The National Catholic Review

News

August 2016

  • Aug 26 2016 - 5:06pm

    The two sisters who were killed in Mississippi were by all accounts some of the most friendly, helpful people in town, cooking and caring for anyone in their poor community—making the slayings all the more puzzling.

    Their car was found abandoned a mile away from their home, and there were signs of a break-in, but police haven't released any leads or suspects in the investigation.

    The women, both 68 and nurse practitioners, were found dead Thursday morning when they didn't...

  • Aug 26 2016 - 4:43pm

    Escorted by armed troops, dozens of insurgents and their families left this war-wrecked suburb of the Syrian capital on Friday as part of a forced evacuation deal struck with the government to end a four-year siege and aerial campaign that has left the area in ruins.

    The capitulation by rebel forces in Daraya, an early bastion of the uprising against President Bashar Assad, provides another boost for his forces amid a stalemate in the fight for Aleppo, Syria's largest city.

    ...

  • Aug 26 2016 - 12:45pm

    France's top administrative court overturned a ban on burkinis in a Mediterranean town, in a decision Friday that should set legal precedent regarding a swimsuit crackdown that has divided the country and provoked shock around the world.

    The ruling by the Council of State Friday specifically concerns a ban on the Muslim garment in the Riviera town of Villeneuve-Loubet, but the binding decision is expected to impact all the 30 or so French resort municipalities that have issued...

  • Aug 26 2016 - 12:37pm

    The nonprofit Catholic organization SSM Health will provide birth control pills at the 26 clinics inside St. Louis-area Walgreens stores that it began operating on Aug. 25, an SSM spokesman said.

    Four groups, led by the American Civil Liberties Union, wrote letters to SSM and Walgreens on Aug. 18, asking whether the clinics would be restricted by religious doctrine from allowing consultations on birth control and referrals for abortions.

    SSM spokesman Jason Merrill said in a...

  • Aug 25 2016 - 5:35pm

    DURANT, Miss. (AP) — Two nuns who worked as nurses and helped the poor in rural Mississippi were found slain in their home, and there were signs of a break-in and their vehicle was missing, officials said Thursday.

    It was too early to say how the nuns died, but it doesn't appear that they were shot, Durant Assistant Police Chief James Lee said.

    The nuns were identified as Sister Margaret Held and Sister Paula Merrill, Holmes County Coroner Dexter Howard said. Their bodies...

  • Aug 25 2016 - 2:06pm

    France's highest administrative authority is studying whether local bans on full-body burkini swimsuits are legal, amid growing concerns in the country and abroad about police forcing Muslim women to disrobe.

    Images of uniformed police appearing to require a woman to take off her tunic, and media accounts of similar incidents, have elicited shock and anger online this week.

    Some fear that burkini bans in several French towns, based on a strict application of French secularism...

  • Aug 25 2016 - 2:01pm

    When it comes to the Christian life, too many seminaries teach students a rigid list of rules that make it difficult or impossible for them as priests to respond to the real-life situation of those who come to them seeking guidance, Pope Francis said.

    "Some priestly formation programs run the risk of educating in the light of overly clear and distinct ideas, and therefore to act within limits and criteria that are rigidly defined a priori, and that set aside concrete situations," the...

  • Aug 25 2016 - 1:55pm

    U.S. Catholic leaders and some of Iran's top religious figures issued a joint declaration that calls for the end of weapons of mass destruction and of terrorism—and the assigning of blame for terrorist acts to an entire religion.

    "Christianity and Islam share a commitment to love and respect for the life, dignity and welfare of all members of the human community," said the declaration, dated Aug. 18 and made public Aug. 24. "Both traditions reject transgressions and injustices as...

  • Aug 24 2016 - 2:41pm

    The line of destruction caused by historic flooding in southern Louisiana stretches for 25 miles, and according to Red Cross officials, it is the worst natural disaster in the United States since Superstorm Sandy in 2012.

    "As we all know the severe flooding in many areas of our diocese has dramatically affected the well-being and livelihood of countless people," said Baton Rouge Bishop Robert W. Muench in a videotaped message posted to the diocese's website,g.

    "To those so...

  • Aug 24 2016 - 9:55am

    The driving force behind Catholics' search for a new parish is location–most likely how close it is to their new home.

