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Editorial: Catholics face an arduous evolution on marriage

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The opening sentence on our news story about President Barack Obama’s endorsement of same-sex marriage is: “Americans’ position on same-sex marriage is like their president’s: It’s evolving.” This is especially true for Catholic Americans, and indicators so far suggest it won’t be a smooth evolution.

Shortly after Obama’s announcement, New York Cardinal Timothy Dolan, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, said the president’s comments “are deeply saddening.”

U.S. views on marriage evolving, polls show

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Americans’ position on same-sex marriage is like their president’s: It’s evolving.

Back in 2010, President Barack Obama said his views on same-sex marriage were “evolving” and that he “struggles with this,” adding he would continue thinking about the issue. In a May 9 interview this year with ABC News, Obama said that, after several years of deliberation, he thought same-sex couples “should be able to get married.”

Georgetown alum, 'Exorcist' author: University should stop calling itself Catholic

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The author who turned Georgetown University into a horror scene in "The Exorcist" plans to sue the school in church court, charging that his alma mater has strayed so far from church doctrine that it should no longer call itself Catholic.

William Peter Blatty, who graduated from Georgetown in 1950, says the "last straw" was the university's speaking invitation to Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius.

Sebelius, who addressed graduating public policy students on Friday, has been criticized by conservative Catholics for approving a mandate that requires many religious institutions to cover employees' birth control costs. The Archdiocese of Washington called the Sebelius invitation "shocking."

Blatty, 85, credits a Georgetown scholarship with fostering his writing career, which includes an Academy Award for "The Exorcist," a blockbuster based on his best-selling 1971 novel. In the book and movie, a Jesuit priest at Georgetown, the nation's oldest Catholic university, struggles to save a demon-possessed girl. Now retired, Blatty lives in Bethesda, Md.

Franciscan University drops student health insurance plan

WASHINGTON -- Franciscan University in Steubenville, Ohio, is discontinuing its student health insurance plan in the upcoming school year in opposition to the Obama administration's mandate requiring most religious employers, including colleges, to provide no-cost contraceptive and sterilization coverage in its health insurance plans.

The school made the announcement to its students in mid-April and the news became public one month later when the university posted its campus health insurance policy on its website.

Media outlets announced that the university was the first Catholic college to drop students from its health insurance plan because of the contraception mandate required by the Department of Health and Human Services.

Michael Hernon, vice president of advancement, said university officials had not expected their decision to receive national media coverage.

When university students, alumni and benefactors were initially told of the change, he said, the reaction was "overwhelmingly supportive."

Bishop who resigned because of sex abuse dies

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Bishop Anthony J. O'Connell, whose admission of inappropriate conduct with high school seminarians decades ago led to his resignation as head of the Palm Beach, Fla., diocese in 2002, died May 4 at Mepkin Abbey in Moncks Corner, S.C.

The Irish-born bishop had lived under supervision at the abbey since his resignation. His funeral Mass was May 7, also at the abbey.

O'Connell died after a long illness, less than a week before his 74th birthday.

32 years later, book on Latin America still challenges us

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CRY OF THE PEOPLE: UNITED STATES INVOLVEMENT IN THE RISE OF FASCISM, TORTURE, AND MURDER AND THE PERSECUTION OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH IN LATIN AMERICA
By Penny Lernoux
Published by Doubleday, 1980

In 1968 the Latin America bishops met in Medellín, Colombia, and out of that meeting came the Medellín documents: “the Magna Carta of today’s persecuted, socially committed Church ... it shattered the centuries-old alliance of Church, military, and the rich elites.”

A web of greed and power grabs

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IN BANKS WE TRUST: BANKERS AND THEIR CLOSE ASSOCIATES: THE CIA, THE MAFIA, DRUG TRADERS, DICTATORS, POLITICIANS AND THE VATICAN
By Penny Lernoux
Published by Anchor Press Doubleday, 1984

Penny Lernoux’s scathing In Banks We Trust is almost 30 years old, yet when I read it I could not help but think of present times. She offers an exhaustive look into the whirlwind of risky investments, careless gambles and unquenchable greed. In Banks We Trust defines the industry during the late 1970s and into the ’80s; yet it rings all too similar to today’s stories and headlines that analyze the 2008 banking debacle responsible for deepening the recession the country is still trying to escape.

Re-encountering Lernoux

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HEARTS ON FIRE: THE STORY OF THE MARYKNOLL SISTERS (CENTENNIAL EDITION)
By Penny Lernoux (with Arthur Jones and Robert Ellsberg)
Published by Orbis Books, $25

Rereading Penny Lernoux’s final book, Hearts on Fire: The Story of the Maryknoll Sisters, is like a re-encounter with an old friend.

For a time in the 1980s, Lernoux had a considerable readership and following in Minnesota, the state where I attended college and began my reporting career. Lernoux was briefly a visiting professor at Macalester College in St. Paul, my alma mater. Anyone who took a course in U.S.-Latin American relations in those days read her work.

North Carolina voters approve amendment upholding traditional marriage

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- With a heavy turnout at the polls, North Carolina voters approved a constitutional amendment defining marriage as a union between one man and one woman by a 3-to-2 margin.

In unofficial results calculated late May 8 by the North Carolina State Board of Elections, 1,303,952 people -- 61.05 percent -- voted for the amendment while 831,788 people -- 38.95 percent -- voted against it.

The amendment read, "Marriage between one man and one woman is the only domestic legal union that shall be valid or recognized in this state." It enshrines the definition of traditional marriage in the state constitution, elevating it from what has been state law since 1996.

Bishop Peter J. Jugis of Charlotte and Bishop Michael F. Burbidge of Raleigh, who were at the Vatican May 8 for their "ad limina" visits, had both championed the amendment, which they said would prevent any arbitrary redefinition of marriage.

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July 18-31, 2014

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