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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).

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.)

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