Independent Catholic News logo Welcome Visitor
Thursday, April 24, 2014
World news

Pope Francis: There are 'bat-like Christians' who prefer shadows to the light of the Lord | Pope Francis, bat-like Christians, bats, Casa Santa Marta
Pope Francis: There are 'bat-like Christians' who prefer shadows to the light of the Lord

Pope Francis said there are Christians who are afraid of the joy of Christ’s resurrection and who instead prefer sadness and staying in the shadows just like bats. The importance of Christians being joyful, rather than sad or fearful, was the focus of the Pope's reflections during his homily at Thursday's Mass celebrated in the Santa Marta residence, Vatican Radio reports. Taking his cue from the Gospel reading of the risen Christ appearing before his disciples, Pope Francis began by noting how instead of rejoicing over his resurrection,

 Read More ...

Background to canonisation of Pope John XXIII and Pope John Paul II | canonisation, Pope John XXIII, Pope John Paul II,  US Bishops, Vatican website,
Background to canonisation of Pope John XXIII and Pope John Paul II
The canonisations of Pope John XXIII and Pope John Paul II April 27 will mark a historic moment for the Catholic Church. To explore the meaning of the lives of these modern-day spiritual heroes, the US Bishops media office have published a special feature on their website which includes biographies of the two Popes, links to their writings and encyclicals on the Vatican website, as well as a series of brief reflections from Catholic, Orthodox and Jewish scholars, theologians and journalists. As the portal page editor says: "Each could have written a book". Read More ...

WATCH LIVE: Canonisation of Pope John XXIII and Pope John Paul II | Divine Mercy Sunday, St Peter's Square, John XXIII,  John Paul II, canonised, Pope Francis
WATCH LIVE: Canonisation of Pope John XXIII and Pope John Paul II

Divine Mercy Sunday is going to be a particularly special day this year, as 27 April will see two much-loved Popes made saints.  Already thousands of pilgrims are arriving in Rome to attend the special ceremony in St Peter's Square, at which John XXIII and John Paul II will be canonised by Pope Francis. On the following YouTube link you will be able to join people around the world to watch a live stream of the service: 

 Read More ...

Australia: As abuse enquiry begins Archbishop says 'We have failed terribly' | Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse, Western Australia, Archbishop Timothy Costelloe,  Archdiocese of Perth
Australia: As abuse enquiry begins Archbishop says 'We have failed terribly'

As members of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse arrive in Western Australia, Archbishop Timothy Costelloe of the Archdiocese of Perth has written to the entire Catholic community. In his letter, the Archbishop admits to the past failures of Church leadership and assures Catholics and society at large of his determination to make church communities places of safety for all, especially minors.  The Archbishop’s letter begins by praising the “great courage and resilience” of survivors 

 Read More ...

Pope Francis: Why do you seek the living among the dead? | Pope Francis, General Audience, why seek the living among the dead, St Peter's Square, Pope John Paul II, Pope John XXIII
Pope Francis: Why do you seek the living among the dead?
Huge crowds gathered in St Peter's Square today (Wednesday) for Pope Francis' weekly general audience, the first of the Easter season. Many pilgrims carried banners and pictures of two of his predecessors, Blessed John Paul II and Blessed John XXIII, who will be officially recognised as saints this weekend on Divine Mercy Sunday. A little light rain fell as Pope Francis gave his catechesis in Italian on the gospel account of Mary Magdalen's visit to the tomb on the morning of Christ’s Resurrection. Read More ...

South Sudan: Rebels kill hundreds in Mosque, Catholic church and hospital | Bishop William Kenney, South Sudan, Benitu region, Mosque, CAFOD
South Sudan: Rebels kill hundreds in Mosque, Catholic church and hospital
Bishop William Kenney has called for an end to the violence and suffering in South Sudan, after visiting the country. His message comes after the disturbing news of violence in the Bentiu region, that has left hundreds of women, children and men who had sought refuge in a hospital, a Mosque and a Catholic church, dead. “While the warring factions delay in finding a lasting solution to this conflict, ordinary people have been catapulted into dire suffering, unable to return to their homes and farm their land, they are now crammed into church and UN compounds, Read More ...

