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Jarome paces Padua to volleyball sweep of Ursuline

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Dialog reporter

 

WILMINGTON – It may have been Senior Night at Padua, but when the Pandas needed a boost, they turned to a pair of youngsters. Freshman Emily Jarome carried the load up front, while sophomore Maddie Judge provided support from the service line as third-ranked Padua rallied in game three to sweep rival Ursuline Friday night in Catholic Conference volleyball.

Set scores were 25-17, 25-19 and a wildly entertaining 28-26.

Emily Jarome winds up to deliver another powerful shot toward Ursuline on Friday night. She finished with 13 kills. (The Dialog/Mike Lang)

Emily Jarome winds up to deliver another powerful shot toward Ursuline on Friday night. She finished with 18 kills. (The Dialog/Mike Lang)

While the Raiders were able to stay close in the first two sets, Padua asserted itself late in each to put some separation between the teams. Behind an outstanding effort from junior Kailyn Kampert and senior Maddie Hughes, Ursuline turned the final set into great theater.

Ursuline opened the third set with a kill from Hughes, and after Padua’s Lauren Mellor answered, the Raiders scored the next four points, the last on an ace by junior Nicole Raiford. With Jarome on the bench, Ursuline went on a five-point run to make it 10-3. After another Kampert kill, Padua scored on an unforced error, and Jarome and Judge re-entered the game and turned the set around.

With Judge serving, Padua scored the next nine points. The run included back-to-back kills by senior Vanessa Crumety. After a Raiders timeout, it was Jarome’s turn. She scored the next four points on kills to turn an 11-8 deficit into a 12-11 lead. The run ended two points later on a service winner by Judge.

The teams were tied at each point from 15 through 18. Jarome left with the scored tied at 17, and after the 18-18 deadlock, Ursuline scored the next four, including another Kampert kill and a service winner by Hughes. Padua, led by Crumety’s high-powered kills, bounced back to tie it again, this time at 22. The Raiders led once more, 23-22, but two unforced errors gave Padua match point. A Hughes block, however, sent the set to extra points.

In the extra play, Ursuline had set point twice, first on a tap kill by Raiford, then on a tap by freshman Taylor Wright. Both times, Jarome evened the score. The Pandas took a 27-26 lead on an unforced error, and Jarome – fittingly – finished the match by crushing her final kill down the left side.

Taylor Wright of Ursuline goes airborne for this serve against Padua. (The Dialog/Mike Lang)

Taylor Wright of Ursuline goes airborne for this serve against Padua. (The Dialog/Mike Lang)

“The third game was definitely the hardest for us, but it’s really going to help us [in the tournament]. We all have to come together and play so much better and harder,” Jarome said.

In the first two sets, Padua finished with comfortable margins, although the Raiders battled all night. The turning point in the first set was a six-point run by Padua, again with Judge serving, that opened up a 6-6 tie. A Jarome blast ended that set as well.

Ursuline had a few leads in the second, with the largest coming at 7-4 following an ace by Hughes. Sarah Wiley responded with two aces of her own to tie the set at 7, and the Pandas took a modest lead, but one they would not relinquish. This time, Crumety scored set point on a punishing kill sent straight down.

Crumety was one of five seniors honored by the Pandas. The others were Sarah Wiley, Stephanie Annone, Haley Baker and Mary Gallo, who was unable to attend.

Jarome finished with 18 kills, most of the very powerful variety, and three digs. Crumety added nine kills, while Wiley had 25 digs. Ursuline received nine kills from Kampert. Hughes had three kills, three aces and 12 digs.

Padua finished the regular season 12-3 and now waits to find out its seeding for and first-round opponent in the state tournament. The location is also up in the air because the Pandas cannot host playoff action in their gymnasium.

Ursuline is 7-7 and has one regular-season match remaining on Monday night at home vs. St. Mark’s at 7:30. The Raiders have played a very tough schedule and will see if their point total is enough to earn them a tournament berth.

