The National Catholic Review

Signs Of the Times

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  • February 22, 2016

    Esteban Alanis, 23, once ran with a local gang known as Los Parqueros, which would accost people for their cash and cellphones in a working-class neighborhood of southeast Ciudad Juárez. He called the crimes “easy money,” while gang activities offered a sense of belonging and an adolescence of parties, girls and underage drinking.

    Alanis recalls seeing gangs on every corner of his neighborhood. “It was a situation of be the...

  • February 22, 2016

    The surprise announcement from Rome of the upcoming meeting between Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and Pope Francis “shows definitively Francis’ vocation as a pontiff, a bridge-builder,” Kevin Ahern, an assistant professor of religious studies at Manhattan College said on Feb. 5.

    “[The pope] is confronting the walls of indifference in regards to migration and refugees and also the walls that are dividing people in the church,”...

  • February 22, 2016

    Members of a papal commission set up to advise Pope Francis on the protection of children “decided” on Feb. 6 that one of its members, Peter Saunders, should “take a leave of absence.” Saunders has been frequently quoted by the press in criticism of specific church decisions and appointments and of the commission’s pace of reform deliberation. Pope Francis appointed Saunders, of Britain, to the 17-member commission in December 2014. A survivor of sexual...

  • February 22, 2016

    Haiti’s Catholic bishops urged a negotiated solution to the country’s political crisis as President Michel Martelly’s term ended on Feb. 7 and elections to find a successor were indefinitely delayed. • Applicants have until May 14 to vie for a $22,000 prize in a pontifical contest for young artists whose work promotes “Christian humanism.” • The Rev. Patrick Daly, general secretary of the Commission of the Bishops’ Conference of the European Community, said...

  • February 22, 2016

    Bill O’Keefe, Catholic Relief Services’ vice president for government relations and advocacy, in December toured C.R.S. and Caritas Internationalis efforts to respond to the continuing refugee crisis in Europe in Greece, Serbia and Macedonia. O’Keefe was astonished by the sight of thousands of people stepping out of rail cars at Europe’s southern borders, walking a half mile toward Serbia and beginning a long journey north to what many hope will be a refuge...

  • February 22, 2016

    The postwar founding dream for Europe is now a nightmare, its bright vision clouded by gathering storms. Britain’s European Union membership, reluctantly embraced two generations ago, might not last much longer. The so-called Brexit debate, over the possible U.K. departure, could end up breaking another political union, the United Kingdom itself.

    The worsening Middle East refugee tragedy has strained the cohesion of E.U....

  • February 22, 2016

    The first class of 60 students from the Archdiocese of Atlanta has completed a three-year formation program in Spanish through the University of Dallas, earning a pastoral theology certificate. In a recent graduation ceremony at Holy Spirit Church, Auxiliary Bishop Luis R. Zarama of Atlanta sent forth the Spanish-speaking church leaders to catechize and evangelize the faithful from Gainesville to Jonesboro and fortify Hispanic ministries across the...

  • February 15, 2016

    The Nigerian priest Benedict Chidi Nwachukwu-Udaku, V.F., pastor of Sacred Heart Church in Rancho Cucamonga, Calif., tells the story of the day he tried to bring a tradition from home into an American liturgy. “I was celebrating our monthly Mass with healing prayers,” he recalls. “I decided to sing a chorus at the elevation of the sacred species, which is a normal practice at charismatic liturgies in Nigeria.”

    It did not go...

  • February 15, 2016

    Catholic bishops in Germany and Austria have urged their countries to continue accepting refugees, despite demands for new restrictions after violence on New Year’s Eve in Cologne and other cities. “We need a reduction in numbers, but fixing an upper limit would be difficult,” Bishop Stephan Ackermann of Trier told the daily paper Trierischer Volksfreund Jan. 27. “We also need flexibility. But it’s up to politicians to say how this can be achieved in...

  • February 15, 2016

    With poverty on the rise and a drought compounding Zimbabwe’s problems, people are struggling to make ends meet, church workers said. In Zimbabwe’s hospitals and other health facilities, “patients need to pay for everything: painkillers, drips, injections and scans,” said Getrude Chimange, coordinator of the justice and peace commission in Mutare Diocese. “Industries have closed, leading to breadwinners losing their jobs and turning to informal trade on the...