May 1, 2016 - (CNA) - Reconciliation is an essential aspect of God’s mercy, Pope Francis said Saturday, explaining that when we distance ourselves from the Lord through sin, it takes much more than our own effort to get back to him.
Referencing St. Paul’s Second Letter to the Corinthians, Pope Francis urged all members of the Church April 30 to “let yourselves be reconciled with God.”
“The cry of the apostle Paul addressed to the first Christians of Corinth is valid for us today, with the same strength and conviction,” he said, explaining that the ongoing Jubilee of Mercy is a time of reconciliation for everyone.
"God never considers the possibility that a person remains estranged from his love, provided, however, that he finds in them some sign of repentance for the harm done," he said, adding that "we can't reconcile with God with our own efforts." Continue Reading Jubilee Audience>
May 1, 2016 - (CNA) - Pope Francis on Sunday decried the resurgence of violence in Syria in recent days, especially in Aleppo, and renewed the call to bring about peace through dialogue.
“I receive with deep sorrow the tragic news coming from Syria, about the spiral of violence that continues to aggravate the already desperate humanitarian situation of the country,” the pontiff said May 1 after reciting the Regina Caeli address in St. Peter's Square.
Citing in particular the nation's largest city Aleppo, which has borne the brunt of the most recent violence, the Pope remembered the “innocent victims,” namely the children, the sick, and “those who with great sacrifice have pledged to help others.”
“I urge all parties to the conflict to respect the cessation of hostilities and to strengthen the ongoing dialogue, the only path that leads to peace,” he said. Continue Reading Pope's Prayer>
May 1, 2016 - (Sky News) - The Edge has performed four songs in the Sistine Chapel to raise awareness for cancer prevention, becoming the first contemporary artist to play at the venue.
The guitarist played for around 200 doctors, researchers and philanthropists as part of a conference at the Vatican on regenerative medicine.
He played acoustic guitar and was backed by a choir of seven Irish teenagers. He performed Leonard Cohen's If It Be Your Will, and versions of three U2 songs. The Edge, whose real name is David Evans, lost his father to cancer last month. He is on the board of several foundations working in aid of cancer prevention. Continue Reading Sistine Chapel Concert>
Apr. 27, 2016 - (CNA) - On Wednesday Pope Francis said that just because someone is an expert in God’s law and a strict adherent to the rules doesn’t necessarily mean they know how to love and serve others.
“It’s not automatic that whoever frequents the House of God and knows his mercy knows how to love their neighbor. It’s not automatic,” the Pope said April 27.
“You can know the bible, you can know all the liturgical norms, you can know theology, but ‘to know’ is not automatically ‘to love,’” he said, explaining that “to love has another path, with intelligence, but it has something more.”
While knowledge and worship are good, they are false unless they are “translated into service of others,” Francis stressed.
“Let us never forget: in front of the suffering of so many people exhausted by hunger, violence, injustice, we cannot remain spectators. To ignore the suffering of man means to ignore God!” Continue Reading General Audience>
Apr. 27, 2016 - (CNA) - Pope Francis on Tuesday gave the green light for the beatification of 38 Albanian martyrs, all of whom were killed by the country’s atheistic, communist regime between 1945 and 1974.
In an April 26 meeting with Cardinal Angelo Amato, prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, Pope Francis officially acknowledged the martyrdom of Archbishop Nikollë Vinçenc Prennushi of Durrës and his 37 companions.
Archbishop Prennushi, who was a member of the Order of Friars Minor, was jailed by the communist regime in the 1940s, and died in prison as a result of torture in 1949. The rest of his companions shared a similar fate, and were murdered by the regime from 1945 to 1974.
The martyrs were a key focus of Pope Francis’ Sept. 21, 2015 trip to Albania, in which he urged the country to learn from their dark past, but look toward the future with hope. Continue Reading New Beatifications>
Apr. 27, 2016 - (News.Va) - The head of the Vatican’s Secretariat for Communications, Mgr Dario Viganò spoke about the ongoing reform of the Holy See’s media operations on Wednesday at a seminar for Catholic communicators which is taking place this week at the ‘Holy Cross’ Pontifical University.
Beyond simply reforming structures, Mgr Viganò stressed the need to renew the process of bringing the Good News of the Gospel to all people. Every euro spent in this field, he said, must be used to ensure that the Gospel and the teaching of the Pope reaches the hearts of all people. The goal, he said, is not to substitute for local churches but to support those communities that have the greatest needs.
Mgr. Viganò spoke of the reform ‘timeline’, which focuses this year on a closer integration of Vatican Radio and the Vatican Television Centre, of which he is the former director. The reform process, he stressed, must go beyond a mere makeover and a change of names. Instead it must lead to a greater efficiency and interactivity through the use of new technologies, yet without forgetting those facing serious communications challenges. Continue Reading Vatican Media>
Apr. 26, 2016 - (Catholic Culture) - The Islamic State has destroyed a landmark Catholic church in Mosul, Iraq, the Fides news service reports.
The Church of the Miraculous Virgin-- also known as the "Clock Church" because of the clock on its prominent bell tower-- was razed by explosives, after Islamic troops evacuated the surrounding area. The church was thoroughly looted before it was destroyed, witnesses report.
The "Clock Church," whose chimes could be heard throughout the center of the city, was built in 1873 as a gift to the Christian community in Iraq from Empress Eugenie, the wife of Napoleon III. The Fides report notes that it might have been seen by Islamic fundamentalists as a symbol of French influence, as well as Christianity. Continue Reading Islamic State>
Apr. 25, 2016 - (Vatican Radio) - Pope Francis has sent a letter to prisoners detained in a prison in the Italian city of Velletri, a short distance from Rome. Prisoners at the facility had written to the Holy Father earlier this year, entrusting their letter to Bishop Marcello Semeraro, the Bishop of Albano, during a pastoral visit to the facility.
In his response, Pope Francis thanked the detainees for thinking of him, and assured them that they, and others in similar situations, were often in his thoughts as well. He noted that during his Apostolic Voyages, he always tries to make a visit to local prisons.
The Pope noted that during the Holy Year of Mercy, there will also be a jubilee for prisoners, and he assured them that on that day he would be “in communion” with all prisoners “spiritually and in reciprocal prayer.” Continue Reading Letter to Prisoners>
Apr. 25, 2016 - (News.Va) - Religious-freedom leaders applauded the U.S. State Department’s recent re-designation of nine countries, and the inclusion of one more, as the worst situations for religious freedom, but urged the agency to do more.
After the State Department on April 14 added Tajikistan to its “Countries of Particular Concern” (CPCs) list, keeping the nine countries already on the list, the chair of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom said it “welcomes the designation of these 10 countries.”
The countries already on the list were Burma, China, North Korea, Eritrea, Uzbekistan, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Turkmenistan and Sudan.
A “country of particular concern” is a term used by the State Department to denote the countries that present the worst situations for religious freedom in the world. Either these governments “engage in” or “tolerate” “severe violations of religious freedom that are systematic, ongoing and egregious,” USCIRF explained in its 2015 annual report. Continue Reading Religious Freedom>
Apr. 25, 2016 - (NCRegister) - Leading a prayer service in front of China's Hong Kong liaison office, Hong Kong’s retired bishop, Cardinal Joseph Zen Ze-kiun called on Beijing on Sunday to end the persecution of Christians and allow religious freedom. “Facing all this persecution, we cannot take it for granted. We cannot stand idly. If we keep silent, we are accomplices," Cardinal Zen told a group of about 100 people who attended the April 24 service.
The same day Hong Kong's diocesan Justice and Peace Commission (JPC) announced the conclusion of a petition campaign to ask Pope Francis to pray for religious freedom and an end to religious persecution in China. The campaign garnered 800 signatures from across the diocese. The petition is asking the pope to urge the Chinese government to stop removing crosses from churches and to pray for two missing bishops. Or Yan-yan, project officer at JPC spoke to UCANEWS saying they hope the Pope can include the cross-removal campaign and two missing bishops in his prayers on the May 24 World Day of Prayer for the Church in China, established by Pope Benedict XVI in 2007. Continue Reading Hong Kong Protest>
Apr. 23, 2016 - (CNA) - Freedom does not come from things we possess or from doing whatever we want, Pope Francis said Sunday in his homily for the Jubilee for boys and girls. Rather, true freedom and happiness can only be found in the love of Jesus.
“Your happiness has no price,” the Pope said during Mass in St. Peter's Square. “It cannot be bought: it is not an app that you can download on your phones nor will the latest update bring you freedom and grandeur in love.”
“That is because love is a free gift which calls for an open heart,” he said. “It is a noble responsibility which is life-long; it is a daily task for those who can achieve great dreams!”
Francis challenged the young teens to not “be content with mediocrity,” or believe those who equate importance with the sort of toughness shown by heroes in films, or by wearing the “latest fashions.” Continue Reading Pope to Teens>
Apr. 23, 2016 - (CNA) - Pope Francis on Saturday heard the confessions of young people in St. Peter's Square as part of this weekend's Jubilee for Boys and Girls, an event which is expected to draw tens of thousands of teenagers from around the world.
Sitting on simple chairs out in the open along with other priests just within the Square's colonnade, the Pope offered the sacrament of reconciliation to 16 boys and girls between 11:30am and 12:45, the Vatican press office said. More than 150 priests were in the square to hear confessions, according to Vatican Radio.
This is not the first time Pope Francis has heard the confessions of pilgrims. Most recently, the Pope took part in a penance service during the March 4 “24 Hours for the Lord.”
The Jubilee for Boys and Girls, which is the latest initiative for the Jubilee Year of Mercy, is directed specifically towards young teenagers. Continue Reading Teen Confessions>
Apr. 22, 2016 - (NCRegister) - No matter how deeply people may be entrenched in the culture of death, they are never beyond the loving reach of Christ, said former Planned Parenthood director Abby Johnson to a group of Georgetown University students on Wednesday.
“I’m standing in front of you today as a testament to the power of conversion,” Johnson, a former Texas Planned Parenthood director who later converted to Catholicism, said in a talk scheduled the same day as Planned Parenthood president Cecile Richards’ address to students on Georgetown’s campus.
Reflecting on Richards addressing students earlier in the afternoon, Johnson said, “I just kept thinking, you know, I believe that one day – I have faith – that one day it won’t be me standing here speaking and defending the sanctity of human life: I believe that one day it will be Cecile Richards standing here.” Continue Reading Pro-life Georgetown>
Apr. 22, 2016 - (CNA) - The death of the songwriter, singer and music producer Prince drew reactions from the Vatican and praise for his musical talent.
Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi, president of the Pontifical Council for Culture, sent a tweet quoting the artist’s song “Sometimes It Snows In April:”
“Sometimes, sometimes I wish that life was never ending / All good things they say, never last.”
The singer died at his Chanhassen, Minn. home on April 21 at the age of 57, the New York Times reports. His given name was Prince Rogers Nelson.
Prince played guitars, keyboards and drums in multiple music genres since the late 1970s. He won the Grammy award seven times and achieved Top 10 hits like “When Doves Cry” and “1999.” His acclaimed 1984 movie and album “Purple Rain” was about an aspiring musician. Continue Reading Vatican Honors Prince>
Apr. 21, 2016 - (Catholic Herald) - A Norwegian bishop has said the country’s clergy will no longer officiate at civil weddings, after the predominant Lutheran Church’s governing synod voted to conduct gay marriages in Norway.
Bishop Bernt Eidsvig of Oslo told Catholic News Service that he would have to seek permission from the Vatican, saying: “It’s clear we must distinguish our own Church marriages from others.
“This is a matter of liturgy, so it doesn’t necessarily reflect broader change in our society’s moral values. But politicians may now get aggressive toward churches who resist these weddings, so the best option is for us to stop conducting marriages on the state’s behalf.”
He said Norwegian Catholics “hope to maintain good relations with the Lutheran Church”, but said they would “make it clear we don’t understand their decision and hope they’ll still reconsider it.” Continue Reading Norway Marriage>
Apr. 21, 2016 - (Catholic Culture) - Twenty-six religious, pro-life, and healthcare organizations, including the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, have called upon Congress to pass the Conscience Protection Act of 2016.
The legislation, the organizations noted, “would be an enormous step forward in assuring Americans who serve the sick and needy that they can do so without being forced by government to violate their most deeply held convictions on respect for innocent human life.”
Absent from the list of signatories was the Catholic Health Association, which lent its support to the passage the Affordable Care Act in 2010. Continue Reading Conscience Protection>
Apr. 21, 2016 - (Catholic Herald) - A Norwegian bishop has said the country’s clergy will no longer officiate at civil weddings, after the predominant Lutheran Church’s governing synod voted to conduct gay marriages in Norway.
Bishop Bernt Eidsvig of Oslo told Catholic News Service that he would have to seek permission from the Vatican, saying: “It’s clear we must distinguish our own Church marriages from others.
“This is a matter of liturgy, so it doesn’t necessarily reflect broader change in our society’s moral values. But politicians may now get aggressive toward churches who resist these weddings, so the best option is for us to stop conducting marriages on the state’s behalf.”
He said Norwegian Catholics “hope to maintain good relations with the Lutheran Church”, but said they would “make it clear we don’t understand their decision and hope they’ll still reconsider it.” Continue Reading Norway Marriage>
Apr. 20, 2016 - (CNA) - The special collection on behalf of the poor and needy in Ukraine, set down by the Pope for 24th April, may also be a contribution towards helping overcome the crisis in this country. This was the hope expressed recently by Auxiliary Bishop Jan Sobilo of Kharkiv-Zaporizhia, in East Ukraine, in conversation with the Catholic pastoral charity Aid to the Church in Need (ACN). He is praying that "the fruits of this collection will not only ease the material needs, but also heal the spiritual wounds that people have inflicted on one another, and help to accelerate the process of forgiveness and reconciliation".
The news of the planned collection has been welcomed with great joy, the bishop said. "When people heard that the Pope is organising help, it gave them hope. The Catholic Church looks simply on the suffering a person is enduring, without asking what church he belongs to, or indeed whether he even belongs to a church, and what political views he holds. Continue Reading Ukraine Collection>
Apr. 20, 2016 - (CNA) - On Wednesday Pope Francis stressed the importance of knowing how to distinguish between sin and sinner, adding that God’s mercy is not afraid to reach out and touch our sins in order to forgive them.
“The Word of God teaches us to distinguish between the sin and the sinner,” the Pope said April 20, noting that when it comes to sin, there are no “compromises.”
When it comes to sinners, “which are all of us,” it’s important to reach out to them, he said, adding that sinners “are like the sick who are healed, and in order to be cured the doctor must be close to them, visit them, touch them.”
However, Francis also clarified that in order to truly be healed, a sick person must first “recognize their need for the doctor!” Continue Reading Wednesday Audience>
Apr. 20, 2016 - (CNA) - As the U.S. treasury announces the legendary Harriet Tubman as the new face of the 20 dollar bill, she also drew praise from religious freedom advocates for her deep and abiding Christian faith.
“Harriet Tubman was a woman of faith who was not afraid to act on her beliefs to fight for justice,” said Kristina Arriaga, executive director of the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty.
“Her incredible moral and physical courage is an example to all Americans, as is her willingness to act on her Christian faith. She is an icon of religious liberty.”
Known for helping rescue hundreds of fugitive slaves through a network called the Underground Railroad, Tubman will replace former president Andrew Jackson – who will now be placed on the back of the bill, Treasury Secretary Jack Lew announced April 20. Continue Reading New Currency>
Apr. 20, 2016 - (CNA) - On April 29, the Trevi Fountain, one of the most popular and emblematic tourist spots in Rome, will be dyed red in recognition of all Christians who even today give their life for the faith.
The event is being organized by Aid to the Church in Need and seeks to “call attention to the drama of anti-Christian persecution.”
In a statement posted on their website, the aid group said they hope this initiative will be “the start of a long lasting, concrete reaction everywhere so that the persecuted people of the 21st century can as soon as possible return to fully enjoying their natural right to religious freedom.”
The organizers added that “the systematic violation of the right to religious freedom, especially that of Christians, must become the central issue of the public debate.” Continue Reading Trevi Fountain>
Apr. 19, 2016 - (ArchNY) - The Cause for Dorothy Day’s possible eventual beatification and canonization moved into a new phase today as Cardinal Timothy Dolan, the Archbishop of New York, opened the canonical Inquiry on the life of the Catholic Worker movement founder, gathering evidence to determine if Dorothy Day lived a life of “heroic virtue” in the eyes of the Church.
The Archdiocese, which is sponsoring her cause, will gather the evidence and present it to the Vatican’s Congregation for the Saints and Pope Francis. After carefully examining the information presented, the Congregation and Pope Francis will determine if she will be elevated from “Servant of God,” to “Venerable,” and become eligible for beatification and ultimately canonization.
Dorothy Day founded the Catholic Worker Movement with Peter Maurin in 1933 in New York City, following her conversion to Catholicism in 1927. Its “houses of hospitality” minister directly to people living in poverty and operate in over 120 places in the United States, and as far away as New Zealand. Continue Reading Dorothy Day>
Apr. 19, 2016 - (CNA) - A new survey says most Americans think the Obama administration’s federal contraception mandate is unfair to the Little Sisters of the Poor and other religious groups defending themselves before the U.S. Supreme Court.
About 53 percent of Americans said the process required by the government is “unfair,” while only 32 percent did not, according to a new Marist Poll commissioned by the Knights of Columbus.
The federal government has exempted many other organizations’ employee health care plans from a requirement to provide contraception and drugs that can produce abortions. But it has no exemption for the Little Sisters of the Poor, who help run houses to care for the elderly poor.
“It is not reasonable for the government to demand that some – and only some – religious employers engage in activity that is totally unnecessary to the government’s stated purpose of providing elective and morally problematic drugs to employees,” Carl Anderson, Supreme Knight of the Knights of Columbus, said April 18. Continue Reading Little Sisters>
Apr. 19, 2016 - (CNA) - Pope Francis has offered his praise to the Jesuits in Italy for their longstanding work with refugees, but asked the foreigners for their pardon on behalf of all who have been closed-minded and indifferent to their plight.
“I was a stranger and you welcomed me,” the Pope said in a video message directed to refugees and workers who help them, calling to mind Chapter 25 of Matthew’s Gospel.
“Too often we have not welcomed you! Forgive the closure and indifference of our societies, who fear the change of life and mentality that your presence requires,” he said.
Francis noted that after coming to a new country, refugees are frequently treated as burdens and problems which only bring more cost. However, “you are instead a gift.” Continue Reading Little Sisters>
Apr. 18, 2016 - (CNA) - A bleeding Host that “has the hallmarks of a Eucharistic miracle” was approved for veneration in Poland over the weekend.
The announcement was made by Bishop Zbigniew Kiernikowski of Legnica on April 17.
On Christmas Day 2013, a consecrated Host fell to the floor, the bishop said. It was picked up and placed in a container with water. Soon after, red stains appeared on the host.
Then-Bishop of Legnica, Stefan Cichy, created a commission to monitor the host. In February 2014, a small fragment was placed on a corporal and underwent testing by various research institutes.
The final medical statement by the Department of Forensic Medicine found: “In the histopathological image, the fragments were found containing the fragmented parts of the cross striated muscle. It is most similar to the heart muscle.” Tests also determined the tissue to be of human origin, and found that it bore signs of distress. Continue Reading Eucharistic Miracle>
Apr. 18, 2016 - (CNA) - Catholic Relief Services (CRS) is responding to a 7.8 magnitude earthquake which struck Ecuador Saturday causing widespread damage to buildings and infrastructure in the country’s coastal region. At least 272 people died in the destruction and 2,068 others were injured.
In a televised address to the nation, Ecuador’s visibly shaken President Rafael Correa said he feared those numbers would increase.
“Ecuador has been hit tremendously hard... This is the greatest tragedy in the last 67 years," "There are signs of life in much of the rubble and that is the priority."
Catholic Relief Services (CRS) is working with local partners in Ecuador to provide assistance to those who need it. The aid agency says water, food and emergency shelter will be the biggest needs in the coming days. “Some of the poorest provinces are located near the coast and we expect thousands of people to need immediate help,” said Tom Hollywood, CRS’ Representative for South America. Continue Reading CRS in Ecuador>
Apr. 16, 2016 - (CNA) - Pope Francis had a simple message for the thousands of refugees now staying on the Greek island of Lesbos: you are not forgotten.
“I have wanted to be with you today. I want to tell you that you are not alone,” Pope Francis told some 3,000 refugees during his April 16 visit.
“In these weeks and months, you have endured much suffering in your search for a better life,” he said. He explained that he and the other religious leaders present came not just “to be with you and to hear your stories,” but also to “call the attention of the world to this grave humanitarian crisis and to plead for its resolution.”
Pope Francis praised the Greek people for the help they have given in spite of their own economic difficulties. At the same time, he said, “so much more needs to be done.”
He said “this is the message I want to leave with you today: do not lose hope!” He added that love is “the greatest gift we can offer one another.” Continue Reading Pope Francis in Greece>
Apr. 16, 2016 - (CNA) - Forced migration affects millions of people and is “a crisis of humanity.” That is what Pope Francis and two leading Greek Orthodox churchmen have said in a joint declaration signed on the Greek island of Lesbos.
“Europe today faces one of its most serious humanitarian crises since the end of the Second World War,” the declaration said.
Pope Francis, the Orthodox Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople, and Orthodox Archbishop Ieronymos II of Athens and All Greece signed the declaration April 16. They traveled to the Greek island to meet some of the thousands of refugees and migrants trying to enter Europe.
“We urge the international community to make the protection of human lives a priority and, at every level, to support inclusive policies which extend to all religious communities,” they said.
“The terrible situation of all those affected by the present humanitarian crisis, including so many of our Christian brothers and sisters, calls for our constant prayer.” Continue Reading Pope and Patriarchs Declaration>
Apr. 15, 2016 - (CNA) - Attending an event hosted by a Vatican academy, U.S. presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders’ (D-Vt.) provided a long reflection on Catholic social teaching, as he saw it.
Sanders spoke Friday at a conference celebrating the 25th anniversary of Pope John Paul II’s “Centesimus Annus.” The senator commented:
“With the fall of Communism, Pope John Paul II gave a clarion call for human freedom in its truest sense: freedom that defends the dignity of every person and that is always oriented towards the common good.”
The April 15-16 conference was sponsored by the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences, which fosters dialogue between scientists, politicians and various experts. Continue Reading Sanders at the Vatican>
Apr. 15, 2016 - (Catholic Herald) - In a “humanitarian and ecumenical gesture,” not a political one, Pope Francis is to join Orthodox leaders in personally meeting with hundreds of refugees and migrants stranded in Greece, the Vatican has said.
Releasing the detailed schedule for the Pope’s trip tomorrow to Lesbos, Greece, Fr Federico Lombardi, Vatican spokesman, said the Pope and the Orthodox leaders wanted to draw attention to “a situation in which many people are suffering” and where a “solution worthy of the human person” still must be found.
Pope Francis is to make the trip with Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople and Orthodox Archbishop Ieronymos II of Athens and all Greece.
The three are scheduled to visit the Moria refugee camp, which the European Union has designated as a “hotspot” for registering those seeking asylum in Europe and from where those whose applications are denied are sent back to Turkey, which was their last stop before entering Greece and, therefore, EU territory. Continue Reading Francis in Greece>
Apr. 14, 2016 - (Catholic Herald) - The spectre of assisted suicide is leading ageing people to “fear an institution that should be the last thing they should ever fear – a hospital,” Edmonton Archbishop Richard Smith has said.
“The strong feeling is, ‘If I can’t speak for myself, if I’m alone with no family members, are they going to kill me?'” said Archbishop Smith in a talk at Edmonton’s Corpus Christi Church.
It is a question that “flows naturally” from the January Supreme Court decision allowing doctor-assisted suicide under certain conditions, the archbishop said. “This decision turns inside out the relationship between patient and doctor, patient and hospital; it undermines the trust that must be there.”
