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  • Before the 2020 presidential elections



    Americans not obsessed with politics -- that is, most Americans -- will start paying serious attention to the 2020 presidential race after the February 3 Iowa caucuses and the February 11 New Hampshire primary -- or perhaps after the March 3 Super Tuesday primaries winnow the Democratic field. So before the partisan din rises to ear-shattering volume, there's some time left for Americans who aren't entombed in ideological silos to ponder the qualities they would like to see in a president of the United States. I recently came across a description of such qualities.

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  • Understanding the debate about celibacy



    In one of those embarrassing public dust-ups that occasionally afflict our Church, a soon-to-be published book on priestly celibacy was publicized as being co-authored by retired Pope Benedict XVI until he let it be known that he was not the co-author and wanted his name removed as such.

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  • Catholic Church and Alpha movement



    Q. A number of Catholic parishes here in my archdiocese have hosted programs on the Alpha movement in Christianity. I have found conflicting guidance as to the legitimacy/orthodoxy of this movement. Can you advise me as to whether it is approved for Catholic membership? (Tigard, Oregon)

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  • Hold the Botox



    I get my picture taken a lot. I'm not particularly photogenic, but as president of The Catholic University of America, people expect me to be in the frame for a lot of occasions, and it would be rude for me to refuse.

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  • Celebrating joyfully the First Sunday of the Word of God



    Since the beginning of his pontificate, Pope Francis has given particular attention to how Catholics celebrate the Mass. The Mass is not only, as the Second Vatican Council clearly taught, the "source and summit of the Christian life," but also a school. Because the faith of believers is profoundly influenced by the way the Church prays (lex orandi lex credendi), Pope Francis has sought in various ways to strengthen the liturgical curriculum.

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  • Cardinal's letter on ROE Act



    Following is the text of the letter Cardinal Seán P. O'Malley asked to be read at all Masses Jan. 18-19 urging Catholics to contact their legislators in opposition to the so-called ROE Act. As we proceed with the New Year in the life of the Church allow me this opportunity to bring to your attention two very serious and deeply troubling legislative bills being considered by the Joint Committee on the Judiciary at the Massachusetts State House.

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  • Economic instability and meeting basic needs in Massachusetts



    We hear all the time that the economy nationwide is in a healthy place, but a recent article in the Boston Globe reports that Massachusetts is a leading state when it comes to "elder economic insecurity." The article details that half of older Americans (age 65 and over and living alone) and nearly one-quarter of older couples struggle to afford basic necessities. In Boston, the cost of living is higher than in other areas of the state, and nearly three out of every four adults living alone lack the income to cover necessary expenses.

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  • Breaking the chains of poverty through Catholic education



    When I hear that a Catholic school closes or struggles to stay open, my heart aches. There are more than 14 million school-age Catholic children in our country, 8 million of them Hispanic. If anything, we should be building Catholic schools, especially where Catholicism is growing. At the very least, we should keep those that exist open and primarily at the service of thea new populations transforming the U.S. Catholic experience.

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  • A new mission parish in Taunton



    On Jan. 1, 1865, Father Daniel Hearne wrote to then Father John J. Williams of Boston, resigning as pastor of St. Mary Parish in Taunton. The roots of the Taunton parish can be traced to January 1828, when Bishop Benedict Fenwick, whose diocese consisted of the six New England States, tasked Father Robert D. Woodley with travelling through Rhode Island to assess the need for a Catholic Church there and the local community's willingness to support one.

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  • Perfect offering



    Jesus speaks through the prophet Isaiah in today's First Reading. He tells us of the mission given to Him by the Father from the womb: "'You are My servant,' He said to Me." Servant and Son, our Lord was sent to lead a new exodus--to raise up the exiled tribes of Israel, to gather and restore them to God. More than that, He was to be a light to the nations, that God's salvation may reach to the ends of the earth (see Acts 13:46--47).

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  • The hex of Harry Frazee



    The Curse of the Bambino is a misnomer. It's not that there wasn't a curse put on the Boston Red Sox when the sale of Babe Ruth to the New York Yankees was made public 100 years ago this week; obviously, if you follow baseball, you know that there was. I just don't think it's fair to blame the curse on Ruth, who had loved his time in Boston.

