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Compiled by Steve Jalsevac

CHRISTMAS

VIDEO: Stein Who Are Nick & Jessica? – CBS News
Ben Stein wants to know who Nick Lachey and Jessica Simpson are and discusses why he finds joy in religion during the holiday season.

Media Emphasis on ‘Holiday Shopping’ Directly Contradicts Public’s Stated Preferences
– Newsbusters
This season, merry Christmas — not happy holidays or season’s greetings — will dominate retailer’s marketing messages. There will be Christmas sales and Christmas trees and Christmas carols galore.
… This year’s NRF (National Retail Federation)/BigResearch survey found that 91 percent of consumers plan to celebrate Christmas, compared with 5% for Hanukkah and 2% for Kwanzaa.
According to the most recent Rasmussen Poll on the subject, 72 percent of all Americans prefer the greeting “Merry Christmas” to “Happy Holidays,” the greeting of preference for just 22 percent of us. This is up four percent from last year.


BISHOPS CONFERENCES, DOLAN USCCB ELECTION

Pope: Bishops’ conferences should serve bishops not replace them – CNA
A national conference of Catholic bishops exists so that pastors of the Church might “share the fatigue of their labors.” But, according to Pope Benedict XVI, those national conferences can never substitute for an individual bishop’s authority and duty to guide his people

Pope: Bishops’ Conference Doesn’t Replace Bishop
– Zenit

Tension builds between the Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales and orthodox Catholics – Catholic World Report
The Holy Father’s September visit highlighted the tension that exists between his pontificate and what dismayed English Catholics call the liberal “Magic Circle” of bishops who make up the Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales (BCEW).

Several of its number are known to be deeply opposed both to this papacy and to that of John Paul II. The first reason for this opposition is that the members of the BCEW have been largely self-selecting from a small pool of like-minded “insiders” who come through lines of patronage that can be traced back to one man, the late Archbishop Derek Worlock of Liverpool. At the Second Vatican Council, Worlock had been one of the first of the English bishops to promote a new liberal vision for the Church.

But Pope Benedict’s vision aims at fostering orthodox Catholics who can act as a “creative minority” in the wider culture. The differences between these two visions are ultimately irreconcilable and go to the heart of the debate over the meaning of Vatican II.

The second reason for the tensions with the Pope is the structure of the BCEW, which appears to undercut the individual bishop’s teaching role in favor of presenting a common front on every issue. With Soviet-like brutishness, the BCEW has sought over many years to curb the activities of those Catholic groups that exist outside of its direct control.

Getting to know the new VP  – InsideCatholic
Catholics are already familiar with the new president, Archbishop Timothy Dolan of New York City; but his vice president—Archbishop Joseph Kurtz of Louisville—hasn’t had quite as high a profile (though surely that’s about to change).

Cardinal O’Connor’s Revenge – By George Neumayr – Catholic World Report
the “Seamless Garment” bishops are running out of steam, stopped not only by their overtly political liberalism, which looks painfully passé in the light of the Democratic Party’s crack-up and the nation’s changing mood, but also by the moral fallout of their doctrinal liberalism.
Historians will likely note that what ultimately silenced and discredited the “Seamless Garment” bishops was not this or that silly political stance, but the sex abuse scandal.

The media casts Kicanas’ defeat and Dolan’s win as a “traditionalist” victory. But that is overstating it. For one thing, Dolan—though he sees himself walking in the footsteps of John O’Connor—is far from a confrontational conservative.

In reality, the immediate outcome of the USCCB election has to do primarily with the slow unraveling of the “Seamless Garment” and the aftershocks of the abuse scandal. Bernardin’s dream of the USCCB as a Vatican-resistant body of progressive political opinions was simply overtaken by the nightmare of clerical corruption.