    They choose nearness over other considerations, including the quality of the homilies, according to a new Pew Research Center survey issued Aug. 23, "Choosing a New Church or House of Worship."

    The survey said 76 percent of Catholics reported "location was an important factor in their choice of parish, reflecting the geographically based system by which...

  • Aug 23 2016 - 10:50am

    Violence stems from a breakdown in communication, Father Bob Stiefvater told more than 450 people gathered at All Saints Church in Milwaukee for a Mass of peace Aug. 18.

    Five days earlier, fires raged in an area of the city during unrest following the killing by police of an armed man during a traffic stop. And people need look only as far as their smartphones and computers to see that breakdown, said Father Stiefvater, who said after Mass that his homily was inspired by the prisoners...
  • Aug 23 2016 - 10:45am

    Thousands of children trying to escape gang violence and poverty in Central America have made their way to the United States this year—and there is no sign that the flow is letting up, the U.N. children's agency said in a report released late Monday.

    In the first six months of 2016, UNICEF said almost 26,000 unaccompanied children were apprehended at the U.S. border along with 29,700 people traveling as a family, mostly mothers and young children.

    Most are from El Salvador,...

  • Aug 23 2016 - 10:35am
    Filipino residents in Manila involved with illegal drugs wait to take a pledge that they will not use or sell narcotics after surrendering to police and government officials Aug. 18. (CNS photo/Erik De Castro, Reuters)

    MANILA, Philippines (CNS)— Catholic and Protestant bishops in the Philippines have called for a "deeper analysis" of the spate of killings in the country that have been linked to the government's anti-narcotics campaign.

    The Ecumenical Bishops Forum warned that the killings only will "exacerbate" the problem of illegal drugs.

    The religious leaders also noted that most of those killed are "small-time and poor people," ucanews.com reported.

    Meanwhile, five police...

  • Aug 23 2016 - 10:28am
    New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez is seen in Los Alamos, N.M., in this 2011 file photo. New Mexico's Catholic bishops renounce her call to reinstate the death penalty.

    ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (CNS)—The Catholic bishops of New Mexico in an Aug. 18 statement said they oppose Republican Gov. Susana Martinez's plan to reinstate the death penalty and called on the legislature to reject it.

    The bishops recalled that when the legislature in March 2009 repealed "the morally untenable practice of the death penalty," they applauded the move, calling it "a milestone" that was "moving New Mexico from a culture of violence to a culture of peace, justice and love."...

  • Aug 23 2016 - 9:47am
    Dussault painted “Blessed Frassati” across her skis, a tribute to an early 20th-century Italian Catholic skier dedicated to the poor and the sick who is on track for sainthood and whom she adopted as her patron saint. Photo courtesy of Rebecca Dussault.

    When Team USA members David Boudia and Steele Johnson emerged simultaneously crying and smiling from their final dive Monday (Aug. 8) at the Rio Olympics, the silver medal in men’s synchronized platform diving was theirs.

    But the glory, both men said minutes later, belonged to someone else.

    “We both know our identity is in Christ,” Boudia, 26, told NBC. Johnson, 20, added, "...

  • Aug 22 2016 - 10:55am

    Mistrust of local government and federal agencies has caused doubt among Puerto Ricans about reports the Zika epidemic poses a grave situation to the island.

    Local residents saw the first Zika detection last December as just another mosquito scare. Given the island's year-round tropical climate, and the current rainy season, mosquitoes are considered a normal part of Puerto Rican life. That attitude is complicated by past perceived episodes of epidemic-based corruption by government...

  • Aug 18 2016 - 6:20pm

    The importance of the vocation of marriage and the family is at the core for the future of not only the Catholic Church, but of society, Bishop Kevin J. Farrell of Dallas said at a news conference on Aug. 17.

    Earlier in the day the Vatican announced that Pope Francis has appointed the bishop to lead a new Vatican office for the laity, family and life. Creation of the office is a continuation of the pontiff's quest to overhaul the Curia for more efficiency and transparency and to...

  • Aug 18 2016 - 1:20pm

    Keisha Taylor, a 37-year-old mother of four, has spent three nights in two different shelters since her family fled the flooding at their Baton Rouge apartment complex. She doesn't know how many more nights they will be sleeping on cots inside the downtown arena where hundreds sought shelter.

