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Nuns on the Bus Received Like Rock Stars

And on the fourth day...Nuns on the Bus came to South Bend, Indiana. In the chapel of Good Shepherd Montessori School--which doubles on Sundays as the sanctuary for the First Unitarian Church--the women religious involved in this nine-state pilgrimage met with about 300 adoring, sign-waving supporters, and two dissenters."We are consubstantial with you!" read one hand-lettered sign of greeting."Thank You for keeping the Vatican II Church going for us!" read another."Our Sisters Prophets Among Us," said a third.And indeed, the event--termed a "friend raiser"--had the feel of a genuinely prophetic experience. Led by Sister Simone Campbell, executive director of Network, the Catholic social justice lobby, four of the nuns described encounters they have had with Americans of various occupations and income levels since they started their tour last Monday in Des Moines. Already they have traveled through Iowa, Wisconsin, Illinois and Indiana. Over the next 11 days they will pass through Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Maryland and Virginia, ending up on July 2 in Washington, D.C.The thrust of their effort is to call attention to the hurtful and destructive aspects of the Republican budget plan put forward by Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin and to call instead for a budget that makes paramount the needs of the poor and the vulnerable.Without once mentioning the names "Obama" or "Romney," the sisters reminded their audience that political decisions made in Washington and in the various state capitals will have enormous consequences, and that the Gospels and Catholic social teaching have important things to say about the choices America's citizens and their leaders must make.What the nuns seek, Sister Simone said, is "reasonable revenue for responsible programs." And the Ryan budget, which would cut food stamps, cut Medicaid, reduce taxes for the wealthy and raise them for the rest, and raise defense spending beyond even what the military has requested, is neither reasonable nor responsible, she and her colleagues said.While the audience members were overwhelmingly supportive of the nuns and their program, they were not unanimously so. Louann Kensinger, who described herself as a teacher at South Bend's Riley High School, and her husband showed up, carrying placards calling for a stop to the Obama administration's "HHS mandate" requiring contraception as part of employee health coverage. The nation's Catholic bishops have said this requirement--and a subsequent compromise plan offered by President Obama displacing the requirement to insurance carriers--infringe the religious liberty of Catholic schools, colleges, hospitals and other institutions. The bishops have mounted a nationwide campaign of opposition.Significantly, during her presentation, Sister Simone said that one of the happy aspects of the Nuns on the Bus effort was that it put the nuns on the same side as the bishops, who have raised objections on moral grounds to several aspects of the Ryan budget.Kensinger's objections to the nuns' program was not unfamiliar. She said, in posing a question to the nuns, that "we have spent $5 trillion" on antipoverty efforts since the 1960s, and poverty has become, if anything, even worse. What America suffers from, Kensinger said in a subsequent interview, is "a poverty of values, not cash."She did not explain how taking food stamps, medical care and other necessary assistance away from needy Americans would improve their values.



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They are getting good coverage: you can see in that picture, the bus is ther rolling billboard and backdrop for pictures.In an interview, one of the sisters said that their original idea was to drive one of their cars and stick some felt letters to the sides - but someone with more PR experience pointed out that with a bus you can wrap the whole thing in vinyl with messages all over it.

"Significantly, during her presentation, Sister Simone said that one of the happy aspects of the Nuns on the Bus effort was that it put the nuns on the same side as the bishops, who have raised objections on moral grounds to several aspects of the Ryan budget."Yes, that is happy. On the other hand, this report doesn't mention that Sr. Campbell spoke the terms "HHS", "mandate", "religious" or "freedom" - at a publicity-generating event on the eve of the Fortnight for Freedom initiative in which the bishops are pleading that all Catholics and people of good will participate. If she conducted this media event without so much as mentioning the Fortnight of Freedom, - well, that is sad. It seems there were two calls to Catholic responsibility at that event. One was by Sr. Campbell. The other was by the Kensingers, who, apparently without the benefit of buses or media alerts, gave rather courageous, and lonely, public witness to their faith. God bless them.