Three Great Things About USCCB’s New President Dolan
– Matt Bowman – CatholicVote.org
1) Clear(er) Teaching
2) Orthodoxy Exerts Influence
3) Dolan Disarms Dissidents

America’s Next Top Catholic – Archbishop Dolan – New Republic
Is he a culture warrior or a nice guy? In fact, ideologically, Dolan is a consensus candidate who represents a desire on the part of the bishops to reaffirm their Catholic identity while keeping everyone, left and right, on board. His election also shows that the majority of bishops are keen to have a congenial, media-savvy prelate as their chief spokesman—and while he is known for his eagerness to defend the Church’s teachings and reputation in the public square, he is not a bomb-thrower.

If the bishops had, for example, elected Denver Archbishop Charles Chaput—who has advocated denying Communion to pro-choice politicians—that would represent a genuine embrace of the culture wars, and progressive Catholics would probably be fleeing for their neighborhood Episcopalian Church. But Dolan rejects this practice, insisting that it is better to try and persuade those who disagree with the Church than to impose sanctions.

VIDEO: In the rush to be well-liked, is Archbishop Timothy Dolan being too loose with his language?
– REAL Catholic TV

Bishop Morin Reports to Bishops on Review and Renewal of Catholic Campaign for Human Development USCCB

Bishop Soto to oversee work of CCHD

Bishop Jaime Soto of Sacramento has been named the new chairman of the Subcommittee on Catholic Campaign for Human Development of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. He replaces Bishop Roger Morin of Biloxi.

NPR’s Dirty Campaigners of the Week: ‘Conservative Bloggers’ Push ‘Bold’ Pro-lifer to Head Bishops Group – Newsbusters
Isn’t it fascinating how liberal reporters lament “outspoken” conservatives “willing to speak loudly and publicly,” especially on their pet social-liberal issues? Liberal “reform” movements aren’t cast as “culture warriors,” only conservatives are. Liberals aren’t labeled as liberals, but conservatives are routinely described as conservatives.


VATICAN, POPE BENEDICT


Vatican government is a ‘train wreck’: Experts
– USA Today
If you are waiting for the Vatican to make clear, immediate and transparent responses to the ongoing global sexual abuse crisis … well, don’t hold your breath, two Vatican experts, George Weigel, biographer of Pope John Paul II and author of numerous books on the Church and John Allen, said Monday at a media seminar. They agreed there is, essentially, no media strategy, no war room, no one with a handle on reforming communications or, worse, reforming the governing structure itself.

Weigel’s answers: “The Vatican communications debacle has to end” and the Church must find away to dump bad bishops, which he called…the single biggest management problem in the church today… and the single biggest fix that can affect the life of the Church.

Too far to say that the Roman Curia is a ‘train wreck’? Probably not By William Oddie
– Catholic Herald
It’s time for reform. No pontificate can reach its full potential with an incompetent Vatican bureaucracy. The reform of the Roman Curia has to start somewhere. Its communications strategy is probably the place to start. The trouble is that the incompetence of those responsible for the Pope’s public relations can give the strong impression that it is the Pope himself who is out of his depth, even when he very clearly is not. 

Confusion over Pope’s condom views after he says they are acceptable in ‘certain cases’ – Telegraph
The Pope faced calls to clarify his stance on condoms as confusion reigned over exactly what he meant when he said that they could be used by Roman Catholics in “certain cases”. While the shift was welcomed by Aids campaigners around the world, some theologians said it threw the spotlight on confusion over the Church’s stance on condom use.

Jon O’Brien, president of the US-based catholics for Choice campaign, said that the confusion had been created by Vatican traditionalists attempting to “control and contain” the Pope’s message. “There is no way they can spin this to say that this doesn’t mean anything, this is huge,” he said. “There is the usual confusion and spin by the hardliners in the Vatican who really want to reel in the importance of this statement.”

