Jan 19 2017 - 10:34am
Although great strides have been made through 50 years of ecumenical dialogue, Catholics and Lutherans must continue to work toward becoming a full and visible sign of unity for the world, Pope Francis said.
A continued "communion of harmony" will allow Catholics and Lutherans to "find further convergence on points of doctrine and the moral teaching of the church," the pope told members of a pilgrimage from the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland on Jan. 19.
"I pray to the...
Jan 19 2017 - 10:30am
The U.S. abortion rate is down to its lowest level since the Supreme Court made abortion legal virtually on demand in 1973, and the rate is half of its early-1980s peak.
According to a study issued Jan. 17 by the Guttmacher Institute, the abortion rate for U.S. women ages 15-44 is 14.6 per 1,000 in 2014, the last year for which statistics are available. The figure represents a 14 percent decline from the 2011 numbers, and less than half of the 1981 rate of 29.4 abortions per 1,000...
Jan 19 2017 - 10:27am
Orthodox Jewish rabbis said Wednesday they will counter white supremacists' harassment of the Jewish community in the Montana town of Whitefish by sending students to visit the Auschwitz concentration camp and by mailing a Torah to every Jewish family in the state.
The delegation of rabbis from Canada and across the U.S. presented Montana Gov. Steve Bullock with a copy of the holy text and thanked him for defending the state's Jewish residents.
"We hope to inspire you to be a...
Jan 19 2017 - 10:23am
Northern Ireland's shattered unity government will be dissolved next week to make way for an early election demanded by the coalition's main Irish Catholic party, the secretary of state for the British territory announced Monday.
Secretary of State for Northern Ireland James Brokenshire said the election to re-elect the Northern Ireland Assembly would be held March 2, six weeks after its dissolution.
Brokenshire's declaration became inevitable once the Irish nationalist Sinn...
Jan 18 2017 - 2:12pm
Acknowledging the fear some immigrants have expressed as Donald Trump becomes president, Jesuit parishes, schools and other communities plan to pray for those who fear him and his proposals on the eve of his Jan. 20 inauguration as the country's 45th president.
At least one community said it will declare sanctuary status for itself that evening.
The Ignatian Solidarity Network, a social justice education and advocacy organization based in University Heights, Ohio, said in a...
Jan 18 2017 - 2:06pm
Following a tragic on Jan. 12 northeast Baltimore house fire in which six children lost their lives, nearby Catholic institutions are joining the effort to aid the stricken Malone family, who have ties to the Catholic Church.
One of the family's nine children, an 8-year-old girl, was able to pull herself and two of her brothers, ages 4 and 5, out of the early morning fire. All six of the other children died: two boys, ages 9 months and two years; 3-year-old twin girls; and two more...
Jan 18 2017 - 1:23pm
The archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, is expected to issue a statement this week apologizing for the violence that followed the Protestant Reformation 500 years ago.
The statement, according to news accounts, will express remorse that the (Protestant) Church of England carried out so many acts of violence—including burning Roman Catholics at the stake.
It will also urge believers to ask for forgiveness for atrocities that happened on both sides during the Reformation...
Jan 18 2017 - 1:19pm
Republican donor and school choice advocate Betsy DeVos says a one size-fits-all model of learning doesn't work and that she would promote charter, magnet, religious and other alternatives to public schools, if confirmed education secretary.
But facing scathing criticism from teachers unions, who say she is seeking to destroy public education, DeVos also promised to be a "strong advocate for great public schools," which provide instruction to more than 90 percent of the country's...
Jan 17 2017 - 2:41pm
After meeting with church leaders in northern Iraq, a U.S. bishop said he will advocate differently for Iraqi religious minorities.
Bishop Oscar Cantu of Las Cruces, New Mexico, told Catholic News Service by phone that the Iraqi Catholic clergy do not want to see a safe corridor set up for Christians, as some in Washington have suggested.
Although security is paramount, they prefer to see reconciliation take place, enabling Iraq's diverse mosaic of religions and ethnicities...
Jan 17 2017 - 2:38pm
Bishops from Europe and North America lauded this 100-year-old hilltop family farm southwest of Bethlehem as an example of the nonviolent resistance needed to oppose Israeli expansion onto Palestinian land.
"This farm is what we want to encourage—a peaceful resistance ... a moral voice to the international and local community," said U.S. Bishop Oscar Cantu of Las Cruces, New Mexico, chairman of the USCCB Committee on International Justice and Peace.
A Canadian bishop agreed...
Jan 17 2017 - 2:34pm
A Nigerian air force fighter jet on a mission against Boko Haram extremists mistakenly bombed a refugee camp on Tuesday, killing more than 100 refugees and aid workers, a Borno state official said.
