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Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. Day - Jan. 21


    "Hate begets hate; violence begets violence; toughness begets a greater toughness. We must meet the forces of hate with the power of love."


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"We are now faced with the fact that tomorrow is today. We are confronted with the fierce urgency of now. In this unfolding conundrum of life and history there is such a thing as being too late. Procrastination is still the thief of time. "


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Downton Abbey to Vatican City: 

a New Year's Refection        

John W. Greenleaf   Jan.14,2013  


 Downton Abbey


Over the Christmas and New Year's holidays, I watched a number of Downton Abbey episodes, watching the unfolding lives of the aristocratic Crawley family and their servants in post-Edwardian England. A lot of real human drama. Plenty of material for a serious meditation on the meaning and purpose of human life. And good British drama for an old Yankee.




One afternoon, however, I sat rather lazily in front of the fireplace and re-read Pope Benedict's Christmas Message with its dire warnings that gay marriage is destroying "the essence of the human creature" and that gay marriage, like abortion, and euthanasia (I call them the contemporary Roman Catholic "intrinsic evil trinity") is a threat to word peace. Then I put another log on the fire and switched back to Downton Abbey, where, amidst all the human joys, downfalls, hopes and sorrows, there was, of course no mention of the gay-marriage-abortion-euthanasia evil trinity.



Then a little insight.      



What would happen, I wondered, if during the coming season of Lent neither the Pope nor any bishop would be allowed to use the words "gay marriage, abortion, euthanasia".......and for U. S. bishops one could throw-in one  more intrinsic evil no-no term: "birth control."



Think about it.       



If our bishops could not groan, protest, and cry-out about gay marriage, abortion, euthanasia, and birth control, what would they talk about?



What message would our hierarchy proclaim for millions of people hungering for genuine         spirituality? For a taste of the Divine? Would they be tongue-tied and speechless? Or would there be a new Pentecostal-type inspiration....little tongues of fire flickering over every episcopal miter?


Would young people turn, for a minute, from their smartphones and iPads, shaken by a new message?


Would our young people see visions and our elderly men and women dream good dreams?  Would the Pope have something fresh and invigorating to "tweet" from his pontifical iPad?


As my favorite poet said.......


"Last year's words belong to last year's language
        and next year's words await another voice."





Some things we have been reading  


U.S. Catholic: Women's Work
Special Issue on Women in the Church
January, 2013

US Catholic cover In their footsteps

By Heather Grennan-Gary A group of defining women blazed a new trail when they joined the ranks of Catholic theologians. Now the whole church is following their lead.


Web-only sidebar How the door was opened for Catholic women theologians

Stand alone moms

By Heidi Schlumpf Raising a child alone can create a mother lode of problems, but with the right support system single moms overcome the perils of parenting alone.

Sidebar: When Catholic institutions fire single moms


An interview with historian Gary Macy A woman's place wasn't always only in the pew, says this scholar, who offers historical evidence that several leading ladies once wielded plenty of authority in the church.

Web-only sidebarTheology of orders in the ancient church and now

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Some Good Amidst Some Pretty Bad
Monica K. Hellwig       
Christian Women In a Troubled World,
1985 Madaleva Lecture in Spirituality, pp. 24-26

Just because they were excluded from much of conventional public life, and from ordination and hierarchic authority, those Christian women who were recognized as memorable and whose lives and deeds were recorded have tended to emerge as more strongly counter-cultural in their attitudes, expectations, relationships and actions. Leadership of domination was frequently not open to them, nor were titles that inspire awe and create psychological distance. That left open the specifically Christian options of ministry, service, horizontal leaderships by inspiration, invitation and community bonds of support. Similarly, conventional priestly and governing roles were usually closed to them, so it left open options for a more prophetic style than is usually possible to those who fill official positions and must play the conventional roles.

. . . .

[A]s long as women are systematically excluded from ordination and from the institutionalized positions of leadership and decision-making in the Church, this has some advantages as well as the more obvious disadvantages. To be deprived of the power of domination, to have little or no access to bullying power, to be unable to compel or to persuade by threat or use of institutional sanctions, is necessarily to be thrown back upon other resources. And that may well be to discover that divine power, the power of grace, is of a very different kind, ineffective inasmuch as it empowers and liberates human freedom -- freedom for self-transcendence, freedom for true community with others, freedom for God and for God's purposes in creation and history. On the other hand, to have access to bullying power is inevitably to be sorely tempted to use it. But it is not Christ's way. Because of our Church organization, Christ's way by empowerment of human freedom to transcend is likely to be more immediately apparent to women. 

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Bourgeois receives official Vatican letter dismissing him from priesthood
Joshua J. McElwee      Jan.10, 2013


Roy Bourgeois, the longtime peace activist and Catholic priest dismissed by the Vatican because of his support for women's ordination, has received the official letter notifying him of the move three months after it was made.


The letter, which comes from the Vatican's Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, is signed by the congregation's prefect on behalf of Pope Benedict XVI and states that the pope's decision in the matter is "a supreme decision, not open to any appeal, without right to any recourse."


Written in Latin, the letter dismisses Bourgeois from the priesthood and restricts him from all priestly ministries. It asks Bourgeois to return a signed copy "as a proof of reception and at the same time of acceptance of the same dismissal and dispensation."


The letter, dated Oct. 4, was made available Wednesday by Bourgeois, who said he received it last week from the Maryknoll Fathers and Brothers, the U.S. missionary society he served as a priest for 40 years. Bourgeois said he did not plan to return a signed copy.

. . . .
"There's no mention of what I did," Bourgeois said. "There's no mention ... of women's ordination. What crime did I commit that brought about this serious sentence? There's no mention of that. What did I do? What am I being charged with?"
. . . .

His signature, Bourgeois said, would indicate he accepts the letter's contents.


"I do not accept it," he said. "I think it's a grave injustice. I think it's mean-spirited. I think it contradicts whatever Jesus had talked about and taught us."

