Pope Francis updates canon law on dismissal from religious institutes

The statue of St Peter inside the Vaticans St Peters Square Jan 19 2015 Credit Bohumil Petrik CN 2 CNA 1 29 15
St. Peter holding the keys. | Bohumil Petrik/CNA.

Pope Francis issued an apostolic letter on Tuesday bringing Church law up to date on the rules for dismissal from religious institutes, in light of the updated penal law on sanctions related to clerical sexual abuse and other crimes.

The letter, known as Recognitum librum VI and issued motu proprio (on the pope’s “own impulse”) on April 26, modifies one sentence from canon 695 of the Code of Canon Law.

The pope explained that the modification makes the line consistent with the major revisions made last year to Book VI of the code’s penal law, which classified some crimes differently and introduced new crimes.

The new text of canon 695 §1 says: “A religious must be dismissed from the institute for the delicts mentioned in can. 1395, 1397, and 1398, unless in the delicts mentioned in can. 1395, §2-3 and 1398 §1, the superior decides that dismissal is not completely necessary and that correction of the religious, restitution of justice, and reparation of scandal can be resolved sufficiently in another way.”

The Code of Canon Law defines a religious institute as “a society in which members, according to proper law, pronounce public vows, either perpetual or temporary which are to be renewed, however, when the period of time has elapsed, and lead a life of brothers or sisters in common.”

Canon 1395 of the new code refers specifically to “a cleric living in concubinage” and clerics who continue in some other external sin against the sixth commandment (“You shall not commit adultery”) which causes scandal, as well a cleric who “forces someone to perform or submit to sexual acts.”

Canon 1397 of the Church’s law details the punishments for a person who commits homicide, gravely wounds another person, or procures an abortion.

Canon 1398 deals with clerical sexual abuse of a minor and the distribution of pornographic images of minors.

Pope Francis said that he made the change after hearing from the Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts and the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life.

The Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts is not itself a lawmaker, but assists the pope, who is the Church’s supreme legislator, in drafting and interpreting canon law.

With the change, canon 695 now refers to the appropriate canons in the revised Book VI of the Code of Canon Law, which came into force on Dec. 8, 2021.

The reformed penal code introduced new crimes in the area of economic and financial matters to canon law and moved the canons concerning the crime of sexual abuse of minors and crimes of child pornography from the section on “crimes against special obligations” to that of “crimes against life, dignity, and freedom of the person” in Book VI.

One Social and Emotional Learning Step That Matures Students

By: Tim Elmore

“My students enter the classroom as if they’re customers. They expect me to serve them curriculum, make it fun, and work hard to ensure they make good grades. It’s like they’re consumers,” bemoaned one teacher I met in Missouri.

Then, she had an epiphany.

“I guess they are consumers in one sense,” she concluded. “They digest a subject each day for fifty minutes. But they’re pretty passive. Some are apathetic. How do I make sure my class time sticks? They actually expect me to serve them, like a waitress at a restaurant. At the end of the day, I’m exhausted… and they don’t tip me!”

One Surprising Solution for the Classroom or Home

Reflect for a moment on how children mature in their lives. For my kids, it had little to do with academic learning. It had a lot to do with responsibility. But not just any responsibility. It was when my two children took on tasks that contributed to the whole family. They played a role in a larger picture, which others depended upon. I think this idea can be applied to achieve many of the same benefits at school.

I am talking about classroom chores.

Children need chores to aid in their maturation process. For years, researchers have proven that when a kid connects the dots that each person in a family plays a responsible role in ensuring the group succeeds, it has several benefits. I just wonder if we might realize these same benefits in a classroom at school.

  • It offers them perspective (big picture).
  • It accelerates responsibility.
  • It teaches time management.
  • It furnishes planning skills.
  • It prompts initiative.
  • It provides a sense of belonging.
  • It teaches benefits and consequences.

In fact, a report from Michigan State University Extension suggests children who do chores can gain numerous advantages, including confidence, self-control, and self-efficacy. But more than anything, perhaps, is the fact that taking responsibility for a team task cultivates life skills. And isn’t that what social and emotional learning is all about?

