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Theologians leave San Jose lifted after pondering saints

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SAN JOSE, Calif. -- As Catholic Theological Society of America members wrapped up a four-day sojourn in this thriving, multi-ethnic, technologically driven city of close to a million, a city idyllically tucked onto the southern edge of the San Francisco Bay and protected from harsh climate by mountains on three sides, a city boasting 300 sunny days annually with average temperatures in mid-‘70s, a city near the wildly confident Santa Clara University, it’s easy to leave here imagining, if only momentarily, a loving church unencumbered by division and blatant human frailty, is actually possible and not just a distant dream.

NCR in the field (and convention hall) this weekend

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NCR reporters are in the field (and convention halls) this weekend. Watch the web site for reports from

NCR editor Tom Fox is in San Jose, Calif., for the annual gathering of the Catholic Theological Society of America. He has filed these stories already. More are to come.

Baptism, not bishops or pope, unites the church

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DETROIT -- "Baptism unites the church, not ordination," theologian and author Anthony T. Padovano told more than 1,800 reform-minded Catholics gathered June 10-12 at Detroit's Cobo Hall.

Addressing the inaugural national meeting of the American Catholic Council June 11, he said, "The pope does not unify or sanctify the church and make it catholic or apostolic. This is the work of the Spirit and the community. The pope is an institutional sign of a unity already achieved by the faithful. The pope does not create a community of believers or validate baptisms or make the Eucharist occur."

Listening: A Prelude for Change or a Strategy for Appeasement?

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John Thavis writes from Rome for Catholic News Service that the new head of the Congregation for Religious is sounding as if his mission is to be a bridge over troubled waters.

Archbishop Joao Braz de Aviz has spoken in favor of "a more positive view of religious" and a mending of rifts between the Vatican and orders resulting from a number of tensions including those produced by the sweeping investigation of U.S. orders.

His presciption for success tries to balance the old ideal of nuns as "models of fidelity" with a nod to the Vatican II appeal to "pay attention to today's culture."

To do this, the archibishop has vowed to listen.

That approach, according to Thavis and others, has given some religious leaders hope that things will get better. Listening, said Sister Mary Lou Wertz, president of the International Union of Superiors General, entails "open sharing" and by inference an openness to change.

Federal subpoena seeks Boston College's IRA interviews

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From today's New York Times:

Boston College Fights Subpoena of Interviews Tied to IRA

Boston College filed a motion this week to quash a federal subpoena seeking access to confidential interviews of paramilitary fighters for the Provisional Irish Republican Army.

The motion, filed in United States District Court in Boston, seeks to prevent the British authorities from accessing the interviews as part of an investigation into burglaries, kidnappings and murders during the decades known as the Troubles in Northern Ireland.

Academics, historians and journalists conducted the interviews from 2001 to 2006. Known as the Belfast Project, its goal was to interview members of the IRA, the Provisional Sinn Fein and other organizations about their activities during the Troubles.

The people who were interviewed were promised that their identities would be kept confidential and that the interviews would be released only after their deaths. The transcripts are kept at Boston College.

Diocese's 'new action plan' is a tired, well-used script

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Since the arrest of Fr. Shawn Ratigan May 19 on charges of possessing child pornography, the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph Chancery Office has virtually gushed apologetic words and resolve to do better in the future. Bishop Robert Finn has met with parishioners, priests, the press and he's issued news releases that breathlessly promise new initiatives, ask for help and contain even more apologies.

Unfortunately, there is nothing new to the scenario unfolding in Kansas City.

Morning Briefing

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The call from Bolivia

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Yesterday, an old friend called me from La Paz, Bolivia. He wanted to tell me about a new book that will soon be on the market called The "Poisoned Spring" of Economic Libertarianism by Angus Sibley. It is a critique of neo-liberal capitalism from the point of view of Catholic social justice teaching. The preface is by another old friend, Joe Holland, who used to work at the Center of Concern.

tI have not read it; indeed, I just discovered it. But I will read it because I could hear the pleading in my friend’s voice. He is someone who has worked with the poor of South America for decades. He cares deeply about them, and about social justice. He sees the consequences of neo-liberal capitalist policies and practices that we know only by name, policies like “free trade” or “re-structuring.”

tI’ve been thinking a lot about economic justice because the news is filled with data on unemployment, the increasing income gap and the inability of many people to afford housing. And this is in the developed world; economic conditions are far worse in the global South.

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