The pope, the media and balance on pro-life ministries

It was the telephone call heard around the world, because the pope made the call.On the other end of the line was a single woman in central Italy, who mailed Pope Francis a confused, anguished letter after learning she was pregnant by a man who turned out to be married. The man demanded that she have an abortion and she refused.Then a strange telephone number appeared on her caller ID screen. It was the pope, who called to say that she made the right decision because the "child was a … [Read more...]

Fights among Catholics, with the IRS picking a side

There is nothing particularly unusual about conservative Catholics arguing with liberal Catholics, especially when it comes to hot-button issues such as abortion.It is unusual, however, for the IRS to jump into these pew wars.Catholic sociologist Anne Hendershott is convinced that's what happened to her in 2010. This was during the time when IRS leaders, according to their own testimony, were inappropriately targeting conservative groups for extra scrutiny, especially those with … [Read more...]

Into the depths of USA’s church-state Inferno

IRS Commissioner Steven Miller was already having a rough day at the House Ways and Means Committee when one particularly hot question shoved him into the lower depths of a church-state Inferno.The question concerned a letter sent by IRS officials in Cincinnati to the Coalition for Life of Iowa, linked to its application for tax-exempt status."Please explain how all of your activities, including the prayer meetings held outside of Planned Parenthood, are considered educational," said the … [Read more...]

Billy Graham & Co. push the values voters

The television talking heads all agreed that the election was over, which ignited celebrations among the staff and supporters of winner Richard Nixon -- including the world's most famous evangelist."We did it," proclaimed the Rev. Billy Graham, according to iconoclastic journalist Joe McGinniss in "The Selling of the President 1968." Graham, he added, went "directly into Nixon's room, without explaining whether 'we' meant Billy Graham and Richard Nixon or Billy Graham and God or perhaps all … [Read more...]

Cardinal praying in a GOP spotlight

Political conventions have always included prayers and, through the decades, legions of preachers, rabbis, bishops and others have stepped to the podium to deliver them -- whether the delegates were paying attention or not.Then Cardinal Roger Mahony of Los Angeles faced the Democratic National Convention in 2000. First, he reminded the delegates they were in the presence of God and that true prayers must focus on "moral values, not partisan politics."In his litany, Mahony said: "In You, O … [Read more...]

Prof. Benedict addresses Catholic academia

In his latest address to American bishops visiting Rome, Pope Benedict XVI stressed that Catholic educators should remain true to the faith -- a reminder issued just in time for another tense season of commencement addresses.No, the pope did not mention Georgetown University by name, when discussing the Catholic campus culture wars.Yes, he did mention the law requiring professors who teach Catholic theology to obtain a Canon 812 "mandatum (mandate)" document from their bishops to certify … [Read more...]

Orthodox bridge to evangelical world

As point man for Russian Orthodox relations with other faith groups, Metropolitan Hilarion Alfeyev is used to talking shop with Catholics, Anglicans, leaders in older brands of Protestantism and other world religions.These duties have long been part of his job description. Meeting with leaders from the world's booming evangelical and Pentecostal flocks?Not so much.However, recent ecumenical contacts by this high-profile representative of the Moscow Patriarchate is evidence that times are … [Read more...]

Boehner, Dolan, Catholic heretics?

The 122nd annual commencement address at Catholic University of America was old school from start to finish, offering calls for self sacrifice, inspirational sports stories, a bite of Irish wisdom, a dash of positive thinking and a quote from Mother Teresa."The good things in life aren't things. They are people. They are values. They are our birthrights," concluded Speaker of the House John Boehner, who also mentioned his childhood in a Catholic family with 12 children. "For when it's all said … [Read more...]


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