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Let there be Light! (Incandescent or Florescent?)


I’ve been using compact florescent bulbs in my house for at least ten years. They save energy and money. They work very well, and last a long time. Some I haven’t changed in 10 years.

But you’d never know their advantages if you watch the “Battle of the Bulbs” in Washington these days. Three House Republicans, Joe Barton and Michael Burgess of Texas and Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee, together with Senator Mike Enzi of Wyoming, have introduced legislation to repeal a 2007 U.S. law which phases out the old incandescent light bulbs in favor of alternatives which save energy, like compact fluorescents and LED’s.

This is another assault against environmentalists and their allies in Congress. And although the Congresspersons who are urging this repeal probably don’t see it this way, it is also an assault on every religious denomination, including Catholicism, that teaches energy conservation as a moral issue in our common quest to save the planet.

Church Pedophilia Crisis Raised at Hearing on 'Muslim Radicalization'


At today’s Homeland Security Committee hearing on “The Extent of Radicalization in the American Muslim Community and that Community's Response,” Rep. Jackie Speir (D-CA) questioned the credentials of Zuhdi Jasser, founder of the American Islamic Forum for Democracy (AIFD).

Speir noted that she was a church-going Catholic who served as a lector at her San Francisco-area parish, but was nonetheless “no more prepared to testify about pedophilia in … the Roman Catholic Church” than others with less involvement in the church.

Jasser is president of AIFD, which describes itself as “the most prominent American Muslim organization directly confronting the ideologies of political Islam and openly countering the common belief that the Muslim faith is inextricably rooted to the concept of the Islamic State (Islamism).”

The hearing concluded at approximately 1:45 p.m., after four-and-a-half-hours of testimony and questions.

Becoming a lent girl


In the same way some young girls during the heyday of the Beatles identified themselves as “Paul girls” or “John girls,” I tend to identify myself as an Advent girl rather than a (sigh) Lent girl.

Nonetheless, Lent is upon us and I made it through Ash Wednesday on almost a complete fast -- three strawberries and a half-handful of almonds at 7 a.m. and a very small apple at 3 p.m. (Hardly seems like fasting when compared to our siblings of other faiths who fast from sunrise to sunset, but it was slightly better than the cutting-corners-allowed rules of Catholic fasts.)

That accomplishment under my belt, I realized late Ash Wednesday that for the first time in my life, I’m not dreading the next six weeks. I don’t think I’m a full-on Lent girl, but I’m definitely seeing this season as holding the potential for growth instead of just a long slog through misery.

Airport chaplains: 'Flying on a Wing and a Prayer'


The Wall Street Journal offers a glimpse into the spiritual offerings of a airports around the world:

At least 140 airports around the world have designated chapels, and more than 250 have airport chaplains, according to the International Association of Civil Aviation Chaplains, an ecumenical non-profit organization. While chaplains are among the first-responders in the event of a crash, day to day they spend their time offering solace to travelers, consoling the bereaved, hearing confession or offering blessings to passengers before they board airplanes.

"It's a ministry of presence," says the Rev. Chris Piasta, a Roman Catholic chaplain at New York's Kennedy International Airport. "Years ago people enjoyed flying. Nowadays, no one talks about an enjoyable experience anymore."

New book confirms: Benedict XVI is his own best spokesperson



One keen irony about the papacy of Benedict XVI is that while the Vatican regime over which he presides has sometimes come off as ham-fisted in terms of public relations, the pope himself is almost universally acknowledged as a gifted communicator.

A veteran theologian and teacher, Benedict can express complex theological ideas in crystalline sentences that don’t require a Ph.D. to grasp, and he has a knack for phrasing the Christian message in positive terms -- what I’ve called his “Affirmative Orthodoxy.”

In the old days, a pope would say or do something controversial, and then his aides would smooth things over. More recently, it’s actually been the pope who gets the Vatican back “on message” after someone else has put his foot in his mouth. (This, by the way, should not be taken as a criticism of Benedict’s official spokesperson, Jesuit Fr. Federico Lombardi, who does a heroic job under the circumstances.)

We’ve had another example of that dynamic in recent days with the release of volume two of Benedict’s book Jesus of Nazareth (published in the United States by Ignatius Press.)

On this day: The Pope's New Book


On this day, Jesus of Nazareth: Holy Week: From the Entrance Into Jerusalem To The Resurrection, by Pope Benedict XVI, will be published by Ignatius Press. To read compelling excerpts, scroll to the links at the bottom of the publisher's page.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu wrote to Pope Benedict: "I commend you for forcefully rejecting, in your recent book, a false charge that has been a foundation for the hatred of the Jewish people for many centuries."

Church should not pursue conversion of Jews, pope says


After excerpts from the second volume of the pope’s book on Jesus made the rounds last week, featuring his rejection of the idea that “the Jews” killed Christ, the full text adds another point with important implications for Christian/Jewish relations -- in effect, that Christianity “must not concern herself with the conversion of the Jews.”

The comment comes in Benedict XVI’s book Jesus of Nazareth: Holy Week, the full text of which was released today.

Senate rejects budget cuts in victory for Catholic advocates


In what seems to be a victory for Catholic social ministry advocates, the U.S. Senate today rejected two budget proposals that would have exacted massive cuts in federal spending for domestic social programs and international aid.

The Huffington Post reports that Senate Democrats voted down a House Republican bill that would have cut $57 billion from current funding levels. The bill failed 56 to 44.

Catholic activists and advocates have been vocal in their disagreement with the House budget bill, which cuts poverty-focused international assistance by 27 percent.

Representatives with Catholic Relief Services and the U.S. bishops conference said those cuts are “disproportionate” and don’t “share the sacrifice with the rest of society" on a Feb. 28 conference call.

Because Congress didn't approve a full-year budget plan last fall, it must pass and President Obama must sign a "continuing resolution" to keep the federal government operating until the end of the fiscal year. The deadline is March 18.


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In This Issue

October 9-22, 2015


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