Stories for week of May 27, 2012

Released Monday, May. 28

2 saints to be proclaimed Doctors of the Church in October

During his Regina Coeli address on Pentecost Sunday, Pope Benedict announced that he will proclaim St. John of Avila and St. Hildegard of Bingen doctors of the Church on October 7, at the beginning...

Pope contrasts unity of Pentecost, division of Babel

Preaching at St. Peter’s Basilica on Pentecost Sunday, Pope Benedict contrasted Pentecost, “the feast of human unity, understanding and sharing,” with Babel. Babel, said the Pope, is the...

Vatican confirms papal valet’s arrest for illegal possession of documents

The director of the Holy See Press Office issued a statement on May 26 confirming that Paolo Gabriele, the Pope’s valet, has been arrested for “illegal possession of Vatican documents found in his...

Memo explains reasons for firing of Vatican Bank president

One of Italy’s leading newspapers has published a memorandum listing the reasons why Ettore Gotti Tedeschi was fired from his position as president of the Vatican Bank, formally known as the...

Bishop Blaire clarifies remarks on HHS mandate, says he ‘stands solidly’ with other bishops

Bishop Stephen Blaire of Stockton has clarified recent remarks in which he expressed concern about the strategy of filing lawsuits against the HHS contraceptive mandate. “I do think there are...

Cardinal Wuerl defends lawsuits: ‘I don't want the president to define me’

Appearing on Fox News Sunday, Cardinal Donald Wuerl of Washington defended the lawsuits filed by the Archdiocese of Washington and 42 other Catholic institutions against the Obama administration’s...

Nuncio calls for prayer, fasting for peace in Syria

Amid conflicting reports about the killing of more than 100 Syrians in Houla, the apostolic nuncio to Syria called upon Christians and Muslims alike to pray and fast for peace. While most press...

Vatican spokesman: we must choose Christ’s army or the devil’s

Citing St. Ignatius of Loyola and recalling recent remarks made by Pope Benedict on the Church militant, the director of the Holy See Press Office said in his weekly editorial that “we must choose...

Sri Lanka: government minister charges that bishop fuels religious tensions

A member of the ruling cabinet in Sri Lanka has accused a Catholic bishop of encouraging hostility toward Muslims, drawing a sharp response from the bishop’s defenders. More than 5,000...

Pope's valet now cooperating with wider investigation into Vatican leaks

Paolo Gabriele, the valet to Pope Benedict XVI who was arrested on May 25 for holding confidential papal documents, has promised to cooperate with a larger investigation into the source of leaked...

Inspire social institutions with Gospel message, Pope says

The modern world is insecure and fragmented, and needs the inspiration of the Gospel message, the Pope said as he met on May 28 with members of Italy’s Renewal in the Holy Spirit Association, which...

Pope voices support for Iraqi Christian communities

Pope Benedict XVI voiced his “solidarity with the Christian communities in Iraq and throughout the Middle East” in a message to the leader of the Assyrian Church of the East. The Pope’s message...

Italian earthquake victims receive donation from Pope

Pope Benedict XVI has made a contribution of €100,000 ($125,000) to support victims of a recent earthquake in Italy. Cor Unum, the papal charity, announced that the Pope’s donation would be...

Costa Rican president meets with Pontiff

Pope Benedict XVI met on May 28 with Costa Rica’s President Laura Chinchilla Miranda, for a discussion that centered on relations between the Central American country and the Holy See. A Vatican...

Ontario Catholic schools oppose requirement for gay-straight alliances

Catholic schools in Ontario are opposing legislation that would require schools to allow students to form “gay-straight alliances.” Education minister Laurel Broten has put forward a proposal...

Released Tuesday, May. 29

Egyptian prelate airs concerns about Muslim Brotherhood victory

The Coptic Catholic bishop of Giza has expressed concerns for the future of Christians in Egypt if the Muslim Brotherhood emerges victorious in the nation’s elections. “The Muslim Brothers say...

Rioters sets fire to churches in Zanzibar

Rioters in Zanzibar City, the capital of the overwhelmingly Muslim Tanzanian region of Zanzibar, set fire to two Protestant churches on the night of May 26. Police said that the incidents were...

British doctors who refuse to carry out sex-change surgery may be barred from practice

British physicians who refuse to prescribe birth control to unmarried women or who refuse to carry out “gender reassignment” surgery would be guilty of discrimination and thus could be barred from...

