Rome -- Miguel Diaz presented his credentials to Pope Benedict XVI this morning as President Barack Obama's ambassador to the Holy See, and the new envoy drew a pledge of cooperation on international issues from the pope, as well as clear insistence upon "the inalienable right to life from the moment of conception to natural death," as well as "the right to conscientious object on the part of health care workers, and indeed all citizens."
Conservatives never tire of finding things to criticize about President Obama and his decision to go to Copenhagen to lobby on behalf of his hometown’s bid for the 2016 Olympic Games is no exception. Do they really think the President can’t fly and chew bubble gum at the same time? Hell, his plane comes with a bedroom so he can sleep soundly and conduct meetings on the flight back.
I was surprised about his decision to go in person to Copenhagen not because of his busy schedule but because he risks a highly visible loss. Chicago has never held the Games, but the city’s bid is now the American bid, not just the city’s. And America has hosted the summer Olympics four times, most recently in 1996 when Atlanta played host. Incidentally, the Atlanta Games were loudly criticized for their hyper-commercialization and the poor layout of the venues and consequent daily traffic nightmares. The United States has also hosted the winter games four times.
Bill Lange, a long time Milwaukee Catholic labor activist has started a blog. Those interested in progressive Catholic social justice issues might be well served to keep an eye on it.
One of the benefits of living next door to small children is that they have taken an interest in the toys we packed away long ago as our own son outgrew them. He is out of college now, so we are talking about ancient bins of plastic Legos and sets of Playmobile people who once inhabited little houses made of foamboard and lots of glue -- "projects" that threatened to take over whole rooms in our house. That first round of playing with him was a rediscovery of my own childhood, and now I get to do it again.
By JOHN L. ALLEN JR.
tI lunched with a veteran Italian vaticanista, meaning a journalist who specializes in the Vatican, this week. At one point, more or less out of the blue, he said to me: “You know, the American imprint on this pope’s curia is impressive.”
t(The Italian word he used was impressionante, which, if anything, is perhaps a bit stronger than “impressive,” suggesting something truly remarkable.)
tHe proceeded to tick off examples: Cardinal William Levada, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, the Vatican’s powerful doctrinal office; Cardinal Francis Stafford and Archbishop Raymond Burke, who headed two of the three Vatican courts (Stafford just resigned in June); and Archbishop James Harvey, still the prefect of the Papal Household. (Harvey was appointed to that position by John Paul II in 1998.)
In addition, the Americans are the only national bloc other than the Italians to have at least one official working in virtually every Vatican office.
Former Santa Rosa Bishop G. Patrick Ziemann is dying of pancreatic cancer at an Arizona monastery where he settled after resigning in disgrace from leadership of the North Coast diocese 10 years ago.
Ziemann resigned abruptly in 1999 following revelations of his homosexual relationship with another priest. He left the diocese $16 million in debt.
“Like all of us, he had his faults. At the same time, he did a lot of good ... Now is the time to have him in our prayers," said Bishop Daniel Walsh of Santa Rosa, Calif., about his predecessor
Ziemann, 68, is prepared to die from the cancer that has spread to his liver, said his attorney, Chris Andrian of Santa Rosa.
“He is definitely at peace and ready to be with God, as he said to me,” Andrian said Monday.
The storm over Rome's investigation of American sisters makes me wish that someone of the stature of the late Sister Marie Augusta Neal were doing the kind of sister surveys for which she was renowned.
Neal, one of the first women to earn a Ph.D. at Harvard, conducted all-inclusive surveys to study the influence of Vatican II's directive to U.S. sisters to renew their communities. The first was in 1966, in the wake of that call, and the second was done in 1982. Combined, they showed solid and increasing support for changes instituted by the congregations: housing, work, prayer and personal growth.
In the current turmoil, such a survey could clear up lots of confusion and misunderstanding. Perhaps there is much more of a live-and-let-live frame of mind among both conservatives and liberals. If a majority of sisters on both sides viewed religious life as a common devotion with multiple expressions, would that make a difference? What do sisters themselves think, apart from their leadership or the local bishop's attitudes or Rome's agenda? That would, of course, assume that sisters had a role in deciding their futures.
The most read stories on NCRonline.org in September:
- NCR Today, the NCR group blog
- Discerning ministerial religious life today, an essay by Sandra M. Schneiders
- Archbishop explains why he barred nun-catechist, Archbishop Daniel E. Pilarczyk talks about the Sr. Louise Akers case
- Louise Akers: Silenced or louder than ever?, Sr. Joan Chittister on the Akers case
- Perpetual eucharistic adoration, a column by Fr. Richard McBrien
- Cincinnati nun given ultimatum over ordination views, the NCR story breaking the news of Sr. Akers removal
Nikita Gaurav, an eighth-grader at Valley Catholic Middle School, Beaverton, Ore., is one of 10 finalists nationwide for the title of top young scientist. She will travel to New York to compete in the Discovery Education 3M Young Scientist Challenge on Tuesday. The winner will be awarded $50,000 in U.S. savings bonds.
What are Gaurav's dreams? She said, "I would like to become an eco-friendly architect or a mechanical engineer who designs sustainable technology."
For more information on the competition, go to this Web site.