Reducing angry rhetoric helped abortion dialogue

Honest dialogue can’t always solve divisive issues, but it can create friendships across the great divides of our times.

On the eve of the annual March for Life, the anti-abortion protest taking place today in the nation’s capital, activists on both sides of the abortion issue spoke with NCR and recalled a daring, clandestine experiment they engaged in a decade ago that transformed their enemies into friends.

“There is no common ground,” said Frances X. Hogan, a Boston lawyer who has been a long-time leader in the pro-life movement and is a member of the Pontifical Academy for Life. Even so, she said, “The idea of talking across this chasm is helpful.”

When Hogan speaks of the three pro-choice leaders who participated in six years of secret talks with three pro-life leaders, her conversation is full of compliments and sprinkled with things about her political opponents that she loves about them as people. Their dialogue culminated in a jointly-written public statement in 2001.

Legal challenges grow in wake of Proposition 8 passage

The NAACP and a coalition of racial justice groups weighed in on the side of gay marriage Friday and brought a new argument to the table. They filed their own legal challenge to California's Proposition 8, the constitutional amendment voters just approved that rescinds same-sex marriage.

"This is a very powerful and dramatic turn of events," said Shannon Minter, an attorney with the National Center for Lesbian Rights. "The message behind the petition filed today is that a threat to one is a threat to all."

(John Allen on U.S. bishops reaction to passage of Proposition 8.).

(California bishops' official statement after passage of Propostion 8.)

Progessive income tax supported by Catholic social thought

Senator Barack Obama strengthened his promises of tax relief for working people Saturday in Pueblo, Colo., and said the “redistributor in chief” label that rival Sen. John McCain is trying to pin on him is a sign of a trailing Republican campaign that would “say anything” in the last days of the presidential race to try to close the gap.

If voters stay focused on the troubled economy, McCain will lose, Obama said. “That's why John McCain is spending these last few days calling me every name in the book; everything but a child of God.”

McCain first started calling Obama “redistributionist in chief” and compared him to a socialist Oct. 27 in Pottsville, Penn. He continued into the campaign’s final weekend using the “redistributor” line to trigger crowd reaction in Newport News, Va.

Obama aligned to U.S. bishops on health care

In declaring that health care “should be a right for every American,” Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama has squarely aligned himself with a teaching of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

Now an organization of lay Catholics within the Democratic Party is challenging Sen. John McCain to switch his stance and do the same. “Catholic Democrats is calling on the McCain campaign to acknowledge the fundamental right to health care, especially for the most vulnerable of our population,” the group said in a written statement Wednesday.

If the Catholic notion of the ‘common good’ really means anything, it surely motivates us to help keep all Americans healthy through an insurance system that covers everyone,” said Dr. Patrick Whelan of Boston, a pediatric specialist who serves as the group’s president.

The McCain campaign did not respond to a request for its reaction.

The American bishops’ 2007 statement on Faithful Citizenship, while endorsing no political party, calls health care a “fundamental human right” and an “urgent national priority.”