My wife and I had our children doing chores just before they began kindergarten. They were, of course, age appropriate. At first, it was merely tasks that would benefit them, like putting their clothes and toys away or brushing their teeth. But during their elementary school years, they began completing chores that benefited the entire family, like taking out the trash, loading the dishwasher, straightening rooms, and the like. While my wife had higher standards than they were able to meet at the time, we both knew chores would aid in their social and emotional growth. While neither of our kids would be mistaken for Martha Stewart, by sixth grade, they could host a party. By ninth grade, our first-born, Bethany, was learning to do her own laundry. She’d need to do it in college, so why not get her accustomed to it before leaving home? When they finished a task, we thanked them but didn’t go overboard in our praise as if they’d won a Nobel Peace Prize. Our affirmation was appropriate. All four family members were grateful for each other for contributing to the whole. We’re a team. Chores work wonders.

I wonder if this practice would accelerate social and emotional learning at school.

Five Steps to Launch Classroom Chores

What if we transformed our students’ consumer mindsets by asking each of them to perform a chore for their classmates? Each contributes to the whole. It isn’t just about their own note-taking, test-taking, and grades—but about treating the class like a team at work. Responsibility is given to teach students and is suited to their gifts and maturity, but everyone must see the big picture.

I bet you know teachers who’ve done this. You may have done it yourself. Let me offer a list of suggestions on how to start this habit in a school:

  1. Make a list of all the tasks you do to prepare for a class.

Teachers, coaches, and parents all know the invisible tasks that must be done to pull off good lessons, practices, or family routines. List them—the ones you normally do—and then reflect on which student would be best to complete each one. Be clear and specific about your outcomes. Remember, many hands make light work.

  1. Introduce the idea with a metaphor.

Before you assign any classroom or team chore, launch the practice with a discussion based on an image. Our Habitudes® curriculum furnishes several ideas such as “Puzzle Pieces and Box Tops” or “Cathedral Building.” These images teach the power of seeing the big picture and contributing to the whole.

  1. Assign chores based on maturity and giftedness.

Students will be motivated when asked to take on responsibilities that suit them. Those who are organized should be given tasks that require attention to detail, like planning projects or taking attendance. Those with low attention to detail can erase a chalkboard following each class, wipe down desks, or clean windows. If you have more students than tasks, rotate students for certain jobs, but be sure everyone has a job they own.

  1. Ensure benefits and consequences are for everyone.

When students fulfill responsibilities, make sure everyone is rewarded. When one person fails, make sure everyone feels the consequence. While this won’t feel fair, it teaches them they’re part of a larger group. It also increases accountability as the peer pressure to collaborate expands. Great teams practice this.

  1. Celebrate whole-team wins.

Just like their future teams at work or the future families they will lead, students should experience the celebration of the total classroom. My friend Ted teaches social studies. He and each of his classes of students take part in managing the classroom. As they succeed, he provides a monthly pizza party for them. Huge win. Easy win. Everyone wins.

Significance Of The Tearing Of The Temple Veil

In the Jewish temple, the veil served as the barrier to the Holy of Holies. The Holy of Holies was said to be where God’s presence rested and it housed the Ark of the Covenant. Only the high priest could enter this area, and then only one time per year, to make atonement for the sins of Israel (Exodus 30:10).

First Kings 6:2 records that Solomon’s temple was 30 cubits high. This would have been 45 feet tall. The first century Jewish historian Josephus records that Herod extended the temple’s height to 40 cubits high, about 60 feet tall. He also records that the veil was four inches thick.

Matthew 27:50-51 says, “And Jesus cried out again with a loud voice and yielded up his spirit. And behold, the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom.” Notice the details: 1) Jesus died, 2) the enormous 45 to 60-foot high, four inch thick curtain was torn in half, and 3) the tear was from top to bottom, clearly indicating the destruction was not man-made, but came from God.

This connection between the death of Jesus and the torn veil is not just about God’s power, but is demonstrative of who Jesus is, what the cross accomplished, and the access we have to God through Christ. Hebrews 8:1-2 notes, “Now the point in what we are saying is this: we have such a high priest, one who is seated at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in heaven, a minister in the holy places, in the true tent that the Lord set up, not man.” Jesus Himself now serves as our high priest. There is no longer a need for a Jewish high priest to stand before the Lord and make atonement for our sins. Jesus has provided for our atonement through His death on the cross.

