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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.

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.

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.

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.

Vatican newspaper says Nazi eugenics 'still alive'

VATICAN CITY -- Proponents of euthanasia and aborting chronically ill fetuses use the same arguments that were once used by the Nazis to promote their eugenics program of mass extermination, according to the Vatican's semiofficial newspaper.

The article appears on the front page of Saturday's issue of L'Osservatore Romano and is signed by Lucetta Scaraffia, an Italian historian who is a frequent contributor to the Vatican paper.

Scaraffia's article comes in the wake of the Italian translation of a 1920 book by two German scholars, Karl Binding and Alfred Hoche, that set the ideological foundations for the Nazi program of extermination of disabled and incurably sick people.

The authors of the 1920 book (Allowing the Destruction of Life Unworthy of Living) proposed that the lives of the chronically ill or of the mentally and physically disabled were "unworthy of being lived" and should be given a "charitable death."

Scaraffia argues this mentality can still be seen in the "writings of many contemporary bioethicists, and of many politicians who support legislative proposals of a euthanasic type."

New York museum exhibit features ordinary people of extraordinary vision

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Nowhere in New York these days is there punchier, closer-to-earth religious art than at El Museo del Barrio on upper Fifth Avenue. The exhibition there, “Testimonios: 100 Years of Popular Expression,” has lots more than religious material. Its point is to show how largely self-taught or folk artists have imagined their world, and its more than 300 pieces trace the interplay of family life, cultural heritage, community relations, dislocation, oppression and liberation.

Dialogue between Catholic leaders, Girl Scouts addresses criticisms

PHILADELPHIA -- Tina Kent credits the Girl Scouts for teaching her skills in leadership, conflict resolution and critical thinking and for giving her an appreciation for the outdoors and opportunities to travel.

Kent became a Brownie at age 8 in her native Vermillion, S.D., and remained a Scout until she was a teenager in Waco, Texas.

Now a wife and mother of five, Kent lives in the Diocese of Harrisburg, Pa., and is a Girl Scout troop leader in York, Pa., where her troop meets at St. Joseph Catholic School.

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August 29-September 11, 2014

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