The National Catholic Review


November 2015

  • Nov 23 2015 - 1:57pm

    A Vatican judge has ordered five people, including a Spanish monsignor and two journalists, to stand trial in connection with the leaking and publication of documents about Vatican finances.

    The criminal trial was scheduled to begin Nov. 24 in the small Vatican courtroom behind St. Peter's Basilica.

    Those called to trial are: Spanish Msgr. Lucio Angel Vallejo Balda, secretary of the Prefecture for the Economic Affairs of the Holy See; Francesca Chaouqui, a member of the...

  • Nov 20 2015 - 4:26pm

    In the aftermath of the Nov. 13 terror attacks in Paris, a level of anxiety is understandable, said Bill Canny, executive director of the USCCB's Office of Migration and Refugee Services. But governors and other politicians are not responding reasonably by calling for a “pause,” even the termination of efforts to resettle Syrian refugees in the United States. Refugees being selected for U.S. resettlement, he said, “are certainly not a credible threat by any way, shape, or means.”


  • Nov 20 2015 - 10:51am

    "Jesus wept." Pope Francis opened his morning homily with those words as he spoke about the wars and violence engulfing numerous parts of the world.

    The Gospel reading for Nov. 19 began, "As Jesus drew near Jerusalem, he saw the city and wept over it, saying, 'If this day you only knew what makes for peace -- but now it is hidden from your eyes.'"

    "Jesus is weeping today, too, because we have preferred the path of war, the path of hatred, the path of enmity," the pope said...

  • Nov 19 2015 - 5:01pm

    Religious groups are pushing back against a wave of opposition toward Syrian refugees and working to preserve the U.S. as a haven for them.

    “We’re really in emergency mode,” said Jen Smyers, director of policy and advocacy for the Immigration and Refugee Program at Church World Service, one of the nine U.S. nonprofits that work with the federal government to resettle refugees.

    “We’re talking to the media nonstop. We are sending letters and petitions and making phone calls to...

  • Nov 19 2015 - 1:37pm

    The U.S. bishops approved a statement on pornography on the second day of their Nov. 16-19 fall general meeting in Baltimore.

    "Producing or using pornography is gravely wrong. It is a mortal sin if it is committed with full knowledge and deliberate consent. Unintentional ignorance and factors that compromise the voluntary and free character of the act can diminish a person's moral culpability," says the approved version of "Create in Me a...

  • Nov 19 2015 - 1:28pm

    The Vatican calendar for the Year of Mercy deliberately set aside Sept. 4, 2016, as a possible date for the canonization of Blessed Teresa of Kolkata, if her sainthood cause is concluded by then.

    The canonization would be celebrated by Pope Francis in St. Peter's Square at the end of a three-day pilgrimage of people who, like Blessed Teresa was, are engaged in corporal works of mercy.

    "Sept. 4 is a hypothesis or plan within the calendar for the jubilee year," Jesuit Father...

  • Nov 18 2015 - 11:38am

    The head of the U.S. bishops' Committee on Migration said he was disturbed by calls from federal and state officials for an end to the resettlement of Syrian refugees in the United States.

    "These refugees are fleeing terror themselves—violence like we have witnessed in Paris," said Seattle Auxiliary Bishop Eusebio Elizondo, chairman of the migration committee. "They are extremely vulnerable families, women, and children who are fleeing for their lives. We cannot and should not blame...

  • Nov 17 2015 - 4:09pm

    The U.S. bishops just passed their strategic plan for 2017-2020. It had been challenged for not including specific mention of the abolition of the death penalty and the bishops' long support of comprehensive immigration reform. Speaking in qualified support for the strategic plan, Helena, Mont., Bishop George L. Thomas made some interesting comments about the need to raise up poverty as an issue of concern to U.S. Catholics which I include in their entirety below:...

  • Nov 17 2015 - 3:57pm

    The U.S. bishops Nov. 17 elected Msgr. J. Brian Bransfield as the new general secretary of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

    He has been associate general secretary of the conference for five years, working alongside the current general secretary, Msgr. Ronny Jenkins, whose term is ending.

