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(27 minute video)

E. Ethelbert Miller has launched “The Scholars,” a television interview series that explores contemporary scholarship. John Kiriakou is the author of Reluctant Spy: My Secret Life in the CIA’s War on Terror. He worked at the Central Intelligence Agency from 1990 to 2004. He is currently an associate fellow with the Institute for Policy Studies.

Kiriakou was the first U.S. government official to confirm in December 2007 that waterboarding was used to interrogate Al Qaeda prisoners, which he described as torture. On October 22, 2012, Kiriakou pleaded guilty to disclosing classified information about a fellow CIA officer that connected the covert operative to a specific operation. He was the first person to pass classified information to a reporter, although the reporter did not publish the name of the operative. He was sentenced to 30 months in prison on January 25, 2013, and served his term from February 28, 2013 until 3 February 2015 at the low-security Federal correctional facility in Loretto, Pennsylvania.

John Kiriakou is a member of a Greek Orthodox Church in Northern Virginia.


California’s First Peoples were decimated with the arrival of the Spanish missionaries. As the story of Franciscan Spanish missionary Junipero Serra comes into the news, we must also lift up the whole peoples that he was complicit in destroying due to his limited understanding of the gospel at the time. As Christians, it is our responsibility not to condemn our ancestors for their unenlightened actions, but to take responsibility for what they did, ask forgiveness, and repair the harm. This includes making clear to the Vatican that the Papal Bulls of 1452 and 1493 (referred to as the Doctrine of Discovery) must be rescinded.

Read more from the Sisters of Loretto on the Doctrine of Discovery and their papal bull rescission committee.

Read Thomas Reese’s interview with Robert Senkewicz, professor of history at Santa Clara University and an expert on early California history. His most recent book is Junípero Serra: California, Indians, and the Transformation of a Missionary, with Rose Marie Beebe.


World leaders met at the Vatican for a conference on climate change last week. They released a final statement, declaring that “human-induced climate change is a scientific reality” and “its decisive mitigation is a moral and religious imperative for humanity,” according to Vatican Radio.

All this is part of the run-up to the much anticipated encyclical by Pope Francis on climate change.

Below is an excerpt from the 28 April 2015 statement:

… We join together from many faiths and walks of life, reflecting humanity’s shared yearning for peace, happiness, prosperity, justice, and environmental sustainability. We have considered the overwhelming scientific evidence regarding human-induced climate change, the loss of biodiversity, and the vulnerabilities of the poor to economic, social, and environmental shocks.

In the face of the emergencies of human-induced climate change, social exclusion, and extreme poverty, we join together to declare that:

Human-induced climate change is a scientific reality, and its decisive mitigation is a moral and religious imperative for humanity; In this core moral space, the world’s religions play a very vital role. These traditions all affirm the inherent dignity of every individual linked to the common good of all humanity. They affirm the beauty, wonder, and inherent goodness of the natural world, and appreciate that it is a precious gift entrusted to our common care, making it our moral duty to respect rather than ravage the garden that is our home; The poor and excluded face dire threats from climate disruptions, including the increased frequency of droughts, extreme storms, heat waves, and rising sea levels;

The world has within its technological grasp, financial means, and know-how the means to mitigate climate change while also ending extreme poverty, through the application of sustainable development solutions including the adoption of low-carbon energy systems supported by information and communications technologies; The financing of sustainable development, including climate mitigation, should be bolstered through new incentives for the transition towards low-carbon energy, and through the relentless pursuit of peace, which also will enable the shift of public financing from military spending to urgent investments for sustainable development; … [read the rest here]

Read more on the forthcoming encyclical”

With Pope Francis’ Encyclical on Climate Change Done, Now a Vatican Sales Push – and Pushback by Andrew C. Revkin

Integral ecology and the horizon of hope: concern for the poor and for creation in the ministry of Pope Francis by Cardinal Peter Turkson

Pope Francis’s Ecology Encyclical – What Can We Expect? by Henry Longbottom, SJ


Such a great way to spend a Saturday! Thank you to the tenants at 2724 11th Street for all their great work.

Sixty percent of D.C. residents are renters. Proud to stand with them to demand fair and affordable housing for tenants and folks who are currently unhoused. Housing is a human right. #tenantsrightsmatter

Thank you to Latino Economic Development Center, Housing for All, and One DC.

Thank you to Naila Goodwin-Early  and the women living at DC General shelter for coming out and for their documentary film Unsettled.

Thank you to Council members Elisa Silverman and Mary Cheh for showing up, for the good work you are doing, and for keeping an open door policy with the citizens of D.C. Where were the rest of the Council members and all the heads of housing agencies? Where was the head of DCRA?