Leading Ukrainian prelate recounts priestly vocation under Communist persecution

The head of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church has recounted how his priestly vocation developed in the midst of Soviet persecution. “I grew up in a completely atheistic society where all forms...

France: stones thrown at faithful during Mass

Four youths of “Maghreb origin”—that is, from northwestern Africa – entered a parish in Caracassonne, the famed walled city in southern France, during evening Mass on May 26 and threw small stones...

Union president: Church’s doctrines ‘not connected to my faith’

The president of the Service Employees International Union said in a recent newspaper interview that “I think of my Church as the Church of the people and not as the institutional hierarchy that has...

Key Vatican official comments on 'Vatileaks' scandal

Archbishop Angelo Becciu, who directs the flow of Vatican paperwork in his capacity as sostituto or deputy Secretary of State, commented on the leaks of confidential papal documents, and on the...

North Korea's brutal prisons threaten political dissidents, religious believers

Writing for Catholic World Report, Brian O'Neel reports on the kwalliso system in North Korea: the system of prison camps that house an estimated 200,000 people under brutal conditions. Any...

Turkish premier: 'I see abortion as murder'

Turkey’s Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has provoked a firestorm of criticism by saying: “I see abortion as murder.” “What’s the difference between killing a baby inside a mother’s womb and...

Pope expresses sorrow, Vatican condemns massacre in Syria

Pope Benedict XVI has expressed his sorrow at the news of a massacre in the Syrian town of Houla, and a Vatican statement noted that international leaders have “expressed unanimous condemnation of...

Vatican releases, explains guidelines on testing reported apparitions

The Vatican has officially released a document providing guidelines for bishops in judging reports of apparitions. The guidelines were issued by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith...

Planned Parenthood clinic found encouraging sex-selection abortion

An undercover video recorded by pro-life activists has shown a counselor at a Planned Parenthood clinic apparently encouraging a young woman to have a sex-selection abortion. Live Action, a...

Abortion rate rises, repeat abortions common, English statistics show

Abortion rates rose in England and Wales last year, with a total of 189,931 abortions performed. That figure is only slightly (0.2%) higher than the 2010 number, but 7.7% above the rate 10 years...

Toronto's Cardinal Collins joins opponents of required 'gay-straight alliances' in schools

The Archbishop of Toronto has joined Catholic-school administrators in Ontario in opposing a proposed new law that would require all school principals to allow students to form anti-bullying clubs...

Russians believe Orthodox Church needs protection, poll finds

Nearly half of all Russians believe that the Orthodox Church is under attack, according to a new poll. In a survey by the Vtsiom Center, 46% of respondents said that the Orthodox Church needs...

McGurn on the HHS-mandate lawsuit, Notre Dame's involvement, and Obama's problem with Catholic voters

Wall Street Journal columnist William McGurn applauds the decision by the University of Notre Dame to join in the lawsuit against the HHS contraceptive mandate. McGurn points out that with Notre...

Pakistani Protestant denounced for blasphemy after citing Qur'an in sermon on violence

A Protestant minister in Pakistan is being denounced for blasphemy after he quoted from the Qur’an in a sermon on inter-religious violence. Rev. Irfan Gill received death threats, and a local...

Released Wednesday, May. 30

Vatican spokesman denies rumors in ‘Vatileaks’ scandal

The director of the Holy See Press Office has denied reports that additional arrests have been made in the “Vatileaks” scandal and that cardinals are under investigation. “It is a great test for...

Bolivian cardinal denounces lynchings, gang violence

Following the lynching of a police officer who was the victim of mistaken identity, Bolivia’s leading prelate decried vigilantism and gang violence. “It is really scary to know when someone is...

Chinese bishop says ‘spring has arrived’

Amid deepening persecution of the Church in parts of China, a prelate in southeastern China says that “spring has arrived” in the city of Shaoguan, the site of Father Matteo Ricci’s first Jesuit...

CAFOD: poor should be at center of ‘green economy’

As the international community prepares for the Rio+20 United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development, CAFOD--the official Catholic aid agency for England and Wales--is calling for the world’s...

