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A Non-traditional Blessing for 2012 

Ruth Fox, OSB

May God bless you with 
discontent with easy answers, half truths, superficial relationships, so that you will live from deep within your heart.
 May God bless you with 
anger at injustice, oppression, abuse, and exploitation of people, so that you will work for justice, equality, and peace.
 May God bless you with 
tears to shed for those who suffer from pain, rejection, starvation and war, so that you will reach out your hand to comfort them and to change their pain to joy.
 May God bless you with 
the foolishness to think you can make a difference in this world, so that you will do the things which others tell you cannot be done.

If you have the courage to accept these blessings, then God will also bless you with


-because you will know that you have made life better for others. 

 inner peace

-because you will have worked to secure an outer peace for others. 


-because your heart will be light. 

 faithful friends

-because they will recognize your worth as a person. 

These blessings are yours - not for the asking, but for the giving - from One who wants to be your companion, our God, who lives and reigns, forever and ever. Amen.


This blessing was written and delivered by Benedictine Sister Ruth Fox of Sacred Heart Monastery in Richardton  ND  about 25 years ago at a Dickinson State University graduation.  It occasionally appears without proper attribution under the title "Franciscan Blessing" although it has no connection to St. Francis or the Franciscans.

A Message from the President 

On Generations and Tradition
While sitting toward the back of the room at the American Catholic Council in Detroit last June, it struck me that the dominant color in the room was gray.  The average age of those gathered was definitely well above the mean.  Naturally, this should come as a surprise to no one.  Those of us who experienced the changes of Vatican II are much more likely to be concerned about the restorationist trend of the past 30 years.  Where we were once thrilled at the changes in the church and the genuine encounter with aggiornamento after the Council, we have since been disappointed with the push back to an authoritarian style of leadership.  We, who experienced the opening up of so many opportunities for lay people and witnessed liturgy that was able to express the community itself, are deeply concerned that a church of clericalism will resume.  We know what it is like to live in a church where the only voice that mattered was "Father's."  Quite frankly, we do not want to go back to that.

Unfortunately, since most of us recognize that any change in the church occurs at glacial speed, we also must acknowledge that the reforms we advocate may not happen in our lifetime.  That means, quite simply, that we must rely on those generations that follow us to see through meaningful reforms.  Which presents us with a huge question: are those younger than us prepared to carry such an agenda forth?  Even more to the point, do they care?  We saw little evidence of the concerns of younger Catholics in Detroit.  There were some present, of course, but the numbers were bleak.  If this is representative of the actual support of reform among the younger church, then we must conclude that as we pass on, so will our dreams of reform.

I, for one, do not believe that this is the case.  I am convinced that there is a desire for a church that is alive, and even more importantly, relevant.  
As one who has been working with young people for a very long time now, as an educator and volunteer, I have certainly observed the changing generations.  There is considerable literature available that describes the various generations. While labels are not entirely appropriate, they can be useful in describing aggregate trends.  The oldest generation, frequently called: "The Silent Generation" are those born before 1946.  These are also referred to as the "Pre-Vatican II" generation.  They have seen the changes better than anyone.  They lived in a very different church.  Their response to the changes has been rather diffuse.  Many resented the changes as taking away pieces of the Catholic culture that they valued.  Many others celebrated the changes as liberating.  Since they grew up in a church that expected their compliance, they were mostly silent.

The giant bulge in our demographics is found in the "Baby Boomer Generation" or those born between 1946 and 1965.  As a member of that generation, I can say that for the most part we embraced the Vatican II reforms.  Those of us that experienced the changes in our adolescent or early adult years found value in liturgy that was relevant and opportunities for greater participation.  Unfortunately, this generation was also poorly catechized with respect to the teachings of Vatican II.  Consequently, generally speaking, we did not pass this on to our children as well as we might have.  Particularly with the American Church, we tended to take liberties with many aspects of church life.  This was not so much because we were being rebellious but that we were not educated well in theology and ecclesiology.  This was also a reflection of the major cultural shifts that were occurring around us.  As we aged, we certainly mellowed but remained quite independent minded.  

