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Dangers of hero worship


When author Greg Mortenson visited Aurora University in Illinois this spring, he spoke to a sold-out crowd crammed into the university’s largest auditorium and overflowing into a second theater, where a video streamed the event live. But even those of us who had to watch it the following week on our computer screens could make out the backdrop of banners proclaiming the school’s core values, including the word “Integrity” right behind Mortenson’s head.

Pfleger back at St. Sabina; transition plan agreed upon


He's back!

Chicago's St. Sabina Church (capacity 1,200) was packed to overflowing Sunday, May 22, and the praise and worship portion of the liturgy which leads off the 11:15 Mass was even more buoyant and uninhibited that usual. The predominantly black congregation was overjoyed to have their pastor, Fr. Michael Pfleger back in action after serving a three-week suspension imposed by Cardinal Francis George.

The cardinal had been greatly offended by remarks Pfleger made on the Tavis Smiley show on National Public Radio, and many believed he would at last remove Pfleger from the pastorate at St. Sabina he's held for almost 30 years. During that broadcast in April, Pfleger said that if he had to choose between moving to the presidency of a local high school as the cardinal wished or being forced out of the priesthood, "then I would have to look outside the church" (for ministry opportunities). In his letter of suspension, George said he regarded Pflger's words as a threat. "If that is your attitude," he said, "you have already left the Catholic Church and are therefore not able to pastor a Catholic parish."

Marie Deans saved lives that society scorned


Facing certain death, 34 men in South Carolina and Virginia asked Marie Deans to stay close to them in their final hours and minutes. They were death row inmates.

Years before the electrocutions or druggings in the government’s death chambers, it was Marie Deans who came into the cellblocks to offer whatever professional or personal services she could provide to the condemned.

Cardinal suspends Chicago priest


CHICAGO -- The saga of Fr. Michael Pfleger, the 30-year pastor of St. Sabina Church here, has reached a new crisis point. In a letter dated April 27, Cardinal Francis George suspended the priest from all ministry at his parish, largely because of remarks Pfleger had made on the nationally broadcast Tavis Smiley radio show the previous week.

On that program Pfleger declared that if he were forced to choose between accepting a high school presidency as the cardinal wished or leaving the priesthood, “then I would have to look outside the church. I believe my calling is to be a pastor. … In or out of the church I’m going to continue to do that.”

Gingrich talks of journey to Catholicism


WASHINGTON -- Tilting toward a run at the presidency, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich traced his spiritual journey from Southern Baptist to Roman Catholic at a Catholic prayer breakfast here on Wednesday.

“People ask me when I decided to become Catholic,” said Gingrich, who formally converted in 2009. “It would be more accurate to say that I gradually became Catholic and then realized that I should accept the faith that surrounded me.”

The twice-divorced former Georgia congressman has labored to assure conservative Christians of his fidelity to traditional values. Just 11 percent of white evangelicals, and 16 percent of white Catholics, favor Gingrich as the 2012 Republican presidential nominee, according to a March Pew Research Center poll.

Gingrich also explained his religious conversion on Tuesday to National Catholic Register, a publication owned by EWTN, a multimedia Catholic network.

“The depth of faith and history contained in the life of the Catholic Church were increasingly apparent to me,” Gingrich said Wednesday. “Slowly, over a decade, the centrality of the Eucharist in the Catholic Mass became more and more obvious to me.”

Japanese American's life dedicated to serving the poor


A recent parish survey by the Catholic Volunteer Network revealed that 81 percent of Catholics over the age of 40 had volunteered before. While 77 percent of survey respondents volunteered for less than one week at a time, 10 percent volunteered for long periods (nine months or more).

“It takes a special person to make a lifetime volunteering commitment to serving the poor,” said Jim Lindsay, executive director of the Takoma Park, Md.-based Catholic Volunteer Network.

Ala. church bans social networking with minors


MOBILE, Alabama -- The Archdiocese of Mobile has told staff and volunteers who work with children that electronic communication with minors must be limited to “providing information related to a ministry or event and not for socialization or other personal interaction.”

The policy, implemented on Friday (April 1), applies to faculty and staff at Catholic schools, as well as adults who work with minors and teens in youth ministry or religious education.

Israeli peace activist leaves behind legacy of creative rebellion



A masked gunman fatally shot Israeli-Palestinian actor and peace activist Juliano Mer Khamis April 4 as he was leaving the theater he had co-founded in the Jenin Refugee Camp, located in the Palestinian Territories.

The 52-year-old director, who had just finished discussing a production of “Alice in Wonderland” with a colleague, stepped out to take his one-year-old son home with the babysitter when his assailant fired five times at close range into Mer Khamis’ vehicle, killing him and slightly wounding the babysitter. The child, sitting in his lap, was unharmed.

The murder of the much-loved Mer Khamis has shocked his students and colleagues as well as artists and peace activists around the world. That he was killed on the 43rd anniversary of the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. is a devastating irony for, like King, Mer Khamis understood freedom is essential to peace and expressed this conviction creatively and courageously.

The Anglican woman who awakened us to Catholic mystics


What is a spiritual classic? Theologian David Tracey says it is a book that transforms the reader, who recognizes in it something essential and true. Its longevity follows from its power to inspire lives.

Christians today are fortunate to be heirs to a revival of these classics, many of which have now been translated and republished. This revival, stimulated by the Second Vatican Council, had earlier antecedents, one of which was Mysticism: A Study of the Nature and Development of Man’s Spiritual Consciousness, published in London and New York in 1911.



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July 18-31, 2014


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