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Captors threaten to kill kidnapped Jesuit if he returns to Afghanistan

(Friday, Feb. 27) A Jesuit priest who was released this week after 8 months of captivity in Afghanistan has disclosed that his kidnappers told him he would be killed if he was seen in Afghanistan again. Father

Vatican spokesman denies books mailed to Synod participants were intercepted

(Friday, Feb. 27) A Vatican spokesman has denied reports that the Office of the Synod intercepted books that had been mailed to bishops participating in the October meeting of the Synod of Bishops. “I can deny

New Vatican leaks aim to undercut Secretariat for Economy

(Friday, Feb. 27) An Italian newspaper has printed leaked documents detailing the spending of the new Secretariat for the Economy, in an obvious effort to discredit the work of the powerful new Vatican office. The

Irish columnist: priests should speak out on same-sex marriage

(Friday, Feb. 27) In a column for the Irish Catholic, David Quinn explains why the country's priests should not avoid "getting involved in politics" in light of a coming vote on acceptance of same-sex

Commentary: Ukraine: A great lesson in thinking like a Catholic.

(Friday, Feb. 27) The current competition for sovereignty in Ukraine is apt to bring out the worst in armchair quarterbacks. I’ve heard Catholics rant on all sides of this issue, but every position seems to me

Commentary: Notre Dame has lost two contrasting giants

(Friday, Feb. 27) On successive days, death has claimed two giant figures in the history of America’s most iconic Catholic university: two revered men, with very different ideas about that university’s

Norway’s leading prelate investigated for fraud

(Friday, Feb. 27) Bishop Bernt Eidsvig of Oslo is under investigation for complicity in fraud after he admitted that his diocese used telephone directories to estimate the number of Catholics and thus receive

Priest murdered in Congo

(Friday, Feb. 27) A priest has been killed in North Kivu, a conflict-torn province in the eastern part of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The murder of Father Jean-Paul Kakule Kyalembera “appears to be an

Report: 77% of world lives under severe restrictions on religious freedom

(Friday, Feb. 27) 77% of the world’s population lives under “high or very high” restrictions on religion—up from 68% in 2007, according to the Pew Research Center. The report also found that “Christians were

Resist the aggressor, Ukrainian Catholic leader says in Lenten letter

(Friday, Feb. 27) Lent is a season of social as well as individual repentance, Major Archbishop Sviatoslav Shevchuk said in his Lenten pastoral letter to the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church. In addition to

Pope, Curia conclude Lenten retreat

(Friday, Feb. 27) Pope Francis and the members of the Roman Curia have concluded their annual Lenten retreat. In his brief remarks at the retreat’s conclusion, the Pontiff thanked the retreat master, Father Bruno

Former Vatican prosecutor named Malta’s leading prelate

(Friday, Feb. 27) Pope Francis has named Bishop Charles Scicluna as the new archbishop of Malta. Named an auxiliary bishop in 2012, Archbishop Scicluna once served as the Congregation for the Doctrine of the

Austria revises law on Islam

(Friday, Feb. 27) Revising a 1912 law on Islam, the Austrian parliament has banned most foreign funding of mosques and required imams to be able to speak German. “Our goal is to have our own Austrian imams,” said

Catholic, other organizations object to new federal regulation on unaccompanied minors

(Friday, Feb. 27) The general counsel of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, joined by attorneys for Catholic Relief Services, the National Association of Evangelicals, World Relief, and World Vision,

Liturgical Calendar: Friday of the First Week of Lent

(Friday, Feb. 27) According to the 1962 Missal of St. John XXIII the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite, today is the feast of St. Gabriel of Our Lady of Sorrows who was born in Assisi on March 1, 1838, the

Syrian Christians feel abandoned, papal nuncio reports

(Thursday, Feb. 26) Syrian Christians feel abandoned by the world, the apostolic nuncio in Damascus has told Vatican Radio. Archbishop Mario Zenari said that fearful Syrian Christians have seen no improvement in the

Cardinal Pell on marriage, divorce, and Henry VIII

(Thursday, Feb. 26) Cardinal George Pell makes a short, powerful argument against changing the Church’s discipline regarding the divorce and remarriage, in a commentary posted on The Catholic Thing. After mentioning