The rise of Generation X (Born 1965 -- 1976) brought with it unique challenges.  This generation is fiercely independent and resists the notion of conformity.  They grew up in a world of much higher divorce rates and blended families. Their church experience was one that was incredibly diverse.  They became accustomed to liturgies that were as varied as there were parishes.  While they are somewhat aware of Vatican II, it is not seen as a major influence in their spiritual lives.  Instead, they rely more on individualized spirituality.  At the same time, the likelihood of them remaining fervently Catholic is much lower than the generations before them. They generally mistrust institutions of any kind, so they are not particularly committed to the institution of the church.  There is a strong strain of pragmatism in Generation X, which allows them to see the church as a spiritual vehicle when it is needed.  As long as the ecclesial experience works for them they will remain.  When it no longer works or conflicts with their values they will drift away.  

The Millenial Generation (Born 1977 - 1999) also referred to as Generation Y by some, tends to be also individualist but can also tend to favor structure.  They are not as likely to ignore the rules as they are to re-write them.  This is the generation that is now giving us the "retro priests."  Because they favor setting their own rules, these young priests believe what they are imposing on parishes is actually the way things were.  It is less a matter of wanting to go back to the Pre-Vatican II period as a complete ignorance of it.  The Millenials are committed to the idea of the church in many ways but not as much to its theology or ecclesiology. Ironically, they tend to consider institutions as irrelevant. They are technologically connected but not as personally. They celebrate diversity as those who have grown up in a world that has always presented it.  The amazing thing for us to remember about Millenials is that they have never lived in a world without internet, cell phones, or satellite television.  

The significance of the generational changes is very critical for ARCC.  One of the board members asked me if we were about to become irrelevant.  I have to respond in two ways. First, we will not be irrelevant because rights will always be relevant.  So our mission will always exist.  Recent events have shown that our raison d'être is even more important than ever before.  The aggressive actions of the hierarchy have become more and more pronounced.  On the other hand, unless we can reach those who have come after us, we are in danger of extinction.  The average age of the members and board of ARCC is quite high.  At 60, I am one of the youngest members of the board.  We have invited some younger individuals to join but are really not having much success.  This is even more significant in terms of membership.  Our membership numbers have been in steady decline.  Now is the time to act.

So, I ask you, our loyal members, for your help.  I know that the collective wisdom of ARCC is immense, so we should be able to meet this challenge.  I welcome any ideas that may help us reach a younger audience.  Naturally, I am not for one minute, turning away from our mature membership.  Quite the contrary, I want to develop an intergenerational association which will wield a more effective voice on behalf of the rights of Catholics in the church.  I also welcome any other suggestions you may have to strengthen ARCC.  I know we can make a difference.  We just need to re-focus our attention and broaden our base.  If you want to write directly to me with suggestions or comments, I would be grateful.  

I may be reached by e-mail at patedgar_2005@yahoo.com or by mail at 
20 Columbia 464, Magnolia, AR 71753.         

Patrick B. Edgar, DPA 
President, ARCC

New Translation of the Roman Missal  
We  recommend that you watch these sites during the transition to the new translation:
1.  Misguided Missal
2.  U.S. Catholic; Special Section on the New Liturgy
3.  PrayTell blog
4. Louisville Liturgy Forum

Some things we have been reading     

Dealing with the new translation of the Mass

Richard McBrien       Dec.26, 2011 

There used to be an anti-liturgical joke circulating that said that the only difference between a terrorist and a liturgist is that you can negotiate with a terrorist.  By the same token, there is a seriously mistaken impression abroad that the new translation of the missal was inspired and promoted by liturgists. Nothing could be further from the truth.

The great majority of liturgical scholars were opposed to the new, literal translations. Those who favored the changes were adherents of the so-called "reform of the reform."
In other words, the changes were inspired and promoted, not by liturgists, but by traditionalists in the hierarchy and a minority of ultra-conservatives within the Catholic church generally.
Read more 

In the face of church's change, new liturgy is really 'Whatever'

Tom Roberts          Dec. 28, 2011

We were visiting family over the holidays and attended Mass at a parish where there was evidence of the ongoing tussle with the new liturgy. At one point during an attempt to keep up with that unnecessarily unwieldy construction of "Lord, I am not worthy that you should enter under my roof," someone nearby got tongue-tied and finished it off with, "Whatever."

I chuckled. It was good to laugh about it.

