Pope Francis passes a crucifix as he walks down steps during his general audience in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican Dec. 4. Photo by Paul Haring, courtesy of Catholic New Service

Cardinals gather in Rome as debates on church reform heat up

VATICAN CITY (RNS) Anticipation is mounting for a series of closed-door discussions on Thursday and Friday, when the cardinals will hold what are expected to be frank talks about issues such as contraception, cohabitation, gay marriage and whether divorced and remarried Catholics can receive Communion.

Logo of the American Jewish Committee

American Jewish Committee supports contraception mandate

More than 80 friend-of-the-court briefs have now been filed in the Supreme Court’s contraception mandate case, and the most provocative question they address is whether for-profit corporations have a First Amendment right to the free exercise of religion. But even if the Court says they do, that doesn’t guarantee Hobby Lobby and Conestoga Wood their exemptions from the mandate.