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Justice pioneer passes

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Joe Winter, who writes for NCR on occasion from Wisconsin and Minnesota, sent the following this morning.

Milwaukee -- A priest turned married man who was at the cusp of the social justice movement in Milwaukee, especially as it struggled greatly with race relations, died March 3. He was 94.

Eugene Bleidorn said he battled in his own mind to mix the challenges and responsibilities of being a priest and later becoming a married man, and that he felt black people in this country get short shrift. Later in life, he took on the first-of-its-kind Wisconsin Works program that sought to essentially end welfare in the state. He was an investigator with the state Equal Rights Division, and an affirmative action officer for the State Vocational School System.

He often stated -- and wrote in his autobiography -- that he was especially moved in his first years as a priest while working alongside Fr. James Groppi and other civil rights activists at St. Boniface Parish in Milwaukee, where he first was assigned.

Read more here: Bleidorn wanted to serve all people

'Live kindly'

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In mid-May of the year 1373 the woman who would later compose the first book ever written in the English language died at the tender age of 31 ... or so her bedside companions thought. In the throes of a severe respiratory infection, this middle-class English woman, Juliana by name, experienced wht we call today a "near death experience." In visions like those of the star traveler in 2001: A Space Odyssey, she navigated star systems up and down the wide corridors of our galaxy, crying out Benedicite! in bewildered fear and dread. Through the vast, wounded heart of our world, she journeyed to a beautiful and shining city, which it turned out was located within her own soul. There, in hushed awe and breathless wonder, she saw the divine mystery personified, the Holy One -- whom she described as, curiously enough, a bit homely, but also most courteous and personable. The Divine Sustainer held the whole universe (it looked like a little wrinkled hazelnut) in warm, caring hands -- loving it, suffering along with it, bathing it in kindness and love.

Mar. 17, St. Patrick's Day

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"I am Patrick. I am a sinner: the most unsophisticated of people; the least among all the Christians; and, to many, the most contemptible. I am the son of the deacon Calpornius, as he was the son of the priest Potitus who belonged to the village on Bannavern Taburniae. Indeed, near it he had a small estate from where, when aged about sixteen, I was taken captive. I was then ignorant of the true God and, along with thousands upon thousands of others, was taken into captivity in Ireland."

--from The Confession of St. Patrick, as quoted in Discovering Saint Patrick, by Thomas O'Loughlin, Paulist Press, 2005.

O'Reilly to the Defense of Boulder Couple

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When Bill O'Reilly is the "liberal" in a debate, you know it's an interesting story. Here O'Reilly questions a priest about the Denver Archdiocese's treatment of the gay couple whose children will not be allowed to attend the only Catholic parochial school in Boulder next year. (You have to scroll about half way down the page to get to the video clip.)

Meanwhile, NCR's exclusive interview with the couple can be found here.

Sr. Rose is unseen force behind Xavier men's hoops program

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She's 5 foot 4 and and says she'd need to lift weights to get back into her college playing shape, but 77-year-old Sr. Rose Ann Fleming has already been named Xavier University's most valuable player (1991) and to the Cincinnati Jesuit school's Hall of Fame (2000). Xavier is seeded sixth in the West Region of this year's NCAA men's basketball tournament.

The New York Times ran a front page story today featuring the work of Sr. Rose as the university's academic adviser for Xavier athletics. She's held the position since 1985 and apparently has no hesitation in waking up Division I stars and NBA-wannabes to ask about blown academic assignments.

Pelosi's Really Dumb Idea

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Speaker Nancy Pelosi needs to go. She has a case of Beltway-itis that is incurable and is now imperiling the passage of health care reform. How else to explain her publicly floating the idea that the House will use a parliamentary maneuver to pass the final health care bill without actually voting on it. “It’s more insider and process-oriented than most people want to know. But I like it because people don’t have to vote on the Senate bill,” Pelosi said yesterday. Hard to know whether this anti-democratic (with a small ‘d’) sentiment is more obnoxious because of its political stupidity or because it is offensive to democratic norms. Voting is what members of Congress do. The Republicans are entirely right in lambasting this calculated attempt to evade responsibility.

L.A. needs progressive Latino archbishop

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A few weeks ago, Cardinal Roger Mahony of the Los Angeles archdiocesan announced that he would be retiring shortly. The L.A. archdiocesan is one of the largest if not the largest community of Catholics in the country. It is also one of the largest collections of Latino Catholics in the United States. It is a microcosm of the profound ethnic transformations that are affecting the church.

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