Those of us who by virtue of our circumstances (religion writers, for instance, or professional liturgists) know the back story to the changes are more likely than not to bristle at the rather saccharine presentation of reasons for the changes. The reality, of course, is that the changes were as much as anything else about power and maintaining control, rolling back the language that came to reflect the changes in theology and community disposition that occurred as a result of the Vatican Council of the 1960s. Yes, yes, it was to restore some of the majesty and awe, some of the precision of the Latin upon which the prayers are based, to restore anew the sense of mystery and to re-establish the distance between priest and people.

But those who know the story in its fullest details know that the "new" translation, a reform of the reform, was actually commandeered by a group of men who met secretly and, in a matter of days, undid a process that had occurred under two popes and with the wide participation of bishops and professionals in the English-speaking world.
Read more

Why is this convoluted translation only foisted on English-speaking Catholics?

Fr  John  McSweeney     Dec.28,  2011

According to an article in The Furrow recently, German, French and Italian missals, approved by Pius VI in 1974, have not been retranslated even though the principle guiding these translations was the much more liberal 'dynamic equivalence' and not the slavish literalism of the 2001 Decree Liturgiam Authenticam. Why is it only the English speakers who are having the new literal and indeed convoluted translation foisted on them? 
. . . .
Holy Mother Church showed some flexibility in restoring the Latin Tridentene Mass as an option when some Vatican II deniers cried loud and often enough. If enough pro Vatican II believers raise their voices where they can be heard will Rome be flexible enough to restore Paul VI's Missal as an option? My advice: don't burn those old missals yet - who knows, they may become relevant again! Better still, my hope would be that the 1996 missal approved by all the English speaking bishops (but rejected by Rome) would be published and made available as an alternative to the present translation. 

NCR chooses 2011's person of the year

An NCR Editorial      Dec.30, 2011

The year 2011 offered the Catholic world a number of big news stories: the implosion of the church in Ireland; the first indictments of Catholic leaders, including a bishop, in the tragic clergy sex abuse saga; the initiation of reform movements by Catholics priests in Ireland, Austria, Germany, United States and Belgium; and the Vatican-forced implementation of the new Roman Missal.
Among the NCR headline-grabbing stories was one seemingly smaller and in some ways more personal story. Yet it had significant meaning and holds long-range consequences. It was the perplexing news story of the U.S. bishops' doctrine committee's condemnation of a 2007 book by Fordham University theologian St. Joseph Sr. Elizabeth Johnson. At the heart of the severe condemnation (approved by the U.S. bishops' Administrative Committee) of Quest for the Living God: Mapping Frontiers in the Theology of God is an unresolved theological conflict that revealed a rift between mainstream Catholic theologians and U.S. bishops.
Read more

And the Winner of this Year's Coughie Award is...

Frank Cocozzelli     Dec.30, 2011 

It's that time of year once again, to announce the recipient of the Coughlin Award --  presented annually to the person who best exemplifies an exclusionary, strident interpretation of the Catholic faith. The award is named for Father Charles Coughlin, the notorious radio priest of the 1930s who is the role model for today's Religious Right radio and television evangelists and other conservative media personalities.

This year the bride's maid finally takes his walk down the aisle. This Coughie is for you, Bill Donohue!
Read more


Bishop ponders reasons Americans leave Catholic church

Richard McBrien      Jan.02, 2012 

Bishop Howard Hubbard of Albany, N.Y., is the only U.S. bishop I know of who has explicitly taken into account the report of the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life that appeared more than two years ago and found that one in 10 Americans has left the Catholic church.
Thus, if ex-Catholics were a denomination unto themselves, they would constitute the second largest, behind only the Catholic church itself.

Bishop Hubbard has been writing a series of monthly articles in his diocesan paper, The Evangelist, regarding the departure of so many Catholics from the church.   . . . .   Other bishops would do well to read his column, "Failings of the Church," in Origins, November 17, 2011, vol. 41, no. 24.  
Read more


Former Episcopal bishop to head new US ordinariate for ex-Anglicans

Nancy Frazier O'Brien    Jan.1, 2012

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- Pope Benedict XVI has established a U.S. ordinariate for former Anglicans who wish to become Catholics and named a married former Episcopal bishop to head it.

The Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter -- functionally equivalent to a diocese, but national in scope -- will be based at a parish in Houston. It will be led by Father Jeffrey N. Steenson, the former Episcopal bishop of the Rio Grande who was ordained a Catholic priest of the Archdiocese of Santa Fe, N.M., in February 2009.
Read more  


On Day One, The Ordinariate Spreads North 

Rocco Palmo     Jan.02, 2012

While the Vatican's announcement of the launch of the US' Anglican Ordinariate of the Chair of St Peter takes top line today, a key sidebar of the news has freshly presented itself.

Over recent weeks, reports from Canada have hinted that the country's number of Anglican entrants "do not warrant" the establishment of a separate national jurisdiction.
Accordingly, while a letter from Bishop Douglas Crosby of Hamilton obtained by Whispers
heralds the Ontario diocese's reception today
 of a "small group" of former Anglicans into full Catholic communion, the text goes on to indicate that, "in due time," the received group will "become part of the Personal Ordinariate that is being erected in the United States."
Read more

Catholics silent in Iowa caucus hype

Tom Carney        Dec,30, 2011

Religion has had an extraordinary presence in the buildup to the first-in-the-nation Iowa caucuses on Jan. 3, but Catholics have been distinguished by their silence.
 . . . .
Tom Chapman, executive director of the Iowa Catholic Conference, which represents the bishops and Catholics of the four Iowa dioceses and lobbies the state legislature on their behalf, said from the conference's point of view, "participation in politics is an obligation for Catholics. People of faith should get involved."

Writing letters and speaking out, however, is a matter of choice and doesn't necessarily speak to a Catholic's commitment. He paraphrased a quote attributed to St. Francis of Assisi: "Always preach the Gospel; when necessary use words."

As for Catholic clergy involvement, Bishop Richard Pates of Des Moines says speaking out at caucus time is not the clergy's role.
Read more


Conclave contenders - Potential papabili

Robert Mickens      Dec.31, 2011

One of the talking points in Rome in recent months has been the growing frailty of Pope Benedict. Inevitably, speculation has turned to his likely successor. Our Rome correspondent offers an insider's guide to those considered papabile
In just a few months from now, Pope Benedict XVI will officially surpass Blessed John Paul II and become the oldest man in more than 100 years to serve as Bishop of Rome. The Polish Pope died just 16 days shy of his eighty-fifth birthday, a milestone Pope Benedict is set to reach on 16 April. Only four other popes since the end of the thirteenth century have made it to 86 years of age, of which the most recent was Pope Leo XIII, who died aged 93 in 1903.

Although Pope Benedict's general health appears to be good, he has begun to show signs of fatigue and increasing frailty. History and prudence would suggest that the car­dinals of the Church should seriously start thinking about suitable candidates to succeed him. Casting a vote for the Successor of Peter is the main and gravest purpose for which they are given a red hat. They must avoid being caught unprepared, as apparently they were at the last conclave, when a number of cardinals publicly confessed that they did not know their confrères very well. 

The next Pope is likely to be the product of a compromise among the electors, evidently not the case at the last conclave. The voting rules had been significantly revised in 1996 by Pope John Paul II, allowing for a simple majority vote after a couple of weeks of stalemate. Previously, voting would continue until a candidate received two-thirds-plus-one votes. Apparently, Joseph Ratzinger had reached a simple majority early in the balloting and, according to one theory, a number of other cardinals agreed to add their support to his candidacy rather than risk a protracted conclave and highlighting the divisiveness that that would have signalled. 
Read more 


Signs of uncertainty not in short supply at Vatican

Paddy Agnew     Dec. 29, 2011

"JOSEPH RATZINGER should never have become pope. It could not happen. According to the unwritten rules of papal conclaves such a 'divisive' figure would never be able to command the two-thirds vote necessary to be elected."  Those are the opening words of a new book, Ratzinger, A Pontificate In Crisis , by Marco Politi, the veteran Vatican commentator.
. . . .
When Politi speaks of a "crisis" in this pontificate, he is referring to a "disoriented Curia", many of whom, off the record, argue that Vatican ship of state is currently drifting around without a compass, a helm or even a determined helmsman:"If to govern means confronting problems head on, looking for solutions and creating the best conditions for the development of the community you lead, as well as reforming the organisation for which you are responsible, making it more prepared for the challenges of the future, then it is obvious that Benedict XVI's Vatican shows all the signs of uncertainty about strategic policies," he writes.
. . . .
The result, suggests Politi, is a Pope who is indeed increasingly "disconnected" if not necessarily "dysfunctional", a Pope who can go weeks without a face-to-face meeting with his senior spokesman, Fr Federico Lombardi, and who relies on a cursory glance at the Vatican's press clippings service for information.  Is it any surprise, concludes Politi, that in this pontificate, the Holy See is not the world player it once was?  
Read more