    Msgr. Bransfield, a Philadelphia archdiocesan priest, will step into the position in 2016. His term will run for five years. The general secretariat oversees the work of the USCCB on...

  • Nov 17 2015 - 2:09pm

    In a surprise expression of discontent—how widespread remains to be seen—two bishops here at the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops fall assembly in Baltimore threw a monkey wrench into what has been a more or less pro forma process in the past, asking their fellow bishops to consider tossing out altogether the quadrennial “Faithful Citizenship” document and starting over. Bishops Gerald Kicanas of Tucson and San Diego Bishop Robert McElroy both acknowledged the hard work of U.S.C.C.B....

  • Nov 17 2015 - 10:46am

    While a vote of approval on the U.S.C.C.B. strategic plan, hashed out over months by committee and previously reviewed by the conference, may seem a foregone conclusion, at least one voice was raised this morning against accepting the document in its current form.

    The plan includes familiar priorities:

    I. Evangelization: open wide the doors to christ through missionary discipleship and personal encounter.


  • Nov 16 2015 - 5:53pm

    The U.S. bishops will vote tomorrow on whether or not to approve new additions to its quadrennial “Faithful Citizenship’ statement, refreshed this year to take into consideration some contemporary concerns and some of the new issues that Pope Francis has been bringing to the attention of the global church.

    Cardinal Daniel Dinardo, Archbishop of Galveston-Houston and chair of the working committee which revised the statement, said in keeping with its mandate, the committee made no...

  • Nov 16 2015 - 4:33pm

    Reuters reports that five more U.S. governors today said they would not allow Syrian refugees to be settled in their states, joining the governors of Alabama and Michigan. These state governors contend it is too dangerous to allow Syrian refugees into their states, citing the apparent participation of one person in the Paris attacks who may have followed the Syrian refugee trail into Europe in October.

    Republican Governors Greg Abbott of Texas, Asa Hutchinson of Arkansas, Mike Pence...

  • Nov 16 2015 - 2:22pm

    When a Lutheran woman married to a Catholic man asked Pope Francis what she and her husband could do to receive Communion together, the pope said he could not issue a general rule on shared Communion, but the couple should pray, study and then act according to their consciences.

    "I would never dare to give permission for this because it is not in my authority," the pope told Anke de Bernardinis after a lengthy response about the faith Catholics and Lutherans share and the ecumenical...

  • Nov 16 2015 - 11:37am

    At the the U.S. bishops' meeting in Baltimore, opening speeches hewed to familiar themes: protecting and encouraging Catholic families, maintaining Catholic identity and expressing a continuing concern over religious liberty in a rapidly secularizing world. Papal Nuncio Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò warned of a “critical point now in the challenges to family life in our Western world.”

    The archbishop focused his comments on concerns that Catholic education prepare children for lives...

  • Nov 15 2015 - 5:35pm

    In the aftermath of the attacks in Paris, which at press time had claimed 132 lives and left hundreds more wounded, President François Hollande vowed to “be unforgiving with the barbarians from Daesh.” By Nov. 15 France had begun bombing raids on the ersatz capital of ISIS, Raqqa in Syria.

    Cardinal Timothy Dolan, Archbishop of New York, called the Paris attacks “unspeakable and horrific crimes.” He said, “I join with our Holy Father and with the United States Conference of Catholic...

  • Nov 14 2015 - 1:58pm

    Pope Francis has mentioned previously his understanding of the world engaged in a kind of piecemeal World War III. Saturday morning in an interview with the Italian Bishops’ Conference official television network, he described last night’s atrocity in Paris as “a piece” of that broad collection of small wars, adding “there is no religious or human justification for it.” Pope Francis said the attacks are “not human.”

    “I am close to the people of France, to the families of the victims...

  • Nov 13 2015 - 9:39pm

    Scores have been killed in numerous attacks across the city of Paris tonight. It is not clear tonight what group may be responsible for the attacks or even if they have authorship outside the borders of France. Reacting to the carnage in Paris, the Holy See called for a united and decisive response.

    The Vatican press office issued the following statement: "Here in the Vatican we are following the terrible news from Paris. We are shocked by this new manifestation of maddening,...

