National Catholic Reporter

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Bishops' views don't always find favor among laity


NEWARK, N.J. -- With their high-priority issues prominent on national agendas, Catholic clergy have been unusually active in politics. Bishops in New Jersey and elsewhere have been especially vocal on matters such as same-sex marriage, national health care and illegal immigration.

Yet polls show that when Catholic bishops press their positions with politicians on such issues, they often do so without the support of large segments of the lay people in their dioceses.

Regarding same-sex marriage -- which the bishops oppose and which the New Jersey Legislature rejected in January after intense debate -- American Catholics are divided, polls have shown. On health care reform, a majority appear to disagree with the bishops' position that no health care bill is acceptable if federal money can be used to pay for abortions. On immigration reform, a third disagree with bishops' call to give illegal immigrants a path to citizenship, according to a recent Zogby poll.

Critics of religious influence on politics point to the disparities and argue religious leaders are speaking for themselves and for their faith's official teachings, not for those in their pews.

Redefining the term 'pro-life'



Former President George W. Bush will receive a pro-life award this weekend (Feb. 4-6) from Legatus, an organization of Catholic business professionals. The group cites his administration's opposition to embryonic stem cell research; an executive order that barred federal funds from international family planning groups that offer abortions; and the appointment of "pro-life" Supreme Court justices.

The honor raises an essential question that should challenge both political parties. It also underscores the limits of labels: What does it mean to be pro-life?

Charges against bishops' official called false, ridiculous

WASHINGTON -- Bishops who work closely with John Carr, who oversees the Catholic Campaign for Human Development, say new claims against him and the agency are false and "totally ridiculous."

Bishops William F. Murphy of Rockville Centre, N.Y.; Roger P. Morin of Biloxi, Miss.; and Howard J. Hubbard of Albany, N.Y., spoke with Catholic News Service Feb. 3 and 4 about recent allegations of "a systemic pattern of cooperation with evil" by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops because of Carr's past involvement with the Center for Community Change.

Rising debt could cripple economy, analysts say


News Analysis
President Obama’s $3.8 trillion budget, sent to Congress this week, projects a $1.3 trillion deficit. As daunting as the figure might sound, it pales as a fiscal challenge to a larger structural deficit, which left ignored could eventually pull the rug right out from under our nation’s economy.

This is the growing consensus of economists and budget analysts on the left and right who say our nation is at risk and our nation’s policymakers, caught in gridlock, lack the political will to deal with the crisis.

As a result, these budget watchdogs say we are saddling our children and grandchildren with potentially paralyzing debt.

In broad strokes, those who look at the problem – which involve liabilites of over $56 trillion - see two paths out of the woods: increasing taxes and decreasing spending. They say both are necessary, though some deficit spending might be required in the short run to revive the economy.

Catholic Charities lauds Obama's focus on jobs


WASHINGTON – The head of Catholic Charities USA praised President Barack Obama for focusing on jobs, child care and education in his State of the Union address Jan. 27 but warned against letting those most in need slip through the cracks.

"We need the administration and Congress committed to ensuring that those living on the margins are not left behind as our nation recovers from this brutal recession," said Fr. Larry Snyder, president and CEO of Catholic Charities USA.

Bishops to Congress: Set aside partisanship

WASHINGTON -- Three leading U.S. bishops called on members of Congress Jan. 26 to "set aside partisan divisions and special-interest pressures" to achieve genuine health reform.

"The health care debate, with all its political and ideological conflict, seems to have lost its central moral focus and policy priority, which is to ensure that affordable, quality, life-giving care is available to all," said a letter signed by Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo of Galveston-Houston and Bishops William F. Murphy of Rockville Centre, N.Y., and John C. Wester of Salt Lake City.

The three chair the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops' committees on Pro-Life Activities, on Domestic Justice and Human Development and on Migration, respectively.

Catholics have hope for health reform even after Brown election

WASHINGTON -- The election of Republican Scott Brown to fill the U.S. Senate seat held since 1962 by Democrat Ted Kennedy of Massachusetts does not mean Catholic leaders will abandon efforts to achieve much-needed health reform.

That was the message from the president and CEO of the Catholic Health Association and the director of the Office of Domestic Social Development of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops the day after Brown, a state senator in Massachusetts, defeated state Attorney General Martha Coakley, 52 percent to 47 percent, in a special election Jan. 19.

Once Brown is seated in the Senate, Democrats will lose the 60-seat supermajority that had allowed them to cut off GOP filibustering on health reform legislation. Brown has said he would vote against the current Senate health reform plan.

White House stop added to March for Life activities


WASHINGTON -- Pro-life activists flocking to the nation's capital for the 37th March for Life Jan. 22 will be buoyed by recent polls that say they are among the majority of Americans who identify themselves as pro-life.

Organizers of the massive demonstration also have scheduled -- for the first time in its history -- a two-hour rally at Lafayette Park, across from the White House, the evening before the march, in an effort to demonstrate their commitment to the pro-life movement to President Barack Obama.

Billed as a mini-rally because the permit limits the gathering to 3,000 demonstrators, organizers say they planned the White House event to bring the "life principles to the president of the United States."

Obama, nearing the end of his first year in office, has repeatedly said he supports keeping abortion legal in the U.S.

Tens of thousands from all over the U.S. travel each year to the nation's capital for the Jan. 22 anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court's 1973 Roe v. Wade decision legalizing abortion.

Health care bill must pass


Congress should pass, and the president should sign, health care reform legislation soon to emerge from a House/Senate conference committee. American Catholics -- in the pews, from diocesan chanceries, and in the organizations that represent them in the public arena -- should be especially enthusiastic in their support of the most significant expansion of the U.S. social contract since the passage of universal coverage for the elderly (the Medicare program) more than four-and-a-half decades ago.

Abortion still major issue facing US health care reform


WASHINGTON -- Senate-House divide over abortion is one of the key obstacles still to be overcome if the United States is to take its next major step toward reforming its health care system.

Health care reform was far from a done deal as 2009 drew to a close. If it passes, it stands to rank with the 20th century’s legislation on child labor, minimum wage, Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid among the major socioeconomic changes in federal support for and protection of the nation’s lower and middle classes.


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April 10-23, 2015


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