Pope Francis' 'Santa Marta' homilies to be published in Italian | Pope Francis, Vatican Radio, Casa Santa Marta, homilies, Fr Federico Lombardi.
Pope Francis' 'Santa Marta' homilies to be published in Italian
One of the most popular items on Vatican Radio each week - which are picked up by news services around the world -  are the reports of Pope Francis' homilies given during his regular morning Mass in the chapel of the Casa Santa Marta where he has been living since his election on 13 March last year. Now these reflections – 186 of them to be precise – have been gathered together in one Italian language volume which will go on sale from next Thursday, 24 April, titled: 'The Truth is an Encounter. Homilies from Santa Marta'. Read More ...

Easter 'Urbi et Orbi' Message of Pope Francis text + video link | Easter 'Urbi et Orbi' Message of Pope Francis
Easter 'Urbi et Orbi' Message of Pope Francis text + video link
Dear Brothers and Sisters, a Happy and Holy Easter! The Church throughout the world echoes the angel’s message to the women: “Do not be afraid! I know that you are looking for Jesus who was crucified. He is not here; for he has been raised… Come, see the place where he lay” ( Mt 28:5-6). This is the culmination of the Gospel, it is the Good News par excellence: Jesus, who was crucified, is risen! This event is the basis of our faith and our hope Read More ...

Vatican: Good Friday homily with Fr Raniero Cantalamessa  | Good Friday, Judas, Fr Raniero Cantalamessa
Vatican: Good Friday homily with Fr Raniero Cantalamessa
In the divine-human history of the passion of Jesus, there are many minor stories about men and women who entered into the ray of its light or its shadow. The most tragic one is that of Judas Iscariot. It is one of the few events attested with equal emphasis by each of the four Gospels and the rest of the New Testament. The early Christian community reflected a great deal on this incident and we would be remiss to do otherwise. It has much to tell us. Read More ...

Syria: Patriarch appeals for help after fatal school bombing in Damascus  | Damascus. Melkite Greek-Catholic Patriarch Gregorios III, Armenian Catholic School, Syria, appeal
Syria: Patriarch appeals for help after fatal school bombing in Damascus
The leader of Catholics in Syria has issued a desperate plea for international help, describing how one child was killed and 60 others were injured when a bomb landed on a school playground during a spate of attacks in Damascus. Melkite Greek-Catholic Patriarch Gregorios III reported that several children received "life-changing" injuries in the blast that took place while they were singing the Syrian National Anthem during early morning assembly at the Armenian Catholic School in Damascus' Old City. Read More ...
John Pontifex

Easter Message from Church leaders of Jerusalem | Easter Message, Church leaders of Jerusalem, Patriarch Fouad Twal
Easter Message from Church leaders of Jerusalem

In an annual tradition, Thirteen  Patriarchs and Heads of Churches in Jerusalem have issued the following  Easter message this year highlighting the importance of peace and reconciliation in the Holy Land: We, the Patriarchs and Heads of Churches in Jerusalem, bring joyous greetings in the name of our risen Lord from the city of the Resurrection. It is from the heart of this city that the first Easter proclamation was made. Christ is risen from the dead! It was also from the heights of Jerusalem that Jesus commissioned his disciples to take this good news to the very ends of the earth.

 Read More ...

Stations of the Cross at the Colosseum | Good Friday, Pope Francis,  Stations of the Cross, Colosseum,  Mgr Giancarlo Maria Bregantini, Archbishop of Campobasso-Boiano.
Stations of the Cross at the Colosseum
This evening, Good Friday, at 9.10pm local time, after the celebration of the Passion of Our Lord at St Peter's Basilica, Pope Francis will lead the Stations of the Cross, at the Colosseum in Rome.   This year, the meditations, entitled 'the Face of Christ the Way of Man' were written by Mgr Giancarlo Maria Bregantini, Archbishop of Campobasso-Boiano. Read More ...

Pope Francis: 'Serve one another in love' |  Santa Maria della Provvidenza , Pope Francis, washing feet, Holy Thursday,
Pope Francis: 'Serve one another in love'
In a gesture of humility and service, and in imitation of Christ, Pope Francis put on an apron and knelt down to wash the feet of 12 residents of the Santa Maria della Provvidenza care home for people with disabilities, during the Mass of the Lord’s Supper, on Thursday evening. Visibly fatigued and requiring assistance to kneel and stand up again as he came close to the end of the rite, Pope Francis showed tenderness and concern for each person, as he washed their feet. The patients ranged in age from 16 to 86. Read More ...