Jim- must ALL Catholics in ALL public speeches mention the HHS mandate over the next couple of weeks? What if, as with people like me, the HHS mandate is not a priority?Bishop Lynch in Florida has had several blog posts supporting the fortnight, but in a recent one he expressed a very legitimate concern about going to the political well too often; he has a couple of very pressing legislative issues in the Fall that need at least as much attention.'m glad the Sisters are talking about poor people.

I wonder if the Kensingers re following the nuns across the country. You'll see someone holding up an anti-HHS Mandate sign behind Sr. Simone as she spoke outside Paul Ryan's office In Janesville on Tuesday. Simone points out in that clip that the cuts to support for the poor in Ryan's budget can't be made up by church charities because it would require every church, mosque, synagogue and other place of worship in the US to raise $50,000 per year for ten years to replace those cuts - and it's just not possible.

Good morning Mr. Wycliff--It was a pleasure to meet you last night at the Nuns on the Bus tour. Your comparison to the nuns' reception to that of rock stars was right on. When I saw the massive tricked-out megabus, the rock-star treatment and the reference to an appearance on Steven Colbert's TV show, it struck me that these ladies are living lives very different from the nuns I remember years ago who took vows of poverty and lived lives of sacrifice. The bus itself was easily worth at least twice the value of the home my husband and I own. How many orphanages could that money build in areas of true physical poverty, such as in Africa, Asia, Central and South America?In answer to your implied question of how reducing assistance to the needy would improve their values, well I guess it wouldn't. But it would stop subsidizing irresponsible behavior. And that's a step in the right direction. The real work of improving the values in our communities has to be done face-to-face with a spirit of tough-love. Here's the problem as I see it from 26 years of teaching in an urban school in a high-poverty neighborhood:The poverty that exists in the United States is a poverty of values. It is a spiritual problem, not an economic one. I have lost count of the students I know who have either been murdered or murderers. They have no concept of the sacredness of life or the dignity of the human person. Our kids receive free breakfast, lunch, and sometimes even supper. They get free textbooks and after-school programs. We practically beg them to come to school. In return, too many of them throw the books in the trash or the toilet, deface the walls, leave the food they don't like on the floor, skip school or disrupt class when present. Oprah had the same experience when she tried to build a school for disadvantaged American girls. She decided to put her efforts in Africa where they would be appreciated. The American definition of poverty is very different from true poverty. The majority of the kids I describe have cable TV, video games, expensive tatoos and manicures, very nice clothes, and fancy cell phones that they use to text each other when they should be listening to the teacher. I confiscate an average of one phone per day throughout the year. I'm not saying there are no truly deserving poor people. But I am saying that we throw too much money at the problem and then pat ourselves on the back for our "compassion". This is just my perception, but sometimes it seems like we treat "the poor" like they are our pets. We provide homes, food and medical care and expect to be adulated in return. We certainly don't expect them to be able to control their impulses and take charge of their own lives like real people. This is terribly demeaning to the recipient. If we truly love them we will insist on the simple steps virtually guaranteed to raise them out of poverty: 1) finish your education 2) get married and stay married 3) delay child-bearing until after you're married. I was happy to hear that we agree the HHS mandate is wrongheaded. Our right to follow our consciences is the second most precious gift we have, after life itself. We must not allow government to abridge that right. And we can't allow ourselves to accept the lie that the bishops wish to deny poor women access to birth control. Birth control is abundant, easily accessible, and cheaper than a manicure. If you're grown-up enough to have sex, then you should be grown-up enough to take responsibility for it. Mr. Wycliff, I appreciate that you took the time to listen to my concerns last night after I was cut off by the speaker. I know what I have to say is unpopular and it doesn't lend itself to an easy fix. But we can't solve the problem until we identify it properly -- under the cold light of reason and not the dazzle of our own stardom. Sister Simone reminded us last night that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results. Isn't their mission just more of the same?Sincerely,Louann Kensinger

