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Why can't we be sane about the death penalty?

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Eighty-eight percent of the country’s top criminologists do not believe the death penalty acts as a deterrent to homicide, according to a new study published this week in Northwestern University School of Law’s Journal of Criminal Law and Criminology. The study was authored by Professor Michael Radelet, Chair of the Department of Sociology at the University of Colorado-Boulder, and Traci Lacock, an attorney and Sociology graduate student in Boulder.

Laws of life

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"Whoever sows bountifully will reap bountifully." 2 Cor 9:6

Summer has come to Kansas City. Even at 7 a.m. the air is sultry. But what is hard on people is a boon to nature. Hot weather on top of recent rains has lawns and gardens exploding with new growth. Carrots and radishes, though small, are enough reward for Quinn and Emme, the children next door who planted a garden in our yard with my wife's supervision and encouragement. Stuff really does come out of the ground, and if you wash it you can eat it.

Bishops welcome American's move to key Vatican liturgy post

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tLiturgy dominates the formal agenda of the U.S. bishops during their spring meeting in San Antonio, and before the bishops even arrived in the Lone Star state they got a piece of what many regard as good liturgical news: Pope Benedict XVI’s appointment of Dominican theologian Augustine Di Noia, an American and former staffer for the U.S. bishops, as the new secretary of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments.

tBy virtue of the appointment, Di Noia, 65, becomes an archbishop. As secretary, he will become the number two official in the Vatican’s office for liturgical policy. Since 2002, Di Noia has been the under-secretary, or number three official, in the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, where he served under then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger prior to his election to the papacy in 2005.

tBefore moving to the Vatican in 2002, Di Noia had served as executive director for the U.S. bishops’ Committee on Doctrine and taught theology at the Dominican House of Studies in Washington, D.C.

Vatican calls traditionalist ordinations 'completely illegitimate'

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When Pope Benedict XVI lifted the excommunication of four traditionalist Catholic bishops last January, it was intended as a gesture of reconciliation toward the Society of St. Pius X, a breakaway movement founded by the late French Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre. (The move generated global tumult when it turned out that one of those prelates, Bishop Richard Williamson, is a Holocaust denier.) The prospect of reconciliation may have taken a setback, however, with a recent announcement by the society that it intends to ordain new priests at the end of June, without papal permission, in three locations: its seminary at Zaitzkofen in Bavaria; its headquarters in Econe, Switzerland; and at another seminary in Winona, Minnesota.

Today the Vatican released a statement calling those ordinations “completely illegitimate.” The following is the full text of the Vatican statement, in an NCR translation from Italian.

COMMUNICATION OF THE PRESS OFFICE OF THE HOLY SEE REGARDING THE ORDINATIONS ANNOUNCED BY THE SOCIETY OF ST. PIUS X

Catholic publisher 'redefining strategy'

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Another Catholic publishing house has announced changes in its business in response to the economic crisis, which has hit many already-struggling religious publishers especially hard. Earlier this month, NCR reported that Our Sunday Visitor had acquired Harcourt Religion Publishers. Now St. Anthony Messenger Press has announced that it is "redefining its strategy" and reducing staffing, including closing its Cincinnati telemarketing center, offering early retirement to some employees and abandoning its independent sales force. At least 40 positions, many of them part-time, will be eliminated.

"Across the country, we have witnessed the decline of secular and religious newspapers and the diversification of traditional publishers,'' Franciscan Father Dan Kroger, CEO and publisher, said in a statement. The traditional Catholic audience and subscriber base is shrinking, and younger readers are moving from print to electronic sources of information, he added.

Kroger said three factors are driving the changes:

  • changes in religious affiliation and commitment among American Catholics,

Moises Sandoval: unparalled Catholic journalist

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Speaking last month at the CEHILA USA 2009 gathering at the University of New Mexico, Mario T. Garc'a, professor of Chicano studies and history at the University of California, Santa Barbara called veteran Catholic journalist Moises Sandoval, “one of the most important Latino Catholic writers in the United States during the last third of the twentieth century.”

Hollywood-Catholic truce broken?

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Just when we thought that "Angels & Demons" had called a truce in the battle between Catholics and Hollywood, a new front has been established.

Screen Gems, part of Columbia TriStar Motion Picture Group and Sony Pictures Entertainment, has announced it is working on "Priest," about a rogue, "warrior" priest in a future world ravaged by centuries of war between humans and vampires. The film is based on the Korean comic book series of the same name created by Hyung Min-woo.

Starring are Paul Bettany (You may remember him as Silas in "The Da Vinci Code." I remember him as Geoffrey Chaucer in "A Knight's Tale.") as warrior priest Ivan Isaacs, and Cam Gigandet (who played a vampire in that other vampire movie, "Twilight") as a half-human, half-vampire sheriff. The two team-up to save Gena (not yet cast), Bettany's niece and Gigandet's girl friend.

The film is in pre-production. A late summer 2010 release is expected. Stay tuned for culture war fall out.

Keep same sex-marriage issue in the legislatures

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The New York Times today lambastes the Obama administration for failing to try and overturn the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) which held that the federal government would only recognize the marriages of one man and one woman. DOMA also kept states from having to recognize same-sex marriages contracted in other states that permit them.

The Times was especially upset that the Obama administration brief cited laws barring states from having to recognize marriages between relatives. The Times failed to note that the oddity here is that consanguinity is not much of a problem when assessing same-sex unions. But, then again, legal analogies, like other analogies, are never exact so the Times editorial board should calm down.

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July 18-31, 2014

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