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Remembering Oscar Romero

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ESSAY

About six months before Salvadoran Archbishop Oscar Arnulfo Romero was killed on March 24, 1980, I spent three days with him, traveling to rural towns and the urban slum of La Chacra. As Latin American correspondent for the National Catholic Reporter at the time, I had frequently interviewed Romero and listened to his Sunday homilies. However, these three days marked the first time I had seen the archbishop outside of a formal setting.

Biologist, former Dominican, wins Templeton Prize

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A former Dominican priest and molecular biologist who has vigorously opposed the entanglement of science and religion while also calling for respect between the two has won this year’s $1.53 million Templeton Prize.

Francisco J. Ayala, a professor of biological science at the University of California, Irvine, was named the winner of the 2010 prize March 25. According to the John Templeton Foundation, which has awarded the prize yearly since 1973, Ayala’s “respect for the rightful, if separate, roles of science and faith have allowed him to consider questions ... that draw upon each discipline and may bring new insights that advance human endeavor.”

Second gay bishop OKíd for Episcopal Church

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A lesbian priest has been confirmed as an assistant bishop in Los Angeles, making her the Episcopal Church’s second openly gay bishop and potentially widening its breach with Anglicans overseas.

A majority of the more than 100 bishops and dioceses in the Episcopal Church ratified the December election of Bishop-elect Mary Douglas Glasspool, Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori announced on Wednesday (March 17).

Mel Gibson, revenge and redemption

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Director Martin Campbell’s new film, “The Edge of Darkness,” is a blessing of sorts for Academy Award-winning director/writer/actor Mel Gibson. In this tense conspiracy thriller, Gibson plays Thomas Craven, a Boston police detective. On a rainy night, he welcomes his daughter home from her secretive job. Once home, Emma (Bojana Novakovic) wants to tell her father something but as they step out into the night she is blasted away by a powerful rifle before she can do so.

The Boston cops think that Thomas was the target but he turns small signs into clues and is soon carrying out his own investigation. With nothing to lose now that his daughter is dead, he vows to get the killer or killers who took away his only child.

Exceptions to celibacy rule puzzle priests

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VATICAN CITY -- Exceptions to celibacy for priests in the Roman Catholic Church can be puzzling, including for young priests enthusiastic about their vocation.

The Pontifical University of the Holy Cross, run by Opus Dei in Rome, held a theological conference on priestly celibacy March 4-5 and while no one challenged mandatory celibacy, there were repeated questions about the exceptions made in some of the Eastern Catholic churches and for clergy coming from the Anglican Communion.

"If celibacy is so tied theologically and spiritually to priestly identity, why the exceptions?" the questioners asked.

Speakers at the conference, attended mostly by priests and seminarians, acknowledged the confusion caused by the exceptions and by the frequent statement that celibacy is a discipline, not a dogma, and so conceivably could change.

"In the eyes of many, the church hierarchy and especially the Apostolic See seem to hold contradictory positions on priestly celibacy," said Father Laurent Touze, a professor of spiritual theology and author of a book on the future of priestly celibacy.

'It's about helping people'

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For the past year an informal group of students at The Catholic University of America has been organizing to support gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered students and faculty. Named CUAllies, the group has been met with some opposition. While the students claim the group is only a support system for minorities on campus, the university has withheld official support in fear of endorsing an organization that might advocate for issues contrary to official Catholic teaching. Spokesman Victor Nakas stated the university’s opposition in a Dec. 11 article in The Washington Post. He explained that students already have access to support services through the university’s health center, counseling services, and office of campus ministry.

Catholic University student Lauren Crook, who cofounded the organization and is in her final year as a sociology student, spoke with NCR editorial intern Joshua McElwee about the group and its vision. What follows is an edited version of that interview.

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NCR: Why did you form CUAllies?

Divine Word society tackles internal friction

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INDORE, India (UCAN) — A Divine Word province in India has launched a live-in seminar to tackle disunity among its members and prepare them to address modern challenges.

“Togetherness and family spirit among our members have weakened and I felt a need for reviving and strengthening them,” said Fr. Nicholas Martis, who heads the congregation’s Central India province.

The 11-day seminar began Feb. 15 at the provincial headquarters in Indore, the commercial capital of Madhya Pradesh state. The province’s 146 members are undergoing the program in three batches.

Martis said the program aims to strengthen the “one family” spirit among members so that they can carry on their mission work effectively.

He said over the years, different assignments and responsibilities have generated individualistic attitudes among members rather than team spirit.

The congregation has some 800 members in four provinces of India, but only the Central Province has undertaken the exercise.

Healing the world through words

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It has taken years for award-winning author John J. McLaughlin, 37, to grow into being a storyteller, a calling he practices “in the service of the poor.” Having the “gift of languages,” McLaughlin said in a phone interview from his Seattle home, means being a “cultural translator,” someone who is able to explain the depth and context of people’s lives.

In that sense, McLaughlin is a distinctly Catholic writer. His rich use of imaginative detail is incarnational, grounding his characters in specificity and reality. More broadly, he values the importance the Catholic tradition places “on symbol, ritual, and story, to learn to see the world in terms of both metaphor and narrative.”

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April 11-24, 2014

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