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William Callahan, peace, justice champion, dies


Father William R. Callahan, an international leader in movements for social justice, peace, and reform of the Roman Catholic Church, died July 5th at Community Hospice Hospital in Washington, DC due to complications from Parkinson’s disease. He was 78.

Callahan, a Jesuit until the early 1990’s, was dedicated to the justice call of the reformist Second Vatican Council [1962-1965] in the Roman Catholic Church. He was best known for his leadership for peace and justice in Central America, especially in Nicaragua, and for his advocacy of gender equality in the Catholic Church, including women’s ordination.

In the 1970s, he became a nationally known speaker on social justice and the spirituality of justice. In 1982, he published Noisy Contemplation: Deep Prayer for Busy People, which is a classic in contemporary spirituality. Deep prayer does not require the silence of a monastery, he said. Ordinary people can pray in the midst of noise and activism. “We are blessed with a merry God; indeed, we are the entertainment,” he said in the book – with a flash of the humor for which he was famous.

Maryknoll Missioner captures valuable Asian scholarship


MANILA, PHILIPPINES -- Call this a work of the heart from a missioner with a solid mind.

Maryknoll Fr. James H. Kroeger’s work assures that even some of the more obscure scholarly efforts about the Asian church will not be overlooked. In turn, it offers valuable guidance to future historians, theologians and pastoral workers who will want to understand and build on the successes of Asia’s continent-wide episcopal conference.

A two-volume set called Theology from the Heart of Asia represents the first comprehensive outline of Asian Catholic scholarship, from 1985 to 2008, focused upon the Federation of Asian Bishops’ Conferences (FABC). Published by Claretian Publications, these are reference books and are not aimed at the general reading audience. At the same time these books are invaluable for scholars and others who understand the importance of the federation and its vision of church.

Theology from the Heart of Asia contains the outlines of 27 FABC-focused dissertations. It comes with equally important footnote references. Together these books assure that future scholars will be able to build on these materials.

Cardinal Mahony testimony: 'dark and disappointing moment'


It's a dark and disappointing moment for Catholics in Los Angeles -- at the request of the Los Angeles Times, the courts last week made public a deposition earlier this year by Cardinal Roger Mahony, in the case of former priest Michael Baker, a convicted child molestor who was shuttled around to various parishes in the 1980s.

As I've written before, Mahony is one of the good guys on some many things that matter to Catholics in California: human rights, social justice, immigration reform. But when it comes to the still-growing sex abuse scandal, he seems to be just another person-in-power looking first to protect the church's reputation.

In the deposition, Mahony acknowledges that Baker (who is now serving ten years in prison for molestation) came to him and confessed his actions. The cardinal sent the priest off to a "treatment center" used by the church, and then the church swung him around to several parishes - including some with elementary schools.

Reports of abuse by Baker continued but nothing more was done.

Peter C. Phan receives John Courtney Murray award


Georgetown professor of theology, Peter C. Phan, is the recipient of the 2010 Catholic Theology Society of America’s John Courtney Murray Award, which is the highest honor bestowed by the society on a theologian. It is named after John Courtney Murray, the great American theologian known for his work on religious liberty.

The award was announced at a CTSA banquet here June 12.

He was the first person of non-European descent to serve as president of the CTSA.

Phan, a native of Vietnam, emigrated as a refugee to the U.S.A. in 1975. He was profiled in NCR in February, 2000.

(More 2010 CTSA convention converage can be found at NCR Today.)

He obtained three doctorates, the Doctor of Sacred Theology from the Universitas Pontificia Salesiana, Rome, and the Doctor Philosophy and the Doctor of Divinity from the University of London. He has also been awarded an honorary Doctor of Theology from Chicago Theological Union.

Mother Teresa sainthood needs another miracle

New Haven, Conn.-- Father Brian Kolodiejchuk of the Missionaries of Charity, postulator for the sainthood cause of Blessed Teresa of Calcutta, told a gathering at the Knights of Columbus Museum in New Haven June 1 that her cause is "still waiting for one more miracle" for her to be declared a saint.

With worldwide events now under way to mark the 100th anniversary of her birth Aug. 26, Kolodiejchuk was in New Haven to talk about her life and mission as part of a current exhibit at the museum, "Mother Teresa: Life, Spirituality and Message."

"So far, that hasn't been one case that is strong enough to pass the medical board" of the Vatican Congregation for Saints' Causes, he said. "But we're still hoping and praying."

Kolodiejchuk also serves as superior general of the Missionaries of Charity Fathers, the religious order of priests founded by Mother Teresa in 1984 and now based in Tijuana, Mexico.

"Someone has to ask Mother Teresa's intercession, then Mother Teresa has to intercede, God has to (perform) the miracle, someone has to report the miracle ... and then we can continue with the process," he said of the canonization process.

Thomas J. Olmsted: Portrait of a 'policy-driven' bishop


When Wichita Bishop Eugene Gerber delivered his homily at the 1999 ordination of his new coadjutor bishop, Thomas J. Olmsted, he addressed prescient words directly to Olmsted.

The crucifixion-resurrection paradoxes of Christianity, he said, “will both raise you up and weigh you down in ways you have never experienced, I suspect. They will cause you both to rejoice and to weep with the deepest emotion, like Christ himself.”

Olmsted may have experienced some of that whiplash pressure in his four years in Wichita, where he eventually served as bishop, but nothing like what he’s going through now as bishop of Phoenix.

“I’m sure he’s lost some sleep over this,” says Msgr. Robert Hemberger, who served Olmsted in Wichita as chancellor and later as vicar general, his current position.

Denomme had a few weeks as a priest, a lifetime of service


Janine Denomme only lived five weeks as a priest, but her entire life was one of ministry and service, say those who knew her. Denomme, 45, died May 17 in Chicago of cancer. She had been ordained April 10 by the Roman Catholic Womenpriests organization, which claims apostolic succession and has ordained more than 100 women worldwide.


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