National Catholic Reporter

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Peace & Justice

Vatican and biopharma company collaborate

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Mission Management

The political and moral battle lines around embryonic stem cell research are well-defined. However, scientific research into the medical uses of adult stem cells has taken an interesting step this past year. The Vatican’s Pontifical Council for Culture has implemented a joint initiative agreement with a U.S. publicly-traded, for-profit company, NeoStem Inc., an international biopharmaceutical company.

The joint initiative will be implemented through each organization’s charitable arm: NeoStem’s Stem for Life Foundation, and STOQ International (Science, Theology and the Ontological Quest), which is a new partnership between the Pontifical Council for Culture, the six pontifical universities and the University of Notre Dame’s Reilly Center for Science, Technology and Values in Indiana.

Twenty nuclear weapons activists found guilty

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Twenty peace activists opposing the country’s first new nuclear weapons facility in 33 years were found guilty of trespass yesterday for a May action which saw 53 arrested for a nonviolent action here.

But the convictions, handed down by Municipal Judge Elena Franco, were just part of a two-hour court drama that saw activists place their action in the context of the continued funding of U.S. nuclear weapons and a recent statement by a key Vatican diplomat questioning nuclear deterrence.

Catholic university waives SAT test for urban students

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Oakland, Calif. -- When high school freshmen in Oakland and neighboring urban communities begin classes in September, they can do so with a guarantee of admission to Holy Names University here if they complete high school with at least a 2.7 grade-point average and pass a prescribed list of courses.

They will not have to take the ACT or SAT tests and they will be automatically granted a minimum scholarship of $9,000.

If we don't end nuclear weapons, they will end us

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

With these words while speaking in Kansas City, Mo., on July 1, Archbishop Francis Chullikatt, the Vatican’s ambassador to the United Nations, reaffirmed Catholic teaching on nuclear weapons and deterrence -- teachings seemingly not widely known among Catholics and totally rejected by the nuclear-armed nations, including our own government.

The moral measure of the US budget

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An NCR Editorial

President Obama and congressional leaders are still negotiating the federal budget for next year. The difficulty of these negotiations is heightened by the need to raise the federal debt ceiling, avoiding a government default and the consequent economic nightmare that such a default would entail. Unfortunately, it appears that the nation’s political compass has veered so far to the right that any resolution is likely to harm the poor and assault the already strained sense of national community that we Catholics call the common good.

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.”

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October 10-23, 2014

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