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A happy adoption story

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So often when adoption is in the news, it is not a positive story (the religious folks shadily trying to get orphans out of Haiti, for example). But on today's Huffington Post, there is an absolutely "happily ever after" story about a family who adopted a little boy from Malawi.

The adoptive mother is a former seminary classmate of mine and the former religion reporter for the Chicago Sun-Times (and author of several books). Cathleen Falsani and her husband, Maurice Possley (also a journalist), met 8-year-old Vasco while on an African trip they had won as a raffle prize. Orphaned by AIDS, Vasco was sickly and needed heart surgery.

Lessons from the oil in the Gulf

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"Well I do think that people are understanding that technology sometimes doesn’t work, that it breaks down and that it may not be able to save us from the mistakes that we make. There is a sense of that in the Gulf, that my gosh, one after another of these multi-million dollar systems that are supposed to operate under extreme conditions failed. And all of the rescue attempts failed. And I think that’s a very healthy lesson for us to learn at this moment when we’re being asked to support ever-more risky energy options; that these technologies that we’re told are infallible are fallible."

-- Michael Klare, author of Rising Powers, Shrinking Planet: The New Geopolitics of Energy.

Listen to (or read the transcript of) an interview with Klare on PRI's The World, a radio redeclaration by Public Radio International, the BBC and WGBN, in an episode titled: "Reconsidering deep-sea oil drilling."

Vietnam Report on Interfaith Voices this Week

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This week, Interfaith Voices features a full report on the interfaith delegation to Vietnam that investigated the horrific legacy of Agent Orange and Dioxin in the bodies of children, and in the earth itself.

We tell the story in a two-part "lead." The first features sound from Vietnam and the major findings of our trip. The second part is my interview with Bob Edgar, the leader of the delegation, currently President of Common Cause, and formerly a Member of Congress and General Secretary of the National Council of Churches.

Cleaning up after this war is a moral “no-brainer.” But politically… well, that’s something else again. If you are interested, go to the Plan of Action, developed by prominent citizens of the U.S. and Vietnam.

\"Hold the salt, please\"

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We read in Matthew 5:13, "You are the salt of the earth. But if salt loses its taste, with what can it be seasoned? It is no longer good for anything but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot."

Well, according to a new study, we are a salty people indeed.

"Ninety percent of Americans are eating more salt than they should, a new government report reveals.

In fact, salt is so pervasive in the food supply it's difficult for most people to consume less. Too much salt can increase your blood pressure, which is major risk factor for heart disease and stroke.

"Nine in 10 American adults consume more salt than is recommended," said report co-author Dr. Elena V. Kuklina, an epidemiologist in the Division of Heart Disease and Stroke Prevention at the U.S. Centers for Diseases Control and Prevention."

The moral of the story is that we should become a humble "people of God" and not literally salt of the earth. Enough of the salt already.

SNAP's Isely meets with Austria's Cardinal Schoenborn

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SNAP Midwest Director Peter Isely was part of a delegation of SNAP activists that spent time in Europe recently meeting with survivors there. An email he sent out recently about the trip included the following paragraph:

“The survivors and advocates we met with and joined in Europe were unforgettable. They form with us a single voice of struggle and justice. All of these ancient European capitals are beautiful and majestic. What difference does it make? It is the same pain and anguish, the same sorrow, whether in Berlin or Boise, the same continuous and unbroken chain of trauma, memory and witness. One can only conclude from so many brave souls what Camus did in the final line of his post war epic, The Plague, a book many of us read college (I hope still do) …that what one learns in times of plague is “…that there is more to admire in men than to despise.”

Tar sands pipeline possible site of the next environmental disaster

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If we could go back in time before the BP Deepwater Horizon rig exploded on April 20, what would we learn? What steps would have helped avert what is now the nation's worst environmental disaster? Could this hindsight help us prevent similar catastrophes in the future? Would our political leaders have the moral compass to "get it right" this time around?

A ready-made test case for such an exercise exists in the form of TransCanada's push for a pipeline to transport toxic tar sands oil from Alberta, Canada, through the American heartland down to Houston.

For more on this, see Sarah Hogdon's blog on the Sierra Club's Climate Crossroads.

NCR looked at the issue of tar sand extraction in an article by Sharon Abercrombie that ran in the May 14, 2010 issue.

The exodus of German Catholics

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German Catholics are leaving the church in record numbers, according to the latest figures in this report from Religion News Service: Abuse may lead to exodus of German Catholics

It may have attracted the attention of the hierarchy.

"This high number of departures cannot leave us at peace. Anyone who leaves the church wants to fulfill his faith and his life's desires without the church in the future," said Archbishop Robert Zollitsch of Freiburg, the bishops' president, in a recent statement.

"That kind of decision always raises questions directed at us from which we cannot shy away."

WSJ Gets It Wrong

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The Wall Street Journal has an especially obnoxious column today that asks in its headline, “”In Hospital Deal, How Much Is a Catholic Identity Worth? Just 3 Percent.” This is crazy.

The Caritas hospital system in Boston is in danger of going under. It found a buyer who was willing to pump the necessary revenue into the system. The buyer has said, on the record, that maintaining the Catholic identity of the hospitals is in everyone’s interest. Yes, there is a provision that if that identity becomes untenable for financial reasons, the new owners can secularize the hospitals for a fee equal to 3 percent of the purchase price. Does this intend some nefarious secularist plot? Or is it a legal provision designed as a hedge against some future over-zealous efforts by some of Boston’s many crazies to re-define Catholic identity in ways that make it impossible to keep the hospitals going?

Secrecy in service of the institution

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I know colleague Maureen Fiedler has already picked up on the significance of the piece just posted about secrecy in the Vatican justice system, so excuse the repetition, but the issue gets to the heart of the "how" such a tale of deceit at the highest levels of the church could run its course for so long.

RNS writer Daniel Burke, who has reported and written in a compelling manner in the past about the helplessness that accused priests can experience when subjected to the impenetrable legal processes of the Vatican, has authored another piece here that gives the perspective from the accuser’s side.

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September 12-25, 2014

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