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No sale yet on GMOs from African bishops



tLast May, the Vatican's Pontifical Academy for Sciences hosted a study week on Genetically Modified Organisms, or GMOs, which coincidentally took place around the same time that a preparatory document for the Synod of Bishops for Africa was released. That document took a skeptical line on GMOs, which set off alarms within the Pontifical Academy, whose roster of scientific consultants tends to reflect a strongly pro-GMO view.

tAs a result, the academy decided to invite an African bishop to join them during the study week, perhaps hoping to “seed” the Synod for Africa with a more GMO-friendly perspective: Bishop George Nkuo of the Kumbo diocese in Cameroon.

tTo extend that botanical metaphor, it would seem from Nkuo’s remarks yesterday that the pro-GMO conclusion organizers of the study week might have anticipated has yet to fully bloom.

tNkuo, the first speaker at the synod to treat GMOs at any length, offered this bottom line:

An African package for church reform emerges at Synod



tGenerally speaking, Catholic debate outside of Europe and the United States is usually distinguished by its ad extra orientation, meaning that the focus is not so much insider Catholic baseball but rather the burning challenges of the broader society, and how the Catholic church can be an agent for change.

tWhat seems to be emerging at the Oct. 4-25 Synod for Africa, however, is a conviction that for the Catholic church to be helpful in Africa ad extra, it first has some ad intra business to resolve.

Read the full story here: African bishops examine 'practice of power, authority'

Fr. Thomas Berry's memorial service in New York City


Vic Hummert, environmental activist and author from Lafayette, La. reports on the memorial service held at the Cathedral Church of St. John the Divine in New York City.

"Fr. Thomas Berry (1914-2009), the wisest person I ever met, was honored and remembered in the last of four major funeral/memorial services on Saturday, Sept. 26, 2009, in one of the largest churches in North America.

Rev. James Kowalski, Dean of New York's Cathedral Church of St. John the Divine, estimated attendance at 1,200, including his North Carolina relatives, former students, friends and associates from far and wide, assembling for the final major memorial service honoring Berry.

With the departure of Thomas Berry on June 1, 2009, we were deprived of one of the most stratospheric minds since Jesuit Fr. Pierre Teilhard de Chardin (1881-1955) tried to convince humankind that we are Earth coming to consciousness. A long-time president of the Teilhard Society, Berry had in his academic career the distinct advantage of seeing photographs of Earth from space and evaluating the universe's evolution from perspectives not available to Teilhard.

Transparency in the Catholic church


"Confession, according to an old adage, is supposed to be good for the soul. Often, it's cathartic. But for the Diocese of Bridgeport, allowing outsiders an insider view of the pedophilic practices of some of its former priests promises to be painful," thus begins a columnby MariAn Gail Brown in the Connecticut Post about the U.S. Supreme Court's turning down the Bridgeport diocese's plea to keep secret 12,000 sealed documents relating to clergy sex abuse cases.

The headline of the editorial is No hiding 'Pied Pipers' of pedophilia anymore

A new pastor


I've been a Catholic for a long time -- but this Sunday, I'll witness something I've never seen before: the installation of a new pastor.

My childhood parish in the Bronx had the same pastor during all the years I was there, a Capuchin named Fr. Charles with a thick Italian accent and a few remaining wisps of gray hair -- lost, I'm sure, trying to keep his poor parish afloat.

Without even showing up, Obama's a force at African Synod



tWhile almost 300 people are physically part of the current Synod for Africa, there’s at least one figure who’s managed to achieve a high profile without even showing up: U.S. President Barack Obama.

tSo far, various African bishops have hailed the election of the first African-American President in U.S. history as:

•tA potentially powerful new force for justice and good government across Africa;
•tA “divine sign” of racial healing, in some ways a recapitulation of the Biblical story of Joseph;
•tA potential herald of further breakthroughs down the line, such as the election of a black pope.

tWhatever one makes of all this, it’s at least a different perspective than one often gets in Catholic circles in the United States, where attention is usually focused on Obama’s controversial stands on abortion and other life issues.

Talking ëSimply Catholicism' with America's most complicated cardinal


Chicago’s George says both liberals and conservatives focus too much on bishops, not enough on Christ


tHistorically, American cardinals have rarely been preoccupied with the intellectual life. By reputation, they’re known more as pragmatists – bricks-and-mortar men, or pastors, or political powerbrokers – as opposed to the European model of the theologian-bishop. Chicago’s Cardinal Francis George, however, has long been an exception, and his new book The Difference God Makes: A Catholic Vision of Faith, Communion and Culture (Crossroad) offers a classic illustration of the point.

Read Allen's full interview with Cardinal George here: Cardinal George's plan to evangelize America


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March 27-April 9, 2015


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