 

‘John Wick’ is dim, violent and ludicrous

October 24th, 2014 Posted in Movies Tags: , ,

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Catholic News Service Starring as the eponymous antihero of the action thriller “John Wick,” Keanu Reeves stays true to his laconic form, up to a point. Wick is a man of few words and efficacious. But since his chief talent is for killing, he’s incapable of evoking sufficient compassion. The result is that Reeves seems as capable as ever, but much more inert emotionally.

Keanu Reeves stars in a scene from the movie "John Wick." The Catholic News Service classification is O -- morally offensive. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is R -- restricted. Under 17 requires accompanying parent or adult guardian. (CNS photo/Lionsgate)

Keanu Reeves stars in a scene from the movie “John Wick.” The Catholic News Service classification is O — morally offensive. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is R — restricted. Under 17 requires accompanying parent or adult guardian. (CNS photo/Lionsgate)

Pseudo-stylish and extremely violent, the movie itself plays like a long commercial for a fancy imported beer. A significant amount of casual, tongue-in-cheek humor is generated by the characters’ reactions to Wick’s lethal prowess, enough to lighten the proceedings a bit, though not nearly enough to wash away the blood or offset the high body count. A notoriously brutal and persistent hit man, John Wick has had the rare experience of being allowed to withdraw from the New York crime scene and lead a so-called normal life in suburban New Jersey. But following the death of his wife from unnamed natural causes, he’s drawn back in when a young thug steals his prized 1969 Ford Mustang and kills the puppy his spouse left him to help with the grieving process. The rash hoodlum turns out to be Iosef Tarasov (Alfie Allen), son of Russian crime czar Viggo Tarasov (Michael Nyqvist), a former associate of Wick’s. Although he doesn’t put it in so many words, there’s little doubt Wick will exact revenge. Aghast at having woken such a potent foe, Viggo goes on the offensive and provides an endless supply of black-suited henchman to be dispatched. In a series of repetitive sequences, Wick eliminates everyone in his way, frequently by shooting them in the head at point-blank range or snapping their necks. His friend and fellow hit man, Marcus (Willem Dafoe), gets drawn into the mayhem, as does a female assassin called Ms. Perkins (Adrianne Palicki). Making his directorial debut, longtime stunt coordinator Chad Stahelski doesn’t choreograph the action with any appreciable verve. The noir atmosphere he aims for is neither original nor convincingly rendered. Dressing everyone in three-piece suits and making use of dim lighting doesn’t cut it. The effort to present a criminal underworld governed by a strict code of behavior, and in which all the nefarious players lodge at the same chic Manhattan hotel, is faintly ludicrous and decidedly unglamorous. Wick knows how evil he is and, while not completely without remorse, never pretends to be civilized or morally redeemable. That doesn’t make him less culpable or his murderous behavior any easier to watch, however. It only renders the movie drearily inevitable. Likewise, asking, as numerous characters do, whether Wick has come out of retirement permanently and whether it’s even possible to ever extricate oneself from this milieu, is idle speculation. The only certainty is that Reeves’ latest screen venture is eminently avoidable. The film contains pervasive bloody violence involving guns, knives, martial-arts combat and the brutal treatment of a priest, possible euthanasia, animal cruelty, drug use, an irreverent depiction of a Catholic church, at least one instance of profanity as well as frequent rough language. The Catholic News Service classification is O, morally offensive. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is R.

Ottawa archbishop prays for shooting victims, tells Canadians to not be afraid

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Catholic News Service

OTTAWA, Ontario — Recalling the words of St. John Paul II, Ottawa Archbishop Terrence Prendergast called upon Canadians not to be afraid in the wake of the Oct. 22 shooting that left a Canadian soldier dead and forced lawmakers to barricade themselves inside their parliament offices.

Flags fly at half-mast on the Canadian Parliament buildings in Ottawa, Ontario, Oct. 23. Cpl. Nathan Cirillo, a Canadian soldier, was shot and killed while on duty at the nearby National War Memorial. (CNS photo/Warren Toda, EPA)

Flags fly at half-mast on the Canadian Parliament buildings in Ottawa, Ontario, Oct. 23. Cpl. Nathan Cirillo, a Canadian soldier, was shot and killed while on duty at the nearby National War Memorial. (CNS photo/Warren Toda, EPA)

In an email interview a day after the incident, Archbishop Prendergast noted that the violence occurred on the feast of St. John Paul and recalled the saint’s first words when he was elected pope in 1978 were, “Don’t be afraid! Open your hearts wide to Christ.”

