The National Catholic Review


April 2016

  • Apr 29 2016 - 5:03pm

    A well-worn AK-47 in his hands, John Behnam ran up a hill overlooking the Ninevah Plain, which stretches in the distance toward the town he fled two years ago. As an instructor yelled at him to keep low, Behnam and other fighters practiced capturing an enemy position. Artillery echoed across the terrain, green with spring, as Kurdish Peshmerga forces traded artillery fire with the Islamic State group that holds Behnam's hometown of Qaraqosh.

    "Our ancestors lived there for thousands...

  • Apr 29 2016 - 3:53pm

    Beseiged Aleppo came under another deadly barrage of airstrikes and shelling on April 29. The assaults—which involve both regime airstrikes and rebel attacks on pro-government neighborhoods—have killed 200 people in the last week, according to the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. The latest round of suffering in Aleppo beginning Wednesday night when 14 people, including at least two doctors, were killed Wednesday night in the bombing of a hospital supported by Doctors...

  • Apr 29 2016 - 3:00pm

    It's ordination season and Catholics have reason to be pleased with the numbers of priests who will serve the church well into the future.

    In recent years, the numbers of priestly ordinations have given Catholic Church observers reason to believe there is not a global vocations crisis, but they acknowledge there is still a need for more.

    "The good news is that the global number of priests stopped declining about five years ago," said Father Paul Sullins, associate professor...

  • Apr 29 2016 - 1:06pm

    Religious leaders gathered in prayer to mark the one-year anniversary of the riots that spread through Baltimore after the death of a man injured while in police custody.

    The leaders said they hear the cries of the people of the city during the interfaith service on April 25 at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

    "We come here because we have not only heard the cries of our people, we are responding to their needs," the Rev. Alvin...

  • Apr 29 2016 - 10:49am

    When Vice President Joe Biden is honored next month at the University of Notre Dame, the icon of Catholic higher education in the U.S., he will arrive amid sharp criticisms over his appearance.

    Even the local bishop in Indiana said the university is “wrong” to give a platform to a Catholic politician who supports abortion rights and gay marriage.

    But it may be a sign of the shifting dynamics in the Catholic Church that Biden was welcomed on April 29 to the Vatican to address...

  • Apr 29 2016 - 10:07am

    Italian authorities arrested six suspects who allegedly received orders from the Islamic State terrorist group to attack the Vatican and the Israeli embassy in Rome.

    The arrests made in Lombardy and Piedmont on April 28 were the result of a joint operation coordinated by the district attorney of Milan and the Italian anti-terrorism agency.

    According to the Italian news agency ANSA, authorities arrested Abderrahim Moutaharrik and his wife, Salma Bencharki; Abderrahmane Khachia...

  • Apr 28 2016 - 5:58pm

    An Irish priest approved for the next step to sainthood was described as a holy man with special powers of healing.

    Senior figures in the Irish Catholic Church and the Church of Ireland welcomed Pope Francis signing a decree recognizing a miracle attributed to Jesuit Father John Sullivan, clearing the way for his beatification. Father Sullivan was raised as an Anglican.

    "He was not a medical expert or a faith healer, but a man who through his own prayer and personal holiness...

  • Apr 28 2016 - 1:30pm

    House Speaker Paul Ryan apologized for his earlier criticism of recipients of government benefits as "takers and makers," and said Republicans strive for a country that is "open, diverse, dynamic" in a speech at Georgetown University.

    Ryan's one-hour talk April 27 at the Jesuit-run university's Gaston Hall was billed by him as an effort to reach out to millennials. Political observers described it as an effort to soften his image in preparation for a 2020 run for the presidency....

  • Apr 28 2016 - 12:49pm

    A German Catholic leader’s defense of religious freedom has triggered a backlash after anti-Muslim statements by far-right politicians in the country.

    Editor-in-Chief Ingo Brueggenjuergen of the Catholic broadcaster Dom Radio, which ran the interview with Archbishop Rainer Maria Woelki of Cologne earlier this week, said in a commentary Wednesday (April 27) that some critics are claiming the cardinal is out to destroy the Catholic Church.

    “These self-appointed saviors of the...

  • Apr 28 2016 - 12:04pm

    Is there a Catholic vote?

    Well, yes. Kind of.

