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President Obama: They deserve a vote

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I have never witnessed a State of the Union address like the one President Barack Obama gave Tuesday night. I want to thank him for it. Some commentators claimed it was, in effect, two speeches: the first, long on policy recommendations, leading into the second, a finale that rose to an emotional height over gun violence in the United States. I disagree. I thought it was one speech with real genuine challenges to Congress throughout, ending with the ultimate challenge: actually doing something about the outrageous gun violence in the United States.

Illinois Senate approves same-sex marriage

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In a Valentine's Day gift to same-sex couples in Illinois, the state's Senate approved a bill to lift a ban on gay marriage today. According to the Associated Press, "Senators voted 34-21 to approve the measure, sending it on to the state House where Democrats also hold a majority. Gov. Pat Quinn, a Chicago Democrat, has said he will sign the bill if the House approves it."

Going on a 'carbon fast' for Lent

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Given the perils facing our planet, it may be time to observe Lent in a different way: with a "carbon fast."

For starters, I listened to President Barack Obama's State of the Union address with a special interest in his message on climate change.

I was delighted that he cited the "overwhelming judgment of science" on this subject, citing the increasing frequency of heat waves, droughts, wildfires, floods and storms in a period when 12 of the hottest years on record have come in the last 15 years.

St. Thomas gets first lay president

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Minnesota's University of St. Thomas appointed its first female and first lay president in its history.

From the Star Tribune:

Breaking with a nearly century old-tradition, University of St. Thomas Board of Trustees members Thursday appointed a woman and non-cleric as the Catholic school's new president.

Julie Sullivan, executive vice president and provost at the University of San Diego, also a Catholic university, is the first female and lay president in St. Thomas' history.

The next pope will not come from the United States

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Simply put, no U.S. cardinal has the chops to be the next pope, whether it's due to depth of theological writings, expert managerial capability, the facility of languages, or a global presence, among other reasons.

My NCR colleague, John Allen, has done his level best to introduce into the mainstream media the notion that Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York and Cardinal Donald Wuerl of Washington, D.C., are contenders for the papacy at next month's conclave. To be sure, Allen has as much, if not more, experience covering the Vatican as any U.S. journalist.

Benedict: Distinction between 'true,' 'virtual' Vatican II

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Speaking for the last time to the clergy of the diocese of Rome as their bishop, Pope Benedict today said there must be a distinction between "true" and "virtual" interpretations of the Second Vatican Council.

Additionally, said the pope, press members covering the years following the 1962-65 meeting of bishops were responsible for "trivializing the idea of ​​the Council."

Now, only fifty years after its opening, the pope continued, can the faithful see the "true Council...emerging with all its spiritual strength."

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In This Issue

May 22-June 4, 2015

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