    Taylor probably could stay with relatives in White Castle, a town about 30 miles west of Louisiana's capital city, but three of her kids are enrolled in Baton Rouge schools that could reopen...

  • Aug 18 2016 - 11:27am

    Syrian opposition activists have released haunting footage showing a young boy rescued from a partially destroyed building in the aftermath of a devastating airstrike in Aleppo.

    The image of the stunned and weary-looking boy, sitting in an orange chair inside an ambulance, covered in dust and with blood on his face, encapsulates the horrors inflicted on the war-ravaged northern city. Photographs of the boy were widely shared on social media.

    An hour after his rescue, the...

  • Aug 17 2016 - 12:02pm

    Black women desiring to serve a life devoted to the Catholic faith were not welcomed by religious communities with anti-black acceptance requirements from the early 19th century to the middle of the 20th century, said historian Shannen Dee Williams.

    Those who could gain admittance faced discrimination from their fellow sisters, she added.

    "Black sisters matter, but they constitute a dangerous memory for the church," said Williams, assistant professor of history at the...

  • Aug 16 2016 - 3:59pm

    As millions of people around the world enjoy their annual summer vacations, Pope Francis is providing a beach escape for those who cannot afford them.

    In the latest sign of Francis’ concern for the poor, the pope’s almoner—the Vatican official in charge of distributing alms—is treating homeless people in Rome to a trip to the beach and to a pizza dinner on the way back home.

    “We continue, with the Swiss Guards and the gendarmes [Vatican police officers], to take food to the...

  • Aug 16 2016 - 3:47pm

    Some 800 members of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious gathered in Atlanta for their annual assembly Aug. 9-12.

    With the theme of "Embracing the Mystery: Living Transformation," the sisters considered where God is moving in today's world as they face smaller and graying communities.

    "The whole assembly is about listening to the movements of God, not only individually, but collectively," said Sister Annmarie Sanders, a member of of the Sisters, Servants of the...

  • Aug 16 2016 - 3:01pm

    If there is one person who immersed herself in the "peripheries" Pope Francis is drawn to, it was Blessed Teresa of Kolkata.

    If there was one who showed courage and creativity in bringing God's mercy to the world, like Pope Francis urges, it was the diminutive founder of the Missionaries of Charity.

    For many people, the Catholic Church's Year of Mercy will reach its culmination when Pope Francis canonizes Mother Teresa Sept. 4, recognizing the holiness of charity, mercy and...

  • Aug 15 2016 - 4:57pm

    Watched over by French soldiers and police, Catholic pilgrims from around the world prayed together for healing and peace Monday at a grotto shrine in Lourdes where exceptional security greeted the spiritual travelers due to recent extremist attacks.

    A helicopter circled overhead as thousands of visitors bearing candles and banners streamed toward the celebrated grotto and the sprawling plaza of the basilica, apparently undeterred by new security restrictions or the recent attacks...

  • Aug 15 2016 - 4:51pm

    Archbishop Jerome E. Listecki of Milwaukee called the violence that broke out in the city as part of protests over the fatal police shooting of an African-American man "a self-inflicted wound."

    "Violence is never tolerated. Protests are certainly the right of every American, but violence such as looting, burning is never tolerated," Archbishop Listecki told the Catholic Herald in an Aug. 15 telephone interview. "It only creates a self-inflicted wound on the community."

    ...

  • Aug 15 2016 - 4:46pm

    As Louisiana's governor announced the federal government had declared a major disaster for the state on Aug. 14, Catholic churches in the Baton Rouge Diocese called for volunteers to help those displaced by extreme flooding and asked flood victims what assistance they needed.

    Gov. John Bel Edwards told reporters at a news conference that about 20,000 people had been rescued from their homes and more than 10,000 people were in shelters after a slow-moving tropical storm system dumped...

  • Aug 15 2016 - 4:42pm

    The dust had hardly settled on Catholic Relief Services' work fighting the world's worst Ebola outbreak before the team was putting together a response to the Zika virus in the West African island nation of Cape Verde.

    "We put an enormous amount of effort into public education" fighting Ebola in Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea, "and this experience is now helping us in our response to Zika" in Cape Verde, Michael Stulman, CRS regional information officer for West and Central Africa...

