Action Alert!

Stories for March 2014

Released Monday, Mar. 3

Romanian leader meets with Pope

Pope Francis received Prime Minister Victor Ponta of Romania in audience on March 1. The prime minister, who assumed office in 2012, conveyed greetings from Patriarch Daniel, the head of the...

Pope Francis reflects on God’s Providence, appeals for peace in Ukraine

Reflecting on the Mass readings of the day, Pope Francis devoted his Sunday Angelus address to the “beautiful thought” of God’s Providence. The Pope said that it is tempting in the face of human...

Ukrainian Catholic leader: we must be willing to sacrifice our lives to defend the nation

As Russian military forces intervened in the Ukraine’s Crimean region, the head of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church said that “we must stand up for our country” and “be ready, if necessary, to...

Report: Protestant families lose water, electricity in Mexican village

Twenty-five Protestant families in Unión Juárez, a town of 14,000 in the southern Mexican state of Chiapas, had their electricity and water disconnected after they refused to contribute to a...

Prelate endorses State Marriage Defense Act

The chairman of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Subcommittee for the Promotion and Defense of Marriage has endorsed the State Marriage Defense Act of 2014, which has been...

Christian girl slain in Pakistan

Taliban forces have killed a Christian girl in northern Pakistan, according to a Fides news agency report. The girl had been in hiding with her cousin, a convert from Islam to Christianity. When...

Increasing religious repression in Kazakhstan

Religious repression is on the rise in Kazakhstan, according to a recent report by the Forum 18 news service. Legal or police action has recently been taken against Presbyterian, Baptist, and...

Crimean bishop appeals for calm

A Latin-rite bishop in the Crimea appealed for calm as Russian troops occupied the autonomous peninsula, which is part of Ukraine. Auxiliary Bishop Jacek Pyl of Odessa-Simferopol urged the...

Pope calls Spanish bishops to be in state of ‘permanent mission’

At a March 3 audience with the bishops of Spain, who were concluding their ad limina visits, Pope Francis took note of the “indifference of many of the baptized” and a “worldly” culture that...

Pope summons religious leaders to Rome to discuss financial assets of religious orders

Pope Francis has summoned leaders of the world’s religious orders to Rome for a weekend meeting on the proper use of their financial assets, the National Catholic Reporter has learned. Although...

Pope's secretary appointed secretary-general of new economics secretariat

Pope Francis has named his private secretary, Msgr. Alfred Xuereb, to be the secretary-general of the newly created Secretariat for the Economy. Msgr. Xuereb, a native of Malta, had been serving...

Christian witness describes Boko Haram atrocities, attacks on church

A disabled Nigerian Christian has described atrocities that he witnessed during a terrorist attack on a seminary, in a report to Aid to the Church in Need (ACN). Andrew (whose last name was...

Helena diocese will emerge from bankruptcy stronger, bishop says

Bishop George Thomas of Helena, Montana, has said that bankruptcy proceedings will leave the diocese poorer, but in a stronger position. In February the Helena diocese filed for federal...

Newark archdiocese planning $100-million capital campaign

The Archdiocese of Newark, New Jersey, is planning a capital campaign designed to raise $100 million over the next several years. Archbishop John Myers has told the faithful of the archdiocese...

Papal praise for group promoting spiritual exercises

Pope Francis met on March 3 with representatives of the Italian Federation of Spiritual Exercises (FIES), a group that is marking its 50th anniversary. In his remarks to the group, the Pope...

Holy See, Burundi formalize accord

The Holy See and Burundi have formalized an accord that “guarantees the juridical status of the Catholic Church” in the East African nation, according to the Holy See Press Office. The agreement,...

Italian priest killed; financial motive suspected

A Catholic priest was founded beaten to death in Calabria, Italy, on March 3. Father Lazzaro Longobardi was apparently killed by blows from an iron bar, which was found on the site of the murder...

Bishops of Papua New Guinea decry treatment of refugees

The Catholic bishops of Papua New Guinea have protested the detention of refugees at the country’s Manus Island holding center, and urged “a truly human response to the question of refugees and...

Ukrainian Church leaders plead for peace; Russian patriarch promises help

Leaders of the Christian churches in Ukraine have joined in a plea to Russian leaders to “abandon the military and other… interference in the internal affairs of Ukraine.” The statement by the...

Cardinal Pell sees closing of Vatican bank as unlikely

Cardinal George Pell, who was installed last week as head of the Vatican’s new Secretariat for Economy, does not expect that Pope Francis will close the Vatican bank. In an exclusive interview...

Released Tuesday, Mar. 4

Religious leaders appeal for 2-state solution to Israeli-Palestinian conflict

Thirty-three Christian, Jewish, and Muslim religious leaders from the United States said in a letter to Secretary of State John Kerry the two-state solution is the “only realistic resolution” to the...

Report: leading Russian Orthodox official backs military action in Ukraine

A leading Russian Orthodox official has lent his support to Russian military action in Crimea, the Religious Information Service of Ukraine reported. “The Russian peacemaking mission in Ukraine...

Mexico: bishop leads thousands in march for peace and family

Amid a spate of child kidnappings, many of which have taken place in front of schools, a Mexican bishop led 5,000 faithful in a “march for peace and the family.” Bishop Ramón Castro Castro of...

Ugandan Anglicans threaten schism over homosexuality

Uganda’s leading Anglican prelate has told Agence France-Presse that the Anglican church in his nation may become independent from the Church of England over the issue of homosexuality. “If they...

French Olympic chapel desecrated

Vandals have desecrated the chapel in the Olympic village at Grenoble, the site of the 1968 Winter Olympics. Le Dauphiné libéré, a regional newspaper, reported that the vandals stole a ciborium...

Cardinal Kasper: women should have far greater role in Curia

In an interview with Avvenire, the daily newspaper owned by the Italian bishops’ conference, Cardinal Walter Kasper said that women should be involved in the preparation for the Synod of Bishops on...

Ecumenical Patriarch visits Hungary, meets with Catholic bishops

The Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople, who holds a primacy of honor in Eastern Orthodoxy, traveled to Hungary on March 2 and 3. During his visit, he met with the nation’s Catholic...

Prayer hall attacked in Orissa

Armed forces have been deployed in Odisha, the eastern Indian state formerly known as Orissa, following an attack on a Christian prayer hall that was under construction. The assailants also...

New Vatican coins feature portrait of Pope Francis

The Vatican has released a new series of coins featuring an image of Pope Francis. The coins—the first Euros minted by the Vatican that feature the new Pontiff—were released for sale to...

Spanish cardinal to head supervisory commission for Vatican bank

Cardinal Santos Abril y Castello has been named the president of the commission of cardinals supervising the Vatican bank, the Institute for Religious Works (IOR). In January, Pope Francis...

Castel Gandolfo gardens opened to public

On orders from Pope Francis, the gardens of the papal summer residence at Castel Gandolfo have been opened to the public. The 135 acres of the Castel Gandolfo estate include the famous Barberini...

Malaysia’s top court to hear challenge of ban on ‘Allah’

Malaysia’s supreme court will hear arguments this week in a challenge brought by Catholic Church leaders against a ban on the use of the word “Allah” in the country’s Catholic newspaper. Last...

Christian life always includes the Cross, Pope says

Christians will always face opposition, and sometimes persecution, “because the world does not tolerate the divinity of Christ,” Pope Francis told the congregation at his morning Mass on March 4....

Vatican prelate sees mounting persecution of Christians

“At present, Christians are the religious group which suffers persecution in the largest number of countries on account of its faith,” Cardinal Peter Turkson told participants in a conference on...

CDF prefect: Church will not change doctrine on divorce/remarriage

In an interview with the National Catholic Register, the prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith has again tossed cold water on speculation about a change in Church teaching...

Released Wednesday, Mar. 5

Pakistan: death sentence feared for man accused of blasphemy; attorneys threatened

The Fides news agency and World Vision in Progress have drawn attention to the case of Shafaqat Emmanuel and Shagufta Kausar, a husband and wife who were arrested for blasphemy in July. A month...

Congo’s bishops defend direct elections

The bishops of the Democratic Republic of the Congo have criticized a government proposal to end direct elections of provincial and local officials. Under the proposal, voters would choose...

USCCB, Southern Baptist officials call for new religious-freedom envoy post

The chairman of the Committee on International Justice and Peace of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops and the president of the Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission...

Philippine bishops issue Lenten message on poverty

The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines has issued a Lenten message on poverty. The conference’s president, Archbishop Socrates Villegas, called upon the faithful to work against the...

Archbishop Kurtz: Ukraine’s religious liberty threatened by ‘invasive actions’

The president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops asked Catholic parishes around the country to pray for a peaceful resolution of the Ukrainian crisis. “The heroic witness of...

Priest labors alone in eastern Ethiopia

For seven years, a Spanish diocesan missionary priest, has been laboring alone in an eastern Ethiopian city, 700 miles from the nearest priest. Describing the territory of Ogaden as a “totally...