A series of talks across the Edmonton Archdiocese has drawn large crowds and raised poignant questions on euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide. Continue Reading Assisted Suicide>
Apr. 14, 2016 - (CNA) - Nebraska’s body governing school athletics has failed to overturn a policy that will recognize gender identity rather than biological sex as a standard for student athletes, and last week the state’s bishops said they “deeply regret” the situation.
“Recognizing the truth about each person’s biological sex, and basing policies upon that fundamental truth, would serve the best interest of Nebraska’s students, families and schools,” they said April 8.
The bishops said that the Catholic member schools of the association will continue to urge it to rescind the policy, and will “require that students participate in NSAA activities according to their sex at birth.”
“Any person who experiences gender dysphoria is entitled to the respect that is the right of every human person, as well as genuine concern and the support needed for personal development and well-being. Such support, however, must be provided with due consideration to fairness; the safety, privacy, and rights of all students; and the truth about the human person.” Continue Reading School Sports Policy>
Apr. 13, 2016 - (CNA) - Continuing his series of Wednesday catecheses on mercy, Pope Francis devoted his April 13 general audience to the calling of St. Matthew.
“Jesus not only invites a tax-collector, a public sinner, to be his disciple, but also sits at table with him, thus scandalizing the Pharisees,” Pope Francis told the crowds gathered in St. Peter’s Square, according to the official English-language synthesis of his remarks. “The Lord then explains that he has come to call not the righteous but sinners.”
“The calling of Matthew reminds us that when Christ makes us his disciples, he does not look to our past but to the future,” the Pope continued. “We need but respond to his call with a humble and sincere heart.”
The Pope added: "Jesus invites us to sit with him at the table of the Eucharist, in which he purifies us by the power of his word and by the sacrament unites us ever more deeply to himself. Citing the prophet Hosea, he tells us that what God desires is “mercy, not sacrifice”, true conversion of heart and not merely formal acts of religion. May all of us, acknowledging our sins, respond more generously to the Lord’s invitation to sit at table with him, and with one another, with immense gratitude for his infinite mercy and saving love." Continue Reading Wednesday Audience>
Apr. 13, 2016 - (CNA) - Asked whether there are ways for the government to provide contraceptive coverage that do not require them to violate their consciences, the Little Sisters of the Poor are saying “yes.”
“These non-profits said ‘yes’ to the Supreme Court, just as they have been saying ‘yes’ to the federal government for many years.” said Mark Rienzi, senior counsel at the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, representing the Little Sisters of the Poor.
Rienzi explained their supplemental brief submitted to the court on Tuesday outlining alternative means of ensuring government-mandated contraception coverage for employees without the direct or indirect participation of objecting employers.
“At some point, the government has to learn how to take yes for an answer. The religious objection has always been only to those methods of distribution that forced the non-profits and their plans to participate,” he continued. Continue Reading HHS Mandate Case>
Apr. 13, 2016 - (CNA) - As he leaves Iraqi Kurdistan, Cardinal Timothy Dolan said what struck him most during the visit were the people’s faith and hope, despite violent persecution.
“These people from an earthly point of view don't have much, but my, oh my, their sense of resilience and hope were simply astounding,” Cardinal Dolan said in an interview with CNA.
“Do they mourn the past? Yes they do, but they’re about the present and they’re about the future, and that’s a sentiment that will never leave me.”
Cardinal Dolan is the Archbishop of New York and chair of the Catholic Near East Welfare Association (CNEWA).
He was joined by Bishop William Murphy of Rockville Centre, a CNEWA board member, for a three-day visit to Iraqi Kurdistan, where he toured projects aimed at helping refugees and met with families, Church leaders, priests and religious who were displaced as a result of the 2014 Islamic State attacks. Continue Reading Dolan in Iraq>
Apr. 13, 2016 - (CNA) - Mississippi’s new religious freedom law helps protect Catholic education and social services like adoption, said the Catholic Bishop of Jackson.
The bishop said his diocese supported the bill out of these concerns.
“We would like to continue to provide these services while remaining faithful to the teachings of the Catholic Church,” Bishop Joseph Kopacz said.
Last week the Mississippi governor signed the state’s new religious freedom law, H.B. 1523.
The act specifically protects the belief in marriage as a union of a man and a woman and the belief that sexual activity should be reserved for marriage. It also protects the belief that the idea of male and female are rooted in an individual’s biological sex.
The law bars government action against religious organizations that make decisions regarding employment or services based on this belief in marriage – for example, an adoption agency that believes in placing children only with a married mother and father. Continue Reading Religious Freedom>
Apr. 12, 2016 - (CNA) - Pope Francis has appointed French-born Archbishop Christophe Pierre as the Vatican ambassador to the U.S., replacing Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò, the Holy See press office announced Tuesday.
The appointment of the new Vatican ambassador – known as an apostolic nuncio – comes after Archbishop Viganò reached the retirement age of 75 on Jan. 16 of this year. The Italian prelate had served as apostolic nuncio to the U.S. since 2011.
Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz of Louisville, Ky., who heads the U.S. bishops’ conference, welcomed the announcement.
"On behalf of my brother bishops in the United States, I extend Archbishop Pierre a heartfelt greeting and my prayerful support as he embarks on his service to our country,” he said April 12. “A shared closeness with the Church in Mexico already creates a strong fraternal bond between us.”
Archbishop Kurtz also thanked Archbishop Viganò for “his selfless contributions to the life of the Church in the United States.” Continue Reading Vatican Ambassador>
Apr. 11, 2016 - (LaStampa) - “His Majesty King Abdullah II has issued a Royal Benefaction (makruma) to provide for the restoration of Jesus’ Tomb in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem, at His Majesty’s personal expense.” The news was announced by Jordanian press agency Petra, which says that the Hashemite Court sent an official letter to the Greek Orthodox Patriarch of Jerusalem, Theophilos III. It will therefore be a Muslim sovereign and direct descendant of the Prophet Muhammad who will foot part of the bill for the restoration of the niche in the Holy Sepulchre, the place of Jesus’ burial and resurrection in Jerusalem, which has, for centuries, been the most venerated Christian shrine in the world.
The restoration project was announced two weeks ago – the day before Easter for the western world – by the three Christian denominations which for historic reasons hold joint jurisdiction of Jerusalem’s most important church: the Greek Orthodox, the Latins (represented by the Franciscan Custody of the Holy Land) and the Armenians. Restoration work is needed because of the progressive alteration of the mortars as a result of condensed moisture from the breath of thousands of pilgrims and candle smoke. Continue Reading Holy Sepulchre>
Apr. 11, 2016 - (NCRegister) - The secular media and even some Catholic media are describing the recently-issued post-synodal apostolic exhortation Amoris Laetitia, “On Love in the Family,” as a revolution in the Church, as a radical departure from the teaching and practice of the Church, up to now, regarding marriage and the family.
Such a view of the document is both a source of wonder and confusion to the faithful, and potentially a source of scandal not only for the faithful but for others of good will who look to Christ and his Church to teach and reflect in practice the truth regarding marriage and its fruit, family life, the first cell of the life of the Church and of every society.
It is also a disservice to the nature of the document as the fruit of the Synod of Bishops, a meeting of bishops representing the universal Church “to assist the Roman Pontiff with their counsel in the preservation and growth of faith and morals and in the observance and strengthening of ecclesiastical discipline, and to consider questions pertaining to the activity of the Church in the world” (Canon 342). In other words, it would be a contradiction of the work of the Synod of Bishops to set in motion confusion regarding what the Church teaches, and safeguards and fosters by her discipline. Continue Reading Cardinal Burke>
Apr. 11, 2016 - (Catholic Herald) - The Bible is on the latest list of books most objected to at US schools and libraries, targeted nationwide, at times for the sex and violence it contains, but mostly for the legal issues it raises.
“You have people who feel that if a school library buys a copy of the Bible, it’s a violation of Church and state,” said James LaRue, who directs the Office for Intellectual Freedom for the American Library Association (ALA), which released its annual 10 top snapshot of “challenged” books on Monday, part of the association’s State of Libraries Report for 2016.
He added: “And sometimes there’s a retaliatory action, where a religious group has objected to a book and a parent might respond by objecting to the Bible.”
LaRue emphasised that the library association does not oppose having Bibles in public schools. Guidelines for the Office for Intellectual Freedom note that the Bible “does not violate the separation of Church and state as long as the library does not endorse or promote the views included in the Bible.” Continue Reading Challenged Books List>
Apr. 10, 2016 - (CNA) - In Saturday's address for the monthly Jubilee of Mercy general audience, Pope Francis said almsgiving is not just about the money; it is about being attentive to the actual needs of the person asking for help.
“Almsgiving is a gesture of love which directs us toward those we meet,” the Pope said in his catechesis. “It is a gesture of sincere attention to those who come to us and ask our help.”
“We should not identify almsgiving simply with a (hastily given) monetary offering” he said, “without looking at the person, and without stopping to talk, to understand what they really need.”
In off-the-cuff remarks, the Pope challenged the faithful as to whether they are able to “stop and look in the face, look in the eyes, of the person who is asking for my help.”
The April 9 gathering in St. Peter's Square was the latest in a monthly series of special audiences for the Holy Year of Mercy, which are held in addition to the weekly general audiences. Continue Reading Jubilee Audience>
Apr. 10, 2016 - (CNA) - On his second full day in Iraq, Cardinal Timothy Dolan traveled three hours to Dohuk, the city where the majority of those who fled Mosul, including the members of the minority Yazidi population, escaped to when ISIS overran the city.
After the lengthy ride, Cardinal Dolan briefly visited a medical dispensary set up by CNEWA, where he greeted the staff and some refugees, most of whom come from Mosul.
He then traveled to the Inishke village in the upper region of Dohuk where he concelebrated Mass in the Chaldean rite in the presence of the local Christian community, a number of refugees, as well as representatives of the Yazidi and Muslim communities.
The principal celebrant for the Mass was Bishop Shlemom Wardoni, who is one of three auxiliary bishops serving under Chaldean Patriarch Louis Raphael Sako. Members of other rites, including the Syriac-Catholic rite, were also present at the Mass, including a number of displaced priests. Continue Reading Cardinal Dolan in Iraq>
Apr. 10, 2016 - (CNA) - Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont has announced that he will attend a Vatican conference on social justice and the economy just before the New York primary election on April 19.
“I was very moved by the invitation from the Vatican which was just made public today,” Sanders said April 8 during an interview on MSNBC's “Morning Joe.”
The invitation was extended on behalf of the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences.
The academy is hosting an academic discussion April 15 to 16 to mark the 25th anniversary of Pope John Paul II’s encyclical, Centesimus annus which was written for the 100th anniversary of Pope Leo XIII’s encyclical Rerum novarum.
Participants will reflect on world changes over the last 25 years and how Catholic social teaching can best serve these new challenges.
Sanders called himself a “big, big fan” of Pope Francis for his work at “injecting moral consequence into the economy.” Continue Reading Sanders at the Vatican>
Apr. 10, 2016 - (CNA) - Pope Francis will journey this summer to Armenia, and will visit Georgia and Azerbaijan later in the year, the Vatican announced Saturday.
The visit to Armenia will take place June 24-26, following the invitation of Supreme Patriarch and Catholicos of All Armenians, Karekin II, the nation's civil authorities, and the Catholic Church, according to the April 9 statement from the Holy See press office.
Francis himself had expressed his wish to go to the Caucasus nation in his Nov. 30 press conference in the flight from Central Africa. In 2014, he said: “I promised the three (Armenian) Patriarchs that I would go: the promise has been made. I don’t know if it will be possible, but I did promise.”
Armenia is the site of the 1915 Armenian genocide in the Ottoman Empire which targeted Armenian, Assyrian, and Greek Christian minorities. Some 1.5 million Christians, most of them Armenians, were killed, and millions more were displaced during the genocide.
Speaking during a Sept. 7 Mass, the Pope called it “one of many great persecutions.” Continue Reading Pope to visit Armenia>
Apr. 8, 2016 - (OSV Newsweekly) - “The Joy of Love experienced by families is also the joy of the Church.”
With those opening words, Pope Francis began the second apostolic exhortation of his pontificate, Amoris Laetitia, “The Joy of Love,” his reflection on the work of the Synod of Bishops in 2014 and 2015 on the crises and challenges facing families in the modern world.
Signed on March 16 and officially released on April 8 with a press conference in Rome, Amoris Laetitia is longer than most apostolic exhortations at 262 pages and nearly 60,000 words. It is also already likely to be as controversial as his 2015 encyclical, Laudato Si’, and will no doubt be likewise subjected to misinterpretation and even misrepresentation in both secular and even Catholic media.
Similar to other documents by Pope Francis, Amoris Laetitia contains some genuinely eloquent and beautiful teachings that are likely to be severely overshadowed by the more debated and controversial elements. This is, of course, unfair to both the pope and the document, but this is also Francis’ consistent pattern, and he seems comfortable with the risks. Continue Reading Amoris Laetitia Analysis>
Apr. 7, 2016 - (CNA) - Pope Francis will travel to the Greek island of Lesbos next Saturday, April 16, where he will meet with ecumenical leaders and refugees, the Vatican announced Thursday.
Director of the Holy See Press office, Fr. Federico Lombardi, told journalists the invitation for the Pope to visit the island came from Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople, Bartholomew I, and Greek president Prokopis Pavlopoulos.
“Welcoming the invitation,” said Fr. Lombardi, “Pope Francis will travel to Lesbos Saturday, April 16, 2016.”
A Vatican statement released April 7 to journalists said the Pope, along with “His Holiness Bartholomew, and His Holiness Jerome II, Archbishop of Athens and All Greece, will meet with the refugees accommodated there.”
While on the island, Pope Francis will be joined by Patriarch Bartholomew and His Beatitude Hieronimus II, Archbishop of Athens and all Greece, in meeting with the refugees staying on the island. Continue Reading Pope to Greece>
Apr. 7, 2016 - (CNA) - Exposure to pornography harms children to such an extent it should be considered child abuse, Australia’s Catholic bishops said in a recent call for action.
“Children have a right to be children, away from the pressures applied by advertising and other images on television and the internet for them to dress and act as mini-adults. Bombarding children with sexualized images can hurt their normal development,” a commission of the Australian Catholic Bishops’ Conference said in a statement to the Australian Senate committee last month.
The committee was making an inquiry into the harm of internet pornography.
Australia’s Catholic bishops said there is an obligation to protect families from pornography. They said that pornography has become mainstream and is now “the wallpaper of young people’s lives.” They lamented sexualized images in advertising, music videos and computer games. Continue Reading AUS Bishops on Porn>
Apr. 6, 2016 - (CNA) - When Lizzy Myers was diagnosed with a condition that could result in complete blindness, her parents, Steve and Christine, went to work on a “visual bucket list” for their daughter.
Today, Lizzy got to check something off: meeting Pope Francis.
The five-year-old, along with her parents and three-year-old sister Michaela, had special seats for the general audience with the Pope on Wednesday, where she was able to meet him in person. She gave him a gift – a piece of meteorite from an observatory she had recently visited – and he gave her a hug and blessed her eyes.
“I felt an overwhelming sense of peace” when they met, Christine Myers said at a press conference following the meeting. “Since the beginning of all of this, this is the first time I have felt peace.” Continue Reading Blessing for Lizzy>
Apr. 6, 2016 - (Crux) - If a group of Tennessee lawmakers have their way, the Bible is set to become the state’s official book.
By a vote of 19 to 8, the state senate passed HB0615Monday, which would dub “the Holy Bible as the official state book.” Supporters say the measure recognizes the book’s unique role in American history. But opponents, including some Catholic leaders, say the move could make people of non-Christian faiths feel slighted.
“As a Catholic, as a Christian, we believe the Bible is the inspired word of God, but I also recognize that we live in a pluralistic society and we have a mixture of different faiths,” said Bishop Richard Stika of the Diocese of Knoxville.
Making the Bible Tennessee’s official book could “cause division within the state,” he warned, noting that he doesn’t need a state proclamation to realize the Bible is an important book. Continue Reading Bible State Book>
Apr. 6, 2016 - (CNA) - This week Cardinal Timothy Dolan, Archbishop of New York and chair of Catholic Near East Welfare Association, will travel to Iraqi Kurdistan in order to offer support to families displaced by extremist violence.
The news of the cardinal’s visit came in an April 5 press release from Catholic Near East Welfare Association (CNEWA), which he chairs.
He will be joined by CNEWA board member Bishop William Murphy of Rockville Centre, CNEWA President Msgr. John Kozar, and the Executive Director of Catholic Charities for the Archdiocese of New York, Msgr. Kevin Sullivan. CNA will also be part of the delegation.
According to the press release, the purpose of the visit is fourfold. Firstly it is meant to “demonstrate solidarity with the families – many of whom are Christian – displaced when ISIS swept through northern Iraq in summer 2014.” Continue Reading Cardinal Dolan>
Apr. 6, 2016 - (Catholic Culture) - In the rubble of the ancient Mar Elian monastery in Quaryatayn, Syria, which was destroyed by the Islamic State, the former prior has discovered relics of the saint for whom the monastery was named.
Father Jacques Murad, who was taken prisoner when forces of the Islamic State overran the area, returned to the Mar Elian monastery after Syrian government troops recaptured Quaryatayn. He reported that relics of St. Elian-- the son of a 3rd-century Roman military official, who was executed when he refused to renounce his Christian faith-- were found near the saint's tomb. "The fact that the relics of Mar Elian are not lost is for me a great sign," the priest told the Fides news service. "It means that he did not want to leave the monastery and the holy land."
The Mar Elian monastery, established in the 5th century, was systematically demolished by the Islamic State last year. Continue Reading Mar Elian Relics>
Apr. 6, 2016 - (Catholic Culture) - The Vatican is weighing a quick trip to Greece by Pope Francis, to dramatize the plight of migrants who are being sent back to Turkey.
Responding to Greek media reports that the Pope might visit the island of Lesbos as early as next week, Father Federico Lombardi, the director of the Vatican press office, said that no commitment had been made. "I don't deny that there are contacts about a possible trip," he allowed.
Orthodox Patriarch Bartholomew I of Constantinople has confimed that he will be traveling to Lesbos to meet with refugees, accompanied by Archbishop Ieronymos of Athens. The Holy Synod of the Orthodox Church in Athens has said that Pope Francis expressed an interest in joining them. Continue Reading Papal Greece Visit>
Apr. 6, 2016 - (CNS) - With a simple tap, Pope Francis joined Instagram and quickly set a record for gaining 1 million followers.
The launch of the "Franciscus" account March 19, the feast of St. Joseph and the third anniversary of the formal inauguration of his papacy, was preceded by huge media coverage. But still, he hit the million-follower mark in just 12 hours, making his "our fastest growing account on Instagram to date," said Stephanie Noon, an Instagram spokeswoman. The pope broke the record held for almost a year by former soccer star David Beckham, who took twice as long to gather 1 million followers.
Joining Instagram, Pope Francis jumped into a community that tends to be younger and more complimentary than people on Twitter, although with similarly impressive "engagement rates." Continue Reading Pope's Instagram>
Apr. 6, 2016 - (Catholic Culture) - The US Food and Drug Administration has announced that the RU-486 abortion pill may now be used in the first ten weeks following the mother’s last period.
The FDA, which approved the use of RU-486 (also known as Mifeprex and Mifepristone) in 2000, previously permitted its use to the first seven weeks. It now accounts for over 22% of abortions in the US.
“The FDA has irresponsibly loosened its guidelines for the dangerous abortion drug RU-486, expanding its use an additional three weeks into pregnancy, and allowing provision by non-physicians,” said Cardinal Timothy Dolan, chairman of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops' Committee on Pro-Life Activities.
“The unofficial, off-label use of RU-486 is now the new normal, paving the way for the destruction of even more innocent lives, and putting women and girls at risk for all the life-changing effects of abortion,” he added. “Far from wanting abortion to be 'rare', abortion advocates are celebrating this expanded use as opening an ever-widening door to abortion.” Continue Reading Abortion Pill>
Apr. 3, 2016 - (Patheos) - Country music icon Dolly Parton, silver screen legend Sylvester Stallone, and popular comedian Jim Gaffigan are just a few of the creative forces behind the 21 feature films, TV/Cable programs, and books for adults and young people that will be honored at the 67th annual Christopher Awards, to be presented in New York City on May 19th, 2016.
The Christopher Awards were created in 1949 to celebrate writers, producers, directors, authors and illustrators whose work “affirms the highest values of the human spirit.”
Tony Rossi, The Christophers’ Director of Communications, says, “The world around us can seem like a dark place in light of all the violence and hatred we hear about in the news. But the stories we honor with Christopher Awards remind us that we can shine a light that illuminates the darkness by choosing to practice faith, love, compassion, courage, teamwork, and determination.” Continue Reading 2016 Christopher Awards>
Apr. 3, 2016 - (Catholic Culture) - The Catholic bishops of Poland have issued a call for a full ban on abortions.
Existing law in Poland makes abortion illegal except in cases of rape, incest, severe fetal deformation, or threat to the health of the mother. The bishops argue that these exceptions undermine the logic of the ban. In a statement read at all Catholic Churches in the country over the weekend, the Bishops said, "When it comes to the life of the unborn, we can't remain at the current compromise set out in the law.”
If the law is passed by the government, it would make Poland the 7th country where it is illegal to kill an unborn child under any circumstances. The 6 countries where abortion is currently completely illegal are the Vatican, Malta, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Nicaragua, and Chile. Continue Reading Polish Abortion Ban>
Apr. 4, 2016 - (CNA) - Pope Francis marked the Feast of the Annunciation on Monday by reflecting on the power of Mary’s “yes” to God.
“Mary’s ‘yes’ opens the door to Jesus’ ‘yes’: I have come to do Your will, this is the ‘yes’ that Jesus carries with him throughout his life, until the cross,” he said in his April 4 homily.
The Pope celebrated Mass at the Casa Santa Martha residence Monday morning, Vatican Radio reports.
Through Mary’s affirmation, God “becomes one of us and takes on our flesh,” he said.
“Today is the celebration of ‘yes’,” the Pope continued. “It is God’s ‘yes’ that sanctifies us and keeps us alive in Jesus Christ.”
The Feast of the Annunciation marks the visit of the angel Gabriel to the Virgin Mary, when he told her that God had chosen her to be the mother of Jesus Christ. Mary responded “Let it be done to me according to your will,” according to the Gospel of Luke. Continue Reading Francis on Annunciation>
Apr. 4, 2016 - (CNA) - Both the Vatican and the Society of St. Pius X have confirmed that this weekend Pope Francis met with the priestly society's superior general, Bishop Bernard Fellay, at the Vatican.
The Holy See press office issued a statement April 4 indicating that Pope Francis and Bishop Fellay had met April 2 at the Vatican.
An April 4 statement issued by the SSPX, meanwhile, said that Pope Francis received Bishop Fellay at his Domus Sanctae Marthae residence in the Vatican on April 1. The statement said Bishop Fellay was accompanied by Fr. Alain-Marc Nely, second assistant general of the priestly society.
“Pope Francis had wanted a private and informal meeting, without the formality of an official audience. It lasted 40 minutes and took place under a cordial atmosphere,” the SSPX stated. “After the meeting, it was decided that the current exchanges would continue. The canonical status of the Society was not directly addressed, Pope Francis and Bishop Fellay having determined that these exchanges ought to continue without haste.” Continue Reading Francis and SSPX>
Apr. 3, 2016 - (CNA) - On Divine Mercy Sunday Pope Francis said the “Gospel of Mercy” begun by Jesus and the apostles is still unfinished, and is an open book that each person is called to write through their words and actions.
“The Gospel is the book of God’s mercy, to be read and reread, because everything that Jesus said and did is an expression of the Father’s mercy,” the Pope said April 3.
He noted how at the end of the day’s Gospel reading from John, the evangelist expressed that while Jesus carried out many signs in the presence of his disciples, not all of them were written down.
Because of this, “the Gospel of mercy remains an open book, in which the signs of Christ’s disciples, which are concrete acts of love and the best witness to mercy, continue to be written,” he said.