  • Aug 15 2016 - 4:35pm

    Celebrating the feast of the Assumption just three days after visiting a group of young women rescued from the sex trade, Pope Francis prayed for all exploited women and girls.

    "The Lord bows down to the lowly in order to raise them up as is proclaimed in the Magnificat," Mary's hymn of praise to God, the pope said on Aug. 15.

    "Mary's canticle leads us to think of many painful situations today and particularly those of women overpowered by the burdens of life and the drama of...

  • Aug 12 2016 - 5:01pm

    The same day a federal Department of Justice report cataloging systemic abuses by Baltimore's police was issued, Archbishop William E. Lori of Baltimore called that report "sobering and distressing."

    "The report is an affirmation of those in our community who have long criticized the policing strategies and practices of the [police] department," the archbishop said in a statement Aug. 10, "and a...

  • Aug 12 2016 - 4:47pm

    In yet another sign of his strong stance against human trafficking, Pope Francis made a surprise visit to 20 women who have been rescued from sexual slavery.

    The pope met with the women on Friday on Aug. 12 at a Catholic Church-run refugee center in Rome, the Pope John XXIII community, which houses those rescued from prostitution.

    The visit was one of the regular gestures Francis has made to highlight the Jubilee Year of Mercy, which runs through 2016.

    The Vatican...

  • Aug 12 2016 - 2:54pm

    The 2016 election season carries a high level of perceived incivility underway in the U.S. and as well as rampant online harassment by social media users expressing political viewpoints, according to recent surveys.

    According to a "Civility in America" survey by the global firm Weber Shandwick, some 95 percent of Americans said incivility is a problem. Seventy-four percent said civility has declined in the past few years, but 67 percent said it is a major problem today.

    The...

  • Aug 12 2016 - 11:43am

    When Pope Francis canonizes Blessed Teresa of Kolkata on Sept. 4, he won't simply be fulfilling a special duty of his office, he will be honoring a woman he has called "a symbol, an icon for our age."

    When talking about the intersection of prayer, mercy, concrete acts of charity and peacemaking, Mother Teresa was Pope Francis' go-to reference.

    In one of his early morning homilies in November, Pope Francis spoke about war and about how, by the way they live their lives, many...

  • Aug 12 2016 - 9:57am

    Fueled by faith and determination, volunteers worked tens of thousands of hours over the last several years to rebuild the heart of one mountain village in northern New Mexico.

    On Sunday, they will gather in Questa to celebrate their efforts with the rededication of the historic San Antonio Catholic Church. Archbishop John C. Wester and other officials will lead a special Mass.

    One of the church's main adobe walls collapsed almost a decade ago, prompting the Archdiocese of...

  • Aug 11 2016 - 6:04pm

    South Sudan on Wednesday rejected a U.S. proposal for the U.N. Security Council to send 4,000 additional troops to the East African country to restore calm, saying it "seriously undermines" its sovereignty and threatens a return to colonialism.

    Government spokesman Michael Makuei said the proposal gives the U.N. the ability to govern. The proposal also calls for a vote on an arms embargo on South Sudan if U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon reports within a month that authorities have...

  • Aug 11 2016 - 5:39pm

    Glued to the improvised screen set up on the patio of the Caritas house, the refugees yelled and they cried. But most of all, they cheered. They cheered for their two Congolese colleagues, Popole Misenga, 24, and Yolande Mabika, 28, who were competing in judo as part of the United Nations' Refugee Olympic team.

    "They represent all of us today," said an emotional Mirelle Muluila, also from Congo. "They represent the strength it takes to come from nothing and being considered a 'nobody...

  • Aug 11 2016 - 5:30pm

    While in past years the wave of Muslim violence against Christians has been prominent in the U.S. State Department's annual report on international religious freedom, the latest report , released on Aug. 10, focuses on Muslim violence against other Muslims.

    Although Boko Haram in Nigeria and other terrorist groups elsewhere are cited in the report's executive summary as posing a major threat to religious freedom in general, these groups also...

  • Aug 11 2016 - 5:18pm

    At a luncheon that was part reunion and part progress report, Pope Francis invited 21 Syrian refugees to join him at the Vatican on Aug. 11.