  • Nov 13 2015 - 6:14pm

    Surveying a chaotic global landscape of people in flight, whether out of harm’s way from Syria to Europe or from crime and oppression in Central America to the United States, Chicago Archbishop Blase Cupich called for a humane response from U.S. political leaders. “In neglecting the immigrant, we begin to lose something of our soul as a nation,” Archbishop Cupich said. “The world will measure what we say about liberty and justice against our actions,” he said. “So, if we want liberty and...

  • Nov 13 2015 - 5:01pm

    For two major Catholic agencies based in Canada, the Liberal government's decision to stop airstrikes against Islamic State positions in the Middle East begs the question: How must Canada act in that region?

    Shortly after his Oct. 19 election, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced his intention of pulling out of the U.S.-led airstrikes campaign against Islamic State positions in Iraq and Syria.

    Carl Hetu, national director of the Canadian branch of the Catholic...

  • Nov 13 2015 - 2:38pm

    Nearly a quarter-century after its last major ruling on abortion created a fragile balance between women’s rights and government restrictions, the Supreme Court appears ready for a rematch.

    And like the last time, the debate would unfold in the midst of a presidential election.

    The first act could play out as early as Friday, when the justices may decide whether to hear a challenge to tough new limits placed on abortion clinics and doctors in Texas (The court indeed decided...

  • Nov 13 2015 - 1:17pm

    The headlines about interactions between Muslims and Christians in sub-Saharan Africa might lead Americans to believe that the two groups never get along.

    That's not precisely the case, according to Catholic and Muslim speakers who shared their perspective in a Nov. 12 panel discussion on theological resources for peace in the region at DePaul University in Chicago.

    Archbishop Ignatius Kaigama of Jos, Nigeria, reminded the audience that sub-Saharan Africa is a big, diverse...

  • Nov 13 2015 - 12:09pm

    Fifteen refugees, as well as staff and friends of Jesuit Refugee Service, will attend a private audience with Pope Francis on Saturday, Nov. 14. The pope will speak about the importance of education for refugee children and youth as a means to build peace and foster the development of more resilient and cohesive societies.

    The event will commemorate the 35th anniversary of JRS, founded on November 14, 1980 by the former Superior General of the Society of Jesus, Pedro Arrupe, S.J. (...

  • Nov 13 2015 - 10:19am

    "Time is of the essence" to get humanitarian aid to the people of Ukraine as winter sets in, a group of Ukrainian religious leaders said in a Nov. 9 appeal to President Barack Obama.

    They said they were making the appeal "on behalf of our people to help address the humanitarian catastrophe gripping our country. The needs are enormous, ranging from medical supplies to everyday items such as food, water, and clothing."

    At a news conference at the National Press Club, the...

  • Nov 12 2015 - 4:27pm

    Religious leaders and immigration advocates expressed support for the Obama administration's plan to seek a ruling from the U.S. Supreme Court after an federal appeals court struck down the president's program to protect more than 4 million immigrants from deportation.

    The Nov. 9 ruling by the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans upheld a Texas-based federal judge's injunction against President Barack Obama's executive order to protect from deportation immigrants who came to...

  • Nov 11 2015 - 3:34pm

    A family that chooses to watch TV or play with their smartphones rather than talk at the dinner table is "hardly a family," Pope Francis said.

    "When children at the dinner table are glued to the computer, or the telephone and do not listen to one another, they are not a family, they are retired," the pope said Nov. 11 during his weekly general audience.

    Continuing his catechetical series on family life, the pope reflected on the theme of togetherness, which is manifested at...

  • Nov 11 2015 - 3:17pm

    The execution-style murder of 9-year-old Tyshawn Lee was not what God wanted to happen, Father Michael Pfleger said at Tyshawn's funeral Nov. 10.

    "This is the face of the reality of evil," Father Pfleger said. "This is evil right in our face."

    The funeral service was held at St. Sabina Church, about a mile from where Tyshawn was lured into an alley and shot in the head and the back the afternoon of Nov. 2.

    Father Pfleger, pastor of St. Sabina, has been a high-profile...

