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Obama reversal on Defense of Marriage Act

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In a major policy reversal, the Obama administration said Wednesday it will no longer defend the constitutionality of a federal law banning recognition of same-sex marriage.

Attorney General Eric Holder said President Barack Obama has concluded that the administration cannot defend the federal law that defines marriage as only between a man and a woman. He noted that the congressional debate during passage of the Defense of Marriage Act "contains numerous expressions reflecting moral disapproval of gays and lesbians and their intimate and family relationships - precisely the kind of stereotype-based thinking and animus the (Constitution's)Equal Protection Clause is designed to guard against."

Read the full story here.

The federal budget cuts are a perverse values statement

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As I look at the budget reductions/eliminations voted on by the new Republican-controlled House of Representatives, it may be time to emulate the people of Wisconsin and take to the streets to protest these injustices nationwide.

Budgets are, in a real sense, a concrete statement of moral beliefs. If we Catholics champion justice for the poor, care about peace and want to preserve our natural environment, our community of faith needs to scrutinize these budget cuts, and protest loudly!

Now let’s be clear: reducing the deficit is a good idea, although there is serious question among knowledgeable economists about the wisdom of doing it now, before we recover a bit more from the recession.

But ultimately, deficit reduction will be necessary. The question is how? And what do we do? Raise revenue, or cut, or some combination thereof?

First, let’s look at the Republican legislation as outlined by the House Appropriations Committee:


  • No reform whatsoever to eliminate the tax cuts for the wealthy (just renewed in the recent lame duck Congress)

  • No attempt to go after corporations with tax shelters overseas

Cardinal Mahony's legacy

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As Cardinal Roger Mahony prepares to step down in a few days after 25 years of leading the nation's largest archdiocese, The Los Angeles Times delivers a fair and reasoned assessment of his impact on the church here and nationwide.

The Times' report focuses particularly on three areas of Mahony's legacy: his commitment to social justice; his campaign to build a controversial new cathedral; and his handling of the sex abuse scandal within his archdiocese.

The paper gives Mahony high marks on the first two, and is actually uncharacteristically reasonable in its look at the cardinal's approach to the priest abuse scandal.

In part, the Times does not assign bad motives to Mahony, but says he may be a victim of bad luck -- rising through the ranks of church hierarchy just as sexual abuse was becoming more common, and achieving the height of his influence as this scandal broke open in a society no longer willing to keep quiet about such dark secrets.

Mubarak may have planned attack on Christians, Catholic leader says

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A Jan. 1 first bomb attack against Coptic Christians in Egypt which left 23 dead and almost a hundred wounded, widely blamed on Islamic fundamentalists, may have been orchestrated by an official in the former Mubarak regime in order to justify strengthening police controls, according to the head of the country’s Coptic Catholic church.

On this day: Sr. Blandina Segale, S.C.

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On this day, 70 years ago, Sr. Blandina Segale died at the Sisters of Charity motherhouse in Cincinnati.

Rosa Maria Segale was born in Cicagna, Italy, in 1850, to Giovanna Malatesta Segale and Francesco Segale. In 1854, they left the Ligurian hills and sailed for America. They settled in Cincinnati. In 1866, Rosa and her sister, Maria Maddelena, entered the Sisters of Charity, becoming Sr. Blandina and Sr. Justina.

Morning Briefing

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Don't tread on my union or raise my taxes

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"The public strongly opposes laws taking away the collective bargaining power of public employee unions as a way to ease state financial troubles, according to a new USA TODAY/Gallup Poll."

The poll also found 71 percent oppose increasing sales, income or other taxes while 27% are in favor that approach.

"The poll results suggest how politically difficult it is to solve budget shortfalls," USA Today says.

On Wisconsin

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I am a Wisconsin native. I cheer for the Packers, love cheese (and have been known to wear it on my head) and say "a-boat" for "about." So I've been watching the events in Madison very closely and prayerfully.

I am also the daughter of two teachers--both now happily and securely retired, thanks at least in part to their union. They never made a lot of money, but they had good benefits, again thanks to their union.

And while I know plenty of folks in Wisconsin who supported Republican Gov. Scott Walker--and continue to do so--I have been gratified to see so many non-teachers and other non-government workers outraged at the governor and Republican lawmakers who want to take away collective bargaining rights from employees who are willing to make other concessions. It's union busting, plain and simple.

I've also been proud to see the Catholic Church (in the form of Wisconsin bishops) support workers' right to organize--a longtime Catholic teaching.

The Protestant Stained Glass Ceiling

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Some sobering news for those seeking the ordination of women in the Roman Catholic Church.

After the stained glass ceiling is shattered, many ordained women find a second glass ceiling immediately behind it.

Such has been the fate of Protestant women worldwide, according to the reports given at a meeting of the World Council of Churches (WCC) in Geneva this weekend. The WCC has 349 members, comprised mostly of Anglican, Protestant and Orthodox denominations. The Roman Catholic Church is not a member, but sends delegates to some of its committees.

Even the WCC itself is in need of a “gender policy,” according to council members. In 2009, its central committee complained of a lack of women in senior staff positions.

According to Reverend Gregor Henderson, former General Secretary of the WCC, it’s easier to state gender equality than it is to live it out. “The patriarchy is very resilient,” he admitted.

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January 29-February 11, 2016

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