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Oblate Sisters in Need

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I remember well the summer of 1970, when I worked in the “sea island” area of South Carolina. People lived in shacks, and lacked many of the necessities of life. I lived in a convent of the Oblate Sisters of Providence that summer, and they taught me how to behave in that predominantly African-American community in the rural South. I learned a great deal from them, and we had some great times together.

I have known several Oblate Sisters of Providence over the years, and they do wonderful work wherever they go. They were founded as an African-American community in the days of segregation, and are still predominantly (although not exclusively) African-American. Their ministries have focused on the urban poor, and their work is treasured in those communities.

But now, I discovered that they are need themselves, hit hard by the recession. Their story was in today’s Washington Post.

Is The Catholic Church Too Political?

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NCR Today blogger Michael Sean Winters was a guest on Jack Rice's show "Live in Washington," which airs on Air America.

Listen here: Is The Catholic Church Too Political?

The teaser for the show reads: "Over the past few weeks the Catholic Church has been injecting itself, more and more, into the political arena. From backing the Stupak Amendment to denying Representative Kennedy communion because of his position on abortion to fighting gay marriage legislation, the Church has been very vocal. Pro-life Democrat and practicing Catholic Michael Sean Winters debates Jack Rice over the Catholic Church's involvement in these recent political issues."

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.

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