January 19, 2015 • VOL. 53, NO. 2 • Oakland, CA
Catholics in Congress
'Amazing Race' winner
ST. LOUIS — Maya Warren and race partner Amy DeJong, both food scientists and University of Wisconsin-Madison doctoral students, won "The Amazing Race, TV challenge, the finale televised Dec. 12. The six-month undertaking was a series of challenges in nine countries on four continents and covering 26,000 miles. The winners collected $1 million, but said their entry wasn't about money, it was to inspire. Warren visited and was a student at Rosati-Kain High School, an all-girls Catholic school in St. Louis.
Michigan firm exempt
GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — A federal court has ruled that a Michigan-based medical supply company does not have to provide contraception coverage in its employee health insurance plan because of faith-based objections. The Jan. 5 ruling by Judge Robert Jonker of the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Michigan in Grand Rapids said that Autocam Medical does not have to comply with the contraceptive coverage requirement of the Affordable Care Act, based on the Supreme Court's ruling last June in the Hobby Lobby case, which said that closely held companies cannot be forced to abide by the federal Health and Human Service's mandate that requires nearly all employers to provide abortion-inducing drugs, elective sterilizations and contraceptives to their employees free of charge if the individual or families that own the businesses have religious objections to the mandate.
Life rally returns
WASHINGTON — "The biggest human rights rally in the world," as one regular participant described it, will return to the nation's capital for the annual March for Life Jan. 22. The 42nd rally on the National Mall and march to the U.S. Supreme Court marks the anniversary of the Supreme Court's 1973 ruling in the case of Roe v. Wade that invalidated state and federal restrictions on abortions, legalizing abortion virtually on demand.
Mario Cuomo dies
NEW YORK — Former New York Gov. Mario Cuomo, a politician with a complicated relationship with the Church, died Jan.1 at age 82. He never shied away from being proudly Catholic and proudly a Democrat. His position that he could personally accept the church's teaching about abortion being sinful, while politically supporting keeping abortion legal in a secular society where it was protected by the Constitution still is the model cited by many Catholic politicians and still is derided by some church leaders.
Dropped from drug trial
CHICAGO — Cardinal Francis E. George, retired archbishop of Chicago, has been dropped from the clinical drug trial to treat his cancer after scans showed the experimental treatment was not working for him, the Archdiocese of Chicago said.
Sister Donna Markham
WASHINGTON — Dominican Sister Donna Markham has been chosen to succeed Father Larry Snyder as the new president of Catholic Charities USA. Sister Donna becomes the first woman to lead Catholic Charities, which was founded in 1910. She will officially take over June 1. Currently president of the Behavioral Health Institute for Mercy Health, Sister Donna, a board-certified clinical psychologist, has a doctoral degree in clinical psychology from the University of Detroit and was named a fellow in the American Association of Clinical Psychologists.
Faith and outer space
WASHINGTON — How people value space exploration may just depend on someone's particular faith. An analysis of the results of several national surveys by a University of Dayton political science professor found that Catholics are more supportive of the U.S. maintaining a leading role in probing the depths of space and the search for extraterrestrial intelligence than people of other faiths.
Appeal in teacher's firing
WASHINGTON — The Diocese of Fort-Wayne-South Bend, Indiana, plans to appeal a $1.9 million judgment against it in a lawsuit over the firing of an elementary school teacher who it claimed violated the morals clause of her contract. A U.S. District Court jury determined Dec. 19 that the diocese discriminated against Emily Herx, a former language arts teacher at St. Vincent de Paul School in Fort Wayne, when her contract was not renewed in June 2011 after she informed a school official that she had undergone in vitro fertilization a second time.
— Catholic News Service
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