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  • Pope issues changes on liturgy translations



    Pope Francis has issued a document on the translation of liturgical texts. The document, "Magnum principium," was issued on Sept. 9 and is to take effect from Oct. 1, 2017. In this two-page document Pope Francis decentralizes the process of preparing and approving translations of liturgical books and restores this responsibility to each country's assembly of bishops, the episcopal conference. In his 2013 document "The Joy of the Gospel" Pope Francis wrote that "Excessive centralization, rather than proving helpful, complicates the Church's life and her missionary outreach" ("Evangelii gaudium," 32). "Magnum principium" addresses this state of affairs as it affects liturgical translation.

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  • Speak up for the Dreamers



    At Catholic Charities, our mission to help those in need often leads us to work closely with those who have immigrated to the United States in search of a better life. Through our work with immigrant communities, it has become clear that comprehensive immigration policy reform is necessary on a national level. While some believe that employment based immigration policy is best, we as an organization, and I personally, support legislation that takes a familial approach to immigration.

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  • The legacy of Father Joseph Finotti



    Sept. 21, 2017 will mark 200 years since the birth of Father Joseph Maria Finotti, who served in the Archdiocese of Boston from 1852 to 1876. Father Finotti was born in Ferrara, Italy, on Sept. 21, 1817. He entered the Society of Jesus at age 16, and in 1845 arrived in the United States to continue his studies at Georgetown College in Maryland. While studying, he also served as assistant to college librarian, and was ordained a priest two years later, in 1847.

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  • A reason to hope



    Maybe you have heard or read stories about a person who has committed or has attempted suicide. Everyone's heart constricts hearing these accounts, and there are so many. In 2014 there were 11,014 hospital discharges and emergency department visits for non-fatal self-inflicted injuries. That same year there were 608 completed suicides. The number is likely considerably higher when the latest statistics are accumulated along with suspicious motor vehicle deaths and unclear drug overdoses.

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  • Going off the rails



    It's easy to see the train going off the tracks. Many signs should have summoned the red lights. Alas, all too often a government policy seems a good idea at the time -- a bill covering prescription drugs for acute pain -- until someone else finds the pills in the medicine cabinet.

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  • Catechetical Sunday 2017: 'Living as Missionary Disciples'



    This fall, tens of thousands of children, young people, and adults in the archdiocese will resume participation in faith formation in their local parishes. Faith formation refers to the lifelong process of continually growing closer to the person of Jesus Christ and living as his missionary disciple. It includes religious education, youth ministry, young adult ministry, adult faith formation, small group discipleship, faith sharing groups, Bible study, and more.

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  • Dispelling the darkness of September 11th



    "Suddenly summoned to witness something great and horrendous, we keep fighting not to reduce it to our own smallness..." These are the words of the writer, the late John Updike, as he described September 11, 2001, an event that yielded the terrible destruction of not only one of the most famous monuments of our civilization, but of so many lives, and left a wound on the national psyche that still stings us today.

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  • The debt we owe



    Mercy and forgiveness should be at the heart of the Christian life. Yet, as today's First Reading wisely reminds us, often we cherish our wrath, nourish our anger, refuse mercy to those who have done us wrong. Jesus, too, strikes close to home in today's Gospel, with His realistic portrayal of the wicked servant -- who won't forgive a fellow servant's debt, even though his own slate has just been wiped clean by their Master.

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  • Remembering the Impossible Dream -- V



    For much of September that unforgettable year it was like the veritable calm before the storm; a lingering spell of uncertainty in which many dared not believe that what was happening was actually happening. Such had been the depths of this team's long and dreary malaise. Bursts of hope mixed with lapses of brooding as the four-team pack at the top of the American League standings remained packed.

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  • Groupthinking and moral views



    As a kind of back-to-school gift to students, professors at three of the nation's prestige schools offered them a piece of good advice: "Think for yourself." "The danger any student--or faculty member--faces today is falling into the vice of conformism, yielding to groupthink," warned these 26 scholars Princeton, Harvard and Yale. Among the document's signers were prominent Catholics Robert P. George of Princeton and Mary Ann Glendon of Harvard.

