Catholic Church News

Denver wins Super Bowl 50 and Charity Bowl 50

Denver wins Super Bowl 50 and Charity Bowl 50

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>

NARAL Pro-Choice America slams Super Bowl commercial for using "antichoice tactic"

NARAL Pro-Choice America slams Super Bowl commercial for using "antichoice tactic"

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>

'First in history' - Pope Francis to meet Russian Patriarch in Cuba

'First in history' – Pope Francis to meet Russian Patriarch in Cuba

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>

National Prayer Breakfast keynote: in a world of division, be a bridge-builder

National Prayer Breakfast keynote: In a world of division, be a bridge-builder

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>

Bizarre details emergy as fake priest gets busted in LA

Bizarre details emerge as 'fake priest' gets busted in LA

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>

Do mercy and justice contradict each other? Pope Francis says no

Do mercy and justice contradict each other? Pope Francis says no

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>

New CMP video details how Planned Parenthood pads invoices for profit

New CMP Video Details How Planned Parenthood Pads Invoices for Profit

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>

This LGBT advocate changed his mind about Christian bakers

This LGBT advocate changed his mind about Christian bakers

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>

Pope Francis and IS victims' advocate are among Nobel nominees

Pope Francis and IS victims’ advocate are among Nobel nominees

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>

UK decision on human embryos "frightening beyond belief"

UK decision on human embryos "frightening beyond belief"

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>

USCCB files brief in support of regulation of abortion clinics in Texas

USCCB files brief in support of regulation of abortion clinics in Texas

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>

Who else is facing off during the Super Bowl? Catholic Charities

Who else is facing off during the Super Bowl? Catholic Charities

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>

Vermont diocese to launch digital Catholic high school

Vermont diocese to launch digital Catholic high school

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>

Starring Pope Francis - New film features Holy Father as himself

Starring Pope Francis – New film features Holy Father as himself

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>

Catholics crowdsource in hopes of rescuing alleged St. Kateri relic

Catholics crowdsource in hopes of rescuing alleged St. Kateri relic

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>

Mercy and mission go hand-in-hand, Pope says

Mercy and mission go hand-in-hand, Pope says

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>

Pope Francis: It's not us, but God who takes the first step

Pope Francis: It's not us, but God who takes the first step

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>

Human embryos aren't disposable material, says Pope 

Human Embryos Aren’t Disposable Material, Says Pope

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>

Pope Francis meets Leonardo DiCaprio at  the Vatican 

Pope Francis meets Leonardo DiCaprio at the Vatican

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>

What Catholics are doing about Flint's stunning water scandal

What Catholics are doing about Flint's stunning water scandal

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>

Pope rallies Catholics to be 'mediators of mercy' during jubilee

Pope rallies Catholics to be 'mediators of mercy' during jubilee

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>

Vatican official: Pope's post-synod doc will be released in March

Vatican official: Pope's post-synod doc will be released in March

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>

Planned Parenthood investigator, protected as undercover journalist, lawyer says

Planned Parenthood investigator protected as undercover journalist, lawyer says

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>

Pope calls for concrete acts of mercy this Lent

Pope calls for concrete acts of mercy this Lent

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>

Supreme letdown for North Dakota pro-lifers as Court won't hear state's law

Supreme letdown for North Dakota pro-lifers as Court won't hear state's law

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>

Bishop Barron: Christianity 'running on fumes' as Eucharistic devotion wanes

Bishop Barron: Christianity 'running on fumes' as Eucharistic devotion wanes

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>

Grand jury indicts leaders behind undercover Planned Parenthood videos

Grand jury indicts leaders behind undercover Planned Parenthood videos

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>

Christians are united by mission and conversion, Pope Francis reflects

Christians are united by mission and conversion, Pope Francis reflects

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>

Pope will go to Sweden for Reformation anniversary, Vatican announces

Pope will go to Sweden for Reformation anniversary, Vatican announces

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>

Monster storm can't keep massive crowds from March for Life

Is the March for Life still relevant?

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>

The Best Photos of the Historic Turnpike Mass of 2016

In speech to Rota, Pope Francis shows annulment conditions aren't loosening

In speech to Rota, Pope Francis shows annulment conditions aren't loosening

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>

10 sainthood, beatification causes advance

10 sainthood, beatification causes advance

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>

Is the March for Life still relevant?

Is the March for Life still relevant?

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>

The car Pope Francis used in Philly is up for auction

The car Pope Francis used in Philly is up for auction

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>

Women may now have their feet washed at Holy Thursday Mass, Pope says

Women may now have their feet washed at Holy Thursday Mass, Pope says

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>

Want to see the relics of St. Maximilian Kolbe? They're in the US right now

Want to see the relics of St. Maximilian Kolbe? They're in the US right now

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>

Homeless woman gives birth near St. Peter's Square

Homeless Woman Gives Birth Near St. Peter’s Square

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>

It's back - Colorado faces another push for assisted suicide

It's back - Colorado faces another push for assisted suicide

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>

It's back - Colorado faces another push for assisted suicide

Pope Francis: for Christians, baptism is stronger than differences

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>

When it comes to abortion, there's more public agreement than you may think

When it comes to abortion, there's more public agreement than you may think

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>

As Supreme Court takes up immigration case, LA archbishop weighs in

As Supreme Court takes up immigration case, LA archbishop weighs in

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>

Grim numbers from Iraq: thousands of civilians suffer death, displacement, slavery

Grim numbers from Iraq: thousands of civilians suffer death, displacement, slavery

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>

How can pro-lifers reach more Americans? Share God's mercy, Cardinal Dolan says

How can pro-lifers reach more Americans? Share God's mercy, Cardinal Dolan says

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>

Abbey vandalized in Jerusalem

Abbey vandalized in Jerusalem

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>

California judge rules Catholic hospital is not required to perform sterilization

California judge rules Catholic hospital is not required to perform sterilization

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>

Pope Francis kicks off monthly works of mercy with surprise visits

Pope Francis kicks off monthly works of mercy with surprise visits

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>

The number of Christian martyrs has tripled in two years

The number of Christian martyrs has tripled in two years.

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>

Undercover investigators dismiss Planned Parenthood lawsuit as 'frivolous'

Undercover investigators dismiss Planned Parenthood lawsuit as 'frivolous'

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>

Cardinal Wuerl: abortion remains 'the fundamental basic issue'

Cardinal Wuerl: abortion remains 'the fundamental basic issue'

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>

Pope Francis invites 2,000 homeless, migrants to circus

Pope Francis invites 2,000 homeless, migrants to circus

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>

Washington State pharmacy regulation: 'Catholic health systems in the crosshairs'

Washington State pharmacy regulation: 'Catholic health systems in the crosshairs'

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>

Collection from Mexico papal Masses to fund migrant centers

Collection from Mexico papal Masses to fund migrant centers

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>

Lawyer: Obama administration emails show no interest in religious-freedom claims on contraceptive mandate

Lawyer: Obama administration emails show no interest in religious-freedom claims on contraceptive mandate

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>

Pope Francis explains 'who am I to judge' in his new book 

Pope Francis explains 'who am I to judge' in his new book

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>

Prince of Wales makes donation to support persecuted Christians

Lawyer: Obama administration emails show no interest in religious-freedom claims on contraceptive mandate

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>

St. Louis archbishop offers prayers, donations for Missouri flood victims

St Louis archbishop offers prayers, donations for Missouri flood victims

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>

Pro-life leaders react to Obama's veto of Planned Parenthood defunding

Pro-Life Leaders React to Obama's Veto of Planned Parenthood Defunding

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>

Pope Francis baptizes infants, says faith is their 'greatest inheritance'

Pope Francis baptizes infants, says faith is their 'greatest inheritance'

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>

Do you celebrate the day of your baptism? Pope Francis asks

Do you celebrate the day of your baptism? Pope Francis asks

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>

For first time, bill to defund Planned Parenthood heads to White House

For first time, bill to defund Planned Parenthood heads to White House

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>

US bishops respond to gun regulations in Texas and across nation

US bishops respond to gun regulations in Texas and across nation

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>

Pope, other religious leaders appear in new video on monthly prayer intention

Pope, other religious leaders appear in new video on monthly prayer intention

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>

Solidarity is the solution to assited suicide, California bishops say

Solidarity is the solution to assisted suicide, California bishops say

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>

Should biological males play girls' sports? Nebraska bishops weigh in

Should biological males play girls' sports? Nebraska bishops weigh in

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>

In supporting refugees, bishops do not support open borders

In supporting refugees, bishops do not support open borders

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>

After second abduction, Franciscan priest freed in Syria

After second abduction, Franciscan priest freed in Syria

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>

Missionaries of Mercy to be sent out under the gaze of Padre Pio

Missionaries of Mercy to be sent out under the gaze of Padre Pio

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>

Remember that refugees are fleeing for their lives, bishop urges

Remember that refugees are fleeing for their lives, bishop urges

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>

Numerous fake papal speeches circulate on the net

Numerous fake papal speeches circulate on the net

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>

Over 3 million saw Pope at Vatican events in 2015

Over 3 million saw Pope at Vatican events in 2015

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>

Pope prays first Angelus of 2016 calling for vigilance against evil

Pope prays first Angelus of 2016 calling for vigilance against evil

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>

Pope Francis: Mary is the 'mother of forgiveness'

Pope Francis: Mary is the 'mother of forgiveness'

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'>

Hilary Clinton: Islamic State's killing of Christians should be labeled genocide

Hilary Clinton: Islamic State's killing of Christians should be labeled genocide

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>

Pope to receive thousands of young singers on New Year's Eve

Pope to Receive Thousands of Young Singers on New Year's Eve

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>

Pope: we can learn about Jesus by watching children

Pope: We Can Learn About Jesus by Watching Children

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>

Pope Francis surprises 7-year-old boy with telephone call at Christmas

Pope Francis Surprises 7-Year-Old Boy With Telephone Call at Christmas

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>

National Catholic Reporter honors gay couple as Persons of the Year

National Catholic Reporter honors gay couple as Persons of the Year

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>

USCCB president decries failure to pass conscience-protection legislation

USCCB president decries failure to pass conscience-protection legislation

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>

Pope Francis to receive Charlemagne Prize

Pope Francis to receive Charlemagne Prize

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>

Only God can overcome 'monstrous' evil in the world, Pope says on Christmas

Only God can overcome 'monstrous' evil in the world, Pope says on Christmas

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>

President Obama issues statement on persecuted Christians

President Obama issues statement on persecuted Christians

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>

Christmas tree and crib scene lit up

Christmas tree and crib scene lit up

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>

New Star Wars villains not evil enough, says Vatican movie critic

New Star Wars villains not evil enough, says Vatican movie critic

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>

Prince Charles asks for 'practical' support of persecuted Christians in Middle East

Prince Charles asks for 'practical' support of persecuted Christians in Middle East

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>

German Catholics to observe day of prayer for persecuted Christians

German Catholics to observe day of prayer for 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>

'Return to the essentials,' Pope Francis urges Roman Curia

'Return to the essentials,' Pope Francis urges Roman Curia

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>

We contemplate God's mercy in the Nativity scene - Pope Francis

We contemplate God's mercy in the Nativity scene – Pope Francis

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>

Pope Francis: let's feel the wonder of meeting Jesus Christ, 'the great gift of God'

Pope Francis: let's feel the wonder of meeting Jesus Christ, 'the great gift of God'

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>

It's official! Mother Teresa is going to be canonized

It’s official! Mother Teresa is going to be canonized

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>

Pope Francis receives a birthday cake as he turns 79

Pope Francis receives a birthday cake as he turns 79

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>

We won't respond to violence with hatred, religious leaders say

We won't respond to violence with hatred, religious leaders say

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>

In North Korea, Canadian pastor faces life imprisonment

In North Korea, Canadian pastor faces life imprisonment

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>

How does God show mercy to us? Through the Church, Pope says

How does God show mercy to us? Through the Church, Pope says

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>

Central African Republic: Muslim youth have 'laid down their weapons' because of papal visit

Central African Republic: Muslim youth have 'laid down their weapons' because of papal visit

Dec. 16, 2015 - (CNA) - The Central African Republic’s leading prelate has called upon the faithful to imitate Pope Francis and become “pilgrims of peace,” the Catholic Information Service for Africa reported.

For three years, the nation has been torn by a conflict that has pitted Islamist Séléka militias against Anti-balaka militias composed largely of Christians and animists. The nation’s hierarchy has stated that the Anti-balaka militias are not Christian organizations and has denounced violence on all sides.

Archbishop Dieudonné Nzapalainga, who together with the nation’s leading Muslim cleric has pleaded for peace, visited the capital’s dangerous PK5 Muslim enclave and said that the recent papal visit “profoundly” affected Muslim youth.

“Significantly, the Muslim youth of the PK5 district have laid down their weapons to speak with their Christian brothers,” said Archbishop Nzapalainga. Continue Reading Fruits from Papal Visit>

Pope Francis continues to refuse to wear bulletproof vest despite Christmas threat from ISIS

Pope Francis continues to refuse to wear bulletproof vest despite Christmas threat from Isis

Dec. 15, 2015 - (CNA) - The issue of Pope Francis wearing personal protection has been raised once more after it was revealed that he has refused to wear a bulletproof vest during Christmas celebrations in the Vatican.

Italian police have urged the Pope to wear the protection after receiving intelligence that Isis are planning to bring chaos to Rome with a series of terrorist attacks.

Father Ciro Benedettini, a Vatican spokesman told the Daily Express said: "He is not afraid, [he] knows everything [about the threat from ISIS] but he doesn't want to lose the contact with the people."

Francis refused to wear a protective vest during his African tour despite fears for his safety, particularly in the Central African Republic which has been wracked by sectarian violence. Continue Reading Vatican Security>

Coming soon: a new American saint?

Coming soon: A new American saint?

Dec. 15, 2015 - (CNA) - Pope Francis yesterday authorized the Heroic Virtue of Brother William Gagnon, giving him the title of Venerable and launching him on the first step on the potential path to sainthood.

Cardinal Angelo Amato, prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, presented Brother Gagnon’s name to the Holy Father along with a list of others at an audience Dec. 14. 

Born to French-Canadian parents in Dover, New Hampshire on May 16, 1905, Brother Gagnon joined the Hospitaller Order of St. John of God in Montreal, Quebec in 1932 at the age of 25. This order, which began under St. John of God in Grenada, Spain, is dedicated to practicing hospitality, especially in caring for the sick and needy. Continue Reading Br. William Gagnon>

10,000 Chinese Catholics join in ceremony as 'underground' bishop opens Holy Door

10,000 Chinese Catholics join in ceremony as 'underground' bishop opens Holy Door

Dec. 15, 2015 - (Catholic Culture) - An estimated 10,000 Chinese Catholics, led by a bishop of the “underground” Church, participated in the ceremonial opening of the Holy Door in the cathedral of Zhengding, the AsiaNews service reports.

Although police were present at the cathedral, they did not disrupt the ceremony or discourage participation, AsiaNews reports. “It’s a miracle!” local Catholics said, since authorities routinely take steps to prevent public ceremonies led by leaders of the “underground” Church.

Bishop Julius Jia Zhiguo of Zhengding has been living under house arrest since 2010, when he was released from prison. His movements are closely monitored, and he is periodically taken into custody for “education” programs in which he is pressed to join the government-backed Catholic Patriotic Association. Continue Reading Holy Doors in China>

Roman police nab counterfeiters producing fake papal blessings

Roman police nab counterfeiters producing fake papal blessings

Dec. 15, 2015 - (Catholic Culture) - Police in Rome have uncovered an illegal operation producing counterfeit papal blessings.

Working with Vatican police, city officials seized about 3,500 counterfeit documents that had been printed in a shop near St. Peter’s Square. The documents looked like genuine papal blessings, complete with a photo of the Pontiff; they were printed in several languages. The counterfeiters even asked purchasers to fill out a form to be submitted to the Office of Papal Charities, which handles requests for papal blessings. But in fact those forms were not submitted; the counterfeiters planned to pocket the revenues.

Police have been on guard for illegal operations seeking to profit from the influx of pilgrims coming to Rome for the Jubilee Year. The Vatican, too, has sought to cut down on the number of people offering to provide personalized papal blessings. Continue Reading Counterfeit Papal Blessings>

Respond to shootings with courage and compassion, archbishop exhorts

Respond to shootings with courage and compassion, archbishop exhorts

Dec. 15, 2015 - (CNA) - Meet violence with “resolve and courage” rather than fear and discrimination, the president of the United States bishops' conference said in an Advent message following multiple mass shootings in the country.

“Watching innocent lives taken and wondering whether the violence will reach our own families rightly stirs our deepest protective emotions,” Archbishop Joseph Kurtz of Louisville said in a Dec. 14 statement. However, he added, “we must resist the hatred and suspicion that leads to policies of discrimination.”

“Instead, we must channel our emotions of concern and protection, born in love, into a vibrant witness to the dignity of every person.” Continue Reading Christian Response to Violence>

There's no 'vocation to laziness,' Pope Francis tells young people

There's no 'vocation to laziness', Pope Francis tells young people

Dec. 14, 2015 - (CNA) - Pope Francis on Monday met with an Italian initiative aimed at offering support to unemployed and underemployed youth, saying their responsibility is to help young people rediscover the “vocation” of work in the context of their human dignity.

The task at hand is to help young people find, not just a job, but “a responsibility of evangelisation through the sanctifying value of work,” the Pope said during the Dec. 14 audience with members of the  Policoro Project.

However, this does not apply to “any form of work: not work that exploits, crushes, humiliates and abuses, but work that makes man truly free, in accordance with his noble dignity”.

“The vocation to work: that is one of the traits of human dignity,” the Roman Pontiff said. “There is no vocation to laziness, but to work.” Continue Reading Pope Francis on Unemployment>

Holy Doors open in Fort Wayne-South Bend for the Jubilee Year of Mercy

Holy Doors to open for the Jubilee Year of Mercy

Dec. 14, 2015 - (CNA) - The Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend announced that, in accordance with Pope Francis, three symbolic Holy Doors will be opened on Sunday, December 13, 2015, the Third Sunday of Advent. The opening of the doors will mark the beginning of the Extraordinary Jubilee Year of Mercy.

Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades will preside over Mass at 5:00 p.m. at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Fort Wayne. Msgr. Michael Heintz will preside over Mass at 11:00 a.m. at Saint Matthew Cathedral in South Bend. Fr. Peter Rocca, C.S.C., Basilica rector, will preside over Mass at the Sacred Heart Basilica at Notre Dame during the 10:00 a.m. Mass. All are welcome to attend. Continue Reading FWSB Jubilee of Mercy>

As Jesus' birth nears, sadness is 'not allowed,' Pope says

As Jesus' birth nears, sadness is 'not allowed,' Pope says

Dec. 13, 2015 - (CNA) - On Gaudete Sunday Pope Francis opened the Holy Door of Rome’s basilica of St. John Lateran, telling attendees that the joy of Jesus’ birth overcomes the sadness caused by hatred and violence.

As Christmas approaches, “we cannot let ourselves be taken in by fatigue; sadness in any form is not allowed, even though we have reason to be with the many concerns and the many forms of violence which hurt humanity,” the Pope said Dec. 13.

Instead, the coming of the Lord “must fill our hearts with joy,” he said, noting that God is always someone who protects his people.

In the contest of a history filled with great abuse and violence, especially by those in power, “God knows that he will reign over his people, he would never leave them at the mercy of the arrogance of its leaders, and will free them from all anxiety,” the Pope said. Continue Reading Gaudete Sunday with Pope Francis>

Pope celebrates Our Lady of Guadalupe, confirms Mexico trip

Pope celebrates Our Lady of Guadalupe, confirms Mexico trip

Dec. 12, 2015 - (CNA) - Pope Francis officially announced the date he would venerate the shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Mexico during his homily for the Marian feast at the Vatican.

Speaking at the Dec. 12 Mass in St. Peter's Basilica, the Pope said he will venerate the shrine on Feb. 13, 2016, where he will pray that Christian communities may be “oases and sources of mercy,” and a witness to charity “that does not allow exclusions.”

The Pope will travel to Mexico from Feb. 12-18, the Vatican announced Saturday. During a recent press briefing, Francis said his next trip would likely be to Mexico, although the details had not been finalized.

In his homily for Mass celebrated for the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe, Pope Francis asked for Mary's intercession in cultivating mercy during this Jubilee year, and entrusting the sufferings and joys of the people of the Americas to her care. Continue Reading Pope Francis on Our Lady of Guadalupe>

Nevada Catholic churches targeted in bizarre string of protests

Nevada Catholic churches targeted in bizarre string of protests

Dec. 10, 2015 - (CNA) - Las Vegas Catholics are disturbed after self-described Muslim-turned-Christian protestors disrupted Masses at several churches in the metropolitan area within the past few weeks.

In at least three incidents, the group “Koosha Las Vegas” have walked in to churches in the middle of Mass, shouting at Catholics to repent and later posting videos of the protests to their YouTube page. According to their videos, the group consists of street preachers and self-proclaimed “soldiers” for Jesus.  

One video shows at least four men wearing bold “Trust Jesus” t-shirts walking up the aisle during a Mass, handing out pamphlets and telling the congregation that as Catholics they have “sinned against (God) and broken all of his laws.” Continue Reading Las Vegas Protests>

The new annulment process went into effect this week

The new annulment process went into effect this week

Dec. 10, 2015 - (CNA) - With the launch of the Jubilee of Mercy, Pope Francis’ reforms to the annulment process have gone into effect, giving more of a role to the local bishop, dropping automatic appeals, and ensuring that the process is free of charge.

