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Politics

Maryland governor: Same-sex marriage is about rights, dignity

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BALTIMORE -- Legalizing same-sex marriage is about protecting human rights and dignity, Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley told a national gathering of about 400 gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender Catholics on March 16.

A little more than two weeks before, O'Malley, a Democrat and a Catholic, had signed into law a bill allowing same-sex marriage in the state of Maryland.

The governor received a standing ovation when he arrived to give a luncheon speech at the Seventh Annual Symposium on Catholicism and Homosexuality, and an even longer ovation at the end of his brief talk.

Speaking on "the dignity of every individual," he said, "I think at the end of the day, all of us want the same thing for our kids. We want our children to grow up in caring conditions and loving homes, protected equally under the law.

'Effective love' and 'practical charity' secure the common good

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VIEWPOINT

Four years ago, a friend told me that he was voting for candidate so-and-so for president because it would be best for the business in which he worked. My friend is a good man, but in this case he had it wrong. The measure of a candidate can’t be my business, my taxes, my state, or even my family. The ultimate measure for a voter is not any personal interest, but the ancient standard of the common good. Born out of Greek and Roman philosophy, the common good described the goal of political life, the good of the city (the pólis), and the task entrusted to civic leaders.

After centuries of Christian scholarship and debate, we arrive at the definition in the Catechism of the Catholic Church, taken from Vatican II, and ultimately from Pope John XXIII in Mater et Magistra (1961):

According to its primary and broadly accepted sense, the common good indicates “the sum total of social conditions which allow people, either as groups or as individuals, to reach their fulfillment more fully and more easily.”

Of Franklin Graham, Fox News and faith's distortion

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Commentary

I haven't always seen eye to eye with President Barack Obama. We disagree on abortion, the troop build-up in Afghanistan and a recent tendency to ignore those who have his best interests at heart.

That said, I have no basis to question or doubt the importance of faith in president's life or his unswerving commitment to ensure religious freedom for all. In a new book, Lift Up Your Hearts, I elaborate why it is that the president is so impressively well-informed on this sensitive topic, but suffice it to say that the president's integrity in these matters is well summarized by the nightly prayer he has revealed to many that "we can live with one another in a way that reconciles the beliefs of each with the good of all."

Bishops' 'religious liberty' point man gets a promotion

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BRIDGEPORT, Conn. -- If there is any Catholic bishop in the U.S. who probably didn't need a bigger platform, it would be William E. Lori, who was named Tuesday (March 20) by Pope Benedict XVI as the next archbishop of Baltimore.

For the past decade, Lori has led the Diocese of Bridgeport in Connecticut's Fairfield County, but in recent months he's become the public face of the hierarchy's new signature issue: the fight for "religious freedom."

Obama administration issues new contraception mandate rules

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Taking a conciliatory tone and asking for a wide range of public comment, the Obama administration announced this afternoon new accommodations on a controversial mandate requiring contraceptive coverage in health care plans.

Coming after a month of continued opposition from the U.S. bishops to the mandate, which was first revised in early February to exempt certain religious organizations, today’s announced changes from the Department of Health and Human Services make a number of concessions, including allowing religious organizations that self-insure to be made exempt.

Also raised is the possibility that the definition given for religious employers in the original mandate could be changed.

News of the changes came as a senior White House official told NCR in an afternoon phone interview unrelated to the new proposed rules for the contraceptive mandate that while the Obama administration and Catholic leaders may have “some points of disagreement” over a number of concerns, the president has “dramatically expanded” the federal government’s connection with Catholic organizations.

Low comedy and high cons in GOP race

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COLUMN

If ever the country needed bed rest and a chance to dose up on Prozac or the antidepressant of your choice, it’s now. Through some 20 televised debates and hundreds of interviews, Republican aspirants to the presidency assaulted the nation’s intelligence, or what was left of it, with displays of venality, egomania, pandering, deception, self-delusion, self-promotion and scripted nonsense -- and that’s just from Newt Gingrich.

America’s capacity for low comedy or high cons may be deep but a point must come when it’s too much. It could have happened around the 19th debate when Gingrich -- pardon, Professor Gingrich -- was running low on ideas to impress voters. After he proposed turning schoolchildren into janitors, he went over the moon by promising -- by the end of his second term as president, no less -- that he would have built a colony on, where else, the moon. That led Ron Paul, in a flash of welcomed wit amid the dross, to suggest we “send some politicians up there.”

Santorum shows the Religious Right isn't dead yet

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Does Rick Santorum's Southern surge also herald the return of the Religious Right?

Last January, the titans of Christian conservatism were widely dismissed as irrelevant, at best, after 150 of them gathered for an evangelical "conclave" at a Texas ranch and anointed Rick Santorum as their champion -- only to see him finish third in rock-ribbed South Carolina a week later, well behind Newt Gingrich and even their least-loved candidate, Mitt Romney.

Now, however, with Santorum on a roll after big primary wins on Tuesday in Alabama and Mississippi, those born-again bigwigs and their allies may be having the last laugh.

"People have been writing the obituary of the pro-family, evangelical movement for 25 years -- and they're always wrong," said Ralph Reed, head of the Faith and Freedom Coalition and the architect of the Christian Coalition in the 1980s.

Marjorie Dannenfelser, head of the Susan B. Anthony List, which spent $500,000 boosting Santorum's candidacy ahead of Tuesday's primaries, said the formula is quite simple: "Social issues are winning issues."

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