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Stories for January 2016

Released Monday, Jan. 4

Pope meets with young singers, speaks of inner battlefield

Pope Francis met with over 4,000 young singers in the Paul VI Audience Hall on December 31 and said in extemporaneous remarks that “Christian life is a journey, it is a joyful journey: sing,...

Pope recalls evils, acts of love of 2015

In his last public act of 2015, Pope Francis presided at Vespers, the chanting of the Te Deum, and exposition and benediction of the Blessed Sacrament at St. Peter’s Basilica on the evening of...

‘Ocean of mercy’ overcomes ‘torrent of misery,’ Pope preaches on New Year’s Day

On January 1, Pope Francis celebrated morning Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica, delivered an Angelus address, and celebrated an evening Mass at the Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore. The mystery...

Vatican-Palestinian agreement enters into force

The new agreement between the Holy See and Palestine entered into force on January 2, the Holy See Press Office announced. The agreement, announced in June, “regards essential aspects of...

Pope Francis: ‘throw open’ your heart to Christ, abandon yourself to Mary

Reflecting on the Gospel reading for the Second Sunday after Christmas (Jn. 1:1-18), Pope Francis said during his January 3 Angelus address that “the Evangelist does not hide the dramatic...

Egyptian group charges Copts support anti-Islamic ideology

Egypt’s Al Azhar Observatory has accused the Coptic Orthodox Church of broadcasting anti-Islamic programming, the Fides news service reports. The coverage of Islam on the al-Hayat channel tends to...

Syro-Malankara eparchy established for US, Canada

Pope Francis has established a new eparchy—the equivalent of a diocese—for Syro-Malankara Catholics in the US and Canada. The Eparchy of St. Mary, Queen of Peace, will embrace all the geographical...

Number of early Jubilee pilgrims falling short of expectations in Rome

The number of pilgrims converging on Rome during the early days of the Jubilee Year of Mercy have fallen well short of the hordes that some Romans anticipated. Italian political leaders had...

'Advance man' for papal trips announces retirement

Alberto Gasbarri, who has acted as “advance man” for papal trips for more than a decade, has announced his plan to retire he approaches his 70th birthday. Gasbarri, an Italian layman, was appointed...

India: visa renewal denied for nun after 44 years of work with lepers

State government officials in India have declined to renew the visa of a Catholic nun who has spent 44 years working with the country’s lepers, the AsiaNews service reports. The state of...

No news on priest kidnapped in Syria for 2nd time

The head of the Franciscan Custody of the Holy Land reports that there has been no news about a priest who was kidnapped in Yakubiya, Syria. Father Dhiya Aziz had been captured by Islamic...

'Vatileaks' defendant predicts guilty verdict, while insisting innocence

One of the “Vatileaks II” defendants has said that she expects to be convicted, despite her protestations of innocence. ”I am innocent but I will be found guilty,” predicts Francesca Immacolata...

Debate in Belgium: do Church-related institutions have 'conscience clause' protection on euthanasia?

Archbishop Jozef De Kesel of Brussels is strongly resisting the argument that Catholic health-care institutions have no legal right to refuse involvement in euthanasia. Belgium’s euthanasia law...

Nigerian cardinal suggests amnesty for corrupt officials-- if they return funds

Cardinal John Onaiyeken of Abuja, Nigeria has suggested that the country’s government should pardon officials who have been convicted on corruption charges, if they are willing to return their...

Released Tuesday, Jan. 5

Terrorist attack on Syrian city targets Christians

The Islamic State has claimed responsibility for a terrorist attack that targeted restaurants owned by Christians. The December 30 attack, which left 20 dead, took place in Al-Qamishli, a Syrian...

Following mayor’s assassination, Mexican bishop laments ‘river of innocent blood’

Gisela Mota Ocampo, the mayor of Temixco, Mexico, was assassinated on January 2, a day after assuming office. At her funeral Mass, Bishop Ramón Castro Castro of Cuernavaca condemned the...

Chaldean patriarchate welcomes liberation of Ramadi

In a message for the new year, the patriarchate of the Chaldean Catholic Church offered congratulations to Iraqi and Kurdish forces as well as to others involved in the liberation of the city of...

‘Global situation is disastrous,’ says Jerusalem patriarch

In his January 1 homily, the Latin patriarch of Jerusalem said that “in the coming year, we will continue to pray for peace in our land, that Israelis and Palestinians lay aside the ways of...

In supporting refugees, bishops do not support open borders, says USCCB staff member

In a reflection for National Migration Week, the education outreach coordinator for the United State Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Migration & Refugee Services said that “the...

Amid rising Catholic population, new cathedral planned in Norway

A new cathedral dedicated to St. Olav will be consecrated in Trondheim, Norway, in 2017, according to a report in La Croix. When the current cathedral was built in 1973, there were 500 Catholics...

German choir performs for Pope Emeritus

The youth choir of the cathedral in Eichstätt, Bavaria, performed at a special Christmas concert at the Vatican attended by Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI and his brother, Msgr. Georg...

Pope visits Italian shrine

Pope Francis made a surprise visit to the Sanctuary of Greccio on January 4 and prayed at the site where St. Francis of Assisi set up a living Nativity scene in 1223 in order to foster devotion to...

Kidnapped priest released in Syria

A Catholic priest who was abducted in Syria on December 23 has been released. Father Dhiya Azziz, who was seized as he returned to his parish in Yakubiya after visiting relatives in Turkey, was set...

Irish bishops: 100th anniversary of Easter Rising should stimulate work for peace

As Ireland prepares to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the “Easter Rising,” which paved the way for the nation’s independence, the country’s Catholic bishops have issued a statement calling for...

Bidders in line for Minnesota archdiocesan buildings

The Archdiocese of St. Paul-Minnesota is prepared to sell several buildings, if a bankruptcy court grants approval for the transactions. The archdiocese-- which filed for bankruptcy protection in...

Released Wednesday, Jan. 6

Vatican astronomer reflects on star of Bethlehem

In a front-page reflection published by L’Osservatore Romano on January 6, the feast of the Epiphany, the director of the Vatican Observatory discussed the star of Bethlehem and the journey of...

Brunei’s Catholics celebrate Christmas without incident

Amid a ban on Christmas celebrations outside of Christian communities, Brunei’s Catholics celebrated the feast without incident, according to the nation’s leading prelate. Under...

1st Vatican performance of complete Shakespeare play

A complete play by William Shakespeare will performed on Vatican territory for the first time in April, according to Nigel Baker, the United Kingdom’s ambassador to the Holy See. In...

Jewish-Catholic dialogue in Italy focuses on 10th Commandment

In a joint message, the presidents of the Italian Rabbinical Assembly and the Italian bishops’ commission for ecumenism and interreligious dialogue reflected on the tenth commandment of the...

Moscow patriarch issues Christmas message

The head of the Russian Orthodox Church issued his Christmas message on January 5 as Orthodox Christians who follow the Julian calendar prepared to celebrate the feast day. “In following...

USCCB awards $2.5M to projects in Eastern Europe

The Subcommittee on Aid to the Church in Central and Eastern Europe of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops has awarded nearly $2.5 million to fund 99 projects. “Since the fall...

Survey examines religious belief in France

A recent survey conducted on behalf of CORREF, the conference of men and women religious in France, found that 38% of French citizens believe that God’s existence is probable (21%) or certain...

Church's evangelical mission is to reflect the light of Christ, Pope says at Epiphany

”The Church cannot delude herself into thinking that she shines with her own light,” Pope Francis said in his homily at a Mass for the feast of the Epiphany. The Pope went on to cite the thought of...

