National Catholic Reporter

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Peace & Justice

Learning in community

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MILWAUKEE -- When Leah Todd steps off the elevator in her dorm after a long night of studying at the library, she has only one thing on her mind: sleep.

But before she can drag her feet to her room, Todd sees several of her neighbors sitting in the lounge talking about their day. She breathes a sigh of relief.

She is home at last.

A journalism and philosophy double major, Todd is one of 44 Marquette University sophomores participating in the inaugural Dorothy Day Social Justice Living/Learning Community.

Lessons from Abroad to America on Universal Health Care

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When the President’s extraordinary discussion of health care at Blair House was concluding, it was just beginning here in Malta. For several intensely interesting hours thereafter, the U.S. Embassy engaged in an equally extraordinary bit of reverse public diplomacy; that is, America was the student, and this ancient island civilization was the teacher.

As America’s Ambassador here with a penchant for trying to combine an inquisitive academic mind with newly grafted diplomatic effort, I invited the “best and the brightest” of the Malta medical fraternity (and they are legion, including having one of their own as cardiovascular chair at Mayo) to do a thorough public comparison of the universal health care system in Malta with the President’s far more modest, but important, effort at providing health care to millions of uninsured.

Malta has had universal health care for generations, and the discussion took place in the sprawling and new teaching hospital – Mater Dei. That’s right, in Catholic Malta, the public hospital is not at all bashful about acknowledging the mother of God – in name, and as discussed, medical deed.

Religious groups urge health care action

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WASHINGTON

As President Obama prepared to meet with members of Congress Feb. 25 in a nationally televised health care summit, the head of the Catholic Health Association, dozens of Catholic theologians and a wide coalition of religious leaders called on legislators to take action together on meaningful health care reform.

On the eve of the summit, U.S. bishops reminded congressional leaders that they have long taught that "health care is a basic human right."

“The price of inaction is simply too high to pay,” Daughter of Charity Sr. Carol Keehan, CHA president and CEO, said in a statement Feb. 23.

In a letter to Obama and congressional leaders the same day, more than two dozen leading Catholic theologians and other scholars joined the Catholic Alliance for the Common Good, Sojourners and the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism in calling reform legislation a task of “great urgency.”

The economy's immoral, people are angry. Now what?

News Analysis

NEW YORK -- Ever since the Great Recession began in the fall of 2008, Christians and other faith leaders have criticized the speculative excess and greed that led to the crisis.

A consensus on what to do about it, however, has yet to emerge.

The parameters of the critique were recently staked out at the Trinity Institute's “Building an Ethical Economy” conference here, at Trinity Episcopal Church in the heart of Wall Street. Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams bemoaned the damage that results from “an economic climate in which everything reduces to the search for maximized profit and unlimited material growth.”

Williams focused less on short-term action and more on how communities of faith need to examine language and self-image in order to contribute to building an ethical economy over the long term.

There have been no shortage of suggested solutions. Last July, Pope Benedict XVI proposed a macro solution to the financial crisis, calling for a new world financial order that would reform the United Nations and other international institutions in order to give poorer countries more of a role in international policy.

The medical care that is not care

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My daughter-in-law practices medicine in Denver. She tells me of an uninsured man with an incarcerated hernia who came to the emergency room in need of immediate surgery. They could not find a surgeon willing to operate on an uninsured patient. The emergency room physicians reduced the hernia -- a temporary fix at best -- and the man went home.

While this man and others struggle to get health care, I stand with my 91-year-old mother struggling to stem the tide of tests, procedures and hospitalizations. If many young people seldom see doctors for even simple preventative treatment, many old people become professional patients whose last years are spent in waiting rooms and labs, in hospital beds and inside MRI tubes.

Nagasaki's 'Bombed Maria' to visit Spain

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TOKYO — A Marian statue, damaged during the atomic bombing of Nagasaki, Japan, is set to meet its counterpart in Spain as part of a "peace pilgrimage" marking the 65th anniversary of the bombing.

The two-meter-high statue, known locally as "Bombed Maria", which was shipped from Italy in the 1930s, was damaged when Urakami Cathedral was destroyed during the atomic bombing of Aug. 9, 1945. The head was later found amid the rubble.

Vatican's justice-peace head says what he thinks

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Cardinal Peter Turkson of Ghana was named the new president of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace in late October, just as his debut on the global Catholic stage as the relator, or general secretary, of the Synod for Africa ended. It was in some ways a baptism by fire for the 61-year-old Ghanian prelate, introducing him among other things to the press climate in Rome. A few fairly innocent comments from Turkson about condoms, and about the prospect of a black pope, briefly became a cause célèbre in the Italian papers and prompted the Vatican to issue a swift "clarification."

As Turkson now puts it, he was forced to realize that in conversation he may say things with a smile, but in print "the smile never comes across."

Still, Turkson said he doesn't want "circumspection" to get in the way of saying what he thinks. He'd rather speak the truth, he said, and run the risk of being misunderstood.

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July 18-31, 2014

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