Our friends at the Catholic Alliance for the Common Good are keeping busy in this final push for universal health care coverage. In a statement issued today, their new President, Morna Murray said, “Isn't it time we agreed it is simply unacceptable for anyone in America to be denied health insurance because of a pre-existing condition or arbitrary annual limits of what an insurance company decides is good for its own profits? Is such a system good for Americans? Is it good for vulnerable low-income and working class families and children? It is good for one thing and one thing only -- health insurance industry profits. This does not serve the common good.” The full statement is here.
The Religion Communicators Council honored 14 secular media organizations with its 2010 Wilbur Awards last week. The winner in the radio category was "Interfaith Voices," the public radio show that I host. The Wilbur went to our series “The Soundscapes of Faith” by Laura Kwerel (writer/producer) and Katie Davis (editor).
The Religion Communicators Council has presented Wilbur Awards annually since 1949. According to the council's web site, the awards honor excellence by individuals in secular media -- print and online journalism, book publishing, broadcasting, and motion pictures -- in communicating religious issues, values and themes.
“The Soundscapes of Faith” series was created by Kwerel. It is based on the premise that distinctive sounds help make the holy real, and that major faith traditions have a distinctive “sonic signature.” These include, for example, the shofar in Judaism, the Hindu “om,” the call to prayer in Islam, Buddhist chant, hymn singing in Sikhism and “harp singing” in Christianity.
To listen to any or all of these, go to: http://interfaithradio.org/soundscapes
It's finally here (and I'm not talking about the Catholic corproate craziness within the church). I'm talking about college basketball. It always seems to arrive just when we need it the most -- the middle of Lent. Naturally, Catholic colleges are among those vying to win it all, or at least get into the NCCA tournament and advance farther than they did last year.
Here's a quick selection of Catholic college basketball stories that have appeared today or yesterday:
In the words of Dick Vitale, "Let the games begin, baaaaby!"
There are probably hundreds and hundreds of thousands around the country now who make some deliberate effort to live simply.
-- Myra and John live in the suburbs of Chicago and keep plastic bins in their garage for recyclables. They spend a few minutes each day sorting and separating, then an hour a month taking the bins to drop-off centers. Both also choose to ride public transportation to their jobs weekdays rather than driving. When they recently bought a new car, they opted for a hybrid. The whole family chooses to eat a bit lower on the food chain than is widely done, limiting their meat consumption. They also limit the amount of time they watch tv, choosing to read to and talk with their children most evenings.
-- In rural New Mexico, Cyril and Ed card the wool and spin yarn from a dozen sheep they raise in their four-acre back yard. They also keep goats for milk and make their own cheese when they have time. Both are self-employed computer programmers and work as consultants out of their home, a sprawling adobe structure they built themselves. When they must travel to faraway cities on business, they take the train.
Lisa Miller, religion editor for Newsweek, has a quite good analysis of "a new generation" (her characterization) of Catholic bishops and how they play politics. She offers little new for frequent readers of NCR, but her take is valuable for its succinctness.
Read the full piece: A new generation gets righteous
One thing Miller reveals is just how tight the U.S. bishops' staff was with:
Millionaire priest dies in squalor, relatives inherit $
In a strange, but apparently true, story, a Wheeling-Charleston, W.Va., diocesan priest, died while living in "appalling" conditions without a will, according to this story.
"Twelve brothers and sisters in Poland will soon receive about $150,000 each from the estate of a Kanawha County priest who lived like a pauper, despite having nearly $2 million stashed away in cash and investments.
For nearly three years, Chief Tax Deputy Allen Bleigh and members of the tax department have been investigating the estate of Fr. Anthony Wojtus. Following his death in 2007, the millionaire priest was discovered to have been living in squalor.
Wojtus left no will or known family members. The county was appointed as estate administrator shortly after the priest's death, leaving officials with the job of tracking down next of kin."
Today is the feast of St. Frances of Rome, founder of the Benedictine Oblate Sisters of Tor de' Specchi, and patron of all Oblates of St. Benedict.
Frances was born in 1384 to Paul de Busso and his wife, Jacobella dei Roffedeschi, members of the Roman nobility. At fourteen, she was married to Lorenzo de Ponziano. For forty years Frances and Lorenzo were happy, enduring together the loss of two of their six children to plague, and the turmoil of the Western Schism, which brought the temporary banishment of Lorenzo, the taking of another of their children as a hostage, and the destruction of their estates.
Did you see that a story from Catholic News Service this afternoon says that the the five-member apostolic visitation team investigating the Legionaries of Christ because of the sexual abuse allegations against the order's founder, Mexican priest Marcial Maciel, is expected to submit its findings to the Vatican this month.
Visitors to this site have not doubt seen suggestions that churches should lose their tax exempt status, especially when church leaders make political prouncements. Well, it looks like one state may try it: Kansas wants sales tax from religious nonprofits.
Anyone who has looked at a state budget recently though sees this as an economic move and not particularly ideological. Kansas is looking at nearly a $500 million budget shortfall next fiscal year, and the bill in question also removes the sales tax exemption for residential utilities, lottery tickets, some recreational fees, public libraries and several other categories.
Proponents of the bill say it will net an additional $169 million a year.