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Lawmakers in Washington state pass bill legalizing same-sex marriage

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SEATTLE -- Members of the House of Representatives in Washington state voted Feb. 8 to legalize same-sex marriage, and Gov. Christine Gregoire was expected to sign the bill into law by mid-February.

The vote came one day after a federal appeals court in California struck down that state's voter-approved ban on same-sex marriage.

In Washington, the legislation passed with a 56-42 vote in the House. On Feb. 1, the state Senate approved it 28-21.

Once it becomes law, Washington will be the seventh state in the nation, along with the District of Columbia, where same-sex marriage is legal.

Several Republicans in the House argued against the bill, saying that it went against the tradition of marriage.

In Jan. 23 testimony before a Senate committee, Seattle Archbishop J. Peter Sartain urged lawmakers to oppose the measure "based on the grave challenge this legislation poses to the common good. By attempting to redefine marriage, it ignores the origin, purpose and value of marriage to individuals, families and society."

As warden, she oversaw executions; now she fights to stop them

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OAKLAND, CALIF. -- The woman who oversaw four executions by lethal injection is fighting to make sure it never happens again.

Jeanne Woodford served as warden of San Quentin State Prison in California from 1999 through 2004. Now she is the chief law enforcement spokesperson for SAFE California, a ballot initiative that would replace the state’s death penalty with life in prison without parole, require inmates to pay into a victims’ compensation fund, and allocate $100 million over three years to solving crime.

Study: Black Catholics are more engaged

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A major new study of African-American Catholics has found that on average they are more religiously engaged than their white Catholic counterparts. They are also better-educated and more economically successful than their African-American Protestant counterparts.

On some educational and socioeconomic scales they exceed or rank equal in achievement with white Protestants, although they still rank below white Catholics.

Cardinal Bevilacqua, retired Philadelphia archbishop, dies at age 88

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PHILADELPHIA -- Cardinal Anthony J. Bevilacqua, retired archbishop of Philadelphia, died Jan. 31 at St. Charles Borromeo Seminary, where he resided.

According to the Philadelphia Archdiocese, he died in his sleep at 9:15 p.m. He was 88. The archdiocese said he had been battling dementia and an undisclosed form of cancer.

Cardinal Bevilacqua headed the archdiocese from February 1988 to October 2003.

Catholic school leaders honored in White House ceremony

WASHINGTON -- A group of Catholic school leaders, including a student, a few principals, diocesan education officials and other school representatives, were honored Jan. 25 at the White House for their innovation and dedication.

The group was recognized as part of the Obama administration's "Champions of Change" program, which highlights different groups each week for contributions they make to their communities. Past recipients have included inventors, artists, volunteers, chefs, farmers and health activists.

The attention to Catholic school leaders was timed to coincide with Catholic Schools Week Jan. 29-Feb. 5.

At the gathering, Joshua DuBois, head of the White House Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships, praised Catholic schools for not only serving their own students but also local communities.

"You step up to the plate for everyone," he said, citing the example of how Catholic schools in New Orleans were the first schools to open after Hurricane Katrina.

Catholic schools are looking at new ways to keep afloat, thrive

WASHINGTON -- Today's Catholic schools struggling to stay open or facing closure need new ways of making money.

Reports of school closures often point to escalating costs of operating schools coupled with the inability of parents to pay tuition, especially in inner cities, and the lack of available resources from parishes or dioceses to keep these schools afloat.

Family credits strong Catholic education for daughters' career choice

TRENTON, N.J. -- In the parable of the sower, Jesus taught his disciples that God's word must be nurtured to yield a fruitful harvest, words that four members of the Briant family -- sisters -- have taken to heart.

Alison Briant Burley, Ellen Briant Reilly, and Susan and Katelyn Briant are Catholic educators.

Their parents, Doris and Thomas Briant, made sure they all had 12 years of Catholic education, despite the prospect of all that tuition.

"My motivation was to show (our) commitment to Catholic education," Doris said. "We didn't have family vacations, we went to Cape May for the day. You can give up all those trips to Disney World. The benefits you get (from Catholic education) are better than all those trips to wherever."

Doris herself is the product of 12 years of Catholic school. She and Thomas, who became a Catholic when daughter Susan was born, will be married 35 years this September.

Friends, family reflect on faith of couple missing from crashed cruise ship

WHITE BEAR LAKE, Minn. -- Friends and parishioners of St. Pius X Church in White Bear Lake reflected on the lives of Jerry and Barb Heil at an evening prayer service Wednesday.

On Thursday, divers resumed the search for 21 people still missing after a Costa Concordia cruise ship cruise ship crashed into the Italian coast Jan. 13. The Heils are the only Americans who remained unaccounted for among the more than 4,200 passengers.

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October 10-23, 2014

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