National News

New Mexico court, federal judge in Utah recognize same-sex marriage

UPDATED -- WASHINGTON (CNS) -- A federal judge Dec. 20 struck down Utah's ban on same-sex marriage, arguing it violated the U.S. Constitution's guarantees of equal protection and due process. A day earlier the New Mexico Supreme Court ruled that barring same-sex couples from marrying violates the equal protection clause of that state's constitution.

Push for measures to limit gun violence continues despite roadblocks

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- The Senate's inability last spring to pass a bipartisan plan to expand gun background checks despite strong nationwide sentiment in favor of it is motivating a broad coalition of advocates to promote gun violence prevention laws.

Catholic leaders repeated call to Congress to help poor throughout 2013

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- Fallout from the partial government shutdown in October and another looming round of automatic spending cuts in January kept congressional leaders busy at year's end to finalize a budget deal Republicans and Democrats could live with.

Rape of elderly nun shocks Pittsburgh area; teen arrested, charged

PITTSBURGH (CNS) -- An 18-year-old Pennsylvania man has been charged in the Dec. 13 rape of an 85-year-old retired member of the Sisters of St. Joseph of Baden. The sister was attacked in the parking lot of St. Titus Church in Aliquippa, about 30 miles northwest of Pittsburgh.

Judge says employer objections to HHS mandate based on religious rights

NEW YORK (CNS) -- A spokesman for the New York Archdiocese said the archdiocese "welcomes and applauds" a Dec. 13 ruling by a federal judge granting Catholic organizations in the archdiocese and the neighboring Diocese of Rockville Centre a permanent injunction on having to comply with the federal contraceptive mandate in the health care law.

Minn. Archbishop steps down from public ministry after allegation

St. PAUL, Minn. (CNS) -- Archbishop John C. Nienstedt of St. Paul and Minneapolis is voluntarily stepping aside from all public ministry, effective immediately, while St. Paul police investigate an allegation that he inappropriately touched a male minor on the buttocks in 2009 during a group photography session following a confirmation ceremony.

Letter says Koch grant to Catholic University sends ‘confusing message’

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- Fifty prominent Catholics have signed a letter to The Catholic University of America questioning the decision to accept a $1 million pledge from the Charles Koch Foundation to help fund a new business school. The letter released Dec. 16 contrasts the ideological agenda of industrialists Charles and David Koch with Catholic social teaching.

Minn. archbishop says news of clergy abuse rightly met with ‘shame, outrage’

UPDATED -- EDINA, Minn. (CNS) -- Archbishop John C. Nienstedt of St. Paul and Minneapolis, at the invitation of a parish pastor, apologized for the archdiocese's handling of clergy sexual abuse allegations in a homily delivered at two Dec. 15 Masses at the parish church.

U.S. senator, co-sponsors introduce Marriage and Religious Freedom Act

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- U.S. Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, and 11 co-sponsors introduced a measure in the U.S. Senate Dec. 12 that would protect religious organizations from discrimination by the federal government for supporting traditional marriage.

Two Omaha priests found guilty of abuse, face Church sanctions

OMAHA, Neb. (CNS) -- The Archdiocese of Omaha has found two archdiocesan priests -- in separate cases -- guilty of sexual abuse of a minor and administered ecclesiastical penalties, dismissing one from the priesthood with Vatican authorization and removing the other from active ministry and sentencing him to a life of prayer and penance.