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DiNoia moving to Congregation for Divine Worship

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A report from Andrea Tornelli at Il Giornale has American Father J. Augustine DiNoia, O.P. moving from his post at the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith to Secretary of the Congregation for Divine Worship.

Father DiNoia was hired by then-Cardinal Ratzinger to be the under-secretary at CDF in 2002. DiNoia had served at the USCCB’s doctrine committee for years before that.

If I may be permitted a personal note, Father DiNoia is one of the smartest people I have ever met. Even when we disagree, which was not infrequent, his arguments and his depth of learning made such disagreements a learning experience for me. He inhales literature and has always read the most recent journals of ideas, not just of theology but of politics and literature. I remember by mother once spending an entire brunch discussing novels with the good father while my Dad and I discussed the Red Sox. He is unfailingly gracious.

Heroes

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Because I am a cartoonist and know how cartoonists think, I anticipate a spate of political art in the days ahead depicting President Obama in the form of an Egyptian monument. The Sphinx comes to mind. What the Egyptians think of our messing with their monuments is important but beside the point for most cartoonists. We are shameless when on deadline. Remember, you saw it here first.

The president will be depicted in monumental terms because he gave a very big speech in Cairo yesterday. His message was dead-on accurate enough to be criticized by all sides with a stake in the complex issues that plague the Middle East. The biggest criticism is that it was just a speech. Words disappear like a whisper in the desert if not implemented. A year from now we will know if anything will come of this.

Monuments of stone and metal can endure the test of time for decades, centuries, even millennia. The images and inscriptions from the ancient world that hold their place in our consciousness do so because they touch our need for greatness, heroic metaphor, stories that instruct us how to live.

Obama rebuilding US international image?

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On of the best analyses of Obama's Cairo speech that I have seen is in the Christian Science Monitor: Obama proclaims an end to Bush's regime-change doctrine

Washington - Tucked inside President Obama's 55-minute speech Thursday to the world's Muslims were four paragraphs that laid out his approach to democracy.

His message? America recognizes a universal yearning for the right to self-government, but regime change in democracy's name is over.

"No system of government can or should be imposed by one nation on any other," Mr. Obama said.

That premise distances the president from the controversial doctrines of the Bush administration and reestablishes a more traditional approach to encouraging democracy. Critics called it a a cheap crowd-pleaser that misrepresented the reasons the US invaded Iraq. ...

But others say Obama's statement carries the whiff of an apology for the Iraq invasion, which encourages an incorrect stereotype about US action under President Bush.

IRS weighs new rules on tax preparers

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The IRS is considering the licensing of tax preparers in order to raise the ethical standards and to reduce fraud, says IRS Commissioner Doug Shulman.

Mr. Shulman said he wants better leverage to make sure tax preparers act ethically, not only to improve enforcement, but also to ensure that taxpayers get quality help in preparing their returns.

"Paying taxes is one of the largest financial transactions individual Americans have each year, and we need to make sure that professionals who serve them are ethical and ensure the right amount of tax is paid,'' Mr. Shulman told the House Ways and Means Subcommittee on Oversight.
One of the big challenges for the IRS is the lack of enforcement due largely to a lack of staffing. Any new legilsation ought to included funds for enforecment and compliance.

The poor often are on the short-end of the stick, again. This needs to change.

What should Susan Boyle sing next?

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When Susan Boyle first sang "I Dreamed a Dream" from Les Miserables, I cried every time I clicked on YouTube, and heard, watched Susan singing it. She conveyed such pathos. Her performance can still move me to tears because Susan's story and the play's character Fantine seemed to share something. I have gone from watching it or showing it to someone every day to once a week.

Some may think a Disney soundtrack should be Susan's first release, but I think she could sing "Send in the Clowns" that so many famous artists have voiced before: Judy Collins, Barbra Streisand, Shirley Bassey. "Send in the Clowns" was created for the British actress Glynis Johns (bn. 1923) who played Desiree in Sondheim's 1973 "A Little Night Music" based on Ingmar Bergman's 1955 film, "Smiles of a Summer Night".

A singer, or artist, who has led a deeply felt life, for whatever the reason, brings those experiences to their art. Whatever has brought Susan to where she is today as an artist is because she so sincere.

U.S. Christians respond to Obama's call for peace in Holy Land

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A press release from the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops says that Bishop Howard Hubbard, the chairman of the bishops' Committee on International Justice and Peace, was among the signers of a letter sent to President Barack Obama today praising his Cairo speech and responding to his call to work for peace in the Holy Land.

The release said:

"The message of support expressed gratitude for President Obama’s efforts at reaching out to the Muslim world and for making Israeli-Palestinian peace a top priority of his Administration. But it also expressed grave concern over the “deteriorating situation in the Holy Land” and urged the Obama Administration to make real and concrete progress in achieving a just peace between Israel and the Palestinians."

Bishop Hubbard said, “I am deeply inspired by the President’s effort to bridge divides of culture and faith and to reach out directly to the people of the Middle East. Confrontation only breeds radicalism. For this effort at rapprochement to succeed, however, we need to see real progress on the ground towards peace with justice in the Holy Land.”

The Hottest Read in Hollywood

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Even more so than the rest of America, Hollywood is a place obsessed with the secret to success. Here, you’re confronted every day with how elusive a secret that can be: everyone knows a remarkable actor who can’t seem to get a break, a brilliant writer whose screenplays are among the most admired and least produced in town.

So it’s not surprising that a book about success is currently the hottest read in Hollywood. What’s shocking is the book’s message – the secret of success, it says, is other people, and tight-knit supportive communities like the local parish.

The hot read is Malcolm Gladwell’s “Outliers,” number one on the Los Angeles Times non-fiction bestseller list for all 27 weeks since it hit the stores. In it, the author looks at the factors that create exceptional people, societies and trends, phenomena that are “outliers,” beyond the statistical norm.

AJC Adviser Hails Obama Speech

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I spoke today with Rabbi James Rudin, senior interreligious adviser for the American Jewish Committee. He called the Obama speech “brilliant” and said the speech contained “some very important things that Muslims and/or Arabs need to her and sometimes don’t want to hear.”

Obama’s emphasis on America’s commitment to the survival and safety of Israel “needed to be said and said clearly,” Rudin said, “Because the President of Iran has gone on and on about wiping Israel off the map and denying the Holocaust.”

Rudin, also a columnist for Religion News Service, said the speech contained valuable history, including Obama’s acknowledgment of the U.S. overthrow of the government in Iran, which led to the Shah and abuses of human rights. He said he thought it valuable that Obama detailed for the world his own life experience, including his father’s connection to Islam and the fact that Obama lived in a Muslim culture as a child.

Obama’s emphasis on religion and the need for interreligious cooperation was significant, said Rudin, because so often religion is dismissed in international relations as irrelevant.

Alexia Kelley Joins the Obama Administration

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The Obama Administration makes a terrific appointment of Alexia Kelley to the Department of Health & Human Services as Director of Faith-based and Community Partnerships. There's no doubt that Kelley will play a pivotal role in the work of both the Faith-based office and HHS. A Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good press release, text below, includes the details.

From the press release:

Alexia Kelley, former Executive Director of Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good, has been named Director of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships at the Department of Health and Human Services.

The Alliance congratulates Ms. Kelley on this distinguished appointment, and we offer our deepest appreciation for her tireless service to Catholics in Alliance over the past several years. In her new position, Kelley will play a critical role in building partnerships with faith and community organizations.

Inspired by our faith’s teaching that health care is a human right central to serving the common good, Catholics will continue to be front and center in this critical effort.

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