“Parent to orphans, defender of the vulnerable, is GOD in God’s holy house. God makes a home for the homeless, leads prisoners to freedom, but leaves those who rebel against God’s covenant to rot in hell.”–Psalm 68:6


Benedictine sister Joan Chittister writes:

Breaking silence: In a society of strangers, in a world where rural villagers are now more the rarity than the norm, we all live private lives in increasingly larger groups where no one is responsible and everyone is responsible at the same time.

But the great saints allow for no such excuses. They confront us with being keepers of the Garden wherever we are. Wherever we are, they show us, justice must reign, equality must prevail, and the defense of the little ones of God must be assured. By us.

Catherine of Siena is clear about the implications of it. When anything deviates from the Will of God, we must leap to the bar to defend those on whom the burden will fall most heavily, most urgently, most unfairly. We must carry on our own shoulders our weakest as well as our strong.

“Cry out with a thousand tongues,” Catherine of Siena writes. “I see the world is rotten because of silence.”

It is your voice and mine, alone as well as together, that are meant to raise the alarms. If we don’t point out the breakdowns in human community and make clear the unseen millions in need, they go on being unseen by the many.

There is someone right now, right here, who is crying out for help. Whose voice are you not listening to today?The Monastic Way by Joan Chittister (May 2015)


What would have Jesus said about climate change? Rose Berger, a Catholic peace activist, is speaking on social justice and sustainability on April 24 at 7 PM with the Church in Bethesda at 5033 Wilson Lane, Bethesda MD, 20814.

Earth Day Lecture: Caring for the Least of These - Matthew 25, Christians, and Climate Change

Ever wondered what Jesus might have thought of climate change? Celebrate Earth Week on April 24 at 7 PM with the Church in Bethesda at 5033 Wilson Lane, Bethesda MD, 20814. Church in Bethesda is hosting Rose Berger, a Catholic peace activist and writer, who will be speaking on “Caring for the Least of These: Matthew 25, Christians, and Climate Change.”

Berger is a longtime associate editor at the progressive Christian magazine Sojourners and a regular columnist on spirituality, creation care, scripture, nonviolence, and social justice. We welcome anyone who wants to learn more about how Christians are called to live in a way that is more sustainable for the earth and our neighbors around the world. For more information, contact the church at (301) 654-4159 or todd@churchinbethesda.org.


by Rose Marie Berger

The conflicted and controversial three-year doctrinal investigation by the Vatican of U.S. Catholic sisters in the Leadership Conference of Women Religious has formally come to an end, according to a press release from the Vatican this morning and reports in the National Catholic Reporter.

“We are pleased at the completion of the Mandate which involved long and challenging exchanges of our understandings of and perspectives on critical matters of Religious Life and its practice,” said Sr. Sharon Holland, IHM, president of LCWR.

She continued:

“Through these exchanges, conducted always in a spirit of prayer and mutual respect, we were brought to deeper understandings of one another’s experiences, roles, responsibilities, and hopes for the Church and the people it serves. We learned that what we hold in common is much greater than any of our differences.”

Conservative operators within the Vatican have been working for years to bring suspicion on communities of Catholic sisters in the U.S. In the past seven years, they succeeded in launching twin investigations into American nuns.

The first, launched in 2008, was a controversial and unprecedented “apostolic visitation” investigating the finances and communal practices of individual U.S.-based Catholic orders of women religious, representing tens of thousands of women. It ended in December 2014 with a formal backing down by the Vatican office from which it was launched. The final report, issued under Pope Francis, was released at a public press conference in Rome — also unprecedented — in which all those involved made clear statements about the process and emphasized a spirit of forbearance, mercy, and transparency.

Read the rest here.

See more related articles here:
Joint Final Report on the Doctrinal Assessment of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR) by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF), 16.04.2015

Vatican ends controversial investigation of US nuns with olive branch by David Gibson (Religion News Service, Apr. 16, 2015)

Vatican ends controversial three-year oversight of US sisters’ leaders
by Joshua J. McElwee (National Catholic Reporter, Apr. 16, 2015)

Vatican, LCWR announce successful conclusion of process to reform group by Cindy Wooden (Catholic News Service, Apr. 16, 2015)

Vatican Ends Takeover of U.S. Catholic Nuns Group (The New York Times, Apr. 16, 2015)

Read the blog study on Sr. Sandra Schneiders’ theological work on the new forms of Catholic life that U.S. Catholic sisters are living into

Having the Sisters’ Back by Jim Wallis (God’s Politics, 04-24-2012)

End of an Inquisition? by Phyllis Zagano (Sojourners, March 2015)

What About the Women? by Carol Keehan (Sojourners, September-October 2013)

A ‘Hostile Takeover’ of Women Religious by Joan Chittister (Sojourners, July 2012)

The Presumption of Equality by Rose Marie Berger (Sojourners, September-October 2012)


Thank God for the artists!

