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January 19, 2015   •   VOL. 53, NO. 2   •   Oakland, CA
News in Brief

Groundbreaking ceremony
Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle of Manila, Philippines, smiles during a Jan. 11 groundbreaking ceremony in Pasay City for new housing for informal settlers. The new building will house 67 of the families living along a creek and roughly 300 families already living in their own tiny apartments.
Tyler Orsburn/cns

Catholics in Congress

WASHINGTON — The numbers don't lie. Once again, there are more Catholics in Congress than members of any other religious denomination. And the numbers stay strong term after term. Even though Catholics account for only about 22 percent of the U.S. population — admittedly the largest body of religious belief in the country — they make up 31 percent of the House and the Senate. If you're looking for differences between the two major parties, there's indeed some — but Catholics are still overrepresented in both the Democratic and Republican parties. There are 83 Catholics among the 234 Democrats in the House or Senate, good for 35 percent of the Democrats' total, and 81 Catholics among the 301 Republicans in Congress, or 27 percent of the GOP's total.

Maya Warren

'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.

Gov. Mario Cuomo

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

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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