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Oblates of St. Francis de Sales target of abuse suits


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


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


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.

Three options for pope's meeting with Obama: Pelosi, Blair, Zapatero



tDespite the intense anticipation surrounding Pope Benedict XVI’s July 10 meeting with President Barack Obama, the reality is that encounters between popes and politicians are generally all pictures and no sound, meaning that they’re often photo ops without much substance.

tObama will probably sit down with Benedict for 10-15 minutes, and maybe twice that with the Vatican’s Secretary of State, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, and other Vatican diplomats.

Those sessions will all take place off-camera, so aside from body language and vague impressions about the mood in the room before doors are closed, the key to shaping public impressions is whatever both sides say afterwards. Since the White House can be counted upon to apply the best possible spin no matter what, the only real “x factor” is whatever the Vatican will say.

The drama comes down to this: Will the Vatican accent the differences between the church and the White House over abortion and other life issues, creating the impression of a tense encounter? Will it play down those differences, suggesting the two men hit it off? Or, will the Vatican try to strike a delicate balance?

Tough immigration law in Italy spawns Catholic backlash, insider drama



tA controversial new immigration law in Italy, which criminalizes living in a “clandestine” state and authorizes citizens to mount their own anti-immigrant patrols, has spawned both a major backlash from the Catholic church as well as a fascinating bit of insider Catholic drama.

The dymamics in Italy seem to have obvious implications for the United States, as the Catholic church gears up to make a major push in favor of immigration reform.

tAdopted last Thursday by the Italian senate, the law was put forward by the far-right Northern League, an important coalition partner in the center-right government of Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi. Catholic leaders have been in the forefront of opposition to the measure, charging among other things that it could deter illegal immigrants from seeking hospital treatment or enrolling their children in school.

tProbably the most barbed critique has come from Archbishop Agostino Marchetto, a veteran Vatican diplomat who has served since 2001 as the secretary, or number two official, in the Pontifical Council for Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant Peoples.

Pope to G8: 'Hear the voice of Africa and the poor!'


It’s become customary for popes to write letters on the occasion of a G8 summit, which are formally addressed to the head of whichever government is hosting the event. This time around, Benedict XVI has all the more reason to write the G8 given that the upcoming July 8-10 G8 summit is taking place in the Abruzzo region of Italy, about 75 miles northeast of Rome, which was devastated by a magnitude 6.3 earthquake in April.

In the letter released yesterday by the Vatican, Benedict XVI makes a strong appeal to G8 nations not to abandon, or scale back, their commitments to development assistance for poor nations because of the current economic crisis. In fact, the pope argues, that aid is the best remedy for the crisis. Benedict opposes any backtracking on the pledge established in the UN Millennium Goals of eliminating extreme poverty by 2015. The pope also calls for stronger coordination of national economic policies at the global level, and supports greater multilateralism in foreign policy.


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September 12-25, 2014


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