Nation and World News

Paul Ryan: People of faith must advocate for religious liberty

WASHINGTON — People of faith have the responsibility to "advocate for their faith," not only through good works, but on spiritual realms — one being through prayer, U.S. House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wisconsin, said May 17.

He made the comments at the 12th annual National Catholic Prayer Breakfast, which drew a record of about 1,300 attendees to a downtown Washington hotel.

Ryan and Sister Constance Veit, communications director for her religious congregation, the Little Sisters of the Poor, were special guests at the breakfast.

Supreme Court sends HHS mandate case back to lower courts

Women religious and others demonstrated against the Affordable Care Act’s contraceptive mandate March 23 near the steps of the U.S. Supreme Court in Washington. The Supreme Court sent the case back to the lower courts.

WASHINGTON — The U.S. Supreme Court May 16 sent the Zubik v. Burwell case, which challenges the Affordable Care Act's contraceptive requirement for employers, back to the lower courts.

The justices' unanimous decision, explained in a nine-page unsigned opinion, was based on the information that both sides submitted a week after oral arguments were heard in the case about how and if contraceptive insurance coverage could be obtained by employees through their insurance companies without directly involving religious employers who object to this coverage.

Study of women deacons won’t be first, but might answer questions

WASHINGTON — When Pope Francis accepted a proposal at the Vatican May 12 to form a commission to study the possibility of women serving as deacons today, it generated plenty of buzz.

The pope's agreement on the idea — raised by members of the International Union of Superiors General, the leadership group for superiors of women's orders — was interpreted by some as a thumbs-up to women deacons and eventually women priests, which the Vatican spokesman was quick to rebut the next day.

From nightmare to dream: Syrian refugees thank pope for safety

Syrian refugee Nour played with her son Riad, 2, at a language and culture school run by the Sant'Egidio Community in Rome April 18. Nour and her husband and their son were among 12 Syrian refugees Pope Francis brought back with him from a refugee camp in Lesbos, Greece.

ROME -- After less than 48 hours in Rome, "dream" is the word used most often by the six Syrian adults Pope Francis brought back to Italy with him from a refugee camp in Greece.

By April 18, the couples -- who asked to be identified by only their first names, Hasan and Nour, Ramy and Suhila, Osama and Wafa -- and their six children had spent more than three hours doing paperwork with Italian immigration officials and had enrolled in Italian language classes.

Pope, Orthodox leaders listen to cries of refugees, urge help

MYTILENE, Greece -- Although their speeches were punctuated with policy appeals, Pope Francis and Orthodox leaders focused their visit to the island of Lesbos on the faces, stories and drawings of refugees.

Pope Francis, Orthodox Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople and Archbishop Ieronymos II of Athens and all Greece spent more time April 16 greeting the refugees individually than they did giving speeches.

'It makes you weep,' pope says of refugees' stories

ABOARD THE PAPAL FLIGHT FROM GREECE -- When an aide suggested Pope Francis offer to fly some Syrian refugees back to Rome with him, the pope said he agreed immediately because it was "an inspiration of the Holy Spirit."

In the end, he said, 12 Syrians -- members of three families, including six children -- had all the necessary papers from the Greek and Italian governments in time to fly with the pope April 16.

The fact that the 12 are all Muslims did not enter into the equation, the pope said. "I gave priority to children of God."

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