    The pope's lunch guests included the 12 refugees—three married couples and six children—Pope Francis brought back to Rome with him from Lesbos, Greece, in April and another nine Syrian refugees who arrived in Rome in mid-June with Vatican assistance.

    While the Vatican is covering the living costs of the 21 refugees, they are being housed...

  • Aug 11 2016 - 5:00pm

    U.S. Olympic gymnast and gold medalist Simone Biles says when she travels, she sometimes takes with her a statue of St. Sebastian, the patron saint of athletes, and she also carries a rosary her mother gave her.

    Biles, whose flawless floor routine Aug. 9 sealed a gold medal in the team competition for the U.S. women, made those comments to Us Weekly.

    "My mom, Nellie, got me a rosary at church. I don't use it to pray before a competition. I'll just pray normally to myself, but...

  • Aug 9 2016 - 4:29pm

    A group of young independent photographers are busy clicking away, taking photos of the "City of Joy."

    Their photos, part of the crowdsourced "Sainthood Project," will be displayed in several locations in Rome in early September, to coincide with the canonization of Blessed Teresa of Kolkata. The photographers are volunteers, trying to highlight aspects of the young Mother Teresa, who founded the Missionaries of Charity to serve the "poorest of the poor" in India. The young people...

  • Aug 9 2016 - 4:24pm

    Iraqi Christians appear divided about whether they will be able to return home after Islamic State militants are flushed out of the battle-scarred Ninevah Plains region. They say their safety must be guaranteed at all costs.

    "If the liberation of the Ninevah Plains region is successful, infrastructure is rebuilt and there is security, I would want to be among the first to return," said Fadi Yousif, who teaches displaced children in the Ashti II camp for displaced Christians in...

  • Aug 9 2016 - 4:17pm

    The Catholic Church in Pakistan has condemned a suicide blast at a hospital in Quetta, Pakistan, where at least 70 people—many of them lawyers and journalists—were killed and more than 120 injured.

    The blast on Aug. 8 was carried out at the entrance of the emergency department of the hospital when the body of Bilal Anwar Kasi, president of Balochistan (provincial) Bar Association, was being taken after he was shot by two unidentified gunmen while on his way to court.

    "Killing...

  • Aug 9 2016 - 4:14pm

    The African family, with its reverence of elders, sense of solidarity and community, and adherence to religious traditions has great gifts that need to be shared, a Louisiana bishop said Aug. 6 in addressing a group of about 300 Catholics who hail from the continent.

    Bishop Shelton J. Fabre of Houma-Thibodaux urged those gathered for his keynote address at the Third African National Eucharistic Congress in Washington to hold tight the values from their native homelands, especially...

  • Aug 9 2016 - 4:06pm

    A favorite motto of Blessed Teresa of Kolkata was: "Do small things with great love."

    But the "small things" she did so captivated the world that she was showered with honorary degrees and other awards, almost universally praised by the media and sought out by popes, presidents, philanthropists and other figures of wealth and influence.

    Despite calls on her time from all over the globe Mother Teresa always returned to India to be with those she loved most—the lonely,...

  • Aug 8 2016 - 1:31pm

    Florida residents, officials and health care leaders have their hands full this summer containing the Zika virus outbreak, which prompted the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to issue its first domestic travel advisory.

    During the first week of August, the Florida Department of Health reported its 16th case of locally transmitted Zika virus in a one-square-mile area of Miami north of downtown, bringing the total number of people infected in the mosquito-borne outbreak to at...

  • Aug 8 2016 - 1:25pm

    With a growing number of U.S. travelers returning from abroad with the Zika virus and with several cases of Zika-related microcephaly and birth defects reported in the U.S., the disease has inflamed the abortion debate domestically.

    U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio. a Republican from Miami, where the Zika virus has now started spreading in one neighborhood through mosquito transmission, said he does not believe the Zika virus should be a pretext for an infected pregnant woman to get an abortion...

  • Aug 8 2016 - 1:18pm

    In a personal message addressed to each of the 10 members of the new Refugee Olympic Team, Pope Francis wished them success in their events and thanked them for the witness they are giving the world.

    Naming each of the team's athletes from South Sudan, Syria, Congo and Ethiopia, Pope Francis said he had read some of the interviews with team members "so that I could get closer to your lives and your aspirations."