In addition, the tearing of the veil also helped to mark the beginning of a new covenant. Hebrews 8:13 states, “In speaking of a new covenant, he makes the first one obsolete. And what is becoming obsolete and growing old is ready to vanish away.”

A powerful application of this change is described in Hebrews 4:14-16: “Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” Instead of coming to a priest, we can directly and boldly come before God through Jesus Christ to receive mercy and grace. Jesus meets our needs and even identifies with our weaknesses. The tearing of the veil is profoundly significant and provides a pictorial foundation for how we can approach God today. God has torn down the barrier between Himself and us through the work of Jesus.

The Leadership Skills of the Future

Emily Stone, senior editor Kellogg Insight

What will we want leaders in 5, 10, 15 years to know and do that we maybe aren’t stressing as so important today?

I reached out to two of our leadership professors for their thoughts. Here’s what they had to say.

Brooke Vuckovic, clinical professor of management and organizations and an executive coach:

“Leaders are going to need increased emotional, relational, and social intelligence.

For example, they will need to develop a broader range of strategies for building relationships with people inside and outside of their organization, taking into account remote-first or hybrid work. These relationships must be robust enough to understand what other people need and what their priorities are. That’s more challenging when you’re not in a room with them.

There will also be a growing importance in how leaders manage their energy, manage their time and their priorities. We have previously relied on ‘geographic markers’ for that. By geographic markers, I mean that you know where to focus your energy when you walk into a room; you know what behaviors are expected of you. The physical space signals things to you that you don’t necessarily have in a remote-first workplace. People will need to reflect: What’s required of me now in this space with this person? What does this individual need from me? And that reflection is a discipline and practice that will become increasingly important for leaders to develop so leaders can manage themselves.”

There are several skills today that are critical in terms of being an effective values-based leader: strong people skills, effective communication skills, and the ability to effectively deal with a crisis.

And while these three skills are critical today, I think it’s clear that they will become more critical over the next 10 to 15 years. As people become more mobile and as the amount of time people stay with any one company continues to decrease, your ability to be involved with leadership development, talent management, and demonstrating to people that you truly care about helping them reach their full potential is going to become critical to retain the people you want to retain.

With communication, while it has always been important, given the blizzard of information out there, a strong leader is going to have to find ways to cut through the noise and get their message out in a clear, effective way.

And while crisis management has always been key to being a leader, given how fast things move, the time frame that you have to effectively manage and lead through a crisis is significantly smaller. When a crisis occurred 10 years ago or 5 years ago, you could take a couple of days to figure out how you were going to respond and put together a plan. Now, with social media, the amount of time to react has gone from days to minutes. Your reaction time has significantly declined.

Foreign priest serving in Moscow expelled from Russia


peterpaul.msk.ru/ Fr. Fernando

John Burger – 04/26/22

Mexican Fr. Fernando Vera had the habit of calling things by their name, according to parishioners.

A Mexican-born Roman Catholic priest who was serving in Moscow was told to leave Russia, possibly because of remarks regarding the war in Ukraine.

Fr. Fernando Vera, a priest of the Personal Prelature of Opus Dei, had served in Russia for seven years. Recently, he was the rector of Sts. Peter and Paul, in the heart of the Russian capital. Parishioners there said he had “the habit of calling things by their name,” according to Asia News.

Fr. Kirill Gorbunov, Vicar General of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of the Mother of God in Moscow, issued a statement April 21 saying that “on March 28 of this year, the Main Directorate of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of the Russian Federation for Moscow sent a written notification to the Mexican citizen, priest Fernando Vera, that his residence permit in the Russian Federation had been canceled, in connection with which he was obliged to leave Russia within 15 days. The letter does not contain specific reasons for such a decision.”

In an email response to Aleteia, Fr. Gorbunov said that erroneous reports that Fr. Vera was given only 24-hour notice the day before Easter were “based on a single social media post by a parishioner.”