“These words apply most appropriately to this present moment in our life in the nation’s capital, but they speak also to all Canadians,” the archbishop wrote.

Authorities said a gunman killed Cpl. Nathan Cirillo, a member of the army reserves from Hamilton, Ontario, who was guarding the tomb of the unknown soldier at the National War Memorial blocks from parliament. The assailant, whom police identified as Michael Zehaf-Bibeau, made his way to the parliament where he fired multiple times before he was shot and killed.

“God is still the Lord of our lives and is at work in the hearts of the bystanders who attempted CPR, called the police and other first responders who showed themselves courageous in putting their lives at risk in a moment of crisis,” Archbishop Prendergast said. “We have much to be grateful for. To live with moral certitude is to presume people mean me/us well and we should live out of that conviction.

“And while remaining alert to signs of behavior that can be harmful, we need to go about our business as the friendly and welcoming people I have come to know Ottawans to be,” he said.

The morning of the shootings, Archbishop Prendergast was in Blessed Sacrament Church in Toronto celebrating the funeral of a friend when he first heard the news.

“As I went back to the sacristy, someone mentioned that there was a terrorist action going on in Ottawa in generic terms, that much of Ottawa was on lockdown and that I should check to see whether I could fly to Ottawa in the afternoon,” he said. He was planning on an afternoon flight to he could host his annual Archbishop’s Charity Dinner that evening. More than 700 tickets had been sold.

The archbishop and his staff decided to cancel the dinner in the wake of the shootings. He said the food that had been prepared was delivered to the Shepherds of Good Hope for distribution to Ottawa’s needy residents.

In a press release announcing the cancelation, Archbishop Prendergast offered prayers for the victims.

“Let us offer our prayers to God in support of those who have been most affected by today’s events. As we do, let us also thank God for the beauty of our country and for the blessings of peace and security which are the blessings bestowed upon Canadians,” the statement said.

 

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St. Mark’s inducts six into Hall of Honor

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WILMINGTON — St. Mark’s High School added six members to its Hall of Honors on Oct. 23 as part of the school’s second annual Alumni Weekend. The hall recognizes graduates, faculty, staff and friends who have served St. Mark’s.

This year’s class brings to 34 the number of inductees. Previous inductees were honored for service or professional accomplishments; significant contributions to their students and the St. Mark’s community; and special service to the school.

The class of 2014 included:

• Margaret Carney McCaffrey, Class of 1973. McCaffrey, the first of nine children of Jack and Ann Carney to graduate from St. Mark’s, was recognized for her long record of loyal and generous service. Most recently, she gave a leadership gift to help complete the renovation of the school theater.

• Father James Nash, Class of 1980. Currently the pastor of Ss. Peter and Paul Parish in Easton, Md., Father Nash was honored for his service as a spiritual guide for the school, chairman of the board of directors, and for being an ardent proponent of St. Mark’s. He has been a board member since 1994 and chair the last two years.

• James and Judy Groff, who were recognized for being the most loyal, dedicated and generous donors to St. Mark’s each year. They established a scholarship in memory of their daughter, Julie A. Groff, a member of the Class of 1984. Jim Groff is a member of the school board, serving as chairman of the finance committee.

• Joe O’Neill, who served at the school from its opening in 1969 until his death in 2009. O’Neill was a counselor and cross country coach, the only coach until 2008. His four daughters – Amy (1989), Elise (1992), Maureen (1994) and Megan (1996) – are all graduates, and his grandson Brendan is a senior.

• Geraldine Talley, who is a longtime teacher, as well as founder and director of St. Mark’s EMMAUS program. EMMAUS provides academic support to students with diagnosed learning disabilities. Her children Justine (199$) and Kyle (1997) and grandson Jacob Beck (2013) are graduates.

The weekend continues tonight when the Spartans’ football team hosts Caesar Rodney at 7 p.m. The boys’ soccer team plays tomorrow afternoon at 12:30 p.m. vs. William Penn.

