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That troublesome nun

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"Sandra Schneiders is one of the most prominent and accomplished nuns in the American Catholic Church," writes Peter Kirkwood in Eureka Street, the Australian Jesuit journal of news and opinion. The article is titled Troublesome nun's faith and feminism.

"Schneiders' message and concerns resonate strongly with those of Mary MacKillop, so it's fitting that we hear from her this week when Australians celebrate the canonisation of the new saint."

"Mary MacKillop founded the Josephite Sisters to address the pressing needs of the real world around her. In a similar vein, Schneiders warns of the dangers for the Church in seeing itself above and separate from the world. She argues that scripture and the documents of Vatican II position the Church firmly in the world, with something vital to contribute to the struggles and development of the world.

Tax troubles for Albany churches

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Taxman, Albany, NY diocese at odds

The city of Troy, N.Y., has added four closed Catholic churches -- St. Paul the Apostle, St. William's, St. Peter's and St. Francis de Sales -- to the local tax rolls this year. And two more shuttered sites -- St. Mary's and St. Patrick's -- could soon join the list.

Local officials, seeing a green light in state law, want to tax churches after they've been closed for a year.

"A church can be deemed taxable by the assessor if the church is not being used for purposes of the religious organization," according to state Tax Department spokesman Geoff Gloak.

But the Roman Catholic Diocese of Albany isn't buying that take on church and state and has launched a legal challenge.

Are the new cardinals just 'Vatican pitbulls?'

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In a posting over at Religion Dispatches yesterday, feminist theologian Mary E. Hunt disagrees with John Allen's assessment that the new batch of cardinals were not picked on any ideological basis.

The title of her piece? "Vatican Pitbulls Make Cardinal."

The main argument? That "to become a cardinal you have to do in at least one fellow Catholic, at the very least."

Hunt takes a look at Cardinal-designates Wuerl and Burke's history in the church to make her point.

For Wuerl, she looks into his first appointment as bishop in Seattle:

Morning Briefing

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If You Can't See 'Em You Tend Not to Feel for Them

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A regular coffee drinker at my favorite lunch counter was trying to tell his friend that some kind of government rule he couldn't remember had forced companies to hire people who weren't qualified.

He saw me, a familiar face, and asked me if I knew what it was. "You may be referring to affirmative action," I ventured, "but ... "

"Yup, that's it," he said, turning to his friend with the new ammunition. "They had to take guys who didn't know from nothing over guys who deserved it. But they ended it a few years ago."

I listened with my head in my soup. My dejection wasn't aimed at him. It was the reminder that the war on poverty and the determination to right the wrongs against blacks and native Americans exist mostly as fragments of memory, consigned to a far distant past.

Recent official figures paint a bleak picture of poverty, and things are getting worse. More and more people straddle the line between bare economic survival and hunger pains. Unemployment and homelessness are frighteningly common.

Yet I suspect that for most affluent Americans, the specter of this suffering continues to recede into invisibility. Out of sight, out of mind.

The assassination of JFK: A parable for our times

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Writer Jim Douglass says it is “no secret” John F. Kennedy’s assassination was a government job, CIA coordinated but involving people in other federal agencies.

The JFK Records Act passed in 1992 made it a crime to withhold information on the former president’s death. Anyone can consult files on the topic that are now stored in a huge building in Columbus Park, Maryland.

Douglass, a theologian, long-time peace activist and Catholic Worker, pored over these records while working on JFK and the Unspeakable: Why He Died and Why it Matters (Orbis 2008), a heavily-researched tome with a hundred pages of endnotes.

This month Douglass has been lecturing throughout the northeast. On Wednesday he spoke at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York. His talk “JFK, Obama, and the Unspeakable” will be published in the next issue of Tikkun magazine.

Will Latinos vote in the Midterm elections?

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On Oct. 20 we had our weekly colloquium in the Department of Chicano Studies at UC Santa Barbara where I teach. Our speaker was Prof. David Ayon, who is affiliated with Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles and who is an expert on Latino politics.

What he had to say was quite interesting and sobering.

Ayon believes that the Democrats will lose control of the House of Representatives in the midterm elections and that the Republicans will gain over 50 seats. They only need 39 to become the majority party.

However, Ayon does not believe that the Republicans will win the Senate.

As for the Latino vote that is increasingly coveted by both parties, he does not believe that -- in an election year such as this, where it appears that it won’t be too close of a vote -- the Latino vote will be decisive, unlike two years ago when 10 million Latinos voted and represented about 10 percent of the national vote.

That vote count was a record high and it went overwhelmingly to President Obama and the Democrats. Obama won about 70 percent of the Latino vote. That made a difference in such states as Virginia, Florida, New Mexico, Colorado, and Nevada.

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April 10-23, 2015

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