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Vatican may resist judge's order for documents

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By JOHN L. ALLEN JR.
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A ruling on Thursday from a federal judge in Oregon marks the first time that an American court has ever issued an order requiring the Vatican to hand over documents in a sex abuse case.

Whether that actually happens, however, depends on how the Vatican responds, including whether it tries to persuade either the Oregon judge or an appeals court that it shouldn’t have to comply.

U.S. District Judge Michael Mosman on Thursday granted a limited number of requests for discovery put forward by attorney Jeffrey Anderson, representing a man who says he was abused by Andrew Ronan, a former Servite priest who was laicized in 1966 and who died in 1992.

The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, the main advocacy group in the United States for victims of clerical abuse, hailed the order as a “historic achievement.”

“Many clergy sex abuse victims are distraught that thousands of Catholic officials who ignore and conceal heinous crimes escape any consequences for their corruption,” said a statement from Joelle Casteix of Newport Beach, California, the western regional director of SNAP.

Thoughts on Benedict's Good Friday Q&A

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By JOHN L. ALLEN JR.

tIn a move without any direct precedents, Pope Benedict XVI went on Italian television today to respond to seven questions chosen from among 3,000 submitted by ordinary people from all over the world. Although this was certainly not a hard-hitting “Meet the Press”-style encounter, the pope’s answers nevertheless inevitably carry news interest.

tThe following are three quick observations about the importance of Benedict XVI’s television outing.

Communications Strategy

tA pope responding to questions from the general public on TV is a bit reminiscent of what Samuel Johnson once said of a dog walking on its hind legs – what’s striking is not so much how well he does it, but that he does it at all.

Similarly, at one level the important thing about Benedict’s TV appearance isn’t so much what he said, but the fact it happened.

Transcript of papal Q&A on Italian TV

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tIn a papal first, Benedict XVI today went on Italian state TV to respond to seven questions from the general public, chosen from among 3,000 submissions from all around the world. Questioners included a seven-year-old girl from Japan, a Muslim woman from the Ivory Coast, and an Italian mother whose son has been in a vegetative coma since 2009.

The program aired in the afternoon Rome time, so that Benedict ended up at roughly 3:00 pm, the time Christian tradition regards as the hour of Jesus’ death on Good Friday.

tThe pope was given the questions in advance and pre-taped his replies in the Vatican. Benedict was shown on a big-screen TV during the Italian broadcast.

tThe following is the transcript of the Q&A session released by the Vatican.

Bourgeois supporters vigil outside cathedrals across nation

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Supporters of Maryknoll Fr. Roy Bourgeois have been hosting vigils at Masses across the country this week, standing outside churches and cathedrals with signs backing the embattled priest.

Bourgeois, a longtime peace activist, has been threatened with dismissal from the Maryknoll Fathers and Brothers and laicization by the Vatican for his support of women's ordination.

In a press release Tuesday, Call to Action described the vigils as a way to also show support for "women priests in the Catholic Church."

"As millions of Catholics across the country attend services this Holy Week, the majority of those attending are women, but not one priest leading the services will be a woman," said Jim FitzGerald, the group's executive director.

"It is deeply unjust that while women make up the majority of Catholic Church membership today, they are still forbidden to share their ministerial talents in the role of priest."

Below is a slideshow of photos provided by Call to Action of Bourgeois supporters attending vigils in Los Angeles, Calif.; Savannah, Ga.; Venice, Fla.; Chicago, Ill.; and Madison, Wisc.

Examples of engaged faith for Good Friday

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Six weeks before he was assassinated, Archbishop Romero gave a profoundly important speech in Louvain, Belgium explaining the socio-political dimension of faith in Christ.

The archbishop said his work as pastor among the poor of war-torn El Salvador had taught him “that Christian faith does not separate us from the world but rather submerges us in it: that the Church is not an elite but rather a follower of that Jesus who lived, worked, struggled and died in the midst of the city, the polis.”

Like Romero, many people have given witness to this Christ who chose to submerge Himself in this world, a place of exploitation and oppression as well as generosity and goodness. Tucked amidst all the tales of destruction reported in the news are examples of this engaged faith.

I came across two this week that are worth contemplating as we approach Christ’s Passion which occurred and continues to occur in the midst of the polis.

    The Crucifixion of the Earth

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    Earth Day this year (April 22nd) falls on Good Friday. Somehow, it seems all too appropriate this year.

    The eco-system of the Gulf of Mexico has been carrying the cross of the BP oil spill since the Deepwater Horizon well blew apart just one year ago. Radiation from the nuclear disaster at Fukushima, Japan, is scourging not only Japan but the Pacific Ocean itself. We have no idea when that crisis there will end. As if these tragedies were not enough, the polar ice caps continue to melt at an alarming rate, and sea levels are beginning to threaten some island nations. All this is directly related to climate change. Then there is "hydraulic fracturing" or "fracking," an increasingly common means of extracting oil and gas from shale formations even though it endangers supplies of drinking water.

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    April 22-May 5, 2016

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