Somali government banned Christmas celebrations

Somalia’s provisional government banned public celebrations of Christmas this year, citing the need to avoid inflaming Muslim sensibilties. The new government’s policy had little practical effect...

Russian Orthodox Church will lose Ukrainian faithful, journalist predicts

The former editor of an official Russian Orthodox journal, who was dismissed last week because of disagreements with the Moscow Patriarchate, says that the Ukrainian Orthodox Church is drawing away...

On eve of execution, Florida bishops urge halt to capital punishment

The Catholic bishops of Florida have urged the state’s Governor Rick Scott to stop capital punishment, with the execution of a convicted criminal scheduled for January 7. In a letter to the...

Dallas bishop rips 'cowboy mentality,' praises Obama gun-control initiative

Bishop Kevin Farrell has released a stinging denunciation of “the cowboy mentality” and praised President Barack Obama for his executive orders restricting the sale of firearms. “Thank God that...

Vatican paper rips Charlie Hebdo issue mocking religion as source of terrorism

The Vatican newspaper L’Osservatore Romano has sharply criticized Charlie Hebdo for a special edition, marking the anniversary of a terrorist attack, that suggests religious faith fosters...

Released Thursday, Jan. 7

Nebraska bishops weigh in on transgender participation in high school sports

The Nebraska School Activities Association will soon vote on transgender participation in high school sports—prompting a statement from the state’s bishops. The vote “will...

Chaldean Catholic Church grows in California

Its numbers on the rise as Iraqi Christians emigrate to the United States, the Chaldean Eparchy of St. Peter the Apostle-- an Eastern Catholic diocese whose territory includes 19 states-- now has...

‘Russia comes first,’ says Serbian Orthodox leader

Relations with Russia take precedence over relations with the European Union and the United States, the head of the Serbian Orthodox Church said in an interview. Patriarch Irinej told Sputnik, a...

Nuns attacked in South Sudan

Five armed men stole computers, cell phones, and cash from religious sisters at a teachers’ training school in Yambio, South Sudan on December 28, according to the Catholic News...

Gang attacks on women outside Cologne Cathedral

As crowds gathered outside Cologne Cathedral and the adjacent train station to celebrate the new year, numerous men attacked women, according to multiple media reports. The city’s police...

Pope, other religious leaders appear in new video on monthly prayer intention

Pope Francis, a Buddhist lama, a rabbi, a priest, and a Muslim leader appear in a new 90-second video designed to publicize the Pope’s general prayer intention for January: “that sincere...

Syrian Catholic exarchate established in Canada

Pope Francis has established an exarchate for Syrian Catholics in Canada. The new exarchate will take over jurisdiction for Canadian territory previously within the Eparchy of Our Lady of...

Catholic Vespers to be celebrated in chapel of King Henry VIII

A Catholic Vespers service will be held in the chapel of King Henry VIII in February: the first Catholic liturgical ceremony to be conducted there in 450 years. Cardinal Vincent Nichols of...

Ethiopian drought puts 8 million in jeopardy

Ethiopia is facing its most serious drought in 50 years, theatening millions of lives, the international charity Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) reports. The UN reports that 8.2 million people are...

Released Friday, Jan. 8

Prelate comments on President Obama’s gun-control remarks

The chairman of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development has offered comments on President Barack Obama’s recent remarks on...

Coptic pope issues encyclical; Egyptian leader attends Christmas liturgy

Pope Tawadros II of Alexandria, the head of the Coptic Orthodox Church, has devoted his 2016 Christmas encyclical letter to “one of the main objectives of the Birth of Christ, that is, giving...

Rome’s chief rabbi discusses upcoming papal visit

In a newspaper interview, Rabbi Riccardo Di Segni, the chief rabbi of Rome, discussed the significance of Pope Francis’s upcoming visit to the Great Synagogue of Rome. St. John Paul...

70 joint Catholic-Lutheran churches in Germany

There are 70 churches in Germany where Lutherans and Catholics worship at separate altars under the same roof, at times simultaneously, according to the German episcopal conference. Recent German...

French government forbids enforcement of local blasphemy laws

In response to a parliamentary query, the French Ministry of Justice stated that regional governments are forbidden to enforce local laws against blasphemy. France abolished laws against...

Ordinariate’s new bishop looks to future

Msgr. Steven Lopes, who will soon be ordained bishop of the Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of Saint Peter, said in an interview that the former Anglicans to whom he will minister in the US and...

Iraqi Shi'ite leader backs call for restoration of seized Christian homes

Muqtada al Sadr, the influential Iraqi Shi’ite leader, has called for the restoration of homes that have been stolen from Iraqi Christians. When Christians fled from their homes in Iraq, in the...

Defendant Chaouqui says Msgr. Balda was responsible for Vatican document leaks

Francesca Chaouqui, the Italian publicist charged with leaking Vatican documents, said that her co-defendant, Msgr. Lucio Vallejo Balda, was responsible for giving the confidential documents to...

Denunciation of surrogacy as 'sex crime' heats up Italian debate on civil unions

The Italian people expect their lawmakers to pass legislation allowing for registration of civil unions, argues Laura Boldrini, the speaker of the Senate, and “we mustn’t disappoint them.” A bid to...

German investigator finds widespread abuse in Regensburg choir, once led by brother of retired Pope

A German lawyer charges that abuse was widespread in the Regensburg diocese, in boarding schools and in a children’s choir once led by Msgr. Georg Ratzinger, the older brother of the retired Pope...

Wisconsin bishop instructs pastors to move tabernacles to center of churches

Bishop Robert Morlino has directed all pastors in the Diocese of Madison, Wisconsin, to move tabernacles to the center of their churches. Since taking the reins of the Madison diocese in 2003,...

Released Monday, Jan. 11

Pope baptizes 26 children

In a Mass celebrated ad orientem in the Sistine Chapel, Pope Francis administered the Sacrament of Baptism of 26 infants on January 10, the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord. “You have asked...

Pope Francis reflects on the Holy Spirit and the Sacrament of Baptism

In his Angelus address on the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord, Pope Francis reflected on the Holy Spirit as the “principal architect” in Christian baptism. “It is He who burns...

Over 1 million have registered for jubilee events in Rome

Writing in the Vatican newspaper, the president of the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of the New Evangelization said that 1,025,000 persons have registered for this year’s jubilee events...

Cardinal Wuerl highlights plight of persecuted Christians

L’Osservatore Romano has published an excerpt of a new book by Cardinal Donald Wuerl of Washington on the persecution of Christians. “According to reliable estimates, more than 200...

Congo bishops foster election dialogue

In the Democratic Republic of the Congo—where an estimated 5.4 million people perished in two recent civil wars (1996-97 and 1998-2003)—a delegation of bishops met with the national...

Prelate encourages, challenges Ivory Coast president

The Ivory Coast’s Christian and Muslim leaders met with President Alassane Ouattara on January 5, with the head of the episcopal conference praising Ouattara’s efforts to repatriate...

Cardinal Turkson: Pope is not anti-business, but calls leaders to deeper responsibility

In an address delivered at the University of the Andes in Chile, the president of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace said that Pope Francis is challenging business leaders to deepen their...

Migration is top priority in Pope's annual address to diplomatic corps

Pope Francis called for a worldwide effort to address the crisis of migration in his annual address to the Vatican diplomatic corps. In a speech devoted mostly to the “massive and...

In new interview-book, Pope speaks of mercy, explains 'Who am I to judge?'

The Name of God is Mercy, a book-length interview with Pope Francis, will be released on January 12. In the book—a series of conversations with the Vatican journalist Andrea...