@Jim Pauwels, Do you really think that food stamps, medicaid, federal aid to elementary schools, job corps, urban renewal programs, food for pregnant women, and rural sanitation and tax cuts for the poor, were all a waste of money and violate Catholic values, as Kensinger says? One can assume waste in any large program, government, religious or private, without condemning either the overall effectiveness nor the good intention. The statistical facts bear out that poverty, and particularly the kind of hopeless pervasive poverty that is most devastating, was ameliorated, not eliminated, by the 'war on poverty' of the Johnson AND Nixon years. In fact, I would contend that both Johnson and Nixon should receive more credit for these efforts, and would, but for other unfortunate aspects of their presidencies.

49 million Americans were living in true poverty last year.

The gap between rich and poor grows -because we spent government money on it?????The values issues in play here continue and to sadden me that so many don't see care for the poor by private and public sectors(realistically) as important.The broader po;itical context IMO hurts the church driving many away or into drift.That sentiment is also reinforced by the CDF vs. LWCR and in particular NETWORK.I also think that it is not a test of faith (as do some good people here) to be on board for the Fortnight for Freedom -except for loyalists.

@Bob, especially if one holds the opinion that the premise of Fortnight for Freedom is bogus.

I give as one example that the "Bill" introduced in the Connecticut legislature never even made it to committee. Does anyone have any idea how many idiotic, but essentially meaningless, Bills are introduced by some crazy legislator in State bodies? To cite that as an existential threat to religious freedom is nothing less than bogus.

Ms. KensingerThank you for very thoughtful commentary and, more, for 26 years of teaching at a city school! You sound like you have been extremely committed to your students and suffered with the loss of life than too sadly I see in our city where I previously worked in a neighborhood agency in a rough section that likewise knew too much teen death.Specifically, however, I don't know the circumstances of the bus, but I doubt that the nuns will be touring "like rock stars" for long and I trust they''ll be good use for this bus in advocacy or whatever in the future. I don't think that's a substantial issue.Your point about values however, is well taken. The programs in our city are aiming at those as well as keeping students in school and PROMISING a FREE college education for those who graduate and are academically eligible. However, the graduation rate is still low and teen births, while down, are still high.The "values question" is a real one, I think, and it's hard to get at...Could write a ton on this!I think your "treating the poor as our pets" remark is biting, but provocative and has some elements of truth. All of the programs and "stuff" thrown at times (I'm guilty of it, too) is communicating exactly what...? fair and another hard question...I disagree with you about the HHS mandate but that's blogged all over...I really don't think the nuns mission is "more of the same," but this is where good people disagree and fight it out on policy... but I believe the Ryan budget is a fiscal and moral disaster no matter how sliced...I'd agree with your three point advice... a common goal...Bless you in your contiued teaching and loving these kids...

Mrs. Kensinger --Would you be the Louann Kensinger who teaches science at the James whitcomb Riley High School in South Bend? I see at Wikipedia that it's a magnet school. How come it admits all those underachievers that you describe?

Ms. KensingerIn our area,this is the day posssible day of school... hope for you as well...Upon re-reading your post, I hear such anger- and surely disappointment. From friends who teach in inner city schools, I know they need much mutual support and deep faith to keep going and not become jaded or burnt-out. I hope you have that kind of support as well. Are there any stories of resiliency or hope that you can share or are you understandably exhausted and need a break? I guess what I'm also saying is my wonder in your tone if you have come to the end of your rope and are ready to move on knowing that you've done all that you can do...Obviously, none of my business, but I so respect teachers in the inner city, but know some who've stayed beyond their time as well...

From Pew:The median wealth of white households is 20 times that of black households and 18 times that of Hispanic households, according to a Pew Research Center analysis of newly available government data from 2009.We simply MUST stop throwing so much money at those people.

