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Vatican

Newman: the 'sense' and 'consent' of the faithful

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Viewpoint

There is stark irony in the words Pope Benedict XVI chose when he announced last February his plan to visit England this year and there pronounce John Henry Newman as among the “blessed,” just one step from canonization as a saint. He cited Newman as an example for all the world of opposition to dissent. “In a social milieu that encourages the expression of a variety of opinions on every question that arises,” said the pope, “it is important to recognize dissent for what it is and not to mistake it for a mature contribution to a balanced and wide-ranging debate.”

Benedict to step into buzz saw of dissent during upcoming UK visit

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Analysis

A thoughtful recent piece in The Economist asserted that Catholicism’s response to the sexual abuse crisis in Europe has been clumsy in countries where the church is accustomed to unchallenged power, while it’s been “much more intelligent, and appropriately humble ... in places where the church was used to fighting in a noisy democratic space.”

A congress for the laity in Asia without the 'church of Asia'?

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Commentary

SEOUL -- Tomorrow, Sept. 1, the Korean Catholic church holds a big event, the "Congress of Catholic Laity in Asia." Some 200 clergy, religious and laity from various countries in Asia will take part in the week-long event, along with some 200 local Catholics. As a layperson in the local church, I am delighted and welcome the congress with my whole heart.

Italian book assesses Benedict's papacy

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Friends and foes alike of Pope Benedict XVI concur that he's got an image problem. Where they place the blame for it may differ, but the fact itself seems clear: From a PR point of view, this is a pontificate defined by its train wrecks.

Cataloguing those train wrecks is the burden of a valuable new book by two of the best Italian vaticanisti going: Andrea Tornielli of Il Giornale and Paolo Rodari of Il Foglio, both of whom also operate widely read blogs -- "Palazzo apostolico" for Rodari and "Sacri palazzi" for Tornielli. Their work is titled Attacco a Ratzinger: Accuse e scandali, profezie e complotti ("Attack on Ratzinger: Accusations and Scandals, Prophecies and Plots"), published in Italian by Piemme.

The book came out in Italy on Tuesday, and one hopes an enterprising publisher in the States will bring out an English translation quickly. (Let me volunteer here and now: I'd be happy to put together a preface introducing the book, and its authors, to an English-speaking audience.)

New Vatican leader 'extremely positive' on women

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Saying he hopes to offer the Vatican a "different picture" of women religious in the United States, Rome's new number two official for religious life says he suspects the choice of an American for that job, and one known to be sympathetic to women religious, may reflect awareness of "just how badly" a controversial Vatican investigation of women's orders has been received.

The inner workings of a hierarchy with a sex offender mentality

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Analysis

The Vatican announcement that the attempted ordination of women is a “grave crime” to be dealt with according to the same procedures as the sexual abuse of minors exposes the way those running our church actually think. In attempting to explain revised norms to church canons, they reveal the legalistic inner workings of their minds, and affirm unsettling psychological patterns of thought.

The Vatican's new norms

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Viewpoint

The latest attempt by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith to stem the continuous onslaught of revelations of sex abuse and cover-up in Europe and elsewhere has some good and some bad aspects.

The first revision is relatively radical: the CDF now has the right to judge members of the ruling class (cardinals, bishops, and papal legates). Previously the Code reserved all cases involving accusations of violation of the church's criminal laws by bishops and above to the Pope. This change is a response to the constant criticism of the practice of giving bishops accused of sex abuse a free pass. The fact is that the popes could have disciplined errant bishops all along but instead chose to hide behind the myth that they are some sort of sacred nobility.

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