Vatican cardinal pays homage to David Bowie

The president of the Pontifical Council for Culture reacted to the death of David Bowie by quoting the lyrics of a famous Bowie song on Twitter. Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi quoted a few lines from...

Lawyer: Obama administration emails show no interest in religious-freedom claims on contraceptive mandate

The Obama administration planned carefully to include Catholic groups under the “Obamacare” contraceptive mandate while muting official Catholic opposition, according to an attorney who has filed an...

Protests mount against Chilean bishops accused of abuse cover-up; Pope meets with leaders of bishops' conference

A group of Chilean lay people staged a demonstration at St. Matthew’s cathedral in Osorno, Chile, on January 9, demanding the removal of Bishop Juan Barros. Bishop Barros has been the focus...

Security tight as 1 million Filipino Catholics join annual procession

An estimated 1 million Filipino Catholics joined in the procession in Manila celebrating the feast of the Black Nazarene on January 1. The annual procession, which is always a boisterous and...

Church officials protest desecration of cemetery outside Jerusalem

Catholic Church leaders in Israel have renewed their pleas for a crackdown on anti-Christian violence after the desecration of a cemetery near Jerusalem. Dozens of crosses on graves were...

Released Tuesday, Jan. 12

Cardinal Dolan laments opposition to conscience-protection, school-choice bills

Calling for increased Catholic participation in the political process, Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York criticized “Democratic leadership on the Hill and at the White House” for...

Anglican primates gather in Canterbury; ‘schism would not be a disaster’

The primates of the 38 ecclesial communities of the Anglican Communion gathered in Canterbury at Archbishop Justin Welby’s invitation on January 11. The six-day meeting began with Evensong...

‘Human stupidity’ is at heart of Middle East conflicts, says Coptic Orthodox leader

The head of the Coptic Orthodox Church told an Egyptian newspaper that “human stupidity”-- “people killing each other for money and [for the sake of their] interests”-- is...

India: sainthood cause begins for Catholics killed in 2008 pogrom

With the support of the head of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India, Archbishop John Barwa of Cuttack-Bhubaneswar has begun the cause of canonization of the faithful who were killed by...

Muslim share of US population to double by 2050

There are 3.3 million Muslims in the United States, according to a new estimate from the Pew Research Center. 1.8% of Americans are Jews, 1.0% are Muslims, and 0.7% are Hindus. By 2035,...

Historic meeting between Malaysian archbishop, mufti

In a meeting described as “historic” and “unprecedented,” Archbishop Julian Leow Beng Kim of Kuala Lumpur visited the chief Muslim cleric of Malaysia’s Federal...

Top Vatican diplomat: Pope seeks balance between needs of migrants, legitimate concerns of states

The Vatican’s top foreign-policy official has said that Pope Francis sought to balance the legitimate concerns of governments with the rights of migrants in his January 11 address to the Vatican...

Prince Charles gives to Catholic charity for Christian refugees in Middle East

The Prince of Wales has made a substantial donation to the international Catholic charity, Aid to the Church in Need, to support relief efforts for Christian refugees in the Middle East. In a...

Chaldean Patriarch encourages pre-Lenten fast for peace, security in Middle East

Chaldean Catholic Patriarch Louis Raphael I Sako has encouraged the faithful to observe a traditional fast, known as the "fast of Nineveh," for the cause of peace in the Middle East, the...

German bishops, Vatican paper react to assaults on women in Cologne

A week after the rash of sexual assaults on women in Cologne, the German bishops' conference has issued a statement decrying the incident.  Cardinal Reinhard Marx of Berlin, the...

Prayers of saints, not decisions of bishops, restore Church, Pope says

"It's the prayers of the faithful that bring change to the Church," Pope Francis told a congregation at Mass in the Domus Sanctae Marthae on January 12. "It's not us-- popes,...

Cardinal Parolin voices sympathy for victims of terror bombing in Turkey

The Vatican's Secretary of State issued an expression of condolences on January 12 in response to a terrorist bombing in Istanbul. Cardinal Pietro Parolin said that news of the bombing in the...

Catholic bishops visit wall separating Palestinian lands; turned away by troops

An international delegation of Catholic bishops, on a visit to the Holy Land, was turned away from the site where a controversial wall is being built across Palestinian territory.  The Holy...

Released Wednesday, Jan. 13

Ukrainian Catholic leader decries abortion, gender ideology

The head of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church—the largest of the Eastern Catholic churches—said in a recent homily that abortion has killed “ten times more” persons over...

27,000 migrants housed in Italian Catholic institutions

An estimated 27,000 migrants and refugees are being housed in Italy’s parishes, shrines, monasteries, and other religious institutions—up from 23,000 in September, when Pope Francis...

Obama refers to Pope in state of the union address

In his final state of the union address, President Barack Obama referred to Pope Francis’s speech to Congress in September. “Let me just say this,” President Obama said on...

Church of England’s weekly attendance falls below 1 million

Less than 2% of the English population now worships in an Anglican church on the average Sunday, according to statistics released by the Church of England on January 12. “On average,...

Cardinal Wuerl: abortion remains ‘the fundamental basic issue’

In an interview with Newsmax TV, Cardinal Donald Wuerl of Washington said that abortion “remains the fundamental basic issue” in an election year. “One reason it strikes me, one...

USCCB files brief in HHS mandate case, warns against 'unimpeded' government power

The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), joined by several other organizations, has filed a friend-of-the-court brief in several HHS mandates that are before the Supreme...

Pope reflects on God’s mercy as revealed to Moses

During his January 13 general audience, Pope Francis told those gathered in Paul VI Audience Hall that he will reflect on divine mercy during his Wednesday addresses throughout the jubilee...

Archbishop Nienstedt, who resigned last year, now doing parish work

Archbishop John Nienstedt, who resigned last June from his post as Archbishop of St. Paul-Minneapolis, is now serving in a parish in the Diocese of Kalamazoo, Michigan. The pastor of St. Philip’s...

Italian Servite priest chosen to lead Lenten Retreat at Vatican

Pope Francis has asked Father Ermes Maria Ronchi, an Italian Servite, to lead this year’s Lenten Retreat for the Roman Curia. Father Ronchi, a theology professor at the Marianum theological faculty...

Ghana: bishops protest arrival of prisoners released from Guantanamo

The Catholic bishops of Ghana have questioned their government’s decision to admit two former prisoners from the American prison at Guantanamo. The bishops questioned whether the men, who had been...

Kenyan bishops protest government proposals to regulate worship

The Catholic bishops of Kenya are protesting proposed government regulations of religion, the Fides news service reports. The bishops said that they accepted the need for some government...

Powerful Vatican official defends Roman Curia, says criticism based on 'Vatileaks II' document is unjust

Archbishop Angelo Becciu, who coordinates most of the Vatican’s daily business, has disputed the notion that the Roman Curia is a “den of thieves.” In an interview with the...

Russian Orthodox official, dismissed in December shake-up, reports media blackout on his views

A leading official of the Russian Orthodox Church, who was dismissed from his post in December because of disputes with Moscow’s Patriarch Kirill, has been denied access to Russia’s secular media,...

Mexican diocese warns against fake tickets to events during papal visit

The Diocese of Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, has warned the public against hucksters who are selling counterfeit tickets to public events scheduled during the February visit by Pope Francis. Tickets for...

Released Thursday, Jan. 14

Papal appeal for prayers for victims of Istanbul bombing

Following his January 13 general audience, Pope Francis appealed for prayers for the victims of the recent bombing in Istanbul. “Before concluding our encounter, in which we have reflected...

USCCB awards $1M to Church in Africa

The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Subcommittee on the Church in Africa has awarded $1 million in grants to 42 pastoral projects in 18 nations. “The growth of the...

