National Catholic Reporter

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Politics

In reform debate, 'pro-lifers undermine their cause'

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Analysis

"The path to hell is paved with good intentions," goes the proverbial wisdom. No one doubts the good intentions of the pro-life movement in the current debate about health care. They wish to make sure that universal health care reform is at least neutral in its policy ramifications for abortion. But, some of the pro-life movement’s most prominent spokespeople are unwittingly playing into the hands of groups like NARAL and Planned Parenthood that seek to skirt around the Hyde Amendment's ban on federal funding for abortion.

Obama on health care encourages Catholic officials

WASHINGTON -- President Barack Obama's pledge to continue the ban on the use of federal funds for abortion and to maintain conscience protections for health care workers in any health reform legislation was welcomed by two officials of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and the president of the Catholic Health Association.

Speaking with Catholic News Service Sept. 10, hours after Obama addressed a joint session of Congress and a nationwide television audience, Kathy Saile, director of domestic social development in the USCCB Department of Justice, Peace and Human Development, said the president's address offered an encouraging sign that the administration has been listening to concerns raised by the bishops and pro-life organizations about abortion funding in any reform legislation.

Bishops' Labor Day letter focuses on health reform

WASHINGTON -- It is possible to bring Catholic values to the ongoing debate over health care reform just as it was done earlier this year in forging a four-way agreement on the potential unionization of workers at Catholic hospitals, said Bishop William F. Murphy of Rockville Centre, N.Y.

"Leaders in Catholic health ministry, the labor movement and the Catholic bishops sought to apply our traditional teaching on work and workers and to offer some practical alternatives on how leaders of hospitals, unions and others might apply our principles as an aid to reaching agreements in their own situations," said Bishop Murphy, chairman of the bishops' Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development.

The Republican (Catholic church) Captivity

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Last November at their post-election meeting, a vocal minority of bishops lamented the election results, aghast that not only a majority of Americans, but more tellingly a majority of Catholics, had voted to make Barack Obama President of the United States. So extreme were the comments of these few bishops that some could easily have confused them with Republican ward-heelers, and be prone to the fear that a new “Republican Captivity” of our Church was in full force.

A lot of the bishops’ hysteria at their November meeting was over that great Republican bogeyman, the Freedom of Choice Act (FOCA), which was not a part of the Democratic platform, and had absolutely no priority among the issues facing the new administration. This did not prevent the public lamentations of select bishops on how FOCA would force Catholic hospitals to close - despite the insistence of the Catholic Health Association to the contrary.

They did not let facts get in the way of their agitation. One bishop, who did not even have a Catholic hospital in his diocese, was so carried away with anti-Obama fervor that he said he would close his fictitious Catholic hospital, if he had one!

What would Buckley do?

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In Losing Mum and Pup Christopher Buckley recalls his father’s funeral planning. If still famous when I die, William F. Buckley Jr. instructed his son, have the funeral at St. Patrick’s Cathedral.

It was a majestic Mass. Henry Kissinger provided one tribute, Christopher Buckley another.

Bishop decries 'combative tactics' of a minority of U.S. bishops

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Albuquerque, NM
A majority of U.S. bishops disagree with the loud tactics of some of their peers in opposing President Barack Obama’s May appearance at the University of Notre Dame, but remain silent because they do not want to engage in a public battle over the issue, according to Archbishop Michael J. Sheehan of the Archdiocese of Santa Fe, NM.

In an Aug. 12 interview at archdiocesan headquarters here with NCR, Sheehan took the opportunity to decry the combative tactics of what he described as a minority of U.S. bishops who spoke out against the university’s invitation and issuance of an honorary degree. Many urged the university to rescind the invitation because of Obama’s opposition to criminalizing abortion.

Obama defends health care reform to faith leaders

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WASHINGTON -- President Barack Obama called health care reform part of "our core ethical and moral obligation to one another" during a national teleconference Aug. 19.

The interfaith coalition that sponsored the 40-minute teleconference said that 140,000 people across the country, many of them faith leaders in their local communities, joined in the teleconference, either by phone or via one of several Web sites that carried the audio stream live.

The session, titled "Forty Minutes for Health Reform," was part of a broader interfaith effort in August and September titled "Forty Days for Health Reform."

Conservative religious women continue to shape Republican politics

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Analysis

In all the commentary about the now former governor of Alaska, some of it comic, much of it trivial, a basic fact has been overlooked: Sarah Palin has come to represent a vital and vibrant constituency in the Republican Party -- religious women -- and they aren’t going anywhere anytime soon.

The religious right came to be personified by male preachers like Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson, but it was built by religiously motivated women who led the fights against sex education and the Equal Rights Amendment.

Health care debate poisoned

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NCR Editorial

William Kostric showed up at President Obama’s health care-focused town hall meeting in Portsmouth, N.H., Aug. 11 carrying a loaded gun and a sign that read, “It is time to water the tree of liberty.” Kostric, speaking later on MSNBC, rooted his concern for the Republic in the creation of the Federal Reserve and the 16th Amendment establishing the federal income tax.

Roundtable explores gay civil marriage proposal

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WASHINGTON -- A prominent Baptist minister’s proposal to accept same-sex marriage as a civil right across the United States provoked strong reactions at a July 29 roundtable for journalists.

The Rev. Welton Gaddy, pastor of Northminster Church in Monroe, La., and president of the Interfaith Alliance, a 150,000-member national nonpartisan organization, presented the proposal as a framework for the roundtable discussion. It was held at the National Press Club in Washington and sponsored by Religion News Service as one of several events marking RNS’s 75th anniversary.

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