“We are all called to become living writers of the Gospel,” Francis continued, explaining that this is done by practicing the corporal and spiritual works of mercy, “which are the hallmarks of the Christian life.” Continue Reading Divine Mercy Homily>
Apr. 3, 2016 - (Crux) - Denying rumors of an Indian missionary priest being crucified on Good Friday by Muslim extremists, India’s government has assured local bishops that Father Tom Uzhunnalil, kidnapped a month ago in Yemen, is alive and could be freed soon.
Uzhunnalil was taken by suspected militants of the terrorist organization ISIS who killed 15 people in an attack on the elderly home he was living in. Among those killed were four “Mother Teresa” nuns, who ran the compound that was attacked in March.
One of the Missionaries of Charity survived the attack, and she is the one who claimed the attackers were from the Islamic terrorist group. However, no group claimed responsibility for the killings nor for the kidnapping.
Rumors about Uzhunnalil, a member of the Salesian religious order, having been crucified spread on Good Friday after Austrian papers reported that Cardinal Christoph Schönborn of Vienna had allegedly confirmed the report as he was celebrating the day’s liturgy. Continue Reading Fr. Tom Uzhunnalil>
Apr. 3, 2016 - (CNA) - The veto of a religious freedom bill means faith-based groups that support marriage as a union of a man and a woman won’t have needed protections, the state’s Catholic bishops said.
“The Virginia Catholic Conference is deeply dismayed by the governor’s action,” the conference said March 30. “This veto risks the destruction of Virginia’s long tradition of upholding the religious freedom of faith communities which dates back to Thomas Jefferson.”
The bill would have forbidden the state of Virginia from punishing religious groups that follow their sincerely held beliefs that marriage is between a man and a woman. The bill passed the House of Delegates by a vote of 59-38 and the Senate by 21-19.
Virginia’s Catholic conference said the bill would ensure “that clergy and religious organizations are not penalized by the government.” The bill would also protect these individuals and organizations from civil liability. Continue Reading Religious Freedom>
Mar. 31, 2016 - (CNA) - The life of EWTN foundress Mother Angelica was a testament to St. Paul’s teaching that “God chose the weak of the world to shame the strong,” preached the celebrant of vespers at a prayer vigil offered for her repose.
“How we do need to interpret” Mother Angelica’s life, Fr. Anthony Mary, MFVA, preached, “is if we’re going to boast in anything, the boast of Mother Angelica was not herself. The boast of Mother Angelica was always Jesus Christ.”
Fr. Anthony Mary preached at Thursday evening’s solemn vespers for Mother Angelica, foundress of EWTN and abbess emerita of Our Lady of the Angels Monastery, as she lay in repose in the Shrine of the Most Blessed Sacrament in Hanceville, Alabama. Mother Angelica passed away Easter Sunday, March 27.
The vespers were followed by a prayer vigil for Mother Angelica celebrated by Bishop Robert Joseph Baker of Birmingham. Continue Reading Mother Angelica>
Apr. 3, 2016 - (Today's Catholic) - With abundant joy and thanksgiving, the United States Province of the Congregation of Holy Cross announces the Ordination of two new priests on Saturday, April 2, at 2 p.m. at the Basilica of the Sacred Heart on the campus of the University of Notre Dame. The Most Reverend Kevin C. Rhoades, Bishop of Fort Wayne-South Bend will confer the Sacrament of Holy Orders on Rev. Mr. Matthew Earle Hovde, CSC, and Rev. Mr. Dennis Anthony Strach II, CSC.
On Aug. 29, 2015, Deacons Hovde and Strach professed perpetual vows of poverty, chastity and obedience and committed themselves to the common life and apostolic work of the Congregation of Holy Cross.
REV. MR. MATTHEW EARLE HOVDE, CSC, is the youngest of three children of Robert and Cynthia Hovde of Miami, Fla. He entered formation with the Congregation in 2007 and professed First Vows on July 28, 2012. Continue Reading Holy Cross Ordinations>
Mar. 31, 2016 - (CNA) - As a sign of affection and closeness, Pope Francis has decided to send vestments used in the liturgy and a financial donation to Christian refugees in Erbil through the Catholic pastoral charity Aid to the Church in Need.
“Mercy invites us to bend over these brothers of ours in order to dry their tears, to heal their moral and physical wounds, and to console their afflicted and perhaps lost hearts,” the Pope said in a letter addressed to Bishop Francesco Cavina of Carpi.
To do this, the Pope said, is not just “an act of proper charity, but a relief to your own body, because all Christians, by virtue of their shared baptism, are 'one' in Christ.”
Bishop Cavina will be part of a delegation traveling to Erbil, the capital of Iraqi Kurdistan, April 1-4 with Aid to the Church in Need (ACN). Continue Reading Pope Supports Iraq>
Mar. 31, 2016 - (CNA) - The Vatican announced Thursday that Pope Francis’ highly anticipated post-synodal apostolic exhortation on the gifts and challenges of family life will be published April 8.
Titled “Amoris Laetitia,” on love in the family, the document will officially be presented to journalists next Friday, April 8, in Italian, French, English, German, Spanish and Portuguese.
Speakers presenting the exhortation will include Cardinal Lorenzo Baldisseri, general secretary of the Synod of Bishops and Cardinal Christoph Schönborn, O.P., Archbishop of Vienna.
Additionally, married couple Francesco Miano, a lecturer in moral philosophy at the University of Rome at Tor Vergata, and his wife Giuseppina De Simone in Miano, a lecturer in philosophy at the Theological Faculty of Southern Italy in Naples, will also be among the panelists presenting the document. Continue Reading Family Exhortation>
Mar. 30, 2016 - (CNA) - Following the Georgia governor’s recent veto of a religious liberty bill, the state’s Catholic bishops are calling for further debate and dialogue on the issue.
“We fervently support religious liberty guaranteed by the United States and Georgia constitutions and we respect those who seek to enhance those freedoms through legislation,” said Archbishop Wilton Gregory of Atlanta and Bishop Gregory Hartmayer of Savannah.
The governor’s veto means that debate will continue, the bishops said in a March 29 statement. They encouraged respect for the “worthy motivations” of people on both sides of the debate.
The state’s Catholic bishops did not take an explicit stand for or against the legislation. Instead they commented more broadly, “While we and the other Catholic bishops in the United States support the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA), we do not support any implementation of RFRA in a way that will discriminate against any individual.” Continue Reading Religious Freedom Laws>
Mar. 30, 2016 - (Catholic Culture) - The Archdiocese of New York is auctioning off the Fiat hatchback used by Pope Francis during his visit to the city last year.
The Fiat 500 Lounge Hatchback was donated by the Chrysler Corporation for the Pope's use during his visit to the US. Proceeds from the sale will be used for Catholic schools and charities.
As of Wednesday morning, March 30, with a day still left before the close of the auction on the CharityBuzz site, bidding had reached $135,000. Continue Reading Pope's Fiat>
Mar. 30, 2016 - (CNA) - Pope Francis on Wednesday offered a special blessing for Mother Angelica following her death on Easter Sunday, expressing his confidence that she is already in heaven.
“She’s in heaven.” The Pope pointed to the sky as he spoke these words to members of EWTN’s Rome bureau, who brought an image of the late Poor Clare nun to his March 30 general audience as a sign of affection and remembrance.
Francis saw the framed photo in the crowd, and blessed it when asked by EWTN’s Executive TV Producer in Rome, Martha Calderon, for a blessing for Mother Angelica’s soul.
Mother Mary Angelica of the Annunciation founded the Eternal Word Television Network (EWTN), in 1981, and it has since become the largest religious media network in the world. She passed away March 27 after a lengthy struggle with the aftereffects of a stroke. She was 92 years old. Continue Reading Wednesday Audience>
Mar. 29, 2016 - (CNA) - The Supreme Court on Tuesday asked for parties in the Little Sisters’ case to submit alternative means, if possible, of ensuring contraceptive coverage while maintaining religious freedom.
“This is an excellent development. Clearly the Supreme Court understood the Sisters' concern that the government's current scheme forces them to violate their religion,” Mark Rienzi, lead attorney for the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, which represents the Little Sisters, stated on Tuesday.
The Court instructed both the plaintiffs in the case – the Little Sisters of the Poor, the Archdiocese of Washington, the group Priests for Life, and several Christian colleges – and the administration to submit supplemental briefs answering whether employees can receive contraceptive coverage while maintaining the religious freedom of the employers who object to providing such coverage. If a way exists, the brief should explain how it works. Continue Reading Little Sisters Case>
Mar. 30, 2016 - (CNA) - A new Utah law requiring anesthesia for unborn babies during late-term abortions shows the contradiction between society’s view of life and legal abortion, a leading pro-life doctor has said.
“If we as a society say it is okay to put to death the unborn, especially abortions that are done on fetuses that could survive outside the womb, then I think anesthesia is merciful,” Dr. Donna Harrison, executive director of the American Association of Pro-Life Obstetricians and Gynecologists, told CNA March 29.
Legislation based on the concept of fetal pain helps people recognize “that this baby is a human being, a human being that can feel pain just like the rest of us,” said Harrison, who is an obstetrician-gynecologist.
At the same time, she saw a “schizophrenic” approach to fetal pain legislation, especially given that babies can survive outside the womb at 22 weeks into pregnancy. Continue Reading Utah Abortion Law>
Mar. 29, 2016 - (NCRegister) - The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India (CBCI) has deplored the widespread rumors of the crucifixion of kidnapped Salesian Father Thomas Uzhunnalil on Good Friday in Yemen, where the Indian priest is suspected to have been held in captivity since he was kidnapped by forces of the Islamic State group there in Aden on March 4.
“A lot of rumors are being spread in the social media that Father Tom was subjected to cruel torture and then crucified on Good Friday. This gruesome news is being widely circulated, both at home and abroad,” said the CBCI in a press statement on March 29.
The statement also acknowledged the role of the Vatican, which the CBCI said “is understood to have stepped up its efforts through diplomatic channels for the release of Father Tom, a missionary priest who offered his life for the service of the poor, the sick and the aged, in collaboration with the Missionary Sisters of Mother Teresa of Calcutta in Aden, Yemen.” Continue Reading Fr. Tom Update>
Mar. 28, 2016 - (CNA) - Benedict XVI had a special response to Mother Angelica’s death falling on Easter Sunday: “It’s a gift.”
Archbishop Georg Ganswein, Benedict’s personal secretary, told CNA about the pope emeritus’ comment on March 28.
Mother Angelica, an Ohio-born Poor Clare nun, founded EWTN Global Catholic Network in Alabama in 1981. It has since become the largest religious media network in the world. She passed away on March 27, Easter Sunday, at the age of 92.
Her death prompted memorials, eulogies and remembrances from around the world.
In Rome, Msgr. Dario Vigano, prefect of the Secretariat for Communications, pledged that he would pray for the repose of her soul. Many other priests, religious and laity in Rome are praying for her.
Archbishop Joseph Kurtz of Louisville, Ky., president of the U.S. bishops’ conference, said Mother Angelica was an “extraordinary woman, devout believer and media pioneer.” Continue Reading Mother Angelica>
Mar. 28, 2016 - (CNA) - Reports claiming that a kidnapped priest in Yemen was crucified over the weekend are likely false and irresponsible, the local bishop told CNA Monday.
Several blogs and media outlets are reporting that Fr. Tom Uzhunnalil was crucified by ISIS on Good Friday. However, there has been no confirmation of the event by friends, family or Fr. Uzhunnalil’s community.
The original reports were based on a statement Austrian Cardinal Christoph Schönborn of Vienna allegedly made during Easter vigil services.
On March 4, four gunmen attacked a Missionaries of Charity-run retirement home in Aden, Yemen, killing 16 people including four Missionary of Charity sisters. Fr. Uzhunnalil was kidnapped by the gunman during the attacks, which are thought to have been perpetrated by Islamic terrorists, though no specific group has claimed responsibility for the incident. Continue Reading Fr. Tom Uzhunnalil>
Mar. 28, 2016 - (CNA) - Pope Francis on Monday mourned the loss of life in Pakistan, where more than 70 people – mostly women and children – were killed Sunday after a suicide attack on Christians who were celebrating Easter at a public park.
Speaking during his Regina Caeli address for Easter Monday, the Pope expressed his “closeness to those affected by this cowardly and senseless crime,” and called those present to to pray for the victims and their loved ones.
“Easter was bloodied by an execrable attack which massacred many innocent people, mostly families of the Christian minority - particularly women and children - who had gathered in a public park to spend the Easter holiday in joy,” he said.
The attack took place in Pakistan's eastern city of Lahore. At least 29 of the dozens of people killed were children, Reuters reports. The BBC reports that at least 300 people were injured, and officials expect the death toll to rise. Continue Reading Easter Monday Audience>
Mar. 27, 2016 - (CNA) - The Catholic Church in the United States has lost the Poor Clare nun who changed the face of Catholicism in the United States and around the world. Mother Mary Angelica of the Annunciation, foundress of the Eternal Word Television Network (EWTN), passed away on March 27 after a lengthy struggle with the aftereffects of a stroke. She was 92 years old.
“Mother has always and will always personify EWTN, the network that God asked her to found,” said EWTN Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Michael Warsaw. “Her accomplishments and legacies in evangelization throughout the world are nothing short of miraculous and can only be attributed to divine Providence and her unwavering faithfulness to Our Lord.”
In 1981, Mother Angelica launched Eternal Word Television Network, which today transmits 24-hour-a-day programming to more than 264 million homes in 144 countries. What began with approximately 20 employees has now grown to nearly 400. The religious network broadcasts terrestrial and shortwave radio around the world, operates a religious goods catalog and publishes the National Catholic Register and Catholic News Agency, among other publishing ventures. Continue Reading Mother Angelica>
Mar. 27, 2016 - (CNA) - A crowded park in Lahore, Pakistan where Christian families were celebrating Easter Sunday was the site of an apparent suicide bombing that left at least 65 dead and 300 wounded.
Many women and children were among those killed and injured, reports said.
A local branch of the Taliban claimed responsibility for the March 27 attack at Gulshan-e-Iqbal Park.
Lahore’s top administration official, Muhammad Usman, told AFP that the death toll had reached 65, with the army’s rescue operation continuing. In addition, more than 300 people were wounded, according to the Associated Press.
Local officials said the attack appeared to be a suicide bombing, which took place near children’s rides at the park. Continue Reading Pakistan Bombing>
Mar. 27, 2016 - (CNA) - In his Urbi et Orbi message for Easter, Pope Francis encouraged victims of terrorism and Christian persecution to find hope in the Lord’s resurrection.
By rising from the dead, Jesus has “triumphed over evil and sin,” the Pope said to the crowds which filled St. Peter’s Square. “May he draw us closer on this Easter feast to the victims of terrorism, that blind and brutal form of violence which continues to shed blood in different parts of the world.”
The pontiff cited the March 22 attack in Brussels, where suicide bombers killed more than 30 people and injured hundreds of others, and other terrorism-afflicted nations.
“With the weapons of love, God has defeated selfishness and death. His son Jesus is the door of mercy wide open to all.”
Speaking on persecuted Christians, Francis encouraged them to find comfort in Christ’s resurrection. Continue Reading Urbi et Orbi Message>
Mar. 23, 2016 - (CNA) - Members of the United States Congress have voiced their support for the Little Sisters of the Poor before their case is argued before the Supreme Court on Wednesday.
“We talk a lot about public service up here. Well, these are the people who live it,” House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wisc.) said of the sisters on the House Floor on Tuesday, noting that they serve the poor in 31 countries. “They are the definition of public service.”
On Wednesday, oral arguments for Zubik v. Burwell will take place at the Supreme Court. The case is a bundle of seven cases against the HHS mandate, including as plaintiffs Bishop David Zubik of Pittsburgh, the Little Sisters of the Poor, the Archdiocese of Washington, and several Christian colleges.
At issue is the administration’s mandate that employers provide contraceptive coverage in employee health plans, and the ensuing “accommodations” they offered religious non-profits to comply with the mandate. Continue Reading Little Sisters in Court>
Mar. 23, 2016 - (CNA) - The Holy Week terrorist attacks in Brussels on Tuesday led the city's bishops to mourn and reflect on the deadly crimes in light of Jesus Christ's Passion.
“Good Friday has come three days early with these totally absurd actions,” Auxiliary Bishop Jean Kockerols of Mechelen-Brussels said March 22. “I weep with those who weep, wherever they are. The first reaction, completely normal, is to condemn these totally absurd actions.”
“The reaction of Christians ought to be first of all one of compassion with those affected, with those who are grieving,” he continued. “I am thinking of the victims and their families, we are together in prayer, in friendship.”
The bishop spoke in an audio statement on the website of the Belgian Conference of Catholic Bishops. Continue Reading Brussels Attacks>
Mar. 23, 2016 - (CNA) - After spending previous years washing the feet of inmates and disabled persons on Holy Thursday, this year Pope Francis will celebrate the liturgy in a welcoming center for migrants and refugees.
The Pope will say a Chrism Mass at the Vatican before heading to the Reception Center for Asylum Seekers, or CARA, in Castelnuovo di Porto, just over 18 miles outside of Rome, on the afternoon of March 24.
He will arrive to the center around 5 pm, where he will say the Mass of the Lord’s Supper and wash the feet of 12 migrants welcomed by the center, many of whom are not Catholic.
The news came in a March 22 article from the Vatican newspaper L’Osservatore Romano explaining the reason why the location was chosen. The article was written by Archbishop Rino Fisichella, president of the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of the New Evangelization. Continue Reading Pope Francis Holy Thursday>
Mar. 21, 2016 - (Zenit) - In a video posted today, the Rector Major of the Salesians, Fr Ángel Fernández Artime, appealed to the whole Salesian family for prayer for peace on Holy Thursday, with a special intention for Fr. Tom Uzhunnalil, the Salesian kidnapped in Yemen.
The priest was taken during an attack March 4 on a home for the elderly run by the Missionaries of Charity. Four of the five sisters there were killed.
According to a report from the surviving nun, when Fr. Uzhunnalil heard the screaming, he ran directly to the chapel, in order to consume the Hosts so they couldn’t be defiled.
Looking at the suffering in so many parts of the world, “with so many people of different religions and confessions suffering a real martyrdom,” Fr. Artime invites everyone “to spend a time of very intense prayer on Holy Thursday evening, as we accompany Jesus in the pain and loneliness of Gethsemane.” Continue Reading Prayers for Yemen>
Mar. 21, 2016 - (CNA) - Legislators in Chile's lower house of Congress on Thursday passed a bill decriminalizing abortion in limited circumstances. The bill now passes to the Senate, where analysts believe it may also pass.
The March 17 vote in the Chamber of Deputies approved the bill by 66-44. It seeks to legalize abortion in three cases: risk to the life of the mother, non-viability of the fetus, and rape. It also limits abortion to no more than 12 weeks, though it is extended to 14 weeks in mothers under the age of 14.
Conscientious objection for doctors on an individual basis was also passed, and health centers that allow abortions to be performed would be prohibited from advertising.
The legislators also approved the possibility of obliging the director of a hospital to make sure that an abortion be performed on any woman over 18 who asked for it following a rape, even if she did not report the rape to police. Continue Reading Abortion in Chile>
Mar. 21, 2016 - (Catholic Culture) - President Barack Obama met with Havana's Cardinal Jaime Ortega y Alamino on March 20, as White House aides acknowledged the prelate's important role played in restoring diplomatic ties between the US and Cuba.
President Obama's trip to Cuba-- the first such visit by an American president in nearly 90 years-- comes just months after the restoration of ties, which were broken after the Castro regime took power. Cardinal Ortega had worked with Pope Francis to help broker the agreement that normalized relations between the two countries.Continue Reading Obama in Cuba>
Mar. 20, 2016 - (CNA) - The official Instagram account of Pope Francis launched on Saturday with a simple request for his followers: “Pray for me.”
The inaugural post, which was translated into nine languages, features a photo of the Pope reverently kneeling in prayer.
The post was made after noon under the handle @Franciscus – which is Latin for Francis. Within 30 minutes of going live, the account had more than ten thousand followers.
“Instagram will help recount the Papacy through images, to enable all those who wish to accompany and know more about Pope Francis’ pontificate to encounter his gestures of tenderness and mercy,” said Msgr. Dario E. Viganò, prefect of the Secretariat for Communications, in a Vatican statement Friday.
The papal Instagram will feature photos from L'Osservatore Romano, as well as short videos, according to the Vatican's March 18 statement. “In this way we can show those aspects of closeness and inclusion that Pope Francis lives every day,” Msgr. Viganò said. Continue Reading Pope's Instagram>
Mar. 20, 2016 - (CNA) - On Palm Sunday Pope Francis said the path toward salvation can be summed up by humility and service, and encouraged pilgrims to contemplate Jesus’ shameful Passion and Death throughout Holy Week.
“Today’s liturgy teaches us that the Lord has not saved us by his triumphal entry or by means of powerful miracles,” the Pope said March 20.
Instead, in the day’s second reading from St. Paul to the Philippians, the apostle “epitomizes in two verbs the path of redemption: Jesus ‘emptied’ and ‘humbled’ himself.”
These two verbs, Francis said, “show the boundlessness of God’s love for us. Jesus emptied himself: he did not cling to the glory that was his as the Son of God, but became the Son of man in order to be in solidarity with us sinners in all things; yet he was without sin.” Continue Reading Palm Sunday Homily>
Mar. 20, 2016 - (CNA) - The Pakistani National Assembly has passed a resolution that grants holiday time for Christians to celebrate Easter and Hindus and their Holi and Diwali celebrations. The resolution is the work of Vankwani Ramesh Kumar, an Assembly member of the Hindu faith.
While some minority rights activists appreciate the initiative, others point out that it is not enough to recognize some holy days of religious traditions. Rather, equal rights and the concrete protection of minority groups should be guaranteed.
Kashif Aslam, activist and coordinator of the National Commission for Justice and Peace, told AsiaNews: "This is a historic decision for the recognition of minorities as citizens of Pakistan. We appreciate the government's effort in this regard, to ensure the equality of rights. " However, the activist adds, "there are still many steps to be taken. Continue Reading Easter in Pakistan>
Mar. 18, 2016 - (CNA) - Actor and singer Jencarlos Canela will play the role of Jesus in a live musical dramatization of The Passion on Palm Sunday. Only he’s still not sure how.
“How do I prepare for the role of Jesus Christ? Whoever knows the answer to that question, call me before Sunday,” Canela joked.
“Honestly, it’s a huge honor,” he told CNA March 18.
Canela plays the lead role in “The Passion,” a two-hour musical event airing Sunday, March 20 on Fox at 8 p.m. Eastern Time.
With the help of famous musical performers, the event will dramatize the Last Supper, Jesus’ betrayal by Judas, the trial before Pontius Pilate and Christ’s Crucifixion and Resurrection. Continue Reading Passion Musical>
Mar. 17, 2016 - (CNA) - Secretary of State John Kerry declared Thursday that Christians, Yezidis, Shi’a Muslims, and other religious and ethnic minorities are victims of ISIS genocide.
Secretary Kerry announced at a news conference that “in my judgment, Daesh is responsible for genocide against groups in areas under its control including Yazidis, Christians, and Shia Muslims.” Daesh is another name for the Islamic State, or ISIS.
The announcement is groundbreaking because the term is rarely used to describe ongoing atrocities committed by a state or non-state actor. It is the “crime of crimes,” according to the United Nations, because it involves the intentional destruction, “in whole or in part,” of an entire people.
Thursday’s announcement came after reports from earlier in the week surfaced that the State Department was expected to miss the March 17 deadline for announcing whether or not it would declare genocide. Congress mandated the deadline in the Omnibus spending bill passed in December. Continue Reading ISIS Genocide>
Mar. 17, 2016 - (CNA) - Francis also has signed up for Instagram. The Pope's account on the social network site will be launched on Saturday, March 19. The launch will coincide with the feast of St. Joseph and the profile will bear the name "Franciscus.”
Instagram has more than 400 million users and shares photos and videos with a community of followers. Kevin Systrom, president and one of the founders of the company, visited Francis a few days ago in Rome.
Mar. 17, 2016 - (CNA) - The long-awaited document from Pope Francis summarizing the conclusions of the Synod on the Family will not appear until after Easter, a Vatican spokesman has announced.