Vatican newspaper sees ‘uphill road’ to pan-Orthodox council

The heads of the Orthodox churches face several obstacles to consensus before the Great and Holy Council of the Orthodox Church, scheduled to begin on June 19 in Istanbul, according to a report in...

In the Caucasus, bishop blesses a holy door in an open field

Facing bureaucratic roadblocks to the construction of a church, a bishop has blessed a holy door for the jubilee year of mercy in an open field in Rustavi, the fourth-largest city in...

Patriarch laments plight of Syrian town whose residents are starving

As food aid reached Madaya, a Syrian city under siege by government forces, the head of the Melkite Greek Catholic Church said that the starving residents are being used as “human...

Congo’s bishops announce election monitoring committee

The bishops of the Democratic Republic of Congo have announced the formation of a committee to monitor upcoming national elections, currently scheduled for March. The committee’s members...

Papal message for mercy jubilee for boys and girls

Young people are called to take an active part in the Jubilee of Mercy, Pope Francis said in a message dated January 6 and released on January 13. In his message for the Jubilee for Boys and...

Top papal adviser acknowledges 'gay lobby' influence at Vatican

A top adviser to Pope Francis has acknowledged the existence of a “gay lobby” within the Vatican, and said that the Pontiff is moving to address the problem. Cardinal Oscar Rodriguez Maradiaga of...

Visiting bishops assure Holy Land Christians: You are not forgotten

Concluding a visit to the Holy Land, a group of bishops from Europe, America, and South Africa have issued a statement assuring the Christians of the region: “You are not forgotten.” The Catholic...

Italy expels Islamic radical whose son called for Pope's death

The Italian government has expelled a Macedonian man as a “terrorism prevention” measure. The man’s young son had recently called for the death of Pope Francis. Ljimani Redjep, who had lived in...

During visit to synagogue, Pope will recall Rome's victims of anti-Semitic assaults

During his visit to Rome’s synagogue on January 17, Pope Francis will commemorate two 20th-century assaults on the city’s Jewish community. The Pontiff will stop first before a plaque that recalls...

Rome's homeless, refugees are guests at circus performance

About 2,000 of Rome’s homeless, refugees, and prisoners attended a circus performance on January 14, as guests of Pope Francis. The Rony Roller Circus made the seats available for an afternoon...

Episcopal Church USA suspended from Anglican communion

The Protestant Episcopal Church in the US has been suspended from the worldwide Anglican communion. The primates of the Anglican world, meeting this week in Canterbury, England, voted to suspend...

Persecution of Christians hit historic high in 2015, report says

The year 2015 was the “worst year in modern history for Christian persecution,” a new study reports. The Open Doors World Watch List, which monitors persecution of Christians, saw the outright...

Released Friday, Jan. 15

Cardinal Dolan decries ‘extreme ideology’ of conscience-protection opponents

In a statement for the 43rd anniversary of the Roe v. Wade decision, Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York, the new chairman of the Committee on Pro-Life Activities of the United States Conference of...

Bishops urge Obama administration not to target mothers, children in deportations

Charging that the Obama administration’s actions on immigration are inconsistent with the president’s words on the issue, two bishops have called upon the administration to “end...

Cuban bishop calls for improved prison conditions

In an interview with Havana’s archdiocesan publication, the bishop responsible for prison ministry in Cuba called for improved prison conditions. Citing overcrowding and long sentences for...

Cardinal Parolin calls on Muslim leaders to condemn terrorism

Cardinal Pietro Parolin, the Vatican’s Secretary of State, has called upon Muslim leaders to “condemn without ambiguity all acts of terrorism committed in the name of Islam” and to...

Vatican newspaper publishes British prime minister’s reflection on Shakespeare

L’Osservatore Romano has published a reflection by Prime Minister David Cameron on the enduring influence of William Shakespeare, who died in 1616. “Shakespeare’s legacy is...

Google chairman meets with Pope

Pope Francis received Eric Schmidt, the executive chairman of Google’s holding company, in audience on January 15. The Holy See Press Office did not release details about the meeting,...

Planned Parenthood sues makers of undercover videos

Planned Parenthood has filed suit against the Center for Medical Progress, the group that produced undercover videos exposing the sale of body parts from aborted babies. The lawsuit charges that...

Islamic State releases 16 Christian hostages

The Islamic State has released 16 Christian hostages who had been captured and held since last February, the Fides news service reports. The hostages were among about 250 Christians who were...

Vatican cardinal lauds David Bowie's 'secret and implicit spirituality'

The music of the late David Bowie bore testimony to the rock star's "secret and implicit spirituality," Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi writes in an appreciation published in the...

California judge rules Catholic hospital is not required to perform sterilization

A California judge has ruled that a Catholic hospital is not required to sterilize a woman who does not wish to have any more children. Rebecca Chamorro had sought a court order requiring the...

Archbishop of Canterbury working with Pope to establish common Easter date for all Christians

The Archbishop of Canterbury has revealed that he is working with Pope Francis in an effort to establish a common date for the celebration of Easter in all Christian communities. Speaking to...

New school guidelines on transgender students are 'madness,' says Canadian bishop

Bishop Fred Henry of Calgary, Alberta, has written that new proposals to accommodate transgender students “smack of the madness of relativism” and “must be rejected.” In a letter to the faithful of...

Bishop Finn, who resigned last year after criminal conviction, now working as convent chaplain

Bishop Robert Finn, who resigned last year after he was found guilty of endangering children by failing to report sexual abuse, has taken a new post as chaplain of a convent in Nebraska. Bishop...

Released Monday, Jan. 18

Pope visits nursing home as part of ‘Friday of mercy’ initiative

Pope Francis made an unannounced visit on January 15 to a nursing home and to a home where family members offer continuous care to those diagnosed to be in a persistent vegetative...

Pope Francis: education, sharing, witness help us respond to vocation to work

Work is a vocation rooted in God’s call to till and keep the garden, Pope Francis told members of the Christian Workers Movement who had gathered in Paul VI Audience Hall on January 16. To...

All are called to meet the Lord as Bridegroom, Pope says

Reflecting on the day’s Gospel reading (Jn. 2:1-11), Pope Francis said during his January 17 Angelus address that “the miracle of Cana is not just about the bride and groom. Every...

Do not give up hope, Pope says at Jubilee of Migrants

Following his January 17 Angelus address, Pope Francis prayed for the victims of recent terrorist attacks and greeted migrants and refugees who had gathered in St. Peter’s...

Pope visits Roman synagogue

Following visits by St. John Paul II (1986) and Pope Benedict XVI (2010), Pope Francis has become the third pope to visit the Great Synagogue of Rome. During his January 17 visit, the Pope...

Christians are called to become ‘more credible witnesses of unity,’ Pope tells Finnish Lutherans

Greeting those who took part in an ecumenical pilgrimage organized by the Lutheran church in Finland, Pope Francis said that dialogue that has laid “a solid basis for a growing communion of...

Background: Week of Prayer for Christian Unity

In 1908, Rev. Paul Wattson, then an Anglican religious in Graymoor, New York, began a Church Unity Octave with the support of Anglican and Catholic prelates, including Cardinal William...

Chaldean bishop condemns Turkish air strikes in Kurdistan as 'real terrorism'

A Chaldean Catholic bishop in northern Iraq has condemned air strikes by Turkey against Kurdish villages as “real terrorism,” the AsiaNews service reports. Turkish planes hit the...

Vatican security staff gets papal thanks

Pope Francis met on January 18 with members of the Vatican's security forces, thanking them for their service and their extra efforts "to ensure that the celebrations and events connected...

