National Catholic Reporter

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Washington

State of the Union speech hits on numerous social justice themes

In his State of the Union address Tuesday, President Barack Obama hit on numerous themes that resonated with Catholic advocates for social justice issues.

Among the items included in Obama's policy agenda in the president's annual speech before a joint session of Congress were what Fr. Larry Snyder, president of Catholic Charities USA, called the "bold ideas" of proposals to enable students to have two years of community college education without paying tuition; to expand paid leave to working parents and to make home ownership more accessible.

Supreme Court upholds religious rights of prisoners

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A Supreme Court that has extended the reach of religion into public life in recent years ruled Tuesday that spirituality can overcome even prison security concerns.

The court came down decisively on the side of a Muslim prisoner whose beard had been deemed potentially dangerous by Arkansas prison officials. Growing a beard, the justices said, was a Muslim man's religious right.

Supreme Court weighs a church's right to advertise services

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The Supreme Court on Monday considered a tiny church's curbside sign in a case that could raise the bar on government regulation of speech and make it easier for houses of worship to advertise their services.

The Alliance Defending Freedom, the advocacy group that represents Pastor Clyde Reed and his Good News Community Church, bills the case, Reed v. Town of Gilbert, as a religious rights case. But their attorney mostly argued it on free speech grounds.

Franciscan leader in black Catholic ministry named New Orleans auxiliary bishop

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Pope Francis has named Franciscan Fr. Fernand "Ferd" Cheri III, a New Orleans native who currently is director of campus ministry at Quincy University in Illinois, as an auxiliary bishop of the New Orleans archdiocese.

Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano, apostolic nuncio to the United States, announced the appointment Monday.

Cheri, who turns 63 on Jan. 28, has a background that includes extensive roles in black Catholic liturgy, music and spirituality, in addition to having served on the Franciscans' provincial council and as their director of friar life.

Pope Francis continues to take 'the world by storm'

During the second year of his pontificate, Pope Francis was still feeling the love, and not just from Catholics or those from his homeland of Argentina.

A Pew Research Center study released Dec. 11 showed that the pope has broad support across much of the world. Sixty percent of the 43 nations polled had a positive view of the pontiff.

And Americans, in particular, have shown their fondness for Francis, often extolling his simplistic style. According to the Pew study, 78 percent of Americans view the pope favorably.

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July 17-30, 2015

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