National Catholic Reporter

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Peace & Justice

Protesters, critics greet Rep. Ryan at Georgetown

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WASHINGTON -- Days after receiving a letter signed by 90-plus faculty and administrators rebuking his interpretation of Catholic social teaching, Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) stepped onto the Georgetown University campus Thursday amid critics of the federal budget he proposed, the House of Representatives has approved and presidential candidate Mitt Romney has endorsed.

The letter from the Jesuit-run university’s scholars followed a series of letters from the U.S. bishops to four committees in the House, where the Ryan budget passed March 29. In their four letters, the bishops voiced their disapproval of the 2013 GOP budget, calling for a “circle of protection” around programs for the poor and vulnerable.

“Our problem with Representative Ryan is that he claims his budget is based on Catholic social teaching,” said Jesuit Fr. Thomas J. Reese, one of the Georgetown letter’s organizers. “This is nonsense. As scholars, we want to join the Catholic bishops in pointing out that his budget has a devastating impact on programs for the poor.”

Study says no evidence that death penalty deters crime

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WASHINGTON -- In the more than three decades since the national moratorium on the death penalty was lifted, there is no reliable research to determine whether capital punishment has served as a deterrent, according to a review by the National Research Council.

The review, partially funded by the Justice Department's National Institute of Justice, found that one of the major shortcomings in all previous studies has included "incomplete or implausible" measures of how potential murderers perceive the risk of execution as a possible consequence of their actions.

Another flaw, according to the review, is that previous research never considered the impact of lesser punishments, such as life in prison without the possibility of parole.

"Fundamental flaws in the research we reviewed make it of no use in answering the question of whether the death penalty affects homicide rates," said Carnegie Mellon University professor Daniel Nagin, who chaired the council's study committee.

Nagin said Wednesday that the panel reviewed the work of "dozens" of researchers since a 1976 Supreme Court decision ended a four-year national moratorium on executions.

Seven arrested at weekend of demonstrations in Kansas City area

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Highlighting a unique demonstration of national security interests, peace activists gathered in the Kansas City area April 13-15 to call attention to nuclear weapons, unmanned drone attacks and the detention of accused WikiLeaks source Bradley Manning.

The three-day convergence, called a "Trifecta Resista" by organizers, saw people from across the Midwest gather for three lively demonstrations in the area. Seven people were arrested over the weekend for such acts.

On April 13, the activists gathered outside an entry point for Fort Leavenworth, Kan., where Manning has been held at the Army's Joint Regional Correctional Facility.

The treatment of Manning, an Army private accused of leaking thousands of confidential diplomatic cables to WikiLeaks, previously spurred protests from supporters and human rights groups. Before being transferred to Leavenworth last April, Manning was held at the Marine brig in Quantico, Va., where he was placed into solitary confinement and wore only a suicide-proof smock each night.

Apple avoids 'Nike moment' despite Asian sweatshops

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Viewpoint

Every decade, it seems that a new social issue captures the attention of Catholic progressives, inspiring efforts to work for a more just society. In the late 1950s and early 1960s it was civil rights. In the ’80s it was nuclear arms.

In the 1990s, that issue was sweatshops. As new technologies increased international communication, people began hearing firsthand accounts of labor rights abuses that never made it into the mainstream news space. Many companies were shown to use sweatshops. But one company rose to the forefront of the debate: Nike. As a brand, it evoked the best in American culture: commitment, achievement, competitiveness, cool and a sense of fair play. But as tales of its rights abuses spread, Nike became a cultural symbol of everything that was wrong with capitalism and globalization.

Milwaukee judge keeps depositions sealed, says release won't advance bankruptcy

MILWAUKEE -- A U.S. bankruptcy judge ruled April 5 that the depositions of Milwaukee's retired archbishop, a Milwaukee auxiliary bishop and a former priest will remain sealed and may not be made public.

The ruling by Judge Susan V. Kelley was in response to a motion filed by Jeff Anderson and Associates, the law firm representing claimants in U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Eastern District of Wisconsin where Kelley is presiding over the Chapter 11 reorganization of the Milwaukee Archdiocese.

At issue are the depositions of retired Archbishop Rembert G. Weakland, Auxiliary Bishop Richard J. Sklba and a former priest, Daniel Budzynski.

In denying the motion to unseal them, Kelley noted she had previously authorized "rule 2004 examinations," or depositions, which were taken last October and November, for three reasons:

-- The potential loss of evidence because of the age or infirmity of the witnesses; Weakland is 85; Sklba is 76; and Budzynski is 84.

-- The testimony would be used to value claims and determine whether they were objectionable.

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.

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December 5-18, 2014

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