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Politics

Rep. Mike Pence wins Values Voter straw poll

WASHINGTON -- Rep. Mike Pence, a fast-rising conservative firebrand from Indiana, was the surprise winner of a straw poll on Saturday (Sept. 18) among 17 possible Republican presidential candidates at the 2010 Values Voter Summit.

Pence beat out better known conservative leaders, including former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, to win with 24 percent in a vote sponsored the political arm of the Washington-based Family Research Council.

Progressives in the public square

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WASHINGTON -- Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good closed its office in Washington at the end of July and let its remaining paid staff go, but it plans to continue a scaled-back program.

Founded in 2005 after George W. Bush soundly beat John Kerry in the 2004 presidential election, it was one of three new Catholic organizations formed to spread the message of progressive Catholic social teaching that is fully pro-life, countering Republican efforts of recent years to lay claim to being the party that represents Catholic values.

The other two, Catholics United and Catholic Democrats, both more directly political than the alliance, say they are still going strong and expanding, but much of the alliance’s funding dried up this year.

“The money just wasn’t there” to keep the full operation going, said Jesuit Fr. William J. Byron of St. Joseph University in Philadelphia, a member of the alliance’s board of directors.

Jesuit Fr. Thomas J. Reese, a senior fellow at Woodstock Theological Center at Georgetown University in Washington, said a major problem facing progressive Catholic groups in general is that “they don’t have any money.”

Ted Kennedy's well-lived life

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A year ago today, people in Massachusetts and around the world mourned the death of Senator Ted Kennedy in a manner reserved for few Americans. Tens of thousands stood respectfully for hours, spontaneously forming lengthy lines along the shore of Columbia Point on Boston Harbor for a chance to walk past his casket. It was a testament to respect for a special moment in history, but more poignantly to a deep sense of personal loss. A member of the family had died, and the grief was evident on the faces of people who sacrificed hours to be together there. "He was out there every day, fighting the fight for us -- especially for our health," the Rev Jesse Jackson told me, as he signed the guest book. "And look how much these people loved him for it."

Senator Kennedy was the only one of the four brothers who was not taken in his youth. But even at age 77, after 15 months of crossing swords with cancer, he seemed at the height of his game -- a pivotal figure in the victory of Barack Obama and a key player in the impending healthcare debate. Why at that moment, many people asked. Why do bad things happen to the people we need the most?

JFK and the cafeteria bishops

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Analysis

A half century ago, John F. Kennedy was elected the first Catholic president of the United States because he convinced American voters that he wouldn’t take orders from the pope.

Now, however, Catholic politicians across the United States, particularly those running for national office, are increasingly facing criticism from some members of the hierarchy -- because they won’t take orders from the church.

Private beliefs and public acts

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Archbishop Charles Chaput has characterized President John F. Kennedy’s 1960 address to the Greater Houston Ministerial Association as “sincere, compelling, articulate -- and wrong” (See story). It would be easier to agree with the archbishop if his own arguments were not also wrong, and wrong in ways that will prove as unfruitful for the future of Catholicism’s relationship with American culture as he claims Kennedy’s arguments were.

Students seek to revive progressive movement

WASHINGTON -- Progressive Christian college students hope to reorganize a movement that propelled young adults into pro-civil rights and anti-war activities before it was disbanded decades ago.

The U.S. Student Christian Movement, which officially ended more than 40 years ago, will be revived at an Oct. 8-11 meeting at Morehouse College in Atlanta.

Archbishop defends Defense of Marriage Act

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WASHINGTON (CNS) -- The chairman of the U.S. bishops' Ad Hoc Committee for the Defense of Marriage July 12 criticized a federal judge's ruling in two Massachusetts cases that a key provision of the Defense of Marriage Act is unconstitutional.

"To claim that defining marriage as the union of one man and one woman is somehow irrational, prejudiced or even bigoted is a great disservice not only to truth but the good of the nation," Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz of Louisville, Ky., said in a statement July 12.

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.

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November 21-December 5, 2014

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