The new process is aimed at streamlining the system for granting annulments out of concern “for the salvation of souls” while affirming the longstanding Catholic teaching on marriage indissolubility.

Originally announced in September, the changes went into effect Dec. 8, the feast of the Immaculate Conception and the opening day of the Jubilee for Mercy.

The changes were initially published in two motu proprio - or letters issued by the Pope “on his own initiative.” The documents were entitled “Mitis Iudex Dominus Iesus” (The Lord Jesus, a meek judge), which deals with modifications in the Latin Rite's Code of Canon Law, and “Mitis et misericors Iesus” (Jesus, meek and merciful), which outlines changes for Eastern Churches who, although in full communion with Rome, have historically had a different process. Continue Reading Annulment Reforms in Place>

Why a Jubilee of Mercy? Because the Church needs it, Pope Francis says

Why a Jubilee of Mercy? Because the Church needs it, Pope Francis says

Dec. 9, 2015 - (CNA) - The day after opening the Holy Year of Mercy, Pope Francis dedicated his general audience remarks to answering the question of why he called for a jubilee on the subject, saying the primary reason is simply because it’s needed.

“Why a Jubilee of Mercy? What does this mean?” the Pope asked pilgrims present in St. Peter’s Square Dec. 9 for his weekly general audience. 

The answer, he said, is because “the Church needs this extraordinary moment. I'm not (just) saying 'it's good,' no! I'm saying: the Church needs it.”

Pope Francis opened the Jubilee of Mercy, an Extraordinary Holy Year, Dec. 8, the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception. The Holy Year will close Nov. 20, 2016, with the Solemnity of Christ the King. Continue Reading General Audience on Jubilee Year>

Catholic university opens in Iraq

Catholic university opens in Iraq

Dec. 10, 2015 - (ArchIndy.org) - A new Catholic university has opened in Erbil, an Iraqi city of 1.5 million that is capital of the autonomous region of Kurdistan.

Chaldean Catholic Archbishop Bashar Warda said in July that the university, which will welcome 250 students per year, is “a way of fighting back against Daesh [the Islamic State] and saying we [Christians] are not going to go away.”

Joining Archbishop Warda at the university’s December 8 opening was Bishop Nunzio Galantino, secretary-general of the Italian Episcopal Conference, which has donated $2.5 million to the project. Continue Reading Catholic University Iraq>

Statement from Archbishop Tobin regarding the resettlement of a family of refugees from Syria

Statement from Archbishop Tobin regarding the resettlement of a family of refugees from Syria

Dec. 8, 2015 - (ArchIndy.org) - I would like to bring you up to date regarding the question of the Archdiocese of Indianapolis resettling a family of refugees from Syria. The family arrived safely in Indianapolis last night.

I thank Governor Pence for meeting with me last Wednesday, when I was able to explain in some detail the plight of this family as well as the role of the Archdiocese’s Refugee and Immigrant Services program in welcoming them to Indianapolis, where the family already has some relatives. I listened to the governor's concerns regarding security and prayerfully considered his request that we defer from welcoming them until Congress had approved new legislation regarding immigrants and refugees. I informed the Governor prior to the family’s arrival that I had asked the staff of Catholic Charities to receive this husband, wife and their two small children as planned. Continue Reading Indianapolis Syrian Refugees>

A growing coalition agrees: Christians are genocide victimes too

A growing coalition agrees: Christians are genocide victims too

Dec. 8, 2015 - (CNA) - Legal experts, religious leaders, and now an independent government commission are asking the U.S. State Department to include Christians among the victims of genocide perpetrated by ISIS.

“We recently learned that a State Department finding is imminent that ISIS is committing genocide against the Yazidis. We would wholeheartedly endorse that finding, but we are deeply troubled by the prospect that the Department’s statement will either omit or reserve judgment on whether ISIS is committing genocide against Christians,” stated a Dec. 4 letter to Secretary of State John Kerry from a group of legal experts, scholars, and religious leaders. Continue Reading Christian Genocide Designation>

The Virgin Mary reminds us that 'everything is mercy,' Pope tells faithful

The Virgin Mary reminds us that 'everything is mercy,' Pope tells faithful

Dec. 8, 2015 - (Catholic Culture) - Addressing the crowds gathered in St. Peter’s Square for the recitation of the Angelus, Pope Francis said on December 8 that “the Immaculate Conception means that Mary is the first saved by the Father’s infinite mercy, as the first fruit of the salvation that God wills to give, in Christ, to every man and woman.”

Calling upon the faithful to contemplate and imitate the Virgin Mary as the jubilee of mercy begins, the Pope said that “in the Immaculate Conception of Mary we are invited to recognize the dawn of the new world, transformed by the saving work of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, the dawn of the new creation wrought by divine mercy.”

“Therefore, the Virgin Mary, never contaminated by sin and always full of God, is Mother of a new humanity,” he continued. “She is mother of a recreated world. To celebrate this feast implies two things: to receive God fully and His merciful grace in our life; to become in turn architects of mercy through a genuine Gospel journey.” Continue Reading Immaculate Conception Angelus>

Breakthrough: North Korea will allow celebration of Mass in Pyongyang cathedral

Breakthrough: North Korea will allow celebration of Mass in Pyongyang cathedral

Dec. 7, 2015 - (Catholic Culture) - Catholic priests from South Korea will be allowed to celebrate Mass in the capital of North Korea, the Korean bishops’ conference has announced.

After a 4-day visit to North Korea, a delegation of the bishops’ conference announced that they had arranged for “greater religious exchange” between the two countries of the divided peninsula. Priests will visit Pyongyang, the northern capital, for major feast days, and celebrate Mass in Changchung cathedral.

The Pyongyang cathedral is the only Catholic church in North Korea. There are no Catholic priests living in the country. Continue Reading North Korean Masses>

As 'Vatileaks' trial proceeds, Holy See spokesman explains Vatican justice system

As 'Vatileaks' trial proceeds, Holy See spokesman explains Vatican justice system

Dec. 7, 2015 - (CNA) - As a Vatican City trial over the leaking of private documents continues, the director of the Holy See Press Office has defended the trial and the judicial systems of the Vatican City State after the defendants criticized the process.
 
Father Federico Lombardi’s message, published Dec. 7, follows a hearing in the trial. The tribunal heard motions by the lawyers and discussed the approval of witnesses for the defense.
 
All of the witnesses were accepted. Included among them will be Cardinal Pietro Parolin, Vatican Secretary of State. Another witness will be Cardinal Santos Avril y Castello, Archpriest of St. Mary Major Basilica and president of the commission of cardinals of the Institute for Religious Works, informally known as the Vatican Bank. Continue Reading Vatican Justice System>

Vatican Worldwide Live Stream for Opening of Year of Mercy

Vatican Worldwide Live Stream for Opening of Year of Mercy

Dec. 7, 2015 - (USCCB) - The Vatican has released information for broadcasters for the worldwide telecasts of the opening of the Holy Year of Mercy, December 8, and Christmas events presided over by Pope Francis. 

Tuesday, December 8, 03:30-6:30 AM, Holy Mass for the Opening of the Holy Door of St. Peter's Basilica, followed by the recitation of the Angelus, St. Peter's Square. 

Television commentaries from the Vatican in English, Spanish and French will be offered on satellite and audio channels of Eurovision World Feed. Details concerning various satellites and frequencies are posted online: www.pccs.it/tj/telecasts.htm.  Continue Reading Year of Mercy Live Stream>

Pope: Conversion is for believers and non-believers alike

Pope: Conversion is for believers and non-believers alike

Dec. 6, 2015 - (USCCB) - In his Angelus address for the second Sunday of Advent, Pope Francis spoke against the presumption that the need for conversion applies only to non-believers, and that Christians are somehow exempt.

“No one can say: 'I am holy, I am perfect, I am already saved',” the Pope said Dec. 6 to the crowds in St. Peter's Square. “No. We must always welcome this offer of salvation.”

Stressing that salvation is offered to everyone, the pontiff explained that this is the reason for the Year of Mercy: “to go ever forward along this path of salvation, that path which Jesus taught us. God wants all men to be saved through Jesus Christ, the only Mediator.” Continue Reading Sunday Angelus>

With Advent here, the papal preacher has a how-to guide for seeking Christ

With Advent here, the papal preacher has a how-to guide for seeking Christ

Dec. 6, 2015 - (CNA) - The Preacher of the Pontifical Household’s first sermon for the Advent season was a striking reminder of the Christian’s need to love Christ and to see the Church as his body and spouse.

“Let us seek to love Christ and to make him loved, and we will have rendered our best service to the Church,” Father Raniero Cantalamessa, O.F.M. Cap. said Dec. 4. He was preaching to Pope Francis and a congregation largely composed of clergy at the Redemptoris Mater chapel of the Vatican's Apostolic Palace.

“If the Church is the spouse of Christ, then like every spouse she will generate new children only in uniting herself to her Spouse through love. The fruitfulness of the Church depends on her love for Christ. The best service anyone of us can do for the Church is therefore to love Jesus and grow in intimacy with him.” Continue Reading Papal Preacher>

Indiana governor, archbishop meet to discuss Syrian refugees

Indiana governor, archbishop meet to discuss Syrian refugees

Dec. 3, 2015 - (Catholic Culture) - Archbishop Joseph Tobin of Indianapolis met on December 3 with Indiana’s Governor Mike Pence to discuss their differences over the acceptance of Syrian refugees.

Governor Pence has issued an order blocking state agencies from providing benefits to Syrian refugees. Archbishop Tobin, for his part, has said that Catholic donors were prepared to pay for the arrival of a refugee family from Syria.

The archbishop said that this discussion with Pence centered on questions of “compassion and security”—with the prelate stressing the need for compassion for asylum seekers, and the governor focused on concerns about terrorist infiltration. Archbishop Tobin did not disclose what resolutions, if any, the conversation had reached. Continue Reading Indiana Refugee Questions>

US Senate votes to defund Planned Parenthood, but veto is expected

US Senate votes to defund Planned Parenthood, but veto is expected

Dec. 3, 2015 - (CNA) - The United States Senate voted Thursday to pass a bill that would defund Planned Parenthood, though the White House has said President Obama will veto the legislation.

The defunding of the abortion provider is part of a proposed bill that would partially dismantle President Barack Obama’s 2010 health care legislation.

The U.S. House of Representatives is expected to send the bill to Obama, but backers of the bill do not have the votes to override a veto.

A nearly party-line vote from the Democratic Party Dec. 3 failed to restore funding by a vote of 54-46. Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) had proposed restored funding and $1 billion in safety at women’s clinics, the Associated Press reports. Continue Reading Senate Defunds Planned Parenthood>

A car chapel? It's a real thing and Pope Francis blessed one

A car chapel? It's a real thing and Pope Francis blessed one

Dec. 3, 2015 - (CNA) - A Marian chapel built into a car – called an “Autocappella” – received a blessing from Pope Francis yesterday just before the Wednesday general audience in St. Peter’s Square.

The mobile chapel belongs to the “Marian Mission of the Rosary of the Shrine of Pompeii” and carries an icon of the Virgin of Pompeii to dioceses around the world.

At the request of a diocese, the mission brings copies of the icon and organizes prayer and
evangelization activities at parishes, schools, hospitals and prisons.

So far, the mission has been to several countries including Italy, the United States, Canada, Australia and Malta. Continue Reading Pope Blesses Autocappella>

San Bernardino bishop offers prayers in wake of mass shooting

San Bernardino bishop offers prayers in wake of mass shooting

Dec. 3, 2015 - (CNA) - Bishop Gerald R. Barnes of the Diocese of San Bernardino, Calif. requested prayers and offered his own after at least one gunman left more than a dozen dead at a social services facility in the city.

“Please join me in praying for all of the victims of this horrific incident and their families,” he said in a statement Wednesday afternoon.

“For those who lost their lives, we pray for their eternal rest and God’s strength to their loved ones left behind; for those who are wounded, we pray for their health and healing.”

Late Wednesday morning, at least one gunman opened fire on an event at the Inland Regional Center in San Bernardino, a facility that serves people with developmental disabilities. Continue Reading San Bernardino Shooting>

USCCB publishes resource on gender theory, ideology

USCCB publishes resource on gender theory, ideology

Dec. 3, 2015 - (Catholic Culture) - Marriage Unique for a Reason, an initiative of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, has published a seven-page summary of Catholic teaching on gender theory and gender ideology.

The resource, which is intended to be “helpful for educational purposes in the pastoral and public policy context,” includes quotations from Pope Francis, Pope Benedict XVI, St. John Paul II, the Catechism of the Catholic Church, and documents of the Roman Curia and US bishops. Continue Reading Gender Theory Resource>

Jihadists arrested for threats against Pope Francis, no specific plot known

Jihadists arrested for threats against Pope Francis, no specific plot known

Dec. 3, 2015 - (CNA) - Four alleged terrorist sympathizers who made internet threats against Pope Francis have been arrested. While Italian authorities described them as “highly dangerous,” they said they did not appear to be involved in any specific plot.

“They were threatening the Pope, celebrating the recent attacks in Paris and threatening the former U.S. ambassador to Kosovo,” said Carmine Esposito, a police chief in the northern Italian city of Brescia.

They were arrested on suspicion of “condoning terrorism” and inciting racial hatred, Reuters reports. Their online threats included claims that Francis will be the last Pope.

 Four people with citizenship in the Balkan country of Kosovo were arrested Dec. 1 in Italy and Kosovo. Italian police carried out raids in the cities of Brescia, Vicenza and Perugia, the Italian newspaper The Local reports. Continue Reading Pope Terror Threat>

Miracle or fungus? Utah diocese investigates 'bleeding' Host

Miracle or fungus? Utah diocese investigates 'bleeding' Host

Dec. 1, 2015 - (CNA) - Some Catholic parishioners in Utah have said a consecrated Host appears to be bleeding, but the Diocese of Salt Lake City is considering whether the change may be due to natural causes.

“The Church does not presume supernatural causes for things that can have a natural explanation. While recognizing that God can work in extraordinary ways, the Church presumes that God ordinarily works through the ministry of the Church and through natural laws,” diocese spokeswoman Susan Dennin told CNA Nov. 30.

Monsignor M. Francis Mannion, who heads the diocese’s investigating committee for the claimed miracle, acknowledged reports of “a bleeding Host” at St. Francis Xavier Church in Kearns, a Salt Lake City suburb. Continue Reading Possible Miracle>

No impediments remain to full communion, Pope tells Orthodox Patriarch

No impediments remain to full communion, Pope tells Orthodox Patriarch

Dec. 1, 2015 - (CNA) - In a message to the Orthodox Patriarch Bartholomew I of Constantinople, Pope Francis wrote that “there is no longer any impediment to Eucharistic communion which cannot be overcome through prayer, the purification of hearts, dialogue and the affirmation of truth.”

The Pope’s message to the Ecumenical Patriarch was timed for November 30, the feast of St. Andrew, patron of the Constantinople see. Each year the Holy See sends a delegation to celebrate that feast with the Ecumenical Patriarch, just as the Orthodox leader sends representatives to Rome for the patronal feast of Sts. Peter and Paul on June 29. This year Cardinal Kurt Koch, the president of the Pontifical Council for Christian Unity, led the Vatican delegation.

In his message Pope Francis took note of the 50th anniversary of a joint declaration signed by Pope Paul VI and Patriarch Athenagoras I, which lifted the mutual excommunications that had been pronounced in 1054 and “consigned those painful memories to oblivion.” Church leaders today should draw inspiration from that anniversary, the Pope said. Continue Reading St. Andrew Message>

Pope calls Central African Christians, Muslims to unite against violence 

Pope calls Central African Christians, Muslims to unite against violence

Dec. 1, 2015 - (CNA) - Christians and Muslims must unite against acts which “disfigure the Face of God” by promoting peace, Pope Francis told Islamic representatives on the final day of his visit the war-torn Central African Republic (CAR).

“Those who claim to believe in God must also be men and women of peace,” the Pope said at the Nov. 30 encounter at the Mosque of Koudoukou in the CAR capital Bangui, recalling the long history of peaceful coexistence among people of different religions.

“Christians, Muslims and members of the traditional religions have lived together in peace for many years,” the pontiff said, adding: “We are well aware that the recent events and acts of violence which have shaken your country were not grounded in properly religious motives.” Continue Reading Pope Francis in CAR>

High military court will decide case of Marine punished for Bible verse 

High military court will decide case of Marine punished for Bible verse

Dec. 1, 2015 - (CNA) - The highest U.S. military court will hear the case of a Marine who says her religious freedom was compromised when she was ordered to remove a Bible verse from her work station.

In May 2013, Lance Corporal (LCpl) Monifa Sterling refused to follow a superior’s order to remove a Bible verse from her workspace. In ruling on the case earlier this year, the U.S. Navy-Marine Corps Court of Criminal Appeals sided against Sterling, saying that significant damage could be caused by forcing military employees to work in the presence of a religious quotation.

“The implication is clear – the junior Marine sharing the desk and the other Marines coming to the desk for assistance would be exposed to biblical quotations in the military workplace,” the court said in its ruling on the case. Continue Reading Military Trial>

Seeking peace and mercy, Pope Francis opens the Holy Door of Bangui

Seeking peace and mercy, Pope Francis opens the Holy Door of Bangui

Nov. 29, 2015 - (CNA) - “Bangui is today the spiritual capital of the world,” Pope Francis said as he opened the Holy Door of Bangui’s cathedral on Sunday--the first time a Pope has opened a Holy Door outside Rome.

Pope Francis proclaimed: “We all pray for peace, mercy, reconciliation, pardon, love. Throughout the Central African Republic and in all the nations of the world which suffer war, let us pray for peace. And together we all pray for love and peace. We pray together.”

The Jubilee of Mercy does not begin until Dec. 8, but Pope Francis decided to open the Holy Door in the cathedral of Bangui as a sign of prayer and solidarity with the country.

The Central African Republic is an active warzone following the December 2012 uprising which led to the overthrow of the president. About 6,000 people have died in the conflict, with several thousands more displaced. Continue Reading Pope Francis in CAR>

Like the martyrs, witness to Jesus with your life, Pope tells Ugandans

Like the martyrs, witness to Jesus with your life, Pope tells Ugandans

Nov. 28, 2015 - (CNA) - Marking his first full day in Uganda with Mass to celebrate the nation’s martyrs, Pope Francis said the call to be missionary disciples falls on all of us, whether at home or abroad, with our families or among our enemies.

“Like the Apostles and the Uganda martyrs before us, we have received the gift of the Holy Spirit to become missionary disciples called to go forth and bring the Gospel to all,” the Pope said Nov. 28, presiding over Mass at the Catholic Shrine of the Martyrs of Namugongo.

“If, like the martyrs, we daily fan into flame the gift of the Spirit who dwells in our hearts, then we will surely become the missionary disciples which Christ calls us to be.”

Throughout his homily, the Pope reflected on how those who nurture the Holy Spirit in their lives desire to share what they have received with others. Continue Reading Pope Francis in Uganda>

Pope to Kenyan families: 'radiate God's love'

Pope to Kenyan families: 'radiate God’s love'

Nov. 26, 2015 - (CNA) - Pope Francis Thursday praised Kenya’s traditional family values, particularly their respect for children and the elderly. He also made an appeal for the youth to use these values as a guide to ending discrimination and injustice in the future.

“The health of any society depends on the health of its families,” the Pope told Mass attendees at Kenya’s Nairobi University Nov. 26.

“Kenyan society has long been blessed with strong family life, a deep respect for the wisdom of the elderly and love for children,” he said, and noted that families are important in the plan of God.

It’s for the sake of our families and the good of society that children must be welcomed “as a blessing for our world,” and that the dignity of every man and woman must be defended, since we are all part of one human family, he said. Continue Reading Pope Francis in Kenya>

New Testament papyrus fragment on eBay

New Testament papyrus fragment on eBay

Nov. 24, 2015 - (CNA) - Last January, Geoffrey Smith, a scholar of early Christianity at the University of Texas, noticed something startling: an eBay listing for an ancient Greek papyrus fragment of the Gospel of John — with an opening bid of only $99.

“I thought, This can’t be allowed to sell on eBay,” Dr. Smith said. “It will just disappear into a private collection.”

Dr. Smith contacted the seller and urged him to halt the online auction — apparently the first on eBay for a Greek New Testament papyrus, he and other scholars said — and let him study the fragment. The seller agreed, and now, on Saturday, Mr. Smith will present his research at the annual conference of the Society of Biblical Literature in Atlanta. Continue Reading eBay Discovery>

Chicago Catholic cemeteries give a proper burial to those who died on the fringes

Chicago Catholic cemeteries give a proper burial to those who died on the fringes

Nov. 24, 2015 - (CNA) - Chicago’s Catholic cemeteries have helped bury the bodies of about 200 unidentified and unclaimed persons in recent years. One of the priests involved has stressed the importance of reducing homelessness and of mourning those who have no one to pray for them.

Father Larry Sullivan, associate priest director of Catholic Cemeteries of the Archdiocese of Chicago, reflected on the sadness of the situation.

“Obviously these are folks who have been living a marginalized life. They’ve been living on the fringes of society, alienated from family or friends, that they would truly be unknown,” he told CNA Nov. 20.

