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Symposium, controversial exhibit explore gay identity

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WASHINGTON -- On Jan. 29, the National Portrait Gallery of the Smithsonian Institution held a symposium on “Addressing (and Redressing) the Silence: New Scholarship in Sexuality and American Art.”

Gathering in the Nan Tucker McEvoy Auditorium, which boasts Robert Rauschenberg’s great lithograph triptych “Autobiography” (1968) at its entrance, 11 scholars, some well-established figures in the field, some now entering it, held their audience amazingly fast from 9 in the morning to 8 at night.

One might have thought the symposium was an act of public penance for the removal of David Wojnarowicz’s video “Fire in the Belly” from the gallery’s Oct. 30-Feb. 13 exhibit “Hide/Seek: Difference and Desire in American Portraiture.”

G. Wayne Clough, secretary of the Smithsonian, succumbed Dec. 1 to the two-pronged attack of John Boehner and Eric Cantor from the House of Representatives and Bill Donohue of the Catholic League. (Wojnarowicz’s AIDS-themed video contains a brief passage showing a crucifix crawling with ants.)

Bishop Ruiz, champion of indigenous, dies

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MEXICO CITY -- Retired Bishop Samuel Ruiz Garcia, known as the champion of the poor and indigenous in southern Mexico, died Jan. 24 of complications from long-standing illnesses. He was 86.

The bishop headed the Diocese of San Cristobal de Las Casas from 1960 to 2000, and from 1994 to 1998 mediated a commission looking for an end to the conflict between the Mexican government and the indigenous Zapatista National Liberation Army in Chiapas state.

For his work with the state's indigenous population he received death threats and, in 2002, was the recipient of the Niwano Peace Prize for his work "raising the social standing of the indigenous communities of Mexico" and for his work toward "the reclamation and preservation of their native cultures."

"Don Samuel was like the prophet Jeremiah, a man who lived and experienced contradiction," said Bishop Raul Vera Lopez of Saltillo, who served as Bishop Ruiz's coadjutor from 1995 to 1999.

Sr. Rosemary Lynch, teacher of nonviolence, dies

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Franciscan Sr. Rosemary Lynch, lifelong peace advocate and cofounder of Pace e Bene, died Jan. 9 after being hit by a car. She was 93.

Lynch was walking in her neighborhood with Franciscan Sr. Klaryta Antoszewska when a car backing out of a driveway hit her. She fell, causing a concussion, internal bleeding, and fractures. She died four days later at the hospital.

Edward Schillebeeckx: A herald of God among us

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“That baby is God.” When asked about his first conscious memory of Jesus, the Flemish theologian Edward Schillebeeckx, who died in 2009 just before Christmas, recalled those words of his father as he pointed to the infant Jesus in the large Christmas crib in their home.

Schillebeeckx, who helped to revitalize interest in Jesus and to reshape the study of Christology in the second half of the 20th century, related the family story to an Italian journalist in 1982 on the occasion of his reception of the Erasmus Prize for contributions to European culture. He was the first theologian ever to be so honored.

A herald of God among us

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“That baby is God.” When asked about his first conscious memory of Jesus, the Flemish theologian Edward Schillebeeckx, who died in 2009 just before Christmas, recalled those words of his father as he pointed to the infant Jesus in the large Christmas crib in their home.

Schillebeeckx, who helped to revitalize interest in Jesus and to reshape the study of Christology in the second half of the 20th century, related the family story to an Italian journalist in 1982 on the occasion of his reception of the Erasmus Prize for contributions to European culture. He was the first theologian ever to be so honored.

NCR's person of the year for 2010

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An NCR Editorial

NCR has never named a person of the year, and we might not again in the future. However, as we sent our last print issue to press in the waning days of 2010, we felt the need to single out one American Catholic who showed extraordinary leadership and courage this last year.

In the spring of 2010, as the national debate on health care reform seemed deadlocked, Sr. Carol Keehan, the Daughter of Charity who is president and CEO of the Catholic Health Association, led her organization to endorse the legislation and thus helped pass it through Congress. The move put health care coverage within the reach of an additional 32 million Americans.

How do we craft a message to the stars?

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NCR columnist and Eco Catholic blog editor, Rich Heffern interviews Douglas Vakoch is the Director of Interstellar Message Composition at the SETI (Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence) Institute in Mountain View, Calif. Vakoch researches ways that different civilizations might create messages that could be transmitted across interstellar space, allowing communication between humans and extraterrestrials even without face-to-face contact.

The Christmas Chariot

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Marge Martin* is a widow in her mid-fifties. She is a beautiful princess in the eyes of this admirer and a witch in the mind of some others in our small community. Few people see what I see. In realty, she probably is somewhere in between. Like all of us, this woman has flaws and is a sinner. Nevertheless, this is a woman I have come to love and I would give her the world if I could.

The power of forgiveness

I’ve known Marge for nearly six years and one of the greatest lessons I’ve learned from her is the power of forgiveness; both forgiving oneself and being forgiven by the one we hurt. We are called to live the challenge of “The Lord’s Prayer.” Still, in the incident I am about to refer to without mentioning the details, if I were not forgiven, I don’t think I could have forgiven myself.

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