National Catholic Reporter

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Peace & Justice

Nagasaki archbishop: nuclear arms never justified

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NEW YORK -- Speaking at two U.N.-related events May 4, the archbishop of Nagasaki, Japan, called the existence of nuclear weapons "intrinsically evil" and said "there is no reason whatsoever to justify this deadly weapon."

Archbishop Joseph Mitsuaki Takami, who as an unborn child survived the Aug. 9, 1945, atomic bomb that decimated his city at the end of World War II, brought his impassioned plea for nuclear disarmament and the abolition of all war to the events at a chapel overlooking the headquarters of the United Nations.

Archbishop Takami was born seven months after the bomb killed 60,000 people in his hometown, including his grandmother, two aunts and an uncle.

W.Va. bishop writes pastoral on mine safety

WHEELING, W.Va. -- In the second pastoral letter of his episcopacy, Bishop Michael J. Bransfield of Wheeling-Charleston called attention to mine safety in West Virginia.

In his letter, "On My Holy Mountain," released at a news conference April 30 at diocesan offices in Wheeling, the bishop noted mine disasters in West Virginia -- the Monongah Mine disaster of 1907 that killed 362 people, the Sago Mine disaster of 2006 that killed 13 miners and the April 5 Upper Big Branch Mine explosion in Montcoal that killed 29 miners.

Catholic university rethinks class on gay marriage

SOUTH ORANGE, N.J. -- Seton Hall University's governing board is debating whether to cancel a course on gay marriage after Newark Archbishop John J. Myers said it conflicts with the teachings of the Catholic Church.

The course is scheduled to begin this fall for upperclassmen in any major, university officials said, and would explore the issue without advocating for either side.

Atomic bomb survivors, activists gathering in New York

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NEW YORK
Thousands of peaceful demonstrators marched from Times Square to the United Nations May 2, singing to the beat of drums and waving anti-nuclear banners as they wrapped up a weekend of events leading up to the nonproliferation review conference that opens today. The crowds moved slowly down 42nd Street, past the kebab and pretzel vendors and clusters of tourists, waving at passersby and handing out origami birds.

Hibakusha, survivors of the nuclear attacks in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, now in their 70s and 80s, walked alongside younger generations and carried photographs of the disasters. "No nukes, no war," was printed on a large yellow sheet carried by a delegation from Kyoto, Japan. Behind them, a Korean delegation banner read "End Korean War, sign peace treaty."

Pro-life 'freedom rides' this summer in Birmingham

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BIRMINGHAM, Ala. -- Calling for an end to the nation's "enslavement to legal abortion," Fr. Frank Pavone of Priests for Life announced April 27 that a series of "freedom rides" for the unborn would begin this summer.

The rides will be nonpartisan, interdenominational and nonviolent and will involve a diverse cross-section of people, Pavone said at a news conference in Birmingham's Kelly Ingram Park.

"Like the freedom rides of five decades ago, these freedom rides symbolize the principle ... that justice and equal protection of human rights belong to each and every human being, regardless of size or age or any other condition," he said.

Among those joining Pavone in the announcement was Alveda King, director of African-American outreach at Priests for Life and niece of the late civil rights leader, the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. Her father, the Rev. A.D. King, is depicted in a statue of praying ministers at Kelly Ingram Park.

Ariz. governor signs immigration bill into law

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PHOENIX -- Thousands of protesters gathered outside the state capitol and hundreds more at a state office building in Tucson April 23 awaiting Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer's announcement that she had signed into law an immigration bill that has been harshly criticized by civil rights groups, religious leaders and even President Barack Obama, who called it "misguided."

Religious leaders denounce Arizona immigration bill

WASHINGTON -- Arizona's three bishops and Los Angeles Cardinal Roger M. Mahony have joined those urging Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer to veto legislation that the cardinal called "the country's most retrogressive, mean-spirited and useless anti-immigrant law."

The Arizona Legislature on April 19 sent Brewer a bill that would require police to ask people they encounter in routine activities for immigration documents. It also would, in Arizona at least, make it a crime to be in the country illegally. Federal law considers that a violation of civil codes, not a crime.

The betrayal that is unjust war

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Viewpoint

Former chaplain Fr. William Mahedy served in Vietnam with the U.S. Army. In his 1997 book, Out of the Night: The Spiritual Journey of Vietnam Veterans, Mahedy relates an incident wherein a young soldier approached him one day after Mass.

“Hey, Chaplain,” he said quietly, “how come it’s a sin to hop in bed with a mama-san, but it’s okay to blow away gooks in the bush?”

Supreme Court losing strongest death penalty critic

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- The retirement this spring of Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens leaves the court without its strongest critic of the death penalty.

Just 10 days before his 90th birthday, Stevens announced April 9 that he would step down at the end of the term this summer. His departure will provide President Barack Obama with his second opportunity to name a Supreme Court justice. Justice Sonia Sotomayor replaced Justice David Souter when he retired last June.

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