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Roy Bourgeois and Bill Callahan: Vive!

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When I heard about the patriarchal ultimatum (recant your support of women’s ordination or be dismissed) given to Maryknoll Fr. Roy Bourgeois I was stunned, but not surprised.

It brought my mind back to the day when my good friend, Bill Callahan, then a Jesuit, was dismissed from his order. Although Bill’s dismissal was wrapped in different language, his advocacy for women’s ordination was a major part of the accusations against him.

Both men provide powerful public witnesses for their beliefs. Roy preached at the 2008 ordination of a woman friend in the Roman Catholic Women Priests movement. Bill was a plenary speaker at the first Women’s Ordination Conference in 1975 and launched Priests for Equality that same year, with women’s ordination as a prominent part of the charter.

Supreme Court Bolsters School Aid Program

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Yesterday, the Supreme Court ruled 5-4 that Arizona taxpayers do not have the “standing” necessary to challenge the state’s tuition assistance program. Under the program, taxpayers can direct up to $1000 (for couples) of their tax payment to support private schools.

Among the largest beneficiaries of the program are the state’s Catholic schools. While the ruling is narrow, the local effect is that the program should continue well into the future. Meanwhile, church-state separatists are not happy with the decision, written by associate justice Anthony Kennedy with a dissent from the court’s newest member, Elena Kagan.

Self-exiled Oakland priest pleas for church reform

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Tim Stier, a Catholic priest in voluntary exile and is a resident of Oakland, has written an opinion piece in the Oakland Tribune.

"When I listen to Catholic bishops of late, I find myself wondering what planet these men inhabit," he writes.

On clerical sex abuse, he writes: "Philadelphia is not atypical; it just happens to have a courageous district attorney (a practicing Catholic no less). The Catholic Church is in a state of collapse due to an institutional culture defined by secrecy, elitism and denial."

92-yr old Detroit priest keeps working

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From the Detroit Free Press:

Msgr. Peter Lentine enjoys working so much that even after turning 92, he has no plans to retire from his job.

He has been a priest for six decades, spending the last 44 years as pastor of St. Philomena Parish onDetroit's east side.

"He's the cement behind this whole parish," said parishioner Richard Jungwirth, 76, of Grosse Pointe Farms.

On this day: St. Crescentia Hˆfl

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On this day we celebrate the feast of St. Maria Crescentia Höß, a Franciscan of Kaufbeuren, Bavaria, in the Diocese of Augsburg.

Anna Höß was born in 1682 to Matthias Höß and Lucia Hoermann, poor weavers, the sixth of their eight children. She was a gifted child, and one of her greatest gifts, mentioned by Pope John Paul II in his Homily at her canonization, was her beautiful voice.

Morning Briefing

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How can we explain evil in the world?

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Reading the newspaper today made me think the writer of "The Adjustment Bureau" just might be on to something.

The premise of the film is that angels dressed as businessmen are walking among us, their only business to keep humans on the right track. There are hokey references to “the chairman” and “the plan” in the beginning of the movie and I was just about to write it off when I found some interesting theological food for thought.

The protagonist, played by Matt Damon, meets up with one of the leading angels to argue his case for being with the woman he loves. During that conversation, the angel explains to Damon's character that humans are not really free. Indeed, he says, human beings only have the “appearance of having free will.”

Cesar Chavez and today's unions

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Here in California last Thursday, it was a state holiday -- the birthday of Cesar Chavez, founder and leader of the United Farm Workers Union. There were no brass bands nor Main Street parades, but this day this year comes at a crossroads for unions in America.

In Wisconsin, Ohio and elsewhere, public employee unions are under siege. Many conservative commentators have asserted a difference between these unions of largely white collar bureaucrats and the struggles of miners, farm workers, and the really/truly oppressed. But Chavez himself made no such distinctions -- he was, in the finest Catholic tradition, a bulwark for dignified labor no matter who it was and where the work happened.

That key to Chavez is made clear in a column by the new Archbishop of Los Angeles, Jose Gomez. Writing in the archdiocesan newspaper The Tidings, Gomez notes of the labor leader: "In everything, he declared that life is sacred and that the human person has a dignity as a child of God that no one can take away."

Scranton diocese adopts social networking site

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From a press release:

Diocese of Scranton in PA is an early adopter of the site AreYouCatholic.com. The site focuses on bringing the world together one good deed at a time. The site currently reaches parishioners across the world and will be another medium for Catholic evangelization and faith sharing.

AreYouCatholic.com is currently home to 16 Catholic Churches and over 175 Good Deeds to date. The churches are registered by a member from the church and currently represent the United States, Canada, and Africa. Plans are to get the site in the hands of the Catholic youth, Catholic missionaries, and Catholics across the world. The site is completely free and requires no login information.

Founder, Brian Pedone, is no stranger to startups or Catholicism. He is an active member in his church, the founder of a non-profit boxing gym, head developer in his software company, and was featured in 2008 BusinessWeek's Top 25 Entrepreneurs 25 Years and Under.

On this day: Orphan Trains

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On this day, a century ago, "Sixty-six babies from the New York Foundling Hospital were shipped . . . to foster parents in the South and West in a special car on the noon train for St. Louis from the Grand Central Station.

"The sixty-six foundlings were in charge of two sisters of charity and Agent O'Hara, who has been conducting the hospital's semi-annual transcontinental foundling tours for a great many years."

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