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Support our sisters

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NCR online Young Voices columnist Kate Childs Graham has launched a new Web site, www.ThankYouSister.com, where she is collecting letters in support of women religious.

Visit the Web site for complete details, but basically Kate is looking for letters that "share personal stories about how women religious have impacted your 'quality of life,' express messages of gratitude and/or convey general messages of support."

Bishops oppose 'hard-hearted' line on immigrants in health care debate

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By JOHN L. ALLEN JR.

tSix Hispanic bishops visited Congress today to press an agenda featuring health care, immigration reform, education, housing, and anti-poverty efforts. Most immediately, the bishops argued that any health care reform package should offer coverage for immigrants, including the nation’s estimated 12 million undocumented immigrants.

t“Any reasonable reform has to include the immigrant community, including some kind of safety net for undocumented immigrants,” said Bishop Jaime Soto of Sacramento, Calif.

“If we leave out that segment of society, it will not only affect them but it will prejudice the health of American society in general,” Soto said, insisting that it would be “foolish and hard-hearted” to exclude immigrants from the health care system.

Soto said the bishops have recently picked up “conversations” about moves in Congress to deny undocumented immigrants the ability to pay out-of-pocket for their own health care, a possibility Soto described as “more a matter of a runaway anti-immigrant rhetoric rather than common sense approach to health care.”

Two new collections of Fr. Thomas Berry's important writings

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Two collections of the writings of Fr. Thomas Berry have been published recently, just a few months after his death in June.

One is The Sacred Universe: Earth, Spirituality and Religion in the Twenty-First Century, published by Columbia University Press. The other is The Christian Future and the Fate of the Earth, published by Orbis Books. The former is edited by Berry's friend and student Mary Evelyn Tucker; the latter edited by Tucker and her husband John Grim.

Both contain important essays Berry wrote during his long career as a scholar, cultural historian and geologian. Berry had prophetic insight about our engagement with the Earth and was one of the first to link the ecological crisis to our religious views and assumptions.

More pain in Detroit as archdiocese cuts back personnel, services

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The Archdiocese of Detroit earlier this month announced a major financial restructuring of its Central Services. In response to a critical cash-flow situation, the Archdiocese of Detroit has announced a major financial restructuring of its central operations that it involves its programs, properties and positions. In the words of Archbishop Allen H. Vigneron, "The financial realities of our current circumstances are sobering; the resulting changes for the administrative structure of the archdiocese are significant."

Separating the sacred and the secular

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In light of several discussions going on at NCRonline.org -- such as here, here, and here -- the comments today of Pope Benedict XVI to a group of bishops from northeast Brazil who had just completed their "ad limina" visit, seemed especially relevant.

He tells the bishops not to see the shortage of priests as "a normal state of affairs," and warns against "the 'clericalisation' of the laity."

"The lay faithful" must be active "in real life," he says, "while priests must distance themselves from politics."

It seems to me that this is call to separate the sacred and the secular. Is that possible? Is it desirable?

Here's the report from the Vatican Information Service:

Notre Dame president to fly his anti-abortion colors

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University of Notre Dame President Holy Cross Father John I. Jenkins plans to fly his anti-abortion colors by joining in an anti-abortion march in Washington next January.

In a letter to faculty, students and others members of the Notre Dame "family" he said that he will go to the annual March for Life "to witness to the sanctity of life." He invited others from Notre Dame to attend the Jan. 22 protest on the anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court's decision establishing a nationwide right to abortion.

Jenkins faced criticism last spring from Catholic bishops and anti-abortion activists after inviting President Obama to deliver Notre Dame's commencement address and receive an honorary degree.

The Joy of Being Attacked by Deal Hudson

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One of the problems with blogging is that, unlike writing a book when you will have months to go over your text and an editor to scrutinize your conclusions, you have to write, write quickly, and you always worry that you might be over-stating something, or missing an important piece of data, or somehow not saying what you mean to say, or saying it not as well as it deserves to be said.

Pope to visit Rome synagogue this fall

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In a telegram marking the beginning of the Jewish holiday of Rosh Hashanah, Pope Benedict XVI told the Chief Rabbi of Rome that he plans to visit the storied Rome synagogue sometime this fall.

A Vatican spokesperson said that no date has yet been set, but that the second half of October seems probable.

It will mark the second time a pope has been to the synagogue, after John Paul II's historic 1986 visit, widely regarded as a significant turning point in Jewish/Catholic relations.

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