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Nuns using social media for social good

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The online version of Advertising Age has an article by Bernhard Warner, an expert on social media influence: What Nuns, Yes Nuns, Can Teach You About Social Media.

He talks about values, ethics, and the power of listening in the world of tweeting and goes on to praise charities, NGOs and especially women's religious communities for "the genuineness of their approach and their creativity ... To lay out tough messages -- sacrifice, vocation, mercy and charity" through a medium filled with endless distractions.

Warner only mentions a couple of religious communities of sisters, but asks that if you know more who are using social media, to let him know.

Spend money on nation-building, not military training

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For more than a dozen years protesters, led by Maryknoll Fr. Roy Bourgeois, have called for the closing of the School of the Americas (renamed the Western Hemispheric Institute for Security Cooperation).

The call to close the school is symbolic. Since 1946 -- when it was sited in Panama -- the SOA has taught both methods of torture and methods of wiping out political resistance to soldiers from dictatorships throughout Latin America.

The school was moved back to Fort Benning, Georgia in 1984 and renamed in 2001. The campaign to close the SOA gradually discovered the names of graduates linked to torture, murder and massacre, and actual pamphlets printed and distributed by the school illustrating torturous tools and body positions.

So, Congress changed the school’s name and installed a board of supervisors.

The Army’s big arguments for keeping the school open are that:


  1. It links the Pentagon to national militaries in Latin America;

  2. It teaches officers -- especially captains who are on the road to generalship -- not only military strategy, but also leadership and democratic values.

Update on German theologians' letter

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The (ever-increasingly important) PrayTellBlog.com has an update on the letter from German theologians. (See our story: 144 theologians confront hierarchy: Blunt letter says reforms necessary in light of scandals, priest shortage).

PrayTell says: More theologians have signed on, it is now 227 from the three German speaking countries, and 249 including theologians from other countries. This link also has an English translation of the letter.

Canadian cathedral installs solar panels -- inside stained glass

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From The Montreal Gazette:

A different kind of trinity is emerging at Saskatoon's newest cathedral, where the Roman Catholic Diocese of Saskatoon is combining art, technology and faith in a stunning and environmentally-friendly project.

The Holy Family Catholic Church, a $28.5-million cathedral under construction in Saskatoon's northeast, has solar cells embedded in the large stained glass windows that will be installed this spring.

The cathedral could be the first church in North America to use photovoltaic cells in a stained glass installation, said cathedral building committee chair Jim Nakoneshny. The University of British Columbia used the combination in a library.

Back in 2009 I wrote an NCR story for my Mission Management column about the use of solar power by the Diocese of San Jose, Calif.

German bishops express a desire for dialogue with their theologians

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Some 144 German Catholic theologians, along with a handful of colleagues from Austria and Switzerland, recently issued a public declaration calling for reforms on matters such as celibacy, women priests and homosexuality. The list of signatories represents roughly one-third of Germany’s professors of Catholic theology.

The letter also touches upon lay participation, styles of leadership, the liturgy, and the legal culture of the church. In some ways, it lays out an agenda for public debate when Benedict XVI visits his homeland in September.

Benedictine sisters celebrate 75-year anniversaries

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Some people make it five years in the same job. Others celebrate when they’ve stuck it out for ten.

For Sisters Lillian Harrington and Rosaria Schaefer, those anniversaries were just waypoints.

In a jubilee Mass and reception packed with friends, admirers, and awe struck observers yesterday, the two Benedictine sisters celebrated something most of us can’t even begin to comprehend: their 75th anniversaries as vowed women religious.

Our treatment of prisoners says a lot about us

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It seems to me a measure of the quality of our society is how we treat men and women in jail.

I was in a courtroom a few weeks ago when a jailed defendant asked for a different court-appointed lawyer. The judge scolded him, calling him a whiner who is never satisfied.

The judge treated him disrespectfully, as if he were already found guilty -- and that’s how the public defender, who is young and inexperienced, had been treating him already. That’s why the defendant wanted a different lawyer. He didn’t get one.

This was a very small event. The defendant wasn’t dying for lack of medication. The defendant hadn’t been beaten by arresting officers.

But he had been waiting in jail twenty months for his trial and the charge was a sex offence -- which carries the “ick” factor for everybody. He was very scared that a jury was going to find him guilty if he didn’t mount a strong defense.

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