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King's message of action and service lives on, say speakers

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GARY, Ind. -- Two priests and one mayor recalled the late Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. in two words: action and service.

Speaking Jan. 8 at Holy Angels Cathedral in Gary, the three recounted the slain civil rights leader's belief in equality and nonviolence, challenging their audience to continue that legacy.

Priest recruitment drive took toughness

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WORCESTER, MASS. -- Jesuit Fr. John E. Brooks paused, his fork temporarily suspended above his apple crumble. The 88-year-old Holy Cross president emeritus, his West Roxbury accent clear and direct, told NCR during lunch in the Hogan Campus Center, “Clarence Thomas called this morning -- it was more of a joke really.” The U.S. Supreme Court justice, a former Holy Cross student of Brooks’, “wanted to know did I really have a tear in my eye.” Thomas was referring to the concluding line in an excerpt from Diane Brady’s book Fraternity, reprinted in the fall 2011 Holy Cross Magazine, that ran, “One of the students saw Fr. Brooks standing to the side, slipping out quietly with tears in his eyes.”

A story of 65 black students and one Catholic college

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For better and, originally, for worse, Martin Luther King Day has a particular resonance at the Jesuits’ College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, Mass. The worst begins in the opening lines of Diane Brady’s Fraternity when, on April 4, 1968, “a white student ran [into the common room] and announced ‘Martin Luther Coon’ had been shot. ... There was an uncomfortable silence in the room as the other students all turned to stare, curious to see how the black student was going to react [to the slur].”

Irish journalist whose documentary uncovered sex abuse dies

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APPRECIATION

Mary Raftery, an Irish journalist whose documentary series States of Fear exposed abuse in Irish Catholic schools, died in Dublin on Monday. She was 54.

Mary was a journalist by profession, but by vocation, she was a deeply honest and compassionate woman who fearlessly challenged the Irish Catholic Church, and in doing so, made the present and the future a safer place for children.

Mary may not be as well-known in the United States as she is in her native Ireland, yet her life has made a profound difference for victims of clergy abuse everywhere. She did more than any one person to force the systemic vicious abuse in the Irish industrial schools into the open. She continued with her passion to help victims with her documentary Cardinal Secrets, an expose of the cover-up of sexual abuse in the archdiocese of Dublin.

Spanish priest: Exorcism is God's 'gift to help us believe'

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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- If everything you know about exorcism you learned by watching the movie "The Exorcist," Fr. Jose Antonio Fortea wants to exorcise those notions from your head.

To learn about exorcism, Fortea said the best textbook is the Bible, especially the Gospels, because, after all, Jesus was an exorcist.

Fortea, a priest of the Diocese of Alcala de Henares in Spain, is an exorcist. He is the author of several books including "Interview With an Exorcist." Currently based in Rome studying for his doctorate in theology, he was in Florida recently to give talks about exorcism and pastoral care.

Every culture has an understanding of demonic possession, Fortea said. "But they don't have a solution for it. Jesus brought the solution. Jesus taught us to do exorcisms.

"Exorcism is a sign of the power of Jesus that the power of the kingdom of heaven is here on earth," he added. "Every exorcism is a gift that helps us believe."

The need to expel demonic spirits from a person's body is neither common nor rare, Fortea said.

Studies show Catholic trends in marriage mirror society's

WASHINGTON -- With cohabitation, single-person households and single parenthood on the rise, the percentage of Americans who are currently married has reached an all-time low.

A new report from the Pew Research Center analyzing Census Bureau data found that only 51 percent of Americans 18 and over were married in 2010, compared with 72 percent in 1960. Among Hispanics and African-Americans, the decline is even steeper.

Dennis Coday named NCR editor

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Dennis Coday, 50, National Catholic Reporter managing editor since July 2010, has been named the publication's new editor. In that position he will be responsible for the content of NCR's print and electronic editions. Making the announcement, publisher Tom Fox said Coday is solidly poised to take NCR into a new era. "He has sound editorial judgment, understands the changing electronic tools, and has the character and values needed to lead NCR forward.

Catholic school officially ends paddling

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NEW ORLEANS -- A Catholic high school that was the country's last refuge of corporal punishment has ended a legal struggle over control of the school and agreed that the days of paddling are over.

"There will be no attempt to reinstate corporal punishment," said Dan Davillier, a board member of St. Augustine High School who helped fashion the out-of-court settlement on Dec. 23 with the Josephites, the Roman Catholic order that founded the school 60 years ago.

"It hasn't been at the school for the last year and a half. We want St. Aug to maintain its track record for strict discipline. I'm confident that we can maintain that high level without paddling."

Whether to paddle or not -- and who would decide the question -- became the issue that roiled the school for most of 2011. The Josephites, with the emphatic support of New Orleans Archbishop Gregory Aymond, wanted it stopped.

But a broad coalition of parents, alumni and local board members, led by former school president Rev. John Raphael, wanted it continued as a key ingredient in the school's character-building tool kit.

NCR chooses 2011's person of the year

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The year 2011 offered the Catholic world a number of big news stories: the implosion of the church in Ireland; the first indictments of Catholic leaders, including a bishop, in the tragic clergy sex abuse saga; the initiation of reform movements by Catholics priests in Ireland, Austria, Germany, United States and Belgium; and the Vatican-forced implementation of the new Roman Missal.

Catholic school affordability: Progress made but still a long way to go

WASHINGTON -- When educational leaders look at ways to make Catholic schools more affordable, they are happy about some of the positive steps that have been made but fully aware that there is still a lot to do.

During a recent conference at The Catholic University of America, a group of panelists focused particularly on the status of tuition tax credits and how they have enabled students who would normally not be able to afford Catholic schools to attend them.

Currently, there are 11 school voucher programs in the United States and nine scholarship tax-credit programs. Some states have more than one program.

The school voucher programs in Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Ohio, Oklahoma, Wisconsin, Utah and the District of Columbia offer private school vouchers to low-income students, students with special needs or children in failing schools.

The scholarship tax-credit programs in Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Iowa, Pennsylvania and Rhode Island also are primarily for students from low-income families or those with special needs.

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July 18-31, 2014

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