“Certainly the end of their life was very difficult: they didn’t have anybody to step forward to say that they knew this person,” he continued. “I think it’s very important that even though they’re unknown to us, they’re known to God.” Continue Reading Chicago Catholic Cemeteries>

Church of England ad featuring Lord's prayer barred from movie theaters in England

Church of England ad featuring Lord's prayer barred from movie theaters in England

Nov. 24, 2015 - (Catholic Culture) - Movie theaters in England will not allow the showing of a short public-service announcement promoting prayer, because of fears that the advertisement might offend some filmgoers.

The one-minute ad, featuring the Lord’s Prayer, was scheduled to be shown at many theaters before the new Star Wars film, The Force Awakens, which opens in December. But the Digital Cinema Media agency, which handles ads for the nation’s largest theater chains, declined to show the announcement, citing a policy that bans ads which ‘could cause offence to those of differing political persuasions, as well as to those of differing faiths and indeed of no faith.”

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr. Justin Welby, called the decision “extraordinary;” Prime Minister David Cameron termed it “ridiculous.” Continue Reading Banned Prayer Ad>

Over 200 consecrated hosts stolen, desecrated in Spain art exhibit

Over 200 consecrated hosts stolen, desecrated in Spain art exhibit

Nov. 24, 2015 - (CNA) - Critics of Pamplona’s city council say it deliberately attacked Catholics and broke Spanish law by using city property to display a sacrilegious art exhibit with more than 240 stolen consecrated Hosts.

The Spanish artist Abel Azcona stole more than 240 consecrated Hosts by pretending to receive Holy Communion at Mass. He then placed the hosts on the ground to form the word “Pederasty” in Spanish. 

Photos of the theft of the Hosts and their placement on the ground are shown in a public art gallery in Pamplona. The city council there is governed by a Basque separatist coalition called Bildu.

The Christian Lawyers Association has filed a lawsuit against Azcona for violating Spanish law. It has said the city council must pull the display by Thursday or face legal action itself. Continue Reading Sacrilegious Art>

Vatican Christmas Tree appears early this year

Vatican Christmas Tree appears early this year

Nov. 23, 2015 - (CNA) - The Vatican will install a Christmas tree in St. Peter’s Square on December 8 this year, rather than waiting until closer to Christmas as usual.

The Vatican City Governorate announced that because December 8—the feast of the Immaculate Conception—will be the opening of the Jubilee Year, the Christmas Tree will introduced that day.

Each year the Christmas Tree that will stand in St. Peter’s Square (along with a number of other smaller trees for Vatican offices) is donated by a different European region. This year’s tree—a 105-foot spruce—comes form Bavaria. The tree is due to arrive at the Vatican on Wednesday, November 18. Continue Reading Vatican Christmas Tree>

Pope Francis: While worldly kingdoms dominate, Christ's kingdom liberates

Pope Francis: While worldly kingdoms dominate, Christ’s kingdom liberates

Nov. 23, 2015 - (CNA) - In a world which employs “weapons of fear” and manipulation, the strength of Christ’s kingdom is founded in truth and love, Pope Francis said in his Sunday angelus address, during which he also remembered today’s persecuted Christians. 

“The strength of Christ’s reign is love,” the pontiff said Nov. 22, centering his reflection on the Solemnity of Christ the King. Rather than oppressing us, Jesus’ Kingship “frees us from our weaknesses and miseries,” and encourages us on the path “reconciliation and forgiveness.”

“Christ is not a king who dominates us, who treats us as like subjects, but who elevates us to his own dignity.” Continue Reading Christ the King>

Priests aren't mushrooms: Pope Francis' reflection on priestly ministry, formation

Priests aren't mushrooms: Pope Francis' reflection on priestly ministry, formation

Nov. 23, 2015 - (CNA) - Pope Francis on Friday spoke to a conference marking the 50th anniversary of Vatican II's decrees on the ministry and life of priests and on priestly training, noting priests' role as coming from the community and being for the community.

The conference on Presbyterorum ordinis and Optatam totius was organized by the Congregation for the Clergy, and Pope Francis began his Nov. 20 address calling the two decrees “a seed, which the Council sowed in the life of the Church,” and which have “become a vigorous plant.”

He noted the importance of the Congregation for the Clergy having competence over seminary formation (an innovation of Benedict XVI), because “in this way the dicastery can start to deal with the live and ministry of priests from the moment of their entrance into seminary, working to ensure that vocations are promoted and cared for, and may blossom into the lives of holy priests. The path of sanctity of a priest begins in seminary!” Continue Reading Pope Francis on Priests>

FBI: 64 anti-Catholic hate crimes in 2014

FBI: 64 anti-Catholic hate crimes in 2014

Nov. 23, 2015 - (Catholic Culture) - A total of 70 people were victims of 64 hate crimes motivated by anti-Catholic bias in the US in 2014, according to a report issued by the Federal Bureau of Investigation on November 16.

The report, which lists crimes motivated by the victim’s race, religion, sexual orientation, ethnicity, disability, gender, and gender identity, found that there were 609 anti-Jewish, 154 anti-Muslim, and 25 anti-Protestant hate crimes committed during the same year. Continue Reading St. Peter's FBI Hate Crime Reports>

US embassy: St. Peter's Basilica a potential terrorist target

US embassy: Saint Peter's Basilica a potential terrorist target

Nov. 19, 2015 - (CNA) - St. Peter’s Basilica tops the list of potential targets for terrorist attacks in Rome and Milan, the U.S. Embassy in Rome said Wednesday, in the wake of Islamic State militants’ Nov. 13 attacks in Paris.

“Terrorist groups may possibly utilize similar methods used in the recent Paris attacks. The Italian authorities are aware of these threats,” the embassy said in a Nov. 18 security message.

Other potential targets include Milan’s cathedral and its opera house, La Scala. The embassy’s security message also noted venues such as churches, synagogues, restaurants, theatres, and hotels in both cities. Continue Reading St. Peter's Threats>

Vatican security heightened, but no change in plans for Pope's trip to Africa or Jubilee celebration

Vatican security heightened, but no change in plans for Pope's trip to Africa or Jubilee celebration

Nov. 19, 2015 - (Catholic Culture) - The police presence has been strengthened up around the Vatican in the wake of the terrorist attacks in Paris, and extra security will be in force when the Pope travels to Africa next week. But there are no plans to alter the Pope’s schedule, or for the Jubilee Year celebration.

Italian police forces have increased their patrols in and around St. Peter’s Square, with military police checking the parcels of visitors and plainclothes officers mixing with the crowd at the Pope’s weekly public audience. Italy has assigned 700 soldiers to extra security details around Rome, with the city on a high alert because of concerns about a new terrorist attack. The US embassy in Rome has sent out an advisory to American citizens, warning that St. Peter’s basilica is one of several possible terror targets in Italy. Continue Reading Vatican Security>

Holy Door in St. Peter's Basilica uncovered as Jubilee nears

Holy Door in St. Peter's Basilica uncovered as Jubilee nears

Nov. 19, 2015 - (CNA) - Hidden since the Jubilee of 2000, the Holy Door in St. Peter’s Basilica was revealed Tuesday as the brick wall covering it was removed in anticipation of the Holy Year of Mercy launching next month.

Cardinal Angelo Comastri, the Archpriest of St. Peter’s Basilica, led a special “recognitio” ceremony, culminating in the removal of the brick wall.

According to a Nov. 17 communique from the Vatican, after the cardinal presided over a procession and brief prayer service, workers began to remove the wall brick by brick, beginning with the extraction of a small zinc box containing mementos from the Jubilee of 2000.

Opened with a type of blowtorch, the box held several documents of certification for the closure of the Holy Door in 2000. It also held the keys with which Pope Francis will open it Dec. 8 – the Feast of the Immaculate Conception – when this year's Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy officially begins. Continue Reading Holy Doors>

Health care should involve concern for others, not quest for physical perfection, Pope says

Health care should involve concern for others, not quest for physical perfection, Pope says

Nov. 19, 2015 - (Catholic Culture) - Medical care should be characterized by hospitality, compassion, understanding, and forgiveness, Pope Francis told participants in a conference organized by the Pontifical Council for Health Care.

In his November 19 address to the group, which was discussing health care in terms of service, the Pope remarked that the event was taking place on the 20th anniversary of the release of Evangelium Vitae, the landmark encyclical by St. John Paul II. He said that the four attitudes he had mentioned were “the positive requirements of the commandment regarding the inviolability of life.” Continue Reading Pope on Health Care>

Recap: USCCB fall assembly day one

Recap: USCCB fall assembly Day One

Nov. 16, 2015 - (OSV) - The U.S. Bishops began their annual fall meeting under the two shadows of terror in Paris and the Near East and the lingering discussions of the Synod of Bishops that was held last month in Rome. One pointed to the international crisis for the civilized world grappling with evil and the other the need for the family to be strengthened in the face of that very evil as well as the challenges of modernity and globalization.

While they have a fairly packed agenda, the bishops are clearly aware of their connectedness to the universal Church and the way that the suffering of our Christian brothers and sisters must matter to us and must be confronted with both prayer and resources. Continue Reading USCCB Assembly>

Louisiana diocese will introduce 'mobile confessional'

Louisiana diocese will introduce 'mobile confessional'

Nov. 16, 2015 - (Catholic Culture) - The Diocese of Lafayette, Louisiana, has announced plans to deploy a mobile confessional: a converted ambulance that will bring the Sacrament of Reconciliation to the streets during the Jubilee Year of Mercy.

Bishop Michael Jarrell explained that the mobile confessional is a response to the challenge from Pope Francis to encourage confessions during the Jubilee Year. “I think many people miss opportunities for the Sacrament of Reconciliation because of busy schedules so here we’re trying to remove that obstacle,” he said. Continue Reading Mobile Confessional>

Australian archbishop 'astonished and alarmed' by discrimination charge

Australian archbishop 'astonished and alarmed' by discrimination charge

Nov. 16, 2015 - (Catholic Culture) - Archbishop Anthony Fisher of Sydney has decried as “astonishing and truly alarming” a move to bring another Australian archbishop before an anti-discrimination commission because of a pamphlet defending marriage.

Archbishop Julian Porteous of Hobart is the target of a discrimination complaint filed with a government commission in the state of Tasmania. The complaint is based on the archbishop’s distribution of a pamphlet prepared by the Australian bishops to encourage support for marriage. Continue Reading Australian Bishops>

Children's most touching letters to Pope Francis to be published in a book

Children’s most touching letters to Francis to be published in a book

Nov. 16, 2015 - (Vatican Insider) - Dear Pope Francis, sometimes my mum doesn’t eat at night because she says she’s on a diet, but it’s not true, she eats our leftovers,” Matteo says. Another little boy, Raffaele, ends his letter by telling Francis: “Remember, you and Totti are my heroes”. “I’m really sorry about the Christian couple who were burned alive… please forgive me and Pakistan,” writes Aziz. These are just some of the thousands of letters written by children that reach the Vatican from all around the world every week. All addressed to Francis. An anthology titled “Letterine a Papa Francesco” (“Little letters to Pope Francis”) (published by Carlo Gallucci editore, pp. 156, €12,50/$13,88 approx.), edited by Italian Vatican correspondent Alessandra Buzzetti, will soon be available in bookstores. Continue Reading Little Letters to Pope Francis>

Using God's name to justify violence is 'blasphemy,' Pope Francis says

Using God’s name to justify violence is 'blasphemy,' Pope Francis says

Nov. 15, 2015 - (CNA) - On Sunday Pope Francis again expressed shock and sorrow for Friday’s terror attacks in Paris, condemning the acts as an “affront to human dignity,” and encouraging attendees to find hope in Jesus.

“I wish to express my deep sorrow for the terrorist attacks which on Friday evening covered France in blood,” the Pope said in his Nov. 15 Angelus address.

“Such barbarity leaves us shocked and makes us wonder how the human heart can conceive and carry out such horrible events, which have shaken not only France but the entire world.”

Speaking to pilgrims gathered in St. Peter’s Square, the Pope said that when faced with such “intolerable” acts of violence, one “cannot but condemn the disgraceful affront to human dignity.” Continue Reading Pope Francis responds to Paris Attacks>

US Supreme Court will hear challenge to Texas abortion law

US Supreme Court will hear challenge to Texas abortion law

Nov. 14, 2015 - (CNA) -  The Supreme Court of the United States announced Friday that it will hear a challenge to Texas’ safety standards for abortion clinics, in what could be a significant abortion case.

Pro-life advocates welcomed the opportunity for the court to uphold the law.

“The Supreme Court now has the opportunity to confirm that states have a legitimate and compelling interest in better ensuring the safety and health of women who enter abortion clinics,” stated Sarah Torre and Elizabeth Slattery of the Heritage Foundation Nov. 13, in response to the Court’s announcement.

The law enacts “sensible regulations” that show “a laudable concern for the safety of women,” said Dr. Grazie Christie of The Catholic Association in a statement. Continue Reading SCOTUS to Hear Abortion Case>

US bishops met with Obama Friday. Here's what they talked about.

US bishops met with Obama Friday. Here's what they talked about.

Nov. 14, 2015 - (CNA) - Leading Catholic bishops met with President Barack Obama at the White House on Friday and had a discussed a number of issues including religious liberty, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops confirmed.

“The bishops are grateful for this opportunity for candid, cordial dialogue with the President and Vice President of the United States,” the conference said in a written statement after the meeting.

The conversation “continued the good will evident during the visit of Pope Francis,” the statement added.

Archbishop Joseph Kurtz of Louisville, the president of the U.S. Bishops’ Conference; and Cardinal Donald Wuerl of Washington, D.C. attended the meeting in the Oval Office, joined by Monsignor Ronny Jenkins, the general secretary of the conference. They met with President Obama and Vice President Joe Biden. Continue Reading USCCB and President Obama>

Pope Francis releases first 'pop-rock' album

Pope Francis releases first 'pop-rock' album

Nov. 11, 2015 - (Telegraph) - His wise homilies and moving speeches already attract worshippers in their millions. Now Pope Francis will be hoping his popularity translates into record sales after his first pop-rock album was released in Italy on Friday.

Wake Up!, an 11-track Vatican-approved album, features many of the most moving addresses of Pope Francis’s papacy laid over rap, pop-rock and Latin rhythms.

An online extract from the record, which was released at the end of September, has already been listened to a billion times, according to distributors.

Speaking at the record’s launch at the Vatican, Father Giulio Neroni, the Italian priest who produced the album, said: “Pope Francis doesn’t sing as such. But his voice does sing and play, not to the cardinals, but to the people, the faithful.” Continue Reading Pope Francis Album>

Pope: laity must yearn to share Gospel

Pope: Laity Must Yearn to Share the Gospel

Nov. 12, 2015 - (Zenit) - The richness of Vatican II has to be newly understood and assimilated in each generation, Pope Francis said in a message today to the Pontifical Council for the Laity marking the 50th anniversary of the Vatican II document Apostolicam Actuositatem.

The document considers the laity “in a whole vision of the People of God, to which they belong together with the members of Holy Orders and Religious, and in which they take part, in a way proper to them, in the priestly, prophetic, and royal function of Christ Himself,” the Pope said.

For the Council, the laity aren’t a second class, but rather are “called to animate every environment, every activity, every human relation according to the spirit of the Gospel, bringing light, hope, and the charity received from Christ to those places that otherwise would remain foreign to God’s action and abandoned to the misery of the human condition.” Continue Reading Pope Francis to Laity>

Eat with your family, not with your smartphone

Eat with your family, not with your smartphone, Pope says

Nov. 11, 2015 - (CNA) - For Pope Francis the dinner table is a key place to strengthen family bonds and foster a sense of “togetherness,” which he said can often be thwarted by an excess attachment to technology.

“A family that almost never eats together, or that never speaks at the table but looks at the television or the smartphone, is hardly a family,” the Pope said Nov. 11.

“When children at the table are attached to the computer or the phone and don’t listen to each other, this is not a family, this is a pensioner!”

Francis spoke to the thousands of pilgrims gathered in St. Peter’s Square for his Wednesday general audience. Continue Reading General Audience>

The potential irony of a new health care non-discrimination rule

The potential irony of a new health care non-discrimination rule

Nov. 11, 2015 - (CNA) - Proposed federal anti-discrimination rules could threaten the religious liberty of health care providers and also infringe on the privacy of patients, lawyers for the U.S. Catholic Bishops have warned.

“Everyone should have access to health care and health coverage,” stated the general counsel and associate general counsel for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, Anthony Picarello and Michael Moses, respectively, in comments submitted to the Department of Health and Human Services over the proposed rule “Nondiscrimination in Health Programs and Activities.”

However, they cautioned, the rule expands the definition of sex discrimination far beyond existing law, to a point where it is “likely” to “infringe upon the religious and moral convictions of health care providers, insurers, and other stakeholders.” Continue Reading New HHS Rules>

A rarity in Cuban suburb: a new church will be built

A Rarity in a Cuban Suburb: a New Church Will Be Built

Nov. 11, 2015 - (Zenit) - The skyline of the suburb of Guiteras, on the outskirts of the Cuban capital, is dominated by grey prefabricated buildings that are crumbling badly, weakened by the moist tropical temperatures. Some 32,000 people live in this place that looks like so many others on the island nation. But Guiteras is very different in one respect: a new Catholic church is being built there, which is a great rarity.

In a place where no old churches date back to the time before the revolution, Catholics generally have to meet in private homes. Up until now, building permits for new church buildings have been approved in only a few cases. Cuba’s President Raul Castro made the Guiteras property available to the church after Pope Benedict XVI’s visit to the island in 2012. Continue Reading Cuban Catholicism>

Religious leaders visit North Korea

North Korea

Nov. 11, 2015 - (Catholic Culture) - A group of 150 religious leaders, representing a wide variety of faiths, visited North Korea this week, in a rare opening to faith by the repressive Asian regime.

The religious leaders met to "pray together for peace and stability on the Korean peninsula" at the Singyesa Buddhist temple, an ancient site that was rebuilt in 2004 with help from South Korea. The temple is often the location for the few official religious meetings allowed in North Korea. 

The Noth Korean government has allowed two Christian delegations to visit recently: an association of Catholic priests and a group from the World Council of Churches. The two groups visited the only two Christian churches-- one Catholic, one Protestant-- in Pyongyang, the nation's capital. According to the Fides news service, about 200 Catholics attend services each week in the Catholic Church, although they cannot celebrate Mass because there is no Catholic priest in residence. Continue Reading North Korea>

A 'most powerful woman' - National Geographic's major hat tip to the Virgin Mary

A 'most powerful woman' – National Geographic's major hat tip to the Virgin Mary

Nov. 10, 2015 - (CNA) - Our Lady. Blessed Mother. Virgin Mary. Queen of Peace. Theotokos. Handmaid of the Lord. Mother Mary.

These are just some of the titles used to describe the young woman to whom an angel appeared some 2,000 years ago with the message that she would conceive and bear the Savior of the World.

Mary has very few recorded words in the New Testament, but her worldwide devotion spans across time, cultures and even religions.

In a Nov. 8 feature for National Geographic, “How the Virgin Mary Became the World’s Most Powerful Woman,” Maureen Orth explores the worldwide phenomenon of devotion to the Mother of God in anticipation of the Dec. 13 National Geographic Channel special, “The Cult of Mary.” Continue Reading Our Lady in Nat Geo>

Wichita bishop brings formal report on war-hero priest to Vatican

Wichita bishop brings formal report on war-hero priest to Vatican

Nov. 10, 2015 - (CNS) - A week after the 65th anniversary of Father Emil J. Kapaun's capture in North Korea, the bishop of Wichita, Kansas, formally presented a report on the Army chaplain's life, virtues and fame of holiness to the Congregation for Saints' Causes.

Bishop Carl A. Kemme of Wichita and a small delegation from the diocese met Nov. 9 with Cardinal Angelo Amato, prefect of the congregation, and other officials to hand over the 1,066 report known as a "positio."

During the Korean War, Father Kapaun, a priest of the Wichita diocese, and other members of the 3rd Battalion, 8th Cavalry Regiment, were captured by Chinese troops in North Korea Nov. 2, 1950. The priest died in a North Korean prison camp May 23, 1951. Continue Reading Fr. Emil Kapaun>

Francis' message to the Italian Church: imitate Jesus in humility, service

Francis' message to the Italian Church: imitate Jesus in humility, service

Nov. 10, 2015 - (CNA) -  In a lengthy speech to the Italian Church at large, Pope Francis said that true human and ecclesial advancement can only be achieved when founded on the humility and detachment of power exemplified by Christ.

“We can speak of humanism only beginning from the centrality of Jesus, discovering in him the traits of the authentic human face,” the Pope said Nov. 10.

He told those gathered to contemplate the face of Jesus, which is represented on the dome of the Florence’s Santa Maria del Fiore Cathedral in an image of the final judgement.

When we look at Jesus, “what do we see? Above all the face of a God who is emptied, of a God who has assumed the condition of a servant, humble and obedient unto death,” Francis said. Continue Reading Pope Francis in Florence>

Pope uses meal voucher, plastic plates for lunch with poor of Caritas

Pope Uses Meal Voucher, Plastic Plates for Lunch With Poor of Caritas

Nov. 10, 2015 - (Zenit) -  Here is Vatican Radio's report on the Pope's lunch with the poor today in Florence:

In between his meeting with the National Congress of the Italian Church and celebrating Mass in the city’s football stadium, the Pope sat down for lunch with 60 of the city’s poorest citizens, both Italians and of other nationalities.

