Signs Of the Times

  • July 21-28, 2014

    Diocesan synods may be making a comeback. In a country where such local synods are rare, three U.S. dioceses have recently concluded or launched their own. Earlier this year, the Diocese of Bridgeport convoked a synod that will continue through September 2015, and the Diocese of Juneau and the Archdiocese of Miami completed synods in 2013.

  • July 21-28, 2014

    Landmines wound innocent civilians, “prolong war and nurture fear” long after conflicts have ended, Pope Francis said in a message to delegates at a conference in Maputo, Mozambique. They were working on the full implementation of an international treaty banning the production and use of antipersonnel mines.

  • July 21-28, 2014

    ‘Justice has prevailed,” said two U.S. archbishops, commenting on the U.S. Supreme Court ruling in the Hobby Lobby case on June 30. The court determined that certain “closely held” private businesses can be exempted from a government requirement to include contraceptives in their employee health insurance coverage because of the employers’ religious objections.

  • July 21-28, 2014

    Sudanese government authorities demolished the Church of Christ in Thiba Al Hamyida in North Khartoum on June 30 after giving the church’s leaders just 24 hours notice, evidence of increasing pressure in Sudan against minority Christians. · Six years after reaching a $10 million settlement with victims of sexual abuse, the Catholic Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph has been ordered to pay an additional $1.1 million for violating terms of the 2008 settlement.

  • July 21-28, 2014

    Bishop Eusebio Elizondo, auxiliary bishop of Seattle and chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on Migration, called upon the Obama administration on July 2 to reconsider its request to Congress for “fast track” authority to expedite the removal of unaccompanied children fleeing violence in Central America. “This is a very vulnerable population, which has been targeted by organized crime networks in Central America,” said Bishop Elizondo.

  • July 21-28, 2014

    Religious and civic leaders urged President Obama to include a religious exemption in the planned White House executive order banning federal contractors from discriminating based on sexual orientation and gender identity. In a letter on July 1, the group of 14 faith leaders, including the Rev.

  • July 7-14, 2014

    While billions have been spent on direct efforts to bring the worlds of the haves and the have-nots closer together, perhaps the largest movement in history of people out of abject poverty was achieved over the last three decades in China. In that socialist state, capitalist practices created vast riches for a few but also new wealth for millions of workers. The resulting improvements in living standards, however, were an almost collateral outcome, and they...

  • July 7-14, 2014

    The chairman of the U.S. bishops’ Committee on International Justice and Peace called for diplomatic measures rather than a U.S. military response to the crisis facing Iraq as Islamist militants gain ground. In a letter to Susan E. Rice, the U.S. national security adviser, Bishop Richard E. Pates of Des Moines, Iowa, called upon the United States to urge Iraqi political leaders to “form an inclusive government” so that people who feel they have no voice in...

  • July 7-14, 2014

    On World Refugee Day, June 20, Bishop Eusebio Elizondo of Seattle, chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on Migration, called on the U.S. government to do more to assist Syrian refugees and to protect the rights of children crossing the U.S.-Mexico border.• Noting simply, “We need solidarity” to survive the deadly Ebola virus, the Rev. Peter Konteh, executive director of Caritas for the Archdiocese of Freetown, Sierra Leone, issued a prayer request on...

  • July 7-14, 2014

    While Congress has stalled on adopting an increase in the federal minimum wage, steps are being taken across the country to boost the income of low-wage workers. From Massachusetts and Vermont to Washington State and California, state legislators and city councils have either implemented or are negotiating minimum wage hikes. Despite concern from opponents to any wage increase, most legislators have come to see that the likely benefit to workers outweighs the cost to businesses.