- As you can see from the photo, Cardinal O'Brien's dropping of what another senior prelate recently termed the "atom bomb" earlier today got quite the outpouring of attention. Critics have accused the Scottish primate of using "inflammatory language," the BBC reports, and Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor of Westminster responded with a softer line, calling "all Catholics, especially those who hold positions of public responsibility, to educate themselves about the teaching of the church, and to seek pastoral advice so that they can make informed decisions with consistency and integrity." The Times notes that, at Westminster, "abortion is creeping up the political agenda."
- You probably don't need any further proof that, in the pontificate of the former Grand Inquisitor, the CDF is King -- or, rather, Pope. But just in case anyone forgot, Benedict XVI likes giving the occasional reminder, the latest of which came earlier today. A day after the CELAM plenary wrapped in Aparecida, the Pope announced the Vatican's new top point-man for things Latin American: Columbian Archbishop Jose Octavio Ruiz Arenas of Villavicencio. A native of Bogota, Ruiz, 62, will head to Rome as vice-president for the Pontifical Commission of Latin America, succeeding Archbishop Luis Robles Diaz, who died on Holy Saturday. The CAL (as it's called over there) oversees the gamut of things pertaining to the life of the church south of the border -- and, reflecting the usual means of oversight, its ex officio president is the prefect of the Congregation for Bishops. Before his 1996 ordination as an auxiliary of Bogota, Ruiz spent eleven years as an official at -- you guessed it -- Cardinal Ratzinger's CDF. In his new post, he'll be working under Cardinal Giovanni Battista Re, the lifelong veteran of the Secretariat of State. Bottom line: it's a marriage made in curial heaven.
- By now, veteran readers have become quite familiar with the new archbishop of Toronto. Not only is Thomas Collins a rather prolific fount of good reading (and listening), but the communications folk of Canada's largest see have set a gold standard in allowing TC's trees, as it were, to resound across a more populated forest. In his most prominent foray yet into the public square, the archbishop delivered an address on "The Contribution of Religion in Society" earlier today at TO's Empire Club. True to form, the text and audio are already available. As always, the speaker makes for well-worthwhile reading... and, even moreso, listening.
- Fifty years ago this week, the period's dominant demographic trend in the American Catholic evolution received Rome's recognition in the erection of the nation's first suburban diocese at Rockville Centre on Long Island. Today, the church in Nassau and Suffolk counties -- previously part of the diocese of Brooklyn -- numbers 1.6 million Catholics, and this weekend the anniversary will be marked in a uniquely double fashion, beginning with tomorrow's ordination of its new auxiliary, Bishop-elect Peter Libasci, who was five years old at the diocese's founding. Preceded by a Vespers service tonight, the ordination -- and Sunday's jubilee liturgy -- will all be streamed live via the diocesan TV station, Telecare. Until now the parish priest of Montauk on the Island's South Fork, Libasci is moving and will have to make do with his new digs... in the Hamptons. He's chosen "Arise and Walk," taken from the Acts' account of Peter, John and the lame beggar at the temple gate, as his motto.
- A new "guide for the casual churchgoer" -- written by a self-disclosed "former Catholic" -- is plugging itself by noting that, while Catholics comprise the US' largest religion, the nation's second-largest religious body are "inactive Catholics."... Let the blames begin.
- As the Senate moves toward a compromise bill on immigration reform, the ecclesial interventions on the heated topic continue. In Washington State, Bishop Carlos Sevilla SJ of Yakima reaffirmed the church's advocacy of the rights of migrants as opponents of the legislation let loose on local politicians who have indicated likely support for it. And in Denver, Archbishop Charles Chaput OFM Cap. observed in his weekly column that the immigration question has generated "more confused, misinformed and angry mail... than any other issue during my 10 years in Denver." Offering an example, Chaput said that "Bishops routinely get some very strange mail".... Suffice it to say, I know the feeling.
- And, lastly, a Midwestern church organist who maintained that selling sex toys "is [her] ministry" has been fired. 'Nuff said.
PHOTO: Reuters/David Moir