Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Lack of civility

Religion News Service reported last month on a poll that showed Americans of all faiths see a civility problem in U.S. politics:
Whether they rally behind Fox News’ Glenn Beck to “Restore Honor” or Comedy Central’s Jon Stewart to “Restore Sanity,” Americans agree on one thing: our political system has a civility problem.

Four out of five Americans, regardless of party or religious affiliation, think the lack of respectful discourse in our political system is a serious problem, according to a PRRI/RNS Religion News Poll released Thursday (Nov. 11).

The findings echo sentiments expressed by a range of religious leaders, including Richard J. Mouw, president of Fuller Theological Seminary and author of “Uncommon Decency: Christian Civility in an Uncivil World,” and Rabbi Steve Gutow, president of the Jewish Council for Public Affairs.

Alarmed by the 2010 campaign season, which 4 in 10 Americans consider more negative than past elections, Mouw, Gutow and others are calling for a kinder, gentler tone—even on hot-button topics like Islamophobia, homosexuality or abortion.

“We’ve had heated public debates before, but the level of discourse in this campaign and even following the campaign has been atrocious,” Mouw said, citing as an example Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell’s pledge to prevent President Obama’s reelection, as opposed to advocating for policy shifts.

“There’s a real hostility now, and Christians with very strong and more conservative convictions really don’t seem to be contributing much to a civil discourse and a calming of the heated discussions in the larger culture,” Mouw said.
The rest of the article is here.


Tuesday, December 07, 2010


The Times Union this week had an editorial that struck us as timely and important:
It was just a month ago that dozens of New York legislators were breezing to re-election by making campaign promises that included a vow to transform the culture of state government. These would be the last elections, they vowed, in which the boundaries of individual legislative districts would be drawn by the very assemblymen and senators representing them.

Now, they should deliver. So, too, should a lame-duck governor who has been such an outspoken advocate of redistricting reform -- urged on by a governor-elect who also ran on a platform of radically changing the ways of state government.

Governor Paterson should call the Legislature back into session at once, so that it can begin to take the necessary action to make the 2012 elections infinitely more fair. Lawmakers of both houses and both parties should vote to entrust the authority to draw legislative districts to an independent commission before lines are drawn anew in time for those elections.

Several versions of legislation to do just that have been proposed already.
To read those versions, go here.


Sunday, December 05, 2010

We Remember

Cathleen F. Crowley of the Times Union has a nice article about yesterday’s memorial service for Sisters Maura Clarke, Ita Ford and Dorothy Kazel and lay missionary Jean Donovan:
Laurene O'Brien, of Clifton Park, was a suburban housewife living the typical American life when she heard about the death of four women she never knew. It changed her forever.

"It made me no longer able to be in that peaceful, suburban-life journey," said O'Brien, who had once been a missionary in Peru. "It called me back to my roots, to why I had gone to Peru in the first place ... to be more mindful of the poor."

On Saturday, O'Brien and two dozen people honored the 30th anniversary of the massacre of three nuns and a missionary in El Salvador. The service, which was held at Hubbard Interfaith Sanctuary at The College of Saint Rose, was sponsored by The Commission for Peace and Justice of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Albany.

In 1980, Sisters Maura Clarke, Ita Ford and Dorothy Kazel and lay missionary Jean Donovan were serving the poor in El Salvador during a time of civil unrest. On the way home from the San Salvador airport, they were stopped at a roadblock and taken to a remote location where they were tortured, raped and killed on Dec. 2, 1980.

The rest of the article is here.


Saturday, December 04, 2010

Agency adds to AIDS services

From the latest issue of The Evangelist, the newspaper of the Albany diocese:
Catholic Charities AIDS Services of the Albany Diocese now serves patients with no medical insurance.

The agency was among 41 organizations that received grants from the AIDS Institute of the New York State Department of Health to provide supportive services to persons living with HIV and AIDS four months ago.

With a grant of $140,000, diocesan Catholic Charities has been able to expand its supportive case management services, add psychosocial services in rural areas of the Diocese and hire a Spanish interpreter to accompany patients to medical appointments. An annual grant of more than $180,000 will start next spring and last for four years.

Catholic Charities AIDS Services has been helping residents in 11 counties of the Diocese since the start of the AIDS epidemic in the 1980s. Services have included intensive case management, community outreach and service access, emergency financial assistance and personal care items.

The rest of the article is here.

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Friday, December 03, 2010

Memorial Service Saturday

Yesterday was the 30th anniversary of the death of four U.S. churchwomen, Dorothy Kazel, Maura Clarke, Ita Ford and Jean Donovan, who were brutally murdered in El Salvador in 1980. Dorothy, Maura and Ita were nuns, Jean was a layworker.

According to Catholic News Service:
El Salvador was experiencing civil unrest, repeated military coups and finally civil war. Amid the death squads and countless disappearances, the four churchwomen attempted to bring life to the communities they served.

Ita Ford wrote about her experience in El Salvador: "Am I willing to suffer with the people here, the suffering of the powerless? Can I say to my neighbors, 'I have no solutions to this situation; I don't know the answers, but I will walk with you, search with you, be with you.' Can I let myself be evangelized by this opportunity? Can I look at and accept my own poorness as I learn it from the poor ones?"

The Diocesan Commission on Peace and Justice will have a memorial of these brave women on Saturday, December 4 at noon in the Hubbard Interfaith Sanctuary at the College of Saint Rose, 959 Madison Avenue in Albany.