The National Catholic Review

Dispatches

A blog on national and international affairs from America's correspondents, including Gerard O'Connell in Rome, Judith Valente in Chicago, David Stewart, S.J., in London, Jim McDermott, S.J., in Los Angeles and Steven Schwankert in Beijing.

January 2017

  • Pope Francis said he wants “to wait and see” what Donald J. Trump does now that he is president of the United States and does not wish to pass any judgment in advance of events.

    “I don’t like to anticipate what happens or to judge people in advance,” he told El Pais, the Spanish daily, in a 75-minute interview, in which he also spoke about populism. He gave the interview as the inauguration ceremony was under way in Washington, D.C.

    The newspaper...

  • Americans viewing the inauguration of Donald J. Trump as the 45th president of the United States presented a spectrum of emotions—from celebration to dread to defiance.

    Catholics participating in inauguration events in Washington, D.C., offered just as many different responses. Donning “Make America Great Again” hats, some cheered. Others demonstrated with signs and chants. Another group put their peacemaking skills into action.

    Dressed as a patriot, in a Revolutionary War-...

  • Pope Francis sent a congratulatory message to President Donald J. Trump on Friday, telling the new president that the global stature of the United States will be measured “by its concern for the poor, the outcast and those in need.”

    “Upon your inauguration as the forty-fifth President of the United States of America, I offer you my cordial good wishes and the assurance of my prayers that Almighty God will grant you wisdom and strength in the exercise of your high office,” the pope...

  • Moments before Donald J. Trump took the oath of office, becoming the 45th president of the United States, Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan of New York read a brief passage from the Book of Wisdom.

    “Give us wisdom, for we are your servants, weak and short lived, lacking in comprehension of judgement and of laws,” the cardinal said, reciting Solomon’s Prayer from the Book of Wisdom . “Indeed, though one might be perfect among mortals, if...

  • Just blocks from the U.S. Capitol, as the nation prepared for a transition of power and a pivot in political leadership, Washingtonians and visitors alike took a moment to pause in the comfort of something familiar: morning Mass.

    Questions remain about how Donald J. Trump will lead the nation after a bitter presidential campaign that split the country, but houses of worship across the city provide a place refuge amid the rancor and uncertainty. A sign near the doors of St....

  • Kenneth Hackett bade farewell to Pope Francis on Jan. 16, after serving for almost three and a half years as the 10th U.S. Ambassador to the Holy See.

    In an exclusive interview with America , he reflected on that role, the imminent transfer of power from President Barack Obama to President-elect Donald J. Trump and the continuing policy challenge of immigration—a priority for the pope and the church in the United States.

    The upcoming transition, he suggests, may be one of the...

  • Catholic bishops in the United States urged a pause in efforts to repeal the Affordable Care Act until Congress can ensure that the millions of Americans who rely on the A.C.A. for health insurance can be guaranteed coverage.

    In a letter sent to senators and representatives on Jan. 18, Bishop Frank J. DeWane, head of the U.S....

  • Bishop Raúl Vera chose his words carefully, even as he struggled not to raise his voice in anger.

    “We, the priesthood, are part of society; we’re just as exposed as everybody else,” the bishop of Saltillo, a city in the northern Mexican state of Coahuila, said. “It is sad to see how every sector of society has now become a target of violence, and we are no exception.”

    Bishop Vera, one of Mexico’s most outspoken and respected promoters of human rights, had just given a fiery...

  • In a highly significant move, Pope Francis has appointed Cardinal Sean P. O’Malley as a full (board) member of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (C.D.F.).

    The Vatican made the announcement at noon on Saturday, Jan. 14, and highlighted the fact that the cardinal-archbishop of Boston also serves as president of the Pontifical Commission for the...

  • Zimbabwe’s economy is in meltdown. Mozambique seems headed for civil war. Madagascar’s drought is causing what most would call a famine. And South Africa muddles on through it all: drought, corruption and political instability. These were all problems last year, but a combination of factors in these African nations may bring things to a boil in 2017.

    First, there is Madagascar, a large island state off the east coast of Africa that usually makes news only when its fragile democracy...

  • The final month of 2016 was a chance for new beginnings for refugees and displaced persons in Iraq eager to learn. Jesuit Worldwide Learning , a collaboration of universities, organizations and companies to provide higher education to people living on the margins, officially opened three learning centers in the country on Dec. 12.

    Peter Balleis, S.J., J.W.L.’s executive president, said students gathered outside the schools before the first day,...