Pope Francis praises Humanae Vitae, lauds Pope Benedict’s efforts against sexual abuse

In an interview with the Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera, Pope Francis praised Humanae Vitae, Pope Paul VI’s 1968 encyclical on contraception. Emphasizing that confessors should be...

Pope Francis: Lent is a time to react to material, spiritual misery

In his Ash Wednesday general audience, Pope Francis emphasized that Lent is a time of conversion in which the faithful grow in awareness of Christ’s redemptive work and recall the mystery of...

German bishop demands change in Church teachings on sexuality

A German bishop has said that the unpopularity of Church teachings on sexuality points to the need for a change, igniting an open debate within the German hierarchy. Bishop Stephan Ackermann of...

Pope backs Brazilian bishops' Lenten drive against human trafficking

Pope Francis has strongly endorsed a Lenten campaign by the Catholic bishops of Brazil to rally opposition to human trafficking. The Brazilian bishops have chosen human trafficking as the theme...

Slain Italian priest was victimized because of his charity, bishop says

An Italian priest who was beaten to death was saluted by his bishop as a “discreet martyr of charity.” Father Lazzaro Longobardi was found dead near his parish church in Sibari on March 3. Local...

Catholic bishop in Crimea pleads for peace, coexistence among ethnic groups

“We cannot let our ethnic background or our religion divide us now,” a Catholic bishop in Crimea has said about the unfolding crisis in the Ukrainian region. Bishop Jacek Pyl, an auxiliary of the...

Pope, Curial leaders will leave Rome (by bus) for Lenten Retreat

Pope Francis and the leaders of the Roman Curia will travel by bus from Rome to the Casa del Divin Maestro in Albano, Italy, for their annual Lenten Retreat that begins on March 9. Pope Francis...

Released Thursday, Mar. 6

Pope Francis: Lent should ‘shake us from our torpor’

Observing that “we live in an increasingly artificial world” in which “we exclude God from our horizon without even realizing it,” Pope Francis said that the season of Lent calls us “to remember...

USCCB, Catholic Charities back ‘Second Chance Act’

Archbishop Thomas Wenski of Miami, the chairman of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, joined the president of Catholic Charities...

Survey: Pope Francis popular; Mass attendance unchanged over past year

A new Pew Research Center survey has found that Pope Francis remains popular among Catholics in the United States. According to the survey, 85% of Catholics view Pope Francis favorably, up from...

Patriarch of Jerusalem issues Lenten letter, expresses hopes for Pope’s visit

The Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem has issued a pastoral letter in which he described sacramental confession, along with prayer, fasting, and almsgiving, as the four pillars of Lent. Prayer, said...

Report documents persecution of Christians, Muslims in India

Christian Solidarity Worldwide has published a report surveying the persecution of non-Hindus in India. The report found that “the most significant threat to pluralism in India derives from the...

Ukrainian Catholic leader welcomes Kerry’s support of Ukraine

The head of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church welcomed Secretary of State John Kerry’s support for the new Ukrainian government. Major Archbishop Sviatoslav Shevchuk “thanked John Kerry for...

Leaders of Orthodox churches to meet to discuss council preparations

The leaders of all of the autocephalous Eastern Orthodox churches will gather at the headquarters of the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople from March 6 to 9. The Interfax news agency...

Archbishop Sheen moves closer to beatification; preliminary approval of miracle

A team of Vatican-appointed medical experts has verified the authenticity of a miracle attributed to the intercession of Archbishop Fulton Sheen, moving the renowned preacher closer to...

Former seminary teacher, colleague reflects on leadership of Pope Francis

A Jesuit seminary instructor who once taught Pope Francis says that the Pontiff is leading a “revolution of tenderness.” Father Juan Carlos Scannone, a veteran instructor at the San Miguel...

Appeals court rejects attempt by St. Paul archdiocese to block archbishop's testimony

An appeals court in Minnesota has rejected a bid by the Archdiocese of St. Paul-Minneapolis to block sworn depositions by Archbishop John Nienstedt and other archdiocesan officials regarding the...

Pope urges Roman priests to be good confessors-- and makes a confession of his own

During a March 6 meeting with priests of the Rome diocese, Pope Francis stressed the Sacrament of Reconciliation, and urged the priests to show Christ’s mercy to the faithful. “Do you cry for...

Released Friday, Mar. 7

Group of US bishops to offer Mass for those who died in attempt to cross border

Cardinal Seán O’Malley of Boston will join local bishops and the bishops who serve on the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on Migration in offering Mass for those who have...

Catholic school news roundup: Seattle, Charlotte, North Dakota

The principal of a Catholic high school has been arrested for setting a fire that severely damaged his school in Dickinson, North Dakota. Thomas Sander, 30, faces felony arson charges, and bail...

Panelists criticize UN committee’s report on Holy See

Three panelists from the Catholic Family and Human Rights Institute and the Family Research Council have strongly criticized the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child’s recent report...

4 Christian villages attacked in Nigeria

Four Christian villages in Riyom, an area in central Nigeria’s Plateau State, were attacked on March 5. An estimated 200 houses were burned down, and 16 people were killed, according to the...

Swiss bishops’ conference criticizes proposed legalization of surrogacy

The bioethics commission of the Swiss bishops’ conference has strongly criticized a proposal to legalize surrogate motherhood. Citing Donum Vitae, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith’s...

New Haitian cardinal mediates in nation’s political crisis

Cardinal Chibly Langlois, who became Haiti’s first cardinal in February, has been invited to serve as a mediator in a national political crisis, the Fides news agency reported. President Michel...

Papal secretary recalls Pope Benedict’s resignation

Msgr. Alfred Xuereb, a Maltese priest who served as Pope Benedict XVI’s second secretary, recalled Pope Benedict’s resignation in a recent interview. Msgr. Xuereb subsequently became the first...

Pope meets with leader of World Council of Churches, urges prayer for Christian unity

In a meeting at the Vatican, the head of the World Council of Churches told Pope Francis that “I believe that in our time God is opening new ways for us to unity, and for how the world can see our...

Annual Good Friday collection to support Church in Holy Land

The prefect of the Congregation for Eastern Churches has appealed for generous support of the annual international Good Friday collection for the Church in the Holy Land. Quoting Pope Francis,...

Archbishop Chaput, civic officials head to Vatican to discuss September 2015 event to Philadelphia

Archbishop Charles Chaput of Philadelphia will travel to Rome later this month with the city’s Mayor Michael Nutter and Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett, to confer with Vatican officials about...

Rome’s hotels near capacity for canonizations of John Paul II, John XXIII

Most of Rome’s hotels and group residences are nearly sold out for the weekend of April 27: the date of the canonization ceremonies for Popes John Paul II and John XXIII. The ANSA news service...

Lenten Retreat begins Sunday for Pope, Vatican officials

Pope Francis and the leaders of the Roman Curia will leave the Vatican on Sunday to begin their 5-day Lenten Retreat. The retreat, which will be preached by Father Angelo De Donatis, will be held...

Vatican denies rumors that papal trip to Israel is in jeopardy

The Vatican moved quickly on March 7 to counter rumors that a visit to Israel by Pope Francis might be cancelled because of a strike by workers in that country’s foreign ministry. Plans for the...

Cardinal George reveals cancer is advancing

Chicago’s Cardinal Francis George has disclosed that a cancer in his kidney is showing “signs of new activity,” and will require more aggressive treatment. Cardinal George, who survived an...

Coordinate plans with parishes, Pope asks lay movements

Pope Francis encouraged coordination between lay activists and local parishes, in a message to a conference on the work of lay movements in the city. Every baptized Christian is “inseparably a...

Released Monday, Mar. 10

Pope Francis challenges religious to witness to Christ’s poverty

In the midst of a world characterized by an “economy of exclusion and inequality” and the “spiritual and moral frailty of so many people, especially youth,” religious are called to witness to Gospel...

Pope Francis names members of new Council for the Economy, appoints Cardinal Marx as coordinator

Pope Francis has named the 15 members of the Council for the Economy, a new body whose creation he announced in his recent motu proprio Fidelis et Dispensator Prudens. The Council for the...

Do not dialogue with Satan, but take refuge in God’s Word, Pope says

In his Sunday Angelus address, Pope Francis reflected upon the temptation of Jesus in the wilderness. “The tempter tries to divert Jesus from the Father’s plan, that is, from the path of...

USCCB: pray for Holy Land peace

The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on International Justice & Peace is placing special emphasis on prayer for peace in the Holy Land this Lent. “The US Conference of...

EEOC issues guidelines on accepting employees’ religious garb, grooming

The United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has released new guidelines on religious garb and grooming in the workplace. Under the guidelines, Christians who choose to wear a cross,...

Kidnapped Syrian nuns released

Syrian rebel forces have released 16 women, including 13 Greek Orthodox nuns, kidnapped in the historic Christian town of Ma’loula in December. In exchange for the nuns’ release, the Syrian...

