Grace on the Margins

Church's ban on contraception starves families and damages ecosystem


Editor's note: Starting this week, Jamie Manson's column, Grace on the Margins, will be posted on Mondays.

As the battle over contraception coverage raged in our national debate last week, a small report on "PBS NewsHour" demonstrated the devastating effects that the Catholic church's ban on contraception has on poor nations.

The unconscionable consequences of conscience exemptions


Of all of the reactions that I've read to the Department of Health and Human Service's refusal to change the rules on contraception coverage, I've noticed that few commentators have referred to the formal name of the government mandate the bishops are fighting.

The provision is called the Affordable Care Act. This new law is intended to ensure the just treatment of women and couples who cannot afford adequate medical treatment when it comes to contraceptives and who want to raise families in a safe, responsible manner.

Guns and poses: violent women dominate movies this month


Is it me, or are a lot of young women kicking butt on the silver screen lately?

Today, not one, but two movies will be released that promise to deliver female lead characters with a supernatural command of martial arts and some very big guns.

The trailer to the forthcoming Haywire opens with a question: "She is our nation's most valuable weapon, so why did they betray her?"

Next, we see actress Gina Carano's character talking to a brute who is trying to coerce her into his car. After he strikes her, she retaliates with a series of sweep kicks, punches and, finally, a slap in the face with a gun that sends his teeth flying.

But that's only the beginning. What follows is a manic montage of Carano's extraordinary acts of violence against men. One is strangled, one is shot in the neck at close range, and another, after being knocked out, gets a steel storefront gate dropped across his abdomen. "You'd better run," Carano snarls at the trailer's conclusion.

Churches seek -- and find -- greater exemptions from employment laws


They receive millions each year in state and federal aid.

They pay no taxes on their profits or on their houses of worship.

And now they want special exemptions from civil rights laws.

On Thursday, five U.S. bishops, including Cardinal-designate Timothy Dolan, deepened their union with right-wing religious organizations by signing an open letter titled "Marriage and Religious Freedom: Fundamental Goods that Stand or Fall Together."

The missive, which is addressed to religious leaders and "all Americans," is the latest addition to the ongoing push by conservative religious leaders to maintain what they see as their right to discriminate against committed gay and lesbian couples.

Pushing away the marginalized to reach out to the fringe


If Cardinal Francis George has proven anything over these past few weeks, it's not that he can tell the difference between white pride and gay pride.

When the cardinal attempted to make a connection between those fighting for equal rights for LGBT persons and those fighting for the right to assert the supremacy of the white race, he also demonstrated that he needs a history lesson.

In Uganda, sisters see education as key to empowerment


Part two of a series. Read the first installment here.

In 2002, when Sisters of Mercy Margaret Farley and Eileen Hogan were assisting in the planning the first All Africa Conference: Sister to Sister (AACSS) program in Nairobi, Kenya, they could not have foreseen that, a decade later, they would be as active as ever in 13 countries throughout the continent.

Confronting AIDS in Africa, one sister at a time


This column is part one of a series.

After a long career in the academy, most scholars look forward to a retirement free of the demands of teaching, writing and traveling.

For Margaret Farley, life as Professor Emerita of Christian Ethics at Yale University has meant deepening her commitment to confronting the HIV/AIDS pandemic on the continent of Africa.

Ten years later, controversial New York church still thrives


Ten years after her historic ordination, Mary Ramerman rarely makes it into the papers anymore. Watching her minister as a priest today, it may be hard to believe that she was at the center of a highly publicized, painful battle between the diocese of Rochester, N.Y., and the parish then known as Corpus Christi in the late 1990s.

Crossing Borders with the Virgin Mary


In her book American Madonna: Crossing Borders with the Virgin Mary (Orbis Books, 2010), author Deirdre Cornell chronicles the three years that she, her husband and five children spent as Maryknoll Missioners in Oaxaca, Mexico.

Blending personal reflection, Marian scholarship and social justice advocacy, Cornell deepens our understanding of Mary by allowing us see her through the lens of Latin American people. As she journeys to various sites of pilgrimage in Mexico, we encounter the struggles, hopes and deep faith of those who inspire Cornell along the way. Mary Cornell discovers a universal Mother who invites us to cross the borders of cultural, economic and linguistic difference and to locate our common humanity and spiritual heritage.

Recently I had the opportunity to talk with Cornell about the ways in which the Latin American church opened her eyes to a new vision of Mary.

Jamie Manson: So much of your book is about pilgrimage. It's remarkable to look at how your own life's journey led you to explore the presence of Mary within Latin American culture. You credit your grandmother with starting you on the path.


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In This Issue

July 14-27, 2017