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DeBernardo: 'persistent, gracious, thoughtful, questioning'

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Commentary

I’ve known Francis DeBernardo for a number of years, have read a good deal of what he’s written. I’ve spoken to him at length and I have attended a conference or two conducted by New Ways Ministry. He’s persistent, gracious, thoughtful, and he raises questions that we all need to ponder.

Those involved with leading the ministry, I daresay, have a much deeper appreciation of Catholicism and its traditions than most who take up with one or another Catholic organizations.

I am convinced that DeBarnardo, New Ways ministry, and all the Catholic parents of gay and lesbian children and all of their relatives who love them and experience them as whole and wonderful human beings are not going to go away.

So I find it deeply saddening that the Cardinal Archbishop of Chicago found it necessary for some reason to declare that the ministry was not authentically Catholic and that it “cannot speak on behalf of the Catholic faithful in the United States.”

Informed by the experience of being Catholic

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There are people in the world who derive no small pleasure from the game of “major” and “minor.” They think that no major work can be painted in watercolors. They think, too, that Hemingway writing about boys in the woods is major; Mansfield writing about girls in the kitchen is minor. These people join up with other bad specters, and I have to banish them.

-- Mary Gordon, “The Parable of the Cave; or, In Praise of Watercolors” in The Writer on Her Work

For most of her writing life, Mary Gordon has been trying to banish those bad specters who want to pigeonhole her either as a “woman writer” or a “Catholic writer.” Although she is proud to write out of her experiences as both, she knows that such labels have “minor” consequences.

Draft resister wants her country to be better

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On a Jerusalem street in mid-June 2002, Maya Wind, then a 12-year-old studying in a religious school, witnessed the killing of a busload of Israelis and others by a suicide bomber.

The horror was a moment of awakening, of seeing the futility of violence, whether caused by lone Palestinian street killers or uniformed death-dealers of the Israeli Defense Forces. Three years later, she joined Face to Face, a group of open-minded Palestinian and Israeli youth brought together to tell their stories and educate each other in the methods of nonviolent conflict resolution -- lessons they certainly weren’t getting from the Knesset or Palestinian Authority.

New archbishop faces tough questions

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MILWAUKEE -- For Archbishop Jerome E. Listecki, the honeymoon ended almost before it began.

Installed Jan. 4 as Milwaukee’s 11th archbishop, Listecki was welcomed with a ceremonial cathedral installation and a City Hall reception featuring Polish dancers and the home team’s baseball caps.

However, within days he was also facing tough questions on the archdiocese’s role in the lingering sexual abuse scandal, the possibility of bankruptcy, and his reputation as a tough-minded “political bishop.”

Muslim scholars no longer banned from US

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WASHINGTON -- The State Department announced Jan. 20 that two prominent Muslim intellectuals will no longer be barred from traveling to the U.S. based on past accusations that they had supported terrorism.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton signed orders allowing Tariq Ramadan and Adam Habib to re-apply for U.S. visas, said State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley.

Praying for peace: one man's plan

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Mission Management

Peace and violence follow us into 2010.

The lives of many are filled with the violence of unemployment, the violence of homelessness, the violence of drugs, the violence of abortion, the violence of illness, and the violence of capital punishment. Our lives are filled with the violence of wanton killings like those in Binghamton, N.Y.; New Haven, Conn.; Fort Hood, Texas; Seattle; Darfur, Iraq; and Afghanistan.

How can we integrate God’s peace into a wickedly violent world?

Notable Brazilian Catholic doctor dies in Haiti

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SAO PAULO, Brazil
Dr. Zilda Arns Neumann, 75, a pediatrician who founded the Brazilian bishops' children's ministry, was among those who died in the Jan. 12 Haitian earthquake.

She was in the Haitian capital, Port-au-Prince, to participate in missionary meetings and to help the Caribbean country consolidate its children's ministry and create a methodology to combat malnutrition.

Cardinal Geraldo Majella Agnelo of Sao Salvador da Bahia, who helped her create the children's ministry in 1983, said Neumann lived a life dedicated to others.

Neumann was known throughout Brazil for her dedication to improving the health and quality of life of children.

She was the sister of Sao Paulo's retired archbishop, Cardinal Paulo Evaristo Arns. In an interview with Agencia Estado news agency, Cardinal Arns was quoted as saying that his sister died a "beautiful death, because she died for a cause she always believed in."

Mother of five and grandmother of 10, Neumann was a member of the Brazilian bishops' permanent council, Brazil's National Health Council and the National Economic and Social Development Council.

Catholic University philosopher builds bridges

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WASHINGTON -- In 40 years of quiet work, Oblate Fr. George F. McLean has traveled the globe -- China, India, Africa, Eastern Europe, Latin America -- promoting intercultural dialogue and understanding on basic human and social issues among thinkers in scores of countries.

“We had 10 meetings behind the Iron Curtain before the [Berlin] Wall came down in 1989,” McLean said, referring to seminars he arranged during the Cold War years involving Western philosophers and leaders of academies of science in communist countries.

US astronomers honor Jesuit astronomer

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- Veteran astronomer Jesuit Father George V. Coyne was honored by the American Astronomical Society for his work in building a Vatican-sponsored summer school for young astronomers and promoting discussions on the intersection of religion and science.

Coyne, retired director of the Vatican Observatory, received the George Van Biesbroeck Prize at the opening of the society's 215th general meeting Jan. 4 in Washington. The honor included a citation and a cash prize.

NCR editor Tom Fox interviewed Coyne in May 2007 for an NCR podcast. Listen to the podcast: Fr. George Coyne: Science, Faith and God

In presenting the honor, society president John Huchra cited Coyne's work with the Vatican Observatory Summer School, which brings 25 graduate students to the observatory's headquarters in Castel Gandolfo, Italy, every two years for a month of intensive research.

Huchra also said Coyne's efforts to bring scientists and religious leaders together to discuss the intersection of religion and science has led to greater understanding in both fields.

Theologian Edward Schillebeeckx dead at 95

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The Belgian-born Dutch Dominican theologian, Edward Schillebeeckx, died Dec. 23 at the age of 95 in Nijmegen, Netherlands, where he lived and taught for more than five decades. He wrote well into his 90s.

He died of natural causes.

Precious Blood Fr. Robert Schreiter, considered the leading U.S. expert on Schillebeeckx, said his legacy will live on, principally for several major contributions. He was the first Catholic scholar to take seriously all the historical research on Jesus that had been done in the 19th and 20th centuries and present it in an intelligible way.

"Anyone who ignores that will not be taken seriously today," said Schreiter, a professor of theology at Catholic Theological Union in Chicago. Schillebeeckx also pioneered the idea of examining "the historical backgrounds of what seemed to be infallible truths and relating their real meaning" in an intelligible way, he said. "He insisted that normal people ought to be able to see a measure of reasonableness in Catholic teaching and be able to link their experiences with the revelation traditions of the Christian faith."

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