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Good news on ocean life

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Irish Columban Fr. Sean McDonagh reports that cod fisheries in the North Sea are coming back.

"Environmental good news stories are rare, especially in the area of protecting biodiversity. We are told by competent scientists that extinction is rampant among plants, animals, bird and fish species. It is estimated that one third of the bird species of the world are now on the Red List of endangered species. This is why the recent report from the World Wild Fund for Nature (WWF) that North Sea cod which were on the brink of extinction due to overfishing a few short decades ago, are no longer endangered. The WWF document claims that stocks of cod have risen by 52 per cent from their historic low in 2006, and can now be fished once again. For people of my generation and our parents, fish (usually cod) and chips wrapped in newspaper have had a very special place in our diet.

Mercy Sister Margaret McBride speaks out in her silence

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The media is getting on to Sr. Margaret McBride who has refused to speak to the media and, as a result, has been speaking loud and clearly every day since she was told by Phoenix Bishop Thomas Olmsted that she had been excommunicated for her participation in a hospital ethics-committee decision to abort an 11-week-old fetus in order to save a mother's life.

When less if more, silence can be clear and overwhelming.

Now some in the media are getting McBride's message -- and and are beginning to write about what she has to say. .

Sr. McBride, we are on to you! And we will stay atuned.

If the White Sheet Fits

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The rightwing went bonkers yesterday when an audiotape surfaced of Congresswoman Linda Sanchez suggesting that the effort to pass the Arizona anti-immigration law was funded in part by groups with ties to white supremacists.

On Fox News, Sean Hannity played the audiotape of Sanchez’s comments and suggested she spend less time reading leftwing blogs and more time reading the legislation. Hannity is one of those who like to deny that the Arizona law will be racist in application although I do not imagine he would qualify as someone “suspected” of being an undocumented worker. He argues that the law forbids racial profiling, raising the unanswerable question: How can a law enforcement official determine who might or might not be undocumented if they do not consider race? Of course, Hannity had just finished placing the blame for the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico on environmentalists, so the question is no longer how tendentious this man is but what planet he is on. Watching his show, you keep expecting the Red Queen to make an appearance.

O'Connell to Trenton

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Regular readers will know of the high regard in which I hold Father David O’Connell, CM, the President of the Catholic University of America for the past 12 years. Evidently, my opinion is shared by Pope Benedict XVI who named O’Connell this morning as the Coadjutor Bishop of Trenton, New Jersey. I am told that it is a gem of a diocese and they are getting a gem of a new bishop. Tanti Augurri.

A tale of two conventions

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This is a big week for Catholic publishers, with dueling conventions in New Orleans and outside Chicago. The Catholic Media Convention, in the Big Easy, gathers diocesan and other newspaper journalists as well as those who work on Catholic magazines, websites, and audiovisual media, plus PR and communications folks. Meanwhile, Catholic book publishers and booksellers are meeting outside the Windy City at the Religious Booksellers Trade Exhibit (RBTE).

I used to attend the former regularly, back when it was just the Catholic Press Association (CPA). And yesterday I attended the latter.

RBTE's lunch keynote speaker Joan Chittister challenged book publishers and sellers to continue their "ministry to honor the great spiritual questions of today." The previous day Joyce Rupp spoke on the "The Bookseller as Compassionate Presence." (Both women, by the way, are NCR columnists.)

Meanwhile, the Catholic Media Convention had Republican commentator Mary Matalin, who stepped in for her Democratic husband, James Carville, who apparently couldn't make it. And a panel on the role of Catholic media with three archbishops and two bishops.

Sex in the City 2: Girls just wanna have fun

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Back in 2008 I saw the first Sex in the City film I thought it actually had its moments. I objected on a Busted Halo Sirius Radio interview with Fr. Dave Dwyer, CSP, that it was not a “chick flick” but had a heart-felt theme of authentic forgiveness. I don’t like the term “chick flick” because it lets men dismiss films with female leads and interests so I dared him to see it, which he did. He even invited me back on the show to chat about his thoughts on the film.

Hitchens Strikes Out

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Christopher Hitchens, the controversialist, bon vivant, intellectual and self-appointed Inquisitor of all religions but especially of Holy Mother Church, has come out swinging against Elena Kagan and the Obama administration for taking the side of the Vatican in a law suit that seeks to remove the legal protection the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act. The Vatican and the Obama administration agree that the Vatican is covered by the act. Hitchens, and the plaintiffs, think it should not be and that American bishops and clergy should be considered personnel of the Vatican. Full disclosure: Mr. Hitchens and I have shared more scotches than I can remember. Our views on many subjects could not be more different, but he has always been very kind to me. More than that, he has never written a boring sentence in his life, and that counts for a lot in my book.

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September 12-25, 2014

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