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International Women's Day sees protests in the Philippines

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MANILA, Philippines -- A September report in Newsweek declared, "In Asia, the Philippines is the best place to be a woman" to numerous publications in the country as well as to online news and social media sites.

And yet on Thursday, International Women's Day, Manila's streets filled up with thousands of women marching and rallying in protest alongside members of partner activist groups.

Catholics doubt study that says no mental health-abortion link

MANCHESTER, England -- Catholic medical professionals have questioned the reliability of a British review concluding that women who have abortions have no increased risk of developing mental health problems.

The British government-funded "Systematic Review of Induced Abortion and Women's Mental Health" found that though an unwanted pregnancy may cause mental health problems, it made no difference to the mother's mental well-being if she continued with the pregnancy or had an abortion.

The review was carried out by the National Collaborating Centre for Mental Health at the Royal College of Psychiatry and published by the Academy of Medical Royal Colleges in early December.

Dr. Roch Cantwell, a consultant perinatal psychiatrist who led the review, said the work showed "that abortion is not associated with an increase in mental health problems."

"Women who are carrying an unwanted pregnancy should be reassured that current evidence shows they are no more likely to experience mental health problems if they decide to have an abortion than if they decide to give birth," Cantwell said in a Dec. 9 statement.

HHS secretary says girls under 17 must consult doctors to get Plan B

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- The U.S. bishops' pro-life spokeswoman said she was relieved that the Obama administration has decided not to allow the Plan B One-Step "morning-after pill" to be sold without a prescription to those under 17.

"Luckily, things did not go from bad to even worse," Deirdre McQuade, assistant director for policy and communications at the USCCB Secretariat of Pro-Life Activities, told Catholic News Service Dec. 8. "We're pleased that they did not expand access to this very powerful drug."

Catholics protest altar server policy

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ARLINGTON, VA. -- A few dozen people walked along North Glebe Road in front of the Arlington diocesan headquarters Nov. 20, holding bright signs that called for justice and change.

“Pray for our diocese,” read one sign, handwritten on fluorescent pink cardboard. “Dignity for our girls,” said another. And another: “We support female altar servers.” And another: “Bishop we need your leadership.”

Author finds out just how much is expected of 'biblical' women

Living like a biblical woman, as Christian author Rachel Held Evans discovered, can be a real pain in thy rump.

That's especially the case during a woman's "unclean" time of the month, when sitting on any surface renders it unclean, and why Evans carried around a stadium seat cushion on those days as she attempted to live out a year as a true "biblical" woman.

Franciscan ready to accept consequences for joining woman-led liturgy

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Despite rumors that Franciscan Fr. Jerry Zawada would be excommunicated and expelled from his order for his participation in a liturgy led by a female priest, Zawada and the leadership of his order say that has yet to be discussed.

Zawada participated in the Nov. 19 liturgy while attending the School of Americas Watch in Fort Benning, Ga.

How do you welcome strangers?

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Editor's Note: The following is the homily preached Nov. 19 by Janice Sevre-Duszynska, ordained a priest in the Association of Roman Catholic Women Priests. She and Franciscan Fr. Jerry Zawada led an inclusive Catholic eucharistic liturgy at the SOA Watch Vigil at Ft. Benning in Columbus, Ga., as part of the Progressive Catholic Coalition. Zawada and Sevre-Duszynska have both served jail time for civil disobedience to protest nuclear weapons and militarism.

First Reading: "Comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable," in The Eucharist and the Hunger of the World by Monika K. Hellwig.
Second Reading: Ballad of the Carpenter (sung in English, then read in Spanish)
Gospel: Matthew 25: 31-46.

We afflicted the comfortable after showing "Pink Smoke Over the Vatican" for the first time in Rome in October. Following our press conference, our group met at the corner of Via Concilizione, the street leading to the Vatican. We were members of Call to Action, Women's Ordination Conference, and women priests. We were here to support Roy Bourgeois and women priests.

Pope: Prostitution, pornography threaten human dignity of women

VATICAN CITY -- Pope Benedict XVI called for an end to prostitution and pornography, saying the practices denigrate women and represent "a serious lack of humanity."

The pope made the remarks as he welcomed Reinhard Schweppe as Germany's ambassador to the Holy See Nov. 7. The pope's talk focused on the church's role in defending human dignity.

"A relationship that does not take into account the fact that a man and a woman have the same dignity represents a serious lack of humanity," the pope said.

With the "materialistic and hedonistic tendencies" that seem to be gaining space in the West, there is a growing form of discrimination against women, the pope said.

"The moment has come to energetically halt prostitution as well as the widespread distribution of material with an erotic and pornographic content, including through the Internet in particular," he said.

The pope said the Holy See would encourage and assist the Catholic Church in Germany so efforts "against these types of abuse would be more decisive and clearer."

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September 12-25, 2014

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