  • Nov 11 2015 - 3:11pm

    Catholic leaders, both ordained and lay, said in op-ed essays they welcomed the attention certain to be paid to the Catholic Church upon the nationwide release of the movie "Spotlight," which chronicles the Boston Globe's uncovering of the clergy sex abuse scandal in the Archdiocese of Boston in 2002.

    In the essays, they say the changes made by the church since the revelations made by the Globe have made children safer.

    "No institution in the United States has done more in...

  • Nov 11 2015 - 2:38pm

    Pope Francis is exploring the possibility of visiting the previously problematic border city of Ciudad Juarez, where a battle between drug cartels during the past decade cost more than 10,000 lives in a four-year period.

    The Vatican's papal planning team, along with representatives of the Mexican government, visited in preparation for a possible trip, which would include encounters with the community, priests and seminarians and perhaps a prison visit in a lockup previously...

  • Nov 11 2015 - 2:33pm

    A statement from the Holy See press office has confirmed a Vatican investigation into two authors of books which explore waste and malfeasance within Vatican finances. Federico Lombardi, S.J., Director of the Holy See Press Office, said today: "During the current investigation, the Magistrate has acquired evidence indicating involvement in the offense by the two journalists who are now under investigation. They are being examined by the investigators as well as the positions of other persons...

  • Nov 11 2015 - 1:46pm

    A Catholic aid official in Burundi said he believes "outright conflict" could still be avoided if the East African country's rulers heed church appeals for dialogue and compromise.

    In early November, the U.N. Security Council discussed Burundi's worsening violence, sparked by President Pierre Nkurunziza's acceptance of a third term in apparent violation of the constitution.

    Darren Posey, country representative of the Baltimore-based Catholic Relief Services, called the...

  • Nov 10 2015 - 2:26pm

    A seismic shift in demographics in both society and the U.S. Catholic Church in the coming decades will create a church that is far less white, Father Bryan Massingale told a New Orleans audience Nov. 6.

    The church will be unprepared to deal with that reality, he continued, unless it addresses "the ongoing struggle for racial equality."

    Father Massingale made the comments in an address to priests, seminarians and other officials of the New Orleans Archdiocese.


  • Nov 10 2015 - 2:14pm

    Yeb Sano, former climate change commissioner for Philippines, is so concerned about global warming that he and other Catholic pilgrims are walking 900 miles from Rome to Paris for the U.N. climate change conference.

    It's time, Sano believes, for world leaders to sign a binding agreement that helps reduce the impact of climate change.

    The walkers left Rome at the end of September and plan to arrive in time for the summit, which runs Nov. 30-Dec. 11. Before leaving from St....

  • Nov 10 2015 - 1:49pm

    A nearly five-year chapter in the Archdiocese of Milwaukee's history came to a close Nov. 9, when Chief Judge Susan V. Kelley of the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Eastern District of Wisconsin approved the archdiocese's plan of reorganization.

    The plan calls for $21 million to be paid to 355 abuse survivors. It also includes a $500,000 therapy fund that will allow all survivors to receive counseling for as long as they need it.

    The hearing, which concluded a process that...

  • Nov 10 2015 - 11:01am

    Meeting workers and addressing a major gathering of the Catholic Church in Italy, Pope Francis demanded an end to economic exploitation, to clerics "obsessed" with power, to apathy among youth and to a cold, fearful church that forgets Christ is always by its side.

    "These times of ours demand that we experience problems as challenges and not like obstacles: The Lord is active and at work in the world," he said Nov. 10 inside Florence's Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore -- the third-...

  • Nov 9 2015 - 3:22pm

    Ordaining a Rome pastor and seminary spiritual director as an auxiliary bishop of Rome, Pope Francis pleaded with him to be merciful and to give short, clear homilies.

    Ordaining Bishop Angelo De Donatis, 61, Nov. 9 at the Basilica of St. John Lateran, Pope Francis reminded the new bishop of something he had told him earlier.

    "Let your words be simple so that everyone can understand. Don't give long homilies," the pope said. "Allow me to ask you to remember your dad and how...

  • Nov 9 2015 - 1:54pm

    The Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops called on Kenyans to prepare for Pope Francis' first visit to Africa at the end of November by embracing peace and co-existence and with prayer. They also invited people to turn out to welcome the pontiff during his Nov. 25-27 visit to the East Africa nation.

