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Politics

'Don't Let the Bishops Swing the Election ñ Again!'

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Commentary
I really resent the few U.S. bishops who are now engaged in a campaign to swing the election for John McCain -- as they did for George W. Bush in 2004.

Four years ago, Archbishops Charles Chaput of Denver and Raymond Burke, then of St. Louis, Mo., (Burke has just left St. Louis to take a post in the Vatican) succeeded in bringing Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger (now Pope Benedict XVI) into the media mix. They requested, then disseminated, a letter from the prefect of the Vatican's Holy Office which, Vatican nuances aside, told Catholics not to vote for the dubiously Catholic Senator John Kerry, because he was "pro-abortion." (Kerry wasn't pro-abortion; he was pro-choice. There is a difference, as I will explain in a moment.)

All eyes on California's high-stakes gay marriage fight

Pastor Jim Garlow is fasting and praying at his megachurch in La Mesa, Calif., to encourage fellow California evangelicals to vote for Proposition 8, which would amend the state constitution to ban same-sex marriage.

Jan Garbosky, meanwhile, married her lesbian partner of 20 years on Oct. 4 at their Unitarian Universalist church in San Diego and has been coordinating interfaith clergy phone banks to encourage state residents to vote against the measure and preserve gay marriage in the nation's most populous state.

For both sides in the fight over same-sex marriage, all eyes are on California because what's decided by Golden State voters on Nov. 4 could have ripple effects from coast to coast.

As the theme of an upcoming 12-hour anti-gay marriage rally in San Diego bills it, "As California goes, so goes the nation."

Helping pregnant women not enough, prelates say

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WASHINGTON
Catholics are required to oppose abortion on demand and to provide help to mothers facing challenging pregnancies, the chairmen of two committees of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops said in an Oct. 21 statement.

Cardinal Justin Rigali of Philadelphia, chairman of the Committee on Pro-Life Activities, and Bishop William F. Murphy of Rockville Centre, N.Y., chairman of the Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, also urged Catholics to study church teaching on matters pertaining to abortion rather than rely on statements and materials from outside organizations.

The prelates' statement was released in response to two arguments that have surfaced in the abortion debate during the run-up to the Nov. 4 election.

Editor's note: Read the full text of the joint statement.

Latinos seen as key to outcome of presidential election

WASHINGTON
As pollsters and political analysts try to predict the outcome of the election, Latino voters have become a target for intense attention -- by tea-leaf readers as well as the candidates.

Latinos have been swing voters in the last several elections -- with majorities supporting Democratic Vice President Al Gore in 2000 and Republican President George W. Bush in 2004.

With population growth, Hispanics' percentage of the electorate has steadily risen. Frustration over the failure of Congress to pass a comprehensive immigration reform bill also has led many longtime legal permanent residents to become naturalized citizens and register to vote for the first time. A nationwide naturalization and voter registration campaign waged over the last two years has made those steps easier for people and helped keep up interest in voting.

Memphis Bishop calls upon Catholics to avoid 'one issue' votes

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Memphis Bishop J. Terry Steib this week called upon Catholics to avoid being one-issue voters. He asked them to follow their consciences and weigh all the moral issues they face before casting their ballots.

“We must recognize,” he wrote, “that God through the church, is calling us to be prophetic in our own day. If our conscience is well formed, then we will make the right choices about candidates who may not support the church's position in every case.”

'U.S. bishops damaging rich Catholic faith tradition'

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Commentary
The Catholic church has a problem on its hands. Just weeks before the presidential election, a few bishops and prelates have come dangerously close to making implicit political endorsements by telling Catholics that abortion trumps all other moral issues and lashing out against the Democratic Party.

For those who support an essential role for faith in public life, this is a disturbing trend for both religion and democracy.

Group hits parishes in key states with anti-abortion brochure

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Kansas City, Mo.

An antiabortion brochure that claims voting for Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama, “flagrantly violates Catholic teaching,” is being distributed to parishioners at Catholic churches across nine battleground states and beyond.

The method of distributing the flier, titled “Faithful Catholic Citizenship Based Upon the Gospel of Life,” includes placing brochures on cars parked outside of parishes, handing them out before or after Mass and distributing them online. No Catholic dioceses have sanctioned the brochure or its distribution methods and one archdiocese told NCR they strongly disagree with the methods of disseminating the material. Several persons distributing the gospel of lief brochures who refused to leave church properties have been arrested for trespassing.

A real kick in the Fannie

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A few years back, at a Catholic high school in suburban Washington, the students were sprung from the last class of the day. They gathered on the track and strolled around the football field twice. For this the kids were credited with 10 of their mandatory 20 annual “service hours,” an attractive T-shirt (real booty for the teen set), and the knowledge that somehow (though how was never entirely clear) their “walkathon” would help the homeless.

In other words, the kids got something -- 45 minutes of freedom from the rigors of geometry or chemistry, colorful clothing, the camaraderie of friends on a fine fall afternoon, a soothed conscience -- for nothing. The event’s patrons took something good, the youthful inclination toward service and the instinct to help the unfortunate, and turned it tawdry and transactional.

In 1964, a candidate emerges from the Catholic imagination

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Pope Pius XI (1922-39) provided the inspiration that resulted in the Democratic Party’s selecting a youthful and eloquent African American, said by his opponents to lack the experience necessary for the Oval Office, as their standard-bearer.

Illinois Sen. Barack Obama? No, New York Gov. Timothy Pettigrew.

Obama, if current polling proves accurate, is on the verge of a very real and historic victory. The fictitious Pettigrew, meanwhile, was the creation of Berry Reece, a Yazoo City, Miss., native and Notre Dame graduate, and New York-based cartoonist Joe Sinnott. The six-part “Pettigrew for President” series ran in the January-June 1964 issues of Treasure Chest, the Catholic educational system’s response to the violence and vapidity of such comic book heroes as Superman and Batman, but also part of a broader effort commissioned by Pius XI to instill civic virtue in U.S. parochial school students.

Wuerl: 'Conceptually possible' not to support Roe v Wade ban

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In the following interview by NCR senior correspondent John Allen with Washington Archbishop Donald Wuerl, the question at hand was whether a Catholic, in good conscience, could vote for a candidate not committed to overturning Roe v. Wade?

Allen spoke to Wuerl in Rome, where he is attending the Synod of Bishops on the Bible. The complete interview, with links to more synod coverage, is Interview with Archbishop Donald Wuerl.

NCR: Speaking of engaging the issues of the day, as you and I speak we’re 25 days away from election day in the United States. What should pastors across the country be saying in the pulpits?

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