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Nation and world briefs


Judges block expansion of religious exemptions to HHS mandate

WASHINGTON — Two federal judges temporarily blocked the government from putting into effect new rules that would expand the exemption to the federal contraceptive mandate to the Little Sisters of the Poor and other religious employers. The decisions came in cases filed in federal courts in Pennsylvania and California that challenged the expansion, arguing that allowing some employers to not offer contraceptive coverage in health insurance plans violated provisions of the Affordable Care Act. Judge Wendy Beetlestone of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania based in Philadelphia issued a nationwide preliminary injunction the afternoon of Jan. 14, the day the policy was to take effect. Judge Haywood S. Gilliam Jr. of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California granted a preliminary injunction sought by 13 states and the District of Columbia to stop the rules from taking effect. The decisions do not permanently block the new policy, but prevent the rules from taking effect while the legal challenges are debated in the courts.

Parish of teen who escaped abduction credits power of prayer

WASHINGTON — For nearly three months, parishioners at St. Peter Catholic Church in Cameron were praying for the safe return of one of their own — 13-year-old Jayme Closs. When parishioners heard the news that she had escaped her abductor Jan. 10 and was safe, their prayers switched to gratitude. The parish sign said, “Praise God Welcome Home Jayme,” after its Mass times listing. “Our prayers have been answered and God is good,” parishioner JoAnn Trowbridge told the local NBC affiliate, WEAU, after Mass Jan. 13. St. Peter is where Jayme attended religious education classes and Mass with her parents, James and Denise, who were killed Oct. 15, 2018.

‘9 Days for Life’ is a ‘powerful prayer initiative’

WASHINGTON— The novena “9 Days for Life” is a “powerful prayer initiative” for the end to abortion and for “the respect of all human life,” said the chairman of the U.S. bishops’ Committee on Pro-Life Activities. The novena and related observances sponsored by the bishops’ pro-life secretariat lead up to the annual Day of Prayer for the Legal Protection of Unborn Children Jan. 22, the anniversary of the Supreme Court’s 1973 decisions in Roe v. Wade and Doe v. Bolton that legalized abortion. Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann of Kansas City, Kan., the committee chairman, stated Jan. 11 that more than 118,000 people had already signed up to pray this novena, which began Jan. 14, and he invited more to join at www.9daysforlife.com. “Together, we will seek the Lord’s help in building a culture of life, where the most vulnerable are respected — starting in the womb,” he said. The overarching intention of the novena is that all human life will be respected. Each day of the “9 Days for Life” novena highlights a different intention and is accompanied by a short reflection, suggested actions and related information.


Pope advances sainthood causes for 17 women

VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis advanced the sainthood causes of three women and recognized the martyrdom of 14 religious sisters who were killed during the Spanish Civil War. The pope formally recognized a miracle needed for the canonization of Blessed Marguerite Bays, a laywoman from Switzerland known for her spirituality in the face of great physical suffering and for bearing the stigmata of Christ. Born in 1815, she grew up helping the peasant farmers in her small village and became a professed member of the Secular Franciscan Order. She was particularly devoted to Our Lady and discovered she was cured of colon cancer on Dec. 8, 1854, when Pope Pius IX proclaimed the dogma of the Immaculate Conception. The same year, she started to show signs of the stigmata on her hands, feet and chest. She died in 1879 and St. John Paul II beatified her in 1995.

— Catholic News Service

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