Trump urged to protect religious liberty

Posted March 3, 2017 at 12:00 am

WASHINGTON – (CNS) Catholic Church leaders in a Feb. 16 statement said they were encouraged that President Donald Trump may be considering an executive order to protect religious freedom and said they would be grateful if he would move forward with the pledge that his administration would “do everything in its power to defend and protect religious liberty.”

“As Christians, our goal is to live and serve others as the Gospel asks. President Trump can ensure that we are not forced from the public square,” said the statement from committee chairs of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.The statement was jointly issued by: New York Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan, chairman of the Committee on Pro-Life Activities; Philadelphia Archbishop Charles J. Chaput, chairman of the Committee on Laity, Marriage, Family Life and Youth; Baltimore Archbishop William E. Lori,

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    Catholics’ postelection to-do list: work for unity, healing

    WASHINGTON (CNS) – All the distrust, vitriol and rancor stirred up during the 2016 presidential election campaign did not go away when votes were tallied.

    The Nov. 8 election’s outcome prompting dozens of protests across the country.

    Political leaders, including Hillary Clinton, President-elect Donald Trump and President Barack Obama, acknowledged the disunity and urged people after the election to try to work together.

    Catholic leaders have been making similar pleas, not only for

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    California continues to force health plans to cover elective abortions

    WASHINGTON – On June 21, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) declared that the California Department of Managed Health Care can continue to force all health plans under its jurisdiction to cover elective abortions. The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) is calling for an immediate federal legislative remedy.

    “It is shocking that HHS has allowed the State of California to force all employers even churches to fund and facilitate elective abortions in their health insurance plans. Even those

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    House bill would protect religious freedom at federal level

    WASHINGTON (CNS) – The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee July 12 held a hearing on the First Amendment Defense Act, a bill two U.S archbishops said would provide “a measure of protection for religious freedom at the federal level.”

    The legislation was introduced June 17 by Rep. Raul Labrador, R-Idaho. The same day Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, introduced the measure as S. 1598 in the Senate.

    The day of the hearing Archbishop Salvatore J. Cordileone of San Francisco and Archbishop William

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    Antonin Scalia, Supreme Court justice, dies

    WASHINGTON (CNS) – Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, the longest-serving justice on the Supreme Court, died of apparent natural causes at a resort in West Texas Feb. 13. He was 79.

    Scalia, a Catholic, was appointed in 1986 by President Ronald Reagan. Five of the remaining eight justices also are Catholic.

    In a statement, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott called Scalia “a man of God, a patriot and an unwavering defender of the written

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    USCCB files amicus brief on behalf of Little Sisters of the Poor

    WASHINGTON (CNS) – The general counsel for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops filed an amicus brief with the U.S. Supreme Court in support of the Little Sisters of the Poor, who have asked the court for relief from being forced to comply with the federal contraceptive mandate.

    The brief was filed Jan. 8 in the Zubik v. Burwell case, which the court will hear this year. The case will determine whether the Little Sisters of the Poor and other ministries can be forced to comply with

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    Court rules Fla.’s death penalty system unconstitutional

    WASHINGTON (CNS) – The U.S. Supreme Court Jan. 12 said the state of Florida’s death penalty system is unconstitutional because it allows judges, rather than juries, to determine whether a convicted criminal should get a death sentence.

    Michael B. Sheedy, executive director of the Florida Conference of Catholic Bishops in Tallahassee, said the conference was “pleased this decision was issued so promptly” on what was the first day of Florida’s 2016 legislative session.

    “This should compel the Legislature to address

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    Refugee crisis, mandates, same-sex marriage dominate 2015

    WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. (CNS) – The explosive global refugee crisis and Pope Francis visit to the United States that included an historic address to Congress were perhaps the top news stories of 2015 affecting the Catholic community but same-sex marriage and the continued debate over healthcare mandates also were debate-sparking issues.

    Several of those issues appear destined to dominate domestic and foreign politics for years to come even at a time when Pope Francis has been calling for a compassionate world response.

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    San Bernardino bishop urges prayers for unity, healing after shootings

    SAN BERNARDINO, Calif. (CNS) – San Bernardino Bishop Gerald R. Barnes urged people to pray for unity and healing after the mass shooting in San Bernardino Dec. 2 that left 14 people dead and 17 others wounded.

    “For those who lost their lives, we pray for their eternal rest and God’s strength to their loved ones left behind; for those who are wounded, we pray for their health and healing,” he said.

    In a Dec. 2 statement, the bishop called

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    Catholic-Lutheran document sums up agreements, maps steps to full unity

    BALTIMORE (CNS) – A new 120-page document marks the progress in Catholic-Lutheran relations over the past 50 years and maps the remaining steps needed to achieve full unity.

