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A younger face on Catholic reform

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Call to Action is putting a younger face forward with the naming of a new director to replace Dan and Sheila Daley, who had served as co-directors since the church reform group's founding in 1978.

Jim FitzGerald, 37, will lead the 25,000-member organization, which has been working to reach out to younger Catholics over the past several years. He has a background in non-profit administration and theology -- plus a history with CTA, having served as a board member, chapter leader and local faciliator for CTA's "NextGen" program for reform-minded Catholics in their 20s and 30s.

Will the poor be represented at the G-8 in Italy?

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Catholic News Service's Dennis Sadowski recently interviewed Aldo Caliari, director of the Rethinking Bretton Woods Project at the Center of Concern in Washington, with an eye on the G-8 meeting this week.

"The poor countries should have a seat at the table because ultimately what is decided is going to affect (them)," Caliari affirmed.

Amen to that.

Encyclical a 'duck-billed platypus'

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More reactions to the encyclical:

George Weigel writes: "Those with advanced degrees in Vaticanology could easily go through the text of Caritas in Veritate, highlighting those passages that are obviously Benedictine with a gold marker and those that reflect current Justice and Peace default positions with a red marker. The net result is, with respect, an encyclical that resembles a duck-billed platypus."

Cardinal Francis George of Chicago, president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, said Caritas in Veritate, Pope Benedict XVI’s new encyclical, provides helpful guidance for finding answers to the social, economic and moral questions of the contemporary world in a search for truth.

Catholic News Service: The Christian call to love one another and to work for justice requires the active participation in the political process, Pope Benedict XVI said in his new encyclical.

Picking blackberries: an adventure in simple living

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It all started in the blackberry patch. One hot July day when I was a kid growing up in Missouri I was taken to an overgrown pasture outside of town where gallons of this delicious wild fruit hung, free for the taking, on thorn-bristling vines that drooped heavily toward the earth. We filled our pails with berries until our hands were stained dark blue and hauled them home to use in pies, cobblers, and for homemade ice cream.

I can remember being spellbound beyond all reason, delighted and pleased that the local countryside had provided this bounteous harvest without any sowing or cultivation on my part, but just by means of its unheeded daily comings and goings: the spring rains had fallen, the June sunshine happened. On those long July afternoons the fruit had ripened while the meadowlarks sang and the bluebirds warbled nearby.

I have never forgotten the lesson of those pastures, long since gone to shopping malls. The Earth takes care of us. She provides a pantry from which we draw our daily sustenance.

The Quiverfull Movement: promoting Christian patriarchy

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This past week on Interfaith Voices, we looked at the Quiverfull Christian Movement. The name comes from the "quiver," the container in which an archer keeps arrows. And it draws on a quotation in Psalm 132: "Like arrows in the hands of a warrior are sons born in one's youth. Blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them." This gives it both a sexist and violent context.

This movement actually promotes patriarchy, the total subjugation of women to men, and objects to any kind of family planning, even natural family planning (and we thought the Catholic Church had problems!) Movement adherents believe that children are the ultimate blessing from God -- and push for large families, very large families, like the Duggers on the TLC reality show with their 18 children.

But, as the author who has studied this movement, Kathryn Joyce, points out, the Duggers have money. In many of the families in this movement, poverty is the norm.

'Catholic progressives like this one'

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Hat tip to Dan Burke over at Religion News Service for his comments and assembly of reactions to the new papal encyclical.

He writes: "Reaction to Pope Benedict XVI's long-awaited social encyclical 'Caritas in Veritate,' is starting to pour in. In it, Benedict calls for a reformed United Nations with policing power and a new financial world order to enforce business ethics. ... Already, Catholic progressives are embracing the document."

Encyclical tosses aside left and right

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Pope Benedict's social encyclical shows, among other things, just how unhelpful the classic left v. right classifications are when assessing the state of contemporary church teaching. We use the terms, and we more or less know what they mean. I speak from the left. George Weigel and Michael Novak speak from the right. But, the dominant thought coming from the pope does not fit easily into those classifications. The interesting debate is not between left and right but between the "Communio" school and both the left and the right.

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September 26-October 9, 2014

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