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Douglas Kmiec, U.S. Ambassador to Malta, resigns


U.S. Ambassador to Malta, Douglas Kmiec, has resigned. His resignation will take effect on the Feast of the Assumption, Aug. 15, allowing him to conclude several projects, including the opening of a new embassy compound this summer.

Kmiec's resignation comes in the wake of a report from the Office of Inspector General that claimed Kmiec was spending too much time on writings and speeches unrelated to bilateral relations.

Activists want national holiday for Good Friday

WASHINGTON -- A small band of Christians is planning a rally in Washington, D.C., in a bid to make Good Friday a national holiday.

Organizer Sharon Jones, a New York-based missionary, recalled growing up observing the holiday in her native Britain.

She has scheduled a rally on the National Mall on April 22, or Good Friday. She hopes thousands will attend and watch a film about Jesus during the midday event.

Bill to legalize civil unions in Colorado dies


DENVER -- Nearly eight hours of emotional testimonies and legislator commentaries at the state Capitol in Denver March 31 ended in the defeat of a bill that would have created civil unions in Colorado.

Voting 6-5 along party lines to defeat the bill, legislators went back and forth on the legal and societal effects that the state Senate bill could have on Coloradans. The debate featured seven hours of public testimonies in a standing-room-only Old Supreme Court room.

In Senate Muslim hearings, change in tone


WASHINGTON — It was billed as the first-ever congressional hearing on the civil rights of American Muslims. But it played more like an Act II than a premiere.

In many ways, the hearing led by Senate Democrats on Tuesday (March 29) was the dramatic antithesis of one House Republicans held earlier this month on homegrown Islamic radicalism.

Madison: Labor's wake-up call or its last stand?


MADISON, WIS. -- For the better part of two weeks, Candice Owley slept beneath the soaring rotunda of Wisconsin’s historic capitol building. President of the Wisconsin Federation of Nurses and Health Professionals, Owley, 62, joined the tens of thousands of protesters fighting the law that stripped most public employees of their right to negotiate collectively.

Maryland legislators table gay marriage bill until 2012



ANNAPOLIS, Md. -- After two weeks of tension and occasional high drama, the Maryland House of Delegates delayed a showdown on same-sex marriage until next year.

The House decided March 11 to return a controversial bill to legalize same-sex marriage to its Judiciary Committee -- a move that effectively tables it for the remainder of this year’s legislative session but keeps it alive for when the Legislature reconvenes next January.

Political observers said House supporters of the bill believed that with the political turmoil surrounding the issue over the previous two weeks, they were just a couple of votes short of the 71 delegates needed to pass it.

Bishops call on house to defend DOMA


WASHINGTON -- The Obama Administration’s decision to forgo defense of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) “has undermined the rule of law and the separation of powers,” religious leaders including Atlanta Archbishop Wilton Gregory said in a March 4 letter to House Speaker John Boehner.

“We urge the House of Representatives to take leadership in defending DOMA in the federal courts,” said the letter. “Specifically, we ask that the House intervene as a party in all cases where DOMA is challenged, not merely to file amicus curiae briefs. Though such action would be unusual, it would be both lawful and warranted under our current legal system and political context.”

Frances Kissling urges pro-choice movement to evolve


WASHINGTON – The abortion rights movement is losing ground and pro-choice advocates need to “stop holding on to a strategy that isn’t working,” said Frances Kissling, long the leading U.S. Catholic advocate of no legal restrictions on abortion.

Writing Feb. 20 in the opinion section of The Washington Post, Kissling said abortion rights advocates “can no longer pretend the fetus is invisible. ... We must end the fiction that an abortion at 26 weeks is no different from one at six weeks. ... We need to firmly and clearly reject post-viability abortions except in extreme cases.”

“The abortion-rights movement needs to change the way it thinks about the state,” she added. “Right now government is mainly treated as the enemy.”

Amid budget cuts, panel urges social ministries to refocus efforts


WASHINGTON -- Impending budget cuts and fiscal austerity measures -- whether they appear in President Obama's 2012 federal budget proposal or in a counterproposal supported by Congressional Republicans -- were an important theme Monday morning for a panel of national Catholic leaders discussing the state of poverty in the United States.

Part of the 2011 Catholic Social Ministry Gathering in Washington, a four-day annual gathering of more than 300 social ministry workers from around the country, the panel focused on practical ways to combat poverty and discussed public policies that create a more equitable economy.

The group agreed unanimously that any budget cuts need to avoid targeting those who depend on them the most.



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July 17-30, 2015


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