Gerald Smith, principal at St. Thomas More Academy in Washington, D.C., poses with one of the 88 trees planted at the Catholic school in May 2021 through the Laudato Trees program. (Courtesy of St. Thomas More Academy)

As the school year sets at St. Thomas More Academy in southeastern Washington, D.C., students spring into action for a day of tree-tending. Eighth graders at the Catholic elementary school swap books and computers for shovels, rakes, and hoses and head outside to tend to the more than six dozen growing trees around their campus. They remove old mulch, add some new, and water each of the trees.

Bekah McNeel 5-18-2023
A man holds a crying baby in front of a window.

A father comforts a crying baby. Photo: Ink Drop / Alamy

In a country with the weakest parental leave standards of all its economic peers, church policy to support new parents is rarely more generous than what one might get from a public school, an architecture firm, or a dentist’s office. In many cases there is no set policy, and ordained and lay staff are sometimes treated differently.

An aerial view shows the oil spill from the sunken fuel tanker MT Princess Empress on the shores of Pola, in Oriental Mindoro province, Philippines, March 8, 2023. REUTERS/Eloisa Lopez

A Filipino priest is touring top European banks to demand they curtail ties with companies behind new fossil fuel projects in a region of his home country that is rich in fish and coral. But he is leaving his meetings with bankers feeling frustrated.

A woman pleases a candle before a service in the church which switched from the Ukrainian Orthodox Church (UOC) to the Orthodox Church of Ukraine (OCU), amid Russia's attack on Ukraine, in the village of Hrabivtsi, Vinnytsia region, Ukraine April 23, 2023. REUTERS/Gleb Garanich

As a crowd gathered outside the white-brick Orthodox church in the village of Karyshkiv in western Ukraine, raised voices quickly turned to shouting. Soon old women were crying. The villagers were quarrelling over the affiliation of their parish church, which belonged to the Ukrainian Orthodox Church (UOC) that the government in Kyiv accuses of being under the influence of Moscow.

Claire Mainprize 5-10-2023

Flowers in a boquet. Image by Leohoho via Unsplash.

On Mother’s Day in many congregations across the U.S., churches will hand out flowers, host breakfast and tea, or offer applause for women in attendance. While the goal is to honor women and mothers, Elizabeth Hagan, a minister at Georgia’s First Christian Church Athens and author of Birthed: Finding Grace Through Infertility, told Sojourners that the celebrations can cause discomfort, pain, or even disillusionment for many in the pews.

Pope Francis leaves at the end of the weekly general audience in St. Peter’s Square at the Vatican, May 3, 2023. REUTERS/Remo Casilli

Sexual abusers are disgusting “enemies” who deserve to be condemned and punished — but also deserve Christian love and pastoral care because they too are children of God, Pope Francis said.

A man holds a sign reading "Jesus is king" in a crowd of people.

A man holds a sign reading "Jesus is king" while Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick delivers his inaugural address at the state Capitol in Austin on Jan. 17, 2023. Credit: Evan L'Roy/The Texas Tribune

Already this legislative session, the Texas Senate has approved bills that would require the Ten Commandments to be posted in all public school classrooms and allow unlicensed religious chaplains to supplant the role of school counselors. Meanwhile, there are numerous efforts to eliminate or weaken two state constitutional amendments that prohibit direct state support of religious schools and organizations, a key plank of the broader school-choice movement.

Pope Francis leaves following the weekly general audience in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican on April 26, 2023. REUTERS/Guglielmo Mangiapane

Pope Francis, in a historic move that could lead to more inclusiveness in decision-making in the Roman Catholic Church,  will allow women to vote for the first time at a global meeting of bishops in October. In the past, women were allowed to attend the synods, a papal advisory body, as auditors but with no right to vote. 

Mitchell Atencio 4-19-2023

Representative Justin Jones marches with supporters to the Tennessee State Capitol the after being reinstated by the Metropolitan Council of Nashville and Davidson County with 36-0 votes, after the Republican majority Tennessee House of Representatives voted to expel two Democratic members, representatives Justin Pearson and Justin Jones, for their roles in a gun control demonstration on the statehouse floor, in Nashville, Tenn., April 10, 2023. REUTERS/Cheney Orr

Despite Republican colleagues expelling him from the Tennessee state legislature, Nashville’s Democratic Rep. Justin Jones still believes working for justice in the South means working on “sacred ground.”

