NCR Today

Priest sentenced to three years for theft from his Las Vegas parish

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According to the Associated Press:

A Roman Catholic priest was sentenced Friday to three years and one month in federal prison and ordered to repay $650,000 he acknowledged siphoning from his northwest Las Vegas parish to support his gambling habit.

Muffled sobs erupted from a courtroom packed with supporters, but Monsignor Kevin McAuliffe, 59, stood straight and made no reaction as U.S. District Court Judge James Mahan faulted him for accepting responsibility but "hedging his bet" by blaming the theft on a gambling addiction.

"You abused a position of trust, Mr. McAuliffe, the judge said, dispensing with any church title for the priest who many in the parish referred to as Father Kevin while he hid a weakness for casinos and video poker. "You betrayed people who depended on you."

Combat, desecrating the dead, and our surprise

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My initial reaction, upon reading of the Marines who urinated on dead Taliban fighters, was of course to be repulsed by one more graphic display of the barbarism of war being conducted on our behalf. But that initial reaction was quickly followed by an almost automatic question: What do we expect?

What can we expect, indeed, of young men trained to dehumanize others to a degree that they can methodically and clinically kill complete strangers? Presumably, that is what these young soldiers did to the dead fighters not long before the video was taken. Do we expect young men who have pulled the trigger one moment to conduct somber, religious graveside services the next?

It is good to note that somewhere between Texas Gov. Rick Perry’s rush to politicize the matter (he says the Obama administration’s expression that the act is deplorable shows the president has “disdain” for the military) and those who wish swift and harsh punishment for the young Marines, we’ve found some space to acknowledge that the real issue can be found in the horrors of combat and what they can do to a young person’s mind and perspective.

Ursuline sister, SOA prisoner of conscience, dies

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Ursuline Sr. Claire O’Mara, a Massachusetts native who spent 17 years in Latin America with her order before later spending time in jail in protest of the School of the Americas, passed away Jan. 8, the feast of the Epiphany, in New York. She was 89.

O’Mara, who entered the Ursulines in 1945, was known for her dedication to the people of Mexico, Peru, and the Bronx, and to issues of social justice.

Compelled by the story of fellow Ursuline Sr. Dorothy Kazel, O’Mara was arrested at the gates of Fr. Benning, Ga., at the age of 74 in November, 1994, along with twelve others.

Asked on the eve of her trial for the action whether she was scared of possibly going to jail, O'Mara said in a 1996 interview with NCR that she was “too old to be nervous” about going to prison.

O’Mara also said it was partly the Kazel’s story that inspired her to make a 25-hour train ride to join the protest.

Can Romney take care of the 'least of these'?

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As any political observer knows these days, Mitt Romney is under scrutiny (to describe the current attacks politely) for his role at Bain Capital, a firm he headed from 1984 to 1999.

Bain Capital is a venture capitalist firm that specializes in buying out companies that are new or struggling and might not have ready access to capital. It's not uncommon for firms like Bain to cut costs in newly acquired enterprises, restructure them and lay off employees.

The questions raised about Romney's time at Bain focus on whether he is a "job creator" (Romney claims that 100,000 jobs were created by Bain during his tenure) or a heartless "vulture capitalist" (Newt Gingrich's phrase) who laid people off in droves and reaped profits from liquidations.

I continue to be amazed at the number of commentators who are aghast that anyone would question the practices of capitalism ... as if morality did not apply to money markets and jobs and benefits. Financial practices can be perfectly legal and still be immoral, depending on the circumstances.

I think some of these candidates should check out Catholic social and economic teaching for some basic principles of fairness and equity.

Immigration outreach discussed among conference participants

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SALT LAKE CITY -- In case you haven't heard, the U.S. bishops' conference has a special campaign directed toward immigration work. And some parishes have even started committees named after the group.

Justice for Immigrants, the campaign that started in 2005, is focused on uniting and mobilizing Catholic institutions and people of Catholic faith and people of other faiths "in support of a broad legalization program and comprehensive immigration reform." In keeping with the U.S. and Mexican bishops' pastoral letter, "Strangers No Longer," it is also committed to maximizing the church's influence on this issue, according to its website.

El Paso bishop sues priest to recover funds missing from parish

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El Paso Catholic Bishop Armando X. Ochoa has sued a controversial priest and his brother, alleging they mishandled thousands of dollars in church money.

The Rev. Michael E. Rodriguez, who was reassigned from San Juan Bautista Parish, El Paso, on Sept. 20, 2011, to Santa Teresa de Jesus Parish in Presidio, Texas, denied any wrongdoing.

Morning Briefing

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On Chinese sweatshops

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Just days after public radio's "This American Life" aired an episode about Chinese sweatshops, 150 workers at an electronics factory in Wuhan threatened to commit suicide by jumping off the factory roof because of poor working conditions.

The UK's Telegraph reported:

Foxconn, which manufactures gadgets for the likes of Apple, Sony, Nintendo and HP, among many others, has had a grim history of suicides at its factories. A suicide cluster in 2010 saw 18 workers throw themselves from the tops of the company's buildings, with 14 deaths.

Foxconn's reaction: to install nets around the building.

It's hard to claim ignorance about the conditions under which so much of our stuff is made these days, but Mike Daisey, a self-described "worshiper in the cult of Mac," had to see it for himself. So he went to Shenzhen in southern China and talked to workers outside of a Foxconn plant and visited other factories under the guise of being an American businessman.

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May 19-June 1, 2017

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