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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.

Democrats ready to make further abortion concessions

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The pressure by abortion opponents appears to be paying off as House Democratic leaders signaled that they were prepared to make further changes to their health care bill.

Generally speaking, Democrats had argued that the health care legislation would make no change to existing federal laws regarding how tax dollars could be used to pay for abortions.

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