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Audiences likely to get ‘Ouija’ bored

October 23rd, 2014 Posted in Movies Tags: , ,

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Catholic News Service

Like some who play the “game” from which it takes its title, the folks behind “Ouija” wants to have it both ways: It’s all about harmless fun, of course. But what if it’s not?

Douglas Smith, Olivia Cooke and Ana Coto star in a scene from the movie "Ouija." The Catholic News Service classification is A-III -- adults. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is PG-13 -- parents strongly cautioned.  Some material may be inappropriate for children under 13. (CNS photo/Universal)

Douglas Smith, Olivia Cooke and Ana Coto star in a scene from the movie “Ouija.” The Catholic News Service classification is A-III — adults. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is PG-13 — parents strongly cautioned. Some material may be inappropriate for children under 13. (CNS photo/Universal)

A half-baked cautionary tale that nonetheless serves as extended product placement for the Hasbro version of the device, director and co-writer Stiles White’s muddled chiller is an amateurish effort that delivers few jolts and little entertainment. Its ambiguous portrayal of a spiritually dangerous pastime, moreover, makes the film totally unsuitable for impressionable viewers.

When seemingly happy teen Debbie (Shelley Hennig) mysteriously hangs herself, her best pal Laine (Olivia Cooke) and her boyfriend Pete (Douglas Smith) are left with a host of troubling questions. So they ill-advisedly try to communicate with Debbie using an Ouija board the deceased girl had recently unearthed in her attic.

As the audience already knows, and as some who haven’t even seen the movie can easily guess, a malevolent spirit summoned up by this item was the cause of Debbie’s untimely demise. Thus, by consulting it, Laine, Pete and those rounding out the seance — Laine’s younger sister, Sarah (Ana Coto), her school chum Isabelle (Bianca Santos) and her sweetheart, Trevor (Daren Kagasoff) — have all landed themselves in the supernatural soup.

Extricating themselves involves finding out about the unwholesome family who once lived in Debbie’s house, making more than one visit to an asylum for the insane and crawling around in a dark basement. While White and his script collaborator Juliet Snowden are thus busily lurching from one genre standby to the next, characters are rapidly being felled, one of them, at least, in a manner that’s quite nasty to watch.

The ultimate impact on moviegoers? Well, there is another way to spell “board.”

The film contains occult themes, brief but harsh violence, a suicide, a couple of crude terms and some mild oaths. The Catholic News Service classification is A-III, adults. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is PG-13.

 

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Photo of the week: Availability of food a key to peace

October 23rd, 2014 Posted in Uncategorized Tags: , , ,

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DES MOINES, Iowa — The head of the U.S. bishops’ Committee on International Justice and Peace called food security a moral issue during a keynote address Oct. 14 at the Iowa Hunger Summit.

An employee of Ocean Spray holds cranberries as he stands in a pool of some 2,000 pounds of floating cranberries in New York City Oct. 17. Speaking at the Iowa Hunger Summit, Bishop Richard E. Pates of Des Moines, Iowa, said Oct. 14 that food security and the relationship between food and peace are moral issues. (CNS photo/ Mike Segar, Reuters)

An employee of Ocean Spray holds cranberries as he stands in a pool of some 2,000 pounds of floating cranberries in New York City Oct. 17. Speaking at the Iowa Hunger Summit, Bishop Richard E. Pates of Des Moines, Iowa, said Oct. 14 that food security and the relationship between food and peace are moral issues. (CNS photo/ Mike Segar, Reuters)

“Food security and the relationship between food and peace are moral issues,” said Bishop Richard E. Pates of Des Moines, speaking in his own diocese. “In our Christian tradition, we believe that lifting people out of poverty and feeding the hungry are serving Jesus in disguise.”

Bishops Pates, who has served as head of the committee for three years, said, “People who can feed and support their families in dignity are less likely to be engaged in conflict. To build a more stable and prosperous world, we need to adopt policies that get at the underlying causes of conflict and hunger. Conflict increases hunger and hunger increases conflict.”

