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The Obama administration announced plans in early October to allow minors to apply for refugee status from within El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras, in an effort to discourage them from making the dangerous trek to enter the United States illegally. • On Sept. 29, during a ceremony at Chicago’s Archbishop Quigley Center, Cardinal Francis George formally closed the investigation into the life of the Rev. Augustus Tolton, the first African-American diocesan priest, forwarding documents supporting his sainthood to the Vatican. • Rommel Banlaoi, executive director of the Philippine Institute for Peace, Violence and Terrorism Research, said on Oct. 2 in Manila that authorities should take “very seriously” the threat of Islamic State fighters on Pope Francis’ life as planning for his visit in January continues. • The Raskob Foundation awarded the Catholic Near East Welfare Association an emergency grant on Sept. 24 to support two additional medical clinics serving displaced Christians in northern Iraq. • The California Catholic Conference filed a federal civil rights complaint on Sept. 30, describing a state ruling mandating the inclusion of voluntary direct abortion in California health insurance policies as “coercive and discriminatory.”

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The establishment and free exercise clauses prohibit the government from impeding or requiring observance of any religious holiday, including Christmas.
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J. Kevin ApplebyDecember 12, 2017