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Phan in Rome speaks on religious pluralism

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A featured speaker at the Dominicans annual gathering in Rome, Journées Romaines Dominicans, was Fr. Peter Phan, the American theologian whose work has been under Vatican scrutiny.

According to a report in The Tablet, the British weekly, Phan told the conference that the topic of religious pluralism was “one of the most pressing issues” in the Catholic church today – and one of the most dangerous.

“It is a controversial theme and one that in the current ecclesiastical climate is broached at one’s peril,” the Georgetown University professor said. … “To judge from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith’s declaration Dominus Iesus and the investigations of the works of theologians Jacques Dupuis, Roger Haight, Jon Sobrino and a host of lesser lights, there is no doubt that what is called the theology of religious pluralism constitutes the neuralgic point of contemporary Catholic theology.”

Read the full report: Phan spells out goals of interfaith dialogue

Bridgeport Catholics call for an end of secrecy

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Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia Sept. 2 passed to the full court a request by the Roman Catholic Diocese of Bridgeport to keep clergy sex abuse files sealed. The full court will decide the matter by Sept. 29.

The diocese had asked Scalia to stay the publication of more than 12,000 documents while the full court decides whether to take up the diocese's appeal of an earlier ruling by the Connecticut Supreme Court that the documents are public records.

Cautiously good news on the disarmament front

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Efforts to clinch a new Russian-US nuclear disarmament deal this year have advanced and negotiators will report to the two countries' leaders this month, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Thursday.

During President Obama's landmark visit to Moscow in July, he and Russian President Medvedev agreed to hammer out a new nuclear arms reduction pact to replace the 1991 Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START), preferably by the time it expires on December 5.

It seems to look that that might happen.

Abp. Wuerl's gay marriage fight challenged

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Francis deBernardo, Executive Director of New Ways Ministry, a national Catholic ministry of justice and reconciliation for lesbian/gay Catholics and the wider church, has taken on Archbishop Donald Wuerl of Washington, DC, for his opposition to the legalization of sex marriage in the District of Columbia.

Archbishop Wuerl has joined forces with some Baptist African-American clergy in calling for a referendum in the District that would define marriage as “one man, one woman.”

Earlier this year, the City Council of Washington, DC voted to recognize same-sex marriages performed in other jurisdictions, and the council is planning to vote in the fall on legalizing same-sex unions in the District itself.

According to The Washington Post, Archbishop Wuerl sent a letter to all 300 priests of the archdiocese, and has launched his own personal campaign in the media.

In an interview, DeBernardo said, “Archbishop Wuerl is wrong in claiming that same sex unions weaken marriage. Same sex marriage will not weaken marriage; it will strengthen it because it provides protection for committed relationships across the board.”

When the Right Just Can't Let Go

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I know that it is time to let the souls of the dead rest in peace, but it seems the issue of Senator Ted Kennedy’s funeral will not go away. The hierarchy’s complete rejection of the rejectionist stance of some conservative Catholics has caused some to grab at straws.

First, there was the charge that Cardinal O’Malley had snubbed Vice-President Joe Biden by not shaking his hand when the cardinal greeted President Obama. The cardinal’s spokesman pointed out that Mr. Biden had arrived earlier and the cardinal and he had spoken at that time, before the President arrived. Videotape of the Mass showed Cardinal O’Malley and the Vice-President even sharing a laugh before the Mass began.

Bridgeport sex abuse files case goes to full Supreme Court

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The Hartford Courant is reporting that Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia passed to the full court a request by the Diocese of Bridgeport, Conn., to keep clergy sex abuse files sealed.

The files will be sealed at least until the full court reviews the case on Sept. 29.

The diocese was appealing a ruling by Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who had denied the diocese's request for a stay last week.

Beauty will save the world

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Russian novelist Dostoevski wrote: "It is beauty that will save the world." I think I believe that. But what did he mean?

It's almost a platitude now that the future of the planet depends on reawakening a sense of the sacred, a knowledge that the earth is sacred, holy. What are the connections here? How does this work? Can a bloodshot Arizona sunset reverse the troublesome outcomes of our shortsighted public policies? Can an afternoon encounter in a mountain meadow knee-deep in shooting star and Indian paintbrush blow the whistle for good on our greed and consumer avarice? Can a tiny indigo bunting chirping from a treetop bring gentleness and understanding to racism's stiff necks and hearts of soften the rage of tribes against one another?

Maybe the whole thing works something like this.

'KC bishops undermining US bishops'

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Michael Sean Winters, who writes in the space regularly, has posted an interesting analysis of the joint pastoral letter on health care reform issued this week by Archbishop Joseph Naumann of Kansas City, Kansas and Bishop Robert Finn of Kansas City, Missouri.

Writes Winters, referring to a question posed in an NCR editorial yesterday:

"The most interesting question posed by this document is not who speaks for the bishops but whether or not the USCCB should bother to do its work if it is merely going to be undermined by some bishops who disagree with the proposals adopted by their brothers. ...

August's top 10 stories

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The top 10 stories in order of popularity on NCRonline.org for August:


  1. Why they stay(ed), an essay by Sr. Sandra Schnieder

  2. NCR Today, the NCR group blog

  3. Women religious study to include 'soundness of doctrine,' by Tom Fox

  4. Vatican rejects Maryknoll brother elected as superior, by John L. Allen Jr.

  5. Scranton's Bishop Martino stepping down, by Tom Roberts (This was posted Aug. 28.)

  6. Under fire, women religious leaders gather in New Orleans, Tom Fox's reporting from the LCWR meeting

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September 12-25, 2014

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