Father Federico Lombardi, the director of the Vatican press office, said that the papal document would be signed on March 19, but not released on that date. He was reacting to a statement from Cardinal Walter Kasper, who had said that the document would be released within a few days.
Cardinal Kasper was apparently referring to the date when the Pope would formally sign the document. It is customary for a Pontiff to sign official documents well in advance of their public release, allowing time for translations and the preparation of printed copies.
Father Lombardi said that he anticipated release of the document sometime around the middle of April. Continue Reading Synod Document>
Mar. 16, 2016 - (CNA) - Utah's state legislature recently passed a resolution warning about the harm pornography does to individuals, families and society.
The resolution says that the state legislature “recognizes that pornography is a public health hazard leading to a broad spectrum of individual and public health impacts and societal harms.”
Susan Dennin, a spokesperson for the Roman Catholic Diocese of Salt Lake City, said the move “affirms our belief in the inviolable dignity of the human person revealed fully in Christ and the gift of human sexuality and marriage in God’s plan.”
She told CNA March 14 that the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops had discussed this topic in their November 2015 document “Create in Me a Clean Heart: A Pastoral Response to Pornography.” Continue Reading Porn and Public Health>
Mar. 16, 2016 - (CNA) - Pope-emeritus Benedict XVI speaks about a “deep crisis” of faith in the Catholic world after Vatican II, and strongly supports the emphasis that Pope Francis places on God’s mercy, in a rare public interview made public today.
The interview with the former Pontiff-- conducted by Father Jacques Servais, a Jesuit theologian—appears as a chapter in a new book published in Italy, containing the proceedings of a conference held in Rome last year. During the conference Archbishop Georg Gänswein, the longtime personal secretary to Pope Benedict, presented the interview.
Reflecting on the nature of Christian faith, the retired Pope says that personal faith is inextricably connected with the Church: "On the one hand, faith is a deeply personal communication with God, which touches my very core and places me in direct contact with the living God so that I can talk to Him, love Him and enter into communion with Him." Continue Reading New BXVI Interview>
Mar. 16, 2016 - (CNA) - On Wednesday Pope Francis renewed his appeal on behalf of the tens of thousands struggling to enter other countries as they flee war and violence, asking global leaders to “open their hearts” and doors to migrants and refugees.
“How many of our brothers are currently living a real and dramatic situation of exile, far away from their homeland, with their eyes still full of the rubble of their homes, and in their heart the fear, and often, unfortunately, the pain of having lost loved ones,” the Pope said March 16.
Such cases can often lead one to ask questions such as “where is God? How is it possible that so much suffering befalls innocent men, women and children?” he said.
Francis lamented that migrants and refugees fleeing violence in their homeland frequently find “closed doors” when attempting to enter another country. Continue Reading Wednesday Audience>
Mar. 15, 2016 - (CNA) - After months of anticipation, the date of Mother Teresa’s canonization has finally been announced. It falls on Sept. 4, which this year will also mark a special jubilee for workers and volunteers of mercy.
Though it's been rumored for months that Mother Teresa’s canonization will take place Sept. 4, the Vatican made the date official during a March 15 consistory of cardinals.
Mother Teresa was born Agnes Gonxha Bojaxhiu Aug. 26, 1910, in Skopje, Macedonia. After joining the Sisters of Loretto at age 17, she was sent to Calcutta, where she later contracted tuberculosis, and was sent to rest in Darjeeling.
On the way, she felt what she called “an order” from God to leave the convent and live among the poor.
After she left her convent, Mother Teresa began working in the slums, teaching poor children, and treating the sick in their homes. A year later, some of her former students joined her, and together they took in men, women and children who were dying in the gutters along the streets. Continue Reading Mother Teresa Canonization>
Mar. 15, 2016 - (CNA) - A Palestinian school teacher on Sunday became the recipient of a US$1m international award for her work with children – and it was Pope Francis who announced the winner.
“A population that is not well educated because of wars, or by other reasons that exist in order not to get any education, is a population that decays,” the Pope said in a pre-recorded video message announcing Hanan Al Hroub as the winner of the Global Teacher Prize, awarded by the Varkey Foundation.
“That is why I would like to highlight the noble profession of a teacher.”
A teacher in the West Bank, Hroub was awarded the Global Teacher Prize for her specialization in working with children exposed to violence at a ceremony held in Dubai, the United Arab Emirates' largest city. Continue Reading Religious Discrimination>
Mar. 15, 2016 - (Catholic Culture) - The US Department of Justice has announced “Combating Religious Discrimination Today,” an interagency “community engagement initiative designed to promote religious freedom, challenge religious discrimination and enhance enforcement of religion-based hate crimes.”
“Hate-motivated violence, harassment and discrimination violate America’s laws and threaten our founding vision of a free and tolerant society that welcomes people from every creed and walk of life,” said Vanita Gupta, principal deputy assistant attorney general. “Robust community engagement and meaningful dialogue can help our country fulfill its promise of religious freedom, and we look forward to tackling this challenging work with creative solutions in the months ahead.” Continue Reading Religious Discrimination>
Mar. 14, 2016 - (Diocese FWSB) - Bishop Kevin Rhoades, the bishop of Fort Wayne-South Bend, Ind., on March 14 criticized the decision by the University of Notre Dame to award Vice President Joe Biden and former Speaker John Boehner its prestigious Laeatare Medal at its May 15 commencement exercises.
The move to honor Biden, a pro-abortion rights and pro-same sex “marriage” Catholic, comes seven years after President Barack Obama received an honorary doctorate and gave the commencement address at Notre Dame.
"I believe it is wrong for Notre Dame to honor any 'pro-choice' public official with the Laetare Medal, even if he/she has other positive accomplishments in public service, since direct abortion is gravely contrary to the natural law and violates a very fundamental principle of Catholic moral and social teaching: the inalienable right to life of every innocent human being from the moment of conception," Bishop Rhoades stated.
Mar. 14, 2016 - (Catholic Culture) - The Italian bishops’ television network has published the last letter of the five Missionaries of Charity who served the poor, elderly, and disabled in Aden, Yemen.
Four of the five sisters were slain in a March 4 terrorist attack; the fifth survived and is now out of the country.
Whenever there is heavy bombing, the sisters said in a June 2015 letter to Missionaries of Charity in Rome, “we kneel before the exposed Blessed Sacrament, begging the merciful Jesus to protect us and our poor and to grant peace to this nation.”
“God can never be outdone in generosity as long as we remain with him and his poor,” they continued. “When the bombardments are heavy, we hide under the stairs, all five always united. We live together, we die together with Jesus, Mary.” Continue Reading Last Letter from MCs>
Mar. 14, 2016 - (CNA) - The U.S. House of Representative voted Monday to declare that what is happening to Christians and other ethnic and religious minorities in the Middle East is genocide.
H. Con. Res. 75, introduced by Reps. Jeff Fortenberry (R-Neb.) and Anna Eshoo (D-Calif.) in September, expresses “the sense of Congress” that perpetrators of “atrocities” against Christians, Yezidis, Turkmens, Kurds, and other minorities in the Middle East for their religion or ethnicity are guilty of genocide, and that any supporters of the perpetrators are guilty as well.
Over 200 members of Congress from both parties had co-sponsored the resolution, and it passed out of the House Foreign Affairs Committee by a unanimous bipartisan vote earlier in March.
It passed Monday by a vote of 393-0, just days before the State Department’s March 17 deadline for announcing if it will issue an official declaration of genocide, as required in the recent Omnibus spending bill. Continue Reading ISIS Genocide>
Mar. 13, 2016 - (CNA) - A group of elderly persons and the “grandparents of Rome” distributed copies of Luke’s Gospel at the Vatican on Sunday after Pope Francis delivered his Angelus address, which touched on the human dignity of the sinner.
“How deserving grandfathers and grandmothers who transmit the faith to their grandchildren!”, the Pope said as he introduced the elderly men and women, who were assisted by volunteers of the Vatican’s Santa Marta pediatric dispensary.
Delivering his remarks to crowds gathered in St. Peter’s Square on the fifth Sunday of Lent, the pontiff encouraged those present to read the Gospel daily in order that “the mercy of the Father may dwell in your heart, and you may bring it to everyone you meet.”
“I invite you to take this Gospel, because the mercy of the Father is done works in you,” he said. In addition to containing the entire Gospel of Luke, the booklets include the seven corporal and spiritual works of mercy. Continue Reading Sunday Angelus>
Mar. 12, 2016 - (CNA) - On Saturday Pope Francis said that love is more than just saying nice words and doing things – it means forgetting oneself and serving others, just as Jesus did when he washed the feet of the disciples.
“By washing the feet of the apostles, Jesus wanted to reveal how God acts toward us, and to give an example of this ‘new commandment’ of loving one another as he has loved us; that is, giving his life for us, the Pope said March 12.
Love, then, “is the concrete service we give to each other,” he said, explaining that love isn’t just saying or doing things, but “love is service! A humble service, done in silence and hiddenness, as Jesus himself said: ‘Don’t let your left hand know what your right hand is doing.’”
Pope Francis spoke to pilgrims present in St. Peter’s Square for his third Jubilee general audience, which are being held once a month throughout the Jubilee of Mercy. Continue Reading Jubilee Audience>
Mar. 12, 2016 - (CNA) - The last known surviving soldier of the Cristero War, Juan Daniel Macías Villegas, died last month in his home town of San Julián, Mexico. He was 103 years old.
Mexican photojournalist Alejandro Moreno Merino told CNA that the funeral rites for Macías took place at San José church, with his children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, and great-great-grandchildren in attendance.
The attendees walked in procession almost two miles to the cemetery next to the “Cristero National Guard,” a Catholic organization that seeks to preserve the memory of the martyrs who died during the religious persecution in Mexico in the early 20th century.
Mexico's Cristero War was sparked by anti-clerical legislation being passed by the Mexican President Elías Calles in 1926. Continue Reading Last Cristero Dies>
Mar. 12, 2016 - (CNA) - The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops on Tuesday asked the Supreme Court to uphold the Obama administration’s temporary relief for millions of undocumented persons in the U.S. eligible for deportation.
“Courts have repeatedly recognized that there is a public interest in maintaining stable families and communities,” stated an amicus brief filed March 8 by the USCCB and other faith-based groups.
At stake in United States v. Texas is Obama’s 2014 executive action, the Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents, that delayed the deportation of millions.
The action granted parents with children born in the U.S., and thus citizens or lawful permanent residents by birthright, a stay on their deportation if they met certain conditions like having lived in the U.S. for at least five years, passing a background check, and paying taxes. Up to 3.7 million persons could be eligible, the Migration Policy Institute estimated, as cited in the brief. Continue Reading USCCB SCOTUS Brief>
Mar. 9, 2016 - (OSV) - Three years ago, the world was astonished to witness the election of the 76-year-old Argentinian Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio as Pope Francis. Since then, he has been the pope of surprises, but we also have been given the opportunity to get to know him and, with each passing year, to learn more about him: his style, his thoughts and his hopes for the Church.
In his first year, for example, we discovered he is abidingly committed to pastoral care, speaks openly about himself as a sinner and is willing to give interviews in all kinds of settings.
So what did we learn about Pope Francis in his third year as Vicar of Christ, and what can the faithful look forward to in the fourth year of his pontificate? Continue Reading 3 Years of Pope Francis>
Mar. 10, 2016 - (CNA) - Pope Francis has issued new guidelines for ensuring financial transparency in advancing causes of beatification and canonization, requiring both an administrator to oversee the process and annual budget checks.
The new norms place a strong emphasis on regular budgeting and accounting to ensure transparency, as well as to see to it that donations from the faithful supporting causes are used as intended.
They were approved by the Pope March 4 in a papal rescript for an “ad experimentum,” or provisional, period of three years.
Published March 10, they repeal the norms which had been put into place by St. John Paul II Aug. 20, 1983. The new norms are the fruit of a commission established in March 2015 by the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, a source who works closely with the congregation told CNA. Continue Reading Saint Cause Financial Oversight>
Mar. 10, 2016 - (CNA) - One week before the State Department must announce if Islamic State atrocities against religious minorities in Iraq and Syria are genocide, a 278-page report has been released documenting that Christians there do face genocide.
“We now stand on the cusp of another historic decision,” stated Carl Anderson, Supreme Knight of the Knights of Columbus, who released the report along with the advocacy group In Defense of Christians, at the National Press Club on Thursday.
"The evidence contained in this report, as well as the evidence relied upon by the European Parliament, fully support, and I suggest to you, compel, that reasonable grounds exist to believe that the crime of genocide has been committed against Christians in the region," he said March 10. Continue Reading ISIS Genocide Report>
Mar. 10, 2016 - (CNA) - It was a powerful, solemn scene at Planned Parenthood in Stapleton, Colorado on Saturday morning as Denver Archbishop Samuel J. Aquila led some 1,800 Catholics in a Eucharistic procession seven times around the abortion clinic.
“It was truly a moment of grace, a moment of blessing, a moment of praying to our Lord that hearts may be changed,” Archbishop Aquila said. “It was wonderful to see how many turned out today.”
The archbishop announced his intention to lead the procession in mid-February, and the response to the event was overwhelmingly positive, said Karna Swanson, the communications director for the archdiocese.
“We set up a simple website with a no-nonsense invitation for people to come and pray with the archbishop, and immediately we were hearing from people just thanking the archbishop for doing this,” Swanson said. Continue Reading Denver Eucharistic Procession>
Mar. 10, 2016 - (Zenit) - In the framework of the “24 Hours for the Lord,” the “App” of the Pope’s Worldwide Network of Prayer: “Click to Pray, was launched Friday. This was announced to ZENIT in the days leading up to the release by French Jesuit Father Frederic Fornos, international director of the Pope’s worldwide network of prayer (Apostolate of Prayer) and of its branch for young people, the Eucharistic Movement of Young People. This branch springs from the Jesuits’ charism, and falls under the responsibility of the Father Adolfo Nicolas, who presented this project to Pope Francis, who approved it in July 2015.
The Pope, stressed Father Fornos, has the conviction that the prayer of the baptized must and the aid application must be stimulated to pray three times a day for the Pope’s intentions, in communion with the whole Church. It is a means to “be closer to the Heart of Jesus by praying for humanity.” Continue Reading Click to Pray App>
More info on the App here: ClicktoPray.Org
Mar. 10, 2016 - (Catholic Culture) - An English bishop has issued a call for Christians to defend atheists from persecution.
Writing in the Universe, Bishop Declan Lang of Clifton-- who chairs the international-affairs committee for the bishops' conference of England Wales-- argued: "The Catholic community in England and Wales has a role to play in ensuring that the government maintains this position and continues to speak out when people are imprisoned, tortured or killed on account of their atheism."
Bishop Lang cited the case of an atheist who was killed by a more two years agao because he had taken the atheist position on his blog. He said that five more atheists have subsequently been murdered in Bangladesh. In Saudi Arabia, atheism is classified as a form of terrorism, he said.
The bishop said that Christian support for persecuted atheists would be "a practical expression of solidarity" and would promote religious freedom for all people. Continue Reading Atheist Persecution>
Mar. 8, 2016 - (News.VA) - Google has marked International Women’s Day with a special live-action Google Doodle featuring real women discussing their hopes for the future, and a famous scientist mentions Pope Francis.
Google Doodles are the usually animated drawings the internet giant uses to mark holidays and important anniversaries.
This year, the theme of International Women’s Day is "Planet 50-50 by 2030", an independent campaign that aims to put gender equality at the centre of global sustainability plans. Staff from Google visited 13 countries and asked 337 women and girls to complete the sentence, “One day I will…”, and used the resulting video to create a 90-second Google Doodle.
One of the more notable women featured is anthropologist Jane Goodall – who said she wants to meet the Holy Father. “I will discuss the environment with Pope Francis,” she said during the video. Continue Reading International Women's Day>
Mar. 7, 2016 - (CNA) - The latest push to legalize assisted suicide for the terminally ill has failed in Maryland, but opponents are well aware that this isn't the end of the fight.
When it was clear that it didn't have enough support to pass, the sponsor of the End-of-Life Option Act, Sen. Robert Young (D-Frederick), pulled the bill March 3 ahead of the Senate Judiciary Proceedings Committee.
“It is a relief that this very dangerous legislation is not moving forward,” Executive Director of Maryland Catholic Conference, Mary Ellen Russell said in a statement provided to CNA.
However, she added, “I think it's important to remain vigilant and to know the proponents of this bill here in Maryland and around the country are very aggressive in pushing regardless of how much opposition there is against the bill.”
The Denver, Colorado-based assisted suicide advocacy group, Compassion & Choices, said that it will continue to push for the passage in Maryland and other states. Continue Reading Catholic Population>
Mar. 7, 2016 - (Catholic Culture) - Between 2005 and 2014, the world’s Catholic population rose from 1.115 billion (17.3% of the world’s population) to 1.272 billion (17.8%), according to statistics made public by the Holy See Press Office on March 5.
During that time period, the Catholic population soared by 41% in Africa and 20% in Asia, approximately double the rate of population growth on each continent (23.8% in Africa, 9.6% in Asia). During the same time period, the Catholic population increased by 11.7% in North and South America, 2% in Europe, and 15.9% in Oceania.
In 2014, nearly half (48%) of the world’s Catholics lived in North and South America. 22.6% lived in Europe, 17% in Africa, 10.9% in Asia, and 0.8% in Oceania.
Between 2005 and 2014, the number of priests increased from 406,411 to 415,792, while the number of permanent deacons rose from 33,000 to 44,566. The number of priests rose significantly in Africa (by 32.6%) and Asia (by 27.1%), which declining in Europe (by 8%). 97.5% of permanent deacons live in North America, South America, or Europe. Continue Reading Catholic Population>
Mar. 8, 2016 - (CNA) - A Missouri court ruling in favor of a Catholic diocese protects the right of religious institutions to fire ministerial employees who do not live consistently with their religious beliefs.
“This ruling rightly preserves the integrity of churches and religious institutions,” Jeremiah Galus, legal counsel with Alliance Defending Freedom, told CNA March 2. “If churches are forced to employ people who do not follow their religious teachings, they will no longer be able to minister consistently or freely in accordance with their faith.”
Galus was responding to a court ruling that the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph is free to make ministerial employment decisions without government interference and did not violate any laws by terminating employment of a woman in a same-sex marriage.
“Churches should have the right to hire and fire people based on how consistently they live out their religious beliefs. If an employee is undermining or publicly opposing the church’s teaching, the church is within its constitutional rights to terminate employment,” Galus said. Continue Reading Missouri Ruling>
Mar. 4, 2016 - (CNA) - Pope Francis has condemned the “diabolical violence” of Friday’s deadly attack on a nursing home in Yemen, acknowledging in a special way the four Missionaries of Charity sisters who were killed during the siege.
“His Holiness Pope Francis was shocked and profoundly saddened to learn of the killing of four Missionaries of Charity and twelve others at a home for the elderly in Aden,” reads the telegram, released Saturday and signed by Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin.
The Pope “sends the assurance of his prayers for the dead and his spiritual closeness to their families and to all affected from this act of senseless and diabolical violence,” the message reads.
“He prays that this pointless slaughter will awaken consciences, lead to a change of heart, and inspire all parties to lay down their arms and take up the path of dialogue.” Continue Reading Missionaries of Charity>
Mar. 4, 2016 - (CNA) - The majority of Brazilians are opposed to abortion in cases where the baby exhibits microcephaly, a new survey finds.
The poll comes amid continued concerns over the possible role of Zika virus in causing microcephaly.
Released by Brazil’s Datafolha Institute, the survey indicates that 58 percent of Brazilians reject the practice of abortion in cases of pregnant women infected with the Zika virus. Just 32 percent think the woman should have an abortion and 10 percent had no opinion.
Even in cases where it is confirmed that the baby will be born with microcephaly, 51 percent of respondents were against ending the baby’s life. About 39 percent approved of an abortion.
The first case of the Zika virus in the Americas was recorded in Brazil in May 2015. Since then, the virus has spread through half of South America, much of Central America and Mexico. Some cases have been reported in the southern United States. Continue Reading Zika Outbreak>
Mar. 4, 2016 - (CNA) - Leading his annual penitential service on Friday, Pope Francis told attendees to stand tall and be open to forgiveness, and not to let themselves remain under the heavy burden of sin.
“Let us cast off...all that prevents us from racing towards him, unafraid of leaving behind those things which make us feel safe and to which we are attached,” the Pope said March 4.
He told attendees not to “remain sedentary, but let us get up and find our spiritual worth again, our dignity as loved sons and daughters who stand before the Lord so that we can be seen by him, forgiven and recreated.”
Pointing to the word “recreated,” Francis said it arrives to the heart of each person present, because it’s a reminder of what God said when he created man: “Rise! God has created us to stand. Arise.” Continue Reading Pope at 24-Hours for the Lord>
Mar. 4, 2016 - (Diocese FWSB) - During this Jubilee Year of Mercy, with its motto, “Merciful Like the Father,” 12 parishes throughout the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend will join the universal Church on March 4-5 in the celebration of “24 Hours for the Lord.”
The 12 parishes hosting 24 Hours for the Lord in the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend will be: St. John the Baptist (Fairfield), St. Jude, St. Vincent de Paul and the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Fort Wayne, along with St. Therese Little Flower, St. Joseph, Christ the King, and Holy Family (all in SB) and St. Thomas in Elkhart, St. Mary in Bristol, St. Francis Xavier in Pierceton, and St. John in Goshen.
FULL SCHEDULE: 24-Hours for the Lord in Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend>
Mar. 4, 2016 - (CNA) - A 95-year-old priest named Friar Roberto walked more than three-and-a-half miles while hearing confessions during a recent “Penitential Walk” in Brazil.
Some 30,000 people participated in the walk, which took place Feb. 28 in the northeast Brazilian Archdioceses of Fortaleza and Salvador de Bahia.
“It was one of most beautiful moments I saw today. That example of faith, love and fidelity for the things of God, which is what Friar Roberto showed us today, was a true proof of the presence of God in his heart. We've got to follow his example!” one person commented on social media, sharing pictures of the priest exercising his ministry.
The Capuchin priest was born on September 10, 1920, in the city of Maracanaú (Ceará State). He was baptized with the name Juari Magalhães de Sousa. When he was 14, he entered the Capuchin monastery. He then changed his name to Friar Roberto. He was ordained a priest in 1944 and has been a priest for 71 years. Continue Reading Walking Confessions>
Mar. 4, 2016 - (Zenit) - Pope Francis on Friday will hear confessions as he presides in Saint Peter’s Basilica over the penitential celebration called “24 Hours for the Lord,” now in its third consecutive year. In fact, it was during last year’s ceremony that the Pontiff proclaimed the Jubilee Year of Mercy.
From 9:00 pm on Friday, March 4, there will be Confessions and Eucharistic Adoration in three churches of Rome: Our Lady of the Sacred Heart in Piazza Navona; Santa Maria in Trastevere and the church of Saint Francis’ Holy Stigmata in Largo Argentina. The churches will remain open uninterruptedly, with the presence of priests available for Confessions.
There will also be Confessions and Eucharistic Adoration on Saturday, March 5 in the church of Our Lady of the Sacred Heart, beginning at 10:00 am. The conclusive celebration will be held at 5:00 pm in the church of the Holy Spirit in Sassia, presided over by Monsignor Rino Fisichella, President of the Pontifical Council for Promoting the New Evangelization. Continue Reading Pope Francis 24 Hours>
Mar. 2, 2016 - (CNA) - As the Supreme Court heard arguments about a Texas law requiring abortion clinics to meet higher medical standards, advocates outside the court said the regulations are about protecting women’s health.
For Nona Ellington, the case is a personal one.
Standing outside the Supreme Court on Wednesday, she told EWTN about her own experience of undergoing an abortion in Texas as a teenager. Rather than solving her problems, she said, the procedure resulted in lasting complications that continue to haunt her to this day.
“As a result of that abortion at age 15, I’m no longer able to have children,” she said. “I had five miscarriages instead.” And these miscarriages led to in life-threatening complications of their own, including tubal pregnancies and a ruptured fallopian tube that resulted in “near death experiences.”
