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Fr. Sean McDonagh reports from Copenhagen on Thursday

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Irish Columban missionary Fr. Sean McDonagh send this report from Copenhagen on Thursday, Dec. 17:

"There was a heavy fall of snow here in Roskilde (40 minutes by train from Copenhagen) last night. A blast of freezing air hit me when I opened the door of the Franciscan house to walk to the train station. That journey normally takes about 15 minutes. It took almost took twice as long today, as the underfoot conditions are treacherous. I nearly came to grief on a slope leading up to the station.

When I finally boarded the train, I chose a quiet carriage and thought immediately how aptly the weather reflects the mood in the Bella Center, where COP 15 is taking place. (Here in Copenhagen some carriages on each train are reserved for those who wish to travel in silence, with no loud music playing or no loud conversations on mobile phones.) To put it in a nut shell, trust seems to have collapsed on many fronts here during the past 10 days.

The last act in the Milingo story?

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tIn what may be the final act of the long-running Catholic drama centering on Zambian Archbishop Emmanuel Milingo, the Vatican announced today that Milingo has been formally removed from the clerical state – in layman’s terms, defrocked.

tAs today’s Vatican statement noted, such a step is highly unusual for a bishop. The Vatican said it was compelled to act because of Milingo’s “persistent contumacy,” especially his decision to ordain several bishops without papal permission for his “Married Priests Now!” movement, which seeks to promote optional celibacy in the Catholic church.

The last case of a bishop being removed from the clerical state came in 2008, with Fernando Lugo, the president of Paraguay and former Bishop of San Pedro who resigned in 2005 in order to pursue a political career. Lugo had requested laicization in 2006 but the Vatican had consistently refused, relenting only after he won the presidency in April 2008.

tMilingo had been considered excommunicated since 2006 on account of his defiance of church authority.

After 35 years, freedom in sight for Florida man exonerated by DNA evidence

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After more than three decades in prison, James Bain , 54, will be allowed to go home for the first time in 35 years -- free from his life sentence thanks to a DNA test that showed he was not the man who took a 9-year-old Lake Wales, Florida, boy from his bed in 1974 and raped him.

Of the 245 people in the United States who have been exonerated by DNA testing, none has spent more time behind bars than Bain, according to the Innocence Project, a national organization dedicated to exonerating wrongfully convicted people through DNA testing.

Yet another example offering support to abolish the death penalty. Mistakes happen.

Today is the feast of St. Olympias

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O Wisdom, you came forth from the mouth of the Most High and, reaching from beginning to end, you ordered all things mightily and sweetly. Come, and teach us the way of prudence.

This evening at Vespers, we sing the http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S6zaiZxJIpU>first of the O Antiphons, addressing God with the feminine term, Sapientia, Latin for wisdom. (The Greek word for wisdom, sophia, is also feminine, as is the Hebrew word, hokma.)

Today is the feast of a 4th-century deaconess, St. Olympias, a friend and supporter of St. John Chrysostom, and of St. Gregory Nazianzus, who wrote the epithalamion for her wedding. After her husband's death, Olympias was ordained a deaconess by Patriarch Nectarius. She established a "domestic community" near Hagia Sophia (Holy Wisdom). After Chrysostom was banished, Olympias was accused of starting a fire in Hagia Sophia. Her community was disbanded and she was exiled. She died at Nicomedia c. 410.

Gay marriage passes in DC; Position of archdiocese unclear

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On Dec.15, by a vote of 11 to 2, the City Council of the District of Columbia passed a law that legalizes gay marriage in the nation’s capital.

The Catholic Archdiocese of Washington had opposed that legislation, and had threatened to withdraw from its social service contracts with the District government if it, or Catholic Charities, were forced to pay spousal benefits to same sex couples, or to be involved in facilitating adoptions for same sex couples.

Wall Street, Main Street & the Churches

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Much coverage was lavished on the President’s meeting with top bankers on Monday. But, another White House meeting might have been more enlightening. A group of prominent clergy met with members of the White House economic team to insist that Wall Street be held accountable for its rapacious ways and to advocate for those facing foreclosure. Earlier, the group held a prayer vigil in front of the Treasury Department.

Jim Wallis of Sojourners, who attended the meeting, said, “To take advantage of consumers should not only be a crime, but is also a sin against God. Teachers, social workers, small business owners and our men and women in the armed services all know what it means to sacrifice for the good of our country in tough times, and they do so with pride. I refuse to believe that Wall Street is the one place in the country that is exempt.”

The event was organized by a coalition of progressive groups including PICO National Network, Faith in Public Life, Sojourners and the Center for Responsible Lending. In addition to the clergy, homeowners struggling to keep their homes participated in the event.

But I am only 10% white

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A couple of weeks ago I was wandering around Barnes & Noble bookshop next to the movie theater where I see many of the films that I review. I was with one of the sisters of my community. After a few minutes she called out to me and said, “Hey, look at this; it’s really funny.” She held up Christian Lander’s Stuff White People Like: The Definitive Guide to the Unique Taste of Millions (Random House, 2008, $14.00).

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