Mrs. Kensinger,It is notable that you make no mention of the riches of the bishops all of whom have more expensive homes than you. Most of them have people serving them for all their needs. As far as economic progress have you not noticed that the Middle Class is now poorer than it ever was and that the workers are working more for less pay? The problems that you describe about minority children are seen in white children from the rich to the Middle Class. They just have more safety nets than the minority children and policemen will tend to overlook their miscues as in the person who killed the young afro-american in Florida.

Thank you, Mr. Pasinski, for your kind words of support. The rope I have come to the end of is liberalism. I no longer have the patience for people who pretend the problem is money. I actually do have stories of resiliency and courage, but they are mostly from immigrants who come here and accept what this country excels in: opportunity. I particularly remember one young man, about 20 years ago, who escaped Viet Nam in the middle of the night and endured the depredations of the pirates upon the "boat people". Do you remember them? I made a special connection to this young man (who barely spoke English), perhaps because I was raised by a father who came from a tiny war-occupied island in the Pacific after WWII and made the most of the opportunity offered by the Catholic Church to receive an education at the University of Notre Dame. Anyway, this young Vietnamese man was 20 years old, slight in stature, and placed in freshman biology with 14 year-old American kids. I would walk the halls after school and pick up pencils and other items discarded by the American kids, because Phong often needed one. But he was always at my door, bright and early the next morning to return the little nub of a cast-off pencil because he knew how valuable it was. And also to get help with his homework. I will never forget him. I only wish our own kids could appreciate the wonderful opportunities they are offered daily. To answer Ann Oliver: yes, that's me. We are a magnet school, but we also accept all the neighborhood kids who choose our school. (There are 4 magnet schools in South Bend. One is a medical magnet, one is fine arts, one is International Baccalaureate, and ours is engineering. Students are free to choose any of the four, but we are not allowed to refuse anyone.)

Oh and one other thing: While I have a reputation at my school for being tough, I have been mentioned by many students as their "favorite teacher". This is tremendously humbling, because I know I fall far short each and every day. But I truly love my job and my kids and have no intention of retiring any time soon. But thank you again for your support.

As was famously stated, the rich are different from you and me, they have more money. No, Ms. Kensnger, money is not the 'problem' of poverty, and I fully agree that mindlessly throwing money at the problem is neither effective nor is it moral in the sense that, as President G.W Bush said, condemns with the curse of low expectations. Still, raising people from poverty should be a concern of all of us, and blaming those who live in poverty is hardly helping. The key, which I take it you would agree, is in education, reinforcing family, health care, insurance of basic necessities, such as food, and job opportunity. These are not strong components of the conservative agenda.Bear in mind, the median wage earner in the United States makes $505 a week.

The undeserving poor were. Featureof he pimary cmpaign:"While campaigning in Iowa, Santorum said "I don't want to make black people's lives better by giving them somebody else's money." He later said he didn't mean to say black people, but meant people.Romney has repeatedly said that Obama wants to transform America into an "entitlement society."Gingrich has attracted the most attention for his language. He called Obama a food-stamp president, questioned poor children's work ethic, and said poor people should want paychecks, not handouts."And h most famous of all, from the.lips of Ronald Reagan:""There's a woman in Chicago," Reagan said, according to an article in the now-defunct Washington Star. "She has 80 names, 30 addresses, 12 Social Security cards. ... She's got Medicaid, getting food stamps and she is collecting welfare under each of her names. Her tax-free cash income alone is over $150,000."

Remember the old saying, "If you're going to tell a lie, tell a big one". I guess we figure that people wouldn't dare to tell a whopper, so we don't check them out. There's another saying, "There's a fool born every minute" that's relevant here.

I think Dave raises the point about inner city teachers (and clergy and nuns).I think many try to live Mt.25 with less and less support from the no childers .In poor schools across the country, the problem of "savage inequalities" continues to exist.I also concur with Ms. Ravitxh as mentioned on the catholic school thread, that thetre is a special problem where race and poverty are abundant.The continuing PBS discussions are relevant about the issues in play on the education side - but the problem of poverty is not going to be alleviated by the Ryans and their allies!

