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Ugly logic of nuclear terrorism - with a glimmer of hope

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1. By most accounts we are in Afghanistan (and Pakistan) because we are afraid of radical terrorists, especially those set on getting their hands on nuclear weapons.

2. Those nuclear weapons rest securely (or insecurely) in Pakistan which has a government barely able to maintain control of the nation.

3. Pakistan (and other Mideast nations, including Iran) is moving forward in the research and development of nuclear weapons.

4. By all accounts the nuclear genie is spreading, threatening world peace and possibly planetary survival.

5. The U.S., meanwhile, with by far the largest nuclear stockpile, including more than 5,000 strategic nuclear weapons and thousands more tactical weapons, and upgrading those stockpiles monthly, is in no position to demand other nations to curb their nuclear appetites. We have not "lost" the moral high ground; we've never had it since August 6, 1944, when we exploded a nuclear device over Hiroshima.

Pope Urges Use of Internet by Young People

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Contrary to the Catholic Bishop of Paisley, the Rt. Rev. Philip Tartaglia, who said: "We need to be wary of the inane chatter that can go on in the digital world which does nothing to promote growth in understanding and tolerance," he says in a message to be read out at every Catholic church in Scotland this weekend, Pope Benedict XVI actually encourages young people to use the Internet to spread the Gospel and to build friendships.

The Pope says: "..that the Internet has brought about change in the way news is distributed and how people relate to each other. Benedict urges young people to use the potential of the Internet to build a better world through bonds of friendship and solidarity."

The 'Catholic moment,' not

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Well, is this the advertised "Catholic moment" or not? The late Richard John Neuhaus told us it was coming to fill up the vacuum caused by the steely-eyed secularists who drove religion out of the public square.

Everything would come together to usher it in the golden age. The Pope, John Paul II, was hailed as a world leader who could turn countries like Poland around. The backlash against Vatican II had stiffened Catholicism's resolve to press ahead with a "clear" agenda that replaced the "confusion" of conciliar "liberals." America was allegedly losing its moral legs and spiritual anchors, making room for the certainty delivered by Catholic evangelists.

George W. Bush, whose own religious identity was foggy, save a rhetorical attachment to the evangelicals, no doubt saw the inherent conservatism of "moment" thinking as a good idea. To Neuhaus and other theocons, then, indicators read "Go" for a Catholic boom to straighten things out. The many elements would cohere. It would be U.S. Catholicism's place in the sun when the soil of American democracy would finally be receptive to the seeds of Catholic conviction.

R.I.P. Oblates of Mary Immaculate Fr. Lawrence Rosebaugh

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This alert from Gene Palumbo, occasional NCR contributor in El Salvador.

Fr. Lawrence Rosebaugh, OMI, 74, formerly of the U.S. Province, was shot to death on May 18, 2009, in Playa Grande, Guatemala. He and 4 other Oblates were on their way to a meeting when assaulted in a “carjacking” by two men. Larry was shot twice and died; another Oblate, Fr. Jean-Claude, was wounded but is doing well. The gunmen escaped –and did not take the van.

Cuenin Revisited

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Fr. Walter Cuenin, who was, in his words, banned in Boston, has replanted himself nicely at Brandeis University. His current ministry was highlighted in a feature on The Boston Globe Web site by Alex Beam.

Cuenin wasn’t exactly banned. The popular pastor and noted homilist was removed from his parish in 2005 by archdiocesan officials who alleged that a stipend and a car leased by the parish for use by him and other priests amounted to financial improprieties even though, according to members of the parish finance council, the expenditures had been listed in a diocesan-approved budget for a dozen years.

It is widely presumed that what really got Cuenin in trouble was his outspoken advocacy of gay marriage and women priests and his leadership in criticizing Cardinal Bernard Law and his mishandling of the clergy sex abuse crisis. Cuenin led a group of 58 priests who signed a December 2002 letter calling for Law to resign.

How about not wanting to be rude?

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Not sure what to make of Archbishop Chaput's most recent blast against Father Jenkins.

The sentence that jumps off the page is this: "And we also have the duty to avoid prostituting our Catholic identity by appeals to phony dialogue that mask an abdication of our moral witness." The words "phony" and "mask" suggest an assessment of the motives of others that is frankly astounding from one called, as are we all, to charity.

He also says that 70 bishops share his views, but he seems to suggest that Notre Dame should have rescinded their invitation and Cardinal George, for one, said that they should not do so, even while he expressed his disappointment at the original decision.

Then it is on to more assignation of Father Jenkins' motives: "There was no excuse – none, except intellectual vanity – for the university to persist in its course. And Father Jenkins compounded a bad original decision with evasive and disingenuous explanations to subsequently justify it."

The full articulation of the Gospel

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In scores of conversations with lay Catholics, priests, nuns and two bishops during the past three weeks, I've heard a wide range of opinions and analyzes about the state of the church and the reasons dioceses are going through wrenching reorganizations, sometimes closing dozens of parishes and schools because of shrinking resources and a dwindling supply of priests.

But by far the oddest interpretation I came across was posted on the Cleveland Plain Dealer web site by Martin Dybicz, who was listed as a theology teacher at St. Ignatius High School, a Jesuit institution. He predicted another consolidation would have to take place in 25 years and that it would be more severe than the current one in which Cleveland lost about 50 parishes. The reason? Because Catholic leaders "are not proclaiming, nearly enough, that the Gospel of Jesus Christ is only fully articulated in the 'Catechism of the Catholic Church.'"

More on ... Obama, the bishops, and the politics of 'usurpation'

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I can’t do any better in analyzing the self-serving argument presented by George Weigel than my confrere Joe Feuerhard did. But, I do want to add a note of personal horror at his dismissive remarks towards the late Cardinal Joseph Bernardin and to defend the president against the charge that he was inserting himself into an intra-Catholic debate.

The president did not say that Cardinal Bernardin was a good guy and that today’s bishops are bad guys. He did not even address -- how could he -- the debate about the Catholic identity of our universities. He did emphatically, and properly, defend democracy which, in a pluralistic country like our own, means you are always standing next to someone who is not like you and recommend that we engage in sympathetic and hopefully fruitful dialogue about important national issues. Weigel prefers a culture war and he is entitled to stay at his barricade but it is an increasingly lonely post.

Prayer requests for Fr. Gerard Jean-Juste

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Just received an alert from Pax Christi USA concerning Fr. Gerard Jean-Juste. The Haitian priest is seriously ill in a Miami hospital. The leukemia that Fr. Jean-Juste has battled for years is in remission. He is now suffering with bronchiectasis, an obstructive lung disease.

Pax Christi is sent a Prayer alert for Fr. Jean-Juste.

Followers of Bishop Thomas Gumbleton's homilies will remember the bishop talking about visiting Fr. Gerry in prison in Port-au-Prince in 2004, in 2005 and in 2006

If you have a few minutes, peruse those links. It will give much to reflect on the rest of the day.

Some background on Fr. Jean-Juste is here.

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