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Church ministers whose own professional development budgets have been cut (I know that's the first to go) can still find enrichment without the airfare and hotel costs of a long-distance seminar.

Webinars on topics ranging from "Management for Ministry" to "Applying the Bishops' High School Curriculum to Parish Programs" are available for free. Yes, free!

Is Pope's PR team ready for UK visit?


The Guardian has an interesting article from yesterday examining the Pope's PR team. Is it ready for the spotlight during the UK visit?

From the piece:

The consistent strand that runs through 10 years of changes in official Catholic communications is a lack of people involved who have worked as journalists. The approach of the Catholic Communications Network (CCN) has been, on the whole, professional but reactive. It never seeks to set the agenda. This allows some of the more mischievous in the media to portray the church as "sex-crazed", interested only in issues such as abortion, birth control and civil partnerships. There has, however, been some improvement since Vincent Nichols took over from Cormac Murphy-O'Connor as the archbishop of Westminster last year. More comfortable with the media than his predecessor, Nichols has spoken out on issues as varied as the economic crisis and youth violence.

'Leaked recordings taken out of context'


Here's an update I just added to the story about audio recordings of a meeting between Belgium Cardinal Danneels and a victim of sexual abuse by a bishop that was posted earlier today (See: Belgium cardinal tried to keep abuse victim quiet.) The update comes from Catholic News Service.

Cardinal Danneels's spokesman told Catholic News Service correspondent Jonathan Luxmoore that news reports on the recorded meeting have been interpreted out of context.

"There was no intention of any cover-up," Toon Osaer, spokesman for the cardinal, who retired in January as archbishop of Mechelen-Brussels, told Catholic News Service Aug. 30.

"Seen from today's perspective, the cardinal realizes he was rather naive to think he could help the family in question reach a reconciliation," he said. "At that moment, however, the family didn't want to make public something they'd kept secret for 24 years."

NCR contributor on five years since Katrina


Frequent NCR contributor and New Orleans resident Jason Berry offered his thoughts on the city's post-Katrina revival for two publications this weekend.

In the Canadian paper The Globe and Mail, Berry spoke of the divide between the burgeoning of culture and the failure of politics Katrina brought to the city.

From the piece:

Culture prevailed, post Katrina, but politics failed.

From a pre-storm population of 457,000, New Orleans is smaller by 100,000. The city was 67-per-cent African-American; today that figure is about 61 per cent. Roughly a third of the population lived in poverty before Katrina and now, despite a smaller human footprint, poverty and crime still run deep.

The flood hit hardest in downriver neighbourhoods like the Lower Ninth Ward, which today has pockets of recovery amid a ghost town of empty houses. The brightest spot is a cluster of pastel homes, solar powered and of cutting-edge architectural design, sponsored by Brad Pitt's Make It Right Foundation. A movie star did more to rebuild the Big Nine than city hall.

'Almost Christians' learn to be nice


Hat tip to the Religion News blog over at the Pew Forum for Religion and Public Life. The story comes from the

Catholics have been commenting on this issue for years now.

God loves you and wants you to be happy.

Be nice to other people and pray if you get into trouble.

That's what most teenagers are learning in church these days, says Kenda Creasy Dean, professor of youth, church and culture at Princeton Theological Seminary. Instead of learning the Bible, young people are drawn to a cult of niceness, Dean said. Being nice is OK, but it doesn't have much to do with Jesus, she said.

"The problem is that it's an incredibly selfish way to look at faith," Dean said. "It means that God is out there to make us happy."

A major study of religion in youth found that many young people are "almost Christian" — they believe in God, but they don't believe Christian doctrines.

State pays for Mother Teresa train


This report from Ecumenical News International shows that while Americans hesitated in how to celebrate Mother Teresa's birthday, Indians had not such compunction. (I added the bold.)

More than 25 000 people gathered at Sealdah railway station in Kolkata [formerly Calcutta] for the launch of the "Mother Express" train, a highlight of the centenary celebrations of the birth of Mother Teresa.

"Mother has become a household name here and the people are proud that she belonged to this city," said Mamta Bannerji, a Hindu who is India's federal railways minister and who hails from Kolkata, before she flagged off the special train funded by the railway ministry.

Painted in white and blue, the color of the Missionaries of Charity congregation founded by Mother Teresa, the air-conditioned "Mother Express" is a mobile exhibition about the life of Mother Teresa. It is to travel across the country to spread her message of love and care.

Campaign for Human Development Model?


On its website, the Catholic Key, newspaper of the Kansas City-St. Joseph Archdiocese, offers some suggested guidelines for Catholic Campaign for Human Development funding.

How much these suggestions differ from what the national CCHD program actually supports I simply don't know. But it is hard to argue with the results. The programs the archdiocese actually recommends for national funding based on these criteria seem quite worthwhile, worthy recipients of funds designed to further the church's social justice mission.

Am I missing something here? Or might such a model be the basis of a cease-fire in the CCHD wars?

Danneels latest symbol of a culture in need of reform


Some will be surprised at the revelation that Cardinal Godfried Danneels of Belgium urged a victim who was abused by his uncle, a bishop, to remain quiet, accept a private apology and allow the bishop to retire and not “drag his name through the mud.”

Secretly made recordings of meetings among the cardinal, the victim and the perpetrator leave little room for Danneels to explain his way out of his own words. He didn’t call the police, he didn’t immediately seek removal of the bishop, he didn’t act immediately to find out whether there had been other victims.


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In This Issue

March 24-April 6, 2017