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Abortion battle looms on conscience clause

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The latest battle in the abortion wars seems to be shaping up around the matter of “conscience clauses” intended to protect health care workers who refuse to participate in certain procedures such as abortions or sterilizations because of personal or religious convictions.

Opposing sides in the debate seem to be preparing their best shots for and against the Obama administration’s intent to rescind an 11th hour Bush Administration rule on the issue. But the precise target is not yet clear because the new ruling, expected any day, has not yet been posted. Once it is posted, there will be a 30-day period for public comment.

Update: HHS opens 30-day period for comments on conscience protection

Further clouding the lines is the fact that three federal laws currently exist to protect health care workers who have a conscientious objection to participating in certain medical procedures and a number of states have either enacted or are working on “conscience clause” legislation.

Advocates of the poor praise new budget plan

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President Barack Obama’s proposed federal budget, which would result in a massive transfer of wealth, received rave reviews Mar. 2 from representatives of a number of religious groups, some of which have long ministered to the poor and are among the first to witness firsthand the widespread effects of the current economic crisis.

The Obama proposal, said Jim Wallis, author, activist and president of Sojourners, a Christian community in Washington, attempts to reverse a 30-year trend of growing inequality in the United States caused by policies that presumed that “enhancing the benefits of the wealthiest among us will eventually benefit us all. I think that has been proven false.”

For a long time, said Wallis, “we’ve thought that we did not have to take morals or values into consideration in making budget decisions” and that markets would provide sufficient protection to all. But concern for the common good “disappeared” under that thinking, he said.

Editorial: We shouldn't judge

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We learn that Kansas Republican Sen. Sam Brownback, in a fundraising letter for a new Washington-based antiabortion group distributed under his signature, questions whether some of his congressional colleagues are genuinely Catholic (see story).

"Real Catholics need a new voice -- not the likes of Ted Kennedy and Nancy Pelosi who have campaigned as Catholics while voting to undermine the values that we hold most dear," according to the letter.

Don't read that bill

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Twenty-seven years in Washington -- as press secretary and legislative assistant to a member of the House Budget Committee, political correspondent and public relations pitchman -- has, to be sure, its drawbacks. It is easy to fall victim to the unreality of the Washington bubble, the "inside the beltway" mentality and all that.

But such experiences also provide an ear for the demagogic sound bite, the trite but false phrase, the Astroturf manufactured message masquerading as grass-roots wisdom.

Case in point: the oft-repeated cry from those who opposed the $787 billion economic stimulus bill that no one had "read the bill."

The chorus of false outrage was large. On the House floor, Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) yelped that members of Congress had not "read the bill." Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal joined the choir in his Feb. 24 response to President Obama's address to the joint session of Congress, saying "we can rid our Capitol of corruption and ensure we never see the passage of another trillion-dollar spending bill that Congress has not even read [italics added] and the American people haven't even seen."

26 prominent Catholics back Sebelius pick

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A group of 26 Catholic leaders, scholars and theologians Mar. 1 publicly expressed support for the nomination of Governor Sebelius as the next HHS secretary .

They issued a statement calling attention to Sebelius’ successful efforts at reducing abortion in Kansas as well as the Catholic faith’s long standing support for universal health care.

Sebelius Feb. 28th accepted President Obama's request to become his Health and Human Services secretary.

“As faithful Catholics we proudly offer our support to Governor Kathleen Sebelius, who has been nominated to head the Department of Health and Human Services,” statement read.

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Conservatives denounce Sebelius nomination

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Catholic group defends Gov. Sebelius record

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Washington
Catholics United today, a Washington-based Catholic group, announced an initiative intended to educate Catholic leaders and laity on Kansas Governor Kathleen Sebelius’ record.

Sebelius Feb. 28th accepted President Obama's request to become his Health and Human Services secretary, stepping into a central role in the new administration's ambitious effort to overhaul the nation's health care system.

The effort features a Web site – Catholics for Kathleen Sebelius – which includes facts about Sebelius' record on issues important to Catholics, and a grassroots petition to demonstrate Catholic support for her nomination.

“Gov. Sebelius is a proven and tireless advocate for children's health care, education, adoption, and support for pregnant women, all components of a public policy agenda intended to benefit the common good. Under her leadership, the state of Kansas has witnessed sharp declines in both abortions and teen pregnancy,” said Chris Korzen, executive director of Catholics United.

Brownback questions foes' Catholicism

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Kansas Republican Senator Sam Brownback, in a fundraising letter for a new Washington-based antiabortion group distributed under his signature, questioned whether six of his Democratic colleagues and the Speaker of the House are genuine Catholics.

"Real Catholics need a new voice — not the likes of Ted Kennedy and Nancy Pelosi who have campaigned as Catholics while voting to undermine the values that we hold most dear," according to the undated Brownback letter.

NCR received the letter in the mail Feb. 17.

Lincoln's faith remains an enigma

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WASHINGTON -- Seven score and four years ago, Abraham Lincoln stood on the steps of the U.S. Capitol and said North and South alike must suffer for the sin of slavery.

"If God wills that (the war) continue until ... every drop of blood drawn with the lash shall be paid by another drawn with the sword, so it still must be said 'the judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether,'" Lincoln said in his second inaugural address, quoting the Psalms.

Protecting unborn life: human law and Godís law

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It is argued by some that President Obama’s approach of using social and economic support to bolster the protection of unborn life is inadequate without a legal effort to reverse Roe v. Wade. As it is generally appreciated now, however, reversing Roe in itself does not necessarily secure legal protection for life -- indeed, it could invite the opposite.

African-American Catholic elected to head GOP

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Former Maryland Lieutenant Governor Michael Steele won a sixth ballot victory today to become the first African-American chairman of the Republican National Committee (RNC).

A prominent Catholic lay person, Steele serves on the Administrative Board of the Maryland Catholic Conference -- the church’s lobbying arm in the state capitol of Annapolis -- and is a member of St. Mary’s Catholic Church in Landover Hills, MD, where he attends mass regularly with his wife Andrea and their two sons Michael and Drew.

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November 21-December 5, 2014

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