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A rare, frank assessment from a Legionary insider

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The Vatican investigation of the Legionaries of Christ is about to begin, perhaps a sign that the long legacy of deception and abuse by the Legion's founder, the late Fr. Marcial Maciel Degollado, is coming to an end. One of the people who should be on the list of interviewees is Fr. Thomas Berg, a former Legion priest who offers a rare and frank behind-the-scenes understanding of the order's problems and what is needed to move on from the Maciel era.

One thing he recommends is that the order quickly and completely distance itself from the founder, remove his still numerous likenesses from the walls of the order's houses and institutions and come to terms, finally, with the depth of the damage he caused.

Maciel's deceptions, as has been amply chronicled in NCR's pages for years, went to the highest levels of the church. He was a favorite of the late Pope John Paul II, who largely ignored the complaints of some of Maciel's alleged victims and the better judgment, we now know, of some within the curia who believed his case should have been investigated years ago.

No retreat on abortion, but Vatican gives Obama the benefit of the doubt

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By JOHN L. ALLEN JR.
Rome

tEver since Pope Benedict XVI set aside Vatican protocol to send a telegram of congratulations to Barack Obama on Nov. 5, ahead of his actually taking office, the Vatican has often seemed warmer to Obama than some voices in the American Catholic church, including some American bishops.

tTrying to make sense of this contrast, the key question has seemed whether the Vatican is less bent on emphasizing the “life issues” than the American bishops, preferring to accent areas of agreement such as the Middle East and climate change, or whether they’re simply more willing to give Obama the benefit of the doubt despite an equally keen concern with his pro-choice policies.

tIn that regard, yesterday’s 35-minute meeting between Pope Benedict XVI and Obama made two things clear:

•tFirst, Benedict XVI yields pride of place to no one in the depth of his pro-life commitment, and there was no mistaking the forceful message the pontiff delivered to Obama on that score;
•tSecond, the Vatican still seems inclined to a more benign reading of Obama’s positions than his fiercest American critics.

What is it about women's heads?

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I have just clicked on photos of President Obama’s meeting with Pope Benedict XVI. In one, I noticed First Lady Michelle Obama joining them, and she was wearing a black lace veil.

Granted, such attire is extraneous to the meeting itself, and I know this is the usual attire of “official” women when they meet personally with the Pope. But today, this veil distracted me – at least briefly – from the substantive reporting on the meeting. It conjured up images of the nuns in veils, Amish women in bonnets, Orthodox Jewish women in wigs, and Muslim women in “hijabs” (head scarves). Or I think about the Catholic women wearing little lace “doilies” in church in the 1950’s.

If pope wants justice why probe those who walk the walk?

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Whatever attention deficit some Catholics may think their church has suffered has been more than made up for in the past weeks. Obama at Notre Dame, the pope's social encyclical and his meeting with the president have stirred enough coverage to convince those who have felt neglected that the Roman Catholic church is back to its proper place as the true church.

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August 15-28, 2014

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