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Peace & Justice

Catholic college disallows union, federal officials question religious identity

A small Catholic college in Riverdale, N.Y., last month got some news that sent shivers across religious higher education: part-time faculty have a right to form a union on campus.

But that wasn’t the worst of it. The National Labor Relations Board also isn’t convinced that the Catholic school is actually Catholic.

In gun control debate, Catholic position elusive

DETROIT -- Avid outdoorsman and hunter Fr. Joe Classen, associate pastor at Holy Spirit Parish in Maryland Heights, Mo., has a permit to carry a concealed weapon.

"I rarely ever conceal and carry, but sometimes if I'm in a very bad area, I do take protection," he said. "I tell people all life is sacred, including mine."

A few states away, Fr. Theodore Parker said he knows he has the constitutional right to own a gun, but can't see any reason why he would. The pastor of two inner-city Detroit parishes said, "The real purpose of a gun in our culture is violence." And there's just too much of that, he contends.

One point on which both priests agree is that personal responsibility is mandatory for those who possess firearms.

The shooting rampage at U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords' Jan. 8 community meeting in Tucson, Ariz., which left Giffords and 12 others wounded and six dead, has renewed debate on gun control.

Ohioís bishops urge end to death penalty

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COLUMBUS, Ohio -- The Catholic bishops of Ohio are calling on Gov. John Kasich and state lawmakers to abolish the state’s death penalty.

The bishops said they concur with recent comments by Ohio Supreme Court Justice Paul Pfeifer, who charged the state’s capital punishment law is discriminatory and applied unevenly and should be replaced with a penalty of life in prison without parole. Ohio in recent years has executed more death row inmates than any state except Texas.

“Just punishment can occur without resorting to the death penalty. Our church teachings consider the death penalty to be wrong in all cases,” the 10 bishops said in a statement issued Friday (Feb. 4).

“Life imprisonment respects the moral view that all life, even that of the worst offender, has value and dignity.”

Pfeifer, a Republican, helped write the 1981 law that instituted the death penalty, but said the safeguards he and other lawmakers put in place at the time to prevent inequities have not worked. He called the use of capital punishment a “lottery.”

“It has bothered me from the beginning,” Pfeifer told reporters on Jan. 19.

Conference calls for 'comprehensive and just' immigration reform

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- The message "to welcome the stranger" reverberated throughout the weekend here at an immigration conference sponsored by the diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph. Panels of immigrants, bishops, church ministries, and immigrant aid groups urged reform during the conference, located at Rockhurst University.

Pentagon: No change for chaplains with gay ban repeal

WASHINGTON -- The pending repeal of the U.S. military's ban on openly gay members will not change policies related to chaplains, the Pentagon stated Friday (Jan. 28).

“There will be no changes regarding service member exercise of religious beliefs, nor are there any changes to policies concerning the chaplain corps of the military departments and their duties,” reads a six-page memo about implementing the repeal the Don't Ask/Don't Tell policy.

Drone protesters convicted of trespassing

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Fourteen peace activists who oppose the U.S. military’s use of automated attack drones abroad were found guilty of criminal trespass Thursday for a 2009 act of civil disobedience at a Nevada Air Force Base.

The sentencing came four months after activists’ hopes for acquittal had been raised when, during their initial September trial, the judge said he would need “at least three months” to study the issues of international law surrounding their trespass.

Bishop: March for Life participants are pilgrims

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WASHINGTON -- Bishop William E. Lori of Bridgeport, Conn., likened people coming to Washington to take part in the annual March for Life to pilgrims.

And in that effort, they are linked to "the most blessed of all pilgrims -- the Blessed Virgin Mary," Bishop Lori said in his homily at a Jan. 24 Mass that concluded an overnight National Prayer Vigil for Life at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington.

"Our journey is not necessarily an easy one," Bishop Lori said. "We got up earlier than we ever thought imaginable to get on a plane to be here" or "had to be cooped up for hours in bus rides" for the march, which is held each year to protest the 1973 Supreme Court decision that permitted abortion virtually on demand.

But Mary's pilgrimage to see her cousin Elizabeth, who was pregnant with John the Baptist, "was not easy," he noted. "She didn't have buses or roads or fast-food franchises. She made her way along narrow paths or mountain roads upon which she walked."

Now, Bishop Lori said, "Mary joins us in this pilgrimage dedicated to the cause of life ... from the moment of conception until natural death."

40,000 at annual West Coast pro-life walk

SAN FRANCISCO -- More than 40,000 people crowded San Francisco's waterfront boulevard for the seventh annual Walk for Life West Coast on the 38th anniversary of the Supreme Court's Roe v. Wade decision legalizing abortion.

"We're here to break the chains of the culture of death," walk co-founder Dolores Meehan told the morning rally Jan. 22, before the 2.5-mile walk along the Embarcadero to Marina Green near the Golden Gate Bridge. "It's awesome to see all of you packed out there," she told the record-breaking crowd.

Speaker Abby Johnson, 30, who walked away from her job as a director of a Texas Planned Parenthood clinic in 2009 after assisting with an ultrasound-guided abortion, told the young people in the crowd, "You are the new generation of pro-lifers and let me tell you something friends, Planned Parenthood and the pro-choice movement, they are shaking in their boots.

"They are terrified because there are so many more pro-life young adults than pro-choice young adults," Johnson said. "You know why? Because it makes sense to be pro-life. It doesn't make sense to be pro-choice. ... Technology doesn't back it up.

March for life brings to mind new beginnings

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It is 5:45 in the morning and I don't even think the roosters are up. I began the day with reading scripture, meditation and prayer. That was about a half hour ago. We are at the start of a new year. It is an ideal time to reflect on our walk as Christians. I've often used the time leading up to the annual March for Life in Washington, D.C., as a day of preparation for the upcoming season of Lent.

We can use the time to examine our consciences, as well as to confess and repent of our sins, all of which is good preparation for the season of Lent, a time of self-sacrifice. This time around the March of Life is a also a time when the poor and less fortunate should be close to our hearts. Are not the poor, the disabled, and the elderly alike the "treasures of the church" for which St. Lawrence died? They are indeed!

Gun control: Church firmly, quietly opposes firearms for civilians

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VATICAN CITY -- The Catholic Church's position on gun control is not easy to find; there are dozens of speeches and talks and a few documents that call for much tighter regulation of the global arms trade, but what about private gun ownership?

The answer is resoundingly clear: Firearms in the hands of civilians should be strictly limited and eventually completely eliminated.

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April 11-24, 2014

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