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Peace & Justice

Debt debate brings calls for preserving safety net

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- As congressional and administration negotiators played out their game of debt-limit stare-down, advocates for and recipients of federally funded services for the poor, elderly and disabled began raising their voices in protest of proposals to solve the fiscal crisis by cutting social service budgets.

Sarah Watkins, a member of a disabilities activist organization called Adapt, said that the help she gets through Medicaid -- one of the programs named often as likely to face major budget cuts -- makes the difference between whether she is able to live independently or must be institutionalized.

Court forestalls end to Catholic adoption, foster care services

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A county court has temporarily blocked Illinois’ attempt to cut its ties with Catholic Charities in three dioceses over the agencies’ refusal to place adoptive children with same-sex couples.

“We’re not going to be removing children from homes,” said Judge John Schmidt, who ordered July 12 in Sangamon County Circuit Court that the state continue to abide by existing contracts for at least another month. He scheduled a full hearing on the matter for Aug. 17.

Presbyterians to officially allow gay clergy

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Presbyterians who support gay rights are prepping sanctuaries this Sunday (July 10) to celebrate the passage of a new church policy that allows gay pastors to serve openly for the first time in the denomination’s history.

As the new policy for the Presbyterian Church (USA) becomes official that day, several left-leaning churches “will mark the moment with prayer and rejoicing” in their Sunday services, according to a press release from More Light Presbyterians, which advocates for gay rights in the church.

“The Presbyterian Church enters a new era of equality on Sunday,” said Michael Adee, the group’s executive director. “It is a historic moment. It returns us to ordination standards that focus on faith and character rather than one’s marital status or sexual orientation.”

The new policy removes language from the denomination’s constitution that had barred homosexuals from serving as church ministers, elders and deacons. It allows each presbytery - or regional governing body - to decide what sexual standards to place on ordination.

Prelate calls for a nuclear-weapons-free world

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KANSAS CITY, MO. -- The Vatican’s representative to the United Nations has called for the phasing out of all nuclear weapons from the world — “as soon as possible.”

“Viewed from a legal, political, security and most of all moral perspective, there is no justification today for the continued maintenance of nuclear weapons,” said Archbishop Francis Chullikatt.

“This is the moment to begin addressing in a systematic way the legal, political and technical requisites for a nuclear-weapons-free world,” he said.
Chullikatt delivered a July 1 talk on “The Nuclear Question: The Church’s Teachings and the Current State of Affairs” at the invitation of the Kansas City-St. Joseph diocese’s human rights office.

He said that the Holy See calls “for more stringent attention to the urgency of implementing a well-founded comprehensive approach to eliminating nuclear weapons.”

Franciscan group sees fertile future

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The new director of the Franciscan Action Network, Patrick Carolan, is fast becoming a familiar face at inside-the-beltway gatherings of Catholics concerned about social justice. One day he is at a lunch hosted by Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good. Another day finds him attending a conference on immigration reform at The Catholic University of America. Carolan goes to briefings at the bishops’ conference offices. One night, he is at the hip downtown hangout Busboys & Poets for an education event cosponsored by the Franciscan Action Network and Alta Gracia Apparel, an organization that created a fair trade apparel factory in the Dominican Republic.

Balanced Budget Amendment guarantees more needy people

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COMMENTARY

American Jews recently heard the Torah story of the 12 scouts who entered the land of Canaan before the rest of the Israelites -- a cautionary tale about the importance of paying attention to detail.

Seeing enormous fruit, the scouts warned that the inhabitants of Canaan were so large and powerful that any effort to inhabit the land would surely fail. Joshua, however, thinks the large fruit signify bounty and recommends entering the land.

The moral of the story is that what may on its face seem dangerous may actually be benign. By the same token, what may appear harmless or desirable may actually be destructive.

Beyond questionable deterrence

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VIEWPOINT

Former Secretary of State George Shultz, at a gathering at Stanford University in California, called on religious leaders to envision a world free of nuclear weapons. Shultz, a distinguished fellow at the Hoover Institution at Stanford, joined a dozen religious leaders and policymakers at the May event.

Nuclear weapon issues, as presented at the gathering, can be divided roughly into four categories: changes in the international climate as they affect nuclear weapons; disarmament successes to date; new and growing nuclear weapons threats; and, finally, possible initiatives to be taken.

Text of Archbishop Francis Chullikatís speech on nuclear disarmament

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The Nuclear Question: The Church’s Teachings and the Current State of Affairs

Remarks by Archbishop Francis Chullikatt
Kansas City, 1 July 2011, Courtesy of the Kansas City - St. Joseph Human Rights Office

Thank you, Bishop Finn, for the opportunity to join you in the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph, and address a very critical question that has such particular relevance here. The “nuclear question” is at once complex and straightforward: what do we do with the Cold War legacy of thousands of the most destructive weapons humankind has ever created? For more than 60 years since the dawn of the nuclear age, the world, and particularly the Church, has grappled with the role of these weapons, their legality and the moral implications of their production, deployment and intended use.

What I would like to do here is to share how the development of the Church’s teachings have advanced over the years and what those teachings say to us today. I will then explore the current status of efforts to address these unique weapons and specifically, the position of the Holy See.

RI bishops: No civil unions for Catholics

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PROVIDENCE, R.I. -- Saying that civil unions "promote an unacceptable lifestyle, undermine the faith of the church on holy matrimony, and cause scandal and confusion," Providence Bishop Thomas J. Tobin reminded Catholics that they may not participate in such ceremonies.

"To do so is a very grave violation of the moral law and, thus, seriously sinful," he said in a statement June 30, the day after passage of legislation that will give same-sex couples who enter into civil unions the same rights and benefits as marriage in Rhode Island.

The state Senate agreed to the bill, which the House had already approved, on a 21-16 vote late June 29 and Gov. Lincoln D. Chafee, an Independent, has said he will sign it. Some proponents of same-sex marriage in the state opposed the bill, however, saying it did not go far enough and allowed overly broad religious exemptions.

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