National Catholic Reporter

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Issues of conscience, without hyperbole


The Department of Health and Human Services’ recent refusal to expand the federal definition of religious employers who can be exempted from offering contraceptive and sterilization coverage in their employee health insurance plans has stirred strong reactions. Some critics have evoked images of bygone American anti-Catholicism and claimed that the White House is at war with the church and has engaged in a historic assault on Catholicism.

Resist the pipeline and find a new, greener way


The Obama administration rightfully rejected the controversial Keystone XL oil pipeline. Congressional Republicans had given the president a Feb. 21 deadline to either green light the TransCanada Corporation’s proposal, or determine the project is not in the national interest. If built, the 1,700-mile-long conduit would run from Western Canada’s tar sands areas across our border into the Dakotas and head south to Texas refineries.

New foreign policy on gay rights seen as threat to religious liberty

QUINCY, Mass. -- Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's announcement in December that respect for gay rights is now a factor in the Obama administration's foreign policy decisions is on a collision course with religious freedom, said an official with the Becket Fund.

"This administration clearly wants to elevate certain rights over others. And unfortunately it seems that religious freedom is never prioritized in their foreign policy as it should be," Tina Ramirez told The Anchor, newspaper of the Fall River Diocese.

Ramirez is director of government and international relations for the Becket Fund, which seeks to protect the free expression all faiths.

On Dec. 6, Clinton announced to U.N. diplomats in Geneva that U.S. agencies engaged abroad have been instructed to "combat the criminalization" of the "status or conduct" of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered people.

New law means stripping certain protestors of their rights



Habeas corpus, hocus pocus, whatever.

Most Americans haven't the slightest idea what this arcane Latin term might mean or why it might be important to them, but it is the reason why most of the cases against Occupy Los Angeles are being dismissed.

It is also the reason why President Barack Obama signed HR 155, the National Defense Authorization Act, into law, giving the president and the military the authority to hold U.S. citizens indefinitely without charges and bringing them before a judge.

Although I have been arrested and jailed scores of times over the years for civil disobedience, it was not until I was arrested and jailed with 300 "occupants" of Occupy Los Angeles on Nov. 30, 2011, that I had a renewed appreciation for habeas corpus.

Top bishop said he feels betrayed by Obama


WASHINGTON -- In the wake of President Barack Obama's controversial decision to mandate that religious groups pay for contraceptives for their employees, much of the coverage focused on how the president had disappointed progressive allies by giving religious groups an extra year to comply.

But the decision also had New York Archbishop Timothy Dolan, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, feeling personally betrayed.

"I have to say, there's a sense of personal disappointment," Dolan said Tuesday after he gave a lecture on "Law and the Gospel of Life" at Fordham Law School.

Last November, amid deepening tensions between the bishops and the administration over the pending contraception mandate and other issues, Obama invited Dolan to the Oval Office, where the two men shared what Dolan called a productive and "extraordinarily friendly" meeting.

"The president seemed very earnest, he said he considered the protection of conscience sacred, that he didn't want anything his administration would do to impede the work of the church that he claimed he held in high regard," Dolan said. "So I did leave a little buoyant."

Poll shows majority of Americans OK with abortion restrictions


WASHINGTON -- A poll taken for the Knights of Columbus and Marist College in Poughkeepsie, N.Y., indicates a strong majority of Americans continue to want restrictions on abortion.

According to the poll, 79 percent of those surveyed said they would not allow abortion after the first three months of pregnancy. And 51 percent said they would allow abortion only in cases of rape, incest or to save the mother's life -- or not at all.

The poll's numbers are almost unchanged from a similar poll taken two years ago.

The survey responses were released in Washington Jan. 23, the date of this year's March for Life.

According to the poll results, 84 percent said they believe that laws can protect both the life of the unborn and the health and well-being of women. This is up from 81 percent from the 2010 survey.

"Almost four decades after the Supreme Court's decisions in Roe v. Wade and Doe v. Bolton, which resulted in the almost totally unrestricted abortion regime of today, these decisions continue to be out of step with the vast majority of Americans," said a Jan. 23 statement by Carl Anderson, supreme knight of the Knights of Columbus.

Cakewalks and slam dunks: realities of the Iraq War



From the beginning to the end -- March 2003 to December 2011 -- the Iraq War was a lose-lose tragedy: losses for the people of Iraq that range from a mass exodus of refugees to a civilian death toll beyond counting, and losses for America that include battlefield deaths, physical and psychic wounds, a record number of soldier suicides, an economy bankrupted by the costs of a war that the public was lied into and was exploited by military contractors, hawked by the establishment media and defended by cheerers who predicted a quick victory as either a “slam dunk” or “cakewalk.”

None of these realities received even a passing nod when Commander in Chief Barack Obama in mid-December spoke in a hangar packed with soldiers in Fort Bragg, N.C. Instead, he dealt in fantasies, accolades and bromides. The war “is one of the most extraordinary chapters in the history of the American military.” It “has made America stronger and the world more secure.” We have “the emergence of a new dawn.”



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November 20-December 3, 2015


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