Ellington said that she also suffered severe psychological effects after the abortion, including suicidal thoughts and attempts to take her own life. Now, she is taking a stand against “shoddy abortion clinics” and warning that abortion is “a very dangerous procedure.” Continue Reading SCOTUS Abortion Case>
Mar. 2, 2016 - (CNA) - On Wednesday, Pope Francis issued a harsh condemnation of those who exploit others and then donate to the Church, telling them their “dirty money” isn’t wanted.
Taking his cue from the first chapter of the Book of the Prophet Isaiah, Pope Francis said March 2 that God doesn’t like “the blood of bulls and lambs, especially if the offering is done with hands dirty with the blood of their brothers.”
Francis spoke to pilgrims present in St. Peter’s Square for his general audience. He has dedicated the catechesis of the weekly address to the theme of mercy as seen in Scripture, as part of the Jubilee of Mercy.
In his speech, he said that when Isaiah tells the Israelites to “Bring no more vain offerings; incense is an abomination to me…when you spread forth your hands, I will hide my eyes from you; even though you make many prayers, I will not listen; your hands are full of blood,” he thinks of certain Church benefactors.
There are some people, he said, who come with a generous offering, but which is “a fruit of the blood of so many people who are exploited, mistreated and enslaved by poorly paid jobs!” Continue Reading Wednesday Audience>
Mar. 1, 2016 - (CNA) - “What can the Church in the United States offer the Universal Church and the world?”
On the cusp of Super Tuesday and in the midst of an already-heated election year, Papal Theologian Fr. Wojciech Giertych responded to that question in a Q&A style conversation hosted by the Denver-based Augustine Institute.
“I think there is certainly a very positive value that you have and you’re not particularly aware of it. That you have liberty in your country,” Fr. Giertych said in his Feb. 24 discussion. “And by liberty, I mean that you are free to set up institutions like (the Augustine Institute) without government control.”
In modern-day Europe, Fr. Giertych said, government involvement and high taxation has made independent institutions almost impossible. “...The bureaucrats who apparently know better, who have two charisms: that of being irremovable and of being infallible,” he joked. Continue Reading On American Politics>
Mar. 1, 2016 - (CNA) - The Pontifical North American College (NAC) on Sunday officially installed its new rector, Fr. Peter Harman.
The Illinois native was formally installed as the 23rd rector of the Rome-based American seminary at Mass, during which he made his Oath of Fidelity and Profession of Faith.
“It is with real humility that I stand here today,” the new rector said, during a banquet following the Mass. “Although I never imagined becoming Rector, I know accepting this role is how God can use my service for His good.”
Archbishop Newark and College Board of Governors Chairman, Archbishop John Myers, served as the principal celebrant at the Feb. 28 Mass. “We are grateful to Fr. Peter Harman and the other formators and faculty of the Pontifical North American College for having assumed the responsibility of leading this great community,” Archbishop Myers said in his homily. Continue Reading New NAC Rector>
Mar. 1, 2016 - (CNA) - After fierce controversy during his short-lived term at Mount St. Mary's University, president Simon Newman has stepped down, the school's board announced Feb. 29.
“I am proud of what I have been able to achieve in a relatively short time, particularly in helping the University chart a clear course toward a bright future,” Newman said in a statement from the university.
“I care deeply about the school and the recent publicity relating to my leadership has become too great of a distraction to our mission of educating students,” he said, adding that he believes this decision to be the “right course of action for the Mount at this time.”
Immediately following Newman's resignation, the university appointed Karl Einolf, Ph.D., as acting president. Continue Reading Mount St. Mary's>
Feb. 29, 2016 - (Catholic Culture) - A Louisiana judge has ruled unconstitutional a new state law requiring priests to report sexual abuse that is mentioned in a sacramental confession.
Judge Mike Caldwell made his ruling in a long-running and complicated case in which Father Jeff Bayhi had been directed to testify about what a young woman reportedly told him in a confession. The young woman has said that she told Father Bayhi about being molested by a member of his parish. Father Bayhi had refused to testify, citing the inviolability of the confessional seal.
Judge Caldwell ruled that the state law making priests mandated reporters of sexual abuse was unconstitutional insofar as it applied to confessions, since it violated religious freedom.
In an earlier phase of the case, the Louisiana Supreme Court had said that Father Bayhi could be required to testify, because in this case the penitent had waived the protection of the confessional seal. Church officials pointed out that the seal cannot be waived, and a priest cannot reveal the contents of a confession under any circumstances. Last year the US Supreme Court had declined to hear the case. Continue Reading Seal of Confession>
Feb. 29, 2016 - (CNA) - Today's martyrs have become “the seed of Christian unity,” Pope Francis said Monday during an audience with the leader of the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church and his delegation.
“The ecumenism of the martyrs is a summons to us, here and now, to advance on the path to ever greater unity,” the Pope said at the Feb. 29 meeting at the Vatican with Abune Mathias, Patriarch of the Ethiopian Orthodox.
“Just as in the early Church the shedding of the blood of martyrs became the seed of new Christians, so today the blood of the many martyrs of all the Churches has become the seed of Christian unity.”
The Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church is the largest of the Oriental Orthodox Churches. These Churches reject the 451 Council of Chalcedon, and its followers were historically considered monophysites – those who believe Christ has only one nature – by Catholics and the Eastern Orthodox. Continue Reading Ecumenism of the Martyrs>
Feb. 29, 2016 - (CNA) - The film Spotlight, which won the Oscar for best picture on Sunday, is a courageous movie that is not anti-Catholic, the Vatican daily L’Osservatore Romano said in two articles dedicated to comment on the Oscars.
Historian and journalist Lucetta Scaraffia, in an op-ed titled “It is not an anti-Catholic film,” writes that Spotlight “is not anti-Catholic, as has been written, because it manages to voice the shock and profound pain of the faithful confronting the discovery of these horrendous realities.”
The movie “does not delve into the long and tenacious battle that Joseph Ratzinger, as Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and as Pope, undertook against pedophilia in the Church,” says Scaraffia, but “one film cannot tell all, and the difficulties that Ratzinger met with do not but confirm the film’s theme, which is that too often ecclesiastical institutions have not known how to react with the necessary determination in the face of these crimes.” Continue Reading Spotlight Review>
Feb. 26, 2016 - (CNA) - Continuing his knack for surprises, Pope Francis made an unscheduled stop at a rehabilitation center for those addicted to drugs and alcohol as part of monthly works of mercy, which he carries out on Fridays during the Jubilee Year of Mercy.
He traveled to the Fr. Mario Picchi Italian Center for Solidarity on Friday afternoon for the surprise visit, where he spoke with the 60 guests receiving treatment, and offered words of hope.
The center, a nonprofit organization founded by Fr. Picchi in 1979, organizes numerous initiatives aimed at fighting the marginalization of youth and families as well as social exclusion. Their primary objective is the prevention of and rehabilitation from drug addiction and alcoholism.
In a Feb. 26 communique, the center’s president, Roberto Mineo, said that everyone was “without words” when they saw the Pope pull up in front of their door. Continue Reading Pope Francis>
Feb. 29, 2016 - (CNA) - Requests for physician-assisted suicide in Oregon have almost doubled annually since 2013, records for the state’s public health authority show.
“What’s happened in America – and particularly in Oregon – is that we are changing absolute values, and then replacing it with personal choice,” Gayle Atteberry, executive director of Oregon Right to Life, told CNA of the rise in requests for lethal prescriptions.
According to data published by the Oregon Public Health Division earlier in February, there were 218 lethal prescriptions written there in 2015, a sharp increase from 155 in the previous year, and 121 in 2013.
Although the average yearly increase in prescriptions was 12 percent, in 2014-15 it was 24 percent. Continue Reading Assisted Suicide>
Feb. 25, 2016 - (Diocese FWSB) - During this Jubilee Year of Mercy, with its motto, “Merciful Like the Father,” 12 parishes throughout the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend will join the universal Church on March 4-5 in the celebration of “24 Hours for the Lord.”
In the Bull of Indiction of the Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy, “Misericordiae Vultus,” which was announced in Rome April 11, 2015 in St. Peter’s, Pope Francis called for an observance of 24 Hours for the Lord to be celebrated in each diocese on the Friday and Saturday preceding the Fourth Week of Lent. The emphasis will be on Reconciliation, but participating parishes will also include Eucharistic Adoration, Stations of the Cross, various prayer services and quiet prayer throughout the 24 hours, which will run from noon on Friday, March 4 till noon on Saturday, March 5.
Catholics all over the diocese are invited to attend some part of 24 Hours for the Lord, even if it’s simply spending time in quiet reflection and prayer. There will be numerous opportunities for the faithful to encounter Jesus Christ anew in the Sacrament of Confession as well as during Eucharistic Adoration. Continue Reading 24 Hours for the Lord>
Feb. 25, 2016 - (News.Va) - Pope Francis has met with several of the children who wrote him letters for his new book, “Dear Pope Francis,” which was presented to him during the meeting.
The young people were accompanied by the President of Caritas Internationalis, Manila Archbishop Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle, and the editor-in-chief of the Jesuit magazine La Civiltà Cattolica, Fr. Antonio Spadaro, SJ, who helped Pope Francis with the book.
During the encounter – involving children from Italy, the Philippines, India, Kenya, Australia, Argentina, the United States, Canada, Singapore, Ireland, Belgium, and China – the Holy Father said the questions asked for the book were some of the “most difficult” he had ever been asked.
Pope Francis then proceeded to answer more questions the children had. He said his favourite thing about being Pope was “being around people,” adding he “learned something every time” he met someone new. Continue Reading Dear Pope Francis>
Feb. 25, 2016 - (CNA) - The U.S. must not ignore the Islamic State’s genocide of Christians. That is the position of a petition drive and television campaign seeking to persuade Secretary of State John Kerry.
“Christians in Iraq and Syria have suffered injustice after injustice by being kidnapped, killed, having their homes and churches confiscated or destroyed, and being forced to flee for their lives,” Carl Anderson, Supreme Knight of the Knights of Columbus, said Feb. 25. “Because of hit squads, they fear to enter U.N. refugee camps and, as a result, are then often excluded from immigration to the West.”
He said that these Christians “deserve to have the U.S. State Department call what has happened to them by its rightful name: genocide.”
By law, the State Department must choose how to designate the atrocities by March 17, according to the Knights of Columbus. Official recognition of genocide would have consequences for U.S. foreign policy, including refugee resettlement policy. Continue Reading Genocide Petition>
Feb. 25, 2016 - (CNA) - Singapore's music fans can do better than Madonna, the local Catholic archbishop has said.
The American pop star will stop in Singapore on Sunday Feb. 28 as part of her “Rebel Heart” tour – and Archbishop William Goh says the concert is “causing a stir” among Catholics and other Christians.
In response, he urged the faithful to reflect on how Christianity offers a contrasting vision of the arts and the world.
“As the people of God, we should subscribe to authentic arts that lead us to God through the appreciation of beauty, harmony, goodness, truth and love, respect, unity and the transcendent,” he said Feb. 20.
He encouraged Christians and others not to support “the 'pseudo arts' that promote sensuality, rebellion, disrespect, pornography, contamination of the minds of the young, abusive freedom, individualism at the expense of the common good, vulgarity, lies and half-truths.” Continue Reading Madonna Concert>
Feb. 23, 2016 - (NCRegister) - The home that was believed to be a site of demonic activity was demolished last month. The story, as reported in the Register, centered on an Indiana family attacked by demons and freed by a Catholic priest through a series of exorcisms.
It had attracted international attention after multiple people from various agencies, including a police officer and hospital and social-service employees, gave eyewitness testimonies of unexplained occurrences involving the family who lived there, including levitation of objects and loud footsteps leaving prints. Two hospital personnel reported seeing one of the boys walking backwards up a wall, flipping into the air and landing on his feet while in a hospital room waiting to be examined. In a separate event, the Department of Child Services report stated that the staff at a doctor’s office witnessed one of the boys getting lifted up and thrown into a wall. Continue Reading Demonic House>
Feb. 25, 2016 - (Catholic Culture) - In the final days of his journey to Latin America, Patriarch Kirill of Moscow traveled to Rio de Janeiro, where he prayed for persecuted Christians at the statute of Christ the Redeemer.
Catholics and Orthodox Christians “still have some doctrinal disagreements, but no one is preventing us from fighting, hand in hand, to end the persecutions, the ousting of Christian values, to end the de-Christianization of the 21st-century human civilization,” the Interfax news service quoted him as saying.
The patriarch lamented the situation in Europe: "Where an evil political force disguised as tolerance is ousting Christianity out of the public life; when people are banned from wearing, in public places, and especially at the workplace, the cross that was laid upon them when they were baptized; when some countries ban the use of the word ‘Christmas,’ and replace it with an incomprehensible one, or simply call it a ‘winter holiday’..." Continue Reading Patriarch Kiril>
Feb. 24, 2016 - (CNA) - On Wednesday Pope Francis cautioned that unless wealth and power are put at the service of society, especially the poor, they risk becoming instruments of corruption, private interests and various forms of abuse.
“Wealth and power are realities which can be good and useful for the common good, if they are put at the service of the poor and of everyone, with justice and charity,” the Pope said Feb. 24.
However, when they are instead lived “as a privilege with egoism and power, as too often happens, they are transformed into instruments of corruption and death.”
Pope Francis spoke to pilgrims gathered in St. Peter’s Square for his Wednesday general audience, which he dedicated to his ongoing catechesis on mercy in scripture. Continue Reading Wednesday Audience>
Feb. 22, 2016 - (Zenit) - In a splintered decision Thursday, a federal court ruled that the world’s largest religious media network, Eternal Word Television Network (EWTN), must comply with the government’s infamous HHS Mandate, which is designed to provide contraceptives and abortifacients.
Recognizing the severity of the situation, the court immediately put its ruling on hold until the Supreme Court address this important issue on March 23 in the Little Sisters of the Poor case.
“We are disappointed in the Court’s refusal to protect our religious freedom,” said EWTN Chairman and CEO Michael P. Warsaw. “We simply want to continue to practice the same faith we preach to the world every day. We are prayerful and hopeful that, if necessary, the Supreme Court will correct this critical error.” Continue Reading EWTN vs. HHS>
Feb. 22, 2016 - (Catholic Culture) - Archbishop Terrence Prendergast of Ottawa has told his priests that they should not administer the Sacrament of Anointing to people who plan an assisted suicide, since their desire to end their own lives shows that they lack "the proper disposition for the anointing of the sick."
The archbishop said that if a priest is called to attend to someone planning suicide, he should pray with him and seek to dissuade him from the act. In those circumstances, he said, by refusing to anoint the individual the priest may be helping to drive home the gravity of the action. He added that the sacrament includes absolution, but this cannot be given pre-emptively, to forgive a sin that is still being planned.
Archbishop Prenderast observed: "Asking your priest to be present to something that is is direct contradiction to our Catholic values is not fair to the pastor." Continue Reading Assisted Suicide>
Feb. 23, 2016 - (Catholic Culture) - The Islamic State has released 43 Christians who were taken captive during a February 2015 military offensive in northeastern Syria, according to the Assyrian Church of the East Relief Organization (ACERO).
The Islamic State had previously freed the majority of the more than 200 hostages, and “this freed group comprises the final hostages from the group abducted from Assyrian villages in February 2015,” according to ACERO. “Therefore, no further hostages remain.”
The Associated Press reported that ransom payments in the millions of dollars were paid to secure the release of the hostages. Continue Reading Christians Released>
Feb. 23, 2016 - (CNA) - As the process of reforming the Vatican's communications is carried out, Fr. Federico Lombardi will step down as director of Vatican Radio at the end of the month, though he will continue to serve as director of the Holy See press office.
A Feb. 22 communique from the Secretariat for Communications announced the decision, and that Alberto Gasbarri, director of administration at Vatican Radio, will also be leaving his post.
Neither Gasbarri nor Fr. Lombardi, who has served Vatican Radio for 25 years, will be replaced. Gasbarri had coordinated papal trips for 40 years.
The head of the Secretariat for Communications appointed Giacomo Ghisani, deputy director of the secretariat, as Vatican Radio's interim legal representative and director of administration. Continue Reading Fr. Lombardi Steps Down>
Feb. 22, 2016 - (CNA) - The nuns of Mother Angelica's monastery have thanked those who have prayed for the EWTN founder and have asked continued prayers for the 92-year-old nun.
“Mother's condition remains delicate and she receives devoted care day and night by her sisters and nurses,” the nuns of Our Lady of the Angels Monastery said in a Feb. 22 update.
“Although she is most often sleeping, from time to time Mother will give a radiant smile. There is no doubt that her heart must be 'on things above,'” the nuns said, referencing St. Paul’s Letter to the Colossians.
Mother Angelica founded Eternal Word Television Network in 1981. The organization would become EWTN Global Catholic Network. She headed the organization until the year 2000 and became one of the most influential Catholic women in the U.S. Continue Reading Mother Angelica>
Feb. 22, 2016 - (CNA) - At a funeral Mass on Saturday, Catholics recalled the late Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia as a man of deep faith that informed his public service.
“He was God’s first,” his son Fr. Paul Scalia noted of his father, citing public servant St. Thomas More’s iconic quote: “I die the king’s good servant but God’s first.”
Justice Scalia died Feb. 13 at a resort ranch in West Texas at the age of 79. He was the longest-serving justice on the Supreme Court, having served since 1986.
A lifelong Catholic, Scalia attended the Jesuit-run Xavier High School in New York City and then Georgetown University in Washington, D.C. for undergraduate studies. He was a parishioner at St. John the Beloved Catholic Church in McLean, Va.
An estimated crowd of 3,300 attended Scalia’s funeral Mass Saturday at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, the largest church in North America. Continue Reading Justice Scalia Funeral>
Feb. 21, 2016 - (CNA) - On Saturday Pope Francis held his second Saturday general audience of the Jubilee, encouraging pilgrims to make a daily commitment to spreading God’s mercy both in the small things, and to those most in need.
“My life, my attitude, my way of living, must truly be a concrete sign that God is close to us,” the Pope said Feb. 20.
He explained that this is done through “small gestures of love, tenderness and care” which show that “the Lord is with us, that he's close to us. And this is how the door of mercy opens.”
Pope Francis spoke to pilgrims gathered in St. Peter’s Square for his second Saturday general audience for the Holy Year of Mercy.
In addition to his weekly Wednesday general audiences, the Pope chose to hold an extra audience once a month on a Saturday as a special initiative for the Jubilee. In his address, Francis continued his reflections on the topic of mercy as understood through scripture, this week focusing on God’s commitment to humanity in sending Jesus. Continue Reading Jubliee Audience>
Feb. 21, 2016 - (CNA) - Christians must work to abolish the death penalty and improve prison conditions, Pope Francis said on Sunday.
After praying the Angelus on Sunday in St. Peter’s Square, Pope Francis called on all Christians and people of good will to work “not only for the abolition of the death penalty” but also to improve the conditions in prison. These efforts would respect the human dignity of prisoners, he said.
He appealed to the consciences of government leaders to join “the international consensus for the abolition of the death penalty.” He asked Catholic leaders not to hold executions during the Year of Mercy. This would be as a “courageous and exemplary act,” he said Feb. 21.
Rome will host an international convention for those working to abolish the death penalty on Feb. 22. The event is being promoted by the Sant’Egidio Community.
Pope Francis said he hoped that the gathering can strengthen efforts to abolish capital punishment. Continue Reading Death Penalty>
Feb. 12, 2016 - (CNA) - Christian brotherhood and unity were the focus of Pope Francis and Russian Orthodox Patriarch Kirill when they met on Friday afternoon in Havana.
“We spoke as brothers,” Pope Francis said. “We have the same baptism. We are bishops. We spoke of our Churches.”
“We agreed that unity is created by journeying together,” he told a gathering of Catholic and Orthodox clergy and reporters after his meeting with the patriarch.
He characterized the Feb. 12 conversation as open and authentic. It focused on “a series of initiatives that I believe are viable and can be realized.”
The Pope praised the patriarch’s humility, brotherhood, and deep desire for unity.
The first-ever meeting between a Pope and a Patriarch of Moscow was held privately. Afterwards they signed a joint declaration that focused on several topics. Continue Reading Pope and Patriarch>
Feb. 13, 2016 - (CNA) - Pope Francis’ historic first pilgrimage to the Basilica Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Mexico City brought reflections of obedience, surrender, and hope as the Holy Father celebrated Mass on Feb. 13.
“We have just heard how Mary went to meet her cousin Elizabeth. She sets out without delay, without doubts, without lessening her pace, to be with her relative,” Pope Francis stated during his homily on Feb. 13, pointing to the Gospel of Luke.
Mary “is the woman who says ‘yes’...this is the ‘yes’ which prompted her to give the best of herself, going forth to meet the others,” the Holy Father continued.
Pope Francis offered these reflections while celebrating Mass at the Basilica Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe during his 6-day papal trip to the country of Mexico.
During his homily, Pope Francis noted that listening to that particular Gospel passage on Mary “in this place has a special significance.” He went on to highlight Mary’s availability to those in need, saying her obedient surrender to God helped her serve her brothers and sisters. Continue Reading Guadalupe Visit>
Feb. 13, 2016 - (NYT) - Antonin Scalia, dead unexpectedly this weekend at 79, was not the most politically powerful justice during his three decades on the Supreme Court. That distinction belonged to the court’s two swing votes, Sandra Day O’Connor and then Anthony M. Kennedy, respectively the philosopher queen and king of our fraying republican order.
Unlike them, Scalia did not have the opportunity to write all his preferences into the law of the land. For every victory he won, there was a sharp defeat; for every important majority opinion a stinging, quotable dissent. And on the issues he cared the most about – abortion, above all – his defeats were famous and his dissents often not just eloquent but anguished.
But in every other respect, he was the most important Supreme Court justice of his era.
He was important because of his intellectual influence. There were and are many legal theories and schools of constitutional interpretation within the world of American conservatism. Continue Reading Scalia Tribute>
Feb. 11, 2016 - (Zenit) - The Knights of Columbus is asking those considering a Lenten sacrifice to give “40 Bucks for Lent” and use the hashtag #40BucksForLent to help Middle Eastern Christians and other religious minorities suffering religious persecution there.
“Since many people give up something for Lent, we wanted to provide an opportunity for their sacrifice to make a difference — not only in their own life, but in the lives of others,” said K of C Supreme Knight Carl Anderson. “During the Lenten season, we recall Christ’s suffering and death. In turn, remembering and assisting those who are today suffering and dying for their belief in Christ is an excellent way to do good where it is most needed and to enter more deeply into the spirit of this season.”
The Knights began its Christian Refugee Relief Fund in 2014. To date nearly $10 million has been raised to provide housing, food, medical aid, education and general relief to persecuted Christians and other religious minorities especially from Iraq and Syria, and to raise awareness about their plight. Those persecuted have suffered enormously at the hands of terrorists, who target them simply for their faith. Lives have been turned upside down, friends and families killed, and homes seized. Continue Reading #40BucksforLent>
Feb. 11, 2016 - (Catholic Culture) - Lawmakes in Northern Ireland have defeated a proposal that would have allowed for legal abortion in cases in which the unborn child was diagnosed with a fatal physical defect.
After a heated debate, the Northern Ireland Assembly voted 59 to 40 against the proposal. Proponents had argued that it was merciful to end the lives of babies who could not survive-- or could not live for long-- outside the womb. Pro-life advocates replied that merciful treatment would mean providing the best care for the child during its short life.
Abortion is legal in Northern Ireland today only in cases when the pregnancy threatens the life of the mother or could cause severe and lasting damage to her health. Continue Reading Abortion in Ireland>
Feb. 11, 2016 - (CNA) - Media reports are wrong to claim that the Vatican is telling new bishops that they don’t have to report sexual abuse, Holy See spokesman Father Federico Lombardi said.
A reported comment from a Vatican consultant is “not in any way – as someone has mistakenly interpreted – a new Vatican document or a new instruction or new 'guidelines' for bishops,” Fr. Lombardi said Feb. 11.
The news reports concerned a statement from French Monsignor Tony Anatrella, who contributed to a 2015 formation course for new bishops organized by the Congregation for Bishops.
