RAP Sheet

Pope Francis Opens Vatican Synod on Family Issues

posted on October 5, 2015

Elisabetta Povoledo of The New York Times reports that Pope Francis opened a Vatican synod on family issues on Sunday by confirming the sanctity of marriage between a man and a woman. But he also called on the church to be sensitive to the needs of modern society. More than 300 clergy members will attend the synod, which is expected to engender lively debate over the aspects of marriage in the Catholic Church that have caused disputes in past, including divorce and same-sex couples. Cardinal Lorenzo Baldisseri, general secretary of the synod, said, “The pope has invited the synod fathers to discuss with openness.”

Read at The New York Times

The Supreme Court’s New Term: Here’s What To Watch

posted on October 5, 2015

Nina Totenberg of NPR reports that as the Supreme Court begins its new term, many cases involving the nation’s most polemic social issues are set to be featured. Chief Justice John Roberts, who was appointed by George W. Bush, faces pressure from the right to vote conservatively, as Republicans view his favorable opinion of the Affordable Care Act as inconsistent with their ideology. Had President Bush appointed someone more conservative, Senator Ted Cruz said, “Obamacare would have been struck down three years ago, and the marriage laws of all 50 states would be on the books.”

Read at NPR

Planned Parenthood President Grilled at House Hearing

posted on September 30, 2015

CNN’s Tom LoBianco reports that a “heated and emotional” congressional hearing took place on Tuesday with testimony from Planned Parenthood President Cecile Richards. Republicans want to cut the organization’s funding after edited videos surfaced that allegedly showed Planned Parenthood officials discussing fetal tissue sales. Richards testified that the videos are “a deliberate and systematic effort by (CMP Director) David Daleiden and other opponents of safe and legal abortion to infiltrate our health centers, try to entrap our staff into potentially illegal conduct, and create discredited, doctored videos designed to smear Planned Parenthood.”

Read at CNN

Kim Davis, Kentucky County Clerk, Met Pope Francis

posted on September 30, 2015

Laurie Goodstein of The New York Times reports, “Pope Francis met privately in Washington last week with Kim Davis, the county clerk in Kentucky who defied a court order to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples, a Vatican spokesman confirmed on Wednesday.” In a phone interview with The New York Times, Davis’ lawyer said the pope told Davis to “stay strong.” In public, while Pope Francis did not speak directly about Davis, he said, “Conscientious objection must enter into every juridical structure because it is a right, a human right.”

Read at The New York Times

Kelly Gissendaner Executed in Georgia

posted on September 30, 2015

CBS reports that Kelly Renee Gissendaner was executed Wednesday for the murder of her husband, “after hours of delays due to numerous eleventh-hour appeals, and despite a plea from Pope Francis to spare her life.” The report states, “Vatican spokesman Father Federico Lombardi told CBS News it’s common for the papal nuncio to ask for clemency in death penalty cases, on behalf of the pope.” The pope urged the abolition of the death penalty in his Thursday address to Congress, saying, “I am convinced that this way is the best, since every life is sacred, every human person is endowed with inalienable dignity and society can only benefit form the rehabilitation of those convicted of crimes.”

Read at CBS News

Churches Step in After Feds Drop Fugitive Safe Surrender

posted on September 30, 2015

Heidi Hall of Religion News Service reports that churches have been singlehandedly sustaining the Fugitive Safe Surrender program, founded by U.S. Marshal Peter Elliott in 2005, since the federal government cut funding four years ago. Through new programs, wanted criminals can gain “favorable consideration” from prosecutors in exchange for turning themselves in at churches, instead of police stations. Joshua Paris, facing a minor drug charge, explains, “I came here because I knew I could walk in and not see steel bars everywhere.”

Read at Religion News Service

Prayer Caucus, Funded by Taxpayers, Defends Faith in the Public Square

posted on September 29, 2015

In USA Today, Paul Singer reports, “One night a week, the taxpayer-funded congressional Prayer Caucus meets in an ornate room in the U.S. Capitol to defend the role of (mostly) Christian faith and prayer in the U.S. government.” Caucus member John Fleming, a Republican from Louisiana, says, “We do what we can to make sure that legislation emerges with what we believe to be American, Christian values.” Critic Roy Speckhardt, executive director of the American Humanist Association, says, “They are trying to give the appearance that certain types of religious activity and certain types of religious belief are endorsed by the government.”

Read at USA Today

Churches Redeveloping Properties to Give Them New Life

posted on September 29, 2015

The Wall Street Journal’s Robyn A. Friedman reports that churches facing financial struggles are developing creative solutions to avoid selling or foreclosing on their properties. According to Casey Kemper, executive vice president of the Collegiate Churches of New York, congregations are increasingly partnering with real estate firms to “redevelop their property to include mixed uses on the land.” Kemper says, “They get cash, and they get a better facility.” Because of recent trends towards urbanization, “those religious properties that are well-located in urban areas are attractive to developers.”

Read at The Wall Street Journal

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