Having taught for 18 years in several poverty-ridden school districts, I read Louann Kensinger's piece with a sense of identification and some degree of agreement.I agree that "throwing money" haphazardly at the poor doesn't help. And I have lived through the angry, irresponsible student behavior she describes: defacing books and walls with gang signs and obscenities, truancy, fighting, and free-floating hostility. But I disagree that free breakfast and lunch or subsidized housing and medical care contributes to or helps perpetuate these behaviors.The majority of my students lived in single-parent, female households and some were passed around from relative to relative due to the inability of their underage mothers to care for them. Many had been surrounded by drug addiction and both family and neighborhood violence since their births. (I suspect that if Mrs.Kensinger's students have manicures, expensive cell phones and nice clothes, there's some drug money involved.) And for every one of my students who threw away free food, there was another one who ate it and asked for more because there was little or nothing to eat at home.Mrs. Kensinger says that the poor have a spiritual as well as an economic problem and I agree. Many of my students also had psychological problems caused by inadequate parenting and by living in volatile, threatening environments. Of course we all need to "learn how to control our impulses and take charge of our lives". It's just more difficult for children born into communities where anger, despair, apathy, -and yes, valuelessness - are rampant. Cutting programs that provide not only nutrition and medical care but also recreation and creative arts (which teach structure and encourage self-worth) will only make matters worse. Tough love alone doesn't work!

[...] Nuns on the Bus Received Like Rock Stars by Don Wycliff on [...]

Ms. Kensinger: Thanks for posting -- and I hope you continue to post here. I'm not surprised that money is not sufficient, but I suspect that it is necessary, particularly if we are talking about programs that provide basic nutrition to growing children. I don't think a push for funding of social programs is inconsistent with a push for values and higher expectations, and I don't think the nuns (who, by the way, probably don't own the bus) would disagree.

I am afraid I disagree with the majority about Mrs. Kensinger's remarks. They seem to me to evince not care for some students but contempt for them I doubt very much that Sister Simone was advocating money as a total solution- she is advocating solidarity, which includes but is not limited to money. But it does exclude contempt.I teach a lot of wealthy students. And they text in class too. But they are part of the "Notre Dame family- and they have a broad social network that will take care of them, that will give them opportunities, that will bail them out when they fail. These kids don't have networks like that- their patterns of social recognition and status are different. And telling them to straighten up and fly right isn't going to do it.

This will be my last post on this thread as I do have a house to clean and have started my summer job. Once again, thanks for all the kind words of encouragement and support. I woke up this morning remembering a quote that says any government big enough to give you everything you want is big enough to take away everything you have. I thought it might have been Ronald Reagan, but I looked it up and it was actually Gerald Ford.The reason this quote is so relevant to Catholics is because it is being played out before our very eyes. The Catholic Church has done infinitely more to alleviate suffering and poverty in the world than all the government programs put together. Yet our very ability to retain our Catholic identity is being directly threatened. I was terribly disappointed that the nuns were so unwilling to recognize this fact in that they refused even to discuss the HHS mandate. By doing so, they showed themselves to be liberals first and Catholics second. Frankly, the rally had all the earmarks of a political event calibrated to appeal to a particular segment of society whose votes are desperately needed in November. One of God's greatest gifts to mankind came in the form of our Declaration of Independence and our Constitution. These are the secular rocks that form the foundation of our freedom to practice our faith openly and without fear. But look what has happened over recent decades: a liberal Supreme Court found an unstated "right to privacy" that opened the door to elective abortion up to and including the third trimester while the Obama administration's HHS mandate ignores the explicitly stated free-exercise clause of the First Amendment. If we allow the HHS mandate to stand, we sacrifice our Catholic identity at the altar of big government. Even Father Jenkins of Notre Dame (who put his own reputation on the line for this president) recognizes this. Every Catholic must decide which comes first. We cannot serve two masters. My husband and I have made our choice. We have evolved over the years and brought our views in line with Catholic teaching on capital punishment. We keep a copy of the Cathechism of the Catholic Church readily available for reference, because we realize the accumulated wisdom of two thousand years guided by the Holy Spirit cannot be wrong. God bless you all. And please pray for our country.LK

