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Bishops' add Catholic Clarity to Budget Debate

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“The needs of those who are hungry and homeless, without work or in poverty should come first.”
April 13 Letter from Bishops Howard Hubbard, Chair, US Bishops Committee on International Justice and Peace and Stephen Blaire, Chair, Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development to Members of the US House of Representatives

Add Blaire-Hubbard to the cacophony of proposals and voices – Obama, Ryan, Simpson-Bowles, etc. –in the nearly-impossible-to-keep-track-of-budget-debates.

Blaire is the bishop of Stockton, CA, Hubbard the bishop of Albany, NY. For those looking for a Catholic touchstone on how best to view the confusing budget spectacle, the US Catholic Bishops through a two-page Blaire-Hubbard letter, offer a clear and concise presentation of the stakes.

The bishops deserve credit, for clarity and concision have not been the hallmark of the budget/deficit/national debt discussions.

“1. Every budget decision should be assessed by whether it protects or threatens human life and dignity.

On China, Vatican strikes balance between hawks and doves

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By JOHN L. ALLEN JR.

tWestern society is increasingly China-obsessed, and with good reason. At some point in the not too distant future the Chinese economy will become the largest in the world, and China’s growing foreign policy reach is affecting realities on the ground in hot spots such as Darfur, Burma and Zimbabwe – not always, in the eyes of critics, for the better.

tCatholicism, too, has its eyes on China. Today, a special Vatican commission on the church in China issued a message to Chinese Catholics at the conclusion of an April 11-13 meeting in Rome.

The statement addresses what it calls a "general climate of disorientation and anxiety about the future" among Catholics in China, following a recent resurgence in government pressure after what had seemed a gradual thaw.

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.

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