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Uranium plant employees in Superman's hometown on strike

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The New York Times reported Sunday that an Illinois town that houses a major U.S. nuclear processing facility connected to the cancer deaths of 42 employees is experiencing a labor dispute regarding health benefits for retirees.

According to the report Metropolis, Ill. -- named for the fictitious hometown of the comic-book character Superman and home of the plant -- has been roiled after Honeywell, the plant operator, locked out its 220 union employees.

The plant is responsible for converting milled uranium into uranium hexafluoride for nuclear reactors.

From the story:

"We deal with hydrofluoric acid," said Darrell Lillie, president of United Steelworkers Local 7-669, which represents the union workers. "We make fluorine. This is bad stuff. The least we feel like we could have is good medical benefits when we retire."

Madison Diocese offers birth control insurance, but warns employees not to use it

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A state law is forcing the Madison Catholic Diocese this month to begin offering its employees insurance coverage for birth control.

However, a diocesan spokesman said employees will be warned against using the benefit and that open defiance of Catholic teaching on the issue could ultimately lead to termination.

St. Mary's Hospital in Madison has notified employees that it, too, soon will be required for the first time to cover contraception.

Both entities sought to get around the mandate by becoming self-insured, but the costs proved prohibitive.

Showtime's 'The Big C' addresses real issues of chronic illness

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I watched the first episode of Showtime’s late summer offering on the Internet Movie Database. The original series was created by actress/writer/producer Darlene Hunt and Bill Condon, director of the 2004 film Kinsey, directs. The show premieres this Monday, August 16 (check local listings).

The Big C stars the thrice Oscar-nominated and Emmy-winning actress Laura Linney, (The Truman Show; Kinsey), as Cathy Jamison, a forty-ish wife, mother and high school teacher who learns she has terminal cancer with a year to live. Oliver Platt (The West Wing; Pieces of April) is her clueless, immature husband Paul and Gabourey Sidibe, who was nominated for an Oscar this year for her role in Precious: Based on the Novel Push by Sapphire, plays smart-alec Andrea, one of Cathy’s students. Cynthia Nixon (Sex and the City) and Idris Elba (The Wire) also star.

Thanking God Everyday

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Actor, rapper and film/TV producer, Mark Walhberg, participates in Time Magazine's 10 Questions Column in its August 16, 2010, issue.

Question #8, submitted by Ari del Rosario, Manila, asked:

How has being a practicing Catholic helped you in your career? —
Anything that's good in my life is because of my faith. A lot of people get in trouble, go to jail and find God, and the minute they don't need God anymore, they're gone. But I spend a good portion of my day thanking God for all the blessings that have been bestowed on me. If it all ended today, I'd be happy. I've had such an amazing journey. Read more on the interview.

Another tribute for TaizÈ from the Vatican

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tOne of the more intriguing chapters in the history of ecumenical détente has long been the relationship between the Vatican and the Community of Taizé, a joint Protestant and Catholic monastic order in the Burgundy region of France.

Typically speaking, anything that smacks of syncretism is viewed in Rome as toxic, yet Taizé and its late founder, Brother Roger Schutz, who boldly blend Catholic and Protestant devotions and beliefs, have been wrapped in a warm loving embrace.

The latest proof comes just today, as L’Osservatore Romano splashed a tribute to Brother Roger across its front page from Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, the Secretary of State, on the fifth anniversary of Schutz’s death and the seventieth anniversary of the foundation of Taizé. The Vatican paper also devoted an entire page inside to tributes for Schutz and Taizé from a wide variety of Christian leaders, including the Patriarch of Constantinople and the Archbishop of Canterbury.

Recent updates, tweets from Tom Fox in Dallas

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NCR editor Tom Fox is 'tweeting' live from the annual LCWR national assembly in Dallas this morning as M. Shawn Copeland, an associate professor of theology at Boston College, gives a keynote address.

Follow Fox on his twitter account @NCRTomFox or twitter.com/NCRTomFox. If you tweet about the meeting use #LCWR in your tweet so we can all follow along!

Here's a sample of Fox's most recent updates:


At 9:45 AM CDT: This year's LCWR conference theme: Hope in the midst of darkness. Fitting.

At 10:30: Shawn Copeland to LCWR: resist idolatry, ideology; be critical of established power.

At 10:32: Copeland to LCWR: Witness an unyielding hope that resists despair.

At 10:35: Copeland to LCWR: You are called to radical openness and suffering.

At 10:38: Copeland to LCWR: Radical openness is living-in-love with God.

At 10:40: Shawn Copeland receives standing ovation at LCWR assembly.

Chancery calls in Nashville priest over video

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A video plucked from a parish Web site and posted to YouTube by a conservative Catholic group resulted in a dressing down of a Nashville priest by his bishop. In the video, the priest questions mandatory celibacy, obedience to the pope and excluding women from the priesthood.

Read the full story: Nashville priest may get in trouble over viral video

Radio interview about the life and work of Fr. Thomas Berry

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Cosmologist, Passionist priest, and Earth scholar, Thomas Berry, was among the first of our world’s religious leaders to suggest that the earth ecological crisis is fundamentally a spiritual crisis. Thomas Berry dedicated his life to The Great Work of our time which he described simply as "moving the human community from its present situation as a destructive presence on the planet to a benign or mutually enhancing presence."

Mary Evelyn Tucker and John Grim, co-founders and co-directors of The Forum on Religion and Ecology at Yale and The Thomas Berry Foundation join host Robin Bradley Hansel of the Wisdom of the Labyrinth series on 7th Wave Network to share their stories and reflections on Thomas Berry's life, his work, his writings, and his passionate dream for our Earth community.

LCWR Leadership for What?

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I admire Sister Joan Chittister, benefit from her writing and face none of the challenges that confront her as an influential Catholic woman.

But I respectfully submit that her most recent column in which she calls for bold leadership from the Leadership Conference of Women Religious is lacking a key element.

She invokes the history of splendid service rendered by American sisters as an appeal for support of their contributions at a time when Rome is questioning their fidelity and integrity.

That's fine, but redundant and deficient. Redundant because it echoes other efforts to achieve a goal that's already been achieved. American Catholics, with few exceptions, are deeply grateful to sisters for running practically everything that has kept Catholicism alive.

But how does that thankful salute change the nature and directions of the Vatican's accusations and condescensions against those sisters?

Sadly, it's largely beside the point. It would be comforting to think that women could simply enlarge their post-Vatican renewal without confronting the bias against them that blocks their progress toward equality in the church.

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