Profile of homeless man buried in Vatican cemetery

(Thursday, Feb. 26) Vatican Radio has profiled the late Willy Herteller, the homeless man whose remains have been buried in a Vatican cemetery. Herteller, who often begged outside St. Peter’s basilica, was a regular

US bishops' spokesman welcomes FCC vote on 'internet neutrality'

(Thursday, Feb. 26) The chairman of the US bishops’ communications committee has welcome a highly controversial vote by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to expand the federal government’s control over the

Jerusalem: Orthodox seminary torched, Jewish extremists suspected

(Thursday, Feb. 26) An Orthodox theological seminary in Jerusalem was torched on February 26, in the latest of a series of attacks on Christian and Muslim institutions. Along with setting fire to a building, the

Commentary: Two good publishers, six new books for Lent

(Thursday, Feb. 26) I try to follow the new titles coming out from both Ignatius Press and Sophia Institute Press, because I trust the judgment of these Catholic publishers. Particularly in the realm of spirituality,

Vatican foundation announces ‘economy and society’ book prize winners

(Thursday, Feb. 26) At a Vatican press conference, officials of the Centesimus Annus - Pro Pontifice Foundation announced the winners of the biennial “economy and society” book award. Named after St. John Paul II’s

House of Lords approves 3-parent babies

(Thursday, Feb. 26) Following a vote by the House of Lords, the United Kingdom has become the first nation to permit an in-vitro fertilization technique that allows for the production of human embryos with three

Judge sides with Catholic agency, rules ‘polyamory’ is not a protected orientation

(Thursday, Feb. 26) Siding with a Catholic agency, an Australian judge has ruled that “polyamory,” or having multiple partners, is a behavior rather than a protected orientation under Australian anti-discrimination

USCCB: support Health Care Conscience Rights Act

(Thursday, Feb. 26) The bishops who chair the chair the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on Pro-Life Activities and Ad Hoc Committee for Religious Liberty have called upon members of Congress to

Leading Russian Orthodox official sees Russia as ‘only center of non-enslaved civilization’

(Thursday, Feb. 26) Describing much of Europe as “Babylon,” the chairman of the Moscow Patriarchate’s Synodal Department for the Cooperation of Church and Society said that “Russia is the only center of non-[en]slaved

Ukrainian Catholic leader: Ukrainians ‘hurt’ by Pope’s description of war

(Thursday, Feb. 26) Emphasizing that Ukraine is not experiencing “a local conflict, but an external assault,” the head of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church said at a press conference that he has told Pope Francis

Islamic State begins killing hostages; 5,000 Christians flee in Syria

(Thursday, Feb. 26) The Islamic State has begun killing some of the 150 or more Christians taken hostage after the capture of several villages in northeast Syria, Aid to the Church in Need reports. Meanwhile an

Liturgical Calendar: Thursday of the First Week of Lent

(Thursday, Feb. 26) Historically today is the feast of St. Porphyrius, a wealthy Greek who became a hermit first in the desert of Skete in Egypt and then in Palestine on the banks of the Jordan. Much against his will

Commentary: Another awkward 'clarification' from the Vatican

(Wednesday, Feb. 25) Every reasonable person understands what Pope Francis meant when, in a private message to a friend in Argentina, he used the term “Mexicanization” to refer to the troubles of a country torn by

Commentary: Former Israeli ambassador explains how to make 'two-state solution' realistic

(Wednesday, Feb. 25) Michael Oren, the former Israeli ambassador to the US, has a refreshing perspective on Israel-Palestine peace prospects in today’s Wall Street

Homeless man to be buried in Vatican cemetery

(Wednesday, Feb. 25) A homeless man will be buried in a Vatican cemetery, in an unprecedented gesture approved by Pope Francis, Italian media report. Willy Herteller, a homeless man of Flemish origin, had frequently

Indian archbishop thanks prime minister for role in release of kidnapped Jesuit

(Wednesday, Feb. 25) Archbishop Anil Couto of Delhi has thanked India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi for his role in the release of Father Alexis Prem Kumar, the Jesuit priest who was freed this week after eight months

Synod office reportedly blocked delivery of book challenging Kasper proposal

(Wednesday, Feb. 25) The Vatican’s Office of the Synod intercepted mail to prevent delivery of a book to bishops participating in last October’s session of the Synod, journalist Edward Pentin reports. Remaining in

Commentary: Solidarity Campaign: Going well, thanks! And how can you help?

