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Politics

Must Sikhs, Hindus convert to get elected?

WASHINGTON -- What does it mean when the two best-known Indian-American politicians in American politics are converts to Christianity?

In South Carolina, Nikki Haley won the Republican nomination for governor despite a whisper campaign that criticized her name and religion. Along with rumors of alleged sexual misconduct, many questioned the validity of Haley's Christian faith.

Investigations of religious hospitals sought

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Updated July 12

NEW YORK — Citing "potential violations" of federal law governing emergency medical treatment, the American Civil Liberties Union has asked the Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services to investigate how religiously affiliated hospitals provide emergency reproductive care.

"Religiously affiliated hospitals across the country inappropriately and unlawfully deny pregnant women emergency medical care," the ACLU said in a letter to the Medicaid and Medicare administrator July 1. "This issue was recently highlighted by a situation in Phoenix, Arizona," it said.

Bishops Oppose Abortion funding in defense bill

WASHINGTON -- Requiring personnel in military hospitals to perform or participate in abortions would place "a very heavy burden" on those in the armed forces who value human life, Archbishop Timothy P. Broglio of the U.S. Archdiocese for the Military Services told U.S. senators.

"The United States is one of the few nations in the world based on self-evident principles: life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness," the archbishop said in a June 17 letter. "Constraining the very men and women committed to defending those principles for the rest of the country to act against their consciences violates the foundation of this republic."

Minding the gap between the bishops and Catholic health care

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Denver, Colo. -- Anyone familiar with London knows the warning mantra of the city's subway system, "Mind the gap." That might also be the motto for relations these days between the U.S. bishops and the Catholic Health Association, in the wake of a bruising debate over health care reform that saw the bishops and leaders in Catholic health care at odds due to differing conclusions about the legislation's impact on abortion.

The key question now seems whether, and how, that gap can be repaired. In mid-June both the bishops and the CHA held plenary meetings, and in their wake the answer seems a bit clearer, at least by means of a via negativa: While leaders on both sides say they want reconciliation, it won't be because either party blinked.

The Catholic Health Association held its annual assembly June 13-15 in Denver, bringing together more than 800 leaders in Catholic health care, and officials made clear from the outset that they're not backing down.

Court picks can prove unpredictable

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The U.S. bishops announced last month their withdrawal from the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights because the latter organization endorsed the nomination of Elena Kagan to the U.S. Supreme Court. The endorsement “clearly contradicts [U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops] policy and compromises the principled positions of the bishops,” said Bishop William Murphy of Rockville Centre, N.Y.

Robin Hood: the sword and the Magna Carta

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"Robin Hood" (Universal) is director Sir Ridley Scott's latest epic foray into the time of the crusades (His "Kingdom of Heaven" in 2005 dealt with the third crusade; see my review of the film). In this film King Richard the Lionheart (Danny Huston; "The Edge of Darkness") is killed in France while raiding a castle. He needs to finance the final leg of his journey home to England after ten years of fighting and imprisonment.

A knight, Sir Robert Loxley (Douglas Hodge; "Vanity Fair"), is entrusted with the dead king's helmet to take home to the Queen Mother, Eleanor of Aquitaine (Eileen Atkins; "Last Chance Harvey"), and her gormless son, Prince John (Oscar Isaac; "The Nativity Story"). When Loxley in turn is seriously wounded, Robin Longstride (Russell Crowe; "Gladiator"), one of Richard's archers traveling with his friends to reach the coast ahead of the scattered English army, chases off the attackers. Sir Robert then entrusts Richard's helmet to Robin and asks him also to return his sword to his father, Sir Walter of Loxley (Max von Sydow; "Shutter Island") in Nottingham.

CHA exec committee meets Vatican officials

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VATICAN CITY -- The executive committee of the Catholic Health Association met with officials of several top Vatican agencies for talks that focused in part on the association's support for health reform legislation that the U.S. bishops opposed.

Sr. Carol Keehan, a Daughter of Charity who is CHA president and chief executive, told Catholic News Service May 26 that the meetings at the Vatican were "useful and positive," and that the group was well-received. She would not comment on particular issues raised in the talks.

"We were very cordially received and had a wonderful exchange of ideas," she said.

Bishops defend opposition to health care reform

WASHINGTON -- Saying their opposition to health care reform was "misinterpreted, misunderstood and misused," U.S. Catholic bishops want Congress to address the law's "defects" but signaled they do not favor total repeal.

In a lengthy statement hoping to "set the record straight," leading members of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops May 21 defended their opposition to the law that Catholic nuns and hospitals supported.

Evangelicals push 'Theology of Sex,' abortion reduction

The National Association of Evangelicals May 20 launched an initiative to reduce abortions by promoting a "Theology of Sex" for churches and pledging to find common ground with opponents on abortion.

"There's a sense that, whatever our laws are, abortion is a problem because of the underlying issues of how we treat sex," said Galen Carey, director of government affairs for the Washington-based umbrella organization.

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July 18-31, 2014

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