Feb 14 2016 - 10:37am
Pope Francis heads into the capital's crime-ridden suburb of Ecatepec on Sunday to see firsthand the reality of the Mexican "periphery," where drug violence, gangland-style executions and kidnappings are daily facts of life.
The pontiff is expected to bring a message of hope and solidarity to residents with a Mass featuring readings about not being tempted by the devil—a common exhortation from a pope who frequently invokes the threat of "the evil one."
The Mass is to take...
Feb 13 2016 - 8:57pm
Pope Francis fulfilled his much-desired wish to pray in silence before the miraculous image of Our Lady of Guadalupe
After celebrating the first Mass of his papal trip to Mexico Feb. 13, the pope made his way to the "camarin" ("little room") behind the main altar of the basilica dedicated to Mary. The miraculous mantle, which normally faces the congregation, can be turned around to allow a closer and more private moment of veneration.
Laying a bouquet of yellow roses in front...
Feb 13 2016 - 6:42pm
Antonin Scalia, the influential conservative and most provocative member of the Supreme Court, has died. He was 79.
The U.S. Marshals Service in Washington confirmed Scalia's death at a private residence in the Big Bend area of West Texas. Spokeswoman Donna Sellers said Scalia had retired the previous evening and was found dead Saturday morning after he did not appear for breakfast.
His death sets up a likely ideological showdown during a presidential election year as...
Feb 13 2016 - 5:12pm
A Texas newspaper reported today that U.S. Supreme Court Senior Justice Antonin Scalia was discovered dead of apparent natural causes at a West Texas ranch. According to the San Antonio Express News, Scalia arrived at the ranch on Friday and attended a private party with about 40 people. When he did not appear for breakfast, a person associated with the ranch went to his room and discovered his body.
Following the news of Justice Scalia's passing, Texas Governor Greg Abbott released...
Feb 11 2016 - 2:31pm
History's first Latin American pope travels to Mexico on Friday for a weeklong tour of some of the most violent, poverty-stricken and peripheral places in the Americas. He'll be bringing a message of hope and solidarity to victims of drug violence, trafficking and discrimination—a message the Vatican hopes will also resonate north of the border.
Nearly four decades after St. John Paul II began his globe-trotting papacy in Mexico, Francis too will begin his trip by praying before the...
Feb 11 2016 - 12:00pm
A brutal fight between rival factions killed 52 inmates and injured 12 at a prison in northern Mexico on Thursday, the state governor said.
Nuevo Leon Gov. Jaime Rodriguez said there were no reported escapes and the battle, which sent flames billowing into the pre-dawn sky, didn't involve guns.
Mexico's deadliest prison riot in many years broke out just six days before Pope Francis is scheduled to visit another Mexican prison, in the border city of Ciudad Juarez in Chihuahua...
Feb 10 2016 - 6:32pm
What do a new social media campaign, a new fundraiser and new features for a popular app have in common?
Launched by different Catholic organizations for Lent, the three efforts aim to help Catholics enrich their Lenten prayer experience, sacrifice to help others in need and learn more about the church's penitential season overall.
Chicago-based Catholic Extension announced development of a social media campaign that will create a video chain of Lenten mercy prayers....
Feb 10 2016 - 6:25pm
On a recent morning outside the Church of San Agustin in the middle-class neighborhood of Narvarte, two students sell bric-a-brac and blast the Beatles’ “Let It Be” through a smartphone hooked up to speakers.
When asked what Pope Francis’ first visit to the country as pontiff on Feb. 12 means to them, they shrug.
“It’s not like he’s going to come in and magically make all of our problems go away,” said Uriel Velazquez Tonantzin, 20, who...
Feb 10 2016 - 10:19am
Over the past few weeks, thousands of clipboard-toting volunteers have fanned out across some of the nation's largest cities, tasked with a deceptively complex job: counting the number of homeless people sleeping on the streets.
They've had to do it under difficult conditions that some social service groups say are bound to produce an inaccurate tally. The official counts are done once a year, in the dead of winter, when homeless people are more likely to be hunkered down in places...
Feb 8 2016 - 5:12pm
Ukrainian Catholic leaders gave a very cautious welcome to news that Pope Francis would meet in Cuba with Russian Orthodox Patriarch Kirill of Moscow.
"I do not expect that the meeting of Pope Francis with Patriarch Kirill, planned for Feb. 12, will bring any particular changes. Although it is good that the meeting will take place," said Ukrainian Archbishop Sviatoslav Shevchuk of Kiev-Halych, the major archbishop of the church.
