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Peace & Justice

Advocates say reproductive services 'important' for trafficking victims

This story is the fourth in a series on the decision by federal officials to discontinue funding the U.S. bishops' Migration and Refugee Services program to assist foreign-born victims of human trafficking. Check back with NCRonline.org every day this week for more stories.

WASHINGTON -- Longtime advocates for victims of human trafficking told a House committee that the government must ensure that females who are trafficked can access all reproductive health services including contraception and abortion.

Addressing the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform Dec. 14, Florrie Burke, a consultant to anti-trafficking organizations, and Andrea Powell, executive director of FAIR Girls in Washington, said victims who are raped must be able to determine for themselves what services they need rather than facing restrictions on care imposed by others.

The hearing was requested by minority Democrats on the committee as part of the congressional probe into the process followed by the Department of Health in Human Services to award grants for services to trafficking victims.

North Carolina leaders urge repeal of death penalty

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RALEIGH, N.C. -- With death penalty foe Sr. Helen Prejean by his side, Stephen Dear announced Dec. 2 a statewide grassroots campaign to abolish capital punishment in North Carolina, the only Southern state that has not carried out an execution in more than five years.

Dear, younger brother of NCR columnist Jesuit Fr. John Dear, is executive director of the North Carolina-based group People of Faith Against the Death Penalty.

Dear, Prejean and other religious leaders from around the state held a press conference to announce the "Kairos Campaign" to repeal the state's death penalty. While executions were common in North Carolina in the mid-1980s and throughout the 1990s, various legal entanglements have put executions on hold since the Aug. 18, 2006, execution of Samuel Flippen. North Carolina still has 158 people on death row, the sixth highest total in the nation. Forty-three executions have been carried out in North Carolina since executions resumed in 1984.

Debate fresh 25 years after 'Economic Justice for All'

WASHINGTON -- When the pastoral letter "Economic Justice for All" was published by the U.S. bishops in November 1986, its release was both the culmination of years of work and the beginning of a sometimes heated public debate.

That debate continues today, as proved during a panel discussion Dec. 6 marking its 25th anniversary.

In a round-table discussion convened by Georgetown University's Berkley Center for Religion, Peace and World Affairs and the Governance Studies Program at Brookings Institution, self-described conservatives and liberals squared off over the merits of the pastoral letter, much as people did in 1986.

The five-part letter looked at the church's vision of economic life, beginning with a discussion of Christian principles and their role in economic matters. It offered proposals for employment, poverty, food and agriculture, and international development; outlined a "New American Experiment" and a "Partnership for the Common Good," and laid out a commitment for the future.

Advent readings inspire Occupy LA arrest

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COMMENTARY

They came just before dawn; they came with fire trucks and ambulances and sirens blaring; they came in helicopters with rotary blades flapping; they came marching in lock step with helmets and visors and steel batons at "port arms." They came and came and came. They came to disperse, to clean up, and to clear out Occupy LA. The morning air was cold and I was shivering not from the cold but from fear. Small drops of sweat trickled down my armpits. This was the last place I wanted to be. At age 65 I was in the distinct minority of this ragtag assembly of youthful rabble-rousers, an alien in this collection of seemingly disorganized children.

Gay Catholic challenges Dolan to debate marriage

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Catholic gay rights advocate Joe Murray has challenged Archbishop Timothy Dolan of New York to a debate on gay marriage.

Murray is the executive director of the Rainbow Sash Movement, which advocates for acceptance of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender Catholics within the church.

Through a post issued Wednesday on Rainbow Sash’s blog, its board of directors state that Murray has challenged Dolan, president of the U.S. Catholic bishops’ conference, “to meet him in the public square at any Catholic university in the United States to debate gay marriage. Such a debate will not only be informative, but could highlight reason over homophobia.”

Pax Christi treasurer: More communication with bishops, youth needed

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COLUMBUS, GA. -- Pax Christi USA's newly appointed National Council Treasurer Jack McHale doesn't mind getting kicked in the leg from under the table once in a while.

That's what happened to McHale one Saturday morning when he starting speaking frankly about the challenges facing Pax Christi as the organization tries to be more relevant in its role as the U.S. church's only major peace organization.

McHale, who was in town for the annual SOA Watch gathering Nov. 19 and 20 at the gates of Fort Benning, invited Pax Christi regional coordinators to a downtown Columbus coffeehouse to talk peace.

As McHale started to talk about strategies to raise Pax Christi's visibility and influence, he received his first kick from someone at the table who thought McHale should be more guarded in his comments in front of a reporter.

However, McHale, a 60-year-old father of four adult children, is an experienced fundraiser, a top-flight organizer and a person known for speaking his mind.

Catholics, Jews urged to work together to promote religious freedom

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NEW YORK -- Catholics and Jews can most effectively capitalize on five decades of progress in their relations by joining forces to promote religious freedom, defend immigrants, face a common threat from fanatics and advocate for civility in politics and society, said New York Archbishop Timothy M. Dolan.

Adviser resigns following column linking same-sex attraction with devil

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WASHINGTON -- A policy adviser to the U.S. bishops has resigned following a controversy over an opinion piece he wrote suggesting that same-sex attraction could be the work of the devil.

Daniel Avila, policy adviser for marriage and family to the U.S. bishops' Subcommittee for the Promotion and Defense of Marriage since June 20, offered his resignation Nov. 4 and it was accepted, effective immediately.

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April 11-24, 2014

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