  • God's perspective reveals a world of people in sometimes desperate motion—among millions of others, more than 3.3 million Iraqis, 4 million Syrians and generations of Afghans have fled their homes to escape conflict. “I can’t imagine a more urgent time to be addressing issues of migration and refugees,” says Jill Marie Gerschutz-Bell, the senior policy and legislative specialist for Catholic Relief Services . “The international community has really been...

  • In an interview with a Spanish-language Catholic television network released on Thursday, Pope Francis told immigrants living in the United States to “go forward with courage, prayer and much tenderness.”

    The clip was played during a Mass celebrated by Los Angeles Archbishop JoséH. Gomez at the Jesuit-run Dolores Mission Parish in East Los Angeles, a celebration marking the Catholic Church’s National Migration Week . The full...

  • Having won the presidential election—with a slim majority of Catholic votes—President-elect Trump will soon nominate a U.S. ambassador the Holy See, a spot first filled in 1984 by President Ronald Reagan.

    The field, of course, is wide open, as Mr. Trump has bucked conventional wisdom in several of his more high-profile appointments thus far.

    And while the appointment is probably a few months off, there are some names being bandied about as possible replacements for current...

  • Fearing rollbacks of economic, health care and environmental regulations under President Donald J. Trump that they say could harm vulnerable communities, several high-profile Catholic leaders gathered in the nation’s capital on Tuesday to urge the faithful to stand up for the rights of workers, the poor and immigrants.

    “The church must work in the coming months with unions, workers, the elderly and the poor to counter the growing imperialism of market mechanisms within American...

  • Just before Christmas, a group of “concerned citizens” broke into an abandoned civil service building, the Apollo House, in the center of Dublin and opened it up to the city’s “rough sleepers,” as homeless people are described in Ireland. It was an “act of disobedience,” according to musician Glen Hansard, one of the high profile participants of the occupation of the building, and a reaction to the city’s worsening homeless problems. The group, which included actors, trade unionists and...

  • We have heard “crooked Hillary” often enough from the lips or the tweets of Donald J. Trump, but now news breaks of another adjectival innovation from the president-elect. It has emerged that the former first minister of Scotland Alex Salmond, who nearly led his country to independence in 2014, stood firm against Mr. Trump often enough to earn his own disparaging moniker: Please step forward “Mad Alex.”

    It was not Scotland’s “Indyref” that provoked the name-calling. It was Mr....

  • In his New Year’s greeting to the diplomatic corps accredited to the Holy See*, Pope Francis focused on the theme of peace and security in today’s world and indicated ways in which it can be achieved.

    In a 45-minute address , he called for renewed efforts to resolve the many conflicts in today’s world. He emphasized that religion can make an important contribution to peace and affirmed that terrorism can be totally defeated if religious and political leaders play their part.

    ...

  • Cardinal Joseph Tobin used his installation Mass as archbishop of Newark on Jan. 6 as an opportunity to call on Catholics to move away from rancor over “hot button” issues and toward contemplating how to live out their faith in a more holistic way.

    Standing before a massive crowd inside Newark’s Cathedral Basilica of the Sacred Heart, which included scores of clergy and local officials, including New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, Cardinal Tobin...

  • In “ Laudato Si’ ,” commenting on water scarcity, Pope Francis writes, “The environmental repercussions could affect billions of people; it is also conceivable that the control of water by large multinational businesses may become a major source of conflict in this century” (31). In the Canadian province of Ontario, the Holy Father’s intuition seems about right....

  • As President-elect Donald J. Trump revisits a commitment to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border, the Catholic Church in the United States will mark National Migration Week —an effort to call attention to the contributions immigrants have made to U.S. culture—beginning on Sunday, Jan. 8.

    Calling migration “an act of great hope,” Cardinal Daniel...

  • A wave of social unrest has taken hold of Mexico in recent days, as angry protests over a severe hike in gasoline prices have descended into sporadic looting, riots and blockades of highways and petrol stations across the country. Hundreds of people were arrested after ransacking stores and clashing with police in central Mexico and even vandalizing the governmental palace in Monterrey, one of the nation’s largest cities, on Jan. 5.

    “People are very upset,” said Rodolfo Soriano-Nuñez...

  • The scene was 111th Street and Kedzie Avenue, on Chicago’s South Side. In the middle of a traffic lane, about 30 protesters from Black Lives Matter marched with signs saying, “Stop Racist Police Terror” and “End Hate.” About 300 white counter-protesters followed them on the sidewalks, many brandishing “Trump” signs and shouting “C.P.D.” (to show support for the Chicago Police Department) and “Go home!”

    “We are home. We’re Chicagoans,” one of the black protesters shouted in response...