"I am pleased," the archbishop said, that "we...
Feb 8 2016 - 5:05pm
Archbishop Blase J. Cupich of Chicago will serve as the first Catholic co-chair of a new National Catholic-Muslim Dialogue, sponsored by the Committee on Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB). Archbishop Cupich’s tenure as dialogue co-chair will begin January 1, 2017.
The bishops’ ecumenical and interreligious committee has co-sponsored three regional Catholic-Muslim dialogues for over two decades. Bishop Mitchell T. Rozanski of...
Feb 8 2016 - 4:37pm
Pope Francis sent condolences to Taiwan following an earthquake that left at least 37 people dead as the island prepared to celebrate Chinese New Year, reported ucanews.com.
"The Holy Father was saddened to learn of the suffering caused by the deadly earthquake which struck Tainan, leaving many people dead or seriously injured," read a message sent by Cardinal Pietro Parolin, Vatican secretary of state, on behalf of the pope.
The magnitude-6.4 quake hit the southern city of...
Feb 5 2016 - 6:04pm
Esteban Alanis, 23, once ran with a local gang known as "Los Parqueros," which would accost people for their cash and cellphones in a working-class neighborhood of southeast Ciudad Juarez. He called the crimes "easy money," while gang activities offered a sense of belonging and an adolescence of parties, girls and underage drinking.
Then Alanis survived a shootout in 2010 outside his home—and he turned his life to God, got out of the gang and likely saved himself from further...
Feb 5 2016 - 8:17am
After almost three decades of tense Catholic-Russian Orthodox relations, Pope Francis will meet Patriarch Kirill of Moscow Feb. 12 in Cuba on the pope's way to Mexico.
It will be the first-ever meeting of a pope and Moscow patriarch, Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, Vatican spokesman, told reporters Feb. 5.
As Pope Francis travels to Mexico and as Patriarch Kirill makes an official visit to Cuba, the two will meet at Havana's Jose Marti International Airport and plan to sign...
Feb 5 2016 - 8:08am
Pope Francis and the leader of the Russian Orthodox Church will meet in Cuba next week in a historic step to heal the 1,000-year-old schism that divided Christianity between East and West, both churches announced Friday.
The meeting between Francis and Patriarch Kirill will be the first ever between the leaders of the Catholic and Russian Orthodox churches.
Francis is due to travel to Mexico Feb. 12-18. He will stop in Cuba on the way and meet with Kirill on Feb. 12 at the...
Feb 4 2016 - 7:50pm
The body of an Italian graduate student who disappeared last month has been found with multiple stab wounds, cigarette burns and other signs of torture and a "slow death" on a roadside on the outskirts of Cairo, an Egyptian prosecutor said Thursday.
Giulio Regeni, a 28-year-old Cambridge University PhD candidate who had been researching labor rights in Egypt, went missing on Jan. 25, the fifth anniversary of the popular uprising that toppled longtime autocrat Hosni Mubarak. His body...
Feb 4 2016 - 5:16pm
In times of rising Islamophobia, President Obama made a plea for religious tolerance during his first presidential visit to an American mosque.
In keeping with local Muslim tradition, Obama removed his shoes and began by noting that many Americans have never been to a mosque.
“Think of your own synagogue or church or temple, and a mosque like this will be very familiar,” he said. “This is where families come to worship and express their love for God and each other.”
Feb 4 2016 - 5:09pm
Cardinal Oscar Rodriguez Maradiaga of Honduras, a top adviser to Pope Francis, has denounced the idea of “therapeutic abortions”—which are carried out because of fetal abnormalities—as a response to birth defects caused by the mosquito-borne Zika virus that is setting off alarms throughout Latin America.
Rodriguez’s comments, which came at Mass on Feb. 3 in the pilgrimage city of Suyapa, are some of the most direct from church leaders in the heavily Catholic region and may reflect a...
Feb 4 2016 - 5:03pm
As a donors conference to stem the Syrian refugee crisis opens in London, Syria's neighbors, which have hosted hundreds of thousands of refugees for the past five years, say they cannot continue to bear the brunt of the burden.
King Abdullah II of Jordan, one of dozens of world leaders set to participate in the Feb. 4 gathering, has warned that his country is now at a "boiling point."
"Sooner or later, I think, the dam is going to burst," he told the BBC, saying the refugee...
