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Stories for December 2015

Released Wednesday, Dec. 2

Philippines: prelate criticizes presidential candidate over remark about Pope

A Philippine presidential candidate used an expletive to refer to Pope Francis, prompting a condemnation from the head of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines. Lamenting the...

Congo’s bishops: Thwart bid for new term for nation’s president

The bishops of the Democratic Republic of the Congo have called upon the nation’s Catholics to oppose a potential bid for an unconstitutional third term for President Joseph...

Plans announced for Pontifical Franciscan University in Rome

The heads of the four largest male Franciscan communities—the Order of Friars Minor, the Conventual Franciscans, the Capuchin Franciscans, and the Franciscan Friars of the Third Order...

Pope Francis speaks on journey to Africa

During his December 2 general audience, Pope Francis spoke about his recent apostolic journey to Africa. The Pope told the crowds in St. Peter’s Square that “my recent apostolic...

British abuse inquiry to investigate churches, politicians

Nearly ten months after the United Kingdom’s home secretary announced the formation of an Independent Panel Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse, the head of the inquiry announced she would oversee...

Cuba shuts down small Christian churches

The Cuban government has closed down, and will demolish, a number of Christian churches in Santiago de Cuba, the Breitbart news service reports.  The crackdown on small churches appears to...

Pope explains plans for Jubilee Year of Mercy

Pope Francis has explained his plans for the Jubilee Year of Mercy, in an interview with the Italian magazine Credere. ”I believe that this is the time for mercy,” the Pope said. “We are all...

Dominican Republic spars with gay US ambassador

A Catholic prelate in the Dominican Republic has invited controversy by saying that the American ambassador to his country, who is openly homosexual, should “focus on housework, since he’s the wife...

English cardinal: use of military force against Islamic State is justifiable

England’s leading Catholic prelate has called for “effective action,” including the use of military force, to stop the growth of the Islamic State. Speaking before a debate in Parliament on a...

Wales begins 'presumed consent' policy for organ donation

New legislation that took effect on December 2 in Wales classifies all residents as potential organ donors unless they take affirmative action to object. The “presumed consent” law reverses the...

Notre Dame faculty committee advises against reducing theology requirement

A faculty committee at the University of Notre Dame has recommended against eliminating the requirement that undergraduates take at least two theology courses. “In placing theology at the core of...

Activists press El Salvador to re-open investigation into killing of US missionaries

On the anniversary of the slaying of four American missionaries in El Salvador, human-rights activists have urged that country’s government to re-open an investigation of their deaths. Maryknoll...

Released Thursday, Dec. 3

USCCB publishes resource on gender theory, ideology

Marriage Unique for a Reason, an initiative of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, has published a seven-page summary of Catholic teaching on gender theory and gender ideology. The...

Scholar predicts robust Christian growth in China

The director of the Center on Religion and Chinese Society at Purdue University predicts that China will become increasingly Christian in the coming decades. “From 1950 to 2010, the number...

Patriarch: pray for the liberation of Mosul

Patriarch Louis Raphael I Sako, the head of the Chaldean Catholic Church, has called upon members of his flock to pray during Advent for the liberation of Mosul and the Nineveh Plain. The Islamic...

Indian Catholics, Protestant to join in prayer for Dalits

Catholic and Protestant communities in India will mark December 13 as a day of prayer for the liberation of Dalits, once known as untouchables. The theme of the day is “climate, castes and...

Indonesia may relax restrictions on church construction

Tjahjo Kumolo, Indonesia’s interior minister, said recently that the government of President Joko Widodo may relax regulations on the building of churches. Widodo, who is viewed as a...

Argentina’s bishops decry drug trafficking

Stating that the nation is in need of “urgent conversion,” the Argentine Episcopal Conference has issued a statement decrying drug trafficking and the violence associated with...

Samoan leader meets with Pope

Pope Francis received Samoa’s prime minister, Tuilaepa Aiono Sailele Malielegaoi, in audience on December 3. Following the audience, Malielegaoi met with Cardinal Pietro Parolin, the...

Rome's homeless form audience for Vatican premiere of film about Pope Francis

The homeless of Rome received top-priority treatment as a new film biography of Pope Francis opened on December 1. As Chiamatemi Francesco [Call Me Francis] made its debut in the Paul VI...

Indiana governor, archbishop meet to discuss Syrian refugees

Archbishop Joseph Tobin of Indianapolis met on December 3 with Indiana’s Governor Mike Pence to discuss their differences over the acceptance of Syrian refugees. Governor Pence has issued...

Live TV coverage for Pope's opening of Holy Door to inaugurate Jubilee

The Vatican has disclosed plans for live television coverage of the December 8 ceremony in which Pope Francis will open the Holy Door of the Vatican basilica, formally inaugurating the Year of...

Traditionalist leader rejects English bishops' call for change in Good Friday prayer for Jews

The leader of an international Catholic traditionalist group has rejected a call by the bishops of England and Wales for changes in the Good Friday prayer for the Jews. Felipe Alanis Suarez, the...

Cardinal Burke: Communion for divorced/remarried would be 'fundamental' break from Church teaching

Cardinal Raymond Burke has said that a change in the Church’s practice of barring divorced and remarried Catholics from Communion would entail a “very fundamental” change in Church...

Focus on Jesus is key to evangelization, Pope says

Speaking on December 3 to the Congregation for Evangelization, Pope Francis said: “It is not the Church who makes the mission, but the mission that makes the Church.” The Pope told his audience—160...

Italian cabinet minister ducks question on extradition of 'Vatileaks II' defendants

An Italian cabinet minister has said that international law will determine his government’s response to the “Vatileaks II” trial. "We have the Italian penal code and the...

'Vatileaks' defendant's home raided by Italian police in separate investigation

Police in Rome raided the home of "Vatileaks II" defendant Francesca Chaouqui and her husband Corrado Lanino, searching for evidence of the couple's suspected involvement in an...

Released Friday, Dec. 4

‘Tolerance’ should not be alibi for denying religious freedom, says Vatican foreign minister

As the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe met in Belgrade to discuss religious liberty, the Vatican’s Secretary for Relations with States said that tolerance “cannot be...

Patriarch: Catholics and Russian Orthodox uphold ‘the same Gospel values’

The head of the Russian Orthodox Church met with two Catholic priests on December 2 and expressed appreciation for the work of the Catholic Church in Italy. Patriarch Kirill told the prior and...

Prefect discusses history, limits of Vatican II document on communications

Msgr. Dario Edoardo Viganò, the prefect of the Vatican’s Secretariat for Communications since its establishment in June, said in a December 3 talk in Barcelona that no document of the...

Pope writes preface to youth Bible

Pope Francis has written a preface for a new youth Bible prepared under the direction of a German Jesuit, Father Thomas Söding. Described his old Bible as a “priceless treasure,”...

Our charism is martyrdom, says Chaldean patriarch

In a letter for the upcoming jubilee of mercy, the head of the Chaldean Catholic Church said that “for us Iraqi Christians, martyrdom is the charism of our church.” “As a...

