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Judges rule to allow same-sex couples to marry in Arizona, Wyoming

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A U.S. District Court judge's ruling that Arizona's ban on same-sex marriage is unconstitutional "overturns the will of Arizona voters and reflects a misunderstanding of the institution of marriage," the state's Catholic bishops said Friday.

"For centuries, marriage has been recognized as the lifelong union of a man and a woman that benefits the common good by respecting the unique and complementary gifts of both a mother and a father in the lives of children," they said.

Court blocks law that had closed most Texas abortion clinics

The Supreme Court on Tuesday blocked a Texas law that had meant all but seven of the state's abortion clinics were closed because they failed to meet new standards.

The block will remain in effect while the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals considers a legal challenge to the law itself. It will allow at least 12 clinics that were closed to reopen.

USCCB: New rules to opt out of HHS mandate still unsatisfactory

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The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops on Wednesday urged the federal government "to reconsider" its new rules to allow religious institutions -- and potentially some for-profit companies -- to opt out of the contraceptive mandate in the Affordable Care Act.

On Aug. 22, the Obama administration issued rules it described as a "work around" to offer religious employers who are not exempt from the mandate a new way to opt out of coverage they find morally objectionable.

The rules also provide some for-profit companies a way to opt out.

US bishops emphasize traditional marriage after Supreme Court action

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After the Supreme Court on Monday declined to review rulings overturning five states' bans on same-sex marriage, several U.S. bishops criticized the court's inaction and reiterated that according to church teaching, traditional marriage is a union between one man and one woman.

Oklahoma City Archbishop Paul Coakley said the court's failure to review the Circuit Court decisions was "deeply disappointing."

Supreme Court allows gay marriage to expand to 30 states

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The Supreme Court refused to get involved in the national debate over same-sex marriage on Monday, leaving intact lower court rulings that will legalize the practice in 11 additional states.

The unexpected decision by the justices, announced without further explanation, immediately affects five states in which federal appeals courts had struck down bans against gay marriage: Virginia, Indiana, Wisconsin, Oklahoma and Utah.

Feds grant $4.2 million in funds for legal aid to unaccompanied minors

For the first time, federal funding will help pay for unaccompanied minor immigrants to get legal assistance, including through Catholic agencies that will receive a little more than half of $4.2 million in grants for this fiscal year.

An additional $4.8 million will be allocated for the legal program for the 2015 fiscal year.

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November 21-December 5, 2014

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