Pope Francis meets with CEO of Instagram, Kevin Systrom

February 27, 2016 Pope Francis on Friday met with the CEO and co-founder of Instagram, Kevin Systrom.  The photo-sharing social network was founded in 2010, and bought by Facebook in 2012. Over 300 million people use the service each month. Systrom posted a photo of the meeting on his Instagram profile, writing: “Today I had…

Pope Francis meets new President of Argentina

February 27, 2016 Pope Francis on Saturday morning received in audience  the President of Argentina, Mauricio Macri, who subsequently met with the Vatican’s Secretary of State, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, and Archbishop  Paul Richard Gallagher, the Secretary for Relations with States.  President Macri assumed office in December, and was previously the Head of Government of the…

Pastoral plan in Diocese of Sioux City aims to sustain vibrant parishes

February 27, 2016 SIOUX CITY, Iowa (CNS) — A pastoral planning process — Ministry 2025 — has begun in the Diocese of Sioux City with the hope of using limited priestly resources as wisely as possible while creating and sustaining vibrant parishes. According to Father Brent Lingle, diocesan director of pastoral planning, the diocese recently…

Canadian report recommends widening access to physician-assisted suicide

February 27, 2016 OTTAWA, Ontario (CNS) — The mentally ill and consenting minors should be allowed to choose physician-assisted suicide, a federal parliamentary committee recommended. The committee’s 70-page report was introduced in the House of Commons Feb. 25. A Supreme Court of Canada decision — known as the Carter case — unanimously struck down the…

Socially responsible investors press companies to do the right thing

February 26, 2016 WASHINGTON (CNS) — If it’s spring, it must be corporate annual general meeting season. For investors concerned about corporate accountability and transparency, it’s one of the busiest times of the year. The annual general meetings give shareholders the chance to publicly engage corporate leadership on hot-button issues such as human rights, climate…

Knights of Columbus, In Defense of Christians mount genocide petition

February 24, 2016 WASHINGTON (CNS) — As a mid-March deadline approached for U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry to make a decision on whether to make a declaration of genocide in the Middle East, the Knights of Columbus, based in New Haven, Connecticut, and the Washington-based group In Defense of Christians have mounted a petition…

On climate issue, Catholics urged to ‘feel pain of the planet, the poor’

February 24, 2016 MIAMI (CNS) — Pope Francis’ right-hand man on the environment and climate change issues urged Catholics attending a local academic conference to let Christian spirituality guide their thinking and actions toward preserving the full range of God’s creation. Cardinal Peter Turkson, president of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, spoke Feb….

Death-row experience interweaves lives of priest, man he helped free

February 24, 2016 NORTH OLMSTED, Ohio (CNS) — When Father Neil Kookoothe first met Joseph D’Ambrosio on Ohio’s death row in December 1998, he intended to describe the funeral of the condemned man’s mother. D’Ambrosio would not listen, however. Another inmate had told him the priest had been a lawyer before ordination. Now, D’Ambrosio pleaded…

Catholic archbishop, Orthodox leader see significance in Havana meeting

February 23, 2016 INDIANAPOLIS (CNS) — The U.S. archbishop who is co-chair of the North American Orthodox-Catholic Theological Consultation and an archdeacon who helps lead Orthodox ecumenical efforts in the United States watched with interest as Pope Francis and Russian Orthodox Patriarch Kirill met in Cuba Feb. 12. Both of them — Catholic Archbishop Joseph…

Plan to close detention center leaves unanswered questions for advocates

February 23, 2016 WASHINGTON (CNS) — As President Barack Obama offered a long-awaited plan to close the detention center at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, organizations advocating for the closure welcomed the news and called for an end of the policy of holding remaining detainees without charges. Keeping the detention center open and holding some detainees without…

The deeper his faith, the better public servant Scalia was, says son

February 22, 2016 WASHINGTON (CNS) — Just as many pilgrims are passing through the Holy Door at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in this Year of Mercy, the casket bearing the body of the late Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia entered through the door Feb. 20. Father Paul Scalia, the…

Pope calls for jubilee moratorium on death penalty

February 22, 2016 VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Pope Francis called for a moratorium on executions during the Year of Mercy and said the fifth commandment, “Thou shalt not kill,” applies not only to the innocent but to the guilty as well. “Even a criminal has the inviolable right to life, a gift of God,” he…

In silence, pope remembers those who cross Mexican-U.S. border

February 17, 2016 CIUDAD JUAREZ, Mexico (CNS) — At the border of Mexico and the United States, Pope Francis blessed a large cross in memory of all the people who have crossed the frontier. The pope said nothing Feb. 17, but he clasped his hands tightly in prayer and bowed his head in silent prayer….

Justice Scalia remembered as both an upstanding Catholic and jurist

February 17, 2016 WASHINGTON (CNS) — Tributes to the late Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia poured in almost as soon as news emerged of his Feb. 13 death at a Texas ranch while on a hunting trip. Scalia “was routinely described as a conservative, and so he was. He held fast to a lot of…

Pope snaps at pilgrim who caused him to fall into boy in wheelchair

February 17, 2016 MORELIA, Mexico (CNS) — Excitement turned potentially dangerous and elicited an angry snap from Pope Francis at a meeting with young people in Morelia Feb. 16. As the 79-year-old pope made his way to greet a boy in a wheelchair, one of the many pilgrims behind the boy pulled the pope’s arm,…

Pope tells Mexican prisoners society needs system of ‘social health’

February 17, 2016 CIUDAD JUAREZ, Mexico (CNS) — Pope Francis urged society to rethink its ideas of locking up inmates and throwing away the key, calling such an approach another symptom of the “throwaway culture” he often decries and “a symptom of a culture that has stopped supporting life, of a society that has abandoned…

Talk to new bishops does not change guidelines on abuse, Vatican says

February 16, 2016 VATICAN CITY (CNS) — A talk given to new bishops during a Vatican-sponsored course does not represent new guidelines on the church’s response to abuse against minors by religious, a Vatican spokesman said. A 44-page report authored by French Msgr. Tony Anatrella and just published by the Vatican publishing house “is not…

El Paso Diocese gets ready for rendezvous with Pope Francis

February 16, 2016 EL PASO, Texas (CNS) — Two days before Pope Francis’ main event in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, the Diocese of El Paso was coordinating the final touches to its own two main papal events. While the Diocese of Juarez’s chancery was bustling with church officials obtaining their papal Mass credentials, El Paso Bishop…

Mexican politicians eager to show themselves meeting Pope Francis

February 15, 2016 MEXICO CITY (CNS) — Shortly after arriving in Mexico City Feb. 12, President Enrique Pena Nieto introduced Pope Francis to most of his Cabinet and senior staff. The next morning, he introduced the pope again to his team at the National Palace in central Mexico City, where presidents and leaders have projected…

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 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…

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…

Pope sends off missionaries of mercy to help people open hearts to God

February 10, 2016 VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Pope Francis marked the beginning of the church’s Lenten journey by sending off several hundred religious and diocesan priests on their own special path as “missionaries of mercy” in local parishes. “Look upon your servants, Lord, that we are sending as messengers of mercy, salvation and peace. Guide…

Open God’s heart with prayer, pope tells Padre Pio Prayer Groups

February 7, 2016 VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Praying is not like taking an aspirin, something one does just to feel a little better, Pope Francis told thousands of members of Padre Pio Prayer Groups from around the world. Prayer is not a business negotiation with God, either, the pope told more than 60,000 people gathered…

Death penalty limbo: Supreme Court, states give laws another look

February 7, 2016 WASHINGTON (CNS) — The death penalty in the United States is repeatedly getting hit by the pause button — which doesn’t mean it is going away anytime soon, but at the very least it is getting a second look by state legislatures, courts and the U.S. Supreme Court. This year, several states…

Carolina Panthers linebacker says faith impacts his outlook on life

February 2, 2016 CHARLOTTE, N.C. (CNS) — Middle linebacker Luke Kuechly of the Carolina Panthers, the team going up against the Denver Broncos in the Feb. 7 Super Bowl, credits his parents and his Catholic faith for making a positive impact on his NFL career and his outlook on life. “I went to a Catholic…

Sisters’ billboards bring pope’s environmental message to Iowa caucuses

February 2, 2016 DUBUQUE, Iowa (CNS) — As the eyes of the nation focused on the Iowa caucuses Feb. 1, the 13 congregations of Catholic Sisters of the Upper Mississippi River Valley wanted to capture the attention of participants to call for an end to environmentally destructive policies and practices. They did so by placing…

Priests find comfort that in studying the universe, they come closer to God

January 27, 2016 TUCSON, Ariz. (CNS) — For a long time, Father Timothy Martinez felt alone. Not so much in his priesthood and his responsibilities as pastor of Risen Savior Parish in Albuquerque, New Mexico, but because of his passion for astronomy and his concern about the media-driven divide between religion and science. He wondered…

Pope: Patch up family feuds, forgive, let go of painful past

January 27, 2016 VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Let the Year of Mercy be the time to end all family feuds, to forgive each other and let bygones be bygones, Pope Francis said. “I think about so many brothers and sisters who are estranged from their families; they don’t speak to each other,” he said during…

Iowa priest goes viral for celebrating Mass for snow-bound group

January 27, 2016 SIOUX CITY, Iowa (CNS) — Father Patrick Behm of Le Mars confessed to being overwhelmed by all the attention. “I’m just happy being a simple priest,” he insisted. That “simple priest” went viral on social media for celebrating Mass Jan. 23 on the Pennsylvania Turnpike. Read more in The Visitor…

Catholic agency on front lines helping Flint residents with water crisis

January 26, 2016 FLINT, Mich. (CNS) — Following the discovery of lead in the city of Flint’s drinking water, relief organizations have been working day and night to provide safe water to those living and working in the community. Standing at the front of the battle is Catholic Charities of Shiawassee and Genesee Counties in…

Pair who were in Benghazi say they felt God’s protection in firefight

January 26, 2016 WASHINGTON (CNS) — Not only are there no atheists in foxholes, but some of the denominational differences seem to disappear, too, once you’re under heavy fire. That was the situation that Mark Geist and Kris Paronto found themselves in working as military contractors in Benghazi, Libya. It was their book, co-written with…

Pro-life pilgrims stuck on highway in snow find fellowship, blessings

January 26, 2016 ST. PAUL, Minn. (CNS) — Catholic youths from the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis were among those stuck on the Pennsylvania Turnpike overnight on the way home from the annual March for Life in Washington. And they had stories to tell that include attending an impromptu roadside Mass complete with a…

Pope tells Iran’s president he has ‘high hopes’ for peace

January 26, 2016 VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Meeting with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani at the Vatican, Pope Francis told him he had high hopes for peace. And while Pope Francis usually asks those he meets for their prayers, the Shiite cleric pre-empted the pope’s request and said, “I ask you to pray for me.” President…

Papal envoy opens eucharistic congress by declaring war on poverty

January 25, 2016 CEBU, Philippines (CNS) — The 51st International Eucharistic Congress kicked off with Pope Francis’ representative, Cardinal Charles Bo of Yangon, Myanmar, declaring war on poverty. “The Eucharist calls for … a third world war against poverty,” said Cardinal Bo, “a third world war against the cruelty of dogs getting fed with sumptuous,…

Pope plans to visit Sweden to commemorate Reformation anniversary

January 25, 2016 VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Pope Francis will visit Sweden in October to participate in an ecumenical service and the beginning of a year of activities to mark the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation. Leaders from the Catholic Church and the Lutheran World Federation had already been set to meet Oct. 31,…

Pope: Six mission dioceses in Canada will transition to normal status

January 25, 2016 VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Pope Francis has decided that six dioceses in Canada, previously considered mission territories under the jurisdiction of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, will transition to normal status. The dioceses of Keewatin-Le Pas, Churchill-Hudson Bay, Moosonee, Grouard-McLennan, Mackenzie-Fort Smith and Whitehorse now fall under the normal, or…

March for Life marks 43rd anniversary of Roe decision legalizing abortion

January 22, 2016 WASHINGTON (CNS) — Catholic admonitions about inclusion mixed with strong political language before the March of Life got underway Jan. 22 in Washington. At a Jesuit-sponsored Mass for life at St. Aloysius Gonzaga Church that morning, Father Paddy Gilger’s homily reminded a small group of students that because Jesus made an effort…

Blizzard won’t stop march, but safety concerns cancel some trips to D.C.

January 21, 2016 WASHINGTON (CNS) — Sometimes being pro-life means making difficult decisions. Because of a predicted snowstorm in Washington, the St. Louis archdiocesan Catholic Youth Apostolate canceled its Generation Life pilgrimage to the March for Life. About 2,200 teens, adult chaperones, volunteers and staff were expected to participate in the 43rd annual march Jan….

Foot-washing ritual not limited to men, Vatican says in new decree

January 21, 2016 VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Following a request by Pope Francis, the Vatican issued a decree specifying that the Holy Thursday foot-washing ritual can include “all members of the people of God,” including women — a practice already observed by the pope and many priests around the world. In a letter dated December…

Don’t be afraid to show concern, fight poverty, pope tells global leaders

January 20, 2016 VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Don’t be afraid of acting fairly and compassionately toward the poor, Pope Francis said in a written message to global business leaders attending the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. And do not let the sweeping innovations in robotics, science and technology “lead to the destruction of the…

Dialogue, remembrance, peace highlighted as pope visits synagogue

January 18, 2015 ROME (CNS) — While the Catholic Church affirms that salvation comes through Jesus, it also recognizes that God is faithful and has not revoked his covenant with the Jewish people, Pope Francis said. Interrupted repeatedly with applause at Rome’s main synagogue Jan. 17, the pope said the church “recognizes the irrevocability of…

Couples’ grief deepens compassion for others experiencing loss

By Kristi Anderson The Visitor Jim Wenner is well trained in the funeral home business. For more than 150 years, his family has owned and operated funeral homes in the Cold Spring and Richmond areas. Ever since he could walk, he remembers watching his father direct funerals and offer solace to grieving families. While earning…

New listening sessions scheduled for February

January 14, 2016 An allegation of past sexual misconduct involving Father Antonio Marfori was recently made. Because of this allegation, Bishop Kettler has asked a Diocesan Response Team to hold listening sessions for the people of all the parishes in which Father Marfori served. There will be listening sessions on the following dates: Tuesday, Feb….

Supreme Court rules Florida’s death penalty system unconstitutional

January 13, 2016 WASHINGTON (CNS) — The U.S. Supreme Court Jan. 12 said the state of Florida’s death penalty system is unconstitutional because it allows judges, rather than juries, to determine whether a convicted criminal should get a death sentence. Michael B. Sheedy, executive director of the Florida Conference of Catholic Bishops in Tallahassee, said…

Pope phones theologian for favor: to prepare him, Curia for Easter

January 13, 2016 VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Pope Francis phoned a noted Italian theologian to ask him for a “favor” — to help him and Vatican officials prepare for Easter by leading an annual Lenten retreat, the theologian said. The pope calling his cellphone caught Servite Father Ermes Ronchi by surprise, he said, and “my…

USCCB files amicus brief on behalf of Little Sisters of the Poor

January 12, 2016 WASHINGTON (CNS) — The general counsel for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops filed an amicus brief with the U.S. Supreme Court in support of the Little Sisters of the Poor, who have asked the court for relief from being forced to comply with the federal contraceptive mandate. The brief was filed…

Pope: Prayers of the faithful, not clergy, can make miracles happen

January 12, 2016 VATICAN CITY (CNS) — The prayers of the faithful, not the pope, bishops, priests or nuns, have the power to make miracles happen in the most impossible situations, Pope Francis said at his morning Mass. Saints, like St. Monica, have proven that lives can change if people pray courageously and believe that…

Comedian, cardinal, inmate present Pope Francis book on mercy

January 12, 2016 VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Arms flailing, the exuberant and perhaps hyperactive Italian actor and comedian Roberto Benigni described Pope Francis as a masterful minister of God’s mercy, which is always active and always on the move. Benigni brought the house down Jan. 12 during the presentation of the new book-length interview with…

U.S. bishop says Palestinians in Cremisan Valley ‘have lost hope’

January 11, 2016 BEIT JALLA, West Bank (CNS) — A U.S. bishop visiting the Holy Land for the second year in a row said Palestinians whose land has been divided by the Israeli separation barrier “have lost hope.” “It was very sad to see the present situation where individuals have their lands confiscated and trees…

Church’s credibility found in showing mercy, pope says in new book

January 11, 2016 VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Being ministers of God’s mercy, church members overcome “prejudice and rigidity,” taking risks like Jesus did in order to heal and to save, Pope Francis said. In Jesus’ day, lepers were cast out of the community “to avoid contamination: the healthy needed to be protected,” but Jesus, at…

Pope Francis baptises 26 babies in Sistine Chapel

January 10, 2016 Vatican Radio – Pope Francis on Sunday baptized 26 baby girls and boys during Mass in the Sistine Chapel marking the feast day of Jesus’ baptism in the River Jordan. In a short and off-the-cuff homily the Pope said through baptism, our faith is handed on from one generation to the next,…

Pope Francis asks for prayers for interreligious dialogue

January 10, 2016 Vatican Radio – Revealing his prayer intention for January, Pope Francis says he is praying so that “sincere dialogue between men and women of different religions may yield fruits of peace and justice”. For the first time the Pope’s traditional monthly prayer intention is available on video, thanks to a new initiative…

Mexican Nuncio looks ahead to Pope Francis’ visit

January 10, 2016 Vatican Radio – Archbishop Christophe Pierre, Apostolic Nuncio to Mexico, said Pope Francis desires to ‘share the life of the Mexican people’ and to be close to the Virgin of Guadalupe during his upcoming Apostolic Journey to Mexico (12-17 February). In an interview with Noticias MVS, Archbishop Pierre spoke about the reasons…

Mobile apps help some Catholics in freezing northeastern China

January 9, 2016 HONG KONG (CNS) — Catholic communities in China’s northeastern provinces are using social media to evangelize in the freezing and smoggy winter while still offering pastoral care directly to the elderly Catholics to fill the digital gap, reported ucanews.com. In Jilin, Heilongjiang and Liaoning provinces, the average temperature drops below freezing for…

Lawmakers’ action on guns less swift and sure than the president’s

January 8, 2016 WASHINGTON (CNS) — When President Barack Obama unveiled a series of executive orders Jan. 5 intended to make a dent in gun violence in the United States, people reacted. And how. “Thank God that someone finally has the courage to close the loopholes in our pitiful gun control laws to reduce the…

Modern-day popes bravely meet the press: anarchists, atheists, apostles

January 8, 2016 VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Before he was elected pontiff, Pope Francis had a reputation for not liking to do interviews. “Really, I don’t give interviews. But I don’t know why. I can’t, that’s just how it is. I find it a bit tiresome, but I’m grateful for your company,” he told the…

‘Soap opera’ love isn’t true love, pope says

January 8, 2016 VATICAN CITY (CNS) — True love comes from God and is expressed through his mercy and forgiveness, not through sentimental expressions that can easily vanish, Pope Francis said. Although many people use the word ‘love,’ “when used, it is not known what it exactly means,” the pope said in his homily Jan….

Video messages of pope’s prayer intentions will hit social media

January 4, 2016 VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Pope Francis will deliver his monthly prayer intentions on video over social media as part of a Jesuit-run global prayer network. The new video messages, featuring the pope asking for prayers and action on various challenges facing the world today, will begin Jan. 6, the feast of the…

Canada on track to welcome 25,000 Syrian refugees, says ambassador

January 4, 2016 AMMAN, Jordan (CNS) — As a cautious world rang in the New Year with concerns over terrorism and security, Catholics in Canada were continuing to welcome Syrian refugees to their newly adopted homeland. The Canadian target of accepting 25,000 Syrian refugees by late February “is well in hand, and we should meet…

Pope erects Syro-Malankara eparchy for U.S., Canada

January 4, 2016 VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Pope Francis erected a new Syro-Malankara eparchy for the United States and Canada. The pope also named Bishop Thomas Eusebios Naickamparambil, who served as the apostolic exarch for Syro-Malankaran Catholics in the United States, as its first bishop. The new diocese is called the Eparchy of St. Mary,…

Angelus: Church invites us to welcome the Word of salvation

January 3, 2016 (Vatican Radio) At St Peter’s Square, Pope Francis lead the faithful in the recitation of the Angelus on the first Sunday of the new year. Speaking on the day’s Gospel, the Holy Father noted the dramatic contrast between God’s gift of love in the Incarnation, and man’s failure to receive Him. The…

Pope Francis: Angelus appeal for peace

January 1, 2016 (Vatican Radio) Pope Francis renewed his calls for peace and goodwill throughout the Earth on Friday, New Year’s Day, the Solemnity of the Mother of God and the World Day of Peace. The Holy Father’s appeal came at the Angelus prayer with pilgrims and visitors gathered in St. Peter’s Square after Mass…

Pope Francis: homily for Mass on Feast of Mother of God

January 1, 2016 Pope Francis delivered the homily at Mass on New Year’s Day, the Solemnity of the Mother of God, in St. Peter’s Basilica. Below, please find the full text of the official English translation of his prepared remarks.           ****************************************** Salve, Mater Misericordiae! With this invocation we turn to…

Mercy enlightens past year, gives hope for new year, pope says

December 31, 2015 VATICAN CITY (CNS) — The gift of mercy is a light that helps Christians reflect on the past year and radiates hope at the start of the new year, Pope Francis said. While retracing the events of 2015 may recall moments of both joy and sorrow, it also offers a moment to…

St. Louis area parishes respond to victims of record December flooding

December 31, 2015 VALLEY PARK, Mo. (CNS) — At about 8:30 on a chilly morning Dec. 30, Mickey Downing of the Valley Park Fire District went house to house in lower Valley Park, knocked on doors and asked people to evacuate for their safety with the Meramec River nearing the top of the levee protecting…

Singing does good for the soul, pope tells young choristers

December 31, 2015 VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Singing is good for one’s soul and, as St. Augustine says, Christian life is not a sad path but a joyous one that is done “singing and walking,” Pope Francis said. “Remember this: Sing and walk,” the pope said Dec. 31 to 6,000 young choristers, their families, friends…

Pope prays for natural disaster victims in U.S., U.K., Latin America

December 31, 2015 VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Pope Francis called on Christians to pray for victims of several natural disasters that have hit parts of the United States, Great Britain and Paraguay. “I invite you to pray for the victims of disasters that in recent days have struck the United States, Great Britain and South…

March for Life changes venues, but strengthens its message of ending abortion

December 31, 2015 WASHINGTON (CNS) — The annual March for Life, set for Jan. 22, will convene in a new location in the nation’s capital for the traditional midday rally. Because of the ongoing refurbishment of the National Mall and strict new regulations that require temporary flooring to protect the grass, the rally has been…

National Geographic shutterbug recalls photographing Pope Francis

December 29, 2015 WASHINGTON (CNS) — A year ago on Christmas Day, National Geographic photographer Dave Yoder got an unexpected Christmas gift that he will never forget. Over a six-month period, he had taken tens of thousands of photos for a planned cover story on Pope Francis for his magazine. But while he had taken…

Advocates for homeless remember men, women who died on the streets

December 29, 2015 GREEN BAY, Wis. (CNS) — The first day of winter, Dec. 21, is also known as the winter solstice. It is the shortest day and longest night of the year. For people who are homeless, it’s a night that represents the harsh challenges of living on the streets. For the past seven…

Homily of Pope Francis: Feast of the Holy Family

December 27, 2015 The biblical readings which we just heard presented us with the image of two families on pilgrimage to the house of God. Elkanah and Hannah bring their son Samuel to the Temple of Shiloh and consecrate him to the Lord (cf. 1 Sam 1:20-22, 24-28). In the same way, Joseph and Mary,…

Pope delivers Christmas Urbi et Orbi message

December 25, 2015 Pope Francis this Christmas day delivered his Urbi et Orbi message, (to the city and the world) from the central loggia of St Peter’s Basilica. In it he prayed that recent U.N.-backed peace agreements for Syria and Libya would quickly end the suffering of their people. He also spoke about the “brutal acts of…

Pope: Let us gaze upon the Child Jesus, the Son of God

December 24, 2015 Pope Francis has celebrated Christmas Mass at St Peter’s Basilica. Below, you can find the prepared text of the Holy Father’s homily for the Holy Mass of the Nativity of the Lord “during the Night”: Homily of His Holiness Pope Francis See the Mass and read Pope Francis homily in The Visitor……

After shooting, Catholics in north Minneapolis hope to pave path to peace

December 23, 2015 MINNEAPOLIS (CNS) — More than a month has passed since the November shooting death of Jamar Clark, a black man, by a white police officer. While protesters, led by the group Black Lives Matter, have moved on from their encampment at the Minneapolis Police Department’s Fourth Precinct, their questions and those of…

Southeast Michigan a bastion for Polish Christmas traditions, rituals

December 23, 2015 HAMTRAMCK, Mich. (CNS) — Holiday traditions and rituals are a vital part of each family’s Christmas celebration. When celebrating the birth of Jesus, many Catholic families have their own customs passed down for centuries through the generations, and this is especially true for southeast Michigan’s Polish families. Polish Christmas traditions center on…

Number of refugees, displaced people at highest since World War II

December 21, 2015 WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. (CNS) — The explosive global refugee crisis — likely the top debate-generating news story of 2015 — seems destined to dominate domestic and foreign politics for years to come at a time when Pope Francis has been calling for a compassionate world response. Early in 2015, Pope Francis…

New ‘Star Wars’ villains not evil enough, says Vatican movie critic

December 21, 2015 VATICAN CITY (CNS) — “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” broke box office records and restored a new hope in the franchise to the delight of fans worldwide with a few exceptions, including the Vatican’s newspaper. Emilio Ranzato, author and frequent movie critic for L’Osservatore Romano, wrote Dec. 18 that the first installment…

Pope’s U.S. visit: Six full days in September and the impact continues

December 16, 2015 WASHINGTON (CNS) — Pope Francis’ U.S. visit — Sept. 22-27 — was so full, “each day was like a week,” said the president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. Any one of his public events would have made the trip worthwhile, said Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz of Louisville, Kentucky, but he…

In Peace Day message, pope addresses death penalty, debt, migrants

December 15, 2015 VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Pope Francis called for abolishing the death penalty worldwide, lifting the burden of debt on poor nations, global aid policies that respect life and revamped laws that welcome and integrate migrants. He urged individuals, communities and nations to not let indifference, information overload or pessimism discourage them from…

Science and faith: Bridging the gap through education

December 15, 2015 VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Creationism vs. evolution, scientific method vs. ethics, science vs. faith, the church’s censure and rehabilitation of Galileo Galilei. For centuries, there have been countless confusion and arguments pitting science against faith as if they were two opposing forces. In the hopes of dispelling lingering myths and misunderstandings, one…

Pope to visit marginalized communities in Mexico in February

December 14, 2015 VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Pope Francis will visit some of the most marginalized communities in Mexico and seek to bring hope to a country deeply suffering from crime, corruption and inequality when he visits in February. The Vatican announced Dec. 12 details about the pope’s Feb. 12-17 trip to Mexico, during which…

Pope Francis will venerate Mary at Mexico shrine next year

December 14, 2015 VATICAN CITY (CNS) –- On the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe, Pope Francis announced that he would travel to the Marian shrine in Mexico City and pray to Mary so that Christian communities “may become oases and rivers of mercy.” “To ask her this, in a strong way, I will travel…

Time for forgiveness has begun, pope says as holy doors open worldwide

December 14, 2015 VATICAN CITY (CNS) — With the opening the Holy Door at the Basilica of St. John Lateran, Pope Francis declared that the time for tenderness, joy and forgiveness had begun. As holy doors around the world were opened at city cathedrals, major churches and sanctuaries Dec. 13, the pope said this simple…

Pope reaffirms new annulment reforms as they come into effect

December 11, 2015 VATICAN CITY (CNS) — As reformed rules for marriage annulment cases came into effect, Pope Francis said the new norms are to be adhered to in order to help bring healing to failed marriages. With the release of two papal documents in September, the pope rewrote a section of canon law with…

Catholic schools give high marks to sweeping new federal education law

December 11, 2015 WASHINGTON (CNS) — When President Barack Obama signed the sweeping bipartisan legislation Every Student Succeeds Act Dec. 10, he described it as a “Christmas miracle.” “This is an early Christmas present. After more than 10 years, members of Congress from both parties have come together to revise our national education law,” he…

