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Talking faith and politics

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When somebody says, "I have accepted Jesus Christ as my personal Lord and Savior," well, I can hardly argue with that.

It does go against my Catholic grain to hear such blithe confidence that, no matter one's care for the poor, marital fidelity or acts of kindness, the experience of being saved trumps all. But in fact, most of the born-again Christians I actually know are fine people, better than me for sure. So I haven't tried to talk Roman theology with them.

But now I have the uneasy feeling that the politicians are accepting Jesus Christ as the Lord and Savior of the body politic.

A column last week in The New York Times says it is important to engage with these politicians. So how do I engage with Texas Gov. Rick Perry?

Rachel's last fundraiser

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Nicholas Kristof, an OpEd writer at The New York Times, writes:


"In the midst of this grim summer, my faith in humanity has been restored by the saga of Rachel Beckwith. She could teach my generation a great deal about maturity and unselfishness -- even though she's just 9 years old, or was when she died on July 23."

On this day: St. Clare

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On this day we celebrate the feast of St. Clare.

For some beautiful Latin, click here. It's the Bull of Canonization of St. Clare of Assisi by Pope Alexander IV, "Given at Anagni, the sixth day before the Calends of October, in the first year of our pontificate." (1255.)

"CLARA CLARIS PRAECLARA meritis, magnae in caelo claritate gloriae, ac in terra splendore miraculorum sublimium clare claret."

The English translation is beside the Latin, but it's hardly needed. The Pope's use of alliteration makes his meaning clear.

Morning Briefing

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A phone call from prison

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One of the people in prison that I stay in touch with, Kenneth, killed a man in the course of a robbery. Kenneth was 14 at the time and he's been in prison about 23 years now. He has a life-with-parole sentence.

Despite a good prison record, staff recommendations and a home plan, the Parole Board continues to deny him parole. At his last hearing, one of the hearing officers asked him how they could release him against the surviving family's desires.

Kenneth called me last night, just to talk. He used his own meager pay from work in the geriatric unit to make the call. He wanted to know what I was doing and thought it was very funny that the raccoons have eaten all of our tomatoes. He told me about the dogs that men in his housing unit have taken in from the local shelter to train for adoption -- a new program that had been an enormous benefit for the dogs, for the local communities and for the inmates.

It was such an ordinary phone call that, thinking about it this morning, it breaks my heart.

On this day: The Help

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On this day, The Help, a DreamWorks production directed by Tate Taylor, opens in theaters across the country. The movie is based on the best-selling novel by Kathryn Stockett.

I finally read the book last week. How bad could it be? In last Sunday's New York Times Book Review, it was #1 on the combined print and e-book list, #1 on the e-book list, and #1 on the trade paperback list. I could mention some imperfections, but since I couldn't put it down, I won't complain.

It reminded me of various things and various people, including priests' housekeepers. I had read an article a few weeks earlier about Addie Christiansen who retired after 31 years as the rectory housekeeper at Immaculate Conception in Clarksville, Tennessee, and she was still on my mind. Click here to see her picture and to read her story, written by Jack Murphree, in the Tennessee Register.

Morning Briefing

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Federal child-porn charges filed against Kansas City priest

California Diocese of Orange boost bids for Crystal Cathedral, increased its cash offer from $50 million to $53.6 million

Philippines Health chief admits part of 2012 budget will be for contraceptives "Meron, kasama doon... in essence yung condoms kasama doon."

India Bangalore Archdiocese to Launch Sports Academy for Rural Youth, partnership with a private sports development company

Windsor, Canada Convicted Basilian priest sued for $2M, serving 2-year sentence for actions in the 1950s thru '80s.

Sign the petition to support Fr. Roy

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As you've been reading in NCR, Fr. Roy Bourgeois has been given his second warning to recant his support of women's ordination.

In an effort to support Fr. Roy, the Women's Ordination Conference has created an online petition. They have already collected 9,000 signatures. Their goal is to reach 10,000 signatures by tomorrow night.

In a letter to his Maryknoll brothers responding to this second warning, Fr. Roy wrote, "As you know, I am not a lone voice crying out in the wilderness for the ordination of women."

By signing the petition, we can reaffirm the truth of Fr. Roy's statement.

Click here to add your signature.

Lisbon Patriarch called on carpet for women's ordination comments

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It is fascinating to see the speed with which the Vatican can react to any statements that might be perceived as supporting the ordination of women.

In a recent interview, the Patriarch of Lisbon, head of the diocese in the Portuguese capital, said that he believed that "no fundamental obstacle" exists from a theological point of view to the ordination of women.

He elaborated a bit more, as Vatican Insider reports in a story that also recounts that the patriarch, Jose da Cruz Policarpo, was summoned for a conversation on the matter -- after receiving a letter from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith -- while in Rome on other business.

It is impossible not to note that bishops who for years protected priests who sexually abused children have not received so much as a letter from the pope, much less a summons to account for their actions. But mention that there's no reasonable theological or scriptural impediment to women's ordination, and the wheels of authority spin quickly.

Hugh Carey, who led fiscal rescue of New York City, is dead at 92

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Former New York State Gov. Hugh Carey died this past weekend. His was a singular life.

In 2001, while in Rome for then-Archbishop Edward Egan's elevation to the College of Cardinals, two Irish-American colleagues and I buttonholed Gov. Carey late in the evening in the lobby of the Hotel Hassler, where we were staying. Governor Carey joined our group and we spent time discussing politics and the historic federal legislation, the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, which he was proud to have helped pass. Almost by instinct, we moved over to the piano with cigars and libations in-hand and sang Frank Sinatra's version of "New York, New York," with Gov. Carey leading the way. It was a night to remember. He will be missed.

Here is The New York Times story on Gov. Carey's passing.

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