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Students use Facebook to protest teacher's ouster

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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.

KC Nuke Plant: Imagining Other Futures

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On October 6th Kansas City, Mo. community members held a press conference to highlight their opposition to the continued operation of the Kansas City Plant, a major nuclear weapons manufacturing center.

Located about 13 miles south of downtown Kansas City, Mo., the Kansas City Plant makes non-nuclear parts for the nation’s nuclear weapons. Parts like these comprise about 85% of each nuclear weapon in the country.

“We want the government to shift its priorities,” said Jay Marx. “Instead of making bombs, we should be making things that are helping human needs.” Marx is on a national speaking tour as the Campaign Coordinator for Proposition 1 in 2010, a grassroots movement for the conversion of nuclear and other arms industries.

Allen interviews Archbishop Wilton Gregory

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NCR senior correspondent John L Allen Jr is in Rome covering the Synod for Africa. If you haven't been following his daily postings on this blog, you have missed some very interesting -- and important -- journalism. Here's an index of the stories he has filed so far.

As John reported Friday, there's a whole gaggle of other church people in Rome right now because of the synod, because of last weekends canonizations and ... well just because, I guess. I think that John is trying to talk to everyone who is there. He has caught many good interviews.

John spoke to Atlanta Archbishop Wilton Gregory yesterday. They spoke mostly about the Synod for Africa, but John also asked Gregory two questions about the American scene.

Looking at church's impact on Africa, Ghana archbishop says: 'We have failed'

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By JOHN L. ALLEN JR.
Rome

Here’s an exercise to try sometime: Find any random cross-section of twenty people who know something about Catholicism in Africa, and ask them to tick off five names of the most impressive African bishops they know. The odds are fairly good that the name of Archbishop Charles (“Call me Charlie”) Palmer-Buckle of Accra, Ghana, will surface with some frequency.

Palmer-Buckle, 59, is taking part in the Synod for Africa as a papal appointment. A leader in peace efforts in Ghana and a veteran of the international Catholic scene through his work with groups such as Caritas Internationalis and Catholic Relief Services, Palmer-Buckle is widely considered to be among the heavyweights of his generation in the African hierarchy.

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August 28-September 10, 2015

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