Pope Francis’ 2015: Family, ecology, but mostly mercy

December 10, 2015 VATICAN CITY (CNS) — At the Vatican and on five continents in 2015, Pope Francis continued to encourage and demonstrate a style of evangelization that emphasizes walking with people, listening to them and showing them God’s mercy. From the heart of the universal church to the heart of Africa, the pope showed…

Attendees at vigil pray for shooting victims, for healing in community

December 9, 2015 SAN BERNARDINO, Calif. (CNS) — Our Lady of the Rosary Cathedral was dark as men and women of different faiths walked down the center aisle of the mission-revival-style church. The names of the 14 victims of the Dec. 2 shooting at the Inland Regional Center in San Bernardino were read by an…

Pope Francis: The church needs this Holy Year of Mercy

December 9, 2015 VATICAN CITY (CNS) — The Catholic Church needs the extraordinary Holy Year to become an effective witness of God’s divine mercy, Pope Francis said. “The jubilee is a favorable time for all of us, so that in contemplating divine mercy, which surpasses every human limitation and shines in the darkness of sin,…

Vatican officials to be called to testify at ‘VatiLeaks’ trial

December 7, 2015 VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Vatican judges have granted a request by one of the defendants to have several prominent Vatican officials take the stand and testify in the so-called “VatiLeaks” trial regarding the leaking and publication of confidential documents. Following deliberations Dec. 7, Giuseppe Dalla Torre, the presiding judge, along with three…

Pope: Stopping climate change, poverty go hand-in-hand

December 7, 2015 VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Heads of states at the U.N. climate change conference in Paris must do everything possible to mitigate the effects of both climate change and poverty “for the good of our common home,” Pope Francis said. “The two choices go together: to stop climate change and curb poverty so…

Judge’s ruling frozen embryos must be destroyed called ‘tragic case’

December 7, 2015 LEVITTOWN, Pa. (CNS) — A California state judge’s ruling that a now-divorced couple’s five frozen embryos must be destroyed is an example of doing something that technology allows without considering all its aspects, according to medical ethicists. Christopher White, director of research and education for the California-based Center for Bioethics and Culture,…

Civil war, terrorism — and now politics — affecting Syrian refugees

December 4, 2015 WASHINGTON (CNS) — The trickle of refugees that left Syria when that country’s Arab Spring-styled protests morphed in late 2011 into civil war, turned to a flood and then a torrent this year as hostilities escalated when euphemistically termed “outside actors” got more deeply involved. With the government of President Bashar Assad…

Prep school students travel through time to Ellis Island

December 4, 2015 Course’s themes help foster discussion on migration in light of current events By Kristi Anderson The Visitor Dressed in authentic period costumes of the early 1900s, seventh- and eighth-grade students at St. John’s Preparatory School in Collegeville traveled through time to be part of the Ellis Island immigration process during an interactive…

San Bernardino bishop urges prayers for unity, healing after shootings

December 4, 2015 OXNARD, Calif. (CNS) — Arriving in the late morning Dec. 2 at the San Bernardino diocesan pastoral center for his job in the diocese’s Office of Worship, Chris Estrella knew something was very wrong. “I could see a police blockade of Waterman Avenue, which is where the Inland Regional Center is located,”…

Speaker provides tools for handing on Catholic faith to children

December 4, 2015 By Kristi Anderson The Visitor Following a 9 a.m. Mass Nov. 21 at St. Michael Church in St. Cloud, national speaker Father Michael Schmitz from the Diocese of Duluth spoke to some 200 people about passing on the Catholic faith to children and teens. “The reality and the stakes are that it…

“Here I am Lord” National Catholic Youth conference 2015

December 4, 2015 Story and photos by Dianne Towalski The Visitor Youth and adult leaders from across the country converged on Indianapolis Nov. 19-21 for the 33rd National Catholic Youth Conference. The theme was “Here I am Lord.” The St. Cloud group, 141 youth and 55 adult leaders, joined the crowd of more than 23,000…

Through thick and thin: Pope urges youths to read the Bible

December 3, 2015 VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Pope Francis said his Bible is old, beat up and worth more to him than anything money can buy. “If you saw my Bible, you would not be impressed,” he wrote to young people. “You’d say, ‘What? This is the pope’s Bible? A book so old, so beat…

Terrorist attacks pose challenge for all ‘people of faith,’ says imam

December 3, 2015 WASHINGTON (CNS) — Atrocities committed in the name of Islam reverberate in a historic mosque in Washington. “It’s difficult,” said Imam Talib Shareef, who is head preacher at the Nation’s Mosque. He made the comments in an interview with Catholic News Service Nov. 28. Two weeks earlier, terrorist attacks, which the Islamic…

Homeless, poor get star treatment at Vatican movie premiere

December 2, 2015 VATICAN CITY (CNS) — The usual fanfare that comes with the world premiere of a movie is pretty standard: the lights and cameras, the celebrities walking down the red carpet and screaming fans trying to catch a glimpse of their favorite actors. At the Vatican, however, a movie premiere is not your…

Action plan offers Catholics down-to-earth ideas to implement encyclical

December 2, 2015 CONYERS, Ga. (CNS) — Mimi Soileau goes nearly weekly to see what vegetables are ripe to be plucked from garden beds beside her parish church, St. Pius X. Time spent with her hands in the dirt is nothing new for this 85-year-old master gardener. She’s currently harvesting hearty kale, eggplant and broccoli…

Advent’s focus is waiting for Christmas but also includes lots of feasts

December 2, 2015 WASHINGTON (CNS) — Although the four weeks of Advent focus on waiting for Christmas, the church does not just sit around and wait for the main event. It celebrates plenty of major feasts with lots of customs, traditions and even special foods during the month of December. Early in the Advent season,…

Federal appeals court rules Wisconsin abortion law unconstitutional

December 1, 2015 CHICAGO (CNS) — A three-judge panel of the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a lower court ruling that Wisconsin’s abortion law requiring abortion clinic doctors to have hospital admitting privileges was unconstitutional. In a 2-1 decision Nov. 23, the 7th Circuit in Chicago said the provision of the 2013 law…

Climate deal must be transformative, papal envoy tells leaders in Paris

December 1, 2015 VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Heads of state discussing carbon emission limits must create a global and “transformative” agreement built on justice, solidarity and fairness, a papal representative told the U.N. climate conference in Paris. Pope Francis has said “it would be tragic” if special interests “manipulated information” and won out over the…

Shooting at Colorado clinic antithesis of pro-life movement, says priest

November 30, 2015 COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (CNS) — A priest who celebrates Mass every Friday morning on a sidewalk near the Planned Parenthood clinic targeted by a lone gunman Nov. 27 said the shooter’s actions were the antithesis of the pro-life cause. “We want the conversion of Planned Parenthood, not their destruction,” said Father Bill…

On eve of U.N. climate summit, Catholics join in calls for change

November 30, 2015 PARIS (CNS) — Hundreds of thousands of people in at least 150 countries around the world demanded action on climate change on the eve of a U.N. conference that aimed to find agreement on greenhouse gas emissions. Heads of state traveled to Paris for the Nov. 30-Dec. 11 Conference of Parties, or…

Pope says he was surprised by crowds, joy in Africa

November 30, 2015 ABOARD THE PAPAL FLIGHT FROM AFRICA (CNS) — Pope Francis told reporters he is well aware that God is a god of surprises, but he had not been prepared for what a surprise his first visit to Africa would be. Obviously tired, but equally content, Pope Francis told reporters he prayed in…

Pope in Bangui: Open the doors of mercy, counter violence with love

BANGUI, Central African Republic (CNS) — Put down the weapons of war and work for justice, Pope Francis urged the people of the Central African Republic. “Even when the powers of hell are unleashed, Christians must rise to the summons, their heads held high, and be ready to brave blows in this battle over which…

Honor your martyrs by putting faith into action, pope tells Ugandans

KAMPALA, Uganda (CNS) — As Pope Francis encouraged Ugandan Christians to draw inspiration from the 19th-century Ugandan Martyrs, he carried with him graphic images of the horrors the 45 Anglican and Catholic martyrs endured. The pope made an early morning visit Nov. 28 to the Anglican shrine and museum located on the site where many…

National Geographic magazine’s cover story reveals Mary’s appeal

November 26, 2015 WASHINGTON (CNS) — Maureen Orth, a special correspondent for Vanity Fair magazine who has written about music icons, world leaders and Hollywood celebrities, tackled a completely different subject for National Geographic magazine: the Virgin Mary. For the magazine’s December cover story, “Mary the most powerful woman in the world,” Orth visited several…

Arriving in Kenya, pope says tolerance, respect are keys to peace

November 26, 2015 NAIROBI, Kenya (CNS) — With security concerns looming over his visit, Pope Francis arrived in Kenya Nov. 25 urging tolerance and respect among people of different religions and different ethnic groups. During the less than seven-hour flight, Pope Francis told reporters the only thing he was worried about were the mosquitoes, and…

Catholic groups, undeterred by Paris attacks, to attend climate summit

November 24, 2015 WASHINGTON (CNS) — Catholic organizations advocating to protect the world and its people from the impact of climate change said the terror attacks in Paris had not dissuaded them from attending a major U.N. summit there. “As far as I know, everyone who was planning to go is going. It is such…

Day’s granddaughter urges Catholics to speak out against war, injustice

November 24, 2015 DERWOOD, Md. (CNS) –- Dorothy Day’s granddaughter Martha Hennessy looks a little like her grandmother with her pulled-back white hair, and although she is soft spoken, she likely sounds just like her activist grandmother, too, when talking about helping the poor and promoting peace. Hennessy spoke about such topics and the influence…

Vatican Nativity scene, tree to be unveiled early for Year of Mercy

November 19, 2015 VATICAN CITY (CNS) — The Christmas tree and Nativity scene in St. Peter’s Square will be set up and unveiled earlier than usual this year to be ready for the opening of the Year of Mercy. In preparation for the extraordinary event, which begins Dec. 8 with the opening of the Holy…

Grinch of Starbucks

November 19, 2015 The latest Internet outrage in the “war against Christians” is that Starbucks will no longer use a Christmas-themed paper cup. No more “jazzy” Santas, no more snowflakes, no more reindeer — just a plain red, green and white cup. According to Jeffrey Fields, Starbuck’s vice president for design and content, “This year…

If miracle approved, Blessed Teresa could be canonized Sept. 4

November 19, 2015 VATICAN CITY (CNS) — The Vatican calendar for the Year of Mercy deliberately set aside Sept. 4, 2016, as a possible date for the canonization of Blessed Teresa of Kolkata, if her sainthood cause is concluded by then. The canonization would be celebrated by Pope Francis in St. Peter’s Square at the…

Retired local judge honored as ‘faithful servant’ of law

November 18, 2015 Elizabeth Hayden, a College of St. Benedict alumna and retired district court judge, received the Fidelis Apparitor Award Nov. 14. The award, which means “faithful servant,” is given to individuals who have been good and faithful servants of the law. Hayden, a member of St. Mary’s Cathedral in St. Cloud, received the honor…

In debate on ‘Faithful Citizenship,’ bishops push for more about poverty

November 18, 2015 BALTIMORE (CNS) — The U.S. bishops adopted a revised version of their quadrennial statement on political responsibility, but not without questions being raised by some bishops who said it should better reflect Catholic social teaching. The questions came from five bishops who said that the document does not adequately address poverty, as…

Paris violence won’t alter church outreach to refugees, USCCB head says

November 16, 2015 BALTIMORE (CNS) — Church resettlement programs in the United States will continue to aid refugees who are fleeing violence and social ills despite calls that the country’s borders should be closed to anyone but Christians. The church’s response is focused on people in need of food, shelter and safety and not their…

‘Faithful citizenship’ revisions reflect words of Popes Benedict, Francis

November 16, 2015 BALTIMORE (CNS) — Revisions in the U.S. bishops’ quadrennial document on political responsibility draw on the teachings of Pope Benedict XVI and Pope Francis and take into account developments in U.S. foreign and domestic policy over the past four years. The document, revised by a working group of bishops comprised of the…

High court’s ruling prompts bishops’ pastoral plan for family, marriage

November 16, 2015 BALTIMORE (CNS) — As a way to move forward in response to the Supreme Court’s ruling on same-sex marriage this year, U.S. bishops are planning to develop a pastoral plan for marriage and family life. The pastoral plan, according to Bishop Richard J. Malone of Buffalo, New York, chairman of the bishops’…

World’s Catholic leaders condemn terrorist attacks in Paris, Beirut

November 16, 2015 WASHINGTON (CNS) — Catholic leaders around the world condemned terrorist attacks in Paris and Beirut, offering prayers and condolences. “The time has come for the world to stand united against terrorism and to confront the reasons of terrorism, such as feelings of oppression, hatred, bad education and fanaticism, with no double standards,”…

Nothing can justify terrorist attacks, pope says

November 14, 2015 VATICAN CITY (CNS) — “This is not human,” Pope Francis said after a night of terror in Paris left more than 120 people dead and more than 200 people injured. As French authorities investigated the almost simultaneous attacks Nov. 13 on at least six different sites — inside a concert hall, outside…

Cardinal: Catholic identity is caring witness, not defensive ideology

November 13, 2015 VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Strong Catholic identity for Catholic schools and educational institutes depends on fostering proactive, creative and charitable witnesses of God’s love and Gospel values, not defending abstract ideologies, said the head of the Congregation for Catholic Education. Catholic identity must recognize the major mission of evangelization is “salvation and…

If airstrikes against Islamic State end, what is Canada’s Mideast role?

November 13, 2015 MONTREAL (CNS) — For two major Catholic agencies based in Canada, the Liberal government’s decision to stop airstrikes against Islamic State positions in the Middle East begs the question: How must Canada act in that region? Shortly after his Oct. 19 election, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced his intention of pulling…

Catholics to U.N. summit: Warmer temperatures are just part of the problem

November 10, 2015 WASHINGTON (CNS) — Yeb Sano, former climate change commissioner for Philippines, is so concerned about global warming that he and other Catholic pilgrims are walking 900 miles from Rome to Paris for the U.N. climate change conference. It’s time, Sano believes, for world leaders to sign a binding agreement that helps reduce…

Holy Door to be sealed at St. Mary’s Cathedral

November 6, 2015 Image of the Year of Mercy and papal tiara will identify Holy Door; Mass will also celebrate vocations By Kristi Anderson The Visitor The row of heavy wooden doors that aligns the front of St. Mary’s Cathedral in St. Cloud has welcomed people from all walks of life, from countless corners of…

If people love God, they must care for what he has made, says cardinal

November 4, 2015 COLUMBUS, Ohio (CNS) — The lead consultant on “Laudato Si’,” Pope Francis’ encyclical on the environment, said that although it’s a document of nearly 40,000 words, its message can be summed up in one sentence. “We cannot love God when we do not appreciate or care for what God has made,” Cardinal…

Vatican spokesman confirms money laundering investigation

November 4, 2015 VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Investigations into money laundering, insider trading and market manipulation through a Vatican office were launched after an initial report was filed by the Vatican Financial Intelligence Authority in February 2015, the Vatican spokesman said. Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, the spokesman, issued a statement Nov. 4 about the investigations…

Pope says human trafficking is an international responsibility

November 4, 2015 VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Police chiefs and bishops are called to work together to assist the victims of human trafficking and help them find freedom and healing, Pope Francis said. “You … by your mission are called to be near to these victims and to accompany them on a pathway of dignity…

Those who give their lives in service are not losers, pope says

November 3, 2015 VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Serving and giving oneself for others may make one “seem like a loser in the eyes of the world,” but in reality that person is imitating Christ’s love and service, which conquered death and gave life to the world, Pope Francis said. “He who serves, saves,” the pope…

Researcher finds something deep, life-changing within nuns’ cloister

November 3, 2015 GLENMOORE, Pa. (CNS) — When independent filmmaker and artist Abbie Reese inaugurated her collaboration with the Poor Clare Colettine nuns at the Corpus Christi Monastery in Rockford, Illinois, she had a professional goal: nurturing a collaborative relationship that would serve as a backdrop to a young woman’s transition from secular life into…

Blessed Romero’s martyrdom continued after his murder, pope says

October 30, 2015 VATICAN CITY (CNS) — The martyrdom of Blessed Oscar Romero did not end with his death because he continued to be slandered even by his fellow priests and bishops, Pope Francis said. Speaking off-the-cuff to a group of pilgrims from El Salvador Oct. 30, the pope said that he, too, witnessed the…

Strength in adversity: When families are everything

October 29, 2015 VATICAN CITY (CNS) — The Catholic Church has long defended the family as the basic unit of society and as a “school of humanity.” The family as a bastion of love and protection in times of war and disaster is a reality, not a pious platitude, said two members of the Synod…

Pennsylvania priest builds ministry one Lego at a time

October 29, 2015 MOSCOW, Pa. (CNS) — Bob Simon fell in love with two things at the age of 5 — the Catholic Church and building with Lego. Now, as a 51-year-old priest, Father Simon has discovered a way to merge both of these passions. The pastor of St. Catherine of Siena Parish in Moscow…

Wisconsin clinic suspends abortions; pro-lifers hope for permanent stop

October 29, 2015 GREEN BAY, Wis. (CNS) — The only facility still performing abortions in the northeast Wisconsin has suspended abortions for the next six months. Planned Parenthood in Grand Chute suspended abortions in mid-October, citing a lack of medical staff. The building, and Planned Parenthood’s office in Appleton, remains open. While Planned Parenthood did…

Catholic agencies have long forged relationships with new House speaker

October 29, 2015 WASHINGTON (CNS) — With his election as speaker of the House of Representatives, Rep. Paul Ryan may have taken the most difficult job in American politics. The Wisconsin Republican is faced with keeping his party’s conference unified as he takes a position that places him third in line for the presidency. He…

Chaplains must assist military traumatized by war, pope says

October 27, 2015 VATICAN CITY (CNS) — As more members of the armed forces endure both physical and emotional scars from conflicts raging around the world, Pope Francis called on military chaplains to tend to their wounds with the healing balm of the sacraments. “At this time, in which we are living a ‘third world…

Cause opens for Florida martyrs who proclaimed faith ‘at all cost’

October 27, 2015 TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (CNS) — A slight breeze stirred the Spanish moss of the ancient live oaks as the late October afternoon sun slanted across the wide lawn of the deserted mansion. It was easy to imagine going back more than 300 years to the dawn of the 18th century, hearing the sounds…

Women CEOs say faith guides their work in bringing Gospel to the needy

October 27, 2015 WASHINGTON (CNS) — Together, the Catholic organizations led by three women serve millions of people each year across the United States and around the world. These three leaders — whose organizations are devoted to health care, serving the poor and overseas relief — said their faith guides their work in bringing the…

Synod report urges ‘accompaniment’ tailored to family situations

October 24, 2015 VATICAN CITY (CNS) — While not specifically mentioning the controversial proposal of a path toward full reconciliation and Communion for the divorced and civilly remarried, members of the Synod of Bishops on the family handed Pope Francis a report emphasizing an obligation to recognize that not all Catholics in such a situation…

Pope establishes new dicastery for laity, family, life

October 24, 2015 VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Pope Francis announced he is establishing a new office for laity, family and life, which combines the responsibilities of two pontifical councils. The pope made the announcement Oct. 22 during the afternoon session of the Synod of Bishops on the family. “I have decided to establish a new…

St. Maria Goretti called a friend who never leaves ‘a heart untouched’

October 23, 2015 MADISON, Wis. (CNS) — It was a birthday party unlike any other. “This has been unbelievable … the greatest experience ever for this parish.” Those words from Msgr. Michael Burke, pastor of St. Maria Goretti Parish in Madison, are the simplest way to sum up the 24-hour period in which the relics…

Final report to be a general guide, not hard answers, says cardinal

October 22, 2015 VATICAN CITY (CNS) — After nearly three weeks of intense discussion and debate, the Synod of Bishop’s final document on the family was not expected to have any hard-hitting answers, a member of the drafting commission said. Rather, the report was aiming to be a reflection of the overall sense of the…

Apologies and processes: Synod groups end with varied offerings

October 21, 2015 VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Two of the 13 final small-group reports of the Synod of Bishops for the family contained apologies: one for ways in which a lack of pastoral care may have contributed to the breakdown of marriages and one for “harsh and merciless” attitudes toward unwed mothers and their children,…

Born with one arm, standout athlete aims high on field, in classroom

October 21, 2015 AVE MARIA, Fla. (CNS) — Valeria Tkacik is a standout lacrosse player for Ave Maria University in Florida. By all accounts, she is a leader on and off the field. Tkacik was named to the National Women’s Lacrosse League South Regional Team and is considered a talented athlete who loves playing lacrosse,…

Vatican spokesman says claims pope has tumor ‘entirely unfounded’

October 21, 2015 VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, Vatican spokesman, said an Italian newspaper’s claims about the pope’s health were “entirely unfounded.” After checking with the pope himself and other sources, Father Lombardi told reporters “the pope enjoys good health” and that the unsubstantiated news report was “a serious act of irresponsibility,…

Vatican urges U.N. to seek equitable sharing of space technology

October 20, 2015 UNITED NATIONS (CNS) — The information and services that space technology provides must be shared as much as possible by the countries of the world to reduce the risk that economic and social inequalities will widen, a Vatican official told the United Nations. The “opening of outer space for scientific and peaceful…

Shorter annulment process isn’t about shortcuts, cardinals say

October 20, 2015 VATICAN CITY (CNS) — The reforms to the annulment process introduced by Pope Francis serve only to avoid delays in cases where marriages are clearly not valid, two synod fathers said. Cardinal Lluis Martinez Sistach of Barcelona, Spain, and Cardinal Wilfrid F. Napier of Durban, South Africa, told journalists at a Vatican…

Discourage mixed marriages, women accepting abuse, some say at synod

October 20, 2015 VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Observers told the Synod of Bishops on the family to discourage Christian women from marrying Muslim men, urge priests not to tell women to return to abusive husbands, share the truth of church teaching about marriage, and embrace single mothers who are alienated from the church. The proposals…

Pope to visit Africa Nov. 25-30; including Central African Republic

October 19, 2015 VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Despite continued instability and outbreaks of violence in the Central African Republic, the Vatican announced Pope Francis will spend about 33 hours in the country during a Nov. 25-30 visit to Africa. Releasing the schedule for the trip, the Vatican said that while the pope is in the…

Synod not manipulated; how it is depicted is distorted, says cardinal

October 19, 2015 VATICAN CITY (CNS) — The Synod of Bishops on the family is not being manipulated, rather the distortion rests in how it is being depicted or seen by a number of people, said Cardinal Donald W. Wuerl of Washington. “I don’t think the synod itself has been tainted, but the lens through…

Pope calls for ‘synodal’ church where all listen, learn, share mission

October 19, 2015 VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Marking the 50th anniversary of the Synod of Bishops, Pope Francis outlined his vision for a church that is “synodal” at every level, with everyone listening to one another, learning from one another and taking responsibility for proclaiming the Gospel. “The journey of synodality is the journey that…

Be joyful pastors, use God’s word to heal people, delegates tell synod

October 17, 2015 VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Remember that Christ is a friend who invites sinners to his table, and do not forget God’s call to repent and live holy lives, some representatives of Christian communities told the world Synod of Bishops. Many of the 12 nonvoting “fraternal delegates,” whose presentations were published by the…

Report puts ‘human face’ on global threats to religious freedom

October 17, 2015 WASHINGTON (CNS) — Religious freedom “extends way beyond mere tolerance,” said Secretary of State John Kerry Oct. 14 when announcing the U.S. State Department’s release of the 2014 International Religious Freedom Report. He said it demands that faith practitioners “understand that they have no right to coerce others into submission, conversion, or…

Synod observers call for empathy, support for struggling families

October 16, 2015 VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Couples attending the Synod of Bishops called for empathy and support from the church to families suffering difficult circumstances. Several lay couples and a missionary sister addressed the synod Oct. 15-16, highlighting various issues facing families in their countries and abroad. Anthony and Catherine Witczak, the international ecclesial…

Families have a mission in the church, archbishop says

October 16, 2015 VATICAN CITY (CNS) — The family is not just an object of church discussion, but must be a subject — an actor — that shares its life and witness with the wider Christian community, said Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz of Louisville, Kentucky. At the Synod of Bishops on the family, he said,…

Many prayers and dollars help Francis Fund ‘undo the knots of poverty’

October 16, 2015 PHILADELPHIA (CNS) — For weeks, Catholics had been streaming to the “Knotted Grotto,” a dome-shaped lattice-work frame outside the chapel of the Cathedral Basilica of SS. Peter and Paul in Philadelphia, tying white strips of paper offering prayers for healing of sick friends and relatives, world peace, protection of the environment, the…

Polish bishop says synod members trust Holy Spirit, guidance of pope

October 15, 2015 VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Members of the Synod of Bishops trust the Holy Spirit and Pope Francis’ guidance in confronting issues facing today’s families, said Archbishop Stanislaw Gadecki of Poznan. “An atmosphere of fear does not exist because we believe in the Holy Spirit. We also believe in the guidance of the…

Infertility can lead to sadness, broken marriages, Nigerian bishop says

October 15, 2015 VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Married couples need more help in dealing with infertility and childlessness, which is “one of the major causes of divorce in Africa,” said a Nigerian member of the Synod of Bishops on the family. In a culture where “children are celebrated with all kinds of ceremonies” and are…

Catholics urged to join campaign of prayer, fasting Oct. 16-24

October 14, 2015 WASHINGTON (CNS) — Catholics are urged to join in prayer and fasting Oct. 16-24 for the conversion of people and nations, peace in the world, a renewed culture of life in the United States and spiritual blessing on the Synod of Bishops on the family. The 23rd International Week of Prayer and…

Synod calls for Bible-based presentation of God’s plan for family

October 14, 2015 VATICAN CITY (CNS) — As members of the Synod of Bishops concluded work on the second of three chapters in their working document, they continued to call for a tone and for language that is clear, simple and encourages people to see it is possible to live the vocation of marriage and…

Archbishop Cupich urges Illinois, nation to back gun control measures

October 13, 2015 CHICAGO (CNS) — Archbishop Blase J. Cupich of Chicago, saying it is time to “take meaningful and swift action to address violence in our society,” called for stricter gun control laws in Illinois. “Recently, the city of Chicago adopted a tough ordinance to tightly regulate gun stores here. I applaud Chicago’s leadership…

Method of teaching about family can alienate people, synod members say

October 12, 2015 VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Just like a family, the Catholic Church should challenge members to grow and behave better, but also like a family, it should not exclude those who still have some growing to do, said Bishop George V. Murry of Youngstown, Ohio. Bishop Murry and other members of the Synod…

Synod surprises: Universal compassion, inaccurate coverage, couples say

October 12, 2015 VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Two couples attending the Synod of Bishops on the family said what surprised them most about their first synod in Rome was reading inaccurate media coverage of the closed-door proceedings, the diversity problems families face around the world and the synod fathers’ great concern and compassion for the…

Visit to Africa listed among pope’s upcoming events

October 12, 2015 VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Before the Vatican released a detailed schedule of Pope Francis’ first trip to Africa, the office of papal liturgical ceremonies included the Nov. 25-30 visit on its list of upcoming papal events. The pope’s liturgical schedule, released at the Vatican Oct. 12, includes mention of the “apostolic visit…

Take a positive approach to families, synod members say

October 10, 2015 VATICAN CITY (CNS) — The first week of the Synod of Bishops on the family ended with near unanimous calls to be more positive in describing family life today and to show more appreciation for Catholic families living close to the church’s ideals. But there were also widespread questions among synod participants…

Media ‘gets’ and media ‘hits’ noted in wake of papal visit

October 8, 2015 WASHINGTON (CNS) — Just as Pope Francis got what he wanted from his apostolic journey to the United States in a close-up view of American Catholicism at its most compassionate and energetic, so too did the media covering Pope Francis largely get what they sought in covering his six-day September visit in…

Families show the beauty, blessing of family life, archbishop says

October 8, 2015 VATICAN CITY (CNS) — The Synod of Bishops on the family must find ways to give Catholic families a leading role in evangelizing and supporting other families, the president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops told the synod. “Families who by the grace of God model tenderness, forgiveness and the joy…

Synod changes: Making less time for speeches, more time for dialogue

October 8, 2015 VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Although the public is given glimpses of what happens inside the Catholic Church’s world Synod of Bishops, the meetings themselves take place behind closed doors. Celebrating its 50th anniversary this year, the Synod of Bishops has been the object of a continual hunt to balance creating a protected…

Pope’s remarks seen as a road map of urgent actions for U.N. to take

October 8, 2015 UNITED NATIONS (CNS) — In the warm afterglow of Pope Francis’ Sept 25 address to the General Assembly, veteran United Nations observers drew a starkly candid road map of urgent actions that the world body must take to achieve its security agenda. Speakers at an Oct. 7 side event hosted by the…

Church and society must learn from families, pope says at audience

October 7, 2015 VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Society and the church have much to learn from the family and, in fact, the bond between the church and the family is “indissoluble,” Pope Francis said. Families bring needed values and a humanizing spirit to society and, when they mirror God’s love for all, they teach the…

Archbishop Chaput: Synod does include ‘lobbying’ in search of truth

October 7, 2015 VATICAN CITY (CNS) — When a big group of people gathers to discuss something important, people start lobbying, even if that group is the world Synod of Bishops, said Archbishop Charles J. Chaput of Philadelphia. Pope Francis told participants Oct. 6 “we should avoid thinking of each other as conspiring against one…

Bishops, Vatican confirm Pope Francis will visit Mexico in 2016

October 6, 2015 MEXICO CITY (CNS) — The Mexican bishops’ conference and the Vatican have confirmed Pope Francis will visit Mexico in 2016, marking his first trip to this heavily Catholic country in throes of unrest over unresolved issues such as violence, crime and corruption. Auxiliary Bishop Eugenio Lira Rugarcia of Puebla, conference secretary-general, told…

California bishops disappointed assisted suicide measure signed into law

October 6, 2015 SACRAMENTO, Calif. (CNS) — California’s bishops expressed disappointment with Gov. Jerry Brown’s Oct. 5 signing of a measure legalizing physician-assisted suicide in the state, saying the law “stands in direct contradiction to providing compassionate, quality care for those facing a terminal illness.” “This bill does nothing to validate the lives of the…

Pope says ministry to divorced, remarried is not only topic for synod

October 6, 2015 VATICAN CITY (CNS) — As the discussion began at the world Synod of Bishops on the family, Pope Francis urged members not to act as if the only question that mattered was the pastoral care of divorced and civilly remarried Catholics, his spokesman said. Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, Vatican spokesman, told reporters…

Synod should reflect on possibly allowing female deacons, says archbishop

October 6, 2015 VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Canadian Archbishop Paul-Andre Durocher of Gatineau, Quebec, said the synod should reflect on the possibility of allowing for female deacons as it seeks ways to open up more opportunities for women in church life. Where possible, qualified women should be given higher positions and decision-making authority within church…

Pope says synod is not parliament, but place to listen to Holy Spirit

October 5, 2015 VATICAN CITY (CNS) — The world Synod of Bishops on the family is not a parliament where participants will negotiate or lobby, Pope Francis said, but it must be a place of prayer where bishops speak with courage and open themselves to “God who always surprises us.” Opening the first working session…

‘Unite suffering’ with those grieving, archbishop tells Oregon Catholics

October 4, 2015 PORTLAND, Ore. (CNS) — St. Joseph Parish in Roseburg hosted an emotional Mass the evening of Oct. 1 for 10 people who died in a shooting that morning at Umpqua Community College. Auxiliary Bishop Peter Smith traveled from Portland for the liturgy. Authorities in Roseburg, in green rolling hills 180 miles south…

House passes measure to allow states to defund Planned Parenthood

October 4, 2015 WASHINGTON (CNS) — The House Sept. 29 passed the Women’s Health and Public Safety Act to give states the authority to defund Planned Parenthood. Speaking from the House floor in support of the measure, which was sponsored by Rep. Sean Duffy, R-Wisconsin, Rep. Chris Smith, R-New Jersey, cited the pope’s Sept. 24…

Survey gives glimpse into faith practices of young Catholic families

October 1, 2015 WASHINGTON (CNS) — A survey commissioned by Holy Cross Family Ministries provides insights into the faith practices of young Catholic families. One of the more surprising findings is that Hispanics now make up a solid majority of Catholic families where the parents are ages 25-45, the age group targeted by the survey….