Church leaders warn South Sudan on brink of humanitarian disaster  | South Sudan, CAFOD, Tearfund, Christian Aid,
Church leaders warn South Sudan on brink of humanitarian disaster
Leading church leaders in South Sudan have called for greater urgency regarding delayed peace negotiations in Addis Ababa, as faith-based humanitarian agencies warn of an impending food crisis. In just four months, more than one million people have been displaced from their homes and an estimated 4.9 million are currently in need of humanitarian assistance, yet the crisis response plan is still only 36 per cent funded. In their latest pastoral statement, the ecumenical church leaders of South Sudan strongly condemn Read More ...

Pope Francis at Chrism Mass on the joy of being a priest | Pope Francis, Chrism Mass, joy of priesthood
Pope Francis at Chrism Mass on the joy of being a priest
Pope Francis delivered the homily at the Chrism Mass of the Rome diocese this morning, in St Peter's Basilica. The theme of the Holy Father's homily was the joy of priestly service...In the eternal “today” of Holy Thursday, when Christ showed his love for us to the end (cf. Jn 13:1), we recall the happy day of the institution of the priesthood, as well as the day of our own priestly ordination. The Lord anointed us in Christ with the oil of gladness, and this anointing invites us to accept and appreciate this great gift: Read More ...

Honduras: Human rights lawyer assassinated | Carlos Mejia Orellana, ERIC-RP, CAFOD, Honduras
Honduras: Human rights lawyer assassinated
A worker at a Jesuit-run radio and social action centre in Honduras has been stabbed and killed in what is believed to have been a politically-motivated attack. CAFOD partner Carlos Mejia Orellana, a 35-year-old lawyer who worked for ERIC-RP was stabbed four times in the chest at his home in El Progreso. The Catholic aid agency vowed yesterday that the struggle for justice that he helped to lead will go on. Carlos and other colleagues at ERIC-RP had received repeated death threats in response to the organisation's  Read More ...

Pope sends Passover Greetings to Rome's Jewish community | Passover, Pesach, greetings, Pope Francis
Pope sends Passover Greetings to Rome's Jewish community
Pope Francis has written to the Chief Rabbi of Rome to wish the Eternal City’s Jewish community – and by extension the global community – a happy Pesach, or Passover. In Jerusalem, Church leaders also sent Pesach greetings to the Jewish people. Pope Francis' message reads: “As the great feast of Passover approaches I would like to extend my most cordial greetings of peace to you and all the Jewish Community of Rome. The memory of the liberation from oppression by the strong arm of the Lord inspires thoughts of mercy, reconciliation and Read More ...

Crimea: Catholics face uncertain future | Bishop Pyl, Crimea, Ukraine, Aid to the Suffering Church, Auxiliary Bishop of Odessa-Simferopol, Missionary Oblate,  Msgr Jacek Pyl
Crimea: Catholics face uncertain future
In a message to the branch of Aid to the Church in Need, the Auxiliary Bishop of Odessa-Simferopol, Missionary Oblate Msgr Jacek Pyl described the sense of insecurity felt by Catholics in Crimea at the present time. “We are cut off from the rest of the country" he writes. “We communicate only by telephone and e-mail. Even the aid parcels are blocked at the border.” He explained that in spite of having very few resources, the Catholic Church, which has only about two thousand faithful, is taking care of many families in difficulty. Read More ...

Pope Francis: Jesus' pain on the Cross reflects the pain of humanity | Pope Francis, General Audience, St Peter's Square, Out of love for us Jesus freely embraced suffering and death
Pope Francis: Jesus' pain on the Cross reflects the pain of humanity
The suffering of Jesus on the Cross, that reflects the pain of humanity and represents the divine response to the mystery of the evil that is so difficult to understand, was the theme of Pope Francis' catechesis during the general audience held today, Holy Wednesday, in which the liturgy presents the story of Judas' betrayal and Christ, it emerges, has a price. “This dramatic act marks the beginning of the Passion of Christ, a painful path that He chooses with absolute freedom. He says this clearly Himself: 'I lay down my life. Read More ...