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  • 'The two popes': baloney, brilliantly acted



    I first met Pope Emeritus Benedict in June 1988; over the next three decades, I've enjoyed many lengthy conversations and interviews with him, including a bracing discussion covering many topics last October 19. I first met Pope Francis in Buenos Aires in May 1982, and have had three private audiences with him since his election as Successor of Peter. Before, during, and after the conclaves of 2005 and 2013, I was deeply engaged in Rome, where my work included extensive discussions with cardinal-electors before each conclave was immured and after the white smoke went up. On both occasions, I correctly predicted to my NBC colleagues the man who would be elected and, in 2013, the day the election would occur.

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  • '1917' and remembering who we are



    I saw the film "1917" on the vigil of the feast of the Baptism of the Lord, and I think there's a connection between the movie and the liturgical celebration. Bear with me. First, as everyone who has seen it remarks, the editing and cinematography of "1917" are so astounding that it appears to unfold completely in real time, the result of one continuous shot. Think of the famous scene from Scorsese's "Goodfellas," in which Ray Liotta and his date walk into the night club -- but now stretched out for two hours. What this produces in the viewer is an almost unprecedented sense of being there, experiencing the events with the characters in the film. And to be inserted into the First World War is, to put it mildly, horrific. Obviously, all wars are terrible, but there was just something uniquely appalling about World War I: the oppressiveness of the trenches, the rampant disease, the hopelessness of fighting over a few hundred yards of blasted earth, the rats (which play a prominent and disgusting role in "1917"), and above all, the mass killing that was the result of combining antiquated military strategy and modern weaponry. As witnessed to by so many thinkers and writers who participated in it -- Paul Tillich, J.R.R. Tolkien, Ludwig Wittgenstein, Ernest Hemingway, etc. -- the First World War represented, as did no other war to that date, a collapse, a sea change, a cultural calamity.

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  • End of Christmas season?



    Q. At my previous parish, we said that the end of the Christmas season was the feast of the Epiphany (the three Wise Men). My current parish, though, says that the Christmas season concludes a week later on the feast of the Baptism of the Lord. Which one is right? And if it's the latter, what does the baptism of Jesus by John the Baptist in the Jordan River have to do with Christmas? (New Middletown, Indiana)

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  • Nuclear



    Unrealistic. That, no doubt, was the not uncommon reaction to Pope Francis's November plea for nuclear disarmament, including an end to nuclear deterrence. So let us consider who comes out on top in this argument -- the self-proclaimed realists or idealists who agree with the pope.

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  • Living 20-20



    Launching into a new year is usually accompanied by a lot of talk about what we're leaving behind. The past few weeks have been filled with decade reviews, retrospectives, and projections about what is likely to lie ahead. The problem with 2020 is that there is no such thing as 20-20 foresight. History matters. We all interpret what's gone before and piece together our own narratives. We carry those stories forward into the future and view what unfolds through those lenses.

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  • Mysteries in our faith



    There seem to be two basic approaches that we can take to reality and our place within it. These approaches are exclusive, and we need to choose between them. Either (1) we are set on accepting reality only insofar as it is somehow tailored to us, or (2) we accept ourselves only insofar as we are tailored to reality. The first approach is associated with self-centeredness, graspingness, and consumption. The second is related to self-abandonment, gift, and creativity. The first makes increasing demands on others and never quite finds satisfaction. The second makes diminishing demands on oneself and is effectively satisfied even from the start. Let's call these egoism and altruism. These terms aren't the best, but they are available, and, in some ways, they match the distinction I want to make.

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  • The foxes and the henhouse



    Probably the biggest bioethics story of 2019 involved Dr. Jiankui He (known to his associates as "JK"), a Chinese scientist who employed a new technology called CRISPR/Cas9 to produce the world's first gene-edited babies. JK made genetic changes to two little girls, Lulu and Nana, when they were early-stage embryos, attempting to modify a receptor for HIV to confer resistance to a possible future infection from the virus. He publicly announced the birth of the girls at an international scientific conference near the end of 2018, and as the news rapidly spread, many scientists and commentators expressed shock and dismay over his "designer baby" experiments.

