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Sojourners, Don't blame Catholics

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I have a lot of respect for Sojourners magazine, the evangelical/progressive publication and Washington, D.C.-based community focused on social justice issues. I know some of the editors and have written for it. That's why I was especially saddened to hear about the controversy over the magazine's decision to reject an ad calling for inclusion of LGBT families in churches.

A lot has been written about this decision, which Sojourners defended by saying they didn't want to take sides on the LGBT issue, including an excellent column by NCR's own Jamie L. Manson.

I had nothing to add to the discussion until I read one of the most recent defenses by former Sojourners board chair Brian McLaren, who claims Sojourners had to reject the ad because of its coalition-building among evangelical Christians, Catholic Christians and progressive Christians. The cost of that coalition, he argues, is: "You can’t lead a coalition that includes mainstream evangelical and conservative Catholic Christians if you are an outspoken leader on LGBTQ issues."

New instruction on old rite comes with a twist

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Yesterday the Vatican Pontifical Commission "Ecclesia Dei" published the Instruction on the application of Benedict XVI's Apostolic Letter Motu Proprio "Summorum Pontificum."

The new instruction calls on local bishops and pastors to respond generously to Catholics who seek celebration of the Mass according to the 1962 Roman Missal, commonly known as the Tridentine rite.

The Conroy case: SNAP's unfortunate demand for perfection

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The nomination of Fr. Patrick J. Conroy, a Jesuit who happens to hail from the order’s Oregon Province, as chaplain for the House of Representatives, is running into some obstacles because of objections from SNAP and other victims’ advocates.

I am long on record supporting and lauding the work of SNAP and its various leaders. I think the church would be far worse off today than it is were it not for the persistence of such leading figures as David Clohessy, Barbara Blaine and Peter Isely in keeping the spotlight on the institution’s handling of abuse, it’s failure to face the truth of what has been done in the name of protecting the institution, and in generally raising awareness of the destruction that is wrought when adults in positions of authority exploit the most vulnerable in the community.

It is because of my regard and public endorsement of the work of SNAP over the years that I feel compelled to publicly criticize the objection to Conroy’s nomination.

Torture Effective? A Helpful Reminder of the Obvious from Stephen Carter

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When it comes to torture: The means may be effective, says Yale’s Stephen Carter, but it doesn’t mean they are justified.

Carter’s argument is a helpful reminder that not everything we know to be morally wrong has zero utility in the “real world.” After all, if that apple really held the key to all knowledge (in addition to being tasty), it would be an interesting thing to get your hands on. The world, alas, would be an easier place if everything that was morally suspect didn’t work.

On this day: Julian of Norwich

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On this day, in "the year of our Lord 1373", "these revelations were shown to a simple unlettered creature".

On May 13, Julian of Norwich, aged 30, "began receiving visions--what she later called 'sixteen showings'--that revealed to her the reality of the love of God. When she wrote those down, they became the first English-language book every written by a woman".

-- Julian of Norwich: A Contemplative Biography, by Amy Frykholm, Paraclete Press, 2010, Back Cover.

Morning Briefing

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The most important article you will read today: ‘The Fog of Scandal’ Ana Maria Catanzaro, chair of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia’s review board.

The Roman Catholic Church in Rhode Island says attendance at Sunday Mass rose slightly in 2010 as the church ramped up efforts to bring back inactive Catholics.

Along the Mississippi River Agencies pitch in to help those hit by flooding

Philippines On reproductive health bill, president open to dialogue with Catholic bishops but respects their decision to cease talking, spokeswoman says

Bishops name new head to Latin America office

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Press Release from U.S. bishops' conference:

FATHER JUAN MOLINA NAMED DIRECTOR FOR CHURCH IN LATIN AMERICA

WASHINGTON -- Trinitarian Father Juan J. Molina has been named associate director of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) Office of National Collections and director for the Church in Latin America. Father Molina is currently serving as policy advisor for Latin America and Global Trade in the Office of International Justice and Peace at USCCB and previously served as advocacy program coordinator in the Southwest regional office of Catholic Relief Services.

A new phase for religious life?

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I just returned from a wonderful five-day meeting of the Loretto Community in St. Louis. It focused on ministries and was entitled "Working with a Jubilee Heart." (We're getting ready to celebrate our 200th anniversary as a community in 2012.) We've come a long way since those early days on the Kentucky frontier, but we're still boarding new wagon trains and looking over new horizons into the future.

One of those horizons is our exploration of a new "cosmological phase" of religious life.

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