Eastern Orthodox churches to hold pan-Orthodox council in 2016

The Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople will preside over a pan-Orthodox council in 2016, according to a statement from the patriarchate. The decision to hold a pan-Orthodox council--...

‘A Catholic spring in Iceland’

The number of Catholics in Iceland has doubled in the past decade and stands at 11,000, according to a report in L’Osservatore Romano. The faithful are served by eight priests and 40...

Pope will visit South Korea in August

Pope Francis will travel to South Korea in August, the Vatican has announced. Confirming an earlier report by the AsiaNews service, the Vatican said that the Holy Father will visit the Diocese of...

New book by Cardinal Kasper explores pastoral approach for divorced/remarried Catholics

A new book on the family by Cardinal Walter Kasper, expanding on the ideas that he explored in a speech to the February meeting of the College of Cardinals, will soon be published in German and...

Benedict XVI discusses John Paul II in interview excerpted in Italian newspaper

Pope-emeritus Benedict XVI discussed his relationship with Pope John Paul II in an interview that appeared in the Italian daily Corriere della Sera. The interview—a rare appearance by the...

Cardinal Pell: abuse victims should be allowed to sue dioceses in Australia

Cardinal George Pell has reportedly said that sex-abuse victims should be allowed to sue the Catholic Church, in an apparent change. Abuse victims have never successfully brought suit against...

Wisconsin bishop says Pope Francis encourages strong stand on life issues

Bishop Robert Morlino of Madison, Wisconsin, has said that far from discouraging his criticism of cultural trends, Pope Francis has encouraged him to take a stronger stand against abortion and...

Cardinal Dolan: Pope wants to understand—not endorse—civil-union proposals

In a television interview aired March 9, New York’s Cardinal Timothy Dolan said that Pope Francis wants the Church to understand the campaign for legal recognition of same-sex unions. Appearing...

Released Tuesday, Mar. 11

Court backs Maryland crisis pregnancy center, bars enforcement of ordinance

A federal district court has barred enforcement of a Maryland county’s ordinance that compelled crisis pregnancy centers to display a sign in their waiting rooms. Montgomery County’s ordinance...

Argentina: bishop supports drug tests for politicians

A leading Argentine bishop has lent support to a mayor’s proposal to require elected officials to undergo drug testing. “I think it would be a good idea, first of all because it is a way to know...

Moscow patriarch weighs in on pan-Orthodox council

The head of the Russian Orthodox Church-- the largest of the autocephalous Eastern Orthodox churches-- has weighed in on the issues he believes should be discussed during the 2016 pan-Orthodox...

Chaldean Catholic patriarch reflects on 1st year in office

The head of the Chaldean Catholic Church-- an Eastern Catholic church in full communion with the Holy See-- has issued a message on the first anniversary of his election. “I feel more the...

Fire destroys Milwaukee seminary’s historic buildings

Fire has destroyed the original chapel and hall that dates from 1873 at St. Lawrence High School Seminary, one of the United States’ few high school seminaries, according to local and national media...

India: prelate, opposition criticize Holy Thursday elections

Archbishop Filipe Neri Ferrão of Goa and Damão has joined opposition politicians in criticizing a state government decision to hold elections on Holy Thursday, according to the Fides news...

FBI investigates archdiocesan data breach; up to 90,000 affected

A data breach of the Archdiocese of Seattle’s computer systems has led to the filing of fraudulent tax returns, according to local media reports. The FBI is investigating the breach. “If you...

Arrests made in attack on Orissa prayer hall

Local police have arrested two Hindu fundamentalists who attacked a prayer hall that was under construction in Odisha, an eastern Indian state. The Odisha Sun Times reported that following the...

Benedictine sisters have top 2 CDs on classical music chart

“Lent at Ephesus,” a new album released by the Benedictines of Mary, Queen of Apostles, has remained at the top position on the Billboardtraditional classical albums chart for three weeks. The...

Concert at Roman basilica in memory of Japanese earthquake/tsunami victims

A performance of Mozart’s Requiem was scheduled at the Roman basilica of St. Paul-Outside-the-Walls on March 11, to mark the 3rd anniversary of the devastating earthquake and tsunami that struck...

Swedish 'megachurch' leader converts to Catholicism

One of Sweden’s most prominent Protestant leaders has shocked his followers by announcing his conversion to Catholicism. Rev. Ulf Ekman, who founded the Word of Life community in 1983 and saw it...

India: police search for clues in case of murdered seminary rector

Police in Bangalore, India, have applied truth-serum tests to two priests as they seek evidence about the unsolved murder of a seminary rector. Father K.J. Thomas was found dead at St. Joseph’s...

Cadillac that carried Pope Paul across Holy Land in 1964 offered for visit by Pope Francis

The Maronite Catholic Church has suggested that during his visit to the Holy Land in May, Pope Francis could use the same Cadillac that carried Pope Paul VI when he made his visit there in 1964, the...

Boko Haram death toll: over 500 Catholics in Nigeria

Boko Haram terrorists have killed more than 500 Catholics in Nigeria, and destroyed 20 churches and rectories, since launching their violent campaign in 2009, the Fides news service reports. The...

Released Wednesday, Mar. 12

US bishops issue statement on anniversary of Pope Francis’s election

The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Administrative Committee has issued a statement on the anniversary of Pope Francis’s election. “In his first year in office, Pope Francis has...

Prelate renews appeal for Japan’s earthquake victims

Three years after the Tohoku earthquake and tsunami killed over 15,000 people, the president of Caritas Japan renewed his appeal for prayers and financial assistance. “After the disaster, in the...

Churches attacked, desecrated in Venezuela

Amid civil unrest in Venezuela, churches have been attacked. “Some churches that are located in places where the conflict was high were attacked by violent groups,” said an official of the...

Report: US investigating clerical abuse in Puerto Rico; bishop accused

Unidentified “US authorities” are investigating the alleged clerical abuse of minors in Puerto Rico, the Associated Press reported. A wave of abuse allegations has swept the island since...

Ontario Catholic school student files homophobia complaint with human rights commission

A student at a French-language Catholic school in Canada has alleged that he is the victim of homophobia and has filed a complaint with the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario. Christopher Karas,...

Pennsylvania priest charged with embezzling $124,000 from parish

A priest of the Diocese of Greensburg has been arraigned on charges of stealing $124,000 from his parish between 2008 and 2011. Father Emil Payer, 69, reportedly “drained funds from parish bank...

Archbishop Nienstedt resumes public ministry, will not be prosecuted

Archbishop John Nienstedt of St. Paul and Minneapolis, who removed himself from public ministry in December after being accused of inappropriately touching a minor’s buttocks during a...

Vatican newspaper offers glimpse into Pope's Lenten Retreat

As Pope Francis and the leaders of the Roman Curia continue their week-long Lenten Retreat, L’Osservatore Romano has offered a glimpse of the spiritual exercises, summarizing a meditation offered by...

Father Lombardi reflects on anniversary of Pope's election

To mark the 1st anniversary of the election of Pope Francis, the head of the Vatican press office released a statement noting the “great dynamism” that the new Pope has provided for the...

Vatican official: mercy comes first in approach to divorced/remarried

Looking forward to the October meeting of the Synod of Bishops, the president of the Pontifical Council for the Family has said that the status of Catholics who are divorced and remarried “should be...

Striking Israeli diplomatic workers complicate planning for papal trip

A work stoppage by workers in Israel’s diplomatic service is complicating plans for a papal visit to the Holy Land, and could endanger that trip, the AsiaNews service reports. Last week the...

Released Thursday, Mar. 13

USCCB president writes President Obama, lauds efforts to work for peace

Archbishop Joseph Kurtz of Louisville, the president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, has written President Barack Obama to commend his administration’s efforts to seek...

Class-action lawsuit filed against HHS mandate

A recently-formed association of nearly 200 Catholic employers has filed a class-action lawsuit to bar enforcement of the HHS mandate, which compels many religious employers to offer insurance...

Cardinal Marx elected German bishops’ president; Cardinal Lehmann preaches on divorce, remarriage

The German bishops have elected Cardinal Reinhard Marx to a six-year term as president of the nation’s episcopal conference, one of the most influential in the Church. Cardinal Marx succeeds...

Leading Nigerian prelates lament Boko Haram’s violence

Leading Nigerian prelates have decried the violence inflicted by the Islamist terrorist organization Boko Haram, the Fides news agency reported. “I have just returned from Europe. Anywhere I...

Christian neighborhoods in Pakistan’s capital face demolition; church destroyed

A Pakistani judge has ordered a municipal agency in Islamabad, the nation’s capital, to demolish at least ten poor neighborhoods in which 5,000 Christian families live, according to a Fides news...

Czech priest awarded Templeton Prize

A Czech priest who is a professor at Charles University in Prague has been awarded the $1.8-million Templeton Prize, which honors “a living person who has made an exceptional contribution to...