Archbishop visits Congress, White House in push to ease Puerto Rico debt crisis

October 1, 2015 WASHINGTON (CNS) — Concerned that Puerto Rico’s debt crisis is inflicting hardship on poor and middle-class households, Archbishop Robert Gonzalez Nieves of San Juan met with congressional leaders and the White House to push for a resolution. The crisis has led to school closings, cuts in social services and health care and…

Silence and indifference to migrant crisis lead to complicity, pope says

October 1, 2015 ATICAN CITY (CNS) — Indifference to the crises and tragedies today’s migrants and refugees are facing lead to complicity when people remain silent or refuse to act, Pope Francis said. Jesus’ call to welcome the stranger and show mercy is clear, the pope said in a message released at the Vatican Oct….

Protesters at New York gas storage plant arrested while reading encyclical

September 30, 2015 READING, N.Y. (CNS) — Accompanied by oversized replica of Pope Francis’ encyclical “Laudato Si’,” former Catholic seminarian Paul Flansburg took his place on the line with 18 others in a human blockade. Their goal Aug. 18 was to stop business as usual at a natural gas and liquefied petroleum gas storage facility…

The family is the answer to world’s brokenness, blandness, pope says

September 30, 2015 VATICAN CITY (CNS) — The family is the answer to the two extremes facing the world — fragmentation and “homogenization,” in which everything is forced to be the same, Pope Francis said. The family based on marriage between a man and a woman is the answer because “it is the cell of…

Georgia executes Kelly Renee Gissendaner

September 30, 2015 (Vatican Radio) The state of Georgia in the United States has executed Kelly Renee Gissendaner for killing her husband in 1997, the first woman executed in the state in 70 years. The 47-year old woman sang Amazing Grace in the execution chamber, until she was given the lethal injection, which led to…

Vatican refuses comment on reports Kentucky clerk met pope

September 30, 2015 VATICAN CITY (CNS) — The Vatican has refused to comment on reports that while in Washington, Pope Francis briefly met with Kim Davis, the county clerk from Kentucky who was jailed for refusing to issue marriage licenses. Davis, the elected clerk of Rowan County, initially refused to grant marriage licenses to gay…

Serra canonization should awaken mission spirit, says head of Extension

September 29, 2015 WASHINGTON (CNS) — For Catholic Extension, the canonization of St. Junipero Serra Sept. 23 marked a renewal of the 110-year-old organization’s help to the marginalized. “We have to awaken our mission spirit in the United States,” said Father Jack Wall, president of Catholic Extension, in a phone interview with Catholic News Service….

Argentine family on 13,000-mile road trip to Philadelphia to see pope

September 29, 2015 RALEIGH, N.C. (CNS) — The Walker family filed through the side entrance of Sacred Heart Cathedral in Raleigh. A bag on her shoulder and a 3-year-old on her hip, mom Noel Zemborain smiled. A pack at his waist, dad Catire Walker held the door as their three older children passed by. At…

Pope has been invited to Canada, but Vatican says nothing confirmed

September 29, 2015 PHILADELPHIA (CNS) — Now that Pope Francis’ trip to the United States has ended, many wonder when he will visit Canada, as he has been invited to visit Montreal in 2017. Asked about this possibility, Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, Vatican spokesman, said there is no plan to visit Canada at the moment….

Theme for 2016 communications day to focus on mercy, dialogue

September 29, 2015 VATICAN CITY (CNS) — For World Communications Day 2016, Pope Francis has chosen the theme “Communication and Mercy: A fruitful encounter.” As the church celebrates the extraordinary Holy Year of Mercy, which begins Dec. 8, the pope also wanted to invite deeper reflection on the link between communication and mercy, said a…

Pope urges U.S. Catholics to keep enthusiasm, welcome newcomers

September 28, 2015 PHILADELPHIA (CNS) — Pope Francis ended his trip to the United States with a call for Catholics to keep the enthusiasm of the visit, while continuing to welcome newcomers and care for creation. “Do not let your enthusiasm for Jesus, his church, our families, and the broader family of society run dry,”…

Pope says he left U.S. praying for, impressed by its people

September 28, 2015 ABOARD THE PAPAL FLIGHT FROM PHILADELPHIA (CNS) — As the American Airlines plane taking him to Rome from Philadelphia took off, Pope Francis said he pictured the faces of all the people he met, and he prayed for them. At the end of his first-ever visit to the United States, the pope…

Memory and motion: Pope Francis shows Americans who he really is

September 27, 2015 PHILADELPHIA (CNS) — Pope Francis speaks often about memory and motion, the importance of remembering where you came from and setting off without fear to share the Gospel. That’s what he did in the United States. He circled the Statue of Liberty in a helicopter and flew over Ellis Island not preparing…

Serve, care for each other, pope tells families at closing Mass

Pope Francis urged the hundreds of thousands of people gathered for the closing Mass of the World Meeting of Families to serve and care for each other as freely as God loves the human family. The pope called upon the faithful to embrace signs that the Holy Spirit can work through everyone. He referred to…

Local pilgrims see pope, listen to spontaneous talk on families

For Mary Jo Ruhland of Assumption Parish in Eden Valley, the four-hour wait on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway in Philadelphia to catch a fleeting glimpse of the popemobile as it went by Sept. 26, was definitely worth it. “It is the steadfastness that people have in their hearts to wait for that moment when he…

Pope thanks families for witnessing to truth, goodness and beauty

September 27, 2015 (Vatican Radio) Pope Francis on Saturday thanked all families who bear witness to the beauty of family life. The Holy Father was speaking in Philadelphia at a Prayer Vigil for the 8th World Meeting of Families taking place at the city’s Benjamin Franklin Parkway. The Pope listened to six couples giving testimony…

Understanding marriage can lead to healthier society, speakers assert

September 27, 2015 PHILADELPHIA (CNS) — The first symbol of God’s creative love is when he said, “Let there be light,” because light encourages good and darkness encourages evil, Cardinal Robert Sarah said at the World Meeting of Families in Philadelphia. Light brings order out of darkness and love out of chaos, he said in…

‘Let freedom ring!’ Respect for rights helps society, pope says

September 26, 2015 PHILADELPHIA (CNS) — Not far from where the Liberty Bell is on display, Pope Francis urged the people of the United States to continue to “proclaim liberty throughout all the land unto all the inhabitants thereof,” as the bell’s inscription says. Meeting Sept. 26 with members of the Hispanic community and immigrants…

Grotto highlights needs of poor, image of Mary as ‘Undoer of Knots’

September 26, 2015 PHILADELPHIA (CNS) — In front of Philadelphia’s Cathedral Basilica of SS. Peter and Paul stands a visible representation of Pope Francis’ favorite religious image: “Mary, Undoer of Knots.” The “Knotted Grotto” is a dome-shaped lattice-work frame that stands about 10 feet high with an approximately 20-foot circumference and features tens of thousands…

Attendees of World Meeting of Families help break Guinness world record

September 26, 2016 PHILADELPHIA (CNS) — As confetti rained down and cheers filled the air on the final day of the World Meeting of Families Sept. 25, a family from Argentina applied brushstrokes to a mural depicting Pope Francis — pushing the number of contributors to the paint-by-numbers mural past 2,263 and into the Guinness…

Pope brings Gospel of ‘encounter’ to Madison Square Garden

September 26, 2016 NEW YORK (CNS) — Seeing New York for the first time in his 78 years of life, Pope Francis said he knew Madison Square Garden was an important gathering place for sporting events and concerts. For him, it was transformed into a chapel in the heart of the Big Apple. True peace…

People come first, human life is sacred, pope insists at U.N.

September 25, 2015 UNITED NATIONS (CNS) — Dealing with war, development, the economy or environmental concerns, bureaucrats and diplomats always must remember that the lives of real children, women and men are at stake, Pope Francis told the United Nations. Helping to celebrate the organization’s 70th anniversary, Pope Francis visited its headquarters Sept. 25 and…

Mass, blessing for health care professionals set for Oct. 18

By Frank Lee For The Visitor They care for the physical and mental needs of others, and now those they serve will show their appreciation at a special Mass and blessing at Sacred Heart Chapel in St. Joseph. All are invited to celebrate the White Mass for health care professionals at 2 p.m. Oct. 18…

Locals react to Pope’s address to Congress

September 24, 2015 By Kristi Anderson The Visitor Before dawn on Sept. 24, spectators gathered at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., where Pope Francis spoke to a crowd of tens of thousands who were both inside and outside the Special Joint Session of the U.S. Congress. College of St. Benedict president Mary Hinton, who…

Little Sisters of the Poor get unscheduled visit from Pope Francis

September 24, 2015 WASHINGTON (CNS) — Pope Francis made a previously unannounced 15-minute stop Sept. 23 at a Washington residence operated by the Little Sisters of the Poor, where he met with about 45 sisters. Sister Constance Veit, communications director for the Little Sisters, said the pope talked individually with each sister, ranging in age…

Church leaders affirm commitment to family as world meeting kicks off

September 23, 2015 PHILADELPHIA (CNS) — Known as the City of Brotherly Love, Philadelphia will be “the city of family love” and the “world capital of families” during the four-day World Meeting of Families, said Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia, president of the Pontifical Council for the Family. The largest-ever World Meeting of Families opened in Philadelphia…

People attending a predawn Mass say Pope Francis gives them hope

September 23, 2015 WASHINGTON (CNS) — Parishioners and visitors attending the predawn bilingual Mass at the Shrine of the Sacred Heart Church in Washington Sept. 23 were urged to pray that the pope’s words during his U.S. visit would have an impact. Pray that “all will hear his message and that this country will receive…

At White House, hours in line for brief welcoming ceremony

September 23, 2015 WASHINGTON (CNS) — The 11,000 ticketed guests and a cast of hundreds extra — military units, musicians and federal employees — who waited on the White House lawn to greet Pope Francis Sept. 23 were clearly there as fans of the visiting pope. As the sun rose over a spectacularly blue September…

In Philly, a reminder that combatting poverty is also a family issue

September 23, 2015 Joe Towalski, editor of The Visitor, is traveling with the diocesan pilgrimage to the World Meeting of Families in Philadelphia. By Joe Towalski The Visitor As you can imagine, the World Meeting of Families, with its approximately 20,000 participants from more than 100 countries, is a good venue for vendors selling WMF…

Vatican spokesman declines to speculate on what pope will say in the U.S.

September 22, 2015 WASHINGTON (CNS) — Despite repeated questions from journalists on what Pope Francis will say to President Barack Obama, a joint meeting of Congress and the United Nations on any range of potential subjects, Vatican spokesman Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi advised everyone to wait and listen for themselves. During a Sept. 22 news…

Meeting reporters on plane, pope defends his teaching on social issues

September 22, 2015 ABOARD THE PAPAL FLIGHT FROM CUBA (CNS) — Pope Francis defended his position on the economy, the environment and other social issues as faithful repetitions of the basic Catholic social doctrine. Speaking to reporters flying with him from Cuba to Washington Sept. 22, the pope was asked about comments, mainly from the…

Chefs working at a ‘different level’ cooking for Pope Francis, homeless

September 22, 2015 WASHINGTON (CNS) — Cooking for 1,900 people, no problem. Cooking for the pope? Now that requires extra care. Chefs Michael McDonald and Irshaad Ellis-Bey say they are up to the challenge. Both men are heading the effort of the Washington Archdiocese’s Catholic Charities Enterprises catering service in preparing a meal for 500…

Pope calls for ‘revolution of tenderness’ in Cuba

September 22, 2015 SANTIAGO, Cuba (CNS) — Pope Francis called Cuban to a “revolution of tenderness” as he celebrated Mass in the Minor Basilica of the Shrine of Our Lady of Charity of El Cobre, the country’s patroness. While only about 60 percent of Cubans are baptized Catholics, the little statue of Our Lady of…

Parents of missing Mexican students travel to U.S. to appeal to pope

September 21, 2015 MEXICO CITY (CNS) — Peasant farmer Emiliano Navarrete lost his son one year ago, in an attack on 43 teacher trainees in southern Guerrero state. He still holds out hope that his son, Jose Angel Navarrete, 18, and his classmates are alive, even though Mexican investigators insist the 43 young men were…

Beer festival offers ‘peaceful resistance’ to Middle East conflicts

September 21, 2015 TAYBEH, West Bank (CNS) — As Palestinians and Israelis in Jerusalem once again became embroiled in violence, locals and guests in Taybeh were enjoying ice-cold beers, grilled meats, frosted doughnuts and throbbing music as the all-Christian Palestinian village celebrated its 11th Oktoberfest. “This gathering is good,” said a beaming Nadim Khoury, who…

College presidents in statement back pope’s leadership on climate change

September 21, 2015 WASHINGTON (CNS) — About 100 U.S. Catholic college presidents have signed a document supporting Pope Francis for his leadership on climate change efforts and committing their institutions to doing all they can to foster “open, honest” dialogue on climate issues and help form “global ecological citizens.” Since the pope’s encyclical on climate,…

Cuban dissidents say they hope pope highlights human rights

September 20, 2015 SANTIAGO DE CUBA, Cuba (CNS) — A week before Pope Francis arrived here, the communist government agreed to pardon 3,522 prisoners, including elderly people and people under 20 with no prior offenses. It was seen as a gesture of goodwill ahead of the papal visit, one meant to signal the Cuban government…

Cardinals with role in U.S.-Cuba deal present at Havana Mass

September 20, 2015 HAVANA (CNS) — Pope Francis, celebrating his first Mass in Cuba, was flanked by three cardinals who, with him, have been credited with helping seal the deal between the United States and Cuba to move toward normalizing relations. Cuban Cardinal Jaime Ortega Alamino of Havana was the host of the Mass Sept….

Pope arrives in Cuba calling for freedom, better U.S.-Cuba relations

September 19, 2015 HAVANA (CNS) — Pope Francis began his visit to Cuba praying for greater freedom for the island’s people and calling on U.S. and Cuban politicians to continue moving toward fully normal and neighborly relations. Meeting President Raul Castro and speaking before a small crowd at Havana’s Jose Marti International Airport Sept. 19,…

Comprehensive media coverage expected for papal visit to U.S.

September 18, 2015 NEW YORK (CNS) — “All Francis, All the Time” could be the motto for media coverage of Pope Francis’ historic visit to the United States Sept. 22-27. Across network and cable television, satellite radio, the Web and social media, Catholics and the public at large will enjoy a feast of viewing and…

Vatican welcomes its first family of refugees following pope’s appeal

September 18, 2015 VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Embracing Pope Francis’ request to sponsor a refugee family, the Vatican’s St. Anne parish has welcomed a family of four from Damascus, Syria. In an appeal Sept. 6, the pope called on every parish, religious community, monastery and shrine in Europe to take in a family of refugees,…

No one can pretend not to know Syrians, Iraqis are suffering, pope says

September 17, 2015 VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Millions of Iraqis and Syrians are facing poverty and even death, neighboring countries are bearing more than their fair share of the burden of helping refugees, arms dealers are getting richer and the international community seems helpless, Pope Francis said. The “atrocities and unspeakable human rights violations, which…

Cardboard cutout of pope takes tour of Catholic sites in Green Bay

September 17, 2015 GREEN BAY, Wis. (CNS) — Mayor Jim Schmitt’s 2014 invitation to Pope Francis to visit Green Bay sounded like a lark or pipe dream to some people. It was right around March 1, 2014 — a month before April Fool’s Day — when the city’s mayor wrote his letter to Pope Francis….

Migration, freedom, ecology to be topics on pope trip, cardinal says

September 17, 2015 VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Arriving in the United States from Cuba, Pope Francis “will enter as a migrant” as millions of people have done before him, said Cardinal Pietro Parolin, Vatican secretary of state. The cardinal, who will accompany the pope on his Sept. 19-27 visits to Cuba, the United States and…

U.S. Catholics support pope, see need to embrace ‘new balance’ in politics

September 16, 2015 WASHINGTON (CNS) — Pope Francis enjoys extremely high levels of support among Catholic likely voters and that support could reshape the Catholic Church’s engagement on political and social issues, a new poll reveals. Undertaken by the Institute for Policy Research and Catholic Studies at The Catholic University of America and Faith in…

Pope has high hopes for his ‘mission’ to Cuba-U.S., asks for prayers

September 16, 2015 VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Pope Francis asked for prayers for his trip to Cuba and the United States, calling it “a mission” he had high hopes for. He said while the main purpose of his 10th apostolic journey abroad, Sept. 19-28, was to attend the World Meeting of Families in Philadelphia, he…

Cuba’s Granma says papal visit will confirm good relations with Vatican

September 15, 2015 HAVANA (CNS) — Pope Francis’ visit to Cuba starting this weekend “will confirm the good state of relations” between the Holy See and the Cuban government, officials wrote in an editorial in the state-run Granma newspaper. “He will notice our patriotism and the arduous and fruitful force of our nation to exalt…

New USA Catholic Church app offers exclusive coverage of papal visit

September 15, 2015 WASHINGTON (CNS) — U.S. Catholic Church leaders have launched the USA Catholic Church mobile app offering exclusive coverage of Pope Francis’ visit to the U.S. Sept. 22-27. “This is the most comprehensive virtual connection to the Catholic faith available,” said Bishop Christopher J. Coyne, chairman-elect of the Committee on Communications of the…

Pope visits Cuba amid increasing support for end to U.S. embargo

September 15, 2015 SANTO DOMINGO, Dominican Republic (CNS) — Pope Francis’ visit to Cuba and the United States comes as people and politicians in both countries increasingly support ending an economic embargo that has been in place for more than five decades. U.S. President Barack Obama, Cuban President Raul Castro and the Vatican have called…

Pope to see knots for those in despair

September 15, 2015 When Pope Francis arrives in Philadelphia, he will see a grotto dedicated to prayers for the struggles of the poor and his favorite painting, “Mary Undoer of Knots.”  

Little engine that could: Pope coaxes Vatican to open railway to villa

September 14, 2015 VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Pope Francis’ desire for a church whose doors are wide open isn’t just a metaphor for encouraging a greater spirit of welcoming. He also has been giving real orders to Vatican staff to lift the locks on places and spaces that were long closed to the general public…

Pope Francis’ U.N. address comes on the foundation of his predecessors

September 14, 2015 WASHINGTON (CNS) — Pope Francis’ address to the U.N. General Assembly Sept. 25 will mark the fifth papal speech delivered directly to representatives of the world’s governments. His address will come almost 50 years to the day — Oct. 4, 1965 — when Blessed Paul VI became the first pontiff to speak…

U.S. church ‘stands ready’ to help Syrian refugees, says USCCB president

September 11, 2015 WASHINGTON (CNS) — The U.S. Catholic Church “stands ready to help” in efforts to assist refugees fleeing war-torn countries in the Middle East, said the president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops Sept. 10. Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz of Louisville, Kentucky, also that Catholics in the U.S. and “all people of…

9/11: The Catholic Church Remembers

September 11, 2015 USCCB – 911. For years, those numbers simply meant a call for help. Now they also remind us of September 11, 2001, the date of the worst terrorist attack on the United States of America and one of the deadliest days ever on American soil. To mark the tenth anniversary of 9/11…

Foundation awards $211,655 in grants to Catholic schools, parishes

September 11, 2015 Breckenridge school uses grant to pilot new LEGO robotics program By Kristi Anderson The Visitor This year, the Catholic Foundation for the Diocese of Saint Cloud distributed $211,655 to Catholic schools and parishes as part of the Living the Promise grants program. More than 100 parishes and all 28 Catholic schools in…

Bishop Kettler, pilgrims from diocese to attend family meeting, papal visits

September 11, 2015 Bishop Donald Kettler will be attending several papal events during Pope Francis’ visit to the U.S. After a stop in Philadelphia at the World Meeting of Families, Bishop Kettler will join other bishops from around the country Sept. 23 in Washington, D.C., for midday prayer with the pope at St. Matthew’s Cathedral…

Steps taken to ease concerns for papal event attendees in Philadelphia

September 10, 2015 PHILADELPHIA (CNS) — Sometimes, the folks in charge have to skip the platitudes and listen to the people. Take the visit of Pope Francis to Philadelphia for the World Meeting of Families Sept. 26-27. Who doesn’t love Pope Francis? Of course most people want to be there, to be part of it….

Stephen Colbert, in interview, discusses faith, joy and humor

September 9, 2015 WASHINGTON (CNS) -– Stephen Colbert, who took over Sept. 8 as host of CBS’ “Late Night” program, said in an interview for Canada’s Salt + Light Television that his “Colbert Report” character was intended to be a “well­-intentioned, poorly informed, high-­status idiot.” “I would say he’s a fool. And though Christ says,…

Major league draftee, priest-coach find faith on baseball diamond

September 9, 2015 ST. MARYS, Pa. (CNS) — For those who love baseball, Berwind Park in the small Elk County community of St. Marys is a field of dreams. In fact, it was at that ballpark this summer where Benedictine Father Eric Vogt made a prediction: Ryan Uhl, one of his young parishioners at Sacred…

Three new auxiliary bishops ordained for the Archdiocese of Los Angeles

September 9, 2015 LOS ANGELES (CNS) — Three new auxiliary bishops have been ordained to help shepherd the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, the largest in the United States. Archbishop Jose H. Gomez, together with Chicago Archbishop Blase J. Cupich and retired Auxiliary Bishop Joseph M. Sartoris of Los Angeles, ordained Bishops Robert E. Barron, Joseph…

Pope simplifies annulment process, asks that it be free of charge

September 8, 2015 VATICAN CITY (CNS) — While a juridical process is necessary for making accurate judgments, the Catholic Church’s marriage annulment process must be quicker, cheaper and much more of a pastoral ministry, Pope Francis said. Rewriting a section of the Latin-rite Code of Canon Law and of the Code of Canons of the…

Catholic policy advocates crossing fingers in advance of papal visit

September 4, 2015 WASHINGTON (CNS) — There is no doubt that Pope Francis’ impending visit to the United States is generating a lot of enthusiasm. For some people, the rarity of a papal visit to these shores is reason enough to trek hundreds of miles or more for the opportunity to be with him, or…

Cuban bishop: Pope’s visit comes at time of hope for people

September 3, 2015 SANTO DOMINGO, Dominican Republic (CNS) — Pope Francis’ visit to Cuba is a sign of his closeness to the nation’s people at a time they “breathe the air of hope” that relations with the U.S. will improve, said Bishop Wilfredo Pino Estevez of Guantanamo-Baracoa. “It’s not easy to live at odds with…

Just one smile from a loving family can warm coldest world, pope says

September 2, 2015 VATICAN CITY (CNS) — The smile and love of a family can light up the world, bringing warmth and hope to communities that have become cold, lifeless and depressed, Pope Francis said. “No economic and political engineering is able to substitute this contribution from families,” he said Sept. 2 during his general…

Mural of pope looks out over New York’s Madison Square Garden Mass site

September 2, 2016 NEW YORK (CNS) — New Yorkers and tourists in Midtown Manhattan have been gazing up at a smiling Pope Francis at one of New York’s busiest intersections. A 225-foot tall hand-painted billboard welcomes the pope, who will be in New York, Sept. 24-26. The welcoming message is located at the corner of…

Trip through Central Park added to pope’s New York itinerary

September 2, 2015 NEW YORK (CNS) — Pope Francis will get a glimpse of leafy Central Park and thousands of waving New Yorkers Sept. 25 when he makes “a historic procession” through the urban landmark, according to the city’s mayor. Mayor Bill de Blasio announced Sept 1 the pope will ride along the West Drive…

Contemplate, give thanks, protect: Pope Francis prays for creation

September 1, 2015 VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Leading prayers for the safeguarding of creation, Pope Francis prayed that people would learn to contemplate God in the beauty of the universe, give thanks and protect all life. During an evening celebration of the World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation, the pope prayed that…

Texas parish thrilled to have pope as surprise guest at ABC town hall

September 1, 2015 MCALLEN, Texas (CNS) — At Sacred Heart Church in McAllen, members of the community, most of them volunteers at a respite center for immigrants at Sacred Heart parish hall, were invited to a special event by ABC News, but were not informed in advance of just how special that event would be….

