NCR Today

Why nuns are heading to the Super Bowl

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"The buzz anticipating Super Bowl XLVI is already astir," writes Nancy Conway in a recent op-ed on the new site cleveland.com. "However, 11 congregations of Catholic nuns are stirring things up as well."

Conway, a leadership team member for the Congregation of Sisters of St. Joseph in Cleveland, explains that these women religious are members of the Coalition for Corporate Responsibility for Indiana and Michigan (CCRIM). The organization's mission is to "invest in certain businesses, including the lodging industry, to be in a position to affect social change where we see human suffering that needs to be stopped."

Wherever the Super Bowl is hosted, sex trafficking seems to swell with the festivities.

As reported in the Huffington Post, "An estimated 10,000 prostitutes flocked to Miami for the 2010 Super Bowl."

A look at racism in the prison system

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Prisons exemplify racism -- the wielding of power in favor of an ethnic or racial group. One black man in three will go to prison. Prisons are placed in white rural areas, far from the prisoners' homes and families. These men (and women) are arrested, prosecuted, defended and ultimately guarded mostly by white men.

Of course, to know what is unjust racism and what is just punishment for crime, one has to look at individual cases. That is just what ProPublica has done with a small segment of prison data on presidential pardons.

The short summary is that when everything is taken into account, white criminals seeking presidential pardons are almost four times as likely to succeed as people of color.

The researchers looked at demographic data, criminal history and congressional interest in cases. They looked at 1,729 individuals who applied for pardons and the 189 who received them during the tenure of President George W. Bush. The president did not know the race of those he pardoned, but the staff who made the recommendations knew.

Virginia priest pleads guilty to embezzlement

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According to the Virginian-Pilot newspaper:

A former priest of two Vietnamese Catholic churches pleaded guilty Thursday to embezzling $84,450 from the diocese.

Joseph Quoc Hai-Nguyen admitted to taking the money from the Catholic Diocese of Richmond between 2003 and 2008. Hai-Nguyen, 66, led Our Lady of La Vang in Norfolk and Our Lady of Vietnam in Hampton, court records state.

During a court appearance, Hai-Nguyen gave the diocese a cashier's check for the full amount of the loss. He was convicted of four counts of felony embezzlement and received a suspended sentence. He will not serve time in prison as long as meets the terms of his probation.
Hai-Nguyen entered an Alford plea, not admitting guilt but acknowledging the commonwealth had enough evidence to convict him at trial. He returned from Texas, where he retired, to face the charges, court records state.

Hai-Nguyen's attorney, Robert Morecock, said his client had remorse. "He wishes he had been more careful with booking matters," Morecock said. Hai-Nguyen had no prior criminal record, he said.

Remnants of Racism in South Africa

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Hoa and I took a brief tour yesterday of the notorious District Six neighborhood, not far from central Cape Town. District Six was ordered demolished in 1968 because it had become a symbol of racial tolerance and interplay in a nation dedicated to Apartheid. The once vibrant District Six is now largely unpopulated, with large stretches of open grass-filled vacant lots connecting city streets.

Obama's Keystone decision is something to celebrate

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I've got to admit: I really didn't think Obama would do it. But he did, and I rejoiced.

He rejected, for now at least, the proposal for the Keystone XL pipeline, which would have transported "tar sands" oil from Canada to the U.S. Gulf Coast for refining. Most of it would have been shipped to other countries.

Republicans and some Democrats screamed that his decision stymied job creation and prevented easy importation of oil from a friendly neighbor. And this, after all, is an election year.

But in spite of pressures, Obama rejected the proposal because there was not enough time for a proper environmental assessment. Obama doesn't talk about it enough, but he cares about the planet. He knows that climate change is real and that greenhouse gases are responsible for most of it. Tar sands oil is much dirtier than regular oil and would emit far more greenhouse gases in the refining process.

So great is the Tar Sands threat to the environment that more than 1,000 people were arrested at the White House this past summer protesting this project. Many Catholic social justice activists were among them.

Best-paid pastors in the United States

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Catholic bishops and priests do not make a lot in terms of annual compensation in their respective roles. On the other hand, permanent housing, food, pension benefits and health care coverage ain't too bad a deal, all things considered. I know of one bishop who likes to boast to his priests that he takes "no salary" (which is both funny and delusional, given the large estate on which he lives, an entertainment budget, a car and driver and numerous benefits he receives).

In the Protestant world, there are some pastors whose total compensation would make even some on Wall Street blush. Over at Huffington Post is a story on pastor compensation.

An excerpt:

From church closings and foreclosures of houses of worship across the nation to the limited number of clergy jobs for new rabbis, imams and pastors, the recession has hit religious Americans just as it has affected the tens of millions of the country's jobless.

Sister involved in health care ministry donates body to science

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Franciscan Sr. Catherine Ellen Kearney, 92, who worked in health care ministries for more than 60 years, died Jan. 6 at her community’s retirement home in Aston, Pa., according to this article in The Philadelphia Inquirer.

During her long career, Kearney taught, worked as a missionary, worked in prison ministry, worked with AIDS patients, worked as a health care consultant and wrote for health care publications, according to the story. She has donated her body to science.

Despite threat, pastor holds his ground over marriage amendment

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It's a long way to November and the vote in Minnesota over an amendment to the state constitution that would limit marriage to one man and one woman. The Catholic church has joined battle with gay rights forces in what could be a protracted battle to persuade the public.

The push back, however, is not confined to those outside the church. Catholics for Marriage Equality MN strongly oppose the measure and are mounting a strong campaign against its passage. And among clergy, one especially outspoken pastor, Fr. Michael Tegeder, has held his ground despite threats to his ministry from his archbishop.

As 2011 was coming to a close, Archbishop John C. Nienstedt of the Archdiocese of Minneapolis-St. Paul, was ramping up a campaign that had actually begun in earnest in September of last year when the archdiocese sent out 400,000 DVDs, paid for by an anonymous donor, explaining church teaching on the matter and urging that an amendment be put to a vote.

In October of this year, bishops urged priests throughout the state to form committees to help get the proposed amendment approved.

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April 21-May 4, 2017

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