Russian Orthodox prayer services to be held in Paris’s Notre Dame

The Russian Orthodox Diocese of Chersonese (Korsun) in France has reached an agreement with the Cathedral of Notre Dame of Paris to hold a weekly Lenten prayer service there, according to the...

Cardinal Bertone gives account of 2013 conclave

Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, the former Vatican Secretary of State, offers his perspective on the conclave that elected Pope Francis, in a candid interview with La Stampa. Cardinal Angelo Scola of...

Portuguese Cardinal Policarpo dies suddenly at 78

Cardinal José da Cruz Policarpo, the former Patriarch of Lisbon, died suddenly on March 13 at the age of 78. Cardinal Policarpo had been on retreat at Fatima when he suffered chest pains. He was...

Pope's popularity riding high in Italian poll

Pope Francis enjoys enormous popularity in Italy on the 1st anniversary of his election, a new poll shows. A survey by the Eurispes Institute found that 87% approval of the Pope, with only 4.5%...

Released Friday, Mar. 14

Amid fears of persecution, bishop rues West’s inaction on Crimea

The leading Latin-rite prelate in Crimea criticized the Western response to the Russian military intervention there. “The world talks, criticizes Russia and does exactly what Putin expects--...

Syria’s bishops lament continued violence, urge prayer, fasting for peace

The Catholic bishops of Syria, including Latin-rite bishops and bishops of various Eastern Catholic churches, met in Lebanon on March 12 and appealed for Lenten prayer and fasting for peace. “The...

Orissa: convictions, acquittals in gang rape of nun

Three men have been convicted and six have been acquitted in the 2008 gang rape of a nun in Kandhamal, a province of the state of Orissa, Agence France-Presse reported. The nine defendants were...

Efforts to found new Catholic college in Ireland

Kathy Sinnott, a former member of the European Parliament, is leading efforts to found a new Catholic college in Ireland, according to an Irish media report. Students at Newman College Ireland...

Bishop reflects on race in America

A retired African-American bishop has written a reflection on race in America today. “Although much has changed for the better in most of the Deep South and in the country as a whole, and there...

Bishops, evangelical leaders meet with House GOP on immigration

Four bishops, joined by two evangelical leaders, met with three leading House Republicans to urge them to hold a vote on immigration legislation, according to an Associated Press report. The...

Pope Francis invited to address US Congress

Rep. John Boehner, the speaker of the House of Representatives, has invited Pope Francis to address the United States Congress. “Pope Francis has inspired millions of Americans with his pastoral...

Former head of suppressed community is vicar general of Paraguay diocese

The former head of a suppressed Pennsylvania religious community is now serving as vicar general of a Paraguayan diocese. In 2005, Bishop Joseph Martino of Scranton suppressed the Society of St....

Lenten Retreat finished, Pope and Curia leaders return to Vatican

Pope Francis returned to the Vatican on March 14, along with the leaders of the Roman Curia, having concluded their annual Lenten Retreat. Before leaving the Casa del Divin Maestro, where the...

Diocese in South Sudan 'completely destroyed' by new fighting

A Church leader in South Sudan has reported that much of his diocese has been “completely destroyed” in fighting that has continued despite announcements of a cease-fire in the young African nation....

American Catholics want doctrinal change, but do not expect it, poll finds

Catholic Americans favor major changes in the Church, but do not expect those changes to take place, according to a new Pew Research study. The Pew survey found solid majorities of American...

Papal preacher begins Lenten homilies

Father Raniero Cantalamessa, the preacher of the pontifical household, delivered the first in a series of Lenten homilies on Friday morning, March 14, in the Redemptoris Mater chapel of the...

Pope praises activist Argentine priests in new radio interview

Pope Francis praised the priests who have worked in the slums of Argentina, in an interview broadcast in his native country on March 13, the 1st anniversary of his election to the papacy. “They...

Massachusetts attorney general backs discrimination lawsuit against Catholic diocese

The attorney general of Massachusetts has filed an amicus brief in support of a discrimination lawsuit brought against the Worcester diocese by a homosexual couple. The couple had sought to...

English bishop tells blogger-deacon to stop posting

An English bishop has directed a permanent deacon in his diocese to stop posting on his blog site and observe a “period of prayer and reflection.” The Lancaster diocese confirmed that Bishop...

Spokesman hired by Cardinal Dolan leaves USCCB

Kim Daniels, who was hired less than a year ago as spokesman for Cardinal Timothy Dolan in his post as president of the US bishops’ conference, has resigned from that position. Daniels, an...

Released Monday, Mar. 17

Pope Francis: carry a pocket-sized edition of the Gospel, read it daily

Pope Francis devoted his Sunday Angelus address to the Christ’s transfiguration and emphasized three words: “listen,” “ascent,” and “descent.” Reflecting on God the Father’s words about Christ--...

Pope to preside over prayer vigil for Mafia victims

Pope Francis will preside over a prayer vigil for victims of Mafia violence. The vigil will take place at a Roman parish, the Church of St. Gregory VII, on March 21. “For the families of...

‘Listen to Jesus,’ Pope Francis preaches during parish visit

Pope Francis visited Santa Maria dell’Orazione, a parish on the outskirts of Rome, where he met with the sick and disabled, members of the Neocatechumenal Way, and groups of children and...

Attend Mass, pray for emigrants, Irish bishops say in St. Patrick’s Day statement

The bishops of Ireland have issued a statement for St. Patrick’s Day. “We pray through the intercession of our national patron, St Patrick, for the faith and well-being of the people of Ireland,”...

Priest kidnapped, released in Crimea

Father Mykola Kvych, a Ukrainian Greek Catholic priest who ministers in Crimea, has been abducted and freed, according to multiple media reported. Following Russian military intervention,...

Russian Orthodox leader pays tribute to Pope Francis

The head of the Russian Orthodox Church paid tribute to Pope Francis in a statement issued on the first anniversary of his election. “The first year of your tenure as pontiff was marked with high...

Member of House of Lords speaks out against persecution of Christians

David Alton, a member of the House of Lords, spoke at length against the persecution of Christians during a recent address. “Barely a day passes without reports of some new atrocity being...

Pakistan: appeals court considers case of Asia Bibi

The Lahore High Court is now hearing the appeal of Asia Bibi, a Pakistani Christian woman sentenced to death on charges of blasphemy. Bibi was arrested on blasphemy charges in 2009 after she was...

China: underground Church leader dead at 96

Bishop Joseph Fan Zhongliang of Shanghai, a leader of China's "underground" Catholic Church, has died at the age of 96. Bishop Fan, had served as president of the underground Church’s episcopal...

Newark archdiocese unveils policy for funerals of priests accused of abuse

The Archdiocese of Newark, New Jersey has announced new policies governing the arrangements for funerals of priests who have been suspended from ministry because of sex-abuse...

Nigerian bishops condemn attacks on students, schools

The Catholic bishops of Nigeria have condemned the “senseless massacre of innocent students” at Church schools in the northeast of the country, in the latest terrorist attack by Boko Haram...

Leftist nuns' group opposes challenges to HHS mandate

The National Coalition of American Nuns (NCAN), a Detroit-based group that claims to represent several hundred women religious, has criticized Catholic organizations that are opposing the...

Bill Gates reveals his family attends Catholic church

Bill Gates has revealed that his family regularly attends a Catholic church. “The moral systems of religion, I think, are super important,” the founder of the Microsoft empire said in an...

East Timor bishops meet with Pope as ad limina visits conclude

Pope Francis met on March 17 with the bishops of East Timor, who were making their ad limina visits to Rome. In a written message that he presented to the bishops, the Pope observed that the...

Priest, human-rights worker arrested in Sri Lanka

A Catholic priest and a human-rights activist were arrested in Sri Lanka after they inquired about a Tamil woman who is in police custody, the AsiaNews service reports. Father Praveen, the...

Argentine president visits Pope at anniversary of his election

Argentina’s president Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner met on March 16 with Pope Francis, congratulating the Pontiff as he marked the 1st anniversary of his election to the papacy. The Pope met...

Religious leaders unite to condemn human trafficking

Leaders of the world’s great religions have united in a drive to end human trafficking and slavery. The “Global Freedom Network” was introduced at a press conference in Rome on March 17....

Released Tuesday, Mar. 18

Nigerian bishops decry attacks on schools by Boko Haram, others

The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Nigeria met in Abuja, the nation’s capital, from March 8 to 14 and issued a statement in which they lamented “the invasion of the education space by corruption...

Prelate warns of ‘genocidal war’ in Central African Republic, pleads for UN troops

The Central African Republic’s leading Catholic prelate, Protestant leader, and imam traveled to United Nations headquarters in New York to plead for the deployment of peacekeeping forces. In a...