(Wednesday, Feb. 25) When I decided to stress solidarity as the theme for February fundraising, I did not know how popular it would be. The idea is to stress participation rather than wealth. It is not so much how

San Francisco archbishop not backing down on policies for Catholic-school teachers

(Wednesday, Feb. 25) After the San Francisco Chronicle issued a report claiming that Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone plans to rescind a plan to treat parochial-school teachers as “ministers,” the San Francisco

Preacher at Vatican Lenten Retreat: face the truths about ourselves

(Wednesday, Feb. 25) Reflecting on the example of the prophet Elijah, the preacher at the Vatican Lenten Retreat called upon Pope Francis and the leaders of the Roman Curia to let “the deepest truth about ourselves come

Filipino bishops split on call for ouster of president

(Wednesday, Feb. 25) Cardinal Ricardo Vidal, the retired Archbishop of Cebu, has joined with civil leaders in the Philippines in a “National Transformation Council,” calling for the removal of President Benigno Aquino,

Parliament defeats bid to outlaw sex-selection abortion in UK

(Wednesday, Feb. 25) The British Parliament has voted down a bid to outlaw sex-selection abortion. By a vote of 292- 201, Parliament defeated a measure that would have explicitly banned abortions performed solely to

Ghana archbishop makes 'daring' suggestion that 'power of the keys' could allow remarriage

(Wednesday, Feb. 25) An archbishop from Ghana suggested that the Church might explore using “the power of the keys” to release spouses from their marital vows, in an interview with Aleteia. “It is daring to say what

Mosque torched near Bethlehem; militant Jews suspected

(Wednesday, Feb. 25) A mosque was torched near Bethlehem on February 25, the AsiaNews service reports. Militant Israeli settlers are suspected of the crime. A fire was set in the mosque overnight, and graffiti were

American missionary kidnapped in Nigeria

(Wednesday, Feb. 25) An American Methodist missionary was kidnapped by five gunmen in Nigeria on February 24. Phyllis Sortor, 70, has worked for years to bring clean drinking water to villages. NBC reported that a

Report finds increasing hostility to religious expression in US

(Wednesday, Feb. 25) A report issued by the Liberty Institute found an increase in legal, school-related, and employment-related attacks on religious expression in 2014. The institute, based in Texas, describes

Chinese authorities still refuse to release body of deceased ‘underground’ bishop

(Wednesday, Feb. 25) Nearly a month after Chinese officials said that Bishop Cosma Shi Enxiang was dead, his relatives are still waiting for his remains. “All we want is to be able to bury him,” his nephew said.

Church should present moral teaching with sensitivity, says Dublin archbishop

(Wednesday, Feb. 25) Speaking on the hopes and challenges facing the Church in Ireland, Archbishop Diarmuid Martin of Dublin called for a greater sense of community and for sensitivity in presenting Church

Ukrainian Catholic leader pays tribute to slain Euromaidan protestors

(Wednesday, Feb. 25) One year after Euromaidan protests led to the removal of pro-Russian President Viktor Yanukovych, the head of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church paid tribute to those slain during the

Thousands of Egyptians flee Libya

(Wednesday, Feb. 25) An estimated 20,000 Egyptians have fled Libya for Egypt in the ten days since jihadists from the Islamic State beheaded 21 Coptic Christians, according to the Associated Press. In addition, an

Report: Islamic State burns down 4 Syrian churches

(Wednesday, Feb. 25) While kidnapping residents from Christian villages in northeastern Syria, militants from the Islamic State burned down at least four Christian churches, according to the Assyrian International News

Vatican issues statement on Pope’s ‘Mexicanization’ comment

(Wednesday, Feb. 25) Father Federico Lombardi, the director of the Holy See Press Office, has confirmed that Pope Francis used the phrase “to avoid Mexicanization” in a recent private note. The use of the term

Commentary: Lenten Ember Days

(Wednesday, Feb. 25) This Wednesday, February 25, within the First Week of Lent marks the beginning of the traditional dates of the Lenten Ember Days. With the reorganization of the Liturgical Year by Vatican II, the

Liturgical Calendar: Wednesday of the First Week of Lent (Ember Wednesday)

(Wednesday, Feb. 25) Historically today is the feast of St. Walburga, sister of Sts. Willibald and Winebald. She became a nun at Wimborne in Dorset under St. Tatta and followed St. Lioba to Germany at the invitation of