Veteran Dodgers’ broadcaster suggests retirement after 2016 season

September 1, 2015 LOS ANGELES (CNS) — Veteran Los Angeles Dodgers’ announcer Vin Scully will likely retire after the 2016 season, his 67th announcing games for the franchise. The beloved 87-year-old broadcaster — once voted by fans as the “Most Popular Dodger” of all — said Aug. 28 he will return for one more season,…

To Mass by boat, plane or whatever means necessary at Alaska parish

September 1, 2015 KLAWOCK, Alaska (CNS) — The challenges of managing most parishes don’t usually extend to needing to travel by airplane and boats to celebrate Mass. But when your Delaware-sized parish is part of a diocese that itself is larger than 22 U.S states, the standard ways of operating really don’t apply. Catholic News…

Pope holds ‘virtual town hall’ with ABC and Catholics in 3 cities

September 1, 2015 WASHINGTON (CNS) — Pope Francis held a “virtual town hall” with Catholics in Chicago, Los Angeles and McAllen, Texas, in advance of his Sept. 22-27 visit to the United States. The town hall was arranged by ABC News, which was to air portions of the meeting during its “World News Tonight” program…

For Year of Mercy, pope extends possibilities for absolution

September 1, 2015 VATICAN CITY (CNS) — In an extraordinary gesture for the Year of Mercy, Pope Francis has extended to priests worldwide the authority to absolve women for the sin of abortion and has decreed the full validity during the year of the sacrament of confession celebrated by priests of the traditionalist Society of…

Success of religious education depends on parents, parish leaders say

August 29, 2015 WASHINGTON (CNS) — Just as one Catholic school does not reflect all of them, there isn’t one religious education program Pope Francis could visit while he is in the United States that would represent the variety of faith formation programs in churches across the country. Programs vary according to parish size and…

Discovery of refugee bodies should awaken Europe, says Vienna cardinal

August 29, 2015 VIENNA (CNS) — Austrian church leaders, reacting to the discovery of dozens of dead refugees on a truck near Vienna, said they hoped it would increase awareness of the plight of migrants. “Such refugee suffering should awaken us, like a bolt from the blue, to the need for more generous attitudes and…

Father Stangl remembered for caring presence, hospital ministry

August 28, 2015 By Carol Jessen-Klixbull The Visitor “When I think of Pope Francis’ strong emphasis on shepherds getting out to meet the folks where they are at — in their situations of need — I believe Father Al was already out there,” said Father Bill Vos, a close friend of Father Alfred Stangl, 77,…

Back-to-school homework for students includes preparing to meet pope

August 25, 2015 NEW YORK (CNS) — Being called to the principal’s office during the school year can cause angst even among the most mischievous students. But for those who typically demonstrate their best behavior, being summoned during the summer may be more daunting. Fortunately for 24 well-behaved youngsters from four Catholic elementary schools in…

Pope Francis to see ‘Homeless Jesus’ during U.S. visit

August 25, 2015 WASHINGTON — When Pope Francis approaches the Catholic Charities building in downtown Washington during his U.S. visit in September, he will encounter a “homeless person” covered in a blanket laying on a park bench. The scene actually is a sculpture. And it’s not a work of art depicting any homeless person; it’s…

Labor Day statement: Reflection, action ‘critical’ for care of workers

August 24, 2015 WASHINGTON (CNS) –- “Individual reflection and action is critical” when it comes to improving the conditions of workers in the United States and elsewhere, said Archbishop Thomas G. Wenski of Miami, chairman of the U.S. bishops’ Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, in the U.S. bishops’ annual Labor Day statement. “We…

Katrina odyssey brought many blessings for New Orleans priest

August 24, 2015 NEW ORLEANS (CNS) — Like many of his brother priests, Father Dennis Hayes decided to take his chances and stay put as Katrina teased the Louisiana coast, hoping the storm’s Category 5 fury would spare his parish of St. Louise de Marillac in Arabi. Surely Katrina would veer away at the last…

Central African religious leaders share U.N. prize for reconciliation

August 23, 2015 GENEVA (CNS) — Three religious leaders — including a Catholic archbishop — have been honored for promoting interfaith reconciliation in the conflict-torn Central African Republic. “This award doesn’t belong to us,” Archbishop Dieudonne Nzapalainga of Bangui, president of the Central African bishops’ conference, told the British Catholic aid agency CAFOD. “It honors…

New Orleans Archdiocese: Forever changed by Hurricane Katrina

August 21, 2015 NEW ORLEANS (CNS) — They are calling it “Kat 10” — Hurricane Katrina plus 10 years — which carries with it the double meaning of an ominous meteorological warning. How could a Category 5 storm that engulfed the entire Gulf of Mexico but dropped in intensity to a Category 3 just before…

Popemobile shipped to U.S. ahead of pope’s arrival

August 21, 2015 VATICAN CITY (CNS) — More than a month before Pope Francis was scheduled to arrive in the United States, his ride landed on U.S. shores. “A Jeep Wrangler will be used as the popemobile in the USA (like the one used in Ecuador in July 2015),” the Vatican press office said in…

Catholic high school teachers eager to dive into papal encyclical

August 19, 2015 NASHVILLE, Tenn. (CNS) — Father Ryan High School theology teacher Brent Fernandez grows a garden at home, raises chickens, and rides his bicycle to school when he can. In the summer, he takes students to visit Bethlehem Farm in West Virginia, a Catholic intentional community where he once lived for two years….

U.S. priests: Spiritual costs of Cuban embargo have been high

August 19, 2015 WASHINGTON (CNS) — The U.S. trade embargo against Cuba turns 55 in October, and its effects are clear in the dilapidated buildings, scant food supply of Cuban stores and infrastructure around the island. But what’s not easy to see is the spiritual cost. Trinitarian Father Juan Molina, director of the U.S. bishops’…

Packed Mass sends message faith can empower community to combat violence

August 19, 2015 MILWAUKEE (CNS) — Witness to the power of prayer was in evidence as nearly 600 people gathered for a concelebrated Mass for peace at a Milwaukee Catholic church in an area of the city that has been ravaged by violence. Capuchin Father Michael Bertram, pastor of St. Francis of Assisi Church, termed…

Father McGivney ‘loved the priesthood deeply,’ says Archbishop Lori

August 18, 2015 NEW HAVEN, Conn. (CNS) — The priesthood of Father Michael J. McGivney, founder of the Knights of Columbus, “models the teaching of recent popes,” said Baltimore Archbishop William E. Lori. “St. John Paul II said that the priest’s personality must be a bridge to Christ, and indeed Father McGivney’s unassuming, lighthearted-yet-determined character…

Vatican Museums’ app gathers funds and art fans

August 18, 2015 VATICAN CITY (CNS) — By downloading an app for a smartphone or tablet, members of the public can chat with others about famous works of art in the Vatican Museums, share strategies for dealing with the crowds and choose a work to help restore. “Patrum,” the new app from the Patrons of…

Julian Bond, 75, dies; was leading figure in civil rights movement

August 17, 2015 ATLANTA (CNS) — Julian Bond, a leading figure in the civil rights movement and the first African-American in Georgia’s Legislature, died Aug. 16 in a hospital in Walton Beach, Florida, of complications from vascular disease. He was 75. Born in Nashville, Tennessee, Jan. 15, 1940, Bond moved with his family to Atlanta,…

Catholics among initial responders to those injured in Tianjin blast

August 17, 2015 HONG KONG (CNS) — The morning after the industrial blast in Tianjin, China, the Tianjin Diocesan Social Service Center helped line up 60 volunteers to assist the government’s rescue and relief work. The volunteers donated drinking water, clothes and other supplies to hospitals and temporary settlements for evacuees, reported ucanews.com. At least…

Finding self through service: The experience of long-term volunteers

August 17, 2015 BOSTON (CNS) — In a fairly industrial-looking part of South Boston, four women gathered in a classroom at the Notre Dame Education Center. It was time for their twice-per-week math lessons with AmeriCorps volunteer Nason Heywood, 29. The students were reviewing addition and subtraction concepts, working through the sometimes complicated processes of…

Pope urges expansion of priests’ on-call emergency service

August 17, 2015 VATICAN CITY (CNS) — The Year of Mercy is a perfect time to increase the number of priests who take turns being on call all night for emergency spiritual care of the sick and dying, Pope Francis wrote. The pope, as Jesuit Father Jorge Mario Bergoglio, belonged to a special service, which…

Goal of rosary rallies to ‘bring souls closer to Christ,’ says leader

August 15, 2015 CINCINNATI (CNS) — Together, 350-plus boys clad in different-colored football jerseys resembled a mosaic as they sat or knelt on the grass at Cincinnati’s Mount St. Mary’s Seminary with rosaries in hand. Eight teams, and an archbishop, gathered the night of July 30 for a SportsLeader Rosary Rally, a unique and growing…

U.S. Embassy in Cuba reopens, ending 54-year diplomatic break

August 15, 2015 HAVANA (CNS) — With Havana Harbor’s bright blue waters and a trio of vintage U.S. cars parked along the Malecon framing the scene, Secretary of State John Kerry officially reopened the U.S. Embassy in Cuba Aug. 14, marking the end of more than 54 years of fractured diplomatic relations. Since the United…

Building community with faith, food, fellowship

August 14, 2015 By Dianne Towalski The Visitor People from several faith communities gathered at Lake George Aug. 9 for a picnic organized by Greater St. Cloud Interfaith Leaders, a recently formed group focused on fostering a spirit of welcome and acceptance in the community. “It’s important to me, coming into a new community as…

Vatican U.N. representative reports high interest in papal visit

August 13, 2015 VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Requests for copies of Pope Francis’ environmental encyclical and the demand for tickets to see him at the United Nations indicate enthusiasm and expectations for Pope Francis’ visit are running high, said the Vatican representative. Archbishop Bernardito Auza, head of the Holy See’s permanent observer mission at the…

Ideals worth sacrificing for: Pope to challenge U.S. Congress, U.N.

August 13, 2015 VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Along with having a winning smile and a warm embrace, Pope Francis is known for challenging people. He does it regularly at morning Mass — particularly calling out hypocrisy and gossip — and does not spare even his closest aides in the Roman Curia, so it is unlikely…

Her work as doctor, witness as Catholic go hand in hand for missioner

August 12, 2015 MARYKNOLL, N.Y. (CNS) — As a trained physician, “everything I do has some witness or expression of my faith,” Dr. Susan Nagele said. Nagele has practiced medicine for 31 years under extraordinary conditions in East Africa as a Maryknoll lay missioner. She visited the organization’s headquarters in Maryknoll to deliver the keynote…

Timeline of key events in life and ministry of Blessed Junipero Serra

August 12, 2015 SACRAMENTO, Calif. (CS) — Here is a timeline of key points in the life, ministry and sainthood cause of Blessed Junipero Serra, the 18th-century Spanish missionary to California. Pope Francis is scheduled to canonize the Franciscan friar Sept. 23 during his visit to Washington. — 1713: Born and baptized Miquel Joseph Nov….

Women further victimized by harvesting of fetal parts, says counselor

August 12, 2015 ST. LOUIS (CNS) — Women who have an abortion are being further victimized when given the option to donate their child’s body parts for research, according to Sue Harvath, who has counseled post-abortive women in the St. Louis area for more than 30 years. Harvath said it shouldn’t matter whether Planned Parenthood…

Pope Francis to speak from lectern Lincoln used for Gettysburg Address

August 11, 2015 PHILADELPHIA (CNS) — As lecterns go, it is strictly utilitarian, a simple walnut stand with none of the ornamentation commonly found in mid-19th-century furnishings. Yet it has a distinguished past and is about to have a distinguished future. At a news conference Aug. 7 at the Union League of Philadelphia, Robert Ciaruffoli,…

Cardinal Dolan, other speakers urge Catholic teens to live faith openly

August 11, 2015 JAMAICA, N.Y. (CNS) — Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan of New York and other speakers at a Steubenville Youth Conference inspired 1,800 Catholic teenagers to live their faith openly. The conference was held Aug. 7-9 at St. John’s University in the Jamaica section of the New York borough of Queens. For Mass Aug….

Papal message for World Peace Day to focus on overcoming indifference

August 11, 2015 VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Selfishness and fear keep too many people ignorant of the suffering of others and prevent them from finding creative ways to express solidarity and to promote peace, said a statement from the Vatican’s justice and peace office. To promote a reflection on the need for a “conversion of…

Pope designates Sept. 1 as World Day of Prayer for Care of Creation

August 10, 2015 VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Like their Orthodox brothers and sisters, Catholics formally will mark Sept. 1 as the World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation, Pope Francis has decided. The day of prayer, the pope said, will give individuals and communities an opportunity to implore God’s help in protecting creation…

Pope marks Hiroshima anniversary by calling for nuclear weapons ban

August 10, 2015 VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Marking the 70th anniversary of the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Pope Francis repeated the Catholic Church’s call for a ban on nuclear weapons and all weapons of mass destruction. Seventy years after the Aug. 6, 1945, bombing of Hiroshima and the bombing of Nagasaki three days…

Villanova, 76ers coaches promote peace through basketball in Holy Land

August 10, 2015 JERUSALEM (CNS) — Jerusalem is hot, especially in the gym of the Max Rayne Hand in Hand Bilingual School for Jewish Arab Education. Jerusalem is tense, too, with jolting violence this summer over dismantled settlement homes, gay rights and a brutal attack on a Palestinian family. But those events did not keep…

Choreographer, Broadway actor help Catholic school perform ‘Lion King’

August 6, 2015 BENNINGTON, Vt. (CNS) — Though the budget was clearly lower, the cast definitely had less experience, the costumes were much simpler and the audiences were far smaller, there was something that the production of “The Lion King Jr.” at a Catholic school in the Burlington Diocese had in common with the Broadway…

In Japan, U.S. bishop says USCCB will push for nuclear disarmament

August 6, 2015 HIROSHIMA, Japan (CNS) — For a long minute on a sunny morning, silence fell over the memorial park that commemorates the Aug. 6, 1945, atomic bombing of the city. A gong sounded repeatedly as local residents and visitors from around the world stopped to remember a similarly sunny morning 70 years ago…

Philadelphia officials discuss transportation details for papal visit

August 6, 2015 PHILADELPHIA (CNS) — Mayor Michael Nutter of Philadelphia and other officials Aug. 5 described road closures, traffic restrictions and other transportation details for Pope Francis’ September visit to the city. The pope will be in Philadelphia the weekend of Sept. 26-27, which will conclude the Sept. 22-25 World Meeting of Families. An…

Prayer, patience buffered Washington Post employee against racism

August 5, 2015 WASHINGTON (CNS) — Prayer and patience helped octogenarian Edward Monroe through difficult times of racism and steered him to success at his city’s most prominent newspaper, the native Washingtonian reminisced. Monroe graduated in 1949 from Washington’s Armstrong Technical High School, one of the city’s two segregated manual training schools for African-American youth….

Divorced and remarried are not excommunicated, pope says at audience

August 5, 2015 VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Catholics who have divorced and are civilly remarried “are not, in fact, excommunicated — they are not excommunicated — and they absolutely must not be treated as if they were,” Pope Francis said. Resuming his Wednesday general audiences Aug. 5 after a month’s break, Pope Francis returned to…

Being altar server is call to prayer and mission, pope says

August 4, 2015 VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Catholics are more fortunate than the Old Testament prophets were because in the Eucharist they experience Jesus’ closeness and know that God is not far off on a lofty throne, Pope Francis told thousands of altar servers from across Europe. “In the Eucharist and in the other sacraments,”…

Ambassador expects pope to challenge Americans to live nation’s ideals

August 4, 2015 VATICAN CITY (CNS) — The U.S. ambassador to the Holy See believes Pope Francis is not traveling to the United States in September to scold anyone, but to challenge the country’s people to live up to their ideals. “I don’t think he’s coming to the United States to antagonize, to criticize, to…

Don’t be afraid or ashamed to go to confession, pope says

August 3, 2015 VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Trusting in God’s infinite mercy, people should not be afraid or embarrassed to go to confession, Pope Francis said. “There are people who are afraid to go to confession, forgetting that they will not encounter a severe judge there, but the immensely merciful Father,” Pope Francis told thousands…

‘Jim Gaffigan Show’ treats Catholicism seriously, but in a funny way

August 3, 2015 NEW YORK (CNS) — Faith and comedy can make for an uncomfortable combination. Wits who engage in this volatile mix obviously need to avoid outright irreverence or the trivialization of the sacred. Yet they also have to be wary of artificial restraint since all genuine humor depends, to some degree at least,…

Polish bishop suggests World Youth Day 2016 should be ‘open to all’

August 3, 2015 WARSAW, Poland (CNS) — The Polish bishop overseeing preparations for World Youth Day 2016 has urged priests to ensure that no young people are excluded because of poverty. Auxiliary Bishop Damian Muskus of Krakow, Poland, which is hosting the international celebration, said arranging for young people who might not be able to…

Videos on value of fetal tissue prompt renewed call to pro-life awareness

August 1, 2015 OXNARD, Calif. (CNS) — It is uncertain that a California pro-life group’s ongoing series of undercover videos that show Planned Parenthood officials discussing the illegal marketing and sale of fetal tissue will lead to defunding for the nation’s leading provider of abortion services. It also is unknown if the revelations in the…

CRS strengthens civil society groups in fractured Lebanon

August 1, 2015 BEIRUT (CNS) — When Samar Shalhoub and some friends wanted to better protect children in Lebanon from abuse and violence, they turned their dream into a nonprofit organization. They registered with the government and got to work holding workshops on bullying and ways that children could protect themselves against abduction, sexual abuse…

New study shows link between TV viewing and Alzheimer’s

August 1, 2015 WASHINGTON (CNS) — As if it couldn’t get worse for the television industry. Younger people are leaving TV for other modes of visual entertainment — the computer and the smartphone, for example. This makes TV viewing more and more the province of older Americans, who have been watching the boob tube ever…

Pilgrimage to mark 15th anniversary of priest’s death

July 31, 2015 By Kristi Anderson The Visitor On Wednesday, Aug. 19, people from all walks of life will board a bus at Sacred Heart Church in Sauk Rapids and make the 125-mile trip to St. James Church in Maine Township, where Mill Hill Missionary Father John Kaiser was baptized. “The world desperately needs heroes,”…

Congress urged to ensure ‘fair and just wages’ for all workers

July 30, 2015 WASHINGTON (CNS) — Congress can promote the common good and contribute to a more just society by ensuring the federal minimum wage promotes family formation and stability, said Miami Archbishop Thomas G. Wenski and Dominican Sister Donna Markham, president of Catholic Charities USA, in a July 27 letter to Congress. “An economy…

Cardinal Dolan in op-ed criticizes Trump’s anti-immigrant rhetoric

July 30, 2015 NEW YORK (CNS) — In an op-ed piece published July 29 in the New York Daily News, Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan of New York took issue with the anti-immigrant rhetoric of Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump without explicitly naming him. He recalled teaching college students about nativism — the policy of protecting…

Cardinal says Planned Parenthood videos illustrate ‘throwaway culture’

July 30, 2015 WASHINGTON (CNS) — Boston Cardinal Sean P. O’Malley said that Planned Parenthood officials’ videotaped descriptions of how fetal tissue and organs are procured for researchers during abortions illustrates what Pope Francis calls today’s “throwaway culture.” The officials also discuss what the organization charges for the body parts, which opponents of Planned Parenthood…

Prisoners, volunteers, teens invited to celebrate Jubilee with pope

July 30, 2015 VATICAN CITY (CNS) — More than a dozen individual celebrations will be scheduled for the Jubilee of Mercy in 2016, giving pilgrims the chance to celebrate their own holy year with Pope Francis in Rome. The yearlong extraordinary jubilee will include a number of individual jubilee days, such as for consecrated men…

Papal parenting guide: Francis delivers his own how-to for families

July 30, 2015 VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Pope Francis knows the family is made up of real people living in the real world, which is why he often gives down-to-earth advice. The Catholic Church has long taught that the family is a school of humanity — the first and best place to learn about love…

Hundreds walk through streets to celebrate devotion to St. Alphonsa

July 29, 2015 FLORAL PARK, N.Y. (CNS) — Wearing richly hued attire, hundreds of residents walked through the streets of North Floral Park to celebrate the life and intercessory works of St. Alphonsa on a recent Sunday afternoon. Accompanied by the rhythmic beat of drums and cymbals, along with the prayers of a multicultural assembly,…

House limits number allowed in chamber to hear papal address to Congress

July 29, 2015 WASHINGTON (CNS) — House members voted July 28 to limit the number of people allowed in the House Chamber Sept. 24 when Pope Francis addresses a joint meeting of Congress. The vote, which was part of a procedural measure, excludes former members of Congress and former House officers and chaplains from attending…

Presidential candidates address poverty in videos to advocacy group

July 28, 2015 WASHINGTON (CNS) — Seven presidential candidates have responded to a call from anti-poverty advocates by submitting brief videos outlining their plans to address poverty. The videos, delivered to an umbrella organization known as the Circle of Protection that includes the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, were made public July 21 by representatives…

Advocates applaud court orders to release detained families

July 28, 2015 WASHINGTON (CNS) — A federal judge ruled July 24 that the government’s immigrant family detention system violates a settlement agreement dating to 1997 over how juveniles in the custody of the immigration agency are treated. Advocates for the thousands of families being held in compounds run by for-profit prison companies hailed the…

New Gallup poll shows pope’s favorability drops among Americans

July 28, 2015 WASHINGTON (CNS) — Is the honeymoon with Pope Francis over for Americans? A new Gallup poll shows that the favorability rating for the pontiff among U.S. respondents is now about 59 percent, down from 76 percent in early 2014 and close to the 58 percent rating Americans gave him when he was…

Reauthorization of education law said to put ‘needs of children first’

July 27, 2015 WASHINGTON (CNS) — In reauthorizing the 1965 Elementary and Secondary Education Act, the House and Senate have made “significant improvements for providing equitable services for students and teachers in religious, private and independent schools,” said a U.S. archbishop. Archbishop George J. Lucas of Omaha, Nebraska, made the comments as chairman of the…

World Youth Day registration begins; pope is first person to sign up

July 27, 2015 VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Pope Francis was the first pilgrim to sign up for World Youth Day to be held in Krakow, Poland, launching the opening of registration. Accompanied by two Polish teenagers who wore World Youth Day 2016 T-shirts, the pope had to make a couple of attempts pressing the screen…

UPDATED: Bishop Kettler to hold listening sessions following abuse allegations

NOTE: The schedule for the listening sessions can be found at the end of this article. Bishop Donald Kettler will hold a series of listening sessions in August following allegations of sexual abuse committed by three priests of the diocese. The Diocese of St. Cloud was recently notified of four civil lawsuits alleging abuse by Father…

New video released with Planned Parenthood official discussing abortion

WASHINGTON (CNS) — Amid an outcry from members of the GOP demanding answers to questions raised by a video of a Planned Parenthood physician talking about preserving fetal organs and tissue for researchers for a fee, a second video emerged July 21 of a different physician from the organization talking about the same topic. Lawmakers…

Minneapolis mayor attends Vatican workshop on climate change, poverty

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — After decades of world leaders trying to set global goals to address climate change and extreme poverty, city mayors gathered at the Vatican to pledge they will take real action and lead the fight on their streets. Pope Francis told the mayors, including Minneapolis mayor Betsy Hodges, that they were important…

Priests who enlist as military chaplains answering ‘a call within a call’

WASHINGTON (CNS) — This fall the U.S. Archdiocese for the Military Services plans to hold its first discernment gathering for Catholic priests to encourage them to consider becoming military chaplains. The archdiocese regularly holds several retreats a year for young men who are thinking about the priesthood and the chaplaincy, but this will be the…

Court rules against Little Sisters plea to avoid way to bypass mandate

DENVER (CNS) — The Little Sisters of the Poor and other religious entities are not substantially burdened by procedures set out by the federal government by which they can avoid a requirement to provide contraceptive coverage in health insurance, the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled July 14. In a lengthy opinion that considered arguments…

RU-486 abortion pill can be reversed, says physician

July 13, 2015 NEW ORLEANS (CNS) — While the annual number of abortions in the U.S. has dropped from a high of 1.6 million in 1990 to about 1.06 million today, the number of chemical abortions through the use of RU-486 has increased and now represents about 25 percent of all abortions. But Dr. George…

Philippine bishops tackle climate change during general meeting

July 13, 2015 MANILA, Philippines (CNS) — The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines tackled climate change on different fronts and also addressed a host of other issues, from equitable education to sovereign disputes at its biannual plenary session July 6-13. Archbishop Socrates Villegas of Lingayen-Dagupan, newly re-elected president of the conference, told Catholic News…

Twelve years in, sex abuse charter faces ongoing challenges

July 13, 2015 WASHINGTON (CNS) — Because the “Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People” is a “living document” open to differing interpretations, those in charge of implementing the charter at the diocesan level face a variety of challenges, according to the head of the bishops’ national office. “We’re dealing with a charter…

Pope says he’ll read critiques of his economic thought before U.S. trip

July 13, 2015 ABOARD THE PAPAL FLIGHT FROM PARAGUAY (CNS) — Before arriving in the United States in September, Pope Francis said, he will study American criticisms of his critiques of the global economy and finance. “I have heard that some criticisms were made in the United States — I’ve heard that — but I…

Pope says Paraguayans in poor barrio remind him of Holy Family

July 12, 2015 ASUNCION, Paraguay (CNS) — Pope Francis returned to his roots July 12 when he visited Banado Norte, a poor neighborhood near the Paraguay River where residents battle seasonal flooding and face possible eviction. “I couldn’t be in Paraguay without being with you, in your land,” he told the crowd gathered outside St….

Burger King turned into sacristy for Pope’s outdoor Mass in Bolivia

July 11, 2015 Santa Cruz, Bolivia, CNA – The organizers for Pope Francis’ visit to Bolivia made use of a local Burger King as a sacristy for the Pope and the 60 bishops that participated in the only outdoor Mass held in the country. The restaurant of the popular fast food chain is located adjacent…

Pope Francis and the ‘glorious’ women of Paraguay

July 11, 2015 (Vatican Radio)  Pope Francis is in Paraguay on the last leg of his Apostolic visit to Latin America which has taken him to Ecuador where he began his visit on the 5th of July and to Bolivia. It has been a joyful homecoming for this Latin American Pontiff but now he’s reached  Paraguay he’s…

South Carolinians hope flag’s removal brings racial healing to state

July 10, 2015 COLUMBIA, S.C. (CNS) — The Confederate flag will no longer fly on the grounds of the South Carolina Statehouse, and people of faith pray the decision brings an era of racial healing to the state. Members of the state House of Representatives followed the example of the state Senate and voted to…

At Bolivian prison, pope calls himself man ‘saved from his many sins’

July 10, 2015 SANTA CRUZ, Bolivia (CNS) — Pope Francis visited one of Latin America’s most notorious prisons, calling himself “a man who was and is saved from his many sins.” “I couldn’t leave Bolivia without seeing you, without sharing the hope and faith given in the cross,” he told people at Palmasola prison in…

Presence of Hispanics ‘a blessing’ for church, says professor

July 9, 2015 SAN ANTONIO (CNS) — With the growing population of Hispanics, the Catholic Church is faced with “an immense task,” Boston College theology professor Hosffman Ospino told a San Antonio symposium. “How do we evangelize, how do we hand on the faith that we have received to the next generation of Catholics that…

Hispanics’ growth, cultural diversity present challenge, speaker says

July 9, 2015 SAN ANTONIO (CNS) — One of the “most critical and perhaps dramatic signs” of the times is “the tremendous growth of the Hispanic population,” said Arturo Chavez, president and CEO of the Mexican American Catholic College in San Antonio. That growth presents a challenge to the Catholic Church to meet the pastoral…

Arriving in Bolivia, pope insists on church’s role in public life

July 9, 2015 LA PAZ, Bolivia (CNS) — Praising Bolivia’s efforts to include all its citizens in the country’s economic, political and social life, Pope Francis also defended the record and the right of the Catholic Church to be an active member of society and the right of the bishops to comment on public issues….

