From the UK on WYD: “Pilgrims from Brooklyn Can Be Proud of Their Bishop!”

That’s the excited headline on a blog post sent to me from a reader, who spotted in on a web page for World Youth Day pilgrims from the United Kingdom.  The writer is referring to Bishop Frank Caggiano.  The post:  Today’s catechesis by Bishop Frank Caggiano from Diocese of Brooklyn, NY was interrupted several times… [Read More…]

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John Allen on “What We Learned About the Pope in Brazil”

He filed this for the CNN Beliefs blog: Francis was elected at 76, so he doesn’t exude the animal magnetism of the early John Paul II, the last pope to command this kind of popular affection. Elected at 58, John Paul delivered dramatic gestures like the actor he once was. For instance, he would kiss [Read More…]

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Why Men Shouldn’t Be Ordained—UPDATE

Remarkably, this little satire has become one of the most popular posts at The Bench, ever.  (Its appeal may be more universal than I ever imagined. It was recently picked up by a Buddhist blog, which thought it had humorous applications to Buddhist monks.) For some reason, the post is getting renewed attention and traffic [Read More…]

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Pope Francis: “We Need a Church Capable of Warming Hearts”

This is simply beautiful:  Francis was addressing the Brazilian Church but today’s lunch with the region’s cardinals and bishops in Rio’s Archbishopric was much more than this. The Pope laid out a plan for his pontificate. He presented the image of a Church which walks beside its faithful in order to be truly missionary and [Read More…]

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Tradition in Action

Some traditions just have to endure… Blessed Pope John Paul II (soon to be saint) in Africa in 1980 Pope Francis in Brazil in 2013 [Read more…]

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Shock: Chinese Father Goes on Deadly Rampage Over Country’s One Child Policy

Details:  A man who was told by officials they couldn’t register his fourth child because he didn’t pay a penalty for breaking China’s family planning laws stabbed to death two government workers and injured four others, state media and an official said. Footage of police trying to subdue the man outside a family planning office [Read More…]

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What’s the Media Saying About the Pope in Rio?

Vatican Radio’s Sean Patrick Lovett has the answer:  One thing that really stands out in headlines across the media spectrum, is how the Argentine Pope is conquering everybody – even the Brazilians (!) – with his warm and simple attitude and with the direct way he uses words… Both local Rio papers, O Globo and [Read More…]

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R.I.P., Lindy Boggs

The history-making congresswoman and former US ambassador to the Vatican—also the mother of Cokie Roberts—has died. Details:  Lindy Boggs, who succeeded her husband in the House of Representatives after his plane crashed in Alaska and who went on to serve nine terms on Capitol Hill, notably as a champion of women’s rights, died on Saturday [Read More…]

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Homily for July 28, 2013: 17th Sunday in Ordinary Time

[Click here for readings.] When I was four or five years old, my mother took me Wheaton Plaza Shopping Center, in Wheaton, Maryland, to see Santa Claus. Any four-year old will tell you: this is a very big deal. And it was even more so for me, because I wanted a new two-wheel bike, with [Read More…]

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Something Cool: Time Lapse Video Shows Restoration of St. Patrick’s

A brief glimpse at some of the ambitious work now underway in midtown Manhattan, restoring one of the most famous churches in America. Take a look. [Read more…]

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On Pope Francis: “You Can See He is a Pastor. He is Not a King.”

Some provocative insights on Pope Francis from a provocative former Franciscan, via Vatican Insider:  “Three weeks before Bergoglio’s election, I tweeted: Francis is going to be the next Pope because as St. Francis did, the Church needs someone who can restore its lost credibility…” Leonardo Boff no longer wears a habit after his clash with [Read More…]

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“Catholic Church Not Against Burying Gays”

That’s the headline accompanying the piece below in the Columbus Dispatch. The headline and story, I think, reveal much about both the people in the pews and the perception many have of the Church. Details:  As they drove home from a recent funeral in Cincinnati, the 60-something Westerville couple started thinking about the plans they [Read More…]

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Pope to Argentine Pilgrims: “I Want a Mess!”

Details:  Pope Francis has shown the world his rebellious side, urging young Catholics to shake up the church and make a “mess” in their dioceses by going out into the streets to spread the faith. It’s a message he put into practice by visiting one of Rio’s most violent slums and opening the church’s World [Read More…]

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The Pope with a Chotki

This striking photograph from WYD shows Pope Francis clearly wearing a chotki around his wrist—something I can’t recall seeing with any other pope. What’a chotki?  It’s a kind of “prayer rope,” similar to the rosary, used by the Orthodox and Eastern rite Catholics. From Wikipedia:  When praying, the user normally holds the prayer rope in [Read More…]

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When a Priest Commits Suicide

This tragic news broke earlier in the week: More than 200 mourners gathered Monday at a Cudahy church to remember Father Jan Kieliszewski, who was found dead Sunday morning at nearby Nativity of the Lord Parish. The Milwaukee County medical examiner’s office ruled Kieliszewski’s death a suicide, according to the Archdiocese of Milwaukee. Archdiocese spokesman [Read More…]

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Should Priests Endorse Candidates?

With all the frenzy about the unfortunately-named Anthony Weiner, it can be easy to forget that there are other people running for the mayor of New York.  One of them is John Catsimatidis, a Greek American businessman. He’s not that well-known to many New Yorkers, so he’s trying to get his name and image out there [Read More…]

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“I Need to Watch This Guy Closely, Because He’s a Good Example for Me…”

That’s New York’s Cardinal Timothy Dolan, talking about—who else?—Pope Francis. From an interview with NCR’s John Allen: You were one of the cardinals who elected Francis, and presumably you had some idea of what kind of pope he would be. To what extent has it turned out the way you expected? In some ways, it’s [Read More…]

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Out of Kansas: One Man’s Journey from Rastafarian to Orthodox Deacon

And now for something completely different:  He’s been called Muslim, Jewish, a Zen master, even Osama bin Laden. Oftentimes people are just puzzled: What is that guy? Michael Wilson, who has worked at Lawrence’s Liberty Hall for more than two decades, has a long beard that grays the further it grows away from his face [Read More…]

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