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On Wednesday, the Catholic Diocese of Pittsburgh announced additional mergers of parishes in an ongoing effort to confront dwindling attendance and ease a shortage of clergy. As of July 1, the Immaculate Conception and St. Hilary parishes in Washington will be joined in the new St. James Parish. Members of the Immaculate Conception and St. Hilary parishes knew a merger was over the horizon, and they asked the diocese that the new parish be named St. James because that was the name of the first Catholic parish established in the western part of Washington County in the 1820s. The diocese complied. Religious faith is rich with tradition and history, and the new name is a nice tip of the hat to the area’s past.

No question, the stimulus funds that have been sent to every American adult with a Social Security number have been a godsend, particularly for the 40 million Americans that have become unemployed as a result of the coronavirus lockdowns. But the way the money has been doled out has been a shambles. Some Americans have received checks. Others have had funds directly deposited into their bank accounts. And 4 million of the recipients have or will be receiving funds through prepaid debit cards. The cards have arrived in plain envelopes marked with a return address of “Money Network Cardholder Services.” Many of the recipients have mistaken the cards for junk mail and cut them up. One news report had a debit card going to a 97-year-old woman who was mostly deaf and blind and could hardly be expected to activate the card online. Wouldn’t it have just been easier if everyone had been sent a check?

Pennsylvania’s system of selling alcohol is antiquated and has long needed to be privatized, but that seems unlikely to happen as long as Gov. Tom Wolf wields a veto pen over any proposal that would point in that direction. But state Rep. Tim O’Neal should be commended for introducing legislation that would shutter the state stores and privatize the wholesale liquor system. The way Pennsylvania sells alcohol is a throwback to the Prohibition era. In most other states, you can purchase a six-pack of beer or a bottle of wine at a grocery store. Pennsylvania should have joined those states years ago.

President Trump has been raging for days about the whole concept of voting by mail, alleging that it is a gateway to fraud. There’s no evidence, not surprisingly, to back up his claim, and there’s also no evidence that it benefits one political party over another. His reelection campaign seems to understand this. NBC News reported Wednesday that the campaign website provides a link for Pennsylvania Trump supporters to request a mail-in ballot. A Trump campaign spokesman told NBC, “While we strongly disagree with the ill-intended Democrat push for more mail-in ballots, we have an obligation to our voters to inform them of what the law is in their state and what their options are.” Fine. But since the president is so vehemently opposed to mail-in voting, shouldn’t his campaign be encouraging his supporters to get to their polling places, come hell, high water, or pandemic?

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