Calgary school-board members apologize for bishop's 'homophobic' statement

After the Catholic schools of Calgary, Alberta, sent out a copy of Bishop Fred Henry's statement denouncing new province guidelines for "transgender" students, some members of the...

Cardinal Schönborn decries European immigration restrictions, scheduled execution in Texas

Vienna’s Cardinal Christoph Schönborn likened European restrictions on immigration to “a new Iron Curtain” at a press conference in Rome on January 18. During the press conference—which was devoted...

At audience, Pope asks prayers for terror victims in Indonesia, Burkina Faso

At the conclusion of his midday audience on Sunday, January 17, Pope Francis asked for prayers for hte victims of recent terrorist attacks in Indonesia and in Burkina Faso. "May the Lord...

Seattle archdiocese lists 77 priests, religious accused of abuse

The Archdiocese of Seattle, Washington, has released a list of 77 priests and religious who have been accused of sexual abuse of young people.  The list included clerics and religious who...

Monaco's royals meet with Pontiff

Pope Francis met on January 18 with Prince Albert II and Princess Charlene of Monaco.  A brief Vatican statement released after the meeting indicated that the conversation had centered on...

IMF director Lagarde meets with Pope

Pope Francis met on January 18 with Christine Lagarde, the managing director of the International Monetary Fund. Lagarde, a French attorney who was appointed to head in the IMF in 2011, had also...

Released Tuesday, Jan. 19

Jews, Christians must work together in face of persecution, says Italian Jewish leader

As he welcomed Pope Francis to the Great Synagogue of Rome on January 17, the president of the Union of Italian Jewish Communities called upon Jews and Christians to “walk together” as...

Abbey vandalized in Jerusalem

Anti-Christian statements such as “death to the heathen Christians, the enemies of Israel” were written in Hebrew on the doors and walls of Dormition Abbey in Jerusalem. Greek...

French mosques hold open house

Hundreds of mosques throughout France held open houses recently to offer a “tea of fraternity” and “create spaces of conviviality and exchange,” according to a report in Le...

Syria: nuncio decries use of hunger as a weapon

Archbishop Mario Zenari, the apostolic nuncio to Syria, decried the use of hunger as a weapon in the Syrian Civil War. “Using hunger, and thirst, as a weapon of war is a crime, a shameful...

Serbian Orthodox delegation meets with Pope

Pope Francis met with a delegation from the Serbian Orthodox Patriarchate on January 16. According to a Serbian television news report, the patriarchate’s delegation expressed opposition to...

Cardinal Marx forbidden to enter Vietnamese diocese

Communist authorities forbade Cardinal Reinhard Marx of Munich to enter the Diocese of Vinh during a recent eight-day visit to Vietnam, UCA News reported. “We demand the Government...

Former Vatican official acquitted of money-smuggling charge

Msgr. Nunzio Scarano, the former chief of accounting for the Administration of the Patrimony of the Holy See (APSA), has been acquitted of charges of attempting to bring €20 million ($21.8...

Cardinal Parolin: overcome the 'globalization of indifference'

Cardinal Pietro Parolin, the Vatican Secretary of State, spoke about overcoming the “globalization of indifference” in a January 19 presentation to the Global Foundation. Cardinal Parolin said that...

Vatican moving to eliminate purchases from companies with ties to forced labor

The Vatican has made a commitment to stop purchasing from corporations that have any involvement in forced labor, the prefect of the Secretariat for the Economy has announced. Cardinal George...

Pope: 'no saint without a past, no sinner without a future'

"There is no saint without a past, and no sinner without a future," Pope Francis told the congregation at a morning Mass in the Domus Sanctae Marthae on January 19. Commenting on the...

Vatican official speaks on fight against extremism in address to Arab Thinkers Forum

The secretary of the Pontifical Council for Inter-Religious Dialogue was the only non-Muslim speaker to address the Arab Thinkers Forum, held in Abu Dhabi this week. Father Miguel Angel Ayuso...

Education minister: Calgary Catholic school directors must do their job, implement new guidelines

David Eggen, the education minister of Alberta, says that trustees of Catholic schools “need to sort themselves out” and implement new provincial policies requiring accommodation for “transgender”...

Kenyan President Kenyatta says he will work with bishops to amend guidelines for regulating religious bodies

Kenya's President Uhuru Kenyatta has promised to work with religious leaders to ensure that new regulations governing religious bodies do not infringe on the right to worship. "Our...

Released Wednesday, Jan. 20

Oldest monastery in Iraq destroyed

Satellite pictures obtained by the Associated Press have confirmed that the Islamic State has destroyed Iraq’s oldest monastery, built in the sixth century. The destruction of Dair Mar Elia...

Vatican newspaper lauds new book on Pilate

L’Osservatore Romano has published a glowing front-page review of Aldo Schiavone’s Ponzio Pilato, a new book on Pontius Pilate and how he saw Christ. Schiavone, an Italian historian,...

Russians plunge into icy waters to celebrate Epiphany

Celebrating Epiphany on January 19, its date on the Julian calendar, numerous Russian Christians plunged into frigid waters, blessed by priests, in commemoration of Christ’s baptism. Agence...

Venezuelan bishops denounce government’s attempt to invalidate election

The bishops of Venezuela have issued a pastoral exhortation denouncing the government’s attempt to invalidate the results of recent parliamentary elections. On December 6, the leading...

Panama’s bishops rue moral crisis

Calling for “ethical and spiritual renewal,” Panama’s bishops have issued a statement lamenting the nation’s “moral crisis of values, attitudes, motivations, and...

Pope to visit mosque next week?

Pope Francis “could” visit the Mosque of Rome on January 27, the president of the Union of Islamic Communities in Italy said in an interview with the Italian bishops’ television...

Pope Francis reflects on Christian unity

Interrupting his series of Wednesday catecheses on mercy, Pope Francis devoted his January 20 general audience to the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity. The theme of the 2016 Week of Prayer for...

Remember the poor, Pope exhorts world economic leaders

Pope Francis stressed the moral obligation of the affluent to care for those in need, in a January 20 message to the World Economic Forum. The Pope’s message to the forum-- which gathers over 2,500...

Nigerian cardinal: religious extremism has been on the rise for 20 years

Religious extremism has been on the rise in Nigeria for at least 20 years, Cardinal John Onaiyekan of Abuja said in an address to Ahmadu Bello University. About twenty years ago, the cardinal said,...

Vatican envoy reminds UN of rising civilian casualties in warfare

In a January 19 to a UN session on protecting civilians from armed conflict, the Vatican's representative called attention to the rising proportion of civilian casualties in modern...

Nebraska bishops call for reversal of state policy allowing transgender participation in school sports

The Catholic bishops of Nebraska have urged school administrators and parents to "make every effort to reverse" a decision by the state's school board, which would require a...

Sudanese bishops invite Pope to visit

Pope Francis met on January 20 with the bishops of Sudan and South Sudan, and expressed his hopes for peace, especially in South Sudan. Archbishop Paulino Lukudu Loro of Juba told Vatican Radio...

Benedictines 'praying for those who hate us' after vandals attack in Jerusalem

The monks of the Abbey of the Dormition in Jerusalem report that they are praying for the vandals who attacked the building. The abbey, in the Old City of Jerusalem, was spray-painted with crude...

Half of US Catholic colleges have Planned Parenthood centers nearby, study finds

Nearly half of the four-year Catholic colleges in the US are located within five miles of a Planned Parenthood clinic, the Cardinal Newman society has found. "Catholic colleges didn't...

English peer who financed escape for Syrian Christian refugees dead at 96

Lord Weidenfeld, the Austrian-born Jew and British peer who financed an ambitious effort to save Christians from the Islamic State, has died at the age of 96. Lord Weidenfeld, who fled from his...