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  • Catholic judges under the microscope



    Catholics wanting to serve our country in the legal system are coming under intense scrutiny. In 2017, University of Notre Dame law professor Amy Coney Barrett was grilled by members of the Senate Judiciary Committee about her Catholic faith. Sen. Dianne Feinstein told Barrett that "the dogma lives loudly within you, and that's a concern."

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  • Anointed ones



    Jesus presents himself for baptism in today's Gospel not because He is a sinner, but to fulfill the word of God proclaimed by his prophets. He must be baptized to reveal that he is the Christ ("anointed one") -- the Spirit-endowed Servant promised by Isaiah in today's First Reading.

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  • Your guess is as good as mine



    It's that time of year, boys and girls, when pundits get out their crystal balls and dust off their Ouija boards; when they reshuffle the tarot cards, read the tea leaves, and hold their fingers to the wind prior to making their annual predictions of what will happen during the coming year in sports.

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  • The Martini Curve revisited



    Pope Francis concluded his pre-Christmas address to the Roman Curia by invoking the memory of Cardinal Carlo Maria Martini, SJ, who died in September 2012. The Holy Father recalled that, "in his last interview, a few days before his death, [Cardinal Martini] said something that should make us think: 'The Church is 200 years behind the times. Why is she not shaken up? Are we afraid? Fear, instead of courage. Yet faith is the Church's foundation. Faith, confidence, courage ... Only love conquers weariness.'"

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  • Is incense harmful to health?



    Q. Since it is now known that incense is medically harmful -- causing asthma, contact dermatitis and lung cancer -- why does the church continue to use it? I am severely asthmatic, and a fairly large number of our elderly parishioners are oxygen-dependent. Our pastor will not make concessions, which means that a number of us have no way of attending Mass. (Oregon)

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  • A queen and two popes



    "Verisimilitude" is a $10 word that is quite handy these days. It means "giving the appearance of being true or real." It might be an appropriate, if clunky, label for a new genre of docu-fiction, where relatively recent or even current events are portrayed, but with a blending of fact and fantasy that both gives the appearance of being true while at the same time claiming creative license when challenged.

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  • Make 2020 a year of forgiveness



    As we trudge into 2020, a year that promises to be just as rancorous politically as the year we are ending, I find myself thinking about forgiveness. Not forgiveness as a meek act of acquiescing to evil, which is what our national climate might persuade us to believe. But forgiveness as a deep spiritual practice that does not stand in the way of a continuing pursuit of justice.

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  • New Year's Resolutions for Concerned Catholics: A Few Suggestions



    During and after the grim martial law period in the early 1980s, many freedom-minded Poles would greet each other on January 1 with a sardonic wish: "May the new year be better than you know it's going to be!" As 2020 opens that salutation might well be adopted by Catholics concerned about the future of the Church, for more hard news is coming. So let's get some of that out of the way, preemptively, before considering some resolutions that might help us all deal with the year ahead in faith, hope, and charity.

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  • A greeting from Catholic Charities board chair and interim president



    When Debbie Rambo announced her intention to retire, the board of directors engaged a search firm to assist them in identifying the next president for Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Boston (CCAB). The selection of the next president is one of the most critical decisions a board can make. As a result, we view this responsibility very seriously and are conducting a very thoughtful, rigorous and disciplined process to find the right person to lead CCAB as we look to the future. As we continue the search process, the board asked me to step in as interim president on Dec. 1 as Debbie officially retired. I will remain as chair of the board, as well.

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  • The dollars and sense of our Catholic tithing



    My kids find it hilarious when my wife pulls out her checkbook -- banking's equivalent of a typewriter. But we still write checks every week to put in our offering envelope for church. I know this is old school. More and more people are going direct deposit, which churches like because it guarantees a dependable flow of revenue, whether the faithful skip that week or month or visit another parish.

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  • A Hall of Famer who isn't in the Hall



    There are more than a few players who deserve to be in the National Baseball Hall of Fame, but who, for whatever reason, have never made the cut. My choice as the most deserving non-member has never come close to being elected. In fact his best showing was in 1960 when he received just 16 percent of the 75 percent of votes needed for induction.

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