    The call reflects the bishops' desire that the pope's visit will unite Kenyans, especially because the country is politically divided along ethnic lines. "May his coming bring us all the...

  • Nov 6 2015 - 4:31pm

    Kenyans are working on final preparations for Pope Francis' Nov. 25-27 visit, his first stop on a three-nation visit to the continent.

    Construction of the stage for the papal Mass is almost complete. For his Nov. 26 open-air Mass at the University of Nairobi, Pope Francis will use the same altar used during the May 23 beatification of Blessed Irene Stefani, an Italian member of the Consolata Missionary Sisters who cared for wounded and sick soldiers in Kenya and Tanzania during World...

  • Nov 6 2015 - 3:43pm

    Rescuers were still looking for at least 18 people who disappeared in the town of Bento Rodrigues on Nov. 6, the day after two dams from a nearby iron ore processing plant gave way.

    Officials had only confirmed two deaths by that afternoon, but residents and volunteers feared the number would rise. Water and mud swept over the rural area of one of Brazil's most famous historic cities, Mariana, leaving a trail of destruction.

    Archbishop Geraldo Lyrio Rocha of Mariana was...

  • Nov 6 2015 - 3:26pm

    The U.S. Supreme Court justices said on Nov. 6 they will hear seven pending appeals in lawsuits brought by several Catholic and other faith-based entities against the Obama administration's contraceptive mandate. The court will hear appeals from groups in Colorado, Maryland, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Texas and the District of Columbia.

    Among the plaintiffs are the Little Sisters of the Poor, the Archdiocese of Washington, Priests for Life, Southern Nazarene University and...

  • Nov 6 2015 - 2:38pm

    After hovering for years in political limbo, the long-proposed Keystone XL pipeline, intended to move heavy Canadian crude oil through America’s heartland to the Gulf of Mexico and ultimately out into the world market, was brought to ground today by President Obama. After noting that Secretary of State John Kerry had completed the State Department review of the proposal and determined that the pipeline “would not serve the national interest of the United States,” President Obama simply said...

  • Nov 6 2015 - 12:18pm

    Calling it a "moral imperative," former U.S. Rep. Patrick Kennedy argued for equal access for those needing addiction or mental health treatment.

    "We would never allow this to happen if this were any other physical illness," said Kennedy, who represented a congressional district in Rhode Island for 16 years before stepping down in 2011.

    Speaking Nov. 5 at the National Press Club in Washington, the Catholic Democrat said, "I don't think there's a family in this nation that isn...

  • Nov 5 2015 - 8:22pm

    The Obama administration released the entire 2,000-page Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement on Nov. 5. This is the first time the U.S. public has been able to read the fine print of a deal that will govern issues related to commerce, intellectual property and human and labor rights for 40 percent of the global economy—if it clears substantial hurdles being...

  • Nov 5 2015 - 3:43pm

    Early in the morning on the Via Veneto, famed for its 1960s “dolce vita” party scene, journalist Gianluigi Nuzzi seeks to defend himself from criticism hailing from a very different part of the city — the Vatican.

    “Facts never harm democracy, knowledge and transparency,” he says with conviction, referring to his controversial new book, with copies piled up across the room.

    Released on Nov. 5, “Merchants in the Temple” details the battle waged at the Vatican between reformist...

  • Nov 5 2015 - 2:30pm

    Lutheran and Catholic theologians are getting on great these days, and at the highest levels of the two churches bishops across the denominational divide have taken to sharing celebratory high-fives, says ELCA Presiding Bishop Elizabeth A. Eaton. The bishop is more than pleased with progress Lutherans and Catholics have made toward a unity broken 500 years ago, but how well do the people in the separate Catholic and Lutheran pews understand that progress?

    A new publication developed...

  • Nov 5 2015 - 12:28pm

    As the Vatican makes a concerted effort to influence the outcome of the U.N. Climate Change Conference in Paris later this month, one of the leading Vatican authorities on Pope Francis’ encyclical, “Laudato Si,’” told America in an exclusive interview on Nov. 3 that the success of the meeting of world leaders is not solely in the hands of the politicians.

