National Catholic Reporter

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Politics

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.

Care for 'the least among us' should guide Congress

WASHINGTON -- Jesus' admonition to care for "the least among us" is a philosophy she tries daily to bring to the work of Congress, said House Speaker Nancy Pelosi May 6, speaking to participants in a Washington briefing sponsored by the National Catholic Reporter and Trinity Washington University.

She also urged priests and bishops to speak from the pulpit about the need for comprehensive immigration reform.

"The cardinals, the archbishops, the bishops that come to me ... say, 'We want you to pass immigration reform,' and I said, 'I want you to speak about it from the pulpit,'" Pelosi told a session of the conference gathered at the Capitol. "Some (who) oppose immigration reform are sitting in those pews, and you have to tell them that this is a manifestation of our living the Gospels."

Hawaii civil unions bill awaits governor's action

HONOLULU -- Hawaii Gov. Linda Lingle has until July 6 to sign or veto a bill that would permit same-sex couples to receive all the rights and benefits of marriage in Hawaii under the designation "civil union."

The Diocese of Honolulu had joined Hawaii evangelical Protestant churches and others in a vigorous fight against the passage of the bill.

Leniency offered some Notre Dame protesters

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WASHINGTON (CNS) -- A year after the fractious conflict over the University of Notre Dame's decision to invite President Barack Obama to be its commencement speaker and give him an honorary degree, some protesters still face charges.

However, a majority of the demonstrators arrested while protesting Obama's commencement address at the Indiana school have been offered the option of a pretrial diversion program, which, if successfully completely, would lead to dismissal of the charges.

Catholic board member resigns over health reform

COLUMBIA, S.C. -- A Columbia attorney has resigned from the board of directors of the Sisters of Charity Foundation of South Carolina because he disagrees with the Cleveland-based Sisters of Charity Health System's stand on health care legislation.

Kevin Hall, a member of St. Joseph Church in Columbia, served on the board for seven years, including two years as president.

Pro-life, social-justice Catholics gain traction on Hill

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Analysis

WASHINGTON -- Along with Congress’s narrow passage of national health reform in late March came a new level of political influence on Capitol Hill for at least two groups: pro-life Democratic members of Congress, and national Catholic organizations that are both pro-life and active on social justice issues.

“Pro-life Democrats can expect to be taken more seriously in the Democratic Party,” said Jesuit Fr. John Langan, a Christian ethics professor at Georgetown University in Washington.

R.I. hospital latest victim in health care flap

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A Rhode Island health care system has become the latest casuality following a bitter split between U.S. Catholic bishops and Catholic organizations over abortion clauses in health care legislation last month.

Bishop Thomas Tobin of Providence, R.I., has demanded that the Catholic Health Association remove St. Joseph Health Services of Rhode Island from its membership rolls, calling its affiliation with the association “embarrassing” according to Religion News Service, which first reported the story.

In a March 29 letter to CHA President and Chief Executive Officer Sister Carol Keehan, Tobin said the association had "misled the public and caused serious scandal for many members of the church."

St. Joseph Health Services is sponsored by the diocese and is its only Catholic hospital, said a diocesan spokesman.

Catholic Hospital Association spokesman Fred Caesar told Religion News Service Tobin's request was granted and that one other hospital said it may not renew its membership in the association, but no others have left. Caesar declined to name the hospital, or where it is located.

Fact checked: US bishops on health care reform

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Analysis

The fallout in the Catholic community from the recent debate over health care reform is sure to reverberate for years to come. Here, NCR Washington correspondent Jerry Filteau looks back at one of the more contentious issues of the debate -- abortion -- and analyzes the position of the U.S. bishops, longtime supporters of universal health care coverage who nonetheless ended up opposing the legislation.

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Washington -- "In the Senate bill, there is the provision that only one of the proposed multi-state plans will not cover elective abortions -- all other plans (including other multi-state plans) can do so, and receive federal tax credits. This means that individuals or families in complex medical circumstances will likely be forced to choose and contribute to an insurance plan that funds abortions in order to meet their particular health needs."

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November 21-December 5, 2014

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