Syria: priest devotes himself to prayer, fasting where ‘hell is unleashing’

Two months after Christians fled al-Qusayr, a city of 30,000 in west-central Syria, a priest who prefers anonymity is devoting himself to constant prayer and fasting there for the sake of peace and...

Geologists: Jesus crucified in 33

Writing in the International Geology Review, three scientists who have examined seismic data say that they believe that the date of Jesus’ crucifixion was Friday, April 3, in the year...

Nashville Dominican to lead US bishops’ education office

A member of one of the most flourishing orders of active religious in the United States has been named executive director of the Secretariat of Catholic Education of the United States Conference of...

Pope seeks to calm 'Vatileaks' furor

In his first public comments on the “Vatileaks” scandal, Pope Benedict XVI said that the release of confidential papal documents has “brought sadness to my heart.” But the Holy Father said that his...

Chinese government refuses episcopal honors for deceased 'underground' bishop

The late Bishop Francis Li Yi of Shanxi cannot be buried with episcopal honors, Chinese officials have told local Catholics. A leader of the “underground” Catholic Church, Bishop Li Yi died on...

Muslim Brotherhood candidate for Egypt’s presidency hints at Coptic deputy

The Muslim Brotherhood’s candidate for the Egyptian president has promised that the country’s Christians would have full legal rights under his leadership. “There could be a Copt deputy...

Consolation in prayer comes from union with Christ, Pope explains at audience

At his weekly public audience on May 30, Pope Benedict XVI spoke about the consolation that the faithful experience in prayer, saying that it is “a concrete experience of God’s ‘Yes’ to...

Africa has enough problems without terrorism: Nigerian archbishop

Africa has enough difficulties confronting poverty and disease, Archbishop John Onaiyekan of Abuja, Nigeria, told a gathering of African religious leaders. “We cannot afford to add terrorism to our...

Released Thursday, May. 31

World Meeting of Families opens in Milan

Cardinals Ennio Antonelli, Angelo Scola, and Gianfranco Ravasi addressed families from 150 nations at the Seventh World Meeting of Families, which began in Milan on May 30 and will culminate with...

Prelate welcomes war-crimes sentence for Charles Taylor

Sierra Leone’s leading prelate welcomed an international court’s decision to sentence former Liberian President Charles Taylor to 50 years in prison for war crimes committed in Sierra Leone during...

Syria: Christians fear kidnappings in retaliation for Houla massacre

Syrian Christians from the Homs area, fearful of being targeted in the wake of the Houla massacre, are fleeing for Lebanon, according to the Fides news agency. Even if they have not chosen sides...

Bolivian bishops denounce legislation on same-sex unions

Bolivia’s bishops have denounced legislation that would legalize same-sex unions in the South American nation. “We express our rejection because we consider the bill a serious threat to the...

Vatican conference examines peacebuilding practices

Church leaders from conflict zones attended a conference in Rome on May 29-30 devoted to “New Challenges for Catholic Peacebuilding.” The conference was sponsored by the Pontifical Council for...

Vatican Radio highlights ‘Mothers Prayers’ initiative

As the Seventh World Meeting of Families begins in Milan, Vatican Radio has drawn attention to “Mothers Prayers,” an initiative founded by Veronica Williams, an English Catholic, in 1995....

Utah bishop criticizes Maureen Dowd column

Bishop John Wester of Salt Lake City has criticized a recent Maureen Dowd column on the bishops’ reaction to the HHS mandate. “In an effort to make a case against the Church’s objection to the...

Another Planned Parenthood clinic caught assisting sex-selection abortion

For the 2nd time this week, Live Action has released a videotape showing a Planned Parenthood counselor encouraging a woman to procure a sex-selection abortion. The new Live Action video was made...

Pope's prayer intentions for June 2012

The Vatican has released the prayer intentions of Pope Benedict XVI for June 2012. The Pope’s general intention is: “That believers may recognize in the Eucharist the living presence of the Risen...

New York Catholics divided on bishops' lawsuit against HHS mandate

Only 51% of the Catholics in New York approve of the lawsuit filed by 43 Catholic dioceses and other institutions against the contraceptive mandate, according to a new Quinnipiac poll. The survey...

Milwaukee archdiocese paid abusive priests to accelerate laicization

The Archdiocese of Milwaukee offered “a handful” of priests cash payouts to persuade them to leave the priesthood after they were implicated in sexual abuse. The payments of up to $20,000 were...