“The Archdiocese expresses its deep regret that Fr. Fernando, Rector of the Parish of the Holy Apostles Peter and Paul in Moscow, was forced to leave our country,” the April 21 statement said. “Since the letter states that this decision can be appealed and does not exclude re-entry to the Russian Federation, we hope that this situation can be safely resolved and Fr. Fernando will be able to continue his ministry.”

Asked about reports that Fr. Vera had given a homily in which he mentioned the war in Ukraine, Fr. Gorbunov told Aleteia that he had “no information about what Fr. Fernando did or did not imply in his homily. The letter from the Ministry of the Interior contained no specific reasons for the decision.”

He pointed out that the Catholic bishops of Russia, in a joint statement on February 24, the day the invasion began, “expressed deep shock at the news of the armed confrontation between Russia and Ukraine, that ‘brings death and destruction and threatens the security of the entire world,’ and called all politicians on whom this decision depends to do everything resolutely to end this conflict.”

The director of the Opus Dei Information Office in Mexico, Carlos Ruíz, declined comment, telling Aleteia Español that “in consideration of the current circumstances,” Fr. Vera preferred not to expose the Catholic priests and missionaries who serve the 300 Catholic parishes that exist in the vast Russian territory.”

Fr. Vera, a native of Monterrey, Mexico, was an engineer before studying for the priesthood. He served as a priest in Mexico City and Guadalajara. Then, after the prelate of Opus Dei agreed to a request from the former Roman Catholic Archbishop of Moscow for Opus Dei to begin working there, Fr. Vera readily agreed to go.

With Fr. Vera gone, the current Archbishop of Moscow, Paolo Pezzi, substituted for him at Easter liturgies. As one might expect, has been extremely cautious in his language about the current geopolitical situation.

On March 25, Russian President Vladimir Putin promulgated a law that outlaws “false information” about “Russia’s actions abroad.” The law, which carries a prison term of up to 15 years, prohibits the “public dissemination of deliberately false information under the appearance of reliable information” about the “activities of Russian state agencies (and among them, mainly, the Army) outside Russian territory.”

“Even if all necessary precautions are taken, today it is difficult not to fall for the crime of ‘defamation of the authorities and the army,’ even if only ‘war’ is mentioned that is being waged in Ukraine,” said Asia News. At least 15,000 people have been arrested for protesting Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Catholics, said Archbishop Pezzi, “hear the cries of pain of those who die, and we would like to help them be guardian angels and comforters, but we can only act together with Christ Crucified.”

Divorce and Kids: Managing Your Child’s Behavior When the Family Breaks Up

Managing your child’s behavior during the best of times can be challenging. But, during a divorce, it can seem nearly impossible. Divorce is traumatic for everyone involved, but particularly for children. For them, their whole world is changing, and the future is unknown. The most powerful people in their lives have decided to go on a completely different course. And they may react to these changes by acting out in unexpected ways.

Parents who are going through a separation or divorce, or have already been through one, should be aware of the issues it may cause with their child’s behavior. Their child may withdraw. They may have frequent angry outbursts. Schoolwork may suffer. And teens, especially, may begin to take part in risky behaviors, such as drug and alcohol use. Understanding these problems and having effective tools to deal with them are crucial for parents.

Divorce and Separation is Traumatic for Kids

Divorce is traumatic for kids because it overpowers them. They don’t have the tools or the experience to manage the overwhelming feelings and changes in their lives.

Children deal with their feelings in various ways, depending upon the child’s personality and nature. Fear is often the core feeling: fear they’ll lose what they have and fear they won’t have the things they want.

In regular times, kids use their parents to manage their fears of the unknown. When kids get anxious about the future, they have an unconscious mechanism that tells them their parents will take care of whatever is bothering them. They do this often and without thinking about it. Divorce changes all of that.

Expect to See Fear, Anger, and Grief in Your Child

The major emotions involved with divorce are fear, anger, and grief. Children fear that things are changing, and they don’t know what they’re changing into. They’re angry that they have no control over the situation. And they grieve that the family they knew has perished. It’s as if it died, and they must, over time, mourn the loss of their family.