Mitchell Atencio 3-31-2023

Stickers in the shape of a heart with a trans flag are pictured during a conversation about trans care, equity, and access, during National Trans Visibility Month with the Rainbow Room, a program of Planned Parenthood Keystone, in Doylestown, Pennsylvania, March 29, 2023. Hannah Beier/Reuters

Nearly 30 groups of Catholic nuns, totaling more than 6,000 people across 18 states, signed onto a statement celebrating Trans Day of Visibility and calling people to resist anti-transgender legislation in their states.

Alvise Armellini 3-30-2023

An Indigenous woman in traditional clothes in front of the Sainte-Anne Basilica. She unfurled, a few minutes earlier in the church, a banner calling for the rejection of the doctrine of discovery, during Pope Francis’ trip to Canada to apologize to Indigenous people for abuses in residential schools for children. Quebec, Canada, July 27th, 2022. David Himbert / Hans Lucas via Reuters

The Vatican on Thursday formally repudiated the colonial-era “doctrine of discovery,” used centuries ago to justify European conquests of Africa and the Americas, saying “it is not part of Catholic Church teaching.”

Pope Francis speaks during a general audience at St Peter’s Square, Vatican City, March, 29, 2023. Vatican Media/Handout via REUTERS

Pope Francis has a respiratory infection and will need to spend “a few days” in hospital for treatment, the Vatican said in a statement on Wednesday

Meagan Saliashvili 3-29-2023

Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg poses for a portrait in New York City, N.Y., April 15, 2021. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri

Manhattan’s District Attorney, Alvin Bragg, is best known these days for leading the probe of whether former president Donald Trump and his company broke state laws in 2016 to buy Stormy Daniels’ silence about an alleged affair.

A migrant is carried to an ambulance after a fire broke out at the National Migration Institute (INM) center in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico March, 27, 2023. Omar Ornelas/USA Today Network via REUTERS

At least 39 migrants from Central and South America died after a fire broke out late on Monday at a migrant holding center in the Mexican northern border city of Ciudad Juarez, apparently caused by a protest over deportations, officials said on Tuesday.

Pope Francis arrives for the audience of the faithful from the parishes of Rho in the Paul VI hall. Evandro Inetti/ZUMA Press Wire/dpa via Reuters.

Almost four years after Pope Francis issued tougher measures against sexual abuse in the Catholic Church, the Vatican announced on Saturday expanded and clearer rules

Police officers arrive at the Covenant School after reports of a shooting in Nashville, Tennessee, U.S. March 27, 2023. Metropolitan Nashville Police Department/Handout via REUTERS.

A shooting at a private Christian school in Nashville, Tenn., on Monday morning, left multiple victims before police "engaged" the gunman, leaving the suspect dead, local officials said.

Nicaraguan Cardinal Leopoldo Brenes leads a mass at the Metropolitan Cathedral, as a suspension of diplomatic ties between Nicaragua and the Vatican has been proposed according to a Nicaragua’s foreign ministry statement, in Managua, Nicaragua March 12, 2023. REUTERS/Stringer

Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega has ordered the closure of the Vatican Embassy in Managua and that of the Nicaraguan Embassy to the Vatican in Rome, a senior Vatican source said on Sunday.

Pope Francis attends the Ash Wednesday mass at the Santa Sabina Basilica in Rome on February 22, 2023. REUTERS/Guglielmo Mangiapane/File Photo

Pope Francis marks 10 years as head of the Roman Catholic Church on Monday celebrating Mass with cardinals in the chapel of the Vatican's Santa Marta hotel where he has lived since his election.

Rebecca Randall 2-27-2023

George Washington Carver. Via Alamy. 

Over his career, Luther Williams has seen the impact of racist education standards and a lack of Black representation in science.

Dante Nieto 2-24-2023

Maryuri, a recent migrant from Venezuela whose last name is withheld to protect her identity, speaks in front of the John A. Wilson Building in Washington, D.C., during a Feb. 22 press conference organized by Congregation Action Network to advocate for better migrant support services. Evan Robinson-Johnson/Sojourners.

Local faith leaders and asylum seekers gathered on Feb. 22 to demand that Washington, D.C., government allow asylum seekers to access resources available to the rest of the district’s unhoused population.