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Achbishop calls human dignity a primary doctrine of church

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NOTRE DAME, Ind. — Calling the dignity of the human person “a primary doctrine” of the Catholic Church, Archbishop Timothy M. Dolan of New York told an audience at the University of Notre Dame Dec. 6 that it must prompt Catholics “to treat ourselves and others only with respect, love, honor and care.”

That doctrine also means people must not be identified “with our urges, our flaws, our status, our possessions, our utility,” but each seen as “a child of God, his creation, modeled in his own image, destined for eternity,” he said.

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Judge rejects request to question Vatican officials in abuse case

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PORTLAND, Ore — A federal judge in Portland has declined to order face-to-face questioning of Vatican officials in a lawsuit claiming that the Vatican was the employer of an abusive priest in the 1960s.

U.S. District Judge Michael W. Mosman ruled Dec. 1 that attorneys for the plaintiff in the case, John V. Doe v. Holy See, had not proven the need for an exception to the immunity given to foreign nations under U.S. law.

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Maryland interfaith leaders defend traditional marriage

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Catholic News Service

BALTIMORE  — Leaders of a newly formed pro-marriage coalition came out swinging against efforts to legalize same-sex marriage in Maryland, pledging in a Nov. 30 news conference to rally citizens across the state to defeat legislation that would alter the traditional definition of marriage.

Gathered at First Apostolic Faith Church International in Baltimore, representatives of the interfaith, nonpartisan Maryland Marriage Alliance said they will not be intimidated by those who would call their position “bigoted.”

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Federal official defends ending grants to bishops’ agency

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Catholic News Service

WASHINGTON — A U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops program aiding victims of human trafficking was denied funding after its administrators declined to propose alternatives to a government requirement that female victims receive “the full range of legally permissible gynecological and obstetric care,” a Department of Health and Human Services official told a congressional committee.

Under grueling questioning from Republican members of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform Dec. 1, George Sheldon, acting assistant secretary of the Administration for Children and Families, said he made the final decision to award grants worth $4.7 million to three other agencies that agreed to provide access to services such as abortion, contraception and sterilization under the National Human Trafficking Victim Assistance Program.

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Detroit likely to close nine parishes, merge 60

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DETROIT — A pastoral plan for the Detroit Archdiocese that includes recommendations such as closing nine parishes, merging 60 parishes into 21 and establishing multi-parish teams or initiatives is a “plan to move the life of the church forward” over the next five years, said Detroit Archbishop Allen H. Vigneron.

In a media briefing Dec. 1, he told reporters the recommendations are likely to be implemented but not “set in stone.”

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Catholic groups start work on ‘common good’ platform for 2012 election

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Catholic News Service

WASHINGTON — With the first votes of the presidential primary season set for Jan. 3 at the Iowa caucuses, Catholic social justice organizations are asking local communities to help draft platforms rooted in church teaching that they hope will enter the discussion on the campaign trail next fall.

Called Election 2012: Catholics Vote for the Common Good, the effort is taking place nationwide, but is specifically targeting six states with significant Catholic populations that political observers expect will play a key role in the election: Florida, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Texas and Wisconsin.

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Obama said to seek balance on health plans, religious beliefs

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Catholic News Service

WASHINGTON — A White House spokesman said the Obama administration is working to “strike the right balance between expanding coverage of preventive services and respecting religious beliefs” as it decides on a religious exemption to the mandate that all health plans cover contraceptives and sterilizations by Jan. 1, 2013.

“This decision has not yet been made,” said Jay Carney, press secretary, in response to a question at the Nov. 29 White House press briefing.

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Black Catholics’ survey finds strong ties to church

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Catholic News Service

WASHINGTON — African-American Catholics are much more engaged in their church on a variety of levels than are white Catholics, concludes the first National Black Catholic Survey.

Whether in a majority black church, a mixed or mostly white parish, the survey found African-American Catholics feel satisfied and fulfilled in their parishes, explained retired Bishop John H. Ricard of Pensacola-Tallahassee, Fla., who is president of the National Black Catholic Congress.

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Pro-life New Jersey nurses sue hospital over its policy on abortions

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Catholic News Service

Confronted with what one called “a choice between our faith and our jobs,” 12 nurses are suing University Hospital in Newark, N.J., over a new policy requiring them to care for patients before and after abortions, even if they have religious or moral objections to abortion.

The hospital, part of the University of Medicine & Dentistry of New Jersey, said that because “no nurse is compelled to have direct involvement in, and/or attendance in the room at the time of,” an abortion, its policy does not violate state or federal conscience protection laws.

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Detroit music minister writes ‘Mass for Motor City’

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DETROIT — Aaron Kaleniecki said he didn’t see how changing the wording to prayers was going to work musically with the new Roman Missal.

“When you are expected to keep the melody the same and use words with additional or fewer syllables, it gets clumsy,” said the music minister at St. Aloysius and St. Patrick parishes, both in downtown Detroit.

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