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Pax Christi, keeper of a hidden tradition


It has become cliche to say that the greatest kept secret in the church is its social justice tradition. I think it is getting fair airing today having become a topic of political chatter at the highest level and having received a boost with the last papal encyclical.

So I’ll venture to suggest that there’s an even deeper secret that cuts across denominational lines: the themes of Gospel nonviolence and love of enemies.

Reading A Pilgrim in a Pilgrim Church


Topping my summer reading list is A Pilgrim in a Pilgrim Church, Archbishop Rembert Weakland's memoir that includes his response to the scandal that precipitated his resignation, along with a frank discussion of his own homosexuality. I'm only on page 85 of the 284-page tome, but have already covered his childhood in Patton, Pa., the novitiate at St. Vincent's Archabbey in Latrobe, his theological studies in Rome and now his musical studies at Julliard and Columbia in New York.

Diaz confirmation hearing amicable


This morning, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee held its confirmation hearing for Miguel Diaz, nominated by President Barack Obama to be the U.S. ambassador to the Holy See. The hearing was chaired by Sen. Robert Casey, D-Pa. The only other members of the committee present for the hearing were Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H., and Sen. James Risch, R-Idaho.

The hearing was thoroughly amicable.

One victory for Texas parishioners


Here's an update on one of many disputes about dioceses closing parishes.

Parishioners of Our Mother of Mercy Catholic Church in Port Bolivar, Texas, have sued to keep the Galveston-Houston archdiocese from closing their parish, the last remaining Catholic church building standing on the Bolivar Peninsula after Hurricane Ike.

Last month, the archdiocese tried to move the case to federal court, saying the suit was interfering with church doctrine in violation of the constitutional separation of church and state.

But Monday, July 20, U.S. District Judge Melinda Harmon ruled that the case concerned property rights and not a constitutional question, so it will stay in state court.

Patron saint of the slandered


Today is the feast of St. Mary Magdalene (or St. Mary of Magdala). My colleague and NCR house theologian, Pat Marrin, offers a reflection on this feast, Apostle to the Apostles. You can listen or read more about St. Mary Magdalene at the Web site for St. Anthony Messenger, Saint of the Day podcast. This speaker says Mary might be consider the patron saint of the slandered, because of the persistent legend that she is the unnamed sinful woman who anointed the feet of Jesus in Luke 7:36-50.

Scholars today point out that there is no scriptural basis for confusing the two women.

Apostle to the Apostles


Of all the lyrics that blend human love with religious longing, Leonard Cohen's 1967 song "Suzanne" is perhaps the most provocative and moving. It describes a relationship with a young woman that is both real and beyond real -- a spiritual journey in which the meaning of love transcends bodily union to achieve communion outside of time and space. In the second verse, the song shifts focus to the mystery of Jesus and describes our response to him with these words:

"And you want to travel with him
And you want to travel blind
And you think maybe you'll trust him
For he's touched your perfect body with his mind."

A priestly incubator


Here's a story that is well reported from the Los Angeles Times, Seminary works to fill a dire need for priests, about seminary formation at the Junipero Serra House of Formation in the San Bernardino diocese in Southern California.

The article explains that "With no local Catholic university or seminary to replenish an aging clergy, diocese leaders decided in 1985 to develop their own priests at Serra House." The men in formation now attend Riverside Community College and other local schools to work toward bachelor's degrees in philosophy or other subjects. They will complete formal training at seminaries in Camarillo or San Antonio.


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