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Archive for the ‘Justice’ Category

Palin out!

Very surprising news…I wonder what is really going on… Can’t imagine that quitting like this would bode well for a future in elected office…I bet she ends up on talk radio or Fox News…

Alaska’s Palin is leaving office this month – Kansas City Star

Gov. Sarah Palin of Alaska rattled the political world Friday by abruptly announcing that she will resign from office at the end of the month.

However, Palin — a Republican — left open the possibility she would seek a run for the White House in 2012.

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Vodpod videos no longer available.

How about another “nunly”  topic?  The traveling exhibit on Catholic Sisters in America is on display in Cincy until the end of August. Here an excerpt from a brochure on the exhibit’s web site:

WOMEN & SPIRIT: Catholic Sisters in America reveals the mystery behind a small group of independent American women who helped shape the nation’s social and cultural landscape. First arriving in America nearly 300 years ago, throughout periods of struggle and controversy, sisters established schools, hospitals, and colleges, and provided other social services that have served millions. Through their enduring legacy and persistent vision, the nation’s promise of equality and opportunity continues to be extended to all Americans, regardless of faith, color, nationality, or economic status.

The exhibit will also be traveling to other cities over the next couple of years, so if you can’t make to Cincinnati before it leaves there, you are not out of luck… I’m thinking it might be a nice stop to break up my trip to North Carolina for vacation next month…if my traveling companion agrees, of course.

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From Bryan Cones in a June 12 U.S. Catholic article…

Above and beyond the call | USCatholic.org

It must be hard being a Sister in America. You spend a century creating a hospital system from scratch and educating generations of Catholic children of every race and class on a shoestring. Not only are you barely paid for your efforts, you occupy a decidedly second-class position on the Catholic totem pole.

When invited by the Second Vatican Council to rediscover your roots, you charge forth in service to the poor and marginalized, explore new ways of thinking about God, and reach out to people of other faiths. Even as the number of those joining your way of life shrinks and some question your new directions, you persevere. Your reward for a lifetime of service? A Vatican investigation.

Such were my thoughts when I heard in January that the Vatican, on its own initiative, had begun a study of the “quality of life” of U.S. women religious and then in February announced a “doctrinal assessment” of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR), which represents about 95 percent of the country’s nearly 60,000 sisters and nuns.

Bryan goes on with a touching testamonial to the Sisters who helped to form him in his faith. Thanks, Bryan, and all those of you who speak kindly about the Sisters you have encountered in your own lives. It means a lot to us as we face a bit of uncertainty in the face of a process that is decidedly not all too mutual…keep the prayers coming.

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Reject fear…

From Nicholas D. Kristof’s Thursday column in the NY Times…

Op-Ed Columnist – This Time, We Won’t Scare – NYTimes.com

Rick Scott, a former hospital company chief executive, leads a group called Conservatives for Patients’ Rights. He was forced to resign as C.E.O. after his company defrauded the government through overbilling and is now spending his time trying to block meaningful health care reform by terrifying us with commercials of “real-life stories of the victims of government-run health care.”

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… Mr. Scott’s public relations initiative against health reform is led by the same firm that orchestrated the “Swift boat campaign” against Senator John Kerry in 2004. These commercials are just as false, for President Obama is not proposing government-run health care — just a public insurance element in the mix.

No doubt there are some genuine horror stories in Canada, as there are here in the United States.

But the bottom line is that America’s health care system spends nearly twice as much per person as Canada’s (building the wealth of hospital tycoons like Mr. Scott). Yet our infant mortality rate is 40 percent higher than Canada’s, and American mothers are 57 percent more likely to die in childbirth than Canadian ones.

So it seems that higher expenditures on health care do not guarantee better outcomes. Read Kristoff’s entire column to get the story he tells of an American living in Canada and her experiences with both Canadian and American health systems…

It seems to me that the scare tactics being used by groups like Scott’s hearken back to the “red scare” theme of the Cold War. The strategy: call anything proposed by the federal government that threatens the huge profits of big corporate interests “Communism” and hope that politicians will be cowed into submission. I know, that may be an oversimplified take on it, and the “big corporate interests” would surely publically deny this, but in my bones, I feel there’s more truth than fancy in this notion…what do you think?

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Here a couple of excerpts from articles in the National Catholic Reporter that appeared soon after the announcement that the Vatican was undertaking an “Apostolic Visitation” of women’s religious orders in the U.S. The first is from Sr. Joan Chittister’s regular column. I found her take on the shift within many U.S. women’s communities to be quite helpful as I ponder the journey we are on.

