News Briefs

The Catholic bishops of Florida unsuccessfully urged Gov. Charlie Crist to stay the execution of John Richard Marek on Aug. 19 and give him a life sentence instead, saying that “even those who have done great harm are human beings with dignity, created in the image and likeness of God.” • An education bill signed into law by Venezuela’s President Hugo Chávez will remove religious education from the nation’s schools, said Cardinal Jorge Urosa Savino of Caracas. Government critics called the law’s rapid approval process unconstitutional. • Three U.S. Catholic bishops are touring parts of Cuba that were ravaged by hurricanes last year. One participant, Boston’s Cardinal Sean P. O’Malley, O.F.M.Cap., said the goal of the visit is “to understand what we can do to further assist the church in Cuba.” • Although amendments to a House health care reform bill made some “helpful improvements” in protecting life and conscience, some “unacceptable features” remain that must be removed, said Cardinal Justin Rigali of Philadelphia, who testified on Aug. 11. • The Catholic theologian Miguel Díaz was confirmed by the U.S. Senate on Aug. 4 as the ninth U.S. ambassador to the Vatican. • Jim McGinnis, a nationally renowned advocate for peace and justice, died on Aug. 13. He was 66.

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