Many had lost both their jobs and their homes, but thanks to the work of the Catholic Church's charity, Caritas, who runs the meal kitchen where the lunch took place, they had not lost their dignity.

Pope Francis was given a meal voucher when he arrived and ate off a plastic plate, just like the rest of those gathered with him, emphasising his teaching that the Church must be with and accompany the marginalised and those on the peripheries of society. Continue Reading Pope Francis Lunch with Poor>

Chicago nun wins 'Chopped'

Chicago nun wins Chopped

Nov. 9, 2015 - (CNA) - Fans of the Food Network’s competitive cooking show “Chopped” can look forward to a special appearance on Monday night’s episode – Sister Alicia Torres, a Catholic religious sister from the Franciscans of the Eucharist of Chicago.

Along with three other chefs, Sr. Torres will have to get through the appetizer round – by creating a confection from Thanksgiving leftovers – as well as the entrée and dessert rounds in order to be crowed the “Chopped” champion. The winner takes home $10,000 to give to the charity of their choice.

Should Sister survive all three rounds without being “chopped,” her proceeds will go to Our Lady of the Angels Mission in Chicago, the soup kitchen at which the Franciscan sisters serve. Continue Reading Nun Wins Chopped>

Bishop publishes English translation of Synod's final document

Bishop publishes English translation of Synod’s final document

Nov. 9, 2015 - (Catholic Culture) - Two weeks after the conclusion of the Synod of Bishops on the family, Bishop Michael Campbell of Lancaster, England, has published an unofficial translation of the synod’s final document.

The synod’s final report has three parts (“the Church listens to the family,” “the family in the design of God,” and “the mission of the family”), and each part has four chapters.

No official English translation of the Italian-language document has been published. Continue Reading Unofficial English Translation>

37 kidnapped Christians released in Syria

37 kidnapped Christians released in Syria

Nov. 10, 2015 - (Catholic Culture) - The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) group has released 37 Assyrian Christians from the towns of Tal Shiram and Tal Jazira, according to a monitoring group.

The Assyrian Human Rights Network, which has been monitoring the negotiations since the 215 civilians were abducted by ISIL in February, said on Saturday that 37 Assyrians have been released and are in good health and shape.

The abductions were reported after ISIL fighters seized two Assyrian villages from Kurdish forces along the Khabur River in the province of Hasakah in February 2015. Continue Reading Syrian Christians Released>

Pope Francis to pro-life activists: You are the world's Good Samaritans

http://www.catholicnewsagency.com/news/pope-francis-to-pro-life-activists-you-are-worlds-good-samaritans-72480/

Nov. 9, 2015 - (CNA) - Pope Francis praised pro-life activists as “Good Samaritans” to the most vulnerable, citing their commitment to defending life at all stages and their role in affirming the dignity of women.

Meeting Nov. 6 with members of Italy's pro-life movement, the Pope called on those present “to protect the most vulnerable people, who have the right to be born into life, as well as those who ask for a healthier and more dignified existence,” according to the Vatican Information Service translation.

“There is a need to work at different levels and with perseverance, in the promotion and defense of the family, society's foremost resource, especially with reference to the gift of children and the affirmation of the dignity of the woman,” he said. Continue Reading Pope's Pro-life Message>

Supreme Court to hear HHS mandate case for Little Sisters, other non-profits

Supreme Court to hear HHS mandate case for Little Sisters, other non-profits

Nov. 6, 2015 - (CNA) - The Supreme Court will hear legal challenges to the federal contraception mandate, brought by numerous non-profit groups, including the Little Sisters of the Poor.

The court made its announcement Nov. 6. It will take up seven cases representing numerous schools, dioceses, and charitable organizations.

At the center of the controversy is a federal rule announced by the Obama administration that requires most employers to provide employee health care plans that cover birth control, sterilizations, and drugs that can cause early abortions.

Employers that do not comply with the mandate may face crippling fines as a penalty. In the case of the Little Sisters – an order that cares for the elderly poor and dying – this could mean up $2.5 million per year in fines, or 40 percent of the annual amount they beg for. Continue Reading Little Sisters Case>

Following allegations, Colo. hearing considers Planned Parenthood defunding

Following allegations, Colo. hearing considers Planned Parenthood defunding

Nov. 7, 2015 - (CNA) - Legal experts will testify Monday before the Republican Study Committee of Colorado on whether Planned Parenthood’s Colorado affiliate should be investigated and defunded for allegedly selling baby body parts and neglecting to report the rape of a minor.

“Planned Parenthood does not deserve taxpayer funding, but other legitimate health care centers do,” said Colorado Family Action executive director Debbie Chaves, who will attend the hearing.

“In Colorado, there are 60 pregnancy resource centers that offer a variety of women’s health services, including cancer screenings and mammograms, which Planned Parenthood fails to provide,” she told CNA. “In fact, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration reports that there are 8,735 licensed mammography facilities in America but Planned Parenthood operates none of these.” Continue Reading Colorado Planned Parenthood>

Pope Francis explains why he won't sell the Church's 'treasures'

Pope Francis explains why he won't sell the Church's 'treasures'

Nov. 7, 2015 - (CNA) - In a new interview ranging from fame to finances to his childhood dreams, Pope Francis explained that despite his strong concern for the poor, he will not sell the “riches of the Church.”

Asked whether he has ever felt pressure to sell “the treasures of the Church,” the Pope responded, “This is an easy question. They are not the treasures of the Church, (but) the treasures of humanity.”

“For example, if tomorrow I say that Michelangelo's Pieta is going to be auctioned, it can't be done, because it's not the property of the Church. It's inside a Church, but it belongs to humanity,” he said, explaining that this is true “for all the treasures of the Church.”

The Pope’s comments came in an interview with a Dutch newspaper “Straatnieuws.” The paper’s most unique quality: it is published by the homeless of the Dutch city Utrecht. Continue Reading Church 'Treasures'>

Pope: Poor widow gave all because she had everything

Pope: Poor Widow Gave All Because She Had Everything

Nov. 8, 2015 - (CNA) - The poor widow praised by Jesus in the Gospel was able to give all she had because she feels that she is fully loved by God, Pope Francis says.

The Holy Father offered this reflection today before praying the midday Angelus with those gathered in St. Peter’s Square.

The Gospel of today is set in the temple of Jerusalem, precisely in the place where people threw coins as offerings. Many rich make great offerings there, but Jesus offers the example of the poor widow, who in giving two small coins, gives all she has.

“Because of her extreme poverty,” the Pope said, “she could have offered a single coin for the temple and kept the other for herself. But she does not want to just give half to God; she deprived herself of everything. In her poverty she understood that having God, she has everything; she feels totally loved by Him and in turn loves Him totally. What a beautiful example this old woman offers us!” Continue Reading Angelus Address>

Pope ranked 4th on Forbes 'most powerful people' list

Pope ranked 4th on Forbes 'most powerful people' list

Nov. 5, 2015 - (Catholic Culture) - Forbes has published its 2015 list of the world’s most powerful people.

Pope Francis is ranked fourth, behind Vladimir Putin, Angela Merkel, and Barack Obama, and ahead of Xi Jinping, Bill Gates, and Janet Yellen.

“Pope Francis has made it his mission to transform the longstanding conservative image of the Catholic Church,” the US business magazine stated in publishing its rankings on November 4. 

The Pope was also ranked fourth in 2014. Continue Reading Forbes List>

Forgiveness in family has power to rebuild society, Pope says

Forgiveness in family has power to rebuild society, Pope says

Nov. 4, 2015 - (CNA) - Delivering his Wednesday general audience address a little more than a week after the close of the Synod on the Family, Pope Francis spoke on the role of forgiveness in helping families become a force for the betterment of society.

“The practice of forgiveness not only preserves families from division,” but allows them to aid society in becoming “less evil and cruel,” the Pope said during his Nov. 4 weekly audience address in St. Peter's Square.

“Christian families can do a great deal for today's society, as well as for the Church,” he said.

The pontiff also spoke on the role of the recent Synod on the Family in “reviving our hope” in the family's vocation and mission in the context of forgiveness. Continue Reading General Audience>

Vatican: Leak of classified docs is illegal, trying to sow confusion

Vatican: Leak of classified docs is illegal, trying to sow confusion

Nov. 4, 2015 - (CNA) - Vatican spokesman Fr. Federico Lombardi said the recent stealing and leaking of confidential information surrounding Pope Francis' pontificate is illegal, and charged that it was done in order to create confusion.

“As is known, a significant part of what has been published is the result of the disclosure of reserved information and documents, and therefore is an illicit activity that must therefore be prosecuted by the competent Vatican authorities,” Fr. Lombardi said in a Nov. 4 statement.

The publishing of a large amount of different types of information largely related to work that is already complete and without the necessary time to clarify and evaluate it was “unfortunately largely intentional,” he said. Continue Reading Vatican Leaks>

Iraqi lawmakers reject bill that would permit reconversion of Christian children

Iraqi lawmakers reject bill that would permit reconversion of Christian children

Nov. 5, 2015 - (Catholic Culture) - In a 131-57 vote, Iraq’s parliament has rejected a bill that would have permitted children of Christian converts to Islam to become Christians again, according to an AsiaNews report.

Under Iraqi law, if one parent converts to Islam, all of the children automatically become Muslim. The bill would have permitted Christian children in this situation to reconvert to Christianity at the age of 18, as was once permitted in Iraq and still is permitted in the autonomous region of Kurdistan.

“Such a mentality has nothing that is human,” said Bishop Rabban Al-Qas, the Chaldean Catholic bishop of Amadiyah and Zaku. “Not only have they taken homes and property from Christians, but now they also want to take their willpower, hope, freedom of religion and freedom to choose for the future.” Continue Reading Iraqi Conversion Law>

Killing people is not compassion - religious leaders unite against assisted suicide

Killing people is not compassion – religious leaders unite against assisted suicide

Nov. 3, 2015 - (CNA) - As Canada moves toward legalizing assisted suicide, Catholic bishops and a large Protestant coalition – along with Jewish and Muslim leaders – have joined together to reaffirm the need to help the suffering without killing them.

“On the basis of our respective traditions and beliefs, we insist that any action intended to end human life is morally and ethically wrong. Together, we are determined to work to alleviate human suffering in every form but never by intentionally eliminating those who suffer,” the joint statement said.

The Declaration on Euthanasia and Assisted Suicide is a joint statement from the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops and the Evangelical Fellowship of Canada, a coalition of over 40 affiliated denominations. Continue Reading Assisted Suicide>

Pope Francis on All Saints Day: Want to be holy? Do What Jesus did

Pope Francis on All Saints Day: Want to be holy? Do what Jesus did

Nov. 2, 2015 - (Catholic Culture) - The beatitudes are the most direct path toward happiness and holiness, Pope Francis said during Mass on All Saints Day. He urged the congregation to imitate Jesus in walking the difficult, yet rewarding, road to heaven.

The Pope said that the beatitudes make up “the path of holiness, and it is the same path of happiness. It is the path Jesus has taken; indeed, Jesus Himself is this path.”

“Those who walk with Him and through Him enter life, eternal life,” he said. He encouraged those present to pray that they would have the grace, like Jesus, to be “simple and humble.” Continue Reading All Saints Homily>

Papal condolences to Putin following plane crash

Papal condolences to Putin following plane crash

Nov. 2, 2015 - (Catholic Culture) - Cardinal Pietro Parolin, the Vatican’s Secretary of State, has sent a telegram of condolence to Russian President Vladimir Putin following the crash of a Russian passenger plane in northern Sinai.

The Islamic State has claimed responsibility for shooting down the plane.

“Having learned with sadness of the tragic crash of the Russian airline in the Sinai Peninsula, His Holiness Pope Francis conveys his condolences to you and the Russian people,” Cardinal Parolin said in the November 1 telegram. “He offers the assurance of his prayers for all who have died and for those who mourn their loss. Upon the nation and all involved in the recovery efforts His Holiness invokes the strength and peace of Almighty God.” Continue Reading Papal condolences>

Report on Pope Francis and divorce 'in no way reliable,' Vatican says

Report on Pope Francis and divorce 'in no way reliable,' Vatican says

Nov. 2, 2015 - (Catholic Culture) - A Vatican spokesman entirely rejected the reliability of Italian journalist Antonio Scalfari’s report suggesting that Pope Francis said all divorced people who ask will be admitted to the Sacraments.

“As has already occurred in the past, Scalfari refers in quotes what the Pope supposedly told him, but many times it does not correspond to reality, since he does not record nor transcribe the exact words of the Pope, as he himself has said many times,” spokesman Father Federico Lombardi told National Catholic Register reporter Edward Pentin Nov. 2.

“So it is clear that what is being reported by him in the latest article about the divorced and remarried is in no way reliable and cannot be considered as the Pope’s thinking,” Fr. Lombardi added. Continue Reading Vatican Statement>

Final synod document strongly backs Church teaching, beauty of family life

Final synod document strongly backs Church teaching, beauty of family life

Oct. 23, 2015 - (CNA) - With a two-thirds majority vote, the more than 200 bishops gathered for the Vatican's synod on the family supported Church teaching on hot-button issues such as homosexuality and communion for divorced and remarried persons.

The Vatican's synod on the family was opened by Pope Francis Oct. 4, and it will close Oct. 25. This year's event follows the theme “The vocation and mission of the family in the Church and the modern world,” and follows 2014's extraordinary synod on the family, which focused on pastoral challenges involved in family life.

This year's discussion tended to be reduced in Western secular media to two issues: communion for divorced-and-civilly remarried, and Church teaching and pastoral care regarding homosexuality. Continue Reading Synod 2015 Final Document>

Pope Francis: Synod was about affirming family, indissoluble marriage

Pope Francis: Synod was about affirming family, indissoluble marriage

Oct. 23, 2015 - (CNA) - At the conclusion of the 2015 Synod on the Family, Pope Francis emphasized that the gathering had been about recognizing that society is founded on the family and marriage as the permanent union of one man and one woman.

The synod, the Pope said in his closing message, “was about urging everyone to appreciate the importance of the institution of the family and of marriage between a man and a woman, based on unity and indissolubility, and valuing it as the fundamental basis of society and human life.” Continue Reading Pope Francis closes Synod>

Walk alongside your people, Pope Francis tells bishops at Synod's close

Walk alongside your people, Pope Francis tells bishops at synod's close

Oct. 23, 2015 - (CNA) - Pope Francis Sunday officially brought the Synod on the Family to a close at Mass in St. Peter’s, warning against a “spirituality of illusion,” and reminding pastors of their duty to accompany the faithful and be bearers of God’s mercy especially in times of suffering and conflict.

“Jesus’ disciples are called to this, even today, especially today: to bring people into contact with the compassionate Mercy that saves,” he said.

“Moments of suffering and conflict are for God occasions of mercy. Today is a time of mercy!” Continue Reading Closing Synod Homily>

US House votes to defund Planned Parenthood, but not without controversy

US House votes to defund Planned Parenthood, but not without controversy

Oct. 23, 2015 - (CNA) - Amid continuing controversy over fetal tissue harvesting at abortion clinics, the U.S. House of Representatives voted Friday to defund Planned Parenthood and to reroute funding to community health centers.

“Women have the most to gain from congressional action to reroute these tax dollars to community and rural health centers, which provide comprehensive health care services to women, but do not abort the lives of unborn children and harvest their body parts,” the pro-life political action committee the Susan B. Anthony List said Oct. 23. Continue Reading Defund Planned Parenthood>

Pope Francis creates Vatican office combining laity, family, life issues

Pope Francis creates Vatican office combining laity, family, life issues

Oct. 22, 2015 - (CNA) - Pope Francis announced Thursday to the Synod on the Family that he has chosen to establish a new office in the Roman Curia that will deal with issues of laity, family, and life, as part of his reform of the curia.

“I have decided to establish a new Dicastery with competency for Laity, Family and Life, that will replace the Pontifical Council for the Laity and the Pontifical Council for the Family,” Pope Francis said Oct. 22, according to a communique from the Holy See press office.

“To this end, I have constituted a special commission that will prepare a text delineating canonically the competencies of the new Dicastery. The text will be presented for discussion to the Council of Cardinals at their next meeting in December." Continue Reading Curia Reform Continues>

Cardinal Gracias explains procedure for final Synod votes

Cardinal Gracias explains procedure for final Synod votes

Oct. 22, 2015 - (CNA) - At an October 22 briefing at the Vatican, Cardinal Oswald Gracias said that the committee drafting a final statement for the Synod of Bishops had received several hundred suggested amendments.

Cardinal Gracias, who is a member of the writing committee, said that the group had completed and approved a draft, which was be submitted to the body of bishops on Thursday. The Synod will then focus on that draft during discussions on Friday, and a final draft will be presented on Saturday, subject to approval by a vote of the Synod fathers. The final statement will be submitted for approval on a paragraph-by-paragraph basis, the Indian cardinal said. Continue Reading Synod Voting>

Vatican again denies report that Pope has brain tumor

Vatican again denies report that Pope has brain tumor

Oct. 22, 2015 - (CNA) - The Holy See Press Office has again denied an Italian newspaper report that Pope Francis has been treated by a Japanese doctor for a small brain tumor.

“I fully confirm my previous statement, having verified the facts with the appropriate sources, including the Holy Father,” said Father Federico Lombardi, director of the press office. “No Japanese doctor has visited the Pope in the Vatican and there have been no examinations of the type indicated in the article.”

Following Father Lombardi’s original denial, Quotidiano Nazionale reported that the surgeon, Dr. Takanori Fukushima of the San Rossore Treatment Center in Pisa, visited the Vatican from January 28 to 30, arriving by helicopter. Continue Reading Brain Tumor Rumors>

Texas health officials serve subpoenas on Planned Parenthood

Texas health officials serve subpoenas on Planned Parenthood

Oct. 21, 2015 - (CNA) - State officials in Texas have served subpoenas on three Planned Parenthood offices, seeking information on activities at 10 clinics in the state.

Government officials declined to discuss the subpoenas, but their investigation appears related to questions about two issues: reports on the sale of fetal tissue and charges that state funds are being used to pay for abortions in violation the law.

"The breadth and depth of what was requested this morning was unprecedented," said Sarah Wheat, a Planned Parenthood official in Austin. Subpoenas were also served at offices in San Antonio  and in Houston. Continue Reading Texas Planned Parenthood>

Synod finds strong support for Church teaching in communion debate

Synod finds strong support for Church teaching in communion debate

Oct. 21, 2015 - (CNA) - Despite pastoral challenges posed by divorced-and-civilly-remarried Catholics, many synod fathers are in favor of current Church teaching and practice according to a new round of small group reports.

“The majority without full consensus affirmed the current teaching and practice of the Church regarding the participation in the Eucharist of those who are divorced and civilly remarried,” reads a new report from group “A” of the four English-speaking synod circles.

“We acknowledged that this pathway may be difficult, and pastors should accompany them with understanding, always ready to extend God’s mercy to them anew when they stand in need of it.” Continue Reading Synod Reports>

Marriage doesn't take away your freedom - quite the opposite, Pope says

Marriage doesn't take away your freedom – quite the opposite, Pope says

Oct. 21, 2015 - (CNA) - Pope Francis on Wednesday said that contrary to modern notions, fidelity in marriage does not rob us of personal freedom but instead is a fundamental attribute of all human relationships based on love.

“Freedom and fidelity are not opposed to each other,” the Pope said in his latest catechesis on the family, delivered during his weekly general audience in St. Peter's Square Oct 21.
 
The strength and beauty of love, including in the context of friendship, come from the fact that the persons involved are connected without loss of freedom, he said. Continue Reading General Audience>

What the Holy See told the UN about outer space

What the Holy See told the UN about outer space

Oct. 20, 2015 - (CNA) - When the United Nations met on Monday to discuss the peaceful uses of outer space, the Holy See chimed in by voicing its hopes for a more inclusive attitude in space exploration that would incorporate the good of all peoples, despite economic or social inequalities.

“It is…of utmost importance that the opening of outer space for scientific and peaceful research be for the benefit of us all,” stated Archbishop Bernardito Auza, the Permanent Observer of the Holy See to the United Nations. Continue Reading Vatican on Space>

US bishops to discuss 'Faithful Citizenship,' pornography statement at November meeting

US bishops to discuss ‘Faithful Citizenship,’ pornography statement at November meeting

Oct. 21, 2015 - (Catholic Culture) - Pope Francis’ visit to the United States has given a boost to Americans’ stated support for the pro-life cause, the results of a survey conducted this month suggest.

About 62 percent of Americans voiced support for life at every stage of its development, including the unborn, according to a Marist Poll conducted this month. The survey shows an increase of six percentage points since August.

Among practicing Catholics, about 81 percent agreed, an increase from 76 percent.

Americans’ support for religious freedom appeared to increase by seven percentage points to 85 percent, with practicing Catholics’ support increasing seven percentage points to 87 percent. Continue Reading USCCB Meeting>

In wake of papal visit, pro-life opinion rises in United States

In wake of papal visit, pro-life opinion rises in United States

Oct. 20, 2015 - (CNA) - Pope Francis’ visit to the United States has given a boost to Americans’ stated support for the pro-life cause, the results of a survey conducted this month suggest.

