Weekly roundup: Maya Angelou, death penalty again, and new teacher contracts

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Wait. Wasn’t it just the first day of May? No?

Well, in case you blinked and suddenly it was three weeks later, this is your weekly roundup.

First, some sad news from the literature sector. Maya Angelou died on Wednesday in her home in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. She was a child of the Jim Crow South, who wrote often and eloquently about the experience of being an African American woman. The world lost a giant on Wednesday.

In the last month or so, the death penalty has come under increased scrutiny after the botched execution that took place in Oklahoma. But stories are now coming out that let us know that botched lethal injections are really not a recent phenomenon. You can read up on one in particular here. Warning: There are photos, and they are graphic. They depict chemical burns resulting in sloughing skin!

Here is an interesting piece (and a worthwhile read) about Cardinal Timothy Dolan, who is maybe seeing the landscape around him shifting in the age of Pope Francis. With Francis’ concentration on pastoral outreach for the poor and marginalized rather than on “culture war” issues, some are wondering whether Dolan’s popularity is slipping.

Turns out, as wealth and income inequality increase, so does political polarization, which is documented nicely here at Wonkblog. Turns out that political polarization has been growing, along with the wealth gap, pretty steadily for the last three decades.

In Catholic school news, some teachers in Ohio are facing the choice: follow their conscience or keep their job. The new contract refers to the teachers as “teacher-ministers,” which allows the schools, among other things, to sidestep anti-discrimination laws, particularly when it comes to LGBT issues. The contract in Cincinnati explicitly forbids a “homosexual lifestyle” or the “public support” thereof. It also explicitly forbids extramarital and premarital sexual relationships. Several teachers are refusing to sign the contract.

Maybe it’s time for Catholic schools and Catholics in general to catch up with the times, though. Like Sen. Orrin Hatch, a conservative senator from Utah, who recently told a local radio station that it’s time to wake up and smell the coffee - same sex marriage is happening, and though he doesn’t think it’s the right way to go, he does accept that courts will likely make it the law of the land.

And now for the rapid fire papal roundup.

This week, Pope Francis:

 

And, that’s it for now. Enjoy the transition from May to June, and don’t forget to take our survey about sin!