You’ll see kids act out the stages of grief. They’ll be in denial about the divorce’s significance, angry about how it affects them, and then bargain with their parents to figure out how to keep them together. And, eventually, if it’s a healthy grieving process, they’ll come to accept it. But acceptance takes time and work.

As a parent, you will see the anger, fear, and grief in your child’s behavior: verbal or physical acting out, increased defiance, school problems, and frustration with siblings or the residing parent.

So the first thing parents have to understand is that when the divorce is announced, the kids will experience a lot of insecurity about what the future holds. Parents may also feel that insecurity themselves, but, as adults, they feel empowered to manage it. But not the kids, who will most likely feel powerless to do anything.

Kids in Divorce May Have Financial Fears

It’s a sad fact that divorce causes financial problems. The money that was used to support one household is now going to support two. Indeed, a major cause of poverty among single-parent families is divorce.

Your kids may wonder, “What’s going to happen to my parents? Are we going to have enough food? Will I have clothes? Can I still go to the mall on Fridays? Will we be able to do the same things?”

These questions all float around in the kids’ heads. Some fears have to do with the parents and the family’s well-being, and some are age-appropriately self-centered. Parents will do well to focus on these things when they talk to the child about the divorce.

Not All Kids Will React To Divorce the Same Way

Typically, your child’s fear during a divorce may manifest itself through a process of shutting down. Kids will isolate emotionally and physically, spending more time in their rooms or out of the house. They may appear more secretive. They withdraw because of some instinctual feeling that this is the best way to protect themselves.

In some cases, you’ll see that one child will buckle down and do okay in school, and the other child will give up and stop working. These two very different reactions may even occur in the same family.

No matter how the kids handle the divorce, they generally don’t want to talk about it with either parent. This creates problems for parents who desperately want their children to understand the divorce from their perspective. These parents think: “If only my child understood why the divorce is necessary, perhaps she would accept it easier.”

Therefore, don’t force your kids to talk with you, but be available if they want to talk about the divorce or any other subject. Let them know you’re open to talking about things without explicitly citing the divorce.

Seek outside support when necessary. Certain types of counseling can be beneficial to kids who are experiencing grief after a divorce.

As kids get older and mature, school performance, friends, and sports become sources of strength, depending upon the individual child. And that’s okay.

Continue To Hold Your Child Accountable for Their Behavior

Single parents have to develop a culture of accountability in their homes once the separation or divorce has taken place. A culture of accountability says to your child: “You are still accountable for your behavior here at home.”

So no matter what else is going on outside the house or whatever feelings the child is having, including those that come from legitimate sources, the child is responsible for their behavior.

Related content: How to Give Kids Consequences That Work

Don’t sacrifice your family values and rules just because your child is going through a tough time. Being structured and clear about family rules after a divorce is helpful to kids. Remember, it’s during tough times that we need reliable structure the most. Limits, accountability, parental support, and outside support are all part of a culture of accountability in the home.

How to Grow Your Influence

DIGITAL marketer Becky Robinson brings her years of experience together in Reach: Create the Biggest Possible Audience for Your Message, Book, or Cause.

The key foundational principle is that reach—your ability to not only expand your audience but make a meaningful and enduring difference—is never static, and it is the product of your work and its impact over time.

All leaders need to think about reach in the way that Robinson describes it. We have ideas that we want to share that we hope to gain traction with our audience.

We tend to think of reach in terms of followers. If I have a lot of followers, I have a lot of reach. But there is more to it than that. Do your followers open your emails? Do your followers engage with and act on your content?

ReachTo create reach that expands and grows, we need to make four commitments: deliver value, longevity, consistency, and generosity. Before you make these commitments, you need to do some homework first. It is critical that you identify your intended audience. “If you have a great message but focus on an audience that doesn’t resonate with your work, you haven’t identified the right of complete audience.”


Focus on creating value. Knowing your audience will help you to focus your efforts on creating content that will provide value to them—practical content that will resonate with them. Share your experiences with your nitch market.


Take a long-term view of your work. “To create lasting impact, you need to have a lasting presence. The longer you last, the greater the impact you will have.” Don’t give up too soon.