New Haitian cardinal brokers agreement to allow for elections

Cardinal Chibly Langlois, who became the Haiti’s first cardinal in February, has brokered an agreement between the nation’s president and opposition forces that will allow for legislative elections...

Laos: Christians told to abandon faith or leave village

Officials in Natahall, a village in the Southeast Asian nation of Laos, are pressuring eight Christian families to abandon their faith, according to Human Rights Watch for Lao Religious...

Prelate: Christians being persecuted in rebel-controlled northern Syria

Christians in rebel-controlled areas of northern Syria are facing increasing persecution, according to the Melkite Greek Catholic archbishop of Homs. “Islamic law is to be applied, while all...

Newark priest Fugee is laicized

As the result of a Vatican decision, a Newark priest who violated a judicial order not to have contact with children has been returned to the lay state, according to a Newark Star-Ledger...

Indonesian Catholic fights sharia conviction in Malaysia

An Indonesian Catholic woman who is a migrant worker in Malaysia is fighting her conviction in a sharia court, the Malaysian Insider reported. The woman, an illiterate massage therapist who was...

Pennsylvania diocese laments priest’s incardination in Paraguay

The Diocese of Scranton has issued a statement lamenting a Paraguayan diocese’s decision to allow the incardination of a priest accused of sexual abuse. In 2005, Bishop Joseph Martino, now...

Cardinal George hospitalized; flu cited

Chicago’s Cardinal Francis George has been hospitalized with what archdiocesan officials describe as “flu-like symptoms.” Earlier this month Cardinal George, who has had two bouts with cancer,...

Saudi police censor hundreds of volumes at book fair

Saudi religious police have forced the organizers of the Riyadh International Book Fair to remove more than 400 of the books on display, saying that they offend against Islam or the security of the...

Chinese allow funeral Mass as ‘underground’ Church mourns Bishop Fan

Chinese authorities have allowed Catholic priests to celebrate Mass for Bishop Joseph Fan Zhongliang of Shanghai, who died on March 16. After originally refusing to allow the use of Shanghai’s...

Vatican to be guest exhibitor at Turin book fair

The Holy See will be a guest of honor at the 27th Turin International Book Fair, to be held in May. At a March 18 press conference announcing the Vatican’s involvement, Cardinal Gianfranco...

Australia: lawyer counters Cardinal Pell’s claim on abuse suit

In testimony before a royal commission investigating sex-abuse complaints, a lawyer who represented Cardinal George Pell contradicted the prelate’s claim that he had not been involved in legal...

Released Wednesday, Mar. 19

Future Pope saved dozens of lives, say survivors of Argentina’s ‘Dirty War’

The future Pope Francis, then a young Jesuit superior, saved dozens of lives during the Argentine military regime’s “Dirty War” against political dissidents in the 1970s and early 1980s, according...

Archdiocese revises teacher contract, specifies unacceptable conduct

The Archdiocese of Cincinnati’s new annual contract for teachers lists examples of “conduct or lifestyle which would reflect discredit on or cause scandal to the school or be in contradiction to...

Group of African bishops expresses concern about charismatic prayer initiatives

The bishops of two Portuguese-speaking nations in western Africa have issued a pastoral note rebuking some charismatic prayer groups. “Without the knowledge of the pastor or the approval of the...

Archbishop Gänswein: Pope Francis asked Benedict XVI to critique interview

In an interview with a German television station, Archbishop Georg Gänswein revealed that Pope Francis asked Pope Emeritus Benedict to critique his interview with Father Antonio Spadaro, the editor...

Ukrainian government: ‘stop the terror’ against clerics in Crimea

The head of Ukraine’s Department of Religious and Ethnic Affairs called for the end of the “persecution of the clerics of various denominations” in Crimea, which voted to secede from Ukraine and...

Pope to lead penance service, hear confessions

Pope Francis will lead a penitential liturgy and hear confessions in St. Peter’s Basilica on the evening of March 28. The service will mark the beginning of “24 hours for the Lord,” an initiative...

California bishop urges faithful to sign up for health insurance

In a letter read at all Masses on the Second Sunday of Lent, Bishop Gerald Barnes of San Bernardino urged the faithful of his diocese to sign up for health insurance. “As you may know, the...

Head of Scottish abuse commission: Church should change her culture, theology

The head of a commission that is reviewing Scottish dioceses’ abuse procedures said that the Catholic Church should change her “culture and theology.” In November, Scotland’s Catholic episcopal...

St. Joseph is model educator, Pope Francis says in general audience

Pope Francis devoted his March 19 general audience to St. Joseph and paid tribute to him as a model educator. Speaking before a crowd of 60,000 on the Solemnity of St. Joseph and the first...

Minnesota court confirms: archdiocese must yield names of accused priests

A Minnesota judge has ruled that the Archdiocese of St. Paul-Minneapolis must release internal documents regarding all cases in which priests have been “credibly accused” of sexual abuse. Citing...

Research shows Pope Pius XII helped generate support for founding of Israel

Pope Pius XII helped to rally support for the founding of the state of Israel, the Pave the Way Foundation has shown. Research by the Pave the Way Foundation—a group dedicated to inter-religious...

Washington’s former John Paul II Cultural Center becomes a national shrine

The building complex originally designed as the Pope John Paul II Cultural Center has been named by the US bishops as a national shrine. As of April 27, when the late Pontiff is canonized, the...

Reforms will ensure Vatican bank can never again embarrass Holy See, cardinal says

The chairman of the Vatican’s newly created Council for the Economy has said that reforms at the Vatican Bank, the Institute for Religious Works (IOR), are intended to ensure “that from now on the...

Nigeria: hundreds flock to Sunday Mass despite terrorist attack

More than 2,000 Catholics in northern Nigeria risked their lives to attend Mass last Sunday during an attack on their city by Boko Haram terrorists. Father John Bakeni, who celebrated Mass in St....

Syrian Islamic leader asks the world: stop sending weapons

Syria’s top Sunni Muslim leader has asked world leaders to stop the flow of weapons into his country. Grand Mufti Ahmad Badr Al-Din Hassoun told the ANSA news service that “the international...

Police enforce religious rules in 17 countries, study finds

Police in at least 17 of the world’s nations are given responsibility for enforcing religious norms, the Pew Research Center reports. Citing several different sources, the Pew study provided a...

Cardinal Dolan seeks state approval of educational tax credits

Cardinal Timothy Dolan has urged New York state legislators to approve $300 million in education tax credits. In a lobbying trip to Albany, the state’s capital, Cardinal Dolan said that donations...

Cast of 'Noah' attends papal audience, claims meeting with Pontiff

Members of the cast of the film Noah claimed that they had met with Pope Francis on March 19, after attending the Pope’s regular weekly public audience. Russell Crowe, the star of the film, had...

Founder of Sant'Egidio community sees Pope Francis facing tough resistance within the Church

The founder of the Sant’Egidio community has remarked that Pope Francis is facing greater opposition within the Church than any Pontiff of the past century. In an interview with Vatican Insider,...

Priest, human-rights worker released after arrest in Sri Lanka

A priest and a human-rights worker who were arrested on “terrorism” charges on March 16 have been released. Father Praveen, the director of the Center for Peace and Reconciliation in Jaffna, was...

Released Thursday, Mar. 20

Massachusetts bishops: raise the minimum wage

The bishops of Massachusetts have called upon state lawmakers to raise the minimum wage. “In its long history, the Catholic Church has consistently supported the right to a just wage for labor as...

Obama’s meeting with Pope Francis will be 29th between Pope, US president

President Barack Obama’s March 27 meeting with Pope Francis will be the 29th meeting between a Pope and a US president, according to the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. The first...

Vandalism at famed French basilica

Anarchists defaced Sacré-Cœur Basilica in Paris with graffiti, according to French media reports. The graffiti, which denounced God and authority and called for the burning of chapels, was...

Bishop: Church not persecuted in Bahrain

The bishop responsible for ministering to Catholics in Bahrain, Kuwait, Qatar, and Saudi Arabia spoke about the situation of the Church in Bahrain, where he is overseeing the construction of a...

Crimean bishop compares situation to Gethsemane

A Polish-born bishop who ministers in Crimea called upon European Catholics to pray and fast for the Church there. The region, which had been part of the territory of Ukraine, was annexed by...

Report: Pope to canonize 3 saints in April by ‘equivalent canonization’

Pope Francis recently told a group of Spanish bishops that he would canonize three saints by equivalent canonization on April 2, according to a report on a Spanish diocesan website. The three are...

Former Lebanese leader sees Christian exodus of ‘biblical proportions’

Christians are leaving the Middle East “in an exodus approaching biblical proportions,” a former Lebanese president said in a recent talk. Amine Gemayel, a Maronite Catholic, referred to “church...

Pope meets Montenegro’s president

Pope Francis met on March 20 with President Filip Vujanovic of Montenegro, for a conversation that centered on bilateral relations and on Montenegro’s “path towards integration into European and...

