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On this day: Battle of Philippi


On this day, 150 years ago, the first land battle of the Civil War was fought at Philippi, Virginia. Two Union columns, totalling 3000 men, marched all night in a rain storm to take the town, where 800 Confederate recruits were sleeping.

The skirmish at Philippi (pronounced FILL-uh-pea) presaged what lay ahead for the Confederacy. They should have taken a lesson from the rout, but of course they did not.

Two soldiers who were present that cold morning are remembered still. Both were eighteen-year-old boys. One was Ambrose Bierce, and the other was James E. Hanger.

Economic justice: the public may be getting the message


I was born in what is now the 26th congressional district of New York (Lockport, NY, to be exact). I can personally attest to the fact that it trends very Republican. That was true even when I was young. My high school graduation speaker was none other than Rep. William Miller. Don't remember him? Well, he was Barry Goldwater's running mate.

So I was thrilled to see my old stomping grounds suddenly elect a Democrat (Kathy Hochul) in order to send a message to the country about health care justice. Medicare was the central issue in that campaign. The Republican candidate, Jane Corwin, had endorsed the budget of Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., which calls for turning Medicare into a "voucher" system that would put seniors at the mercy of the private insurance market and make good health care unaffordable for many.

Feuerherd family, friends celebrate Mass of Christian burial


Family, colleagues and friends of NCR publisher Joe Feuerherd celebrated and were sustained by a Mass of Christian burial June 1 at the Theological College chapel on the campus of The Catholic University of America in Washington.

We came together, sharing a loss, buoyed by our faith and hope. It was at once a sad and joyful celebration. Joe would have asked: "So what's the fuss?" He asked that there be no eulogies at the service. We carried those in our hearts. Catholics can do funerals spectacularly well. This burial Mass was an example.

Cuomo announces suspension of Fed's illegal immigration enforcement program


Whatever the merits of the federal Secure Communities immigration program, it's clear that it has very serious problems. New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo's decision to suspend the program in order to do less harm to public safety and to pursue actual justice is both prudent and timely. Gov. Cuomo is beginning to show real leadership on immigration, which is at the heart of state of our American church.

We need immigrants both as a church and as a country. In this initiative, Gov. Cuomo should be vocally and substantially supported by the New York State bishops and all people of goodwill. The simplistic notion that every non-documented person who commits felonies in the U.S. can be magically plucked off the streets of our cities and towns and by the clicking of the heels of the local police chief will be placed on a plane and sent to his or her home country is something that might work in former Gov. Sarah Palin's Alaska, but it does not happen as a matter of course in normal circumstances. It's much more complicated and nuanced. Gov. Cuomo gets it.

Response to the bishops' call


Yesterday, I forwarded the Guatemalan bishops’ message to the faithful Catholics of Petén. How do we, the farther neighbor, respond to this evil that is of our making? After all, we buy the drugs. We sell the guns.

The Guatemalan Senate has declared a state of siege. The Guatemalan bishops are asking that that state of siege be monitored by the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner of Human Rights.

One thing we can do is to ask our bishops to join that call for a United Nations monitor.

On this day: The Ascension


On this day, we celebrate the solemnity of the Ascension of the Lord.

"The great silence that falls upon the earth at the Ascension is the stilling of the wingbeats of the immortals. Their time is over. There is a man in heaven, and men and women are no longer to bow down to angels or to empires. There are no gods, only the children of the living God, brothers and sisters of the proper man, who wishes us to be free. If we gaze into the heavens we will see nobody, only Jesus."

-- "A Sermon for Ascension", Monastic Vespers, Magdalene College, Cambridge, 1995, from Walking to Emmaus, by Eamon Duffy, Burns & Oates, 2006.

Morning Briefing


The quality of mercy


Steven Martinez is not a good man -- on this everyone agrees. At 42, he is serving a 150-year sentence in a California prison, for beating and raping a San Diego woman in 1998. He is a repeat offender. But back in 2001, his spinal cord was severed in a prison fight, leaving him unable to move below his neck at all. Yet, according to the state parole board, Martinez remains a threat to society.

His case was profiled recently in the Los Angeles Times, in a report focused on California's "medical parole" law. It was passed last year, and Martinez's case was the first decided under its guidelines. Things did not go as planned.

Guatemalan Catholics address brutal slaying of workers


This message below is from the Petén, Guatemala, Vicariate to all religious. It was forwarded to the Loretto Community. They received this from the Vicariate where the situation is very serious. The following is a translation of the Document:


“Don’t allow evil to conquer you, rather conquer evil with good.” (Paul to Romans 12:21)

To al the Faithful Catholics of the Peten Apostolic Vicariate.

To the National and Departmental Authorities, and to men and women of good will in Petén.

Confronted by constant violent deeds that are attacking our dear Petén, causing death and pain, the Catholic Church of Petén cannot remain indifferent or silent. Rather we are called to make our voice heard and to intervene with a sense of responsibility.

  • We manifest our deep horror and rejection, indignation and shame for the massacre of 27 persons in the “Los Cocos” farm, town of La Libertad, as the last and barbarous expression of a generalized situation of violence and insecurity.


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In This Issue

October 21-November 3, 2016

  • Reformation's anniversary brings commemorations, reconsiderations
  • Picks further diversify College of Cardinals
  • Editorial: One-issue obsession imperils credibility
  • Special Section [Print Only]: SAINTS