Consistency is not easy to achieve. You need to implement a sustainable approach that works for you. A consistent approach rewards people’s expectations of you. “When you are consistent about creating and adding value, you amas a body of work through your online presence that is credible, valuable, and useful to your online audiences. You become a treasured resource.”


“Making meaning and making a difference is impossible without a desire to give to others.” Giving away content does not undermine your business success. It actually helps to build it as it creates trust. Generosity also means supporting the work of others online, whether or not they reciprocate the favor.

Value, consistency, longevity, and generosity are all important as you seek to achieve reach. Without value, you have nothing to offer and no reason for people to pay attention to you. Generosity is the vehicle for delvering value. The more value you give away, the more you draw people’s interest and attention. Without consistency, it’s difficult to get traction. You may get attention when you launch but fail to create momentum that will help you get beyond your own networks. Without longevity, you may create impact for a moment then fade into obscurity.

Robinson delves into the nuts and bolts of expanding reach, from creating websites, repurposing content, writing a book, launching a campaign, to building email lists. Woven throughout all of that are the four commitments using relatable examples of others who have successfully built their reach.

While you may be familiar how these four commitments that Robinson presents in Reach apply offline as well, she has adroitly applied them to an online world where you can take advantage of them to create influence like never before.

Durham Bomb: Adam Schiff Was Involved in Russia Collusion Sham Way Back in July 2016

Adam Schiff was knee-deep in the Trump Russia collusion sham.  He was involved way back in July 2016.  John Durham just confirmed it. 

John Durham released some documents yesterday related to the Trump – Russia collusion sham created by the Hillary Clinton gang.  We reported on this earlier.

There is much in this latest release but one item, in particular, is that Adam Schiff was involved in this lie from the beginning.  Redstate reports:

TRENDING: Swamp Rat Mitch McConnell Said He Was “Exhilarated” on Jan 6 that President Trump “Had Finally Tarnished His Reputation”

Durham also derides the claim that Fusion was hired for legal work — calling that a “novel” way to cover up opposition research and the derogatory information that they then spread against President Donald Trump and his team. He says that despite efforts, the parties have failed to provide “meaningful, substantive explanations to support these continuing broad assertions of privilege and/or work product protections.”

A number of emails have been released in Durham’s latest.  One email showed that pencil-neck Adam Schiff was involved in the Russia collusion lie as early as July 2016.


Schiff later released a report on Russia collusion that was all lies.  He received no penalties for doing so.

Kafka in America: When Judges Don’t Know the Law

movie still

Anthony Perkins in a still photo from Orson Well’s 1962 film version of “The Trial”

In Franz Kafka’s sinister 1925 novel, The Trial, the hero finds himself the defendant in a court case where he is unaware of what law he has broken. No one else seems to know either but he is found guilty anyway.

Could that happen in the U.S.?

According to  a forthcoming paper in the Columbia Law Review, some 32 states allow at least some low-level state court judges to adjudicate without a law degree.

That sets up a situation in hundreds of civil legal cases involving small claims suits, evictions and other minor disputes, where the only individual in the courtroom who is aware of the law is the attorney for the prosecution, say the authors of the paper, Sara Sternberg Greene and Kristen Renberg, both of the Duke University School of Law.

And much of the time, they add, the prosecuting attorney doesn’t even bother to show up.

“Since most poor litigants are unrepresented in civil legal cases, this sets up an almost Kafka-esque scene in courtrooms across the country,” they wrote.

In Kafka’s novel, the hero is executed.  The outcome in U.S. magistrate courtrooms is not quite as drastic—but it is still profound, say the authors.

“Legal cases that have a profound effect on poor families, such as whether they will lose their home to eviction, are argued in courtrooms where either no one knows the law or only one party—the attorney for the more powerful party—knows the law.”

Right off the bat, this sets up litigants for an uphill struggle,  the researchers explain.

Litigants are left to experience a courtroom of supposed “law,” but they do not actually experience the law.

“Instead, they experience a courtroom in which often no one, not even the judge, is aware of the law,” the paper said.

Put another way, the researchers detail that in these magistrate courtrooms, where a hearing is granted only for minor civil or criminal cases, the one person in the courtroom who is most aware of the law is an attorney — if one is even present.