Boston archdiocese drops restrictions on parish property sale after ACLU objects

The Archdiocese of Boston has agreed to go forward with the sale of a parish property without legal guarantees that the property will not be used to house clinics or laboratories engaging in...

Vatican seeking truth behind document leaks, papal spokesman says

The Vatican is moving forward expeditiously with an investigation into the leaks of confidential documents, the director of the Vatican press office told reporters during a May 30...

Obama has pushed Catholic voters too far, columnist argues

Wall Street Journal columnist Daniel Henninger sees irony in the possibility that a Mormon (Mitt Romney) might be elected President because Catholic voters turn against Barack Obama, driven by the...

Journalist behind 'Vatileaks' remains mum on sources

The Italian journalist who released a full book of leaked papal correspondence, precipitating a furor at the Vatican, has defended the motives of his sources, but refused to identify the individuals...

Released Friday, Jun. 1

Federal court declares part of Defense of Marriage Act unconstitutional

In a 3-0 decision, the First US Circuit Court of Appeals has declared a portion of the Defense of Marriage Act unconstitutional. The 1996 law passed by wide margins in both houses of Congress and...

UN official criticizes Pakistan’s blasphemy law

A United Nations official has criticized Pakistan’s application of its blasphemy law, which for decades has been used against Christians charged with insulting Islam. “I am especially concerned...

Following mediation, diocese avoids foreclosure of parishes, schools

A pact mediated by a federal judge has prevented the foreclosure of 22 parishes in the Diocese of Spokane, which had filed for bankruptcy in 2004. A 2007 bankruptcy settlement plan “provided for...

Canadian bishops press Saudis on religious tolerance

Bishop François Lapierre of Saint-Hyacinthe, the Quebec bishop who chairs the Human Rights Committee of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops, has asked the Saudi Arabian government to...

Prelate reflects on the family and work

The secretary of the Pontifical Council for the Family discussed “work and its meanings for the family” at the beginning of the second session of the Seventh World Meeting of Families in...

Vatican officials close month of May with homage to Virgin Mary

Church officials participated in a traditional procession through the Vatican gardens in the evening of May 31, ending the month with a pilgrimage to the grotto of Our Lady of Lourdes. Cardinal...

Religious freedom denied for Christians of Sumatra

Religious freedom is regularly denied to Christian on the Indonesian island of Sumatra, the Fides news agency reports. Fides recounts the offenses against religious freedom detailed by Father...

LCWR denounces Vatican intervention, says critique 'unsubstantiated'

The Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR) has a Vatican call for reform of their group, saying that it has “caused scandal and pain throughout the church community, and caused greater...

Pope plans trip to Rio de Janeiro for 2013 World Youth Day

Pope Benedict XVI plans to travel to Brazil for World Youth Day in July 2013, a Church official in Rio de Janeiro has announced. The World Youth Day celebration will take place in Rio de Janeiro...

Why Lady Gaga outraged Indonesia, and what the US should learn

Authorities in Indonesia have cancelled a concert by Lady Gaga. Western journalists have generally interpreted the move as another example of Islamic repression. Matthew Cullinan Hoffman, writing...

Pope arrives in Milan for World Meeting of Families

Pope Benedict XVI arrived in Milan on Friday afternoon, June 1 to join the 7th World Meeting of Families. During his weekend visit the Holy Father will speak to the people of Milan at the Piazza...

Two cardinals see revival of family life

Two leading Catholic prelates offered optimistic views on the future of family life in presentations on May 31 to the 7th World Meeting of Families. Cardinal Ennio Antonelli, the president of the...

Father Barron answers arguments of Dowd, Sebelius-- and JFK

Father Robert Barron offers a concise rebuttal to arguments put forward by Maureen Dowd and Kathleen Sebelius, who argued that Catholicism is "intolerant" and prelates seek to impose their will on...

US House rejects bid to ban sex-selection abortion

A bill that would have banned sex-selection abortion was defeated in the US House of Representatives on May 31. Although a majority of House members backed the Prenatal Nondiscrimination Act, the...

Homosexual pressure forced noted psychiatrist to change stand on therapy

Relentless pressure from gay activists forced Dr. Robert Spitzer to back away from his scientific judgment that therapy can help homosexuals change their sexual orientation, another leading...

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