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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).

Oral Roberts Are Us

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In the world of allegory, no one was better named than Oral Roberts. Everything he achieved during his 91 year life, which ended yesterday, issued from the thunder of his vocal chords.

The rest was a function of hands that reached out to heal the lines of supplicants stricken with the variety of afflictions from cancer to epilepsy. Many came away declaring that they had been made whole.

He pitched tents to call the people of his land, in and around his home base in Oklahoma, to prayer. His voice box was the equivalent of rock music's full volume. It wasn't only loud; it had emotion, color and texture.

He didn't hide these ministries under the proverbial bushel. There he was, on real-time television, preaching and healing for the world to see. A hire wire act that, whatever else it was, took plenty of courage.

Roberts is described, rightly, as "controversial" in the obituaries. He did some weird things in the name of the faith. He was big on "prosperity"; that trust in God would make you rich. He named a university after himself and stored up much grain in his barns.

Dec. 16, St. Adelaide, Empress

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"As the thousandth year of our Lord's becoming flesh approaches, I yearn to behold this day, which knows no evening, in the forecourt of our Lord. I want to be dissolved in Christ."

--the Empress Adelaide to Odilo, Abbot of Cluny

She missed seeing the year 1000 by fifteen days. St. Adelaide died on Dec. 16, 999.

For details about the religious and political context in which the most powerful woman in Europe flourished, search for "Adelaide" in A.D. 1000: A World on the Brink of Apocalypse, by Richard Erdoes. (Introduction by Karen Armstrong.)

Why Catholics aren't speaking up in Uganda about anti-gay bill

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Two weeks ago, I wrote about a draft bill in Uganda’s parliament which would decree the death penalty for homosexuality under some circumstances, and would also establish prison terms for anyone who fails to report homosexuals to the authorities. Those provisions have drawn wide international criticism, even from fairly conservative Christian leaders who clearly sympathize with the aim of promoting faithful heterosexual marriage, such as Rick Warren and several signers of the recent "Manhattan Declaration."

The latest development is that in mid-December, the Interreligious Council of Uganda, the country’s major inter-faith body – one which includes the Catholic Church – came out in support of the bill.

Political leaders from 100 countries arrive in Copenhagen

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Irish Columban missionary Fr. Sean McDonagh sends this report:

"It was snowing heavily this morning when I left the Franciscan house in Roskilde, a town about 45 minutes by train from Copenhagen. I was hoping and praying that we would not have to queue for two hours today before getting into the Bella Center, where the climate change conference is being held. My daily routine begins with a train journey into the centre of Copenhagen, where I then catch the metro to the Bella Center. As I boarded the Metro, an announcement over the public address system told us that the Metro at the Bella Center had been closed because of crowd density. They advised those heading for the Bella Center to get off the Metro at the station before the Bella Center and walk the rest of the way. On hearing that my heart sunk to my boots, and I seriously considered going back to the center of Copenhagen where the non-governmental organization (NGO) events were being held.

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