Msgr. Anatrella, a consultant to the Pontifical Council for the Family and the Pontifical Council for Health Care Workers, wrote a document with a section reflecting on countries’ civil laws that mandate abuse reporting. Continue Reading Vatican Reports>
Feb. 9, 2016 - (CNA) - Pope Francis met with 650 of the 1,000 priests who've been chosen as Missionaries of Mercy, telling them to show the tenderness of God’s love to those who confess to them during the Jubliee.
“Let us not forget: before us there is not sin, but the repentant sinner. A person who feels the desire of being welcomed and forgiven,” and who no longer desires to be far from God, the Pope said Feb. 9.
He called to mind the biblical passage in which Noah, after the flood, got drunk from the wine he made in his vineyard, and was found lying naked inside his tent. While his son Ham laughed at him, Noah’s other sons, Shem and Japheth, covered him with a blanket. Continue Reading Missionaries of Mercy>
Feb. 9, 2016 - (Zenit) - In two separate appeals, the heads of both the Chaldean and Melkite Churches have called on Christians worldwide to observe the fast on Ash Wednesday and to begin their Lenten journey mindful of the plight of persecuted fellow believers in the Middle East.
From Baghdad, Chaldean Patriarch Louis Raphael Sako I wrote:
“The war in Iraq and Syria is taking on apocalyptic dimensions. Without a doubt, we are already facing the largest humanitarian catastrophe since the end of World War II. Once-thriving cities such as Mosul and the villages on the Nineveh plains have been reduced to rubble. Those who could flee, did. Millions of children in refugee camps are waiting for their daily bread, but they thirst for a future; they want schools and a home. They want to return to their homelands, as do their parents and relatives. Aid organizations are tirelessly caring for the refugees. They are buying basic foodstuffs, clothing, drinking water, blankets and medicine. Continue Reading Middle East Christians>
Feb. 9, 2016 - (Catholic Culture) - Undaunted by a federal court’s injunction against release of undercover videos involving the National Abortion Federation (NAF), the Center for Medical Progress (CMP) has released a new video, in which an NAF representative touts the advantage of a “group purchasing program” to promote sales of fetal tissues.
In the new video—which is not covered under the terms of the injunction granted last week by Judge William Orrick—a NAF official says that a proposal to provide kickbacks to abortion clinics that provide fetal tissues would be “a win-win” and “a really great option to be able to offer our members.”
Judge Orrick, in issuing an injunction against the release of videos filmed at NAF meetings, had charged that the CMP videos “have not been pieces of journalistic integrity, but misleadingly edited videos and unfounded assertions.” The judge insisted that no abortionists had shown an interest in the illegal sale of fetal tissues for profit. The new video released by CMP shows, however, that a NAF representative described a proposal to share profits from tissue sales as “something some of our members would be really interested in.” Continue Reading New CMP Video>
Feb. 8, 2016 - (CNA) - A current proposal by a federal agency has raised concerns that doctors may be punished for believing that there are only two genders, rooted in biological sex.
The proposed rule, issued by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, says that it is aimed at banning discrimination against transgender individuals under the Obama administration’s Affordable Care Act.
Section 1557 of the Affordable Care Act cites decades-old federal laws that prohibit any individual from being denied benefits or discriminated against in any health program or federally funded activity on the basis of race, color, nationality, sex, disability and age.
However, the Office of Civil Rights is now interpreting “sex” to include “gender identity” and “sex stereotypes.” Continue Reading HHS Proposal>
Feb. 8, 2016 - (Zenit) - Prayer isn’t about getting what we want, says Pope Francis, but rather about turning things over to the merciful hands of the Father.
The Pope said this Saturday morning when he addressed the Padre Pio Prayer Groups, workers of the Home for the Relief of Suffering private hospital in San Giovanni Rotondo, Italy, and the faithful of the Diocese of Manfredonia-Vieste-San Giovanni Rotondo.
The relics of Padre Pio have been moved to St. Peter’s Basilica through Feb. 11, as part of the celebrations of the Jubilee of Mercy.
“Saint Pio never tired of receiving persons and of listening to them, spending time and effort to spread the perfume of the Lord,” the Pope said. “He could do so because he was always attached to the source, slaking his thirst continually from the Crucified Christ, and he thus became a channel of mercy.” Continue Reading Pope on Prayer>
Feb. 8, 2016 - (Catholic Culture) - Some Christian churches in Australia are offering to provide sanctuary for immigrants, after a court ruling that the government is authorized to deport the immigrants to Nauru.
About 260 people, of whom 37 are children, face deportation to the isolated island nation in the south Pacific. Human-rights activists have decried Australia’s refusal to accept immigrants, and charged that the camps were they are detained in Naura and Papua New Guinea are in effect prisons, with poor living conditions.
A dozen churches have offered to take in the immigrants, the AsiaNews service reports. Dr. Peter Catt, the dean of the Anglican cathedral in Brisbane, said that the churches are “reinventing the ancient concept of sanctuary,” and taking what “is really a moral stand.” Continue Reading Sanctuary Churches>
Feb. 8, 2016 - (Charity Bowl 50) - After a week of fundraising-battle, Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Denver rode a late-game surge in donations to beat Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Charlotte in Charity Bowl 50.
The two groups had a friendly wager on which group could raise more money in the week leading up to the Super Bowl. Going into last night’s game, the groups were in a dead-heat. It stayed close through the 3rd quarter, within just a couple hundred dollars, but it seems like watching your team win puts people in a good mood. When they closed donations an hour after the game ended, Denver Catholic Charities had surged to $16,890, just a little more than $2,500 more than the Charlotte group.
The best news is that between the two of them, they raised over $30,000 to support their good work. Continue Reading Charity Bowl 50>
Feb. 8, 2016 - (National Review) - What’s causing controversy is the portrayal of that unborn baby as one with an actual human personality. As NRO’s Jay Nordlinger noted earlier, the ad dares to portray the unborn child as human, and “not a meaningless blob of protoplasm.” The pro-abortion activist group NARAL tweeted its disapproval, criticizing Doritos for “using #antichoice tactic of humanizing fetuses.”
“Humanizing” fetuses? How dare they imply that human fetuses are actually – quelle surprise! – human? The trouble for NARAL and other pro-choice advocates is that technological advances like ultrasounds have become some of the most powerful arguments on the pro-life side. Even at the earliest stages of a pregnancy, it is clearly evident that the image an ultrasound shows is a tiny little human, and countless parents have watched that screen in amazement, overjoyed to see their baby for the first time and hear its heart beating. Continue Reading Charity Bowl 50>
Feb. 5, 2016 - (CNA) - On Friday the Vatican announced that while on his way to Mexico, Pope Francis will stop in Cuba to meet with Russian Orthodox Patriarch Kirill in the first-ever meeting between a Pope and a leader of the Russian Orthodox Church.
“The Holy See and the Patriarchate of Moscow are pleased to announce that, by the grace of God, His Holiness Pope Francis and His Holiness Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia will meet on February 12 next,” a joint Feb. 5 press release from the Vatican and the Russian Orthodox Church read.
Kirill, patriarch of Moscow and all Rus' and Primate of the Russian Orthodox Church, will arrive to Havana Feb. 11 for an official visit to South America. His Feb. 11-22 visit includes stops in Cuba, Brazil, Chile and Paraguay.
Pope Francis himself will arrive to Havana’s José Martí International Airport the next day while on his way to Mexico, where he will be on an official visit until Feb. 17. Continue Reading Pope Francis and Patriarch Kiril>
Feb. 4, 2016 - (CNA) - In their keynote address at the National Prayer Breakfast, the couple behind the History Channel’s ‘The Bible’ miniseries called for efforts to unite people of different faiths, races and political beliefs.
“It’s very easy to divide people and it’s very difficult to bring people together,” said producer Mark Burnett.
He and his wife, actress Roma Downey, spoke at the National Prayer Breakfast, an annual gathering of religious and civic leaders held since 1953, in Washington, D.C. Attendance at the event is generally in the thousands.
Describing their work to make ‘The Bible’ miniseries, Burnett said that they quickly realized the challenge in working across faith communities that included various Protestant groups, Catholics and Jews.
In fact, he said, there are more than 30,000 denominations within Christianity alone, and they have different views on parts of Scripture. Continue Reading National Prayer Breakfast>
Feb. 4, 2016 - (CNA) - For months, Erwin Mena donned vestments, called himself “Padre,” and convinced Southern California Catholics that he was a priest, police say.
He was good at it, too, reportedly. He attended seminary in El Salvador for a time years ago before dropping out, so he was able to convincingly officiate Masses, funerals, and even at least one wedding. He had a likeable personality and said all the right things.
On Tuesday, he was arrested by Los Angeles police for allegedly impersonating a Roman Catholic priest and on suspicion of grand theft. Mena allegedly conned parishioners into buying thousands of dollars’ worth of fake tickets to see Pope Francis in the fall, and he would sell religious CDs and books only to line his own pockets with the profit. He has been charged with 22 felonies and 8 misdemeanors, according to a criminal complaint filed by the L.A. County district attorney’s office. Continue Reading Fake Priest Arrested>
Feb. 3, 2016 - (CNA) - When God is described in the Bible as being both merciful and just it can seem like an identity crisis, however Pope Francis said it’s the opposite: rather than contradicting each other, the two actually go hand in hand.
“Sacred Scripture presents us with God as infinite mercy, but also as perfect justice. How are these two things reconciled? How can the reality of mercy be articulated with the need for justice?” the Pope said Feb. 3.
While these two characteristics can seem like opposites, “in reality it's not like this, because it's precisely the mercy of God that brings the fulfillment of true justice,” Francis affirmed.
The Pope made his comments to pilgrims gathered in St. Peter’s Square for his weekly general audience. He recently began a new series of catechesis on the topic of mercy as it is understood in scripture, in honor of the Jubilee of Mercy. Continue Reading Wednesday Audience>
Feb. 3, 2016 - (Operation Rescue) - The Center for Medical Progress has released a new video detailing how Planned Parenthood used bogus line-item entries to hide profits from the sale of aborted baby remains.
The video focuses on invoices obtained by Operation Rescue’s Texas attorney Briscoe Cain through Freedom of Information Act requests and connects the dots to Planned Parenthood’s duplicitous book-keeping scheme with clips from the CMP’s undercover investigation at the Houston Planned Parenthood, one of the largest volume late-term abortion facilities in the country.
“The invoices clearly show how Planned Parenthood padded invoices in such a way as to hide the fact they were making illegal profits,” said Operation Rescue Senior Vice President Cheryl Sullenger. “This is not only hard evidence that Planned Parenthood broke the law, but also shows that The Harris County grand jury indicted the wrong people.” Continue Reading Planned Parenthood Video>
Feb. 3, 2016 - (CNA) - Peter Tatchell is a passionate human rights campaigner who outwardly voices his support of same-sex marriage and LGBT issues.
In 2014, he proclaimed his condemnation against Ashers Bakery in Belfast, Ireland, which was found guilty of “discrimination” because a pair of Christian bakers refused to ice a cake that would read “Support Gay Marriage.”
But now, two years later, Tatchell has halted his previous claims against Ashers Bakery, saying his change of heart has been motivated by the defense of freedom.
“Much as I wish to defend the gay community, I also want to defend freedom of conscience, expression and religion,” Tatchell wrote in The Guardian Feb. 1, saying “the court was wrong to penalize Ashers and I was wrong to endorse its decision.” Continue Reading LGBT for Freedom>
Feb. 2, 2016 - (Crux) - Pope Francis, a woman who champions the rights of Islamic State rape victims, and the Afghan women’s cycling team are among the known candidates for the 2016 Nobel Peace Prize as the nomination window was set to close Monday.
The five-member Norwegian Nobel Committee typically receives more than 200 nominations for the prestigious prize, and keeps candidates secret for 50 years. Panel members can make their own nominations during their first judging meeting on Feb. 29.
Nobel Laureate Desmond Tutu has given his backing to Pope Francis, as well as the economist Herman Daly and The Club of Rome think-tank for their “significant contributions to global understanding of sustainable development.”
Norwegian lawmaker Audun Lysbakken nominated Nadia Murad, a Yazidi who escaped from Islamic State sexual slavery to become a spokeswoman for those abused by IS militants. Continue Reading Pope Francis Nobel Nomination>
Feb. 2, 2016 - (News.Va) - In Britain, the pro-life group, CORE, said the decision to allow the editing of the genes of human embryos for research purposes is morally wrong and its implications are “frightening beyond belief.” The British Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority announced this week that it had approved a research application from the Francis Crick Institute in London to use new “gene editing” techniques on human embryos.
The project aims to provide a deeper understanding of the earliest moments of human life. However critics describe the plan as the first step on a path towards the legalization of genetically modified babies. Josephine Quintavalle is the Director of CORE, an organization that focuses on the ethical dilemmas surrounding human reproduction and she spoke to Susy Hodges.
As a pro-life organization, Quintavalle said CORE is opposed to any destructive research on human embryos and agreed with those critics who say that this decision marks the first step along the road towards babies being created to order. Continue Reading UK Embryo Testing>
Feb. 2, 2016 - (Catholic Culture) - The Office of General Counsel of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) filed an amicus curiae brief in the U.S. Supreme Court, February 1, on behalf of USCCB, the Texas Catholic Conference and several Christian partners in support of a Texas law mandating health and safety standards protecting women who undergo abortions. Other groups joining the brief include the National Association of Evangelicals, the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod, the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, and the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention. The case is Whole Woman's Health v. Hellerstedt, currently before the U.S. Supreme Court.
"There is ample evidence in this case that hospital admitting privileges and ambulatory surgical center requirements protect women's lives and health," said the brief. "When such requirements are not enforced, abuses detrimental to women's lives and health arise."
Continue Reading USCCB Files SCOTUS Brief>
Feb. 2, 2016 - (CNA) - Whether fans are rooting for the Denver Broncos or the Carolina Panthers in the upcoming NFL Super Bowl 50, Catholic Charities of Denver, Colorado and Charlotte, South Carolina are uniting to host a friendly Charity Bowl Challenge that any football fan can cheer for.
Executive directors from both cities announced the wager last week, betting that the online fundraising challenge could bring their charities $50,000 by the end of the Feb. 7 game.
"It's a worthy cause that will have a major impact on the lives of the poor and needy in each of our communities," said Catholic Charities of Charlotte CEO Gerry Carter in a recent press release.
"All of our team's fans and Catholic Charities in the Carolinas look forward to this challenge, and the inevitable victory that will be ours," Carter said. Continue Reading Charity Bowl 50>
Feb. 1, 2016 - (CNA) - The Diocese of Burlington, this fall, hopes to become one of the first in the country to open a digital high school, where lectures, class discussions and homework largely take place in an online environment instead of a traditional bricks-and-mortar classroom.
Although online courses have long been available to Catholic home-school students, including some that go back to the 1990s, the idea of an accredited and diocesan-supported online Catholic school is quite new. The National Catholic Education Association (NCEA) said it is aware of the existence of just one other: the Archdiocese of Miami Virtual Catholic School.
The Archdiocese of Miami Virtual Catholic School opened in 2013. It claims to be the only diocesan-supported school of its kind. At least one other archdiocese, Chicago, also launched a digital academy in the same year. But it is intended to offer supplementary courses taken by students already enrolled in a physical school. Continue Reading Digital Catholic High School>
Feb. 1, 2016 - (CNA) - The “Pope of Surprises” is at it again. Pope Francis is set to be featured in the upcoming film “Beyond the Sun,” the first Pope in history to play himself in a big screen production.
The idea for the film came from the Holy Father, who approached the filmmakers at AMBI Pictures, asking them to produce a movie that could effectively portray Gospel passages and parables to children.
The movie will be a family adventure story where children from different cultures emulate the apostles while searching for Christ in the world around them, says the film group.
All proceeds from “Beyond the Sun” will go to El Almendro and Los Hogares de Cristo, Argentine charities that provide support for at-risk children and young adults in need.
AMBI co-founders Andrea Iervolino and Lady Monika Bacardi are fully financing and producing the film through their AMBI Pictures banner. Co-producers are Graciela Rodriguez and Gabriel Leybu, and the screenplay was written by Graciela Rodriguez. Continue Reading Pope Francis' New Movie>
Jan. 30, 2016 - (CNA) - Catholic faithful are banding together to help rescue a possible relic of St. Kateri Tekawitha in a strange – and thoroughly modern – way: by using a crowdsourcing internet forum.
“It’s my first GoFundMe,” said Bill Jacobs, co-founder and president of the Saint Kateri Tekakwitha Conservation Center.
Speaking to CNA about the center’s “Rescue Saint Kateri Reliquary!” campaign, he explained, “Our hope is to raise enough money and get it back into the hands of the Church.”
St. Kateri Tekakwitha was born in 1656 as part of the Iroquois confederacy in what is now upstate New York and Southern Canada. After converting to Catholicism at age 19 and dying at age 24, she was canonized by Pope Benedict XVI in 2012. She is the first Native American saint to be canonized, and is the patron saint of ecology and the environment, people in exile and Native Americans. Continue Reading St. Kateri Crowdsourcing>
Jan. 30, 2016 - (CNA) - Mercy and the Christian responsibility to be missionaries are closely connected, Pope Francis said Saturday, kicking off the first in a series of special audiences for the Jubilee Year of Mercy.
“As Christians, we have the responsibility to be missionaries of the Gospel,” the Pope said during the Jan. 30 audience, which centered on the “close link between mercy and mission.”
The pontiff explained how mercy received from the Father is not meant as a “private consolation” for us, but a tool whereby “others can receive the same gift.”
“There is a wonderful interplay between mercy and mission. Living mercy makes us missionaries of mercy, and being missionaries allows us to grow ever more in the mercy of God,” he said. Continue Reading Special Jubilee Audience>
Jan. 30, 2016 - (CNA) - On Sunday Pope Francis said that it’s the weak and vulnerable who are most valuable in God’s eyes, and stressed that it’s always him who takes the initiative in meeting us where we are.
“God meets the men and women of every time and place in the concrete situation in which they find themselves. He also comes to encounter us,” the Pope said Jan. 31, adding that “it's always he who makes the first step.”
Francis explained that it is God who “comes to visit us with his mercy, to lift us from the dust of our sins; he lends us a hand in rising from the abyss into which our pride has made us fall.”
He also invites us to welcome “the consoling truth of the Gospel” into our hearts and to walk along the path of goodness, the Pope said, noting that this isn't done through our own initiative, but God’s, because “it's always he who comes to look for us.” Continue Reading Sunday Angelus>
Jan. 28, 2016 - (CNA) - Pope Francis says that the disposal of human embryos and the treatment often given to the elderly and the infirm are marks of the throwaway culture in our society.
The Pope said this today when he received in audience members of Italy’s national bioethics committee.
The Holy Father noted how the committee has many times “addressed respect for the integrity of the human being and the protection of health from conception to natural death, considering the person in his singularity, always as an end and never simply as a means.”
“This ethical principle is also fundamental in regard to the bio-technological applications in the medical field, which can never be used in a way that is harmful to human dignity, and even less be guided by industrial and commercial ends alone,” he added. Continue Reading Pope on Bioethics>
Jan. 28, 2016 - (CNA) - On Thursday Pope Francis met briefly with actor and environmental activist Leonardo DiCaprio, who recently won an award for his efforts for environmental protection at the World Economic Forum.
The meeting between the two lasted just 15 minutes, but was enough time for DiCaprio to hand the Pope a book of art from Dutch Renaissance painter Hieronymus Bosch, according to Vatican Radio.
Francis' gift to the actor was likely a copy of his encyclical “Laudato Si” and a medal – lately he's been giving one to presidents and heads of state who have come to the Vatican that bears the image of St. Martin cutting his cloak in two for a poor man.
In some of the pictures of the encounter, DiCaprio can be seen holding the small box usually containing papal medals, as well as two red books.
What the two discussed is unknown, however it’s likely that issues surrounding the environment formed the bulk of the dialogue. Continue Reading Leo at the Vatican>
Jan. 29, 2016 - (CNA) - “It all started before Christmas. We knew something was wrong with the water.”
Vicky Schultz is president and CEO of Catholic Charities of Shiawassee and Genesee Counties, headquartered in Flint, Michigan. In a recent interview, she recounted the development of the city’s public health crisis over the last two years.
“Everybody knew that the water had an orange tint. Everyone talked about the smell of it,” said told CNA.
Schultz recalled that the discoloration was so pronounced, it could be seen yards and yards away. Looking out from her office, she watched as fire hydrants were flushed out: “It could be running for hours, and it was still orange coming out.” Continue Reading Flint Water Crisis>
Jan. 27, 2016 - (CNA) - On Wednesday Pope Francis renewed his appeal for faithful to put the works of mercy into practice during the jubilee, urging them to open their hearts to others, and to show God’s tenderness to those who suffer.
In his Jan. 27 general audience, the Pope recounted how “divine mercy had saved” the biblical figure of Moses from death in the waters of the Nile as a newborn infant.
Later, Moses himself becomes “a mediator of that same mercy, allowing the people to be born to freedom” through their passage between the waters of the Red Sea.
“Also we, in this year of mercy, we can be mediators of mercy with the works of mercy,” Francis said. “To grow close, to give relief, to create unity. It's possible to do many good things.” Continue Reading Wednesday Audience>
Jan. 27, 2016 - (CNA) - Pope Francis' apostolic exhortation on family life following last year's synod will be published in March, says Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia, president of the Vatican's Pontifical Council for the Family.
In an interview with the Portuguese Catholic agency Ecclesia, Archbishop Paglia said that the Pope will release the document in March 2016, and that it will “show that the Church is close to families in all stages of their lives.”
“I am convinced that the Apostolic Exhortation will be a hymn to love, to a love that will care for the well-being of children, that is open to wounded families who need strength, that wants to be close to the elder, a love that the whole of humanity needs,” Paglia said.
The Italian archbishop is leading a week-long conference for the Catholic clergy of Portugal's Southern ecclesiastic provinces under the title “Family: Centrality, Renewal and Continuity.” Continue Reading Synod Document from Pope Francis>
Jan. 27, 2016 - (CNA) - The Planned Parenthood investigators indicted by a Houston grand jury on Monday were not breaking the law as they are undercover journalists, maintains the lawyer for the lead investigator, David Daleiden.
Daleiden’s use of a false identification, linked to his undercover report on Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast in Houston, is “standard undercover technique” and is allowed under Texas law, Peter Breen of the Thomas More Society told CNA.
Daleiden, the project lead for the “citizen journalist” team Center for Medical Progress, and his fellow worker Sandra Merritt, were indicted Jan. 25 by a grand jury for “tampering with a government record.” Additionally, Daleiden was indicted for the purchase or sale of human organs, a misdemeanor charge. Continue Reading CMP Criminal Charges>
Jan. 26, 2016 - (CNA) - In his 2016 Lenten message, Pope Francis called the faithful to place special emphasis on the spiritual and corporal works of mercy this Lent, taking into account the current Jubilee Year of Mercy.
“God’s mercy transforms human hearts; it enables us, through the experience of a faithful love, to become merciful in turn,” the Pope wrote in the short document, released Tuesday by the Vatican.
The spiritual and corporal works of mercy, the pontiff said, “remind us that faith finds expression in concrete everyday actions meant to help our neighbours in body and spirit: by feeding, visiting, comforting and instructing them.”
“On such things will we be judged,” he said.
The title of this year's message was drawn from the Gospel of Matthew: “I desire mercy, and not sacrifice,” and has the subtitle: “The works of mercy on the road of the Jubilee.” Continue Reading Pope's 2016 Lenten Message>
Jan. 26, 2016 - (CNA) - The Supreme Court of the United States on Monday declined to hear a case that overturned North Dakota’s limits on abortion to before a fetal heartbeat can be detected.
A state pro-life group expressed its disapproval.
“It is disappointing that the United States Supreme Court has once again failed to recognize the human rights of unborn children,” North Dakota Right to Life stated Jan. 25 in response to the Court’s refusal.
The refusal left in place July’s ruling by the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals, which upheld a district court decision striking down the abortion law.