Italian town's plans for huge statue of Padre Pio meet opposition

A small town in southern Italy has drawn controversy because of local officials' plan to build a massive statue to honor Padre Pio. Mayor Michele Apolito of Olgiastro Cilento wants to statue...

Released Thursday, Jan. 21

Caritas, other humanitarian agencies appeal for end to Syrian conflict

Estimating that 13.5 million people inside Syria need humanitarian assistance, Caritas Internationalis, the Church’s confederation of relief and development agencies, has joined with over 100...

Joint Catholic-Orthodox statement on sanctity of life

Leading prelates of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops and the Assembly of Canonical Orthodox Bishops of the USA have issued a joint statement on the sanctity of life. “On...

Leading Philippine bishop appeals for mercy toward migrants, refugees

Stating that “there can be no excuse for turning them away, and no justification for their ill-treatment,” the president of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines has...

German prelates, Catholic organizations continue support for refugees

In recent days, German prelates and Catholic agencies have expressed their continued support for assisting migrants and refugees. Cardinal Rainer Woelki of Cologne has again condemned the New...

Indonesia: interreligious rally against terrorism

Nahdlatul Ulama, Indonesia’s largest Muslim organization, recently sponsored an interfaith rally against terrorism in Jakarta. “I appreciate the initiative,” Bishop Yohanes...

Pope blesses lambs on feast of St. Agnes

Following an annual tradition, Pope Francis blessed two lambs on January 21, the memorial of St. Agnes. The rite took place in the Chapel of Pope Urban VIII in the Apostolic Palace. The wool...

Pope changes liturgical norms to allow washing of women's feet on Holy Thursday

Pope Francis has altered the liturgical norms of the Catholic Church to allow the washing of women’s feet, as well as men’s, in the liturgy of Holy Thursday. In a letter explaining the move, the...

Another unexpected papal phone call: to convicted Italian murderer

A convicted murderer in Italy is the latest person to report a private phone call from Pope Francis. Pietro Maso, who was imprisoned for 22 years after being convicted of killing his parents,...

Two suspects arrested in vandalism of Jerusalem monastery

Israeli police have arrested two Jewish teenagers who are suspected of vandalizing the Dormition abbey in Jerusalem, the Fides news service reports. The arrests came two days after the...

Serbian prelate says Pope wishes to resolve controversy over Bl. Cardinal Stepinac

After a meeting with Pope Francis, a Serbian Orthodox prelate said that the Pope was anxious to resolve tensions surrounding the possible canonization of Blessed Alojzije Stepinac. Metropolitan...

Lutheran delegation given Communion in St. Peter's basilica

A Lutheran delegation from Finland, which met with Pope Francis earlier this week, received Communion in St. Peter's basilica, although the priests celebrating Mass knew that the recipients were...

Vatican 'foreign minister' discourages British exit from European Union

The Vatican's top foreign-policy official lent his support to continued British membership in the European Union, in a television interview. Archbishop Paul Gallagher, the Secretary for...

Pilgrimages are eloquent expression of faith, means of evangelization, Pope says

Pilgrimages are among “the most eloquent expressions of the faith of a people for God,” Pope Francis said in a January 21 meeting with a group of pilgrimage organizers. Pilgrimages are also “an...

Archbishop Nienstedt leaves Michigan parish after protests

Archbishop John Nienstedt has left the parish in Battle Creek, Michigan, where he had been working, because of opposition from some parishioners. Archbishop Nienstedt, who resigned last June from...

Released Friday, Jan. 22

Love makes us ‘agents of conversion,’ Cardinal Dolan preaches at pro-life vigil

Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York preached at the opening Mass of the National Prayer Vigil for Life, held at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception on the eve of the...

Croatian prelate: Pope Francis believes Blessed Stepinac is a saint

A Croatian prelate welcomed recent calls for a joint Catholic-Orthodox commission to investigate the record of Blessed Aloysius Stepinac (1898-1960), the cardinal archbishop of Zagreb who was...

European bishops’ working group: synthetic biology is not ‘playing God’

The Commission of the Bishops’ Conferences of the European Community’s working group on ethics in research and medicine has issued an opinion paper on synthetic biology. Synthetic...

‘Iron hand’ needed in dealing with terrorists, says Pakistani bishops’ official

The director of the Pakistani bishops’ National Justice and Peace Commission has condemned the terrorist attack on Bacha Khan University in Charsadda, Pakistan. “The Catholic Church...

Vatican official traces foot-washing rite’s history, says it should not be given undue importance

Writing in L’Osservatore Romano, the secretary of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments commented on the Congregation’s new decree concerning the rite...

10 sainthood, beatification causes advance

In a January 21 audience with the prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, Pope Francis approved the publication of decrees that advance ten sainthood causes. In approving separate...

Communication should be inspired by mercy, Pope says in message

The Vatican has released the Pope’s message for the 50th World Communications Day, which takes place on the Sunday before Pentecost. In “Communication and Mercy: A Fruitful...

Pope strongly upholds Christian marriage as attainable ideal, rejects other forms of union

Christian marriage is not an ideal that only unusual couples can attain, Pope Francis said in a January 22 to the Tribunal of the Roman Rota; it is “a reality that, in the grace of Christ, can...

New miracle eyed for Cardinal Newman's canonization

The Vatican is investigating another reported miracle that, if approved, could lead to the canonization of Blessed John Henry Newman. Archbishop Bernard Longley of Birmingham, England confirmed...

Bishops who neglect prayer weaken Church, Pope tells congregation

The Church suffers when bishops do not have an active life of prayer, Pope Francis said in his homily at morning Mass in the Domus Sancta Marthae on January 22. "The first task of a bishop is to be...

India: 1-year visa for nun who has spent 44 years working with lepers

India's government has given a one-year visa to a Catholic nun who had faced expulsion from the country after serving for 44 years working with lepers, the AsiaNews service reports. Sister...

President of Dominica meets with Pontiff

Pope Francis met on January 22 with President Charles Angelo Savarin of Dominica.  A brief Vatican statement released after the meeting indicated that the conversation revolved around...

Pro-lifers brave blizzard at March for Life

Tens of thousands of pro-life activists defied freezing temperatures and the approach of a gigantic snowstorm to join in the 43rd March for Life in Washington, DC, on January 22. The annual...

Released Monday, Jan. 25

Pope to travel to Sweden to commemorate Reformation’s anniversary

The Holy See Press Office has announced that Pope Francis will travel to Lund, Sweden, on October 31 to take part in a joint Lutheran-Catholic ceremony commemorating the 500th anniversary of the...

Pope welcomes new ambassador from Taiwan

Pope Francis received Matthew S.M. Lee, the new ambassador of the Republic of China, as he presented his credentials on January 23. Only 21 other states maintain full diplomatic relations with...

Christians are called to evangelize the poor, Pope emphasizes

Making clear that evangelization is neither “giving social assistance” nor “political activity,” Pope Francis emphasized in his January 24 Angelus that Christians are called...

Protect holy sites, Chaldean patriarchate urges

Following reports confirming the destruction of Iraq’s oldest monastery, the patriarchate of the Chaldean Catholic Church has called upon the Iraqi government and its allies to do more to...

Archbishop of Canterbury: Anglicans have decided to ‘walk together at a distance’

Apologizing for “the pain that the church has caused LGBTI people,” Archbishop Justin Welby of Canterbury described the recent meeting of Anglican primates as a “God moment”...