About 62 percent of Americans voiced support for life at every stage of its development, including the unborn, according to a Marist Poll conducted this month. The survey shows an increase of six percentage points since August.

Among practicing Catholics, about 81 percent agreed, an increase from 76 percent.

Americans’ support for religious freedom appeared to increase by seven percentage points to 85 percent, with practicing Catholics’ support increasing seven percentage points to 87 percent. Continue Reading Pro-Life US>

Vatican denies report that Pope has brain tumor

Vatican denies report that Pope has brain tumor

Oct. 21, 2015 - (Catholic Culture) - The Holy See Press Office has strongly denied an Italian newspaper report that Pope Francis has a small brain tumor that can be treated without surgery.

Citing “reliable sources,” Quotidiano Nazionale reported that the Pope is under the care of Dr. Takanori Fukushima of the San Rossore Treatment Center in Pisa.

“The circulation of entirely unfounded news regarding the health of the Holy Father by an Italian newspaper is gravely irresponsible and unworthy of attention,” said Father Federico Lombari, director of the Holy See Press Office. “Furthermore, as is clearly evident, the Pope is carrying out his very intense activity in a totally normal way.” Continue Reading Vatican Denies Report>

That notorious 2014 synod report? We got it an hour after the media did, cardinal says

That notorious 2014 synod report? We got it an hour after the media did, cardinal says

Oct. 20, 2015 - (CNA) - Cardinal Wilfrid Napier says the highly controversial midterm report from last year's synod gave weight to issues discussed by only “two or three” people, and was unseen by most synod fathers until after it hit mainstream media.

He also alluded to an agenda in the writing of the final report from last year's synod, which he was involved in drafting, saying that in the process some issues were once again “being pushed in a certain direction.”

At an Oct. 20 press briefing, the cardinal was asked by a journalist if his recent endorsement of the book “The Rigging of a Vatican Synod? An Investigation of Alleged Manipulation at the Extraordinary Synod on the Family” by journalist Edward Pentin was somehow in opposition to his assertion at the beginning of the briefing that the African bishops are “optimistic” about this year’s new methodology. Continue Reading Cardinal Napier>

Patriarchate condemns attack on Joseph's tomb

Patriarchate condemns attack on Joseph’s tomb

Oct. 21, 2015 - (Catholic Culture) - The Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem has joined Israeli and Palestinian political leaders in condemning an attack on Joseph’s tomb by Palestinian protestors.

The tomb of Joseph, whose life features prominently in the Book of Genesis, is located in Nablus, a city in the West Bank that was known as Shechem in Old Testament times.

“This attack is an intolerable offense,” the patriarchate said in a statement. “The sanctity of all holy places be it Christian, Muslim or Jewish must be respected unconditionally. This vicious cycle of violence and revenge, which seems to become the norm, must stop immediately or else horrendous consequences will continue to follow.” Continue Reading Joseph's Tomb Attacked>

US tour of Maria Goretti relics drawing thousands

US Tour of Maria Goretti Relics Drawing Thousands

Oct. 20, 2015 - (Zenit) - The nation-wide tour of the relics of the youngest canonized saint in the Catholic Church, St. Maria Goretti, is continuing to draw thousands of visitors during its Pilgrimage of Mercy.  

This is the first time the relics of St. Maria Goretti have come to the US and only the second time they've left Italy.

Eleven-year-old Maria Goretti died July 6, 1902, after being stabbed 14 times in an attempted rape. Her last words on her deathbed were of mercy towards her 20-year-old attacker: “I forgive Alessandro Serenelli … and I want him with me in Heaven forever.” Continue Reading Maria Goretti Relics>

More info on the tour schedule here.

USCCB grants over $10M to US mission dioceses

USCCB grants over $10M to US mission dioceses

Oct. 20, 2015 - (Catholic Culture) - A subcommittee of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops has granted over $10.0 million to 85 US “home mission” dioceses, most of them in rural areas.

The funds are provided by an annual collection, and the figure represents an increase of $1 million over the amount announced last year.

“The needs of home mission dioceses are real, as often basic spiritual and pastoral necessities cannot be met by the diocese alone,” said Bishop Peter Christensen of Boise, chairman of the Subcommittee on Catholic Home Missions. “"We are incredibly grateful for the many people who make these grants possible; it is thanks to their generosity that the Church here at home is strengthened and faith communities are sustained.”  Continue Reading US Home Missions>

Italian parishioners asked to donate lottery cards

Italian parishioners asked to donate lottery cards

Oct. 19, 2015 - (Catholic Culture) - Churchgoers will be told about the scheme, called 'scratch and win', during masses this weekend after it was announced on a flyer affixed to the door of San Martino in Cigola, near Brescia, Corriere Della Sera reported.

“We all know we need help,” read the flyer. “So with a smile and without making givers uncomfortable or inviting the moralizing of theologians, we're willing to give this a shot.”

The cash-strapped church's decision has been motivated by its need to find funds to maintain the nursery while repairing the church's roof and oratory. Continue Reading Lottery Ticket Collection>

Program for Pope's trip to Africa next month

Program for Pope's Trip to Africa Next Month

Oct. 19, 2015 - (Zenit) - The Vatican on Saturday released the programme for Pope Francis' apostolic trip to Kenya, Uganda and the Central African Republic, to take place from 25 to 30 November.

The Holy Father will depart from Rome's Fiumicino airport on 7.45 a.m. on Wednesday 25 November, destined for “Jomo Kenyatta” airport in Nairobi, Kenya, where he is due to arrive at 5 p.m. Following the welcome ceremony at State House, he will pay a courtesy visit to the president of the Republic and will meet with the authorities and diplomatic corps.

On Thursday 26 November, the Pope will attend an interreligious and ecumenical meeting in the apostolic nunciature in Nairobi, after which he will celebrate Holy Mass on the University of Nairobi campus. This will be followed by a meeting with the clergy, men and women religious and seminarians at the St. Mary's School sports field. The day will conclude with a visit to the United Nations Office at Nairobi. Continue Reading Pope Francis to Africa>

Pope prays for peace in the Holy Land amid escalating violence

Pope prays for peace in the Holy Land amid escalating violence

Oct. 18, 2015 - (CNA) - Following multiple knife attacks in the Holy Land this weekend, Pope Francis has appealed for courage and strength in bringing an end to violence and the desire for revenge.

“Dear brothers and sisters, I follow with great concern the situation of strong tension and violence afflicting the Holy Land,” the Pope said Oct. 18, before leading pilgrims in the traditional Angelus prayer.

“At this time great courage and strength of spirit is needed in order to say no to hate and revenge and to accomplish gestures of peace.” Continue Reading Pope Prays for Peace>

Archdiocese: news reports distorted Newark archbishop's efforts to guide priests

Archdiocese: news reports distorted Newark archbishop's efforts to guide priests

Oct. 18, 2015 - (CNA) - A memo from the Archbishop of Newark to his priests on the reception of the Eucharist aimed to provide guidance amid the challenges of modern life, but was “taken wildly out of context” in media reports.

James Goodness, the Newark archdiocese’s communications director, told CNA Oct. 15 that the memo is about principles, not rules or particular law. He said these principles aim to call on priests to “walk with the people” in their situations and “to cherish and welcome them to participate as they can, according to the faith.”

“This direction is very much in line with the thinking and actions of Pope Francis,” Goodness said. Continue Reading Newark Archdiocese Statement>

Hyatt Hotels changes policy around the globe, removes on-demand porn

Hyatt Hotels changes policy around the globe, removes on-demand porn

Oct. 18, 2015 - (CNA) - In a major policy shift, the global hotel and resort chain Hyatt Hotels is cutting off access to on-demand video pornography in all of their hotel rooms across the globe, according to the advocacy group National Center on Sexual Exploitation.

"With this step, Hyatt is proving itself to be a leader among corporations that value a positive and safe environment for their consumers," stated Patrick Trueman, president of the National Center on Sexual Exploitation, in an Oct. 14 statement.

“By removing on-demand pornography, Hyatt is also taking a stand against prostitution and sex trafficking, which are crimes that often takes place in hotels," Trueman continued. Continue Reading Hyatt Hotels Policy Change>

Cardianl Erdo's emphatic defense of Church teaching marked synod's first day

Cardinal Erdö's emphatic defense of Church teaching marked synod's first day

Oct. 7, 2015 - (CNA) - Monday, the first full day of the Ordinary Synod of Bishops on the Family, was dominated by the introductory address of the synod’s general relator, Cardinal Peter Erdö of Esztergom-Budapest.

The entire text of Cardinal Erdö's Oct. 5 speech was released only in Italian, but has been translated into English by the staff of Catholic News Agency. In his speech, Cardinal Erdö reasserted much of the Church’s teaching, and cast doubt on the prospect of a controversial proposal to readmit civilly remarried divorcees to Communion.

The proposal, first raised by Cardinal Walter Kasper, a German and the president emeritus of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, at a consistory in February 2014 and which is based on the practice of Eastern Orthodox Churches, was one of the most controversial issues at last year’s extraordinary synod on the family. Continue Reading Cardinal Erdo's Synod Speech>

Pope Francis backs the new synod process in an unanticipated speech

Pope Francis backs the new synod process in an unanticipated speech

Oct. 7, 2015 - (CNA) - In an unexpected speech at the synod on Tuesday, Pope Francis has stated that this gathering is in continuity with 2014 synod, which he said never called into question the Church's teaching on marriage.

He also emphasized that the official documents of the 2014 synod are his two speeches, and its final report.

The full text of the Holy Father's intervention has not made public, but Fr. Federico Lombardi, director of the Holy See press office, reported about it in his Oct. 6 press briefing. Continue Reading Pope Francis at Synod>

Cardianl laments California's legalization of assisted suicide

Cardinal laments California’s legalization of assisted suicide

Oct. 7, 2015 - (Catholic Culture) - The chairman of the Committee on Pro-Life Activities of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops lamented the legalization of assisted suicide of California.

“Governor [Jerry] Brown's decision this week to sign a bill legalizing doctor-assisted suicide in California is a great tragedy for human life,” Cardinal Seán O'Malley said in an October 6 statement. “As a result, in all the West coast states, seriously ill patients suffering from depression and suicidal feelings will receive lethal drugs, instead of genuine care to help alleviate that suffering.” Continue Reading O'Malley Statement>

Pope Francis could visit Mexico in first half of 2016

Pope Francis could visit Mexico in first half of 2016

Oct. 7, 2015 - (CNA) - Pope Francis is seriously considering a trip to Mexico in 2016, the vice director of the Holy See Press Office told CNA today.

Italian priest Fr. Ciro Benedettini said that the trip could take place in the first half of next year, and that if it does, we can expect the agenda to be released in November.

Mexico would be Pope Francis’ fourth trip to the Americas, the first being to Brazil for World Youth Day in August 2013. His second visit took place this summer when he traveled to Ecuador, Bolivia and Paraguay July 5-13, while the third was his recent Sept. 19-27 visit to the United States and Cuba. Continue Reading Pope to Mexico>

God's dream for creation? The union of a man and a woman, Pope says

God's dream for creation? The union of a man and woman, Pope says

Oct. 4, 2015 - (CNA) - Pope Francis formally opened the synod of bishops Sunday, telling participants that the union between a man and woman is the foundation of God’s plan for the family, and a solution to the many forms of loneliness in today’s world.

“This is God’s dream for his beloved creation: to see it fulfilled in the loving union between a man and a woman, rejoicing in their shared journey, fruitful in their mutual gift of self,” the Pope said in his opening Mass for the Synod of Bishops.

He explained that this plan is the same one presented in the day’s Gospel for Mark, when Jesus says “From the beginning of creation, ‘God made them male and female.’” Continue Reading Synod Opening Homily>

The relics of St. Therese, and her parents, will be displayed throughout the synod

The relics of St Therese, and her parents, will be displayed throughout the synod

Oct. 3, 2015 - (CNA) - Glass cases with the relics of Saint Therese of Lisieux and her parents, Blessed Louis and Zelie Martin, will be displayed in Santa Maria Maggiore in Rome for the entirety of the Synod on the Family, Oct. 4-25.

Blessed Louis and Zelie will both be canonized Oct. 18.

The relics will be available for veneration by the faithful from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., the normal hours the basilica is open.

The relics of St. Therese will be displayed in the Borghese chapel of the basilica before the icon of the Salus Populi Romani. Through this devotion to Mary, Pope Francis has asked for her intercession for the fruits of the work of thesSynod and for all the families of the world. Continue Reading Relics for Synod>

Gay Catholics tell synod to promote chastity - for everyone

Gay Catholics tell synod to promote chastity – for everyone

Oct. 3, 2015 - (CNA) - Glass cases with the relics of Saint Therese of Lisieux and her parents, Blessed Louis and Zelie Martin, will be displayed in Santa Maria Maggiore in Rome for the entirety of the Synod on the Family, Oct. 4-25.

Blessed Louis and Zelie will both be canonized Oct. 18.

The relics will be available for veneration by the faithful from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., the normal hours the basilica is open.

The relics of St. Therese will be displayed in the Borghese chapel of the basilica before the icon of the Salus Populi Romani. Through this devotion to Mary, Pope Francis has asked for her intercession for the fruits of the work of thesSynod and for all the families of the world. Continue Reading Courage Conference>

Vatican responds to CDF official's 'coming out'

Vatican responds to CDF official’s 'coming out'

Oct. 3, 2015 - (CNA) - The director of the Holy See press office has issued statement in response to Vatican official Msgr. Krzysztof Charamsa's declaration in a recent interview that he is homosexual and has a boyfriend.

Msgr. Charamsa, 43, granted a video interview to Italian agency Corriere della Sera published on Oct. 3 in which he, speaking in Polish, announced that he is "a homosexual priest, with a partner."

Following the revelation, Fr Federico Lombardi, S.J. issued the following Oct. 3 statement: “Regarding the statements and interviews released by Msgr. Kryzstof Charamsa, it must be considered -- notwithstanding the respect warranted to the events and personal situations and reflections on the issue -- the choice to make such a pointed statement on the vigil of the Synod’s opening seems very serious and irresponsible, since it seeks to impose on the Synodal assembly undue media pressure.” Continue Reading CDF Official>

Man up! Phoenix bishop encourages, challenges Catholic men in new letter

Man up! Phoenix bishop encourages, challenges Catholic men in new letter

Oct. 1, 2015 - (CNA) - Calling on all Christian men to take a stand in the Church’s spiritual battle, Bishop Thomas Olmsted of Phoenix asked men in his diocese to courageously pursue their vocations as friends, fathers, and spouses.

“Men, do not hesitate to engage in the battle that is raging around you,” the Phoenix bishop said in a Sept. 29 exhortation, saying that “this battle is occurring in the Church herself, and the devastation is all too evident.”

“Catholic men have not been willing to 'step into the breach' - to fill this gap that lies open and vulnerable to further attack,” he continued. Continue Reading Bishop's Message for Men>

As Synod approaches, Nigerian bishops speak up for the family

As synod approaches, Nigerian bishops speak up for the family

Oct. 1, 2015 - (CNA) - Nigeria’s bishops closed their latest assembly with a view toward the upcoming Synod on the Family, re-affirming the family while warning about LGBT activism.

The bishops said “we reaffirm the validity of the family as a divinely instituted community of persons made up of a man and a woman who are open to life in love, together with their children and relatives.”

They commended the Pope for his recent document Mitis Iudex Dominus Iesus, which aimed at accelerating the process for investigating the nullity of a marriage. Continue Reading Nigerian bishops>

In Germany, thousands of Muslim refugees seeking Baptism

In Germany, thousands of Muslim refugees seeking Baptism

Oct. 1, 2015 - (Catholic Culture) - Thousands of Muslim refugees have sought Baptism after arriving in Germany, the Italian dailyIl Giornale reports.

In Berlin, Rev. Gottfriend Martens reports that over 600 Muslims have been baptized in his Lutheran Church of the Holy Trinity; 50 are now preparing for Baptism in November. In Hannover, a single parish reports 2,000 baptisms since 2008. Pastors say that the demand for Baptism is growing as the flood of refugees increases.

Some observers have questioned whether Muslims seek to become Christians in hope of obtaining more favorable treatment in their quest for citizenship. For legal purposes, however, religious affiliation does not affect immigration decisions in Germany. Continue Reading Muslims Baptized>

Pope's message for World Day of Migrants and Refugees

Pope's Message for World Day of Migrants and Refugees

Oct. 1, 2015 - (Zenit) - Here is a Vatican translation of the Pope's message for the World Day of Migrants and Refugees.

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

In the Bull of indiction of the Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy I noted that “at times we are called to gaze even more attentively on mercy so that we may become a more effective sign of the Father’s action in our lives” (Misericordiae Vultus, 3). God’s love is meant to reach out to each and every person. Those who welcome the Father’s embrace, for their part, become so many other open arms and embraces, enabling every person to feel loved like a child and “at home” as part of the one human family.  Continue Reading Message for Migrants>

Stop 'corporate welfar' for Planned Parenthood, pro-life Democrats say

Stop 'corporate welfare' for Planned Parenthood, pro-life Democrats say

Sept 30, 2015 - (CNA) - The House on Tuesday passed a bill allowing states to withhold Medicaid funds from health care providers that perform abortions.

The Women’s Public Health and Safety Act, introduced by Rep. Sean Duffy (R-Wisc.) passed the House largely along party lines in a 236-193 vote Sept. 29. Only two Democrats – Rep. Dan Lipinski (D-Ill.) and Rep. Collin Peterson (D-Minn.) – supported the bill. Nine Republicans voted against it.

Kristen Day, director of the group Democrats for Life of America, told CNA taxpayer funding of Planned Parenthood amounts to “corporate welfare for one organization.” Continue Reading Pro-life Legislation>

Vatican confirms Pope Francis met with Kim Davis

Vatican Confirms Pope Met With Kim Davis

Sept 30, 2015 - (CNA) - The Vatican has confirmed that Pope Francis has met with Kentucky county clerk, Kim Davis, but did not elaborate.

In a statement released by the Holy See Press Office this afternoon, its director, Father Federico Lombardi, addressed the media reports about the Pope meeting Davis in Washington, stating: "I do not deny that the meeting took place, but I have no comments to add."

Davis was put in jail for six days for disobeying a federal court order to issue marriage licenses to homosexual couples, stressing she couldn't go against her conscience and citing biblical opposition to same-sex marriage. Continue Reading Kim Davis and the Pope>

What meeting Pope Francis was like for elementary students in Harlem

What meeting Pope Francis was like for elementary students in Harlem

Sept 30, 2015 - (Zenit) - Students and community members in East Harlem were moved, sometimes to tears, by Pope Francis’ words and example during his visit to the New York neighborhood.

“It was mindblowing and at the same time very shocking,”  Aaron Diaz, a third grader from Our Lady, Queen of the Angels School told CNA, “because not many people are able to meet him.”

Negueubou Kamwa, a fourth grader at Our Lady, Queen of the Angels, added that the meeting “amazing and it was like a big opportunity and a blessing,” and that the experience was so overwhelming “I started crying all over the place.”

“It was just incredible, and I cried." Continue Reading Reactions to Pope Francis>

At audience, Pope reflects on trip to America

At audience, Pope reflects on trip to America

Sept 30, 2015 - (Catholic Culture) - Pope Francis devoted his regular weekly public audience on September 30 to reflections on his trip to Cuba and the United States.

In Cuba, the Pope said, he promoted the wish of St. John Paul II that “Cuba will open itself to the world and the world to Cuba.” He referred obliquely to the US embargo on Cuba, noting that it was symbolic that he traveled from Cuba to Washington. “God always wants to build bridges when we are the ones who build walls,” the Pope observed, adding that “walls always collapse.”

In Washington, on the first stop of his visit to the US, the Pope said that he wanted to encourage Americans to be “faithful to the United States' fundamental principle, that all men are created by God, equal and endowed with inalienable rights, such as life, liberty an the pursuit of happiness.”  Continue Reading General Audience>

Sistine Chapel Choir releases sacred music album recorded in its chapel

Sistine Chapel Choir releases sacred music album recorded in its chapel

Sept 29, 2015 - (CNA) - As the first album ever to be recorded inside the Sistine Chapel is released, Archbishop Georg Ganswein said the sacred music featured is not something of the past, but continues to play a role in evangelization.

“Sacred music has a past. It comes from the past, but it has a great future,” Archbishop Ganswein, prefect of the Papal Household, told CNA Sept. 29, following a presentation of the Sistine Chapel Choir’s new album Cantate Domino.

Even though some sacred music is part of the past, it’s not stuck there, he said, adding that “This is a richness.”

“It’s like the roots which you don’t see, but are very important. Sacred music is a root of the liturgy, also today. It has a great future.” Continue Reading Sistine Chapel Album>

Cardinal Burke named member of Congregation for the Causes of Saints

Cardinal Burke named member of curial congregation

Sept 29, 2015 - (Catholic Culture) - Pope Francis has named Cardinal Carlo Caffarra and Cardinal Raymond Burke as members of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints.

The two prelates retain their respective positions as Archbishop of Bologna and Patron of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta. As members of the Congregation, they will cast votes related to candidates for beatification and canonization, including decrees on heroic virtue, miracles, and martyrdoms.  Continue Reading Cardinal Burke>

Pope appeals for life of Georgia death row inmate, but parole board rejects

Pope appeals for life of Georgia death row inmate, but parole board rejects

Sept 29, 2015 - (CNA) - The Georgia Board of Pardons and Paroles has declined to commute the death sentence of a local woman scheduled to be executed tonight, despite a plea from Pope Francis to do so.

