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Bishops urge Congress to fix health law flaws after high court decision

WASHINGTON -- The U.S. Supreme Court's Thursday decision upholding the health reform law makes it even more urgent for Congress to act to fix the law's "fundamental flaws" on abortion funding, conscience protection and immigrants' access to health care, the U.S. bishops said.

The court found that although the individual mandate in the 2010 health reform law does not pass constitutional muster under the Commerce Clause of the Constitution, it can be upheld as an acceptable exercise of Congress' taxing powers.

In a 65-page opinion written by Chief Justice John Roberts, five members of the court upheld the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act in full but limited the federal government's right to withhold its share of Medicaid funding from states that do not expand the health program for the low-income and disabled as mandated by the law.

Editorial: Upheld health care law a blessing for the U.S.

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The U.S. Supreme Court has upheld the most important piece of legislation enacted in past years, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, resisting pressure from conservative ideologues to overturn a law that was passed by a majority of the U.S. House of Representatives, a supermajority in the U.S. Senate, and signed by a duly elected president.

The grounds for the decision were less important than the fact that the court understood it had to take seriously its frequently cited, but often ignored, commitment to judicial restraint.

Washington rally gathers 2,000 in support of religious freedom

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WASHINGTON -- In prayerful celebration, more than 2,000 Catholics from all regions of the Archdiocese of Washington gathered Sunday as part of the local church's "fortnight for freedom" campaign in support of the United States' "first and most cherished freedom" -- religious liberty.

The U.S. bishops dedicated June 21 to July 4 as days to encourage Catholics nationwide to focus on prayer, education and action in defense of religious freedom.

Knights of Columbus leader: 'Catholics can no longer accept politics as usual'

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INDIANAPOLIS -- Bemoaning the "sad state of today's political environment," Carl Anderson, supreme knight of the Catholic fraternal organization the Knights of Columbus, urged Catholics to move beyond partisan politics and forge a new political coalition based on the rich tradition of Catholic social teaching.

Typecasting bishops as 'right-wing' is futile

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COLUMN

Let's all get mad at the bishops. They're getting out of hand, aren't they?

Starting at the top, we had Cardinal Donald Wuerl, archbishop of Washington, hashing it out with Georgetown University for hosting Kathleen Sebelius during graduation week. He found it "shocking" that students would be exposed to the views of the Catholic secretary of Health and Human Services, the department behind the federal mandate for employers to provide insurance for contraceptives.

On the same front, bishops from 13 dioceses filed suit against the Obama administration for its Affordable Health Care Act. The hierarchy has an ally in Mitt Romney, who pledged to kill the mandate if he becomes president -- unless the Supreme Court does it first.

Fox News reporter hired as Vatican communications adviser

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VATICAN CITY -- The establishment of a new post of senior communications adviser is a step in the right direction to help the Vatican deal with the challenges of a sound-bite culture, said the American journalist appointed to the job.

Greg Burke, 52, was named to the newly created position in the Vatican's Secretariat of State and will start in July. The announcement was made Sunday on Vatican Radio.

Chaput: We will lose religious freedom if we don't fight for it

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INDIANAPOLIS -- "Unless we work hard to keep our religious liberty, we are going to lose it," Archbishop Charles Chaput of Philadelphia told members of the Catholic Press Association on the eve of the Fortnight for Freedom, the 14-day period beginning Thursday that will focus the attention of the Catholic community on what the bishops say is government intrusion on religious conscience, beliefs and practices.

Minnesota gears up for November marriage vote

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Catholics -- numbering around 1.1 million -- make up the largest single religious denomination in Minnesota, and they are gearing up for November when voters will decide whether to approve a constitutional amendment that defines marriage as solely between one man and one woman.

Currently, Minnesota law only permits marriage between one woman and one man. However, worry over potential legal challenges to that law compelled the legislature to propose a constitutional amendment.

Who's funding the Catholic bishops' religious freedom campaign?

ATLANTA -- On Thursday, Catholics across the country will amplify what is an already loud outcry from the hierarchy over the federal government's so-called contraception mandate.

With rallies, marches, lectures and special publications, the U.S. Catholic Bishop's Fortnight for Freedom campaign will seek to galvanize Catholic opposition to President Barack Obama's proposed mandate to require employers -- including religious institutions -- to provide free contraception insurance coverage to employees.

But while Catholic leaders frame the events as a fight for religious liberty, critics see signs of political partisanship and electioneering. Questions over the financing of the bishops' campaign have caused those suspicions to multiply.

"The activities around the Fortnight for Freedom cost money," said Steve Schneck, director of the Institute for Policy Research & Catholic Studies at the Catholic University of America in Washington. "What groups are paying for this, and what's the accountability for that money?"

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November 21-December 5, 2014

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