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Catholic advocates find little to praise in farm bill passed by House

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The House passed a five-year farm bill Wednesday, more than a year after the 2008 farm bill expired and two days before an extension of the prior measure was to expire.

While Catholic groups and other rural advocates were urging passage of a farm bill, their support for this House version of the bill was muted, largely because of an $8 billion cut in food stamps and the deleting of agricultural reform measures from the version of the bill that came out of a joint House-Senate conference committee.

Cardinal says bill stops taxes from 'subsidizing violence' of abortion

Passage of the No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act "will help save lives and will reduce abortions," U.S. Rep. Chris Smith, R-N.J., said Tuesday.

The measure, known as H.R. 7, was approved 227 to 188.

Sponsored by Smith and U.S. Rep. Dan Lipinski, D-Ill., the No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act applies the principles of the Hyde amendment to federal health programs, including the Affordable Care Act. Since 1976, the Hyde Amendment has prohibited the use of taxpayer dollars to fund federal subsidies to any part of a benefits package that includes elective abortions.

Obama speech touches on several topics important to faith leaders

In his fifth State of the Union address Tuesday, President Barack Obama stressed many themes that are on the advocacy agendas of faith-based organizations: income inequality, immigration reform and peaceful resolution of global conflicts.

Comments about the speech the next day highlighted some details that advocates for poor people and immigrants, in particular, would like to see addressed.

Virginia bishops vow to defend voter-approved ban on same-sex marriage

Virginia Catholic bishops said they are disappointed that Attorney General Mark Herring will not defend Virginia's constitutional amendment defining marriage as "the union of one man and one woman" in upcoming lawsuits at federal district courts.

The Virginia Catholic Conference, the bishops' public policy arm, has encouraged constituents to call Herring's office.

Brain-dead pregnant woman in Texas removed from life support

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Following a Jan. 24 court order, a Fort Worth hospital two days later removed a 33-year-old brain-dead pregnant woman from life support.

Marlise Munoz, who was 14 weeks pregnant when she collapsed at home in November and was deprived of oxygen for up to an hour, was being kept on life-sustaining machines at John Peter Smith Hospital against the wishes of her husband and parents.

Hospital officials said they could not remove her respirator because of a Texas law that prohibits doctors from withdrawing "life-sustaining treatment" from pregnant women.

Responses to senator who called Day 'a woman of loathsome character'

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State Sen. Richard Black, R-Va., wrote to Pope Benedict XVI in January 2013 about Dorothy Day’s canonization cause. In his letter, Black referred to Dorothy Day as “a woman of loathsome character” and a communist sympathizer (see blog post here). In response to Black’s accusations, Phil Runkel, archivist at Marquette University, wrote the following email Jan. 18:   

Dear Senator Black:

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April 11-24, 2014

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