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Service of Unity

The Catholic Church in Ireland will receive a much-needed boost of support when the International Eucharistic Congress meets in Dublin in June. In an interview last month, Archbishop Piero Marini, president of the Pontifical Committee for International Eucharistic Congresses, said the congress will be characterized by humility and moderation. These are traits a church chastened by sexual abuse is wise to embrace. The congress will be characterized by a “lack of triumphalism,” the archbishop said, and will be based “on interiority, on moderation.” Prior to the Second Vatican Council, eucharistic processions were a popular feature of these meetings, and they served to highlight the power and influence of the church. Processions will still take place at this year’s congress, but the focus will be on daily Mass. The congress will emphasize “the Second Vatican Council’s teaching that communion is the center of the Eucharist, its primary aim,” the archbishop said.

Planned in conjunction with the lay movement Focolare, the International Eucharistic Congress is expected to draw 80,000 people. The involvement of Focolare will surely help to energize the event. At a time of deep division within the church, in Ireland and elsewhere, a meditation on the unifying power of the Eucharist provides an essential service. Focolare deserves praise for organizing this event in their uniquely understated way. Their devotion to unity serves as a model for the whole church.


Transnational Justice

The demands of survivors for justice in the alleged killing by Staff Sergeant Robert Bales of 17 Afghan civilians, nine of them children, have quieted down. Still, Afghanistan’s President Hamid Karzai has bitterly complained that the U.S. military has failed to cooperate with an Afghan delegation charged with investigating the killings, and he has ordered NATO troops out of Afghan villages and unilaterally advanced to 2013 the date for foreign troops to hand over responsibility for security to Afghan troops. If Mr. Karzai keeps his word, this will be the second time in a year that disagreements over military justice have led to the early departure of U.S. troops at the request of the host nation. Last year’s failure to reach agreement with Iraq on jurisdiction over military offenses led to an unexpected full withdrawal of U.S. troops from that country.

In Afghanistan, as elsewhere, the United States has immunized military personnel from prosecution by a prior Status of Forces agreement. But in Afghanistan the death of civilians is already a neuralgic issue because of the unintended deaths of civilians in U.S. nighttime drone attacks, though many of them are carried out by the secret and legally insulated Central Intelligence Agency, not by the military.

The military conviction rate for the killing of civilians, in 30 out of 44 cases since 2001, suggests justice can be done. All the same, a great gulf divides Afghan justice under Shariah law and U.S. military justice, which may take years to deliver a verdict. In the meantime, something must be done to heal the breach created by civilian deaths.

As we go to press, news services report that on order of President Obama, the families of those killed in Kandahar have received $50,000 in compensation and those wounded $11,000. The standard compensation is $2,500. The size of these payments is appropriately large, officials say, because the victims were killed outside combat.

iPhone, Therefore I Am

Even as new analysis confirms that bilingualism actually makes people smarter, evidence emerges that U.S. teens are well along the path to a new language all their own. It is not clear, however, that speaking in text (you might know it as txtese or text talk) is likely to have as intellectually salubrious an effect on America’s youth as, say, devoting themselves to Mandarin.

Texting has now become the preferred method of communication among U.S. teens. Pew researchers report that 63 percent of U.S. 14- to 17-year-olds are producing a median of 100 text messages each day. Texting is far and away the preferred form of teen communication, handily beating out those old-fashioned cellphones (39 percent), socializing outside of school (35 percent), social network site messaging (29 percent), talking on landlines (19 percent) and sending e-mail (6 percent).

What are they saying to each other? Who knows? Parents since Seneca have complained that they cannot understand their children’s private language. How many parents, missing an anticipated call from a wayward offspring, have unsuccessfully pondered said child’s Delphic explanation: “rnng 2 l8 4 chat; C U l8r.”

All is not lost, however, as even the most ossified of parental cortices can, with a lttl wrk, be retooled for txt speak. A parent bold enough to reach out and txt someone may find texting a valuable line of communication with their kids.

LHM. That’s “Lord have mercy” for you folks who have trouble reading the texts of the times.

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James Palermo
6 years 10 months ago

I find it ironic that as technology expands the ways in which we communicate – from cable TV, to iPads and smart phones – we seem to be more isolated from each other, and our conversations become increasingly filled with prattle. Text messages seldom have substance – “OMG there she is!!!”- a metaphor for our escapism from facing the myriad issues about which Christians should be most concerned. 

Virginia Edman
6 years 10 months ago
As technology expands we have the world at our doorstep.  Justice now becomes more immediate. at least the call for justice.  We know, for example, that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, the object of an Arab League summit in Baghdad, has murdered 9000 of his own people, including children.  Snipers have targeted the very young and reporters.  The Arab spring and its many uprisings in the Middle East were made possible by the cellphones, iphones and instant communication.  We will soon learn what this means as this generation of young people grow up, but in the meantime the seniors, and that includes priests, deacons and bishops, need to anticipate change in that the one hundred year wait to confirm some new/old idea, like married priests, may not have one hundred years of patience.  In the meantime LHM.


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