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Burke tells us how to vote, from the Vatican

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I remember distinctly, when I was about 10-11 years old, hearing my father say after church, “That priest can have his opinions, but he is not going to tell me how to vote!” (The person at issue, as I recall, was a local candidate who was divorced).

It sounds like Cardinal-designate Raymond Burke never ran into Catholics like my father. According to CatholicAction.org, Burke is once again telling American Catholics how to vote -- this time from the banks of the Tiber.

In an interview with Thomas McKenna, president of the arch-conservative Catholic Action for Faith and Family, Burke reportedly said that Catholics are bound in conscience to vote for political candidates who oppose aborting babies, embryonic stem cell experiments, euthanasia and so-called homosexual “marriage.”

There was no mention of the central issues of the 2010 mid-term election: unemployment, the economy, the widening income gap between the wealthy and the working/middle class, home foreclosures, or even immigration. For Burke, everything apparently hinges on the “bedroom” issues, not the “boardroom” or the “border” issues.

When will it get better?

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The "It Gets Better" project, in which everyday and famous gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered people and others, record video messages of hope to GLBT youth, was a pastoral response to the recently publicized suicides of a number of gay youth.

Started by columnist (and former Catholic) Dan Savage, it has truly gone viral on YouTube, with more than 5,000 videos posted. While there are a number of videos from everyday Catholics--and former Catholics--not one member of the clergy, woman religious or other Catholic leader has joined the project.

The Haves, the Have-Nots, and The Angry Electorate

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As the gap between rich and poor widens, studies show our politics get more hostile. And that pretty much explains what's going on this election season.

Research published just last week makes the link clear. Writing in the Journal of Politics, Louisiana State University political scientist James Garand reports that polarized politics seem to follow in lock-step with economic inequality.

New data on income inequity shows a failed state of affairs

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The rich get richer as the rest of us get poorer.

This reality does not make the headlines in a country where any politician or activist who dares to discuss class is accused of fomenting “class warfare.”

Not a single news organization reported on how new data that were released by the Social Security Administration Oct. 15 suggests obscene income inequities.

Iraq war documents and Obama's unfulfilled promise

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I've been working on a story this week on reactions to the latest round of leaked military documents from the Iraq war. While transcribing a conversation with one of my sources today I realized I had an incredibly illuminating four sentence summary of where we are as a country.

As a backgrounder: 400,000 pages of classified documents concerning coalition forces’ actions during the war -- together known as the 'Iraq War Logs' -- were leaked by the international organization WikiLeaks, and then released by several international publications Oct. 22.

The documents cover a wide-span of the war. The leak has been called the greatest in the history of the U.S. military.

The conversation I had was with Jeremy Varon, an associate professor of history at The New School in New York City. He said, simply:

"I think the United States is deep, deep, deep down a horrible path. And I thought Obama would put us on a new path. He hasn’t. Maybe some future administration will."

LA archdiocese launches Creation Sustainability Ministry

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The archdiocese of Los Angeles has launched a Creation Sustainability Ministry on Oct. 4. Its mission: "educating and inspiring Catholics and others in the broader community to act out of reverence and respect for God's creation."

Directly involved in the creation of the ministry were the archdiocesan Offices of Justice and Peace and Synod Implementation/Stewardship.
In an Oct. 4 letter introducing the effort, Cardinal Roger Mahony cited Pope Benedict XVI's 2010 World Day of Peace message: "If you want to cultivate peace, protect creation." Cardinal Mahony urged parishioners not to remain indifferent to "environmental issues and their profound impact on humanity."

"From our perspective, creation is a statement of faith," said Ramon Posada, ministry chairperson and philosophy and religion professor at East Los Angeles College. "It implies that there is a loving Creator from which we came from and who calls us to participate in this loving action in the world we live in."

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