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New documentary on Thomas Merton celebrates centennial of monk's birth

Morgan Atkinson's new documentary on Thomas Merton, the famed Trappist monk from the Cistercian abbey in Gethsemani, Kentucky, was "40 years in the making," he joked.

Actually, it was closer to two, but it was Atkinson's own pilgrimage to Gethsemani 40 years ago that not only broadened his exposure to Merton, but led him to become a Catholic himself.

Six things to expect in the pope's address to Congress

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Everyone wants Congress to stop fighting and get working, and that includes Pope Francis, a top adviser said Wednesday in a preview of the pope's upcoming U.S. trip.

The Argentine-born pope has never been to the United States, but he will make history in September as the first pope to address a joint meeting of the House and Senate on Capitol Hill.

"The pope will come humbly but will talk clearly," Honduran Cardinal Oscar Rodriguez Maradiaga, a top adviser to Francis, told an audience at Georgetown University.

Forum outlines strategies to end extreme poverty worldwide

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With extreme poverty having been cut in half over the last generation -- and the Millennium Development Goals target of poverty halving having been achieved five years ahead of the 2015 deadline -- veterans of the global war on poverty believe it is possible that extreme poverty can be wiped out in the next 15 years.

It will be a tall order because an estimated 1 billion people still live in extreme poverty, defined as living on less than $1.25 a day.

First diplomat for LGBT rights speaks out

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Becoming a father was a prime motivator for Randy Berry to accept what's sure to be a controversial new role at the State Department.

Berry, 50, is the U.S. special envoy for the human rights of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people, the first such post created by a nation, according to the State Department.

In that trailblazing role, he said, he has an opportunity to help his two children grow up in a world more accepting than the one he was born into.

Supreme Court considers place of same-sex marriage in states that bar it

The questions raised by Supreme Court justices as they considered Tuesday whether they should rule that same-sex marriage should be made legal nationwide covered a gamut of rights concerns -- religious, equal protection, states' ability to enact their own laws.

In two and a half hours of oral arguments, the line of questions and the answers by attorneys representing both sides made clear that all concerned recognize the potential for the court's ruling to be history-making.

5,000 join March for Marriage three days before Supreme Court arguments

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The president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops called same-sex marriage "the greatest social experiment of our time" and said that "children do not need experiments," but rather the love of a mother and father at the third annual March for Marriage rally Saturday supporting traditional marriage on Capitol Hill.

Islamic State's sophisticated recruiting campaign poses persistent threat in US

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The arrests of six Minnesota men accused earlier this month of attempting to join the Islamic State group highlights an unprecedented marketing effort being waged by the militant group in Iraq and Syria, U.S. law enforcement officials and terror analysts said.

It's a campaign that is finding resonance from urban metros to the American heartland.

"This is not so much a recruitment effort as it is a global marketing campaign, beyond anything that al-Qaida has ever done," said a senior law enforcement official.

Utah bishop John Wester named to head Santa Fe archdiocese

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Pope Francis has accepted the retirement of Archbishop Michael Sheehan of Santa Fe, N.M., and named Bishop John Wester of Salt Lake City to succeed him.

Sheehan, who has headed the Santa Fe archdiocese since 1993, turned 75 last year, the age at which bishops are required under canon law to submit their resignations to the pope.

A San Francisco native, Wester, 64, has headed the Salt Lake City diocese, which encompasses the entire state of Utah, since 2007.

Bishops who are named to head archdioceses immediately assume the title of archbishop.

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July 17-30, 2015

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