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  • Tearing down prejudice



    Watching TV images of crowds pulling down a statue of a Civil War soldier in North Carolina, I found myself thinking of a 16th-century pope named Paul IV. He was so loathed by Romans, Jews and Christians alike, that when he died, the people pulled down his statue on the Capitoline Hill, cut off its head, dragged it through the streets of the city and then dumped it in the Tiber River.

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  • Incense at Mass



    Q. I am a Catholic, but I have forgotten why incense is sometimes used at Mass. Please explain, especially with regard to its use at funerals. (Aumsville, Oregon) A. The smoke of burning incense is seen by the church as an image of the prayers of the faithful rising to heaven. That symbolism is seen in Psalm 141:2: "Let my prayer be incense before you; my uplifted hands an evening offering."

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  • Peter Claver vs. Immanuel Kant



    One of the greatest heroes of the social justice wing of the Church is, quite rightly, the seventeenth century "slave of the slaves," St. Peter Claver. Born in Barcelona, Claver joined the Society of Jesus and was known, even as a young man, as a person of deep intelligence and piety. Spurred by what he took to be the direct prompting of the Holy Spirit, the young Spaniard volunteered to work among the poor in what was then known as "New Spain." Arriving in Cartagena, he saw the unspeakable degradation of the captives brought in chains by ship from Africa, and he resolved to dedicate his life to serving them.

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  • God's Command to Kill the Canaanites



    In his autobiography, Eric Clapton, the famed rock and blues artist, shares very candidly about his long struggle with an addiction to alcohol. At one point in his life, he admitted his addiction and entered a rehab clinic, but he didn't take his problem as seriously as was warranted. Returning to England after his stint in the clinic he decided that he could still drink light spirits, beer and wine, but would give up hard liquor. You can guess the result. Before long he was again enslaved inside his addiction. He returned to the clinic, to appease friends, but convinced that he was still strong enough to handle his problems on his own.

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  • Speaker Ryan invites a social doctrine conversation



    CNN is not the customary locale-of-choice for a catechesis on Catholic social doctrine. But that's what Paul Ryan, Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, offered viewers of a CNN national town hall meeting on the evening of August 21. Challenged with a semi-"Gotcha!" question by Sinsinawa Dominican Sister Erica Jordan, who not-so-subtly suggested that Ryan's approach to health care reform, tax reform, and welfare reform was in conflict with the Church's social teaching, the very Catholic Speaker replied that he completely agreed with Sister Erica that God is "always on the side of the poor and dispossessed;" the real question at issue was, how do public officials, who are not God, create public policies that empower the poor and dispossessed to be not-poor and not-dispossessed?

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  • The heart of Christianity



    The Christian life must have a heart; it must have a home. When Jesus entered triumphantly into Jerusalem in the procession of palms, he returned in the evening to stay with friends in Bethany, to the quiet home of Martha, Mary, and Lazarus. The shepherds were led by the choirs of angels to a quiet scene of a mother cradling a child. The wise men returned to their lands in the east with this scene in their hearts.

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  • More than talk



    In the late 1960s, nothing was stable and everything was in motion. Racial injustice, the Vietnam war, and feminism mixed with a youth culture of rebellion in what many of us experienced as a societal Molotov cocktail. I was way too young to be directly involved in any of it. But I do recall the protest songs, and being told to duck down in the back seat of the car as my mom drove me through riot zones to music lessons. I also remember my elementary school principal wearing "love beads," and the relief of knowing that my uncle's draft number was unlikely to come up.

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  • To Win Them Back



    As Ezekiel is appointed watchman over the house of Israel in today's first Reading, so Jesus in the Gospel today establishes His disciples as guardians of the new Israel of God, the Church. He also puts in place procedures for dealing with sin and breaches of the faith, building on laws of discipline prescribed by Moses for Israel. The heads of the new Israel, however, receive extraordinary powers -- similar to those given to Peter. They have the power to bind and loose, to forgive sins and to reconcile sinners in His name.

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  • Hate: An equal opportunity employer?



    President Donald Trump recently said something important about the bigotry and violence on display in Charlottesville, Virginia, and elsewhere. His Aug. 21 remarks at Fort Myer in Arlington, Virginia, were largely ignored, and in fact he has said far less admirable things beforehand and afterward. But what he said then deserves attention regardless of who said it.