Read more                                 
English translation of letter




Priest Is Planning to Defy Vatican's Orders to Stay Quiet

Douglas Dalby      Jan.19, 2013



A well-known Irish Catholic priest plans to defy Vatican authorities on Sunday by breaking his silence about what he says is a campaign against him by the church over his advocacy of more open discussion on         church teachings.


The Rev. Tony Flannery, 66, who was suspended by the Vatican last year, said he was told by the Vatican that he would be allowed to return to  ministry only if he agreed to write, sign and publish a statement agreeing, among other things, that women should never be ordained as priests and that he would adhere to church orthodoxy on matters like  contraception and homosexuality.


"How  can I put my name to such a document when it goes against everything I believe in," he said in an interview on Wednesday. "If I signed this, it would be a betrayal not only of myself but of my fellow priests and lay Catholics who want change. I refuse to be terrified into submission."


Read more                                      



Is the Government 'Defining Religion'?
Cathleen Kaveny       Jan.10, 2013

The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops continues to oppose the Affordable Care Act because of its contraception mandate and the Department of Health and Human Services' refusal to extend a blanket exemption to Catholic institutions such as hospitals and universities. The USCCB is not only worried about what the law might force these institutions to do, such as pay for contraceptive coverage. It is also worried what it might say about who they are. In a statement issued last year the USCCB Administrative Committee protested: "Government has no place defining religion and religious ministry.... HHS thus creates and enforces a new distinction-alien both to our Catholic tradition and to federal law-between our houses of worship and our great ministries of service to our neighbors, namely, the poor, the homeless, the sick, the students in our schools and universities, and others in need, of any faith community or none."


I think the USCCB's criticism is rooted in a mistaken assumption about how our law operates. The HHS regulations don't define religion - they define exemptions to the mandate applicable to institutions that certify themselves as religious, while balancing competing concerns in light of the purposes of the particular law they are implementing.

. . . .

The bishops rightly note that faith-based employers have a religious-liberty interest at stake in the mandate. They sometimes forget, however, that the employees of these institutions also have religious-liberty interests. In United States v. Lee (1982), the Supreme Court stated that granting an exemption to Amish employers who voiced religious objections to the payment of Social Security taxes "operates to impose the employer's religious faith on the employees."


Of course, the proposed accommodation is not the only way to balance the competing interests. The Catholic Health Association and others have suggested broadening the total exemption category to include religiously sponsored hospitals and universities, while providing contraceptives under another government program. This approach is simple, straightforward, and attractive.


But as we debate these options, let's reject the canard that the proposal on the table is a cynical attack on religious institutions. That's not the case.

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Well known Sri Lankan theologian Fr. Tissa Balasuriya passes away
 ColomboPage News Desk       Jan.17, 2013

Internationally acclaimed Sri Lankan Catholic priest and theologian Father Tissa Balasuriya passed away this morning in Colombo.


A trained economist ordained in 1953, Fr. Balasuriya served in many capacities such as the rector of the Aquinas University College and the Centre for Religion and Society.


Although a recognized writer, he was excommunicated due to a book titled Mary and Human Liberation which he authored in the feminist perspective.

However, the excommunication was lifted in a short period.


Fr. Tissa Balasuriya suffered from illness for some time before passing away at the age of 89.


The funeral will take place tomorrow at the General Cemetery in Borella after a Holy Mass at 3.00 p.m. at the Fatima Church.


ARCC Response to Fr. Tissa Balasuriya's Excommunication




Swiss abbot urges change in how bishops are selected
 Christa Pongratz-Lippitt       Jan.15, 2013

A leading Swiss abbot is calling for a change in how bishops are selected, saying that the nomination process should include greater local input, and he wants bishops and theologians to join him in pressing for the change.


"We are faced with serious systemic problems in our church. For me, as a canon lawyer, solving these systemic problems has absolute priority, as our other problems can only be solved if the structures are consistent and the procedures transparent," Benedictine Abbot Peter von Sury of Mariastein said in an interview with the Swiss Catholic press agency Kipa/Apic last month.

. . . .

Von Sury said that during the first millennium, three authorities were decisive in nominating a new bishop to a diocese, namely the local faithful, the local clergy and the neighboring bishops, which today would be the equivalent of the local bishops' conference.
"That is a procedure that makes sense," he said. But from the 11th century onward, bishops have steadily relinquished more and more power to Rome. 

. . . .

Meanwhile, members of the Swiss Parish Initiative, which was founded in September 2012 and is modeled on the Austrian Priests' Initiative, is calling for far-reaching church reforms, such as intercommunion. The group and its supporters were to rally in front of the cathedral in Chur Jan. 13.

Bishop Vitus Huonder of Chur has said that he will sanction members of the initiative in his diocese. The other members of the Swiss bishops' conference have called for dialogue with the initiative's 460 members. 

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Nigeria: Mbaise Catholic Priests Reject New Bishop
Chidi Nkwopara      Jan.13, 2013
Priests and lay faithful of the Catholic Diocese of Ahiara, Mbaise, yesterday, staged a peaceful demonstration against the appointment of Monsignor Ebere Peter Okpalaeke as the bishop-elect of the diocese.

Apart from the peaceful demonstration staged at Mbaise, the priests and lay faithful handed out a six-page press statement signed by eight persons, including the President and Secretary, Ahiara Diocesan Priests Association, Rev. Fr. Austin B. Ekechukwu and Rev. Fr. Dominic N. Ekweariri respectively.


"We, the priests and Lay faithful of Ahiara Diocese state quite clearly that we have nothing whatsoever against the person of Monsignor Ebere Peter Okpalaeke and do not per se oppose his choice as a bishop of the Catholic Church, but we strongly contest his suitability for Ahiara Diocese, given its uniqueness and pastoral realities", they stated.

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'So Help Me God' Isn't In Official Presidential Oath
Cathy Lynn Grossman      Jan.19, 2013

When President Obama rests his hand on two historic Bibles to take his second-term oath of office Monday (Jan. 21), he'll add a phrase not mentioned in the Constitution: "So help me God."

But the Almighty's role on the Capitol steps is a controversial one.

. . . .

Although the phrase was used in federal courtrooms since 1789, the first proof it was used in a presidential oath of office came with Chester Arthur's inauguration in September 1881.

