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Vatican sets firewall for employees

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Revealing at least an ambivalence about technology, the Vatican has followed the splashy announcement of its new Facebook page with a new policy that bans Vatican employees from using the social networking site at work.

A new firewall blocking Facebook and MySpace are "normal and prudent" measures, Jesuit Fr. Federico Lombardi, a Vatican spokesman, told Catholic News Service. The Vatican network also blocks access to pornography, online gambling and any site that contains "inappropriate material," according to the message employees receive when they try to access the sites.

Theologian: 'Impasses' stunt church

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Terrence W. Tilley, the outgoing president of the Catholic Theological Society of America, gave quite an address at the society's annual meeting last week in Halifax, Nova Scotia. He said he's worried that unresolved "impasses" in theology and in church life could "stunt" the growth of the church.

Tilley, chairman of the theology department at Fordham University, identified three current impasses he sees in the U.S. church:

  • "a shrinking, and in some places demoralized, presbyterate that cannot be enlarged significantly under present rules";

  • "a laity that loves the church but has stopped listening to the bishops";

  • "a hardworking and loyal body of religious women who are disgusted and discouraged by repeated investigations of religious life and attempted reversals of self-governance."

And three ongoing impasses in theological circles:

Group questions O'Malley's profile credentials

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In Boston , a Catholic health care organization, Caritas Christi, has formed an alliance with a non-Catholic organization. The joint venture has been criticized by some pro-life activists because the non-Catholic partner will perform abortions. Indeed, the critics also have placed Cardinal Sean O'Malley in their sights because he has not scotched the deal.

Finding a dwelling place

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"May Christ find a dwelling place" Eph 3:8.

I was up past midnight watching an old Will Ferrell movie, "Talledega Nights," and woke up this morning with a spiritual hangover. Lord knows we need our comedians, but someone ought to remind them of Molly Ivins rule that comedy is a tool for poking fun at the powerful, not trashing the underdog. The jokes are lame and crude, the hillbilly caricatures wear you down. And every time I laughed I dug myself in deeper, displacing what sense of fairness and sympathy I try to maintain toward real people, life's ongoing comedy, myself included. And I woke up this morning feeling trashed.

The funeral of Fr. Gerard Jean-Juste

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Below is a photo of residents of Cite de Soleil carrying the coffin of Haitian Fr. Gerard Jean-Juste during his funeral procession in Port-au-Prince June 18.

The funeral procession for Jean-Juste, an ally of Haiti's former President Jean-Bertrand Aristide, was broken up by gunshots from U.N. soldiers and at least one person was killed. Father Jean-Juste died at age 62 in a Miami hospital May 27.

What an epitaph

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Sometimes when I am stumbling around cyberspace looking for some bit of information, I come across a story about something or someone that completely restores my faith in the innate goodness of human beings.

I don't know Joe Kuban of Fort Worth, Texas, a Catholic school teacher for some 30 years. But I wish I could have known him. I read his obituary online today: Longtime Fort Worth educator Joe Kuban inspired his students. He died June 4 from complications from Lou Gehrig’s disease. He was 59.

The obit described him as "the popular, energetic educator who founded what is believed to be the nation's longest-running high school ecology program."

Mr. Kuban taught generations of students to be free thinkers, appreciate nature’s beauty and become stewards of the land. ...

"He was definitely the real deal," said Nolan teacher Ellen Browning, who heads the ecology program Mr. Kuban started in 1974. "He was passionate about stewardship. Education. Music. His faith. He practiced what he preached. He touched so many lives."

Your 'real father'

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On the way to the library just now, Diane Rehm had as her guest Lennard Davis who has a new book out about discovering who his biological father was.

Mr. Davis is, of course, entitled to live his own life, ask his own questions, and the such. But he and Ms. Rehm continually used the term "real father" to designate one's "biological father." A woman called in and said that she was not raised by her biological parents but that her real parents were the ones who taught her, tolerated her, loved her. Mr. Davis waved off her point with the observation that we humans are inquisitive beings.

Indeed we are. But, Mr. Davis seems not to grasp the very profound point this woman was making and both he and Ms. Rehm continued to use the obnoxious phrases "real father" and "real parent" when they were referring to biological parents who had largely been absent from their progeny's psycho-social development. He seems not very inquisitive about what might make a human being human, apart from a certain manner of clustering DNA.

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September 26-October 9, 2014

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