National Catholic Reporter

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Peace & Justice

San Francisco police arrest Occupiers who took over archdiocesan building

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Less than 24 hours after a group of Occupy San Francisco demonstrators took over a vacant building belonging to the Archdiocese of San Francisco, the city's police department entered and arrested about 75 people.

The Monday arrests came after an archdiocesan representative signed a citizen's arrest form for trespassing. The Occupiers had said they planned to use the building as their headquarters and to provide social services from the site.

The Occupiers entered the building Sunday after a peaceful march from San Francisco's Union Square in the heart of the city's downtown shopping district. They hung a large banner outside the building that read, "Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our trespasses."

When police entered the building to make the arrests, they found "extensive damage," said George Wesolek, archdiocesan spokesperson. "Graffiti was prominent. One example, 'F-- the police pigs!' "

Police said the group had a stockpile of bricks and cans of paint on the building's roof and there was fear the Occupiers might resort to violence.

Catholics and racism: from examination of conscience to examination of culture

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OPINION

While public outcry about the death of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin gathers momentum on social networks and in various public demonstrations around the country, it does not seem to be weighing too heavily on Catholic consciences. A cursory Web search does not yield much by way of statements by Catholic leaders or empathetic rituals by Catholic parishes.

But for people of color in this country and the growing number of Catholics among them, the situation in Sanford, Fla., is the justice issue of the day. So why the apathetic silence? Sadly, we need only look to our own religious teachings to find the answer.

U.S. Supreme Court should give juveniles the chance to prove they've changed

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Opinion

I suppose it was difficult to imagine Louis Perez changing course. He was only 14 years old when I met him in a probation camp, and yet, he seemed entrenched in the deepest, lethal absence of hope. Unable at that young age to transform his pain of abuse, abandonment and torture, he seemed set on a path doomed to transmit his pain forever.

SOA Watch activists arrested after protest against border militarization

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School of the Americas Watch founder Fr. Roy Bourgeois and SOA Watch associate Nico Udu-gama were held for three hours and released after a protest along the Mexico-New Mexico border Sunday.

The protest involved 10 people who part of Project Puente's weeklong "border immersion experience." ("Puente" is Spanish for "bridge.")

Officers with the Santa Teresa Border Patrol took Bourgeois and Udu-gama into custody after they crossed into Mexico during a prayer service at the border, Project Puente spokesperson West Cosgrove told NCR. The two were released after three hours and no charges were filed.

Salvadoran colonel implicated in Jesuit killings pleads not guilty to fraud, perjury

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A notorious graduate of the U.S. Army's School of the Americas -- a Salvadoran colonel implicated in the 1989 assassinations of six Jesuit priests -- is fighting criminal charges for allegedly lying on immigration papers that have allowed him to live quietly in the United States for the last 10 years.

Former Col. Inocente Orlando Montano Morales pleaded not guilty Thursday to charges of fraud and perjury in U.S. District Court in Boston.

Ruling on 'ministerial exception' has limits

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ANALYSIS

The Supreme Court of the United States, in its Hosanna-Tabor Evangelical Lutheran Church and School v. EEOC opinion, upheld the “ministerial exception” that the U.S. circuit courts had long recognized. Basically, this exception states that churches cannot be sued over employment decisions regarding those whom the church hires to “preach their beliefs, teach their faith and carry out their mission.”

The Supreme Court’s Jan. 11 decision is rooted in both the free exercise and the establishment clauses of the First Amendment, and is very fact-specific to the Hosanna-Tabor case. The decision gives no clear rule as to who is or is not covered by the ministerial exception. But clearly, from the language of the court, two things are required: The employer must be a church, and the employee must be an agent of the church, hired by the church to preach the church’s beliefs, teach its faith and carry out its mission.

Boeing closing could mean transition to civilian economy

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VIEWPOINT

A chill has descended on Wichita, Kan. Winter weather is not the culprit, aircraft manufacturer Boeing is. The company, a longtime fixture in the city, brought the chill when it announced the imminent closure of its big defense plant there. And Wichita is not alone.

In communities from Virginia to California that have relied on steady Pentagon payrolls, people are frightened. Military spending, which totaled $7 trillion over the past decade, is slated to dip.

Good jobs will disappear.

Last August’s bitterly fought Budget Control Act, passed by Republicans and Democrats, mandated cuts of $489 billion in defense spending over 10 years. Then came the failure of the congressional “supercommittee” to agree on deficit reduction. This triggered automatic cuts of more than $1 trillion -- half from the Defense Department, half from domestic programs. Unless Congress, the president and the top Pentagon brass find a way to block the automatic reductions, the military would have to shave a total of $1 trillion from its massive budget in the decade after 2013.

Activists express concern for imprisoned priest

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Activists and friends of an 83-year-old Catholic priest imprisoned for an act of civil resistance are expressing some relief after prison officials responded to concerns he was facing unfair treatment in prison. The priest has not eaten since Jan. 10 to protest his placement in solitary confinement.

Jesuit Fr. Bill Bichsel was serving a three-month prison term in the Federal Detention Center near Seattle, Wash., for a July 2010 action at the Y-12 National Security Complex in Oak Ridge, Tenn., where a new nuclear weapons manufacturing facility is being planned.

Bichsel was moved Jan. 10 to a prison transition facility in Tacoma, Wash. He was sent back to the federal detention center in Seattle the next day because authorities said he had received an unauthorized visit at the transition facility.

Fellow activists say Bichsel has begun a fast since his return to prison, where he is being held in solitary confinement. The activists also were concerned that Bichsel, who suffers from blood circulation problems, was not receiving an adequate number of blankets to keep warm.

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September 12-25, 2014

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