Greek archbishop hopeful for new deal to save his country’s economy

July 8, 2015 ATHENS, Greece (CNS) — A Greek archbishop said he was hopeful for a last-minute deal to save his country from bankruptcy. “At this critical moment, we’re all hoping some new agreement might still be reached,” said Archbishop Sevastianos Rossolatos of Athens. “It’s clear there must be further reforms here, but also changes…

Long before encyclical, women religious focused on the environment

July 8, 2015 WASHINGTON (CNS) — Long before Pope Francis’ encyclical “Laudato Si’” that ties care for earth with care for humanity was promulgated, congregations of women religious were stepping out to protect creation. Inspired by the call of the Second Vatican Council to engage the world and biblical passages on the beauty of God’s…

California governor says he carried ‘Laudato Si” to climate summit

July 8, 2015 TORONTO (CNS) — California Gov. Jerry Brown, in Toronto for the Climate Summit of the Americas, said he is traveling with a copy of Pope Francis’ environmental encyclical “Laudato Si’” and “going through it carefully.” “I like the language in it, which is not the language of markets,” Brown told a press…

Dominican-backed Hope House grows new life in a Detroit neighborhood

July 8, 2015 DETROIT (CNS) — The sunflowers, while not blooming yet, tower over 6-year-old Ahmad Malone as he and his father, Abdul, walk through the small but lush garden outside Hope House. It won’t be long before huge bright yellow flower heads greet the sun every morning and attract bees looking for sweet nectar…

Educate young to care for others, for the earth, pope tells teachers

July 8, 2015 QUITO, Ecuador (CNS) — Education is a right and a privilege that should impart not only knowledge and skills, but also a sense of responsibility for others and for the earth, Pope Francis told representatives of Ecuadorean schools and universities. “God gives us not only life, he gives us the earth, he…

Reservation’s summer camps combine Bible study, Lakota cultural lessons

July 7, 2015 WASHINGTON (CNS) — Every summer hundreds of kids on the Rosebud Indian Reservation in south-central South Dakota participate in a day camp where they learn about God and their Lakota culture. This camp is run through St. Francis Mission, which is an outreach ministry headed by the Society of Jesus for the…

Building unity in church, society is key to evangelization, pope says

July 7, 2015 QUITO, Ecuador (CNS) — Catholics will never be effective evangelizers if they are squabbling among themselves, and they cannot show the world how faith in Christ responds to the human yearning for freedom and peace if they are divided, Pope Francis said. The pope’s Mass July 7 at Quito’s Bicentennial Park was…

Philippine bishops to decide whether to establish climate change desk

July 7, 2015 MANILA, Philippines (CNS) — Philippine bishops meeting in Manila will decide whether or not to establish a “climate change desk,” part of a push by the Federation of Asian Bishops’ Conferences. The federation wants each bishops’ conference in 22 countries to set up such a desk to support action plans to mitigate…

Iowans urged to ‘buckle down, get to work’ on environmental problems

July 7, 2015 DES MOINES, Iowa (CNS) — Iowa Catholic leaders, interfaith leaders, clean energy advocates and others encouraged Iowans to take action in light of Pope Francis’ historic encyclical on the environment, “Laudato Si’, on Care for Our Common Home.” Des Moines Bishop Richard E. Pates encouraged Catholic Iowans to take advantage of the…

Advocates urge continued funding of adult stem-cell research, treatment

July 6, 2015 WASHINGTON (CNS) — Witnesses at a Capitol Hill hearing urged Congress to pass a reauthorization measure that would keep funding going for transplant programs that use adult stem cells from bone marrow and cord blood to treat diseases and for continued research. “These programs are examples of how the Congress can inspire…

Families need prayers, mercy, courage, including from synod, pope says

July 6, 2015 GUAYAQUIL, Ecuador (CNS) — Even if a pastoral proposal for helping a Catholic family with problems seems scandalous at first, it is possible God could use that proposal to bring healing and holiness, Pope Francis said. Encouraging and celebrating family life during a Mass July 6 in Guayaquil, Pope Francis asked people…

Christians share same baptism, must pray together, pope tells gathering

July 6, 2015 VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Catholics, Protestants and Orthodox must pray together and work hand-in-hand helping the poor, Pope Francis told thousands of Catholic charismatics and members of other Christian communities. If the devil “unites us in death, who are we to divide ourselves in life?” he said, adding that all Christians can…

Pope-emeritus Benedict XVI receives honorary doctorates 41

July 5, 2015 Vatican City CNA– After receiving an honorary doctorate from both the Pontifical John Paul II University of Krakow and the Krakow Academy of Music, retired pontiff Benedict XVI credited the saintly example of his predecessor for his spiritual and theological achievements. Benedict said he received a “special joy” in receiving the doctorates,…

Helping environment, poverty requires change of heart, cardinal says

July 3, 2015 UNITED NATIONS (CNS) — A Vatican official told a U.N. gathering on climate change that Pope Francis’ new encyclical is calling on all societies to examine how they produce and consume goods and on all the world’s people to realize the role they, too, have in addressing global warming. Cardinal Peter Turkson,…

Sartell native lived life, Catholic faith at ‘full throttle’

July 3, 2015 By Kristi Anderson The Visitor Working on his own truck, washing a friend’s car or fixing a stranger’s brakes, friends say Sam Traut was always there to lend a helping hand, especially with all things mechanical. That’s the way he was with everything in his life, said friend Tara Splonskowski, including his…

Service draws attention to persecution, killing of African Christians

July 2, 2015 NEW YORK (CNS) — A June 29 prayer service at Holy Family Church in New York City not only recalled the sacrifices of African martyrs in church history but also paid tribute to those who have died recently for their faith. “Recent events that have taken place in different parts of Africa…

Top stars, Philadelphia parishioners will sing for Pope Francis

July 2, 2015 PHILADELPHIA (CNS) — Though thousands may be drawn to the Festival of Families Sept. 26 where Andrea Bocelli, Juanes and the Philadelphia Orchestra will be performing, local parish members may have the opportunity to grace the very same stage. Each parish choir in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia has been asked to nominate…

Court reinforces order blocking Pa. dioceses from HHS mandate requirement

July 1, 2015 WASHINGTON (CNS) — In a June 29 order, the Supreme Court continued to shield several Pennsylvania religious institutions from having to provide employees with health care coverage that includes contraceptives. The order in a case filed by the bishops and the Dioceses of Pittsburgh and Erie, Pennsylvania, their charitable institutions and a…

Mass for archdiocese, visit to prison top pope’s Philadelphia itinerary

June 30, 2015 PHILADELPHIA (CNS) — The first stop for Pope Francis when he visits Philadelphia the morning of Sept. 26 will be the Cathedral Basilica of SS. Peter and Paul to celebrate a special Mass for the people of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia. The previously unannounced Mass is part of the pope’s itinerary for…

Visitor wins 2nd place for ‘general excellence’

June 30, 2015 For the second consecutive year, The Visitor won second place for general excellence in the large-circulation diocesan newspaper category from the Catholic Press Association of the United States and Canada. The award was announced June 26 at the 2015 Catholic Media Conference in Buffalo, N.Y. General excellence is considered the most prestigious…

Pope’s visits to Cuba, U.S. to highlight families, charity, tolerance

June 30, 2015 VATICAN CITY (CNS) — In word and deed, Pope Francis will take his vision of a Catholic’s approach to family life, parish life, charity, economics, immigration and good governance to Cuba and the United States during a Sept. 19-27 visit. Visiting both Cuba and the United States on the same trip not…

Catholic media urged to unpack deeper meanings in pope’s sound bites

June 29, 2015 BUFFALO, N.Y. (CNS) — Catholic journalists could easily “remain on the surface” when reporting on Pope Francis with his great photo opportunities and “buzz-catching expressions,” but they need to take their coverage a step further, said Basilian Father Thomas Rosica. “Our work as Catholic media is not to remain on the surface…

Archbishops who attended pallium Mass struck by sense of unity

June 29, 2015 VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Archbishops who attended Mass with Pope Francis as he blessed their woolen palliums said they were struck by a sense of unity. Seeing archbishops from so many different countries showed “how the Lord is working in all these people and all these cultures. It’s just so beautiful to…

St. Therese’s parents to be first married couple canonized together

June 29, 2015 VATICAN CITY (CNS) — The parents of St. Therese of Lisieux will be canonized at the Vatican Oct. 18, during the Synod of Bishops on the family. Louis Martin (1823-1894) and Marie Zelie Guerin Martin (1831-1877) will be the first married couple with children to be canonized in the same ceremony. Other…

Cardinal Turkson: Humanity a “poor steward” of environment

June 27, 2015 (Vatican Radio) Cardinal Peter Turkson on Saturday spoke about how Pope Francis’ Encyclical Letter Laudato si’ affects the world of agriculture. The President of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace was opening a three-day symposium at the Milan Expo on “Faith, Agriculture, Food, and the Environment: A New Idea of Development…

Archbishop Lori: Fortnight focus on liberty, truth, witness

June 27, 2015 (Vatican Radio) The Church in the United States is in the midst of its fourth annual Fortnight for Freedom. Sponsored by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, this fourth iteration of the initiative is focusing on the theme: freedom to bear witness. The Archbishop of Baltimore, Md., and the Chairman of…

‘One nun can make a difference’

June 27, 2015 The June 24 welcome dinner for the 2015 Catholic Media Conference in Buffalo, New  York, combined three worlds: journalism, Catholicism and Buffalo. It began with a tribute to the late Tim Russert, a well-respected journalist who was the longtime moderator of NBC’s “Meet the Press,” who was equally proud of his Catholic faith and his hometown of…

Analyzing ruling’s implications will take time, say church officials

June 26, 2015 WASHINGTON (CNS) — Analyzing the ramifications of the June 26 same-sex marriage ruling for the Catholic Church at the national, state and local levels will take time, said Archbishop William E. Lori of Baltimore. It has implications for “hundreds, if not thousands” of laws at all levels, and there is “a difficult…

USCCB president calls Supreme Court ruling on marriage ‘tragic error’

June 26, 2015 WASHINGTON (CNS) — The president of the U.S. bishops’ conference called the Supreme Court’s June 26 marriage ruling “a tragic error” and he urged Catholics to move forward with faith “in the unchanging truth about marriage being between one man and one woman.” “Regardless of what a narrow majority of the Supreme…

Wedding day transforms anniversary of near-death experience

June 25, 2015 NEW ORLEANS (CNS) — May 22 is a day Andres “Chico” Gonzalez Jr., will never forget. That day, nine years ago, he was a young New Orleans police officer on duty with his partner, and they made what people who don’t wear a badge call a “routine” traffic stop. “We don’t use…

Court upholds health care subsidies in states with federal exchanges

June 25, 2015 WASHINGTON (CNS) — Writing that “Congress passed the Affordable Care Act to improve health insurance markets, not to destroy them,” a 6-3 majority of the Supreme Court June 25 upheld tax subsidies for participants in health care exchanges run by the federal government in states that refused to create them. In the…

Criticism of family detention ramps up; DHS head promises changes

June 25, 2015 WASHINGTON (CNS) — As the head of Homeland Security announced plans to change detention practices for immigrant families with children, members of Congress who just visited detention centers and the director of a Catholic legal services organization firmly took issue with the system, saying the only answer is to stop imprisoning families….

Street evangelists make pamphlets, rosary beads available to passers-by

June 24, 2015 BERKELEY, Calif. (CNS) — It’s just before noon on a sunny Saturday on Berkeley’s Fourth Street, a busy boulevard of upscale cafes, shops and businesses. The gleaming Apple store is doing a bang-up business in the next newest thing; a steady stream of customers await tables at Bette’s Oceanview Diner, where weekend…

Extension’s Flat Francis image helps build excitement for pope’s visit

June 24, 2015 WASHINGTON (CNS) — Pope Francis isn’t going to be visiting the United States until September, but that hasn’t kept the pope from going all around the nation, if only as a simple piece of paper for the time being. Chicago-based Catholic Extension is helping to build excitement and support for Pope Francis’…

Without enough priests, U.S.-based Paulists decide to leave Canada

June 24, 2015 TORONTO (CNS) — The Paulist Fathers don’t want to leave Toronto, but they say they must. The unusual uptick in vocations after the World War II has worked its way through the system and there are not enough priests left to staff the ambitious little empire of Paulist ministries that once dotted…

Pope tells parents to be mindful of children’s suffering

June 24, 2015 VATICAN CITY (CNS) — The deep hurts that spouses inflict on each other cause great suffering to their children and, in some cases, lead to a separation that is “morally necessary” to protect spouses and children from more serious forms of violence, Pope Francis said during his general audience in St. Peter’s…

Sister Nirmala Joshi, successor to Blessed Teresa, dies at 81

June 23, 2015 KOLKATA, India (CNS) — Sister Nirmala Joshi, who succeeded Blessed Teresa of Kolkata as superior general of the Missionaries of Charity and led the order for 12 years until retiring in 2009, died early June 23 in Kolkota at age 81. Church and political leaders paid tribute to Sister Nirmala for her…

Outline for synod on family calls for wide look at trials families face

June 23, 2015 VATICAN CITY (CNS) — The working document for this fall’s Synod of Bishops on the family called for expanded discussion and pastoral solutions to challenges such as how economic disparity and environmental degradation affect families as well as the impact of infertility, aging and disability. The church seeks to address the actual…

Pope’s encyclical called ‘a watershed moment for church, humanity’

June 23, 2015 CHICAGO (CNS) — Pope Francis’ encyclical on the environment is “a watershed moment for the church, for humanity and for the planet” that the pope “calls our common home,” Chicago Archbishop Blase J. Cupich said. He met with the media June 18 at the Archbishop Quigley Center to share the salient points…

Archbishop Lori opens Fortnight for Freedom with Gospel connection

June 22, 2015 BALTIMORE (CNS) — Archbishop William E. Lori reminded those gathered for Mass June 21 at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Baltimore that when it comes to religious freedom, American Catholics and Christians worldwide are in the same “boat.” In the day’s Gospel…

New York Catholic church feels impact of massive manhunt for escapees

June 22, 2015 CADYVILLE, N.Y. (CNS) — Fewer people were filling the pews at St. James Church in the Plattsburgh hamlet of Cadyville after two convicted killers escaped June 6 from the Clinton Correctional Facility. “We have a lot of parishioners that work in the prison,” Msgr. Lawrence Deno explained. “They had to work overtime.”…

Pope Francis contemplates Shroud of Turin, calls it ‘icon of love’

June 22, 2015 VATICAN CITY (CNS) — It took place in silence and lasted only a few minutes, but Pope Francis’ time of prayer and contemplation before the Shroud of Turin was marked with gestures of reverence and tenderness. Revered by many as the burial cloth of Jesus, the shroud was the second stop on…

Dorothy Day had nothing to say to this theologian – or so he thought

June 21, 2015 FORT WAYNE, IND. (CNA) – Ever since entering the Church 27 years ago, theologian Lance Richey had always known about the Catholic social activist Dorothy Day in passing. “It’s hard not to run across her name, but I honestly had not paid much attention to her,” Richey told CNA in a recent…

Putting “Laudato Si’” to work

June 21, 2015 WASHINGTON (CNS) – Before that now famous encyclical came out this week, a group at the Franciscan Monastery of the Holy Land in Washington was already busy putting the spirit of “Laudato Si’” to work — or rather, they were putting bees to work to help the environment. A group called the…

People express heartache, outrage as they mourn shooting victims

June 20, 2015 WASHINGTON (CNS) — The tragic taking of nine lives at a historically black church in downtown Charleston, South Carolina, brought an outpouring of solidarity, compassion and sorrow from around the country. After an all-night search, police June 18 found the white man suspected of fatally shooting nine people, including the Rev. Clementa…

A heart set on heaven

June 19, 2015 Deacon Gabriel Walz to be ordained a priest June 20 at St. Mary’s Cathedral By Kristi Anderson The Visitor This spring, in the small sacristy of St. Mary’s Chapel located inside St. Paul Seminary in St. Paul, Deacon Gabriel Walz prepared to practice a portion of the Mass during a liturgy class…

Richmond family designs, constructs, donates memorial altar

June 19, 2015 Bishop Kettler will bless altar built by father in memory of his late daughter By Kristi Anderson The Visitor On March 7, 2014, Allen and Doris Schaefer did something no parents should ever have to do. They said goodbye to their daughter, Rhonda Grotkin, who lost her battle with brain cancer at…

Defining moment: Glossary of terminology used in Laudato Si’

June 18, 2015 VATICAN CITY (CNS) — In his brief pontificate, Pope Francis has coined some colorful terms to get his points across, for example, using “bat Christians” to describe those who hide their faith. While the new phrases he uses in his ecology encyclical are not as punchy, they succinctly help illustrate his points…

Papal pull-out quotes from encyclical letter, Laudato Si’

June 18, 2015 VATICAN CITY (CNS) — The following are selected quotes from Pope Francis’ encyclical letter, “Laudato Si’, on the Care of Our Common Home”: —The earth, our home, is beginning to look more and more like an immense pile of filth. (n. 21) — Because of us, thousands of species will no longer give…

Pope Francis seeks new dialogue on ‘shaping the future of our planet’

June 18, 2015 The Visitor In his new encyclical “Laudato Si’” (“Praise be to you”), Pope Francis appeals for a dialogue “about how we are shaping the future of our planet” at a time when the world is facing a number of environmental challenges with human roots. Among the challenges he identifies is climate change…

Senate adopts anti-torture amendment backed by Catholics, evangelicals

June 17, 2015 WASHINGTON (CNS) — The U.S. Senate in a bipartisan vote June 16 approved a measure that would prohibit all U.S. government agencies and their agents from using torture as an interrogation technique. Sen. John McCain, R-Arizona, and Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-California, sponsored the anti-torture amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act for…

Read encyclical on care for creation with ‘open heart,’ pope asks world

June 17, 2015 VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Appealing to the entire world, Pope Francis urged everyone to read his upcoming encyclical on the care of creation and to better protect a damaged earth. “This common ‘home’ is being ruined and that harms everyone, especially the poorest,” he said June 17, the day before the Vatican…

U.S. Catholics weigh in on global warming, Pope Francis in Pew survey

June 17, 2015 WASHINGTON (CNS) — In a new Pew Research Center survey conducted prior to the release of Pope Francis’ encyclical focusing on the environment, U.S. Catholics were asked their views both on global warming and the pope himself. Out of the overall U.S. population, 68 percent said they believe the earth is warming,…

Catholic churches around world take part in rosary relay for priests

June 16, 2015 WASHINGTON (CNS) — On June 12, the feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, Catholic churches around the world spiritually united in prayer for a Global Rosary Relay for Priests. “Originally, today’s feast was one of atonement for human ingratitude toward God, but today the church focuses on the great love that…

Pope OKs synod members elected by Canada’s bishops, superiors general

June 16, 2015 VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Pope Francis formally approved a further list of delegates to October’s world Synod of Bishops on the family. The pope approved the Canadian bishops’ election of: Archbishop Paul-Andre Durocher of Gatineau, conference president; Bishop Noel Simard of Valleyfield; Cardinal Thomas C. Collins of Toronto; and Archbishop Richard W….

Pope accepts resignations of St. Paul archbishop, auxiliary

June 15, 2015 ST. PAUL, Minn. (CNS) — Pope Francis accepted the resignations June 15 of Archbishop John C. Nienstedt and Auxiliary Bishop Lee A. Piche of St. Paul and Minneapolis and named coadjutor Archbishop Bernard A. Hebda of Newark, New Jersey, a canon lawyer, to be apostolic administrator of the Minnesota archdiocese. In a…

Historic number of Catholics to seek U.S. presidency in 2016

June 13, 2015 WASHINGTON (CNS) — The onetime stigma of being a Catholic for those seeking national office appears to have disappeared in the 2016 presidential election cycle since a record number of candidates have declared their candidacy or expressed an interest in running for the highest office in the country. Twelve Catholics have said…

Bishops hear report on church’s ongoing efforts to defend marriage

June 12, 2015 ST. LOUIS (CNS) — As the institution of marriage faces unprecedented challenges, the Catholic Church continues to promote and defend marriage as being between one man and one woman, said Archbishop Salvatore J. Cordileone of San Francisco. As chairman of the bishops’ Subcommittee for the Promotion and Defense of Marriage, Archbishop Cordileone…

Quebec Archdiocese reshapes itself as Mass attendance falls

June 12, 2015 QUEBEC CITY (CNS) — With the decision to close one of its largest and most important churches, the Archdiocese of Quebec is sending a clear message: The future of even the most majestic churches cannot be guaranteed anymore. On May 24, one last Mass was celebrated in renowned St. John the Baptist…

Franciscan: Encyclical title affirms all creatures have common creator

June 12, 2015 ROME (CNS) — “Laudato Si’,” the title Pope Francis chose for his encyclical on the environment, comes from a hymn of praise by St. Francis of Assisi that emphasizes being in harmony with God, with other creatures and with other human beings, said the head of the Franciscan order. Sitting under towering…

Bishops discuss upcoming encyclical, pope’s visit, top priorities

June 11, 2015 ST. LOUIS (CNS) — The U.S. bishops gathered in St. Louis for their spring general assembly heard presentations on the pope’s upcoming encyclical on the environment, the U.S. church’s ongoing work in promoting traditional marriage and the need to remain vigilant in protecting children from abuse. On the first day of their…

U.S. bishops’ spring assembly opens with rapid start to communications

June 11, 2015 ST. LOUIS (CNS) — A few hours before the U.S. bishops’ spring general assembly opened June 10 in St. Louis, the meeting already had begun. Tweets were trickling out from bishops, media and observers, using the hashtag #usccb15. Among their first items to share: a link to the live stream of the…

Bishops urged to help Catholics understand upcoming encyclical

June 10, 2015 ST. LOUIS (CNS) — A week before the anticipated release of Pope Francis’ encyclical on human ecology and the environment, the U.S. bishops were urged to help Catholics hear and understand it. Pope Francis will challenge the assumptions of “both the left and the right” with the document, said Bishop Oscar Cantu…

Archbishop: Church must take action to help end racism, promote justice

June 10, 2015 ST. LOUIS (CNS) — The U.S. bishops join with other religious leaders and civic leaders “in pledging to work for healing and reconciliation” after a series of racial conflicts “that have taken place around our beloved country,” said Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz of Louisville, Kentucky. The archbishop, who is the president of…

Vatican exhibit to open during World Meeting of Families, papal visit

June 10, 2015 PHILADELPHIA (CNS) — Works of art including paintings, sculptures and rare artifacts from the Vatican will be on display just in time for the World Meeting of Families and the visit of Pope Francis to Philadelphia this September. More than 200 works of art, 40 percent of which have never been shown…

Antillean bishops offer action steps to address climate change

June 10, 2015 PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad and Tobago (CNS) — Bishops from across the Caribbean region invited people to read and study Pope Francis’ upcoming encyclical on the environment so that they “become better stewards of creation.” Writing a “Declaration on Climate Change,” the bishops of the Antilles Episcopal Conference urged people to consider…

Pope’s encyclical to have medieval Italian, not Latin, title

June 10, 2015 VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Pope Francis’ encyclical on the environment will not be released with a formal Latin title, but rather a medieval Italian one. In its first official comment on the title, the Vatican press office said June 10 that the document will be called, “Laudato Si’: On the Care of…

Pope OKs plan to investigate, judge bishops who fail to act on abuse

June 10, 2015 VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Pope Francis has approved new procedures for the Vatican to investigate and judge claims of “abuse of office” by bishops who allegedly failed to protect minors and vulnerable adults from sex abuse. The procedures will include a new “judicial section” within the Congregation for the Doctrine of the…

Cardinal: Lay ministers co-workers in evangelization mission of church

June 9, 2015 ST. LOUIS (CNS) — As the role of the laity in the Catholic Church expands, lay ministers have a co-responsibility with their ordained counterparts in furthering the church’s mission of evangelization, said Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo of Galveston-Houston. Cardinal DiNardo was the opening speaker at the Lay Ecclesial Ministry Summit June 7-8…

Obama in CHA address thanks organization for supporting health care law

June 9, 2015 WASHINGTON (CNS) — Telling the Catholic Health Association that he was there to say thank you, President Barack Obama June 9 recalled the struggles of passing the Affordable Care Act and ticked off the successes since it became law five years ago. “Every one of these stories touched me,” Obama said of…

Hope rises that papal encyclical will address vitality of water sources

June 9, 2015 IQUITOS, Peru (CNS) — As floodwaters rose with heavy rains in this Amazonian city, Graciela Tejada and her neighbors found greasy slaughterhouse offal, human feces and used hypodermic needles floating practically to their doorsteps. As a huge culvert discharged sewage into the flooded streets, Tejada, 50, and her family retreated indoors, while…

AP: Number of abortions in U.S. has gone down since 2010

June 8, 2015 WASHINGTON (CNS) — An Associated Press survey of abortion in the United States this decade has revealed that the number of abortions has gone down by 12 percent since 2010. The news was welcomed by pro-life advocates. “It’s important to realize, first of all, that the factors accounting for this are multiple,…

Climate encyclical expected to send strong moral message to the world

June 8, 2015 LIMA, Peru (CNS) — Pope Francis’ upcoming encyclical on ecology and climate is expected to send a strong moral message — one message that could make some readers uncomfortable, some observers say. “The encyclical will address the issue of inequality in the distribution of resources and topics such as the wasting of…

Peace demands passion, patience, hard work, pope tells Balkan nation

June 7, 2015 SARAJEVO, Bosnia-Herzegovina (CNS) — To overcome fear, discrimination and conflict, people must have a deep desire to open themselves up to God and his mercy, and work actively for peace every day, Pope Francis said. God’s plan for creation is peace, “which always meets opposition from humanity and the devil,” he said…

Vatican ready to announce decision, guidelines on Medjugorje, pope says

June 7, 2015 ABOARD THE PAPAL FLIGHT FROM SARAJEVO, Bosnia-Herzegovina (CNS) — Pope Francis said the Vatican was ready to make an announcement concerning the alleged Marian apparitions in Medjugorje, Bosnia-Herzegovina. The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith met recently to discuss the issue and “we’ve reached the point of making a decision and…

South Korean SUV joins elite popemobile fleet

June 6, 2015 VATICAN CITY (CNS) — A new, specially modified Hyundai SUV has joined the elite ranks of the popemobile fleet. The open-roof, white Santa Fe 2.2 CRDi had its debut in St. Peter’s Square June 3 during Pope Francis’ weekly general audience. The vehicle sits lower than the typical popemobiles, which had higher…

Summer recess: Kids could go hungry if agencies don’t fill gaps

June 6, 2015 WASHINGTON (CNS) — A new report that more low-income children ate free breakfasts and lunches last summer than the previous summer is both good news and bad. Of course, food program advocates emphasize that more children are getting fed, but they also point out the sheer numbers of those who need these…

Committee refuels efforts for Catholic Scouting

By Kristi Anderson The Visitor In October, Bishop Donald Kettler appointed Father Ben Kociemba as the new chaplain for the Diocesan Catholic Committee on Scouting. Since then, Father Kociemba has been recruiting people from across the diocese to help renew efforts to promote Catholicism through Boy Scout activities. “What is exciting about this is that…

Transitions

June 5, 2015 New rector for St. Mary’s Cathedral among new priest appointments The Visitor Father Scott Pogatchnik has been appointed as the new rector of St. Mary’s Cathedral in St. Cloud, effective July 1, according to a list of official appointments released by the chancery May 28. Father Pogatchnik also will serve as pastor…

Detroit synod in fall 2016 will help Catholics ‘encounter Christ anew’

June 4, 2015 DETROIT (CNS) — Saying it’s time for the Catholic Church “to be young again,” Detroit Archbishop Allen H. Vigneron said he will convoke an archdiocese-wide synod in the fall of 2016 to refocus on the critical mission of evangelization and “to encounter Christ anew” as a missionary church. The archbishop made the…

Blest Art sells religious artwork to benefit Christians in Palestine

June 3, 2015 BELOIT, Wis. (CNS) — For parishioners and pastors in the Diocese of La Crosse, Jeryes Qumseya may not be a household name, but his products are doubtless in more than a few households in the diocese. Even as the number of Christians living in the Middle East, and especially the Holy Land,…

War, greed, consumerism, ‘cult of appearance’ harm families, pope says

June 3, 2015 VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Families are weakened and destroyed by war, “the mother of all forms of poverty,” as well as by economies and policies that worship money and power, Pope Francis said. “It’s almost a miracle” that, even in poverty and crisis, the family can keep on going, safeguarding its bonds…

Church growth rates highest outside Europe and the Americas

June 2, 2015 WASHINGTON (CNS) — Results of a study released June 1 by the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate said that the highest growth rates in Catholicism are in Africa and Asia. “Overall, the global Catholic population has grown by 57 percent since 1980. However, this growth differs by region, with Europe’s…

Catholic publishers will be part of World Meeting of Families

June 2, 2015 VATICAN CITY (CNS) — In an effort to promote Catholic publications dedicated to the family, the Pontifical Council for the Family is organizing initiatives for Catholic publishers at the World Meeting of Families in Philadelphia. Together with the Vatican publishing house, the Catholic Biblical Federation and the Association of Catholic Publishers, the…

Pope meets sick children and children of Italian inmates

June 2, 2015 VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Sometimes, Pope Francis said, the most important thing parents of a seriously ill child can do is to keep asking God, “Why?” A child of 2 or 3 years will torment his or her parents with a continual series of “whys,” the pope said. The little ones are…

Monks record sacred music that is ‘part of air we breathe,’ says one

June 2, 2015 WASHINGTON (CNS) — Once again the hills are filled with the sound of music, only this time the music soars from Benedictine monks rather than the Von Trapp Family. In Norcia, Italy, about 70 miles northeast of Rome, there is an international community of monks who operate a craft brewery and spend…

