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Apparently, on one thing we agree

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Left and right united in opposition to controversial SCOTUS decision

A new Washington Post-ABC News poll finds that the vast majority of Americans are vehemently opposed to a recent Supreme Court ruling that opens the door for corporations, labor unions, and other organizations to spend money directly from their general funds to influence campaigns.

As noted by the Post's Dan Eggen, the poll's findings show "remarkably strong agreement" across the board, with roughly 80% of Americans saying that they're against the Court's 5-4 decision. Even more remarkable may be that opposition by Republicans, Democrats, and Independents were all near the same 80% opposition range. Specifically, 85% of Democrats, 81% of Independents, and 76% of Republicans opposed it.

In short, "everyone hates" the ruling.

Lent: The Absent \"Alleluia\"

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Augustine is a treasure trove of insights, into the nature of our faith as well as into human nature. But, one of his most significant contributions to Catholic theology was his insight that evil is an absence. This was how he resolved the age old question of how an all-powerful and benevolent God could permit evil. But, Augustine’s insight also tells us something about Lent. This is why we deprive ourselves of things.

For me, the greatest deprivation of Lent is the absence of the “Alleluia” at Mass. That one word is, in its way, the central proclamation of our faith. It encapsulates the central proposition of Easter, bearing witness to the empty tomb, without which our faith is truly in vain. Its absence from our culture would leave us without so many great hymns, without Mozart’s great “Exsultate,” without Tavener’s “In Paradisum.” Its absence from the liturgy leaves a gaping hole.

Carbon fasting during Lent

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The Archdiocese of Washington's Environmental Outreach Committee produced a calendar listing 40 carbon fasting actions everyone can consider as a part of Lenten preparations.

Each of these actions challenges us to reflect on our consumption habits, reduce our production of climate change pollution and help to preserve God's great gift of Creation. As Pope Benedict reminded us in his World Day of Peace Message: "Our present crises … require us to rethink the path which we are travelling together. Specifically, they call for a lifestyle marked by sobriety and solidarity…"

What better time than Lent to begin practicing such a lifestyle. Download the Carbon Fast Calendar for your parish, school, or individual use.

Reiki -- back in the news

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About a year ago, the U.S. bishops' Committee on Doctrine declared that Reiki -- a Japanese healing technique -- is based on superstition and is incompatible with Christian faith.

We reported at the time that the declaration would force scores of U.S. congregations of women religious who run Catholic retreat centers to reevaluate programs that teach or use Reiki therapy.

Since then the declaration and the technique has been fiercely discussed.

The PBS-TV program "Religion & Ethics NewsWeekly" takes up the topic this weekend. Here's a video preview of the show. Interviewed in the program are Reiki practitioners Milwaukee Sr. Madeline Gianforte, a Sister of Saint Agnes, and Lauri Lumby Schmidt; and Capuchin Fr. Thomas Weinandy is executive director of the bishops’ doctrine committee.

Schmidt wrote about reiki for us last year: 'Reiki allows me to continue the healing ministry of Jesus'.

Ireland's accidental hero

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David Gibson has some thoughts about the Irish clergy sexual abuse scandal and a profile of Archbishop Diarmuid Martinof Dublin, After Clergy Abuse Scandals, Ireland Needs a New St. Patrick. He writes:

What is noteworthy about the Irish scandal, however, and much different from the American situation, is that the Irish church has so much further to fall than U.S. Catholicism, and that there is at least one bishop who has been willing to critique both his fellow bishops and the church culture that helped enable the abuse: Diarmuid Martin, the archbishop of Dublin.

Martin is something of an accidental hero of this story, and an unlikely one in the view of many. But for those who know him, as I have since we first met in Rome in the late 1980s, his record during the Irish scandal is not surprising.

Gibson quotes Martin:

"I think that a Church that is humble in its style will be much more effective in today's world," he said. "I have to find a different style of being archbishop."

Don't Try This At Home

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It was an experiment in nostalgia that backfired, badly -- and I'm still trying to recover.

Many years ago, I thought it would be fun to save my annual employee photo identification cards, and keep them in a neat stack. In my much younger mind, I imagined a day far off in the future when I would happen upon them in surprise and delight, shaking my head at the flood of happy memories each year brought forth.

Not so much.

'Epic mismanagement' in Rockville Centre diocese

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Monday, I blogged on money woes in the Scranton, Pa., diocese. Last week I blogged on money woes in the Rockville Centre, N.Y., diocese. Now this comes from New York Newsday:

"In an unusual public rebuke, the pastor of a Roman Catholic church in Medford has distributed a letter criticizing the Diocese of Rockville Centre's buyout plan that could affect up to 1,800 employees.

"Chill winds now buffet the Diocese of Rockville Centre and colder still are some policies of its spokesmen," the Rev. Edward J. Kealey wrote in a letter handed out Sunday at Masses at St. Sylvester's Church. He titled the letter "Economics -- a dismal science in Rockville Centre."

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