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Judge Sotomayor's experience trumps all

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Sooner or later the Catholic faith of Judge Sonia Sotomayor will be raised as an objection to her nomination and appointment to the Supreme Court of the United States.

Judge Sotomayor is a moderate. As a consequence, she is just as likely to be attacked from left as from right. That's probably not what President Obama means by common ground, but one can admire him for finding a woman seemingly so capable of adhering to the law rather than her personal opinion, and for on occasion, even resolving cases contrary to the president's own policy perspectives.

One possible objection to Judge Sotomayor from the left will be her Catholic faith. There are already five Catholics on the court, it will be said. When the court upheld Congress’ limits on the partial-birth abortion ban, there were more than a few grumbles that it's just those Catholics having their way. Completely unfair. Anyone who actually read the opinion knows different.

Remembering Unsworth

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Death spawns warm memories. So I sit before my computer today in a happy-sad place. It was one year ago, April 30, 2008, that NCR columnist Tim Unsworth met up with St. Peter at the Pearly Gates. I imagine the impish Unsworth soon had the old saint in stitches with his Catholic yarns. He’d be talking about old Chicago parishes: churches filled with widows, antsy children, cranky pastors and those authoritative ushers. No doubt he eventually had Peter doubled over in laughter, and when the saint was appropriately distracted, our beloved Unsworth would have made his move and darted forward. But even as he zipped through the gates I can imagine Unsworth wondering if he’d made the right choice, concerned that some friends had gone the other way. No matter, he would quickly build bonds and argue their causes from up in heaven.

Fr. Lawrence Rosebaugh eulogized in Guatemala

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GUATEMALA CITY -- Oblate Fr. Lawrence Rosebaugh, a U.S. priest with a long history of taking risks to aid the poor and marginalized, was killed in a highway robbery in Guatemala May 18.

A Congolese Oblate priest in the vehicle with him was wounded by the bullet that killed Father Rosebaugh, but was expected to recover. Three other Oblate priests traveling with them were uninjured.

Priest suspended following photos with woman

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MIAMI

The Miami priest suspended from his parish and Catholic radio posts after photos of him with a woman on the beach were released by a tabloid magazine said he has had a romantic relationship with the woman for about two years and is in love with her.

Father Alberto Cutie, who had been administrator of St. Francis de Sales Parish in Miami Beach and general director and president of Pax Catholic Communications, spoke about the unnamed woman in a May 11 interview with "The Early Show" on CBS television.

The photos of the Cuban-American priest -- dubbed "Father Oprah" because of the advice he gives to couples on Spanish radio and television -- were published in the Spanish-language magazine TVNotas May 5.

Father Cutie opened the "Early Show" interview with apologies to the Catholic community, Miami Archbishop John C. Favalora and his fellow priests for his actions, which he called "imprudent" and "stupid."

"I don't support the breaking of the celibacy promise," he said. "I understand fully that this is wrong."

He gives everything he has to his art

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Los Angeles artist John August Swanson describes his art as “my most social act.” Artistic activity and life combine in him to form a ministry he has practiced for more than four decades.

The 71-year-old Swanson recently celebrated the installation of 44 of his vibrant, detailed paintings and prints at the Candler School of Theology at Emory University in Atlanta, the largest permanent exhibition of his work in the United States.

Jan Love, dean of this Methodist theology school, was attracted to Swanson’s work not only for its beauty but for its power to express the global reach of Christian experience.

These works now hang in the school’s newly constructed 65,000-square foot theology building, the locus of learning for Candler’s diverse and international student body, in which more than 30 Christian denominations, including Catholics, are represented.

100 days of Obama leadership, black pride runs high

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Editor’s note: As President Barack Obama reached his 100th day in office April 29, his presidency seemed to be altering the public perception of race relations in the United States, a new New York Times poll has found.

Two-thirds of Americans now say race relations are generally good, and the percentage of blacks who say so has doubled since last July. Black Americans remain among the president’s staunchest supporters; 70 percent of black respondents now say the country is headed in the right direction.

NCR marked the president’s 100th day in office by telling the story of a 93-year-old African-American woman who dreamed of, but never fully imagined, a black president.

Evelyn Glore Ashford, 93, is one proud woman -- and she says so without hesitation. And she says it again and again.

What makes her glow is not only that an African American is president of the United States, a truly overwhelming reality in her life, but also that this African-American president is showing the world “he’s a wonderful man,” a family man who cares for his wife and children and showed special concern for his grandmother before she died last year.

CORNERED: Andre Dubus III

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Andre Dubus III is the son of the great Catholic short story writer, recipient of a Pushcart Prize and National Magazine Award, writing teacher at the University of Massachusetts-Lowell, finalist for a National Book Award for House of Sand and Fog, now also a movie, and most recently, author of The Garden of Last Days. He’s on his way to the dump. He’s just finished building a white cedar railing for the house he built in the woods in Newburyport, Mass., and in the final triumphant nail-pounding he forgot all about this interview. He gives it anyway, with warmth and ease and a waiting truckload of wood scraps. “Ever smell white cedar?” he asks. “It smells like vanilla with lemon when you cut it.”

With Ochoa, golf has a giving side

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Oh-Oh-Ochoa. Oh-Oh-Ochoa.

If the world’s golfing community isn’t chanting that already about Lorena Ochoa, it should. The Mexican athlete won her 25th tournament in early March, a three-stroke win in Pattaya, Thailand. That it went a bit unsung is due to the high-volume return of the gimped Tiger Woods to the PGA tour on steady knees that genuflect to no one. Woods, who has won 11 of his last 16 tournaments, is a one-person stimulus package for a sports world miasmic with A-Rod steroid tales and the fall of Charles Barkley, the drunk locked up on a driving-under-the-influence conviction.

Franciscans gather in Assisi to celebrate 800 years

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ASSISI, Italy
Brown-, gray- and black-hooded robes rustled, knotted white cords swung rhythmically, and sandaled feet crunched gravel.

The soft sounds of labored breathing could also be heard as several hundred Franciscan friars from all over the world wound their way up steep hills, passing wheat fields and olive groves while on a two-hour penitential procession to the tomb of their founder, St. Francis of Assisi.

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August 15-28, 2014

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