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Calling on Caterpillar to protect human rights

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A month ago I went to the General Dynamics annual shareholder meeting outside of Washington, D.C. You may remember I was going to introduce a resolution calling for investigation of corporate human rights practices with an eye to developing a human rights policy. The resolution got 17 percent of the votes cast.

This is important. By Securities and Exchange rules, shareholders cannot tell management what to do unless they take over the board. So resolutions can only make recommendations to the board. But because management controls so many proxies, the SEC says if a resolution gets 3 percent of the vote, it can be reintroduced the next year. The shareholder proponents did well at General Dynamics.

Tomorrow I am driving to the Caterpillar meeting in Little Rock, Ark. Little Rock? you ask. Perhaps you thought their HQ was Peoria, Ill. Well, yes, it is. Apparently the company is running away from the small band of activists. We criticize Caterpillar's sale of weaponized D9 bulldozers through the Pentagon to the Israeli Defense Force.

The taxman cometh: Scranton diocese to pay taxes on closed churches

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The downsizing of dioceses around the country, sometimes dramatic, is creating a tax revenue opportunity for local towns and cities. In Scranton, Pa., the diocese is going to begin to pay taxes to the county on closed parishes. One interesting type of case involves parishes that are substantially closed, but have periodic religious activities. Should these properties be taxed? If so, how?

Another interesting aspect of this new tax issue for dioceses is where will the money come to pay for these new tax bills within diocesan budgets, which up until the time of parish closures did not exist. Will the liability be sent downstream to the remaining, open parishes, say, by increasing the diocesan tax on parish general revenues called a cathedraticum? Or, will payments come from the bishop's annual appeal? The money has got to come from somewhere.

Episcopal church in Bladensburg to convert to Roman Catholic parish

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The Washington Post today reports:


An Episcopal church in Bladensburg has decided to become the first in the Washington area -- and one of the first in the country -- to convert to a Roman Catholic parish, the Episcopal Diocese of Washington announced Monday.

St. Luke’s, a small, tightknit congregation founded in 1895, had been thinking about becoming Roman Catholic since 2009. Last year, in the wake of a remarkable bid by the Vatican to reach out to disaffected Anglicans, it made an overture to the Catholic Archdiocese of Washington.

Catholics see the same thing differently: Malick's \"The Tree of Life\"

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A couple of weeks ago "The Tree of Life" won the Palme d'Or at the Cannes International Film Festival though some audience members booed the film while others applauded it. Robert De Niro, the president of the international jury, said "It had the size, the importance, the intention, whatever you want to call it, that seemed to fit the prize…. Most of us felt the movie was terrific."

Peter Bradshaw, writing in The Guardian on May 15 said the film was "mad and magnificent."

One of the core concepts of media literacy education is that people can look at the same film or television program and interpret it in vastly differing ways, all of them valid. How is this possible? Because each viewer, if one might follow a Thomist principle, "receives according to the mode of the one receiving."

Julian, Adrian Riester, Buffalo-Born twin friars, die on same day at age 92

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From the Associated Press:

BUFFALO, N.Y. -- Identical twins Julian and Adrian Riester were born seconds apart 92 years ago. They died hours apart this week. The Buffalo-born brothers were also brothers in the Roman Catholic Order of Friars Minor. Professed friars for 65 years, they spent much of that time working together at St. Bonaventure University, doing carpentry work, gardening and driving visitors to and from the airport and around town.

On the passing of a conservative Catholic commentator

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While the NCR family was still mourning the loss of journalist Joe Feuerherd last week, I learned that a prominent Catholic commentator in Chicago had died. Tom Roeser, a conservative columnist, blogger and radio talk show host, was 82 when he died May 28.

The adjective "acerbic" was used in several obituaries, and it is fitting. I regularly checked out Roeser's blog to see what "the other side" thought and was up to. It's no secret that I agreed with very little of his opinions not only about the church but about secular politics.

Benedict touts Christian humanism, defends wartime prelate in Croatia

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By JOHN L. ALLEN JR.

tEven before he landed in Croatia on Saturday for a brief weekend excursion, Pope Benedict XVI made the trip’s basic pitch clear. Speaking to reporters on the papal plane, Benedict used some version of the phrase “Christian humanism” six times – the idea being that Christian moral and spiritual values are the ultimate basis for peace, tolerance, and human rights.

tAs Croatia prepares to enter the European Union, the pope’s core argument was thus that this deeply Catholic nation doesn’t have to choose between the humanistic ideals of secular Europe and its religious heritage. The latter, he suggested multiple times, is actually the guarantee of the former.

tIn selling that message, however, Benedict XVI faced two clear challenges, and although he tackled both head-on, it’s not immediately obvious that either was resolved.

Kansas City Star calls for Bishop Robert Finn's resignation

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An editorial in today's Kansas City Star, saying that Kansas City - St. Joseph Bishop Robert Finn has "shattered moral guidelines" and "shaken the faith of many,"called for his resignation.

The editorial reads:

Recent child sexual abuse allegations and disturbing inattention to earlier warnings make it clear it’s time for Bishop Robert Finn to step down. It’s painful to believe the most vulnerable in his flock weren’t protected. Allegations that priests in the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph were harming children apparently were downplayed, even in the aftermath of a stream of national scandals. Finn appears to have pushed legal limits and shattered moral guidelines by delaying actions. He has tragically shaken the faith of many who seek peace in churches under his supervision.

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