    Voting patterns show Catholics vote much like the rest of America, with minor swings one way or the other, depending on the candidate and the state.

    Nevertheless, the Catholic vote still is important, as syndicated columnist, political commentator and Georgetown University professor E.J. Dionne likes to say.

    Any way it's examined, analysts say the Catholic vote is not as monolithic as it once was.

    That is,...

  • Apr 28 2016 - 11:59am

    The Vatican's financial watchdog agency reported a huge jump in the number of financial transactions flagged as "suspicious" and in the value of assets it has blocked or frozen.

    During 2015, the Financial Intelligence Authority "received 544 reports of suspicious activities—almost three times as many as 2014," it said in its annual report, released April 28.

    "This was not due to a higher financial crime rate," it said, but because policies were being implemented, procedures...

  • Apr 28 2016 - 11:42am

    A military buildup in northern Syria, coupled with heavy fighting and mounting civilian casualties, spells the end of a cease-fire that for two months brought some relief to a war-weary country. The renewed violence is ushering in what could be an even more ruinous chapter in the 5-year-old conflict.

    About 200 civilians have been killed in the past week, nearly half of them around Aleppo. There has even been shelling in Damascus, along with a car bomb—both rarities for the capital...

  • Apr 27 2016 - 3:20pm

    Catholic agencies are beginning to build temporary shelters for thousands of families in Ecuador made homeless by the South American country's worst natural disaster in nearly seven decades.

    As the death toll continues to climb following a magnitude-7.8 earthquake, which struck near the town of Muisne on the Pacific Coast April 16, officials are assessing the scope of the damage and working to provide humanitarian aid to the estimated 350,000 people who were affected, including 26,...

  • Apr 27 2016 - 3:14pm

    Venezuelan cities cleaned up from a night of looting and fiery protests Wednesday as government offices closed their doors for the rest of the week in the face of a worsening energy crisis that is causing daily blackouts.

    Amid complaints about the electricity crisis, opposition members began a previously planned signature gathering campaign aimed at recalling President Nicolas Maduro.

    The socialist administration began imposing a four-hour daily blackout around the country...

  • Apr 27 2016 - 1:32pm

    President Barack Obama next week will make his first trip to Flint, Michigan since the impoverished city was found to have lead-tainted drinking water, the White House said Wednesday.

    Obama is due to receive a briefing on the federal effort to assist in the cleanup and to hear directly from Flint residents about the toll the contamination has had on their health and their lives. In announcing his plans, Obama said he plans to "use my voice to call for change" in Flint.


  • Apr 27 2016 - 1:24pm

    Pope Francis named Archbishop Juan Garcia Rodriguez, who has worked quietly to help rebuild the Cuban church, physically and spiritually, to be the new archbishop of Havana.

    He succeeds 79-year-old Cardinal Jaime Ortega Alamino of Havana, whose retirement was accepted by the pope the same day. The Vatican made the announcements April 26.

    The 67-year-old native of Camaguey has been described as a bishop in the style of Pope Francis. Known for his missionary spirit and as a man...

  • Apr 27 2016 - 10:58am

    Pope Francis advanced the sainthood cause of an Irish Jesuit, who was raised Anglican, and dedicated his life to the sick and the dying as well as the cause of 38 Albanian martyrs killed during the communist persecution of Christians.

    During an April 26 meeting with Cardinal Angelo Amato, prefect of the Congregation for Saints' Causes, the pope signed 12 decrees, including one recognizing a miracle attributed to the intercession of Jesuit Father John Sullivan.

    Born in Dublin...

  • Apr 26 2016 - 3:40pm

    An Austrian bishop said the government may not use church property to build a border fence to keep out refugees.

    "A border fence contradicts both the Gospel and the clear appeal of Pope Francis to Europe," said Bishop Agidius Zsfikovics of Eisenstadt.

    "This is especially true in our diocese, which functioned in the shadow of the Iron Curtain. In recent months, we've done everything to open our doors to people needing help, giving them not only a roof over their heads, but...

  • Apr 25 2016 - 3:35pm

    Unidentified assailants fatally stabbed two men in Bangladesh's capital Monday night, including a gay rights activist who also worked for the U.S. Agency for International Development, police said, in the latest in a series of attacks targeting atheists, moderates and foreigners.