In a Sept. 29 letter to members of the board, Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano, apostolic nuncio to the U.S., asked for clemency in the case of inmate Kelly Gissendaner.

“As the personal representative of His Holiness Pope Francis to the United States of America, I make an urgent appeal, on his behalf, for the commutation of the death sentence of Ms. Kelly Gissendaner, who is scheduled to be executed later today,” the letter read. Continue Reading Georgia Death Row>

Planned Parenthood CEO's Congressional hearing generates several outburts

Planned Parenthood CEO's Congressional hearing generates several outbursts

Sept 29, 2015 - (Catholic Online) - Life Site News reported Cecile Richards saying, "while the federal policy, in my opinion, discriminated against low-income women, no federal funds pay for abortion serves at PP or anywhere else except in the very limited circumstances allowed by law" in her opening statement to the House Oversight & Government Reform Committee.

The "limited circumstances" are in reference to the 39-year-old law banning federal funding for abortions outside instances of rape, incest and danger to the life of the mother. 

The Washington Post reported Richards saying Planned Parenthood uses over $500 million in annual federal funding. if PP relies on $500 million each year, it could face dire consequences if the House Oversight & Government Reform Committee -and three other congressional panels- discover enough evidence of unappropriated funds. Continue Reading Planned Parenthood Testimony>

Pope's first album: New album will combine Pope's words, variety of music

New album will combine Pope's words, variety of music

Sept 28, 2015 - (Catholic Culture) - A new musical album featuring recordings of Pope Francis will be released in November.

The album, entitled Wake Up! combines the excerpts from speeches and prayers by the Pontiff, with lively background music drawn from a variety of styles, ranging from Gregorian chant to progressive rock. 

Wake Up! will be released by Believe Digital, which realized the project with the approval and cooperation of the Vatican. Continue Reading Pope's Album>

World Youth Day 2016 Message: Pope Francis explains what World Youth Day has to do with Divine Mercy

Pope Francis explains what World Youth Day has to do with Divine Mercy

Sept 28, 2015 - (CNA) - With World Youth Day coming up next year, Pope Francis has a question for young people: “Do you realize how precious you are to God, who has given you everything out of love?”

“You, dear young man, dear young woman, have you ever felt the gaze of everlasting love upon you, a gaze that looks beyond your sins, limitations and failings, and continues to have faith in you and to look upon your life with hope?” the Pope asked Sept. 28.

His Message for the 31st World Youth Day in Krakow 2016 invited young people to reflect on mercy and to visit the Divine Mercy Shrine in Krakow. The next global Catholic youth gathering takes place July 25-31. Continue Reading WYD2016 Message>

Full transcript of Pope Francis' inflight interview from Philadelphia to Rome

Full transcript of Pope Francis' inflight interview from Philadelphia to Rome

Sept 28, 2015 - (CNA) - In a 47 minute Q&A with journalists on his way back to Rome Pope Francis touched on sensitive topics such as forgiving abusers and conscientious objection, as well as the upcoming synod of bishops and women’s ordination.

The Pope answered 11 questions posed in English, Spanish and Italian Sept. 27 while on board his American Airlines overnight flight from Philadelphia to Rome.

Among the themes addressed were the new, streamlined annulment process, women’s ordination to the priesthood, the migrant crisis and whether or not government officials have a right to conscientious objection. Continue Reading Pope Francis Interview>

Work to defund Planned Parenthood fails as Senate advances government funding bill ahead of deadline

Senate advances government funding bill ahead of deadline

Sept 28, 2015 - (CNN) - Amidst leadership turmoil in the House, the Senate Monday advanced a bill to fund the government through December 11, setting the stage for final congressional passage before Wednesday's deadline to avoid a shut down.

On a bipartisan vote of 77 to 19, the motion surpassed the 60 votes required.

The House is expected to take up and pass the bill as early as Tuesday. Approval in that chamber had been in doubt because a bloc of conservative Republicans was threatening to oust House Speaker John Boehner if he moved the spending bill over its inclusion of federal dollars for Planned Parenthood. Continue Reading Planned Parenthood Funding>

God's love is for everyone - and it's dangerous to think otherwise, Pope says

God's love is for everyone – and it's dangerous to think otherwise, Pope says

Sept 27, 2015 - (CNA) - At the final Mass closing out the 2015 World Meeting of Families in Philadelphia, Pope Francis warned against narrowing God’s love and works to only a certain group of people.

“To raise doubts about the working of the Spirit, to give the impression that it cannot take place in those who are not ‘part of the group’, who are not ‘like us’, is a dangerous temptation,” the Holy Father said Sept. 27.

“Not only does it block conversion to the faith; it is a perversion of the faith!” Continue Reading Pope Francis Closing Mass for World Meeting of Families>

FULL TEXT: Pope's Closing Homily for World Meeting of Families

Confinement is not exclusion! Pope Francis visits with Philly inmates

Confinement is not exclusion! Pope Francis visits with Philly inmates

Sept 27, 2015 - (CNA) - During his visit to a Philadelphia correctional facility this morning, Pope Francis said every person is marked and bruised by life, but Jesus washes away our sins and invites us to live a full life.  

“Life is a journey, along different roads, different paths, which leave our mark on us,” the Pope said. “All of us need to be cleansed, to be washed. All of us are being sought out by the Teacher, who wants to help us resume our journey.”

“The Lord goes in search of us; to all of us he stretches out a helping hand.” Continue Reading Pope Francis at Philadelphia Prison>

FULL TEXT: Pope's remarks at Curran-Fromhold Correctional Facility

Pope Francis off-the-cuff: Family is the most beautiful thing God made

Pope Francis off-the-cuff: Family is the most beautiful thing God made

Sept 26, 2015 - (CNA) - A visibly moved Pope Francis ditched his prepared remarks in speaking to thousands of families gathered in Philadelphia Saturday night – giving an impromptu reflection on the beauty and dire importance of family life.

“The most beautiful thing that God did, the Bible says, was the family,” he said Sept. 26 at the celebration for families on the streets of Benjamin Franklin Parkway.

The Pope voiced his thanks at “the presence of all of you – who are a real witness that it's worth being a family!” A society “is strong, solid and edified on beauty goodness and truth,” he added. Continue Reading Pope Francis at Festival of Families>

FULL TEXT: Pope's remarks at the Festival of Families

For Pope Francis, it's imperative: religious liverty is a gift from God.  Defend it.

For Pope Francis, it's imperative: religious liberty is a gift from God. Defend it.

Sept 26, 2015 - (CNA) - In a Philadelphia moment laden with symbolism, Pope Francis on Saturday encouraged all Americans and all religions to unite against efforts that would limit religious freedom.

“May this country and each of you be renewed in gratitude for the many blessings and freedoms that you enjoy. And may you defend these rights, especially your religious freedom, for it has been given to you by God himself,” the Pope said Sept. 26. Continue Reading Pope Francis on religious liberty>

FULL TEXT: Pope's remarks on religious liberty

Pope Francis to priests, religious: it's your job to inspire vocations

Pope Francis to priests, religious: It's your job to inspire vocations

Sept 26, 2015 - (CNA) - The Church today is called to foster among young people a sense of responsibility and enthusiasm for the Gospel mission, Pope Francis said on Saturday to group of priests and religious gathered in Philadelphia’s cathedral.

Saying Mass in the Cathedral Basilica of Saints Peter and Paul Sept. 26, the Roman Pontiff said creativity is needed for inspiring young people in parishes and schools to “have the same high ideals, generosity of spirit, and love for Christ and the Church”. Continue Reading Pope Francis to Philly Priests, Religious>

FULL TEXT: Pope's homily with Priests and Religious in Philadelphia

Pope Francis to New York City: Jesus still walks our streets.  Tell everyone!

Pope Francis to New York City: Jesus still walks our streets. Tell everyone!

Sept 25, 2015 - (CNA) - Pope Francis on Friday had a brief, but urgent, reminder for the Catholics of New York City. They must proclaim the joy of God and remember to care for all those who go unnoticed in their metropolis, because they have seen the “great light” of Jesus Christ.

“Knowing that Jesus still walks our streets, that he is part of the lives of his people, that he is involved with us in one vast history of salvation, fills us with hope,” the Pope said during his homily at Mass at Madison Square Garden Sept. 25. Continue Reading Pope Francis at Madison Square Garden>

FULL TEXT: Pope's homily at Madison Square Garden

Never lose sight of your dreams, Pope tells Harlem schoolkids

Never lose sight of your dreams, Pope tells Harlem schoolkids

Sept 25, 2015 - (CNA) - When Martin Luther King, Jr. uttered his famous line “I have a dream”, he was thinking of you. Those were the words of Pope Francis this afternoon during a brief but moving encounter with elementary students at Our Lady, Queen of the Angels School in New York City's Harlem neighborhood.

“His dream was that many children, many people would have equal opportunities,” the Pope reflected, speaking in Spanish. “His dream was that many children like you could get an education.”

“It is beautiful to have dreams and to be able to fight for them. Today we want to keep dreaming.” Continue Reading Pope Francis at Harlem School>

FULL TEXT: Pope's remarks at Harlem School

Destruction is always personal, Pope Francis reflects at Ground Zero

Destruction is always personal, Pope Francis reflects at Ground Zero

Sept 25, 2015 - (CNA) - After his Friday meeting with loved ones of fallen first responders to the 9/11 World Trade Center attacks, the Holy Father said he was reminded that violence can never be impersonal.

“In those family members, we see the face of pain, a pain which still touches us and cries out to heaven,” he said during an interreligious prayer event at Ground Zero Sept. 25.

He reflected that “acts of destruction are never impersonal, abstract or merely material.” Rather, “(t)hey always have a face, a concrete story, names.” Continue Reading Pope Francis homily at Madison Square Garden>

FULL TEXT: Pope's Homily at Madison Square Garden

Leave ideology behind and care for the human person, Pope tells UN

Leave ideology behind and care for the human person, Pope tells UN

Sept 25, 2015 - (CNA) - On Friday Pope Francis told members of the United Nations that there is no room for “ideological colonization” in their agenda, and stressed the need to go beyond policies to concrete solutions in caring for the poor and vulnerable, as well as the environment.

In his Sept. 25 speech to a U.N. General Assembly Special Summit on Sustainable Development, Pope Francis pointed to the Preamble of the U.N. Charter, which highlights the need to promote “social progress and better standards of life in larger freedom.” Continue Reading Pope Francis remarks to the United Nations>

FULL TEXT: Pope's Address to the United Nations

Full Schedule of Pope Francis' Apostolic Journey to the United States

Full Schedule of Pope Francis' Apostolic Journey to the United States

Sept 24, 2015 - (USCCB) - Here is the schedule for Pope Francis' September 2015 Apostolic Journey to the United States of America.Continue Reading Pope Francis' Schedule>

 

 

Marriage and family are being threatened, Pope tells US Congress

Marriage and family are being threatened, Pope tells US Congress

Sept 24, 2015 - (CNA) - In his lengthy speech to the U.S. Congress on Thursday, Pope Francis said the family is being threatened today like never before, and praised American figures, including Abraham Lincoln and Martin Luther King, Jr., for their tireless efforts to defend freedom and values.

The Pope also boldly condemned the death penalty and the arms trade, calling for their global abolition.

“How essential the family has been to the building of this country! And how worthy it remains of our support and encouragement!” the Pope told Congress Sept. 24. Continue Reading Pope Francis Address to Congress>

FULL TEXT: Pope Francis' Address to the US Congress

Jesus came in to the world as a homeless person, Pope Francis says

Jesus came into the world as a homeless person, Pope Francis says

Sept 24, 2015 - (CNA) - There is no social or moral justification for homelessness, but we can find solace and meaning in the Incarnation, Pope Francis said Thursday during a visit to Catholic Charities in Washington D.C.

“The Son of God came into this world as a homeless person,” the Pope said. “The Son of God knew what it was to start life without a roof over his head.”

“We can find no social or moral justification, no justification whatsoever, for lack of housing. There are many unjust situations, but we know that God is suffering with us, experiencing them at our side. He does not abandon us.” Continue Reading Pope Francis Remarks to DC Homeless>

FULL TEXT: Pope's Address to Homless, Poor of DC

Pope in NYC: I'm with you in recovering from the abuse scandal

Pope in NYC: I'm with you in recovering from the abuse scandal

Sept 24, 2015 - (CNA) - In his first address in New York, Pope Francis lamented the suffering caused by the sexual abuse scandal in the United States – not only for the trauma inflicted on the Church's most vulnerable members, but also for the shame it has brought to priests and religious in general.

“I know that, as a presbyterate in the midst of God’s people, you suffered greatly in the not distant past by having to bear the shame of some of your brothers who harmed and scandalized the Church in the most vulnerable of her members,” he said addressing clergy and religious gathered for Evening Prayer at St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York City Sept. 24. Continue Reading Pope Francis at Vespers>

FULL TEXT: Pope's Address at Vespers in New York

Pope Francis: Imitate Saint Junipero Serra, be trailblazers for Christ

Pope Francis: Imitate Saint Junipero Serra, be trailblazers for Christ

Sept 23, 2015 - (CNA) - Pope Francis made history Wednesday by performing the first-ever canonization on U.S. soil, of St. Junipero Serra.

St. Serra, a Franciscan missionary from Spain, founded nine Catholic missions in California, most of which would go on to become the centers of major cities in the state.

The trail-blazing life of this priest, Pope Francis said in his homily at the Sept. 23 Mass of Canonization said at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, D.C., should be a call to all Christians to never grow complacent, and to always go out to proclaim the Gospel with joy. Continue Reading Junipero Serra Canonization>

FULL TEXT: Pope's homily at the canonization Mass of Junipero Serra

Pope Francis to Obama: Religious freedom is beyond price

Pope Francis to Obama: Religious freedom is beyond price

Sept 23, 2015 - (CNA) - Pope Francis Wednesday reminded U.S. president Barack Obama that religious freedom is one of America's most “precious possessions,” while lauding the nation's Catholics their work toward a society marked by tolerance and inclusivity.

“With countless other people of good will, (American Catholics) are likewise concerned that efforts to build a just and wisely ordered society respect their deepest concerns and their right to religious liberty,” the Pope said Wednesday, addressing the U.S. commander-in-chief at the White House in Washington, D.C. Continue Reading Pope Francis at White House>

FULL TEXT: Pope Francis' address during welcoming ceremony at White House

Pope Francis: Imitate Saint Junipero Serra, be trailblazers for Christ

Pope Francis: Imitate Saint Junipero Serra, be trailblazers for Christ

Sept 23, 2015 - (CNA) - Pope Francis made history Wednesday by performing the first-ever canonization on U.S. soil, of St. Junipero Serra.

St. Serra, a Franciscan missionary from Spain, founded nine Catholic missions in California, most of which would go on to become the centers of major cities in the state.

The trail-blazing life of this priest, Pope Francis said in his homily at the Sept. 23 Mass of Canonization said at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, D.C., should be a call to all Christians to never grow complacent, and to always go out to proclaim the Gospel with joy. Continue Reading Junipero Serra Canonization>

FULL TEXT: Pope's homily at the canonization Mass of Junipero Serra

Cardinal Sarah: efforts to 'soften' Christ's teaching ignore the Good News of mercy

Cardinal Sarah: efforts to 'soften' Christ's teaching ignore the Good News of mercy

Sept 23, 2015 - (CNA) - Efforts to ‘soften’ Christian teaching on the family are not a solution for those wounded by sin, Cardinal Robert Sarah, a native of the west African country of Guinea, told the World Meeting of Families on Wednesday.

Rather, everyone can find healing through repentance and the heroic witness of families who welcome God’s mercy, the prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship said.

“Even members of the Church can be tempted to soften Christ’s teaching on marriage and the family,” Cardinal Sarah said Sept. 23. “To varying degrees, the idea would consist in placing the Magisterium in a pretty box and separating it from pastoral practice, which could evolve according to such circumstances, fashions and emphases.” Continue Reading Cardinal Sarah at WMF2015>

En route to US, Pope Francis rejects 'left-leaning' accusations

En route to US, Pope Francis rejects 'left-leaning' accusations

Sept 22, 2015 - (CNA) - On the papal flight from Cuba to Washington, D.C., where Pope Francis held the customary press conference with journalists on board, an Italian reporter posed a particularly tough question.

What was the Holy Father’s response to the rampant rumors in the media just ahead of his U.S. visit that he is left-leaning, maybe even a “communist Pope” or even “not a Catholic”?   

Pope Francis did not seem surprised by the questions, but denied that his teachings on the economy and environment ever strayed from Church teaching.

“I’m sure that I haven't said anything more than what’s written in the social doctrine of the Church,” he said. Continue Reading In-flight Interview>

World Meeting of Families begins in Philadelphia

World Meeting of Families begins in Philadelphia

Sept 23, 2015 - (Catholic Culture) - The eighth World Meeting of Families began in Philadelphia on September 22.

Attracting over 17,500 participants from 100 nations, it is the largest meeting in the history of the event, which is organized by the Pontifical Council for the Family and has been held every three years since 1994.

“Today marks a moment we have been preparing for over the course of three years,” said Archbishop Charles Chaput. “It’s an incredible joyful, exciting time here in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia and the entire region.” Continue Reading WMF 2015>

Pope blesses unborn children around the world whilte meeting with Cuban families

Pope blesses unborn children around the world while meeting with Cuban families

Sept 22, 2015 - (CNA) - Pope Francis met with families on Tuesday at Our Lady of the Assumption Cathedral in Santiago de Cuba, thanking those gathered for their warm witness and inclusive nature, reflecting that it is at home, in the family, that Christ shows the love of God.

Going off script from his prepared remarks Sept. 22, the Pope recalled that at the General Audiences held each Wednesday in St. Peter's Square, “I pass by so many people, so many women, who show me they're pregnant, and they ask my blessing.”

“I will propose something to you, to those women who are 'pregnant with hope', because a child is hope, a source of hope: at this moment, touch your womb. Not just those here, (but) those listening on television or radio – to each one, each of these children, boys or girls in the womb, I bless them! I bless the children in the womb, in the name of Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit.” Continue Reading Blessing Unborn>

Pope asks Cubans to imitate Mary's 'revolution of tenderness'

Pope asks Cubans to imitate Mary's 'revolution of tenderness'

Sept 22, 2015 - (CNA) - During Mass on Tuesday Pope Francis praised the rich devotion to Our Lady of Charity seeded in the hearts of Cubans, and told them to be like her in making haste to meet the needs of others in tenderness and charity.

“Generation after generation, day after day, we are asked to renew our faith. We are asked to live the revolution of tenderness as Mary, our Mother of Charity, did,” the Pope said Sept. 22.

“Our revolution comes about through tenderness, through the joy which always becomes closeness and compassion, and leads us to get involved in, and to serve, the life of others.” Continue Reading Revolution of Tenderness>

Nine things you missed from Pope Francis' time in Havana

Nine things you missed from Pope Francis' time in Havana

Sept 22, 2015 - (CNA) - In an intense Sunday, Pope Francis on Sept. 20 said a Mass attended by 200,000 people in Havana's Revolution Square, visited Fidel Castro, improvised two speeches, and was welcomed with affection by the Cuban people. Here are some details you might have missed while he was in “the Rome of the Caribbean.”

First Communion Five children from parishes in Havana received First Communion from Pope Francis at the Mass in Revolution Square: Melanie de la Caridad Lugo Rodríguez, Sadhiel Mollinedo Estrada, Gabriela Rodríguez Perdigón, Yelani González Pérez, and Jonathan Michel Torres Cruz. This is the first Pope Francis has administered this sacrament on an apostolic journey. Continue Reading 9 Things You Missed>

Move over Donald Trump: Pope Francis approval ratings are much higher

Move over Donald Trump – Pope Francis' approval ratings are much higher

Sept 22, 2015 - (CNA) - Pope Francis can look forward to a warm welcome in the United States this week, from both Catholic and non-Catholic Americans.  

A new Rasmussen Reports poll of 1,000 Americans has the Holy Father’s total approval rating at 60 percent, half of which viewed him “Very Favorably.” The news comes just one day before his scheduled arrival in Washington, D.C.

The rating is even higher among American Catholics, who gave him a 78 percent approval rating, 48 percent of which reporting a “Very Favorable” view. Sixty-five percent of U.S. Catholics said the Pope has been good for the Church, compared to just 15 percent who believe he’s had a negative impact.

The impressive rating makes him the envy of the less favorably viewed, including Obama, Donald Trump, and, well, most other political figures at this time. Or most times. Continue Reading Pope in the Polls>

United Nations: Holy See flag to be raised for the first time

United Nations: Holy See Flag to Be Raised For The First Time

Sept 22, 2015 - (Zenit) - The Vatican officially confirmed that the flag of the Holy See will be raised for the first time at the UN Headquarters.

The decision to raise both the Holy See’s and Palestine’s flag came following a unanimous vote by the U.N. General Assembly last week. Both are non-member observer states.

The flag will be raised on the morning of September 25th, prior to Pope Francis’ arrival for his address to the U.N. General Assembly.

“The Holy See and the United Nations Secretariat have agreed that the flag will be raised with no ceremony. UN personnel will raise it at the same time they will raise the other flags that day,” a statement by the Holy See read. Continue Reading UN Flags>

Pope Francis: Do you believe that Christ can transform you?