That undermines justice for thousands of  Americans too poor to afford legal counsel who pursue civil cases in lower courts every day.

“There are hundreds of magistrates and justices of the peace in these states wielding substantial legal authority who have never been trained in the law,” the paper said. “In 17 states, judges with no law degree are permitted to adjudicate eviction cases.”

In the state of Delaware, someone would only have to be 25 years old and a Delaware resident to be a magistrate judge. In Georgia, they must be at least 25, have earned a high school diploma or equivalent, and register to vote.

In West Virginia, a magistrate candidate must be at least 21, with a high school education or equivalent, and must not be an immediate family member of another magistrate in the county.

While these are only a few examples noted by Greene and Renberg, this is still the reality of a magistrate court in many states.

Greene and Renberg write: “This system cannot and should not persist.”

North Carolina Justice

The researchers argue that by allowing underqualified judges to sit on the bench in low-level state courts sends a very clear message. The courts that poor people, who are disproportionately people of color, are most likely to interact with — consider their cases not worth the trouble of seeking fair justice.

A case study in North Carolina, where over 80 percent of magistrates do not have JDs, revealed a consistent failure of justice, the researchers said..

Attorneys interviewed emphasized that their experiences with non-lawyer judges were different from the experiences with lawyer-judges, adding that non-lawyer magistrates are less comfortable applying legal remedies to situations.

Similarly, judges without a legal background were less likely to rule in favor of tenants regarding habitability claims, again because of the legal analysis required.

Lawyers interviewed also argued that non-lawyer judges ruling in rural areas made it exceedingly difficult for tenants to succeed with their legal claims, appearing to negatively impact lower income citizens.

Another still from Orson Well’s “The Trial” film of Kafka’s novel.

Lastly, Greene and Renberg  note that North Carolina spends little time training its magistrates.

As experts have noted in ProPublica, “Once selected, [North Carolina magistrates] undergo fewer hours of mandated training than the Palmetto State requires of its barbers, masseuses and nail salon technicians.”

As one key informant involved in magistrate training said:

[T]here’s no training. It’s just on-the-job training . . . until they come to basic school.”  They called the training situation “scarily insufficient” and said, “My metaphor really is, it’s like asking someone to decorate a tree when they don’t have a tree. And you’re lobbing ornaments at them. And they don’t know where to put them. So, they’re just trying to hold ‘em while they figure [it] out.


“A change is in order, one that intentionally considers the expertise of judges and adopts creative solutions to incentivize specially qualified adjudicators to serve as low-level state court judges,” the authors detail in their paper.

Both Greene and Renberg write that creative solutions would be applicable in this case, especially as the status quo doesn’t seemingly value extended training. Instead, the researchers note that an idea for law schools to invest in joint social work and J.D. programs, “which may stir interest and increase the availability of law graduates uniquely trained to work within the social context of low-level courts” is something to consider.

The researchers also note that in order to fully understand the impact that lay judging has on lower-level courts is to study their formal and rule-bound system, and look to see how what’s currently happening fits into the border historical context of “neglecting institutions that serve the poor.

“We need to acknowledge how that neglect has led to inequities in the legal system and the perpetuation of inequality in our justice system,” the authors detail.

The Story of Two Failures, Redeemed

Catholic Faith Warriors ~ Fighting the Good Fight +: The ...

St. Thomas and St. Peter really blew it. Here’s the story of how Jesus brought them back from disgrace and made them heroes for the Faith.

Easter morning found the apostles huddled together in despair. In fact, when the women brought initial reports of an empty tomb, the “words seemed to them an idle tale, and they did not believe them” (Luke 24:11). Jesus’ talk of “going away,” of “going back to his Father,” might also have been taken less literally, interpreted—not unreasonably— simply as the death Jesus had now suffered already, the period during which his body had lain in the tomb. His spirit had gone away, perhaps, and had now returned. And now, since he had died already, the apostles may well have been hoping he’d never be parted from them again. This is why his words to the weeping Mary Magdalen came, possibly, as an unwelcome surprise: “Jesus said to her, ‘Do not hold me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father; but go to my brethren and say to them, I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God’” (John 20:17).

