National Catholic Reporter

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JFK and the cafeteria bishops



A half century ago, John F. Kennedy was elected the first Catholic president of the United States because he convinced American voters that he wouldn’t take orders from the pope.

Now, however, Catholic politicians across the United States, particularly those running for national office, are increasingly facing criticism from some members of the hierarchy -- because they won’t take orders from the church.

Private beliefs and public acts


Archbishop Charles Chaput has characterized President John F. Kennedy’s 1960 address to the Greater Houston Ministerial Association as “sincere, compelling, articulate -- and wrong” (See story). It would be easier to agree with the archbishop if his own arguments were not also wrong, and wrong in ways that will prove as unfruitful for the future of Catholicism’s relationship with American culture as he claims Kennedy’s arguments were.

Students seek to revive progressive movement

WASHINGTON -- Progressive Christian college students hope to reorganize a movement that propelled young adults into pro-civil rights and anti-war activities before it was disbanded decades ago.

The U.S. Student Christian Movement, which officially ended more than 40 years ago, will be revived at an Oct. 8-11 meeting at Morehouse College in Atlanta.

Archbishop defends Defense of Marriage Act


WASHINGTON (CNS) -- The chairman of the U.S. bishops' Ad Hoc Committee for the Defense of Marriage July 12 criticized a federal judge's ruling in two Massachusetts cases that a key provision of the Defense of Marriage Act is unconstitutional.

"To claim that defining marriage as the union of one man and one woman is somehow irrational, prejudiced or even bigoted is a great disservice not only to truth but the good of the nation," Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz of Louisville, Ky., said in a statement July 12.

Must Sikhs, Hindus convert to get elected?

WASHINGTON -- What does it mean when the two best-known Indian-American politicians in American politics are converts to Christianity?

In South Carolina, Nikki Haley won the Republican nomination for governor despite a whisper campaign that criticized her name and religion. Along with rumors of alleged sexual misconduct, many questioned the validity of Haley's Christian faith.

Investigations of religious hospitals sought


Updated July 12

NEW YORK — Citing "potential violations" of federal law governing emergency medical treatment, the American Civil Liberties Union has asked the Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services to investigate how religiously affiliated hospitals provide emergency reproductive care.

"Religiously affiliated hospitals across the country inappropriately and unlawfully deny pregnant women emergency medical care," the ACLU said in a letter to the Medicaid and Medicare administrator July 1. "This issue was recently highlighted by a situation in Phoenix, Arizona," it said.

Bishops Oppose Abortion funding in defense bill

WASHINGTON -- Requiring personnel in military hospitals to perform or participate in abortions would place "a very heavy burden" on those in the armed forces who value human life, Archbishop Timothy P. Broglio of the U.S. Archdiocese for the Military Services told U.S. senators.

"The United States is one of the few nations in the world based on self-evident principles: life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness," the archbishop said in a June 17 letter. "Constraining the very men and women committed to defending those principles for the rest of the country to act against their consciences violates the foundation of this republic."

Minding the gap between the bishops and Catholic health care


Denver, Colo. -- Anyone familiar with London knows the warning mantra of the city's subway system, "Mind the gap." That might also be the motto for relations these days between the U.S. bishops and the Catholic Health Association, in the wake of a bruising debate over health care reform that saw the bishops and leaders in Catholic health care at odds due to differing conclusions about the legislation's impact on abortion.

The key question now seems whether, and how, that gap can be repaired. In mid-June both the bishops and the CHA held plenary meetings, and in their wake the answer seems a bit clearer, at least by means of a via negativa: While leaders on both sides say they want reconciliation, it won't be because either party blinked.

The Catholic Health Association held its annual assembly June 13-15 in Denver, bringing together more than 800 leaders in Catholic health care, and officials made clear from the outset that they're not backing down.


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May 22-June 4, 2015


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