Holy Land bishops: visit shrines as a sign of penance

The Assembly of Catholic Ordinaries of the Holy Land has called upon pilgrims during the jubilee year of mercy to “visit the shrines as a sign of penance for all the sins against peace,...

Coptic Orthodox leader meets with Franciscans

The head of the Coptic Orthodox Church, Pope Tawadros II of Alexandria, has met with a delegation of Franciscans led by Father Pierbattista Pizzaballa, the Custos of the Holy Land. The Coptic...

Papal preacher devotes 1st Advent sermon to Christ and the Church

Father Raniero Cantalamessa, the Capuchin Franciscan friar who has served as preacher to the papal household since 1980, devoted his December 4 Advent sermon to the theme of “Christ, the Light...

Senate votes to defund Planned Parenthood; presidential veto certain

The US Senate has voted to defund Planned Parenthood and to repeal key provisions of the “Obamacare” health reform. Although President Obama will undoubtedly veto the legislation, the December 3...

Irish Catholic schools required to treat homosexuals equally in hiring teachers

Ireland’s parliament, the Oireachtas has passed legislation that will require Catholic schools to give equal opportunity in hiring to homosexual teachers. Amending the Employment Equality Act, the...

Pope thanks members of Council for the Economy for work on Vatican reforms

Pope Francis attended a meeting of the Council on the Economy on December 3, to thank the members of the new group for their efforts, the Vatican press office has disclosed. The Pope emphasized...

France to shut down radical mosques?

France plans to close down as many as 160 Islamic mosques in coming weeks, as part of a series of special security measures invoked in response to the terrorist attacks in Paris. A Muslim prison...

Cardinal Wuerl: 'internal forum' not seen by Synod as alternative to annulment process

Cardinal Donald Wuerl of Washington, DC, has said that the Synod of Bishops did not approve an “internal forum” to the question of Communion for divorced and remarried Catholics. Cardinal Wuerl—who...

President Aquino of Philippines meets with Pope

Pope Francis met on December 4 with President Benigno Aquino of the Philippines. A brief Vatican statement released after the meeting indicated that the conversation had centered on the prospects...

Detailed plans for opening of Jubilee year

Archbishop Rino Fisichella, the president of the Pontifical Council for the New Evangelization, outlined plans for the opening of the Jubilee Year of Mercy at a press conference in Rome on December...

Dominican Republic: high court overturns law allowing for abortion in some cases

The top court in the Dominican Republic has overturned legislation that allowed for legal abortion. The Constitutional Tribunal ruled that a law passed in 2014, with the backing of President...

Fees surpass $5 million in Minnesota archdiocesean bankruptcy proceedings

A federal bankruptcy-court judge in Minnesota has approved $3 million in legal and professional fees in connection with the bankruptcy proceedings of the Archdiocese of St. Paul-Minneapolis. The...

Released Monday, Dec. 7

Catholic schools should be ‘truly Catholic’ and open to all, says Pope

In a December 5 audience with members of the Associazione Genitori Scuole Cattoliche (Association of Catholic School Parents), Pope Francis called for the restoration of the “educational...

‘We should always convert,’ says Pope

Reflecting on St. John the Baptist’s call to repentance in the Sunday Gospel reading, Pope Francis said during his December 6 Angelus address that “we’re not all right. We should...

Stop climate change, pray for Orthodox-Catholic dialogue, Pope says following Angelus address

Following the recitation of the Angelus on December 6, Pope Francis told the crowds in St. Peter’s Square that he is “following with close attention the work of the conference on climate...

Beatification of 3 priests slain by Maoists in Peru

Three missionary priests who were slain in 1991 by Maoist Shining Path rebels in Peru were beatified in Chimbote, the site of their martyrdom, on December 5. Cardinal Angelo Amato, the prefect of...

Papal message to charismatic movement

Cardinal Pietro Parolin, the Vatican’s Secretary of State, has sent a message in Pope Francis’s name to the annual conference of Rinnovamento nello Spirito Santo (Renewal in the Holy...

Pope lights Assisi Nativity scene, laments plight of migrants

Pope Francis remotely lit the Christmas tree and Nativity scene at the Papal Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi. The Nativity scene was constructed in a boat used by Tunisian migrants who traveled...

The Church is the mother of vocations, Pope says in message

The Holy See Press Office has released Pope Francis’s message for the 53rd World Day of Prayer for Vocations, which will take place on April 17, the Fourth Sunday of Easter. In the message,...

'Vatileaks II' trial opens; court says defense can call cardinals as witnesses

The “Vatileaks II” trial opened at the Vatican on December 7, with a hearing at which the three- judge panel weighed requests and objections from defense counsel, rejecting two key...

Pope-emeritus Benedict will join in ceremony for opening of Holy Door

Pope-emeritus Benedict will participate in the December 8 ceremony for the opening of the Jubilee Year of Mercy. The retired Pontiff, at the invitation of Pope Francis, will attend the opening of...

Vatican authorizes first-ever external audit, by Pricewaterhouse

The Vatican has approved an unprecedented outside audit of all its assets, income, and expenses. The Council for the Economy, pursuing its campaign for transparency in Vatican finances, has engaged...

Duluth diocese becomes 13th to file for bankruptcy

The Diocese of Duluth, Minnesota, has filed for federal bankruptcy protection, becoming the 13th American diocese to take that step in the wake of the sex-abuse scandal. The Duluth diocese...

Breakthrough: North Korea will allow celebration of Mass in Pyongyang cathedral

Catholic priests from South Korea will be allowed to celebrate Mass in the capital of North Korea, the Korean bishops’ conference has announced. After a 4-day visit to North Korea, a delegation of...

Excommunication for harsh criticism of Pontiff?

The president of the Pontifical Council for the New Evangelization has suggested that strident criticism of Pope Francis might fall under the provisions of canon law that impose a penalty of...

Ecumenical Patriarch sends greetings to Pope on 50th anniversary of historic joint declaration

Orthodox Patriarch Bartholomew I of Constantinople sent his greetings to Pope Francis on December 7, marking the 50th anniversary of the day when Pope Paul VI and Patriarch Athenagoras issued a...

Islamic extremists issue threats against Egypt's Coptic monasteries

Islamic extremists have issued new threats against Coptic Orthodox monasteries in Egypt, the Fides news service reports. Threats against Christian targets have become common since the terrorist...

Security tightened around St. Peter's Square for Jubilee Year

Italian police officials have ramped up security precautions around St. Peter’s Square dramatically in the final days before the opening of the Jubilee Year. Italian journalists, who had reported a...

Released Wednesday, Dec. 9

Pope Francis inaugurates extraordinary jubilee year

Pope Francis inaugurated the Jubilee of Mercy on December 8, the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary and the 50th anniversary of the close of the Second Vatican...

