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Justice Stevens' and the death penalty

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In a wide ranging interview with NPR, 90-year old U.S. Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens had this to say about the death penalty:

"Both the change in Stevens and the change in the court are illustrated by the issue of the death penalty. When he first joined the court, he voted to revive capital punishment, overturning a de facto moratorium imposed by the court four years earlier.

Sculpting mashed potatoes

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As a kid, when adults asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up, I would answer right back: "A forest ranger! No, a priest!" Up on a shelf in my boyhood closet, corroborating this confusion, were my implements for playing Mass -- a metal cup used to press "hosts" out of stale Wonderbread, homemade vestments cut out of old sheets -- together with hiking books and nature field guides. Torn then between being a wilderness guy or a man concerned with public liturgy, counsel and prayer, to this day I haven't really resolved this conflict.

When Charles Lindbergh was a boy, he was plagued by nightmares of falling from high places, and he even tried to meet this fear by jumping out of trees. Did his deepest innards know even then he was destined to first solo the Atlantic? Surrealist painter Salvador Dali, it is reported by playmates, one day bit into a rotting bat, a surrealistic act if ever there was one. Schoolmates of Robert Baden-Powell, founder of the Boy Scouts, witnessed that he was overeager, always ready to be useful to his teachers, to keep his friends amused and help older people.

Hate: America's real security threat

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"This is our most serious public safety issue and a national security threat to America," reads a billboard in Oracle, Arizona.

Surely the message must refer to Osama Bin Laden, still on the loose, I thought, or perhaps to lax safety measures at airports. But no.

According to the Arizona Daily Star, the message is accompanied by a photo of a Latino family.

It is surely a sign of the times. It has become socially acceptable in growing sectors of our society to hate Mexican immigrants -- desperate border crossers risking their lives, fleeing poverty and hunger.

The quote is from Pinal County Sheriff Paul Babeu, the Star reported, although he denies having anything to do with the putting up of the billboard.

The newspaper report was read as part of a recent weekly liturgy in downtown Tucson, led by Redemptorist Fr. Ricardo Elford.

More than \"gotcha\" journalism

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The race for California's governor has gone from interesting to very interesting in the last few days, thanks to a "gotcha" journalism drama that stars some main players on the Golden State stage: undocumented immigrants and Catholic church.

Republican candidate Meg Whitman has a lot of (her own) money; she ran eBay for several years. She has thrown a record $119 million of her own funds into her gubernatorial campaign. She's running against Democrat Jerry Brown -- now 72, once governor of the state back in 1975-to-1983, trying for it again.

Church closings (very likely) coming to Brooklyn

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According to the New York Daily News:

Catholic leaders in Brooklyn and Queens, N.Y. named Monday a "diocesan day of prayer" as word spread that churches in Brooklyn and Queens may close as part of an unprecedented reorganization.

The Diocese of Brooklyn, faced with budget trouble and a shortage of priests, is considering shuttering churches and merging parishes in Brooklyn and Queens, the Daily News reported Sunday.

Archbishop Di Noia's homily at today's Red Mass

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This morning, at St. Matthew’s Cathedral in Washington, the John Carroll Society is hosting the annual Red Mass. As always, Washington Archbishop Donald Wuerl will be the principal celebrant. Vice-President Biden will lead the delegation from the executive branch and Chief Justice Roberts is expected to lead the delegation from the judicial branch. The homilist is Archbishop J. Augustine DiNoia, O.P. who was kind enough to send a copy of his sermon to NCR. It is quite the tour de homiletic force.
-- Michael Sean Winters


LIGHT IMMORTAL, LIGHT DIVINE
The Invocation of the Holy Spirit at the Start of the Judicial Year
Ezekiel 36:24-28 / Romans 8:26-27 / John 14:23-26

Archbishop J. Augustine Di Noia, O.P.
Secretary, Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments

The Social Network: It's all about character

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Last week an 18-year old Rutgers University student, Tyler Clementi, took his own life after two students videotaped him having a sexual encounter with another male, then posting it on the Internet. I was listening to NPR on the way home from the theater today and the talk was about privacy issues in the age of the Internet. Perhaps we are all guilty of hurtful gossip as children and teenagers, saying things about people, that even if true, we have no right to say. Perhaps we failed to think of the consequences of our actions, or maybe we were curious, jealous, or angry at some infraction. Most of all, perhaps we didn’t think before we acted.

A Frightening Theology

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About two years ago, I interviewed Jeff Sharlet on Interfaith Voices. He had just published a book called The Family: The Secret Fundamentalism at the Heart of American Power. Now, he has a new book called C Street: The Fundamentalist Threat to American Democracy.

What he describes is not garden variety Christian fundamentalism. The adherents of this theology believe that Jesus wants them to work with men of power throughout the world (and they do mean men, not women) to achieve the goals of Christianity. Their “heroes” are people like Stalin, Hitler and Mao – who are not remembered for the ends they sought, but for the means they used to achieve power and keep it.

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August 28-September 10, 2015

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