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  • Patriots and saints



    They say there are four seasons in Louisiana: Mardi Gras, crawfish, hurricane, and football. Down here, football at every level -- high school, college, and professional -- is serious business. Many houses fly banners and flags; a good number even have decorative lights. LSU, Tulane, and of course, the Saints. No, I'm not giving up the Patriots, but I am adding the Saints. I figure between the two teams, I've got both God and country covered.

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  • The good will prevail



    Recently, I was invited (as were others) to submit an op-ed letter to the Boston Globe with some thoughts about what is next for our Church in light of the report from the Pennsylvania Grand Jury. In the hope that my words might reach more people, I am repeating my message in this space, as it was originally published.

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  • Celebrating the feast day of St. Marguerite d'Youville



    Marguerite d'Youville, foundress of the Grey Nuns of Montreal and the namesake of numerous hospitals and assisted living residences in New England, lived during the 18th century in Montreal. Left a poor widow at the age of 30, she defied the gender and class boundaries of her time, always advocating for the needs and rights of the most marginalized members of society. In the midst of a smallpox epidemic, Marguerite and her associates provided care for a group of sick Native Americans in the woods when no one else would. She advocated for the burial rights of executed criminals and even begged for money to pay to have them buried. Faced with financial worries of her own, she consistently focused on those who had even less than she did.

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  • A time for heroes and goats



    At last, the baseball season has begun. The games really count for something, as opposed to the 162 game schedule when the teams fight it out to see which ones will gain home field advantage, an advantage that could be wiped out after a single contest should the visitors happen to win it.

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  • Beyond Criticism and Anger -- The Invitation to a Deeper Empathy



    Recently I attended a symposium where the keynote speaker was a man exactly my age. Since we had both lived through the same cultural and religious changes in our lives, I resonated with much of what he said and with how he felt about things. And in his assessment of both the state of affairs in our politics and our churches today, he was pretty critical, even angry. Not without reason. In both our governments and our churches today there isn't just a bitter polarization and an absence of fundamental charity and respect, there's also a lot of seemingly inexcusable blindness, lack of transparency, and self-serving dishonesty. Our speaker was plenty eager to point these out.

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  • The rush to publish



    I wonder if I am alone in worrying about a side effect of our two most recent public discussions of sexual abuse. I mean of course the confirmation of Justice Brett Kavanaugh and the latest abuse scandal in the church. My concern is that the media, sensing an appetite for stories of this kind and a willingness to credit them, will be too quick to publish charges against innocent people.

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  • Confirmation required for marriage?



    Q. My question concerns the requirement for a Catholic to be confirmed before being allowed to be married in a Catholic wedding ceremony. My grandson is engaged to a Catholic girl who was baptized and made her first Communion but was never confirmed. The priest they went to for their pre-Cana requirement said that she needs to attend classes on Catholicism from September until next June, in preparation for confirmation.

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  • World Mission Sunday and the Reform of the Church



    Among the harmful consequences of the multidimensional clergy sexual abuse crisis is the way that it disfigures the face of the Church and impedes the Church's mission. In the best of times, many Catholics are timid in spreading the faith and inviting people to consider becoming Catholic. The shame and disgust that understandably follow the revelation of sexual abuse by a Cardinal Archbishop and hundreds of priests in the State of Pennsylvania, the lack of horror and adequate action on the part of some leaders in the Church to stop it, the lack of transparency on the part of some to own up to their responsibility, and the open divisions that have formed over what to do about to it today, all make it much more challenging to perceive Christ and his holiness operating in the Church. They render our message about God, the Church, and faith and morals in general, less credible because of the failure of so many messengers to practice what the Church preaches.

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  • John Paul II, youth minister



    Pole that he was, Karol Wojtyla had a well-developed sense of historical irony. So from his present position in the Communion of Saints, he might be struck by the ironic fact that the Synod on "Youth, Faith, and Vocational Discernment," currently underway in Rome, coincides with the 40th anniversary of his election as Pope John Paul II on October 16, 1978. What's the irony? The irony is that the most successful papal youth minister in modern history, and perhaps all history, was largely ignored in Synod-2018's working document. And the Synod leadership under Cardinal Lorenzo Baldisseri seems strangely reluctant to invoke either his teaching or his example.

