National Catholic Reporter

The Independent News Source

Politics

Maryland House OKs death penalty repeal; governor pledges to sign bill

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The Maryland House of Delegates passed legislation Friday to repeal the state's death penalty, an act the Maryland Catholic Conference called "a historic moment."

The conference advocates for public policy measures on behalf of the state's Catholic bishops, who are longtime supporters of repealing the death penalty.

The House passed the bill with a vote of 82 to 56. The Senate passed the bill in February. The bill now goes to Gov. Martin O'Malley, who has promised to sign it into law. His signature will come after the end of the legislative session, which is April 8.

For the sake of unity, compromise

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“One of the last presidents to balance the budget was Herbert Hoover.” Thus did Republican Congressman Peter King of New York warn his fellow Republicans that their current fixation on cutting government spending and balancing the federal budget might not be an economic winner for the country or a political winner for them.

Austerity plans have failed in every country they have been tried. During tough economic times, it is bad policy to shrink the government sector. It is even worse policy to allow the mindless “sequester” cuts to begin to take hold.

Brazilian Cardinal Scherer shows pastoral warmth

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On Sunday March 10, as the cardinals fanned out across Rome to celebrate Mass at their titular churches -- those assigned to them in an ancient linkage with the Bishop of Rome -- Brazilian Cardinal Odilo Pedro Scherer celebrated a mid-morning liturgy at Sant'Andrea al Quirinale, a beautiful if comparatively small church with pews for 200 worshipers.

Twice that many media members surrounded the seating area, the camera operators angling to position their viewfinders as the cardinal preached his homily in Italian, reflecting on the Gospel parable of The Prodigal Son.

Boston cardinal asks House to pass Health Care Conscience Rights Act

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Cardinal Sean O'Malley of Boston, chairman of the U.S. bishops' Committee on Pro-Life Activities, has asked members of the House to approve the Health Care Conscience Rights Act.

Introduced March 5 by three House Republicans, the bill had 66 co-sponsors as of Monday.

The bill will "help preserve the vitally important traditions of religious freedom and the right of conscience," O'Malley said in a letter to House members Monday.

Conscience-protection bill for HHS mandate introduced in House

Three Republican members of the House of Representatives on Tuesday introduced a bill to protect conscience rights for both workers in the health care industry and for employers in light of the federal mandate requiring employers to cover contraceptives, sterilization and abortion-inducing drugs.

One of the sponsors, Rep. Diane Black, R-Tenn., said it is possible that the bill, the Health Care Conscience Rights Act, could be folded into a continuing resolution being considered by the House to keep the federal government operating beyond March 27.

Gay marriage opponents make their case to Supreme Court

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Foes of same-sex marriage are warning the Supreme Court that lifting state or federal restrictions would threaten their own economic and religious freedoms and lead to social and political upheaval.

In about three dozen briefs filed in recent weeks, groups ranging from U.S. Catholic bishops and evangelicals to state attorneys general and university professors argue that upholding gay marriage could lead to penalties against objecting employers, military officials and others.

Briefs from supporters of gay marriage are due by early March.

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In This Issue

August 28-September 10, 2015

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