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Salvadorans paid 10 cents to sew $80 NFL jerseys

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I don't want to throw beer on your popcorn and potato chips today. But I want to share with you some information that seems timely and troubling.

According to a recent study, women trapped in Salvadoran sweatshops are paid 10 Cents to Sew $80 NFL football jerseys.

The jerseys have been sewn under illegal sweatshop conditions at the Chi Fung factory in El Salvador for at least the last four years, according to a new report by the National Labor Committee.

Often forced to work 12-hour shifts, workers were at the factory 61 to 65 hours a week, including 12 to 15 hours of obligatory overtime, which was unpaid. The workers were paid a below-subsistence wage of just 72 cents an hour, which meets less than a quarter of a family's basic subsistence needs for food, housing, healthcare and clothing.

Australia's Pell tops the chart as a rumor magnet

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tRome, like other company towns, is an incubator for gossip. In Los Angeles, the talk is usually about who’s taking over what studio; in Washington, it’s who’s in line for what cabinet job; and in the Eternal City, it’s who’s up and down for senior positions in the Roman Curia.

tThis is an especially fertile period for such rumors, because sometime in 2010 several important nominations in the Vatican will likely come down the pike. At the moment, the list of heads of offices past 75 and awaiting successors includes: Cardinals Giovanni Battista Re, Congregation for Bishops; Franc Rodé, Congregation for Religious; Claudio Hummes, Congregation for Clergy; Walter Kasper, Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity; and Paul Cordes, Cor Unum. The pope’s right-hand man, Secretary of State Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, is also past 75, though many insiders expect Bertone to stick around.

Cardinal Rode and His American Surrogates

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Nearly 20 years ago, the Vatican put its official stamp of approval on the Council of Major Superiors of Women Religious.

It thus became the visible and formal proxy in Rome's offensive against the "modernism" of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious. As such, it is the favored wedge group in Rome's campaign to replace renewal with reaction.

Accordingly, the head of the investigation of American sisters is allied with CMSWR.

Circumstantial evidence suggests much more coordination between the Vatican and CMSWR to undermine the general direction of renewal among LCWR communities. For one thing, a publicity campaign has gained momentum on the premise that CMSWR communities are flourishing becasue they are doing it "right" while those related to LCWR are failing because they have disobeyed church authority and succumbed to worldly ways.

By coincident or not, Ave Maria Press has issued a book that promotes "orthodox" practices among sisters and repudiates the basic direction of renewal.

Two heartfelt support letters regarding U.S. women religious

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In a Nov. 16, 2009 letter to Cardinal Franc Rode, who is leading a three-year investigation of U.S. women religious congregations, Xaverian Brother Peter Fitzpatrick describes himself as "an elderly retired religious teaching brother, quite elderly in fact (82 in a month’s time), and not so sharp or quick as I used to be."

He is so much more.

Newman & Anglican Orders

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Blogger extraordinaire Rocco Palmo has a link up to some photos taken of the bishops of England and Wales during their ad limina visit this past week. In addition to their meetings with the Holy Father and other Vatican officials, they celebrated Mass together in the Chapel of the Three Kings, which is located in the building that houses the offices of the Propaganda Fide. It was there that John Henry Newman was ordained a Catholic priest and the Mass served as one of the many ways the Church will in Britain will be focusing on Newman’s life in anticipation of his beatification this autumn.

What of the Earth economy?

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Vic Hummert is a long time friend and thoughtful supporter of our life-giving planet Earth. He sent me this reflection and I thought some of you would enjoy reading it:

Teilhard de Chardin (1888-1950) and Thomas Berry (1914-2009) have turned on many intellectual lights for millions in recent years.

Thomas Berry has been a personal friend since I asked to meet him in 1989. On numerous occasions I have heard him state, “We cannot have a healthy economy in a sick world.”

2008 was an economic roller coaster ride for the global economy. If Thomas Berry were present at Federal Reserve meetings or international symposia to figure out how we could get out of the quagmire without doubt he would remind the PhD’s in economics that the “Earth debt” exceeds the trillions of US dollars or Euros that are mere pieces of paper.

If we are running out of everything essential for survival –pure air, potable water, decent, nourishing food, sources of energy – then we as “Earthlings” are in tight straits.

Faith and Football

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Amid the hype and hard-sell of Super Bowl Sunday this weekend, there's another bit of TV sports viewing that stands out as an island of serious reflection: it called "Faith Bowl III."

The half-hour program is produced for the third year in a row by the Hollywood-based Catholic production company Family Theater -- it's a thought-provoking roundtable discussion by three prominent Catholic athletes, discussing the challenges of living as a Catholic and raising a family in the high pressure world of professional sports.

Paternity claims in Paraguay dropped

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Third woman withdraws paternity claim against Paraguayan president

By Catholic News Service

ASUNCION, Paraguay -- The third woman to have filed a paternity claim against Paraguayan President Fernando Lugo, former Catholic bishop of San Pedro, withdrew the suit Feb. 2, citing "personal reasons."

Hortensia Moran had claimed that Lugo fathered her son, who is now 2. A spokesman for the president denied reports that Lugo had reached a financial settlement with Moran.

A scandal erupted in Paraguay in April 2009, when Lugo admitted having fathered the then-2-year-old son of Viviana Carrillo, a former parishioner, while he was still a bishop. He legally recognized the boy and agreed to pay child support.

Another woman, Benigna Leguizamon, filed a paternity suit against Lugo that month, but withdrew it later in the year. Paraguayan newspapers reported that Leguizamon, who had lived in a shack in a poor neighborhood, has moved to a better home and has a car and a police guard.

On Feb. 2, Lugo's lawyer, Marcos Farina, said he did not know whether financial settlements had been reached with either of the women who withdrew the paternity suits.

Vatican to ponder legacy of John Paul II in twilight

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Though the Vatican has had a Pontifical Council for Health Care Workers for twenty-five years now, and while Christian literature is rich with meditations on the spirituality of suffering, one could nevertheless make the argument that the most powerful recent statement Catholicism has made about the dignity of the ill person was the way John Paul II allowed his own twilight to play out in full public view.

Throughout the latter years of his papacy, John Paul was aware of the voices making the rounds that it was undignified for the pope to continue to travel and appear in public in such a weakened state, badly hobbled by age and by Parkinson's disease. To be fair, that reaction was partly rooted in natural pity for an elderly man struggling just to stay on his feet, or to utter a few slurred words. But John Paul took the opposite view, seeing his determination to keep going as an important counter-witness in a society that often worships youth and physical beauty.

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