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Amid political battle, Catholic bishops promote 'natural' family planning

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Amid a battle with President Barack Obama over a new contraception mandate, the nation's Roman Catholic bishops are promoting "natural" family planning -- but will their flock take heed?

When the Obama administration in January announced that employers will have to provide contraception coverage to their employees, U.S. Catholic bishops took the lead in fighting the mandate.

Seeing Muslims as God sees them

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NOTRE DAME, IND. -- People say there is no monastic tradition in Islam," explained a quietly exasperated Trappist who has been persistently promoting interreligious dialogue among the world's monks and nuns and Muslims for many years.

He knows that there are many threads to the pushback over monastic dialogue with Muslims. That there are "no Muslim monks" is one that many people mention.

Group trains runners for marathons, spreads pro-life message at events

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WASHINGTON -- How far would you go to defend life? Life Runners would go about 26.2 miles a race.

Founded in South Dakota by running partners Pat Castle and Rich Reich, Life Runners has been promoting Catholicism and the pro-life movement through marathons in some of the nation's biggest cities since 2008.

Provocative art put Catholic nun in the middle of 1960s maelstrom

WASHINGTON -- Combining images and words from advertising, pop culture and religion, the bold graphic art of Sr. Mary Corita was as deeply representative of the spirit of the 1960s as it was ubiquitous in church basements, dorm rooms and urban communes of people involved in the struggle for civil rights and the campaign to end the Vietnam War.

Sr. Dorothy Vidulich, former NCR Washington correspondent, dies

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She was born in Jersey City, but Dorothy Vidulich was a true daughter of “The Nun of Kenmare,” the contentious, courageous, hierarchy battling Margaret Anna Cusack, founder of the Sisters of St. Joseph of Peace.

Vidulich, who entered the order in 1952 was also a member of the NCR Washington Bureau staff in the 1990s, and Cusack’s biographer. Sister Dorothy died July 12, at the order’s St. Michael’s Villa in Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey at age 85.

Reaction mixed to Episcopal Church's approval of same-sex rites

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Gay and lesbian Episcopalians are celebrating their church’s approval on Tuesday (July 10) of liturgical rites for blessing same-sex couples. But conservatives are threatening to take “drastic” steps to distance themselves from the Episcopal Church.

Episcopalians meeting at their triennial General Convention in Indianapolis overwhelmingly approved the new rites. Lay members and priests voted 171-41 in favor of the same-sex blessings. Bishops voted 111-41, with three abstentions.

Episcopal church approves ame-sex blessings liturgy

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INDIANAPOLIS -- In a decision that could strain relations with the Catholic Church and within its own Anglican Communion, the Episcopal Church has approved liturgical resources for the blessing of same-sex relationships.

The church's House of Bishops voted 111-41 July 9 in favor of provisional use of the resources until the next General Convention, held every three years. About 80 percent of the church's House of Deputies gave their approval July 10.

Opus Dei's first prelate praised as sainthood cause moves forward

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NEW YORK -- The late Bishop Alvaro del Portillo, the first prelate of Opus Dei who has been declared "venerable" by the Vatican, offered "an example of faithfulness" as a layman, priest and bishop, according to the postulator for his sainthood cause.

"Many people all over the world were convinced that he was a saintly man and invoked his intercession with a view to obtaining favors from heaven," said Msgr. Flavio Capucci in an interview after the Vatican Congregation for Saints' Causes said in a June 28 decree signed by Pope Benedict XVI that del Portillo heroically lived Christian virtues and should be considered venerable.

Before the Spanish-born bishop can be beatified, the Vatican must recognize that a miracle has occurred through his intercession. A possible miracle has been submitted to the Vatican for study by theological and medical experts.

In general, the church must confirm two miracles before sainthood is declared, the first for beatification and the second for canonization.

Religious group praises action to stop student loan interest rate hike

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WASHINGTON -- A coalition of religious groups praised passage of a measure to extend the low interest rate on student loans, calling it a "true bipartisanship" effort.

President Barack Obama signed the legislation Friday. For a one-year period, it keeps the interest rate at 3.4 percent on new loans for millions of college students.

"We are grateful to President Obama's leadership and to all of the Republicans and Democrats who reached across the aisle and got this done," said Eric LeCompte, executive director of Jubilee USA Network.

The group is a coalition of more than 75 religious denominations and faith communities, human rights, environmental and labor organizations focusing on the biblical concept of debt forgiveness.

Just days before the vote in Congress, members of Jubilee USA Network delivered petitions urging action to prevent rising student loan interest rates.

Bishop lived teachings of 'Lumen Gentium' for 37 years

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Last year marked a 10th anniversary that many of us Minnesota Catholics observed. On Sept, 19, 2001, Bishop Raymond Lucker died in Our Lady of Good Counsel Cancer Home in St. Paul.

The year 2001 had been a fast-moving journey for Lucker. Having retired at the turn of the new year after serving 25 years as bishop of the rural diocese of New Ulm, Lucker planned to write a book on what he called the "beauty and challenge of divine revelation." But quickly he suffered a recurrence of the malignant melanoma that was first diagnosed in 1999. By summer 2001 he was living in the hospice, though still thinking about his book.

Since I had filled in for him at a teaching engagement at the College of St. Catherine in St. Paul when he first became sick, he invited me to twice-weekly conversations all summer -- conversations that ultimately shaped the book worked on by 15 Minnesota Catholic theologians and with an introduction comprised of Lucker's taped words of that summer, brought together and edited. The book was titled Revelation and the Church: Vatican II in the Twenty-First Century, published by Orbis in 2003.

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November 21-December 5, 2014

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