    Police said they suspected radical Islamists in the attack, which occurred two days after a university professor was hacked to death. There was no immediate claim of responsibility.

    The victims were...

  • Apr 25 2016 - 12:16pm

    Christian churches have a responsibility to work to bring the chronic conflict in the Middle East to a just peace, and more effective advocacy is needed in the United States, said church leaders meeting in Atlanta.

    Nearly 40 heads of Christian churches and church-related organizations in the U.S. and the Holy Land adopted a four-page document, "Pursuing Peace and Strengthening Presence: The Atlanta Summit of Churches in the USA and the Holy Land," after an April 19-20 meeting at the...

  • Apr 25 2016 - 12:06pm

    The recent update in the sainthood cause for American Catholic icon Dorothy Day is welcome news to many of her friends and associates who believe her understanding of Catholic social teaching should be held up as a church value.

    The Archdiocese of New York announced April 19 an important next step in the canonization process for Day: a canonical inquiry into the life of the co-founder of the Catholic Worker Movement and famed peace activist.

    "For those who knew her, there is...

  • Apr 22 2016 - 4:33pm

    People who closely follow the Supreme Court know it's a waiting game.

    There's the wait to see if a case makes it to the court, the wait for a seat in the courtroom if it does, and then the wait—in this day and age of instant answers—for a court decision, which for major cases is typically at the end of the court's term in late June.

    United States v Texas, the immigration case argued before the court April 18, is hardly an exception. The case examines two immigration policies...

  • Apr 22 2016 - 3:22pm

    Jesuit Refugee Service has a very specific answer to Pope Francis' call to put mercy on the leading edge of a church reaching out to the peripheries. The answer is education.

    With a campaign called "Mercy in Motion," JRS is trying to raise US$35 million this year so that by 2020 it can educate an additional 100,000 refugees per year.

    Just 36 percent of the world's refugee children go to some form of high school. Less than 1 percent get anything beyond high school. In the...

  • Apr 22 2016 - 3:01pm

    One day after Planned Parenthood's president, Cecile Richards, spoke at Georgetown University, Washington Cardinal Donald W. Wuerl celebrated a University Mass for Life for college students at a nearby Catholic church, encouraging them to stand up for God's gift of human life.

    A Georgetown student group's invitation to Richards, the head of the nation's largest abortion provider, to speak April 20 at the country's oldest Catholic university drew nationwide criticism and was countered...

  • Apr 22 2016 - 2:50pm

    Archbishop Christophe Pierre, the new nuncio to the United States, said he is ready to learn about the Catholic Church in the country and will try his best to be Pope Francis' emissary, particularly in promoting a church that is close to those who suffer.

    The archbishop, who had a private meeting at the Vatican with Pope Francis on April 21, gave interviews the next day to the English and the Italian programs of Vatican Radio.

    The 70-year-old French native has been in the...

  • Apr 22 2016 - 2:35pm

    The violence of the 7.8-magnitude earthquake left countless towns and villages across central Nepal in shambles. Almost one year later, in shambles they remain.

    The country has made almost no progress in rebuilding hundreds of thousands of homes, schools and government buildings, as well as some 600 historical structures, including ancient Hindu and Buddhist temples, monuments and palaces.

    Nearly a million children still have no school to attend. Millions of villagers were...

  • Apr 21 2016 - 5:23pm

    In a continuing effort to protect children, the Catholic Church's focus is now turning to religious orders of men and women.

    Much of the attention had been on how dioceses and national bishops' conferences have been responding to victims and protecting children.

    But, religious orders and congregations are sometimes left out of that picture, even though they, too, have a duty to make sure every person in their care is safe. Also, the majority of the more than 300,000 Catholic...

  • Apr 21 2016 - 2:57pm

    Catholic bishops have welcomed a unanimous vote by the House of Commons declaring atrocities committed by Islamic State as "genocide."

    Cardinal Vincent Nichols of Westminster said the 278-0 vote recognized "the tragedy being suffered by the people of Syria and across the Middle East."

    "Their plight demands our attention and action," said Cardinal Nichols, president of the Bishops' Conference of England and Wales, in a statement emailed to Catholic News Service after the April...