The Virgin Mary reminds us that ‘everything is mercy,’ Pope tells faithful

Addressing the crowds gathered in St. Peter’s Square for the recitation of the Angelus, Pope Francis said on December 8 that “the Immaculate Conception means that Mary is the first saved...

Pope prays for people of Rome during traditional veneration of Immaculate Mary

Following a custom that dates back over six decades, Pope Francis left the Vatican on the afternoon of December 8 and traveled to the Piazza di Spagna in Rome, where he offered an act of veneration...

Crowds in St. Peter’s Square pray Rosary, view ecological show projected on basilica

On the evening of December 8, the feast of the Immaculate Conception, a crowd gathered in St. Peter’s Square to pray the Holy Rosary and watched a light show projected on St. Peter’s...

In Kiev, Orthodox protest rumored plan for papal visit to Ukraine

A group of Orthodox faithful in Ukraine picketed the offices of the Vatican’s envoy in Kiev on December 6, protesting the possibility of a papal visit to their country. During a November 20 visit...

At audience, Pope says understanding God's mercy requires recognizing our sinfulness

Pope Francis made the opening of the Jubilee Year of Mercy the focus of his regular weekly public audience on December 9. “The Church needs this extraordinary moment,” the Pope said. “In our time...

Cardinal Turkson: Pope may intervene if Paris climate-changes talks stall

If UN climate-change talks in Paris become stalled, Pope Francis might intervene, Cardinal Peter Turkson told reporters at a December 8 press conference in Rome. Cardinal Turkson, the president of...

European bank examiners recognize Vatican progress toward financial transparency

Moneyval, the committee of European banking examiners, has approved a Vatican report on new financial regulations, acknowledging the progress that the Vatican has achieved toward financial...

Indiana archdiocese welcomes Syrian refugee family despite governor's order

The Archdiocese of Indianapolis has gone forward with the resettlement of a refugee family from Syria, despite a call by Indiana Governor Mike Pence for a halt on the acceptance of Syrian...

Released Thursday, Dec. 10

Irish bishops call for action to counter homelessness

Lamenting the increasing numbers of homeless individuals and families in Ireland, the nation’s bishops said in a December 10 statement that the situation “points to serious failures in...

Vatican cardinal speaks at climate conference, calls for ‘transformational’ agreement

Speaking on behalf of the Holy See at the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP 21) in Paris, Cardinal Peter Turkson called for a “fair, legally binding, and truly transformational...

Catholic university opens in Iraq

A new Catholic university has opened in Erbil, an Iraqi city of 1.5 million that is capital of the autonomous region of Kurdistan. Chaldean Catholic Archbishop Bashar Warda said in July that the...

French bishops criticize increasing secularization

The permanent council of the Bishops’ Conference of France has issued a statement on the 110th anniversary of the law on the separation of Church and state. The law ended French government...

Bishop criticizes Obama administration over lack of genocide designation

Testifying before a congressional committee, the Chaldean Catholic bishop of Detroit criticized the Obama administration for not designating the Islamic State’s killing of Christians in Iraq...

Pope postpones pastoral visits to Italian dioceses

Citing demands on the Pope’s schedule during the jubilee year of mercy, the office of Vatican’s Secretary of State, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, informed Cardinal Angelo Scola of Milan that...

Retired Cardinals Furno, Terrazas, RIP

Two retired cardinals—the Italian Cardinal Carlo Furno and the Bolivian Cardinal Julio Terrazas Sandoval—died on December 9. Cardinal Furno, who had served for years in the Vatican diplomatic...

Council of Cardinals meeting this week with Pontiff to continue planning for Vatican reforms

The Council of Cardinals began its 12th session on December 10 meeting with Pope Francis to continue outlining plans for reform of the Roman Curia. At their most recent meeting, in September, the...

Vatican admits financial 'irregularity' at CDF, clears Cardinal Müller

The Vatican has acknowledged that financial irregularities were uncovered in the offices of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, but rejected rumors that Cardinal Gerhard Müller, the...

Catholic church destroyed by Islamic extremists in Yemen

An abandoned Catholic church in Aden, Yemen, was destroyed by bombing on December 9. Immaculate Conception church, in the Mualla district of the capital city, had been built in the 1960s. It had...

Bishops of England and Wales discuss but dismiss proposal to ordain married men

At their meeting in November, the Catholic bishops of England and Wales reportedly discussed, but ultimately turned down, a proposal for the ordination of married men. Bishop Seamus Cunningham of...

Over 3,200 migrants have died in Mediterranean this year, Italian bishops' spokesman reports

More than 3,200 people—including 700 children-- have died while trying to cross the Mediterranean to reach Europe this year, according to a foundation established by the Italian bishops’ conference...

New Vatican document: Catholics should not seek to convert Jews

A new Vatican document teaches that Catholics should not actively seek the conversion of Jews. “The Gifts and the Calling of God are Irrevocable,” released on December 10 by the...

Released Friday, Dec. 11

USCCB committee chair, private schools welcome passage of new federal education law

The chairman of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on Catholic Education has welcomed the passage of a major federal education law, the Every Student Succeeds...

Welcome Syrian refugees, Cardinal McCarrick urges

Writing in The Hill—the most popular Capitol Hill publication—Cardinal Theodore McCarrick has called upon members of Congress to welcome Syrian refugees into the United States. On...

Holy See diplomat rues violations of international humanitarian law

Addressing a conference of the Red Cross and Red Crescent in Geneva, Switzerland, a leading Holy See diplomat decried violations of international humanitarian law. Archbishop Silvano Tomasi, the...

Cardinal Wuerl, others urge Kerry to designate ISIS killing of Christians ‘genocide’

Cardinal Donald Wuerl of Washington has joined Chaldean Catholic bishops, Orthodox and Protestant leaders, and others in urging Secretary of State John Kerry to designate the Islamic State’s...

Holy See delegation backs 1.5-degree global-warming limit

The Holy See’s delegation at the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Paris has announced its support for a legally-binding international agreement that would seek to limit a worldwide...

Orthodox rabbis: Jews and Christians have ‘common covenantal mission’

The chief rabbis of Finland and Serbia have joined 23 other rabbis in Europe, Israel, and the United States in issuing an Orthodox rabbinic statement on Christianity. “As did Maimonides and...

New Vatican letter on contemplation and consecrated life

The Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life has issued “Contemplate,” a letter to consecrated men and women. The letter is the third in a...

Pope's reforms of annulment process are now in effect

The reforms to the annulment process that Pope Francis announced in September have taken effect with the beginning of the Jubilee Year of Mercy. On December 7, on the eve of the formal opening of...

Cardinal Turkson clarifies remarks on birth control: Church approves 'responsible parenthood'

Cardinal Peter Turkson has clarified that when he told a BBC interviewer that “the Church has never been opposed to birth control,” he intended to refer to the spacing of children rather than...

'Vatileaks II' trial may be recessed for several weeks

The “Vatileaks II” trial, which opened with a hearing on December 7, may not resume for several weeks.” At the December 11 hearing, a Vatican tribunal approved a series of defense motions calling...

