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Haitian bishop meets with pope


Bishop Pierre Dumas, president of Caritas Haiti, met with Pope Benedict XVI Wednesday to report on the devastation in his country, urging that churches be rebuilt and that they have charitable facilities alongside them.

In a news conference arranged by the Sant’Egidio community in Rome, Dumas also updated the damage to the church. He said 15 churches, including the Cathedral, were destroyed in Port-au-Prince. He also said that more than 45 nuns, 20 religious seminarians and 30 diocesan seminarians had been killed in the Jan. 12 earthquake in addition to the archbishop, vicar and chancellor of the archdiocese.

Parish priests are being encouraged to stay with their people in the tent villages that have materialized throughout the city and to celebrate Mass in those locations.

Sunday Masses are being celebrated in improvised locations near the destroyed churches, he said. The church is giving special attention to hearing confessions and to providing help for psychologically traumatized people.

Dumas said he also told the pope that the archdiocese's seminary must be rebuilt so the church can begin educating priests again.

The Catholic choice


Last year around this time, I sat in church for the start of Catholic Schools Week next to my mother and sister. They were visiting L.A. from Florida, where most of my family (being good New Yorkers) moved a few years ago. They were part of a packed church -- always filled during this week with young parents and their four-year old children, investigating our parish school.

Dealing from the Bottom of the Deck


Catholic conservative direct mail fundraiser Deal Hudson, possessor of a self preservation instinct the envy of cats everywhere, is at it yet again.

Way back in 2004 Hudson, who in addition to acting as publisher of the now defunct Crisis magazine served as chair of the Republican National Committee’s “Catholic Outreach” arm, successfully campaigned to have a junior staffer at the US Bishops Conference, Ono Ekeh, removed from his job. Ekeh’s sin? He publicly supported John Kerry’s presidential bid. Read about it here.

Now, Hudson, a thrice-married former Baptist minister, is after bigger fish. He’s promoting the calumnies that the American Life League (the most out there of the anti-abortion groups) and some wacky Santa Fe-based outfit which terms itself “Bellarmine Veritas Ministry,” have launched against John Carr, longtime head of the US bishops social justice office. Read about it, if you must, here.

Can they take this much attention?


Religious brothers might want to seek advice from their religious sisters on this one. CNS is reporting that Cardinal Franc Rode, prefect of the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life, wants to turn his attention to religious brothers. (See: Vatican preparing documents on prayer, brothers.)

Cardinal Rode said the numbers speak clearly "and something must be done."

While the numbers of religious in every category have dropped in the last 50 years, the number of religious brothers has decreased most drastically, he said, citing the example of the Christian Brothers who had 16,000 members in 1965 and have fewer than 5,000 today.

"We think one of the reasons for the decline in these vocations is due to a certain lack of attention on the part of the church" to brothers, who are mentioned only in passing in the documents of the Second Vatican Council and Vatican documents published later, he said.

Good luck brothers.

Time to End \"Don't Ask, Don't Tell\"


Ever since President Barack Obama pledged to overturn the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy in his State of the Union address, conservatives have been hiding behind the claim that politics should not dictate to the military, that military culture is unlike civilian culture, and that the military should not be an avenue for social policy.

Of course, if these objections sound familiar to any student of history, all of them were raised when Harry S. Truman desegregated the military by executive order. In 1948. An election year. You will also recall that this decision did not cost Mr. Truman the election.
What the conservative zealots and anti-gay bigots misunderstand is the basic sense of fairness that is an integral part of American culture and the American psyche.

Now, of course, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, Admiral Mullen, has said that ending “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” is “the right thing to do.” He pointed out that the issue was one of integrity, both the individual’s and the institution’s. So, there is no more hiding behind the military, and conservatives need to rethink that talking point about not interjecting politics into military considerations.

Food pantries, soup kitchens busier than ever


A nationwide study released Tuesday by the Chicago-based hunger relief group Feeding America indicates a sharp uptick in the number of Americans relying on food pantries, soup kitchens and shelters for day-to-day survival, the Chicago Tribune reported today.

In Cook County, the report estimated that more than 678,000 people — including a quarter of a million children — received some form of emergency food last year.

The overall figure is a 36 percent increase compared with the findings of a similar study released in 2006.

NCR ran a similar story at the end of last week, citing Catholic Charities figures.

"Catholic Charities USA reported that in the last quarter of 2009 member agencies around the country experienced nearly twice as many requests for assistance to meet rent or mortgage payments and utility bills."

CSI meets the catechism?


Just when you think you've seen it all or Technology inside the church, Polish-style

"A Polish priest has installed an electronic reader in his church for schoolchildren to leave their fingerprints in order to monitor their attendance at Mass, the Gazeta Wyborcza daily said Friday.

The pupils will mark their fingerprints every time they go to church over three years and if they attend 200 Masses they will be freed from the obligation of having to pass an exam prior to their confirmation, the paper said.

The pupils in the southern town of Gryfow Slaski told the daily they liked the idea and also the priest, Grzegorz Sowa, who invented it.

Will Earth survive the computer?


Recent media attention to the new iPad from Apple reminded me of a friend who retired from the Environmental Protection Agency who once said to me: "The earth's life support systems will probably survive the automobile but probably not personal computers and all the other electronic equipment that proliferates now." She based her opinion on a United Nations University study released in 2006 which revealed a new understanding of the impact these necessary tools of the 21st century have on our environment.

According to this report, making the average personal computer requires 10 times the weight of the product in chemicals and fossil fuels. What's more, many of the chemicals used are toxic, while the use of fossil fuels in making computer and electronic components contributes to global climate change. The short life of today's electronic equipment leads to Himalayas of waste, the report says. That waste is then dumped into landfills or recycled, too often in poorly managed facilities in developing countries, leading to significant health risks.

Slum tours


Yesterday's Wall Street Journal carried quite a story. The story discussed the slum tour business -- that's right slum tours -- where the wealthy travel to impoverished communities around the world to observe poverty. It's worth a read..


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November 20-December 3, 2015


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