Nation and World News

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U.S. Senate confirms Callista Gingrich as ambassador to Holy See

Christian life is a love story with God, pope says at canonization

Pope Francis used incense to venerate an image of Mary during the canonization Mass of new saints in St. Peter’s Square at the Vatican Oct. 15. The pope canonized groups of martyrs from Mexico and Brazil, an Italian Capuchin priest and a Spanish priest.

VATICAN CITY — Like the Catholic Church's newest saints, Christians are called to live their faith as a love story with God who wants a relationship that is "more than that of devoted subjects with their king," Pope Francis said.

Without a loving relationship with God, Christian life can become empty and "an impossible ethic, a collection of rules and laws to obey for no good reason," the pope said during Mass Oct. 15 in St. Peter's Square.

Groups settle in lawsuit against HHS contraceptive mandate

Bishop David A. Zubik of Pittsburgh and Cardinal Donald W. Wuerl of Washington talked near the U.S. Supreme Court in Washington in March. On Oct. 16, groups making up the Zubik v. Burwell challenge to the contraceptive mandate of the Affordable Care Act reached a settlement with the Justice Department.

WASHINGTON — Dozens of Catholic groups that challenged the contraceptive mandate of the Affordable Care Act have reached a settlement with the U.S. Justice Department, they announced late Oct. 16.

The groups, including the Archdiocese of Washington and the Pennsylvania dioceses of Greensburg, Pittsburgh and Erie, were represented by the Cleveland-based law firm Jones Day.

Long recovery ahead for communities hit by wildfires

SANTA ROSA, Calif. — The Diocese of Santa Rosa "has been hit hard" and "is in an ongoing state of uncertainty" because of Northern California wildfires that began the night of Oct. 8, said Bishop Robert F. Vasa.

At least 12 major fires were raging across the region, according to news reports. Of those 12, at least five were zero to 5 percent contained, and the rest were 15 to 70 percent contained. Fanned by warm winds, they devastated a vast swath of North California's wine country and forced 20,000 to evacuate. They left at least 17 people dead, and at least 180 others were missing.

Death penalty is ‘contrary to the Gospel,’ pope says

The death penalty, no matter how it is carried out, "is, in itself, contrary to the Gospel," Pope Francis said.

Marking the 25th anniversary of the Catechism of the Catholic Church at the Vatican Oct. 11, Pope Francis said the catechism's discussion of the death penalty, already formally amended by St. John Paul II, needs to be even more explicitly against capital punishment.

Capital punishment, he said, "heavily wounds human dignity" and is an "inhuman measure."

Trump administration expands exemptions on contraceptive mandate

A group of Little Sisters of the Poor joined other women walking down the steps of the U.S. Supreme Court in Washington in 2016 after attending oral arguments in the Zubik v. Burwell contraceptive mandate case.

WASHINGTON — The Trump administration Oct. 6 issued interim rules expanding the exemption to the contraceptive mandate for religious employers, such as the Little Sisters of the Poor, who object on moral grounds to covering contraceptive and abortion-inducing drugs and devices in their employee health insurance.

Leaders of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops praised the action as "a return to common-sense, long-standing federal practice and peaceful coexistence between church and state."

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