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No sex abuse charges against L.A. archdiocese likely to come

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In recent years as prosecutors around the country have examined church handling of the clergy abuse crisis questions about what was likely to happen in Los Angeles begged for answers. Some of those answers became more public today as the L.A. District Attorney’s office announced that it had found information suggesting possible "criminal culpability" by leaders of the Los Angeles Catholic Archdiocese, but that the office lacked enough evidence to bring charges.

The document, written by the prosecutor who heads the investigation, William Hodgman, says statutes of limitations make the "prospect of developing any criminal case" against archdiocese officials "more and more remote with each passing day."

Meanwhile, Archdiocese spokesman Tod Tamberg said in an e-mail that "any suggestion of criminal conduct is totally false and without factual basis."

Risk Management on Wall Street and in the Gulf

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Our capitalist system is built upon risk. Investors risk their money in new enterprises. Entrepreneurs risk their time and careers. Some ventures succeed and others fail, and the market determines which is which.

Sometimes, however, there are other risks. The Congress is currently considering financial reform and the Volcker Rule is at the center of the debate. This Rule would prevent banks from using their own money to invest in risky hedge funds and other similar investments. The reason for the Rule is that people who deposit their money in a bank should not see their risks multiplied exponentially because a few bank executives want to get rich quick. A hedge fund may provide a windfall, but the Volcker Rule is a regulatory hedge against greed leading to the kinds of risky decisions that will redound badly not just upon the bank executives taking the risk, but upon the average customer of the bank. There is a danger that the Rule will be suspended for further study, but Washington is not a university, and “study” is a euphemism for killing the Rule. Congress should resist the lobbyists for the banks and pass the Rule.

Philly 'cool priest' passes away

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The Philadelphia Daily News reports some sad news today: the loss a revered local priest, known for his easy style and hearty laugh.

I wish this column could be accompanied by a soundtrack of Rev. Robert McLaughlin's laugh.
It was a deep roar, punctuated by a fabulous "ootz" sound when he inhaled for the next bellow. It was one of those big, generous laughs that made you want to howl with mirth, too. I imagine I speak for most people who loved him when I say it's unfathomable that the world won't hear that laugh again.

Father Mac - as the 65-year-old Roman Catholic priest was referred to by anyone who knew him longer than five minutes - died last Thursday while on a getaway to his family's place in the peaceful mountains of upstate Wyoming County.

Foreign-born priests facing immigration challenges too

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The Sacramento Bee has an interesting story today about something many parishioners have noticed for a while: foreign-born U.S. priests. It seems they, just like other immigrants, are facing challenges with our immigration system.

Foreign-born priests have long filled U.S. pulpits and parishes. But recent changes in requirements for religious visas are making that harder to do, say some church leaders. Now, citing increased costs and difficulty obtaining visas, some will no longer actively recruit clerics from other countries.

Bishop Jaime Soto, the spiritual leader of the Sacramento region's 900,000 Catholics, said last week that he has stopped a long-standing diocesan practice of seeking priests outside the United States.

"It's alarming how difficult it is for us to bring over priests who are willing to serve here," said Soto. "The current immigration protocol handicaps our ability to find ministers."

Judging Israel

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The world has rushed to condemn Israel for the deaths of nine so-called pro-Palestinian activists who were killed trying to deliver supplies to Gaza. Israeli forces, which have been enforcing a blockade of Gaza since 2007, seized the vessels and, when met with armed resistance, a firestorm broke out. An investigation will determine what precisely happened to ignite the shooting. But, no investigation is needed to know that anyone who is genuinely concerned about the future of the Palestinian people will recognize that the single most important step towards peace and justice for them is for Hamas to be removed from power in Gaza. A true pro-Palestinian activist would do nothing to aid and abet that criminal regime.

One thing is clear. The pro-Palestinian activists were aiming for a fight. If their goal had been simply to supply the humanitarian needs of the people who live in Gaza, they could have delivered their aid to any one of a number of humanitarian organizations that legally supply Gaza. 15,000 tons of such supplies are delivered by Israel every week. But, the vessels involved in yesterday’s flotilla were carrying building supplies that are banned by the blockade.

In New Orleans, expectations low, frustrations high

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"Anger rises over failures." That headline screamed out at me from The Times-Picayune as I arrived at the airport in New Orleans. News was spreading that BP's latest attempt, as The Times Picayune described it, "to contain the oil gushing into the Gulf of Mexico and fouling Louisiana wetlands."

Expectations that the next plan to contain the flow are low and frustrations are high. That seems to be the mantra repeated again and again when the oil spill is discussed. And fear of the unknown.

I am in New Orleans for next few days to gain some on the ground insight into this disaster. Today I will accompanying a team from the New Orleans archdiocese Catholic Charities touring their "Oil Leak Humanitarian Response Sites." There are five sites so far.

One thing that hits me very early is that although much of the rest of the country has been following this news story on and off for awhile, people down here have been living with this disaster for six weeks. Six weeks and no end in sight.

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September 26-October 9, 2014

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