Pope Francis lists abortion, unsafe workplaces among ‘attacks on life’

June 1, 2015 VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Abortion, abandoning migrants at sea, unsafe working conditions, malnutrition, terrorism and euthanasia are all “attacks on life,” said Pope Francis. In an audience with members of the Italian Science & Life Association May 30, the pope said “life is a gift” and urged more reflection on how people…

Priest tells Obama about Cuban exiles’ suffering, longing for freedom

May 30, 2015 MIAMI (CNS) — The priest prayed an Our Father. The president lit a candle. And while gazing together at a revered image of Cuba’s patroness, the priest reminded the president of the suffering of Cuba’s people. “Only in the United States that’s possible,” said Father Juan Rumin Dominguez, rector of the National…

Congress urged to keep funding scholarships for low-income students

May 30, 2015 WASHINGTON (CNS) — Hundreds of students at Archbishop Carroll High School in Washington witnessed the federal government at work when a hearing on the reauthorization of the Scholarships for Opportunity and Results Act was held in their auditorium. Supporters described it as a needed initiative that has given low-income families the ability…

Evangelization demands experiencing God’s mercy first, pope says

May 29, 2015 VATICAN CITY (CNS) — The new evangelization is learning to really experience God’s mercy and salvation so they can be shared with others, especially those most in need, Pope Francis said. In fact, how the church is educating people in the faith needs to go beyond classroom instruction and actually show them…

Church should make views on homosexuality understandable, says priest

May 28, 2015 WASHINGTON (CNS) — The Catholic Church not only needs to provide pastoral care for those with same-sex attraction but it should also make its teaching “accessible, understandable and compelling for people,” said the director of a church apostolate that ministers to homosexuals. Father Paul Check, director of Courage for the past eight…

USCCB plans fourth annual Fortnight for Freedom with events nationwide

May 28, 2015 WASHINGTON (CNS) — Threats to religious freedom continue to emerge, making it more urgent for people of faith to take action to defend the full realm of religious practice, said Archbishop William E. Lori of Baltimore. Speaking during a May 28 webinar announcing the fourth annual Fortnight for Freedom, Archbishop Lori called…

U.N. inaction on nuclear weapons ‘disappointing’ to Catholic advocates

May 28, 2015 WASHINGTON (CNS) — A monthlong review of a key nuclear weapons treaty saw the nuclear powers stepping back from an opportunity to alter the status quo, much to the disappointment of Catholic peace advocates. The disappointment stems from the failure of the nuclear weapons states to heed the arguments of the advocates,…

Appeals court ruling keeps injunction in place on immigration programs

May 27, 2015 NEW ORLEANS (CNS) — A three-judge panel of the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals May 26 refused to stay a preliminary injunction issued by a federal judge in Texas to block the Obama administration’s expansion of a deferred deportation program. President Barack Obama took executive action last November to implement the…

Pope, council discuss synod document; bishops hold study day in Rome

May 26, 2015 VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Pope Francis and members of the council of the Synod of Bishops met May 25-26 to review input from around the world for October’s synod on the family and made their final suggestions for the synod’s working document. The office of the synod’s general secretary will incorporate the…

Vatican Nuncio to UN speaks on climate change

May 25, 2015 (Vatican Radio) At the “Climate and Health” 68th World Health Assembly meeting in Geneva, Switzerland, Apostolic Nuncio Archbishop Silvano M. Tomasi c.s., gave an adress where he discussed, the respect and protection of nature, technology, and the role of various nations in health and environmental issues. Read the remarks by His Excellency Archbishop…

Holy Spirit leads to truth, renews the earth, emboldens, pope says

May 24, 2015 VATICAN CITY (CNS) — The power of the Holy Spirit transforms people into bold witnesses of the Gospel, who reach out to others, exercise charity and live in harmony with creation, Pope Francis said. Celebrating Pentecost Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica and reciting the “Regina Coeli” prayer with tens of thousands of…

With Pan Am Games coming to Toronto, groups push to limit trafficking

May 23, 2015 TORONTO (CNS) — As Toronto gets set to host the Pan Am Games, rights campaigners are putting their best efforts into ensuring that the city does not become a playground for human traffickers while the multi-sport, billion-dollar event takes place. Led by Catholic religious sisters, a broad coalition is getting ready for…

Annual Appeal hits halfway mark

May 22, 2015 By Kristi Anderson The Visitor Last year, St. Agnes Parish in Roscoe, one of the three parishes Father Glenn Krystosek shepherds, reached their Annual Diocesan Appeal goal for the first time since he started there in 2009. His other two parishes, St. Louis in Paynesville and St. Margaret in Lake Henry came…

Grants to help schools upgrade technology

May 22, 2015 By Dianne Towalski The Visitor When students return next fall to St. John’s Area School in Foley, they will see a dramatic upgrade of technology throughout the building — everything from projectors to iPads to AppleTV in each classroom. The school was recently awarded three CenturyLink Teachers and Technology Grants totaling nearly…

Farm and garden blessings: a ‘growing’ tradition

May 22, 2015 By Kristi Anderson The Visitor Whether it’s a strawberry patch or a 100-acre parcel, Father Ronald Dockendorf prays the same words at each of the homes and farms he visits this time of year, asking God to bless the land and the people who tend it. Every May 15, the church celebrates…

Prayer, family, horses dot 60 years of history for St. Cloud priest

May 22, 2015 By Kristi Anderson The Visitor Every day for more than 60 years, Father Edwin Kraemer has prayed the prayers in his small red breviary. He often reads its careworn pages from a comfortable chair on the second floor sun porch of his Sauk Rapids home where he might also be found practicing…

Nebraska Legislature passes repeal of death penalty

May 21, 2015 LINCOLN, Neb. (CNS) — The Nebraska Legislature May 20 passed a measure to repeal the death penalty with enough votes to override Republican Gov. Pete Ricketts’ promised veto. Members of the unicameral body gave final approval to the bill with a 32-15 vote. At a news conference a week earlier, Archbishop George…

Recapture of Christian towns contrasts with Islamic State gains in Syria

May 21, 2015 AMMAN, Jordan (CNS) — Church bells are ringing once again in the Assyrian Christian villages dotting the Khabur River in northeastern Syria after Islamic State militants were routed by a combination of forces. It’s a stark contrast to the mounting concerns for one of the most renowned archaeological sites in the Middle…

Grads at Catholic colleges urged to work hard, ‘do good,’ be confident

May 20, 2015 WASHINGTON (CNS) — A best-selling suspense novelist, a four-time Grammy winner, a Chicago archbishop and a New York cardinal, and lawmakers and corporate leaders were among speakers at undergraduate commencements this spring at the nation’s Catholic universities and colleges. And at least one family had three children in the class of 2015:…

Minnesota guitarist pays tribute to slain Salvadoran archbishop in song

May 20, 2015 ST. PAUL, Minn. (CNS) — Minnesota musician Rob Hahn hopes a song he wrote to pay tribute to Salvadoran Archbishop Oscar Romero will inspire people to take a stand against injustice. Hahn, a parishioner at Nativity of Our Lord in St. Paul, learned about the life and death of Archbishop Romero in…

Greenbacks and the green economy: Ecology is good business

May 20, 2015 VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Consumers want products that are environmentally friendly, and businesses that are not on board are already starting to feel the pinch, said the CEO of the multinational Unilever. Paul Polman, CEO of the company that owns brands like Lipton, Ben & Jerry’s and Suave, told a Vatican-sponsored conference…

Nepal authorities try to block Missionaries of Charity delivering aid

May 20, 2015 KATHMANDU, Nepal (CNS) — Members of the Missionaries of Charity had to spend more than two hours waiting at police headquarters for clearance before they could deliver food, blankets and other promised relief to earthquake victims in a remote mountainous area of Nepal. The group of six sisters, eight brothers and about…

In El Salvador, women who miscarry can end up charged with abortion

May 19, 2015 SAN SALVADOR, El Salvador (CNS) — Guadalupe Vasquez is one of many women who have experienced the consequences of strong anti-abortion laws in El Salvador. In this Central American country of 6.3 million inhabitants, a poor woman who has a miscarriage and goes to a hospital seeking medical help often ends up…

Speakers at CLINIC’s annual convening optimistic on immigration reform

May 19, 2015 SALT LAKE CITY (CNS) — Two federal officials told Catholic immigration advocates gathered in Salt Lake City that they are optimistic about the prospect of comprehensive reform of the U.S. immigration system. The officials espoused optimism despite a temporary injunction blocking President Barack Obama’s 2014 executive order to implement the Deferred Action…

Greek church uses human, material resources to help shipwrecked migrants

May 19, 2015 RHODES, Greece (CNS) — When a wooden sailboat carrying some 100 refugees capsized in the crystal clear waters of this tiny paradise-like Greek island, local fisherman and the Greek coast guard immediately went to their rescue. While only three drowned in the April incident, 30 had to be taken to the hospital,…

Catholic archbishop teaches the Quran to Christians, Muslims alike

May 19, 2015 UNIVERSITY HEIGHTS, Ohio (CNS) — There’s a book that Archbishop Michael L. Fitzgerald believes can inspire Christians to appreciate the God of all creation. And it’s not just the Bible. Archbishop Fitzgerald, who retired at the end of 2012 as the papal nuncio to Egypt, said the Quran, with all of its…

U.S. Trappist monks say beer brewing enhances American monastic life

May 19, 2015 SPENCER, Mass. (CNS) — The whoosh of the beer tap opening, the gentle glug of the golden brew pouring into the goblet and the sizzle of the foaming mousse are joyous sounds to Trappist Brother Jonah Pociadlo’s ears as he prepares to savor the signature ale created in his monastery’s brewery. The…

‘Kids have their lives back,’ says woman whose foundation helps Asians

May 18, 2015 DUBLIN (CNS) — Christina Noble has helped hundreds of thousands of marginalized children in Vietnam and Mongolia, and although it has affected her health, the 70-year-old grandmother would not have it any other way. In a May interview with Catholic News Service, she said she can no longer go down the sewers…

Super Martyrio: U.S. man’s blog champions cause for Archbishop Romero

May 18,  2015 SAN SALVADOR, El Salvador (CNS) — Over the years, Carlos Colorado has become a modern prophet of sorts. His message is to extol the life of his hero: slain Salvadoran Archbishop Oscar Romero. But his soapbox isn’t a street corner in California, where he lives. For years, he has taken his message…

Reaction mixed to Tsarnaev death sentence in Boston Marathon bombing

May 18, 2015 WASHINGTON (CNS) — Reaction was mixed to the May 15 jury sentencing of death for Dzhokhar Tsarnaev for his role in the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing. Tsarnaev had been convicted April 8 of all 30 counts lodged against him in the bombing, which killed three people and injured hundreds. Of those 30…

Faith is expressed in charity, unity, pope says at canonization Mass

May 18, 2015 VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Declaring four 19th-century women religious saints, Pope Francis said they are models for all Christians of how faith, nourished in prayer, is expressed concretely in acts of charity and the promotion of unity. The new saints, proclaimed during a Mass May 17 in St. Peter’s Square, included two…

Iowan behind Globetrotters’ meeting with pope says event unforgettable

May 18, 2015 SIOUX CITY, Iowa (CNS) — In 2000, Briar Cliff University grad Brett Meister was given the opportunity to meet a future saint. If circumstances play out, the Marcus native may claim to have met two. As senior vice president of communications for the world-famous Harlem Globetrotters, Meister coordinated a meeting with Pope…

Protecting people means protecting the planet, cardinal says

May 16, 2015 ROME (CNS) — Pride, greed and selfishness are destroying the planet just as they destroy human lives, said Cardinal Peter Turkson. However, with action inspired by good stewardship and solidarity, people can ensure that the earth is “a nurturing home for every man, woman and child in every country and in every…

Church workers reach out to quake victims in remote Himalayan villages

May 16, 2015 NAMJUNG, Nepal (CNS) — “Sir, because of luck, we all survived. But, we may die of hunger,” Mithuram Pariyar said when a church relief team arrived after a four-hour drive from Kathmandu. “Nobody (relief worker) has set foot here in two weeks,” said Pariyar, summing up the travails of 29 families. It…

Evergive: Tithing technology with a community-building bonus

May 16, 2015 SAN FRANCISO (CNS) — The Archdiocese of San Francisco is banking on a Silicon Valley startup called Evergive to make fundraising quick, easy and rewarding with a free, faith-based computer app that officially launched May 15 for the archdiocesan community. Evergive is just “one more way” faith communities can give to the…

U.S. will fall in love with Pope Francis when he visits, says speaker

May 16, 2015 BROOKLYN, N.Y. (CNS) — America will fall in love with Pope Francis when he visits in September. That is the prediction of Austen Ivereigh, author of “The Great Reformer, Francis and the Making of a Radical Pope,” who was the main speaker at the Brooklyn Diocese’s May 13 celebration of World Communications…

Father Kenneth Brenny, 85, died May 13 in a car accident

Father Kenneth Brenny, 85, died May 13 in a car accident in Morrison County. A vigil service will be held Sunday, May 17, at 7 p.m. at St. Michael Church in Buckman, with visitation from 2 p.m. to 8 p.m. The Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated at St. Mary’s Cathedral in St. Cloud…

Exhaustion, no hope: Bishop says life in Syria needs ‘attitude of faith’

May 14, 2015 ROME (CNS) — Chaldean Bishop Antoine Audo of Aleppo, Syria, and his people are exhausted. The bishop, who is president of the church’s charitable agency, Caritas Syria, left the country for a few days to attend the general assembly of Caritas Internationals in Rome May 12-17. Daily life “is becoming more and…

Periphery pope: Bosnia trip aims to build bridges in divided nation

May 14, 2015 VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Pope Francis’ concern for those suffering on the margins and for small Catholic communities that have kept the faith alive through war or repression will take him to Bosnia-Herzegovina in early June. By making a one-day trip June 6 to Sarajevo, he said he hoped he could “be…

No easy moral resolution to Vergara-Loeb dispute over frozen embryos

May 14, 2015 WASHINGTON (CNS) — Are frozen embryos human beings worthy of dignity and respect or are they property subject to contractual obligations? That is the legal question surrounding the dispute between actress Sofia Vergara and her former fiance, businessman Nick Loeb, over two female embryos they created in 2013. Loeb, who wants to…

Pope gives coaches game plan for building team spirit, ethical players

May 14, 2015 VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Coaches need to show integrity, fairness, patience, joy and kindness, especially toward those who are struggling, Pope Francis said. Like any good educator, a good coach or trainer is extremely important in helping kids develop into mature, well-balanced and well-rounded adults, he said. Instilled with solid values and…

Help us ‘go back home,’ displaced Iraqi sister urges U.S. Congress

May 13, 2015 WASHINGTON (CNS) — Speaking quietly and deliberately, Dominican Sister Diana Momeka from Iraq urged a congressional committee hearing May 13 to help the displaced Christian refugees in Iraq to “go back home.” “We want nothing more than to go back to our lives; we want nothing more than to go home,” Sister…

Speakers at Georgetown summit offer strategies for cutting U.S. poverty

May 13, 2015 WASHINGTON (CNS) — In ideas big and small, speakers at Georgetown University’s Catholic-evangelical summit on overcoming poverty offered strategies to cut poverty in America. The Rev. Melanie DeBouse, pastor of Evangel Chapel in Philadelphia outlined the situation in her poverty-stricken neighborhood, where the poor live in what she called “abandominiums,” with families…

In family relations, good manners are no joke, pope says at audience

May 13, 2015 VATICAN CITY (CNS) — The closer two people are to each other, the more care is required in respecting the other’s freedom and feelings, Pope Francis said. Even Jesus knocks at the door of a person’s heart awaiting permission to enter, he said May 13 at his weekly general audience in St….

What’s unprecedented about Pope Francis’ Year for Mercy

May 13, 2015 Vatican City (CNA) – In tune with his knack for making history, Pope Francis’ Year for Mercy will include things no other jubilee has: worldwide “missionaries of mercy,” and “holy doors” in every diocese for pilgrims to walk through. “For the first time in the history of the Jubilee tradition, there will…

Archbishop urges prayers urged for victims of ‘tragic train derailment’

May 13, 2015 PHILADELPHIA (CNS) — Philadelphia Archbishop Charles J. Chaput May 13 urged prayers for all affected by Amtrak train derailment in the city’s Port Richmond neighborhood that left at least six people dead and injured more than 200 others. “I urge all people of goodwill to join me in extending prayerful condolences to…

Survey shows increase in Americans who aren’t part of any religion

May 13, 2015 WASHINGTON (CNS) — A major study of the religious landscape of the United States shows a continuing decline in the number of people who consider themselves part of any religion, with the largest shift occurring among the “millennial” generation. The Pew Research Center survey of 35,000 people, conducted in 2014, found that the…

Fresh quake rattles confidence of people, relief workers in Nepal

KATHMANDU, Nepal (CNS) — The second major earthquake in less than three weeks spread renewed fears and dented the confidence of people, said church and charity workers. “The death and devastation may be less, but the psychological impact is very high,” Bishop Paul Simick of Nepal told Catholic News Service May 13. “They were slowly…

Refocus attention on poverty, Obama says at Georgetown summit

May 12, 2015 WASHINGTON (CNS) — President Barack Obama, a late addition to a Catholic-evangelical summit at Georgetown University on overcoming poverty, said events like those in Ferguson, Missouri, and in Baltimore demonstrate a need to “refocus attention on poverty.” Obama, speaking May 12, said, “We have been stuck, I think for a long time,…

Benedictine nuns make their home on the range

May 12, 2015 VIRGINIA DALE, Colo. (CNS) — Sister Maria Walburga Schortemeyer is at home wading through the mud and manure of a barnyard in boots, work pants, a fleece jacket, and her white veil. Minutes later, in the black-and-white habit of a Benedictine nun, she is equally at home singing psalms and praying the…

Scathing report calls for dismantling immigrant detention system

May 12, 2015 WASHINGTON (CNS) — A scathing new report on the conditions under which immigrants are detained concludes with the U.S. bishops’ recommendation that the current system be dismantled and replaced with less drastic approaches for keeping track of people whose immigration cases are pending. Drawing on international law, analyses of who is detained,…

When second quake hit, fear filled those waiting for relief materials

May 12, 2015 NAMJUNG, Nepal (CNS) — As the magnitude-7.3 quake hit, screaming and shouting filled the mountain village of Namjung, where approximately 600 people had gathered to collect relief material being distributed by Catholic Relief Services. When the quake ended May 12, the people were anxiously looking at dust rising from the nearby villages,…

Caritas panel reflects on liberation theology, love, charity, ecology

May 12, 2015 VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Dominican Father Gustavo Gutierrez, the 86-year-old liberation theologian, said his work is “a love letter to God, to the church and to my people.” Asked if he would change anything he has written in the past 40 years, the Peruvian who is often referred to as “the father…

Sister Prejean tells Boston jury Tsarnaev told her of regret for victims

May 11, 2015 BOSTON (CNS) — Sister Helen Prejean, the death penalty abolition advocate, told a jury May 11 that convicted Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev expressed remorse in discussions with her. Sister Prejean, the Sister of Saint Joseph of Medaille and author of, “Dead Man Walking,” said during the defense’s portion of the sentencing…

Peace is handcrafted with forgiveness, respect, justice, pope says

May 11, 2015 VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Peace takes hard work and must be built one person at a time working each day by forgiving others, ending injustice and stopping greed, Pope Francis told elementary school children. People also have to do more to stop condemning those who have made serious mistakes and instead help…

Archbishop Romero: Symbol of church leaders’ efforts to protect flocks

May 11, 2015 VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Salvadoran Archbishop Oscar Romero, who will be beatified in San Salvador May 23, has become a symbol of Latin American church leaders’ efforts to protect their flocks from the abuses of military dictatorships. However, his life and the 35 years it took the Vatican to recognize him as…

Castro says pope is so impressive he might start praying again

May 11, 2015 VATICAN CITY (CNS) — After spending close to an hour with Pope Francis, Cuban President Raul Castro told reporters he is so impressed by what the pope does and says that he might start praying and could even return to the church. “I had a very agreeable meeting this morning with Pope…

Relief items in short supply in landlocked Nepal

May 10, 2015 KATHMANDU, Nepal (CNS) — Anam Tamang was excited: A truck of earthquake relief supplies had finally arrived at Caritas Nepal headquarters in Kathmandu. That was late May 6. By May 8, she was frustrated: 16 tons of relief material flown in by Caritas Poland had already been dispatched in small trucks to…

Good news of Catholic education shared at bishop’s breakfast

May 9, 2015 By Kristi Anderson The Visitor “You are here today because you care deeply about bringing God’s love to our young people. Is there any greater calling? Is there any greater purpose in life than this?” Bishop Donald Kettler asked a crowd of about 350 people at Breakfast with the Bishop April 29…

Lessons from Vietnam War: When will they ever learn?

May 8, 2015 WASHINGTON (CNS) — Forty years after the war in Vietnam ended, Americans still replay the events that led to deeper American involvement in the Southeast Asian conflict as well as the turmoil that resulted from it. Satisfactory answers were hard to come by then, when it seemed that the nation came close…

Mother of organ donor hopes memorial wall will encourage others

May 8, 2015 By Dianne Towalski The Visitor Connie Glazier talked briefly about organ donation with her six children around the time they were all getting their driver’s licenses. They decided not to check the box on the form, and that was that. Glazier didn’t think she would ever have to think about it again….

Newly ordained live vocation with faith, friendship

May 8, 2015 A year of service in another country can be a life-changing experience for anyone. But for Nickolas Kleespie and Lewis Grobe it had a profound impact on their lives. The experience led them to a religious vocation, and the two were ordained together at St. John’s Abbey and University Church May 2…

Plans advance for new St. Cloud area Catholic school system

Finances, governance structure and communication among areas of focus for steering committee By Kristi Anderson The Visitor Last December Bishop Donald Kettler convened a 12-person steering committee, charging it to design a single Catholic school system for the greater St. Cloud metro area — one that ensures the continued vitality of Catholic education into the…

Cookies, conversations catalyze local Christian-Muslim dialogue

May 8, 2015 By Kristi Anderson The Visitor Ayan Omar came to America as a Somali Muslim refugee when she was just 5 years old. Now she is a wife and mother, a language arts teacher at Tech High School in St. Cloud and an advocate for interfaith dialogue. Omar was one of three panelists…

Graduation 2015

Each spring we celebrate the graduations of high school students. To give our readers a profile of this year’s graduating class, The Visitor asked the two Catholic high schools and a sampling of parishes across the diocese to nominate one of their seniors for this feature. In the following pages, you’ll find the students’ responses…

Pope Francis’ Prayer for Jubilee Year of Mercy

May 7, 2015 (Vatican Radio) Pope Francis has composed a special prayer for the Jubilee Year of Mercy which will run from 8 December 2015 to 20 November 2016. In the prayer, the Holy Father entreats the Lord to make the Jubilee of Mercy a year of grace so that the Church, “with renewed enthusiasm, may…

Christian leaders hope Palestinian saints can be intercessors for peace

May 7, 2015 BETHLEHEM, West Bank (CNS) — Christian leaders in the Holy Land hope two new Palestinian saints will become intercessors for peace and a bridge among faiths. “I am sure they follow our situation from heaven and will continue to intercede for peace and reconciliation in the Holy Land,” Auxiliary Bishop William Shomali…

Papal push: Caritas leader sees ‘Francis effect’ at work on the ground

May 7, 2015 VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Catholic charities around the world have no doubt about the reality of a “Francis effect” on their work. Because of the ongoing global economic crisis, most of the 164 national Catholic charities that form the Caritas Internationalis confederation report no significant increase in donations. However, the secretary-general of…

Pope Francis meets the Harlem Globetrotters

May 6, 2015 (Vatican Radio) Pope Francis met on Wednesday with members of the Harlem Globetrotters, the famous basketball team from the United States. During the encounter, they gave the Holy Father a jersey with the name “Pope Francis” and the number 90. The Harlem Globetrotters are an exhibition basketball team founded in the 1920’s,…

U.S. priest lives with ‘suffering Christ’ at U.N. base in South Sudan

May 6, 2015 MALAKAL, South Sudan (CNS) — Behind the blue-helmeted U.N. soldiers ringing the periphery, their tanks and heavy weapons pointed outward, Maryknoll Father Mike Bassano’s parish is a tightly packed maze of tents and tarpaulins filled with people hiding from war. Father Bassano is the only priest amid the 25,000 civilians who live…

Lawsuit seeks HHS records on abortion access for unaccompanied children

May 6, 2015 LEVITTOWN, Pa. (CNS) — The American Civil Liberties Union wants the Department of Health and Human Services to provide records related to government policies on abortion and contraception access for unaccompanied and refugee children. The organization filed a lawsuit in April against the HHS and the Administration for Children and Families under…

Baltimore prays for peace, progress in addressing systemic injustices

May 5, 2015 BALTIMORE (CNS) — Prayer provides the strength and patience needed to love neighbors and will help Baltimoreans as they addresses the injustices that led to a night of rioting and looting, Archbishop William E. Lori of Baltimore said. “Given my occupation, I think it’s important to start every occasion this way,” Archbishop…

In paintings, Syrian artist shows the pain war has caused his country

May 5, 2015 WASHINGTON (CNS) — The sad realities of Syria’s civil war permeate the paintings of Essa Neima, a 34-year-old Syrian national. At a recent exhibit, his oil on acrylic works ranged from depictions of damaged church and mosque mosaics, to a broken icon of Mary and a refugee woman forced into servitude by…

Schoendienst quietly lives his faith, serves as mentor to young players

May 5, 2015 ST. LOUIS (CNS) — Seventy years ago, a ballplayer from a small-town Catholic family began a Hall of Fame career in major league baseball. Albert “Red” Schoendienst, 92, also is known for quietly living his faith and serving as a mentor and role model for young players. The St. Louis Cardinals marked…

Vatican unveils logo, prayer, details of Holy Year of Mercy

May 5, 2015 VATICAN CITY (CNS) — The Holy Year of Mercy will be an opportunity to encourage Christians to meet people’s “real needs” with concrete assistance, to experience a “true pilgrimage” on foot, and to send “missionaries of mercy” throughout the world to forgive even the most serious of sins, said Archbishop Rino Fisichella….

Wisconsin diocese’s programs help Latino families put faith into action

May 4, 2015 GREEN BAY, Wis. (CNS) — Juanita Fiscal and her husband, Julio Zuniga, enrolled in the “Discipulos de Cristo” (Disciples of Christ) lay formation program, sponsored by the Diocese of Green Bay, three years ago. As members of St. Willebrord Parish, they wanted to learn more about their faith. “We were lacking so…

Week after quake, trucks of aid begin reaching remote areas of Nepal

May 4, 2015 KATHMANDU, Nepal (CNS) — Truckloads of relief material organized by church charities began moving across Nepal a week after the Himalayan nation was rocked by a magnitude-7.8 earthquake April 25. “I am glad that much-needed aid is finally beginning to reach remote areas,” Greg Auberry, Catholic Relief Services’ regional director for East…

Pope begins parish visit at amusement park

May 4, 2015 ROME (CNS) — Before celebrating Mass in a parish in Ostia, Rome’s seaside community, Pope Francis stopped to see two Little Sisters of Jesus who live in a trailer at an amusement park, sharing their lives and faith with the carnival workers. The Vatican provided no more details of the visit to…

Canonizing Blessed Serra is call to new evangelization, speakers say

May 3, 2015 ROME (CNS) — Defining Blessed Junipero Serra as a “working-class missionary,” Los Angeles Archbishop Jose H. Gomez said the 18th-century Franciscan deserves to be made a saint and to have his record as a defender of native peoples made known. Pope Francis’ announcement that he will canonize Blessed Serra in September “has…

Aid, health and water are fundamental issues in Nepal

May 3, 2015 (Vatican Radio) Customs bottlenecks in Nepal are being blamed for a hold up in the distribution of urgently needed aid. Exacerbating the situation, is also a shortage of supply trucks and drivers, because after the earthquake many immediately returned to their villages to help their families. At the same time, the Nepalese Government is…

Pope defends Blessed Serra, prays for missionary zeal in Americas

May 2, 2015 VATICAN CITY (CNS) — People seem to enjoy finding the shortcomings of candidates for sainthood like Blessed Junipero Serra, but they should ask themselves if they would have his generosity and courage to leave everything behind to care for the poor and bring them the Gospel, Pope Francis said. Visiting the Pontifical…

Supreme Court takes close, contested look at lethal injection drug

May 1, 2015 WASHINGTON (CNS) — Exactly one year after a botched execution in Oklahoma, the Supreme Court took a close look at the effectiveness of a specific drug used in the state’s lethal injections to determine whether it constitutes cruel and unusual punishment. The April 29 oral arguments were at times bogged down by…

Catholics’ clash over U.S.-Salvadoran policy in Romero’s time recalled

May 1, 2015 WASHINGTON (CNS) — The upcoming beatification of Archbishop Oscar Romero has inspired many U.S. Catholics to book flights to El Salvador for the May 23 ceremony in San Salvador. The long hoped-for event has also reminded many that Catholics and other religious groups implored the U.S. government to change its policy toward…

Ancient Catholic tradition of Ember days resurrected by Iowa deacon

May 1, 2015 CHARITON, Iowa (CNS) — The ancient Catholic tradition of Ember days has been resurrected in the Diocese of Des Moines by a deacon who serves in rural ministry. Deacon Eric Bertrand, assigned to Sacred Heart Parish in Chariton and Holy Trinity Parish in Lacona, said he was inspired to reintroduce the prayer…

Protect the earth, feed the hungry, pope says at Expo 2015 opening

May 1, 2015 VATICAN CITY (CNS) — People need to stop destroying the planet and instead find ways to safeguard it and share its resources, particularly to feed the hungry, Pope Francis told officials from around the world. In a live video address to the opening ceremony of Expo 2015 in Milan, the pope urged…

Catholics must be active in politics, no matter how ‘dirty,’ pope says

May 1, 2015 VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Catholics must get involved in politics even if it may be “dirty,” frustrating and fraught with failure, Pope Francis said. Given today’s “throwaway” culture and so many problems unfolding in the world, “Do I as a Catholic watch from my balcony? No, you can’t watch from the balcony….

