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How to Get Them on the Same Page When They're Reading Different Books


Law and Order, Dissidents Unit, starring Cardinal Francis E. George as chief enforcer, and a repertoire team of U.S. bishops.

Religion is a messy affair, and the messiness tends to take on a dialectical quality. In Catholicism, strong central control stands in tension with flexible, personal freedom. In America, where Catholicism met its first major challenge in a democratic setting, the decentralized pole has strengthened at the expense of hierarchical authority.

Cardinal George, in the first session of the annual bishops' conference, signaled that the bishops have felt the time was right to again assert their authority. He and others have demanded that Catholics affirm what the church says about major issues like abortion or quit calling themselves Catholic.

He also serves notice to Catholic publications and universities that it's time to examine whether they're worthy of the name. Already before the meeting, Bishop Thomas J. Tobin of Rhode Island rebuked Rep. Patrick Kennedy (D-RI)for disagreeing with the church on abortion rights.

Monk expelled for ordaining four women


Now where have I heard this story before?

This from the blog, "Religion, Sex and Politics."

The popular monk Ajahn Brahm has been disciplined by the Thai forest monastery sangha founded by the Venerable Ajahn Chah because he was involved in ordaining four women as nuns, orbhikkunis, in a ceremony on October 22 at his Bodhinyana Buddhist Monastery in Perth, Australia.

The Wat Pah Pong Sangha's action of excommunication (revoking Bodhinyana's status as a branch monastery) has resulted in a firestorm of controversy in the Theravada Buddhist world. The ordination of nuns is illegal under Thai Buddhist law because the order of nuns became extinct sometime between the 11th and 13th centuries, after which, the argument goes, no new bhikkhunis could be ordained since there were none left to preside over an ordination.

On to Fort Benning


Tonight and tomorrow I'll be traveling on a bus from Kansas City, Mo. for 14 hours with other locals and students from Rockhurst University. After a short stop in St. Louis to pick up students from Washington University, we'll be on our way to Columbus, Ga.

I'll be there to report on the Ignatian Family Teach-in for Justice (IFTJ) and the School of the Americas Watch (SOAW) Vigil outside Fort Benning. Throughout the events of the weekend you can expect to see blog postings on this site with updates.

Another Poll on Abortion-Funding in Health Care


Another poll, this one by CNN, says that 61% of Americans do not want federal funding of abortion coverage in the health care reform bill. 37% said that they do support such funding.

These findings, combined with those from the polls cited below, should stiffen the resolve of centrist Democrats – and the White House – to keep the Stupak Amendment largely in tact. These numbers come in spite of the disinformation campaign of the past two weeks conducted by the pro-choice forces which made it seem that Stupak would thrust Western civilization back into the dark ages.

High on (religious) Life


This past weekend was a fine one for religious life in the U.S. On Friday I participated in the 16th National Congress of the Religious Formation Conference in Denver and on Sunday, 60 religious women of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles gathered at the Pauline Center for Media Studies in Culver City for the "Women of Faith" lecture series. Both events were energizing and reinforced my belief that religious women and men believe in their vocation and are working hard to grow spiritually and foster vocations and the perseverance of new members. I wish so many more religious could have been there.

I wrote the following based on my handwritten notes and those tapped into my iPhone.

Sr. Donna Markham, the prioress general of the Adrian Dominicans, presented a morning session at the religious formation conference: "Blessing and Hope: Creating a Vision for Religious Life in the 21st Century." She spoke of dreaming and quoted Don Helder Camera, "When we are dreaming alone it is only a dream. When we are dreaming with others, it is the beginning of reality."

Revising the forecast on GMOs


tHarold Macmillan, British Prime Minister in the late 1950s and early 60s, is famously credited with perhaps the best reply ever when asked by a reporter what might throw a government into tilt: “Events, my dear boy, events.”

tHis point that was that the best-laid plans often founder on the shoals of unforeseen events – an insight that applies to the fine art of futurology every bit as much as politics. A case in point comes this week from the Philippines, where the bioethics office of the Filipino bishops’ conference has announced that it will not oppose the use of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) to solve a persistent rice shortage in Asia.

tIn The Future Church, I take up the subject of GMOs. I note that while the Vatican’s Pontifical Academy for Sciences has been strongly GMO-friendly, Catholic leaders in the global south have been more critical:

Nov. 19, Mechtild of Magdeburg


Today is the feast of Mechtild of Magdeburg (1210-1279), a Beguine and a mystic who ended her days at the monastery at Helfta with St. Gertrude the Great.

Wouldst thou know my meaning?
Lie down in the Fire
See and taste the Flowing
Godhead through thy being;
Feel the Holy Spirit
Moving and compelling
Thee within the Flowing
Fire and Light of God.


This edition of Mechtild's book, The Flowing Light of Godhead, was published by Paulist Press in 1997.

This icon of Mechtild by Fr. William McNichols, was inspired by Carol L. Flinders' book,>Enduring Grace: Living Portraits of Seven Women Mystics.


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