Queen Elizabeth II reached a major milestone Wednesday, becoming the longest-reigning monarch in Britain's history by passing Queen Victoria, who served for 63 years and seven months. (Sept. 9)
The Kentucky county clerk who refused to issue same-sex marriage licenses because of her religious beliefs has been released from jail, where she's was held since Thursday on a contempt of court charge. (Sept. 8)
Pope Francis issued a new law overhauling three centuries of church practice Tuesday, placing the onus squarely on bishops around the world to now determine when a fundamental flaw has made a marriage invalid. (Sept. 9)
Kentucky clerk who fought gay marriage is released from jail
GRAYSON, Kentucky — The Kentucky county clerk who was jailed for refusing to issue marriage licenses to gay couples has been released after five days behind bar.
Kim Davis urged thousands of cheering supporters to "keep on pressing." She said, "I just want to give God the glory. His people have rallied, and you are a strong people."
Davis walked free after federal Judge David Bunning lifted the contempt order against her, saying he was satisfied that her deputies are granting licenses to same-sex couples in her absence. But Bunning warned Davis not to interfere.
Her lawyer, Mat Staver, said Davis would return to her elected post in Rowan County and "will not violate her conscience." As for whether she will issue marriage licenses, Staver said only, "You'll find out in the near future."
Republican presidential candidates Mike Huckabee and Ted Cruz visited Davis in jail shortly before her release. Huckabee said, "If somebody has to go to jail, I'm willing to go in her place." He also said a country ruled by five unelected Supreme Court justices will have become "a judicial tyranny."
Ex-bishop who killed cyclist pleads guilty to manslaughter
BALTIMORE — A former Episcopal bishop has pleaded guilty to manslaughter, drunken driving and leaving the scene of the accident where she killed a cyclist.
Under an agreement with prosecutors, a Baltimore judge will be asked to sentence 58-year-old Heather Cook to 10 years in prison.
Cook, who was then a newly installed bishop in the Episcopal Diocese of Maryland, struck 41-year-old Tom Palermo on Dec. 27 in a bike lane. Her blood-alcohol content was nearly three times the legal limit. She also admitted to texting while driving.
Cook resigned as bishop after charges were filed, and the Episcopal Church revoked her clergy credentials.
Pope speeds up, simplifies process for marriage annulments
VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis has radically reformed the Catholic Church's process for annulling marriages, allowing for fast-track decisions and removing automatic appeals in a bid to speed up and simplify the procedure.
Francis issued a new law Tuesday regulating how bishops around the world determine when a fundamental flaw has made a marriage invalid.
Catholics must get annulments if they want to remarry in the church, but the process has long been criticized for being complicated, costly and out of reach for many.
The biggest reform involves a new fast-track procedure which can be handled by the bishop himself when both spouses request an annulment. It can also be used when other proof makes a more drawn-out investigation unnecessary.
Queen Elizabeth's record reign coincided with 7 popes
LONDON — Queen Elizabeth II has become the longest reigning monarch in British history, surpassing the record of 63 years and 7 months set by her great-great-grandmother Queen Victoria more than a century ago.
Elizabeth's reign has coincided with that of seven popes, from Pius XII to Francis.
As the titular head of the Church of England, the queen received John Paul II at Buckingham Palace in 1982 — the first pope to visit Britain for 450 years. She also received Benedict XVI to Britain in 2010.
She has worked with 12 British prime ministers — from Winston Churchill to David Cameron, who was not even born at the time of her coronation — and continues to carry out public engagements and travel at age 89.
'War Room' stands out at box office
LOS ANGELES — The Christian drama "War Room" has claimed box office victory, selling more tickets than any other film over the long Labor Day holiday weekend.
The fifth film by Alex and Stephen Kendrick fought its way to first place in its second weekend in release, earning $12.6 million according to Rentrak estimates on Monday. The drama about a troubled African-American family, which cost only $3.5 million to produce, has grossed $27.9 million to date.
Director Alex Kendrick says he and his brother pray that the film will show audiences what a "powerful weapon prayer can be."
Paul Dergarabedian, Rentrak's senior media analyst, attributes "War Room's" second weekend success to heightened awareness after it nearly usurped "Straight Outta Compton" a week earlier.
Also, word of mouth is strong for "War Room." Dergarabedian said according to exit polling, 75 percent of the audience said they would definitely recommend the movie.