Priests join victims in call for justice

Mark Johnson      Dec.27, 2011

Calling it a historic chapter in the history of the clergy sexual abuse scandal in the Archdiocese of Milwaukee, a group of victims and priests has banded together to call for more transparency from church officials and to urge other victims to come forward and file for restitution in federal bankruptcy court before a Feb. 1 deadline.

The priests and victims have been meeting quietly for roughly a year since Peter Isely, the Midwest director for the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, approached Father James Connell after a news conference.
. . . .
The four priests involved forged the union with the survivors group independent of the archdiocese.
. . . .
The independent group of priests and victims took out a full-page ad in Tuesday's Journal Sentinel, urging further abuse victims to come forward by the deadline in bankruptcy court.
Read more 


A Message from Priests and from Survivors of Childhood Sexual Abuse by Clergy

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel paid adverisement     Dec.27, 2011

Some of us are priests of the Archdiocese of Milwaukee and some of us are survivors of childhood rape and sexual assault by priests.
In the wake of the bankruptcy filing by the archdiocese this year, we have joined together in an ongoing dialogue about the clergy sex abuse crisis and what we can do about it.

Today we are making an urgent appeal to victim/survivors to come forward before the closing of the February 1, 2012 bankruptcy bar date, and offer our help.

The sexual abuse of a minor by a priest is a crime and a sin. If you were sexually violated by a member of the clergy it was not your fault. We want you to know that:
* If you suffered this violation you are not alone.
* There are many survivors who have come forward and are receiving the care and assistance that they need.
* There are many resources in our community that are available to assist you.
* To be believed you must be heard. No one else will know unless you tell them.
* We stand by you and support you.

Read more

In Philadelphia, The Shake-Up Begins at Home -- Chaput To Sell Archbishop's Residence 

Rocco Palmo        Dec.30, 2011

In the most concrete sign yet of his plans to thoroughly reshape the beleaguered church he's inherited, Philadelphia's Archbishop Charles Chaput OFM Cap. is giving up the mansion at the city's edge which his predecessors have called home for the last 75 years.

Less than four months after taking the reins of the 1.2 million-member  Northeaster  "supertanker,"  Chaput reportedly decided to seek a buyer for the historic, 12,600 square-foot Cardinal's Residence and its 8.9-acre grounds over recent weeks, according to archdiocesan sources. No official announcement of the move is expected to be made.
Read more

Chicago Cardinal Compares Gay Rights Movement to KKK

John Gehring     Dec.22, 2011

Cardinal Francis George of Chicago, the former president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, owes an apology to the gay and lesbian community of his city. During an interview with Fox News in Chicago, the cardinal compares gay rights activists to the KKK. Even the Fox News reporters seem stunned.
Read more

Catholic Group Blasts Cardinal's Comment Comparing Gay Rights Parade to KKK 

Sarah Posner     Dec.22, 2011 

Equally Blessed, an umbrella group of four pro-LGBT rights Catholic organizations, today condemned comments made by Chicago's Cardinal Francis George, past president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, objecting to Chicago's gay rights parade.  . . . .
Equally Blessed charges in a statement that George "has demeaned and demonized LGBT people in a manner unworthy of his office. In suggesting that the Catholic hierarchy has reason to fear LGBT people in the same way that blacks, Jews, Catholics and other minorities had reason to fear the murderous nightriders of the Ku Klux Klan, he has insulted the memory of the victims of the Klan's violence and brutality."
Read more

Cardinal's comparison is nonsensical 

NCR Editorial         Jan.02. 2012

Whether Chicago's Cardinal Francis George went into a Dec. 21 television interview intending to compare the gay community with the Ku Klux Klan or impulsively gave voice to something that popped into his mind at the moment, it is clear that he welcomed any opportunity to pick a fight.