    "I extend my greetings and wish you success at the Olympic Games...

  • Aug 8 2016 - 1:13pm

    Iran-backed militant groups from Lebanon and Iraq are deploying hundreds of additional fighters to front lines in the Syrian city of Aleppo, Iranian media and militia officials said Monday, after Syrian rebels breached a government-imposed siege and cut a key government route to the contested city over the weekend.

    The reinforcements by at least four groups, described by officials and state media as "elite," will shore up Syrian President Bashar Assad's forces there as fighting over...

  • Aug 8 2016 - 1:05pm

    Katie Ledecky has no obvious physiological advantages as a swimmer.

    At 6 feet, the second-time Olympian is not extraordinarily tall compared with her peers. She has no long torso, no wide wingspan like Michael Phelps.

    What she has, as The Washington Post recently pointed out , is "a strong core."

    And...

  • Aug 8 2016 - 12:49pm

    After a slow start, it appears increasingly likely that the Obama administration will hit its goal of admitting 10,000 Syrian refugees into the United States before the end of September.

    State Department figures show that 2,340 Syrian refugees arrived last month in the United States.

    That's more than what occurred during the entire seven months after President Barack Obama directed his team to prepare for 10,000 admissions from the war-torn country. Total admissions for the...

  • Aug 8 2016 - 12:42pm

    Former Roman Catholic Bishop Edward Daly, who tended victims of Northern Ireland's Bloody Sunday killings and became a defining image of the massacre, has died aged 82.

    The Catholic Diocese of Derry says Daly died peacefully on Monday after a long illness.

    Daly was a priest in Londonderry when British paratroopers opened fire on a Catholic civil-rights protest march on Jan. 30, 1972, killing 13 people. The killings helped fuel Northern Ireland's sectarian violence, in which...

  • Aug 4 2016 - 12:37pm

    The Islamic State group is still committing genocide and other crimes against the Yazidi minority in Iraq, a United Nations commission investigating human rights abuses in Syria said on Aug. 3.

    The commission's statement—released on the second anniversary of the initial IS attack on the Sinjar area in Iraq—urged action to prevent further death and suffering.

    About 5,000 Yazidi men were killed by IS when the Sunni militant group took control of Iraq's northwest two years ago....

  • Aug 4 2016 - 11:55am

    Most Western humanitarian aid is failing to reach the thousands of Christians who have fled their homes as Islamic State fighters have swept through Iraq and Syria, three Middle Eastern bishops said at the 134th Knights of Columbus convention in Toronto.

    "It's time for election [in the United States] and also it is time to rethink American policy in the Middle East," said Chaldean Archbishop Bashar Warda of Irbil, in Kurdish-controlled northern Iraq. "Call on the government to direct...

  • Aug 4 2016 - 11:48am

    Law enforcement officials in Wichita announced on Aug. 1 that a body found some days earlier in the Arkansas River near one of the city's park was the body of Brian Bergkamp, a seminarian from the Diocese of Wichita.

    The Wichita Eagle Daily newspaper reported that a fisherman had spotted a piece of life vest floating in the water with a rosary attached to it. That discovery led to finding the body of the missing seminarian. The coroner on July 29 confirmed it was Bergkamp and his...

  • Aug 3 2016 - 4:50pm

    The upcoming military offensive to root out Islamic State militants from Mosul and surrounding villages will be a "huge challenge," the United Nations says, as it expects about 1.5 million people to flee the warfare in a short amount of time.

    The U.N. refugee agency, UNHCR, and other humanitarian agencies—including Catholic groups—in Iraq are scurrying to ready preparations, as it is believed that the U.S.-led assault could be pushed forward as early as September. But aid groups fear...

  • Aug 3 2016 - 4:43pm

    In the wake of the Supreme Court striking down a Texas abortion law June 27, a new Marist Poll commissioned by the Knights of Columbus finds that Americans strongly support abortion restrictions.

    Paired with their opposition to the court decision, "strong majorities also oppose taxpayer funding, support the right of conscientious objectors to opt out of abortions, and would generally limit the procedure to—at most—the first trimester," the poll said.

    "The American people have...