In 2013, the state’s legislature had passed a general ban on abortions after the detection of a fetal heartbeat, around six weeks of gestation. Under the law, a physician would have to determine there is no fetal heartbeat before performing an abortion. Continue Reading North Dakota Abortion Law>
Jan. 26, 2016 - (Catholic Culture) - Christianity is "running on fumes" because of a decline in faith, Bishop Robert Barron told the 51st International Eucharistic Congress in Cebu, the Philippines.
The Los Angeles auxiliary, a noted apologist, said popular culture is "repugnant of Eucharistic faith." He lamented a trend to embrace that culture, and a correponding flight of Catholics away from active participation in the Church.
"What's sad today," Bishop Barron said, "is so many in the Catholic world have become blasé about the faith." In contrast to a common attitude of indifference, he said: "To stretch out like someone dying of hunger is the right attitude toward the Eucharist." Continue Reading North Dakota Abortion Law>
Jan. 25, 2016 - (CNA) - A Houston grand jury on Monday indicted the leaders behind the undercover videos which exposed Planned Parenthood’s role in offering fetal tissue for compensation. The grand jury had been investigating alleged misconduct by Planned Parenthood.
David Daleiden, project lead at the Center for Medical Progress, and fellow worker Sandra Merritt were indicted Jan. 25 on a second-degree felony charge of “tampering with a governmental record.”
Daleiden was also indicted for a misdemeanor charge of “purchase and sale of human organs,” according to Brian M. Rosenthal of the Houston Chronicle.
Back in August, the Harris County district attorney Devon Anderson had announced a criminal investigation into Planned Parenthood after a video released by the Center for Medical Progress showed the director of research for Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast, based in Houston, discussing how abortion procedures could be altered to better obtain “intact” fetal tissue for harvesters. Continue Reading Houston Grand Jury>
Jan. 25, 2016 - (CNA) - Pope Francis on Monday marked the conclusion of the Week for Christian Unity, saying all Christians are united by the call to conversion and the mission to proclaim the Gospel.
“Beyond the differences that still separate us, we joyfully recognize that, at the origin of the Christian life there is always a call whose author is God,” the Pope during his Jan. 25 homily at Vespers for the Feast of the Conversion of St. Paul.
“Conversion means let the Lord live and work in us,” the Roman Pontiff said. “For this reason, when Christians of different churches together to the Word of God listen and try to put it into practice, they accomplish truly important steps towards unity.”
“The mission of the whole people of God is to proclaim the wonderful deeds of the Lord, above all the Paschal mystery of Christ, through whom we have passed from the darkness of sin and death, the glory of his life, the new and eternal.” Continue Reading Week for Christian Unity>
Jan. 25, 2016 - (CNA) - Pope Francis will take part in an ecumenical ceremony in Lund, Sweden, to commemorate the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation, the Vatican announced Monday.
The event will “will highlight the solid ecumenical developments between Catholics and Lutherans and the joint gifts received through dialogue,” according to a joint press release by the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity (PCPCU) and the Lutheran World Federation (LWF).
The Pope will lead the Oct. 31 commemorations alongside LWF President Bishop Younan and General Secretary Junge, in cooperation with the Church of Sweden and the Catholic Diocese of Stockholm.
The event will include common common according to the recently published “Common Prayer,” a jointly-written Catholic and Lutheran liturgical guide prepared for the Reformation anniversary commemorations. Continue Reading Reformation Anniversary>
Jan. 22, 2016 - (CNA) - Despite weather forecasts calling for what might end up being the worst blizzard in over a century, tens of thousands flooded the nation’s capital Friday to support the dignity of life.
Rosalie Rwamakuba, a 20-year-old woman from upstate New York, told CNA that she wants “to march for those who can’t.”
“I’ve been wanting to come on the March for Life for a long time. I think it is a really important cause, because the value of life is nothing nowadays,” she said. “I think we should take a stand.”
“All life, no matter how conceived, or how the child comes out, is valuable. We’re all unique. There’s never going to be anyone like you, there never was anyone like you.” Continue Reading March for Life>
Jan. 22, 2016 - (CNA) - In his annual speech to the Holy See's main court on Friday, Pope Francis affirmed the indissolubility of marriage and clarified that poorly developed “personal faith” is not itself a grounds for finding that a marriage is null.
“It should be clearly affirmed that the quality of faith is not an essential condition for matrimonial consent,” the Pope said in his Jan. 22 address to the judges of the Roman Rota at the Vatican's Clementine Hall.
Consent – the typical basis for a tribunal investigating the validity of a marriage – “according to the longstanding doctrine, can be undermined only at a natural level,” Pope Francis reminded the judges.
“Indeed, the habitus fidei (habit of faith) is infused in the moment of Baptism and continues to flow mysteriously into the soul, even when the faith is not developed or psychologically appears to be absent.” Continue Reading Pope on Indissolubility of Marriage>
Jan. 22, 2016 - (Catholic Culture) - In a January 21 audience with the prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, Pope Francis approved the publication of decrees that advance ten sainthood causes.
In approving separate decrees on miracles attributed to the intercession of Blessed Stanislaus Papczyński (1631-1701), Blessed Jose Gabriel del Rosario Brochero (1840-1914), and Blessed José Luis Sánchez del Río (1913-28), the Pontiff has paved the way for their canonizations.
Blessed Stanislaus of Jesus and Mary Papczyński founded the Congregation of Marian Fathers, also known as the Marians of the Immaculate Conception. Blessed Jose Gabriel del Rosario Brochero, who was beatified in 2013, was an Argentine priest who evangelized the poor and the sick and contracted leprosy. Blessed José Luis Sánchez del Río was martyred in Mexico before his fifteenth birthday. Continue Reading New Sainthood Causes>
Jan. 21, 2016 - (CNA) - It was an event that wasn't supposed to have anniversaries.
When the March for Life started 43 years ago, abortion on demand up to the point of birth had just been legalized by the United States Supreme Court in Roe vs. Wade. At that point, pro-life issues weren't nearly as politically entrenched as they are today – in fact, many legislators on both sides of the aisle thought the decision was ill-conceived and would surely be changed.
“People were just in shock, they were short of shell-shocked the year after Roe vs. Wade,” Jeanne Mancini, president of the March for Life Education and Defense Fund, told CNA.
“People were thinking that this thing was going to get corrected...they were such poorly conceived Supreme Court decisions, and really outside of the parameters of what the Supreme Court would normally do,” she added. Continue Reading March for Life>
Jan. 21, 2016 - (CNA) - The Archdiocese of Philadelphia and World Meeting of Families have announced that they have a unique way to raise money for local charities this year: auction off the car that Pope Francis used during his historic first trip to the United States.
“I’m deeply grateful to FIAT Chrysler for its generosity in giving the Archdiocese of Philadelphia the two FIATS used by Pope Francis during his visit to Philadelphia on September 26-27, 2015,” said Archbishop Charles J. Chaput, O.F.M. Cap. in a Jan. 20 press release.
During his September 2016 visit, FIAT Chrysler made a pair of FIAT 500Ls available for the Holy Father to use during his time in Philadelphia. Continue Reading Pope's FIAT Auction>
Jan. 21, 2016 - (CNA) - Pope Francis has changed the rules for the Church’s traditional foot-washing ceremony on Holy Thursday, issuing a decree allowing women to participate in what has until now been a ritual officially open only to men.
In a letter addressed to Cardinal Robert Sarah, Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, the Pope said that from now on the 12 persons chosen to participate in the ritual of the washing of the feet will be selected “from among all members of the People of God.”
“For some time I have been reflecting on the rite of the washing of the feet, which forms part of the Liturgy of the Mass of the Lord’s Supper, with the intention of improving the ways in which it is put into practice, so that we fully express the meaning of the gesture made by Jesus in the Upper Room, his gift of self until the end for the salvation of the world, his boundless charity.” Continue Reading Pope Changes Feet Washing>
Jan. 21, 2016 - (CNA) - The major relics of Maximilian Kolbe, who was canonized by St. John Paul II, began an 8-month tour Jan. 15-17 in Ellicott City, Md., at the Shrine of St. Anthony. The tour started with noon Mass at the shrine.
The tour sponsored by the Franciscan Friars Minor Conventual of the Our Lady of the Angels Province will continue until August 14, the date commemorating the 75th anniversary of Kolbe’s martyrdom in the World War II Nazi concentration camp in Auschwitz, Poland.
The pilgrimage will be historic — the largest tour of his relics ever mounted in the United States. Traveling up and down the east coast and also into Canada, St. Maximilian's relics will visit 39 sites. At each site there will be a liturgy, opportunities for veneration, time for prayer and material for study. Continue Reading Kolbe Relic Tour>
Jan. 20, 2016 - (Zenit) - A homeless woman has given birth near St. Peter’s Square and the Vatican will be offering hospitality.
Today, the director of the Holy See Press Office, Fr. Federico Lombardi, briefed journalists on the Maria Claudia, a 36-year-old Romanian woman, who gave birth to a little girl last night at 2 a.m. on the sidewalk of Piazza Pio XII.
The woman was brought to the nearby Hospital of Santo Spirito, where Papal Almoner, Msgr. Konrad Krajeswski, paid a special visit.
Father Lombardi shared these details with journalists and assured that the mom and daughter are doing well. Continue Reading Homeless Baby in Vatican>
Jan. 20, 2016 - (CNA) - One year after a similar effort was defeated, the Colorado legislature will revisit proposals to legalize assisted suicide, with opponents warning against creating incentives for people to kill themselves.
“If this legislation becomes law, it will place the lives of the vulnerable in the hands of an insurance and health care industry whose profit-driven culture would incentivize doctors to prescribe death,” Archbishop Samuel J. Aquila said in a video.
“These bills are not good for us, because they make it easier for people with bad intentions to prey upon the disabled.” Continue Reading CO Assisted Suicide>
Jan. 20, 2016 - (CNA) - In his general audience during the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, Pope Francis focused on the common baptism Christians share, saying the strength of this bond is stronger than existing divisions.
“We are truly the Holy People of God, even if, due to our sins, we are not yet a people fully united,” the Pope said in his Jan. 20 general audience, adding that “the mercy of God, which works in baptism, is stronger than our divisions.”
The Pope’s audience, which took place in the Vatican’s Paul VI Hall, fell during the Week of Prayer Christian Unity. It runs Jan. 18-25, and is organized by the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of Christian Unity, the Commission on Faith and the Order of the World Council of Churches. Continue Reading Wednesday Audience>
Jan. 20, 2016 - (CNA) - Beneath the pro-life/pro-choice divide in the U.S., there is a significant consensus favoring abortion restrictions, according to a new Marist poll commissioned by the Knights of Columbus.
“Although the issue is often a very polarizing issue politically, what we found is that it is not a polarized issue,” Barbara Carvalho, director of the Marist Poll, said at the National Press Club on Jan. 19, announcing the poll results.
“The debate is too often reduced to the percentage who identify with the labels ‘pro-life’ or ‘pro-choice’,” said Patrick Kelly of the Knights of Columbus and executive director of the St. John Paul II National Shrine. Continue Reading New Abortion Opinion Poll>
Jan. 20, 2016 - (CNA) - The U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling on an immigration enforcement case will affect many immigrants in the U.S., and the Los Angeles archbishop says the court should rule on the side of humanity.
“I cannot speak to the constitutional questions in this case. I speak as a pastor. And as a pastor, I know that the situation is unjust and intolerable for millions of people who are forced to live in the shadows of our great country,” Archbishop Jose Gomez said Jan. 19.
“People do not cease to be our brothers and sisters because they have an irregular immigration status. No matter how they got here, no matter how frustrated we are with our government, we cannot lose sight of their humanity – without losing our own." Continue Reading Immigration Reform Case>
Jan. 20, 2016 - (CNA) - A new United Nations report has tried to count the civilian toll of continuing conflict in Iraq, largely at the hands of Islamic State militants, and the numbers are "staggering."
“Even the obscene casualty figures fail to accurately reflect exactly how terribly civilians are suffering in Iraq,” Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights, said Jan. 19.
“The figures capture those who were killed or maimed by overt violence, but countless others have died from the lack of access to basic food, water or medical care.”
He said the report showed the sufferings of Iraqi civilians and “starkly illustrates what Iraqi refugees are attempting to escape when they flee to Europe and other regions.” Continue Reading Iraq Suffering Statistics>
Jan. 18, 2016 - (CNA) - Cardinal Timothy Dolan has marked the upcoming anniversary of Roe v. Wadewith a reflection encouraging the pro-life movement to remember the importance of mercy and to see the opportunity to reach those who do not identify as pro-life.
The Archbishop of New York said the pro-life cause backs “an essential moral vision that lifts up every human person.”
“Genuine progress must be progress for all, beginning with those most vulnerable who cannot speak for themselves,” he said in a Jan. 14 message. “May God bless our efforts to uphold human life!” Continue Reading Cardinal Dolan on Abortion>
Jan. 19, 2016 - (Catholic Culture) - Anti-Christian statements such as “death to the heathen Christians, the enemies of Israel” were written in Hebrew on the doors and walls of Dormition Abbey in Jerusalem.
Greek Orthodox and Armenian cemeteries in the vicinity were also vandalized, according to the Benedictine abbey’s subprior.
“The monks of the Dormition Abbey once again had to endure an aggressive gathering with loud music and chanting by Jewish right-wing radicals in our immediate neighborhood in the area of the tomb of David,” Father Nikodemus Schnabel said in a statement. “This particular kind of party has been thrown almost every Saturday night more than three years.” Continue Reading Jerusalem Vandalism>
Jan. 19, 2016 - (Catholic Culture) - A California judge has ruled that a Catholic hospital is not required to sterilize a woman who does not wish to have any more children.
Rebecca Chamorro had sought a court order requiring the staff at Mercy Medical Center in Redding, California, to arrange a tubal ligation after she delivered her third child. The hospital had refused to schedule the procedure, citing the US bishops' Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic Health Care Services.
Superior Court Judge Ernest Goldsmith ruled that Mercy Medical Center was acting in accordance with the principles of its founders, and "the religious beliefs reflected in their operation are not to be interfered wtih by courts at this moment in history." Continue Reading California Catholic Hospital>
Jan. 15, 2016 - (CNA) - True to form, the pope of the surprise papal visit dropped by two different nursing homes in Rome unannounced on Friday. The visits kicked off the Pope’s monthly works of mercy, which he plans to do on Fridays during the Jubilee Year of Mercy.
The Pope’s first visit on Friday, Jan. 15 was to the Bruno Buozzi Retirement Home on Via di Torre Spaccata, on the outskirts of Rome, which houses 33 elderly people.
Pope Francis was able to speak briefly with each person during his visit. He was accompanied by Archbishop Rino Fisichella, President of the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of the New Evangelization.
Before returning to the Vatican, the pope made a second surprise stop at the “Casa Irde,” a home where six persons in a vegetative state live with their families and are provided assistance. Continue Reading Pope's Works of Mercy>
Jan. 15, 2016 - (CNA) - In 2013, there were some 2,100 Christians killed for faith-related reasons across the globe. Last year, that number rose to at least 7,100, according to a recent report from an advocacy group.
“The persecution of Christians is getting worse – in every region in which we work – and it’s getting worse fast,” Lisa Pearce, CEO of Open Doors UK and Ireland, said in the group’s 2016 report. “Many countries have dropped down the list, not because persecution there is decreasing, but simply because others are getting worse faster. And it wasn’t good three years ago.”
“We can and must be strenuous in protecting Christians and all others facing persecution for their faith,” Pearce added.
Open Doors has worked to help persecuted Christians for over 60 years. It was founded by a Dutchman known as Brother Andrew. He smuggled Bibles into Eastern Europe at a time when communist regimes severely restricted Christianity and other religions. Continue Reading Christian Persecution 2015>
Jan. 15, 2016 - (CNA) - Planned Parenthood is suing the pro-life group that released a series of undercover videos exposing its role in offering fetal tissue from aborted babies to harvesters for compensation.
The group Center for Medical Progress responded on Thursday that the lawsuit is “frivolous” and they have “done nothing more than tell the truth about Planned Parenthood’s lawless operations.”
The lawsuit, filed in a California district court, calls CMP a “complex criminal enterprise” and alleges that they created false companies and identifications, violated contracts, and illegally taped Planned Parenthood officials “with the ultimate goal of interfering with women’s access to legal abortion.” Continue Reading Planned Parenthood Lawsuit>
Jan. 13, 2016 - (Catholic Culture) - In an interview with Newsmax TV, Cardinal Donald Wuerl of Washington said that abortion “remains the fundamental basic issue” in an election year.
“One reason it strikes me, one reason why we are so casual in our country with violence, we see violence exercised with such ease, such disrespect for human life,” he said on January 11.
Younger Americans have been “taught since they were infants that it’s all right to kill,” he continued. “It’s all right to kill as long as the person is inconvenient to you and fits into a certain category. This category is nine months or less.” Continue Reading Cardinal Wuerl on Abortion>
Jan. 14, 2016 - (CNA) - On Thursday afternoon the office for papal charities offered a unique charity event for Rome's marginalized: an entire circus organized especially for them.
The poor, homeless, refugees and a group of prisoners were treated to the special entertainment, which was offered to them free of charge at the Rony Roller Circus. The company had made all of its 2,000 seats available for the occasion.
An initiative of the Office of the Papal Almoner, headed by Bishop Konrad Krajewski, the event was announced in a Jan. 14 communique from the office.
The opening act of the show was a song written by a Spanish singer-songwriter who used to be homeless himself, and who dedicated the song to Pope Francis and wrote it to be “an opening prayer and expression of gratitude to the Holy Father for this new act of closeness to each one of them.” Continue Reading Circus for the Homeless>
Jan. 11, 2016 - (NC Register) - A group of Washington state pharmacists is asking the U.S. Supreme Court to declare unconstitutional a state regulation that prohibits them from refusing to stock or dispense emergency contraceptives on religious grounds.
The regulation, which was written by Planned Parenthood at the behest of the state’s former governor, allows pharmacies in Washington state to not carry the so-called morning-after pill for several reasons, such as economic factors, but religiously motivated referrals are specifically forbidden.
“They’re only going after religious objectors,” said Kristen Waggoner, senior counsel and vice president of legal advocacy for Alliance Defending Freedom, a Christian legal firm representing two individual pharmacists and a family-owned pharmacy that are suing Washington state. Continue Reading Pharmacy Contraception Regulations>
Jan. 11, 2016 - (CNA) - Funds raised during the collection in Pope Francis' public Masses in Mexico have a special destination: they will be used to build two new welcoming centers for the country’s large influx of immigrants.
“On the occasion of the Extraordinary Holy Year of Mercy we have decided to open two new welcoming centers for immigrants: one at the border with Mazapa (de Madero) and another in Salto de Agua,” Bishop Felipe Arizmendi Esquivel said a Dec. 30 interview with Zenit news agency.
“I told the Pope that the collection we are doing for the visit, in agreement with the Episcopal Conference, will be destined for the construction of these two new structures. It is what we will symbolically deliver in the collection of the Mass.” Continue Reading Papal Mass Funds>
Jan. 11, 2016 - (Catholic Culture) - The Obama administration planned carefully to include Catholic groups under the “Obamacare” contraceptive mandate while muting official Catholic opposition, according to an attorney who has filed an amicus brief in a crucial challenge to that mandate.
Carrie Severino prepared a brief for the Zubik v. Burwell case, in which the Little Sisters of the Poor (among others) challenge the contraceptive mandate. Writing for National Review, she explains how the Obama administration carefully crafted the health-care regulations to provide exemption for the US bishops’ conference, but not for Catholic hospitals, schools, and other institutions. Relying on internal administration emails, obtained through the Freedom of Information Act, she demonstrates that the regulations finally issued by the Obama administration, purportedly to satisfy concerns about religious freedom, actually had “exactly zero relevance to religious-freedom interests.” Continue Reading HHS Mandate Controversy>
Jan. 11, 2016 - (Zenit) - In his new book on God's mercy, Pope Francis explains that his oft-quoted words “who am I to judge”, about a homosexual person who is searching for the Lord with a good will, is simply his reflection on Church teaching found in the catechism.
The Name of God is Mercy, to be released Jan. 12, is a book-length interview of Pope Francis by Italian journalist Andrea Tornielli. The book is meant to “reveal the heart of Francis and his vision,” according to Tornielli's foreward. He had wanted to ask the Pope about mercy and forgiveness, “to analyze what those words mean to him, as a man and a priest.”
The journalist asked Pope Francis about his experience as a confessor to homosexual persons and about his “who am I to judge” comment, made during his in-flight press conference from Rio de Janeiro to Rome July 28, 2013. Continue Reading Pope Francis New Book>
Jan. 11, 2016 - (Zenit) - The undisclosed gift from The Prince of Wales’s Charitable Foundation was made to Catholic charity Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) and came after His Royal Highness made a speech about persecuted Christians at an advent reception hosted by Cardinal Vincent Nichols, Archbishop of Westminster, in London last month.
In his address to invited guests including Church leaders and Middle East Christians, he warned that the growing crisis of extremism could threaten “the very existence of Christianity in the land of its birth”.
At the event, on 17th December at Archbishop’s House, near Westminster, The Prince met Iraqi and Syrian Christians with direct experience of persecution. Continue Reading Prince Charles Support>
Jan. 8, 2016, 2016 - (CNA) - A massive cleanup is left for those whose homes were in the path of one of the worst floods in the St. Louis area in over two decades.
“I have been fervently praying for those suffering due to the recent flooding in our city and state. As our region watched the flood waters rise to record heights, so too did we see the damage, loss, and suffering increase,” Archbishop Robert J. Carlson of St. Louis said in a Jan. 7 statement.
More than 10 inches of rain fell on the St. Louis area over three days starting on Dec. 26, 2015 the Associated Press reported. At least 15 people in Missouri, and 10 in Illinois, were killed due to the flooding. Thousands were forced to leave their homes and only recently were they able to return and begin the cleanup process – if their homes were still standing. Continue Reading St. Louis Flood Relief>
Jan. 8, 2016, 2016 - (Zenit) - President Barack Obama today vetoed a budget reconciliation bill that included a provision terminating federal funding for Planned Parenthood and redirecting those funds to more comprehensive community health care providers.
“The president has chosen to continue funding for the abortion giant that helped get him elected rather than expand health care choices for women," said Alliance Defending Freedom Senior Counsel Casey Mattox. "All he has done is kill an historic bill that would have redirected existing funding from the scandal-plagued Planned Parenthood to thousands of better, low-cost community health care providers that serve women and families far more comprehensively. It is past time to end the government’s immoral partnership with Planned Parenthood that has been forced upon the American people.”
Father Frank Pavone, director of Priests for Life, affirmed that the pro-life momentum that led Congress to vote for Planned Parenthood defunding would continue. Continue Reading Planned Parenthood Veto>
Jan. 10, 2016, 2016 - (CNA) - On Sunday Pope Francis baptized 26 babies in the Sistine Chapel, telling parents to nurture the faith in the lives of their children, because it is the greatest inheritance they can give.
“Don’t forget that the greatest inheritance you can give to your children is the faith. Try to see that it is not lost, nurture it and leave it as an inheritance,” the Pope said Jan. 10.
Francis celebrated Mass for the feast of the Baptism of the Lord in the Sistine Chapel, where he kept with papal tradition and baptized several infants. This year there were 26 – 13 girls and 13 boys.
In his brief homily, the Pope told parents that in bringing their children to the chapel to receive baptism, they are imitating the act of Mary and Joseph, who, 40 days after Jesus’ birth, brought him to the temple to present him to God. Continue Reading Pope Baptises 26 Babies>
Jan. 10, 2016, 2016 - (CNA) - In his Sunday Angelus remarks Pope Francis stressed the importance of both knowing and celebrating the day of our baptism, since it is through the sacrament that we become children of God.
“I ask you a question: who among you remembers the day of their baptism?” the Pope asked during his Jan. 10 Angelus address, marking the feast of the Baptism of the Lord.
“Certainly, not everyone” knows the date, he noted, and urged those who don’t to go and look for it, if necessary asking parents, grandparents, godparents or even their parish for help.
