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Catholic bloggers

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In December 2004, a young Philadelphian logged onto Blogger and started writing about the Catholic church. More than 11 million hits later, Whispers in the Loggia (whispersintheloggia.blogspot.com) has become the must-read for anyone interested in the inner workings of the church.

Let’s call it what it is: church gossip. Even the blog name conjures up images of Vatican bureaucrats divulging secrets in ancient Roman corridors. Which isn’t too far from what happens -- only via cell phone to a 20-something blogger in his parents’ basement in south Philly.

Taiwan cardinal, Dalai Lama in wide range discussions

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The Dalai Lama drew more than 1,000 people to an arena in southern Taiwan today to witness his meeting with Catholic Cardinal Shan Kuo-his as part of his five- day visit to comfort survivors of Typhoon Morakot.

The two religious leaders received a standing ovation from the crowd at the Hanshin Arena in the city of Kaohsiung where they held a public dialogue for about 2 hours.

The Dalai Lama said a short prayer in Tibetan, after which a Christian choir sang a hymn in Mandarin and the cardinal said a prayer.

Flanked by police and protected by a submachine gun totting SWAT team, the 76-year-old Dalai Lama and the 86-year old Catholic cardinal entered the auditorium together accompanied by opposition Democratic Progressive Party Mayor Chen Chu, who was instrumental in inviting the Dalai Lama to Taiwan for a “humanitarian and religious journey” to pray for victims and survivors of a recent typhoon.

The lives of two great men

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Editorial

The “great man” theory of history -- the idea that individuals (mostly men) of high social, political, economic or scientific rank shape destiny -- has been largely eclipsed. There is much good in that. Today, the stories of the marginalized (such as women, persons of color, the disabled, laborers and farmers, slaves and soldiers, the poor) are now studied in a manner once exclusively reserved to kings and princes, presidents and prime ministers, the rich and famous.

And yet, we are reminded in this issue of NCR, great people do shape events. Edward Kennedy (see story) and William F. Buckley (see story) were two such individuals.

To be “great” does not, to be sure, mean to be always correct. Many in the Catholic community, for example, look at Kennedy’s record on abortion and ask, what if the great liberal lawmaker had used his stature and abilities to promote legal protection to the unborn? He chose another course.

'They are at the center of the church'

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Ministries

“I think the culture wars have been won,” says Mercy Sr. Donna Ryan. In the 13 years she has served as chaplain to a group of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered Catholics, she has seen growing acceptance of this community by society at large. “It is kind of like the church is becoming the last group in our culture to face this reality,” says Ryan. HOPE, the organization she serves in the Kansas City-St. Joseph, Mo., diocese, was recently asked to leave its meeting place in the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, but the group carries on, she says, because its members “care about the church and they care for one another.”

Ryan has worked in various ministries within the diocese, most recently as education resource coordinator at the cathedral. As the cofounder of the Center for Spirit at Work, she serves working people who wish to integrate spirituality, ethics and values in their work environments.

NCR recently spoke with Ryan about her work as chaplain to HOPE.

NCR: Tell me about your HOPE ministry.

Memoir recalls sometimes strange, always exciting, life

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Though his appearance at his high school alma mater was advertised and anticipated, novelist Christopher Buckley was absent from the two-and-a-half-day early summer conference remembering "The Catholic William F. Buckley Jr." Christopher had a conflict due to a "contractual obligation" in Denver, the gracious host explained, but many of the 125 persons gathered suspected that was a polite excuse.

Ted Kennedy died with faith ñ in us

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Ted Kennedy is dead. Called “the Lion of the Senate” for his extraordinary legislative accomplishments, his own words in eulogy for his brother Robert aptly summarize Ted Kennedy’s own legacy as “a good and decent man who need not be idealized or enlarged in death beyond what he was in life. . . .”

And what was he in life? A man of privilege whose Catholic faith prompted him to pursue the calling of Francis to look first to the needs of the poor. A man of faith, whose last courageous days of suffering exemplified Pope John Paul II’s invitation to cross the threshold, not in fear, but with hope.

Ted Kennedy’s faith also called upon the Nicene Creed to remember that despite our political differences, we remain "one holy catholic and apostolic Church."

For too long in America, people of good will sharing the Catholic faith have been divided. We have been told, or we have convinced ourselves, that unless there is perfect agreement on every issue, there can be no friendship. This is mistaken.

Pope Benedict XVI wrote recently in Caritas in Veritate:

Kennedy remembered: 'finding meaning, value in defeat and loss'

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Sen. Edward Kennedy will always be remembered for the closing words of his address to the Democratic National Convention after he lost his bid for the party’s presidential nomination in 1980: “For all those whose cares have been our concern, the work goes on, the cause endures, the hope still lives and the dream will never die.” It is fitting that his finest rhetorical moment in a life of superlative oratory came after the one election he lost.

For it was Kennedy’s most Catholic attribute that he could find meaning and value in defeat and loss. Indeed, to give voice to hope and to dare to dream after losing one brother to war, two brothers to assassins’ bullets, a sister to a plane crash and another sister to a distorted notion of therapeutic treatment for the mentally disabled, those words were a human accomplishment, not merely a rhetorical one.

Kim Dae-jung, former South Korea president, dies

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SEOUL, South Korea -- South Korean religious leaders have expressed sorrow over the death of Kim Dae-jung, the country's first Catholic president.

Kim was hospitalized in Seoul July 13 with pneumonia. He died around 2 p.m. Aug. 18. He was 85.

Cardinal Nicholas Cheong Jin-suk of Seoul issued a condolence message soon after Kim's death was announced, reported the Asian church news agency UCA News.

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April 11-24, 2014

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