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Liturgical Calendar: Fourth Sunday of Advent

(Sunday, Dec. 21) "A certain nobleman went into a far country to receive for himself a kingdom and to return" (Luke 19:12). This nobleman is Christ, the Son of God, King of all nations. His kingdom is over all men

Liturgical Calendar: Saturday of the Third Week of Advent

(Saturday, Dec. 20) Today is the fourth of the O Antiphons. O sublime majesty of the coming Redeemer! To Him has been delivered the key, the government of the house of David (Is 22:22). Boundless is His power over the

Commentary: Federal debt as a social-justice concern

(Friday, Dec. 19) If the head of an ordinary household deliberately and continually spends much more than the family earns, we describe him as irresponsible—yes, and sinful. So Father Jerry Pokorsky asks why the

Vatican Christmas tree features new LED lights

(Friday, Dec. 19) The Christmas tree in St. Peter's Square was illuminated on Friday, December 19, in a brief ceremony led by Cardinal Giuseppe Bertello, the president of the Vatican city-state governorate. The

Calligraphers protest Vatican decision to print all papal blessing in-house

(Friday, Dec. 19) Calligraphers and shopkeepers catering to pilgrims and tourists in Rome are protesting the Vatican's announcement that beginning January 1, all papal blessings will be printed and distributed

Syrian archbishop speaks of hope, joy amid suffering, in Christmas message

(Friday, Dec. 19) Archbishop Jean-Clement Jeanbart of Aleppo, Syria, has issued a Christmas message encouraging his people to celebrate the feast joyfully despite their troubles. “The greatest tribulations, war

Commentary: The Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Advent

(Friday, Dec. 19) (With my apologies to the author Judith Viorst.) How does your Advent grow? How does mine grow? Thanks for asking. I'd say it isn't growing too much. Christmas still comes on the

Worldwide Franciscan order in 'grave' financial distress

(Friday, Dec. 19) The worldwide leader of the Franciscans has revealed that the religious order is in “grave” financial difficulties, and that Italian civil officials have been asked to investigate irregularities in

Pope thanks Italian cities for Christmas tree, crèche

(Friday, Dec. 19) Pope Francis received delegations from the Italian cities of Verona and Catanzaro in the Apostolic Palace on December 19 and thanked them for the gift of the Christmas tree and crèche in St. Peter’s

‘Sports are at home in the Church,’ says Pope

(Friday, Dec. 19) Pope Francis spoke to members of Italy’s National Olympic Committee on December 19 and said that sports “are at home in the Church.” “Sport has always favored a universalism characterized by

Egypt: Islamic leader decries threats against Christians

(Friday, Dec. 19) Egyptian Muslim leaders have reacted strongly against online threats to the Coptic Christian community as Christmas approached, the Fides news service reports. Islamic militants have posted

Mideast Christians are genocide victims, says leading Russian Orthodox official

(Friday, Dec. 19) A leading Russian Orthodox official told reporters that Christians in the Middle East are undergoing what is “effectively genocide” and that “only Russia and the Russian Orthodox Church are speaking

Malpractice suit brought by Spokane diocese against law firm will go to trial

(Friday, Dec. 19) A federal bankruptcy judge has cleared for a trial in a legal-malpractice case brought by Diocese of Spokane against a law firm that handled diocesan bankruptcy proceedings. The diocese has

Jesus is your ‘best friend,’ Pope tells children

(Friday, Dec. 19) Pope Francis met with a delegation of children from Italian Catholic Action on December 18 and told them that Jesus is their “best friend.” The Pontiff offered the young people five pieces of

Chaldean patriarch urges pre-Christmas fast, subdued Christmas celebration

(Friday, Dec. 19) Citing the “heavy cross” borne by Iraq’s Christian refugees, the head of the Chaldean Catholic Church has called upon his flock to fast from December 22 to 24, according to a report from the

Cuban, Miami prelates react to policy change toward Cuba

(Friday, Dec. 19) The bishops of Cuba have issued a statement welcoming the announcement of the US policy change toward Cuba. “We thank the Lord, now on the eve of Christmas, that new horizons of hope are

Liturgical Calendar: Friday of the Third Week of Advent

(Friday, Dec. 19) Today is the third of the O Antiphons. Christ the King, the Lord! Divine Wisdom, Adonai, the powerful God, is at the same time man with flesh and blood of the house of Jesse, the father of King

Commentary: Another side of Francis: US-Cuba role shows Pope's diplomatic muscle

(Thursday, Dec. 18) Nobody saw it coming. All sorts of things, good and bad, have been written about Pope Francis. But nobody predicted that he would break a 50-year stalemate in relations between the US and Cuba.

Commentary: Silly season: a Christmas approaches, a scholar questions whether Jesus ever existed

(Thursday, Dec. 18) Christmas is coming soon. How can you tell? Because you notice the nip in the air, the smiles on the faces of shoppers, the merry tunes of carolers… and the silly articles appearing in mass-media

Unfertilized ovum is not human embryo, European court rules in stem-cell case

(Thursday, Dec. 18) The Court of Justice of the European Union has ruled that a corporation can patent human stem cells, provided that they are not derived from an embryo that can develop into a human being. The

Ancient Iraqi monastery now serving as ISIS prison

(Thursday, Dec. 18) The Islamic State has transformed the historic monastery of St. George into a prison, the Fides news service reports. About 150 prisoners of the Islamic State have been moved into the monastery.

Pope distributes sleeping bags to Rome's homeless

(Thursday, Dec. 18) Archbishop Konrad Krajewski, the papal almoner, supervised the distribution of hundreds of sleeping bags to the homeless of Rome, as a gift from Pope Francis, on December 18. Swiss Guards drove a

Commentary: The intrinsic immorality of torture: still not convinced?

