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Protests persist and beatification nears


A growing lobby of churchmen and religious experts are challenging the speed with which the Vatican is propelling Pope John Paul II towards sainthood, just six years after his death, the Guardian reports.

Hailed as the pope who helped bring down communism, who prayed alongside Jews and Muslims, and shrugged off an assassination attempt, John Paul will be beatified in St Peter's Square next Sunday, a first step towards sainthood.

The Vatican is erecting tent cities and stocking up with millions of bottles of water. More than 300,000 people are expected to descend on Rome to honour the Polish pontiff whose charisma gave Catholicism a new lease of life.

But as the crowds begin to arrive, doubts are being expressed over the decision to begin beatification proceedings for John Paul immediately after his death in 2005, instead of observing the usual five-year waiting period.

Read the full story here.

Maureen Dowd on the beatification of John Paul II


And she in among the ranks of those who feel it's a mistake and sends the wrong signal to the faithful.

After Communism collapsed, John Paul offered a stinging critique of capitalism, presciently warning big business to stop pursuing profits “at any price.”

“The excessive hoarding of riches by some denies them to the majority,” he said, “and thus the very wealth that is accumulated generates poverty.”

As progressive as he was on those issues, he was disturbingly regressive on social issues — contraception, women’s ordination, priests’ celibacy, divorce and remarriage. And certainly, John Paul forfeited his right to beatification when he failed to establish a legal standard to remove pedophiles from the priesthood, and simply turned away for many years.

Santo non subito! How can you be a saint if you fail to protect innocent children?

Read her Times column here.

A working mom's Holy Week


There was a time when I did Easter Vigil. The longer, the better (I believe the record was an almost 4-hour service in Pasadena). Vigil Mass was the penultimate spiritual experience, culminating a 40-day journey of prayer, fasting and almsgiving. And Holy Week was retreat-like: Palm Sunday Mass, a Holy Thursday Seder, a Good Friday program at a women’s spirituality center. And Vigil, always Vigil.

That was BK (Before Kids). It also was when I worked for church institutions oriented to the church calendar. Now my life is divided into semesters and governed by the timing of two toddlers.

Advent is known as “end of Fall semester” and most of it is spent grading papers and projects. Ash Wednesday sneaks up on me. “Lent, already?” And Holy Week: Let’s just say that the non-Catholic university where I teach holds classes for adult students on Holy Saturday.

The two children God has blessed me with also make it difficult to spend much time in formal prayer to Her. The longer Palm Sunday liturgy is too much for my son and daughter, and I would never think of interrupting the solemnity of a Good Friday service with “Mommy, I have to go poopy.”

Vatican may resist judge's order for documents


A ruling on Thursday from a federal judge in Oregon marks the first time that an American court has ever issued an order requiring the Vatican to hand over documents in a sex abuse case.

Whether that actually happens, however, depends on how the Vatican responds, including whether it tries to persuade either the Oregon judge or an appeals court that it shouldn’t have to comply.

U.S. District Judge Michael Mosman on Thursday granted a limited number of requests for discovery put forward by attorney Jeffrey Anderson, representing a man who says he was abused by Andrew Ronan, a former Servite priest who was laicized in 1966 and who died in 1992.

The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, the main advocacy group in the United States for victims of clerical abuse, hailed the order as a “historic achievement.”

“Many clergy sex abuse victims are distraught that thousands of Catholic officials who ignore and conceal heinous crimes escape any consequences for their corruption,” said a statement from Joelle Casteix of Newport Beach, California, the western regional director of SNAP.

Thoughts on Benedict's Good Friday Q&A



tIn a move without any direct precedents, Pope Benedict XVI went on Italian television today to respond to seven questions chosen from among 3,000 submitted by ordinary people from all over the world. Although this was certainly not a hard-hitting “Meet the Press”-style encounter, the pope’s answers nevertheless inevitably carry news interest.

tThe following are three quick observations about the importance of Benedict XVI’s television outing.

Communications Strategy

tA pope responding to questions from the general public on TV is a bit reminiscent of what Samuel Johnson once said of a dog walking on its hind legs – what’s striking is not so much how well he does it, but that he does it at all.

Similarly, at one level the important thing about Benedict’s TV appearance isn’t so much what he said, but the fact it happened.

Transcript of papal Q&A on Italian TV


tIn a papal first, Benedict XVI today went on Italian state TV to respond to seven questions from the general public, chosen from among 3,000 submissions from all around the world. Questioners included a seven-year-old girl from Japan, a Muslim woman from the Ivory Coast, and an Italian mother whose son has been in a vegetative coma since 2009.

The program aired in the afternoon Rome time, so that Benedict ended up at roughly 3:00 pm, the time Christian tradition regards as the hour of Jesus’ death on Good Friday.

tThe pope was given the questions in advance and pre-taped his replies in the Vatican. Benedict was shown on a big-screen TV during the Italian broadcast.

tThe following is the transcript of the Q&A session released by the Vatican.

Bourgeois supporters vigil outside cathedrals across nation


Supporters of Maryknoll Fr. Roy Bourgeois have been hosting vigils at Masses across the country this week, standing outside churches and cathedrals with signs backing the embattled priest.

Bourgeois, a longtime peace activist, has been threatened with dismissal from the Maryknoll Fathers and Brothers and laicization by the Vatican for his support of women's ordination.

In a press release Tuesday, Call to Action described the vigils as a way to also show support for "women priests in the Catholic Church."

"As millions of Catholics across the country attend services this Holy Week, the majority of those attending are women, but not one priest leading the services will be a woman," said Jim FitzGerald, the group's executive director.

"It is deeply unjust that while women make up the majority of Catholic Church membership today, they are still forbidden to share their ministerial talents in the role of priest."

Below is a slideshow of photos provided by Call to Action of Bourgeois supporters attending vigils in Los Angeles, Calif.; Savannah, Ga.; Venice, Fla.; Chicago, Ill.; and Madison, Wisc.


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June 16-29, 2017