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  • The Bishop James Augustine Healy Dinner



    Nov. 17 will mark the 25th Anniversary of the Bishop James Augustine Healy Dinner, held annually by the Black Catholic Ministries of the Archdiocese of Boston. James Augustine Healy was born in 1830 in the State of Georgia to Michael Healy, an Irish immigrant, and Eliza Clark, an African American slave. Eliza legally belonged to Michael, one of the several dozen enslaved people living on his farm, and though their marriage had no legal standing, evidence suggests they lived together as husband and wife for the remainder of their lives.

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  • The crisis behind the departure crisis



    A young girl we know, recently changed schools because the one she was attending wasn't Catholic enough. She decided that she wanted a school where faith was first, not the more secular tone of her prestigious former school. This is a serious girl who, with her parents, has demonstrated a true understanding of the real purpose of education.

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  • Hope remains



    If an oasis of HOPE is what hearts were looking for, the Lowell Memorial Auditorium in downtown Lowell was the place to be on Sept. 15 for the HOPE of the NATIONS Catholic Conference. This was the second Hope Conference to be held here in two years, and an incredible follow-up to year one. Throughout this power-packed day, attendees of the conference were flooded with messages of hope, healing and deliverance, at a time when so many in the church are in need of just those graces.

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  • My All Time Red Sox team



    Now that the 2018 edition of the Red Sox has established itself as the winningest team in the history of the franchise, let's do an exercise. Whom do you think are the greatest players that you have seen at each position? There are no wrong answers; this is not a quiz, it's your opinion, but you must have seen the players in action, either in person or on television. So, for example, if you are just a teenager, you might never have actually seen Pedro Martinez pitch, thus he wouldn't be eligible for your personal all-time Red Sox team. If, on the other hand, you are as long in the tooth as I am, anyone who played from the mid 1940s on qualifies. But Tris Speaker and Jimmie Foxx do not because I never saw either one of them play.

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  • In praise of middle children



    There's something new to worry about these days: the disappearance of the middle child. One of the side effects of shrinking family size is that middle children are disappearing. With more and more people having only one or two children, society is losing one of its great assets.

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  • Judas and his fate



    Q. There's a question that has occurred to me from time to time, and I would appreciate your answer. I was always led to believe that suicide is a mortal sin, so someone who takes his own life cannot go to heaven.

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  • Young People, Faith and Vocational Discernment



    Archbishop Chaput offered the following intervention at the Vatican during the 2018 Synod on Young People, the Faith, and Vocational Discernment Oct. 4. -- Editor I was elected to the synod's permanent council three years ago. At the time, I was asked, along with other members, to suggest themes for this synod. My counsel then was to focus on Psalm 8. We all know the text: "When I look at thy heavens, the work of thy fingers, the moon and the stars which thou hast established; what is man that thou art mindful of him, and the son of man that thou dost care for him?"

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  • A NEW APOLOGETICS



    Bishop Barron offered the following intervention at the Vatican during the 2018 Synod on Young People, the Faith, and Vocational Discernment Oct. 4. -- Editor Jesus' encounter with two erstwhile disciples on the road to Emmaus provides a beautiful template for the Church's work of accompaniment across the ages. The Lord walks with the couple, even as they move away from Jerusalem, which is to say, spiritually speaking, in the wrong direction. He does not commence with a word of judgment, but rather with attention and quiet encouragement. Jesus continues to listen, even as they recount, accurately enough, all the data having to do with him. But then, knowing that they lack the interpretive pattern that will make sense of the data, he upbraids them ("Oh, how foolish you are! How slow of heart to believe all that the prophets spoke!"), and then he lays out the form ("beginning with Moses and all the prophets, he interpreted to them what referred to him in all the Scriptures."). He listens with love, and he speaks with force and clarity.

