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32 years later, book on Latin America still challenges us

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CRY OF THE PEOPLE: UNITED STATES INVOLVEMENT IN THE RISE OF FASCISM, TORTURE, AND MURDER AND THE PERSECUTION OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH IN LATIN AMERICA
By Penny Lernoux
Published by Doubleday, 1980

In 1968 the Latin America bishops met in Medellín, Colombia, and out of that meeting came the Medellín documents: “the Magna Carta of today’s persecuted, socially committed Church ... it shattered the centuries-old alliance of Church, military, and the rich elites.”

Re-encountering Lernoux

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HEARTS ON FIRE: THE STORY OF THE MARYKNOLL SISTERS (CENTENNIAL EDITION)
By Penny Lernoux (with Arthur Jones and Robert Ellsberg)
Published by Orbis Books, $25

Rereading Penny Lernoux’s final book, Hearts on Fire: The Story of the Maryknoll Sisters, is like a re-encounter with an old friend.

For a time in the 1980s, Lernoux had a considerable readership and following in Minnesota, the state where I attended college and began my reporting career. Lernoux was briefly a visiting professor at Macalester College in St. Paul, my alma mater. Anyone who took a course in U.S.-Latin American relations in those days read her work.

A web of greed and power grabs

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IN BANKS WE TRUST: BANKERS AND THEIR CLOSE ASSOCIATES: THE CIA, THE MAFIA, DRUG TRADERS, DICTATORS, POLITICIANS AND THE VATICAN
By Penny Lernoux
Published by Anchor Press Doubleday, 1984

Penny Lernoux’s scathing In Banks We Trust is almost 30 years old, yet when I read it I could not help but think of present times. She offers an exhaustive look into the whirlwind of risky investments, careless gambles and unquenchable greed. In Banks We Trust defines the industry during the late 1970s and into the ’80s; yet it rings all too similar to today’s stories and headlines that analyze the 2008 banking debacle responsible for deepening the recession the country is still trying to escape.

North Carolina voters approve amendment upholding traditional marriage

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- With a heavy turnout at the polls, North Carolina voters approved a constitutional amendment defining marriage as a union between one man and one woman by a 3-to-2 margin.

In unofficial results calculated late May 8 by the North Carolina State Board of Elections, 1,303,952 people -- 61.05 percent -- voted for the amendment while 831,788 people -- 38.95 percent -- voted against it.

The amendment read, "Marriage between one man and one woman is the only domestic legal union that shall be valid or recognized in this state." It enshrines the definition of traditional marriage in the state constitution, elevating it from what has been state law since 1996.

Bishop Peter J. Jugis of Charlotte and Bishop Michael F. Burbidge of Raleigh, who were at the Vatican May 8 for their "ad limina" visits, had both championed the amendment, which they said would prevent any arbitrary redefinition of marriage.

Vatican newspaper says Nazi eugenics 'still alive'

VATICAN CITY -- Proponents of euthanasia and aborting chronically ill fetuses use the same arguments that were once used by the Nazis to promote their eugenics program of mass extermination, according to the Vatican's semiofficial newspaper.

The article appears on the front page of Saturday's issue of L'Osservatore Romano and is signed by Lucetta Scaraffia, an Italian historian who is a frequent contributor to the Vatican paper.

Scaraffia's article comes in the wake of the Italian translation of a 1920 book by two German scholars, Karl Binding and Alfred Hoche, that set the ideological foundations for the Nazi program of extermination of disabled and incurably sick people.

The authors of the 1920 book (Allowing the Destruction of Life Unworthy of Living) proposed that the lives of the chronically ill or of the mentally and physically disabled were "unworthy of being lived" and should be given a "charitable death."

Scaraffia argues this mentality can still be seen in the "writings of many contemporary bioethicists, and of many politicians who support legislative proposals of a euthanasic type."

New York museum exhibit features ordinary people of extraordinary vision

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Nowhere in New York these days is there punchier, closer-to-earth religious art than at El Museo del Barrio on upper Fifth Avenue. The exhibition there, “Testimonios: 100 Years of Popular Expression,” has lots more than religious material. Its point is to show how largely self-taught or folk artists have imagined their world, and its more than 300 pieces trace the interplay of family life, cultural heritage, community relations, dislocation, oppression and liberation.

Dialogue between Catholic leaders, Girl Scouts addresses criticisms

PHILADELPHIA -- Tina Kent credits the Girl Scouts for teaching her skills in leadership, conflict resolution and critical thinking and for giving her an appreciation for the outdoors and opportunities to travel.

Kent became a Brownie at age 8 in her native Vermillion, S.D., and remained a Scout until she was a teenager in Waco, Texas.

Now a wife and mother of five, Kent lives in the Diocese of Harrisburg, Pa., and is a Girl Scout troop leader in York, Pa., where her troop meets at St. Joseph Catholic School.

Church must change its ideas toward gay and lesbian employees

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Viewpoint

In 1995, at a major national conference for Catholic pastoral ministers, I had a conversation with a friend of mine who is a lesbian woman, observing that so many of the conference participants were openly lesbian and gay people. My friend commented, “If all the lesbian and gay church workers left their jobs, the church would be bereft!” We chuckled at such a thought, though realizing that it was unrealistic to consider that this possibility would occur.

Today, I am not so sure.

Occupy activists arrested in second takeover of San Francisco archdiocesan building

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Officers from San Francisco's police and sheriff's departments entered a vacant building owned by the Archdiocese of San Francisco on Wednesday and arrested 26 Occupy activists who had cut through a chain-link fence the previous afternoon and claimed the building for a homeless shelter.

Hundreds traveled from San Francisco's business district to the site near St. Mary's Cathedral and swarmed into the building, but most did not remain overnight. The protesters were part of May Day demonstrations taking place throughout the city.

After entering the building, two Occupiers had climbed to the building's roof and were hurling down bricks and pipes. One bystander was injured. Officers arrested one man on charges of aggravated assault, but waited until the following morning to arrest the remaining trespassers.

This was the second time the two-story building had been occupied during protests. Last month, about 75 people stormed the building and remained there overnight before being arrested.

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November 21-December 5, 2014

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