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Volunteer teacher ousted for supporting Sister Louise Akers

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Both support for -- and resistance to -- the very idea of women's ordination is taking root in Cincinnati.

A volunteer religion teacher of a sixth grade Old Testament class at a local parsish has been ousted from her teaching position because she supports Sister Louise Akers.

Akers was told by Archbishop Daniel E. Pilarczyk she could not teach in Cincinnati because she refused to recant a belief she holds that women should be allowed to be ordained.

Dr. Carol Egner wrote a letter to The Cincinnati Enquirer, saying she agrees with Sister Akers, who supports the idea of women being ordained as priests.

"I didn't write the letter as a teacher, I didn't write the letter as a doctor. I just wrote the letter as an individual and never did I think it would have the repercussions that it had," said Dr. Egner.

The following two paragraphs in the Enquirer did Egner in:

Changes at America magazine

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America magazine, the venerable Jesuit periodical, has fewer SJs on its masthead. In its August 31 issue, Editor in Chief Drew Christiansen announced that five Jesuit editors are moving on to new assignments, while two new lay editors are joining the staff.

For years, the only lay editor was its part-time literary editor. Now the magazine seems to be making an effort to increase lay input, including adding three new lay members of the board of directors.

Kevin Clarke, formerly of U.S. Catholic magazine (where he and I were colleagues), has moved back to his native New York to become an associate editor at America. In his 20 years at Claretian Publications, Kevin worked on Salt of the Earth (as both a print and online publication), U.S. Catholic and as online editor. His expertise in social justice and international reporting will be an asset to America.

A second lay America editor is expected to be announced soon, according to Christiansen.

Cardinal says traditionalists must respect Jews, other religions

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With doctrinal talks scheduled between Vatican officials and the traditionalist Society of Saint Pius X, Cardinal Christoph Schoenborn of Vienna is saying the SSPXers will be expected to respect Judaism, other Christian churches and other world faiths, according to a report from Reuters: Vatican to insist rebels respect Jews, other faiths.

He also said that the reforms of the Second Vatican Council, which the SSPXers reject, were "not negotiable."

Back in January, the Vatican formally lifted a 20-year-old excommunication imposed on four SSPX bishops who where ordained in defiance of the late Pope John Paul II in 1988 by French Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre. This caused quite a stir, see Benedict's reconciliation move stirs controversy, not least because one of the bishops was a well-known Holocaust denier.

Mass wine and swine flu

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A curious reader sent the following question: What have you heard about retracting the Eucharistic wine because of swine flu? As of October, the Raleigh Diocese of North Carolina is heading in that direction.

Let's try some citizen journalism here.

If any of you see official notices -- not rumors or hearsay -- from parishes or diocese that are stopping distribution of Communion wine as a precaution against the H1N1 flu, add your info in a comment box on this page.

Here's a direct link to the page, which you can bookmark, so you don't have to go searching for it when you want to add something or check the progress of reports:

A plea for justice, a plea to save an innocent man's life

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Two important facts you should know about Paul William Scott: One, he was sentenced to death in Florida's electric chair in 1979. Two, he is almost certainly innocent of the crime for which he was convicted - yet stays incarcerated.

The more one leans about this miscarriage of justice the more outraged one can become. But outrage does not help. Becoming informed and working for justice on this matter does.

In 1979, Paul William Scott was sentenced to die on Florida's death row. Rick Kondian, convicted co-defendant, has long since confessed to committing the murder of Mr. James Alessi. Subsequently, Rick Kondian “plea bargained” down to a 2nd degree murder sentence, served 15 years and was released in 1994.

And yet, in 2009, provably innocent Paul Scott remains in a tiny cell with the distinction of being the longest surviving death row inmate in FL to have faced three death warrants.

Gays, the Church & Public Policy

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Politico.com is reporting that Congressman Barney Frank, the openly gay champion of liberal causes from Massachusetts, is opposing efforts to overturn the Defense of Marriage Act. “It's not anything that's achievable in the near term,” the congressman said. “I think getting ENDA [the Employment Non-Discrimination Act], a repeal of ‘Don't Ask, Don't Tell,’ and full domestic partner benefits for federal employees will take up all of what we can do and maybe more in this Congress.”

Australian Catholic church works for ecological sustainability

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The Catholic church in Australia has confessed it is one of the biggest carbon emission "sinners" in the country.

Catholic EarthCare, an organization set up in 2002 by Australian bishops to advise the church on environmental issues, admitted the Australian church has a carbon footprint larger than most other major organizations in the country.

"Although measurement has just begun, Catholic EarthCare estimates the carbon emissions of the church in Australia could be in the vicinity o 1.2 million to 1.5 million tons annually," a statement said.

"This is on a par with the emissions of the Australian government, excluding defense operations, of 1.7 million tons and dwarfs the emissions of groups such as the National Australian Bank and Insurance Australia Group."

The new frugality

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Here's the problem with being around for 2,000 years: you tend to learn a few things. So as much as I get impatient sometimes with the glacial pace of change within the church, there are moments when I'm reminded that the institution has gleaned more than a few verities over the past couple of millennia.

For instance, greed -- and its modern-day significant other, consumerism. The financial collapse that marks its first anniversary today is one large "told you so" for a church that has often been a lonely voice against the American ethos summed up on the bumper sticker: "The one who dies with the most toys wins."

Sunday's Los Angeles Times presented a bracing look at how we have changed in the past 12 months. The report explores the possibility that Southern Californians may soon turn their back on ever-bigger houses that sit at the end of ever-longer drives from where we work.

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July 18-31, 2014

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