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Third round of nuclear reduction talks opens in Geneva

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The Russian media is keeping up with U.S., Russian nuclear disarmament talks, even in you are not seeing much on your local evening news.

According to this Russian press report, the third round of comprehensive Russia-U.S. talks on a new strategic arms reduction pact opened Monday in Geneva. The first two rounds of Russia-U.S. arms reduction talks were held on May 19-20 in Moscow and on June 1-3 in Geneva.

The U.S. team of negotiators is led by Assistant Secretary of State Rose Gottemoeller, while the Russian delegation is headed by Anatoly Antonov, director of the Foreign Ministry's Department of Security and Disarmament.

"The talks are being held behind closed doors at the U.S. mission [in Geneva]," the source said, adding that they will continue until June 24.

Here's the Russian news report.

SOA legislation up for vote

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SOA Watch, the group founded by Maryknoll Fr. Roy Bourgeois to advocate for the closure of the School of Americas (now called Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation or WHINSEC) at Fort Benning, Ga., has sent an alert out, saying that Congress is set to vote on an amendment to the Defense Authorization Act that would require that the School of the Americas to release the names, ranks, country of origin, courses and dates attended of students and instructors at the institute.

Graduates of the U.S. Army training school have been implicated in human rights violations and deaths of activists and church workers across Latin America.

The vote is to come tomorrow. This is legislation SOA Watch as been working on for quite some time. Read more about it here.

A side note: Fr. Roy is one of the keynote speakers at the Call to Action conference in Milwaukee this November. His address is titled A New Model of Being Church. His address alone would be worth the price of admission.

Vatican's Celestial Eye, Seeking Not Angels but Data

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Here's a good read from today's New York Times.

Last year, in an opening address at a conference in Rome, called “Science 400 Years After Galileo Galilei,” Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, the secretary of state of the Vatican, praised the church’s old antagonist as “a man of faith who saw nature as a book written by God.” In May, as part of the International Year of Astronomy, a Jesuit cultural center in Florence conducted “a historical, philosophical and theological re-examination” of the Galileo affair. But in the effort to rehabilitate the church’s image, nothing speaks louder than a paper by a Vatican astronomer in, say, The Astrophysical Journal or The Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society.

Diocesan reconfigurations in a rapidly changing church

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This story about parish closings and openings is quite interesting, especially given the number of states with net closures. It's well beyond just the Northeast. The story has a good graphic/map.

On the positive side, one expert observer notes:

"Even as the frequency of parish suppressions and mergers increases, the Catholic church in America remains strong," said Marti Jewell, the outgoing director of the Emerging Models of Pastoral Leadership, a 6-year-old collaborative effort between six national organizations studying the changing structure of parishes.

The organizations include National Association for Lay Ministry, Conference for Pastoral Planning and Council Development, National Association for Church Personnel Administrators, National Association of Diaconate Directors, National Catholic Young Adult Ministry Association and National Federation of Priests Councils.

God as Realtor

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"All the land that you see I will give to you." Gen 13:15

North central Kansas is home to one of the most significant yet little known monuments in North America. A stone marker and metal plate located in a place called Meades Ranch, Kan., is the geodetic base point for all the survey lines in North America. I have often wondered why some adventurous high school class, as their departing prank, has not gone there at night and moved the marker, theoretically altering every property line in the country.

Catholic hospitals and their workers

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It's not every day that you can get John Sweeney, the president of the AFL-CIO, and Dennis Rivera, chair of SEIU Healthcare, together. The two organizations have been at loggerheads on a series of issues. But, if anyone can get them together, it is Cardinal Theodore McCarrick who joined the two on a conference call hosted by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops to announce the release of a document titled "Respecting the Just Rights of Workers: Guidance and Options for Catholic Health Care and Unions."

Let's cross to the other side

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"Let's cross to the other side." Mark 4:36

This reading from Mark 4 is rich in imagery that no doubt informed most of the homilies churchgoers heard yesterday. The boat carrying Jesus and his disciples in a night crossing of the Sea of Galilee is caught in a squall and is taking on water. The disciples are afraid for their lives and cry out, but Jesus is asleep in the stern of the boat.

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September 12-25, 2014

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