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Vatican

Catholic social teaching finds church leadership lacking

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Following is a talk by Bishop Kevin Dowling of Rustenburg, South Africa. Dowling told NCR in a telephone interview today that he gave the talk June 1 to a group of "influential lay Catholics" who meet periodically for lunch in Cape Town. The group, Dowling said, had asked him to speak "on how I view the current state of the church."

"In subsequent conversations, it became clear to me that the group of well-informed Catholic lay leaders wanted an analysis that would be open and very honest," Dowling said July 8. "Given the fact that it would be a select group with no media present, I decided I would be open and honest in my views to initiate debate and discussion."

A reporter, however, was present and what Dowling meant as an "off the record" conversation with lay leaders became local news. Dowling subsequently sent copies of his talk to his fellow South African bishops. NCR received a copy of the document and contacted Dowling to verify its authenticity.

Dowling sent NCR an original copy of the talk and gave us permission to post it online. Following is the text of Dowling's June 1 talk to lay Catholic leaders in South Africa.

A hierarchy deeply damaged from within

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An NCR Editorial

The first half of 2010 has been a particularly bumpy patch for the papacy of Benedict XVI. It wasn’t supposed to be this way. This pope had as goals to sharpen the teaching of the world’s largest Christian denomination, to do battle with secularism and relativism, and to convince the world, Catholic and otherwise, that Christianity authentically lived is more about possibilities and new freedom than about “thou shalt nots” and other restrictions.

Pope's Sept. visit to England, Scotland confirmed

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VATICAN CITY -- The Vatican confirmed Pope Benedict XVI's visit to the United Kingdom, where he will meet Queen Elizabeth II and beatify Cardinal John Henry Newman.

During his four-day visit Sept. 16-19, the pope will fly to Scotland to be welcomed by Queen Elizabeth and her husband, Prince Philip, in Edinburgh at the Palace of Holyroodhouse, the queen's official residence in Scotland, the Vatican said in a written statement July 5. Prince Philip is the Duke of Edinburgh.

Seven days that shook the Vatican

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Rome -- It’s customary for the Vatican to empty its pipeline of pending business before the pope heads for his annual summer retreat in Castel Gandolfo. That usually makes for a flurry of news in late June. It was turbo-charged this year by dramatic events breaking in on the Vatican from the outside. Faced with such a deluge of news, the obvious temptation is to miss the forest for the trees. Here, I’d like to step back from the details and ponder the question, “What does it all mean?”

Read the full report: Seven days that shook the Vatican

[John Allen is NCR senior correspondent. His e-mail address is jallen@ncronline.org.]

Triumph of theologians over diplomats in Vatican

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Rome -- In what’s already a turbulent time, Pope Benedict XVI has triggered another Vatican earthquake, changing the guard in three senior leadership positions. Among those exiting the scene is the Catholic church’s most prominent ecumenical leader over the past decade, while the new arrivals complete the ascent of personal friends and theological protégés of the pontiff to the Vatican’s top positions.

Three archbishops and the American Catholic future

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Rome

In the abstract, one might not think of Archbishops Thomas Wenski of Miami, Dennis Schnurr of Cincinnati, and Jerome Listecki of Milwaukee as a natural threesome. Yet fate thrust these prelates together today, as the three Americans among 38 newly appointed archbishops from around the Catholic world who are in Rome to receive the pallium.

Vatican secrecy keeps victims, accused in the dark

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Daniel Donohue doesn't know when the call will come.

He could be anywhere -- at the supermarket, poolside with his four children, or in a classroom studying social work -- when he learns the fate of the priest he says molested him as a teenager.

Donohue testified against the priest at a church tribunal in 2006 and again 2007. Since then, he has heard almost nothing about his case from the Archdiocese of New York or the Vatican.

"There is nothing I can do, no one I can talk to, no information forthcoming," said Donohue, who now lives in Portland, Ore. The priest and his family likely live under the same cloud of unknowingness, Donohue notes.

Like other sex abuse cases moving through Catholic Church's canon law system, Donohue's is veiled by "pontifical secrecy," a little-known policy that is gaining new prominence as the church weathers another wave of cover-up accusations.

Participants in church sex abuse trials are bound by oath not to divulge details about the proceedings, or at what stage the case is; not even victims and accused priests are kept apprised.

Pope's 'off the cuff' comments on celibacy

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VATICAN CITY
Throughout his five-year pontificate, Pope Benedict XVI has made some of his most interesting comments off the cuff, often during question-and-answer sessions with priests.

His late-night meeting with 10,000 priests June 10 was a good example. Although questions were prepared in advance, the pope's responses were unfiltered and impromptu -- the kind of "organized spontaneity" for which his mind is apparently hard-wired.

In Cuba, Vatican envoy meets with Raul Castro

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HAVANA
Archbishop Dominique Mamberti, the Vatican's foreign minister, concluded an official and pastoral visit to Cuba June 20 saying relations between the Catholic Church and the Cuban government are on a healthy course.

Just hours before his departure, the archbishop met with President Raul Castro, saying afterward that bilateral relations are "cordial, continuing and on the rise."

An official release to various Cuban state-run news media reported on the meeting and said the president and the Vatican diplomat also discussed subjects of common interest on the international agenda.

"The visit of (Archbishop) Mamberti also showed the favorable development of relations between the state and the Catholic Church in Cuba," the government's note said.

The Vatican diplomat spent several days on the island, marking 75 years of diplomatic relations between the Vatican and Cuba and participating in a national conference on the church's social teachings.

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