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Nov. 25, St. Catherine of Alexandria

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Today is the feast of St. Catherine of Alexandria, a saint loved and venerated by Christians of the East and of the West.

St. Catherine, portrayed by countless artists over the centuries, is shown debating with the philosophers, or with the wheel upon which she was to be tortured. The spiked wheel broke, and Catherine was beheaded instead.

Catherine of Alexandria may have been a Christianized version of Hypatia of Alexandria, another woman of late antiquity, another philosopher, mathematician, and public lecturer, whose brilliance inflamed the powerful men of her era. In Catherine's case, the Christian woman was martyred by pagans. In Hypatia's case, the pagan woman was destroyed by Christians.

President Dobbs?

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This is a P.S. to my earlier blog about unprecedented international campaign to get CNN commentator Lou Dobbs off the air.

Latinos around the country have been celebrating Lou Dobbs’s announcement earlier this month that he is leaving CNN—this following an unprecedented national campaign to get him off the air. For years Dobbs has used his platform to skew facts about Latinos and immigrants—hate speech masquerading as journalism. But it turns out our celebration was premature: Democracy Now's Amy Goodman reported Tuesday, November 24 that Dobbs acknowleged on a radio talk show that he is exploring the idea of runniing for president in 2010.

This is a frightening prospect given the man's talent for fanning the flames of hate and fear. Here's just a brief look at the world according to Dobbs.


  • He had long insisted that undocumented immigrants make up a third of the United States prison population, a claim he eventually admitted was not factual.

Pass the margaritas: victory and a note of caution

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Latinos around the country are celebrating Lou Dobbs’s announcement earlier this month that he is leaving CNN -- this following an unprecedented international campaign to get him off the air.

For years Dobbs has used his platform to skew facts about Latinos and immigrants -- hate speech masquerading as journalism. For example, Dobbs had long insisted that undocumented immigrants make up a third of the United States prison population, a claim he eventually admitted was not factual. He has asserted falsely that immigrants are carriers of malaria and leprosy -- still more proof that Mexico is an enemy of the United States, he has said.

Worse, Dobbs has been open in his support of FAIR, the Federation for Immigration Reform which was founded by white nationalist John Tanton and which the Southern Poverty Law Center designated as a “hate group.” And he has expressed his admiration for the so-called Minutemen, armed U.S. citizens who congregate near the U.S.-Mexico border in search of immigrants. (A faction of the Minutemen has been charged with the May killing of 9-yeart-old Brisenia Flores and her father, residents of the border town of Arivaca, Ariz..)

Baltimore City Council Requires Pro-Life Clinics to Post the Fact They Don't Perform Abortions

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The Baltimore City Council voted earlier today to require pregnancy clinics that do not perform abortions to post a sign that states the fact.

I am always nervous about anything that smacks of an attack on religious freedom, which can be lost in bits and dribbles rather than all at once. I would have voted against the bill because I do not like government meddling overmuch in the work that the Church and others do. But, unlike our friends at LifeSiteNews, for whom this Council vote is little short of Armageddon, I think the law never should have come up because pregnancy clinics that do not perform abortions should revel in the fact and proudly post such a notice.

Evil overload

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My wife and I finally got away this weekend to celebrate our twentieth wedding anniversary, and -- oddly enough -- I found myself thinking about the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

Sylvia wasn't particularly flattered that the bishops popped into my brain, but it is all actually tied very closely to our wedding day.

As you know, the bishops recently approved a pastoral letter on marriage that has the words “intrinsically evil” peppered all over it. Some of this language was removed before final passage, but much remained -- divorce and gay marriage were among the items awarded the "intrinsically evil" label.

Since 9/11, "evil" has been tossed around a lot in our national conversation -- and I wonder if it's losing its power. To call something evil (let alone intrinsically evil) is strong stuff; you’d hope religious people most of all would recognize that and hold back.

Apparently not the bishops, not when it comes to marriage. Which makes me think of my wedding day.

U.N. Environment Programme leader warns of high cost of climate change delays

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U.N. environment chief Achim Steiner, director of its Environment Programme, issued a plea for world leaders to avoid failure in the Copenhagen climate change talks next month.

The likely delays in sealing a global deal to fight climate change would have a "human cost", and increase the risks of great harm to the planet and the economic costs of dealing with it, the head of the UN environment programme said today. Achim Steiner also said there was an "extremely high" risk that the UN-hosted talks would drift into deadlock if the summit in Copenhagen next month failed to deliver a meaningful agreement. "The world has been focused on this moment for years," he told the U. K.'s Guardian.

Irish bishops call climate change a most critical issue

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The Irish Catholic Bishops' Conference released a pastoral statement "Cry of the Earth" on Nov. 10 in which they referred to global climate change as "one of the most critical issues of our time" and will "have consequences for the future of every person and every form of life."

Launching the statement Archbishop Dermot Clifford, Archbishop of Cashel and Emly, said the statement "reflects on our Christian responsibility towards the environment and outlines the scientific analysis of climate change, the theological and ethical principles as to why we as Christians have a duty to respond, and practical advice as to how we can act now to sustain the environment."

Quoting from Pope Benedict XVI encyclical Caritas in Veritate, Archbishop Clifford continued, "the environment is God's gift to everyone, and in our use of it we have a responsibility towards the poor, towards future generations and towards humanity as a whole. The Church has a responsibility towards creation and she must assert this responsibility in the public sphere."

Fending off the holiday blues

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Holidays bring sadness and depression, as well as joy and happiness. As we approach Thanksgiving and Christmas, it's worth recognizing that exercise, diet and mental tricks can fend off some of the seasonal sadness.

Here's a good story about how "some of your basic, everyday choices—what to eat, when to snack, what vitamins to take, how to exercise (or not)—have profound effects on your mood. Making small changes may even alleviate serious depression (which 25 percent of all women experience at some point) as well as garden-variety blues and blahs."

It's worth the read. Happy Thanksgiving.

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April 11-24, 2014

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