Every president since, including Obama, has followed suit.

California atheist activist Michael Newdow has battled unsuccessfully in federal court to ban the phrase. Obama notified Chief Justice John Roberts, who administers the oath, that he wanted this phrase included. In 2011, the U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear Newdow's last appeal.

Four years later, "so help me God" is unchallenged. Obama will once more use the Bible that Abraham Lincoln used in 1861. This term, he'll add a second Good Book, the Bible that Martin Luther King Jr. carried with him in all his travels.

Myrlie Evers-Williams, past chairman of the NAACP and widow of murdered civil rights leader Medgar Evers, will give the invocation. The first woman to offer the invocation, she's not a member of the clergy.

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Catholic League's Bill Donohue Suggests Obama Should Swear In On Marx's 'Das Kapital'
HuffPost       Jan.11, 2013

Catholic League president Bill Donohue on Friday published a news release, in which he suggested that President Barack Obama should swear in on "Das Kapital" Karl Marx's famous analysis of political economy -- rather than the Bible.


As the New Civil Rights Movement notes, Donohue's comments had been published as a response to recent remarks made by MSNBC's Lawrence O'Donnell about the controversy surrounding Pastor Louie Giglio. 

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Parishioners from Elizabeth church stage vocal demonstration
Carolina Leid       Jan.6, 2013

Parishioners from a New Jersey church staged a vocal demonstration on Sunday to say they are being left out in the cold after a popular decision by the Archdiocese of Newark to remove their parish priests.

. . . .

About 100 people marched in Newark hoping that the turnout spoke volumes to the Archdiocese about their love for Saint Mary of the Assumption Roman Catholic Church. Just two days before Christmas, parishioners found out four priests including the monsignor were being forced out by Newark's Archbishop.


"We find that the way they decided to remove our priests was a lack of respect for them, and a lack of respect for our parish," said Alejandra Aramejo. 

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Archdiocese of Boston unveils details of first wave of parish reorganization
 Lisa Wangsness       Jan.10, 2013

The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Boston on Thursday announced the names of more than two dozen parishes participating in the first phase of a major reorganization that will eventually group the archdiocese's 288 parishes into about 135 clusters, each led by a team of clergy and lay leaders.


The reorganization, to be phased in over five years, is designed to help parishes cope with diminished Mass attendance, a shortage of priests, and anemic fund-raising. Church officials hope the plan will eventually strengthen parishes and help reverse those trends.

The 28 parishes participating in the pilot phase -- diverse in size, wealth, ethnicity, and geography -- will be grouped into 12 clusters, or "collaboratives." The collaboratives will gradually take shape over the next two years, as clergy and lay leaders are assigned and trained, and teams from each one create a long-term plan.


The parishes will remain open, but church officials said they hope will learn to work together to share resources.

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SSPX leader calls Jewish people 'enemies of the Church'
Carol Glatz      Jan.4 2013

The head of the traditionalist Society of St Pius X has called Jewish people "enemies of the Church", saying Jewish leaders' support of the Second Vatican Council "shows that Vatican II is their thing, not the Church's".

Bishop Bernard Fellay, the society's superior general, said those most opposed to Rome granting canonical recognition to the SSPX have been "the enemies of the Church: the Jews, the Masons, the modernists".


He made the comments during a nearly two-hour talk at Our Lady of Mount Carmel Academy in New Hamburg, Ontario, Canada.

In it he said he had been receiving mixed messages from the Vatican for years over if and how the group might be brought back into full communion with the Church.


He said top Vatican officials told him not to be discouraged by official statements from the Vatican, because they did not reflect Pope Benedict XVI's true feelings.


The Vatican press office declined to comment today on the claims.    

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Note:  There is a transcript in a SSPX newsletter.  It has time markings if you want to compare it to the audio.


Vatican rebuffs traditionalist who called Jews 'enemies'
Alessandro Speciale       Jan.7, 2013

The Vatican reaffirmed its commitment to dialogue with Jews on Monday after the head of a traditionalist breakaway group called them "enemies of the Church" in a late December video now circulating on YouTube.

. . . .

Monday, the Vatican chief spokesman, the Rev. Federico Lombardi,called the comment "meaningless" and "unacceptable."

. . . .

Lombardi declined to comment on the potential impact of Fellay's words on the dialogue between the Vatican and the SSPX. The dialogue is currently stalled as the Vatican awaits the SSPX's response to a reconciliation offer submitted last June. 

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Radical Catholic Bishop Fined for Holocaust Denial
JTA      Jan.17, 2013

A radical British Catholic priest has been fined in Germany on charges of Holocaust denial, which is illegal in the country.


The $2,400 fine against British Bishop Richard Williamson, 72, stems from an interview he gave in 2008 to the Swedish SVT broadcaster, in which he called the murder of Jews in gas chambers during the Holocaust "lies, lies, lies."

. . . . 
Williamson, who reportedly lives in London, is no longer a member of the Pius sect; he was expelled in 2012 for "refusing to show due respect and obedience to his lawful superiors," according to the sect's website. 


Prefect of clergy makes priests their own grandfathers
 Eugene Cullen Kennedy       Jan.17, 2013

Cardinal Mauro Piacenza, prefect for the Congregation for the Clergy, apparently wants to restore "Downton Abbey"-era Catholicism by bringing back the costumes, the set design, and especially its grand dame mothers and grandmothers as if the old church, with its plentiful vocations, unquestioning members and its crown jewel of a privileged clerical culture, could thereby magically be there again when we all wake up in the morning.


The cardinal is undoubtedly sincere in a letter, reported by Zenit, written not to priests but to their mothers, in which he says that "unique and special are the spiritual consolations which they derive from having carried in the womb one who has become Christ's minister."

. . . .

