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An injustice in DC ñ where is the archdiocese?

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The license plates in the District of Columbia say simply, “Taxation without Representation.” This is not some commemoration of the Revolutionary War. It is reality in DC. Citizens in the District pay taxes, but have no voting representation in the Congress of the United States, even though the population is larger than some states. Why? DC is not a “state” as understood in the Constitution. Whatever the legal arrangements that can overturn this hurdle, it is a rank injustice that must be changed.

A social and racial sin in Arizona

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I received this urgent call to action and prayer from Sojourners Magazine regarding the brutal anti-immigration legislation awaiting the signature of Arizona's governor. The stakes are particularly high for the church: anyone in a ministry that might involve transporting an undocumented immigrant will be at risk for arrest.

Arizona's three bishops -- Gerald F. Kicanas, Thomas J. Olmsted and James S. Walland --- and Los Angeles Cardinal Roger M. Mahony have joined those urging Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer to veto legislation.

Please read this and respond.

"Last week we asked you to join us in prayer as the chance for comprehensive immigration reform was looking bleak. Four days later, we have some crucial developments to share on this issue – good and bad – that you need to know about.

Brace yourselves, this just in from England

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Wait. Am I missing something here?

According to Catholic News Service today, the bishops of England and Wales are asking Catholics to carry out acts of penance each Friday in May to help atone for clerical abuse crimes.

Is someone making this up?

Did you ever go to confession and say these words?

"Bless me father for I have sinned. ... For my penance I want you to say three Our Fathers and three Hail Marys!

Here is what CNS reports:`

In a statement to be read at all parishes April 24-25, the bishops assured Catholics that effective child protection procedures are in place. However, they said, it is "time for deep prayer and reparation for atonement" of the sins of priests and other Catholics who have abused children.

"We invite Catholics in England and Wales to make the four Fridays in May 2010 special days of prayer," the bishops said in their statement, released April 22.

They recommended visiting the Blessed Sacrament to pray for victims, their abusers and for church leaders who mishandled cases.

Earth Day media

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This 40th anniversary of Earth Day can be celebrated by watching "Oceans" in theaters or "The Cove" (reviewed here in St. Anthony Messenger) or catching the PBS special "Earth Days" in reruns. It details the history of Earth Day and is well worth the watch (my review here.)

If you were watching "Law and Order: Special Victims Unit" on NBC last night, you would have noticed the theme was about the situation of beef in the meatpacking industry. "CSI: Miami" also had an episode on food that I commented on earlier in NCR.

The Oscar-nominated documentary "Food, Inc." covers the same territory, only more in depth, and embraces the food industry (agribusiness) in the United States. I think I have had small portions of beef maybe five times in the last several months because of it. (See my September 2009 review)

Info and invite for our NY readers

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Just got a media release from the Partnership for Global Justice, a New York-based network of religious congregations and social justice groups and a U.N. recognized non-governmental organization:

Father Daniel Berrigan, SJ and Philip Berrigan Receive Seventh Annual Partnership for Global Justice Award

NEW YORK, NY -- April 12, 2010 - Fr. Daniel Berrigan and his brother Philip Berrigan will receive the Seventh Annual Partnership for Global Justice Award on Friday, April 30th. Philip Berrigan’s daughter Frida Berrigan will accept the award posthumously on behalf of her father. The luncheon event, which is open to the public, will be held at the Church of St. Paul the Apostle at 60th Street and Columbus Avenue in New York City from 1:00 – 3:00 pm. Both Fr. Berrigan and Ms. Berrigan are expected to speak.

Earth Day: A day of celebration and activism

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The Natural Resources Defense Council, one of the nation's largest environmental advocacy groups, has a special package of resources for celebrating Earth Day 2010.

On April 22, 1970, some 20 million people across the country rallied to protest the state of the planet. Cleveland’s Cuyahoga River, a dump for steel mills and other industries, had caught fire. A massive oil spill swamped the coast off Santa Barbara, and concerns about smog, DDT and water pollution were rising. The very first Earth Day was a grassroots revolution that spurred Congress to create America’s core environmental protection laws, and continues to be a day of celebration and activism worldwide.

No way to celebrate Earth Day

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Catholic News Service reports:

Vatican looks to take legal action against carbon-offset company

VATICAN CITY -- The Vatican is looking into taking legal action against a company that failed to create a promised Vatican Climate Forest in Hungary.

The reforestation project was supposed to make Vatican City State the first carbon-neutral country in the world by offsetting its greenhouse-gas emissions.

Perils of Church-Related Pensions

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Today's Wall Street Journal has an important article on how church-related pensions can fail miserably, shut down and leave its participants out in the cold.

"Pensions are protected by federal law, which requires employers to fund the benefits, and insure their pensions with the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corp., which ensures their pensions will be paid even if the pension plan fails and the employer files for bankruptcy.

But when the law was enacted in the 1970s, churches were exempt unless they opted in. In the 1980s, the IRS definition of "church plan" widened to include almost any organization affiliated with a religious group. That includes recreational groups, hospitals and schools, and publishers like Augsburg Fortress.

Now, a number of church plans are struggling in the wake of investment losses. How many is difficult to say. Church plans don't have to file annual reports with the Internal Revenue Service disclosing their pension obligations, assets and investment managers, among other details.

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