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Woman charged with embezzling $1 million from NY archdiocese

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NEW YORK -- A 67-year-old woman with a criminal record for theft has been charged with siphoning $1 million in donations while working in a finance office of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of New York, church officials announced Monday.

The archdiocese said it did not conduct a criminal background check when the employee, Anita Collins, was hired in 2003. Collins' complex scheme drained money from an education fund at the same time the church was closing Catholic schools.

Church and law enforcement officials said over seven years, Collins sent fake invoices to the archdiocese, then issued about 450 checks to accounts she controlled, all in amounts just under the $2,500 threshold that would have required a supervisor's approval.

Most of the money was apparently siphoned from the accounts payable system in the archdiocesan Department of Education Finance Office, according to a statement from archdiocesan spokesman Joseph Zwilling.

In a 2010 article in the archdiocese newspaper Catholic New York, Collins was lauded for volunteering at St. Patrick's Cathedral when Archbishop Timothy Dolan presided over a Mass welcoming 600 people to Catholicism.

New ordinariate and 1980 pastoral provision: An analysis

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WASHINGTON -- How are the new U.S. Catholic ordinariate for former Anglican groups and the 1980 U.S. pastoral provision for Episcopal (Anglican) priests who become Catholics different? What do they have in common? What does the presence of Catholics in the new ordinariate mean for other Catholics?

The pastoral, canonical, ecclesiastical and other questions posed by the new developments are numerous and challenging, but here is an attempt to sort out a few of the bigger ones.

To take the third question first, other Catholics -- Eastern or Latin rite -- who were baptized or confirmed into the church as Latin or Eastern Catholics can legitimately participate in the life and worship of an Anglican-use Catholic community, but ordinarily, they may not become a formal member of that community.

An exception is marriage, for which church laws similar to those applying to Latin-Eastern rite Catholic marriages would come into play: An Eastern or Latin Catholic marrying a Catholic in the new Anglican-use ordinariate could become a member of that ordinariate if the couple agrees on that decision.

Philadelphia archdiocese announces major school closings

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Updated 5:45 p.m. central

Dramatic realignment to the Philadelphia Catholic school system is coming. Today, the archdiocese announced that it will close four high schools, and 44 elementary schools will either close or merge with other schools.

News of which schools were affected spread after a closed-door meeting this morning between the archdiocese and priests and school administrators at Neumann University. At a press conference this afternoon, Archbishop Charles Chaput spoke with optimism for the school system’s future.

“I’m convinced, if we take this report to heart … we can renew Catholic education across the archdiocese,” he said.

Other key recommendations from the commission were the establishment of a foundation dedicated exclusively to raising money to support schools; a new governance model consisting of an executive education board chaired by the auxiliary bishop overseeing Catholic education and four additional boards representing each area of education; and advocacy for government support to allow parents free choice in schools.

A checkup in Rome for the American bishops

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An ad limina visit, the trip Catholic bishops are required to make every five years to Rome, is a bit like a routine physical. It might flag a serious problem, but usually it’s just a checkup covering a wide variety of aches, pains, and ups and downs.

If nothing else, it’s revealing to learn what doctor and patient are thinking about, because it might provide hints of treatments to come.

In the face of church's change, new liturgy is really 'Whatever'

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Commentary

We were visiting family over the holidays and attended Mass at a parish where there was evidence of the ongoing tussle with the new liturgy. At one point during an attempt to keep up with that unnecessarily unwieldy construction of "Lord, I am not worthy that you should enter under my roof," someone nearby got tongue-tied and finished it off with, "Whatever."

I chuckled. It was good to laugh about it.

Those of us who by virtue of our circumstances (religion writers, for instance, or professional liturgists) know the back story to the changes are more likely than not to bristle at the rather saccharine presentation of reasons for the changes. The reality, of course, is that the changes were as much as anything else about power and maintaining control, rolling back the language that came to reflect the changes in theology and community disposition that occurred as a result of the Vatican Council of the 1960s. Yes, yes, it was to restore some of the majesty and awe, some of the precision of the Latin upon which the prayers are based, to restore anew the sense of mystery and to re-establish the distance between priest and people.

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August 29-September 11, 2014

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