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Spiritual, but not religious

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There are probably hundreds and hundreds of thousands around the country now who make some deliberate effort to live simply.

-- Myra and John live in the suburbs of Chicago and keep plastic bins in their garage for recyclables. They spend a few minutes each day sorting and separating, then an hour a month taking the bins to drop-off centers. Both also choose to ride public transportation to their jobs weekdays rather than driving. When they recently bought a new car, they opted for a hybrid. The whole family chooses to eat a bit lower on the food chain than is widely done, limiting their meat consumption. They also limit the amount of time they watch tv, choosing to read to and talk with their children most evenings.

-- In rural New Mexico, Cyril and Ed card the wool and spin yarn from a dozen sheep they raise in their four-acre back yard. They also keep goats for milk and make their own cheese when they have time. Both are self-employed computer programmers and work as consultants out of their home, a sprawling adobe structure they built themselves. When they must travel to faraway cities on business, they take the train.

The righteousness of US bishops

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Lisa Miller, religion editor for Newsweek, has a quite good analysis of "a new generation" (her characterization) of Catholic bishops and how they play politics. She offers little new for frequent readers of NCR, but her take is valuable for its succinctness.

Read the full piece: A new generation gets righteous

One thing Miller reveals is just how tight the U.S. bishops' staff was with:

Millionaire priest dies in squalor, relatives to inherit $

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Millionaire priest dies in squalor, relatives inherit $

In a strange, but apparently true, story, a Wheeling-Charleston, W.Va., diocesan priest, died while living in "appalling" conditions without a will, according to this story.

"Twelve brothers and sisters in Poland will soon receive about $150,000 each from the estate of a Kanawha County priest who lived like a pauper, despite having nearly $2 million stashed away in cash and investments.

For nearly three years, Chief Tax Deputy Allen Bleigh and members of the tax department have been investigating the estate of Fr. Anthony Wojtus. Following his death in 2007, the millionaire priest was discovered to have been living in squalor.

Wojtus left no will or known family members. The county was appointed as estate administrator shortly after the priest's death, leaving officials with the job of tracking down next of kin."

Mar. 9, St. Frances of Rome, Wife, Mother, Founder

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Today is the feast of St. Frances of Rome, founder of the Benedictine Oblate Sisters of Tor de' Specchi, and patron of all Oblates of St. Benedict.

Frances was born in 1384 to Paul de Busso and his wife, Jacobella dei Roffedeschi, members of the Roman nobility. At fourteen, she was married to Lorenzo de Ponziano. For forty years Frances and Lorenzo were happy, enduring together the loss of two of their six children to plague, and the turmoil of the Western Schism, which brought the temporary banishment of Lorenzo, the taking of another of their children as a hostage, and the destruction of their estates.

Tax exemption and religious nonprofits

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Visitors to this site have not doubt seen suggestions that churches should lose their tax exempt status, especially when church leaders make political prouncements. Well, it looks like one state may try it: Kansas wants sales tax from religious nonprofits.

Anyone who has looked at a state budget recently though sees this as an economic move and not particularly ideological. Kansas is looking at nearly a $500 million budget shortfall next fiscal year, and the bill in question also removes the sales tax exemption for residential utilities, lottery tickets, some recreational fees, public libraries and several other categories.

Proponents of the bill say it will net an additional $169 million a year.

Watch your waste

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The U.S. Department of Agriculture estimates that 27 percent of all food (by weight) produced for people in the United States is either thrown away or used for a lower-value purpose, such as feeding animals.

According to a recent study, the average American household wastes 14 percent of its food purchases. But it's not just the food that is being wasted -- all of the water and energy that went into producing, packaging and transporting the discarded food also goes to waste.

Most of this food waste ends up in landfills, where it releases methane pollution as it decomposes, further contributing to global warming.

WHAT YOU CAN DO

Purchase only the amount of food that you are able to consume before it expires.
Compost your food waste. Get tips from Natural Resource Defense Council's OnEarth magazine.

Moral Idiocy in Denver

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It is a first principle of Catholic moral theology that the sins of the fathers are not visited upon their sons. Perhaps, it was with an eye to gender specificity that the Archdiocese of Denver decided to boot a pre-schooler – yes, a pre-schooler – out of one of their schools because the child’s parents are lesbians. It is only the sins of the mothers that are visited upon children.

In explaining its decision, the Archdiocese of Denver posted a note on their website that states, in part: “Parents living in open discord with Catholic teaching in areas of faith and morals unfortunately choose by their actions to disqualify their children from enrollment. To allow children in these circumstances to continue in our school would be a cause of confusion for the student in that what they are being taught in school conflicts with what they experience in the home.”

Dear Mother Millea, We are so excited by your visit

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Several NCR staff members have received the following "letter to Mother Millea" in e-mails. The people sending them have urged us to put this online. What they apparently did not know is that this "letter" started with us online!

It first appeared as a comment on the story Apostolic Visitator details on-site visit guidelines (Look for it about half way down the second page of comments.)

But as a service to readers, we reprint it here:

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November 21-December 5, 2014

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