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Celebrating the Immaculate Conception with the Berrigans

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It seems we're celebrating the feast of the Immaculate Conception in a unique way today here at NCR.

We're celebrating by recognizing those ever-prescient prophets and brothers, the Berrigans. We've got three stories on our Web site today that take inspiration from their lives and witness.

First, there's my report from a talk Dan Berrigan gave in New York early last week. That talk was a rare glimpse at what the now-89-year-old priest poet is thinking and feeling.

Dan's message in turn spurred us to write an editorial on U.S. military policy: Quiet cancer of militarism on the US soul.

And, to add even more to our celebration, Jesuit Fr. John Dear, writing in his weekly 'On the Road to Peace' column, takes a look at Phil Berrigan's life on the eighth anniversary of his death.

Dear's thought for how we can celebrate Phil's life this Advent?

Another take on the tax package

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Here's Andrew "The Daily Dish" Sullivan's take on the tax package Congress is chewing over: "Obama has been a little shrewder than they took him to be."

Obama: President; McConnell: Sucker

It's been fascinating to watch the left's emotional roller-coaster these past few weeks. It's also been fascinating to watch Obama out-run them, and to observe their responses to the final deal in the last 24 hours. Krugman has gone from "Let's Not Make A Deal" to "better than what I expected." The response from the far-right has also been illuminating. Drudge rushed to declare Obama's payroll tax cut as a Republican idea. Hinderaker below insists "Obama has admitted that the Republicans were right all along." Notice something about all of this? They all now realize that Obama has been a little shrewder than they took him to be.

Pastor gets 54 years in prison for affinity fraud

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I've written a lot on affinity fraud, which is the basic form of exploitation that Catholic priests and lay people use when they steal from parishioners or when, for example, the Legionaries of Christ founder Fr. Marcial Maciel expertly employed affinity fraud on a massive, global scale for decades.

Today, in addition to the Watertown, Wis. priest who pleaded guilty to felony stealing (as reported in the NCR Morning Briefing), another story was reported that:

"A judge sentenced a southern Indiana church financier to 54 years in prison Tuesday for pocketing millions of dollars that investors believed would be used to build churches.

Former pastor Vaughn Reeves, 66, had little reaction as officers escorted him from the courthouse in Sullivan, about 80 miles southwest of Indianapolis, said his attorney, who promised to challenge the conviction and the sentence. Reeves was convicted on nine counts of securities fraud in October.

NCR writers disagree on tax package

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We seem to have a significant disagreement between two NCR writers on the Obama engineered tax cut package.

This morning, NCR editor Tom Fox sided with Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La., who called the plan "morally corrupt."

Yesterday Michael Sean Winters wrote on his Distinctly Catholic blog "no one on Capitol Hill or in the White House will call this compromise a Stimulus Bill because that became a bad word. But, if this is not a triumph of Keynesianism, what is it?"

May be the Capitol Hill and White House gangs are avoiding the word "stimulus" for electoral reasons, but many others are calling this a stimulus package, and these guys are notable Keynesians:

New York Times: For Obama, Tax Deal Is a Back-Door Stimulus Plan

Morality and blatant immorality in the U.S. senate

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When our congressional leaders throw around words like "moral" and "immoral," given the context in which they work, a system that is thoroughly corrupted by big money, and beholden to the very rich at the expense of just about everyone else, I don't pay a lot of attention. However, this morning I found my thoughts resonating with a conservative southern senator.

Consider the words of Senator Mary Landrieu, a conservative Democratic from Louisiana, as she lashed out Tuesday at President Obama's deal with congressional Republicans that allows tax cuts for the wealthy to be extended for two years.

Morning Briefing

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The war on the war on Christmas

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I know some Catholics and other Christians are offended by the Christmas-debunking billboard ('You know it’s a myth. This season, celebrate reason!") outside New York's Lincoln Tunnel.

And some Catholics are other Christians are cheering the Catholic League's response to the American Athetists' ad: a billboard of its own at the tunnel's other end, proclaiming, "You Know It’s Real: This Season Celebrate Jesus."

But, once again, Stephen Colbert has the most insightful wisdom on this religious controversy.

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May 22-June 4, 2015

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