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Labor protests and the importance of Catholic social teaching

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As I watch the protests in Wisconsin, Ohio, DC and elsewhere, I’m taken back to my days at DeSales Catholic High School in Lockport, NY. One of the extracurricular activities in which we could elect to participate was the “Labor School.” Essentially, it was a free after-school mini-course, taught by local union leaders, about the history of the Labor Movement in the United States. It lasted about 6-8 weeks.

Forgiveness as the Catholic yoga

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ROME -- In a post-modern, pragmatic, "gimme-something-that-works" sort of world, Eastern religions have had considerable success in exporting elements of their spirituality and tradition that meet perceived contemporary needs. Plenty of fitness-conscious people have been exposed to Hinduism through yoga, for example, just as many stressed-out Westerners have been intrigued by Buddhism though transcendental meditation (TM).

On this day: St. Oswald

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On this day we celebrate the feast of St. Oswald of Worcester. "He is renowned as one of the three leaders of the English 'Tenth-century Reformation' which not only revived monasticism in England within a single generation, but also transformed the whole structure and culture of the English church."

-- Oswald of Worcester: Life and Influence, edited by Nicholas Brooks and Catherine Cubitt, Leicester University Press, London, 1996.

Anonymous Atheists

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I teach a seminar on science and religion. The greatest challenges are 1)to budge the assumption that the two are forever at odds; and 2) to coax students to talk about their beliefs.

The second is the harder. The idea that religious ideas can be as worthy or respectable as scientific propositions is foreign, even among those who attended religious secondary schools.

Their reluctance to speak of personal beliefs reflect the culture's tendency to confine religion to private life, apart from public, intellectual discussion. It's also rooted in the common notion that talking about one's religion constitutes an attempt to "force" convictions on another.

It is cool, however, to be anti-religion. The zeitgeist seems to have made it respectable to declare atheism. To a large degree, this is typical questioning of indoctrinated religion, and a healthy one. But I think there has been a stronger presumption against religion based on no early training.

None of this is a criticism of students. They have imbibed the culture they did not make. And they're a wonderful group.

On this day: Bd. Sebasti·n de Aparicio

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On this day we celebrate the feast of Blessed Sebastián de Aparicio Prado. He was born in Galicia in 1502 to Julian de Aparicio and Teresa del Prado.

As a boy, Sebastián took care of his parents' few cattle, worked in the fields, and "learned to unite prayer to labour". After a few years, he set out to seek his fortune. He worked in Salamanca, in Estremadura, and in Sanlucar de Barrameda. In all those cities, "he avoided idleness, bad company, the tavern, and other dangerous places".

Caritas members push back after Vatican rejects candidate

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A week ago, The Tablet of London broke the news that the Vatican had blocked the re-election of the Caritas Internationalis' chief when the Vatican Secretariat of State refused to grant Lesley-Anne Knight the necessary nihil obstat required for all candidates for the key position.

As that news spreads around the world, reactions are rolling in.

From Thailand two days ago: Local Caritias priest questions Vatican's blocking re-election of Caritas Internationalis secretary-general.

From Australia today: Vatican targets Caritas. This essay was penned by Duncan MacLaren, the secretary general of Cariitas Internationalis from 1999 to 2007, immediately before Lesley-Anne Knight.

Big Issue in 2012: The Crusades

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Rick Santorum, the conservative Catholic former Pennsylvania senator seeking to distinguish himself from the rest of the Republican presidential field, defends the Crusades. The Crusades get a bad rap, said Santorum, because of the “American left who hates Christendom.” (Hat tip, Andrew Sullivan’s Dish.)

James Tobin of Commentary didn’t like what he read.

Santorum is nothing if not provocative. In 2005, while on a book tour, he told me that the political left doesn’t believe in the “common good.”

Instead, “they believe there is no absolute truth, whatever suits your needs is good. So the idea of the common good to the real left is anathema.”

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April 22-May 5, 2016

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