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Indiana firm can claim a papal thumbs-up from new social encyclical

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By JOHN L. ALLEN JR.
Rome

tThough the Vatican typically is loathe to put the pope in the position of endorsing a commercial product, in effect a papal thumbs-up is precisely what Mundell & Associates, an environmental consulting firm in Indianapolis, Indiana, can claim from Caritas in Veritate, Benedict XVI’s new social encyclical.

tFounded in 1995, Mundell & Associates is a 20-person firm specializing in environmental clean-up and design; for example, it’s currently helping Ball State University convert its entire campus to geothermal energy. Directed by a Catholic couple, Mundell & Associates is also part of the “economy of communion” network of businesses linked to the Focolare movement.

The “economy of communion” was cited by Benedict XVI as a promising form of intermediate activity between for-profit business and classic non-profit institutions, rupturing what the pope called an “exclusively binary model of market-plus-state” which is “corrosive of society.”

tThat papal seal of approval should give “great credibility” to enterprises such as his own, said John Mundell, founder of Mundell & Associates, in a July 6 telephone interview.

Legislative strategy and abortion reduction

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I am not one of those inside the Beltway types who thinks all wisdom resides within its eight traffic lanes. But, there are circumstances in which you can see the forest for the trees sometimes better when you are at least familiar with the ways of Washington.

A perfect example of this is the competing bills about the how to reduce the abortion rate, about which the jockeying has become intense in recent weeks. The Ryan-DeLauro bill includes funding for contraception and extensive sex education and will be opposed by the Catholic hierarchy. The Pregnant Women Support Act aims only at the economic, social and health needs of women for whom pregnancy is a complicated blessing. The USCCB has already endorsed the latter bill. The White House has not committed itself. Some groups, such as Third Way, support Ryan-DeLauro. Others, such as Catholics for Life, support the PWSA.

Oblates of St. Francis de Sales target of abuse suits

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Perhaps it was an inevitability, simply a matter of time, before the Oblates of St. Francis de Sales in the Eastern U.S., got caught up in the ugliness of the sex abuse scandal.

An article in yesterday's The Morning Call of Allentown, Pa., details some of the charges involved in "nearly 30 lawsuits alleging that 10 priests had for years sexually abused students at Oblate-run high schools in Delaware and Pennsylvania."

During a recent discussion with a priest about the damage the sex abuse crisis had done to the church and the deep scars it had left on some members of the community, he stopped and said, "Still, you are who you are because of the church."

Riffing on Postmodernism

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An article the New York Times Magazine by Rob Walker "Consumed -- Remixed Messages" is, to me, a perfect example of how the process of postmodernization functions.

My take on this article is to ask: "Why do we moderns seem so random and un-tethered at times?" Because we don't know, remember, or think to ask: where did this slogan, image and perspective come from?

The definition of postmodernism is as contested as the field it seeks to define. The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines it as either "of, relating to, or being an era after a modern one" or "of, relating to, or being any of various movements in reaction to modernism that are typically characterized by a return to traditional materials and forms (as in architecture) or by ironic self-reference and absurdity (as in literature)", or finally "of, relating to, or being a theory that involves a radical reappraisal of modern assumptions about culture, identity, history, or language."

Vermont church properties face liens

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The Associated Press has reported that a judge has put liens on four church-owned rest homes and part of the Vermont Roman Catholic diocese's investments in order to cover jury awards in two priest sex abuse cases.

The Burlington Free Press reports liens have been placed on the St. Joseph's Home for the Aged in Burlington, rest homes in Derby in Rutland, the now-closed Camp Holy Cross site in Colchester and $1.8 million of the diocese's $8.5 million financial portfolio.

The diocese is appealing both verdicts.

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July 18-31, 2014

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