Tax breaks for multinationals outstrip spending on schools and clinics in Sierra Leone | Losing Out, Budget Advocacy Network, BAN, the National Advocacy Coalition on Extractives, NACE,   Tax Justice Network Africa, TJNA), Christian Aid, ActionAid, IBIS

Abu Bakarr, Co-ordinator at BAN,
Tax breaks for multinationals outstrip spending on schools and clinics in Sierra Leone
A new report highlights the huge amount of revenue that one of the poorest countries in Africa loses each year through tax breaks for multinationals. In 2011, Sierra Leone spent more on tax give-aways than on its development priorities, with mining firms the biggest beneficiaries. The following year, the tax exemptions amounted to more than eight times Sierra Leone’s health budget and seven times its education budget. Read More ...

Syria: Child killed, 61 people injured in attack on Catholic school | Armenian Catholic, Damascus, Bab Tuma, Syria,  Christian school,, Father George Bahi, Armenian Catholic Patriarchal Exarchate of Damascus
Syria: Child killed, 61 people injured in attack on Catholic school
One child  died and 61  children, parents and teachers were injured  when a  missile hit the Armenian Catholic school in Damascus on Tuesday morning. The school is in  the historic district of Bab Tuma, in the old town, where there are many churches and Christian schools. Father George Bahi, a priest of the Armenian Catholic Patriarchal Exarchate of Damascus said: "This morning, around 7.30am, a missile fell on the crowd of children, parents and teachers who were waiting for the school to open. Read More ...

Syrian army seizes ancient Christian town of Maaloula | Syria, President Bashar Al Assad, Maaloula, Damascus, Robert Ewan, Christians. Tekla monastery
Syrian army seizes ancient Christian town of Maaloula
Syria's state news agency has said forces loyal to President Bashar Al Assad captured Maaloula on Monday. Sana reported that army units had to dismantle explosive devices planted in Maaloula by the rebels after recapturing areas they had occupied. The town is located 56 km to the northeast of Damascus, and built into the rugged mountainside.  Maaloula has changed hands at least four times since December as government forces and rebels have launched attacks and counter-attacks, according to the Reuters news agency. Read More ...
Robert Ewan

Jerusalem: Local Christians barred from attending Holy Week services   | Holy Land, Palestinian Christians, Holy Week, Jerusalem, Israel, Kairos, Palestine Israel Ecumenical Forum
Jerusalem: Local Christians barred from attending Holy Week services
While pilgrims from around the world are flocking to Jerusalem to attend Holy Week services, many local Christians are not being allowed to join them. Under the 'permit regime' - some members of a family to travel while other are barred.  Entire scout and school groups who have been preparing for weeks have not received permits. In this article, Rifat Kassis, general coordinator of Kairos Palestine, and a member of the Palestine Israel Ecumenical Forum Core group shares a reflection where he describes the emotional anguish Read More ...

Chile: Valparaiso suffers huge forest fire  | Cardinal Ricardo Ezzati, Archbishop of Santiago, Pope Francis, Valparaiso
Chile: Valparaiso suffers huge forest fire
At least 12 people have died and 10,000 people have been evacuated after a forest fire engulfed large swathes of Valparaiso over the weekend.  Cardinal Ricardo Ezzati, Archbishop of Santiago, said: "This Easter we are faced with so much pain. A few weeks ago we saw the people in the north suffer the effects of the earthquake and yesterday we were all deeply touched by the deadly fire that hit many families and has killed many people in Valparaiso...These two events invite us to live Easter more intensely. Read More ...

Pope asks: Who am I before the Lord?  | Pope Francis, Passion of the Lord, Palm Sunday
Pope asks: Who am I before the Lord?
On Sunday in St Peter's Square, Pope Francis began the rites of Holy Week with the solemn liturgical celebration of Palm Sunday and the Passion of the Lord. The ceremony began with the blessing of the palms and the olive branches placed beside the obelisk in the Square, carried in procession to the entrance of the basilica. The young people of Rome and other diocese took part in the celebration, in relation to the 29th World Youth Day, which this year takes the theme, “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the Kingdom of heaven Read More ...