But most healthy priests will shake their heads -- as should we -- at the cardinal's assertion that "when a man is ordained a priest, his mother 'receives' him in a completely new and unexpected way; so much so that she is called to see in the fruit of her own womb a 'father' ... Every mother of a priest mysteriously becomes 'a daughter of her son.' " 

Lonzo & Oscar - I'm My Own Grandpa
Lonzo & Oscar - I'm My Own Grandpa


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The Vatican praised President Barack Obama's proposals for curbing gun violence, saying they are a "step in a right direction."
Associated Press      Jan.19, 2013

The Vatican praised President Barack Obama's proposals for curbing gun violence, saying they are a ''step in a right direction.''


The Vatican's chief spokesman the Rev. Federico Lombardi, said Saturday that 47 religious leaders have appealed to members of the U.S. Congress ''to limit firearms that are making society pay an unacceptable price in terms of massacres and senseless deaths.''


''I am with them,'' Lombardi said, in an editorial carried on Vatican Radio, lining up the Vatican's moral support in favor of firearm limits

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Feds: Priest charged with selling meth
Tom Cleary       Jan.17, 2013

A prominent priest who served as pastor of St. Augustine's Cathedral parish in Bridgeport and was a close aide to then-Bishop Edward Egan was indicted on charges he was part of a drug ring that conspired to sell methamphetamine.


Msgr. Kevin Wallin of Waterbury was arrested on a criminal complaint Jan. 3 after a joint investigation by the Drug Enforcement Administration and the Connecticut State Police Statewide Narcotics Task Force.


Wallin, 61, resigned from his position at St. Augustine's, the main church of the Bridgeport diocese, in 2011, citing health and personal problems. He had previously served as pastor of St. Peter Parish in Danbury from 1996 to 2002, and was ordained to the priesthood in 1984.


Wallin was charged with six counts in the indictment Tuesday by a federal grand jury in Bridgeport and faces up to life in prison if he is convicted.

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Sources: Cross-dressing meth priest liked sex in rectory
Daniel Tepfer      Jan.18, 2013

The Catholic priest busted for allegedly dealing crystal meth was suspended after church officials discovered he was a cross-dresser who was having sex in the rectory at Bridgeport's St. Augustine Cathedral.


Monsignor Kevin Wallin was relieved of his duties in May, but the Roman Catholic Diocese of Bridgeport had continued to pay him a stipend until his Jan. 3 arrest -- a day he was planning to fly to London on vacation.

. . . .
In his post-priesthood, Wallin, 61, bought an adult specialty and video store in North Haven called Land of Oz that sells sex toys and X-rated DVDs. Investigators believe the shop helped him launder thousands of dollars in weekly profits. 

. . . . 

But sources knowledgeable with the case said the situation went deeper than diocese officials will publicly admit.


While pastor of St. Augustine's, sources said he often disappeared for days at a time; and rectory personnel became concerned and notified diocese officials when Wallin, sometimes dressed as a woman, would entertain odd-looking men, some who were also dressed in women's clothing and engaging in sex acts.

In addition, diocese officials found bizarre sex toys in Wallin's residence, the sources said.


Diocese officials consulted lawyers about the situation and were assured none of Wallin's behavior appeared illegal.

Read more


Judge Rules Names in Church Sex Abuse Should be Public
Clergy Abuse News       Jan.8, 2013

In Los Angeles County, a Superior Court judge recently ruled that the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Los Angeles must release the names of the church officials who abused children. The names are listed in a 30,000 page document that lists what high-ranking officials have been abusing children within the congregation for years. For the past years, the documents have been kept confidential in order to preserve the authorities in the church and avoid embarrassment. Yet the Superior Court who looked to the case the other day ruled that the public has the right to know how the archdiocese handled molestation allegations.


The judge also reversed a previous ruling that said priests that only committed one instance of abuse would have their names blacked out on the document. Instead, the new ruling says that anyone who has been accused of a sex abuse allegation should have their names publically released. While this may bring embarrassment and difficulty to men and women in the archdiocese, the judge believes that this is just punishment for their actions. Many of the records detail abuses that occurred years ago, so adults who were abused as children should be prepared to see the names of their abusers posted in public.

Judges and lawyers for alleged victims and the archdiocese are all meeting to discuss how and when the records will be made public. The archdiocese will also need to release psychiatric reports, letters to the Vatican, reports of abuse, and internal church records for others to read. The Los Angeles Times was also involved in the case, and filed papers arguing that it was not just that the names of the abusers should be blacked out in public papers.  

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Reneged guilty plea in latest Philadelphia trial could impact Lynn's fate
Brian Roewe       Jan.17, 2013

In March, former Philadelphia priest Edward Avery pleaded guilty to conspiracy and sexually assaulting a 10-year-old altar boy; he was sentences to two-and-a-half to five years in prison.

On Thursday, Avery recanted that guilty plea, a development that could have serious ramifications for the landmark conviction of Philadelphia archdiocesan Msgr. William J. Lynn, the first U.S. church official to serve jail time for his handling of abuse claims.

The revelation came in testimony during in the first week of the trial of Fr. Charles Engelhardt and former Catholic school teacher Bernard Shero, both alleged to have abused the same altar boy Avery had previously admitted to assaulting.

According to multiple reports from the courtroom, Avery took the stand and testified he pleaded guilty only to avoid a longer sentence. The defrocked priest has been in prison since that plea March 22, four days before he was scheduled to stand trial alongside Lynn and Fr. James J. Brennan. 

Read more

Cardinal Dolan and the Dead Lose One to the Living
Michael D'Antonio      Jan.17, 2013

Who is more deserving: victims of childhood sexual abuse at the hands of Catholic priests, or dead people moldering their graves?


When he was Archbishop of Milwaukee, Timothy Dolan chose the dead people, placing $55 million into cemetery trust funds and out of the reach of local abuse victims suing the Church. (They want compensation for the suffering caused by childhood sexual trauma.)


Dolan left Milwaukee to take the most visible post in Catholic America -- cardinal of New York City - but he could not escape his choice. The victims asked a federal bankruptcy judge to reverse him, and on Friday she did. For now the $55 million is available to settle hundreds of well-documented cases in which priests raped and sexually molested children and adolescents.