    “I would look way beyond politicians and political leaders,” said Cardinal Peter Turkson, president of the Pontifical Council for...

  • Nov 4 2015 - 12:02pm

    Financial wrongdoing at the Vatican, leaked documents and arrests by the Vatican police may make it seem like 2012 all over again, but the situation—while serious—is not the breach of papal privacy that the earlier "VatiLeaks" scandal was.

    Gianluigi Nuzzi, the Italian journalist who published documents stolen from Pope Benedict XVI's private office by his butler, has a new book out based on more leaked documents. "Merchants in the Temple: Inside Pope Francis's Secret Battle Against...

  • Nov 4 2015 - 11:48am

    Investigations into money laundering, insider trading and market manipulation through a Vatican office were launched after an initial report was filed by the Vatican Financial Intelligence Authority in February 2015, the Vatican spokesman said.

    Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, the spokesman, issued a statement on Nov. 4 about the investigations involving the Administration of the Patrimony of the Apostolic See. The office, known by its Italian acronym APSA, handles the Vatican's...

  • Nov 3 2015 - 3:33pm

    From his residence at St. Mary's Cathedral, Cardinal Charles Bo has a front-row seat to the changes sweeping across his country. What he has witnessed ahead of the nation's Nov. 8 election—the first fully contested since 1990—has troubled him, reported

    Specific links between political parties and religious groups are outlawed by the constitution, and the situation is now raising fresh questions about the country's future at a crucial point on Myanmar's journey from...

  • Nov 3 2015 - 2:36pm

    People of developed nations share responsibility with the rest of the world to protect the earth from environmental destruction and assist poor communities in escaping poverty, a cardinal who is a chief adviser to the pope said.

    Honduran Cardinal Oscar Rodriguez Maradiaga, coordinator of Pope Francis' international nine-member Council of Cardinals, told reporters at a roundtable discussion Nov. 2 that the pope calls people to dialogue in his recent encyclical on ecology so that...

  • Nov 2 2015 - 5:01pm

    Pope Francis’ visit to the Kenyan capital of Nairobi Nov. 25–27 will bring healing and reconciliation to the East African nation that has suffered key setbacks in the recent past, senior bishops here say.

    Kenya, a country with 14 million Catholics, recently announced the theme of the papal visit: “Stand firm and be strong.” Organizers expect nearly 1.5 million people to attend the papal Mass on Nov. 26 in Nairobi; there are nearly 4 million Catholics in the Archdiocese of Nairobi....

  • Nov 2 2015 - 4:46pm

    South African church leaders urged university students who won a government commitment to a tuition freeze in 2016 to return to the classroom and said they will help find solutions to the country's mounting education crisis.

    President Jacob Zuma announced tuition would hold steady in 2016 in response to student protests that began Oct. 13 at the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg and spread to other campuses nationwide.

    The "financial precariousness of most...

  • Nov 2 2015 - 4:42pm

    Pope Francis will visit Mexico in February, marking the pontiff's first trip to the heavily Catholic country, said Cardinal Norberto Rivera Carrera of Mexico City.

    Cardinal Rivera revealed the date Pope Francis would arrive in Mexico Feb. 12 during a homily Nov. 1, but he offered no other information on itineraries or the length of the stay.

    "From that day onward, we will receive him with a lot of affection," he said.

    The Vatican has not confirmed the dates.


  • Nov 2 2015 - 3:10pm

    An Italian journalist who has had several telephone conversations and a face-to-face meeting with Pope Francis claimed that in their latest conversation Pope Francis told him that following the Synod of Bishops on the family, "all the divorced who ask" will be admitted to Communion.

    Eugenio Scalfari, a co-founder and former editor of La Repubblica, an Italian daily, said Pope Francis phoned him the evening of Oct. 28 to discuss an article Scalfari had written about the synod....

  • Nov 2 2015 - 2:44pm

    Businesses are called to promote harmony between work and family for their employees, especially for women with children or who are starting families, Pope Francis said.

    The pope said that many times, women who announce their pregnancy are fired from their positions, when instead they "must be protected and helped in this dual task: the right to work and the right to motherhood."

    "The challenge is to protect their right to a job that is given full recognition while at the...