An interesting mix of politics and religion in the name of religious values.In a few weeks, we'll mourn the passing in 1989 of the finest priest I knew.Msgr. Own Scanlon who spent his entire active priesthood serving the poor of Central Harlem.The Big O, in retirement would be our dinner guest several times a year, even as his cancer ate at him,Living with his sister in the north Bronx/lower Westchester, he helped out at a local parish and always complained to us how the Church was becoming, more and more, a Church of "our own ass."I think he was prescient!I agre with Cathy K."s take here and that the nuns on the bus are "rock stars" not because they seek their own fame but are speaking a real voice for what many see how the church should be acting!I think the "failed liberal project" is an example of how the Church leadership is wrapped in its own rightist political perogatives as it heads towards a"martyrdom" in proclaiming its rights.Some say we are headed for a Church of schism and that may well be the case - as long as instititions continue to see people as expendable, not only in sex abuse matters, but in their own desire for power.

"I agre with Cathy K.s take here and that the nuns on the bus are rock stars not because they seek their own fame but are speaking a real voice for what many see how the church should be acting!"Isn't our faith big enough such that it's possible to have room enough for people to think that BOTH the nuns AND the bishops (and those advising and agreeing with them) are speaking a "real voice" and acting how the church "should be acting", even if we might disagree with one or other's particular judgments on the issues?

I note the inyernational based group of religious superiors (based in Rome) are supporting LWCR.I said many, Jef, not all -some think the bishops are doing the right thing.BUT, the Church is splintering - precisely because the big tent Church is being left behind for a smaller more univocal voiced one.And there's lots of comingling of politics in this -often wrapped in the garb of religious righteousness.And beyond that, the status of our religious women, no matter what PR Cardinal Levada wants to give John Allen, is seen as an attack on their good works -often with the poor and matginalized.And, seen as "contempt" to borrow Cathy's words both for the poor and the nuns and laity who serve them -a contempt by those who, often with more ease, think they know better.

Jeff ==You and I disagree vociferously a lot, though sometimes we even admit that we agree about something. Maybe it's because we come from Louisiana, the nutty place with such outlandish politics that sometimes Republicans even endorse Democrats for office and vice versa. J admit that is weird. Some people call this "bipartisanship" (which kind of looks like "bisexuality"). But other folks call it "treason". Still, I think our occasionally inclusive way is best. It's not switching sides. It's widening sides. (And, cher, if we don't manage to be bipartsan, Carrie's hand is going to shoot up out from under the ground and drag us all down into Hell!)

There is so much I would like to say in response to Ms. Kensinger, but I lack the time. I'll avoid repeating others and stick my comments to defending Sr. Simone from the accusation of not speaking about the HHS mandate. Sr. Simone, Network, the Catholic Health Association, and CHA director Sr. Carol Keehan all supported the Affordable Care Act. All of them have also asked that HHS respect the right of conscience of Catholic institutions and provide contraception with its own Title X funds if it so wishes to extend that coverage to Catholic employees. However, the bus trip is not about the HHS mandate, its about the Ryan budget. The bishops have allotted 2 weeks of prayer and protest for the HHS mandate. There is no reason to believe that Ms Kensinger will not have her day. Lastly, many of us (I think Sr. Simone included), believe that this 2 week Fortnight for Freedom is overly political and misguided energy. What a battle to choose! And, the timing couldn't have been worse. The dedication of 2 weeks of prayer and protest because Catholic institutions will be forced to violate church teaching that more than 80% of Catholics reject anyway seems excessive considering the effort put in to other issues. I don't even think the bishops called for a candlelight vigil for the conscientious objectors of the Iraq war. We are talking about men who stood by their moral convictions and served jail terms rather than fight the war. And, we are talking about a war that Pope John Paul II clearly identified as an unjust war. And now, over the issue of contraception, we're supposed to ready ourselves for civil disobedience. I, like Sr. Simone and Sr. Keehan, hope and pray that this administration can reach a satisfactory accommodation with our Catholic institutions. But, I am not totally on board with this Fortnight for Freedom. It just doesn't sit right with me.