Heart condition forces Cardinal Pell to postpone testimony for Australian sex-abuse inquiry

Cardinal George Pell, who was expected to testify next week before a royal commission investigating sexual abuse in Australia, has announced that he will be unable to appear because of ill...

Iraqi prelate seeks international commitment to freeze assets of Islamic State, commit ground troops

Chaldean Catholic Patriarch Louis Raphael I Sako reports that conditions are worsening for Christians in Iraq and Syria, and urges international action to defeat the Islamic State. The Iraqi...

Puerto Rican archbishop asks UN help to ease debt crisis

Puerto Rico’s leading Catholic prelate pleaded for negotiations to address a looming debt crisis in a December 8 address to the United Nations. “The debt is unpayable,” said Archbishop Roberto...

Extremist group disrupting Catholic church services around Las Vegas

A group of militant Protestants—recent converts from Islam—have disrupted Masses at several Catholic churches in the Las Vegas area, shouting anti-Catholic slogans. A group called Koosha Las Vegas...

New York parishioners charge pastor used church funds to pay homosexual companion

Lay Catholics at a parish in New York have brought a lawsuit against their pastor, charging that he has stolen over $1 million from the church, using the money to pay a homosexual companion and to...

Released Monday, Dec. 14

Papal preacher devotes 2nd Advent sermon to call to holiness

Father Raniero Cantalamessa, the Capuchin Franciscan friar who has served as preacher to the papal household since 1980, devoted his December 11 Advent sermon to the universal call to...

Council of Cardinals will discuss ‘healthy decentralization’ of Church governance

The Council of Cardinals-- the body established by Pope Francis in 2013 to consider curial reform and assist him in the governance of the universal Church-- concluded its twelfth meeting on December...

Vatican announces creation of pontifical healthcare commission

Cardinal Pietro Parolin, the Vatican’s Secretary of State, has announced the creation of the Pontifical Commission for the Activities of Public Juridical Persons of the Church in the...

Schedule announced for papal trip to Mexico

The Holy See Press Office has announced the schedule of Pope Francis’s upcoming apostolic journey to Mexico, which will take place from February 12 to 18. On February 12, he will depart...

‘Merciful love is the most striking attribute of God,’ Pope says in homily

Pope Francis celebrated Mass in Spanish in St. Peter’s Basilica on the evening of December 12, the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe, and emphasized God’s merciful love for...

Pope opens holy door at Lateran Basilica, calls upon faithful to be instruments of mercy

On December 13, five days after the beginning of the extraordinary jubilee of mercy in St. Peter’s Basilica, bishops throughout the world opened holy doors at their cathedrals. Pope Francis...

Convert and experience joy, Pope says during Angelus address

Pope Francis reflected on the day’s Gospel reading (Lk. 3:10-18) during his December 13 Angelus address and invited the crowds gathered in St. Peter’s Square to experience the joy of...

Pope comments on UN climate change agreement

Following the recitation of the Angelus in St. Peter’s Square on December 13, Pope Francis offered comments on the agreement reached at the 2015 United Nations Climate Change...

Roman police nab counterfeiters producing fake papal blessings

Police in Rome have uncovered an illegal operation producing counterfeit papal blessings. Working with Vatican police, city officials seized about 3,500 counterfeit documents that had been printed...

New Vatican document highlights role of religious brothers

The vocation of a religious brother “is in itself an exercise in the fullness of the priesthood of all the baptized,” the Vatican’s Congregation for Religious teaches in a new document released on...

Vaitcan spokesman: 'no idea' how many Holy Doors will be opened in dioceses

As bishops all around the world opened the Holy Doors in their cathedrals, and designated other churches to have Holy Doors, Father Federico Lombardi conceded that the Vatican has “no idea how many”...

Chinese Catholics-- even in 'underground' Church-- respond to Jubilee Year

In China, the beginning of the Jubilee Year has seen Holy Doors opened in many urban cathedrals, the AsiaNews service reports. But the divisions and confusions within the Chinese Church have been...

Young people have a right to work with dignity, Pope says

“Work is not a gift to be kindly granted to the select few: it is a right for all!” Those were the words of Pope Francis, in a December 14 address to members of an Italian group working to help...

Vatican officials not given advance notice as Pope puts annulment reforms into effect

The Vatican office that handles the interpretation of canon law was caught by surprise when Pope Francis issues the rescript putting his reform of the annulment process into effect, according to...

Syria: 17 churches have been destroyed by Islamic extremists

At least 17 Christian churches in Syria have been destroyed or desecrated by Islamic extremists in the course of the country’s civil war, the Fides news service reports. The documented attacks on...

Venezuelan cardinal decries suppression of government critics

Cardinal Jorge Urosa Savino of Caracas has called for an amnesty law in Venezuela, saying that “there are many people who are detained without serious allegations.” The cardinal expressed his...

Sri Lankan president meets with Pontiff

Pope Francis met on December 14 with President Maithripala Sirisena of Sri Lanka. A brief Vatican statement released after the meeting indicated that the conversation had centered on the efforts to...

Released Tuesday, Dec. 15

With reservations, Caritas welcomes climate agreement

Caritas Internationalis, the Church’s confederation of relief and development agencies, has issued a statement welcoming the agreement that was reached by world leaders at the United Nations...

Reports of crackdown on Christian, human rights activists in Vietnam

In recent days, Vietnamese police have beaten a Christian lawyer and arrested a Protestant pastor known for their activism. Christian Solidarity Worldwide reported that on December 6, police...

Orthodox vespers at Cologne cathedral

With the permission of Cardinal Rainer Woelki, an Orthodox vespers service has taken place at Cologne Cathedral for the first time, according to the Moscow Patriarchate. Clergy and choirs from...

Central African Republic: Muslim youth have ‘laid down their weapons’ because of papal visit

The Central African Republic’s leading prelate has called upon the faithful to imitate Pope Francis and become “pilgrims of peace,” the Catholic Information Service for Africa...

Orthodox leader: cooperate with Catholics to help persecuted Christians

The head of the Russian Orthodox Church has told young Russians involved in politics that “evading dialogue with the Catholic Church now would be wrong.” “We defend the same...

17 sainthood, beatification causes advance

In a December 14 audience with the prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, Pope Francis approved the publication of decrees that advance the sainthood causes of 17 servants of...

Fight indifference, Pope urges in World Day of Peace message

In his message of the World Day of Peace, Pope Francis condemns the “globalization of indifference,” urges a new commitment to solidarity, and calls for “courageous gestures”...

European bank regulators urge Vatican prosecution of money-laundering suspects

European banking examiners, while applauding the Vatican’s new regulations for financial transparency, have called for effective prosecution of those guilty of violating laws against...

10,000 Chinese Catholics join in ceremony as 'underground' bishop opens Holy Door

An estimated 10,000 Chinese Catholics, led by a bishop of the “underground” Church, participated in the ceremonial opening of the Holy Door in the cathedral of Zhengding, the AsiaNews service...