The state government official, who was helping to coordinate the evacuation of wounded from the remote area by helicopters, spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to reporters.
Military commander Maj. Gen. Lucky Irabor...
Jan 17 2017 - 2:30pm
The Vatican struck back Tuesday at the Knights of Malta, rejecting its attempt to discredit a Vatican-appointed commission investigating the ouster of a top official over a condom scandal.
In a sharply worded statement, the Holy See also said it plans to take action to resolve the dispute, setting the stage for one sovereign entity intervening in the internal affairs of another.
The remarkable showdown is the latest example of Pope Francis clashing with more conservative...
Jan 13 2017 - 3:36pm
A McDonald’s opening in the shadow of St. Peter’s Basilica is to offer free meals to the homeless in a move aimed at defusing controversy over the fast-food restaurant.
McDonald’s said on Jan. 12 that it is working with the archbishop who dispenses charity on behalf of Pope Francis to provide 1,000 free lunches to the homeless who live in the area around the Vatican every Monday starting next week.
A company spokesman said the Italian charity Medicina Solidale, which offers...
Jan 13 2017 - 3:36pm
New York Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan said the Scripture passage he chose to read at the Jan. 20 inauguration of Donald J. Trump as president—Wisdom chapter 9 in which King Solomon prays for wisdom to lead Israel according to God's will—was an easy one to make.
"I pray it all the time," he told Catholic News Service and joked that "the Lord still hasn't answered the prayer."
Jokes aside, Cardinal Dolan said that Solomon's prayer has been one offered to God for centuries....
Jan 13 2017 - 3:21pm
Pope Francis asked young people to tell him, their bishops and pastors about their hopes and struggles and even their criticisms.
In preparation for a meeting of the Synod of Bishops focused on youth, the pope wrote a letter to young people, saying the church wants "to listen to your voice, your sensitivities and your faith, even your doubts and your criticism."
"Make your voice heard," the pope told young people. "Let it resonate in communities and let it be heard by your...
Jan 11 2017 - 10:28am
The head of the Nigerian bishops' conference urged Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari to stop the evolving culture of brutality and savagery in Nigeria, which he said was unparalleled in its history.
Archbishop Ignatius Kaigama of Jos spoke after suspected Fulani herdsmen attacked indigenous farmers in southern Kaduna state in early January. The Diocese of Kafanchan, located in the area, estimated more than 800 people were killed, and damages to property and foodstuffs topped $17.5...
Jan 11 2017 - 10:24am
The leadership of the Order of Malta denied the legality of a Vatican investigation into the forced resignation of the group's former grand chancellor, but the commission established by Pope Francis said it "is completely legitimate and authorized" to investigate the matter and inform the pope.
According to one of the legal notes prepared for the commission, the pope's right to be informed of the circumstances surrounding the removal of Albrecht Freiherr von Boeselager relates "to...
Jan 10 2017 - 2:59pm
Northern Ireland's power-sharing government was plunged into crisis Monday as its senior Catholic leader quit in a showdown with his Protestant colleague that could trigger a snap election and shatter the bedrock of the region's peace deal.
Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness, the former Irish Republican Army commander who has helped to lead the unity government for nearly a decade, said his resignation was the only effective way to challenge his power-sharing partner,...
Jan 10 2017 - 12:57pm
The more than 100 deaths of inmates since the beginning of the year in Brazilian prisons does not come as a surprise for Father Valdir Joao Silveira, national coordinator of the Brazilian bishops' prison ministry.
"Prison is a place of death and torture," in Brazil, said Father Silveira.
"It is a factory of torture that creates monsters," he told Catholic News Service before leaving a trip to the Amazon region to meet with family members of inmates at prisons in the state of...
Jan 10 2017 - 12:53pm
Olga Woltering, a bedrock member of her parish and the Atlanta Cursillo movement and beloved to her family and many friends, was among five people killed in the Jan. 6 shooting at a Florida airport.
Woltering, 84, was leaving for a cruise with her husband, Ralph, to celebrate his birthday and were flying through Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport when a gunman started shooting people in a baggage claim area. Ralph Woltering was not injured.
Esteban Santiago, a 26...
Jan 6 2017 - 11:00am
Pope Francis treated a few hundred homeless people and refugees to a simple sandwich lunch on Friday, and urged the faithful to find God in the peripheries of society, not its palaces.
Francis celebrated Mass marking Epiphany, the biblical tale of the three wise men who set out to find the infant Jesus and offer precious gifts. At the end of the service, homeless people and refugees joined volunteers to hand out 50,000 booklets with biblical tales of God's mercy to pilgrims gathered...
Jan 6 2017 - 10:57am
A transgender man sued a Roman Catholic hospital on Thursday, saying it cited religion in refusing to allow his surgeon to perform a hysterectomy as part of his sex transition.