Pope advises seminarians: If you are not willing to act like shepherds, seek another path | Pope Francis, sheep, seminarians, Pontifical College 'Leoniano de Anagn
Pope advises seminarians: If you are not willing to act like shepherds, seek another path
This morning the Holy Father met with seminarians from the community of the Pontifical College 'Leoniano de Anagni', and warned them not to fall into the trap of thinking that they are preparing to exercise a profession, to become the employees of a business enterprise or a bureaucratic entity. “You are becoming 'good shepherds', in the image of Jesus, to be like Him, in the midst of His flock, to care for His sheep. Before this vocation, we can answer like the Virgin Mary to the Angel: 'How is this possible?' Read More ...

Letter from Bethlehem - Christians wait for permits to attend Holy Week services | Toine van Teeffelen, Bethlehem, Jerusalem, Holy Week, permits
Letter from Bethlehem - Christians wait for permits to attend Holy Week services
It is Easter season. The permits to visit Jerusalem come late. Is that related to the stagnating “peace process”? After the Palestinian Authority signed up to a number of international human rights treaties Israel announced “sanctions” as a response to this “unilateral step.” But which peace process considers signing op to the rights of children, the handicapped and other vulnerable groups as a threat to peace – people ask themselves. Jara receives a permit, contrary to last year’s Easter; Mary and her sister not (yet?) Read More ...
Toine van Teeffelen

Pope advises doctors: never lose sight of the human person - body & spirit   | Pope Francis, doctors
Pope advises doctors: never lose sight of the human person - body & spirit
.... in order to be able to speak of full health it is necessary to not lose sight of the human person, created in the image of God, and who is unity of body and spirit. The Greeks were more precise: body, soul and spirit. Man is that unity. It is possible to distinguish these two elements but not to separate them, because the human person is one. So, disease, the experience of pain and suffering, do not regard solely the corporal dimension, but man in his totality... Read More ...

Central African Republic cannot wait six months for peacekeepers |  CAFOD, Central African Republic, CAR, UN peacekeepers, UN Security Council, Caritas Central African Republic, Catherine Mahony
Central African Republic cannot wait six months for peacekeepers
On Friday, CAFOD warned that the people of Central African Republic  (CAR) cannot afford to wait for 12,000 UN peacekeepers to arrive in the country, and that the world must act immediately to stop a dire situation deteriorating further. The UN Security Council has agreed to send the peacekeeping force to CAR, but not for almost six months, despite the escalating cycle of retaliatory violence and lawlessness, which has left thousands of people dead, more than one million in need of urgent food, water and basic services, and over 600,000 people homeless. Read More ...

Pope Francis pledges stronger action on child abuse |  BICE,  International Catholic Child Bureau, Pope Francis, child abuse
Pope Francis pledges stronger action on child abuse
“I feel compelled to personally take on all the evil which some priests ... to personally ask for forgiveness for the damage they have done for having sexually abused children. The Church is aware of this damage, it is personal, moral damage carried out by men of the Church, and we will not take one step backward with regards to how we will deal with this problem, and the sanctions that must be imposed. On the contrary, we have to be even stronger. Because you cannot interfere with children”. This was Pope Francis' clear message to members of BICE Read More ...

Pakistan: Thousands of Hindu & Christian girls kidnapped  & forced into Islamic marriage | Dominican Fr James Channan, forced marriage, forced conversion, Peace Centre in Lahore,Solidarity and Peace Movement -
Pakistan: Thousands of Hindu & Christian girls kidnapped & forced into Islamic marriage
Each year in Pakistan, about a thousand girls belonging to Christian and Hindu religious minorities are kidnapped, converted and forced into Islamic marriage according to a new report out this week, produced by the Solidarity and Peace Movement - a coalition of NGOs, associations and institutions including the Justice and Peace Commission of the Pakistani Bishops. The report says an estimated 700 cases per year involve Christian women and 300 Hindu girls. Read More ...

