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Mother Teresa as mystic and apostle of the ordinary

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Canonization still awaiting a miracle

ROME -- In the court of popular opinion, Mother Teresa – now Blessed Teresa of Calcutta, after her beatification in 2003 – is regarded as a heroic Saint of the Poor, perhaps the 20th century’s most compelling example of a radical option for the world’s most vulnerable and forgotten people.

While that’s undeniably right, two of the world’s leading experts on Mother Teresa say, it also risks being reductive.

The Adjustment Bureau: A cry for freedom

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In writer/director George Nolfi’s original action-romance-thriller film, questions about personal free will, fate, and a divine purpose to each of our lives collide head on with ideas about politics, philosophy, religion, relationships, and gender.

Just as David Norris (Matt Damon) loses the race for a U.S. Senate seat from New York, he meets a beautiful ballet dancer, Elise Sellas (Emilie Blunt), in the men’s room of the hotel. Elise hastily explains that she is hiding from security because she dared herself to crash a wedding party and she did. Norris is immediately smitten.

Secular universities and religious tolerance

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Working at a public university is a challenge for people of faith.

It seems to be assumed that intelligence and faith cannot be housed in the same brain and thus, believers are often dismissed as dim-witted throwbacks to a less enlightened era. This is especially true of believers who self-identify by wearing certain clothing or jewelry or, heaven forbid, are seen reading a book of scripture.

(Exception made here for anyone in the Department of Religion: expressions of faith are expected, if not completely welcomed.)

Most of the time, this disdain of faith isn’t overt; academia prides itself on being able to look askance at entire populations while appearing tolerant and even contemplative. But sometimes, as I observed recently, the religious prejudice is so obvious that people of faith are faced with a choice: Endure or ignore the religious hostility or speak up.

Republicans bring back plastic

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Usually, as a confirmed news hound, I am totally absorbed in major stories like the Middle East uprisings, labor protests in Wisconsin, and the draconian budget cuts proposed by House Republicans.

But this time, news from the cafeteria of the House of Representatives caught my attention. It seems that former Speaker Nancy Pelosi had a policy of "greening" the Capitol Building in many ways. Among them was the introduction of biodegradable cups in the House cafeteria, as well as a composting program to go with it.

This seems totally in line with the environmental ethics of all our major faith traditions, including the Catholic church.

Now, in what has to stand as one of the pettiest moves of all time, Speaker John Boehner has ditched the biodegradables and the composting program to return to the earth-killing world of plastic foam cups (proper scientific name: polystyrene). And just to top it off: who is selling these cups to the House cafeteria? None other than George Wurtz, a former executive at a subsidiary of Koch Industries, who is currently the owner of WinCup.

Vatican tries to flesh out 'New Evangelization'

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ROME -- In a papacy sometimes accused of lacking administrative direction, the Vatican under Benedict XVI is at least in a full, upright and locked position on one point: The urgency of a “new evangelization.”

In every way he possibly can, Benedict has signaled that he regards the “new evangelization,” broadly understood as reawakening a missionary spirit in the church, as a towering priority.

Bp. Ramirez recovering from illness

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Bishop Ricardo Ramirez of Las Cruces N.M., who spoke at the Celebration conference on immigration in San Antonio, Jan. 12-14, is reportedly still recovering from a cold that developed into pneumonia and hospitalization when he got back to his diocese.

According to the Las Cruces Sun-News, Ramirez suffered some broken ribs from coughing, and this prolonged his recovery time. The story also quotes the bishop as saying he would be submitting his resignation Sept. 12, when he turns 75, as all bishops are required to do. Whether it is accepted and when is be up to Rome, he said.

Illinois governor has bill that would end death penalty

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Following is a press release just in from the U.S. bishops' office. Here's a little background: Full-Court Press For Death Penalty Abolition Heats Up

BISHOPS URGE ILLINOIS GOVERNOR TO SIGN BILL ENDING DEATH PENALTY

WASHINGTON -- Signing a bill to end the use of the death penalty would “begin building a culture of life in our country,” said the bishop who oversees the domestic justice efforts of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) in a letter to the governor of Illinois.

In his March 3 letter, Bishop Stephen Blaire of Stockton, California, chairman of the USCCB Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, joined the bishops of Illinois in urging Governor Pat Quinn to sign SB 3539, a bill that would end the use of the death penalty in Illinois and provide funds for training for law enforcement and services for families of murder victims.

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April 22-May 5, 2016

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