Canonization doesn’t mean Blessed Serra was perfect, experts say

April 30, 2015 ROME (CNS) — Blessed Junipero Serra is being canonized because he was holy, not because he was perfect, said a team of experts on the life and ministry of the 18th-century Spanish missionary. Although he is a historian, not a theologian, Robert Senkewicz said: “My sense is that people are not canonized…

For all who labor and are burdened

April 30, 2015 VATICAN CITY (CNS) By Michelle Hough Tomorrow, May 1, many countries will mark International Labor Day to celebrate the workers of the world. It is a public holiday here in Italy and in many other nations. But there are millions of people who rarely get days off. These are the estimated 21…

Honduran cardinal gives insider’s view on pope, upcoming events

April 30, 2015 WASHINGTON (CNS) — Cardinal Oscar Rodriguez Maradiaga of Tegucigalpa, Honduras, offered teasing bits of insider information about Pope Francis’ upcoming encyclical on the environment, on what he might say in the U.S. in the fall, and on what it was like to be in the conclave that elected Francis in an April…

Bishop in Nepal: Time is running out for victims of earthquake

April 30, 2015 KATHMANDU, Nepal (CNS) — Time is running out for victims of Nepal’s earthquake, who are suffering because aid cannot reach them, said Bishop Paul Simick of Nepal. “The biggest challenge now is the time factor. All of us have to rush to reach out to the victims. It’s already too late,” Bishop…

Seeking a soul mate: Scientists, leaders pin hopes on pope’s encyclical

April 30, 2015 VATICAN CITY (CNS) — U.N. leader Ban Ki-moon and some climate scientists are banking on Pope Francis to be a unifying moral force to get the world onboard in the fight against global warming. Even though previous popes have spoken strongly against harming the earth and its inhabitants, one world renowned atmospheric…

Forum outlines strategies to end extreme poverty worldwide

April 29, 2015 WASHINGTON (CNS) — With extreme poverty having been cut in half over the last generation — and the Millennium Development Goals target of poverty halving having been achieved five years ahead of the 2015 deadline — veterans of the global war on poverty believe it is possible that extreme poverty can be…

Pope says ‘scandal’ of inequality, fear of marriage must be addressed

April 29, 2015 VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Two millennia after the “Gospel of the family” defeated an abusive social practice that humiliated women, the “radical equality” of spouses in Christian marriage must now bear “new fruit” in society, including “the right to equal pay for equal work,” said Pope Francis. This “disparity” between men and…

Sister Mary Ann Walsh, woman of faith, writer, spokeswoman, dies at 68

April 29, 2015 ALBANY, N.Y. (CNS) — Mercy Sister Mary Ann Walsh, who went from hometown schoolteacher to Vatican correspondent, lived out her drive to be a writer even in her last days. She died April 28 in her hometown of Albany, New York, after a battle with cancer. Sister Mary Ann, 68, had stepped…

Vatican’s moral opposition to nuclear weapons aired on Capitol Hill

April 29, 2015 WASHINGTON (CNS) — Saying that nuclear weapons increase instability and reduce security, the Holy See’s permanent representative to the United Nations reiterated the Vatican’s call for the abolition of such weapons to a congressional committee. Money spent on building, maintaining and upgrading nuclear weapon systems would go a long way to making…

Awaiting ecology encyclical, Catholic groups prepare for pope’s message

April 29, 2015 WASHINGTON (CNS) — Few papal encyclicals have been as eagerly awaited as Pope Francis’ upcoming statement on the environment. While no date other than early summer for its release has been announced, anticipation is building among Catholics as well as non-Catholics and advocates for the environment. Based on the pope’s past statements,…

Pope prays for quake victims, sends donation, urges solidarity

April 28, 2015 VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Pope Francis offered his prayers to all of those affected by a deadly earthquake in Nepal, encouraged rescue and emergency workers in their efforts and sent an initial donation of $100,000. More than 4,300 people were known to have been killed and an estimated 1 million people were…

Catholics join efforts to heal, clean up, move forward in Baltimore

April 28, 2015 BALTIMORE (CNS) — As the city cleaned up after a night of riots, looting and fires following the funeral of Freddie Gray, Archbishop William E. Lori said the church’s place is to pray, be a voice for peace, and participate in a wider community dialogue to solve the systemic issues that led…

U.N. head looks to religions for ‘moral leadership’ on climate change

April 28, 2015 VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Promoting sustainable development and mitigating climate change will take more than just global policies and agreements, it will also take a strong, unified stance from the world’s religions, the secretary-general of the United Nations said at the Vatican. To have development without destruction and “to transform our economies,…

High court considers place of same-sex marriage in states that bar it

April 28, 2015 WASHINGTON (CNS) — The questions raised by Supreme Court justices as they considered April 28 whether they should rule that same-sex marriage should be made legal nationwide covered a gamut of rights concerns — religious, equal protection, states’ ability to enact their own laws. In two and a half hours of oral…

Fleeting peace as Baltimore pays final respects to Freddie Gray

April 28, 2015 BALTIMORE (CNS) — For four hours April 27, Freddie Gray Jr. was patiently and prayerfully memorialized. That peace, however, was extremely fragile. Gray, 25, died April 19, one week after being arrested on a weapons charge and sustaining a severe spinal cord injury in West Baltimore while in police custody. Thirty-six hours…

Circus center ring becomes stage for death-defying feats and religion

April 28, 2015 FAIRFAX, Va. (CNS) — Brazilian trapeze artist Estefani Evans flies through the air above the center ring, mesmerizing the gasping spectators below. The 25-year-old performer for Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus soared to different heights in that same center ring at the Patriot Center in Fairfax when she received the…

5,000 join March for Marriage three days before Supreme Court arguments

April 27, 2015 WASHINGTON (CNS) — The president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops called same-sex marriage “the greatest social experiment of our time” and said that “children do not need experiments,” but rather the love of a mother and father at the third annual March for Marriage rally supporting traditional marriage on Capitol…

Pope offers prayers for quake victims, solidarity for relief workers

April 27, 2015 VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Pope Francis offered his prayers to all those affected by a deadly earthquake in Nepal and encouraged rescue and emergency workers in their efforts. More than 3,600 people were known to have been killed and more than 6,500 others injured after a magnitude-7.8 earthquake hit a mountainous region…

No boring homilies, pope tells new priests at ordination

April 27, 2015 VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Ordaining 19 men to the priesthood, Pope Francis not only told them to make sure their homilies were not boring, but he offered them advice on how to ensure their preaching would touch people: speak from your heart. Priests are called to nourish the faithful, he said, so…

Witnessing to the Beauty of Marriage

April 26, 2015 The following speech was delivered by Archbishop Joseph Kurtz, President of the USCCB, at the March for Marriage in Washington April 25. My dear friends: Marriage is and can only be the union of one man and one woman. This is a beautiful truth! As Pope Francis has said, “Married life is…

Pope Francis assures Nepal earthquake survivors of his closeness and prayers

April 26, 2015 Kathmandu, Nepal (CNA) – Pope Francis led the crowds gathered in Saint Peter’s Square for the weekly Regina Caeli address in praying for the victims of Saturday’s earthquake in Nepal which has claimed thousands of lives. “I wish to express my closeness to the populations struck by a powerful earthquake in Nepal…

Cultures unite for community prayer, celebration at cathedral

April 25, 2015 By Kristi Anderson The Visitor Twelve-year-old Dennise Rodriguez-Aviles dreams of becoming a teacher or social worker to help orphan children. Her parents, immigrants from Mexico, own a small grocery store in Cold Spring where they work long hours to give their three daughters more educational opportunities. The sixth-grader at St. Boniface School…

Catholics to press nuclear weapons ban at U.N. treaty review conference

April 25, 2015 WASHINGTON (CNS) — It was April 11, 1963, as the Catholic Church was in the midst of the Second Vatican Council, that St. John XXIII issued his landmark social encyclical “Pacem in Terris” (“Peace on Earth”) that included a call for a verifiable ban on nuclear weapons. More than 50 years later,…

New Habitat home will honor Pope Francis

April 24, 2015 Volunteers gathered in St. Cloud April 18 to start work on what will soon be a very special home for a local family. The new home is being built in honor of Pope Francis through Habitat For Humanity, thanks to an anonymous donor. The group, comprised of youth and families from Sacred…

A shepherd will lead them

April 24, 2015 By Kristi Anderson The Visitor This Sunday, people in the pews will hear the words of Jesus, the Good Shepherd, in the Gospel of John: “I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me.” Pope Francis has urged priests to go out among their flocks and get…

Ambiguities about Serra should not discount sainthood, panelists say

April 23, 2015 WASHINGTON (CNS) — Although the upcoming canonization of Blessed Junipero Serra has stirred mixed reaction, a group of panelists April 22 said the ambiguities around the friar should not discount the good work he did or the positive dialogue and reconciliation that could result from his sainthood. “He made a lot of…

Mourners’ consolation is hope of the Resurrection, says archbishop

April 23, 2015 CHICAGO (CNS) — Hundreds of priests and seminarians from the Archdiocese of Chicago gathered in Holy Name Cathedral April 21 for evening prayer during the visitation for the Cardinal Francis E. George. The service included sung psalms and canticles, with the men’s voices filling the cathedral, as well as Scripture readings and…

Columban priest targets traffickers of children in Philippine ministry

April 23, 2015 WASHINGTON (CNS) — Arriving in the Philippines from Ireland in 1969 as a young missionary priest, Columban Father Shay Cullen hardly expected he’d end up fighting a burgeoning sex industry. More than 45 years later, despite death threats and confrontations with uncooperative authorities, Father Cullen, 72, continues to patrols bars and hotels…

Pope to visit Cuba first before heading to United States in September

April 22, 2015 VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Pope Francis will visit Cuba in September before his trip to the United States. Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, Vatican spokesman, told reporters April 22 that the pope has “received and accepted the invitation from the civil authorities and bishops of Cuba” and has decided to visit the island…

Technology helps second-grader prepare for first Communion

April 22, 2015 EDGEWOOD, Iowa (CNS) — Second-grader Taylor Garrison got the best birthday present ever April 12 — her first Communion. She received the sacrament at St. Mark’s Church in Edgewood on the day she turned 8. Her journey to meeting Jesus in the Eucharist wasn’t easy, but came about through a combination of…

Pope: Everyone loses when culture doesn’t care about marriage, family

April 22, 2015 VATICAN CITY (CNS) — God’s plan for fruitful, everlasting unions between a man and woman has been lost in a world filled with skepticism, distrust and hostility, Pope Francis said. A culture that does not value “the stable and life-giving covenant between a man and woman is certainly a loss for everyone….

Pope marks Earth Day with call to protect, cultivate, share resources

April 22, 2015 VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Marking the celebration of Earth Day, Pope Francis asked that everyone recognize the earth as God’s gift to protect and cultivate, sharing the world’s natural resources. May the way people treat the earth “not be guided by greed, manipulation and exploitation, but rather may it preserve the divine…

Bishop Braxton frames approach to talking about U.S. racial divide

April 20, 2015 WASHINGTON (CNS) — Building a public address around his pastoral letter on the racial divide in the United States, Bishop Edward K. Braxton of Belleville, Illinois, asked his audience to imagine themselves in a world where the Catholic Church’s imagery and culture is Afro-centric. In a program at Georgetown University April 20,…

Parents of slain child oppose death penalty for Boston Marathon bomber

April 21, 2015 BOSTON (CNS) — The parents of Martin Richard, the youngest victim killed in the Boston Marathon bombings two years ago, are asking that the death penalty be taken “off the table” for Dzhokhar Tsarnaev. On April 8, Tsarnaev was found guilty on all 30 counts related to the attack that killed three…

Pope accepts resignation of Bishop Finn

April 21, 2015 VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Pope Francis has accepted the resignation of Bishop Robert W. Finn of Kansas City-St. Joseph, Missouri, who was convicted in 2012 on one misdemeanor count of failing to report suspected child abuse. The Vatican announced the bishop’s resignation April 21, specifying it was under the terms of the…

Canadian Supreme Court: No prayer at city council meetings

April 20, 2015 QUEBEC CITY (CNS) — Canadian cities must put an end to prayers during council meetings, the Supreme Court of Canada ruled April 15. The court said such prayers go against freedom of religion and conscience. In a unanimous decision and in the name of neutrality of state, all nine judges agreed that…

Archbishop: Oklahoma City remains ‘beacon of hope’ 20 years after bomb

April 20, 2015 OKLAHOMA CITY (CNS) — Oklahoma City and the surrounding community found comfort in God after the 1995 bombing of the Murrah federal building and that inspired a “generous spirit” among “many people who took time to care and to comfort one another,” Archbishop Paul S. Coakley said April 19. That “spirit of…

‘Saint’ Serra highlights Hispanic contribution to U.S., official says

April 20, 2015 VATICAN CITY (CNS) — The canonization of Blessed Junipero Serra will give the United States its first Hispanic saint, which should help more Americans realize that the country was settled by both Hispanics and Anglos, said the secretary of the Pontifical Commission for Latin America. Guzman Carriquiry, the Vatican official who hails…

Shroud of Turin on display; city readies for visit by pope, pilgrims

April 20, 2015 TURIN, Italy (CNS) — A thin white cloth draped over the glass-covered Shroud of Turin was pulled down and billowed to the floor, marking the official opening of the venerated icon’s exposition to the public. The unveiling came during a Mass held in the city’s cathedral of St. John the Baptist April…

Cardinal George recalled as a man of intellect, faith, simplicity

April 18, 2015 WASHINGTON (CNS) — In reaction to the April 17 death of Cardinal Francis E. George, the retired archbishop of Chicago, U.S. bishops and other Catholic leaders recalled his leadership, faithfulness and friendship. — “The death of an exemplary churchman such as Cardinal Francis George brings much sadness at a time of joy…

Law improved much for disabled but much work remains, say advocates

April 18, 2015 WASHINGTON (CNS) — It was nearly 25 years ago, on July 26, 1990, that the Americans With Disabilities Act passed by Congress was signed into law by President George H.W. Bush. So what has changed, and what still needs changing? Janice Benton, executive director of the National Catholic Partnership on Disability, was…

Cardinal George, 78, dies after long fight with cancer

April 17, 2015 CHICAGO (CNS) — Cardinal Francis E. George, the retired archbishop of Chicago who was the first native Chicagoan to head the archdiocese, died April 17 at his residence after nearly 10 years battling cancer. He was 78. His successor in Chicago, Archbishop Blase J. Cupich, called Cardinal George “a man of peace,…

Pope Francis receives final volume of The Saint John’s Bible

April 17, 2015 The final volume of the limited, full-sized fine art edition of The Saint John’s Bible was presented to Pope Francis April 17 by the Papal Foundation and St. John’s University in Collegeville. As Pope Francis saw the illumination portraying the heavenly Jerusalem, he raised his hands motioning in praise, blessing and thanksgiving,…

Pope to visit, celebrate Mass at U.S. seminary in Rome

April 17, 2015 VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Pope Francis will visit the Pontifical North American College May 2 and celebrate Mass there at the end of a conference on the life and significance of Blessed Junipero Serra, the Franciscan founder of California missions whom the pope will canonize in the United States in September. Guzman…

Playing organ for New York teams is sports heaven for church musician

April 15, 2015 CARLE PLACE, N.Y. (CNS) — Paul Cartier, an organist at Our Lady of Hope Church in the Diocese of Rockville Centre, finds himself in sports heaven at this time of the year. In addition to his parish duties, Cartier plays the organ for Major League Baseball’s New York Yankees and the National…

Film about redemption shows that God never leaves us, says director

April 16, 2015 WASHINGTON (CNS) — At 43, Marcelo Torcida had arguably achieved it all. He was a successful business owner, with multiple successful businesses, had a wonderful marriage of more than two decades, children, and yet he felt that he had nothing. During a business meeting in London, the Paraguayan father of three said…

Vatican to host ‘summit’ on climate change, development

April 16, 2015 VATICAN CITY (CNS) — With the participation of U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, the Pontifical Academy of Sciences is hosting a summit, “Protect the Earth, Dignify Humanity,” at the Vatican April 28. The focus of the workshop, with more than 60 environmental experts invited, will be the moral dimensions of climate change and…

Vatican, LCWR announce successful conclusion of process to reform group

April 16, 2015 VATICAN CITY (CNS) — The Vatican approved new statutes and bylaws for the U.S. Leadership Conference of Women Religious, ending a seven-year process of investigating the group and engaging in dialogue with its officers to ensure greater harmony with church teaching. Conference officers met April 16 with Pope Francis, the same day…

Nigerian cardinal: God will answer prayers for rescue of schoolgirls

April 15, 2015 LAGOS, Nigeria (CNS) — A year after more than 200 Nigerian schoolgirls were kidnapped, Lagos Cardinal Anthony Olubunmi Okogie said he believed that “God will answer our prayers” for their return. In an interview with Catholic News Service April 14, the cardinal also said President-elect Muhammadu Buhari must make the rescue of…

War of the sexes: Gender theory is the problem, not solution, pope says

April 15, 2015 VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Eradicating male and female identities does nothing to solve the problem of unfair or disrespectful treatment based on people’s gender, Pope Francis said. “Getting rid of the difference is the problem, not the solution,” he said April 15 during his general audience in St. Peter’s Square. The right…

Illinois bishop visits tornado-ravaged community, prays with residents

April 14, 2015 ROCKFORD, Ill. (CNS) — Bishop David J. Malloy of Rockford visited tornado-damaged neighborhoods in Rochelle after praying with residents at an evening Mass at St. Patrick Church April 11. According to the National Weather Service, eight tornadoes hit northern and central Illinois April 9. A massive tornado, measuring EF4, touched down near…

Cardinal says education is key to Iraqi refugees’ recovery

April 14, 2015 VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Educating children is the best way to help displaced Iraqi Christians recover from the traumatic experience of being chased from their homes by Islamic State militants, said Cardinal Vincent Nichols of Westminster, England, after an April 11-12 visit to Irbil. “Help is being given in a manner that…

Vocations are calls to embark on exodus to Promised Land, pope says

April 14, 2015 VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Following a vocation to the priesthood or religious life is to live an experience of “exodus” — to joyfully leave behind all that enslaves and journey to a Promised Land of love, service and mission, Pope Francis said. “Responding to God’s call, then, means allowing him to help…

Latin American officials: Pope to visit three countries July 6-12

April 13, 2015 MEXICO CITY (CNS) — Pope Francis is expected to arrive July 6 in Ecuador, starting a three-country tour of his home continent, the Associated Press reported from Quito. The trip, the pope’s second to South America since being elected in March 2013, also would include stops in Bolivia and Paraguay, two fast-growing…

Pope warns religious against ‘crisis of quality’ in consecrated life

April 13, 2015 VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Despite fewer vocations to consecrated life, those responsible for formation in religious institutes must know how to say no to unsuitable candidates, so as to avoid a “graver crisis of quality” down the road, said Pope Francis. During an audience with about 1,300 novice directors and other formation…

Obama and Castro take next steps to normalize U.S.-Cuba ties

April 13, 2015 PANAMA CITY (CNS) — An hourlong meeting April 11 between U.S. President Barack Obama and Cuban President Raul Castro marked the first such personal encounter between the leaders of the two neighboring countries since 1958. The session held during the Summit on the Americas, in which Cuba participated for the first time,…

Iowa teen suffering from cancer meets pope at Vatican, gets blessing

April 12, 2015 LE MARS, Iowa (CNS) — A young parishioner in the Diocese of Sioux City recently had the chance to meet Pope Francis. The circumstances of that meeting make it all the more powerful and unique. Kylie Hayworth, a parishioner at All Saints Parish in Le Mars, chose to visit the pope as…

Pope says Year of Mercy will be time to heal, to help, to forgive

April 12, 2015 VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Mercy is what makes God perfect and all-powerful, Pope Francis said in his document officially proclaiming the 2015-2016 extraordinary Holy Year of Mercy. “If God limited himself to only justice, he would cease to be God, and would instead be like human beings who ask merely that the…

Local Habitat for Humanity to build home in honor of Pope Francis

April 10, 2015 The Visitor A Central Minnesota Habitat for Humanity house will be built this year in St. Cloud in honor of Pope Francis “for his commitment to social justice and reinvigorating the Catholic Church,” the organization announced April 10. The home, one of four that it will build this year in the city,…

Joy, love, solidarity draw local couples to World Meeting of Families

April 10, 2015 By Kristi Anderson The Visitor Bonnie Schulzetenberg’s house is draped in red hearts every February as she prepares a special meal her kids affectionately deemed the “love feast” — a family tradition that began when she and her husband, Deacon Jim Schulzetenberg, were first married. “We weren’t always able to go out…

‘Priest for a Day’ is a wish come true for 11-year-old Missouri boy

April 10, 2015 ST. LOUIS (CNS) — Make-A-Wish requests often involve meeting athletes, attending sporting events or traveling to amusement parks or beaches. When it came time for 11-year-old Brett Haubrich of St. Mark School in Affton to make his wish, he not only listed none of those things but had no request at all….

Building up community by breaking down barriers

April 10, 2015 Melrose immigrants find welcoming place to learn English, share stories By Kristi Anderson The Visitor Peggy Stokman treats each person she meets as a character in an unread book. She carefully listens as the stories of newcomers in her community of Melrose unfold, specifically those of Latinos who want to learn English…

Kansas law could ‘transform’ U.S. abortion policy, says pro-life leader

April 9, 2015 TOPEKA, Kan. (CNS) — A new Kansas law banning an abortion procedure that results in dismemberment of an unborn child “has the power to transform the landscape of abortion policy in the United States,” said Carol Tobias, president of National Right to Life. Gov. Sam Brownback signed the measure April 7 during…

Up close and personal: Restorers find gems, jokes visitors might miss

April 9, 2015 VATICAN CITY (CNS) — What the general public can squint at and admire from afar, an art restorer can enjoy from just inches away. Perched on scaffolding and cleaning off centuries of soot under bright directional lights, the restorers’ privileged peek doesn’t come often or easily. Full-scale restoration projects are expensive and…

Students pray for safety of Pope Francis more than 1 million times

April 8, 2015 DESTREHAN, La. (CNS) — The prayerful protection of Mary has been showered upon Pope Francis 1 million times over, thanks to students and their friends at St. Charles Borromeo School in the New Orleans Archdiocese. On Holy Thursday, April 2, just before the start of the school’s monthly rosary, religion teacher Lisa…

Changes in Indiana RFRA law OK’d; some see weaker religious protections

April 8, 2014 INDIANAPOLIS (CNS) — The changes Indiana lawmakers made to the state Religious Freedom Restoration Act “raise several concerns about the protection of religious freedom for Indiana’s citizens and religious institutions,” the state’s Catholic conference said. The new language “may undermine religious freedom,” it said, because the terms “religious function” and “nonprofit religious…

Endowments, alumni connection urged to help struggling Catholic schools

April 8, 2015 ORLANDO, Fla. (CNS) — Young parents with financial struggles coupled with underdeveloped endowment, fundraising and alumni infrastructure at Catholic elementary schools may help explain why the primary schools are not faring as well as Catholic secondary schools nationwide. That was the opinion of a panel of Catholic education experts convened April 7…

White House Easter event welcomes cross-section of Christians

April 7, 2015 WASHINGTON (CNS) — Quoting Pope Francis and the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. at the White House Easter Prayer Breakfast, President Barack Obama observed that the celebration of Easter puts other concerns into context. “With humility and with awe, we give thanks to the extraordinary sacrifice of Jesus Christ, our savior,” Obama…

Sharing best practices, new classroom tools among convention highlights

April 7, 2015 ORLANDO, Fla. (CNS) — Sharing success stories and honoring exemplary Catholic educators nationwide is the engine that drives the annual convention of the National Catholic Educational Association. “One of the things we do here is highlight best practices always with the understanding that people have to adapt and make this their own,”…

Bishops object to death penalty as punishment in Boston bomber

April 7, 2015 BOSTON (CNS) — As the trial of Boston Marathon bombing defendant Dzhokhar Tsarnaev went to the jury April 6, the Catholic bishops of Massachusetts released a statement reiterating the church’s teaching on the death penalty. If convicted, Tsarnaev could be sentenced to death or to life without the possibility of parole. The…

Father Ostendorf remembered for pastoral care, outreach

The Visitor Father Mark Ostendorf was “in his element helping people in crisis,” said Michael Fradette of Becker. He recalled a time when his child was very ill and Father Ostendorf “offered guidance and support through the sacraments, but in many other ways [as well] — as a listening ear, just sitting with us, walking…

Minnesota beer company celebrates 15 years of feeding the hungry

April 6, 2015 ST. PAUL, Minn. (CNS) — In the purchase and subsequent consumption of what’s playfully dubbed “Irish Holy Water,” fans of Finnegans beer are feeding the hungry in Minnesota, which has included clients of Catholic Charities in the past. Since its beginning 15 years ago, the Minneapolis-based beer company has centered its business…

Share Easter joy, defend persecuted Christians, pope says

April 6, 2015 VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Christians live the joy of the Resurrection when they share a smile with someone, weep with those who mourn and defend the rights of those persecuted for their faith, Pope Francis said. Reciting the “Regina Coeli” prayer with thousands of people gathered in St. Peter’s Square April 6,…

Cardinal calls Kenyans to prayer in wake of militants’ college attack

April 6, 2015 NAIROBI, Kenya (CNS) — The president of the Kenyan bishops’ conference called on Easter worshippers to commit themselves to praying for peace and security in their homeland after militants attacked a college campus days earlier. Cardinal John Njue of Nairobi also condemned the April 2 attack by the Somalia-based al-Shabaab militants at…

“Love triumphs!” Text of pope’s Easter message

April 5, 2015 VATICAN CITY — Here is the Vatican’s English translation of Pope Francis’ Easter message. He delivered it from the central balcony of St. Peter’s Basilica today before giving his solemn blessing “urbi et orbi” (to the city and the world). Dear Brothers and Sisters, Jesus Christ is risen! Love has triumphed over…

Pope asks prisoners to pray that Christ make him a better servant

April 2, 2015 VATICAN CITY (CNS) — In a moving ceremony that recalled how Jesus loved the world so deeply that he lowered himself to serve and died for everyone’s sins, Pope Francis washed the feet of 12 prison inmates, plus a small toddler who lives with his incarcerated mother. “Jesus loved us, Jesus loves…

Greenwald native to read at pope’s Easter Mass

April 2, 2015 People from the Greenwald area of the diocese may see a familiar face if they watch Pope Francis’ televised Easter Mass. Greenwald native Thomas Schulzetenberg — who currently serves as the director of the University of Mary’s Rome campus — has been asked by the Vatican to lector in English during the…