If they really mean it, it’s about time | National Catholic Reporter

And all the while they went on “giving their lives to God” in prayer and with communities of strangers while they ministered on the streets, opened rural spirituality centers, taught and lectured and developed spirituality programs and retreats, ran half-way houses for battered women and day-care centers for Alzheimer patients. They had no desire to be “a higher vocation.” They simply set out to be an authentic one.

Most of all, they went on doing those things years beyond the work life of the average person. They exhausted themselves administering programs, pounding the pavement, providing hospitality, keeping priestless parishes operating, working to protect the environment, and caring for the newly abandoned underclasses in order to take the church where the church of this time needed to be. They began the outreach of a whole new church in the United States.

The second, which was originally meant to be a private communication to colleagues, is from Sr. Sandra Schneiders, an eminent scholar on religious life. Her analysis seems to be much in agreement with what Joan said in her piece. Might I add in response to Joan’s characteration of comtemporary religious as on a journey to greater authencity, that this journey, if truly authentic, is rarely as smooth and linear as some might expect or hope. The road to integrity, authencity, wholeness is fraught with uncertainty, mistakes, heartbreak, and yes – great grace, knowing that we are utterly dependent on God. For some, the fact that such journeys can be messy and not all wrapped up in a tidy, predictable package is unnerving. I, for one, would rather have others let me worry about my own unnerving journey than try to put me back into the tidy little package that eases their discomfort but robs themselves and others of the witness of a real, authentic religious life lived with honesty, openness and integrity.

So here’s an excerpt from Sandra’s communication:

We have given birth to a new form of religious life | National Catholic Reporter

In my work on the renewal of Religious Life over the last eight years I have come to the conclusion that Congregations like ours [the kind represented by LCWR in this country] have, in fact, birthed a new form of Religious Life. We are really no longer “Congregations dedicated to works of the apostolate” – that is, monastic communities whose members “go out” to do institutionalized works basically assigned by the hierarchy as an extension of their agendas, e.g., in Catholic schools and hospitals, etc. We are ministerial Religious. Ministry is integral to our identity and vocation. It arises from our baptism specified by profession, discerned with our Congregational leadership and effected according to the charism of our Congregation, not by delegation from the hierarchy. We are not monastics at home. We are not extensions of the clergy abroad. Our whole life is affected by our ministerial identity: searching out the places (often on the margins of Church and society) where the need for the Gospel is greatest (which may be in Church institutions but often is not); living in ways that are conducive to our ministry; preaching the Gospel freely as Jesus commissioned his itinerant, full time companions to do. Our community life and ministries are corporate but not “common life” in the sense of everyone in the same place at the same time doing the same thing.

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Friends, first, let me wish those of you who observe it a blessed Lenten season. May you be open to the graces God wants so very much to shower on you!

And now, since I’m feeling the crunch of time very acutely (can I fast from work for Lent?), let me at least offer you a brief excerpt from (and link to) Sr. Joan Chittister’s Feb. 3 commentary on the signing of the new Equal Pay for Equal Work Act, also known as the “Lilly Ledbetter” law. The sad history of injustice for Ledbetter brings to mind Jesus’s admonition to the Scribes and Pharisees not to use the law to lay impossible burdens on people. Enjoy…

From where I stand, it seems clear to me why Barack Obama wanted this particular bill to be the first piece of legislation to launch his new presidency. After all, who else, besides descendants of people who had been forced into slavery and out of the social mainstream really knows the effects of legal discrimination. Who else is brave enough to admit that slavery will not really be over until women have all the rights of men — as blacks for years sought those of whites.

God, women and stealing | National Catholic Reporter

So…let me warn you that it may not be until after the weekend that you’ll see another blog entry. I’m leaving for Florida today and have a lot of prep and grading to do before I meet my students online on Friday. Be well!

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Change on the way

Were not the hearts of millions of Americans swelling with pride and hope as Barack Obama took the oath of office as the first African American head of state? Did we not hear the news reports that among the over 2 million people gathered in the Mall last Tuesday, not one arrest was necessary? I must admit I’ve been a bit buried in work this week, with little time to stop and really think about the significance of this, but every time I think of what may happen over the next 4-8 years, I smile and feel more hopeful for the world than I have in a long time.

I welcome the shift to true multilateralism and mutuality in our dealings with the rest of the world. The “cowboy diplomacy” of the former administration has no place in a nation that must learn that as an Earth community we all sink or swim together.