 

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Commentary: Newly beatified Pope Paul VI championed justice and peace

October 23rd, 2014 Posted in Uncategorized Tags: , , , ,

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With numerous armed conflicts raging in parts of the world, and the Vietnam War worsening, Pope Paul VI on Oct. 4, 1965, proclaimed before the U.N. General Assembly: “No more war, war never again. It is peace, peace which must guide the destinies of peoples and of all mankind.”

Unfortunately, in 1965 the world did not heed Blessed Paul VI’s prophetic words. Sadly, it has not heeded them since.

Pope Paul VI greets children as he visits the Church of St. Leo the Great in Rome March 31, 1968. Pope Francis will beatify Pope Paul Oct. 19 during the closing Mass of the extraordinary Synod of Bishops on the Family. (CNS photo/Giancarlo Giuliani, Catholic Press Photo)

Pope Paul VI greets children as he visits the Church of St. Leo the Great in Rome March 31, 1968. Pope Francis will beatify Pope Paul Oct. 19 during the closing Mass of the extraordinary Synod of Bishops on the Family. (CNS photo/Giancarlo Giuliani, Catholic Press Photo)

From Mexico to South Sudan, from Syria to Ukraine, from Russian and U.S. nuclear weapons threatening each nation to the endless “war on terrorism,” today more than ever the world needs to heed Blessed Paul’s plea: “No more war, war never again. It is peace, peace which must guide the destinies of peoples and of all mankind.”

Since Pope Paul had tremendous respect for all human life, starting at conception, it is providential that the miracle granted by God through his prayerful intercession involved the healing of an unborn child.

According to Vatican Insider, in California an unborn child in 2001 was diagnosed with ascites (liquid in the abdomen) and anhydramnios (absence of fluid in the amniotic sac). When every corrective attempt failed, the doctors said the baby would die before birth or be born with dangerous renal impairment.

When abortion was offered as an option, the mother refused. Instead, she prayed for a miracle asking Pope Paul’s intercession to God. Ten weeks later tests results revealed that the unborn child had significantly improved, and was born by Caesarean section.

The boy is now a healthy adolescent considered completely healed. The Vatican’s medical consultation team headed by Professor Patrizio Polisca confirmed that it was impossible to explain the healing scientifically.

More than 40 years ago Blessed Paul VI foresaw the impending environmental disaster facing humanity today. In his apostolic letter “Octogesima Adveniens” (“A Call to Action”) he warned: “Man is suddenly becoming aware that by an ill-considered exploitation of nature he risks destroying it and becoming in his turn the victim of this degradation.”

In his day, and even more so today, in a world where great economic inequality exists – where the rich keep getting richer and the poor keep getting poorer – Blessed Paul VI in his prophetic encyclical letter “Populorum Progressio”(“On the Development of Peoples”) clearly challenged this grave injustice.

He wrote, “God intended the earth and everything in it for the use of all human beings and peoples. Thus, under the leadership of justice and in the company of charity, created goods should flow fairly to all. …

“Extreme disparity between nations in economic, social and educational levels provokes jealousy and discord, often putting peace in jeopardy.”

Instead of largely ignoring the reasonable and just demands of countless oppressed people, and then going to war against them when they rise up, we should tirelessly work for social justice for all people.

For as Blessed Paul VI continued to teach in “Populorum Progressio,” “When we fight poverty and oppose the unfair conditions of the present, we are not just promoting human well-being; we are also furthering man’s spiritual and moral development, and hence we are benefiting the whole human race. For peace is not simply the absence of warfare, based on a precarious balance of power; it is fashioned by efforts directed day after day toward the establishment of the ordered universe willed by God, with a more perfect form of justice among men.”

 

Tony Magliano is an syndicated social justice and peace columnist who lives in the Diocese of Wilmington.

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Retired Pope Benedict says interreligious dialogue no substitute for mission

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Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY — Retired Pope Benedict XVI said dialogue with other religions is no substitute for spreading the Gospel to non-Christian cultures, and warned against relativistic ideas of religious truth as “lethal to faith.” He also said the true motivation for missionary work is not to increase the church’s size but to share the joy of knowing Christ.

