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The Other Anniversary

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Yesterday was not only the anniversary of the coronation of Pope John XXIII. It was also the one year anniversary of the election of Barack Obama to the presidency. The historic aspect of that election tended to obscure the darkening economic clouds that had been rushing in for the previous months, but now one year later they are still there, still dark and ominous.

Turning around the economy is always a slower process than one would wish, especially if you are now the incumbent. Some of the same people who voted for change in 2008 also voted for change in 2009, because they do not like what they see when they read the newspaper. Of course, voting for change in 2008 meant voting for the Dems and this year it meant voting for the GOP.

The health care debate, which has taken longer than Obama wished, is reaching its conclusion. Certainly the Senate should, like the House, move quickly to finish work on that bill and begin considering how government expenditures can best be used to promote job growth. There will be a wind at the Democrats’ back again as soon as they pass health care reform.

Rode confirms the investigation is after feminists!

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It’s not very often that a Vatican official confirms my underlying suspicions so directly. But Cardinal Rode actually admitted that a “certain feminist spirit” among American nuns is part of the reason for his investigation.

If that’s what he’s after, we nuns could save him more than a million dollars. Of course, lots of us nuns are feminists – because the gospel calls us to that!

Dolan's Pre-emptive Strike Risky Business

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To their credit, most Catholic leaders have not played the "anti-Catholic" card during the long and gruesome series of revelations of priests' sexual abuse of children. Though crimes -- and the reports about them -- have been bitter pills, bishops and other leaders have shown an increasing tendency to face them without placing the blame on factions out to get them.

Not so the new archibishop of New York, Timothy Dolan, who flashed this canard in a virolent attack on the New York Times. He lumps together three pieces -- Maureen Dowd's column critical of the nuns' investigation (full disclosure: I was quoted in it) and two that involved Laurie Goodstein, one on a Franciscan who fathered a child who's now dying and another on the Pope's welcome of Anglicans -- in a furious blog diatribe on the paper as the enemy of the Catholic church. This was after the Times turned down his bid to place the attack on the paper's Op-Ed page.

Nun in the news

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Stories like these don't help the cause of U.S. women religious currently under investigation by the Vatican for allegedly supporting radical liberal causes:

Sister Donna Quinn, a long-time feminist and social justice activist, has been reprimanded by her order, the Wisconsin-based Sinsinawa Domincans, for escorting patients into a Hinsdale, Illinois clinic that provides abortions, The Chicago Tribune reports.

Online news site ChicagoCatholicNews speculates that the three bishops involved--Cardinal Francis George of Chicago, where Quinn lives; Bishop J. Peter Sartain of Joliet, where the clinic is located; and Bishop Robert Morlino of Madison, Wisconsin, where the order is based--are "monitoring the situation" and expect to talk soon.

The company we keep

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"This man welcomes sinners and eats with them." Luke 15:2

Church marquees, those lightbox structures displaying the sermon title or a scripture passage, are the first indication of what lies within. Who decides the wording gets to be the face of that church, the first impression.

I don't often see the sign above: "Come, eat with us sinners." There are lots of sermons preached about avoiding sin, but the logic of this includes avoiding sinners, meaning other people who are the occasions of sin. The real test of this is at the Communion table, where in some churches sinners must be turned away because Communion has come to be seen as a reward for being good, not as a means to forgiveness and healing. Good people fear contamination from bad people. If we have advanced in age and experience enough to know that good and bad come together in most of us, we are told to at least leave our failings in the confessional first, then come to Communion. Wash your hands, then come to the table.

Rode speaks on Vatican Radio

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Cardinal Franc Rodé, who is conducting an apostolic visitation of U.S. women religious communities, spoke about the visitation on Vatican Radio Nov. 4, Catholic News Service reported.

He told Vatican Radio Nov. 4 that some media presented the visitation "as if it were an act of mistrust of American female religious congregations or as if it were a global criticism of their work. It is not,"

In the radio interview, Rodé said the investigation was a response to concerns, including by "an important representative of the U.S. church" regarding "some irregularities or omissions in American religious life. Most of all, you could say, it involves a certain secular mentality that has spread in these religious families and, perhaps, also a certain 'feminist' spirit."

Saint of the Day, Nov. 5

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Nov. 5 is the feast of St. Elizabeth and St. Zachary, the parents of St. John the Baptist.

Luke tells their story in Chapter 1 of his Gospel.

And Mary rising up in those days, went into the hill country with haste into a city of Juda. And she entered into the house of Zachary, and saluted Elizabeth. And it came to pass, that when Elizabeth heard the salutation of Mary, the infant leaped in her womb. And Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Ghost: And she cried out with a loud voice, and said: Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb. And whence is this to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? For behold as soon as the voice of thy salutation sounded in my ears, the infant in my womb leaped for joy. And blessed art thou that hast believed, because those things shall be accomplished that were spoken to thee by the Lord.

Pope John's Anniversary

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Today, the feast of St. Charles Borromeo, marks a very special, and very telling, anniversary for it was on this feast day in 1958 that Angelo Roncalli was crowned Pope John XXIII. Pope John remains the best loved Pope of recent times, even if his memory has been somewhat overshadowed by the long and undeniably significant pontificate of Pope John Paul II.

The coronation itself, and the date he chose, are instructive. Pope John, like Pope Benedict, had a certain love for the Baroque ceremonies of the Church. He loved the pomp and circumstance. Those who see him as a champion of reform in the Church are correct to do so, but he was nobody’s liberal and those who cast him in such a light misunderstand the man and his sense of the Church.

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November 21-December 5, 2014

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