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Morning Briefing


The call from Bolivia


Yesterday, an old friend called me from La Paz, Bolivia. He wanted to tell me about a new book that will soon be on the market called The "Poisoned Spring" of Economic Libertarianism by Angus Sibley. It is a critique of neo-liberal capitalism from the point of view of Catholic social justice teaching. The preface is by another old friend, Joe Holland, who used to work at the Center of Concern.

tI have not read it; indeed, I just discovered it. But I will read it because I could hear the pleading in my friend’s voice. He is someone who has worked with the poor of South America for decades. He cares deeply about them, and about social justice. He sees the consequences of neo-liberal capitalist policies and practices that we know only by name, policies like “free trade” or “re-structuring.”

tI’ve been thinking a lot about economic justice because the news is filled with data on unemployment, the increasing income gap and the inability of many people to afford housing. And this is in the developed world; economic conditions are far worse in the global South.

Review of 'My Sisters Made of Light'


My friend Roberta Hudlow, SL, sent me this review of My Sisters Made of Light by Jacqueline St. Joan:

This book haunts me -- I pick it up to reread sections; to revisit Nafeesa and Kulraj and the “she-lions of Punjab.” There is pain and there is beauty in it. St. Joan gives to Kulraj Singh words that fit all our stories, “Pleasure and pain are a set of robes a man must keep on wearing.”

Mainly, Adaila Prison is the stage where Baji Ajala’s story unfolds as she tells the stories of her life to a tough but curious prison director. Ajala’s stories are hard but beautifully told with the light of hope, although hope is frequently very dim.

The author’s descriptions, dialogues, and characters pull you into the story. You feel surrounded by the presence of the people of Pakistan. You also feel the anachronism of the ancient culture and the use of cell phones and the fact that one of the character’s favorite TV show is “Friends”.

On this day: St. Columcille


On this day we celebrate "the greatest Irish figure after Patrick, Columcille, prince of Clan Conaill, born in the royal enclosure of Gartan, on December 7, 521, less than ninety years after Patrick's arrival as bishop.

"Though he could have been a king, maybe even high king, Columcille chose to become a monk. His real name, Crimthann, or Fox, holds an echo of the ancient mythology, and he was probably red-haired." Page 169.

--How the Irish Saved Civilization, by Thomas Cahill, Doubleday, 1975. (Search term: fox.)

One of the most unusual -- and disturbing -- stories you will read for some time


NCR Editor at Large Tom Roberts passed me this to glance at this morning. This news story is reported by Inter Press News Service, which focuses on the developing world, in this case an action in Ecuador presumably initiated by the highest of Catholic church officials.

As reported, it appears, in this instance our church leadership has decided to throw out its gospel teachings and replace them with some kind of a ultra militaristic medieval cult. To what end, I have no clue. We will have to find out more.

The story follows with a Quito, Ecuador dateline:

Catholic bishop emeritus Gonzalo López Marañón has been fasting since May 24 in a park in the Ecuadorian capital to call for peace and reconciliation in Sucumb'os, an Amazon province immersed in a conflict over the Vatican's decision to put the diocese in the hands of an ultra-conservative Catholic order.

Lady Gaga and a path to peace


On Monday evening my wife and I attended the black-tie Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA) awards ceremony held at Alice Tully Hall at Lincoln Center in New York City.

The CFDA is a not-for-profit trade association that leads industry-wide initiatives and whose membership consists of more than 370 of America’s foremost womenswear, menswear, jewelry, and accessory designers. Diane von Furstenberg, president of CFDA, hosted the evening.

The attendees walking the red carpet included many of the top people in fashion, including a bevy of Victoria's Secret super models, as well as up-and-comer designers.

The evening didn't really begin until Lady Gaga showed up, walking on 10-inch platform shoes and a revealing body suit. It was a site to behold.

First Things columnist criticizes Kansas City Bishop


Elizabeth Scalia, the popular First Things columnist and writer known for her blog "The Anchoress," has joined those critical of Kansas City-St. Joseph Bishop Robert Finn for his handling of a case involving a priest arrested for possession of child pornography.

"By all accounts, Bishop Robert Finn is a very good man, but it seems he is a very good man who made a very big -- huge; astounding -- mistake," writes Scalia at the beginning of a blog post yesterday.

The mistake Scalia refers to is Finn's admission that he did not read a May 19, 2010, letter sent to his chancery by Julie Hess, principal of St. Patrick's elementary school, which warned that Fr. Shawn Ratigan, a diocesan priest, "fit the profile of a child predator."

Scalia's comments came the same day The Kansas City Star reported in a front page article that a local candidate for the deaconate had withdrawn his decision to receive holy orders because, he wrote in a letter, "I cannot promise respect or obedience that is a part of the diaconate ordination."


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In This Issue

July 14-27, 2017