In crime-plagued periphery, pope preaches conversion

February 14, 2016 ECATEPEC, Mexico (CNS) — Pope Francis began his travels to Mexico’s “peripheries” by visiting an overcrowded, sprawling settlement known internationally as a hunting ground for girls to force into prostitution and for boys to enlist in the drug trade. Ecatepec, on the northern edge of Mexico City, also has tidy gated communities…

Pope makes long-awaited visit to Our Lady of Guadalupe

By Junno Arocho Esteves Catholic News Service Pope Francis fulfilled his much-desired wish to pray in silence before the miraculous image of Our Lady of Guadalupe After celebrating the first Mass of his papal trip to Mexico Feb. 13, the pope made his way to the “camarin” (“little room”) behind the main altar of the…

Pope Francis tells Mexican bishops be unified, speak out on tough issues

February 13, 2016 MEXICO CITY (CNS) — Pope Francis demanded forceful denunciations of drug violence in Mexico from the country’s bishops, who have preferred timid pronouncements instead of speaking prophetically on a tragedy that has claimed more than 100,000 lives over the past 10 years and left an another 25,000 Mexicans missing. Speaking Feb. 13…

Pope expresses joy after meeting Russian Orthodox patriarch

February 13, 2016 ABOARD THE PAPAL FLIGHT FROM HAVANA (CNS) — Though their differences are recognizable and real, Pope Francis and Russian Orthodox Patriarch Kirill of Moscow emphasized their obligation as Christians and as bishops to encourage collaboration among Christians and charity for all who suffer. “I felt an interior joy that truly came from…

Antonin Scalia, Supreme Court justice, dies

February 13, 2016 WASHINGTON (CNS) — Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, the longest-serving justice on the Supreme Court, died of apparent natural causes at a resort in West Texas Feb. 13. He was 79. Scalia, a Catholic, was appointed in 1986 by President Ronald Reagan. Five of the remaining eight justices also are Catholic. In…

Surge in Zika virus rekindles abortion debate in Brazil

February 12, 2016 SAO PAULO (CNS) — The president of the Brazilian bishops’ conference criticized a proposal by the U.N. Human Rights Commission that countries allow abortion in cases in which the mother was infected with the Zika virus. “Abortion is not the answer for the Zika virus,” Archbishop Sergio da Rocha of Brasilia told…

Cookies, sombrero and a shoe shine: Even reporters give pope gifts

February 12, 2016 ABOARD THE PAPAL FLIGHT TO HAVANA (CNS) — Making his 12th trip abroad, Pope Francis was accustomed to collecting interview requests, notes and gifts from the journalists who travel on the plane with him. But his flight to Cuba Feb. 12 had a unique moment. Noel Diaz, who lives in Los Angeles…

Service, relationship-building part of sisters’ 125-year legacy

February 12, 2016 Visitor editor Joe Towalski recently interviewed Sister Beatrice Eichten, community minister of the Franciscan Sisters of Little Falls. The following excerpts from the interview were edited for length and clarity. Q: What are some of the similarities and some of the differences between living in the community today compared to 125 years…

Bishop moving ahead with St. Cloud-area schools plan

February 12, 2016 The Visitor After reviewing a steering committee’s recommendations sent to him in December, Bishop Donald Kettler is moving forward with the plan to create Catholic Community Schools. “It’s an important desire of mine that all of our Catholic schools work together in every way possible, and this is the way we need…

College students spread abstinence message during True Love Week

February 12, 2016 GREEN BAY, Wis. (CNS) — True love. It’s what every person entering into the sacrament of marriage yearns to realize. In the days leading up to Valentine’s Day, two groups of Wisconsin college students spread the message that true love is possible and can be found by practicing “right dating relationships.” Students…