Vietnam: political prisoners denied access to Bible, sacraments

Political prisoners in Vietnam are being denied access to the sacraments and even to Bibles, the AsiaNews service reports. “We had a great desire to receive the sacraments and spiritual support...

Belgian doctors open discussion of involuntary euthanasia

Some doctors in Belgium have suggested discussion of legalizing euthanasia without requiring the consent of the patient. Euthanasia is already legal in Belgium; last year 1,432 people were put to...

European bishops’ body urges voters to support European Union

The Catholic bishops of the European Union nations have issued a statement strongly encouraging participation in voting for the European Parliament. “It is essential that EU citizens participate...

Pope meets families of Falkland war dead

Pope Francis met on March 19 with some Argentine veterans of the Falklands War, and families of soldiers killed in that 1982 conflict, which pitted the Pontiff’s native country against...

Japanese firm to digitize works in Vatican Library

The Vatican Library has reached an agreement with the Japanese firm NTT Data to produce digital copies of 82,000 volumes. In the first phase of the long-term process, 3,000 manuscripts will be...

Employment serves human dignity, Pope tells workers

Speaking on March 20 to managers and employees of the Italian Steel Works, which is celebrating its 130th anniversary, Pope Francis said that work serves “not only the economic objective of...

Vatican staff unsettled by prospect of budget cuts

Vatican staff members are living with “real fear” because of the promise of budget cuts, an anonymous official told the Catholic Herald. Cardinal Pietro Parolin, the Secretary of State, has...

Released Friday, Mar. 21

Pope Francis recalls destruction, rebuilding of Monte Cassino

On March 21, the anniversary of St. Benedict’s death, the monks of the Abbey of Monte Cassino are recalling the 70th anniversary of its destruction by Allied forces during World War II. The abbey...

Pakistan’s bishops condemn attack on Hindu temple

The justice and peace commission of Pakistan’s episcopal conference decried an Islamist attack on a Hindu temple, calling it “the fruit of hatred and premeditated instigation,” according to the...

Bishop pleads for peace in Algeria

A French-born bishop who ministers in Algeria, a nation that is 99% Muslim, has written a letter to the residents of the historic M’zab Valley pleading for an end to strife between Arabs and...

Papal preacher devotes Lenten sermon to St. Augustine

Father Raniero Cantalamessa, the Capuchin Franciscan friar who has served as preacher to the papal household since 1980, preached about St. Augustine in his March 21 sermon to the Pope and the...

Report: Russian Orthodox move to seize other churches in Crimea

Russian Orthodox priests, accompanied by armed men, have attempted to seize two Crimean churches belonging to the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Kyivan Patriarchate, according to a Moscow Times...

2nd French basilica defaced by graffiti

Vandals defaced the walls of the Basilica of St. Sernin in Toulouse with graffiti, according to a local newspaper report. The incident took place on March 17, two days before similar vandalism at...

Pittsburgh’s bishop rejects Common Core standards

Bishop David Zubik of Pittsburgh has assured parents that his diocese will not adopt the educational standards of the “Common Core” program. The National Catholic Educational Association (NCEA)...

Prayer keeps the Word of God alive in our hearts, Pope says

In his homily at a Mass on March 21, Pope Francis cautioned against people who adapt the Word of God “according to their own interests.” Reflecting on the day’s Gospel reading, in which Jesus...

Russia's move into Crimea endangers Moscow patriarchate's influence in Ukraine

When Russian President Vladimir Putin addressed the Duma to announce his plans for the annexation of Crimea, several religious leaders were in attendance, but Russian Orthodox Patriarch Kirill was...

Nigerian prelate says news strategy to counter Boko Haram is overdue

A Nigerian archbishop has welcomed his government’s new strategy for countering the Boko Haram terrorist group, while saying that the change in approach is overdue. Archbishop Ignatius Ayau...

Melinda Gates says her Catholicism does not temper her support for contraceptives

Melinda Gates has explained that she and her husband Bill Gates committed their foundation to support for condom distribution because “210 million women were saying they wanted access to...

Salvadoran bishop predicts Romero beatification within three years

A Salvadoran bishop has said that he expects the beatification of Archbishop Oscar Romero to take place within the next three years. Bishop Rosa Chavez, an auxiliary of the San Salvador...

Pope meets Malta's president-- and receives a special gift

Pope Francis met on March 21 with Malta’s President George Abela, for a conversation that centered on the deep influence of Christianity in the life of Malta. The two also spoke about European...

Repent or face hell, Pope warns Mafia

Pope Francis pleaded with Mafia members to “convert yourselves, stop perpetrating evil,” as he met on March 21 with the families of Mafia victims. “I ask this on my knees,” the Pope said,...

Cardinal Burke opposes Cardinal Kasper's proposal for divorced/remarried Catholics

Cardinal Raymond Burke has voiced a clear disagreement with Cardinal Walter Kasper’s proposal for a new approach to allow Communion for Catholics who are divorced and remarried. Appearing on the...

Argentine priest explains story of Pope's 'stolen' rosary

An Argentine priest has explained why Pope Francis, while serving as an auxiliary bishop in Buenos Aries, took a rosary from the coffin of a beloved priest. During an address to the priests of...

Released Monday, Mar. 24

English canonist named prelate-secretary of new Council for the Economy

Pope Francis has named Msgr. Brian Ferme the prelate-secretary of the Council for the Economy, a new body whose creation he announced in his recent motu proprio Fidelis et Dispensator Prudens. A...

Nigeria’s president meets with Pope, says Pontiff will visit nation

Pope Francis received President Goodluck Jonathan of Nigeria in audience on March 22. The nation of 175 million, Africa’s most populous, is 50% Muslim, 25% Protestant, and 15% Catholic. The...

Pope Francis institutes Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors

Pope Francis has instituted the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors. The body’s creation was announced in December following a meeting of the Council of Cardinals, the eight-member...

Pope speaks of media’s sins, warns against clericalizing laity

In extemporaneous remarks to members of Carollo, an Italian association of broadcasters, Pope Francis said that the “sins of the media” are misinformation, calumny, and defamation. The last two, he...

Like the Samaritan woman, leave behind your ‘water jar,’ says Pope

Pope Francis devoted his March 23 Angelus address to the day’s Gospel reading, which describes Jesus’ encounter with the Samaritan woman at a well. In beginning a conversation with a Samaritan...

Head of Syrian Orthodox Church dead at 80

Patriarch Ignatius Zakka I Iwas, who has led the Syrian Orthodox Church since 1980, has died at the age of 80 following a long illness. “The whole Christian world has lost one of its outstanding...

In face of polygamy, Christian marriage should be proposed ‘without ambiguity,’ says Pope

Pope Francis commended the bishops of Guinea-- a West African nation that ranks among the world’s 15 poorest-- for the work of evangelization that has been accomplished there and said that “discords...

Life's fragility is part of its beauty, Pope says

Meeting on March 24 with members of the Pontifical Council for Health Care, Pope Francis observed that “in suffering no one is ever alone,” because a merciful God is always present. The image of...

Italian cardinal: Pope has no power to change teaching on marriage

Cardinal Carlo Caffarra of said that the discussion of marriage at the Synod of Bishops should be guided by the teachings of Blessed John Paul II, and that the Church cannot alter her teaching on...

Cardinal Pell defends record under hostile questioning by royal commission

Cardinal George Pell apologized for the handling of sex-abuse cases, but defended himself against charges that he had ordered an aggressive legal fight against one plaintiff, as he testified before...

Priests should be waiting in confessionals, says Vatican official

Acknowledging a crisis in the sacrament of Penance, the head of the Apostolic Penitentiary has encouraged priests to make the sacrament readily available, and to wait in confessionals for the...

Relics stolen from Italian church

Thieves stole relics from a parish church in Taranto, Italy, police have reported. On Friday night, March 21, intruders smashed a glass case in the church of St. Pasquale, and took a bronze...

5,000 attend funeral of 'underground' Chinese bishop; auxiliary, under house arrest, not in attendance

An estimated 5,000 Chinese Catholics gathered in Shanghai for the funeral of Bishop Joseph Fan Zhonliang, the leader of the “underground” Church, the AsiaNews service report. Although Bishop Fan...

Pope announces 'festival of forgiveness' next weekend

Pope Francis has announced a special program to encourage Confessions next weekend. The “24 Hours for the Lord” program will begin on Friday afternoon, March 28, and continue through Saturday. It...

Coptic leader: 'Arab Spring' was really a winter

The leader of Egypt’s Coptic Orthodox Church has said that the Arab Spring “was not a spring or even an autumn, it was a winter.” Pope Tawadros II told an Egyptian radio audience that the results...

Police baffled by cocaine shipped to Vatican post office

German customs inspectors intercepted a shipment of cocaine, packaged in condoms, addressed to the Vatican post office, AP reports. The cocaine, packed in condoms, was shipped from South America....

