A painting of Pope Paul VI, who issued the Humanae Vitae encycical in 1968, at the Casa Santa Maria dell'Umilta of the Pontifical North American College, Rome. Religion News Service file photo by Rene Shaw.

Pope Paul VI inches one step closer to sainthood

VATICAN CITY (RNS) Pope Paul VI, who guided the Catholic Church through a tumultuous period of change in the 1960s and 70s, took a crucial first step toward possible sainthood when Pope Benedict XVI on Thursday (Dec. 20) recognized his predecessor’s “heroic virtues.” By Alessandro Speciale.

RNS photo by Sally Morrow

12 myths about Mormonism

SALT LAKE CITY (RNS) All those stories about Mitt Romney's White House bid and his Mormon faith educated millions of observant Americans about the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Still, some “understandings” remain misunderstandings — and many views of the religion continue to be skewed, exaggerated or flat-out wrong. Here are 12 persistent myths about Mormonism. By Peggy Fletcher Stack.

RNS photo courtesy United States Department of Labor/Flickr (http://www.flickr.com/photos/usdol/6902592370/)  *Official Department of Labor Photograph*

Religious leaders ask HHS to broaden birth control exemption

(RNS) A coalition of nearly 150 religious leaders, led by conservative Protestants, have petitioned the Obama administration to broaden the exemption that allows churches and some religious organizations to avoid the controversial policy mandating that all health care insurers provide free contraception coverage. By David Gibson.

RNS photo by Peter Sachs.

Lapsed Catholics explain why they leave church

TRENTON, N.J. (RNS) As part of a survey to understand why they have stopped attending Mass, a few hundred lapsed Catholics were asked what issues they would raise with the bishop. He would have gotten an earful. By Peggy McGlone.

Obama’s contraception compromise falls flat with bishops, GOP

While challenges to President Obama's contraception rule could take the form of legal and legislative assaults, the White House and the Obama re-election campaign are comfortable with the revised rule, believing most Americans — and particularly most women — are on their side.