(Thursday, Dec. 18) Many readers continue to write with arguments against my condemnation of torture. I have already tried to answer the most

USCCB president meets with President Obama, VP Biden

(Thursday, Dec. 18) Archbishop Joseph Kurtz of Louisville, the president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, met with President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden at the White House on December

Leading Pakistani bishop: the Taliban ‘will stop at nothing now’

(Thursday, Dec. 18) The president of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Pakistan condemned the Taliban attack on a school in Peshawar and said that the attack showed the Islamic fundamentalist movement “will stop at

Jerusalem patriarch issues Christmas message

(Thursday, Dec. 18) The Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem issued his annual Christmas message on December 18 and reflected on the ways in which 2014 was both “the best of times” and “the worst of times.” Among the

Do not give up on ecumenical dialogue, Pope tells German Lutherans

(Thursday, Dec. 18) Pope Francis received a delegation from the United Evangelical Lutheran Church of Germany and the ecumenical commission of the nation’s Catholic episcopal conference on December 18 and called on

Italian bishops issue guidelines to prevent theft of religious art

(Thursday, Dec. 18) Following the nighttime theft of a Guercino painting from a church in Modena, the Italian bishops’ conference, joined by Italy’s culture ministry and national military police, has issued guidelines

USCCB: prelate welcomes policy change toward Cuba

(Thursday, Dec. 18) The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops has issued a statement welcoming the change in US policy toward Cuba as well as the release of an American imprisoned in Cuba for five years. “Our

Diplomacy consists of ‘small steps,’ says Pope

(Thursday, Dec. 18) Pope Francis received 13 new ambassadors to the Holy See and said in brief remarks that diplomacy consists of “small steps” that “sow brotherhood among peoples.” Referring to developments in

Liturgical Calendar: Thursday of the Third Week of Advent

(Thursday, Dec. 18) Today is the second of the O Antiphons, O Adonai (O Almighty God). As Moses approached the burning bush, so we approach the divine Savior in the form of a child in the crib, or in the form of the

Top UK court denies 'conscience clause' protection to pro-life midwives

(Wednesday, Dec. 17) The highest court in the United Kingdom has ruled against two midwives who refused to cooperate in abortions. Overruling the decision of an appeals court in Edinburgh, the Supreme Court ruled

Church of England appoints first female bishop

(Wednesday, Dec. 17) Rev. Libby Lane has been chosen to become the first female bishop of the Church of England. Rev. Lane, who is currently a vicar in the Chester diocese, will become the Bishop of Stockport. Her

Pope celebrates 78th birthday

(Wednesday, Dec. 17) Pope Francis celebrated his 78th birthday on December 17 with a cake, a cup of the traditional Argentine maté tea, and impromptu tango dancing by couples in St. Peter’s Square. During his regular

Pope brokered deal to open US-Cuba ties

(Wednesday, Dec. 17) Pope Francis played a key role in mediating talks between the US and Cuba, resulting in an exchange of prisoners and opening the way for the first direct talks between the neighboring countries in

Commentary: The Complexity of Reforming Religious Communities

(Wednesday, Dec. 17) Like many readers, I am disappointed that Pope Benedict and Pope Francis have not taken a harder line with American women religious, following the Apostolic Visitation which began in 2009. On the

Pope speaks on family, prays for victims of terrorism

(Wednesday, Dec. 17) Pope Francis devoted his December 17 general audience to the family. According to the Vatican Radio synopsis of the audience, the Pontiff called the family a “great gift of the Lord to the world,

Pope Francis names members of Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors

(Wednesday, Dec. 17) Nearly nine months after he instituted the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors and named eight members, Pope Francis has named nine new members to the commission, thus completing its

Spanish diocese criticized for not publicizing cathedral’s Islamic past

(Wednesday, Dec. 17) Stating that tourism is being harmed, the government of the southern Spanish region of Andalusia has criticized the Diocese of Córdoba for not doing more to highlight the Islamic past of its

Russian patriarch: Islamic State ‘demonizes’ Islam

(Wednesday, Dec. 17) During a recent meeting in Moscow with Turkey’s leading Muslim cleric, the head of the Russian Orthodox Church made comments about the Islamic State and the persecution of Christians. “I cannot

Cardinal Schönborn laments Russian aggression in Ukraine

(Wednesday, Dec. 17) Returning from a visit to Ukraine, Cardinal Christoph Schönborn of Vienna decried the Soviet-induced Ukrainian famine of the 1930s and lamented current Russian actions. “Stalin created this

‘Christmas in an Iraqi refugee camp’

(Wednesday, Dec. 17) The Daily Mail has published a photographic overview of life in an Iraqi refugee camp. The camp’s Christian inhabitants fled the advance of the Islamic State, and the overview includes several

Pakistan: 59 in custody for horrific murder of Christian couple

(Wednesday, Dec. 17) Six weeks after a Pakistani Christian husband and wife were detained by a mob for two days, had their legs broken, and were burned to death in a brick kiln, 59 people are in custody and 79 are at

USCCB: bishop rues opening of immigrant detention center

(Wednesday, Dec. 17) The chairman of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on Migration decried the opening of a family detention center-- the largest of its kind-- for those who have entered the

Liturgical Calendar: Wednesday of the Third Week of Advent

(Wednesday, Dec. 17) December 17 marks the beginning of the O Antiphons, the seven jewels of our liturgy, dating back to the fourth century, one for each day until Christmas Eve. These antiphons address Christ with

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