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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.

A Catholic novelist reads the Bible

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If early reviews (including one in NCR) and the questions at last night's public lecture by Catholic novelist Mary Gordon are any indication, Catholics still prefer to leave biblical interpretation to the experts.

Gordon read from her new nonfiction book, "Reading Jesus: A Writer's Encounter with the Gospels," at Loyola University's 34th Annual Edward Surtz Lecture. The book contains Gordon's reflections after reading all four gospels--from a literary perspective.

"Most people have their family Bible from the attic. They don't have [scripture scholar] Raymond Brown," Gordon said. "They base decisions not on context, but on text. People don't live their lives based on scholarship. They live their lives based on words. So I asked, 'What do these words say to a common reader?'"

Doyle responds to Tomasi

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Arcbishop Silvano Tomasi, the Vatican's permanent observer to the United Nations, recently made a defense of the church's handling of the priest sex abuse crisis by citing suspect numbers and by pointing the finger at other denominations, largely on the basis of an article in The Christian Science Monitor.

Following is a response from Dominican Fr. Thomas Doyle, the canon lawyer who distinguished himself in the mid-1980s by defying the ecclesiastical strategies of the day and strongly coming to the defense of victims of abuse.

Changes afoot in Catholic Hollywood

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Catholics in Hollywood are usually a low-key bunch. The networking we do is focused on the people we work with, not the folks we may see at church. But that's beginning to change -- Catholics are making a new play for higher visibility in the entertainment business.

The changes come at two venerable Hollywood Catholic institutions that are taking a fresh look at what they are and what they can be.

El Salvador honors slain Jesuits

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"public act of atonement"

The Associated Press is reporting that El Salvador's president announced Tuesday that the country will award its highest honor to six Jesuit priests murdered by the army in 1989.

President Mauricio Funes says the National Order of Jose Matias Delgado awards are a "public act of atonement" for mistakes by past governments.

They will be presented on Nov. 16 to mark the date 20 years ago when soldiers killed Spanish-born university rector Ignacio Ellacuria, five other Jesuits, a housekeeper and her daughter.

The killings sparked international outrage and tarnished the image of U.S. anti-communism efforts after it was found that some of the soldiers involved received training at Fort Benning, Georgia.

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December 5-18, 2014

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