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  • Paul VI, a prophetic pope



    "Am I Hamlet or Don Quixote?" Pope Paul VI once asked that question about himself, and whatever his answer might have been, most people would say he was more than a little of both. His hesitation in making difficult choices, arising from acute sensitivity, reflected the indecisiveness of Shakespeare's Prince of Denmark. At the same time, his dedication to pursuing lofty but hard to reach goals in the face of nearly insurmountable obstacles shared more than a little in common with Cervantes's superannuated knight errant.

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  • The Catholic crisis, in perspective



    Perspective is at least as important when reading the signs of the times as it is in landscape painting. And so, in this autumn of our Catholic discontent, I was particularly grateful to hear from an old friend, Nina-Sophie Heereman, who offered some needed perspective on the Catholic circumstance in the United States.

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  • Who you believe



    Whatever side of the he-said-she-said divide you're on, or whichever side ultimately prevails, the last few weeks of political theater prove one thing: what we believe most often depends on who we believe. Once we've decided to trust someone, we are likely to believe that whatever they tell us is true. Even if it isn't.

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  • Healing fire



    Following is text of the homily delivered by Bishop Mark O'Connell at a Mass of the Holy Spirit for the Purification and Healing of our Church for Catholics in the North Region of the archdiocese, Sept. 25, 2018.

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  • Preparing students for both college and heaven



    There is a lot going on in the world today, and much of it seems negative and very unsettling. Fortunately, many of the challenges we face today as a Church and as a society can be addressed through Catholic education, an education that focuses on each individual student and an education that promises to prepare our students for both college and heaven.

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  • What God has joined



    In today's Gospel, the Pharisees try to trap Jesus with a trick question. The "lawfulness" of divorce in Israel was never an issue. Moses had long ago allowed it (see Deuteronomy 24:1--4). But Jesus points His enemies back before Moses, to "the beginning," interpreting the text we hear in today's First Reading.

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  • A game within a game



    A fascinating game-within-a-game took place the other night in a contest between the Red Sox and the Toronto Blue Jays. This was the situation: bottom of the seventh inning; Red Sox trailing, 2 to 1; two outs and a man on third base; right-handed pitcher Ryan Tepera was on the mound for Toronto; Eduardo Nunez was at the plate; catcher Sandy Leon was due up next, but he was in a bit of a slump (he hadn't had a base hit since Jimmy Carter was president); so Red Sox skipper Alex Cora put Mitch Moreland on deck to pinch hit if Nunez got on.

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  • 'Secret' church archives



    Q. Among its general findings, the Pennsylvania grand jury stated that canon law requires each diocese to maintain a "secret archive" to which only the bishop has the key. Is that true and, if so, what is the purpose of such an "archive"? (West Sand Lake, New York)

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  • Remedying the Corruption



    Over the two last weeks there have been various developments, bad and good, in the clergy sex abuse scandals. It was announced that former Cardinal Theodore McCarrick is now living a life of prayer and penance at St. Fidelis Friary in Victoria, Kansas, in the Diocese of Salina, which has brought confusion insofar as the Friary is located right next to an elementary school. Bishop Robert Morneau, a retired auxiliary bishop in Green Bay, withdrew from public ministry for failing to report an incident of priestly sexual abuse in 1979. More state attorney generals and district attorneys launched investigations into the Catholic dioceses, often with Diocesan cooperation. Several priests were removed for accusations of abuse decades ago detailed in newly received letters. Pope Francis expelled Fernando Karadima, the most notorious abuser in Chile, from the priesthood. Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigaṇ published another letter. The Catholic Church in Germany presented a comprehensive report describing that between 1946-2014, 1,670 clergy had abused 3,677 minors.

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  • Courage in the Slough of Despond



    I never took a class from historian Frank Orlando, but the motto he placed in the faculty section of my college yearbook -- "History is an antidote for despair" --has stuck with me for 45 years. It also seems quite appropriate at this disturbing moment in the life of the Church, so perhaps a history lesson is in order.

