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Irish priest is the latest Catholic ecological voice

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NAVAN, IRELAND -- There was a priest in America that Columban Fr. Seán McDonagh needed to see. McDonagh, recalled to the monastery in Navan, County Meath, Ireland, after several years in the Philippines, had himself routed through New York. It was 1980. Sent as a missionary to Mindanao in 1972, McDonagh had developed reforestation and land-use projects with the T’boli people. Standing up to the money interests was risky; a Passionist priest colleague, Carl Schmitt, had already been murdered “up in the mountains.”

Shift to laity sparks formation needs

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Nearly every month, supervisors, executives and others in positions of leadership at Avera Health System come together to reflect on the Catholic tradition of the businesses where they work. They remember the stories of the health system’s founders, the Benedictine and Presentation Sisters, who around the turn of the 19th century began caring for the sick and poor in what was then Dakota Territory, but they also talk about everyday routine in the more than 300 health care facilities the system now runs throughout the Great Plains. They talk about Catholic social teaching, and what it means to care for the patient as a whole, and they praise colleagues who do good work. Mostly, they try to keep alive the link between present and past.

Lawmakers in Washington state pass bill legalizing same-sex marriage

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SEATTLE -- Members of the House of Representatives in Washington state voted Feb. 8 to legalize same-sex marriage, and Gov. Christine Gregoire was expected to sign the bill into law by mid-February.

The vote came one day after a federal appeals court in California struck down that state's voter-approved ban on same-sex marriage.

In Washington, the legislation passed with a 56-42 vote in the House. On Feb. 1, the state Senate approved it 28-21.

Once it becomes law, Washington will be the seventh state in the nation, along with the District of Columbia, where same-sex marriage is legal.

Several Republicans in the House argued against the bill, saying that it went against the tradition of marriage.

In Jan. 23 testimony before a Senate committee, Seattle Archbishop J. Peter Sartain urged lawmakers to oppose the measure "based on the grave challenge this legislation poses to the common good. By attempting to redefine marriage, it ignores the origin, purpose and value of marriage to individuals, families and society."

As warden, she oversaw executions; now she fights to stop them

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OAKLAND, CALIF. -- The woman who oversaw four executions by lethal injection is fighting to make sure it never happens again.

Jeanne Woodford served as warden of San Quentin State Prison in California from 1999 through 2004. Now she is the chief law enforcement spokesperson for SAFE California, a ballot initiative that would replace the state’s death penalty with life in prison without parole, require inmates to pay into a victims’ compensation fund, and allocate $100 million over three years to solving crime.

Study: Black Catholics are more engaged

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A major new study of African-American Catholics has found that on average they are more religiously engaged than their white Catholic counterparts. They are also better-educated and more economically successful than their African-American Protestant counterparts.

On some educational and socioeconomic scales they exceed or rank equal in achievement with white Protestants, although they still rank below white Catholics.

Cardinal Bevilacqua, retired Philadelphia archbishop, dies at age 88

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PHILADELPHIA -- Cardinal Anthony J. Bevilacqua, retired archbishop of Philadelphia, died Jan. 31 at St. Charles Borromeo Seminary, where he resided.

According to the Philadelphia Archdiocese, he died in his sleep at 9:15 p.m. He was 88. The archdiocese said he had been battling dementia and an undisclosed form of cancer.

Cardinal Bevilacqua headed the archdiocese from February 1988 to October 2003.

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