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Investigation of women religious enters new phase

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The investigation, or visitation, if you will, of U.S. women religious congregations has entered a new phase as Apostles of the Sacred Heart of Jesus Mother Mary Clare Millea, the Vatican-appointed apostolic visitator Sept. 18 sent a letter and questionnaires to U.S. women religious institutes.

The questionnaires, each with quantitative and qualitative elements, are due back to Millea Nov. 20. The respected Washington-based Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate (CARA) assisted Millea in putting together the quantitative component (Part A).

Millea told the women, many of whom are concerned that the results of the studies of their congregations will be kept from them, that the “composite analysis” that emerges from Part A “may eventually” be included in some public document. There was no mention that the more subjective Part B would be shared.

Wrote Millea: “Data regarding any participating institutes or individuals will not be shared with anyone except those whom I judge it necessary to consult directly to assist in fulfilling my appointment by Cardinal [Franc] Rodé as apostolic visitator.”

Report from Delegation to Iraq

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Last week an international Pax Christi delegation returned from a visit to Iraq. While there representatives of Pax Christi groups from four different nations visited major cities and spoke with citizens and church leaders.

Upon returning from the country the delegation released a statement describing the situation for people in Iraq. Among things mentioned is the fact that there is still "great fear of being kidnapped."

The delegation also calls for the international community to "investigate and prosecute past and present war crimes and severe human rights violations on all sides."

Read the statement 'Solidarity with the People of Iraq.'

The latest from Honduras

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The Associated Press is reporting that Honduras' interim government has extended a curfew through most of Wednesday. Police and backers of ousted President Manuel Zelaya skirmished throughout the night, and more than 100 people were arrested for vandalism and looting.

Zelaya, who snuck back into the country Sept. 21, remained holed up with a shrinking core of supporters at the increasingly isolated Brazilian Embassy in Honduras.

Diplomats and activists streamed out of the compound late yesterday, and Brazil urged the U.N. Security Council to guarantee the embassy's safety.

Read what Catholic leaders in Honduras think: Lay missionary and Honduran bishop: Conflict in Honduras between poor, wealthy

Burke Strikes Again

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In the nineteenth century, the United States bishops requested that the Holy See make Baltimore a primatial see, which the Holy See declined to do. But, it appears that Archbishop Raymond Burke thinks he is the Primate of America given his penchant for criticizing the decisions of other American bishops, and doing so publicly.

Burke’s latest target is Cardinal Sean O’Malley, the archbishop of Boston who presided at the funeral for Sen. Edward M. Kennedy. In a speech in Washington (see Today's Briefing below), the Prefect of the Apostolic Signatura said “Neither Holy Communion nor funeral rites should be administered to such politicians. To deny these is not a judgment of the soul, but a recognition of the scandal and its effects.” Cardinal O’Malley does not follow Burke’s interpretation of Canon 915 about who should and should not be permitted to receive communion. And, he has ably explained his reasons for presiding at the funeral already.

The story that won't go away

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It has been looming over the Los Angeles archdiocese for nearly a decade, like a dark cloud that won't move on -- the priest sex abuse scandal. And another chapter in this never-ending story appears in today Los Angeles Times.

Columnist Steve Lopez reports on a deposition made public last week by Msgr. Richard Loomis, in a lawsuit filed by priest abuse victims. In his testimony, Loomis asserts that, back in 2000, he pushed Los Angeles' Cardinal Roger Mahony to report to police abuse allegations made against a now-defrocked priest named Michael Baker. According to Loomis, Mahony at first agreed, then -- once he consulted with legal counsel -- decided against reporting Baker.

In a conversation with Lopez, a spokesman for the archdiocese insisted Loomis is a less-than-credible witness. That's because the monsignor -- the archdiocese's vicar of clergy who went on to become canonical investigator of sexual misconduct complaints -- is currently on leave due to allegation of, yes, sexual misconduct.

What's on the minds of 'values voters'?

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"To me, there are so many more important issues than health care right now," said John Leaman, a retired yacht builder from Lancaster, Pa.

According to a Religion News Service report, that quote pretty much sums up the feelings of attendees at the Family Research Council's Values Voter Summit held in Washington this past weekend.

Added [Leaman's] wife Linda, a waitress: "I don't think it's as urgent as Obama's making it out to be." The real problem, she said, is illegal immigrants "cluttering up our emergency rooms."

In a straw poll of 10 possible Republican presidential candidates in 2012, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee was the clear favorite among the attendees. Huckabee won 28 percent of the 597 votes cast. Four candidates -- former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin and Rep. Mike Pence, R-Ind., -- tied for second place, each with about 12 percent.

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October 10-23, 2014

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