News

  • Church leaders in South Sudan have called on their country's warring groups to stop fighting and begin serious peace negotiations.

    In a pastoral statement released in Juba on April 13, nearly four months after fighting broke out in the newly independent African country, officials of the South Sudan Council of Churches lamented that face-to-face negotiations have yet to begin.

  • Outpourings of grief and support came in response to the murder of three people at two Jewish-run facilities in the Kansas City suburb of Overland Park April 13, the day before the Jewish feast of Passover was to begin.

    Although none of the three dead were Jewish, local police and the FBI labeled the killings a hate crime the day after the shootings. A former Ku Klux Klan leader with a history of anti-Semitism was charged in connection with the killings.

  • When South Sudan's fledgling democracy suddenly unraveled in December, what started as political infighting within the country's ruling party quickly ripped along ethnic fault lines, often pitting neighbors against each other according to the tribal markings on their faces.

    Within a few days, thousands of people were dead—the exact count is unknown—and tens of thousands more were seeking shelter from the violence.

  • Palestinian Christian institutions charged that Israeli police security measures during Holy Week and Easter hamper access by Christian pilgrims to holy sites in Jerusalem's Old City.

    "The celebrations in the vicinity of the Church of the Holy Sepulcher and the Christian Quarter have been conducted according to local traditions and heritage that date back to hundreds of years. None of the successive powers that ruled Jerusalem considered tampering with the traditional celebrations and...

  • "I feel called to take responsibility for all the evil some priests—large in number, but not in proportion to the total—have committed and to ask forgiveness for the damage they've done with the sexual abuse of children," Pope Francis said.

    "The church is aware of this damage" and is committed to strengthening child protection programs and punishing offenders, he told members of the International Catholic Child Bureau during a meeting on April 11 at the Vatican.

  • A year and a half after unveiling a slip of papyrus that she dubbed “The Gospel of Jesus’s Wife,” Harvard Bible scholar Karen King on April 10 released the results of long-delayed testing on the controversial fragment that appear to show it is not a modern forgery.

    But a host of questions remain, with some experts still wondering whether it is a fake and others questioning the value of the tests. Still others are asking whether the “gospel” and its suggestion that Jesus could have had...

  • A new paper draws an intriguing conclusion to a question scholars have wrestled with for several decades: Why are Americans dropping out of church?

    One reason? They’re logging on to the Internet.

    Allen Downey, a professor of computer science at Massachusetts’ Olin College of Engineering, found that between 1990 and 2010 the share of Americans claiming no religious affiliation grew from 8 percent to 18 percent while the number of Americans connected to the Internet rose from...

  • A Catholic convent near Jerusalem and a largely Maronite village in Galilee were damaged in recent weeks as a two-year wave of vandalism directed at Christians and Muslims in Israel and the West Bank continued.

    In late March, anti-Christian and anti-American graffiti was scrawled on the walls of the Deir Rafat convent, also known as Our Lady Queen of Palestine. The tires of cars at the monastery also were slashed.

  • Meeting four victims of human trafficking, dozens of religious sisters and senior police chiefs from 20 countries, Pope Francis praised their coordinated efforts to fight against a "crime against humanity."

    "Human trafficking is an open wound on the body of contemporary society, a scourge upon the body of Christ," he said.

  • A new translation of the Mass has been used in the nation’s Catholic parishes for less than three years, but there are signs that the language—often criticized as stilted and awkward—could be in for another edit.

    “We’ve tried it, we’ve lived with it, we think it needs correction,” Atlanta Archbishop Wilton Gregory told a conference on liturgical reform last month in one of the most public and high-level expressions of discontent with the missal, as the Mass text is called.