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Civil unions, Yes; Same-sex marriage, No

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"A clear majority of Americans (57 percent) favor allowing gay and lesbian couples to enter into .... civil unions," says new research from the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life. "This finding marks a slight uptick in support for civil unions and appears to continue a significant long-term trend since the question was first asked in Pew Research Center surveys in 2003, when support for civil unions stood at 45 percent."

But the report continues:

"At the same time, opponents of same-sex marriage continue to outnumber supporters overall. ... 53 percent oppose allowing gays and lesbians to marry legally, compared with 39 percent who support same-sex marriage, numbers that are virtually unchanged over the past year."

Catholics and same-sex marriage
The Pew Forum says Catholics overall are evenly divided on same-sex marriage, with 45 percent favoring same-sex marriage and 43 percent opposing it. But among Catholics who attend Mass weekly, 30 percent favor gay marriage and 59 percent oppose it.

Catholics and civil unions

Students use Facebook to protest teacher's ouster

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After a popular teacher was abruptly pulled from the classroom, students at Chicago's Brother Rice High School organized a sit-in. But when that '60s-era protest method was scuttled by school officials, the students turned to Facebook.

Christian Brother Patrick B. Martin, a popular math teacher at Brother Rice, was transferred in late September, according Brother Rice president Brother Karl Walczak. "Nothing illegal has taken place," he told the Southtown Star.

Calling the reassignment a personnel matter, the school has remained close-lipped. But that hasn't stopped students from talking--primarily on the Internet.

Facebook groups like "Bring Back Bro. Martin" (almost 700 members) and "We want Bro. Martin" (450 members) are filled with posts by current students and alumni from all over the country praising the inspirational teacher and speculating about why he left, including rumors of possible health problems.

Proving once again that social media give a voice to people that those in power would rather keep quiet.

The NYTimes is Wrong on Faith-Based Hiring

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The New York Times editorialized yesterday against allowing faith-based organizations to discriminate in hiring, urging President Obama to rescind a prior rule by the Bush administration that held such discrimination was permissible. There is a case to be made that the Bush regulations were overbroad, but the Times is wrong to argue that faith-based institutions should not be able to consider an applicant’s religion in hiring.

Like negotiating with North Korea

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It must be like negotiating with North Korea. The Vatican announced today it would begin a long-awaited dialogue with leaders of the traditionalist Society of St. Pius X.

Just days before, the head of the traditionalist society, Bishop Bernard Fellay, reiterated a list of objections to the Second Vatican Council and said he hoped the dialogue would help dispel "errors" in the church.

Meanwhile, also today the German news agency Deutsche Presse-Agentur is reporting that Bishop Richard Williamson, who with Fellay was among four Society of St. Pius X bishops whose excommunications Pope Benedict lifted in January, faces a summary fine in Germany for claiming that the Nazis had no Holocaust gas chambers.

German prosecutors had put Fellay's case before a judge Oct. 14. In Germany, denying the Holocaust is a hate crime.

U.S. women religious supported by sister sisters in Asia

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Nakhon Pathom, Thailand

I’ve traveled through 12 time zones since Oct. 11 when I left NCR’s home base in Kansas City, Missouri. Without exaggeration, I think I am allowed to say I have come to “the other side” of the world. Meanwhile, I am focused on women religious in today’s church and I am here, at a conference of Asian and Oceana women religious leaders to do interviews and gather information about their work and challenges.

Immigrants & Health Care

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The USCCB’s most recent statement on health care stated that the bishops could not lend their support to the current health care legislation because, in part, it fails to take account of the needs of immigrants. In the current political climate, no health care proposal is likely to cover undocumented immigrants and even those who have documents are made to suffer under murky limitations.

While most of the attention in the Catholic community and among the bishops has been focused on the provisions respecting abortion, the bishops are right to raise their voices on behalf of immigrants. Indeed, there is something to be said for the bishops never endorsing any proposals except to ask, “But what about the needs of these people?” Human laws, like human lives, fall short of the Kingdom of God and the Church has a unique role in reminding our culture of that fact.

KC Nuke Plant: Imagining Other Futures

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On October 6th Kansas City, Mo. community members held a press conference to highlight their opposition to the continued operation of the Kansas City Plant, a major nuclear weapons manufacturing center.

Located about 13 miles south of downtown Kansas City, Mo., the Kansas City Plant makes non-nuclear parts for the nation’s nuclear weapons. Parts like these comprise about 85% of each nuclear weapon in the country.

“We want the government to shift its priorities,” said Jay Marx. “Instead of making bombs, we should be making things that are helping human needs.” Marx is on a national speaking tour as the Campaign Coordinator for Proposition 1 in 2010, a grassroots movement for the conversion of nuclear and other arms industries.

Allen interviews Archbishop Wilton Gregory

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NCR senior correspondent John L Allen Jr is in Rome covering the Synod for Africa. If you haven't been following his daily postings on this blog, you have missed some very interesting -- and important -- journalism. Here's an index of the stories he has filed so far.

As John reported Friday, there's a whole gaggle of other church people in Rome right now because of the synod, because of last weekends canonizations and ... well just because, I guess. I think that John is trying to talk to everyone who is there. He has caught many good interviews.

John spoke to Atlanta Archbishop Wilton Gregory yesterday. They spoke mostly about the Synod for Africa, but John also asked Gregory two questions about the American scene.

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