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Moderates in the US Senate are working on a last-minute deal in hopes of preventing a major confrontation Tuesday, which could end some filibusters

By Becky Bartindale

San Jose Mercury News

 


The Rev. Thomas J. Reese, the editor who resigned under Vatican pressure from the influential Jesuit opinion magazine, America, has accepted an invitation to spend a year on sabbatical at Santa Clara University. In an e-mail Wednesday, Reese said he would spend June in California vacationing on the beach before joining Santa Clara's Jesuit community in July.

 

May 31 will be his last day at the magazine, which is owned by the Jesuit order and based in New York. Reese's resignation earlier this month made headlines around the world. Many news organizations reported that he was forced out by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, formerly headed by Joseph Ratzinger, now Pope Benedict XVI.

 

A respected thinker and expert on church politics, Reese was a popular American media commentator during the recent papal election in Rome. Reese edited America for seven years. He is credited with increasing the magazine's circulation by exploring all sides of controversial theological issues, from using condoms to prevent AIDS to denying Holy Communion to politicians who support abortion. His departure has been mourned by some as a sign of a clampdown on Catholic intellectuals seen as not orthodox enough.

 

Settling in at Santa Clara will be a homecoming for Reese, a longtime friend of the Rev. Paul Locatelli, the university's president. They have known each other since entering the Society of Jesus together in 1962 at the Sacred Heart Jesuit Center in Los Gatos. As a young priest in the early 1970s, Reese served for a year as assistant to former Santa Clara University president Thomas D. Terry. "We were disappointed he resigned, primarily because we felt he was doing a good job with the magazine in presenting issues that were important for people to understand and discuss,'' Locatelli said of the Jesuit community. He said Reese quit because he believed it would be difficult to continue offering multiple perspectives on matters sensitive to the church.

 

Trained as a political scientist, Reese has extensively studied the Roman Catholic Church. He has written numerous books, including ``Inside the Vatican: The Politics and Organization of the Catholic Church'' and "Archbishop: Inside the Power Structure of the American Catholic Church.'' Locatelli was traveling to New York the day Reese resigned. During his visit, the two spent time together, having dinner and going to a play. "I thought it was important to invite him to a place where he would feel welcome and have a very good sabbatical and have the time to decide what happens next,'' Locatelli said.

 

Locatelli said Reese will spend time at the university "resting, reflecting and reading,'' and also may find opportunities to participate in lectures and conferences through the school's Markkula Center for Applied Ethics and the Bannan Center for Jesuit Education. Reese, 60, said he has no plans for the sabbatical yet. He said he may do some traveling with Locatelli to China and El Salvador.

 

Before taking the helm at America, Reese held a position at the Woodstock Theological Center at Georgetown University. "He works very hard to understand all of the complicated issues of the relationship of the church to society and culture, and how the church and the church hierarchy work in the modern world,'' Locatelli said.

 

Contact Becky Bartindale at bbartindale@mercurynews.com or (408) 920-5459.

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