St. John Paul II: His unforgettable legacy in pictures and words

April 1, 2015 VATICAN CITY — Tens of thousands of faithful had come to St. Peter’s Square as Pope John Paul II lay dying, some staying all night in quiet and emotional vigils. After an evening prayer service April 2, then-Archbishop Leonardo Sandri, who was a top official of the Vatican’s Secretariat of State, announced…

Sister Bowman’s presence, energy recalled 25 years after her death

April 1, 2015 CANTON, Miss. (CNS) — There is no doubt that Sister Thea Bowman possessed a presence. Many of those who knew her well speak of how she enveloped those around her with love, encouragement and positive energy, no matter if they were a lifelong friend or someone she just met. March 30 marked…

Pope says a ‘good Easter’ requires making Jesus’ passion one’s own

April 1, 2015 VATICAN CITY (CNS) — For a “good Easter,” Christians must do more than simply recall the passion of Jesus during Holy Week; they must “enter into the mystery” of the Easter Triduum and make Jesus’ feelings and attitudes their own, Pope Francis said. During his general audience April 1, he also recalled…

Faith leaders call on U.S. to halt ‘inhumane’ family detention policy

March 31, 2015 DILLEY, Texas (CNS) — Five Catholic and Evangelical Lutheran bishops traveled to the Dilley Detention Center in south Texas March 27 and visited with families — young mothers with children from Central America — who are being detained there. Last year, more than 68,000 families from Central America fled violence in their…

Pence stands by Indiana law; critics say it discriminates against gays

March 31, 2015 INDIANAPOLIS (CNS) — Indiana residents of all faith traditions can be assured the government will not infringe upon their constitutional right to freely exercise their religious beliefs, Gov. Mike Pence said as he signed into law a religious freedom bill passed by the Indiana General Assembly. “With the passage of this legislation,…

Way of Cross takes Jesus’ point of view to help others carry crosses

March 30, 2015 VATICAN CITY (CNS) — People following the Stations of the Cross at Rome’s Colosseum this year will be guided in an exercise of imagining what Jesus was thinking and feeling along the Via Dolorosa. Those moments of bitterness and pain — “Now I am sharing the ultimate, painful experience of every human…

Pope Francis on Palm Sunday: remember the persecuted Christians

March 29, 2015 (Vatican Radio) Pope Francis remembered the persecuted Christians in the world on Sunday – Palm Sunday – during Mass in St. Peter’s Square. Following the proclamation of the Passion according to St. Mark, Pope Francis delivered a homily, in which he reflected on the plight of all those who endure humiliation because…

Pope greets homeless in Sistine Chapel: this is your home

March 29, 2015 (Vatican Radio)  Pope Francis made a surprise visit to greet 150 homeless people who were given a special tour of the Sistine Chapel in the Vatican Museums Thursday by the papal charitable office. It was a brief, affectionate and emotional encounter. The Pope crossed the threshold of the Sistine Chapel to the disbelief…

For Easter, pope sends assistance to displaced in Iraq, Nigeria

March 29, 2015 VATICAN CITY (CNS) — As Holy Week and Easter approached, Pope Francis wanted to show his ongoing concern for people persecuted and displaced by violence in Iraq and in northern Nigeria. Although not specifying the amount, the Vatican press office said March 27 that the pope was sending aid money to people…

Filmmaker writes more about own faith journey than about Mother Teresa

March 29, 2015 “Love: The Saint and the Seeker” by Christina Stevens. Hay House (Carlsbad, California, 2014). 329 pp., $16.95. Everyone is on a journey to somewhere for something or someone. For Catholics, it is commonly known as a “faith journey” in which we, to quote the Baltimore Catechism, were created to “show forth (God’s)…

Pope Francis to visit White House on September 23, 2015

March 28, 2015 (Vatican Radio) The White House issued a statement on Thursday announcing United States President Barack Obama and his wife Michelle will host Pope Francis on September 23, 2015. The meeting will take place in the White House, and the statement said President Obama and Pope Francis would discuss several issues of mutual…

‘Golden thread’ links Holy Year of Mercy and St. Faustina Kowalska

March 28, 2015 VATICAN CITY (CNS) — The rector of a Rome sanctuary dedicated to Divine Mercy said he sees a “golden thread” connecting the upcoming Holy Year of Mercy and the message Jesus conveyed to St. Faustina Kowalska nearly 85 years ago. Father Jozef Bart, rector of the Church of the Holy Spirit, said…

World Youth Day 2016 in Poland will offer ‘Message of Mercy’

March 28, 2015 WARSAW, Poland (CNS) — A new airport, improved road and rail links, a fleet of dream buses and “Youth Bible” are among features projected for the Catholic Church’s 14th international celebration of World Youth Day in Krakow, Poland, in 2016. “It’s still 16 months to go, but the planning is well advanced,”…

In blessing of holy oils, Christ touches us with his love, Bishop Kettler says

The Visitor About 35 confirmation candidates made the 140-mile trek from Breckenridge to St. Cloud to join a standing-room-only congregation at St. Mary’s Cathedral for the annual Chrism Mass, where the holy oils to be used in parishes for the coming year were blessed. Grant Dahl, the religious education director at St. Mary of the…

Celebrating the Sisters of the order of St. Benedict

March 27, 2015 During this Year of Consecrated Life, Pope Francis instructs Catholics to “look to the past with gratitude … live the present with passion… [and] embrace the future with hope.” The Visitor will to help commemorate the past, present and future of the religious communities housed in the St. Cloud Diocese, in the…

How can the church better serve young adults?

March 27, 2015 Christina Capecchi is an award-winning journalist from Inver Grove Heights, Minn. She is the author of the nationally syndicated Catholic column “Twenty Something,” which appears in The Visitor and approximately 50 diocesan newspapers across the country. Capecchi holds a master’s degree from Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism and a bachelor’s from…

Like mustard seeds, Pay it Forward projects grow

March 27, 2015 Three group projects turn $600 into $3,565 for people in need By Nikki Rajala The Visitor One Pay it Forward for Lent project leader likened her group’s project to a mustard seed — starting small but multiplying. “This Lenten project was blessed by God,” said Sarah Heidelberger. “I am amazed at the…

Pope mourns with families of Germanwings crash victims

March 25, 2015 VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Pope Francis prayed for the repose of the souls of the 150 passengers and crew of a Germanwings plane that crashed into the French Alps March 24. The Airbus A320 began to lose altitude shortly after taking off from Barcelona, Spain, for Dusseldorf, Germany. It crashed into a…

Pope’s visit to Turin will highlight shroud, young people, marginalized

March 25, 2015 VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Pope Francis will spend two days in Turin to venerate the Shroud of Turin; meet young people, workers, juvenile detainees, immigrants and the sick; and visit with his Italian relatives from northern Italy. The papal visit June 21-22 also will commemorate the 200th anniversary of the birth of…

No ifs, ands or buts: Christians must live Christ’s way, pope says

March 24, 2015 VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Don’t be “halfway Christians,” who accept Christ, but then start looking for excuses and stammering, “yes, but …” when it is time to follow his way, Pope Francis said at a morning Mass. It’s a case of “spiritual caprice” when Christians get grumpy and complain about the path…

Future of humanity depends on protecting, sharing water, pope says

March 23, 2015 VATICAN CITY (CNS) — The future of humanity depends on safeguarding and sharing potable water around the world, Pope Francis said. “I encourage, therefore, the international community to make sure the planet’s water is adequately protected and no one is excluded or discriminated against” in the fair use of this resource, which…

Blood of Naples’ patron liquefies during pope’s visit to cathedral

March 23, 2015 VATICAN CITY (CNS) — At the end of Pope Francis’ spontaneity-filled meeting with priests, seminarians and religious in the cathedral of Naples, the vial of dried blood of the city’s patron saint appeared to miraculously liquefy. After Pope Francis blessed the congregation with the reliquary holding the vial, Cardinal Crescenzio Sepe of…

Despite low Catholic marriage numbers, some see trend turning around

March 22, 2015 WASHINGTON (CNS) — The number of Catholic marriages in the United States is at its lowest point since 1965. Georgetown University’s Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate keeps records of Catholic Church statistics going back to 1965, tracking such things as the total number of priests, the Catholic population of the…

With clenched fists, pope addresses social ills in Naples

March 22, 2015 Pope Francis this morning issued stark warnings to people who rob others of hope; with a strong voice and a clenched fist, he condemned mafia dons, drug traffickers and those who exploit workers. And he shook his head in wonder that anyone could treat an immigrant as if he or she was…

Latin American bishops testify in D.C. against extractive industries

March 20, 2015 WASHINGTON (CNS) — U.S. and Canadian bishops joined their Latin American counterparts who came to Washington to testify over the environmental and social ills wrought by extractive industries such as mining and logging. The bishops testified March 19 before the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights in a bid to heighten awareness of…

U.N. mission event looks at role women play in creating better world

March 20, 2015 UNITED NATIONS (CNS) — As he opened a March 18 forum on Women Promoting Human Dignity, Archbishop Bernardito Auza said that “in the education of the heart, women are the world’s professors.” The Holy See’s permanent observer to the United Nations said women have a “special brilliance” to care for the intrinsic…

In Holy Year, pope wants to share experience of mercy he had as teen

March 20, 2015 VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Pope Francis’ decision to convoke a special Holy Year of Mercy has its roots in the event that led a teen-age Jorge Mario Bergoglio to the priesthood. Pope Francis has recounted the story several times in the past two years. On one occasion early in his pontificate, he…

Pope Francis calls death penalty ‘unacceptable,’ urges abolition

March 20, 2015 VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Pope Francis came out squarely against the death penalty once again, calling it “unacceptable” regardless of the seriousness of the crime of the condemned. Pope Francis met with a three-person delegation of the International Commission Against the Death Penalty March 20, and issued a letter on the occasion…

Group of senators filibusters trafficking measure over abortion issue

March 19, 2015 WASHINGTON (CNS) — Ten Senate Democrats voted March 17 to filibuster the Justice for Victims of Sex Trafficking Act over inclusion of Hyde Amendment provisions, which forbids federal funding for most abortions or abortion-related care. “I know there are some Democrats who care deeply about the victims of human trafficking. Unfortunately, not…

Not just pretty pictures: Church art is catechetical storybook of faith

March 19, 2015 VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Having so much world-famous art housed in Rome’s churches and chapels has risked turning the city’s sacred spaces into sightseer circuses. A hushed prayerful atmosphere for the faithful is often broken by clicking cameras and tourists exchanging guidebook details. But one Rome attraction has managed to hold on…

Bigger than St. Patrick: In Italy, St. Joseph is the man

VATICAN CITY — Today’s feast of St. Joseph is a big day in the Vatican. In addition to being Father’s Day in Italy, St. Joseph’s feast day is a paid holiday for Vatican workers. It is the name day of retired Pope Benedict XVI (who was born Joseph Ratzinger). And, the guardian of Jesus is…

U.N. says Pope Francis will visit morning of Sept. 25

March 18, 2015 UNITED NATIONS (CNS) — U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon welcomed the announcement that Pope Francis would visit the United Nations the morning of Sept. 25 to address the U.N. General Assembly. In a statement March 18, the United Nations also said the pope would meet separately with the secretary-general and with the president…

Welcome children, learn from them, pope says at audience

March 18, 2015 VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Children are a blessing for humanity and for the church, bringing new life and energy to families and society, Pope Francis said. Unfortunately, he said, too often children are society’s “great rejected ones, because they aren’t even allowed to be born!” Continuing a series of general audience talks…

USCCB president says ‘witness of marriage’ can inspire a troubled world

March 17, 2015 WASHINGTON (CNS) — The family is an instrument of evangelization and it can influence others more than people realize, the president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, said at The Catholic University of America. Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz of Louisville, Kentucky, said families deserve to be held up and supported in…

Blind students among thousands protesting rape of elderly nun in India

March 17, 2015 BHUBANESWAR, India (CNS) — Students at a Hindu-run school for the blind joined a nationwide outcry over the gang rape of a 74-year-old Catholic nun. The 50 students at the Helen Keller School near the convent where the nun lived chanted “Mother we cannot see, but we can feel your pain,” March…

Catholic Church continues, in new ways, to help immigrant population

March 17, 2015 WASHINGTON (CNS) — The Catholic Church in the United States has had a long history of being a voice for immigrants and it continues to do so but in new ways, said speakers at a March 12 conference at The Catholic University of America. There has been so much church involvement on…

Creating 3-D image of Crucifixion has ‘enriched my soul,’ says artist

March 16, 2015 NEW ORLEANS (CNS) — Jed Malitz appends “V2” to the name of his art gallery in New Orleans’ Warehouse District. The “V2” stands for “Version 2” — both in art and in life. Inside Malitz’s gallery, floor-to-ceiling black drapes bisect the rectangular gallery space. In front of the drapes, visible as soon…

Attack in Pakistan part of wave of anti-Christian violence, pope says

March 16, 2015 VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Condemning deadly terrorist attacks against a Catholic and an Anglican church in Pakistan, Pope Francis said “the world is trying to hide” a wave of anti-Christian persecution in various parts of the globe. “With sadness, with much sadness, I learned of the terrorist attacks today against two churches…

About the Jubilee of Mercy

March 15, 2015 (Vatican Radio) The Pontifical Council for the New Evangelization has produced this explanatory note for the upcoming Holy Year, the Jubilee of Mercy. In St. Peter’s Basilica, Pope Francis announced today, March 13, 2015, the celebration of an “extraordinary Holy Year”. This “Jubilee of Mercy” will commence with the opening of the…

Remembering election night

March 14, 2015 by Paul Haring VATICAN CITY — The election night introduction of Pope Francis to the world on March 13, 2013, took only 12 minutes. These minutes were some of the most important of my photographic career. For months I had obsessed about every detail of covering the election of the new pope….

Time for a change: Holy years proclaimed to encourage spiritual renewal

March 14, 2015 VATICAN CITY (CNS) — A holy year as a time of spiritual renewal has its biblical roots in the jubilees observed by the Jewish people at 50-year intervals, when debts were pardoned and slaves were freed. The term “jubilee” itself comes from the Hebrew word “yobel,” meaning a ram’s horn, which was…

At Lenten penance service, pope announces Holy Year of Mercy

March 13, 2015 Pope Francis announced an extraordinary jubilee, a Holy Year of Mercy, to highlight the Catholic Church’s “mission to be a witness of mercy.” “No one can be excluded from God’s mercy,” the pope said March 13, marking the second anniversary of his pontificate by leading a Lenten penance service in St. Peter’s…

‘The Francis Effect’

March 13, 2015 St. John’s grad who wrote and directed film about pope says Francis’ far-ranging influence rests on his walk-the-talk, back-to-basics approach to Gospel Sebastian Gomes, a native of Perth, Ontario, and a 2011 graduate of the St. John’s School of Theology in Collegeville, returned to his alma mater for a March 11 screening…

Holy oils symbolize Holy Spirit’s power, presence, Bishop Kinney says

March 13, 2015 By Kristi Anderson The Visitor When the bishop breathes upon the openings of glass vessels filled with fragrant chrism oil at the annual chrism Mass, he does so as a reminder of Christ breathing on the Apostles after his resurrection, telling them to “receive the Holy Spirit.” The Catholic faith is rich…

San Jose auxiliary named Spokane bishop; Franciscan named to Lexington

March 12, 2015 WASHINGTON (CNS) — Pope Francis has named Auxiliary Bishop Thomas A. Daly of San Jose, California, to head the Diocese of Spokane, Washington, and Conventual Franciscan Father John Stowe to be bishop of Lexington, Kentucky. Bishop Daly, 54, has been an auxiliary of the San Jose Diocese since 2011. Bishop-designate Stowe is…

What Pope Francis spoke about in year two of his pontificate

March 12, 2015 VATICAN CITY — On Sundays and holy days, Pope Francis leads the recitation of the Angelus or Regina Coeli prayers at noon. He introduces the Marian prayer with a little reflection, usually on the day’s Gospel reading. To mark the second anniversary of his election tomorrow, I took the texts of all…

Iowa high court hears case challenging Iowa ban on ‘webcam’ abortions

March 12, 2015 DUBUQUE, Iowa (CNS) — The Iowa Supreme Court heard oral arguments March 11 in a case on “webcam” abortions that could have far-reaching implications. “It’s been the first time in decades the Iowa Supreme Court has addressed the issue of abortion,” said Tom Chapman, executive director of the Iowa Catholic Conference, an…

Bishops urge people to pray for those who face religious persecution

March 11, 2015 WASHINGTON (CNS) — Leaders of the U.S. bishops’ conference invited people to pray for “those facing the stark reality of religious persecution in the Middle East and elsewhere.” In a statement, the bishops’ Administrative Committee also called on people to work to protect those who are marginalized and persecuted. Read more and…

After his two years as pope, ‘Francis effect’ has taken hold

March 11, 2015 WASHINGTON (CNS) — Within two years of becoming pope, Pope Francis now has an effect named after him. This “Francis effect” provides both comfort and challenges to Catholics, according to a panel of U.S. Catholic leaders speaking during a March 10 teleconference organized by Faith in Public Life. “One of the most…

May 23 outdoor Mass set for beatification of Archbishop Romero

March 11, 2015 SAN SALVADOR, El Salvador (CNS) — Salvadoran Archbishop Oscar Romero will be beatified in San Salvador May 23, said Italian Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia, the postulator or chief promoter of the archbishop’s sainthood cause. The ceremony, which moves the murdered archbishop a step closer to sainthood, will be in Plaza Divino Salvador del…

Catholic officials denounce video, actions of alum of Dallas school

March 11, 2015 DALLAS (CNS) — Dallas Catholic officials quickly denounced the now infamous viral video that captured University of Oklahoma fraternity members in a racist chant, saying that the action of a recent Jesuit College Preparatory School of Dallas graduate seen in the video was “vile and repulsive.” The actions and reactions since the…

Minimum wage, wage theft among issues of concern to Iowa Catholics

March 10, 2015 SIOUX CITY, Iowa (CNS) — Bishop R. Walker Nickless of Sioux City joined Archbishop Michael O. Jackels of Dubuque and Bishops Martin J. Amos of Davenport and Richard E. Pates of Des Moines in meeting with Iowa lawmakers on issues of interest to the state’s Catholics. Tom Chapman, executive director of the…

Catholic Aviation Association seeks to build, evangelize aviation world

March 9, 2015 NOBLESVILLE, Ind. (CNS) — In the dark of night over the Mediterranean Sea, the F-4 fighter jet was having problems. “We didn’t know if we could get the aircraft back to the carrier,” recalled Thomas “Wulf” Beckenbauer, who was riding in the rear seat as the radio intercept officer. “The pilot called…

Fewer take up pipe organ, but its place as ‘voice of church’ secure

March 9, 2015 ARLINGTON, Va. (CNS) — From the softest pianissimo to the most dramatic swells of sound, the pipe organ’s range and capacity to lift the voice and spirit accord it “pride of place” among instruments used in Catholic liturgy. It “gives resonance to the fullness of human sentiments, from joy to sadness, from…

Let Jesus cleanse you of your sins, pope urges

March 9, 2015 VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Christian faith and a moral life are responses to God’s mercy and not the result of “titanic” human effort, Pope Francis said. In meetings and Masses March 7-8, the pope repeatedly returned to the theme of the church as an agent of God’s mercy and to the benefits…

As Islamic State steps up attacks, Christian leaders call for help

March 9, 2015 AMMAN, Jordan (CNS) — Christian leaders again called for help for Assyrian Christians as Islamic State militants stepped up their attacks against their towns in northern Syria. Syria’s northeast Hassakeh province is emerging as the new battlefield in the fight against extremist group. Analysts say Hassakeh province, which extends like a thumb…

Vatican official to U.N. council: No one is exempt from climate change

March 8, 2015 GENEVA (CNS) — No one is exempt from either the impacts of climate change or the moral responsibility to act to address this global concern, a Vatican official told members of the U.N. Human Rights Council. “Our concern for the common good of the planet, and for humanity, urges us to recognize…

New pro-life group’s motto: ‘So every child makes their mark’

March 8, 2015 WASHINGTON  — A newcomer to the pro-life movement, Online for Life, was among the winners at the 2015 Weyrich Awards Dinner, which took place recently at the Four Seasons in Washington. Named Outstanding New Organization of the Year, Online for Life describes itself as a “compassionate, technology-driven nonprofit organization committed to rescuing children and…

‘Death spiral’ for insurance system weighed in Supreme Court case

March 7, 2015 WASHINGTON (CNS) — Several Supreme Court justices wondered aloud at oral arguments March 4 whether a ruling against the Affordable Care Act’s subsidies to millions of lower income Americans would lead to a “death spiral” for the health insurance program. “We’re going to have the death spiral that this system was created…

After two years in office, Pope Francis has 90 percent favorable rating

March 7, 2015 WASHINGTON (CNS) — Two years after he was elected pope, Pope Francis’ popularity rating among U.S. Catholics is at 90 percent, surpassing Pope Benedict XVI’s best-ever popularity, and rivaling that of St. John Paul II. Pope Francis, who is scheduled to visit Washington, New York and Philadelphia in September, garnered a “very…

Nuncio: Vatican brings leaven of Gospel, experience of humanity to U.N.

March 6, 2015 NEW YORK (CNS) — The Vatican is a credible and admired presence at the United Nations because it speaks from practical experience, according to the Holy See’s permanent observer to the U.N. “Our network on the ground lends credibility to what we say,” said Archbishop Bernardito Auza. As a nonvoting member since…

Help ‘baptized non-Christians’ return to life of faith, pope says

March 6, 2015 VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Catholics need to reach out to “baptized non-Christians,” those who have forgotten or walked away from their faith, Pope Francis said. The pope met March 6 with about 7,000 members of the Neocatechumenal Way, which guides members in an itinerary of exploring the meaning of their baptism and…

Cardinal Egan, retired archbishop of New York, dies at age 82

March 6, 2015 NEW YORK (CNS) — Cardinal Edward M. Egan, who retired as archbishop of New York in 2009, died March 5. The cause of death was cardiac arrest. He was 82. After collapsing at his residence that afternoon, he was taken to NYU Langone Medical Center, where doctors pronounced him dead at 2:20…

Lent is time of ‘joy’ for Eastern Catholics

March 6, 2015 VATICAN CITY (CNS) — “Joy” is not a word people usually associate with strict fasting and penance — unless they are Eastern-rite Catholics. In the Eastern church, the penitential period that prepares believers to celebrate Easter, is called “Great Lent,” and its prayers invite the faithful to recognize their “need for forgiveness”…

Governor says pro-life measures can ‘change America by changing states’

March 5, 2015 FORT WASHINGTON, Md. (CNS) — The life debate is not just a “Catholic thing,” but rather a natural law and human rights issue, Republican Gov. Sam Brownback of Kansas told Catholic News Service. Brownback sat down with CNS while at a political conference near Fort Washington to discuss his state’s current efforts…

Four national Catholic publications call for ending the death penalty

March 5, 2015 WASHINGTON (CNS) — Four nationally circulated Catholic publications called for abolishing the death penalty in the United States in a jointly published editorial. America, National Catholic Register, National Catholic Reporter and Our Sunday Visitor urged their readers, the U.S. Catholic community and people of faith to “stand with us and say, ‘Capital…

Pope plans to canonize St. Therese’s parents during family synod

March 4, 2015 VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Pope Francis is expected to canonize Blessed Louis and Zelie Martin, the parents of St. Therese of Lisieux, during the world Synod of Bishops on the family in October. Cardinal Angelo Amato, prefect of the Congregation for Saints’ Causes, leading a conference Feb. 27 on the role of…

Ignoring, abandoning the elderly is a sin, pope says

March 4, 2015 VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Seeing the elderly only as a burden “is ugly. It’s a sin,” Pope Francis said at his weekly general audience. “We must reawaken our collective sense of gratitude, appreciation and hospitality, helping the elderly know they are a living part of their communities” and sources of wisdom for…

By listening to poor, mission of ‘Guadium et Spes’ lives, cardinal says

March 3, 2015 WASHINGTON (CNS) — By listening to people’s suffering, joys and daily endeavors, Catholics bring the vision of the Second Vatican Council to the world, Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle of Manila, Philippines, told an audience at The Catholic University of America. Such action demonstrates that the church values the dignity of every person,…

Church historian: Pope, radical reformer, has enemies in, out of church

March 3, 2015 EDMONTON, Alberta (CNS) — Pope Francis is a radical reformer who is facing enemies — inside and outside of the church — opposed to at least some parts of his agenda, said a prominent church historian. Massimo Faggioli, an expert on the Second Vatican Council and the author of several books, said…

Aid official says Gazans have lost hope, situation worse than during war

March 3, 2015 JERUSALEM (CNS) — Six months after the end of the most recent war in Gaza, there is still a “grave humanitarian crisis” in the narrow strip wedged between the Egyptian and Israeli borders, where more than 1.8 million Palestinians live closed off to the world because of an international embargo. Following a…

Good works are proper response to God’s ‘exaggerated’ pardon, pope says

March 3, 2015 VATICAN CITY (CNS) — When the Bible says, “though your sins be like scarlet” God will make them “white as snow,” it exaggerates, just like God exaggerates in his willingness to forgive people, Pope Francis said. “The Lord forgives generously,” the pope said March 3 during his early morning Mass. God never…

‘Who, me? Yes, you.’ Fess up to sins, stop judging others, pope says

March 2, 2015 VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Drop the innocent look and the habit of judging others, Pope Francis said; recognizing one’s own faults and failings is the first requirement of being a good Christian. In fact, paradoxically, one finds peace and relief in judging one’s own sins, being merciful toward others and saying, “Who…

Vatican security always on high alert, chief says after IS threats

March 2, 2015 VATICAN CITY (CNS) — The head of Vatican security said Islamic State militants have threatened the Vatican, but there are no indications of any planned attack. The Vatican gendarmes, Swiss Guards and the Italian state police that patrol the perimeter of Vatican City State are always on high alert, said Domenico Giani,…

Papal palates: Swiss Guard cookbook to hit shelves by summer

March 1, 2015 VATICAN CITY (CNS) — A cookbook featuring favorite dishes of the three most-recent popes and their elite military corps will be available this summer in English. “Buon Appetito, Swiss Guard” was written by 24-year-old David Geisser, who had worked as a chef and published two popular cookbooks in his native Switzerland before…

Homeless man of deep faith given funeral, burial in Vatican City

February 28, 2015 VATICAN CITY (CNS) — A homeless man who faithfully attended Mass at a church inside Vatican City for decades was buried in a Vatican cemetery after it was discovered he had died and was left unidentified in a hospital morgue. Willy Herteleer was well-known by the Swiss Guards keeping watch at St….

During Lent, pope offers handy tips for preparing for confession

February 28, 2015 VATICAN CITY (CNS) — As Catholics are encouraged to make going to confession a significant part of their lives during Lent, Pope Francis offered some quick tips to help people prepare for the sacrament of penance. After a brief explanation of why people should go to confession — “because we are all…

Focus groups give voice, hope to families

By Kristi Anderson The Visitor Marc and Teresa Dvoracek had several reasons for venturing out to St. Anthony’s Parish Center in St. Cloud on the blustery evening of Feb. 23. The couple, members of Holy Spirit Parish in St. Cloud, were among Catholics who participated in focus groups this week at the request of Bishop…

Diocesan TV Mass gets HD-technology overhaul

By Dianne Towalski The Visitor Viewers will soon notice some big changes in the diocesan TV Mass. Thanks to an anonymous bequest designated for TV Mass equipment, the diocesan Office of Worship has, over the past few months, purchased and installed new broadcast equipment. “We were able to get all new recording equipment — from…

University president raises questions about free community college plan

February 26, 2015 SIOUX CITY, Iowa (CNS) — Briar Cliff University President Bev Wharton agrees with economist Milton Friedman’s 1975 book, “There’s No Such Thing as a Free Lunch,” when it comes to President Barack Obama’s proposal of free community college. “I do not believe that offering free college to everyone, regardless of financial position,…

Bishops’ communications chairman welcomes FCC vote on net neutrality

February 26, 2015 WASHINGTON (CNS) — The Federal Communications Commission’s vote Feb. 26 to preserve an “open Internet” and safeguard net neutrality was welcomed in many quarters of the country, including by the chairman of U.S. bishops’ Committee on Communications. “The Internet is a critical medium for religious speech. Radio, broadcast television and cable television…

Militants’ actions reinforce urgency of dialogue, religious leaders say

February 25, 2015 WASHINGTON (CNS) — Amid frequent reports of brutal killings and attacks by Islamic State militants, the director of an Islamic group in the United States strongly believes that people of faith must “collectively denounce” these actions of “stark evil” and “cruel barbarism.” “We have to be clear in our writings, websites, lectures…