USA Today touts Cardinal O'Malley as America's most influential Catholic leader

Following the appointment of Cardinal Sean O'Malley to the new Vatican commission for protection of children, USA Today picks the prelate from Boston as the most influential leader of the Church in...

New York Times explores Obama's ties to Catholic activism

Looking forward to the 1st meeting between Barack Obama and Pope Francis, the New York Times explores the connections between the American President and Catholic social activists. Obama's first...

English priest says 'gay marriage' was faked to help friend find work

A Catholic priest in England has admitted that he entered into a civil union with a Pakistani immigrant, to help the man secure legal permission to work in Great Britain. Father Donald Minchew, a...

Released Tuesday, Mar. 25

Pope receives Greek Orthodox delegation

Pope Francis has received in audience a Greek Orthodox delegation led by Bishop Agathangelos of Fanarion, the director general of the Apostoliki Diakonia. The Apostoliki Diakonia promotes...

Iraq’s Christian leaders urge participation in elections

The Council of Christian Church Leaders of Iraq is urging Iraqi Christians to participate in upcoming elections for the nation’s Council of Representatives. Five of the 325 seats in the Council...

Gunmen attack Kenyan church, kill 6

Gunmen entered a Protestant church in Likoni, a municipality in southeastern Kenya, and killed six worshippers. Some news agencies reported that the Somali Islamist terrorist organization...

‘Special security measures’ to protect Peruvian bishop

A Peruvian police official is carrying out “special security measures” to protect a bishop-- measures that the bishop insists in not needed, according to a Fides report. “The new police chief of...

Vatican newspaper publishes English translation of meditation before papal conclave

L’Osservatore Romano has published an English translation of the meditation that Cardinal Prosper Grech, a biblical scholar, preached to the cardinal electors before they elected Pope...

British court dismisses fraud charges against Mormon leader

A month after the 86-year-old American president of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was ordered to appear in an English court on fraud charges, a judge has dismissed the...

Mary's humility shows the path to salvation, Pope says on feast of Annunciation

Preaching at Mass on the feast of the Annunciation, March 25, Pope Francis said that the obedience of the Virgin Mary untied the knot caused by the disobedience of Adam. Adam’s sin was the result...

Lincoln's Bishop Conley challenges faithful to embrace life, eschew contraception

In a pastoral letter released on March 25, Bishop James Conley of Lincoln, Nebraska, has challenged the faithful to embrace married love and to reject the use of birth control. “Dear married men...

Indonesian court bows to Islamic militants, revokes permit for Catholic church

In the West Java region of Indonesia, Islamic militants have pressured a court to revoke the building permit for a Catholic church, the AsiaNews service reports. With militants in the courtroom...

Questions rise about costs of new archbishop's residence in Atlanta

Archbishop Wilton Gregory of Atlanta has moved into a spacious new residence, built at a cost of $2.2 million, the Journal-Constitution reports. The archbishop’s former residence is now being...

Supreme Court hears Hobby Lobby case, hints sympathy for plaintiffs

Several US Supreme Court justices expressed sympathy for plaintiffs challenging the federally mandated coverage of contraceptives, during oral arguments on March 25. Based on the justices'...

Italian archbishop to write meditations for Good Friday observance in Rome

Archbishop Giancarlo Maria Bregantini of Campobasso-Boiano, Italy, has been asked by Pope Francis to prepare the meditations that will be used for the Way of the Cross on Good Friday in the Roman...

Italian cardinal blasts 'diversity education'

Cardinal Angelo Bagnasco, the president of the Italian bishops' conference, tore into plans for 'diversity education' in the nation's schools, saying that a proposed program aims as "an outright...

Archbishop Chaput, Vatican official outline plans for World Meeting of Families in Philadelphia in 2015

At a March 25 press conference in Rome, looking forward to the 8th World Meeting for Families that will be held in Philadelphia next year, the president of the Pontifical Council for the Family said...

New web site encourages Catholics toward frequent Confession

The evangelical group Catholics Come Home has launched a new web site, GoodConfession.com, encouraging more frequent use of sacrament of Reconciliation. "Whether you frequent the Sacrament of...

Released Wednesday, Mar. 26

Syrian rebels attack Christian town, reportedly desecrate churches

Syrian rebel forces affiliated with Al-Qaeda and based in Turkey crossed the Turkish-Syrian border and attacked the town of Kesab, whose population is predominantly Armenian and...

Vatican abuse commission member: US response cannot be imposed on rest of world

The Church’s response to the sexual abuse of minors must take into account the varied cultures of different nations, a member of the new Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors said in an...

Philadelphia seminary to sell Eakins paintings

The Archdiocese of Philadelphia has announced that its seminary will sell seven of its paintings, including five by the famed realist painter Thomas Eakins. “The seminary has long been a steward...

In Britain, fetal remains burned to heat hospitals

The United Kingdom’s Human Tissue Authority has announced that it will “revise our codes and guidelines to make it clear that incineration of fetal tissue is not permitted.” The decision comes...

CFO embezzled nearly $1.8 million from Society for the Propagation of the Faith

New York State’s attorney general has announced that Raymond Schroeck, the late chief financial officer of the Society for the Propagation of the Faith, embezzled $1,770,000 from the missionary...

Failed kidnapping attempt against Lebanese bishop

A Lebanese bishop was the target of a kidnapping attempt that was foiled when his driver sped toward an army checkpoint, the Beirut-based Daily Star reported. “What happened yesterday was a...

Former President Carter blasts Catholic teaching on women’s ordination

In an interview with National Public Radio, former President Jimmy Carter said that Catholic teaching on women’s ordination has led to the abuse of women throughout the world. “The fact that the...

Pope: without prayer, Mass, and confession, a priest becomes a ‘mediocrity’

Pope Francis devoted his March 26 general audience to the Sacrament of Holy Orders. While all in the Church are called to share in the three sacraments of Christian initiation, there are two...

Pope mourns former Spanish prime minister

Pope Francis has sent a message of condolence to the people of Spain upon the death of Adolfo Suarez, the country's former prime minister, who died on March 23 at the age of 81. The papal message...

Free-spending German bishop removed from diocesan leadership

Bishop Franz-Peter Tebartz-van Elst, who last October was suspended as head of the Diocese of Limburg, Germany, because of complaints about lavish spending, has been permanently removed from that...

Pakistani court postpones hearing on appeal of Asia Bibi's blasphemy conviction

An appeal in the case of Asia Bibi, the Pakistani woman who was convicted on unsupported blasphemy charges, has been postponed, after her accuser failed to appear in court, the Fides news service...

Lebanese Christians, Muslims join in Marian devotion

On March 25—the feast of the Annunciation, which has been a national holiday in Lebanon since 2010—Catholics and Muslims joined in the 8th Islamic-Christian Prayer Meeting, which was dedicated to...

Ukrainian Catholics face rising hostility from Russian police, Russian Orthodox

Priests of the Ukrainian Catholic Church are leaving Crimea, and a leading official of the Russian Orthodox has accused Byzantine Catholics of “meddling” in Ukrainian political affairs, as tensions...

Minnesota archdiocese again seeks delay in releasing abuse files

The Archdiocese of St. Paul-Minneapolis has again asked a Minnesota court to extend the deadline for the release of confidential files of priests accused of sexual abuse. Attorneys for the...

Maronite Patriarch: Lebanese voters, not factions, should choose next president

The right to choose Lebanon’s next president belongs to the people of that country, and “not to the Iranians, the Saudis, or the Americans,” the leader of the Maronite Catholic Church told a...

Released Thursday, Mar. 27

Victims discuss abuse at Jesuit mission in Montana

Jesuits and Ursuline sisters systematically abused children at an American Indian mission school in St. Ignatius, Montana, in the 1950s and 1960s, according to alumni of the school who spoke with...

Papal encouragement for interreligious peace effort in Central African Republic

Pope Francis met with the leading Catholic prelate, Protestant official, and imam from the Central African Republic, encouraged them to continue their efforts on behalf of peace, and told them that...

Archbishop Chaput weighs in on German bishops' stance on Communion for remarried

Archbishop Charles Chaput of Philadelphia said in an interview that he is “curious” about the German bishops' stance on administering Holy Communion to those who have remarried outside the...

Philippine bishops welcome peace deal between government, Muslim rebels

The Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines has welcomed a peace deal between the nation's government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, a rebel group that has fought since 1978 for...

Philadelphia leaders 'confident' that Pope Francis will visit in 2015

Following a recent visit to the Vatican, members of a delegation of Philadelphia civic and business leaders are “confident” that Pope Francis will visit the city in September 2015 during the World...

Michigan priest responsible for translating Pope's Twitter messages into Latin

The Detroit Free Press has interviewed Msgr. Daniel Gallagher, the 44-year-old Michigan priest responsible for translating the Pope's Twitter messages into Latin. The Pope's Latin Twitter account...