Released Wednesday, Dec. 16

Do not react to violence with hatred and discrimination, says USCCB president

Referring to the Colorado Springs Planned Parenthood shooting and the San Bernardino shooting, the president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops issued a statement in which he...

EU bishops’ commission: UN climate summit is ‘great forward step’ for mankind

The Commission of the Bishops’ Conferences of the European Community has issued a statement welcoming the agreement achieved at the United Nations Climate Change Conference in...

German Catholics to observe day of prayer for persecuted Christians

The Church in Germany will observe December 26 as a day of prayer for persecuted Christians, with a focus on persecuted Christians in Syria. December 26 is the Feast of St. Stephen, the first...

Colombian rebel nurse accused of committing hundreds of forced abortions

Héctor Albeidis Arboleda Buitrago, a Colombian now working as a nurse in Madrid, has been arrested on charges of committing up to 500 forced abortions for the Revolutionary Armed Forces of...

Philippine cardinal: be merciful in political life, dealings with Muslims

In a recent interview, Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle of Manila discussed the ramifications of the jubilee year of mercy on political and social life of the Philippines. The prelate told La...

Brazilian bishop resigns following drunk-driving incident

Pope Francis has accepted the resignation of Bishop Paulo Sérgio Machado of São Carlos, a city of 220,000 in southeastern Brazil. In September, the bishop was stopped by police...

Pope Francis: charity, Confession are at heart of jubilee year

Pope Francis devoted his December 16 general audience to the extraordinary jubilee year of mercy. “The Jubilee of Mercy was inaugurated this past week by the opening of the Holy Door, not...

Deceased Irish bishop called 'scapegoat' for abuse scandal

An Irish bishop who had been harshly criticized in a report on the handling of sex-abuse cases in the Dublin diocese was hailed as “a man of great integrity” at his funeral by another retired...

Bishops from US, Mexican cities meet at border for joint celebration

Bishops from the US and Mexico, accompanied by civic officials from both countries, met at the border on December 15 to join in Las Posadas, the traditional Mexican pre-Christmas celebration....

Released Thursday, Dec. 17

Prelate warns against ‘fortress America’

Stating that “the Holy Family lived for years as what today we would call ‘political refugees,’” Archbishop Thomas Wenski of Miami wrote in an op-ed piece that “we...

Jubilee in South Korea to include 30 tent-confessionals outside cathedral

Remembrance of the Korean martyrs, a pilgrimage for immigrants, and a youth pilgrimage to Seoul’s cathedral are among the special observances planned by the bishops of South Korea during the...

Jerusalem patriarch issues Christmas message

The Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem has released his annual Christmas message. “Alas, our situation in the Holy Land resonates that of the world facing an unprecedented terrorist...

Canadian bishops, rabbis urge government to assist persecuted Christians

The Canadian Rabbinic Caucus and the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops have issued a joint appeal to Stéphane Dion, the nation’s new minister of foreign affairs, to advocate on...

Concept of God’s mercy leads to conversions in Mongolia, says priest

Most Mongolians who have embraced the Catholic faith have done so because of the concept of God the Father’s mercy, according to priest who ministers in Arvaikheer, a city of...

Vatican spokesman denies report on citizenship for bishop under investigation

The director of the Holy See Press Office has denied Italian media reports that a bishop has sought Vatican citizenship. Bishop Francesco Micciché was appointed bishop of Trapani in 1998...

Annulment reforms already producing unintended consequences, canonist argues

Edward Condon, an English canon lawyer, reports that the annulment reforms introduced by Pope Francis are already having unintended effects. The Pope called for free access to marriage tribunals,...

Pope celebrates 79th birthday with Italian Catholic Action Youth

Pope Francis, who celebrated his 79th birthday on December 17, received a cake from young visitors from the Italian Catholic Action Youth group. Thanking the young people for their birthday wishes,...

Pope welcomes 'spiritual and moral' reaction against terrorism

At a December 17 meeting with new ambassadors from Bahrain, Guinea, India, and Latvia, Pope Francis spoke out against a trend of thinking in which “man has taken the place of God and therefore has...

Illinois senator asks Pope to curb Dominican cardinal's criticism of gay US envoy

Senator Dick Durbin of Illinois has written to Pope Francis, criticizing “hateful” public remarks by Cardinal Nicolas de Jesus Lopez Rodriguez of Santo Domingo about the openly homosexual US...

New York archdiocese says no evidence demonstrates claims against accused priest

The Archdiocese of New York has denied receiving evidence to support charges that a pastor has stolen parish funds to pay for a drug-fueled homosexual relationship. “The archdiocese has...

Lebanon: Patriarch raps lawmakers for stalemate preventing election of new president

Lebanon’s leading Catholic prelate has decried the persistent failure of the country’s lawmakers to choose a new president. After the Lebanese parliament announced the absence of a...

Boston hospital rejects appeal of doctor dismissed for citing health risks of homosexuality

A Massachusetts physician has lost his battle to retain a hospital post, after being dismissed for “insensitive” statements about the health risks of homosexual behavior. Dr. Paul Church, a...

Released Friday, Dec. 18

Obama administration official: Christians ‘feel safer’ in Syria than other groups do

Questioned by members of the House Oversight Committee about why so few Syrian Christian refugees have been admitted to the United States, the Assistant Secretary of State for Population, Refugees,...

European Parliament condemns surrogacy, calls for ‘safe abortions’

The European Parliament has passed a motion condemning the practice of surrogacy. The Parliament, according to the text of the motion on a report on human rights, condemns the practice of...

Ireland: Catholic, Anglican primates issue joint Christian message

Archbishop Eamon Martin of Armagh, Primate of All Ireland, joined with his Anglican counterpart, Archbishop Richard Clarke, in issuing a Christmas message. “Around us in this country, there...

ACLU, Planned Parenthood concerned about Walgreens clinics in Catholic hospitals

Nineteen organizations, including the American Civil Liberties Union of Washington and Planned Parenthood Votes Northwest & Hawaii, have expressed concern about Walgreens’ plans to form a...

Canadian PM to ask Pope to apologize for abuse in residential schools

The Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada—a body established in 2008 to examine abuse that took place in the nation’s Indian residential schools—has issued its final...

Papal preacher criticizes Catholic ‘polemic,’ Protestant ‘rationalism’ regarding Virgin Mary

Father Raniero Cantalamessa, the Capuchin Franciscan friar who has served as preacher to the papal household since 1980, devoted his final Advent sermon to “Mary in the Mystery of Christ and...

Mother Teresa to be canonized, Vatican confirms

The Vatican has confirmed a second miracle attributed to the intercession of Mother Teresa of Calcutta, clearing the way for her canonization. On December 17, Pope Francis approved a series of...

Vatican Christmas tree lit in December 18 ceremony

The giant Christmas tree in St. Peter’s Square was illuminated, and the crèche scene was unveiled, in a short ceremony on December 18. This year’s Christmas tree at the...