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  • Letters from an early missionary to the Hawaiian Islands



    Within the archive reside several documents speaking to the struggles of the earliest Catholic missionaries to arrive in the Hawaiian Islands. After a series of inter-island conflicts, the Hawaiian Islands were united under one ruler, Kamehameha I, around the beginning of the 19th century. Shortly afterward, in 1820, the first Protestant missionaries are believed to have arrived from New England. They proved effective in converting the native population, so much so that when the first Catholic missionaries appeared in 1827, they were persecuted and forcibly removed from the islands.

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  • To belong to Christ



    Today's Gospel begins with a scene that recalls a similar moment in the history of Israel, the episode recalled in today's First Reading. The seventy elders who receive God's Spirit through Moses prefigure the ministry of the apostles.

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  • A complicated story of American heroes



    The one hundredth birthday of Ted Williams and the funeral of John McCain took place just two days apart, Williams' centennial was on Aug. 30 and McCain's farewell service on Sept. 1. The juxtaposition of the two events was a coincidence, to be sure, but the two men's lives were closely intertwined with one another.

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  • How Catholics see the scandal



    What do serious, practicing Catholics think about the sex abuse crisis? To find out, you can commission a public opinion survey or you can attend a parish listening session. I chose the latter approach, and the results were at least as illuminating as any opinion poll and possibly more so.

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  • The truth that set him free



    "I believe the Lord has put me here for this very moment. Throughout all of the pain, the Lord has never left me alone. He has continued to love me, heal me and still calls me to serve him." Those are the words of a victim of sexual abuse. Those are the words of a priest.

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  • Valuing truth over faction



    Confirmation of a new justice for the U.S. Supreme Court has been halted, at least temporarily, by an accusation that the nominee when 17 years old tried to force himself on a 15-year-old girl. (A second accusation may delay the confirmation process further.)

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  • Worldly solutions



    As more and more state attorneys-general open more and more inquiries into the Church's history of sexual abuse allegations, it is clear that the headlines we've been reading with much consternation and disgust won't be going away anytime soon. What is most astonishing to me, however, are the Catholics who are attempting to parlay the current sewer of scandal and corruption into a debate point for their own social agendas.

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  • Opioids, pain management, and addiction: Balancing ethical duties



    Almost 2 million Americans are now addicted to opioids. The National Institute on Drug Abuse notes that more than 100 people die each day in the U.S. from opioid overdoses. This unprecedented level of abuse -- which involves not only heroin, but also prescription pain relievers such as OxyContin, Percocet, morphine, codeine, and fentanyl -- has become a national crisis. Reportedly, about 80 percent of heroin addicts first misused prescription opioids. Yet for many patients, no pain-relieving options more effective than opioids exist. Figuring out how to use these powerful pharmacological agents in an appropriate and ethical manner is urgent and imperative.

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  • The runway to self-sufficiency



    One of the bright spots on our yearly calendar is the Catholic Charities South Fashion Show. Our 270 attendees were treated to a lovely Sunday brunch, where our volunteer models sported the newest looks from Sara Campbell, Miltons, Purple Poppy, Johnny Cupcakes, and Gwen Mireille. The show, our 20th annual "Good is Always in Style" event, was held this September at the Granite Links Golf Club, and hosted by WCVB's Mike Wankum, and his former broadcast partner, Darcie Fisher.

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  • Why do we exalt the cross?



    Today (9/14) the Church celebrates the Feast of the Exaltation of the Cross. In one respect this great day commemorates the discovery of the relics of Christ's crucifixion by the Roman Empress, Helena, in the fourth century and the dedication of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem.

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  • Servant of all



    In today's First Reading, it's like we have our ears pressed to the wall and can hear the murderous grumblings of the elders, chief priests, and scribes--who last week Jesus predicted would torture and kill Him (see Mark 8:31; 10:33--34).

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  • Being Dave Dombrowski



    Let's say that you are Dave Dombrowski. You and Sam Kennedy are the bosses of the Boston Red Sox. Sam takes care of the business side of the operation, which are extensive, complicated, and require great skill and long hours, while you, Mr. Dombrowski, handle the baseball operations. Here's what it adds up to -- Sam is in charge of making the money and you are in charge of spending it.

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