President Obama took questions from eight members of the Catholic press corps this morning in anticipation of his upcoming meeting with Pope Benedict XVI. It was, as they say in Washington, a wide-ranging discussion: his hopes for the meeting with the Holy Father, reactions to US bishops who have been critical of the administration, efforts to combat poverty and hunger in the developing world, efforts to find "common ground" on abortion, and the impact of his work as a church-funded community organizer in Chicago on his worldview and policies. Stay tuned: My complete story on the meeting will be posted in the next few hours.
The governor of Illinois yesterday vetoed a proposed state budget that would drastically cut human services, a move applauded by many Catholics who have been protesting the cuts to services to the poor, developmentally disabled, children and seniors.
"The legislature decided to slash human services, the budget for the important programs that help vulnerable people, mostly people who have no lobbyists, who don't have political action committees, who don't have friends in high places, who have workers in their agencies that are receiving very modest salaries but they do it because they love the job, they love people," Gov. Pat Quinn said.
I always thought that relics were largely a Catholic phenomenon. You know: the toe of St. Francis Xavier, the Shroud of Turin, the finger of Mary Magdalene. And I certainly did not think relics would make interesting reading. Then, I came across a fascinating new book called Rag and Bone: A Journey Among the World’s Holy Dead by Peter Manseau.
In Memory of Karl Malden 1912–2009 R.I.P.
Th great Oscar-winning actor Karl Malden died yesterday. He is remembered for being a fine character actor. Charles Gibson, the ABC news anchor, quoted Malden as saying he was the only actor in Hollywood whose nose qualified him for handicapped parking.
Most of the world's agricultural work is done by women. The following is a statement about the increasing threats to women's land rights and ownership in Africa by Br. David Andrews, former director of the National Catholic Rural Life Conference, who currently works with Food and Water Watch in Washington.
The issue of women’s land rights and land ownership in Africa is a serious one. The FAO says that women contribute 60 to 80 percent of the labor used to produce food for household consumption and for sale in developing countries, especially sub-Saharan Africa. In a recent meeting of the Commission on Sustainable Development at the United Nations the concluding official 50 page text calls for a recognition of the rights of women over 50 times.
Times must be difficult at Ignatius Press, but apparently the conservative Jesuit, Fr. Joe Fessio, couldn't help himself in embracing one of the most divisive public personas in Newt Gingrich. Gingrich and his wife created an "inspiring walking tour of the nation's important buildings ...."
Fessio, the former provost of Tom Monaghan's pet project, Ave Maria Unviersity, and now theologian in residence at the school, fawns over Newt. "Newt Gingrich's Ph.D. in history really shines through in both this DVD and the book it evolved from."
Here's the whole description from Ignatius Press:
"The Lord hears the cry of the poor." Ps 34
Two stories in today's Lectionary readings--Hagar and the child Ishmael expelled into the desert (Gen 21), and the two demoniacs who confront Jesus (Matt 8)-- might have come from the morning news.
Visit http://www.unhcr.org, the home page of the United Nations High Command for Refugees, to get information on the millions of displaced, stateless, asylum-seeking, emigrating peoples around the globe.
Google the phrase "homeless and mentally ill" to find scores of sites like http://anxietypanichealth.com and to read a 2008 report on "the estimated 744,000 people who are homeless on any given night, 40 to 45 percent of them with a serious mental illness. Most of these mentally ill people go untreated, and unable to work, live a hand-to-mouth existence out on the streets."
Or if you live in any large or mid-sized American city, read your local paper or call city hall and ask about conditions on the street in your home town.
If the facts are as described in this Newsday story, it appears like another act of pure clericalism by Father Dan Murphy, pastor of St. Saviour Church in Brooklyn diocese, at its finest and backed up by the diocese.
That's among the beefs that St. Saviour church pastor the Rev. Daniel Murphy had with James Flanagan, who was let go this spring after 25 years as principal of the church's elementary school, according to an e-mail to parents from Flanagan's adviser.
"As pastor, I should have received a personal invitation with a complimentary ticket," Murphy wrote in six pages of complaints against the principal about the $200 he had to shell out for the March 2007 and October 2008 events."
Flanagan said the charges against him had nothing to do with his leadership of the school.
Connecticut's Attorney General has ruled that the Catholic church in the state does not have to register as a lobbyist in order to, well, lobby the legislature because the state's lobbying laws are probably unconstitutional for failing to exempt religious organizations. In short, the First Amendment trumps the state's ethics laws.