National Catholic Reporter

The Independent News Source

Washington

USCCB plans fourth annual Fortnight for Freedom with events nationwide

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Threats to religious freedom continue to emerge, making it more urgent for people of faith to take action to defend the full realm of religious practice, said Archbishop William Lori of Baltimore.

Speaking during a webinar Thursday announcing the fourth annual Fortnight for Freedom, Lori called on Catholics to learn about the importance of religious liberty throughout the history of the United States and to actively promote free religious practice during the two-week period beginning June 21.

New pastoral looks at Catholics' identity, today's challenges to faith

Washington Cardinal Donald Wuerl has issued a new pastoral letter "about who we are as Catholics."

"We will reflect on our identity as disciples of Jesus -- followers of Christ -- adopted children of God," he notes in the introduction.

A key part of the pastoral looks at "our freedom to be who we are as followers of Christ, and some of the challenges of our age as we try to live and share our faith," he says.

Muslim leader praises 50-year-old church document on religious dialogue

Catholic church leaders and scholars are not the only ones praising the 50-year-old church document Nostra Aetate ("In Our Time"), the Second Vatican Council's declaration on relations with non-Christian religions.

During the first part of a May 19-21 symposium on the document at The Catholic University of America, it also got high marks from a U.S. Muslim leader who said Nostra Aetate helps different faiths "recognize common roots and build a new sense of direction."

John M. Templeton Jr., philanthropist devoted to science and religion, dies at 75

John M. Templeton Jr., a pediatric surgeon who left medicine behind to carry on his father's passion for pursuing "new spiritual information" through the sciences as president and chairman of the Templeton Foundation, has died. He was 75.

Known as "Jack," the younger Templeton retired as director of the trauma program at the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia in 1995 to take the foundation reins and became chairman after his father's death in 2008.

Reaction mixed to Tsarnaev death sentence in Boston Marathon bombing

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Reaction was mixed to the May 15 jury sentencing of death for Dzhokhar Tsarnaev for his role in the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing.

Tsarnaev had been convicted April 8 of all 30 counts lodged against him in the bombing, which killed three people and injured hundreds. Of those 30 counts, 17 carried the death penalty, and jurors imposed the death sentence on six of those -- all in connection with placing a bomb on Boylston Street along the marathon route.

Report: Only 'full recognition of religious freedom' will protect people

The cover photograph on a new 232-page report outlining religious freedom violations around the world last year pretty much says it all.

The image is of Yezidis of all ages walking on a sandy, dusty terrain with sheep. Thousands of members of this religious minority had been executed and assaulted last year while others were forced to flee their ancient homeland in the Nineveh plains of Iraq by actions of the Islamic State, known as ISIS.

Interfaith activists call solitary confinement immoral, ineffective

They're small spaces -- sometimes 7 feet wide, 12 feet long. And they're where some inmates are held, sometimes for days, sometimes for decades.

Religious leaders across the country are speaking out against solitary confinement cells that they say should never be used by juveniles or the mentally ill and rarely by the general prison population.

The debate is taking on new resonance as a Boston jury weighs the death penalty -- or a life sentence with 23 hours a day in solitary confinement -- for Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, the convicted Boston Marathon bomber.

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