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Interracial couple denied marriage license


A white Louisiana justice of the peace refused to issue a marriage license to an interracial couple, saying, "I just don't believe in mixing the races that way." Justice Keith Bardwell insists he is not a racist. "I have piles and piles of black friends," he told the Associated Press.

This happened last week. In 2009. No joke. To those who think racism is a thing of the past, think again.

Maybe refusing to marry gays and lesbians will look as ridiculous in a few decades.

Civil unions, Yes; Same-sex marriage, No


"A clear majority of Americans (57 percent) favor allowing gay and lesbian couples to enter into .... civil unions," says new research from the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life. "This finding marks a slight uptick in support for civil unions and appears to continue a significant long-term trend since the question was first asked in Pew Research Center surveys in 2003, when support for civil unions stood at 45 percent."

But the report continues:

"At the same time, opponents of same-sex marriage continue to outnumber supporters overall. ... 53 percent oppose allowing gays and lesbians to marry legally, compared with 39 percent who support same-sex marriage, numbers that are virtually unchanged over the past year."

Catholics and same-sex marriage
The Pew Forum says Catholics overall are evenly divided on same-sex marriage, with 45 percent favoring same-sex marriage and 43 percent opposing it. But among Catholics who attend Mass weekly, 30 percent favor gay marriage and 59 percent oppose it.

Catholics and civil unions

Students use Facebook to protest teacher's ouster


After a popular teacher was abruptly pulled from the classroom, students at Chicago's Brother Rice High School organized a sit-in. But when that '60s-era protest method was scuttled by school officials, the students turned to Facebook.

Christian Brother Patrick B. Martin, a popular math teacher at Brother Rice, was transferred in late September, according Brother Rice president Brother Karl Walczak. "Nothing illegal has taken place," he told the Southtown Star.

Calling the reassignment a personnel matter, the school has remained close-lipped. But that hasn't stopped students from talking--primarily on the Internet.

Facebook groups like "Bring Back Bro. Martin" (almost 700 members) and "We want Bro. Martin" (450 members) are filled with posts by current students and alumni from all over the country praising the inspirational teacher and speculating about why he left, including rumors of possible health problems.

Proving once again that social media give a voice to people that those in power would rather keep quiet.

The NYTimes is Wrong on Faith-Based Hiring


The New York Times editorialized yesterday against allowing faith-based organizations to discriminate in hiring, urging President Obama to rescind a prior rule by the Bush administration that held such discrimination was permissible. There is a case to be made that the Bush regulations were overbroad, but the Times is wrong to argue that faith-based institutions should not be able to consider an applicant’s religion in hiring.

Like negotiating with North Korea


It must be like negotiating with North Korea. The Vatican announced today it would begin a long-awaited dialogue with leaders of the traditionalist Society of St. Pius X.

Just days before, the head of the traditionalist society, Bishop Bernard Fellay, reiterated a list of objections to the Second Vatican Council and said he hoped the dialogue would help dispel "errors" in the church.

Meanwhile, also today the German news agency Deutsche Presse-Agentur is reporting that Bishop Richard Williamson, who with Fellay was among four Society of St. Pius X bishops whose excommunications Pope Benedict lifted in January, faces a summary fine in Germany for claiming that the Nazis had no Holocaust gas chambers.

German prosecutors had put Fellay's case before a judge Oct. 14. In Germany, denying the Holocaust is a hate crime.

U.S. women religious supported by sister sisters in Asia


Nakhon Pathom, Thailand

I’ve traveled through 12 time zones since Oct. 11 when I left NCR’s home base in Kansas City, Missouri. Without exaggeration, I think I am allowed to say I have come to “the other side” of the world. Meanwhile, I am focused on women religious in today’s church and I am here, at a conference of Asian and Oceana women religious leaders to do interviews and gather information about their work and challenges.

Immigrants & Health Care


The USCCB’s most recent statement on health care stated that the bishops could not lend their support to the current health care legislation because, in part, it fails to take account of the needs of immigrants. In the current political climate, no health care proposal is likely to cover undocumented immigrants and even those who have documents are made to suffer under murky limitations.

While most of the attention in the Catholic community and among the bishops has been focused on the provisions respecting abortion, the bishops are right to raise their voices on behalf of immigrants. Indeed, there is something to be said for the bishops never endorsing any proposals except to ask, “But what about the needs of these people?” Human laws, like human lives, fall short of the Kingdom of God and the Church has a unique role in reminding our culture of that fact.


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