I urge you to read and reflect on the speech Pres. Obama gave at his inauguration. There is much food for thought. Here’s a link to the text.

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As you may be aware, President-Elect Obama’s choice for giving the invocation at his inauguration, Pastor Rick Warren, whose megachurch spent mega-dollars towards passing Prop 8 in California, has created quite a lot of controversy. Many in the lgbt community feel utterly betrayed that the man who they worked so hard to elect would invite an “anti-gay” preacher to give the invocation. I choose to look at it differently…first of all, I do have a problem with the tons of money that was put towards misinformation to scare people into voting for Prop 8, not only by Warren’s church or the Mormon church, but also by the Catholic Church…but that’s another topic.

The point here is that I am reluctant to label someone as “anti-gay” or a “hate-monger” just because they don’t believe in gay marriage. I think that what Obama is trying to do here is reach out and say, “Look, folks, if we want to heal the divisions that keep us apart and sniping at each 0ther, we have to start reaching out to people with whom we do not agree.” I see his invitation to Warren as setting an example for all of us. And I do not know all that much about this Warren guy, but I do not sense the kind of hatred brewing in him as I hear being directed at him.

Anyway, if this choice is good enough for Melissa Etheridge and her partner, it’s good enough for me. Let’s drop the dogmatism on BOTH sides – right AND left – and starting building our future together as the brothers and sisters we are in God’s eyes.

School starts tomorrow, so you may need to cut me a break as I settle into my new schedule of classes…happy epiphany!

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Over the past few weeks, I’ve been following the stories of a couple of my brother priests who are paying the price for standing their ground on matters of integrity to them. The interesting thing is that the consequences are coming, not from any civil authorities, but from the very Church they serve. Whether or not one agrees with the stands they are taking, it is notable that they feel these issues are important enough to risk all…

Here are some excerpts from the two cases, along with links to the full articles:

Maryknoll Fr. Roy Bourgeois has been threatened with excommunication by the Vatican’s Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith for his support of women’s ordination, according to a letter made public today.

Roy Bourgeois threatened with excommunication | National Catholic Reporter

With Proposition 8 on the November ballot, and his own bishop urging Central Valley priests to support its definition of traditional marriage, Farrow told congregants he felt obligated to break “a numbing silence” about church prejudice against homosexuals.

“How is marriage protected by intimidating gay and lesbian people into loveless and lonely lives?” he asked parishioners of the St. Paul Newman Center (Fresno). “I am morally compelled to vote no on Proposition 8.”

Then Farrow — who had revealed that he was gay during a television interview immediately before Mass — added a coda to his sermon.

“I know these words of truth will cost me dearly,” he said. “But to withhold them… I would become an accomplice to a moral evil that strips gay and lesbian people not only of their civil rights but of their human dignity as well.”

Stand against Prop. 8 costs priest dearly – Los Angeles Times

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Well, I’m at the Call to Action Conference in Milwaukee these days. For the break-out sessions, I’ve focused on nonviolence training, as this is something about which I have a lot of passion, and it’s something that my CSJ congregation has made a deeper commitment to this past summer. (I hope we dare to follow through with what we have said!)

There are so many things I could write about, and probably will later, but tonight I thought I’d tell you about how I got my “Gesu fix” for the weekend. The conference itself is something I find a little more “white bread” (and white hair) that I’m accustomed to in Detroit. So I thought I’d go hear the Gospel Choir from All Saints Parish here in Milwaukee, who were invited to perform at the conference this evening. Boy, was I wishing I had my sax with me to go up and jam with them, especially since I haven’t quite gotten my voice back enough yet to sing the way I would have liked. But it did do me good to be there. (And I’ll bring the sax next year!)

As for the miracle, I thought I’d respond to the request on behalf of the drummer, Shawn Bost, who has been waiting a long time for a kidney. The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel wrote an article about Shawn’s plight last December (link below), and I thought I’d get the word out just in case any of you or someone you know might feel called to respond.

JS Online: Kidney failure brings life into focus

Thanks to those of you who have been praying me through my week of health challenges and work stress. I got a long overdue set of project reports graded, and made a good dent on reviewing my doctoral student’s dissertation. Still not caught up with everything, but not feeling as far behind as I was. My upcoming travel schedule is still a bit daunting, but I’ll have more time to work on the next couple of trips, so it shouldn’t put me further behind.

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