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A new pastor

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I've been a Catholic for a long time -- but this Sunday, I'll witness something I've never seen before: the installation of a new pastor.

My childhood parish in the Bronx had the same pastor during all the years I was there, a Capuchin named Fr. Charles with a thick Italian accent and a few remaining wisps of gray hair -- lost, I'm sure, trying to keep his poor parish afloat.

Without even showing up, Obama's a force at African Synod

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By JOHN L. ALLEN JR.
Rome

tWhile almost 300 people are physically part of the current Synod for Africa, there’s at least one figure who’s managed to achieve a high profile without even showing up: U.S. President Barack Obama.

tSo far, various African bishops have hailed the election of the first African-American President in U.S. history as:

•tA potentially powerful new force for justice and good government across Africa;
•tA “divine sign” of racial healing, in some ways a recapitulation of the Biblical story of Joseph;
•tA potential herald of further breakthroughs down the line, such as the election of a black pope.

tWhatever one makes of all this, it’s at least a different perspective than one often gets in Catholic circles in the United States, where attention is usually focused on Obama’s controversial stands on abortion and other life issues.

Talking ëSimply Catholicism' with America's most complicated cardinal

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Chicago’s George says both liberals and conservatives focus too much on bishops, not enough on Christ

By JOHN L. ALLEN JR.
Rome

tHistorically, American cardinals have rarely been preoccupied with the intellectual life. By reputation, they’re known more as pragmatists – bricks-and-mortar men, or pastors, or political powerbrokers – as opposed to the European model of the theologian-bishop. Chicago’s Cardinal Francis George, however, has long been an exception, and his new book The Difference God Makes: A Catholic Vision of Faith, Communion and Culture (Crossroad) offers a classic illustration of the point.

Read Allen's full interview with Cardinal George here: Cardinal George's plan to evangelize America

CUA's Symposium & Mary

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The Catholic University of America’s symposium for the Year for Priests got underway today. The presentations were very scholarly and quite fine. Fides et ratio at their best. (I will try and give a synopsis of the talks tomorrow.) But, it was something at the end of the morning session that brought home to this CUA alumnus what a distinctive place a Catholic university is and how that distinctiveness opens up not only new avenues of thought but how it grounds us in something more substantial and permanent than any intellectual theory. Father O’Connell led the more than 100 assembled participants in the Angelus.

Prayer. And not just any prayer, but a prayer that is as old as universities themselves. A prayer that includes Scripture from the earliest centuries of the Christian Church. A prayer to the Virgin in whom eternity took flesh.

Pax Christi not Catholic enough?

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Hold it. Somebody read this article and tell me if I am reading it correctly. Richmond diocese rejected Pax Christi kickoff event

The Richmond, Va., diocese rejected a request by the founders of a Pax Christi chapter to hold their kick-off event at a local parish. The organizers launched the chapter Oct. 1 at Virginia Wesleyan College, a Methodist school in Virginia Beach.

One of the keynote speakers was Bishop Walter Sullivan, the retired leader of the Richmond diocese and a past bishop-president of Pax Christi International.

What?!

The blessing of the worms

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SYLVANIA, OHIO — This year's annual blessing of pets at Sylvania Franciscan Academy had its usual dogs, cats and gerbils, as well as worms. About 60,000 worms.

But these weren't ordinary worms; these were Eisenia fetida, or red wiggler worms, that compost food scraps five times more efficiently than ordinary earth worms.

The worms, corralled in 60 plastic tubs and covered with shredded newspaper, were part of a science project begun last school year by 13-year-old Rachel Perzynski.

Perzynski wanted to study how worms speed up the natural cycle of composting and demonstrate how composting can be done indoors by almost anyone, by placing compostable material and worms inside containers.

Perzynski's work won top honors from the annual "eco-sensitivity" competition at the University of Toledo in March. A grant from the BP A+ for Energy Program allowed her to expand to 60,000 worms.

Three bishops press church to clean up its own act

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By JOHN L. ALLEN JR.
Rome

tGrappling with how Catholicism in Africa can be a force for reconciliation, justice and peace, a handful of African bishops seemed to suggest today that in the first place, the church needs to get its own house in order.

tIn effect, these prelates suggested, it will be difficult for the African church to preach what it’s not seen to practice.

Read the full report here: Synod leaders: the church needs to get its house in order

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August 29-September 11, 2014

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