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My friend Arthur and a discussion of sex offenders

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My friend Arthur (not his real name) had a bench trial on a couple of weeks ago and the judge found him guilty of possession of child pornography. He had two housemates who had already pleaded guilty, both to possession and to having sex with a 15 year old.

Freud said that we are all teeming cauldrons of emotion. I laugh at the truth of that -- except when I’m crying over how eager we are to punish others. The behavior is wrong, but the other two men are serving 15 year sentences and Arthur stands to get that much because he didn’t take a plea agreement for time served. (He is not charged with having sex with the 15 year old.)

Arthur has pled guilty twice to sex offenses, the first time when he was 18, the second time when he was 23 and just out of prison. He says he was innocent and indeed 18 year olds most commonly confess to crimes they did not commit. He is one of three siblings, all of whom were abused as children.

On this day: Erasmus

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On this day in 1536, Desiderius Erasmus of Rotterdam died at Basel. He was 69 years old.

This year is the 500th anniversary of the printing of The Praise of Folly, the famous essay addressed to Thomas More, at whose estate at Bucklersbury Erasmus wrote it in one week in 1509. Among the targets of Erasmus's satire were theologians, philosophers, popes, cardinals, priests, authors, monks, common people, himself, those who have confidence in magical charms, and princes.

Morning Briefing

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Top ten benefits of confession

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Over at the U.S. bishops' media blog today, Mercy Sr. Mary Ann Walsh, the bishops' spokesperson, lists her top ten benefits for going to confession.

Among the ten mentioned in the wide-ranging list? It's "low cost therapy" and is a "contribution toward world peace."

Here's a short excerpt:

"4. Low cost therapy. It’s free, which makes it cheaper than a psychiatrist for dealing with guilt.

5. Forced time to think. Socrates said that the unexamined life is not worth living. To examine our lives and acknowledge failings marks the first step of making things right with God, others and ourselves. Life can be more worth living when you ponder the meaning of your own life.

The Dalai Lama at the Capitol

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Saturday morning, I, and thousands of others, travelled to the west front of the U.S. Capitol to hear the Dalai Lama. This speech was the only part of his 10-day program in Washington, D.C., that was free to the public.

He was introduced by Whoopi Goldberg, much to his delight and that of the audience.

His speech echoed traditional Buddhism in many respects. He focused on any person’s need to cultivate his or her interior: an inner peace, a calm mind, a sense of compassion, an “inner beauty.” When addressing questions about education, he stressed that “brain development” had to be accompanied by warm heartedness.

On this day: St. Benedict

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On this day we celebrate the feast of St. Benedict of Nursia, c. 480 - c. 547.

For a virtual tour of his monastery, click here for the Monte Cassino page on the St. John's Abbey web site. Click the link for Monte Cassino , then click on "The Abbey" at the top, and then "Virtual Tour". On the schematic, move your cursor around to find highlighted areas. Click on the little camera to see pictures of the Basilica, etc.

Morning Briefing

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Philippines -- lottery donation scandal: The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines Monday apologized, bishops had accepted luxuary SuVs and cash

Charity nun: President Arroyo used donations to silence the church while she faced allegations of vote-rigging and various corruption scandals during her 9-year presidency.

Gays, lesbians draw comfort, support from Catholic Mass

Wake for W.Mass. priest who committed suicide

WINSLOW, Ariz. — Accusations of Abuse by Priest Dating to Early 1940s

Philippines: Opinion Not all marriages are put together by God

The Dalai Lama

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The Dalai Lama is in Washington for 10 days, July 6-16, to conduct what Tibetan Buddhists call a “Kalachakra for World Peace.” The Kalachakra is a series of talks, rituals, visualizations, mantras, and yoga designed to transform the minds of participants and to mature their innate wisdom and sense of compassion. Ultimately, it is designed to promote the universal Buddhist goal of “enlightenment.”

The Kalachakra is considered one of the most complex rituals in all of Buddhism. And many observers here in the Washington area find it significant that the Dalai Lama chose the U.S. capital, the global center of world politics, for this event. Some people hope that the spirit of this Kalachakra, which seeks to help participants bridge their differences, will emanate out to the political leaders who are dealing with issues like the national debt, wars, the environment and terrorism. We can only hope!

Sacrifice at the altar of God

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Rita Ferrone, author of several books on liturgy, has written in the July 15 issue of Commonweal a searing critique of the New Roman Missal translation set to take affect in November.

These are tough years for the U.S. bishops who have fallen under dark clouds for their failings in their handlings of the decades’ long clergy sexual abuse tragedy in our church. To the failing of protecting our children from clergy abuse many will now be adding another: the failure to protect clear and simple -- and meaningful -- English in our mass liturgies from an assault by ideologically led bishops.

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