  • Apr 21 2016 - 10:12am

    For decades, Congress and U.S. presidents—both Republican and Democrat—have approved federal laws "protecting conscientious objection to abortion," but it is increasingly clear current laws "offer far less protection in practice than in theory," said a group of faith-based, health care and pro-life organizations.

    A group of 26 organizations made the comments in a joint letter to members of the House of Representatives urging them to pass the Conscience Protection Act of 2016, or H.R...

  • Apr 21 2016 - 10:04am

    Members of Georgetown Right to Life were hoping for dialogue with Cecile Richards, but complained after her April 20 speech that she was dismissive of anything spoken by pro-life students.

    The one-hour appearance by Richards, president of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America, sponsored by the student-run lecture fund at Georgetown University, had created an uproar since it was announced in March. The event itself, though, ran without incident, and with heavy security,...

  • Apr 21 2016 - 9:56am

    As many as 500 people are feared dead after a shipwreck last week in the Mediterranean Sea, two international groups said Wednesday, describing survivors' accounts of panicked passengers who desperately tried to stay afloat by jumping between vessels.

    The disaster happened in waters between Italy and Libya, based on accounts from 41 survivors who were rescued Saturday by a merchant ship, according to the U.N refugee agency and the International Organization for Migration.


  • Apr 20 2016 - 12:14pm

    The cause for Dorothy Day’s possible eventual beatification and canonization moved into a new phase on April 19 as Cardinal Timothy Dolan, the Archbishop of New York, opened the canonical inquiry on the life of the Catholic Worker movement founder, gathering evidence to determine if Dorothy Day lived a life of “heroic virtue” in the eyes of the church. The archdiocese, which is sponsoring her cause, will gather the evidence and present it to the Vatican’s Congregation for the Saints and Pope...

  • Apr 20 2016 - 11:51am

    Two state regulators and a Flint employee were charged Wednesday with evidence tampering and several other felony and misdemeanor counts related to the Michigan city's lead-tainted water crisis.

    The charges—the first levied in a probe that is expected to broaden—were filed against a pair of state Department of Environmental Quality officials and a local water treatment plant supervisor and stem from an investigation by the Michigan attorney general's office.

    Michael Prysby, a...

  • Apr 20 2016 - 11:34am

    An international group of Catholic sisters, priests and lay people, all of whom have been "delated" (i.e., reported) and subjected to "examination" by the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF), charge in a letter released today that the congregation “doesn’t reflect the gospel values of justice, truth, integrity and mercy that the Catholic Church professes to uphold” and that are called for by Pope Francis. They add that the CDF “acts in ways that are out of keeping with...

  • Apr 18 2016 - 3:36pm

    Six members of the Servant Sisters of the Home of the Mother, including a young nun from Northern Ireland, are among the dead in the strongest earthquake to strike Ecuador since 1979.

    Sister Clare Theresa Crockett, 33, of Londonderry, died while leading children to safety in a school at Playa Prieta, where she was teaching the youngsters to play the guitar, according to the Spain-based order.

    Her body was found under rubble April 18, about 36 hours after the magnitude 7.8...

  • Apr 18 2016 - 3:15pm

    A new law in Mississippi will prohibit dismemberment abortions, effective July 1.

    "This law has the power to change how the public views the gruesome reality of abortion in the United States," Carol Tobias, president of National Right to Life, said in a statement.

    On April 15, Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant signed into law the Unborn Child Protection From Dismemberment Abortion Act, passed by the state Senate in a 40-6 vote in March and by the state House 83-33 in February....

  • Apr 18 2016 - 3:04pm

    After less than 48 hours in Rome, "dream" is the word used most often by the six Syrian adults Pope Francis brought back to Italy with him from a refugee camp in Greece.

    By April 18, the couples—who asked to be identified by only their first names, Hasan and Nour, Ramy and Suhila, Osama and Wafa—and their six children had spent more than three hours doing paperwork with Italian immigration officials and had enrolled in Italian language classes.

    Other than that, most of their...

  • Apr 16 2016 - 12:40pm

    When an aide suggested Pope Francis offer to fly some Syrian refugees back to Rome with him, he said he said yes immediately because it was "an inspiration of the Holy Spirit."

    In the end, he said, 12 Syrians—members of three families, including six children—had all the necessary papers from the Greek and Italian governments in time to fly with the pope April 16.