Vatican spokesman’s remarks on condoms add to confusion, top US theologian says – CNA
Media reaction to Fr. Lombardi’s remarks was swift, with nearly every major news agency reporting that the Pope believes that condom use – even in heterosexual relations – is a lesser evil than transmitting HIV to one’s partner. This confusion on a fundamental matter of Church moral teaching is hardly helpful, Dr. Haas told CNA. Haas was troubled by Fr. Lombardi’s remarks, which he said seem to misrepresent what the Pope is trying to argue in the book.

Pope did not legitimize condom use, affirms Spanish bishop
– CNA
The secretary general of the Spanish Bishops’ Conference recently remarked that the Pope’s comments in the newly-released book, “Light of the World,” do not legitimize the use of condoms.
Bishop Juan Antonio Martinez Camino noted on Nov. 26, at the conclusion of the Spanish bishops’ 96th plenary assembly, that the use of condoms “always” takes place “within a context of immorality.” Thus, he continued, it “can never be recommended.”

The Pope’s message turned upside-down By Phil Lawler – Catholic Culture
Today, what the world thinks Pope Benedict said is almost exactly the opposite of what he clearly intended. In Chapter 11 of his new book, Light of the World, Pope Benedict mounts a strong defense of his argument that condom use is not the appropriate means of fighting the AIDS epidemic. This week, millions of people received the impression that the Pope made precisely the opposite argument-that he recommended condoms as a defense against AIDS—due to the most spectacular public-relations bungling of this pontificate.

In an earlier comment on this debacle, I blamed L’Osservatore Romano for publishing the Pope’s remarks out of context. Writing in the National Catholic Reporter, John Allen reveals that the Vatican newspaper actually did not break an embargo on the book, as I had charged; L’Osservatore Romano had the publisher’s permission to print the excerpt in question. Allen suggests, therefore: “If you want to be mad at somebody over the timing, try the Vatican Publishing House.” I value John Allen’s advice, and in this case I am fully prepared to take it. I am angry with the Vatican Publishing House, too.

Should the Pope clarify his remarks? He already did – By Phil Lawler
– Catholic Culture
Both immediately before and immediately after the controversial paragraph, Pope Benedict gave clear indications as to how his words should be interpreted. If you’re looking for another clarification from the apostolic palace, look in the book itself; it’s already there. An ancillary question—and this one is not just rhetorical: Why did L’Osservatore Romano reprint the paragraph in which the Pope explores the argument for condom use, and not the follow-up paragraph in which he says that the Church “does not regard it as a real or moral solution”?

Watch the trailer for “Light of the World”
– Ignatius Press

Pope says in book he would resign if incapacitated
– Reuters
Pope Benedict says in a new book that he would not hesitate to become the first pontiff to resign willingly in more than 700 years if he felt himself no longer able, “physically, psychologically and spiritually,” to lead the church. Benedict seems to be in relatively good health but confesses in the book that he feels his forces diminishing.


SEX ABUSE SCANDALS


Pedophilia. The Doubts of the Cardinals Over “Zero Tolerance
by Sandro Magister
It is up to the canonical judge – specifically the local bishop, except for the cases, like those of pedophilia, in which the competency belongs to the congregation for the doctrine of the faith – to decide whether to open a judicial procedure or an administrative procedure by decree.

Abuse revealed ‘much deeper’ crisis, says Catholic Archbishop of Dublin Diarmuid Martin – Irish Times
The abuse scandals had opened people’s eyes “to a much deeper crisis”, he said. Religious practice had “dropped at times in staggering proportions. There is disillusionment . . . Many have opted for or drifted into a more secularised vision of their life. Many have become indifferent and live as if God did not exist,” he said.


RELIGIOUS PERSECUTION

Chinese officials forcing bishops to attend state-church meetings – CNA
Two of the Chinese government’s “Catholic associations” are meeting from Dec. 7-9, with many bishops loyal to the Vatican reportedly being coerced into attending the gatherings.