Victory for Georgia Catholic institutions against HHS mandate

A federal district court judge has permanently barred the federal government from enforcing the HHS mandate again the Archdiocese of Atlanta, the Diocese of Savannah, and associated schools and...

At Mass for Italian lawmakers, Pope distinguishes between sinners and the corrupt

Preaching to 500 members of the Italian parliament at a Mass in St. Peter's Basilica, Pope Francis distinguished between sinners and the corrupty. Pope Francis said that at Jesus' time, “the...

At Vatican meeting, Pope prods Obama on freedom of conscience

Pope Francis met with US President Barack Obama at the Vatican on March 27. In a brief public statement released after the meeting, the Vatican indicated that in their 52-minute conversation,...

One diocese sues another in unprecedented abuse case

The Diocese of New Ulm, Minnesota, is filing suit against the Diocese of Clogher, Ireland, charging that the Irish diocese did not warn American Church leaders about the abuse allegations lodged...

Schedule set for Pope's visit to Holy Land in May

The Vatican has announced the full schedule for a May visit by Pope Francis to the Holy Land. During his trip, from May 24 to May 26, the Pope will visit Israel, Jordan, and the Palestinian...

Vatican Radio completes archive of all recorded papal talks

Vatican Radio has compiled a digital archive to store recordings of all the Roman Pontiffs from Pius XI to Francis. In announcing the completion of the digital archive, Vatican Radio said that...

Cardinal Pell apologizes to abuse victim

Completing his testimony before an Australian royal commission investigating sex-abuse complaints, Cardinal George Pell offered a personal apology to the victim in a landmark case. The cardinal...

Liberal British Catholic paper suspends correspondent for disparaging remarks about Benedict XVI

A British Catholic newspaper has suspended its Rome correspondent after he engaged in a Facebook exchange looking forward to the death of Pope-emeritus Benedict XVI, the Catholic News Agency...

Pope confirms secretary of Italian bishops' conference

Pope Francis has named Bishop Nunzio Galantino of Cassano all Jonio as secretary-general of the Italian bishops’ conference, confirming him in a post that he has occupied since...

Minnesota judge quickly rejects lawyers' plea to seal archbishop's testimony

Even before a March 27 court hearing, a Minnesota judge said that he would not grant a request by lawyers for the Archdiocese of St. Paul-Minneapolis to seal the testimony of Archbishop John...

Released Friday, Mar. 28

Report: 98 churches have been destroyed in Syria

Riad Haddad, Syria’s ambassador in Moscow, has told the head of the Russian Orthodox Church that 98 churches have been partly or wholly destroyed since the Syrian Civil War began in 2011. Haddad...

Vatican abuse commission member: bishops must be held accountable

A sexual abuse victim who served on the newly formed Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors said in two interviews that bishops must be held accountable for any cover-up of clerical...

US bishops’ conference grants nearly $2.5M to assist Church in Latin America, Haiti

The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Subcommittee on the Church in Latin America has granted over $1.7 million to 127 projects in Latin America and the Caribbean and an additional...

USCCB president weighs in on HHS mandate cases heard by Supreme Court

Archbishop Joseph Kurtz of Louisville, who serves as president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, said in an article for the religion site OnFaith that the Supreme Court should...

Human rights panel to decide whether archbishop’s assistant was illegally dismissed

The Ontario Human Rights Tribunal is deciding whether the Archdiocese of Ottawa illegally fired Ginette Chaumont, the administrative assistant to Archbishop Terrence Prendergast. Chaumont...

Anger at Charlotte Catholic school after speaker criticizes homosexuality

Some parents and students at one of North Carolina’s largest Catholic schools are outraged after a Nashville Dominican nun who holds a doctorate in theology criticized homosexuality in a...

Report: gay activists attack Christian demonstrators in Germany

Christian parents who were protesting against a new sex education curriculum in Germany were attacked by gay activists, according to the Observatory on Intolerance and Discrimination against...

Pope meets privately with ousted 'bling bishop'

Bishop Franz-Peter Tebartz-van Elst, the ousted head of the Diocese of Limburg, Germany, met on March 28 with Pope Francis. Bishop Tebartz-van Elst resigned in October, under heavy criticism over...

Pope Francis joins penitents, makes his confession at Vatican basilica

Before hearing confessions in St. Peter's basilica on March 28, Pope Francis surprised his aides by making his own confession. As he was being escorted toward the confessional that had been...

Former Vatican bank president, cleared of charges, takes the offensive

Ettore Gotti Tedeschi, the former president of the Vatican bank, has been cleared of all legal charges, and has announced plans to take legal action against his accusers. Italian prosecutors...

Pope exhorts priests: be available for confessions

Speaking on March 28 to a group of 600 priests, Pope Francis said that any priest who does not devote himself to hearing confessions “is like a shepherd who does not take care of his lost...

Vatican exhibit will focus on history of the Bible

The Vatican has announced plans for a special exhibition on the history of the Bible, which will be held in the Charlemagne wing of the Bernini colonnade in St. Peter’s Square, from April 2 to June...

Greek president meets with Pontiff for talks on religion and society, economic ills

Pope Francis met on March 29 with President Karolos Papoulias of Greece, for a discussion that centered on ecumenical cooperation and the role of religion in society. During the meeting, the...

Irish board monitoring abuse claims denies former director's charge that complaint was scuttled

The former chief of an independent board set up by the Irish bishops to investigate sex-abuse complaints has complained that critical facts were removed from a report that he had drafted. Ian...

Corruption aggravates poverty, Pope says in address to bishops of Madagascar

Pope Francis applauded the bishops of Madagascar for their “courageous and tenacious work of evangelization,” as he met with them at the Vatican on March 28. Acknowledging the difficulties of...

Released Monday, Mar. 31

Papal preacher devotes Lenten sermon to St. Ambrose and the Eucharist

Father Raniero Cantalamessa, the Capuchin Franciscan friar who has served as preacher to the papal household since 1980, preached about St. Ambrose and the Eucharist in his March 28 sermon to the...

Pope Francis confirms leadership of 3 Vatican departments

Pope Francis has confirmed the leadership of one curial congregation and two pontifical councils. Cardinal João Braz de Aviz, who was appointed prefect of the Congregation for Institutes of...

In address to blind and deaf, Pope reflects on cultures of encounter and exclusion

Addressing members of the Apostolic Movement for the Blind and the Little Mission for the Deaf, Pope Francis emphasized that “to be witnesses of the Gospel, we must first have encountered”...

Pope contrasts increasing faith of the man born blind, increasing blindness of Pharisees

In his March 30 Angelus address, Pope Francis reflected on the Gospel account of the healing of the man born blind (Jn. 9:1-41). “While the blind man gradually approaches the light, on the...

Abuse scandal’s total cost: $2.74 billion since 2004

The clerical abuse scandal cost American dioceses $108,954,109 in 2013, according to a report released on March 28 by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB). Only 62% of those...

USCCB committee, Catholic Charities rue mandatory minimum sentences for drug offenses

In a joint letter to members of the US Senate, the chairman of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development joined with the president of...

Pakistani Christian sentenced to death on blasphemy charges

Sawan Masih, a Pakistani Christian, has been sentenced to death by hanging on charges of insulting Muhammad, the founder of Islam. Following Masih’s arrest last year, a mob of 3,000 destroyed 150...

Leading Bolivian bishop rips government

The president of Bolivia’s episcopal conference strongly criticized the socialist government of President Evo Morales, who was first elected president in 2006. “It is a shame that the people no...

Italian bishops: no legal compulsion, but moral duty to report abuse complaints

In new guidelines for the handling of sex-abuse complaints, the Italian Catholic bishops' conference has said that bishops "do not have the legal obligation" to report those complaints to civil...

Pope praises Salesians' work with young people

Pope Francis called upon the world’s Salesians to speak to young people with “the language of the heart,” as he met on March 31 with members of the order gathered for their general chapter...

Pair arrested trying to bring fake bonds to Vatican bank

The Vatican has cooperated with Italian and German police in the arrest of two men who were carrying $4 trillion in counterfeit bonds. The two men—one Dutch, one American—appeared at the Vatican...

Irish priest, returned to ministry after acquittal on abuse charges, takes new leave of absence

An Irish priest who was restored to ministry after being cleared of abuse charges has taken a new leave of absence, apparently shaken by the emotional fallout from dealing with the allegations...

Italian protester again climbs dome of St. Peter's

An Italian man climbed out onto the dome of St. Peter’s basilica on Saturday, March 30, and unfurled a banner protesting European economic policies. The man, identified as Marcello Di Finizio,...

Pope's prayer intentions for April 2014

The Vatican has announced the prayer intentions of Pope Francis for April 2014. The Pope’s general intention is: “that governments may foster the protection of creation and the just distribution of...

Vatican unveils online resources for canonizations of John XXIII, John Paul II

At a March 31 press conference, Vatican officials outlined preparations for the canonizations of Blessed John Paul II and Blessed John XXIII. The Vatican has set up a web site providing...

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