Jionni Conforti's sex and gender discrimination lawsuit comes as new regulations hailed as groundbreaking anti-discrimination protections for transgender people are under legal attack from religious groups.
Conforti had scheduled the surgery at St. Joseph's Regional Medical Center in Paterson in 2015....
Jan 5 2017 - 11:57am
After political outcry and personal threats, an Italian priest has replaced a Christmas Nativity scene that critics said depicted Mary, the mother of Jesus, with a Muslim body covering.
The Rev. Franco Corbo, a 76-year-old pastor from the southern town of Potenza, was the subject of a nationwide backlash on TV and social media and received hundreds of abusive telephone calls at his parish as a result of his Nativity scene.
The characters, including Mary, Joseph and the baby...
Jan 5 2017 - 11:48am
Along the difficult path of rebuilding their lives, survivors of the earthquake that devastated central Italy must also rebuild their hearts with a strong foundation built on hope, Pope Francis said.
Families need something long lasting when coping with the heartbreaking wounds of losing their homes and loved ones, the pope told survivors during an audience in the Vatican's Paul VI hall on Jan. 5.
"It is not optimism, there is no place for optimism. Yes, for hope but (not for...
Jan 5 2017 - 11:42am
Sister Rita Petruziello said she could feel the "contention and nastiness" in the air during the presidential election campaign of the last year. Instead of getting better as the process went along, it kept getting worse.
"It didn't matter who won," she told Catholic News Service on Jan. 3. "There would be a lot of unrest, division and hatred."
But she couldn't just sit without doing anything about it and decided to find a way to counter all those bad feelings she was seeing...
Jan 5 2017 - 11:33am
Days after Donald Trump won the White House vowing to deport millions of people in the country illegally and fortify the Mexican border, California farmer Kevin Herman ordered nearly $600,000 in new equipment, cutting the number of workers he'll need starting with the next harvest.
Herman, who grows figs, persimmons and almonds in the nation's most productive farming state, said Trump's comments pushed him to make the purchase, larger than he would have otherwise.
Jan 4 2017 - 4:31pm
In the wake of a deadly riot in a Brazilian jail, Pope Francis called for all prisons to offer dignified living conditions and be places for true rehabilitation.
He expressed his sorrow and concern over the "massacre" in the Amazon city of Manaus, "where a very violent clash between rival gangs" resulted in at least 56 deaths.
The riot began on Jan. 1 and authorities regained control early on Jan. 2. Prison gang members took other prisoners and some guards hostage,...
Jan 3 2017 - 1:47pm
Residents of Damascus are scrambling for clean water after the government attacked rebels holding the city's main source in a nearby valley, producing an outage that has stretched on for nearly two weeks.
The cut-off is a major challenge to the government's effort throughout the nearly 6-year-old civil war to keep the capital as insulated as possible from the effects of the conflict tearing apart much of the country.
The battle for resources has always been an undercurrent to...
Jan 3 2017 - 1:43pm
The church in India's Kerala state has formed a group of priests, nuns and laypeople to respond to the pastoral needs of transgender people, reported ucanews.com.
Formed in Cochin under the aegis of Pro-Life Support, a global social service movement within the church, the ministry is significant as it is one of the few outreach programs for the transgender community by the institutional church in India.
"The whole church has a big role to play," said Father Paul Madassey, who...
Jan 2 2017 - 5:46pm
Pope Francis has exhorted Catholic bishops worldwide to do what's needed to ensure children are protected from sexual abuse by clergy.
The Vatican on Monday released the text of a Dec. 28 letter Francis sent to bishops about injustices to children. They included slave labor, malnutrition, lack of education and sexual exploitation, including abuse by priests.
In the letter, Francis decried "the sufferings, the experiences and pain of minors who were abused sexually by priests...
Jan 2 2017 - 5:39pm
As the first light of dawn trickles in through the hospital window, 19-year-old Mohammed Ali learns that his two-year-old cousin has died of hunger. But he has to remain strong for his little brother Mohannad, who could be next.
He holds his brother's hand as the five-year-old struggles to breathe, his skin stretched tight over tiny ribs. "I have already lost a cousin to malnutrition today, I can't lose my little brother," he says.
They are among countless Yemenis who are...
Jan 2 2017 - 5:22pm
Whether the new year will be good or not depends on us choosing to do good each day, Pope Francis said.
"That is how one builds peace, saying 'no' to hatred and violence—with action—and 'yes' to fraternity and reconciliation," he said on Jan. 1, which the church marks as the feast of Mary, Mother of God and as World Peace Day.
Speaking to the some 50,000 pilgrims gathered in St. Peter's Square for the first noon Angelus of 2017, the pope referred to his peace day message in...