National News

Gregorian chant, rooted in early church, elevates Catholic liturgy

Chant was standard in the Mass up to the 1950s but fell out of favor after the Second Vatican Council, when the Mass was adapted to the dominant language of each country. See the first in a series on chant, and don't miss our video.

Vatican releases new instruction on authenticating, protecting relics

Only relics that have been certified as authentic can be exposed for veneration by the faithful, said a new Vatican instruction.

As pope turns 81, kids entertain with song, dance and 13-foot pizza

A group of children receiving assistance from the Vatican's St. Martha Dispensary, a maternal and pediatric clinic, had given the pope a birthday party Dec. 17 marked with singing, dancing and a cake adorned with gold and white fondant decorations.

Press must be factual, free from manipulation, pope says

People need factual and trustworthy news that avoids sensationalism and whipping up heated reactions, Pope Francis said.

Oral arguments heard in states’ suits on religious exemption to mandate

UPDATED - The U.S. District Court in Philadelphia heard oral arguments in a suit that aims to take away the exemption granted in October to the Little Sisters of the Poor and other religious employers allowing them to refuse to cover contraceptives for their employees on moral grounds.

God-given sexual identity has inherent beauty, dignity, say faith leaders

In an open letter Dec. 15, a group of 20 Catholic bishops and other religious leaders described as "deeply troubling" the movement today "to enforce the false idea -- that a man can be or become a woman or vice versa."

Australia’s Royal Commission issues final report on child sexual abuse

Among its 400 recommendations, 20 were aimed specifically at the Catholic Church, whose leaders spent three weeks in February testifying at a "Catholic wrapup."

Stories, tears flow freely for descendants of slaves Jesuits owned, sold

Descendants of the 272 enslaved men, women and children sold as a group in 1838 to a Louisiana plantation by the Jesuits who ran Georgetown University in Washington described what it was like upon learning their hidden and bitter family story.

In #MeToo movement Catholic Church can play role in discussion, healing

he wave of accusations of sexual harassment, misconduct and assault from Hollywood to Capitol Hill and many places in between in recent months has been described as a revolution, a moment and a time for national reckoning.

Year in review: Counties seen as key to ongoing death penalty struggle

It's county prosecutors, most of them elected by voters, who decide whether to pursue a death sentence for murders and other crimes, said Robert Dunham, the center's executive director.