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Former executioners weigh in on death penalty

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The high-profile case of Troy Anthony Davis has once again focused national attention on the death penalty with new voices weighing in. Among the most compelling are those of former department of correction officials who oversaw executions.

Like combat veterans recounting the realities of battle, they provide details about an execution that are unknown or ignored whenever capital punishment is discussed in the abstract.

On this day: St. Faustina Kowalska

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On this day the Catholic Church remembers St. Faustina Kowalska, 1905-1938.


"Sister Mary Faustina, an apostle of the Divine Mercy, belongs today to the group of the most popular and well-known saints of the Church. Through her the Lord Jesus communicates to the world the great message of God's mercy and reveals the pattern of Christian perfection based on trust in God and on the attitude of mercy toward one's neighbors."

--from the Biography at the Vatican web site.




But not all Catholics find St. Faustina or her private revelations helpful or credible.

Morning Briefing

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Speech disruption and free speech

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On Sept. 23, an Orange County court in California found 10 Muslim students guilty of criminal charges for disrupting a speech by the Israeli ambassador to the U.S. last year at the University of California, Irvine.

Prior to the district attorney charging the students with misdemeanor counts of conspiring to disrupt the speech, the Irvine school had itself disciplined some of the students. The students were sentenced to three years of probation and 56 hours of community service and fines. I discussed this issue with a Freshman Seminar on Contemporary Political Issues in Historical Perspective that I am teaching this fall at University of California, Santa Barbara.

Morning Briefing

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Study finds most unmarried, college-age Christians sexually active, despite the general push for abstinence in most Christian denominations.

Letter to the Editor: Catholic church started 'meatless' day

A man who became the caretaker for the Rev. Raymond Kownacki -- whose sexual abuse of a minor cost the Catholic Diocese of Belleville more than $6 million -- has filed suit against the 76-year-old priest.

Stephanie Baliga became a nun last night. Sunday, she will run in the Chicago Marathon.

Philippines: Bishops step up drive vs mining

A priest among the tribes

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His parish is vast -- millions of acres of brushland and desert. But his flock is small -- at Sunday Mass, two people show up to worship. But for Fr. Earl Henley, his task is huge: inviting Native American tribes of California back into the church after centuries of abuse and mistrust.

Henley is the subject of a fascinating profile in today's Los Angeles Times, detailing his work among desert tribes as head of the Native American Ministry of the San Bernadino diocese. It is, he admits, hard work -- much harder than the decades he spent as a missionary on Papua New Guinea, out in the middle of the Pacific Ocean.

Scandal and confusion?

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I just read the NCR story on the 8th Day Center for Justice in Chicago and the pressure brought to bear by Cardinal George over a Sept. 8 event in which they showed the film, "Pink Smoke Over the Vatican", and sponsored a talk by Maryknoll priest, Fr. Roy Bourgeois, who has been ordered to recant his public support for women in the priesthood.

According to the story, "George stated the event could lead to scandal and confusion among the faithful over the church's teaching on ordination."

Scandal and confusion? Really? The hierarchy loves to use these words to describe events or statements or publications with which they disagree. And they are ludicrous.

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