National Catholic Reporter

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Politics

Bishops call on house to defend DOMA

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WASHINGTON -- The Obama Administration’s decision to forgo defense of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) “has undermined the rule of law and the separation of powers,” religious leaders including Atlanta Archbishop Wilton Gregory said in a March 4 letter to House Speaker John Boehner.

“We urge the House of Representatives to take leadership in defending DOMA in the federal courts,” said the letter. “Specifically, we ask that the House intervene as a party in all cases where DOMA is challenged, not merely to file amicus curiae briefs. Though such action would be unusual, it would be both lawful and warranted under our current legal system and political context.”

Frances Kissling urges pro-choice movement to evolve

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WASHINGTON – The abortion rights movement is losing ground and pro-choice advocates need to “stop holding on to a strategy that isn’t working,” said Frances Kissling, long the leading U.S. Catholic advocate of no legal restrictions on abortion.

Writing Feb. 20 in the opinion section of The Washington Post, Kissling said abortion rights advocates “can no longer pretend the fetus is invisible. ... We must end the fiction that an abortion at 26 weeks is no different from one at six weeks. ... We need to firmly and clearly reject post-viability abortions except in extreme cases.”

“The abortion-rights movement needs to change the way it thinks about the state,” she added. “Right now government is mainly treated as the enemy.”

Amid budget cuts, panel urges social ministries to refocus efforts

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WASHINGTON -- Impending budget cuts and fiscal austerity measures -- whether they appear in President Obama's 2012 federal budget proposal or in a counterproposal supported by Congressional Republicans -- were an important theme Monday morning for a panel of national Catholic leaders discussing the state of poverty in the United States.

Part of the 2011 Catholic Social Ministry Gathering in Washington, a four-day annual gathering of more than 300 social ministry workers from around the country, the panel focused on practical ways to combat poverty and discussed public policies that create a more equitable economy.

The group agreed unanimously that any budget cuts need to avoid targeting those who depend on them the most.

Comment: From Obama, a quiet, humble faith

Speaking at the National Prayer Breakfast on Thursday (Feb. 3), President Obama made a compelling case for something terribly unusual: humble faith.

Historically, Obama has been reticent to speak at length publicly about his Christian faith. As a result, he's faced intense scrutiny by skeptics who would seek to disprove his professed beliefs.

CHA head says position on Phoenix unchanged

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WASHINGTON -- A recent exchange of letters between the Catholic Health Association and the U.S. bishops' conference does not reflect any change in positions by the CHA, says the association's president.

In reporting on an exchange of letters between the CHA president and the president of the U.S. bishops conference, in which the CHA head affirmed that the local bishop is the "authoritative interpreter" of the ethical and religious directives that guide Catholic health care, some news accounts characterized the CHA letter as a reversal of earlier statements or a concession to the bishops.

When contacted by NCR for clarification, Sr. Carol Keehan, a Daughter of Charity and president of the CHA, said the association's position has not changed.

Activists fast, call for Guantanamo closure

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COMMENTARY

The Witness Against Torture (WAT) community, including many peace activists and Catholic Workers, just completed a twelve day Fast for Justice. The fast started on the 9th anniversary of the establishment of the U.S. military’s Guantánamo Bay detention camp -- Jan. 11 -- and ended Jan. 22, two years to the day President Obama signed an Executive Order to close the facility.

The anti-torture activists chose only to consume juice and water as a witness to demand the closure of Guantánamo, Bagram Air Force Base in Afghanistan, and other secret prisons, said WAT organizers.

Currently 173 men remain detained in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, many of whom have been cleared for release by the Guantánamo Review Task Force. The Center for Constitutional Rights and Amnesty International have demanded that the other men held indefinitely at the camp they be charged and given fair, open trials in federal court.

Cantor: Elections re-energized pro-lifers

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WASHINGTON -- House Majority Leader Eric Cantor of Virginia said that after being out of power on Capitol Hill for the past couple of years, pro-life supporters in Congress and across the nation have been re-energized since last November's elections brought in "the biggest pro-life freshman class in memory."

"The tide has turned," Cantor said in remarks at the March for Life rally on the National Mall, held Jan. 24 to mark the 38th anniversary of the Supreme Court's Roe v. Wade decision legalizing abortion.

Jan. 22 was the official anniversary date, but the March for Life was organized for the following Monday to allow participants to visit their representatives on the Hill after a noon rally and a march along Constitution Avenue to the Supreme Court.

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