Card. Zen’s anguish over illegal ordination of Chengden
– Asia News
Priests, nuns and faithful of the official and underground communities mourn over the demeaning illicit ordination on 20 November in Chengde (Hebei). It was attended by eight bishops in communion with the pope, kidnapped and forced to participate. The Bishop Emeritus of Hong Kong, a champion of religious freedom in China, vents his frustration.

What should have never happened, has happened again! Such fascist method, gangster style has brought shame on our noble nation. Are our leaders aware of what is happening? Are the approving it? Was that what they wanted? Is this the harmonious society?

China says Vatican ‘violating’ religious freedom – Google
China, which strictly controls the church, said Thursday that Vatican opposition to the official Chinese Catholic body’s ordination of a bishop amounted to a violation of freedom of religion.

‘Hate group’ label applied to Christian ministries
– One News Now
The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) is defaming a number of pro-family organizations by adding them to its list of “hate groups.” The left-leaning legal organization has issued a list of alleged “hate groups” that includes mainstream Christian ministries because of their opposition to the sin of homosexuality. Among the 13 groups are several prominent national groups—American Family Association, Coral Ridge Ministries, Family Research Council, Concerned Women for America, Liberty Counsel, Traditional Values Coalition, and the National Organization for Marriage.

Sisters of life attacked on website
– National Review
“RH Reality Check” hosts an attack on a beautiful group of women from my native New York, the Sisters of Life. Eleanor Bader, co-author of Targets of Hatred: Anti-Abortion Terrorism, is outraged that the Sisters have been so successful in their mission to serve women, children, and families who feel hopeless in the face of a pregnancy.


MARXISM AND WEALTH DISTRIBUTION

The Inconvenient Memoirs of Cardinal Biff – Why Marxism Always Fails – First Things
It was not the Marxist ideal in communism that was in error, really. It was that communism was compelled, rather than voluntary. Sometimes a sympathizer with classical Marxist ideology will write to me expounding on the compassionate and generous instincts that he believes are at the heart of Marxism, and reminding me that the Acts of the Apostles describes “wealth distribution” as a social good.


ISLAM, CHRISTIANTY, MULTICULTURISM


Clinton Criticizes Religious Defamation Laws as UN Prepares to Vote
– Christianity Today
The Obama administration opposes anti-defamation laws because they would restrict free speech.

Merkel Urges Germans: Stand Up For Christian Values
– Reuters
Chancellor Angela Merkel urged Germans debating Muslim integration to stand up more for Christian values, saying Monday the country suffered not from “too much Islam” but “too little Christianity. We have too few discussions about the Christian view of mankind,”

Multiculturalism, R.I.P.
– Spectator
Even Angelika Merkel, chancellor of a country whose reputation for political correctness is more carefully nurtured than any other cultural asset, has just told us that multiculturalism is dead—quite dead. President Sarkozy has for some time been saying the same, while Prospect, Britain’s leading left-wing intellectual monthly, currently carries the caption “re-thinking race: has multiculturalism had its day?”

…let’s be clear from the outset: culture and race have nothing to do with each other.
It is culture, not nature, that tells a family that their daughter who has fallen in love outside the permitted circle must be killed, that girls must undergo genital mutilation if they are to be respectable, that the infidel must be destroyed when Allah commands it.
If immigrants come it is because they gain by doing so. It is therefore reasonable to remind them that there is also a cost.

In Baghdad, an Encore of “Murder in the Cathedral” 
by Sandro Magister
The truth about the massacre in the Syriac Catholic church. Elimination of Christians as the prime objective of Islamist ideology. The pope meets with the survivors. And issues an appeal to the world. Another concern of the pope and of other churchmen concerns the scarce interest that Western governments and public opinion are showing toward these anti-Christian attacks.

What seems to find further confirmation here is the idea according to which violence against the infidel is something intrinsic to Islam in general, and not a distortion of it: an idea that was at the center of the lecture in Regensburg, and that pope Ratzinger maintains can be reversed only with an “Enlightenment revolution” on the part of Islam itself.

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