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Australia: Distances, demographics, disaffection underlie tales of resigned bishops

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Distances and demographics combine to tell the story.

Three-quarters the size of the United States, Australia is mainly uninhabited except along its coastline. While the U.S. shelters close to 313 million people, latest Australian census statistics report only 22 million persons on the continent’s nearly 3 million square miles.

Australian church is alive and kicking -- mostly kicking

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First Person

MELBOURNE and SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA -- Ten days in Australia isn't nearly enough, except to find that the church is alive and kicking.

Mostly kicking.

My first-time-ever trip to Melbourne and Sydney in mid-May was as guest of Garratt Publishing, which publishes Australian editions of my books Women Deacons: Past, Present, Future (with Gary Macy and William T. Ditewig) and Women in Ministry: Emerging Questions about the Diaconate. Garratt sponsored conferences and talks, and introduced me both in person and on various radio programs to an alive and questioning church.

Summit urges Filipinos to spread the Gospel with the power of social media

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MARIKINA CITY, Philippines -- Social media's popularity among Filipino youth is increasing, and the Philippines church is tapping these tools to spread the Gospel.

More than 400 people from various cities gathered at Renaissance Hotel in Marikina City, east of Manila, for 1st Catholic Social Media Summit over the weekend. They examined the advantages of and problems with various types of social media and explored ways to make full use of the tools for forming vibrant Christian communities online and in real life.

Canada to appeal court ruling on euthanasia, assisted suicide

OTTAWA, Ontario -- The federal government has announced it will appeal the June 15 British Columbia Supreme Court decision that struck down Canada's laws against euthanasia and assisted suicide.

"After careful consideration of the legal merits," the government of Canada will appeal the so-called Carter decision to the British Columbia Court of Appeal and seek "a stay of all aspects of the lower-court decision," said Justice Minister and Attorney General Rob Nicholson on July 13.

"The government is of the view that the Criminal Code provisions that prohibit medical professionals, or anyone else, from counseling or providing assistance in a suicide are constitutionally valid," said Nicholson. "The government also objects to the lower court's decision to grant a 'constitutional exemption' resembling a regulatory framework for assisted suicide."

Gates foundation one of many to pledge money to expand contraception access

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Melinda Gates has pledged $560 million as part of a campaign to expand access to contraception for women in some of the poorest countries in the world.

The funding commitment was unveiled Wednesday at the London Summit on Family Planning alongside other pledges that total $4.6 billion from the British government and leaders from African nations, which are wrestling with the health and social problems brought on, they say, by high rates of unplanned pregnancy.

Pastoral care, solidarity with Guatemalans mark Maryknollers' ministry

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MARYKNOLL, N.Y. -- To the more traditional elements of their job description, two Maryknoll missioners in Guatemala have added the responsibility of being a presence in the face of injustice and inhumanity.

Fr. William F. Mullan and Br. Martin J. Shea said their combined 110 years of service to Maryknoll, most of it in Guatemala, included evangelization and pastoral care of the local church, as well as temporal and emotional support for people displaced by that country's civil war.

Illicitly ordained Chinese bishop incurs automatic excommunication

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VATICAN CITY -- Chinese Fr. Joseph Yue Fusheng has been automatically excommunicated for allowing himself to be illicitly ordained a bishop despite repeated warnings from the Vatican.

"The Holy See does not recognize him as bishop of the apostolic administration of Harbin, and he lacks the authority to govern the priests and the Catholic community in the province of Heilongjiang," the Vatican said in a written statement Tuesday.

Congress pushes for war with Iran

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Viewpoint

In electing Barack Obama in 2008, the American people brought into the White House an outspoken opponent of the U.S. invasion of Iraq who not only withdrew combat forces from that country but promised to “change the mindset” -- the idea that the United States could unilaterally make war against oil-rich Middle Eastern countries -- that made the Iraq War possible.

In response, however, both Republicans and Democrats in Congress have been working to force this moderate president into going to war against Iran. And they have a lot of support.

Last December, in a 410-11 vote, the House of Representatives passed a bill (HR 1905) that would put into law a restriction whereby “No person employed with the U. S. government may contact in an official or unofficial capacity any person ... serving as a representative of the government of Iran.”

Never in the history of this country has Congress ever restricted the right of the White House or State Department to meet with representatives of a foreign state, even in wartime.

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July 18-31, 2014

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