Commentary: The dangerous slide toward further US military involvement in the Middle East

(Tuesday, Feb. 24) The gruesome record of atrocities committed by the Islamic State, and the urgent need to save our fellow Christians from persecution, explain the

Commentary: NCIS Toes the Pro-Gay, Anti-Catholic Line

(Tuesday, Feb. 24) I’m a big fan of NCIS, the most-watched television show in the United States last season. It was also voted America’s favorite show in 2011. It has spawned two popular spinoffs, NCIS:

Beatification cause opened for former head of Knights of Malta

(Tuesday, Feb. 24) A formal cause has been opened for the beatification of the late Fra Andrew Bertie, the 78th Grand Master of the Knights of Malta. Fra Andrew Bertie became the head of the Sovereign Military

Islamic State destroys public library in Mosul

(Tuesday, Feb. 24) The forces of the Islamic State have demolished the public library in Mosul, Iraq, and the thousands of volumes it contained. The library in Mosul had been looted and vandalized after the US

Coptic Church mobilizing to evacuate Egyptians from Libya

(Tuesday, Feb. 24) The Coptic Orthodox Church has established a “crisis unit” to help evacuate all Egypts still living in Libya, the Fides news service reports. The crisis unit, under the direction of the secretary

Oklahoma priest removed from post after civil marriage

(Tuesday, Feb. 24) An Oklahoma priest who was recently removed from his pastoral assignment had entered into a civil marriage. Archbishop Paul Coakley of Oklahoma City said: “After I removed Father Dan Letourneau

English bishops urge participation in national elections

(Tuesday, Feb. 24) The Catholic bishops of England have encouraged their people to participate in coming national elections, after having carefully considered the moral issues raised in the campaign. In an open

President Obama issues statement on Lent

(Tuesday, Feb. 24) President Barack Obama has issued a brief statement on Lent. “Lent is a season of sacrifice and preparation, repentance and renewal,” he said in his Ash Wednesday statement. “Through

European bishops’ organization criticizes surrogacy

(Tuesday, Feb. 24) A working group of the Commission of the Bishops' Conferences of the European Community (COMECE) has published a document criticizing surrogacy as a “frontal assault on fundamental shared EU

Mexican government protests reported papal comment on ‘Mexicanization’

(Tuesday, Feb. 24) La Alameda, an Argentine NGO opposed to drug trafficking, published a note attributed to Pope Francis in which the Pontiff reportedly expressed concern about “Mexicanization”-- leading to a protest

Philippine archbishop calls for president’s removal

(Tuesday, Feb. 24) A Philippine prelate has been accused of sedition after calling for the removal of President Benigno Aquino III. “We are asking him to step down because we think he is not entitled to that

At least 100 Christians seized in Syria after Islamic State offensive

(Tuesday, Feb. 24) Militants of the Islamic State have abducted at least 100 Christians from Syrian villages. The Reuters news service reported that Kurdish forces, assisted by US airstrikes, are battling with

New Zealand’s bishops welcome decision to send troops to Iraq

(Tuesday, Feb. 24) New Zealand’s bishops have welcomed Prime Minister John Key’s decision to send troops to Iraq. “Pope Francis has said that it is ‘licit to stop an unjust aggressor,’” said Cardinal John Dew. “If

ISIS militants ‘demonize Islam,’ says Russian patriarch

(Tuesday, Feb. 24) Patriarch Kirill of Moscow, the head of the largest Orthodox church, met with the Greek Orthodox patriarch of Antioch and said that Islamic State militants “demonize Islam in the eyes of the whole

Ukraine’s leading Latin-rite prelate discusses meeting with Pope

(Tuesday, Feb. 24) Archbishop Mieczyslaw Mokrzycki of Lviv, Ukraine’s leading Latin-rite prelate, reflected on recent meetings with Pope Francis and curial officials that took place during the Ukrainian bishops’

Commentary: Do Christians need to defend "religion"?