  • Aug 3 2016 - 4:00pm

    When Thea LaFond, a parishioner at St. John the Evangelist Parish in Silver Spring, found out she would be headed to the Olympics, the first thing she did was thank God and ask: "How did you do this, God? How did this happen?"

    She will represent her home country, Dominica, in the triple jump, part of track and field competition. While she was just shy of the qualifying mark for the Olympics, each country is entitled to two athletes—one male and one female—and since Dominica only had...

  • Aug 2 2016 - 2:16pm

    The archbishop of Rouen, leading Tuesday's solemn funeral Mass for an elderly priest slain a week ago by two extremists, said the Rev. Jacques Hamel tried to push away his attackers with his feet, saying "go away, Satan," remarks that underscored the horror of the murder at the altar that touched a chord throughout France.

    Hundreds of priests and bishops filled the sumptuous Rouen cathedral along with many hundreds more people, including Muslims who have joined in the grieving since...

  • Aug 2 2016 - 2:04pm

    Panama, which will host World Youth Day in 2019, is a small country, but the head of its bishops' conference has no doubts the church will be able to organize the event.

    "Panama, with its canal, is a bridge between two continents, and we'll also make it a symbolic bridge between young people, especially in Latin America," said Cardinal Jose Lacunza Maestrojuan of David, Panama.

    At a news conference in Krakow on July 31, the cardinal said Panama was well-placed for air, road...

  • Aug 2 2016 - 2:00pm

    After an Italian pilgrim to World Youth Day in Krakow, Poland, died of meningitis, the Italian bishops' conference advised all pilgrims who visited or attended events at its Casa Italia center in Krakow to see a doctor, especially if they have a high fever, severe headache and rash.

    The young female pilgrim from Rome died on Aug. 1 in Vienna, where her group stopped on the way back from Italy, according to a note from the Italian bishops' conference, which did not release the young...

  • Aug 2 2016 - 1:46pm

    When flash flooding turned the archaic metaphor "Head for the hills" into a literal imperative on July 30, some of those threatened by the rushing waters in Ellicott City found a Catholic church.

    "Pretty much everyone was telling the same story," said Father Warren Tanghe, pastor of St. Paul, a historic church located at the top of the hill on St. Paul Street.

    The church saw a deluge but not to the extent of the parallel and also steeply inclined Main Street, where most of...

  • Aug 1 2016 - 12:41pm

    The sitcom is a little like "I Love Lucy," starring a comic housewife who gets into shenanigans and bickers with her husband. Except children play all the roles. And it all takes place in one of the historic stone houses in the old city of Aleppo, besieged by government forces in one of the worst battlegrounds of Syria's civil war.

    "Umm Abdou the Aleppan" is a small curiosity of the 5-year-old war, the first sitcom produced out of rebel-held parts of Syria.

    Aired in 2014 on a...

  • Aug 1 2016 - 12:25pm

    Muslims in France and Italy flocked to Mass on Sunday, a gesture of interfaith solidarity following a drumbeat of jihadi attacks that threatens to deepen religious divisions across Europe.

    From the towering Gothic cathedral in Rouen, only a few miles from where 85-year-old Rev. Jacques Hamel was killed Tuesday by two Muslim fanatics, to Paris' iconic Notre Dame, where the rector of the Mosque of Paris invoked a papal benediction in Latin, many churchgoers were cheered by the Muslims...

  • Aug 1 2016 - 11:55am

    Lawmakers in the Mexican state of Veracruz have approved a state constitutional amendment banning abortion and "defending life from the moment of conception until natural death."

    The Veracruz legislature passed the law 34-9 on July 28 in a session highlighted by protests and nuns chanting "yes, we can," according to press reports.

    The Catholic Church in Veracruz had lobbied for the abortion ban and welcomed its approval. "A prayer with faith changes realities," the...

  • Aug 1 2016 - 11:19am

    Only a small number of civilians in Aleppo are using humanitarian corridors to flee weeks of intensive bombardment; activists say people do not trust that the routes are safe.

    Sonia Khush, who directs Save the Children Syria, told Catholic News Service that civilians trapped inside the city's eastern neighborhoods have experienced bombing that has destroyed homes and hospitals, leaving children crippled and dead.

    She recounted a story from a staffer at a partner agency at the...