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Archbishop appears in Crucifixion scene, upsets parishioners


In another case of "you can't make this up," The Los Angeles Times writes about the former bishop of Orldano, Fla., Tom Wenski, now archbishop of Miami, who is prominently placed in a stain glass image of the Crucifixion:

When the renovated St. James Catholic Cathedral is dedicated here Saturday, the new stained-glass windows will feature a few familiar faces: Jesus Christ, the Virgin Mary — and Archbishop Thomas Wenski.

Wenski, dressed in his bishop's red robes and gold miter headgear, is depicted kneeling at the foot of the Crucifix, opposite Roman soldiers and in front of Mary, his hands clasped in prayer and his head tilted upward toward Christ. The Wenski window measures about 4 feet wide and 8 feet, 8 inches tall.

The inclusion of Wenski, who was bishop of the Diocese of Orlando during the downtown cathedral's $10-million renovation and expansion, keeps with the Roman Catholic tradition of incorporating images of the clergy responsible for a church's construction or remodeling, diocese spokeswoman Carol Brinati said.

Dolan and the disaffected


Archbishop Timothy Dolan, newly elected president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, told New York Times reporter Laurie Goodstein in a recent interview that one of his top priorities will be to reach out to the tens of millions of disaffected Catholics in the U.S. population.

I was particularly interested to hear that because when I recently wrote about the phenomenon in a piece headlined "The 'had it' Catholics" -- former Catholics, if considered as a group, would make up the second largest denomination in the country -- I called the USCCB to ask if anyone was tracking or investigating the development. The answer: No one was looking into it.

In the recent interview, Dolan cited recent studies showing that only half of young Catholics marry in the church and that weekly Mass attendance has dropped from a high of 78 percent during the 1960s to 35 percent today.
He expressed urgency in finding out what he can do to help people return to the church.

Catholics and Park51


I’m a few weeks behind, but I was both startled and saddened to see the Gallup poll that showed that Catholics and Mormons, among religious groups, were most likely to support the idea of moving the Park51 mosque to another location. Interestingly, the survey also indicated that Catholics and Jews, even more than Muslims and Protestants, were well aware of the controversy. Jews, however, were far less likely to believe that the solution is for the mosque organizers to move to a separate location.

Catholics were inundated with messages about the Park51 controversy, including a piece by William McGunn in the Wall Street Journal referencing Pope John Paul II’s asking Carmelite nuns to move a convent they had proposed to build on the edge of the Auschwitz concentration camp site. Many used this example to justify their belief that the more “prudent” action would be for the mosque organizers to move to a different location.

Man's fallen nature, and the national debt?


A not-so-small chunk of Catholic theology finds its way into The New York Times yesterday, courtesy David Brook's column on the national debt.

Brooks writes that no real political solution to the debt appears on the horizon, even-though the leadership classes in many other countries -- like Britiain and Germany -- are working hard together to set things right where they live.

Why not here? Brooks argues that more than our national checkbook is out of balance; our sense of national morality is off-kilter as well.

Our system of government, an equilibrium of checks and balances, was established because the founders recognized that human nature -- left unbridled -- won't always allows us to do the right thing.

Brooks writes:

This equilibrium is fragile because we are flawed and fallen creatures and can’t quite trust ourselves. So all of us, but especially members of the leadership class, should practice self-restraint. Moral anxiety restrained hubris (don’t think your side possesses the whole truth) and self-indulgence (debt corrupts character).

The interior life, Thomas Merton, and \"the good that wants to grow in the world\"


The “interior” or inner life has always been an important element in Catholic spirituality. One classic text, The Three Ages of the Interior Life, by Dominican Fr. Reginald Garrigou-Lagrange, lays out in great detail the geography and dynamics of our interior spiritual life. The author presents the interior life as “the one thing necessary” referred to by Jesus when speaking with Martha and Mary. The author defines it as the life of the soul with God, the intimate conversation one has within oneself all through life. He describes the stages of the interior life devised by St. John of the Cross and elaborated upon by Teresa of Avila: the purgative, the illuminative, and unitive states.

International Theological Commission to meet


Media release from Vatican Information Service:

VATICAN CITY, 23 NOV 2010 (VIS) - The International Theological Commission, which is presided by Cardinal William Joseph Levada, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, is due to celebrate is annual plenary session from 29 November to 3 December in the Vatican's "Domus Sanctae Marthae". The meeting will be chaired by Fr. Charles Morerod O.P., secretary general of the commission.

According to a communique published today the commission will study three important themes: the principles of theology, its meaning and its methods; the question of the one God in relation to the three monotheistic religions; and the integration of Church social doctrine into the broader context of Christian doctrine.

At the end of their deliberations the members of the International Theological Commission will be received in audience by the Holy Father.

Emerging religious issues as we move to 2012


Three religious issues are emerging as significant as we march toward the 2012 election: Obama’s “faith dilemma,” perceptions of Islam, and attitudes about American “exceptionalism.” These findings come from a new nationwide poll, conducted in both English and Spanish from November 3-7, 2010 by the Public Religion Research Institute.

People’s perception of Obama’s religious beliefs are strongly related to the way they rate them as President. More than half say that his religious beliefs are different from their own (somewhat different: 16%, or very different: 35%). Only 40% say he has beliefs similar to theirs.


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June 16-29, 2017