(Tuesday, Feb. 24) Over at Aleteia, David Mills comments on the oft-repeated cliche that religion has been the source of manifold evils - wars, persecution, bigotry, superstition, etc. Rather

Commentary: The Missing Element In My Lenten Penance

(Tuesday, Feb. 24) On Ash Wednesday my youngest son asked if the next two days were Holy Thursday and Good Friday. His question reflects my initial feelings of Lent: "We have to do this for 40 days?" I start

Liturgical Calendar: Tuesday of the First Week of Lent

(Tuesday, Feb. 24) But Jesus told them, "Because of the hardness of your hearts he wrote you this commandment. But from the beginning of creation, 'God made them male and female. For this reason a man shall leave his

Commentary: Sex in Leviticus

(Monday, Feb. 23) The Book of Leviticus is a tough read, filled with both ritual and moral prescriptions. The two are closely connected, but it is not always obvious where ritual holiness ends and moral holiness

British lawmaker raps European bishops' group, defends nationalist parties

(Monday, Feb. 23) A British lawmaker has reacted angrily to a statement from a group of European Catholic bishops who denounced the rise of nationalist parties. Steven Woolfe, a member of the European Parliament,

Iraqi Patriarch: Libyan conflict is a 'trap;' Europe should stay out

(Monday, Feb. 23) Chaldean Catholic Patriarch Louis Sako has warned that the spreading violence in Libya is a “trap” set by the Islamic State, and said that Italy should resist the temptation toward military

Ukrainian Church leader: 'we expect the whole Christian world to take our side'

(Monday, Feb. 23) Major Archbishop Sviatoslav Shevchuk has insisted that the struggle in Ukraine is the result of “direct aggression and invasion,” and not a civil war. The leader of the Byzantine-rite Ukrainian

Egyptians returning from Libya report forced labor, torture by Islamic militants

(Monday, Feb. 23) Egyptian laborers returning from Libya have said that they were kidnapped and forced into slave labor by Islamic militants, the AsiaNews service reports. Some of the returning Egyptians said that

Armenian saint named Doctor of the Church

(Monday, Feb. 23) St. Gregory of Narek, an Armenian Catholic monk who lived in what is now Turkey and died in 1005, has been named by Pope Francis a Doctor of the Church. Born in Narek in 950, St. Gregory spent

Syrian Orthodox priest released

(Monday, Feb. 23) A Syrian Orthodox priest detained by Kurdish forces in Syria on February 16 has been released. The detention of Father Gabriel Daoud and at least 11 other Syrian Christians “would appear to be

Indian Jesuit freed from captivity in Afghanistan

(Monday, Feb. 23) Father Alexis Prem Kumar, who was kidnapped in June while visiting a school for refugee children in Afghanistan, has been released from captivity. Father Kumar served as Afghanistan director for

Pope, Curia begin Lenten retreat

(Monday, Feb. 23) Pope Francis and members of the Roman Curia have begun their Lenten retreat, which is taking place from February 22 to 27 at a retreat house in Ariccia, a small city near the outskirts of

Lent is a time of spiritual combat, Pope emphasizes

(Monday, Feb. 23) Emphasizing that Lent is a time of “spiritual combat against the spirit of evil,” Pope Francis reflected on the Gospel account of the temptation of Jesus during his Sunday Angelus address of

Egypt’s leading Muslim cleric condemns killing of Christians

(Monday, Feb. 23) The grand mufti of Egypt, Shawki Ibrahim Abdel-Karim Allam, has strongly condemned the murder of 21 Coptic Christians in Libya by Islamic State militants, according to regional news

Poverty, Ukraine, among topics of meeting between Pope, Merkel

(Monday, Feb. 23) Pope Francis received Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany in audience on February 21 and discussed “poverty and hunger, the exploitation of human beings and the rights of women, and the challenges

Pope calls for public conversion of those involved in organized crime

(Monday, Feb. 23) Pope Francis received pilgrims from an Italian diocese he visited in June and renewed his call for the conversion of those involved in organized crime. “External gestures of religiosity that are

Liturgical Calendar: Optional Memorial of St. Polycarp of Smyrna, bishop and martyr

(Monday, Feb. 23) St. Polycarp of Smyrna, was converted to Christianity by St. John the Evangelist. He was a disciple of the apostles and friend of St. Ignatius of Antioch. He was ordained bishop of Smyrna (now

New Document: Indicate the Values that Bind Ukrainian Society

(Monday, Feb. 23) “I welcome you to this house, which is also yours. And you are well aware of this, as the Successor of Peter has always welcomed his brothers from Ukraine with fraternal friendship”, begins the

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