Minnesota archdiocese reaches agreement with prosecutors to resolve civil charges

The Archdiocese of St. Paul-Minneapolis, Minnesota, has reached an agreement with prosecutors to civil charges brought against the archdiocese for failure to report clerical abuse. The agreement...

Massachusetts court rules Catholic school cannot fire openly gay employee

A Massachusetts court has ruled that a Catholic school cannot refuse to hire an openly homosexual employee. Michael Barrett brought suit against Fontbonne Academy when he was dismissed, shortly...

2nd Sicilian bishop is focus of embezzlement probe

A second Sicilian Catholic bishop is under investigation for allegedly embezzling Church funds, according to a report in the Italian daily Corriere della Sera. Earlier this week the Vatican denied...

German bishop raps flyer issued by episcopal conference on gender theory

A German bishop has taken issue with a flyer on gender theory produced by the nation’s episcopal conference, saying that it “opens the gate to positions irreconcilable with the Christian faith....

Bangladesh: Islamic militant confesses to involvement in ambush shooting of priest

A Muslim extremist has confessed to participating the November shooting of a Italian Catholic missionary priest in Bangladesh. Sariful Islam told authorities that he was one of the gunmen who shot...

Sir James MacMillan, Scottish composer, named 'Catholic of the Year' by Catholic Herald

The Catholic Herald of London has named Sir James MacMillan, the composer and conductor, as its 2015 Catholic of the Year. In making the award, the paper cited the Scottish musician’s “fight...

Joint Vatican-Israeli commission urges respectful treatment of migrants

Vatican officials and Israeli rabbis have joined in a statement urging a generous response to the “enormous current humanitarian crisis” of migration. At the conclusion of a 2-day meeting in...

Medical examiners rule out foul play in death of former nuncio who faced abuse charges

A full post-mortem examination has confirmed that the laicized archbishop Jozef Wesolowski, who was facing a criminal trial for sexual abuse, died in August of a heart attack, the Vatican has...

Netanyahu notes his country-- alone in Middle East-- protects Christians

Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has reminded a Christian audience that Israel is the only country in the Middle East where Christians are protected by the government. Speaking to...

Australian Catholic Weekly report deflates allegations against Cardinal Pell

In an exhaustive report for Australia’s Catholic Weekly, Monica Doumit clears up several popular misconceptions about the role of Cardinal George Pell in the sex-abuse crisis, and the cardinal’s...

Released Monday, Dec. 21

Pope opens holy door at homeless shelter in Rome

Pope Francis celebrated Mass at a homeless shelter in Rome on December 18 and opened a holy door there for the jubilee year of mercy. During his homily at the Don Luigi Di Liegro Caritas shelter,...

Vatican communications reform continues with new appointments, official’s transfer

Pope Francis has named an American layman, Greg Burke, as the vice director of the Holy See Press Office, effective February 1. Burke, 55, worked for TIME Magazine and Fox News before becoming...

Pope addresses Italian railway workers

Pope Francis addressed 7,000 Italian state railways employees on December 19 and praised their commitment to the poor, including their assistance in constructing the homeless shelter whose holy door...

At Christmas, God ‘shuffles the deck,’ Pope says in Angelus address

Reflecting on St. Elizabeth’s astonishment at the Blessed Virgin Mary’s visit (Lk. 1:39-45), Pope Francis said in his December 20 Angelus address that “to celebrate Christmas well,...

Pope expresses ‘deep appreciation’ for Syria peace plan

Pope Francis welcomed the United Nations Security Council’s unanimous adoption of a roadmap for a peace process in Syria. “Today I also want to turn my thoughts to our beloved Syria,...

‘Return to the essentials,’ Pope Francis urges Roman Curia

Pope Francis devoted one of the year’s most widely-anticipated papal addresses—the annual Christmas greetings to the Roman Curia—to a “return to the...

Pope asks Vatican employees to pray for those involved in scandals

In an audience with employees of the Holy See and the Vatican City State and their families, Pope Francis said that he wished “to ask your forgiveness for the scandals that there have been in...

Prince Charles asks for 'practical' support of persecuted Christians in Middle East

Britain’s Prince Charles has called for international action in the face of persecution that “threatens the very existence of Christianity in the land of its birth.” The Prince of Wales made a plea...

Cardinal Bertone donates €150,000 to foundation that reportedly paid for work on his new apartment

Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone has contributed €150,000 ($164,000) to Bambino Gesu Foundation, offsetting most of the sum that the foundation reportedly paid for the remodeling of the cardinal’s Vatican...

Dublin's Archbishop Martin criticizes auxiliary's 'polemics' in defense of deceased prelate

Dublin’s Archbishop Diarmuid Martin has again clashed openly with one of his auxiliary bishops, denying that the late Bishop Dermot O’Mahony had been a “scapegoat” for the sex-abuse scandal. At the...

Slovenian voters reject same-sex marriage, 63-37%, in referendum vote

The people of Slovenia have rejected same-sex marriage in a public referendum, for the 2nd time in three years. In a nationwide ballot on December 20, 63% of the voters opposed a bid to redefine...

Live the Jubilee in home life, Pope urges Vatican employees

Pope Francis encouraged Vatican’s employees to live the spirit of the Jubilee Year in their home lives, during a pre-Christmas reception on December 21. The Pope offered his thanks to Vatican...

Israel allows some Gaza Christians to visit Jerusalem, Bethlehem for Christmas

The Israeli government has issued 600 "permits" to allow Christians living in the Gaza Strip to visit the shrines of Jerusalem and Bethlehem during the Christmas season, the Fides news...

Syrian President Assad visits Catholic parish

Syria's President Bashar al-Assad visisted a Melkite Catholic church in Damascus on December 18, the Syrian government reports.  The Syrian leader and his wife Asma went to the parish of...

Missionary news agency staff pleads for Pope to reverse decision to close operation

Employees of the Missionary International Service News Agency (MISNA) have appealed to Pope Francis to save their agency, after being notified that the agency will be shut down because of budgetary...

Released Tuesday, Dec. 22

Christian radio host slain in Mali

Three persons, including the host of a Christian radio station, were murdered in Timbuktu, Mali, on December 17. The killings took place as the three were drinking tea outside the station,...

Pakistani bishop calls for forgiveness amid attacks

As he opened the holy door at his cathedral in Pakistan’s third-largest city on December 20, Bishop Joseph Arshad of Faisalabad described the jubilee year as “a great sign of love and...

A month after board’s removal, cardinal says Pope supports hospital’s staff

Cardinal Pietro Parolin, the Vatican’s Secretary of State, visited the Holy See’s Bambino Gesù Pediatric Hospital on December 19 to convey the Pope’s Christmas...

Every parish in Iraqi diocese will have jubilee holy door

The Chaldean Catholic archbishop of Erbil has asked that a holy door be opened in every church so that the tens of thousands of Christian refugees under his care may more easily experience the...