Retired Pope Benedict XVI arrives for the beatification Mass of Blessed Paul VI celebrated by Pope Francis in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican Oct. 19. The retired pope said dialogue with other religions is no substitute for spreading the Gospel to non-Christian cultures, and warned against relativistic ideas of religious truth as "lethal to faith." (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

Retired Pope Benedict XVI arrives for the beatification Mass of Blessed Paul VI celebrated by Pope Francis in St. Peter’s Square at the Vatican Oct. 19. The retired pope said dialogue with other religions is no substitute for spreading the Gospel to non-Christian cultures, and warned against relativistic ideas of religious truth as “lethal to faith.” (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

The retired pope’s words appeared in written remarks to faculty members and students at Rome’s Pontifical Urbanian University, which belongs to the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples. Archbishop Georg Ganswein, prefect of the papal household and personal secretary to retired Pope Benedict, read the 1,800-word message aloud Oct. 21, at a ceremony dedicating the university’s renovated main lecture hall to the retired pope.

The speech is one of a handful of public statements, including an interview and a published letter to a journalist, that Pope Benedict has made since he retired in February 2013.

“The risen Lord instructed his apostles, and through them his disciples in all ages, to take his word to the ends of the earth and to make disciples of all people,” retired Pope Benedict wrote. “’But does that still apply?’ many inside and outside the church ask themselves today. ‘’Is mission still something for today? Would it not be more appropriate to meet in dialogue among religions and serve together the cause of world peace?’ The counter-question is: ‘Can dialogue substitute for mission?’

“In fact, many today think religions should respect each other and, in their dialogue, become a common force for peace. According to this way of thinking, it is usually taken for granted that different religions are variants of one and the same reality,” the retired pope wrote. “The question of truth, that which originally motivated Christians more than any other, is here put inside parentheses. It is assumed that the authentic truth about God is in the last analysis unreachable and that at best one can represent the ineffable with a variety of symbols. This renunciation of truth seems realistic and useful for peace among religions in the world.

“It is nevertheless lethal to faith. In fact, faith loses its binding character and its seriousness, everything is reduced to interchangeable symbols, capable of referring only distantly to the inaccessible mystery of the divine,” he wrote.

Pope Benedict wrote that some religions, particularly “tribal religions,” are “waiting for the encounter with Jesus Christ,” but that this “encounter is always reciprocal. Christ is waiting for their history, their wisdom, their vision of the things.” This encounter can also give new life to Christianity, which has grown tired in its historical heartlands, he wrote.

“We proclaim Jesus Christ not to procure as many members as possible for our community, and still less in order to gain power,” the retired pope wrote. “We speak of him because we feel the duty to transmit that joy which has been given to us.”

 

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Walmart helps stock St. Vincent de Paul Society’s food pantry in Easton, Md.

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EASTON, MD. — Recently, when the Society of St. Vincent de Paul (SVDP) food pantry leadership was confronted with a growing shortage of food items, they asked the Cambridge Wal-Mart’s management for help.

The pantry’s shortages included cereal, tuna fish and beans. Those items and other goods form the contents that fill the Easton-based food bank’s grocery bags provided free to needy residents in Talbot County.

Cambridge Wal-Mart Store Manager Mike Quillen (left) assists Society St. Vincent de Paul Food Pantry Director Kathy Weaver and her husband Dick Weaver load groceries from the store on to the Society’s truck. (Courtesy Society of St. Vincent de Paul)

Cambridge Walmart Store Manager Mike Quillen (left) assists Society St. Vincent de Paul Food Pantry Director Kathy Weaver and her husband Dick Weaver load groceries from the store on to the Society’s truck. (Courtesy Society of St. Vincent de Paul)

Kathy Weaver, food pantry director, approached Cambridge Wal-Mart Store Manager Mike Quillen with the problem. Quillen responded with a positive, “We’ll take care of it” and has been providing a steady supply of canned goods and other items ever since.

Weaver has called Quillen as a “lifesaver these past few months” when the society was unable to fill its needs from their usual source, the Maryland Food Bank. She added, “I don’t know what we would have done without his willingness to supplement our missing items.”

The Society set records so far in 2014 in the amount of food they have given away to those Talbot County residents in need. They serve an average of 800 individuals and families each month.