His incendiary comment, spur of the moment or not, betrays a larger context that, in the cardinal's universe, is no secret. And that context is that anti-Catholic hordes - gays, materialists, certainly The New York Times, politicians who won't hew their views and strategies to the Catholic line, and other societal forces - lurk around every corner and are largely responsible for all the church's troubles.
Read more

Note:  Many are for calling for George's resignation. By coincidence, he turns 75 on January 16, and therefore is required to send a letter of resignation to the pope.  


Christmas in Jail, on Mount Athos

Sandro Magister       Jan.2, 2012

Since Tuesday, December 27, Hegumen Ephraim has been in a Greek jail, in spite of his advanced age and precarious health. The prosecutor accuses him of being implicated in an illegal sale of land, on the part of his monastery, to the detriment of the Greek state. The investigation had been underway since 2008, and seemed routine. But in recent days it suddenly crystallized in this unprecedented arrest, in a country in which the Orthodox Christian religion has a privileged status, with even more pronounced autonomy for Mount Athos.
Read more

Sex abuse scandal in the Netherlands brings requiem for Dutch Catholicism

Mathew N. Schmalz     Dec. 22, 2011

Last Friday, Archbishop of Utrecht Wim Eijk held a press conference to apologize for the abuse of tens of thousands of children in Catholics institutions in the Netherlands. The abuse was documented in a report that covered the year 1945 onward. Since the story is now a familiar one, the report has merited mention but little sustained attention.

But for some Catholics of my generation, the press conference was a coda, a requiem of sorts. Back in the '70s, Dutch Catholicism represented an open and engaged Catholicism. It embodied a vision of what Catholicism could become in the wake of the reforms of the Second Vatican Council.
Read more

Deputy PM calls for reform of Catholic Church

Radio Netherlands Worldwide      Dec.17, 2011

Deputy Prime Minister Maxime Verhagen says Dutch bishops should consider resigning in response to the damning Deetman report on child sex abuse at Catholic institutions.

Speaking on television, Mr Verhagen, himself a Catholic, said that trust in the Catholic Church had been profoundly damaged. He called for the Catholic Church to undertake a far-reaching reform in order to restore confidence in it. The Church, he added, ought to examine why just 200,000 of the country's four million self-declared Catholics regularly attend mass.
Read more

It's Time To Ordain Women-Again
The one book Catholic bishops should read in 2012 

Sarah Posner     Dec.22, 2011

Women Deacons: Past, Present Future
by Gary Macy, William T. Ditewig, and Phyllis Zagano
Paulist Press , 2012
In their new book, Women Deacons: Past, Present Future, Gary Macy, William T. Ditewig, and Phyllis Zagano revisit the question of women's ordination to the diaconate in the Roman Catholic Church. Unlike ordination to the priesthood, women's ordination to the diaconate has unambiguous roots in the Christian New Testament, where Phoebe is named as a deacon of the church in Cenchrae (Rm. 16:1). Likewise, Roman Catholic canon law appears to have much more wiggle room with regard to the diaconate.

Macy, Ditewig, and Zagano have been swimming in the often choppy sea of questions around the ordination of women in the Catholic Church for many years. RD contributor Elizabeth Drescher talked with the three writers about how their collaborative project advances the conversation. 
Read more 

Andrea Bocelli - The Lord's Prayer

YouTube link 

Upcoming Event 
New Ways Ministry's Seventh National Symposium  
to be held March 15-17, 2012

From Water to Wine: Lesbian/Gay Catholics and Relationships, New Ways Ministry's Seventh National Symposium, will be held March 15-17, 2012, in Baltimore, Maryland, Major speakers: Bishop Geoffrey Robinson, Luke Timothy Johnson, Patricia Beattie Jung, Richard Rodriguez, Kathleen Kennedy Townsend. Bishop Geoffrey Robinson will facilitate a pre-symposium retreat day.  Workshop topics: marriage equality, transgender issues, youth and young adults, lesbian nuns and gay priests/religious, Latino/a issues, African-American issues, and coalition building. For more information: info@NewWaysMinistry.org, (301) 277-5674 or www. NewWaysMinistries.org.

Association for the Rights of Catholics in the  Church 
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