God ‘never imposes upon us,’ Pope says before tree lighting; delegation visits Pope Emeritus

In a ceremony led by Cardinal Giuseppe Bertello, the president of the Governatorate of Vatican City State, the Nativity scene and Christmas tree were illuminated in St. Peter’s Square on...

Catholic Charities USA welcomes passage of spending, tax-credit bills

Catholic Charities USA has welcomed the passage of a $1.14-trillion spending bill and the extension of $680 billion in tax credits. “The fact that the tax extenders package passed with...

Vatican cardinal encourages priest-confessors to serve 'mystery of mercy'

In a Christmas message to the world’s priest-confessors, the head of the Apostolic Penitentiary writes that every sacramental confession anticipates the Final Judgment. Cardinal Mauro Piacenza says...

Italian prosecutors seek 4.5-year prison term for Vatican monsignor charged in illegal transfer of €20 million

Italian prosecutors are seeking a prison sentence of 54 months for Msgr. Nunzio Scarano, the former Vatican official who is charged with attempting to bring €20 million into the country...

US State Department backs gay envoy, raps Dominican cardinal

The US State Department has strongly backed the country's openly homosexual ambassador to the Dominican Republic, who has been the focus of criticism by Cardinal Nicolas de Jesus Lopez Rodriguez...

Landmark conviction of Philadelphia monsignor reversed for 2nd time

For the 2nd time, an appeals court has reversed the conviction of a former official of the Philadelphia archdiocese who was found guilty in 2012 of failure to protect children from sexual...

Released Wednesday, Dec. 23

Muslims protect Christians on Kenyan bus during Islamist militia attack

Members of the Somali Islamist militant group Al-Shabaab attacked a bus in northeastern Kenya on December 21 and ordered the Muslim passengers to leave so that they could kill the Christians on...

EU bishops’ commission welcomes discussion on increased border security

The European Council—the leaders of the EU nations, along with leading EU officials—met on December 17 to discuss the continent’s migrant and refugee crisis. The Council agreed...

Prelate lauds advances against Boko Haram

Nigeria’s leading prelate praised the nation’s government for recent victories in its struggle against the Islamist extremist group Boko Haram. “I think we should congratulate...

Major conference on persecution of Christians concludes in Rome

Two Eastern Catholic patriarchs and victims of persecution in Africa, the Middle East, and elsewhere were among the speakers at “Under Caesar’s Sword,” a major conference on...

Rabbi calls for expulsion of Christians from Israel

The Assembly of Catholic Ordinaries of the Holy Land has condemned a recent article by Rabbi Ben-Zion Gopstein calling for the expulsion of Christians from Israel. Gopstein is the head of Lehava,...

Muhammad’s birth to be commemorated at same time as Christmas

For the first time since 1558, Mawlid—the Muslim celebration of Muhammad’s birth—will fall this year on December 24 and 25. Christians and Muslims “should give thanks to...

New church in Damascus is ‘a true Christmas present,’ says prelate

The Maronite Catholic archbishop of Damascus-- the capital of war-torn Syria-- said in a Christmas letter that a new chapel will be dedicated in the city’s suburbs on January 8. “In...

Cardinal Parolin: Church ‘cannot compromise’ on drug abuse

Cardinal Pietro Parolin, the Vatican’s Secretary of State, celebrated Mass at a drug treatment facility on December 22 and said that “the Church cannot remain silent” and...

Italian court denies 'wrongful birth' suit

An Italian court has rejected a "wrongful birth" lawsuit brought by the parents of a Down-syndrome child.  The Supreme Court of Cassation dismissed the parents' argument that...

Boston archdiocese, parishioners reach accord to end 11-year stalemate at closed church

The Boston archdiocese has reached an agreement with the leaders of a group that has maintained an 11-year vigil at a closed parish church. The Friends of St. Frances Cabrini, who have fought a...

Pope Francis to receive Charlemagne Prize

Pope Francis has been named the 2016 recipient of the International Charlemagne Prize, for bringing “a message of hope and encouragement” to Europe in a time of uncertainty. The Charlemagne Prize,...

Orthodox Patriarch: plight of child refugees is 'disgrace for the entire human race'

In his Christmas message, Orthodox Patriarch Bartholomew I of Constantinople says that the suffering of displaced children is “truly a disgrace for the entire human race.” The Ecumenical...

Islamic State warns Iraqi Christians not to celebrate Christmas

The Islamic State has begun fresh attacks on Christian communities in northern Iraq, the AsiaNews service reports. As Christmas approaches, Islamic extremists have warned Christians in the city...

Released Thursday, Dec. 24

USCCB president decries failure to pass conscience-protection legislation

The president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops has issued a statement lamenting the failure of Congress to pass the Abortion Non-Discrimination Act (ANDA). The Hill reported...

Brunei, Somalia ban Christmas celebrations

In recent days, the governments of two predominantly Muslim nations have warned their citizens not to celebrate Christmas, according to a report published by the Qatar-based Al Jazeera broadcasting...

‘We will not give in to injustice’: Iraqi, Syrian prelates issue Christmas letters

The head of the Chaldean Catholic Church and the Melkite Greek Catholic archbishop of Syria’s largest city have issued Christmas letters. “The feast of the birth of Christ is one of...

Anglican leader issues ecumenical Christmas greeting

Archbishop Justin Welby of Canterbury issued an ecumenical Christmas greeting on December 24. “Amidst the terrors of Paris, of Bujumbura, of Iraq and Syria, and amidst the fear which we so...

President Obama issues statement on persecuted Christians

Writing that he and his wife “hold especially close to our hearts and minds those who have been driven from their ancient homelands by unspeakable violence and persecution,” President...

Pope Francis: Homily at Christmas Mass (with link to video of Mass)

Tonight “a great light” shines forth (Is 9:1); the light of Jesus’ birth shines all about us. How true and timely are the words of the prophet Isaiah which we have just heard:...

Released Friday, Dec. 25

Pope Francis's Christmas Message Urbi et Orbi (To the City and the World): full text, video link

Dear brothers and sisters, Happy Christmas! Christ is born for us, let us rejoice in the day of our salvation! Let us open our hearts to receive the grace of this day, which is Christ himself....

Released Monday, Dec. 28

Cardinal Parolin pays tribute to Vatican diplomat in China

Cardinal Pietro Parolin, the Vatican’s Secretary of State, has written the foreword to a new book about Cardinal Celso Costantini (1876-1958), the Vatican’s first apostolic delegate to...

Pope Francis: follow St. Stephen’s example in forgiving others

The martyr St. Stephen, who forgave his killers as he was dying, offers Christians today a model of forgiveness, Pope Francis said in his Angelus address on December 26, the saint’s feast...

Family life is a pilgrimage, Pope says at jubilee of families

The readings for the Feast of the Holy Family emphasize family life as a pilgrimage, Pope Francis said during Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica on December 27. During the extraordinary jubilee...