Bankruptcy Judge Susan V. Kelley discussed her decision in court on Friday, explaining that neither First Amendment protections for religion nor federal law protect the archdiocese from her authority. She sided with creditors in the bankruptcy proceedings, who said the main purpose of the 2008 transfer was to place it out of their reach. In fact the archdiocese had managed the task of mowing the grass and otherwise maintaining cemeteries for generations without a $55 million trust generating income for that purpose.

Read more

German minister raps Catholic bishops over abuse study
Alexandra Hudson       Jan.10, 2013

Germany's justice minister said on Thursday the country's Roman Catholic Church appeared to be shrinking from independent scrutiny after bishops sacked a top criminologist they had hired to investigate clerical sexual abuse.


Sabine Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger said the German bishops had initially committed to an outside study after devastating abuse revelations in 2010 which saw 600 people file claims against priests, but said they now seemed to want to control which findings would be published.

Victims' groups and sympathisers were outraged by the Catholic bishops' decision on Wednesday to sack Christian Pfeiffer, a man described by Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger as one of Germany's foremost criminal experts.

"It appears that conducting an independent, serious study into the abuse cases, as originally intended, is impossible for the Church," she told Deutschlandfunk radio. "This is a shame, as it gives the impression that ultimately they (the Catholic Church) did not want everything to be independently studied."

Read more

German rape victim 'turned away by Catholic hospitals over pregnancy fears'
Matthew Day      Jan.18, 2013

Irmgard Maiworm, an emergency centre doctor, first treated the 25-year-old woman when she walked into the centre in the early hours of December 15 saying that she believed that she had been sedated with a date-rape drug and sexually assaulted.


Dr Maiworm called the neighbouring St Vincent's Hospital, run by the Catholic Foundation of the Cellites, to arrange a gynaecological examination - but she said doctors "fearful of their jobs" refused the request.


According to Dr Maiworm, the hospital's ethics committee, following consultation with Archbishop of Cologne Cardinal Joachim Meisner, had decided not to conduct examinations of sexual assault victims to avoid having to be in the position to recommend options such as the morning-after pill, which run contrary to Catholic teachings.


Another hospital run by the same organisation also refused to help, Dr Maiworm claimed.

Read more



Child abuse `tsunami' forecast
 Michael Lowe    Jan.12 2013

The nation's royal commission into child abuse will unleash a ''tsunami'' of allegations in Tasmania, a child protection advocacy group says.


Bravehearts Tasmanian spokesman Stephen Noone said yesterday that the group had been calling for a royal commission for 15 years.


Welcoming the inquiry's broad terms of reference, announced by Prime Minister Julia Gillard on Friday, Mr Noone said that he expected a ``tsunami'' of Tasmanians to come forward with abuse allegations.

Beyond Abuse spokesman Steve Fisher also praised the reach of the inquiry, to be headed by New South Wales Supreme Court judge Peter McClellan.

Read more


TV News Desk     Jan.4 2013

From the row houses of Milwaukee through the bare ruined choirs of Ireland's churches, all the way to the highest office of the Vatican, it was an international and systematic conspiracy to silence victims of sexual abuse. MEA MAXIMA CULPA: SILENCE IN THE HOUSE OF GOD, directed by Alex Gibney (HBO's Oscar-winning "Taxi to the Dark Side"), shows the face of evil that lurks behind the smiles and denials of authority figures and institutions who believe that they can do no wrong, because they stand for good. The shocking documentary debuts MONDAY, FEB. 4 (9:00-11:00 p.m. ET/PT), exclusively onHBO.

Other HBO playdates: Feb. 4 (4:05 a.m.), 7 (10:30 a.m.), 9 (4:00 p.m.), 15 (6:15 p.m.), 19 (1:00 p.m., 11:00 p.m.) and 24 (noon)

HBO2 playdates: Feb. 6 (8:00 p.m.), 11 (4:00 p.m.), 17 (8:15 a.m.) and 22 (6:00 p.m.)

MEA MAXIMA CULPA: SILENCE IN THE HOUSE OF GOD investigates the secret crimes of Father Lawrence Murphy, a charismatic Milwaukee priest who abused more than 200 Deaf children in a school under his control. The film documents the first known public protest against clerical sex abuse in the U.S., which led to a case that spanned three decades and ultimately resulted in a lawsuit against the pontiff himself. The investigation helped uncover documents from the secret Vatican archives that show the Pope, who must operate within the mysterious rules of the Roman Curia, as both responsible and helpless in the face of evil.

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Church of England OK's Celibate Gay Bishops
Trevor Grundy       Jan.4, 2013

The Church of England on Friday (Jan. 4) confirmed that it has dropped its prohibition on gay clergy in civil partnerships becoming bishops -- but only if they agree to remain celibate.


Speaking on behalf of the Church's House of Bishops, Bishop of Norwich Graham Jones said in a statement: "The House of Bishops has confirmed that clergy in civil partnerships, and living in accordance with the teaching of the Church on human sexuality, can be considered as candidates for the episcopate. There had been a moratorium on such candidates for the past year and a half while the working party completed its task."


Jones added that the bishops agreed it would be "unjust" to exclude gay men from becoming bishops if they were otherwise "seeking to live fully in conformity with the Church's teaching on sexual ethics or other areas of personal life and discipline."

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29 Belfast police injured while separating Catholic, Protestant crowds in Northern Ireland 
Shawn Pogatchnik       Jan.12, 2013

Northern Ireland police fought day-and-night street battles with Protestant militants Saturday as a protest march to Belfast City Hall degenerated into riots when many marchers returned home to the Protestant east side.


The Protestants, who have blocked streets daily since Catholics on the council decided Dec. 3 to curtail the flying of the British flag, have frequently clashed with police in hopes of forcing politicians to overturn the decision. The street confrontations have stirred sectarian passions, particularly in Protestant east Belfast and its lone Catholic enclave, Short Strand, flashpoint for the most protracted rioting over the past six weeks.

. . . .

Belfast used to have a strong Protestant majority, but the Dec. 3 vote demonstrated that Catholics have gained the democratic upper hand, stoking Protestant anxiety that one day Northern Ireland could be merged with the Republic of Ireland as many Catholics want.