Louann Kensington's protest against the contraception mandate, however well-intentioned, is way too late, as are many similar complaints against this mandate. For decades employees who took their employers' benefit package "choice/menu" offerings of X, Y, or Z health insurance companies ... often did so because they, like myself, had no other affordable option. It was simply a matter of all prudent families do, making their remaining dollars stretch as far as they can and stay above water. However, if they looked over what their "final choice" for an insurer carried ... usually it was listed in the very "back pages" of the literature ... they would find "termination of pregnancy services," (however abortion was phrased.) There were usually also other contraceptive-related offerings as well. So, on we went, accepting this "trade-off" as part n' parcel of having to take what many parents have reminded their children to do in life, learn how to take "the good with the bad." That's not the same thing as liking it, but holding one's nose and going on with life with hopes, prayers and maybe some activism, doing what one can to overturn Roe. Catholics and their many excellent colleges, universities and health facilities, including some of the planet's best medical training schools had no problem taking Uncle Sam's money through a wide means ranging from funding for medical research to Federal/State college loans, grants, etc. enabling millions of students to attend. Never, in our wildest nightmares did we think the "Feds" would put any legal squeeze on our schools. After all, where's Georgetown University located?! What would the State Department do if G'town shut down its programs for training overseas diplomats? Would Catholics prefer seeing State going back to relying solely on the good ol' reliable WASP old boy/girl networks in the Ivies who have long severed their religious origins? Questions we never thought we'd have to ask. It wasn't as if the Feds and States were altogether ignorant of their Court-backed right to even request that any religious-run facility that was supported by taxpayer dollars, be it to purchase staples or pay for expensive big-name seminars--to take down any Crucifixes, statues of Mary, the saints and even plain crosses...even if these symbols were "worked" into the walls as mosaic artform. (The then-sub-Education Dept. in 1973, asked my alma mater, Biscayne College, of Miami Gardens to chisel out a cross placed over the door leading to the main seminar hall of a conference facility it just built. Thankfully Biscayne held its ground over a petty display of force during the waning days of Nixon's administration. Also thankfully, the college, now part of St. Thomas University, received a Pentagon grant via Rep. Wasserman-Schultz for stem-cell research during the last year of Bush(43)'s administration. Will the school have to start working with embryonic stem-cells? I doubt it for that given grant. Future grants? Hard to say. Since we're not working under a system like the colonists' where there was taxation w/o representation; but if we're willing to take funds from government agencies funded by our respective legislatures which we freely grant the privilege to represent us, we have to take, "the good with the bad," until sound compromises concerning funding which allow for both full-respect for the operating religious body's doctrinal teachings and our respective legislative bodies that represent all of us. Otherwise, "see you in court," which nobody wants to hear. Ms. Kensington is right about one thing, despite all the money weve allocated to fight the War on Poverty, were still stuck with great impoverishment of human hearts and were still surrounded by great swaths of poverty. Much of that can be placed on the shoulders of our nations overwhelming and almost unchallenged acceptance of the Calvinist work ethic which gives too much credence to a long-cherished and also seldom challenged notion, er, outright myth: rugged individualism. Ever see one man raise a barn, or a baby change its own diaper?

I'm still confused about inner city schools and our understanding of how we serve the poot/I see James Whitcomb riley is a magnet school for enginering and technology.Is that something like Bronx hS of Science in the Bronx as opposed to nearby Lehman?I noted Jonathon Kozol's sabage Inequalities for its contrast between the well heeled schools up the hill in Riverdale as opposed to the conditions at the bottom of the hill when he wrote -has it changed?His writings are replete with storues about serving poor children, the differences that those who serve make and the obstacles they face.I think, even in Catholic education (and despite the good efforts of some), the challenge of that issue remains unresolved as we balance the books.I repeat again though that I'm with the nuns who serve the poor because that's what the Chutch should be about.

