Church leaders have praised Stephen Hawking for his contribution to science in messages mourning his death.

The physicist, though an atheist, belonged to the Pontifical Academy of Sciences. The academy said on Twitter that it was “deeply saddened” by his death. “He told the four popes he met that he wanted to advance the relationship between faith and scientific reason,” a statement said.

Bishops back religious freedom bill

Two American bishops have endorsed the First Amendment Defense Act.

If the Act is passed, government agencies could not withhold licenses or grants from anyone on the basis that they oppose same-sex marriage.

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