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A couple details on the marriage pastoral


I blogged earlier today on the bishops passing their pastoral letter on marriage. Now Catholic News Services provides a bit more detail:

Bishops OK marriage pastoral with many changes, some opposition

By Nancy Frazier O'Brien Catholic News Service

BALTIMORE -- Despite the concern voiced by some bishops about the document's pastoral tone and content, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops approved a pastoral letter on marriage Nov. 17.

Nearly 100 changes in two rounds of amendments preceded the 180-45 vote in favor of "Marriage: Love and Life in the Divine Plan" during the bishops' fall general assembly in Baltimore.

Two-thirds of the USCCB membership, or 175 votes, was required for passage. There were three abstentions.

An effort by retired Archbishop Francis T. Hurley of Anchorage, Alaska, to remand the document to the Committee on Laity, Marriage, Family Life and Youth for rewriting failed 56-169, with three abstentions.

Feelin' Useless at the USCCB Meeting


There are many things about a USCCB meeting that are, well, strange. Walking into a room where everyone is dressed identically is strange. Seeing an altar with a large crucifix in a hotel ballroom is strange. Seeing Archbishop Timothy Dolan in running shorts and a sweatshirt at lunchtime returning from some exercise is strange. But, for me the strangest thing is to encounter a former schoolmate among the assembled hierarchs.

For two years in the mid-1980s, I was an inmate at Theological College, the national seminary attached to the Catholic University of America. In 2005, one of my former classmates, Joseph Tyson, was named auxiliary bishop of Seattle. Earlier this year, John Barres was ordained bishop of Allentown. I ran into John in the hallways of the Marriott where the USCCB meetings are being held. He looks none the worse for the intervening years, indeed he has scarcely aged. This would be sufficient grounds for intense dislike, except that Bishop Barres is, and was two decades ago, one of the most likable people you could ever want to meet.

Vietnamese Rep. Anh Cao discerns with Ignatian spirituality


A Vietnamese-born lawyer, the first Vietnamese-American to be elected to Congress, and a former Jesuit seminarian, Anh "Joseph" Cao was the lone Republican to vote for landmark health care reform on November 7, 2009.

Cao spoke with National Jesuit News about the process of discernment that he uses in reaching decisions as a U.S. congressman, how those decisions are grounded in his background in Ignatian spirituality and why he didn’t chose the party line in voting for health care reform.

Bishops, abortion and health-care reform


While the U.S. bishops are congratulating themselves for being a potent force in the health care reform debate (see: Health care victory give bishops confidence), tThe On Faith blog at the Washington Post posed this question to its bloggers:

Q: U.S. Catholic bishops are defending their direct involvement in congressional deliberations over health-care reform, saying that church leaders have a duty to raise moral concerns on any issue, including abortion rights and health care for the poor. Do you agree? What role should religious leaders have -- or not have -- in government policymaking?

Here are the answers:

Susan Brooks Thistlethwaite: Bad Samaritans

All You Need Is ... Email?


I don't know what makes me more upset: my company-supplied Blackberry, or the insane commercials the smart-phone maker is now airing that tie their product to -- get this -- love and a classic Beatles song.

I despise my Blackberry. I hear it all the time: in my sleep, at church, on the beach -- when I am nowhere near it, I still hear it. It haunts me. That incessant buzz of my vibrating Blackberry, filled with email messages about something someone feels demands my immediate attention. Thanks to my Blackberry, I am never out of touch. Thanks to my Blackberry, vacations and weekends are not time off from work, merely a change in location.

Can you feel the unbridled happiness that is my life since Blackberry walked into it? Well, apparently the people who make this little slice of heaven actually do feel it, very very much.

Live simply, but don't be smug about it, says radical environmentalist


Let the water run. Throw those recyclable milk jugs in the trash. And drive that 15-year-old gas-guzzling truck all over town.

Not interested? That’s okay but just don’t go feeling superior about it.

A biting essay in Orion (July-Aug. 2009), written by Derrick Jensen, rails against “simple living as a political act.” The radical environmentalist argues that focusing on our personal choices as a salve for eco-destruction is not only misguided, but also ineffective.

“Would any sane person think Dumpster diving would have stopped Hitler, or that composting would have ended slavery or brought about the eight-hour workday . . . or that dancing naked around a fire would have helped put in place the voting rights act of 1957 or the Civil Rights Act of 1964? Then why now, with all the world at stake, do so many people retreat into these entirely personal ‘solutions’?”

Has the Vatican usurped Vatican II liturgical norms?


Writes Jerry Filteau, NCR Washington Correspondent: "Another surprise element introduced on the opening day of the bishops’ Nov. 16-19 meeting came during initial informational presentation of several supposedly final segments of the new English translation of the Latin Roman Missal.

"As the first of the five final segments was introduced, Bishop Donald W. Trautman of Erie, Pa., rose to ask what had ever happened to the translations of the antiphons – which the bishops had discussed in the first draft form a couple of years ago, he said, but which had never come back to them in final draft form for actual debate and vote.

"Bishop Arthur J. Serratelli of Paterson, N.J., chairman of the USCCB Committee on the Liturgy, answered that the antiphons did not come back to the bishops for approval because in the meantime the Holy See has taken their translation to itself.

Senate moves on climate and energy legislation


This past week, the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee passed their version of a climate and energy bill, theirs called Clean Energy Jobs and American Power Act (S.1733). The bill and the process took a great deal of flak and revealed how partisan this issue has become. In our estimation, this bill made some substantial progress in emission reductions of greenhouse gases and the inclusion of adaptation funding for poor people here at home and around the world. The poor and vulnerable will be hit first and worst by the negative impacts of climate change.

It is crucial to show that there is support for a final bill to come out of the Senate so that the momentum continues as negotiators head to Copenhagen for the upcoming international gathering on climate change. Learn more about Climate & Energy legislation and advocacy at the National Catholic Rural Life Conference website.



The late Fr. Thomas Berry, a leader in the eco-spirituality movement, styled himself a "geologian" rather than a theologian. This means Berry built his images of God and his spirituality from the ground up rather than from the top down.

When asked what was the one most important element of a practical, everyday spirituality of living, he answered with an intriguing word: "Enchantment."

In order to engage with an active spirituality that makes sense, that works and is effective for our times, Berry urges the awakening of an energetic sense of awe and wonder within us. Enchantment comes as we see the whole universe, and especially the Earth that gave us birth, as vast, sacred mysteries.


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August 28-September 10, 2015


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