"I noted Jonathon Kozols sabage Inequalities for its contrast between the well heeled schools up the hill in Riverdale as opposed to the conditions at the bottom of the hill when he wrote -has it changed?"Nope. The Facebook and Internet groups of Riley students certainly creates a more positive impression of the student body than the one given by Mrs. Kensinger. And I sure hope my own kids' teachers don't talk about them the way Mrs Kensinger talks about her pupils.

Bob Nunz brings up a good comparison. My only "divergence" from his position relates to what the Church is all about in a wider context. (I'm also presuming Bob might've been posting "in a hurry" and sometimes things get left behind. Lord knows I've left lots on the proverbial "editing room floor." The Church is Christo-centric, pardon my use of a contemporary insta-term to describe her Mission since it was founded by Jesus. This, of course, implies the necessary evangelistic duty all Christians are required to fulfill regarding Jesus' command to spread the "good news" about him, his salvific sacrifice on Calvary and defeat of death on Easter morning; not to mention the necessity to take full advantage of the Sacraments, the most important of course, being Communion. I realize I, too, am fairly guilty of short-shrifting what the Church has more to say about herself. However, the Church has always believed stressing the need to put action to beliefs and letting our prayer-life expand, thus allowing the Holy Spirit to strengthen us as we go about sharing our faith (through concrete action) in addition to sharing the faith through, say, explaining the Mass and inviting non-Catholics to attend, etc. Liberal Christians, and Catholics in particular, are fond of pointing to the challenge Jesus gives us in MT 25. No matter how pious we claim to be, how strongly we embraced Jesus upon meeting him for the first time, said a "sinner's prayer" and pushed "Bible Christianity," so long as the "born again" experience was followed up only by a steady stream of one different kind of Bible studies after another, but little time was spent (if any at all) helping the less fortunate, our souls were no better off than if no acceptance of Jesus as one's "personal Lord and Savior" was made n' proclaimed to the tallest heights. What's most galling to the more old-fashioned (i.e., more temperamentally grounded) conservatives, moderates and liberals who understand the necessity to put Christ first and center ... viz the "social justice first" m.o. ... is that this more secularist zeitgeist and kind of motivation is just as narrowly contrived as the "I'm born again, bound for heaven and that's that" mentality of far too many evangelicals who've bought into the one-dimensional "Bible Christianity" kind of "religious experience." Catholics, especially conservative Catholics lately, and by that I mean especially the kind of fiscally-oriented conservative Catholics of our time, have allowed themselves to be hornswaggled by the smug rationalizations of the Paul Ryans, Lawrence Kudlows, Laura Ingrahams, and Newt Gingriches in our political circus ... and the usual line that follows is this: Attend Mass, say your prayers and hope for the blessings of the private sector to trickle down to the rest of life's less fortunate folks. It's also a little daunting for us more "traditional" (i.e. old fogies) Catholics to watch the rising influence of Fr. C. John McCloskey, (Opus Dei) as he manages to bring in one celebrity conservative talking head/pundit into the Church. This is the same priest who proudly makes no bones about his contention that one cannot be loyal to the Church and be a liberal at the same time. Adding to Fr. McCloskey's influence, is the recent announcement of Fox News' Greg Burke, a lay Opus member, to be the Vatican's major-domo when it comes to restoring its reputation with the international press and world in general. What's next? Fox buying out EWTN? Only the butler knows for sure. But if that happens, rest assured, the Episcopalians will keep their hearts, minds, souls and back porch doors open ... no questions asked, even from a "politically correct" perspective. BTW, when was the last time our more conservative Catholic friends suffering from over-starched collars and heavy hairshirts been called out for pushing their kind of PC agendas?

Darn it...I forgot to mention that our separated brethren/sisters will keep the porch lights on, too.

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