    The fact that the 12 are all Muslims did not enter into the equation, the pope said. "I gave priority to children...

  • Apr 16 2016 - 10:28am

    Although their speeches were punctuated with policy appeals, Pope Francis and Orthodox leaders focused their visit to the island of Lesbos on the faces, stories and drawings of refugees.

    Pope Francis, Orthodox Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople and Archbishop Ieronymos II of Athens and all Greece spent more time April 16 greeting the refugees individually than they did giving speeches.

    The children received a pat on the head and the men a handshake. In...

  • Apr 16 2016 - 7:30am

    Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders said in an interview with The Associated Press that he met with Pope Francis, describing the meeting as a "real honor."

    Sanders said the meeting took place Saturday morning before the pope left for his one-day visit to Greece. He said he was honored by the meeting, and that he told the pope he appreciated the message that he is sending the world about the need to inject morality and justice into the world economy. Sanders said it's a...

  • Apr 15 2016 - 4:48pm

    In the end, Bernie Sanders got something almost as good as a picture with Pope Francis: blanket international news coverage and a chance to deliver his stump speech wrapped in the words of the pontiff, one of the most popular leaders on the planet.

    Oh, and a trip to Rome, though one that was to last just 24 hours.

    All in all, not too shabby for a guy who’s trying to catch Hillary Clinton, his rival for the Democratic presidential nomination, in a pivotal primary in New York...

  • Apr 15 2016 - 2:05pm

    Two Nigerian bishops called on the government to hasten its efforts to free 219 school girls who were abducted by insurgents two years ago.

    Bishops Matthew Audu of Lafia and George Dodo of Zaria urged officials to boost intelligence gathering efforts and muster the political will to find the girls, who were taken from their dormitories by Boko Haram forces during a middle-of-the-night raid at a school in Chibok in northeastern Nigeria on April 14, 2014. The bishops told Catholic News...

  • Apr 15 2016 - 11:55am

    A government bill that would legalize euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide was met with strong opposition from Catholic leaders and groups who have long contested such practices.

    Designated as Bill C-14, the legislation introduced April 14 spells out conditions under which seriously ill or dying competent adult Canadians may seek medical help to end their lives. The bill does not allow "medically assisted dying" for minors, people with mental illness or those diagnosed with...

  • Apr 15 2016 - 11:33am

    U.S. presidential candidate Bernie Sanders said attending a Vatican conference on Catholic social teaching did not represent a political endorsement of his run for higher office.

    When asked about the controversy surrounding the invitation during a presidential campaign cycle and whether that translated into the Vatican somehow supporting his bid, he told the Italian daily La Repubblica, "No, that's not it. The Vatican isn't involved in that. The conference isn't a political event...

  • Apr 15 2016 - 11:27am

    Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders arrived in Rome on Friday to attend a Vatican conference, fresh off the debate stage where he was swinging at rival Hillary Clinton on everything from Wall Street to the dignity of the Palestinians.

    Sanders arrived in Rome hours after Thursday night's Brooklyn debate, saying the opportunity to address the Vatican conference was too meaningful to pass up. The roughly 24-hour visit precedes Tuesday's crucial New York primary, which...

  • Apr 14 2016 - 5:37pm

    Tony Spence has stepped down from his position as Director and Editor in Chief of Catholic News Service, a position he has held since 2004, after a series of comments on Twitter drew the critical attention of web-based fidelity watchdogs at the Lepanto Institute, LifeSite news and other sites.

    An emotional Spence said this afternoon that critics went after him "full-court on the blogoshere” over the past few days. Spence was told yesterday during a meeting with Msgr. J. Brian...

  • Apr 14 2016 - 2:22pm

    After 36 years teaching English at a Roman Catholic school near Puerto Rico'scapital, Norma Cardoza planned to retire with a modest pension she trusted she would get from the Archdiocese of San Juan.

    Her faith was misplaced.

    Archdiocese officials in recent weeks informed Cardoza and several hundred other current and retired teachers that their pensions will be eliminated because payouts exceeded contributions. Enrollment at Catholic schools in Puerto Rico has plunged with so...