International Eucharistic Congress begins in Philippines

The 51st International Eucharistic Congress began on January 24 in the Philippines. Cardinal Charles Maung Bo of Myanmar, the Pope’s legate, preached at the opening Mass in Cebu...

Ukrainian seminary reopens in Rome

The Ukrainian Pontifical College of Saint Josaphat in Rome has reopened following a two-year closure for renovations. The first Ukrainian seminary in Rome opened in 1596, and the current seminary...

Spread the message of Laudato Si’, Cardinal Turkson urges bishops

The president of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace called upon bishops to spread the teaching of the papal encyclical Laudato Si’-- “to take it on, to pray over it, and to...

World Orthodox assembly set for Crete, probably in June

The long-awaited council of the world’s Orthodox leaders will be held in Crete in June. At a weekend meeting in Switzerland to prepare for their unprecedented ecumenical council, Orthodox leaders...

Stranded in snow, pro-lifers celebrate Mass on Pennsylvania Turnpike

Stranded by a blizzard as they returned home from the March for Life, scores of Catholic pro-lifers from Nebraska and Iowa celebrated Mass outdoors on the Pennsylvania Turnpike on January 23,...

Pope to visit Colombia next year

Pope Francis will visit Colombia in 2017, the country's bishops have announced. The Colombian bishops' conference revealed on January 23 that the Pontiff has agree to a visit in 2017....

Strive for holiness, not 'normal' life, Pope tells seminarians

Priests should not seek after a “normal” life but should strive for holiness, Pope Francis said in January 25 talk with seminarians from the Archdiocese of Milan. The Pope proposed a former...

Released Tuesday, Jan. 26

Practice works of mercy during Lent, Pope says in message

The Holy See Press Office released Pope Francis’s 2016 Lenten message on January 26. Dated October 4 (the memorial of St. Francis of Assisi) and entitled “I mesire mercy, and not...

Pope Francis: conversion leads Christians closer to full communion

Pope Francis concluded the 2016 Week of Prayer for Christian Unity by celebrating Vespers at the Basilica of Saint Paul Outside the Walls on January 25. St. Paul’s conversion on the road to...

Supreme Court lets decision against North Dakota pro-life law stand

The United States Supreme Court has refused to hear an appeal of a lower court ruling barring enforcement of a 2013 North Dakota abortion law. The law would have banned abortions after the...

Attack on Christian neighborhood in Syrian city

A bomb blast in a Christian neighborhood of a Syrian city has left three dead and at least ten wounded. The January 24 attack took place in Al-Qamishli, a Syrian city of 184,000 that is the...

Leading Italian prelate suggests priorities, speaks against same-sex unions

In an address to the permanent council of the Italian Episcopal Conference, Cardinal Angelo Bagnasco, the body’s president, suggested four priorities for the next five years: the...

Cardinal sees 4 characteristics in Pope’s ecumenical vision

Writing in L’Osservatore Romano, the president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity said that Pope Francis’s teaching on ecumenism shows a “striking” and...

Bishop Barron: Christianity 'running on fumes' as Eucharistic devotion wanes

Christianity is "running on fumes" because of a decline in faith, Bishop Robert Barron told the 51st International Eucharistic Congress in Cebu, the Philippines. The Los Angeles...

Texas grand jury absolves Planned Parenthood, indicts undercover filmmakers

A Texas grand jury, investigating charges that Planned Parenthood engaged in the sale of fetal body parts, has declined to bring charges against Planned Parenthood, and instead has brought criminal...

Agenda set for pan-Orthodox council

The world's Orthodox leaders have set the agenda for an unprecedented Orthodox ecumenical council, to be held in Crete in June. Concluding a weekend meeting in Geneva to prepare for the...

Iran's President Rouhani meets Pope, asks for prayers

Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani met with Pope Francis at the Vatican on January 26, and as he was leaving, asked for the Pope’s prayers. The Pope’s discussions with the Iranian leader centered on...

Peace talks on Syria should not ignore Christians, says Vatican envoy

The Vatican's representative at UN headquarters in Geneva has insisted that the plight of Syrian Christians must be "taken into serious consideration" at international talks aimed at...

Indian Christians leery of Hindu-nationalist group's invitation to dialogue

In India, a Hindu-nationalist group has called for dialogue with Christians, prompting a debate among Christians who question the value of talks with religious extremists, the Fides news service...

Released Wednesday, Jan. 27

Vatican newspaper chides European nations over migrants

In a front-page op-ed article, Giuseppe Fiorentino, the vice-editor of L’Osservatore Romano, criticized officials of European nations for backtracking on the Schengen Agreement. Under the...

Vatican foreign minister warns against Islamophobia

The Holy See’s Secretary for Relations with States has told Le Figaro that the Holy See “does not wish in any way to nourish Islamophobia.” “We believe in dialogue with...

There is a ‘right not to emigrate,’ says Vatican cardinal

Speaking at a conference in Albania, the president of the Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerants said that religion has a “vocation to welcome and...

Papal educational charity hosts discussion on bullying, school problems

Scholas Occurrentes, an educational charity founded by Pope Francis in 2013, has held its first event in Europe. Three hundred students gathered with Archbishop Carlos Osoro Sierra of Madrid to...

Leading Canadian bishop laments school shooting

The president of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops has expressed his prayers and condolences following a shooting spree in a rural Saskatchewan town that left four dead, including two...

Pope Francis reflects on God’s mercy and the Chosen People

Resuming his weekly catecheses on mercy, Pope Francis spoke about mercy and the Old Covenant during his January 27 general audience. The Pontiff devoted his January 20 audience to the Week of...

Pope encourages Catholic charitable organizations to take part in Lenten retreat

At the conclusion of his general audience on January 27, Pope Francis encouraged “persons and groups engaged in the service of charity” to make a Lenten retreat using materials prepared...

Russian Orthodox Church denies plan for meeting of Pope, Patriarch

The Patriarchate of Moscow has dismissed rumors that a summit meeting between Pope Francis and Russian Orthodox Patriarch Kirill is being planned for next month. Speculation about a meeting was...

Poverty caused by inequality not shortage, says cardinal from Myanmar

Speaking at the 51st International Eucharistic Congress in the Philippines, Cardinal Charles Maung Bo of Yangon, Myanmar, called for a worldwide drive to eliminate poverty. "The poor and the...

Syrian city starving under Islamic State siege, archbishop reports

A Syrian prelate has warned that over 120,000 people face the threat of starvation because their city is besieged by the Islamic State, the Fides news service reports. The city of Deir al Zor, in...

Franciscans sheltered Jews in Assisi basilica during World War II

Franciscan friars in Assisi, Italy, sheltered Jews from the Nazis by hiding them in the bell tower of St. Francis basilica, the order has disclosed. On the eve of Holocaust Day, Franciscan...

Date and place set for pan-Orthodox council

The long-awaited worldwide council of Orthodox Church leaders will be held on June 16 through 27 at the Orthodox Academy of Crete, outside the city of Chania. The Romanian Orthodox Patriarchate...

Calgary's Bishop Henry rejects criticism, repeats condemnation of 'transgender' guidelines

Bishop Fred Henry of Calgary, Alberta has refused to back down from his statement that new provincial guidelines on accommodating transgender students reflect the "madness of relativism"...

Italian bishops' leader reaffirms opposition to civil-union proposal

Cardinal Angelo Bagnasco of Genoa spoke out strongly in support of natural marriage in his address to a meeting of the Italian episcopal conference. The cardinal’s remarks were clearly prompted by...

Pope's Synod exhortation to be published in March, Vatican official says

An apostolic exhortation by Pope Francis, summarizing the message of the Synod on the Family, will appear before the end of March, a ranking Vatican official has disclosed. Archbishop Vincenzo...

