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John Jay report in hand, Catholic group calls for end of church gay bashing

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Equally Blessed coalition leader Jim FitzGerald released the following statement today about the John Jay Report.

“The John Jay College Final Report issued yesterday does faithful Catholics good service by discrediting the ungrounded, homophobic accusations of the Catholic League's Bill Donohue and others that the church’s clergy sex abuse scandal was caused by gay priests. Now that research commissioned by the bishops themselves has shown Donohue’s rhetoric to be based in prejudice rather than in fact, we call on the US Conference of Catholic Bishops to speak out on the side of truth when Donohue and his allies perpetrate homophobic slurs in the name of Catholicism.

Kidney donation starts altruistic chain

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Earlier this week I posted a blog on the tragedy of the illicit human organ trade.

Perhaps a counterweight to that story is this story about a New Jersey woman who donated her kidney to a person whom she did not know and was in need of a kidney. This act of kindness caused at least two other donors to come forward and donate a kidney.

Melissa Arlio is an upbeat, healthy 26-year-old from a big Italian family in Wayne, NJ. She grew up playing sports and ran her first marathon in 2009. With nothing to gain and a good deal to lose (namely, her job) Arlio elected to undergo surgery and donate one of her kidneys to a complete stranger last March. She did so in order to start an altruistic kidney chain through the National Kidney Registry.

South Tyrol: Vatican expresses reservations about confirming at age 18

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The Pray Tell blog has an entry about a diocese in Italy changing the age of confirmation from 12 to 18:

Rome, 5.17.11 (Kipa) The Vatican has temporarily delayed plans of the diocese of Bozen-Brixen in south Tyrol to raise the age of confirmation from 12 to 18. The Vatican Congregation for Divine Worship has written a letter to Bishop Karl Golser asking for further information about the pilot project planned for this fall, as the diocese has confirmed to Kipa.

The letter states that the sacrament should be administered "at the age of discretion," with reference to the prescriptions of the Italian bishops’ conference which foresee confirmation "around the age of twelve."

Read more here.

On this day: St. Dunstan

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On this day we celebrate the feast of St. Dunstan, "an Anglo-Saxon churchman in England in the tenth century, who began as a monk. He began as a youngster as a monk in the Abbey of Glastonbury, and progressed because of his zeal and learning and ability, eventually to become not only Bishop of London and Bishop of Worchester, but finally Archbishop of Canterbury. He also became a great friend of the King, and was sometimes entrusted with royal powers when the King would be out of the country or perhaps out fishing. But in any case, Dunstan was formidable. He was a statesman. He was an artist. He drew beautifully in the style of his day. He was a worker in metals. He did black smithing. He cast bells. He built organs. He was an engineer and understood architecture. He was a Renaissance man."

--from a 2001 Lecture by Rowan LeCompte, the great stained glass artist who created many of the windows in the National Cathedral, including the west rose window.

Richard Sipe on the John Jay report

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A. W. Richard Sipe, a clinical mental health counselor who earlier spent 18 years as a Benedictine monk and priest, has been a long time critic of the way our church has handled the sex abuse scandal. His credentials for knowledge of the subject are solid. He has spend some 25 years studying the celibate/sexual behavior of the clergy population and is considered one of the leading experts in the field.

An ocassional contributor to NCR, I take his opinions seriously, as do many others who have followed this tragic story. So his views on the John Jay report, released yesterday, should be considered as significant. In an email I received from him, this is what he writes:

This is an important study because it outlines the geography of the Catholic Church’s problems with human sexuality as they impact its clergy. It shows how the church wants to be perceived: A preponderance of the data comes from church records.


  • It points to the areas about the priesthood that still need exploration.

Which letter would you send to the pope?

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About two weeks back, Phyllis Zagano, one of our NCRonline columnists, published a public letter to Pope Benedict XVI.

You may remember it. The headline read: Your Holiness, it is time for women deacons.

Zagano, who is a professor and a senior research associate-in-residence at Hofstra University, urged the pope to "make a decision" about whether women deacons will be allowed to serve the church.

Now, another professor has also written a public letter to the pope.

Daniel G. Van Slyke's headline? Your Holiness, It Is Time for a Theologian Who Is Not Clamoring for Women Deacons to Write an Open Letter to You.

Van Slyke, who is an associate professor at Kenrick-Glennon Seminary, writes:

The State Department's socially conscious Catholic

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This week on Interfaith Voices, I discovered that a socially conscious Catholic is the State Department’s point person on Human Trafficking. He is Ambassador-at-Large Luis CdeBaca, who freely talks about his youth: sewing doves on burlap for peace marches and growing up with those 1970’s guitar masses.

He is fluent in Vatican II teaching, and passionate about ending contemporary slavery, usually called “human trafficking.” I was grateful that someone like him holds that office.

But the lead interview this week is also stellar. Joseph Grieboski of the Institute for Religion and Public Policy offers an incisive analysis of the repression of Christianity in China. Turns out, the government even edits the Bible to take out some of those pesky passages where the “meek will inherit the earth” and the mighty are tossed down from their thrones!

Grieboski linked religious repression to the Chinese business climate, which he believes can be affected adversely by a continuation of current policies. It’s the first time I’ve heard anyone tie those two realities together.

UK moves ahead on new nuclear weapons subs

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The government of the United Kingdom is moving forward with plans to build new nuclear weapons armed submarines, the BBC reports today.

Approximately $4.8 million has already been appropriated for the program, and, if plans don't change in the interim, the country should have its first new nuclear armed vessel in 2028, said UK Defense Secretary Liam Fox.

The decision to move forward with the burgeoning of the UK's nuclear deterrent comes almost exactly one month after Edinburgh, Scotland Cardinal Keith O'Brien, head of the Scottish bishops' conference, called the country's nuclear weapons program "shameful."

Speaking during a 200-strong protest outside Faslane Naval Base, which is about 25 miles west of the city of Glasgow and is where the UK's trident submarines are based, O'Brien said April 16 that "it is not courageous of Britain to have these dreadful weapons of mass destruction. It is shameful to have them."

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