  • Apr 14 2016 - 1:48pm

    “We believe that there is no ‘just war.’" Those words are at the heart of a statement published on April 14 at the conclusion of an international conference looking at changes in church practice and teaching on non-violence and peacemaking. Organized jointly by the Catholic peace network,...

  • Apr 14 2016 - 1:36pm

    Canada has introduced a new assisted suicide law that will only apply to Canadians and residents, meaning Americans won't be able to travel to Canada to die.

    Visitors will be excluded under the proposed law announced on April 14, precluding the prospect of suicide tourism. Canadian government officials said to take advantage of the law the person would have to be eligible for health services in Canada.

    The bill provides a choice "for adults who are suffering intolerably and...

  • Apr 14 2016 - 1:28pm

    When Pope Francis and Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I, the spiritual leader of the world's Orthodox Christians, visit migrants on the Greek island of Lesbos this weekend, they'll be doing more than sending a political message about the need to welcome refugees.

    Christianity's two most important leaders, still officially divided by a thousand-year schism, will be speaking with an increasingly unified voice that has gone beyond the realm of religion to confronting pressing issues...

  • Apr 14 2016 - 1:24pm

    The fight against HIV/AIDS is being hampered by continued stigma against those who are infected, a lack of access to appropriate medical care and fake antiretroviral drugs pedaled on the black market, said activists taking part in a Caritas Internationalis conference.

    Caritas brought together representatives of faith-based groups from all over the world to hammer out a "road map" indicating the best ways to promote or provide early diagnosis and treatment for HIV, especially in...

  • Apr 14 2016 - 12:27pm

    The leaders of the Catholic and Orthodox churches are meeting on a Greek island Saturday to deliver a single message—that they stand with the people who have risked death, been thwarted by barbed wire and locked up in camps in their pursuit of safety in Europe.

    The European Union is determined to return thousands of migrants to Turkey under a deal meant to stop the continent's massive refugee flow, and the high-powered pilgrimage could embarrass EU leaders who are already under fire...

  • Apr 13 2016 - 5:50pm

    A new Pew Research Center study of Americans across the religious spectrum finds that faith plays a measurable role in how people live their everyday lives.

    "People who are highly religious are more engaged with their extended families, more likely to volunteer, more involved in their communities and generally happier with the way things are going in their lives," said the introduction to the study, "Religion in Everyday Life," which was issued on April 12.

    "Nearly half of...

  • Apr 13 2016 - 5:39pm

    Two years after the abduction of nearly 300 Chibok schoolgirls by Boko Haram militants in northeast Nigeria, some parents are still hoping their daughters will one day be rescued.

    But some church leaders there are concerned that the authorities have not done enough to rescue the girls, who were ages 16 to 18 at the time of the kidnapping on April 14, 2014. About 50 of the girls escaped, but 219 remain missing.

    The abduction shocked the world and gave rise to a global online...

  • Apr 13 2016 - 5:33pm

    The religious nonprofits challenging their participation in the contraceptive mandate under the Affordable Care Act agreed with a U.S. Supreme Court proposal that such coverage be provided through an alternative health care plan without involving the religious employers in a legal brief filed with the court.

    The brief, filed on April 12 in the case of Zubik v. Burwell, said that as long as any alternative plan offering contraceptive health coverage is "truly independent" of the...

  • Apr 12 2016 - 2:50pm

    Pope Francis' trip to Lesbos, Greece, April 16 comes at a frightening and critical time for tens of thousands of refugees and migrants waiting and wondering where they will end up, said members of Catholic aid agencies.

    Maristella Tsamatropoulou, spokeswoman for Caritas Hellas, the Catholic charity in Greece, said when rumors started swirling that Pope Francis would join Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople on a visit to refugees, "we believed it immediately because our...

  • Apr 12 2016 - 2:07pm

    When the head of communications for an international Catholic charity visited Syria, it was not safe to go to Aleppo. So Sister Annie Demerjian, an Armenian religious sister from the city, traveled to visit him.

    Sister Demerjian and her community provide emergency support to Christians and others living in the bombed-out remains of Aleppo.

    "She showed us photographs and told us individual stories," said John Pontifex, head of communications for Aid to the Church in Need in...