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  • Baseball's September song



    Barring convolutions, mad dashes, or mere meltdowns that would be downright historic, this September has the makings of being the dullest stretch-run in baseball's recent annals; not a good thing. With four weeks to go -- just when the erstwhile pastime needs to be flexing its competitive muscles, featuring epic battles, keeping us on the edge of our sofas, competing cheek to jowl with infernal football -- the end results of the long grueling season are a foregone conclusion; a bloody yawner. It will be the quietest September of the Expansion Era. Not a good thing!

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  • Achievement versus Fruitfulness



    There's a real difference between our achievements and our fruitfulness, between our successes and the actual good that we bring into the world. What we achieve brings us success, gives us a sense of pride, makes our families and friends proud of us, and gives us a feeling of being worthwhile, singular, and important. We've done something. We've left a mark. We've been recognized. And along with those awards, trophies, academic degrees, certificates of distinction, things we've built, and artifacts we've left behind comes public recognition and respect. We've made it. We're recognized. Moreover, generally, what we achieve produces and leaves behind something that is helpful to others. We can, and should, feel good about our legitimate achievements.

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  • Building A Bridge Toward the Kingdom



    Last Friday at daily Mass, the Church pondered St. Paul's First Letter to the Thessalonians, which succinctly and unambiguously states two of the most important truths for the faithful fulfillment of the mission of evangelization Christ has entrusted to the Church. These truths are particularly relevant for our day.

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  • In heaven for sure?



    Q. My mother passed away some time ago, and I wonder whether she is now in "God's eternal embrace." How can I be sure? She was a good mother and she dearly loved the church, but we have been taught that everyone has some imperfections and, upon death, must be sent to purgatory before they can enjoy heaven. I would rest more easily if I knew that my mother were not suffering any longer. (Forest, Virginia)

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  • Ingrid's Virtual Reality



    Matt Spicer's dark comedy Ingrid Goes West is a telling and penetrating critique of the iPhone culture that has swallowed up so many young people today. Now I know: I have an evangelical ministry that uses social media and reaches out through iPhones and other similar devices. Moreover, I have been known from time to time even to use such instruments personally. So I'm not going to use this review as an excuse for a broad brush dismissal of social media. But I will indeed use it to encourage you to see this film, which artfully explores the shadow side of living in virtual reality.

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  • Superheroes and the Power of Love



    Superman has his red power cape. Elijah wore a cape to manifest his divine authority. Most famously, the Virgin Mary is usually portrayed wearing a cape-like garment known as a mantle, often blue and sometimes adorned with stars, to highlight her extraordinary role in history. In the Church's oldest Marian prayer we say, "Beneath your mantle we take refuge, O Mother of God."

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  • Superheroes? Stardust? Or vessels of the Incarnation?



    When I was first introduced to the fascinations of the DNA double-helix in a biology class at Baltimore's St. Paul Latin High School, fifty years ago, the "unraveling" of this key to unlocking the mysteries of human genetics had taken place just a dozen years before. Yet in the five decades since my classmates and I built plastic models of the double-helix, humanity's knowledge of its genetic code has grown exponentially. And it seems likely that, as a species, we're only at the threshold of our capacity to use this knowledge for good or ill.

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  • Father Michael J. Ahern: Boston's First 'Radio Priest'



    On a Sunday afternoon, Sept. 15, 1929, an event occurred that would have a lasting effect on greater Boston's 800,000 Catholics. On that day, nearly 88 years ago, Father Michael J. Ahern, S.J. did something no priest in Boston had ever done before: he introduced a weekly radio program specifically for Catholics. While that may not sound very remarkable in our internet, cable television, and social media age, back in 1929, it was a very important occasion. Back then, radio was the dominant mass medium, and being on the air could turn a previously unknown performer or announcer into a celebrity.

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  • 'A Most Excellent Priest: Father George F. Goodwin'



    Father George F. Goodwin, whose name appears in several collections within the archdiocesan archive, is a sad story of unfulfilled potential in the early history of the Diocese of Boston. Father Goodwin was born in Charlestown, Mass., on Dec. 29, 1814. Not much is known of his childhood, though records from the Cathedral of the Holy Cross show that he was the son of John Goodwin and his wife, Mary Goodwin (nee Wellington), and converted to Catholicism on July 18, 1830. He must have shown promise from a young age, as Bishop Benedict Fenwick sent him to the seminary in Montreal to study for the priesthood, and later to finish his studies at the Seminary of Saint-Sulpice in Paris.