Pope Francis: Do you believe that Christ can transform you?

Sept 22, 2015 - (CNA) - Pope Francis Monday celebrated his second public Mass during his papal visit to Cuba, reflecting that an encounter with Christ has the power to transform even the most rejected sinners into missionaries.

“The gaze of Jesus gives rise to missionary activity, service, self-giving,” the Pope said, drawing his inspiration from the conversion of St. Matthew, whose feast is celebrated Sept. 21.

“Jesus' love heals our short-sightedness and pushes us to look beyond, not to be satisfied with appearances or with what is politically correct.”

Reminding the faithful that they too are sinners, the pontiff called them to take a moment and “recall with gratitude and happiness those situations, that moment, when the merciful gaze of God was felt in our lives.” Continue Reading Pope in Cuba>

Challenge to Obamacare contraceptive mandate upheld by federal appeals court

Challenge to Obamacare contraceptive mandate upheld by federal appeals court

Sept 22, 2015 - (Catholic Culture) - A US federal appeals court has ruled that the “Obamacare” contraceptive mandate violates the religious freedom of faith-based employers.

The September 17 ruling by the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld an appeal by Heartland Christian College and CNS International Ministries, two Missouri-based Christian institutions; and Dordt College and Cornerstone University of Iowa. The court ruled that the federal government was obliged to recognize the plaintiffs’ “sincere religious belief that their participation in the accommodation process makes them morally and spiritually complicit in providing abortifacient coverage." Continue Reading HHS Mandate>

Senate vote expected on legislation barring most late-term abortions

Senate vote expected on legislation barring most late-term abortions

Sept 22, 2015 - (Catholic Culture) - The US Senate is expected to vote on September 22 on legislation that would protect most unborn children from late-term abortion.

The Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, which is supported by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, passed the House of Representatives in a 242-184 vote in May. It faces an uphill fight in the Senate and the prospect of a presidential veto.

Citing the “substantial medical evidence that an unborn child is capable of experiencing pain at least by 20 weeks after fertilization, this measure asserts a compelling governmental interest in protecting unborn children from this stage,” stated the National Committee for a Human Life Amendment, which works closely with the bishops’ conference. Continue Reading Pain-Capable Vote>

Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend launches website for Pope Francis' visit: "Love is Our Mission"

DIOCESE OF FORT WAYNE-SOUTH BEND ANNOUNCE WEBSITE: LOVE IS OUR MISSION

Sept 21, 2015 - (Diocese of FWSB) - On the eve of the arrival of Pope Francis in the United States for the first time as well as the World Meeting of Families, the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend announces the unveiling of a website,Love Is Our Mission. The page has been launched to create a ‘virtual pilgrimage’ for Catholics in the fourteen counties of the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend who are unable to see the Pope in person.

 The website will be updated daily during the pontifical visit with local news stories, prayers, videos and features of local Catholics who will be attending the World Meeting of Families. Pope Francis is visiting Washington, New York and Philadelphia September 23-27. During this historical visit, Pope Francis will canonize Junipero Serra, give a talk to the U.S. Congress, speak at the United Nations and have a Mass to close the World Meeting of Families. Continue Reading FWSB Website>

Pope in Cuba: Christians serve people, not ideology

Pope in Cuba: Christians serve people, not ideology

Sept 20, 2015 - (CNA) - In his first Mass during apostolic trip to Cuba, Pope Francis centered his homily on the Christian call to service, which he said is never ideological, but involves putting our own interests aside for the sake of others.

“Being a Christian entails promoting the dignity of our brothers and sisters, fighting for it, living for it,” the Pope said Sept. 20, addressing the tens of thousands of people gathered for Mass in Havana's Plaza de la Revolución – or Revolution Square.

“That is why Christians are constantly called to set aside their own wishes and desires, their pursuit of power, and to look instead to those who are most vulnerable.” Continue Reading Pope in Cuba>

In Cuba, Pope Francis urges youth to hope and dream for the future

In Cuba, Pope Francis urges youth to hope and dream for the future

Sept 20, 2015 - (CNA) - Pope Francis set aside his prepared remarks to respond to the dreams and hopes of young people who spoke to him in Cuba on Sunday evening.

“I took notes,” he told a Sept. 20 youth meeting at the Father Felix Varela Cultural Center near Havana’s Cathedral.

“The word that hit me hard: dream,” Pope Francis said. “A Latin American writer used to say: ‘People have two eyes, one made of flesh and one made of glass. With the eye of flesh, we see what we look at. For the eye made of glass, we see what we dream of.’ That’s nice, isn’t it?”

“We have to allow for the ability to dream. The young person who is not capable of dreaming is closed in on himself,” he said. Continue Reading Cuban Youth>

Vatican pushes back over White House invite to Catholic dissidents

Vatican pushes back over White House invite to Catholic dissidents

Sept 19, 2015 - (CNA) - The presence of LGBT activists and other controversial guests at the White House welcoming ceremony for Pope Francis has reportedly drawn concern at the Vatican.

A senior Vatican official has said the Holy See is concerned that any photos of the Pope with the controversial guests could be interpreted as an endorsement, Wall Street Journal writer Francis X. Rocca reported Sept. 17.

The White House directly invited some guests to the Sept. 23 South Lawn ceremony, including retired Episcopal Bishop V.Gene Robinson. His election as the first openly gay Episcopalian bishop helped split the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Communion. Continue Reading White House Guestlist>

House votes to transfer federal funding from Planned Parenthood to health centers

House votes to transfer federal funding from Planned Parenthood to health centers

Sept 18, 2015 - (CNA) - In a 241-187 vote on Friday, members of the United States House of Representatives voted to freeze funding for Planned Parenthood for one year, following months of political debate surrounding information revealed in a series of undercover videos on the abortion provider.

“This is about ensuring that laws are followed, that Americans know how their money is being spent, and that the conscience rights of taxpayers are respected,” Rep. Diane Black (R. - Tenn.), sponsor of the bill, said Sept. 18 on the House floor before the vote.

Black added that the Defund Planned Parenthood Act of 2015 (H.R. 3134) will redistribute more than $235,000 saved from funding the organization to more than 13,500 health care clinics around the country. Continue Reading Defund Planned Parenthood>

What's behind the White House's invite to Catholic dissenters

What's behind the White House's invite to Catholic dissenters

Sept 18, 2015 - (CNA) - The White House will host a welcoming ceremony for Pope Francis next week, but it has invited several LGBT activist allies who are working to target Catholic beliefs and to influence the Synod on the Family.

On Sept. 23, the White House will host hundreds of people on the South Lawn for a welcoming ceremony for Pope Francis’ first visit to the U.S. as Roman Pontiff. The Pope and Ppresident Barack Obama will then have a private meeting.

The White House directly invited some guests to the ceremony, including former Episcopal Bishop V.  Gene Robinson. His election as the first openly gay Episcopalian bishop helped split the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Communion. Continue Reading White House Reception>

Congress, courts clash in legal battle over release of undercover Planned Parenthood videos

Congress, courts clash in legal battle over release of undercover Planned Parenthood videos

Sept 18, 2015 - (Catholic Culture) - A federal appeals court has barred a district court judge from issuing an injunction to stop the release of undercover videos by the Center for Medical Progress (CMP), the group that has exposed the Planned Parenthood scandal.

In July, Judge William Orrick issued a temporary restraining order against the release of CMP videos of a meeting organized by the National Abortion Federation. That temporary order remains in effect, but CMP won a partial victory when the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled the Judge Orrick could not issue an injunction to extend the order indefinitely. The appeals court also ruled that Judge Orrick could not require CMP to disclose information about its videos to the National Abortion Federation. Continue Reading CMP Videos>

Francis: Sex workers, abandoned children are a result of our indifference

Francis: Sex workers, abandoned children are a result of our indifference

Sept 18, 2015 - (Catholic Culture) - On Thursday Pope Francis said that abandoned children and exploited sex workers forced to live on the street are a “shameful reality” in modern society, and encouraged efforts to find more concrete ways to help them.

“(These) sad realities…are the result of indifference, poverty, family and social violence, and human trafficking,” the Pope said Sept. 17.

“They involve the pain of marital separations and the birth of children out of wedlock, frequently doomed to a life of vagrancy.”

Children and women subjected to life on the street, he said, “are not numbers or ‘packets’ to be traded; they are human beings, each with his or her own name and face, each with a God-given identity.” Continue Reading Care of the Street>

Secret Service: no major threats against Pontiff in US

Secret Service: no major threats against Pontiff in US

Sept 18, 2015 - (Catholic Culture) - American security officials are now aware of any immediate threats to attack Pope Francis during his visit to the US, the head of the Secret Service said in an interview with USA Today.

“There is nothing that we’re overly concerned about,” said Joseph Clancy. He acknowledged, however, that an enormous security operation is involved in protecting the Pontiff.

Clancy’s reassuring message comes shortly after the revelation that the FBI had arrested a Philadelphia teenager for allegedly seeking to organize an assault on boy’s plans were barely formed, and no real threat had materialized. Continue Reading Secret Service>

Women protect humanity against evil, Pope Francis says

Women protect humanity against evil, Pope Francis says

Sept 16, 2015 - (CNA) - Women have a special God-given role in protecting each generation against the evils of its time, Pope Francis said in characteristically off-the-cuff remarks during his weekly Wednesday general audience.

Reflecting on Adam and Eve in the book of Genesis, Pope Francis noted that this first man and woman failed at protecting the creation that had been entrusted to them by God, resulting in the inheritance of original sin for all of mankind.

However, God covered the nakedness of Adam and Eve as a “gesture of tenderness,” to show that He did not wish us to be left “naked and abandoned to our destiny as sinners,” Pope Francis said.  

Rather than abandoning us to this “disease” of original sin, God set up a woman as a “protective barrier” against the evils of every generation, he added. Continue Reading General Audience>

Francis' Council of Cardinals proposes a new congregation for the Roman Curia

Francis' Council of Cardinals proposes a new congregation for the Roman Curia

Sept 16, 2015 - (CNA) - The Council of Cardinals finally submitted to Pope Francis on Wednesday a proposal to establish a new congregation for laity, family, and life in the Roman Curia, after widespread discussion and anticipation.

The council of nine cardinals, who are advising the Pope on reform of the Roman Curia, met at the Vatican Sept. 14-16.

Cardinal Dionigi Tettamanzi, Emeritus Archbishop of Milan, had prepared for Pope Francis a study on the feasibility of creating a congregation for laity, family, and life, and presented his findings to the council.

Having formally recommended the creation of the laity-family-life congregation, the Council of Cardinals is still discussing the proposal of another new congregation, for charity, justice, and peace. Continue Reading Council of Cardinals>

Office Depot apologizes after claiming pro-life flier was "hate material"

Office Depot apologizes after claiming pro-life flier was 'hate material'

Sept 17, 2015 - (CNA) -  Office Depot officials have apologized to a pro-life Catholic woman in Illinois after their store refused to print her pro-life flier on fetal organ harvesting and prayer for the conversion of the Planned Parenthood abortion provider.

The apology followed company officials’ claims that the flier was “hate material,” “graphic,” or advocated “persecution of people who support abortion rights.”

“I am grateful that God has used this situation to unite countless people in prayer for the conversion of Planned Parenthood,” Catholic pro-life advocate Maria Goldstein said Sept. 11.

Office Depot chairman Roland Smith had issued an apology earlier that day for the store’s refusal to print her fliers. Continue Reading Office Depot Apology>

Man pulls gun on pro-lifers outside abortion clinic

Man pulls loaded gun on pro-lifers as he escorts woman into Planned Parenthood (video)

Sept 16, 2015 - (Lifesite News) -  A man escorting a woman into an abortion facility in Illinois has been arrested for threatening pro-life advocates with his loaded gun.

Video footage shows that pro-life activist Troy Buccini called out to a couple walking into the clinic, urging them not to destroy their child. The man walking next to the woman briefly flashed a firearm at Buccini and others who were with him before concealing the weapon.

Pro-lifers immediately called police, who arrested a man identified by The Chicago Tribune as 21-year old Clifton Ratney. Ratney told police he drew the weapon in response to pro-lifers "shouting toward" him. He was charged with misdemeanor unlawful use of a weapon and disorderly conduct at the facility. Continue Reading Prolife Protest>

Planned Paernthood feared bad press over alleged selling of baby parts

Planned Parenthood feared bad press over alleged selling of baby parts

Sept 15, 2015 - (CNA) - The tenth video from a pro-life group investigating whether abortion providers like Planned Parenthood are illegally selling fetal tissue shows the nation’s largest abortion provider was conscious of the possible damage its affiliates’ practices could cause if it became news.

David Daleiden, who is leading the investigation project for the Center for Medical Progress, charged that “the lengths to which Planned Parenthood leadership will go to cover-up their illegal sale of aborted baby parts are nothing less than the desperation of a guilty conscience.”

“Planned Parenthood runs their abortion and baby parts business in open disregard for the law and should be prosecuted immediately,” he said Sept. 15. He said the abortion provider’s taxpayer funding should go to Federally Qualified Health Centers that do not perform abortions. Continue Reading 10th Planned Parenthood Video>

Cardinal O'Malley in 2015 Respect Life Month message: "Every life is worth living"

Cardinal O’Malley In 2015 Respect Life Month Message: ‘Every Life Is Worth Living’

Sept 15, 2015 - (USCCB) - People discover their worth when they discover their true identity as created in God’s image and called to an eternal destiny with him, said Cardinal Seán P. O’Malley, OFM Cap, Archbishop of Boston and chairman of the Committee on Pro-Life Activities of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), in the annual Respect Life Month statement. Catholics and all people of good will in the United States are invited to participate in Respect Life Month.

Respect Life Month, observed in October, begins the new, yearlong cycle of the Respect Life Program, which continues through the following September. It is a time dedicated by the U.S. bishops for the Church nationwide to bring attention to, celebrate, and work and pray for the protection of the gift of human life. The first Sunday of the month, October 4 this year, is designated as Respect Life Sunday. The USCCB Secretariat of Pro-Life Activities publishes new materials each year on various human life issues to aid the local efforts within the Church of building a culture of life throughout the year. The theme of the 2015-16 Respect Life Program is “Every life is worth living.” Continue Reading Respect Life Month>

Four American prelates added to synod list by Pope Francis

Four American prelates added to synod list by Pope Francis

Sept 15, 2015 - (CNA) - The official list of participants in this year’s synod of bishops on the family has been released, showing 45 new names personally appointed by Pope Francis – four of whom are Americans.

Cardinal Donald W. Wuerl of Washington, Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan of New York, Archbishop Blase J. Cupich of Chicago, and Bishop George V. Murry of Youngstown, Ohio have officially been added to the list of voting participants in the October gathering.

They will join four other American prelates already elected by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, raising the number of American participants to 8. Continue Reading Synod Participants>

Cuban bishops welcome pardon of 3,500 prisoners before Pope Francis' visit

Cuban bishops welcome pardon of 3,500 prisoners before Pope Francis' visit

Sept 15, 2015 - (CNA) - The Cuban bishops' conference stated on Friday they “received with profound satisfaction” the decision of the nation's government to pardon 3,522 prisoners “as a humanitarian gesture on the occasion of the visit of Pope Francis to our country.”

Cuba's state-run daily newspaper Granma reported Sept. 11 that the government, “on the occasion of the visit of His Holiness, Pope Francis, and as also happened when the Supreme Pontiffs John Paul II and Benedict XVI visited us, agreed to pardon 3,522 prisoners, taking into account the nature of their actions for which they were sentenced, their behavior in prison, how much of their sentence they had served, and health reasons.”

The Cuban bishops stated that each of their dioceses had received “ numerous requests from prisoners or their relatives asking for the Church’s mediation in securing the prisoners’ release,” and that these requests had been forwarded to government authorities. Continue Reading Pope in Cuba>

Here's your best chance to see Pope Francis in DC

Here's your best chance to see Pope Francis in DC

Sept 15, 2015 - (CNA) - All official events for Pope Francis’ upcoming visit to Washington, D.C. are ticketed, but there is a new opportunity for the public to see the Pope without needing a ticket.

After his visit to the White House on the morning of Sept. 23, Pope Francis will step into the Popemobile for a parade around The Ellipse on the south side of the White House, and onto the National Mall. Viewers can line the sides of the route to see Pope Francis without a ticket – they’ll just need to pass through a security check first.

“This will be an opportunity for the estimated tens of thousands of people expected to gather in Washington to see the Holy Father while he is visiting the nation’s capital, September 22-24,” the Archdiocese of Washington announced. Continue Reading Pope in US>

Refuse to have kids? Then make room for migrants, Pope Francis says

Refuse to have kids? Then make room for migrants, Pope Francis says

Sept 14, 2015 - (CNA) - In a new, wide-ranging interview Pope Francis spoke at length of the European refugee crisis – saying that incoming migrants are now filling the void left by a sterile continent that refuses to have children.

“The migrant phenomenon is a reality…when there is an empty space, people look to fill it. If a country doesn't have children, migrants come to occupy that place,” the Pope said in a recent interview with Portugal-based Radio Renascença (Renaissance).

He referred to the staggeringly low number of births in countries such as Italy, Portugal and Spain, where the current number of births falls, he said, at “almost zero percent.” Continue Reading Pope Francis Interview>

Resolution introduced in Congress to call Islamic State atrocities "genocide"

Resolution introduced in Congress to call Islamic State atrocities 'genocide'

Sept 14, 2015 - (CNA) - Members of Congress introduced a resolution on Thursday to label the atrocities committed by the Islamic State against Christians and other religious minorities “genocide.”

“Christians in Iraq and Syria are hanging on in the face of the Islamic State’s barbarous onslaught. This is genocide,” stated Rep. Jeff Fortenberry (R-Neb.), who helped introduce the resolution. Fortenberry is co-chair of the Religious Minorities in the Middle East Caucus.

“The international community must confront the scandalous silence about their plight. Christians, Yezidis, and other religious minorities have every right to remain in their ancestral homelands,” he continued. Continue Reading ISIS Genocide>

US thwarts plan to attack Pope during visit

US thwarts plan to attack Pope during visit

Sept 14, 2015 - (Catholic Culture) - Plans to attack Pope Francis during his U.S. visit have already been thwarted, Homeland Security committee chairman Michael McCaul said on Sunday.

Less than 10 days before the Pope's visit to Washington D.C., New York and Philadelphia, McCaul said on ABC's "This Week" on Sunday that he was "concerned" about the pontiff's safety, after he was contacted by Secret Service about an earlier plot.

"We are monitoring very closely threats against the pope as he comes into the United States," he said. "We have disrupted one particular case, but as that date approaches, we're all very vigilant to protect him." Continue Reading Pope Security>

New fetal-cell lines being introduced for vaccine production

New fetal-cell lines being introduced for vaccine production

Sept 14, 2015 - (Catholic Culture) - Chinese medical researchers have produced a new cell line from aborted babies to be used in the production of vaccines.

The new cell line, Walvax-2, was developed from lung tissues taken from a female baby. Doctors who developed the line say that the abortion was performed using special methods to delay the death of the baby, so that the organs would be healthy and available for harvesting.

Walvax-2 cells replicate more efficiently than the MRC-5 cell lines that are currently being used in vaccines, according to the Chinese researchers. The development of the new cell line undermines the argument, often advanced by proponents of mandatory vaccination, that no new abortions will be required for vaccines, since the existing cell lines, produced by abortions in the past, can be used indefinitely. Continue Reading Vaccines>

Is this the miracle that could canonize Mother Teresa?

Is this the miracle that could canonize Mother Teresa?

Sept 14, 2015 - (CNA) - The Vatican is studying the case of a Brazilian man inexplicably cured of brain abscesses – which could be the miracle that leads to the canonization of Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta.

Pope Francis voiced his desire to canonize Mother Teresa during the Jubilee Year of Mercy which will begin on Dec. 8, the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, as a ¨sign of mercy for the world¨ in service to the poor.

Father Caetano Rizzi, who works in the Vatican's congregation for saints, told CNA that the Pope “wants to beatify and canonize men and women that were a sign of mercy for the world in this Jubilee (Year), and Mother Teresa is a model, because of that there's a certain urgency in her process.” Continue Reading Mother Teresa>

Jesus shows us the path to freedom, not success, Pope says

Jesus shows us the path to freedom, not success, Pope says

Sept 13, 2015 - (CNA) - The path Jesus takes as a humble servant isn’t easy, Pope Francis has said, explaining that to follow him doesn’t guarantee earthly success or honor, but rather true freedom and unity with God.

“Following Jesus means taking up one's own cross to accompany him on his path, an uncomfortable path that is not one of success or earthly glory, but which leads to true freedom, the freedom from selfishness and sin,” the Pope said Sept. 13.

It means clearly rejecting “that worldly mentality which puts the ‘I’ and one's own interests at the center of existence,” he said, adding that one must also be willing to lose one's own life “for Christ and the Gospel, in order to receive it, renewed and authentic.” Continue Reading Sunday Angelus>

After assisted suicide bill fails, English bishops urge greater care for the dying

After assisted suicide bill fails, English bishops urge greater care for the dying

Sept 11, 2015 - (CNA) - A measure that would have legalized assisted suicide in England and Wales failed in the British Parliament Friday by a vote of 330-118, much to the relief of both Catholic and Anglican leaders in the nation.

