National Catholic Reporter

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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.

Church complaint says abortion ruling coerces millions of Californians

The California Catholic Conference has filed a federal civil rights complaint protesting a state ruling mandating the inclusion of voluntary direct abortion -- including gender selection and late-term abortion -- in California health insurance policies.

"This is a coercive and discriminatory action by the state of California," said Auxiliary Bishop Robert McElroy of San Francisco, who is chair of the Institutional Concerns Committee of the California Catholic Conference, the public advocacy arm of the state's bishops.

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February 27- March 12, 2015

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