Released Thursday, Jan. 28

Jewish group expresses sorrow over cemetery desecration

Members of a Jewish organization traveled to the Salesian monastery of Beit Jimal near Jerusalem to express their sorrow over the recent desecration of the monastery’s cemetery. The...

Cardinal Marx meets with leading EU officials

Cardinal Reinhard Marx, the president of the Commission of the Bishops’ Conferences of the European Community (COMECE), met with two leading European officials on January 27 to discuss the...

USCCB committee chair reflects on Mideast issues, laments plight of persecuted Christians

In a letter to Secretary of State John Kerry, the chairman of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on International Justice and Peace reflected on an array of Middle...

Obama, citing Pope, bans juvenile solitary confinement

Writing in The Washington Post, President Barack Obama said that he would make changes to the federal prison system, including “banning solitary confinement for juveniles and as a response to...

Vatican cardinal reflects on relation between Eucharist, Catholic social teaching

In a lengthy address delivered at the International Eucharistic Congress in the Philippines, the president of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace reflected on the relation between the Holy...

Anglican prelate welcomes Pope’s unexpected gesture at ecumenical Vespers

On January 25, as Pope Francis concluded the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, he asked an Orthodox prelate and an Anglican prelate to join him in conferring the final blessing at Vespers at the...

Patriarchs demand Syriac seats in Lebanon’s parliament

At a meeting with Lebanese political leaders, the patriarchs of the Syriac Orthodox Church and the Syriac Catholic Church demanded that two parliamentary seats, one Orthodox and one Catholic, be set...

Cardinal welcomes Muslim conference’s declaration on religious minorities

At the invitation of Morocco’s government, hundreds of Sunni and Shiite scholars from 120 countries gathered in Marrakesh to consider the plight of non-Muslim minorities in largely Muslim...

Health issues force Cardinal Pell to cancel speaking appearance in US

Cardinal George Pell, who announced in December that health problems prevented him from traveling to Australia to testify before a commission investigating sexual abuse, has also cancelled a...

Film star DiCaprio in private audience with Pope Francis

Pope Francis met with American film star Leonardo DiCaprio in a private audience on January 28. The two reportedly spoke about environmental issues. DiCaprio, in addition to his movie career, has...

World Day of the Sick focuses on role of the faithful in cooperating with Christ's healing power, cardinal says

The celebration of the 24th World Day of the Sick, which will take place in Nazareth in February, should highlight both the role of Christ as healer and the active participation of the People of...

Italian firms donates electric bikes to Vatican, in thanks for Pope's environmental stand

Pope Francis has received a gift of 10 electric bikes for the Vatican, from the firm NWG, based in Prado, Italy.  The bikes were offered as a token of thanks to the Pontiff for his advocacy...

Bishop questions leaders' commitment to defeat rebel group in Central Africa

A Catholic bishop in the Central African Republic has questioned whether political leaders in the region have the political will to defeat the rebels of the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), the...

Pope Francis to visit Auschwitz?

Pope Francis could make a visit to the notorious Nazi death camp at Auschwitz in July, during a trip to Poland. Father Federico Lombardi, the director of the Vatican press office, raised that...

Togo's president meets with Pontiff

Pope Francis met on January 28 with President Faure Essozimna Gnassingbe of the Republic of Togo. According to a brief Vatican statement released after the meeting, the Pontiff's discussions...

Syrian Catholic Patriarch scoffs at Italian museum's covering of nudes during Iranian leader's visit

A decision by Italian museum curators to cover up statues of nudes during a visit by Iran's President Hassan Rouhani has drawn the scorn of Syrian Catholic Patriarch Youssef III...

On bioethical issues, Church stands with the vulnerable: Pope Francis

The Catholic Church does not claim "any privileged voice" in the discussion of medical ethics, but supports "the search for truth and goodness on complex human and ethical...

Released Friday, Jan. 29

Muslim journalist in Vatican newspaper: Marrakesh Declaration is ‘very important step forward’

L’Osservatore Romano published a column on the front page of its January 29 edition welcoming the Marrakesh Declaration as a “very important step forward” in addressing the plight...

Patriarch grateful to Russia for military intervention in Syria

The head of the Syriac Catholic Church, an Eastern Catholic church in full communion with the Holy See, welcomed the Russian military intervention in the Syrian Civil War. In the four months...

President, publisher departs from OSV

Greg Erlandson is stepping down from his position of president and publisher of Our Sunday Visitor, the Indiana-based Catholic publishing company best known for its weekly newspaper. Erlandson...

Muslim students learn about Incarnation at Bethlehem University

Christian and Muslim students in the West Bank are able to learn more about Islam and Christianity by taking a course taught jointly by a Christian professor and a Muslim professor. “We...

Croatia: 1st meeting between Catholic, Serbian Orthodox religious

During the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, Catholic and Serbian Orthodox religious in Croatia held an official joint meeting for the first time. Religious superiors presented overviews of...

South Sudan’s bishops decry slow implementation of peace agreement

Concluding an extraordinary meeting in Rome, the bishops of South Sudan criticized belligerents in the nation’s civil war for their slow implementation of an August peace...

Zambia’s bishops begin tree-planting campaign

The bishops of Zambia have launched a tree-planting campaign to combat the effects of deforestation, according to the Association of Member Episcopal Conferences in Eastern Africa. “It is a...

Work for Holy Land peace agreement, USCCB committee chair urges administration

Stating that “the status quo is unsustainable” and lamenting the situation of Christians in the Cremisan Valley, the chairman of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops’...

Minnesota archdiocese has bankruptcy court's OK for sale of chancery building

The Archdiocese of St. Paul-Minneapolis has received clearance from a federal bankruptcy-court judge to sell its chancery building. Proceeds from the sale of the chancery building, and other...

No progress in Vatican talks with China, Taiwan's ambassador reports

Talks between the Vatican and Beijing have failed to resolve a struggle for control of the Catholic Church in China, according to Taiwan’s new ambassador to the Holy See. Matthew Lee told the...

Nigerian cardinal: embrace spiritual poverty, but fight material poverty

Cardinal John Onaiyekan of Abuja, Nigeria, warned against a temptation to “spiritualize poverty” in an address to the 51st International Eucharistic Congress, being held this week in Cebu, in the...

Ancient fears of leprosy are no longer valid: Vatican statement

In a message for the 63rd World Leprosy Day, the Pontifical Council for Health Care argues that the ancient fear of the disease and its victims “today no longer has any reason to exist.” The...

Milan's Cardinal Scola warns against same-sex adoption, backs defense of family

Cardinal Angelo Scola of Milan has argued that allowing same-sex couples to adopt children would further the “dissolution of society.” As the Italian Senate prepared to take action on legislation...

Mexican bishop rips government failure to regulate exploitation of environment

Denouncing the Mexican government’s failure to curb the exploitation of the environment by entrepreneurs in southern Mexico, a Catholic bishop said that political leaders “act only when there are...

Safeguarding doctrine is a work of mercy, Pope says in address to CDF

In a January 29 meeting with the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF), Pope Francis remarked that the Congregation’s work involves spiritual works of mercy, which are closely related to...

Upcoming Jubilee events: veneration of relics of Padre Pio, commissioning of Missionaries of Mercy

Archbishop Rino Fisichella, the president of the Pontifical Council for the New Evangelization, outlined two important initiatives for the Jubilee Year of Mercy during a Vatican press conference on...

Michigan bishop inaugurates program to have chant at all parishes

Bishop John Doerfler of Marquette, Michigan, has issued directions for all parishes in the diocese to institute programs that will lead to the congregation chanting the Ordinary parts of the...

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