“I welcome Parliament’s recognition of the grave risks that this bill posed to the lives of our society’s most vulnerable people,” said Archbishop Peter Smith of Southwark in a Sept. 11 statement on behalf of the Catholic bishops of England and Wales.

The measure would have allowed doctors to prescribe a lethal dose of drugs to patients with six months or less to live. The lethal drugs would be self-administered, and each case would need approval by two physicians and a judge. Continue Reading Assisted Suicide>

Some Catholic colleges remove links to Planned Parenthood; others retain them

Some Catholic colleges remove links to Planned Parenthood; others retain them

Sept 10, 2015 - (Catholic Culture) - At least eight Catholic colleges and universities in the US have removed links to Planned Parenthood following a request from the Cardinal Newman Society.

The Virginia-based organization, dedicated to preserving the Catholic identity in higher education, reported that many schools responded to the scandal surrounding Planned Parenthood by removing links to the group on their web sites.

However, some Catholic schools have retained their links to Planned Parenthood. Among them are Boston College, Creighton, Georgetown, and Seattle University. Continue Reading Cardinal Newman Society>

After fire damages Indianapolis church, archbishop asks for prayers

After fire damages Indianapolis church, archbishop asks for prayers

Sept 10, 2015 - (CNA) - A fire badly damaged St. Monica Catholic Church in northwest Indianapolis overnight on Wednesday.

"Please pray for the parish of St. Monica," Archbishop Joseph Tobin of Indianapolis said in a Sept. 9 statement.  The archbishop visited the parish to survey the damage.

The parish's Facebook page showed photos of the damage, but also showed a picture of a large Virgin Mary statue that survived the blaze.

"Through the flames and the smoke, Our Blessed Mother stood strong and unscathed," the parish said.

The fire was reported about 4 a.m. Firefighters saw heavy flames when they arrived. Continue Reading Indianapolis Church Fire>

Welcome Syrian refugees, USCCB president urges

Welcome Syrian refugees, USCCB president urges

Sept 10, 2015 - (Catholic Culture) - The president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops has called upon Americans to welcome Syrian refugees.

"I urge all Catholics in the Untied States and others of good will to express openness and welcome to these refugees, who are escaping desperate situations in order to survive," Archbishop Joseph Kurtz of Louisville said in a September 10 statement.  "Regardless of their religious affiliation or national origin, these refugees are all human persons - made in the image of God, bearing inherent dignity, and deserving our respect and care and protection by law from persecution." Continue Reading Refugees Welcome>

Saudis censor National Geographic with Pope on cover

Saudis censor National Geographic with Pope on cover

Sept 10, 2015 - (Catholic Culture) - The governmenet of Saudi Arabia refused to allow distribution of the August 2015 issue of National Geographic magazine, which featured a cover photo of Pope Francis.

In an apology to readers, the editor of the Arabic-language edition of National Geographic explained that "the magazine was refused entry for cultural reasons." Continue Reading Pope Cover Censored>

In Cuba, Pope Francis will be a "Missionary of Mercy"

In Cuba, Pope Francis will be a 'Missionary of Mercy'

Sept 11, 2015 - (CNA) - The Cuban bishops have announced that the theme for Pope Francis' Sept. 19-22 visit to their nation will be "Missionary of Mercy," as a way of looking forward to the Jubilee Year of Mercy.

This theme "is in continuity with Saint John Paul II who visited the island as a 'Messenger of Truth and Hope,' and with Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI who came as a 'Pilgrim of Charity,'" the bishops stated.  "Now we await Pope Francis as a 'Missionary of Mercy.'" 

The bishops said the theme recalls the upcoming Jubilee Year of Mercy, from Dec. 8, 2015 to Nov. 20, 2016.

"During the Year of Mercy, Pope Francis will send 'Missionaries of Mercy' as envoys to different parts of the world, and he is now telling us that 'the Mystery of Mercy is the source of joy, serenity and peace.'" Continue Reading Pope's Cuba Visit>

In Cuba, Pope Francis will be a "Missionary of Mercy"

Pope: Churches That Do Not Open Their Doors Are Museums

Sept 9, 2015 - (CNA) - The bond that exists between the family and the Christian community is a natural one, in which the Church serves as a spiritual family while the family serves as a small Church.

These were the words of Pope Francis during his weekly General Audience in St. Peter's Square today.  Continuing his catechetical series on the family, the Holy Father reflected on the ties that unite the Christian community with families.

The Pope told the faithful that throughout its history, the Church has walked in the midst of the people, in the history of countless men, women, fathers, mothers, sons and daughters.  It is these histories, he said, that "is written directly in God's heart." Continue Reading General Audience>

Women who survived abortions ask Congress to defund Planned Parenthood

Women who survived abortions ask Congress to defund Planned Parenthood

Sept 9, 2015 - (CNA) - Abortion survivors testified on Capitol Hill Wednesday against continuing federal funding of Planned Parenthood, the largest abortion provider in the U.S.

One of the witnesses, Melissa Ohden, said in her written Sept. 9 testimony before the House Judiciary Committee that while some of them had survived abortion attempts at clinics not affiliated with Planned Parenthood, "the expectation for our lives to be ended by abortion are the very same as those who do lose their lives there."

The hearing was called to examine the "horrific abortion practices" at Planned Parenthood clinics amid debate over whether the organization's affiliates should still receive federal funding. Continue Reading Planned Parenthood Hearing>

Knights of Columbus sending one month of food to Erbil refugees

Knights of Columbus sending one month of food to Erbil refugees

Sept 9, 2015 - (CNA) - This month, the Knights of Columbus will provide food to some 13,500 families in Erbil who have been displaced by the ISIS takeover of Mosul and Nineveh in Iraq.

A national television commercial featuring Fr. Douglas Bazi, a Catholic priest who was kidnapped and tortured and now runs a refugee camp, will also air in the United States, hopefully prompting viewers to send even more aid.

"Christians in the Middle East face persecution and extinction simply for their belief in the one who taught us to love one another," Supreme Knight Carl Anderson said in a press release.

"Despite the genocidal persecution against them, they have continued to be an inspiration to the power of their faith, and to the love of God and neighbor.  They need our solidarity and support, and we are pleased to help provide it." Continue Reading Middle East Relief>

US bishops urge anti-suicide provisions in proposal for end of life counseling

US bishops urge anti-suicide provisions in proposal for end-of-life counseling

Sept 9, 2015 - (CNA) - A federal proposal focusing on health care counseling for end-of-life decisions making needs further additions, including strong exclusions of assisted suicide, representatives of the U.S. bishops have said.

The Department of Health and Human Services' proposed rule to reimburse Medicare providers for advanced care planning counseling sessions has several deficiencies, according to the U.S. bishops' Office of the General Counsel.  The proposed rule would incorporate end-of-life decisions and advanced care planning into Medicare.

The U.S. bishops' Office of the General Counsel's Sept. 4 letter to the HHS' Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services stressed the need for "concern for the well-being and freedom of patients" as well as concern for consistency with existing rules and laws. Continue Reading Assisted Suicide>

Defeat for Indiana diocese, Our Sunday Visitor in HHS mandate case

Defeat for Indiana diocese, Our Sunday Visitor in HHS mandate case

Sept 8, 2015 - (Catholic Culture) - In a 2-1 decision, the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled taht the Obama administration's implementation of the HHS mandate does not impose a "substantial burden" on the free exercise of religion.

Organizations that were challenging the implementation of the mandate included Biola University, Our Sunday Visitor, the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend, and diocesan charities. Continue Reading FWSB HHS Defeat>

Revamped annulment process focuses on speed, role of local bishops

Revamped annulment process focuses on speed, role of local bishops

Sept 8, 2015 - (CNA) - In a reformed marriage annulment process, Pope Francis has made significant changes, giving more of a role to the local bishop, dropping automatic appeals, and declaring the process free of charge.

Announced Tuesday, the new process is aimed at streamlining the system for granting annulments out of concern "for the salvation of souls" while affirming the longstanding Catholic teaching on marriage indissolubility.

The changes were published in two motu proprio - or letters issued by the Pope "on his own initiative."  The documents were entitled "Mitis Iudex Dominus Iesus" (The Lord Jesus, a meek judge), which deals with modifications in the Latin Rite's Code of Canon Law, and "Mitis et misericors Iesus" (Jesus, meek and merciful), which outlines changes for Eastern Churches who, although in full communion with Rome, have historically had a different process. Continue Reading Annulment Reforms Released>

Kim Davis, Kentucky county clerk, to be released from prison

Kim Davis, Kentucky county clerk, to be released from prison

Sept 8, 2015 - (CNA) - A federal judge in Kentucky has ordered the release of Kim Davis, the county clerk who was jailed because she refused to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

Judge David Bunning, who had sent Davis o jail, finding her in contempt of court, said that she could now be released because her deputies had agreed to provide same-sex couples with marriage licenses.

The judge ordered Davis not to interfere with her subordinates in this regard, or face further "appropriate sanctions."

Lawyers for Davis have indicated that they will appeal the contempt of court finding against her. Continue Reading Davis Released>

Five federal judges rebuke court: don't tell the Little Sisters how to be Catholic

Five federal judges rebuke court: don’t tell the Little Sisters how to be Catholic

Sept 8, 2015 - (CNA) - In an unusual move, five federal judges have said their court should have given greater attention to the Little Sisters of the Poor's religious freedom lawsuit against an Obama administration mandate that requires them to violate their Catholic beliefs, or face heavy fines.

"When a law demands that a person do something the person considers sinfull, and the penalty for refusal is a large financial penalty, then the law imposes a substantial burden on that person's free exercise of religion," five judges with the Denver-based Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals said in a Sept. 3 dissent. Continue Reading Tenth Circuit Dissent>

Vatican reforms of annulment process will be presented

Vatican reform of annulment process will be presented tomorrow

Sept 7, 2015 - (CNA) - The Holy See press office has announced that two motu proprio will be released on Tuesday, both of which concern the reform of the process for the declaration of the nullity of marriage.

The two motu proprio, Mitis Iudex Dominus Iesus (The Lord Jesus, a meek judge) and Mitis et misericors Iesus (Jesus, meek and merciful), will be presented at a noon press conference at the Vatican Sept. 8.

The two documents regar the reform of the process for marriage annulment in both the Code of Canon Law and the Code of Canons of the Eastern Churches. Continue Reading Annulment Reforms>

Pope: all European churches to welcome refugees during Year of Mercy

Pope: all European churches to welcome refugees during Year of Mercy

Sept 6, 2015 - (CNA) - Pope Francis Sunday issued a strong appeal to the entire European Church - including the Vatican - to take in migrant families as part of the lead-in to the upcoming Jubilee of Mercy.

"Faced with the tradegy of tens of thousands of refugees feeling death on account of war and hunger, and who are traveling toward a hope for life, the Gospel calls us to be 'neighbors' to the smallest and abandoned, (and) to give them a concrete hope," the Pope said Sept. 6.

He said it's note enough to just say "Courage, patience!" because hope "is combative, with the tenacity of those who go toward a safe destination." Continue Reading Migrant Relief>

Pope engages Americans on immigration, abotion in pre-trip virtual audience

Pope engages Americans on immigration, abortion in pre-trip virtual audience

Sept 5, 2015 - (CNA) - In a virtual audience with Americans Pope Francis heard emotive testimonies from undocumented immigrants, comforted a single mother, and encouraged greater solidarity in world racked with many problems.

The videoconferece was held Aug. 31, and was hosted by ABC News.  It aired on ABC News' "20/20" at 10:00 p.m. ET Sept. 4, and is available online in English and Spanish.

Members included students from the "Cristo Rey" Jesuit High School - a place for disadvantaged youth; a center for homeless in Los Angeles; and members of Sacred Heart parish in McAllen, Texas which sits near the U.S.-Mexico border. Continue Reading Virtual Audience>

Poll: majority of Americans unaware of papal visit

Poll: majority of Americans unaware of papal visit

Sept 7, 2015 - (CNA) - A majority of Americans are unaware of the impending visit by Pope Francis, according to a telephone survey of 1,3331 Americans conducted in August by the Public Religion Research Institute (PRRI).

"Most Americans (52%) say they have heard nothing about the Pope's upcoming visit to the US," according to PRRI.  "Fewer than half of Americans say they have heard a lot (13%) or a little (34%) about it."

"Catholics are much more likely than Americans overall to have heard about the Pope's impending visit to the US," the Institute continued.  "Nearly seven in ten Catholics say they have heard a lot (25%) or a little (44%) about it.  Thirty-one percent of Catholcis say they have heard nothing at all about the Pope's visit." Continue Reading Americans and the Papal Visit>

Pope Francis to Israeli president: "the challenge is to unite"

Pope Francis to Israeli president: 'the challenge is to unite'

Sept 4, 2015 - (CNA) - Pope Francis held an audience with Israeli president Reuven Rivlin on Thursday, where they exchanged gifts and discussed efforts to secure peace and to address the plight of Middle East Christians.

Pope Francis gave the Israeli president a new bronze medal at the Sept. 3 audience.  On the medal was a depiction of a rock split into two parts, but joined by an olive tree.  The medal bore the words: "Search for what unites. Overcome what divides."

When the Pope gave the gift to Rivlin, he winked at the president. "There is some division, but the challenge is to unite," Pope Francis said. Continue Papal Audience>

Kentucky clerk jailed for refusing to issue same-sex marraige licenses

Kentucky clerk jailed for refusing to issue same-sex marriage licences

Sept 4, 2015 - (Catholic Culture) - A county clerk in Kentucky has been jailed for contempt of court, because she refuses to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

Kim Davis was taken into federal custody on September 3, after Judge Davin Bunning said that her appeal to conscience did not give her the right to violate the terms of her oath to carry out the law.  "Oaths mean things," the judge said.

He ordered Davis to be held until she agrees to issue marriage licenses.  He said that fines would not be sufficient to uphold the law, because her defiance might have a "ripple effect," encouraging others to imitate her. Continue Kentucky Clerk>

Cardinal O'Malley welcomes Pope's outreach to post-abortive women, encourages people to seek healing with Project Rachel

Cardinal O'Malley Welcomes Pope's Outreach to Post-Abortive Women, Encourages People to Seek Healing With Project Rachel

Sept 3, 2015 - (Zenit) - Cardinal Seán P. O’Malley, archbishop of Boston and chairman of the Committee on Pro-Life Activities of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), responded September 1 to Pope Francis’ letter allowing all priests worldwide "to absolve of the sin of abortion those who have procured it and who, with contrite heart, seek forgiveness for it."

“Recognizing the seriousness of the sin of abortion and the implications this can have for those involved, Pope Francis is making particular outreach to women, noting that many women were under great pressure and felt that they had no choice,” Cardinal O’Malley said.  

“For many years in the United States, including in the Archdiocese of Boston, diocesan bishops have granted their priests the faculty to absolve the sin of abortion. As part of the outreach of the Year of Mercy, the Holy Father will now grant all priests worldwide the faculty,” Cardinal O’Malley said. Continue Cardinal O'Malley>

Federal government urges employees: work from home during papal visit

Federal government urges employees: work from home during papal visit

Sept 2, 2015 - (Catholic Culture) - The federal government's Office of Personnel Management has asked federal agencies to discourage employees from commuting to Washington during the three days of Pope Francis' visit to the City, The Hill reported.

The office "strongly encourages agencies to allow employees to telework to keep the government operating while helping to minimize traffic congestion and suport law enforcement efforts during this event."

The Pontiff arrives from Cuba on the afternoon of September 22 and departs for New York on September 24. Continue Pope in Washington>

US bishops release 1st of 7-part video series on social doctrine

US Bishops Release 1st of 7-Part Video Series on Social Doctrine

Sept 2, 2015 - (Zenit) - A video on “Care for God’s Creation” is the first of a seven-part series on Catholic Social Teaching, designed to be an introduction to this body of thought with notable Catholics reflecting on each of the teachings. The video release comes in conjunction with Pope Francis’ declaration of September 1 as a day of prayer for creation. The video series is co-sponsored by Catholic Relief Services (CRS) and the Department of Justice, Peace and Human Development of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB).

“We received the earth as a garden,” says Cardinal Peter Turkson, president of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace in the “Care for God’s Creation” video. “It would be very unfair if we pass on the earth as a wilderness.” Continue Social Doctrine Videos>

Catholic college prepared to pay heavy fines for failure to comply with Obamacare mandate

Catholic college prepared to pay heavy fines for failure to comply with Obamacare mandate

Sept 2, 2015 - (Catholic Culture) - The president of Thomas Aquinas College has said that the California school is prepared to pay heavy fines, if necessary, rather than comply with the "Obamacare" contraceptive mandate.

Thomas Aquinas College has appealed to the Supreme Court for relief from the mandate, as have other Catholic institutions.  But Michael McLean told the Cardinal Newman Society that his school would not comply with the federal regulations, regardless of the outcome of their appeal. Continue Reading Thomas Aquinas College>

Vatican says "no" to transsexual godparents amid Spain controversy

Vatican says "no" to transsexual godparents amid Spain controversy

Sept 2, 2015 - (CNA) - A media firestorm arose in Spain after a transsexual woman, who considers herself a man, asked to be the godfather of her nephew - leading a diocese's bishop to turn to the Vatican for an answer.

After writing to the Vatican's Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith about the issue earlier this month, Bishop Rafael Zornoza Boy of Cadiz and Ceuta was told that since transsexual persons are not consistently living Church teaching, it's "impossible" for them to fulfill their duties as a godparent. Continue Reading Spain Controversy>

Alliance between families and God can change the world, Pope Francis says

Alliance between families and God can change the world, Pope Francis says

Sept 2, 2015 - (CNA) - Encouraging families to hear God's word and to put it into practice, Pope Francis said Wednesday that the family, by being allied with God, is called to counteract the "desertification" found in today's cities.

"Our cities are becoming desertified for lack of love, for lack of smiles," the Roman Pontiff said, addressing the crowds gathered in St. Peter's Square Sept. 2 for the General Audience.

Cities have "many diversions, many ways of wasting time, of laughing, but love is missing," the Pope said.  However, the family has the ability to overcome this. Continue Reading General Audience>

All priests will be able to forgive sin of abortion during Jubilee for Mercy

All priests will be able to forgive sin of abortion during Jubilee for Mercy

Sept 1, 2015 - (CNA) - In a new set of pastoral guidelines for the upcoming Holy Year of Mercy, Pope Francis has made some significant moves, allowing all priests to forgive the sin of abortion and granting SSPX priests the faculty to forgive sins.

"One of the serious problems of our time is clearly the changed relationship with respect to life," the Pope said in a Sept. 1 letter addressed to Archbishop Rino Fisichela, president of the Pontifical Council for the New Evangelization, charged with organizing the jubilee. Continue Reading Jubilee of Mercy>

9th Planned Parenthood video: for-profit corporation paid fees to clinic directors for exclusive access

9th Planned Parenthood video: for-profit corporation paid fees to clinic directors for exclusive access

Sept 1, 2015 - (Catholic Culture) - A new undercover video - the 9th in a series exposing Planned Parenthood- has introduced another major player in the business of harvesting fetal tissues.

The new video from the Center for Medical Progress exposes Advanced Bioscience Resources (ABR), a for-profit company with a longstanding relationship with Planned Parenthood.  In the video, a competitor chargest that ABR paid an "advisor fee" to abortion-clinic directors who gave them exclusive access to the tissues taken from aborted babies. Continue Reading CMP Videos>

Court: March for Life won't have to pay for abortions

Court: March for Life Won't Have to Pay for Abortions

Sept 1, 2015 - (Zenit) - A federal court has rightly ruled in fa vor of March for Life in the case of March for Life v. Burwell, finding that the organization whose sole purpose is to oppose the tragedy of abortion will not have to fund insurance that covers abortion pills against it's beliefs.

The court issued an order that permanently prohibits the Obama administration from enforcing its abortion-pill mandate against the pro-life organization.  This is the first time an order has been granted in favor of an organization opposed to the abortion-pill mandate for pro-life reasons based on moral convictions instead of religion. Continue Reading HHS Mandate>

Kentucky clerk of court defies Supreme Court, refuses to issue same-sex marriage licenses

Kentucky clerk of court defies Supreme Court, refuses to issue same-sex marriage licenses

Sept 1, 2015 - (Catholic Culture) - Defying court orders, a county clerk in Kentucky is refusing to issue marriage licenses of same-sex couples.

Kim Davis, the clerk in Rowan County, said that she would obey "God's authority" rather than the Supreme Court decision calling for legal recognition of same-sex marriages.  When a homosexual couple brought a lawsuit against her, and a federal court ordered her to issue the marriage license, she sought a Supreme Court hearing, but was rejected.  As the standoff continues in Rowan County, Davis faces likely contempt-of-court charges. Continue Reading Marriage Licenses>

Pope leads liturgy for Day of Prayer for Care of Creation

Pope leads liturgy for Day of Prayer for Care of Creation

Sept 1, 2015 - (News.Va) - Pope Francis on Tuesday marked his first World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation in Saint Peter’s Basilica with the celebration of a Liturgy of the Word.

The liturgical celebration for the World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation began with the canticle from the Book of Daniel, where all of creation is called upon to praise the Lord. In addition to readings from  Genesis and the Gospel of Saint Matthew, there was a reading from Pope Francis’ encyclical letter Laudato si’, which concluded with a passage from St Francis of Assisi’s Canticle of the Sun. Continue Reading Pope Francis>

 

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