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Archive for April 21st 2011

April 14 marked the last day of Father Daniel J. Coughlin's tenure as chaplain of the U.S. House of Representatives. Fr. Coughlin was the first Catholic priest to serve in that role, and he held the position for 11 years. Here he speaks about some of his most difficult moments as chaplain, notably the tragedy of 9/11 and the shooting of Arizona Congresswoman Gabriella Giffords. He also asks for the prayers of all people of faith for both the chaplain and the members of the House. Scroll to minute 5:26 to hear Fr. Coughlin's comments on the controversy surrounding denying communion to pro-choice Catholic politicians: "One of the saddest stories I heard and experienced," he says.

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Richard Rohr's newest book is Falling Upward, in which he writes about the "two halves of life," our evolving identities and the significance of redemptive suffering. Rohr spoke with America during the 2011 L.A. Religious Education Congress following a talk about his book. He is the founder of the Center for Action and Contemplation in Albuquerque, N.M.

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Kenneth R. Himes of Boston College talks about his article, "Divided on Torture," from the April 18 issue, which examines U.S. attitudes toward torture and explains why a public commission is still necessary to account for the moral panic unleashed by the war on terror. The tolerance of torture may stem from a humanitarian impulse—the belief that it could save lives in the long run—but that assumption must be questioned. Catholics, Himes points out, have a special mandate to repudiate torture, as such cruel and inhuman treatment is clearly prohibited in Catholic moral teaching. See the U.S. bishops document, "Torture is a Moral Issue."

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The papacy of Pope Benedict XVI has been marred by a series of communications mishaps, from an affair involving a Holocaust-denying bishop to public statements from Vatican officials which aggravated the sexual abuse crisis. John L. Allen Jr. spoke with America about the Vatican's PR problems at the L.A. Religious Education Congress. Allen is a Senior Correspondent for the National Catholic Reporter and Senior Vatican Analyst for CNN.

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