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  • Living as Missionary Disciples



    ''Let us envision and pray about ways of renewing the culture of faith within our own parishes and communities. Let us continue to create communities where those who have been renewed can find continued nourishment and strength in their journey of faith." ("Living as Missionary Disciples," p.8)

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  • Sunday Bible Reflections



    Today's First Reading catches the prophet Jeremiah in a moment of weakness. His intimate lamentation contains some of the strongest language of doubt found in the Bible. Following God's call, he feels abandoned. Preaching His Word has brought him only derision and reproach. But God does not deceive--and Jeremiah knows this. He tests the just, and disciplines His children through their sufferings and trials.

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  • Football's back and more



    It's the eve of another National Football League Season and the tub-thumping is off the charts. Ratings have never been higher, revenues never greater, profits never grosser. A dedicated army of media apologists is poised in breathless anxiety to claim a berth on the bandwagon of what they lovingly call, "America's Game". As if there were no other.

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  • Domesticating the divinity



    Some biblical scholars consider the Book of Deuteronomy to be a collection of sermons: catechetical homilies on the great theme of the Exodus and the fulfillment of that epic adventure in God's gifts of the Law and the land to the people of Israel. Throughout the book, Israel is told, over and over again, "Remember...." (or, more sharply, "Take heed, lest you forget...."). And what is Israel to remember? What does Israel dare not forget? Israel must remember God's mighty deeds in leading his people out of that "house of bondage," Egypt. Israel must remember that Pharaoh's army was crushed by God's power, not its own. Israel must remember the manna and the quail in the desert, food from heaven. Israel must remember the gift of the Law, which helps Israel avoid falling back into the bad habits of slaves. And Israel must remember the gift of the land, which, by God's bounty, gave her a home where she might prosper.

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  • Stuck in Traffic



    There's a famous billboard that hangs along a congested highway that reads: You aren't stuck in traffic. You are traffic! Good wit, good insight! How glibly we distance ourselves from a problem, whether it is our politics, our churches, the ecological problems on our planet, or most anything else.

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  • Fasting and the family



    Q. About two years ago, I made a promise to the Blessed Virgin Mary that I would fast on the Wednesdays and Fridays of each week, taking only bread and water -- for the poor souls in purgatory and for peace in the world. I have remained faithful to this commitment since then and intend to continue for the rest of my life.

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  • Grace or Karma?



    Just a few weeks ago, I had the privilege of meeting Dr. Stephen Davis, retired professor of the philosophy of religion at Claremont University. In preparation for the meeting, I read Dr. Davis's book called Christian Philosophical Theology, which includes a chapter contrasting two basic approaches to religion throughout the world. The first--which can be found in much of the East--is a religion of karma, and the second--prominent in the Abrahamic religions of the West--is a religion of grace.

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  • Impromptu threats are counterproductive



    Nicolas Maduro and Kim Jong Un are unalike in many ways, but one thing the strongmen of Venezuela and North Korea do have in common: both have been threatened by President Donald Trump. Both cases also underline the folly of the leader of a superpower like the United States talking off the top of his head on matters of high sensitivity and seriousness.

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  • In praise of millennials



    One of the most common comments I heard about the crowd of storm trooper wannabes marching with backyard tiki torches and wooden shields through the streets of Charlottesville, Virginia, was how many young people were among them.

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  • We are called to speak out



    We are called as Catholics to speak out and share our beliefs in the Gospel of Jesus Christ. One of the recurring comments I hear in my parish has been "What is the New Evangelization?" and "How can I do it?" This question touches on the important theme that the Catholic Church in Boston has focused on since Cardinal Sean issued his Pastoral Letter on Evangelization in June 2011: "A New Pentecost: Inviting All To Follow Jesus."

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  • Taking action



    (One of the greatest blessings of raising a large family is having the chance to hear (and hopefully appreciate!) a variety of perspectives. Our son, Kyril, is off to graduate school at the end of this week. This column was written by him. -- Jaymie Stuart Wolfe)

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  • Ministry to persons with disabilities -- we all belong



    The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops recent approval of the Revision of Guidelines for the Celebration of the Sacraments with Persons with Disabilities addresses the New Evangelization, and the universal call to holiness, by working to ensure that all human beings have the support they need to actively participate in the sacraments.