Baptism is important to celebrate because “it's the date of our rebirth as children of God,” Francis said, and gave those present “the homework” of finding the date during the coming week. Continue Reading Sunday Angelus on Baptism>
Jan. 7, 2016, 2016 - (CNA) - After the House of Representatives voted Wednesday to pass a budget bill blocking federal funding of Planned Parenthood, the legislation will reach President Barack Obama’s desk in a historic first for the pro-life movement.
“For the first time since America’s largest abortion business began receiving public funding – nearly five decades ago – the president will have to decide up or down on legislation to defund Planned Parenthood,” said Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of the pro-life group Susan B. Anthony List, on Wednesday.
The bill in question would block federal funding of Planned Parenthood for one year. It would also redirect funds to community health centers who also offer prenatal services, and cancer screenings that Planned Parenthood only offers referrals for. Continue Reading Planned Parenthood Defunding>
Jan. 7, 2016, 2016 - (CNA) - As United States president Barack Obama on Tuesday announced executive action to curb gun violence, the nation's bishops welcomed “reasonable efforts” at the regulation of guns and encouraged congressional action on the issue.
“For a long time now, the bishops of the United States have called for reasonable policies to help reduce gun violence,” Archbishop Thomas Wenski of Miami said shortly after Obama's address. The archbishop is chair of the U.S. bishops' domestic justice and human development committee.
“While no measure can eliminate all acts of violence which involve firearms, we welcome reasonable efforts aimed at saving lives and making communities safer. We hope Congress will take up this issue in a more robust way, considering all of the varied aspects involved,” he continued in his Jan. 6 statement. Continue Reading Bishops on Gun Regulation>
Jan. 7, 2016, 2016 - (CNA) - Pope Francis, a Buddhist lama, a rabbi, a priest, and a Muslim leader appear in a new 90-second video designed to publicize the Pope’s general prayer intention for January: “that sincere dialogue among men and women of different faiths may produce the fruits of peace and justice.”
The 90-second video was produced by the Apostleship of Prayer in collaboration with the Vatican Television Center.
This month the Apostleship of Prayer, set up in 1844 by a group of Jesuit seminarians in France, is also launching a new international website and app aimed at facilitating collaboration and sharing of resources between teams from the Pope’s Worldwide Prayer Network. Continue Reading Pope's Prayer Intention Videos>
Jan. 7, 2016, 2016 - (CNA) - California’s Catholic bishops rallied opponents of the state’s assisted suicide law on Tuesday to continue their efforts to correct lawmakers’ “grave mistake.” Though opponents failed to collect enough signatures for a state referendum, the bishops encouraged further work to defend the vulnerable.
The petition drive seeking to overturn the bill showed a strong commitment to protecting life “at all its stages,” Sacramento’s Bishop Jaime Soto, president of the California Catholic Conference, said Jan. 5. He said tens of thousands of Californians were “demanding the right to have a public voice in one of the most dangerous public policies ever enacted in California.”
“Physician-assisted suicide is one of the many ways our society is gradually placing individual autonomy as the ultimate measure of public policies,” the bishop continued. “This is a grave mistake and a trend that we as Catholics must consistently and firmly question.” Continue Reading Physician Assisted Suicide>
Jan. 6, 2016, 2016 - (CNA) - As the Nebraska School Activities Association (NSAA) weighs new protocol for transgender students’ participation in school activities, the Catholic bishops of Nebraska have urged respect for these persons while also upholding the safety and privacy of other students.
“Any person who experiences gender dysphoria is entitled to the respect and dignity that is the right of every human person, as well as genuine concern and the support needed for personal development and well-being,” Nebraska Bishops George Lucas of Omaha, James Conley of Lincoln, and Joseph Hanefeldt of Grand Island said in a joint statement Jan. 4.
However, they said, support for these individuals “must be provided with due consideration to the fairness and the safety, privacy, and rights of all students.” Continue Reading Gender Dysphoria Issues>
Jan. 5, 2016, 2016 - (Catholic Culture) - In a reflection for National Migration Week, the education outreach coordinator for the United State Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Migration & Refugee Services said that “the Catholic bishops neither support a policy of open borders nor a process of unregulated migration from one country to another.”
Instead, the bishops “continue to defend the duties of the international community to implement internationally agreed upon protections that are due to vulnerable migrants, and to call upon world leaders to provide a place of welcome, wherever possible, to those who are fleeing an impossible situation,” wrote Todd Scribner. Continue Reading USCCB on Migration>
Jan. 6, 2016, 2016 - (CNA) - Franciscan priest Fr. Dhiya Aziz, who had been briefly kidnapped by unknown jihadist militants in Syria in July and was abducted a second time just before Christmas, and has again been set free by his captors.
“Today we received the communication that Fr. Dhiya Azziz has been liberated and that he is doing well,” a brief Jan. 4 statement from the Franciscan Custody of the Holy Land read.
The statement reported that the Custody is unable to provide further details of Fr. Aziz’ abduction and release due to reasons of confidentiality, but thanked all those who helped to liberate the friar.
Fr. Aziz, 41, is currently in Damascus. He is the parish priest at Yacubiyeh, a village in Syria's Idlib province, more than 56 miles northeast of Latakia. The Islamist rebel group al-Nusra Front has a strong presence in the province. Continue Reading Syrian Priest Freed>
Jan. 6, 2016, 2016 - (Catholic Culture) - The body of Padre Pio will be on display for veneration at next month’s Ash Wednesday Mass in the Vatican, where a group of priests will be sent out as “Missionaries of Mercy” for the Jubilee Year.
Pope Francis “has expressed his keen desire” for the relics of the Capuchin saint to be exposed during the Feb. 10 Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica, said Archbishop Rino Fisichella, president of the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of the New Evangelization.
In a letter Archbishop Michele Castoro of Manfredonia-Vieste-San Giovanni Rotondo, Archbishop Fisichella explained that this year’s Ash Wednesday is the day on which the Pope “will send the Missionaries of Mercy throughout the world, conferring on them the special mandate of preaching and hearing confessions, as a living sign of how the Father welcomes all those who seek his forgiveness.” Continue Reading Padre Pio and Missionaries of Mercy>
Jan. 5, 2016, 2016 - (CNA) - As the number of displaced persons is at its highest worldwide, Catholics must remember that “extremely vulnerable” refugees often flee circumstances where their very lives are at risk, a bishop has said.
“People often forget that the Holy Family themselves were refugees fleeing into Egypt,” Bishop Eusebio Elizondo Almaguer, auxiliary bishop of Seattle, said in a Dec. 30 statement in advance of National Migration Week, which is observed Jan. 3-9.
“Likewise, refugees around the world, all of whom are extremely vulnerable, are fleeing for their lives,” added the chair of the U.S. bishops' committee on migration. “As Catholics, we are called to welcome and support these families who also need our help.” Continue Reading National Migration Week>
Jan. 5, 2016, 2016 - (La Stampa) - It’s easy to find phrases, reflections and prayers about peace, love and the family, which, although apparently authored by Pope Francis, are in fact false. Il Sismografo, an Italian blog with real time updates on the activities of the Holy See, received a large volume of e-mails yesterday, asking whether a text attributed to Pope Francis was genuine.
The text in question, was said to be a large chunk from a speech he apparently gave during the recent 14th Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops on the family. It is widely known, Il Sismografo informs, that since Francis was elected Pope, a number of phrases, prayers, speeches and statements attributed to him have been published on the web but all it takes is a quick read to realise they are fake. Continue Reading Fake Papal Speeches>
Jan. 4, 2016, 2016 - (Catholic Culture) - Over 3 million people attended public appearances by Pope Francis in 2015, the Vatican has announced.
On December 30, as the Holy Father held his final weekly public audience of the year, the Prefecture of the Papal Household released figures for attendance at the Pope’s audiences and liturgical celebrations.
The Pope’s general audiences, held on Wednesdays, drew 704,100 people. Special audiences attracted another 408,760. Midday audiences on Sundays and feast days added another 1,585,000. And the congregations at liturgical ceremonies in St. Peter’s basilica and St. Peter’s Square came to 513,000.
These figures cover only the Pope’s appearances at the Vatican. Not included are the crowds that saw him during his trips. In 2015, he traveled to Sri Lanka, the Philippines, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Ecuador, Bolivia, Paraguay, Cuba, the United States, Kenya, Uganda ,and the Central African Republic. Continue Reading Vatican Crowds 2015>
Jan. 3, 2016, 2016 - (CNA) - Pope Francis lead the first Marian prayer of the new year with swarms of pilgrims gathered at the Vatican Sunday, urging an openness to Jesus in our hearts so that evil won't prevail in our lives.
Speaking to a packed St. Peter's square Jan. 3, the Pope reflected on the day's reading from the first chapter of St. John's Gospel where “the Word” was “made flesh and dwelt among us.”
But despite the reality of Christ's presence on earth, St. John “does not hide the dramatic nature of the Incarnation of the Son of God” – since the “gift of the love of God is matched with the non-reception on the part of men,” the Pope said. Continue Reading Sunday Angelus>
Jan. 1, 2016, 2016 - (CNA) - Reflecting particularly on Mary’s title as “mother of mercy,” Pope Francis opened the Holy Door at the Basilica of St. Mary Major in Rome on Jan. 1.
“It is most fitting that on this day we invoke the Blessed Virgin Mary above all as ‘mother of mercy.’ The door we have opened is, in fact, a Door of Mercy,” Pope Francis said. “Those who cross its threshold are called to enter into the merciful love of the Father with complete trust and freedom from fear; they can leave this Basilica knowing that Mary is ever at their side.”
The Pope’s remarks came on the Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God. As part of his celebration of the day, the pontiff opened the final holy door of the four major basilicas in Rome. Continue Reading 'Mary, Mother of Mercy'>
Dec. 31, 2015 - (Catholic Culture) - Distancing herself from Obama administration policy, presidential candidate and former Secretary of State Hilary Clinton said that she now believes that the Islamic State’s killing of Christians in Syria and Iraq should be labeled a genocide.
The Islamic State “deliberately aimed at destroying not only the lives, but wiping out the existence of Christians and other religious minorities in the Middle East in territory controlled by ISIS,” she said on December 29, according to a Politico report. Continue Reading Christian Genocide in Middle East>
Dec. 30, 2015 - (Zenit) - On New Year's Eve, Pope Francis will receive thousands of young singers from across the globe.
According to Vatican Radio, this Thursday, the Pontiff will meet with the International Federation of Pueri Cantores, whose members are gathered in Rome for its six-day 40th International Congress, which brings together youth choirs from various nations.
The choirs participating in the festival will sing in some of Rome’s most beautiful churches and basilicas during liturgical celebrations and the congress will culminate on New Year's Day when some of the its choirs will participate in the Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica. Continue Reading Pueri Cantores>
Dec. 30, 2015 - (Zenit) - Pope Francis says that watching how children interact and play can teach us a lot about the relationship we should have with Jesus.
The Pope said this today during the general audience in the Vatican, which he dedicated to a reflection on the Christ Child.
Noting that many saints have shown us a great devotion to the Infant Jesus, particularly St. Therese of Lisieux, the Pontiff said from Him, we see the humility of God.
“He, the great, is humble and is made a child. This is a real mystery! God is humble. This is beautiful,” Francis said.
The Pope went on to discuss the little that is recorded in the Gospels of the infancy and childhood of Jesus, but said that “we can learn a lot from Him if we look at the lives of children. It is a good habit that parents and grandparents have, to look at children, what they do.” Continue Reading General Audience>
Dec. 28, 2015 - (Aleteia) - According to Italian media reports, a seven-year-old boy from the southern Italian parish of St. Nicholas of Bari in Mendicino, in the Calabrian city of Cosenza, was distressed over the poor health of his aunt. So he decided to send a letter to the Vatican asking Pope Francis to pray for her.
And then, a few days before Christmas, the pope personally called the home of the little boy to comfort him and assure the boy of his prayers.
The boy’s mother answered the phone. After the initial shock and stammering at realizing who was on the other end of the line, the mother explained that her son wasn’t home. According to reports, the pope spent 15 minutes talking with her. Continue Reading Pope Francis' Christmas Call>
Dec. 28, 2015 - (Catholic Culture) - The National Catholic Reporter has named a homosexual couple as its “Persons of the Year” for 2015.
The Reporter-- a weekly newspaper marked by its persistent dissent from Church teachings—confers the recognition on Greg Bourke and Michael DeLeon, who are described as active Catholics in Louisville, Kentucky, who are partners in a same-sex union. Bourke and DeLeon were plaintiffs in the Obergefell v. Hodges decision, in which the US Supreme Court struck down definitions of marriage that barred legal recognition of homosexual partnerships.
In its editorial honoring the couple, the Reporter notes: "NCR is already on record advocating for church personnel policies that ensure that employees can en¬ter into legal, civil marriages without fear of losing their jobs." Continue Reading NCR Persons of the Year>
Dec. 25, 2015 - (Catholic Culture) - The president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops has issued a statement lamenting the failure of Congress to pass the Abortion Non-Discrimination Act (ANDA).
The Hill reported that Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) made “a strong—yet unsuccessful—push” to include the legislation in the recent omnibus budget deal. “Ryan spoke to President Obama and Vice President Biden to make his case but came away empty-handed.”
“Many Catholic and other institutions, including those that provide health care and other human services to the poor and vulnerable, have joined in our support of ANDA,” Archbishop Joseph Kurtz of Louisville said in his December 23 statement. Continue Reading ANDA Not Passed>
Dec. 25, 2015 - (Catholic Culture) - Pope Francis has been named the 2016 recipient of the International Charlemagne Prize, for bringing “a message of hope and encouragement” to Europe in a time of uncertainty.
The Charlemagne Prize, awarded annually since 1950 by donors in Aachen, Germany, is given for "distinguished service on behalf of European unification." Among the early recipients were the Italian premier Alcide de Gaspari (1952), Germany's Konrad Adenauer (1954), the "father of Europe" (and candidate for beatification) Robert Schuman (1958), and US General George Marshall, famous for the "Marshall Plan" that stimulated European economic recovery (1959).
St. John Paul II received the award in 2004. Continue Reading Charlemagne Prize>
Dec. 25, 2015 - (Catholic Culture) - In his annual Christmas “Urbi et Orbi” blessing Pope Francis prayed for all those affected by violence, conflict and poverty throughout the world, asking that they rejoice in salvation offered by the birth of Christ.
“Only God’s mercy can free humanity from the many forms of evil, at times monstrous evil, which selfishness spawns in our midst. The grace of God can convert hearts and offer mankind a way out of humanly insoluble situations,” the Pope said on Christmas Day, Dec. 25.
God alone is able to save us, he said, adding that “where God is born, hope is born. Where God is born, peace is born. And where peace is born, there is no longer room for hatred and for war.”
Pope Francis spoke to those gathered in St. Peter’s Square to hear his Christmas message and receive the special blessing which goes out “to the city and the world.” Continue Reading Pope Francis Christmas Message>
Dec. 24, 2015 - (Catholic Culture) - Writing that he and his wife “hold especially close to our hearts and minds those who have been driven from their ancient homelands by unspeakable violence and persecution,” President Barack Obama has issued a statement on persecuted Christians.
“In some areas of the Middle East where church bells have rung for centuries on Christmas Day, this year they will be silent; this silence bears tragic witness to the brutal atrocities committed against these communities by ISIL,” he wrote in his December 23 message.
“We join with people around the world in praying for God’s protection for persecuted Christians and those of other faiths, as well as for those brave men and women engaged in our military, diplomatic, and humanitarian efforts to alleviate their suffering and restore stability, security, and hope to their nations,” he added. Continue Reading Presidential Christmas Message>
Dec. 21, 2015 - (Vatican Radio) - The lights on the Christmas tree and crib scene in St Peter’s Square were officially lit up during a ceremony on Friday. Standing 32 metres high, this year’s tree was donated by the German state of Bavaria whilst the crib scene with its 24 life-sized figures was donated by the Italian archdiocese of Trento.
In an earlier address to thank the Bavarian authorities and representatives from Trento for their donation, Pope Francis said the Christmas crib scene reminds us that Jesus made himself small like a child to touch our hearts with his humble goodness. Declaring that God doesn’t like the revolutions of the powerful, he spoke of how through his poverty Jesus gives a jolt to those who are scurrying to accumulate the false treasures of this world. Continue Reading Vatican Christmas Tree>
Dec. 21, 2015 - (Catholic Herald) - Star Wars: The Force Awakens broke box office records and restored a new hope in the franchise to the delight of fans worldwide with a few exceptions, including the Vatican’s newspaper.
Emilio Ranzato, author and frequent movie critic for L’Osservatore Romano, wrote last week that the first instalment of the sequel trilogy was “confusing and vague,” but he reserved his harshest criticism for the film’s new villains.
In The Force Awakens, Ranzato wrote, “the counterpart of Darth Vader, Kylo Ren, wears a mask merely to emulate his predecessor, while the character who needs to substitute Emperor Palpatine as the incarnation of supreme evil represents the most serious defect of the film.” Continue Reading Vatican Star Wars Review>
Dec. 21, 2015 - (Catholic Culture) - Britain’s Prince Charles has called for international action in the face of persecution that “threatens the very existence of Christianity in the land of its birth.”
The Prince of Wales made a plea for “practical” action to help Christians in the Middle East, at a reception hosted by Cardinal Vincent Nichols of Westminster. Cardinal Nichols, in his own remarks, said that the suffering Christians of the region could accurately be called martyrs. “Christians are being driven from their homes simply because, being Christians, they will not submit to the demands of the Islamic State,” he said. Continue Reading Prince Charles on Persecuted Christians>
Dec. 21, 2015 - (Catholic Culture) - The Church in Germany will observe December 26 as a day of prayer for persecuted Christians, with a focus on persecuted Christians in Syria.
December 26 is the Feast of St. Stephen, the first martyr after Pentecost.
Quoting remarks made by Pope Francis in March, the German Bishops’ Conference said that in a statement that they “assure those suffering in these situations that we will not forget them, we are close to them and we are praying that a stop be put to this intolerable violence of which they are victims.” Continue Reading German Day of Prayer>
Dec. 21, 2015 - (Catholic Culture) - Pope Francis devoted one of the year’s most widely-anticipated papal addresses—the annual Christmas greetings to the Roman Curia—to a “return to the essentials.”
“In our meeting in 2013, I wanted to stress two important and inseparable aspects of the work of the Curia: professionalism and service, and I offered Saint Joseph as a model to be imitated,” he said at the beginning of his December 21 address, which took place in the Clementine Hall of the Apostolic Palace. “Then, last year, as a preparation for the Sacrament of Reconciliation, we spoke of certain temptations or ‘maladies’ – the ‘catalogue of curial diseases’ – which could affect any Christian, curia, community, congregation, parish or ecclesial movement.”
“Some of these diseases became evident in the course of the past year, causing no small pain to the entire body and harming many souls,” he continued, in an obvious reference to the leaking of confidential Vatican documents. “The reform will move forward with determination, clarity and firm resolve, since Ecclesia semper reformanda [the Church ought always to be reformed].” Continue Reading Pope Francis Curia Christmas Address>
Dec. 20, 2015 - (CNA) - Pope Francis greeted the donors of the Christmas tree and the Nativity scene in St. Peter's Square on Friday, recalling that Christ's birth in the manger shows that he never imposes himself upon us.
“He makes himself small, he becomes a child, to attract us with love, to touch our hearts with his humble goodness,” Pope Francis reflected Dec. 18 at the Vatican's Paul VI Hall.
“I give you my cordial welcome and thank you for the gift which you have prepared. They are very beautiful; and it gives me joy to think that they are not presented only to the Pope and to the pilgrims who will admire them, but above all to the Lord Jesus: for it is he whom we are celebrating!” Continue Reading Bambinelli Blessing>
Dec. 20, 2015 - (CNA) - Ahead of Christmas, Pope Francis spoke on the surprise of God and his great gift in sending Jesus Christ to save mankind.
“God gives us all of Himself by giving His one and only Son, who is all his joy – and only with the heart of Mary, the humble and poor daughter of Zion, become the Mother of the Son of the Most High, that we can rejoice and be glad for the great gift of God and for His unpredictable surprise.”
The Pope prayed that the Virgin Mary may help us to “perceive the wonder.”
“So let it be with the birth of Jesus – the gift of gifts – the undeserved gift that brings us salvation, that it might also make us feel this wonder in meeting Jesus,” the pontiff said Dec. 20.
Thousands of pilgrims and tourists had gathered in St. Peter’s Square for the recitation of the Angelus on the Fourth Sunday of Advent, Vatican Radio reports. Continue Reading Sunday Angelus>
Dec. 18, 2015 - (CNA) - After months of anticipation, the miracle allowing for the canonization of Bl. Mother Teresa of Calcutta has officially been approved by the Vatican, though as of now no specific date for the event has been given.
Rumors of the canonization have been building for months. However, the Vatican made it official in a Dec. 18 communique, which also recognized the heroic virtue of Fr. Giuseppe Ambrosoli of the Comboni Missionaries of the Heart of Jesus, giving him the title “Venerable.”
Though Pope Francis met with Cardinal Angelo Amato, prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, mere days ago to advance several causes of canonization, including an American, he met with the cardinal again in a private audience on his birthday, Dec. 17. Continue Reading Mother Teresa>
Dec. 18, 2015 - (CNA) - A chorus burst of 'Happy Birthday' and the smell of birthday cake filled the Vatican today as a crowd of young people from the Italian lay movement 'Azione Cattolica' gathered to festively wish Pope Francis a happy birthday as he turned 79 years old.
After the Pope blew out his birthday candle, he addressed the young people who were gathered for their annual Christmas audience, thanking them for the birthday cake and well wishes. The Holy Father went on to bless the movement's commitment to the mission of welcoming migrants and encouraged them to become missionaries of Christ.
To “journey towards the Lord means to take the good road - not the evil one; it means to put oneself on the road of forgiveness, of peace, of solidarity,” Pope Francis told the youth.
“In this regard, your initiative in favor of Migrants in the Agrigento diocese is a very good one,” he continued. Continue Reading Pope Francis Birthday>
Dec. 16, 2015 - (CNA) - Religious leaders responded to global violence and terrorism with solidarity and prayer on Wednesday in Washington, D.C.
“We will stand together, strengthened by the faith of each one in this room and the solidarity we share, simply because we know how to answer the question ‘Who is my neighbor?’” stated Cardinal Donald Wuerl of Washington, D.C., preaching on the Parable of the Good Samaritan in the Gospel of Luke at a Dec. 16 interfaith prayer service.
“Let us never forget, we are each other’s neighbor,” he added.
The “Interfaith Gathering for Solidarity, Understanding, and Peace” took place at Georgetown University on Dec. 16, featuring prayers, readings, and reflections from Catholic, Christian, Muslim, Sikh and Jewish leaders. Continue Reading Interreligious Service for Peace>
Dec. 16, 2015 - (CNA) - North Korea has sentenced Hyeon Soo Lim, a Christian pastor and a Canadian citizen, to life in prison with hard labor, claiming he has committed crimes against the state.
Canada’s foreign ministry said it was “dismayed at the unduly harsh sentence,” citing Lim's age and health, the BBC reports.
Lim, who is 60 years old, was in North Korea for humanitarian work in January. He was arrested in Pyongyang in February.
The pastor is of South Korean origin and lives in Toronto, where he heads the Light Korean Presbyterian Church. His family said he had traveled to the isolated country to support a nursing home, a nursery, and an orphanage, and that his trips were not political. Continue Reading North Korea Sentence>
Dec. 16, 2015 - (CNA) - The Church is the “living sign” of God's love and mercy in the world, Pope Francis said during his Wednesday general audience. He reflected on the universality of communion as demonstrated by the global scale of the Jubilee of Mercy.
“May this ecclesial communion become more and more intense, because the Church is in the world the living sign of the love and mercy of the Father,” the Pope said in his Dec. 16 catechesis.
This “mystery of communion,” which is a sign of the “Father's love” for the Church, “grows and matures in our heart when love, which we recognize in Christ's Cross and in which we immerse ourselves, causes us to love as we ourselves are loved by Him.”
“It is an endless Love, which has the face of forgiveness and mercy.” Continue Reading Wednesday Audience>