Commentary: Why U.S. international religious freedom policy fails

By George Weigel

In his June 13 testimony before the National Security Subcommittee of the House Committee on Oversight and Governmental Reform, Dr. Thomas Farr of Georgetown’s Berkley Center described the failures of U.S. international religious freedom policy over the past decade and a half and suggested some of the structural reasons for that failure: lack of strategic integration, such that religious freedom doesn’t “fit” with other U.S. foreign policy objectives; resistance in the Department of State against the very idea of an international religious freedom policy and a special ambassador for promoting religious freedom; little or no leadership from presidents and secretaries of state.

And the dismal result? According to Dr. Farr, “it would be difficult to name a single country in the world over the past 15 years where American religious freedom policy has helped reduce religious persecution or to increase religious freedom in any substantial or sustained way.”

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Commentary: Where "Kung Fu Panda" meets the sacraments of initiation

By Father Shane Tharp

Call me a snob, but I cannot abide Jack Black. Not the man; I don’t know him. We don’t hang, as the young people say (They still say that, don’t they?). I mean as an actor – cannot abide him at all. Put him in your movie, Hollywood producers, and I will stay so far away as to entertain hiding in a yurt in order to avoid your movie. (A movie with giant fighting robots taking down hideous alien abominations from beyond our world I am totally down for. P.S. “Pacific Rim” is great. Seriously, it’s great. Go see it; thank me later.)

There is one exception to my general Jack Black boycott – animation. Cover up that smug grin with hand-drawn art and I’m fine. Case in point: “Kung Fu Panda.” The film is exactly what it says on the tin: He’s a panda; he learns Kung Fu; he’s Kung Fu Panda. It’s got a great message as well.

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Office of Religious Education assists catechists

A Q-and-A with Pat Koenig, director of the Office of Religious Education

Forming the new generation of Catholics is a constant priority in the Church. With that in mind, we interviewed Pat Koenig, who has directed the Office of Religious Education for 15 years. She has also taught theology at Bishop McGuinness High School and served as principal at Bishop John Carroll School.

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Review: Learning is, above all, a matter of relating to the truth

Beauty in the Word: Rethinking the Foundations of Education by Stratford Caldecott (Angelico Press, 2012)

Reviewed by Tina Korbe Dzurisin

Five out of five stars

To judge by his slim, sterling volume Beauty in the Word, Stratford Caldecott is not an educator who arbitrarily prizes “critical thinking” – that is, analysis and deconstruction – above all other forms of thought.

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Meet Our Seminarians: Deacon Carson Krittenbrink

Meet Deacon Carson Krittenbrink 

What is your home parish? Saints Peter and Paul in Kingfisher

What seminary do you attend? Saint John Vianney Seminary in Denver

If it is God’s will, what year will you be ordained a priest? 2014

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Edmond parishioner ‘radiates Christ,’ enters religious life at 51

By Lois Korbe

It was, of all things, an Internet pop-up ad that led Janeen Bradke of Saint John the Baptist Catholic Church in Edmond to the final step in her life-changing decision to enter the religious life at the age of 51.

“The Franciscan Handmaids of the Immaculate ,” the ad read. “Our purpose is to make the Immaculate known and loved through the total consecration to Our Lady according to the method of Saint Maximilian Kolbe.”

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Saints, scholars remind parents to resume role as primary educators

By Anamaría Scaperlanda Biddick

August, for most families, brings new pencils and notebooks, class assignments, and back-to-school night.   It’s time to resume thinking about learning and education.  For mothers and fathers, it is a good time to remember their role as the primary educators of their children, even as many of them place their child in the hands of competent teachers, their partners in education. 

In the Declaration on Christian Education, Pope Paul VI wrote, “Since parents have given children their life, they are bound by the most serious obligation to educate their offspring and therefore must be recognized as the primary and principal educators” (Gravissimum Educationis, 3).

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Youth conference attendees: To encounter Christ in confession, the Eucharist deepens joy

By Sarah Cooper

Over the weekend of July 12 to July 14, a number of local teenagers traveled to Springfield, Mo., for three days packed with dynamic Catholic speakers, a vibrant celebration of the Mass and an unforgettable encounter with our Lord in the exposition of the Blessed Sacrament at the Steubenville Saint Louis Mid-America conference.

Since 1976, the Steubenville youth conferences have been changing the lives of Catholic teens and fostering vocations to the priesthood and religious life. The conferences are an outreach of Franciscan University of Steubenville and take place in 11 states across the country.

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Across the Archdiocese: A round-up of the latest and greatest

Saint Vincent de Paul Society launches “House in a Box” for tornado survivors 

The Society of Saint Vincent de Paul hosted a grand opening ceremony for their House in a Box program Saturday, July 20. This effort will provide crucial household items to survivors of the recent Oklahoma tornadoes. At around 2 p.m. in the heat of the Saint Vincent de Paul warehouse, Archbishop Paul Coakley blessed the household items and the men and women who gave of their time and treasure to make the effort possible. In attendance were representatives and volunteers from the Society of Saint Vincent de Paul, the Knights of Columbus, Catholic Charities, United Way, Tempur-Pedic and Mathis Brothers Furniture.

After the blessing and ribbon-cutting, Archbishop Coakley said he was glad the archdiocese is a part of the program. “We give thanks to God for the generosity that has overwhelmed us. We are proud to be a part of this as Catholics and citizens of the United States. I am grateful to the first responders to the disasters, the second responders and those who continue to respond.”

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Catholic Foundation: Building endowments, growing our Church

In the Old Testament, the Jews were instructed to take their tithes" to the storehouse," which was the temple — the center of religion for the entire country. Today, since the Body of Christ has so many manifestations (your parish, schools and colleges, many Catholic ministries, hospitals, relief agencies, etc.), people can choose where their gifts should go.

The Catholic Church teaches that a Christian Steward is one who receives God’s gifts gratefully, nurtures them responsibly and shares them sacrificially and justly with all, and returns them lovingly with increase to the Lord.

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