    The “Declaration on the Way” was prepared by a joint task force of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs and the Chicago-based Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, which has more than 3.7 million members in 9,300 congregations across the United States.

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    Supreme Court will hear appeals in Catholic, other groups’ mandate cases

    WASHINGTON (CNS) – The U.S. Supreme Court justices said Nov. 6 they will hear seven pending appeals in lawsuits brought by several Catholic and other faith-based entities against the Obama administration’s contraceptive mandate.

    The court will hear appeals from groups in Colorado, Maryland, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Texas and the District of Columbia.

    Among the plaintiffs are the Little Sisters of the Poor, the Archdiocese of Washington, Priests for Life, Southern Nazarene

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    Pope to Congress: Stop bickering, world needs your help

    WASHINGTON (CNS) – The past, the promise and the potential of the United States must not be smothered by bickering and even hatred at a time when the U.S. people and indeed the world need a helping hand, Pope Francis told the U.S. Congress.

    Making history by being the first pope ever to address a joint meeting of Congress, Pope Francis was introduced to the legislators by the House sergeant at arms Sept. 24 as: “Mr. Speaker, the pope of the

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    Memory and motion: Pope Francis shows Americans who he really is

    PHILADELPHIA (CNS) – Pope Francis speaks often about memory and motion, the importance of remembering where you came from and setting off without fear to share the Gospel.

    That’s what he did in the United States. He circled the Statue of Liberty in a helicopter and flew over Ellis Island not preparing to condemn the world’s great superpower, but to reflect on its history and promise as a land that welcomes people, makes them part of the family and allows them

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    Catholic policy advocates crossing fingers in advance of papal visit

    WASHINGTON (CNS) – There is no doubt that Pope Francis’ impending visit to the United States is generating a lot of enthusiasm.

    For some people, the rarity of a papal visit to these shores is reason enough to trek hundreds of miles or more for the opportunity to be with him, or near him, even if only briefly.

    There are others, though, who hope that the pope’s words will provide a

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    Appeals court rules against additional religious groups’ mandate objections

    CHICAGO (CNS) – Several additional Catholic entities in Indiana were among those told by the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals Sept. 4 that there is not a substantial burden to their religious rights in the process they must follow to avoid having to pay for contraceptive coverage in employee health insurance.

    The 7th Circuit had ruled last December in a case involving the University of Notre Dame that a process known as an accommodation for avoiding the mandate does not substantially burden the Catholic institution’s religious

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    Court rules against Little Sisters

    DENVER (CNS) – The Little Sisters of the Poor and other religious entities are not substantially burdened by procedures set out by the federal government by which they can avoid a requirement to provide contraceptive coverage in health insurance, the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled July 14.

    In a lengthy opinion that considered arguments raised by the organizations under First Amendment religious rights protections and under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, the court said the groups are not substantially burdened by filing out a form

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    Health care subsidy ruling hailed by many, but criticism continues

    WASHINGTON (CNS) – The Supreme Court’s 6-3 ruling that upheld federal subsidies to keep health insurance premiums affordable regardless of whether the state or federal government runs the exchange system was welcomed by the president as well as by several religious organizations and stockholders in health care systems.

    The June 25 decision in King v. Burwell said that “Congress passed the Affordable Care Act to improve health insurance markets, not to destroy them,” and upheld the federal tax breaks that have made it possible for an estimated

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    Keeping Internet open, expanding broadband to all are FCC chief’s goals

    WASHINGTON (CNS) – The U.S. bishops have long championed the concept of an open Internet, where all legal content can be posted without some having to be charged more than others, and where those surfing the Web have equal access to all content, without someone else deciding what they can and cannot see – with a price tag sometimes attached to that as well.

    Tom Wheeler, Federal Communications Commission chairman, champions that concept as well.

    In a June 26 address

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    Nebraska Legislature passes repeal of death penalty

    LINCOLN, Neb. (CNS) – The Nebraska Legislature May 20 passed a measure to repeal the death penalty with enough votes to override Republican Gov. Pete Ricketts’ promised veto.

    Members of the unicameral body gave final approval to the bill with a 32-15 vote.

    At a news conference a week earlier, Archbishop George J. Lucas of Omaha joined about 15 religious leaders, priests and women religious in calling for an end to the death penalty in the state.

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    Court denies archdiocese rehearing in HHS lawsuit

    WASHINGTON (CNS) – A federal appeals court in a 6-3 ruling May 20 denied a petition for rehearing filed by the Washington Archdiocese and its co-plaintiffs in their ongoing legal challenge to the Health and Human Services contraceptive mandate.