St. Vincent de Paul Thrift Center is at 29533 Canvasback Drive in Easton. It’s open on Tuesday from 1 to 4 p.m. and on Saturday from noon until 3 p.m. Call 410-770-4505.

 

(Photo Caption)

Cambridge Wal-Mart Store Manager Mike Quillen (left) assists Society St. Vincent de Paul Food Pantry Director Kathy Weaver and her husband Dick Weaver load groceries from the store on to the Society’s truck.

 

 

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Pope Francis calls for abolishing death penalty and life imprisonment

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Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis called for abolition of the death penalty as well as life imprisonment, and denounced what he called a “penal populism” that promises to solve society’s problems by punishing crime instead of pursuing social justice.

“It is impossible to imagine that states today cannot make use of another means than capital punishment to defend peoples’ lives from an unjust aggressor,” the pope said Oct. 23 in a meeting with representatives of the International Association of Penal Law.

The electric chair that executed 125 men between 1916 and 1960 in Tennessee is seen on display at the National Museum of Crime and Punishment in Washington March 5. (CNS photo/Jim Lo Scalzo, EPA)

The electric chair that executed 125 men between 1916 and 1960 in Tennessee is seen on display at the National Museum of Crime and Punishment in Washington March 5. (CNS photo/Jim Lo Scalzo, EPA)

“All Christians and people of good will are thus called today to struggle not only for abolition of the death penalty, whether it be legal or illegal and in all its forms, but also to improve prison conditions, out of respect for the human dignity of persons deprived of their liberty. And this, I connect with life imprisonment,” he said. “Life imprisonment is a hidden death penalty.”

The pope noted that the Vatican recently eliminated life imprisonment from its own penal code.

The pope said that, although a number of countries have formally abolished capital punishment, “the death penalty, illegally and to a varying extent, is applied all over the planet,” because “extrajudicial executions” are often disguised as “clashes with offenders or presented as the undesired consequences of the reasonable, necessary and proportionate use of force to apply the law.”

According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church, cited by Pope Francis in his talk, “the traditional teaching of the church does not exclude recourse to the death penalty, if this is the only possible way of effectively defending human lives against the unjust aggressor,” but modern advances in protecting society from dangerous criminals mean that “cases in which the execution of the offender is an absolute necessity are very rare, if not practically nonexistent.”

The pope denounced the detention of prisoners without trial, who he said account for more than 50 percent of all incarcerated people in some countries. He said maximum security prisons can be a form of torture, since their “principal characteristic is none other than external isolation,” which can lead to “psychic and physical sufferings such as paranoia, anxiety, depression and weight loss and significantly increase the chance of suicide.”

He also rebuked unspecified governments involved in kidnapping people for “illegal transportation to detention centers in which torture is practiced.”

The pope said criminal penalties should not apply to children, and should be waived or limited for the elderly, who “on the basis of their very errors can offer lessons to the rest of society. We don’t learn only from the virtues of saints but also from the failings and errors of sinners.”

Pope Francis said contemporary societies overuse criminal punishment, partially out of a primitive tendency to offer up “sacrificial victims, accused of the disgraces that strike the community.”

The pope said some politicians and members of the media promote “violence and revenge, public and private, not only against those responsible for crimes, but also against those under suspicion, justified or not.”

He denounced a growing tendency to think that the “most varied social problems can be resolved through public punishment … that by means of that punishment we can obtain benefits that would require the implementation of another type of social policy, economic policy and policy of social inclusion.”

Using techniques similar to those of racist regimes of the past, the pope said, unspecified forces today create “stereotypical figures that sum up the characteristics that society perceives as threatening.”

Pope Francis concluded his talk by denouncing human trafficking and corruption, both crimes he said “could never be committed without the complicity, active or passive, of public authorities.”

The pope spoke scathingly about the mentality of the typical corrupt person, whom he described as conceited, unable to accept criticism, and prompt to insult and even persecute those who disagree with him.

“The corrupt one does not perceive his own corruption. It is a little like what happens with bad breath: someone who has it hardly ever realizes it; other people notice and have to tell him,” the pope said. “Corruption is an evil greater than sin. More than forgiveness, this evil needs to be cured.”

 

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