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Martin Scorsese and Catholic suffering

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He was criticized by many Christians for his controversial movie "The Last Temptation of Christ," but a new review of Martin Scorsese's work paints the director as one of America's most Catholic filmmakers.

Even beyond "Last Temptation," Scorsese has rarely achieved widespread acceptance; his films are often called too dark and tragic for general audiences. Movies like "Raging Bull" and "Gangs of New York" can seem bleak for bleakness sake -- offering nothing more than a downbeat take on a cynical world.

But in the July edition of Harper's Magazine, Vince Passaro writes passionately about how Scorsese's strong Italian Catholic upbringing lies at the heart of the stories he tells on film. In interviews, Scorsese has admitted that one of his great themes is betrayal -- and Passaro notes that in each movie, Scorsese's turncoat ends up alone, isolated from society, a Judas who pays a heavy price. More than that, Passaro writes, Scorsese's tragic figures demonstrate "what becomes of men who are separated from God, men who are lost."

Delaware priest admits stealing from parishes

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From WPVI-TV Channel 6 in Philadelphia:

A Catholic priest has pleaded guilty to felony theft after being charged with embezzling more than $350,000 from two parishes of the Catholic Diocese of Wilmington.

The Rev. Cornelius Breslin entered the plea in New Castle County Superior Court on Wednesday, the same day he was to go to trial on charges of stealing from St. Patrick and St. Mary of the Immaculate Conception parishes.

The 59-year-old Breslin pleaded guilty to one count of felony theft over $100,000. Prosecutors agreed to drop a second theft count and two counts of falsifying business records.

Breslin will be sentenced Sept. 23, following a presentencing investigation. Sentencing guidelines call for up to one year in prison.

Morning Briefing

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Wilmington, Del. Former pastor pleads guilty to stealing from two parishes

Fr. Corapi Catholic priest accused of improper behavior; lived with ex-prostitute, superiors say

Diocese of Orange may make bid for Crystal Cathedral

Illinois and Indiana Catholic hospitals reach merger agreement. Their service area is primarily in Aurora, Chicago, Danville, Des Plaines, Elgin, Joliet, Kankakee, Rockford, Champaign-Urbana and Avilla, Ind.

N. Calif. bishop embroiled in abuse cases resigns. Diocesan spokeswoman said Walsh is "very tired."

A call for amnesty

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I heard an economist from the state of Georgia talking on the news the other day about the need for farm labor. He said we need a guest worker program, but not amnesty.

I was disappointed that the interviewer didn't ask why amnesty would be such a bad thing. We need workers. These are men and women willing to do the toughest labor, in the heat amid the bugs, the economist said. That should count as evidence of good citizenship.

Instead, he, the economist, wants to send them all to prison for using false social security numbers. Even there, the money that should go to the workers went back to the government. We could consider its loss as punishment, if punishment is required.

Sex abuse victim awaits bishop's promised call to his mom

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As part of a sex abuse settlement, an attorney for the Pueblo, Colo., diocese made a promise to John Yengich.

In March, the attorney told Yengich, who was molested by a priest in the diocese between 1968-1969, that Bishop Fernando Isern of the diocese would call Yengich's mother to express remorse over what happened to her son.

Three months later, Yengich's attorney says the call still hasn't happened.

Corapi and hypocrisy

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The Catholic blogosphere was busy yesterday dissecting and discussing more news about the controversial Father John Corapi, a former EWTN media star who recently announced he is leaving the priesthood after allegations of improper activity.

Many of his supporters have continued to defend him, in part because Corapi has denied all the allegations (and made a few allegations of his own about the accuser). Now, his religious community, the Society of Our Lady of the Most Holy Trinity, has released details about its investigation. According to a press release on the SOLT website, the Society found that Corapi:

Philly magazine takes on two archbishops over sex abuse

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The Philadelphia Magazine in its July 5, 2011 issue paints a portrait of the Philiadelphia archdiocese in the wake of the latest grand jury findings. It's not pleasant. The article offers particularly unflattering portraits of two Philadelphia archbishops, Anthony Bevilacqua and Justin Rigali. Both men are seen as giving total fealty to the church hierarchy, the former out of arrogance, the later out of fear, while forsaking the people of their archdiocese, most fundatmentally those abused by local clergy.

The Christian dilemma in the Mideast

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A good friend of mine took his family on a trip to the Mideast a few weeks ago, including a couple of days in Israel. Through his sister, who lives in the region, he reached out to a driver, hiring him to transport his family and act as a guide.

The driver was Palestinian, and took his clients through the Israeli walls, guards and checkpoints around Gaza and the West Bank -- a system of protection that my friend said could only be described as something close to aparthied.

And yet the Palestinian driver was a reluctant supporter of the Israeli government. The biggest reason for this: he was a Christian.

On this day: St. Maria Goretti

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On this day we remember St. Maria Goretti, the eleven-year-old girl who was stabbed to death by nineteen-year-old Alessandro Serenelli as he attempted to rape her. She died of the fourteen stab wounds the next day, July 6, 1902.

Women of my generation grew up hearing about St. Maria Goretti, internalizing the message. In its issue of November 9, 1950, five months after her canonization, Treasure Chest presented parochial school children with "Saint Maria Goretti, The Blood-Stained Lily", by Mary Fabyan Windeatt. At the end, an American woman who has been listening to Assunta Goretti tell her daughter's story says, "Every boy and girl in America ought to hear it." Mrs. Goretti says, "Maybe you'll tell them when you back home? Tell them what a terrible thing sin is and that they should be ready to die rather than offend our Lord."

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