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Throughout the NY Archdiocese, \"School's Out Forever\"

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In today's New York Times, David Gonzalez offers a moving portrait of the closing of St. Martin of Tours, a Catholic elementary school in the Bronx, which has served the community for 86 years. He focuses particularly on the school's principal, Sister Nora McArt, who has worked with the children of St. Martin's for more than four decades.

Confronting U.S. policy on detention and torture

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Concerned about the cruelty of U.S. detention policy, fifteen anti-torture activists entered the U.S. House of Representatives yesterday afternoon and interrupted a vote on a 2012 defense appropriations bill.

The activists, who are members of the group Witness Against Torture say the version of the bill, under consideration yesterday, undermines U.S. Federal courts, keeps the detainment center in Guantanamo open, and attempts to expand the use of indefinite detention for terrorism suspects.

Ayn Rand and the budget battles in Congress

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I have recently become acquainted with the philosophy of Ayn Rand, courtesy of remarks by Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI), Chair of the House Budget Committee. It seems that he counts himself among her disciples and likes her values.

More than that, she was become a philosophical beacon for many in the Tea Party Movement who -- like Ryan -- want draconian budget cuts (mostly affecting the poor and middle class) with nary a plan to raise any revenue, especially from the wealthy.

On this day: St. John the Baptist

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On this day we celebrate the Solemnity of the Nativity of St. John the Baptist.

"When they came on the eighth day to circumcise the child, they were going to call him Zechariah after his father, but his mother said in reply, 'No. He will be called John.' But they answered her, 'There is no one among your relatives who has this name.' So they made signs, asking his father what he wished him to be called. He asked for a tablet and wrote, 'John is his name,' and all were amazed."

Click here for the Mass and here for the Liturgy of the Hours.

Sex abuse cases come to light in Venice, Fla., diocese

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Three cases of sexual misconduct by clergy have come to light in recent days in the Venice, Fla, diocese.

Two weeks ago, Fr. Bernard Chojnacki, a vicar at a local parish, was arrested for allegedly exposing his genitals to a county sheriff and then grabbing the sheriff's genitals.

Carmelite Fr. William C. Wert, who has been living in a retirement home in the diocese while on a leave of absence, was arrested in February on two counts of committing a sex offense against a victim between the ages of 12 and 15. Shortly after his arrest, authorities filed eight more charges of sex offenses against a minor and lewd and lascivious behavior.

Meanwhile, the Sarasota Herald-Tribune reported Tuesday that a former Catholic high school teacher in the diocese has filed a lawsuit alleging he was fired for raising concerns about a third priest.

John Jay on what the critics got wrong

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"The lead researcher of last month’s Causes and Context report on the child sexual abuse scandals that have shaken the Catholic Church speaks out on the controversy surrounding the study, and explains why it lays out a roadmap for the future," reads the precede to a commentary by Karen J. Terry, who views most of the criticism of the report as misguided based on misunderstandings caused by -- no surprise here -- "the media" and a "spin" that had only a "tangential" relationship to the real stuff in the report.

The first misconception she refers to is the media's understanding of the report's blaming the permissive era of the '60s and '70s as one of the major causes of priest's errant behavior. Read the entire article here.

If the press got that incorrect so did a lot of bishops who have been out almost gloating over that very interpretation of the cause of the crisis. The report has given them considerable language with which to deflect attention away from their own role in the scandal.

Six questions for pro-life candidates

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An array of Republican candidates for president will attend the National Right to Life Convention this week. Presumably they will all speak, each attempting to make the case of being the most right-to-life of all.

I wish the convention delegates would ask each of them the following questions:


  1. What have you done to provide health care for children born with disabilities?

  2. Do you also endorse the United Nations Rights of the Child?

  3. Do you view the federal budget as a moral document? Explain.

  4. Cardinal Bernadine spoke of the choice for life as a seamless garment. What did he mean and do you agree?

  5. What have you done to oppose the death penalty?

  6. How would you “right-size” the military budget?

Plenty of people would not like these questions, but many of us would welcome them. In the 1970’s the St. Louis Archdiocese put up billboards saying, “God is pro-life.” I’ve been waiting ever since for the anti-abortion movement to become a life movement.

Belfast riots renew calls for Protestant-Catholic dialogue

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From The Christian Science Monitor:

"Rioting engulfed the Short Strand district of Belfast, Northern Ireland, Tuesday night, as pro-British loyalists and Irish republican residents of the area clashed for the second consecutive day.

Local police said that as many as 400 people participated in the violence and that a news photographer was wounded in a shooting in one of Belfast's most tense neighborhoods. In an effort to break up the fights, police fired at least 66 plastic bullets but made only one arrest: a young woman was detained on suspicion of possession of a firearm and assaulting police."

Read more here.

Justice Sonia Sotomayor and living with diabetes

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Catholic U.S. Supreme Court Justice, Sonia Sotomayor, offered a very personal story about living most of her life with diabetes, and offered one-of-a-kind encouragement to some 150 kids:

Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor was seven years old and living in the South Bronx when she found she was thirsty all the time. Soon after, she started wetting her bed at night.

"I was ashamed," the 56-year-old justice said, as she related how she came to learn that she has diabetes. The audience for the unusually personal glimpse at a justice's life was children who are diabetics, like Sotomayor. And the reason she met with them Tuesday in a Washington ballroom was to assure them that their common affliction is no bar to doing anything they want.

"It's a disease you have to deal with, but you can," she said, as she sat in an armchair with 150 children seated in a semicircle on the carpet in front of her."

Diabetes is known as "A disease so common that it strikes EVERY 20 seconds."

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