Feb 4 2016 - 4:47pm
The Vatican joined international appeals for raising money to provide emergency and long-term assistance to the millions of people affected by the crisis in Syria.
Archbishop Paul R. Gallagher, Vatican secretary for relations with states, attended the Syria Donors Conference in London Feb. 4 and said the Catholic Church would continue to help the region through its fundraising efforts. The Vatican released a copy of the archbishop's address the same day.
Feb 4 2016 - 4:29pm
On Fridays, the Boucherie de l’Argonne closes early. Its Muslim workers head to afternoon prayers. The Jews prepare for Shabbat—a practical accommodation for staff sharing similar roots and cultural references.
“We work well together,” says Philippe Zribi, a Tunisian-born Jew whose family runs the butcher’s store that employs eight people: three Jews, three Muslims and two Catholics.
In a city still recovering from last year’s deadly extremist terror attacks, where national...
Feb 4 2016 - 2:45pm
Delivering his last annual sermon to Washington's elite, President Barack Obama on Thursday warned of the corrosive impact of fear in public life and urged a bipartisan group of powerbrokers to abide by their faith "even when no one is watching."
"Fear does funny things. Fear can lead us to lash out against those who are different. Or lead us to try to get some sinister other under control," Obama said at the annual National Prayer Breakfast. "Faith is the great cure for fear. Jesus...
Feb 4 2016 - 10:55am
As Gov. Matt Bevin prepares to remake Kentucky's Medicaid program, a new national survey shows what's at stake: gains in insurance coverage matched only by one other state.
Kentucky and Arkansas had the largest drops in the percentage of people without health insurance in the country, according to the Gallup-Healthways survey. In 2013, more than 20 percent of Kentuckians did not have health insurance. By the end of 2015, after the state expanded its Medicaid program and created a...
Feb 4 2016 - 9:53am
A 7-year-old Syrian girl suffering from a rare form of eye cancer arrived in Italy on Thursday, the first of an estimated 1,000 refugees who are being brought here on humanitarian grounds in a pilot project aimed at dissuading people from embarking on deadly sea crossings.
Little Falak al Hourani, her parents and 6-year-old brother Hussein landed on a commercial flight at Rome's Leonardo Da Vinci airport thanks to the "humanitarian corridor" project launched by the Rome-based...
Feb 4 2016 - 9:45am
In a video message one week before his apostolic visit, Pope Francis asked the people of Mexico for some time alone during his visit to pray before the image of Our Lady of Guadalupe.
"I would like to ask—as a favor from you—that this time, which will be the third time I will step on Mexican soil, to leave me alone a few minutes in front of the image. That is the favor I ask. Can you do that for me?" he said in the video released Jan. 3 by the Mexican news agency NotiMex.
Feb 1 2016 - 5:59pm
As the eyes of the nation focused on the Iowa caucuses Feb. 1, the 13 congregations of Catholic Sisters of the Upper Mississippi River Valley wanted to capture the attention of participants to call for an end to environmentally destructive policies and practices.
They did so by placing more than 20 billboards in strategic locations throughout state, southwest Wisconsin and western Illinois.
The billboards, posted in January and into February, carry the message "Standing with...
Feb 1 2016 - 5:54pm
The Salvadoran bishops have made no comment on a government recommendation to women to delay pregnancy because of the Zika virus, and priests contacted by Catholic News Service gave varied responses on their reaction.
The recommendation to not get pregnant "is illusory, the state doesn't have a say regarding the private matters of the citizens, especially in regard to the procreation of children," Father Jose Antonio Ventura, pastor of St. John the Evangelist Parish in San Juan Opico...
Feb 1 2016 - 5:45pm
Five months ago, a 3-year-old Syrian boy's corpse on a Turkish beach galvanized public action for refugees. Now, strikingly similar images are generating little more than a collective shrug.
It's partly about timing, circumstance and the exceptional power of last September's photos of Aylan Kurdi.
But it's also because sensitivities are growing dull. Boats arrive on Europe's shores daily, or sink on the way—like the one that capsized off Turkey's coast on Saturday, killing at...
Feb 1 2016 - 5:27pm
The World Health Organization declared a global emergency over the explosive spread of the Zika virus, which has been linked to birth defects in the Americas, calling it an "extraordinary event" that poses a public health threat to other parts of the world.
The U.N. agency took the rare step despite a lack of definitive evidence proving the mosquito-borne virus is causing a surge in babies born with brain defects and abnormally small heads in Brazil and...