Before that Ascension, however, Jesus still had two bits of unfinished business with individual apostles: Thomas and Peter.

Spirituality: 96: Why Jesus hides his Divinity?

“Doubting Thomas” seems a rather unfair moniker for the disciple surnamed Didymus (a Greek word meaning “a twin”), given that the other ten had just called the Resurrection “an idle tale” in his absence! Yes, when Jesus made his first post-resurrection appearance to the apostolic band, Thomas was away licking his wounds someplace. And yes, when given his own secondhand report, he blurted forth some foolish words out of his hurt: “Unless I see in his hands the print of the nails, and place my finger in the mark of the nails, and place my hand in his side, I will not believe” (John 20:25). (Foolish indeed. Thomas, as one of the Twelve, had already seen at least three resurrections already: the raising of the widow’s son, the raising of Jairus’s daughter, and the raising of Lazarus.)

Nevertheless, “doubting” Thomas now owns the everlasting glory to have gone, in the space of about two and a half verses, from refusing to believe at all to having earned the distinction of being the only person in the Gospels to address our Savior simply as “God” (John 20:28). Thomas’s miracle, at any rate, may be profitably thought of as a bookend to that happy story with which we began our journey: Nathanael bar Tolmai’s similar confession.

Peter, too, needed rehabilitation prior to the Ascension, having denied the Lord not as Judas did, out of rage and frustration, but purely from cowardice—terrified by a couple of teenage girls (see Matt. 26:69-72)! And his subsequent shame was threatening to shipwreck God’s plan for him to be chief of Christ’s vicars on earth. So Jesus submits him to a recertification test, as it were—a round of grueling examination. The risen Christ asked the fisherman three times, “Do you love me?”—one query for each of his denials in Caiaphas’s courtyard, and each repetition more painful for Peter. With every rededication on Peter’s part—“Lord, you know that I love you!”—the Good Shepherd solemnly repeats “Feed my sheep” (John 21:15-17). Then the Lord walks away—like a baseball manager heading back to the dugout, having determined to leave his shaky starter on the hill at the conclusion of a spine-stiffening mound visit.

In the days leading up to the Ascension, all of the remaining Eleven received a round of recommissionings as well; and of all Gospel passages, these tell us the most about Christ’s special role for them in the new age to come. He had already “opened their minds to understand the scriptures” (Luke 24:45), at their initial reunion in the Upper Room, just as he had done for the Emmaus Road disciples. Already he had widened one of Peter’s prerogatives (but not, notably, the keys) to include the other ten: “Truly, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven” (Matt. 18:18). This “binding and loosing” was a term that the Pharisees, “sitting in Moses’ seat,” used previously when commissioning legates of their own.

Finally, Jesus delegated the full authority of his own teaching office to the apostles. So that “repentance and forgiveness of sins should be preached in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem” (Luke 24:47-48), he charged them with his great missionary mandate, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to the whole creation. He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned” (Mark 16:15-16). Once again, we see the dramatic necessity of an accompanying supernatural guarantee associated with their teaching: whoever does not accept the word of this small group of Galilean rustics . . . will be eternally lost!

Then Jesus added the “secret sauce” he had promised: “‘Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I send you.’ And when he had said this, he breathed on them, and said to them, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained’” (John 20:21-23). Recall that this power to forgive sins on earth belonged to God alone. Now Jesus opens a conduit for this same power to these, his vicars, so that it might still be exercised among men during his absence. And the evidences of this new unction were to be striking: “And these signs will accompany those who believe: in my name they will cast out demons; they will speak in new tongues; they will pick up serpents, and if they drink any deadly thing, it will not hurt them; they will lay their hands on the sick, and they will recover” (Matt. 16:17-18).

Finally, at the mount of the Ascension itself, “Jesus came and said to them, ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore . . . ” (Matt. 28-18-20).

Because I have all authority, that is, you may go—for Jesus has authority to give, authority that he is free to delegate, as had already done once before when “he called to him his twelve disciples and gave them authority” Matt. 10:1). Among his last words on earth, then, is a reiteration of a gift already given, as basis for the apostles’ global mission: “Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, to the close of the age” (Matt. 28:19-20).

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