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  • 'What am I?'



    My 6-year-old son came home after school and unexpectedly asked my wife and me: "What am I?" The question caught us off guard. "What do you mean," we replied. He said, "Am I Mexican? Are people who speak Spanish Mexican?" We explained that he and his sister are "estadounidenses," the demonym in Spanish for people born in the United States. In other words, they are American. We also explained that people with Mexican roots who live in the United States are also known as Latinos or Hispanics. Likewise, people born or with roots in other parts of Latin America and the Spanish-speaking Caribbean, like in my case, born in Colombia, and my wife, born in Guatemala, are Hispanic. We have lived most of our lives in this country. We are committed to its best values and contribute with the best of who we are. We are also "estadounidenses."

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  • Sunday Reflections



    "Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God!" Paul exclaims in today's Epistle. Today's Psalm, too, takes up the triumphant note of joy and thanksgiving. Why? Because in the Gospel, the heavenly Father reveals the mystery of His kingdom to Peter. With Peter, we rejoice that Jesus is the anointed son promised to David, the one prophesied to build God's temple and reign over an everlasting kingdom.

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  • From Brooklyn to Los Angeles -- The Dodgers



    The Dodgers have ever been with us. East Coast. West Coast. Up and down. Through thick and thin. Oft amusing, most always likeable, and never boring. The early editions of Patriarch Wilbert Robinson -- beloved "Uncle Robbie" -- were fabulously inept and thereby great entertainment, although I continue to insist Babe Herman belongs in the Hall of Fame. Then Leo Durocher came along and badgered them into something faintly respectable. Whereupon Branch Rickey -- the alternately brilliant and bombastic, self-styled Mahatma -- followed-up, giving us "the Boys of Summer."

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  • The Power of Ritual



    I don't always find it easy to pray. Often I'm over-tired, distracted, caught-up in tasks, pressured by work, short on time, lacking the appetite for prayer, or more strongly drawn to do something else. But I do pray daily; despite the fact that I often don't want to and despite the fact that many times prayer can be boring and uninteresting. I pray daily because I'm committed to a number of rituals for prayer, the office of the Church, lauds and vespers, the Eucharist, and daily meditation.

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  • Marijuana and morality



    Q. Many localities are in the process of decriminalizing the recreational use of marijuana. What is the church's view? Is using pot recreationally the same thing morally as having a drink? Is it OK in moderation? (Suffolk, Virginia)

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  • Charlottesville and America's Original Sin



    I vividly remember my first visit to Charlottesville, Virginia. It was about twenty years ago, and I was on vacation with a good friend, who shared with me a passion for American history and for Thomas Jefferson in particular. We had toured a number of Civil War battlefields in Maryland and Virginia and then had made our way to Jefferson's University of Virginia in Charlottesville. Finally, we ventured outside the city to the little hilltop home that the great founder had designed and built for himself, Monticello. It was a glorious summer day, and the elegant manse shone in all of its Palladian splendor. We took in its classical lines, its distinctive red and white coloration, the understated beauty of its dome, its overall symmetry, balance, and harmony. On the inside, we saw all of Jefferson's quirky genius on display: scientific instruments, inventions, books galore. Just outside the house was the simple, unpretentious grave of Jefferson, the tombstone naming him as the author of the Declaration of Independence. There was no question that the very best of the American spirit was on display in that place.

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  • Avoiding Embarrassing Situations Receiving Holy Communion



    I was recently making a retreat at a Monastery in the Catskills. At Sunday Mass, I was asked by the Chaplain to distribute the Precious Blood to the nuns and lay people in attendance. At one point there was a little delay as I was giving the Chalice to the lay guests; the priest Celebrant, distributing the Sacred Hosts, was having a brief conversation, inaudible to me, with two women in line.

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  • It's a culture war, stupid



    Those who persist in denying that the Church is engaged in a culture war, the combatants in which are aptly called the "culture of life" and the "culture of death," might ponder this June blog post by my summer pastor in rural Québec, Father Tim Moyle:

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