    Filed in late December 2014, the petition asked the full U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit to reconsider “the deeply flawed decision” issued earlier by a three-judge panel that conflicted with judicial precedent in ruling that the mandate does not violate the rights of

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    President, first lady to welcome Pope Francis to White House Sept. 23

    WASHINGTON (CNS) – President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama will welcome Pope Francis to the White House Sept. 23.

    “During the visit, the president and the pope will continue the dialogue, which they began during the president’s visit to the Vatican in March 2014, on their shared values and commitments on a wide range of issues,” said a statement released March 26 by the Office of the Press Secretary at the

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    Louisiana top-ranked pro-life state

    Louisiana has been ranked the most pro-life state in the nation for the sixth consecutive year by Americans United for Life.

    AUL released its 2015 “Life List” Tuesday, Jan. 13, after analyzing progress made legislatively or in litigation in 2014. The annual “Life List” ranks all 50 states based on each state’s body of law associated with life issues, ranging from abortion to euthanasia.

     Following Louisiana as top pro-life states are Mississippi, Kansas, Oklahoma and Arkansas.

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    Lawmakers say protest institutional conscience

    WASHINGTON (CNS) – Speakers at a policy summit in Washington on Jan. 13 addressed the issue of protecting institutional conscience as it pertains to adoption, marriage and abortion.

    U.S. Rep. Mike Kelly, R-Pennsylvania, discussed conscience protections for religious and other adoption agencies, which is the aim of the Child Welfare Provider Inclusion Act, known as H.R. 5825.

    The bill would prohibit the federal government, and any state that receives federal funding for any program providing child welfare services, from “discriminating

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    Dominican sister chosen to lead Catholic Charities USA

    ALEXANDRIA, Va. (CNS) – Dominican Sister Donna Markham has been chosen to succeed Father Larry Snyder as the new president of Catholic Charities USA.

    The announcement was made Jan. 12 at Catholic Charities headquarters in Alexandria, a suburb of Washington, D.C.

    Sister Donna becomes the first woman to lead Catholic Charities, which was founded in 1910. She will officially take over from Father Snyder on June 1.


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    Despite year-end budget deal, future spending trends less certain

    WASHINGTON (CNS) – The $1.1 trillion federal spending bill approved by Congress avoided a repeat of last year’s government shutdown and largely kept in place social services spending, especially programs benefiting low-income families.

    Beyond the current fiscal year that ends Sept. 30, the future is less certain, however, as Republican victories in the November elections gave the party control of both chambers on Capitol Hill. With the new leaders come new plans on limiting federal spending and reducing the country’s $17.6-trillion debt.

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    Msgr. Timothy Verdon, an American who serves as director of the Office for Catechesis through Art of the Archdiocese of Florence, Italy, describes a painting during a Dec. 3 preview press tour of the “Picturing Mary: Woman, Mother Idea” exhibit at the National Museum of Women in the Arts in Washington. The exhibit runs Dec. 5 through April 12, 2015. Photo provided by CNS

    Pope Francis superhero in comic book

    NEW YORK (CNS) – The publisher Manga Hero specializes in combining two seemingly disparate things: comic books in the Japanese, or manga, style and Catholic subject matter.

    The imprint’s founder, Jonathan Lin, whose father grew up in Japan, has used this aesthetic which is known, among other things, for its kinetic energy to celebrate the lives of St. John Paul II, Pope Benedict XVI and characters from the Old and New Testaments.

    There is plenty of action in these volumes

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    ‘Thrilled’ at news of papal visit, Philadelphia Catholics thinking big

    PHILADELPHIA (CNS) – After the historic announcement by Pope Francis that he will visit Philadelphia next September, the reality of the challenges and joys of the event is sinking in for planners, civic officials and ordinary Catholics in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia.

    It will be a “once-in-a-lifetime chance for Philadelphia to shine,” Daniel Hilferty called the 2015 World Meeting of Families, which will be capped by the papal visit to the city. Chairman of the meeting’s Executive Leadership Committee, he said the event will require unprecedented coordination

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    U.N. hosts exhibit of St. Francis’ manuscripts, artifacts from Assisi

    UNITED NATIONS (CNS) – Speakers at the Nov. 17 opening of an historic exhibit at the United Nations of medieval manuscripts and papal documents associated with St. Francis of Assisi affirmed the saint’s association with the world body’s peaceful aims and hoped his namesake pope would pay a visit next September.

    “Friar Francis: Traces, Words, Images” is a collection of 19 manuscripts and artifacts from the Sacred Convent of St. Francis of Assisi in Italy.

    The artifacts date from the

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