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Why do the media 'go after' the church?


Before my current job, which I took about three years ago, I was in the news business for nearly all my adult life. And throughout that time, fellow Catholics would regularly quiz me about why the news media so often "went after" the church.

I'm guessing an article by The New York Times' public editor this Sunday is going to have my phone ringing again.

In his Sunday piece, Clark Hoyt discusses the negative reaction a Times' feature and a Times' column has provoked from New York's archbishop, Timothy Dolan. The two works include columnist Maureen Dowd's recent brush-back of the Vatican's investigation into the lives of American nuns, and a front-page article about a priest who fathered a son after a long relationship with a parishioner.

Profile of Bishop Lori


The Hartford Courant has a profile of Bishop William E. Lori of Bridgeport, Conn.: Bridgeport Bishop Is An Energetic, Outspoken Defender Of Church

Since becoming bishop of Bridgeport in 2001, the confluence of the spiritual and the secular has shaped [Lori's] public profile, placing him at the forefront of church-state issues in Connecticut.

He has waged a persistent and forceful legal battle to prevent the disclosure of documents relating to the clergy sex abuse scandal in the diocese and, earlier this year, he helped lead a high-profile campaign against state legislation that would have sharply altered the governance structure of Catholic parishes.

In both cases, Lori staked out a position as an energetic and outspoken defender of the church in the face of what he and his supporters view as unconstitutional government intrusion.

Saint of the Day, Nov. 9


When St. Patrick returned to Ireland in 433, "he passed a few days at the home of an Irish chieftain named Sechnan, in Meath. The whole family was converted, and the chieftain's young son, Benignus, was so impressed with the Christian bishop that he sat by him while he slept, strewing flowers on him. . . . Benignus went with Patrick and became his dearest disciple and eventually his successor as bishop of Armagh. He was also a bard, sang with a lovely voice, and was nicknamed 'Patrick's psalmodist.'"

What did it mean to be a bard in fifth-century Ireland where "the systems of law, medicine, poetry, and music . . . were set to music, being poetical compositions"? The "bards, specially selected from amongst noble youths of conspicuous stature and beauty, 'had a distinctive dress of five colours, and wore a white mantle and a blue cap ornamented with a gold crescent.'"

A bishop named Marx takes on neo-cons, capitalism



One of Europe’s most influential prelates, and someone widely viewed as close to the thinking of Pope Benedict XVI, has come out swinging against American “neo-cons” and in defense of a strong social welfare state.

Ironically, this critique of laissez faire capitalism comes from a bishop named Marx.

Archbishop Reinhard Marx of Munich and Freising made the comments in an interview with the prestigious Catholic journal 30 Giorni, published in its September issue. Marx, 56, is widely expected to become a cardinal in the near future. He was appointed by Benedict XVI in 2007 to head the archdiocese once led by the pope, while he was still Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger.

In the new interview, Marx reflects on the twentieth anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall, arguing that what was needed after the collapse of Communism was a “morally alert market economy, oriented towards global welfare,” but that instead what has prevailed is “radical capitalist ideology.”

Marx charges that what he calls “turbo-capitalism” has led “to a deterioration in the daily situation of millions of people.”

All Eyes on Ahn \"Joseph\" Cao


The significance of Ahn "Joseph" Cao's vote in favor of the House health care reform bill should not be understated. Especially because you can already imagine the nastiness that is about to be hurled his way from extremists within the GOP. He will, in short order, replace Dede Scozzafava, the woman pushed out of the race in NY-23, as the favorite target of those in the GOP who think that voting in favor of a bill supported by President Obama is akin to heresy. The two might consult with Cardinal Sean O'Malley to see what it feels like to be pilloried by people you thought were your friends and allies.

Vatican releases rules for ex-Anglicans, insists 'no change' on celibacy



Almost three weeks after announcing plans to welcome Anglicans who want to become Catholics, the Vatican today released a legal blueprint for the creation of new structures for these potential converts. According to an apostolic constitution and complementary norms issued this morning, those structures will have wide latitude to incorporate elements of Anglican tradition – though not latitude without limits.

Pointedly, a Vatican statement released this morning insists that permission to have married priests in these new structures does not betoken “any change in the church’s discipline of clerical celibacy.”

The apostolic constitution, titled Anglicanorum Coetibus (“On Groups of Anglicans”) was released today in Rome by Cardinal William Levada, Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

Among the highlights:

    Stupak Amendment Passes 240-194


    Hallelujah! The Stupak Amendment just passed the House of Representatives by a vote of 240 to 194, with one member voting present. Earlier reports had predicted 225 votes for the amendment which bars federal funding of abortion as a part of health care reform but Congressman Stupak was able to whip up 64 Democratic votes. (Yes, 64 votes from what was recently called “The Party of Death.”) To be clear, only Democrats who favored health reform but oppose abortion could achieve this outcome. One of the fringe Catholic websites earlier was urging Congress to vote yes on Stupak and no on the final bill, which just doesn’t make much sense since the prohibitions on abortion funding in the Stupak Amendment would only take effect if the bill they amended takes effect.

    The House is currently voting on the ridiculous GOP alternative plan, which will fail, and then they will proceed to a vote on the final health care bill.

    NRLC To Score Vote on Stupak


    The National Right-To-Life Committee has sent a letter to all members of Congress urging them to vote for the Stupak Amendment which will ban all federal funding for abortion coverage. The key section in the letter reads: “As NRLC’s congressional scorecard for the 111th Congress will clearly explain, a vote against the Stupak-Pitts Amendment can only be construed as a position-defining vote in favor of establishing a federal government program that will directly fund abortion on demand, with federal funds, and a second federal program that will provide government subsidies to private insurance plans that cover abortion on demand. NRLC regards this as the most important House roll call on federal funding of abortion since the House last voted directly on the Hyde Amendment in 1997. If you do not wish to go on record in support of creating major new federal programs that will both fund abortions directly and subsidize private abortion coverage, please vote for the Stupak-Pitts Amendment. NRLC will regard a ‘present’ vote as equivalent to a negative vote on the Stupak-Pitts Amendment.”

    GOP support for health care bill?


    A couple of different sources, online and in the midst of the action today, are suggesting that GOP Congressman Ahn ‘Joseph’ Cao from Louisiana’s Second District might vote in favor of the final health care bill, provided the Stupak Amendment passes. Congressman Cao is a devout Catholic who won the seat held by indicted Congressman William Jefferson. He indicated back in August that he was undecided, but leaning towards supporting, the bill. His office is not taking calls today, but I hope he and Archbishop Gregory Aymond exchanged cell phone numbers at the latter’s installation at St. Louis Cathedral just a couple of months ago.


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    August 28-September 10, 2015


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