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On this day: Friendship

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On this day in 1167, Aelred of Rievaulx died. His feast is observed by the Roman Catholic Church and by the Anglican Communion.

"Walter Daniel, a monk of the Yorkshire abbey, who himself tended Aelred and cradled his head in his final hours," recounted "how the day before his death Aelred was unable to speak but nonetheless listened intently to the brother who read to him the story of the Lord's Passion. . . . Walter explains that shortly before his death Aelred, who had not spoken for two days, turned to look up at the wooden cross and recited the words of Luke 23.46: 'You are my God and Lord, my refuge and Saviour. Into your hands I commend my spirit.'"

-- Life in the Medieval Cloister, by Julie Kerr.

Catholic bishops favor gun control - but who knows it?

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The horrific shooting of Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and 19 others in Tucson, Ariz., has raised a plethora of moral and ethical issues. One of the most significant ones is gun control.

No matter what the motive or ideology of the gunman, he would not have been able to carry this off without a weapon that is classified as an “assault weapon.” His gun had a magazine with 30 bullets. He could shoot for quite a while without re-loading.

Assault weapons were banned under President Bill Clinton, and this ban was repealed under President George W. Bush.

Out of curiosity, I searched the Web site of the National Conference of Catholic Bishops for their position on gun control. And sure enough, their Committee on Social Justice and World Peace issued this statement in 1978:

Bold declarations

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Settlements are the issue for Palestinian farmers

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu began the New Year with a bold declaration. He was willing to negotiate non-stop with Mahmoud Abbas, if, and only if, the Palestinian President quit harping on a settlement freeze as a precondition for their talks. Settlements. Shmettlements. According to the Israeli leader, the Palestinians should stop obsessing about them and consider the broader issues instead.

Gabrielle Giffords and the DREAM act

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I lived in Tucson, Arizona for almost ten years in the 1990s; my activism included work with Derechos Humanos, a human rights group that monitors border patrol abuses.

One of our founding members, attorney Isabel Garcia, has been a high-profile advocate for the human rights of immigrants. For decades this has earned her the hatred of those who have claimed that she wants the Southwest to be returned to Mexico. This would sound like a joke except that she has long been threatened with violence and even death.

I am more worried than ever for Isabel and others advocating a humane immigration policy. The cold blooded shooting of Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords in Tucson last week was almost bound to happen in our current climate of right-wing extremism and its violent rhetoric and imagery -- much of it aimed at immigrants.

It is significant that Giffords voted for the DREAM Act, which would have allowed children of undocumented workers, including those who have served in the military, the opportunity to attend college. The bill passed in the House but failed in the Senate.

International Catholic groups call for \"polluter-payer\" economic system

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South Korea held a G20 summit in Seoul last November. In preparation for the event, the International Catholic Movement of Intellectual and Cultural Affairs (ICMICA - Pax Romana), the Woori Theology Institute (WTI), and the Korean Catholic Lay People Movement held an international conference in Seoul from one week before the gaqthering. It’s theme was “Rethinking Economics and Development, Towards A Model of A Sustainable, equitable And Pro-Poor Development”.

Is It an Anti-Christian Conspiracy?

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The pope's condemnation of violence against Christians is a welcome alarm. In sounding the protest, however, he asserts that such cruelties belong under the same umbrella when, on closer inspection,they result from different causes and circumstances.

Benedict treats them all as displays of a conspiracy against the Christian faith. Thus, he lumps the ancient tensions between Egyptian Muslims and Christian Copts, a sore spot that has, like Northern Ireland, become as much cultural and political as religious, with what he perceives as a secular offensive against European Christians.

The absence of historical memory and geo-political discernment therefore weakens the credibility of his prophetic call for and end to the brutality that does face Christians in many parts of the world.

Much of the conflict that kills Christians takes place roughly along the fault line between Christians and Muslims. To assume that Christians bear no responsibility for the strife is unreasonable. Both sides have fought a long struggle for the allegiance of Nigerians, for example.

Child's funeral brings sadness, faith

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I'd never been to a child's funeral before.

The idea of it always seemed to be a real challenge to faith, to belief in a God who was love. What kind of love is it, you wonder, that allows a child to be taken away? It is so unnatural, feels so wrong, for parents to bury a child.

Last week, I was at the funeral mass of a twenty-month old boy who suffered most of his brief life with ailments and injuries -- until he finally gave out. It was heart-wrenching and indescribable in many ways, but it was also -- to my surprise -- a testiment to faith.

The boy's death brought together hundreds of people, who packed a small church near the beach here in Los Angeles. His doctor's and nurses were there, and participated in the Mass through the presentation of the gifts. Aunt, uncles and godparents gave eulogies that brought on tears.

But at the center of it all was a mother and father. They must have been enveloped in grief, but in that church on that day, they were strong and calm -- in a way that was almost hard to grasp.

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In This Issue

August 28-September 10, 2015

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