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On this day: St. Lidwina of Holland

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On this day we commemorate St. Lidwina, who fell while ice skating on a canal and never recovered.

Lidwina was born in Schiedam in 1380. She was about fifteen when she fell on the ice. The broken rib did not heal, and until her death on April 14, 1433, she suffered. She embraced her suffering, offering it for the sins of others. She took no nourishment but the Communion host.

Caroline Walker Bynum writes at length about St. Lidwina in Holy Feast and Holy Fast: The Religious Significance of Food to Medieval Women, University of California Press, 1988.

Fr. Joseph Dearborn, inclusive language pioneer, passes away

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Recently, someone sent me an obituary for Fr. Joseph Dearborn, a priest from the Archdiocese of Kansas City, Kan., who was once a colleague of mine at the Quixote Center. A couple years ago, Joe returned to Kansas and was quite ill. I just learned that he had died.

However, he deserves to be remembered for much more than the obituary in the Kansas City Star offered. He did pioneering work creating Inclusive Language Lectionaries and the Inclusive Bible.

Has Douglas Kmiec been muzzled?

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He was one of President Obama's earliest supporters among the Catholic intellectual community -- but Douglas Kmiec now finds himself in a battle with Obama's State Department.

According to columnist Tim Rutten in The Los Angeles Times, Kmiec has been muzzled in his role as Ambassador to Malta. He's done an impressive job by all accounts, strengthening ties with a strategically important and conservatively Cathoic country.

What if Roy copped a plea?

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One wag on the internet this morning tells the story of the canon lawyer who suggests (facetiously) Roy Bourgeois consider copping a plea with Vatican officials to see if they might consider dropping the charge against him of advocating women's ordination, punishable by excommunication, to a "lesser” offense, of, say, pedophilia, thereby allowing him to keep his collar.

On this day: St. Martin I, Pope and Martyr

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On this day we celebrate the feast of St. Martin I, the last martyred pope.

"Gregory was unquestionably the greatest Pope of late antiquity and the early Middle Ages, and arguably the greatest Pope ever. . . . In Rome itself, however, there were many who wished to forget or even to repudiate his legacy. . . . These divisions in the Roman Church were highlighted by the rapid turnover of popes in the first half of the seventh century: there were ten elections between Gregory's death in 604 and Martin I's accession in 649. Recurrent elections had the effect of drawing attention to another striking feature of the period, the subordination of the papacy to the emperors at Constantinople."

--Saints and Sinners: A History of the Popes, by Eamon Duffy, Yale University Press, 2006 edition.

Morning Briefing

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Born to Be Wild: Swinging with orangutans, roaming with elephants

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This new IMAX 3D documentary tells the profoundly moving stories of two women “super heroes” working to preserve two endangered species. These are Dr. Daphne M. Sheldrick at the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust in Kenya and Dr. Birute’ Mary Galdikas at the Orangutan Foundation International in central Borneo (Indonesia).

Both are articulate, experienced, quietly passionate and determined women who have spent decades rescuing, rehabilitating, and returning orphaned infant elephants and orangutans to the wild.

In general, I do not care for 3D movies but “Born To Be Wild” is a film 3D was made for. It had me from the opening scene.

The film reaches out and embraces the audience and the narrative gently calls the question: Why save wild animals when they offer humanity no practical benefit?

On Sex Abuse: More Nonsense from Billy the Bully

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According to Bill Donohue, president of the inaccurately-named Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights, if you are age 14 or over you are not a child. Don’t take my word for it, he makes the argument in a full-page ad in yesterday’s New York Times.

“The refrain that child rape is a reality in the Church is twice wrong: let’s get it straight — they weren’t children and they weren’t raped,” writes Donohue. “We know from the John Jay study that most of the victims have been adolescents, and that the most common abuse has been inappropriate touching (inexcusable though this is, it is not rape).”

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