Jane Watts’ single “Shaman” was filmed at Union Theological Seminary in NYC. “[It’s a] cause record that I pray resonates in the hearts of everyone who believes in promoting change in the world we live in,” says Watts. “#WeNeedAShaman and we can be the healers that our world and humankind needs.” In association with the #wecantbreathe and #blacklivesmatter campaigns.


This Summer. Word & World. Detroit.

July 15-19 2015 Detroit, MI.

Word and World believes that it is time to bring our energy and join the movement work happening in Detroit, a city that has been “ground zero” not only of economic crisis, but also of hope and resistance.

This “Land and Water” movement school will focus on cultural organizing bringing together theologies of justice, indigenous resistance, and hip hop spirituality.

Get your application here. If you can’t come, send financial support here.


Feast Day of Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Flossenberg memorial to resistance members killed April 9, 1942. 2 Timothy 1:7: "For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline."

Flossenberg memorial to resistance members killed April 9, 1942.
2 Timothy 1:7: “For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline.”

Bill Wylie-Kellermann studied Bonhoeffer with Paul Lehmann, Bonhoeffer’s friend and colleague at Union Seminary NYC. The life and times of Bonhoeffer are instructive for us today. Below is both Bill’s reflections for today, 70 years after Bonhoeffer’s execution by the Nazis.

And also reflections from Victoria Barnett, staff director of the Committee on Ethics, Religion, and Bonhoeffer scholar at the Holocaust at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum. Both reflect on Bonhoeffers 1942 Christmas letter.

“We have for once learnt to see the great events of world history from below, from the perspective of the outcast, the suspects, the maltreated, the power-less, the oppressed, the reviled – in short, from the perspective of those who suffer.”– Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Christmas letter to friends and co-conspirators (1942)

Seventy years ago today, just weeks before the fall of Berlin in 1945, Dietrich Bonhoeffer was marched naked into the yard of Flossenberg Concentration Camp and hanged with piano wire for being an enemy of the Nazi state. He was 39.

Bonhoffer may be said to have literally written the book on radical discipleship. For several generations his Cost of Discipleship has provoked conversion, focused hearts, signified the way. It is perhaps most famous for its opening meditation contrasting “cheap grace” – grace as commodity, principle, doctrine – with “costly grace” which is grace to die for – the way of discipleship and the cross. “When Christ calls someone, he bids them come and die.” … — Bill Wylie-Kellermann

Read the rest of Bill’s post at Radical Discipleship here.

Vicky Barnett is the coeditor of the Dietrich Bonhoeffer Works project, the English translation series of Bonhoeffer’s complete works (Fortress Press). Bonhoeffer and the Confessing Church movement are viewed quite differently between Christians and Jews.

In December 1942, Bonhoeffer sent a Christmas letter (“After Ten Years”) to his closest friends in the resistance. In a bitterly realistic tone, he faced the prospect that they might fail, and that his own life’s work might remain incomplete. He may have wondered, too, whether his decision to return to Germany and to work in military intelligence had been the right one. “Are we still of any use?” he wrote:

We have been silent witnesses of evil deeds: we have been drenched by many storms; we have learnt the arts of equivocation and pretence; experience has made us suspicious of others and kept us from being truthful and open; intolerable conflicts have worn us down and even made us cynical. Are we still of any use?

The necessities of subterfuge and compromise had already cost him a great deal. He pondered the different motives for fighting evil, noting that even the finest intentions could prove insufficient. “Who stands firm?” Bonhoeffer asked:

Only the one for whom the final standard is not his reason, his principles, his conscience, his freedom, his virtue, but who is ready to sacrifice all these, when in faith and sole allegiance to God he is called to obedient and responsible action: the responsible person, whose life will be nothing but an answer to God’s question and call.

In this letter, one of Bonhoeffer’s most moving and powerful writings, the various threads of Bonhoeffer’s life and work came together. He had been one of the few in his church to demand protection for the persecuted as a necessary political step. He had called upon his church, traditionally aligned with the state, to confront the consequences of that alliance. The church struggle, as he wrote Bishop George Bell in 1934, was “not something that occurs just within the church, but it attacks the very roots of National Socialism. The point is freedom. . . .”

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