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Bishop urges Congress to heed needs of jobless and their families

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WASHINGTON -- With the median length of unemployment reaching 10 months and more than four job seekers for every opening, Congress must find ways to continue unemployment compensation to protect jobless workers and their families, said the chairman of the U.S. bishops' Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development.

"For millions of American workers and their families, economic hardship continues and grows," said Bishop Stephen E. Blaire of Stockton, Calif., in a Dec. 12 letter to House members.

"The U.S. Catholic bishops have long advocated that the most effective way to build a just economy is the availability of decent work at decent wages," he added. "When the economy fails to generate sufficient jobs, there is a moral obligation to help protect the life and dignity of unemployed workers and their families."

The House was to vote as early as Dec. 13 on a Republican-backed proposal to restore the federal extended unemployment benefits program. Unless the program is extended, millions will lose their unemployment benefits beginning Jan. 1.

Vatican communications chief, Mideast advocate dies

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DARBY, Pa. -- U.S. Cardinal John P. Foley, who spent more than two decades leading the church's social communications council and later worked for the church in the Middle East, died Dec. 11 after a battle with leukemia. The cardinal, who had been residing at Villa St. Joseph, the home for retired Philadelphia archdiocesan priests, was 76.

Florida Catholics celebrate black history

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TALLAHASSEE, FLA. -- The celebration here of “Plenty Good Room,” exhibited the vigor and joy of African Americans’ song and food. St. Eugene Catholic Chapel and Student Center on the edge of Tallahassee’s Florida A&M University, a land-grant school, brought together a cross section of the community Nov. 11-13 for a gospel music workshop to feed the soul and a soul food lunch to feed the body.

Website fosters faith, fellowship among students, campus ministries

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MELBOURNE, Fla. -- They are the future of the church and world and it just makes sense that as young adults pursue advanced education for their careers, they should be able to deepen their faith with prayer, fellowship and knowledge about their faith at the same time.

At newmanconnection.com, young adults are doing exactly that. Via the virtual world, they are connected to a community of others just like themselves.

Homosexuality among church leaders discussed at Jesuit university event

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FAIRFIELD, CONN. -- In late October, on the day an out-of-season snowstorm some have called “epic” and “historic” broke nearly 200-year-old weather records and almost shut down parts of the Northeast, something else happened that was perhaps unprecedented: A Catholic university hosted a daylong formal discussion on the topic of homosexuality within communities of nuns and priests.

Faux tell-all by God himself raises eyebrows

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Note to believers everywhere: God apparently wants a do-over.

The first couple was Adam and Steve, not Adam and Eve, according to a new divine memoir. The Book of Mormon is "a preposterous, laughable and absurd series of fairy tales," and Jesus -- well, there's no easy way to say this -- pleasured himself as a teenager.

Blasphemous? Most definitely. And that's exactly the point.

Former "Daily Show" executive producer David Javerbaum has assumed the voice of God in his new book, "The Last Testament: A Memoir by God." As might be expected, it's already too hot to handle for some major retailers.

Released on All Saints' Day by Simon & Schuster, the satiric faux tell-all has its own Twitter account, The Tweet of God, which has amassed 53,000 followers with such comic bits as, "The pope just sent me a friend request. Dammit! I hate it when employees try to suck up."

Javerbaum isn't shy about his intentions.

"This book was not written primarily to be polemic," he said. "It was written to sell a lot of copies and become a best-seller."

But there is a bit of a higher purpose -- creating a comic tome that his fellow unbelievers can get behind.

New Jersey nurses sue hospital over abortion policy

WASHINGTON -- Confronted with what one called "a choice between our faith and our jobs," 12 nurses are suing University Hospital in Newark, N.J., over a new policy requiring them to care for patients before and after abortions, even if they have religious or moral objections to abortion.

The hospital, part of the University of Medicine & Dentistry of New Jersey, said that because "no nurse is compelled to have direct involvement in, and/or attendance in the room at the time of," an abortion, its policy does not violate state or federal conscience protection laws.

U.S. District Judge Jose L. Linares issued a temporary restraining order Nov. 3 directing the hospital not to compel adherence to the new policy until after the case comes before his court Dec. 5.

At a Nov. 14 news conference outside the hospital in Newark, Rep. Chris Smith, R-N.J., joined the nurses and their attorneys in criticizing the new policy, which was announced in September.

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April 11-24, 2014

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