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On this day: St. Martin I, Pope and Martyr


On this day we celebrate the feast of St. Martin I, the last martyred pope.

"Gregory was unquestionably the greatest Pope of late antiquity and the early Middle Ages, and arguably the greatest Pope ever. . . . In Rome itself, however, there were many who wished to forget or even to repudiate his legacy. . . . These divisions in the Roman Church were highlighted by the rapid turnover of popes in the first half of the seventh century: there were ten elections between Gregory's death in 604 and Martin I's accession in 649. Recurrent elections had the effect of drawing attention to another striking feature of the period, the subordination of the papacy to the emperors at Constantinople."

--Saints and Sinners: A History of the Popes, by Eamon Duffy, Yale University Press, 2006 edition.

Morning Briefing


Born to Be Wild: Swinging with orangutans, roaming with elephants


This new IMAX 3D documentary tells the profoundly moving stories of two women “super heroes” working to preserve two endangered species. These are Dr. Daphne M. Sheldrick at the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust in Kenya and Dr. Birute’ Mary Galdikas at the Orangutan Foundation International in central Borneo (Indonesia).

Both are articulate, experienced, quietly passionate and determined women who have spent decades rescuing, rehabilitating, and returning orphaned infant elephants and orangutans to the wild.

In general, I do not care for 3D movies but “Born To Be Wild” is a film 3D was made for. It had me from the opening scene.

The film reaches out and embraces the audience and the narrative gently calls the question: Why save wild animals when they offer humanity no practical benefit?

On Sex Abuse: More Nonsense from Billy the Bully


According to Bill Donohue, president of the inaccurately-named Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights, if you are age 14 or over you are not a child. Don’t take my word for it, he makes the argument in a full-page ad in yesterday’s New York Times.

“The refrain that child rape is a reality in the Church is twice wrong: let’s get it straight — they weren’t children and they weren’t raped,” writes Donohue. “We know from the John Jay study that most of the victims have been adolescents, and that the most common abuse has been inappropriate touching (inexcusable though this is, it is not rape).”

City begging ban excuses our unkindness


Sometimes I shock myself at how arbitrarily I decide whether to give to a beggar on the street. Of course I can’t say yes to everyone -- or even a tenth of those who ask. I have one rule, that I don’t open my billfold; I don’t give if I don’t have change in my pocket. But other than that, my decisions are made entirely on the impulse of the moment. I have the power to give, and I exercise it.

But now St. Louis has initiated a campaign to say no to beggars and give instead to registered charities. Lord knows it is easy enough to say no without being instructed by the city to turn our backs on the poor.

Surely anybody who asks for money needs it -- maybe for a drink, yes, but maybe for a sandwich or a blanket. Beggars are needy. That’s why they’re asking. Nobody would stand on a corner asking for money if they didn’t need it.

Morning Briefing


Betting Scandal hits University of San Diego


The corruption inherent in big-time college athletics (meaning Division I basketball and football) hit a big-time Catholic university today. The Society of Sacred Heart-founded school has nearly 8,000 students.

From AP: “A former University of San Diego star basketball player, along with another former player and former assistant coach, were charged with running a sports betting business to affect the outcome of games, federal authorities said Monday.

The indictment names Brandon Johnson, the school’s all-time leading scorer who finished his college career last year, Thaddeus Brown, an assistant coach at the school in the 2006-07 season, and Brandon Dowdy, who played at USD in the 2006-07 season and at the University of California, Riverside, from 2008 to 2010. Seven other people were also charged.”

Quran burning, unchristian hate, and un-Islamic violence


The thing I hate most about being sick is the massive amount of time my mind has to wander. I’m a ruminator of the highest order, and rarely do I ruminate on such things as the glory of the Grand Canyon or the creativity that drew someone to mount a live-cam in a tree to allow all of us the wonder of watching a nesting pair of bald eagles and their hatchlings up close.

No, instead I think about why one of my dogs has suddenly turned into a nervous, unpredictable maniac or what drives Pastor Terry Jones to do such hateful things.

As everyone surely knows by now, Jones is, in the words of a Miami Herald editorial, “the publicity-seeking crackpot” who recently burned a copy of the Quran. Since then, at least 24 innocent people have been killed by other crazy people who think that protesting Jones’ action requires them to launch violent protests.


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