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Jan. 25, The Conversion of St. Paul

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Today is the Feast of the Conversion of St. Paul, Apostle.

Pope Benedict XVI, in his General Audience on Sept. 3, 2008, gave a catechesis on the Conversion of St. Paul that should reassure those frightened or scandalized by scripture scholarship. "Much has been written about it and naturally from different points of view."

The Pope mentions the "two types of source": the three accounts of the Conversion provided by the author of the Acts of the Apostles, and the words of Paul himself in his Letters. The Pope, obviously aware of the fact that Acts was written at least fifty years after the Conversion of St. Paul, reminds the "average reader" not to "linger too long on certain details, such as the light in the sky, falling to the ground," etc. He prefers the "actual Letters", in which are found "the essentials" of the story: Paul saw Jesus; Paul was "a witness to the Resurrection of Jesus".

Five Catholic Supreme Court justices abandon justice

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Anyone you know have $26 million to make your case in Congress? That's the sum U.S. banks spent last year making their desires known on the hill.

Now with the lid off corporte campaign spending, that number is likely to increase. President Obama is now taking on banks, arguing they need to be regulated to avoid a repeat of the greed and self-interest that blew up the economy last year. Does he have a chance?

The squeeze by big money to take an even better grip on our financial life and institutions is only going to get tighter. Meanwhile, money and power continue to be sucked up the financial pyramid, long since having been drained out of the lives of the unemployed and now being taken out of the lives of debtor, foreclosed families.

So much for helping to create a national ethos that advocates fairness or the common good.

Cardinal O'Connor Pro-Life Award goes to Bush

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The awarding of the Cardinal John J. O'Connor Pro-Life Award by Legatus, a group of Catholic business professionals, to former President George W. Bush, is a graphic display of the limits of language and the degree to which our religion has become politicized.

The award, according to a posting by the Catholic News Agency, is given "for his work in advancing he pro-life cause."

Unless the language is inconsequential, those opposing abortion have limited, at least in this application, the term "pro life" to that cause alone. It would be one thing if Bush were being awarded for his "anti-abortion efforts," for he probably did more practically -- in opposing embryonic stem cell esearch, barring federal funds from use for abortion related projects abroad and appointing two ultra-conservative, anti-abortion Supreme Court justices -- than any president in recent memory to advance federal opposition to abortion.

Getting a fuller view of the disaster

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On day two of his time in Haiti, filmmaker Gerry Straub was able to get out and about a bit in Port au Prince. Amid the devastation he continued to be struck by the selfless work of medical teams from around the world. Read the full report here.

He was shaken a bit when one doctor became angry at the presence of a camera at a particularly difficult moment inside the hospital where he is staying. The event led to a conversation with another doctor who, in an attempt to console and place things in perspective, told him a chilling story about his first half hour at the hospital.

Gerry and I are having several conversations a day and we usually wind things up in the evening with an overview of the day and his experiences. I'll keep posting each day as long as he's there and the phones continue working.

Today's posting also includes links to an eight-minute clip of the footage he took in Cite Soleil in early December, before the earthquake and to his San Damiano Foundation's website, which contains information on his earlier work.

The Limits of Campaign Cash

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The Supreme Court’s decision to allow corporations and unions to spend unlimited amounts on federal campaigns is a bad decision. Quick question for the Catholic Answers crowd: If a corporation is an individual under the Constitution, and you drive one out of business, is it murder?

Seriously, about the last thing Washington needs is more special interest money running around. But, the effects of the decision remain to be seen and while some of them are foreseeably baneful, this is not the end of the world.

It turns out that the value of money is wildly overstated in political campaigns. As newspapers and magazines are learning, advertising revenue is not what it once was and the reason is that more and more people get their information off the internet. The same goes for television advertising: With cable channels of every variety, it is harder and harder to broadcast a message and advertising on channels that microcast is not nearly as expensive.

Diocese of Springfield, Mass., hyperventilates, sues city

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On the one hand, dioceses all over the country, especially in the Northeast, are closing parishes and Catholic schools at breathtaking speed reflecting many factors, including abysmal diocesan and parish planning.

On the other hand, there are some stunning Catholic churches being moth-balled.

An 8-0 vote by the City of Springfield Council to create an historic district thereby preventing demolition of Our Lady of Hope church is impressive. On a casual trip through Italy, one can visit beautiful churches-cum-museums in practically every town.

Back to Springfield, the usual freedom of religion crowd will no doubt start pounding the table and rallying around an empty building. Classic.

Ariz. law criminalizes undocumented immigrants

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New America Media reports that a bill moving fast through the Arizona Senate would allow local police to arrest and incarcerate someone for trespassing” into the territory of the state.

It would also sanction those providing sanctuary, including faith-based groups.

“The federal government is not doing its job so we’re going to do it,” said Sen. Russell Pearce (R-Mesa), author of the bill, which is called the Support Our Law Enforcement and Safe Neighborhood Act.

Defense contractor to remove Bible references

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Earlier this week I blogged about a U.S. military contractor placing Bible verses on rifle scopes.

Well, the contractor has decided to stop that practice.

"Trijicon Inc. also said it would take off Biblical references from all U.S. military products that are still in the company's factory and ensure future items do not have any inscriptions on them.

The rifle sights, in use by U.S. forces in Iraq and Afghanistan, raised concern that the inscriptions break government rules barring proselytizing by American troops."

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September 12-25, 2014

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