Follow example of Holy Family, Pope says at Angelus address

The Holy Family of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph offers “valuable guidance for life and lifestyle choices,” Pope Francis said during his December 27 Angelus address. “Our Lady and...

Papal appeal on behalf of Cuban migrants in Central America

Following the recitation of the Angelus in St. Peter’s Square on December 27, Pope Francis issued an appeals on behalf of an estimated 5,000 Cubans on the border of Costa Rica and...

Papal message to Taizé youth meeting

Cardinal Pietro Parolin, the Vatican’s Secretary of State, has sent a message on behalf of Pope Francis to the thousands of young people who are gathering in Valencia, Spain, for a meeting...

Pope laments ‘senseless killing’ by Islamist militants in Philippines

Cardinal Pietro Parolin, the Vatican’s Secretary of State, has sent a message in Pope Francis’s name after the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters, a militant Islamist group, killed 10...

Papal condolences following explosion at Nigerian plant

Cardinal Pietro Parolin, the Vatican’s Secretary of State, has sent a message in Pope Francis’s name following a gas tank explosion at a plant in Nweni, Nigeria. “The Holy...

National Catholic Reporter honors gay couple as Persons of the Year

The National Catholic Reporter has named a homosexual couple as its “Persons of the Year” for 2015. The Reporter-- a weekly newspaper marked by its persistent dissent from Church teachings—confers...

African bishops: Christmas, Mohammed's birthday should spur interfaith dialogue

The Catholic bishops of Niger have said that the close convergence between Christmas and the Islamic celebration of Mohammed's birth should be a spur to inter-religious dialogue, the Fides news...

Two men arrested for flying drone over Vatican

Two men have been arrested by police in Rome and charged with flying a drone over the Vatican. The air space above the Vatican was declared a no-fly zone during the Jubilee Year. Police said that...

Shake-up in Russian Orthodox hierarchy

A key public representative of the Russian Orthodox Church has been dismissed from his post after a clash with the Patriarch of Moscow over Church-state relations. Archpriest Vsevolod Chaplin,...

Released Tuesday, Dec. 29

Jerusalem patriarch devotes Christmas homily to mercy

Lamenting “many heartbreaking incidents around the world,” the Latin patriarch of Jerusalem preached on mercy during his Christmas homily in Bethlehem. “We are sad to say that...

Bishop appeals for calm in Corsica after attack on Muslim prayer room

Bishop Olivier de Germay of Ajaccio, Corsica, called for calm after a Christmas Eve attack on two firefighters and the subsequent vandalism of a Muslim prayer room on Christmas Day. On December...

China makes new 2-child policy official

Making official a change announced two months ago, the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress has amended China’s brutal population control law to permit couples to have up...

Death threats against bishops in Bangladesh

Two bishops in Bangladesh received death threats from radical Muslims in the days before Christmas, according to an AsiaNews report. In all, 37 Christian leaders have received death threats since...

Avoid entanglement in political elections, Manila cardinal tells priests

Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle of Manila has urged his priests not to offer Mass at political campaign events. National, provincial, and local legislative and executive elections, including the...

Philadelphia DA vows to keep priest in jail despite 2nd reversal of conviction

Philadelphia district attorney Seth Williams has said that he will fight to keep Msgr. William Lynn in prison, even after an appeals court reversed the priest's conviction.  Msgr. Lynn,...

Released Wednesday, Dec. 30

Church in Poland aided 2.9 million in 2015

Catholic parishes, religious congregations, and other institutions in Poland offered charitable assistance to 2.9 million people in 2015, according to L’Osservatore Romano. The nation has...

Repression of religion in China seen as worst since 1970s

Repression of religious-freedom rights in China is now higher than at any time since the death of Mao Zedong in 1976, according to a report published by the UCA News agency. In the eastern...

Pope Francis: let us adore the Child Jesus and take him into our arms

Pope Francis devoted his December 30 general audience to the Child Jesus. “During this holy season it is customary in many places for each home to set up a Christmas crib, following a...

Papal appeal for storm victims

Following his December 30 general audience, Pope Francis issued an appeal to pray for victims of recent severe storms. “I invite everyone to pray for the victims of the calamities which in...

Former Belgian primate discusses synod, success in fostering vocations

In an interview with a French Catholic weekly magazine, Archbishop André-Joseph Léonard reflected upon his five years as Primate of Belgium and Archbishop of Mechelen-Brussels. The...

22 mission workers died violently in 2015

In the course of the year 2015, 22 Catholic pastoral workers have been killed, the Fides news service reports. The victims of violence include thirteen priests, four women religious, and five lay...

Over 3 million saw Pope at Vatican events in 2015

Over 3 million people attended public appearances by Pope Francis in 2015, the Vatican has announced. On December 30, as the Holy Father held his final weekly public audience of the year, the...

Boycott 2022 World Cup in Qatar, German cardinal suggests

A German cardinal has suggested a boycott of the 2022 World Cup soccer competition in Qatar, as a means of protesting that country’s treatment of migrants. Cardinal Rainer Maria Woelki of Cologne...

Knights of Malta launch effort to help migrants in Aegean Sea

The Knights of Malta have announced a mission to help save migrants in the Aegean Sea. An estimated 1 million migrants crossed the Aegean to reach Europe in 2015. The vast majority landed in...

Russian prelate questions whether pan-Orthodox council will take place

Plans for a long-awaited council of all the world’s Orthodox leaders could be in jeopardy because of disagreements among the Orthodox churches, according to a leading representative of the...

Released Thursday, Dec. 31

Russian Orthodox leader expresses concern that Montenegro may join NATO

The head of the Russian Orthodox Church received Serbia’s justice minister in audience on December 28 and expressed concern that Montenegro—which became independent from Serbia in...

Hilary Clinton: Islamic State’s killing of Christians should be labeled genocide

Distancing herself from Obama administration policy, presidential candidate and former Secretary of State Hilary Clinton said that she now believes that the Islamic State’s killing of...

Franciscan priest abducted again in Syria

A Franciscan priest who escaped from capture in Syria in July was kidnapped on December 23, the order’s superior in the Holy Land said. Father Pierbattista Pizzaballa, Custos of the...

Syrian patriarch decries Obama administration policy in Middle East

The head of the Syriac Catholic Church, an Eastern Catholic church in full communion with the Holy See, told The National Catholic Register that “the Obama administration has done very little...

Uruguay’s cardinal appeals for flexibility as nation implements new drunk-driving law

Appealing to “common sense,” Cardinal Daniel Sturla of Montevideo called for flexibility for priests as the nation implements a new law against drunk driving. Under the new law, the...

Background: papal message for January 1, the World Day of Peace

On January 1, the Church commemorates the 49th World Day of Peace. Pope Francis’s message for the day is entitled “Overcome Indifference and Win Peace.” In his message for...

Pope's prayer intentions for January 2016

The Vatican has announced the prayer intentions of Pope Francis for January 2016.  His universal intention is: "That sincere dialogue among men and women of different faiths may produce...

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