the call to prayer in a minaret. Remember the Angelus?

However, many places in the Muslim world are not open to Christian houses of worship. The first Catholic church (without steeple or even a cross) just opened in Qatar. Saudi Arabia, of course, allows nothing but its own form of Islam.

In the arena of religious freedom … there is a lot of work to be done.

Dec. 3, St. Francis Xavier

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O Deus, ego amo te,
Nec amo te, ut salves me,
Aut, quia non amantes te
Æterno punis igne.
Tu, tu, mi Jesu, totum me
Amplexus es in cruce;
Tuliste clavos, lanceam,
Multamque ignominiam,
Innumeros dolores,
Sudores, et angores,
Et mortem, et hæc propter me,
Ac pro me peccatore.
Cur igitur non amem te,
O Jesu amantissime,
Non, ut in cœlo salves me,
Aut ne æternum damnes me,
Nec præmii ullius spe;
Sed sicut tu amasti me?
Sic amo et amabo te,
Solum quia Rex meus es,
Et solum, quia Deus es.


--St. Francis Xavier

Today is the feast of St. Francis Xavier, a founding member of the Society of Jesus.

"Francis Xavier (Francisco de Jassu y Javier, 1506-1552), was the first Jesuit missionary and the prototype who inspired many men to enter the Society of Jesus and evangelize far off nations."

For prayers in honor of St. Francis Xavier, click here.

Catholics For Choice Runs a Repulsive Ad

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Catholics for Choice (CFC) took out a full page ad in this morning’s Washington Post with the ridiculous charge that “[t]he United States Conference of Catholic Bishops is directing healthcare policy in the United States.” Funny, I did not see any miters making their way down the aisles of the House chamber to cast their votes but maybe I wasn’t watching closely.

Dec. 2, Dorothy Kazel, Ita Ford, Jean Donovan, and Maura Clarke

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On Dec. 2, 1980, Sr. Dorothy Kazel, OSU., Jean Donovan, Sr. Maura Clarke, MM, and Sr. Ita Ford, MM were beaten, raped, and murdered by five members of the National Guard of El Salvador.

For anyone unfamiliar with their story and with the Reagan administration's reaction, here is a brief introduction.

Many books and articles have been written about Ita, Maura, Jean and Dorothy in the 29 years since their martyrdom, but no one has covered the story with the intensity and thoroughness of the National Catholic Reporter's editors and writers. I have kept a clipping of a letter to the editor since it was published in December 1980. (Was this the first miracle by Dorothy, Ita, Jean, and Maura?)

"NCR sends especially warm Christmas wishes and prayers to James Sipes, a Michigan federal prison inmate who sent us this letter:

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