Sinn Fein council members had wanted to remove the British flag completely from city hall, where the Union Jack had flown continuously for more than a century. But they accepted a compromise motion that would allow the UK flag to be raised on 18 official days annually, the same rule already observed on many British government buildings throughout the United Kingdom.

Read more
Rhode Island Bishop's Marriage Equality Arguments Are Filled With Holes
Francis DeBernardo       Jan.17, 2013

Rhode Island, the last state in New England which does not have marriage equality,  will be attempting to change that designation this year as the legislature debates a bill which would legalize marriage for lesbian and gay couples.


As one of the most Catholic states in the Union, by per capita population, members of our church will certainly play significant roles in the debate, both for and against the measure.


Tobin Rhode Island's Bishop Thomas Tobin recently entered the debate, and, not surprisingly, on the side against the proposal.   In a column in The Rhode Island Catholic, Tobin outlined his arguments against marriage, many of which defy logical scrutiny and do not stand up to critical examination

Read more

Wendell Berry expounds on gay marriage
Bob Allen       Jan.14, 2013

Christian opponents to same-sex marriage want the government to treat homosexuals as a special category of persons subject to discrimination, similar to the way that African-Americans and women were categorized in the past, cultural and economic critic Wendell Berry told Baptist ministers in Kentucky Jan. 11.


Berry, a prolific author of books, poems and essays who won the National Humanities Medal in 2010 and was 2012 Jefferson lecturer for the National Endowment for the Humanities, offered "a sort of general declaration" on the subject of gay marriage at a "Following the Call of the Church in Times Like These" conference at Georgetown College. Berry said he chose to comment publicly to elaborate on what little he has said about the topic in the past.

. . . . 

Berry said he could recall only twice before when he commented publicly on the issue, in a single paragraph in a collection of essays published in 2005 and in an interview with the National Review in 2012.


"My argument, much abbreviated both times, was the sexual practices of consenting adults ought not to be subjected to the government's approval or disapproval, and that domestic partnerships in which people who live together and devote their lives to one another ought to receive the spousal rights, protections and privileges the government allows to heterosexual couples," Berry said.

. . . . 

"If I were one of a homosexual couple -- the same as I am one of a heterosexual couple -- I would place my faith and hope in the mercy of Christ, not in the judgment of Christians," Berry said. "When I consider the hostility of political churches to homosexuality and homosexual marriage, I do so remembering the history of Christian war, torture, terror, slavery and annihilation against Jews, Muslims, black Africans, American Indians and others. And more of the same by Catholics against Protestants, Protestants against Catholics, Catholics against Catholics, Protestants against Protestants, as if by law requiring the love of God to be balanced by hatred of some neighbor for the sin of being unlike some divinely preferred us.

. . . .

"Condemnation by category is the lowest form of hatred, for it is cold-hearted and abstract, lacking even the courage of a personal hatred," Berry said.


"Categorical condemnation is the hatred of the mob. It makes cowards brave. And there is nothing more fearful than a religious mob, a mob overflowing with righteousness - as at the crucifixion and before and since. This can happen only after we have made a categorical refusal to kindness: to heretics, foreigners, enemies or any other group different from ourselves." 

Read more

Same-sex marriage 'will see return to Catholic persecution'
Guardian UK staff      Jan.12, 2013

More than 1,000 priests have signed a letter voicing concerns that same-sex marriage will threaten religious freedoms in a way that was last seen during centuries of persecution of Catholics in England.


In the letter published in the Daily Telegraph, the priests claim that same-sex marriage could even lead to Catholics being excluded from some professions, such as teaching.

. . . .

Their fear is that Catholics who believe in the traditional meaning of marriage would effectively be excluded from some jobs - in the same way that Catholics were barred from many professions from the Reformation until the 19th century.  

. . . .

A spokesman for the Department for Culture, Media and Sport said: "We have been very clear that our plans for equal marriage will fully protect the freedom of religious bodies to preach, teach and put into practice their beliefs about marriage." 

Read more

Article on 'Jesus' Wife' papyrus delayed for more testing
David Gibson       Jan.3 2013

The Harvard Theological Review is postponing publication of a major article on the papyrus fragment in which Jesus seems to refer to his wife, raising further doubts about a discovery that was set to turn Christian history on its head when it was announced last September.


The article by Harvard Divinity School professor Karen King was scheduled for the review's January edition.  . . . .


King told CNN, which reported the latest development on Thursday (Jan. 3), that the article has been delayed because testing on the fragment is not complete.  

Read more


Top 20 Biblical Archaeology Events and Discoveries of 2012
Noah Wiener       Jan.11, 2013
  1. VERDICT: NOT GUILTY: Two Remaining Defendants Cleared of Forgery Charges After 5-year Trial
  2. A Samson Mosaic from Huqoq: An Inside Look at Discovering Ancient Synagogues with Jodi Magness
  3. Scorched Wheat May Provide Answers on the Destruction of Canaanite Tel Hazor
  4. City of David Archaeologists Unearth Late Bronze Age Egyptian Scarab
  5. First Temple Period Matanyahu Seal Discovered in Jerusalem
  6. Book of Nehemiah Found Among the Scrolls:Scroll scholars find first fragment of Nehemiah
  7. Archaeologists Discover "New" Ancient Language from the Eighth-Century B.C.E.
  8. Bilingual Boundary Stone Discovered at Tel Gezer
  9. History of Bethlehem Documented by First Temple Period Bulla from the City of David
  10. Yeshiva University Project Shines a Colorful Digital Light on the Arch of Titus
  11. Fatimid Treasure Discovered at Crusader-Era Apollonia-Arsuf
  12. Tel Aviv University Scholars Discuss Jewelry Discovery at Megiddo
  13. The Gospel of Jesus' Wife Controversy:              See A Gospel of Jesus' Wife on a Coptic Papyrus as well as Is the Harvard Theological Review a Coward or Did Dr. Karen King Do Something Wrong?
  14. Evidence of Cultic Activity in Judah Discovered at Khirbet Qeiyafa
  15. Ancient Reservoir Provided Water for First Temple Period Jerusalem
  16. Archaeologists Reveal a Desecrated Iron Age Temple at Beth-Shemesh
  17. First Temple Period Ritual Structure Discovered Near Jerusalem
  18. Bountiful Hoard Discovered Near Kiryat Gat: Gold, Silver and Jewelry Hidden During the Bar Kokhba Revolt
  19. Sifting Project Reveals First Temple Bulla
  20. Archaeologists Expose Israel's Largest Hellenistic Harbor

Read more

Veni, vidi, vici. Now the Pope is to Tweet in Latin
Lizzy Davies     Jan.17, 2013

When the Pope joined Twitter last month, the Vatican said his aim was to "begin dialogue" with ordinary men and women all over the world. His messages came down in eight different languages, and his followers soon totalled 2.5 million.


