National Catholic Reporter

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Prayer breakfast speeches focus on international outreach

President Barack Obama and the administrator of the principal overseas U.S. aid agency urged people at the National Prayer Breakfast to turn their prayers and good works beyond the U.S. borders.

Speaking to the annual gathering Thursday, Rajiv Shah, keynote speaker and administrator of the U.S. Agency for International Development, challenged the audience of about 3,500 people from around the world to "an overarching purpose worthy of this room that has come together to follow the teachings of Jesus: Let us work together to end extreme poverty in our lifetime."

Cardinal Wuerl dedicates new mosaic at national shrine in Washington

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Cardinal Donald Wuerl of Washington dedicated a newly installed mosaic Sunday at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, and the work is "the second to the last step" in completing the artistic vision of the shrine's original designers.

A news release said installation of the South Gallery Vault Mosaic, above the shrine's M.P. Moller pipe organ, leaves just one area in the Great Upper Church unadorned -- the Trinity Dome, which is the interior of the blue dome that is one of the exterior hallmarks of the shrine.

Catholic advocates find little to praise in farm bill passed by House

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The House passed a five-year farm bill Wednesday, more than a year after the 2008 farm bill expired and two days before an extension of the prior measure was to expire.

While Catholic groups and other rural advocates were urging passage of a farm bill, their support for this House version of the bill was muted, largely because of an $8 billion cut in food stamps and the deleting of agricultural reform measures from the version of the bill that came out of a joint House-Senate conference committee.

Cardinal says bill stops taxes from 'subsidizing violence' of abortion

Passage of the No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act "will help save lives and will reduce abortions," U.S. Rep. Chris Smith, R-N.J., said Tuesday.

The measure, known as H.R. 7, was approved 227 to 188.

Sponsored by Smith and U.S. Rep. Dan Lipinski, D-Ill., the No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act applies the principles of the Hyde amendment to federal health programs, including the Affordable Care Act. Since 1976, the Hyde Amendment has prohibited the use of taxpayer dollars to fund federal subsidies to any part of a benefits package that includes elective abortions.

Top brass say they're not aware of bias against military chaplains

Lawmakers peppered Pentagon officials Wednesday about claims that military chaplains have faced discrimination for their beliefs, and time and again, chaplains and personnel officials said they were unaware of any bias.

Virginia Penrod, deputy assistant secretary of defense for military personnel policy, told the House Subcommittee on Military Personnel that she could not cite specific instances where chaplains had to preach a sermon or oversee a ceremony that conflicted with their beliefs.

Obama speech touches on several topics important to faith leaders

In his fifth State of the Union address Tuesday, President Barack Obama stressed many themes that are on the advocacy agendas of faith-based organizations: income inequality, immigration reform and peaceful resolution of global conflicts.

Comments about the speech the next day highlighted some details that advocates for poor people and immigrants, in particular, would like to see addressed.

'Positive feedback' reported in bid to curb Super Bowl sex trafficking

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A lot of "positive feedback" has been reported from hotels expecting an influx of visitors for Sunday's Super Bowl with regard to efforts to curb human trafficking -- primarily sex trafficking -- surrounding the event.

The report comes from Margot Morris, program director for the Tri-State Coalition for Responsible Investment. It has been Morris' job to reach out to hotels big and small from Connecticut to Philadelphia as fans check in with football on their mind -- and traffickers check in with easy money on their mind.

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November 21-December 5, 2014

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