Religion Briefs

Bishops want broader birth-control exemption

American bishops said Thursday the Obama administration’s latest compromise on birth-control coverage and religious employers doesn’t go far enough to answer church concerns.

The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops said a bigger buffer is needed between religious charities and any third party arranging contraceptive coverage. Bishops also want a clearer statement that faith-affiliated hospitals and other nonprofits are religious ministries.

Notre Dame bells make harmonious history

PARIS – The cathedral of Notre Dame – French for “our lady” – has finally got the prima donna worthy of its name.

Weighing in at 6˝ tons of glistening bronze, this lady is no ordinary person: She’s a bell named Mary.

Mary is, in fact, the largest – and loudest – of nine new, gargantuan Notre Dame bells being blessed today in the cathedral’s nave by Archbishop Andre Armand Vingt-Trois.

The nine casts were ordered for the cathedral’s 850th birthday – to replace the discordant “ding dang” of the previous four 19th-century chimes. After the originals bells – including the original Mary – were destroyed in the French Revolution, the replacements were widely said to be France’s most out-of-tune church bells. There’s some irony that in Victor Hugo’s classic novel “The Hunchback of Notre Dame,” the solitary bell-ringer Quasimodo was deaf.

Jean-Marie, Maurice, Benoit-Joseph, Steven, Marcel, Dennis, Anne-Genevieve, Gabriel will ring together with Mary to add a harmony to the French gothic landmark not heard since 1789. Travelers have come far and wide to catch a glimpse of the bronze giants – on public display until Feb. 25.

Associated Press