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Politics

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.

Billy the bully is bad for the church

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Commentary

It’s good to be William Donohue, president of the “Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights.” For one, there’s money in fighting bigotry: Donohue earned $372,501 in salary and deferred compensation in 2008, according to the group’s most recent IRS disclosure report.

Plus, no heavy lifting. Produce serious research on the impact of antichurch prejudice on the lives of the nation’s 70 million Catholics? No way. Despite assets exceeding $22 million, no one could fairly accuse the Catholic League of engaging in such laborious, potentially useful, but expensive endeavors.

A campaign to educate Americans on Catholic contributions to the country and the culture? Get serious. The league’s efforts, such as they are, remain focused largely on highlighting intrachurch squabbles, silliness such as “the war on Christmas,” and defending the indefensible.

Church gun bill shot down in La. House

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BATON ROUGE, La. (RNS) A bill that would have allowed people to carry concealed weapons to their places of worship died in the Louisiana House on Thursday (May 6).

Lawmakers voted 45-39 for the bill, eight votes short of what is needed to get a bill through the lower chamber.

Rep. Henry Burns, a Republican, said he will bring the bill back for reconsideration.

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