  • Apr 12 2016 - 1:48pm

    Pope Francis urged additional support in abolishing the death penalty worldwide and eradicating the external debt of developing countries. Working to build dialogue, peace and justice in "our complex and violent world" is a huge and difficult task that requires seeking the common good, he said in a written message to participants at a conference in Rome.

    Dialogue, he said, requires "being ready to give and also to receive, to begin not with the assumption that the other is wrong, but...

  • Apr 11 2016 - 5:12pm

    A delegation of U.S. Catholic leaders visiting northern Iraq was challenged to go home and work for peace in the troubled region.

    "You have come to listen to your brothers and sisters in Iraq who are suffering. The situation is very hard. We cry out with one voice, 'Don't forget us,'" Auxiliary Bishop Shlemon Warduni of Baghdad said during a Mass in the small village of Inishke, near Dahuk.

    The Chaldean Catholic service included members of the local Christian community, as...

  • Apr 11 2016 - 4:58pm

    Archbishop Blase J. Cupich of Chicago welcomed the release of Pope Francis' apostolic exhortation "Amoris Laetitia" ("The Joy of Love"), saying the document might be surprising to some for its insistence on the need for mercy and compassion and its emphasis on the role of conscience.

    The document is the pope's reflection on the 2014 and 2015 meetings of the Synod of Bishops on the family, which addressed all aspects of family life and included contentious discussions about under what...

  • Apr 11 2016 - 12:17pm

    Pope Francis' call to action on climate change does not want to ruin any business, provoking job losses, but seeks to point humanity in the right direction in protecting the environment for future generations, a Vatican official said.

    "It's not about the pope wanting to create joblessness," Ghanaian Cardinal Peter Turkson, president of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, told journalists following a panel discussion on integral ecology at the Vatican.

    "The same pope...

  • Apr 11 2016 - 12:13pm

    A heart that clings to the letter of the law is closed to the Holy Spirit and God's truth, Pope Francis said at morning Mass on April 11.

    Such hardened hearts often were behind the persecution of innocent men and women seeking to follow God's will, the pope said in his homily during Mass in the Domus Sanctae Marthae, where he lives.

    The history of the church "tells us of many people who were judged and killed, although they were innocent—judged according to the Word of God,...

  • Apr 8 2016 - 6:54pm

    At a conference sponsored by the Holy See Mission to the United Nations, the message was clear: ending human trafficking and all forms of modern slavery is within global reach, but the complete abolition of these contemporary scourges remains frustrated by a lack of leadership, cross-border coordination and the commitment of global resources adequate to the task.

    Many of the panelists at “ ...

  • Apr 4 2016 - 5:01pm

    Syrian troops fired their guns in celebration amid smoldering buildings inside the town of Qaryatain on Monday, hours after recapturing it from retreating Islamic State militants who had abducted and terrorized dozens of its Christian residents.

    An Associated Press crew was among the first journalists to enter the town and witnessed the destruction wrought on the once-thriving Christian community and its fifth-century monastery, which was bulldozed by the extremist group last summer...

  • Apr 4 2016 - 4:38pm

    Pope Francis met with the head of a breakaway group of traditionalist Catholics amid new hopes for progress toward ending a quarter-century of schism.

    The Society of St. Pius X said the 40-minute meeting Friday was cordial, and took place at Francis' hotel-residence because the pope wanted a "private and informal meeting" with its superior, Bishop Bernard Fellay, rather than a formal audience.

    In a statement Monday, the society said its legal status in the church wasn't...

  • Apr 3 2016 - 11:34pm

    With a simple tap, Pope Francis joined Instagram and quickly set a record for gaining 1 million followers.

    The launch of the " Franciscus " account March 19, the feast of St. Joseph and the third anniversary of the formal inauguration of his papacy, was preceded by huge media coverage. But still, he hit the million-follower mark in just 12 hours, making his "our fastest growing account on Instagram to date," said Stephanie Noon, an...

  • Apr 3 2016 - 10:20pm

    Pope Francis asked Catholic dioceses around the world to set up a permanent memorial of the Year of Mercy by establishing a hospital, home for the aged or school in an under-served area.

    Celebrating Divine Mercy Sunday with an evening prayer vigil on April 2 and a morning Mass on April 3, the pope said the idea came to him during a meeting with a charitable organization and he decided to mention it at the vigil with participants of the European gathering of the World Apostolic...