From Sunday, it has been revealed, he will also be tweeting in Latin. Within hours of the announcement, the Twitter username @pontifex_ln had nearly 2,000 followers. Countering the scepticism of those who suggest the universal Church's official language might not be an obvious tool for spontaneous exchange and debate, Manlio Simonetti, a professor in Christian history, told L'Osservatore Romano: "Latin ... is very well suited to the brevity necessary on new social networks, even more so than English."

Read more

Credit card freeze costs Vatican 30,000 euros per day
ANSA       Jan.16, 2013

A freeze on credit-card and ATM transactions inside Vatican City since the start of the year has cost the Church  €300,000 so far, estimates reported Tuesday said.  An investigation by Rome prosecutors into an alleged money-laundering case led to the freeze on January 1, making international headlines and worrying tourists, who have had to pay in cash at the Vatican's museums and shops. The Bank of Italy suspended bank-card payments in the Vatican City state over its failure to fully implement international anti-money laundering standards.  

. . . .   

Losses since the freeze went into effect so far amount to nearly  €30,000 [nearly $40,000] every day. 

Pope's former butler given hospital job
David Uebbing       Jan.17, 2013

Paolo Gabriele, the Pope's former butler who was released from prison just before Christmas, has a new job working for an extension of the Vatican hospital Bambino Gesu.

According to the German Catholic agency KNA, Gabriele has been offered a job doing clerical work for a new branch of the hospital near the Basilica of St. Paul Outside the Walls. He will also receive assistance with housing, since his wife and three children must move out of their current Vatican apartment.

Read more

Egyptian court sentences Christian family to 15 years for converting from Islam
Benjamin Weinthal      Jan.16, 2013

The 15-year prison sentence given to a woman and her seven children by an Egyptian court for converting to Christianity is a sign of things to come, according to alarmed human rights advocates who say the nation's Islamist government is bad news for Christians in the North African country.


A criminal court  in the central Egyptian city of Beni Suef  meted out the shocking sentence last week, according to the Arabic-language Egyptian paper Al-Masry Al-Youm. Nadia Mohamed Ali, who was raised a Christian, converted to Islam when she married Mohamed Abdel-Wahhab Mustafa, a Muslim, 23 years ago. He later died, and his widow planned to convert her family back to Christianity in order to obtain an inheritance from her family. She sought the help of others in the registration office to process new identity cards between 2004 and 2006. When the conversion came to light under the new regime, Nadia, her children and even the clerks who processed the identity cards were all sentenced to prison.

Read more

Queen Fabiola finances Catholic Church with taxpayer's money
Giacomo Galeazzi       Jan.15, 2013

Belgium's Catholic sovereign is under attack. "Fabiola is channelling the annual stipend she receives from the government to the Catholic Church and relatives of hers." The widow of King Baudouin has sparked controversy in Brussels as mass media and lay parties revealed she has created a private fund to bequeath part of her fortune to a number of Catholic charities established by her late husband and to relatives such as her nieces and nephews. 

Television channels, newspapers and anti-monarchy political representatives have branded the establishment of her new foundation as ethically flawed as it is claimed it is a means to dodge Belgium's extremely high inheritance taxes. Separatist MPs, the government, republicans, lay people and constitutionalists have pointed the finger at the Queen, in protest. 

The most serious accusation against her is related to fiscal evasion: one minister explicitly mentioned her trying to dodge taxes. Questions have also been raised about the fairness of the Queen's allowance as she is able to bequeath part of her fortune to her favourite charities, avoiding regular tax amounts. Above all, the monarchy has been criticised for its denominational neutrality. 

. . . .

In actual fact, Fabiola set up a "private fund" to help relatives of hers and various Catholic charities. But the foundation was financed through the sale of assets and property that were inherited from Fabiola's Spanish family.  

Read more

Diocese of Camden announces outgoing Bishop Galante's replacement
Jason Laday       Jan.8, 2013

Pope Benedict XVI has appointed a new leader for the Camden Diocese following Bishop Joseph Galante's decision to retire due to ongoing health issues.


Dennis J. Sullivan, ordained as an auxiliary bishop in the Archdiocese of New York in 2004, will replace the outgoing bishop. The 67-year-old native New Yorker stated he will bring his experience as a priest in some of the poorest areas of Manhattan and the south Bronx to the diocese containing New Jersey's most dangerous city.

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Pope Accepts Resignation Of Bishop Ricardo Ramírez Of Las Cruces, New Mexico; Names Bishop Oscar Cantú To Succeed Him
USCCB      Jan.10, 2013

Pope Benedict XVI has accepted the resignation of Bishop Ricardo Ramírez, 76, from the pastoral governance of the Diocese of Las Cruces, New Mexico, and named Bishop Oscar Cantú, 46, auxiliary bishop of San Antonio, to succeed him.


The appointment was publicized in Washington, January 10, by Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò, apostolic nuncio to the United States.

. . . .

Bishop Ramírez was the first bishop of the Las Cruces Diocese, which was established in 1982. Read more




For Patrick's Chair, Pope Picks Martin... No, Not That One
Rocco Palmo      Jan.18, 2013

Set to be the native "frontman" for Rome's intended reconstitution of an Irish church plunged into epic straits, at Roman Noon the Pope named Msgr Eamon Martin as coadjutor-archbishop of Armagh, placing the 51 year-old administrator of Derry in line for the chair that, according to legend, was first held by St Patrick around the year 445.


