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Response to the bishops' call

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Yesterday, I forwarded the Guatemalan bishops’ message to the faithful Catholics of Petén. How do we, the farther neighbor, respond to this evil that is of our making? After all, we buy the drugs. We sell the guns.

The Guatemalan Senate has declared a state of siege. The Guatemalan bishops are asking that that state of siege be monitored by the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner of Human Rights.

One thing we can do is to ask our bishops to join that call for a United Nations monitor.

On this day: The Ascension

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On this day, we celebrate the solemnity of the Ascension of the Lord.

"The great silence that falls upon the earth at the Ascension is the stilling of the wingbeats of the immortals. Their time is over. There is a man in heaven, and men and women are no longer to bow down to angels or to empires. There are no gods, only the children of the living God, brothers and sisters of the proper man, who wishes us to be free. If we gaze into the heavens we will see nobody, only Jesus."

-- "A Sermon for Ascension", Monastic Vespers, Magdalene College, Cambridge, 1995, from Walking to Emmaus, by Eamon Duffy, Burns & Oates, 2006.

The quality of mercy

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Steven Martinez is not a good man -- on this everyone agrees. At 42, he is serving a 150-year sentence in a California prison, for beating and raping a San Diego woman in 1998. He is a repeat offender. But back in 2001, his spinal cord was severed in a prison fight, leaving him unable to move below his neck at all. Yet, according to the state parole board, Martinez remains a threat to society.

His case was profiled recently in the Los Angeles Times, in a report focused on California's "medical parole" law. It was passed last year, and Martinez's case was the first decided under its guidelines. Things did not go as planned.

Guatemalan Catholics address brutal slaying of workers

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This message below is from the Petén, Guatemala, Vicariate to all religious. It was forwarded to the Loretto Community. They received this from the Vicariate where the situation is very serious. The following is a translation of the Document:

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“Don’t allow evil to conquer you, rather conquer evil with good.” (Paul to Romans 12:21)

To al the Faithful Catholics of the Peten Apostolic Vicariate.

To the National and Departmental Authorities, and to men and women of good will in Petén.

Confronted by constant violent deeds that are attacking our dear Petén, causing death and pain, the Catholic Church of Petén cannot remain indifferent or silent. Rather we are called to make our voice heard and to intervene with a sense of responsibility.


  • We manifest our deep horror and rejection, indignation and shame for the massacre of 27 persons in the “Los Cocos” farm, town of La Libertad, as the last and barbarous expression of a generalized situation of violence and insecurity.

Crossing the church-state divide by ark in Kentucky

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The New York Times editorial today criticizes a Kentucky state plan that approved $40 million in tax incentives for a Bible-based theme park.

According to time Times:

"The American landscape is dotted with tourist attractions created with the help of government subsidies bestowed in the name of economic development. Think of the cheese museum in Rome, N.Y. A project just approved in Kentucky pushes the constitutional envelope.

Irish Catholic kid from New Jersey new chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff

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From the Huffington Post:

"The man chosen to lead the U.S. military as chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff during the difficult years ahead is a muddy-boots combat soldier seemingly more comfortable in battle fatigues than in the dress blues of Washington's corridors of power.

But make no mistake: Martin Dempsey, a self-described Irish Catholic kid from Bayonne, N.J. is a battle-hardened commander seen by his colleagues as an inspired choice to guide the military through a painful period of deep budget cuts and manpower reductions. If he is confirmed as expected by the Senate, Dempsey's job will be to help forge a new strategy to direct the Pentagon's organization, investments, training and deployments for contingencies as disparate as managing a no-fly zone over Libya, a naval confrontation in the South China Sea, a failing government in nuclear-armed Pakistan and hostilities from North Korea and Iran."

Read more here.

Working-class pessimism

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Working-class whites -- long considered most-likely-to-be-upwardly-mobile among blue-collar families -- now find themselves the most pessimistic. You can find a lot of reasons for this dilemma in the classic sitcom "All in the Family."

Ronald Brownstein writes in the Los Angeles Times and the National Journal that working class whites are now the most alienated sector of American voters. According to polls Brownstein cites, just one-third think their children will do better than they do -- an equal number believe their kids will actually do worse. "No other group is that negative," Brownstein says.

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