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Tonight's Primaries


Tonight’s primaries have made for some strange “branding.” In the Kentucky GOP primary, the insurgent, outsider is Rand Paul, although it is difficult to see how the son of a congressman can really be considered an outsider. In Pennsylvania, Sen. Arlen Specter, who has spent his career defeating Democrats, now asks the Democratic primary electorate to make him their standard bearer in November.

New discoveries about the beginning of the universe


Physicists at the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory in Illinois report that they have discovered a new clue that sheds light on one of the biggest mysteries of cosmology: Why the universe is composed of matter and not its opposite, antimatter. If confirmed, the finding portends fundamental discoveries at the new Large Hadron Collider on the border of Switzerland and France. as well as a possible explanation for our own existence.

In a mathematically perfect universe, we would never have existed. According to the basic precepts of Einsteinian relativity and quantum mechanics, equal amounts of matter and antimatter should have been created in the Big Bang and then immediately annihilated each other in a blaze of energy, leaving nothing behind with which to make stars, galaxies and us. And yet the universe as we know it, with its infinite variety, exists, and physicists want to know why.

Ex-Scranton Catholic teachers awarded $700,000


The sad legacy of Cardinal Justin Rigali and Bishop Joe Martino in Scranton diocese continues.

"The arbitration awards stem from complaints filed by the Scranton Diocese Association of Catholic Teachers, which had represented some teachers until 2006, when then-BishopJoseph Martino restructured the entire Catholic school system, eliminating local school boards and parish councils the union had dealt with. The union asked to represent teachers under the new system of four regional school boards, but was rejected. The diocese opted to start an “Employee Relations Program” it repeatedly insists gives all school employees fair representation.

Fr. Jim Martin, SJ, Takes Down James Carroll


Father Jim Martin, SJ, has a bracing takedown of James Carroll over at America magazine's group blog that is well worth reading. It stunning, indeed, the way some writers on both left and right use the sex abuse scandal to augment arguments that are as unrelated as they are tired. Bill Donohue blames the gays. James Carroll blames celibacy. They deserve each other.

Leading religious on Roman scene named new bishop in Ireland



tSociety of African Missions Fr. Kieran O’Reilly, a leading voice among religious in Rome and a veteran missionary in Liberia and Nigeria, was appointed this morning the new Bishop of Killaloe in Ireland by Pope Benedict XVI.

tO’Reilly has served as Superior General of the Society of African Missions since 2001.

tO’Reilly replaces Bishop William Walsh, who resigned for reasons of age. Three other Irish bishops have recently stepped down amid that country’s sexual abuse crisis, with two other resignations offered but not yet accepted. Given that there are just 31 members of the Irish bishops’ conference, Benedict XVI is effectively overhauling the country’s episcopacy.

tIt’s the nature of a crisis that sometimes choices with important long-term consequences are made on the fly. In the case of O’Reilly, his nomination has at least three implications worth pondering, beyond its immediate implications for the sexual abuse crisis:

Rest in peace, Janine


When I wrote about Janine Denomme last month ("Is women's ordination old news?"), I reported that she was not only fighting for the right to be ordained, but literally for her life. Today she lost that second fight. Janine died this morning of cancer.

A former Jesuit Volunteer, social justice activist, Catholic high school and university teacher, lay preacher, church musician, parish council member, spiritual director and--a month before her death--an ordained priest through the Roman Catholic Womenpriests organization, she passionately served her church and community and inspired many with her courage and spiritual wisdom.

Sadly, because the church excommunicates women who pursue ordination, the Archdiocese of Chicago has refused to allow her to be buried at her Catholic parish.

The Court Balances Mercy & Justice


The Supreme Court today issued two rulings that might seem, at first blush, contradictory. In the first, the Court ruled that it is unconstitutional to sentence a juvenile to life without the possibility of parole except in cases of homicide. In the second, the Court held that the federal government can refuse to release a sex offender, even though his or her sentence is completed, if there is a likelihood that the offender remains a threat to society. The latter outcome seems to be more punitive and the former less so.

I am no constitutional scholar, and so I will pass on any analysis of the legal arguments. But, insofar as law must embody justice, we can all conclude that the Court got it right. It is cruel to conclude that a juvenile is beyond redemption. It is not so unusual: I can hear my mother counseling me to stay away from a certain classmate: “He is a bad egg, and he will never change. I knew his father!” But people do change, and none more than youth. The Court put the possibility of mercy and redemption above the demands of simple, adult justice. That is the right call.

U.S. Francisan elected to head international women religious group


A U.S. Franciscan woman religious was elected May 13 to lead the Union of International General Superiors, the worldwide network that bonds some 600,000 women religious.

Franciscan Daughter of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary, Mary Lou Wirtz, took over from Scottish born UISG president, Sister of Notre Dame de Sion, Maureen Cusick.

The election by the UISG Council of Delegates took place following a five-day gathering of the organization’s general assembly, which drew some 800 general superiors to Rome.

The UISG is an outgrowth of the Second Vatican Council. It is a canonically approved organization of general superiors of institutes of Catholic women religious and is intended to provide an international forum in which women religious leaders can share experiences, exchange information, and set directions for their work.

Wirtz has been the general superior for the Daughters of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary for the past year. That congregation’s mission includes:

    The Vatican's legal strategy in U.S. abuse suits


    The Associated Press and CNN is reporting that the Vatican's U.S. lawyer Jeffrey Lena is to appear in a Louisville, Kentucky, court today to file a motion Monday denying that the church issued a document mandating secrecy in the face of abuse allegations, as many victims allege. CNN says:

    "The Vatican's motion also will argue that bishops are not employees of the Holy See, exempting the Vatican from legal culpability in cases of alleged abuse in the U.S. ...

    "Whether or not the Vatican succeeds in getting the Louisville case dismissed based on those arguments will likely have implications for church abuse lawsuits across the country -- including two other suits that target the Vatican -- at a time when allegations of abuse and cover-up are dogging the church worldwide."

    As soon as we have more news on this, we will post it here.


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