In the post, the archbishop-elect will soon succeed the embattled Cardinal Sean Brady, 73, as head of the 230,000-member diocese in the North and, further beyond, as Primate of All Ireland, the traditional distinction reserved to Armagh given its lineage. 


 As a more modern sign of his clout, the Primate - almost invariably the holder of Ireland's seat in the College of Cardinals for the last century and a half - serves ex officio as president of the Isle's joint episcopal conference, whose operations Eamon Martin oversaw as general secretary from 2008 until returning to his home-diocese in 2010 as vicar-general. 

Read more


Coming soon to a pulpit near you?
Thomas Baker       Jan.7, 2013

There hasn't been much comment here about the U.S. bishops' recent document on preaching, Preaching the Mystery of Faith, approved at their November 2012 meeting. Since it represents a new direction in the bishops' thoughts about the goal of Sunday preaching, I wonder what people think about the changes the bishops have recommended.

. . . .

In addition, the bishops say that "virtually every homily preached during the liturgy should make some connection between the Scriptures just heard and the Eucharist about to be celebrated."


It's a lot to accomplish in a Sunday homily, isn't it? Retain a focus on the week's readings and how they might illuminate the great questions and decisions of our lives, but also make their connection to the doctrines of the church explicit, and provide an explanation of those doctrines as needed. And also make sure to work in the Eucharist.

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Lead us not into temptation, Archbishop: Vatican's answer to George Clooney is cover guy for Vanity Fair
Nick Pisa       Jan.16, 2013

It's usually Hollywood stars or models who grace the cover of Vanity Fair but in a break with the tradition the Italian edition of the magazine has come out with a full page portrait of Pope Benedict's private secretary.


Archbishop Georg Ganswein, 56, who has been dubbed 'Gorgeous George' by the Italian media has been the pope's righthand man for more than six years and is always at his side.


The softly spoken clergyman, who is also a pilot, likes to keep fit by playing tennis, is often pictured in glossy magazines because of his rugged good looks and some have even compared him to actor George Clooney.


Archbishop Ganswein has given a handful of interviews but is on the whole a private man - although there was a media frenzy recently after he was snapped late at night walking close to the Vatican with a mystery woman.


He was pictured on the cover of the latest issue of Vanity Fair alongside the headline 'Being beautiful is not a sin' adding that he was a 'particular' clergyman, describing him as the ''George Clooney of the Vatican.'


New Translation of the Roman Missal  

Using poor language in the liturgy

Andrew Hamilton     Jan.16, 2013

One year on it is clear that the more dramatic hopes and fears about the new translation were not realised. There were no reports of widespread rebellion in the pews, of continuing cacophony as different versions of responses mingled, of mass defection.


But nor has the introduction of the new translation been accompanied by the great spiritual renewal, the fresh understanding of the liturgy and the heightened sensitivity to scriptural echoes within the liturgy that some promised. The reverence and sense of transcendence claimed for the translation seem to have been perceived by few of those exposed to it. Nor has it changed the way in which people conduct themselves in church.

. . . .

The experience of most Catholic celebrants is that the language of the new translation is not grounded. It is self-referential in that it belongs to no living part of our world. It suits neither prayer nor declamation nor passion nor love, nor wonder. To be understood it needs adaptation, but even then it remains ungrounded in any shared discourse. That of course is not the fault of the translators, but reflects their riding instructions.


This malady is not fatal. But at a time when Christians increasingly experience a gap between faith and their world, a language of liturgy that is disconnected from the ways in which people can speak about things that matter puts unnecessary lead in the Catholic saddlebag. 

Read more


Upcoming Events    
Lessons of History: What Can the Church of the Middle Ages Teach Us about the Modern Sex-Abuse Scandal? The Center for Religion and Spirituality at Loyola Marymount University is sponsoring a lecture by Dr. Colt Anderson, Dean of the Graduate School of Religion and Religious Studies at Fordham University.  Wednesday, January 23,  at 7:00 p.m., in the Ahmanson Auditorium (University Hall, Room 1000) on campus.  


This lecture is free and open to the public.  For more information, please contact the Center for Religion and Spirituality at (310) 338-2799 or access
Emerging Church - Reclaiming Catholic Heritage given by: Fr. Jack Conley, C.P. & Dr. Capper Rademaker at Saint Agnes Church Aloysius Hall (church undercroft) on Saturday, January 26, 2013, 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. 1920 Newburg Road, Louisville, Kentucky.

The requested donation for this Day of Reflection is $20; lunch is included. RSVP by Tuesday, January 22. Register by calling 451-2220, by emailing Capper Rademaker This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., or by mailing your check (made payable to Passionist Community) to St. Agnes Church, 1920 Newburg Road, Louisville, KY 40205 

This Future Church teleconference will include a lively discussion of how Canon Law can empower and guide our actions as Catholics. The main theme will be the rights and obligations of the laity as found in Book 2 of Canon Law.

Tuesday, Feb. 12  12:30 pm EST or 8:30 pm EST

Register online to get the phone number, passcode, and electronic version of the agenda.   

Contact Liz: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.or 216-228-0869 X3.



Transformation in a Time of Uncertainty 
Nancy Sylvester, IHM, will take us through the years 1950 to the present helping us to listen, speak and practice from a contemplative heart. How we engage the world and what direction we take are questions seeking answers. We will look at some model communities within our church that have taken root and see how they act as an inspiration going forward. 

Saturday March 16, 2013   9:00 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. 

Chestnut Hill College - Sugar Loaf Center

9230 Germantown, Phila., Pa 19118

$25.00, or what you can afford, includes lunch

Contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


You can register the day you arrive. However, for planning purposes, we appreciate receiving your registration by March 1.

Sponsors: ARCC, VOTF Chestnut Hill, CTA 




Association for the Rights of Catholics in the  Church 







 Membership options:

 Life $500     ARCC-Angel $100     Regular $50  
Senior $25     Student $15







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