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N.C. political operative behind group targeting six Democratic senators

UPDATED: A North Carolina operative is behind a secretive new political group that is targeting six U.S. Senate elections across the country.

America Continues launched a targeted radio ad campaign last week that accuses the incumbent Democratic senators of "persecuting the Catholic Church" stemming from a battle about the new federal health care law requiring coverage of contraception.

The organization's is registered as a N.C. company and its principal is Sam Hassell.

Paul Ryan surprised a Charlotte Catholic church Sunday

Greeting early morning worshippers at St. Gabriel's Catholic Chuch Sunday, Rev. Andre Mangango noticed the strangers with dark glasses and ear phones.

Then he realized the reason they were there: A Secret Service contingent escorting Republican Rep. Paul Ryan, Mitt Romney's newly named running mate. Ryan went to the south Charlotte church before he and Romney headed off by bus for rallies in Mooresville and High Point. He did so without taking the typical press pool and without notifying any media following the campaign.

In a blog post this afternoon, diosesan spokesman David Hains quoted Mangango:

"He walked up to me and said, 'I am Representative Paul Ryan and this is my son.' I welcomed him to the church, congratulated him on being chosen and told him that we would be praying for him."

Congressman Price town hall at Catholic school canceled

A local Catholic school is changing its mind about allowing Democratic Congressman David Price to hold a town hall on its campus.

Jason Curtis, the principal at Cardinal Gibbons High School, which is operated by the Roman Catholic Diocese of Raleigh, said he gave Price's office permission for the Monday event but then began to have concerns.

"I didn't realize that holding a political event could jeopardize our status as a religious institution," Curtis said. "It was my mistake for having said yes."

N.C. Catholic churches push for marriage amendment

North Carolina's Catholic churches are urging parishioners to support a constitutional amendment to define marriage as between one woman and one man.

In a letter distributed Sunday, Raleigh Bishop Michael Burbidge and Charlotte Bishop Peter Jugis ask church members to "become informed about our Church's teaching."

"We pray that you will see our position as a principled one based on eternal and divine truth and that you will vote on May 8 FOR protecting traditional marriage in North Carolina," the letter states.

The letter doesn't mention same-sex marriage. The amendment would put a constitutional ban on recognition of gay marriage and civil unions, which already are illegal.

Catholic letter.pdf

State's two bishops appear at legislature

North Carolina's two bishops were at the legislature Thursday.

The Bishop Michael F. Burbidge of Raleigh and Bishop Peter Jugis of Charlotte came to promote a unified voice on public policy issues from some of the 800,000 Catholics in the state.

"We share the right to add our voice to the public discussion of issues," Burbidge said.

The initiative involves an interactive Web site that sends alerts to Catholics on legislation of concern to the church, including such issues as abortion and stem cell research as well as immigration. 

They also announced that Monsignor Michael Clay, pastor of St. Ann Catholic Church in Clayton, will serve as the first permanent lobbyist for Catholics at the legisltaure.

The dioceses will also send a questionnaire to gubernatorial and Congressional candidates and post the results on the Web site in October. (N&O)

Bishops on stem cells

Two North Carolina bishops oppose state funding of stem cell research.

Roman Catholic Bishop Michael F. Burbidge of the diocese of Raleigh has written a letter to members of the N.C. House Committee on Science and Technology opposing the draft of a bill in the General Assembly that would publicly fund embyronic stem cell research, Yonat Shimron reports.

The letter, which he co-signed with Bishop Peter J. Jugis of the diocese of Charlotte, reiterates the Catholic teaching that embryos constitute human life.

Bishops Burbidge and Jugis said they supported adult and umbilical cord blood stem cell research.

"We stand ready to mobilize these citizens and their like-minded supporters of other beliefs and traditions to contact their legislators opposing this bill should it advance beyond the House Committee on Science and Technology," the two bishops wrote.

Bishops on sex ed

North Carolina's Catholic bishops are against a bill to change sex ed.

In a letter to House Speaker Joe Hackney, Most Rev. Michael Burbidge of Raleigh and Most Rev. Peter Jugis of Charlotte say they share "grave concern" about the changes:

"We wish to go on record strongly opposing this bill and want you to know that we will do everything in our power to activate the Roman Catholics of our State to lobby their legislators to oppose the passage of this bill. This is not an action we would take lightly."

The bill would change a state law to base abstinence education on health, not morals. It would also exert more state control over local sex ed curricula.

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