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Western Mo. Catholics rally for immigration reform

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The U.S. bishops' immigration reform campaign is hitting the Congressional districts of Western Missouri today and tomorrow.

Bishop Robert Finn, ordinary of the Kansas City-St. Joseph, Mo., diocese, launched the U.S. bishops' "Justice to Immigrants" campaign in January with a postcard campaign (There was a sign-up table in the narthex of my parish church.), and the diocesan Human Rights Office has taken up the challenge.

Darkness will have its hour

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Holy Week: Accompanying El Salvador

Jesus and his disciples have slipped back into the city after two days of rest in Bethany. The city is jammed with a quarter of a million pilgrims who have come home out of the diaspora to observe Passover. The Romans are nervous and soldiers are everywhere in full gear, leather body armor and helmets, with swords, metal tipped spears and truncheons at the ready.

Covering the coverage

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The Catholic media often analyze how the secular media cover the church--specifically the sex abuse story. Now a secular publication--the Atlantic--is analyzing how Catholic media are covering it.

NCR gets high marks, as do Commonweal and America. Not surprisingly, the National Catholic Register, a conservative publication, is more concerned about anti-Catholic spin from the secular media than with the crimes committed by priests.

I take issue with the author's opinion that NCR's March 26 editorial represents a "turning point in the publication's coverage of the scandal." The editorial's call for accountability is just the latest in years--no, decades--of strongly worded observations and appeals from this newspaper's editors, columnists and reporters.

Pope's prayer intentions for April

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The Vatican Information Service released this morning Pope Benedict XVI's prayer intentions for April.

His general prayer intention for April is:

"That every tendency to fundamentalism and extremism may be countered by constant respect, by tolerance and by dialogue among all believers".

His mission intention is:

"That Christians persecuted for the sake of the Gospel may persevere, sustained by the Holy Spirit, in faithfully witnessing to the love of God for the entire human race".

It takes a friend to remember

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I think of Dorothy Day and the Catholic Worker Movement that began during the depths of the Great Depression, and which continues today to give care and comfort to the forsaken. I think of Thomas Merton and his outspoken protest of the Vietnam War. I think of the Catholic bishops who stood side by side with César Chávez in his fight for justice among the farm workers of California's Central Valley. I think of Archbishop Óscar Romero and the struggles of San Salvador. And I think of blighted neighborhoods across America where all-but-ignored nuns, priests, and committed laypeople offer hope to the nearly hopeless through soup kitchens, schools, and community centers. For them, and for energetic Catholic women I work with and teach -- so unjustly banned from a priesthood that sorely needs them -- the importance of justice-making always exceeds the importance of collars and confessions.

Iraq's Elections - and Ours

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Iraq has not been on the front pages for some time, although recently, news of that country’s elections has made it to the back pages of most newspapers. The results of the election were messy but hopeful: The religious parties did less well than their secular counterparts and, so far, everyone has agreed to abide by the law and the results. After Florida in 2000, U.S. commentators should be reluctant to raise alarms about contestants challenging results in other countries.

But, the bigger, albeit quieter news, is that the U.S. is continuing its draw down of combat troops. On the radio the other day, its was reported that by September 1, we will have only 50,000 combat troops in that country. This is President Obama’s ace-in-the-hole with his base. It is easy to forget how much opposition to the war in Iraq figured in President George W. Bush’s plummeting poll numbers in his last years in office. Democrats who always thought the Iraq War was a mistake should remember that one of the happy consequences of the 2008 election of President Barack Obama is that the war is coming to a close.

Saving, and investing, for the future

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During the current, disastrous economy, many churches and dioceses have attempted to help the unemployed navigate the ranks of unemployment and to get back on their feet.

This week Money magazine published a story titled, "3 investing moves you must make." (Not too long ago, I blogged about investing in faith-based stocks.)

Money points out: "Some of the best strategies for managing money are based on principles that have stood the test of time: Save consistently, diversify, keep your costs down, turn off the TV touts. But that doesn't mean you never have to adjust your thinking in response to a single major event or a fast-growing trend.

Lethal pilgrimage

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Redemptorist Fr. Ricardo Elford, with attorney Isabel Garcia, founded a weekly vigil in Tucson to remember those who die crossing by foot from Mexico into the United States. I was stunned when Ricardo reminded me, in an e-mail, that on March 25 the 512th weekly vigil was held. The liturgy opened with these words:

"Remembering our sisters and brothers who have died on the border in search of work. In the fiscal year that ended Sept. 30, bodies of at least 206 migrants were found just on the Arizona part of the 2000-mile border; since Oct. 1, 85 more bodies; since the year 2000, at least 1,928. Since 1994, at least 5,674 migrants have died -- more border deaths than all the years of the Berlin Wall."

So much death! So much grieving on the part of families whose loved ones died out of desperation: the need to go north to find work. As we approach Easter, let us all resurrect the spirits of the dead by remembering them, honoring their courage, and praying for the end to the kinds of international economic policies that all around the world are pushing people off their lands, making refugees out of huge portions of the world's population.

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July 18-31, 2014

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