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Last night was disheartening all around and may have been doomed to be so. Tonight may not be much better, except with more National Guard and fewer buildings to burn.

Coming from a family of civil servants, I have an innate tendency to give police officers the benefit of the doubt in such situations. We ask police to do the work of keeping our streets safe, which can include not a small degree of confrontation and violence. If that's the deal the larger society has made, is it fair to pull the rug out when something goes south, as it inevitably will from time to time? 

Pope Francis sought to inject new life into the old continent by delivering “a message of hope and encouragement to all the citizens of Europe” when he spoke to the European Parliament and to the Council of Europe, in Strasbourg, France, on November 25. 

Speaking “as a pastor”, he delivered two talks in Italian, each around 30 minutes, to separate sessions of these main European institutions, and touched on a broad range of issues that are central to the life of the continent to-day.

I was out of the country when Ferguson erupted over the summer. From abroad, it looked like the Arab Spring had come to the Midwest. Last night as I watched the news coverage, it looked the same: an angry, outraged citizenry clashing with the police power of the state. “Unbelievable” was the word CNN’s reporters used repeatedly as they roamed around the small part of Ferguson where people were rioting. Were they talking about the vandalism they were seeing, or the tear gas they were choking on, or both?

'Loneliness' one of the most common diseases in Europe today

Later this week the President of the United States, the most important person on the planet, will pardon a turkey.

Through life's many stages, a day to overflow with gratitude for the many blessings from the hand of a loving God.

Police officer Darren Wilson faces no charges for shooting death of teenager Michael Brown.

In preparation for Advent I've been seeking wisdom from the words of Pope Francis in a recently published book, The Church of Mercy (Loyola Press), a collection of Francis's writings and speeches. In a speech in April of 2013, Pope Francis had this to say:

Three Catholic priests and a layman have been arrested by the police in Granada, Spain, charged with the sexual abuse of minors, the Spanish Ministry of the Interior confirmed on November 24.

Stoking fear of newcomers on the day of the Pilgrims