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As inmate faces execution Wednesday, questions of guilt remain

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My friend Art Laffin, a Catholic peace activist and member of Murder Victims Families for Reconciliation, is among the growing chorus of voices pleading for the life of Georgia death row inmate Troy Davis who is scheduled to be executed Wednesday.

Davis appears before Georgia’s Board of Pardon and Parole today and Art is requesting that people call the Board and ask for clemency.

“We have to save Troy’s life,” Art wrote in an email circulated late last night.

Davis was convicted in the 1989 killing of a Savannah off-duty police officer Mark MacPhail, Sr., but has always maintained his innocence. The case against Davis has “fallen apart” says Amnesty International. There is no physical evidence linking him to the crime. All but two of the state’s non-police witnesses have recanted and many have stated in sworn affidavits they were pressured into testifying against him.

Davis’ high-profile case has not only attracted the attention of anti-death penalty activists but those who believe there is too much doubt about his guilt to allow an execution to go forward.

KC diocese moves forward with annual money appeal

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- The diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph, which has been in controversy over its response to several allegations of sexual misconduct by priests, announced Friday that it would move forward with an annual fundraising campaign, after a “regroup...on the timing and marketing for this year’s appeal.”

News that the diocese would move forward with the campaign comes a month and half after it announced it would indefinitely delay a separate capital campaign, saying in a letter to parish administrators that it had made the move “in light of the current challenge.”

Announcement of the annual fundraising drive, called the “Bishop’s annual appeal,” came in a letter from the diocesan vice-chancellor, which was obtained by NCR.

According to the letter, written by vice-chancellor Paula Moss to local pastors, the diocese decided it “must move forward” with the annual campaign in order to fund diocesan schools, seminarians, and charities.

“I acknowledge we will face some challenges, but we must move forward,” writes Moss.

On this day: Our Lady of La Salette

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On this day in 1846, two young cowherds had a vision of the Virgin Mary near La Salette in southeastern France. Maximin Giraud was 11 years old and Melanie Mathieu (or Calvat) was 14. They had eaten their lunch and taken a nap. When they woke, they saw a globe of light that opened to reveal a woman sitting on a rock with her head in her hands. She was crying. She stood up and spoke to the children. She warned them about coming catastrophes and told them secrets.

Click here for a video about the apparition.

Morning Briefing

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46.2 million people across U.S. in poverty in 2010

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From the St. Paul Pioneer Press:

"The Dorothy Day Center in St. Paul isn't meant to be a campground.

But in August, camping outside the downtown facility was the only option for some of those who were trying to spend a night at the 250-bed homeless shelter.

"For the first time in our history, we actually had to turn people away because we didn't have enough space," said Tracy Berglund, director of housing and emergency services with Catholic Charities, which operates the center. "We counted 443 people who slept outside during the month of August."

Given that recent experience, Berglund said, she wasn't surprised to hear that Minnesota's poverty rate jumped to 10.8 percent during the two-year period ending last year, a statistically significant increase from the state's 9.6 percent rate during the 2007-08 period, according to a report Tuesday from the U.S. Census Bureau.

The state's numbers contributed to a record 46.2 million people across the United States who were in poverty in 2010."

Keep reading here.

Summer update from Missouri Catholic Conference

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Clemency Sought for Patty Prewitt
From the Missouri Catholic Conference
Summer Update 9/9/2011:

A statewide campaign is seeking clemency from Gov. Nixon for Patty Prewitt, who has been incarcerated for 25 years for the murder of her husband Bill in 1984. Patty is serving a life plus 50-year sentence and is not eligible for parole until 2036. She has always maintained her innocence and there is much that is disturbing about her trial.

NLRB rules university not Catholic enough

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According to the Chicago Tribune, a National Labor Relations Board official has ruled that Chicago's St. Xavier University is not Catholic enough to qualify for immunity from NLRB oversight.

The school's board has appealed the ruling, claiming the agency's attempt to define a Catholic university violates the separation of church and state.

"They're using a test that not even the bishops use to determine whether or not we are Catholic," said the St. Xavier president.

At the root of the controversy is a campaign by the school's adjunct faculty to form a union and push for higher wages and greater job stability.

Read the whole story here.

On this day: St. Ninian

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On this day we celebrate the feast of St. Ninian (c. 360-c. 432), considered "the earliest Christian missionary to spread the Gospel message on Scottish soil."

A year ago, on St. Ninian's Day, Pope Benedict XVI visited Scotland, "where he was first welcomed by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth, members of the Royal Family, and Scottish dignitaries. The Pontiff was then welcomed by the people of Scotland with a grand 'St. Ninian's Day Parade' through the streets of Edinburgh. The parade featured pipers and drummers from across Scotland and further abroad, and over 1000 pupils from some 14 schools in Scotland named after St. Ninian. But none could take the spotlight off of Benedict XVI, waving at the gathered crowd from his popemobile, wearing the St. Ninian tartan draped across his shoulders."

Click here to see the Pope wearing the St. Ninian tartan, newly created for the visit, commissioned by the bishops.

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