National Catholic Reporter

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Politics

Religious leaders endorse California tax increase

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California Gov. Jerry Brown's proposed initiative to raise income taxes on residents who make more than $250,000 a year got a boost last week with the endorsement of religious leaders who met with him in the basement of the Cathedral of the Blessed Sacrament in the state capital of Sacramento.

About 200 leaders of PICO California, a network of faith-based community organizations, told Brown they believe those who are blessed with riches should share them with the less fortunate. They said they will work to register voters within their congregations and will urge their members to support Brown's proposal, which is expected to qualify for the ballot in the next couple of weeks.

The proposal would raise income taxes by 1 percent to 3 percent over seven years on people with an annual income of more than $250,000. It would also raise the sales tax from 7.25 percent to 7.5 percent for four years, starting in January. Both proposed taxes are part of the governor's effort to deal with the state's budget crisis. Without it, Brown has said, there will be more budget cuts to public education and other services.

Opposition to gay marriage lower in 2012 campaign

Opposition to gay marriage is significantly lower in 2012 compared to the previous two presidential campaigns, a survey by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press shows.

For the first time, the level of strong support for gay marriage is equal to the level of strong opposition, researchers report. In the April 4-15 survey, 22 percent of Americans say they strongly favor permitting legal marriage for gays and lesbians; an identical percentage said they strongly oppose it.

In 2008, strong opposition was twice as high as support -- 30 percent vs. 14 percent.

In 2004, when a host of anti-gay marriage ballot measures helped propel social conservatives to the polls, opposition was more than three times higher than support, 36 percent to 11 percent.

In comparison to the changes in views on gay marriage, not much has changed concerning support for legal abortion. In 2009, less than 50 percent of Americans favored legal abortion but that support rebounded to more than half of the U.S. population and has generally fit trends dating to 1995.

Growing divestment campaign among churches targets biggest U.S. banks

WASHINGTON -- When Fr. Robert Rien, flanked by the staff of St. Ignatius of Antioch Parish, showed up at the Bank of America branch in Antioch, Calif., in 2009 to close out the church's account -- all of $135,000 -- the only thing on his mind was the plight of two dozen families in his flock struggling with their mortgages against the $2.3-trillion behemoth.

"We know it wasn't much," he said of the parish's savings. "But it sent a message and it started a movement."

Paul Ryan to get another earful on his 'Catholic' budget

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House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan has been enmeshed in an intense debate about his claims that the Republican budget plan he designed reflects Catholic social justice teaching, an assertion rejected by political liberals and Catholic bishops alike.

Ryan is unlikely to get a break from the back-and-forth as he heads to Georgetown University to deliver a lecture on Thursday that might well escalate the conflict rather than ease it.

Canadian Catholic aid group faces drastic funding cut

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Since the March announcement of a 65 percent cut in government funding for the Canadian Catholic Organization for Development and Peace, the nation’s Catholic overseas aid agency, online donations from Canadian Catholics have grown to “more than double” the usual rate, Development and Peace spokeswoman Kelly Di Domenico told NCR April 16.

Notre Dame faculty members call on bishop to retract 'incendiary statement' on Obama

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Almost 50 University of Notre Dame faculty members have urged Bishop Daniel Jenky of Peoria, Ill., to "renounce loudly and publicly" his recent comparison of President Barack Obama with Joseph Stalin and Adolf Hitler.

If he does not do so, they said, Notre Dame should seek the bishop's immediate resignation from the university's Board of Fellows.

Ohio congressman on a mission to bring meditation to the masses

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By age 35, Congressman Tim Ryan had been one of Ohio's youngest state senators, served two terms in the U.S. Congress and hobnobbed with presidents and prime ministers.

But a different story, full of unmet ambitions and caustic self-criticism, coursed through Ryan's mind, carrying him away from even the most important moments.

Journalists: Both Obama and Catholic bishops screwed up on health care

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WASHINGTON -- Four of the nation's leading journalists on religion and politics said Tuesday that both the Obama administration and the U.S. Catholic bishops made major mistakes in the way they have addressed rules for contraceptive coverage in employee health care plans under the Affordable Health Care Act.

At a symposium at Georgetown University on religion and politics in the 2012 electoral campaigns, sponsored by the Jesuit Woodstock Theological Center, the panelists sought to assess a range of religion and politics issues in the upcoming presidential battle.

But in the question-and-answer series that followed, one of the foremost issues discussed was the politically explosive question of the bishops' response to the Obama administration's Health and Human Services regulation on contraception and related issues.

Editorial: Congress needs eucharistic consistency in its new budget

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The line “The budget is a moral document” has become somewhat of an old saw, but cliché or not, that idea has never been more true than this year as Congress takes up the annual budget process.

As a nation, we face some tough choices, there is no doubt about that. Among the areas of concern is the federal deficit, which needs urgent but prudent long-term solutions. But how should we get there? And how should Catholic, elected members of Congress approach the 2013 federal budget negotiations?

A moral measurement for candidates' tax plans

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Viewpoint

“The tax system should be continually evaluated in terms of its impact on the poor.” So stated the U.S. bishops in their 1986 pastoral “Economic Justice for All.” They enunciated three guiding principles:

First, the tax system should raise adequate revenues to pay for the public needs of society, especially to meet the basic needs of the poor. Secondly, the tax system should be structured according to the principle of progressivity, so that those with relatively greater financial resources pay a higher rate of taxation. The inclusion of such a principle in tax policies is an important means of reducing the severe inequalities of income and wealth in the nation. ... Thirdly, families below the official poverty line should not be required to pay income taxes. Such families are, by definition, without sufficient resources to purchase the basic necessities of life. They should not be forced to bear the additional burden of paying income taxes.

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July 4-17, 2014

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