Pope: 'Ecclesiastical universities are not machines for producing theologians & philosophers' | Pope Francis,Gregorian Pontifical University, the Pontifical Biblical Institute, Pontifical Oriental Institute.
Pope: 'Ecclesiastical universities are not machines for producing theologians & philosophers'
On Thursday morning, Pope Francis received in audience the professors, students and non-teaching staff of the Gregorian Pontifical University, the Pontifical Biblical Institute and the Pontifical Oriental Institute. These institutions, brought together in a consortium by Pope Pius XI in 1923, were entrusted to the Jesuits and the Holy Father recalled the importance of collaboration between them in "safeguarding historical memory and, at the same time, taking responsibility for the present and looking to the future with creativity and imagination." Read More ...

Pope Francis: Human trafficking is a wound to humanity | Second International Conference on Combating Human Trafficking: Church and Law Enforcement in Partnership, Bishops Conference of England and Wales, Pope Francis, human trafficking,
Pope Francis: Human trafficking is a wound to humanity
In his address to the Second International Conference on Combating Human Trafficking: Church and Law Enforcement in Partnership, organised by the Bishops Conference of England and Wales, which took place at the Vatican from 9-10 April, Pope Francis described human trafficking as "an open wound on the body of contemporary society, a scourge upon the body of Christ. It is a crime against humanity. He said: "This is an important meeting, a gesture on the part of the Church and people of good will who want to cry out, 'Enough!' Read More ...

Pope Francis: Wisdom is seeing with the eyes of God | Pope Francis, Holy Spirit, wisdom, General Audience
Pope Francis: Wisdom is seeing with the eyes of God
Pope Francis began a new cycle of catechesis this Wednesday, dedicated to the gifts of the Holy Spirit. Addressing thousands of pilgrims in St Peter's Square, the Holy Father began by talking about the gift of wisdom - which he warned is not to be confused with knowledge. Wisdom is not born of intelligence or knowledge - it is being able to see with the eyes of God....The Holy Spirit is the soul, the lifeblood of the Church and of every Christian: He is God’s Love, who makes our hearts his home and enters into communion with us. The Holy Spirit is always with us, Read More ...

Pope renews appeal for peace in Syria after killing of Jesuit priest | Pope Francis,  appeal for peace in Syria, general audience, catachesis, Fr Frans van der Lugt
Pope renews appeal for peace in Syria after killing of Jesuit priest
Pope Francis made a special appeal for peace in Syria during his general audience with pilgrims in St Peter's Square today (Wednesday). Following his catachesis he said: “On Monday Fr Frans van der Lugt, a Dutch Jesuit brother aged 75, was assassinated in Syria. Fr Van der Lugt had always been good to all, acting with love and gratuity, and was therefore loved and esteemed by both Christians and Muslims. His brutal killing filled me with profound sadness and made me think once again of the many people who suffer and die in that afflicted country, Read More ...

Israel: Marian shrine vandalised  | Israel;  Judaism,  Marian devotion,  Middle East,  Papal Visit, vandal, price tag movement, Patriarch Foud Twai
Israel: Marian shrine vandalised
The Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem has strongly condemned attacks on a Marian shrine near Jerusalem, believed to have been carried out by Israeli extremists. Visiting the Shrine of Our Lady at Deir Rafat last Tuesday (1 April), Patriarch Fouad Twal denounced the vandalism carried out the previous night: "We condemn these attacks in the strongest terms." He added: "Such acts are bad for us Christians, but also for Israel. I don't believe this is a proper way to receive the Holy Father here next month. Read More ...
Oliver Maksan

Chance to join pilgrimage to Holy Land during visit of Pope Francis | Our Lady of Lourdes, Holy Land Pilgrimage, Pope Francis
Chance to join pilgrimage to Holy Land during visit of Pope Francis
Our Lady of Lourdes, New Milton in Hampshire has a few seats left for this most unique opportunity to be in the Holy Land whilst His Holiness is there. The group is going from 21-28 May. Pope Francis will be there from 24-26 May. We will attend both Masses which his Holiness will be celebrating.  Our accommodation is 4* half board, staying two nights in Nazareth and five nights in Jerusalem. The cost for the eight days is £1080 per person including flights by El Al from Luton Airport. Read More ...

Text: Cardinal O'Malley on US - Mexico border | Cardinal Sean O'Malley,  USCCB, US - Mexico border
Text: Cardinal O'Malley on US - Mexico border
On 2 April 2014 we reported that Cardinal Sean O'Malley, together with USCCB bishops had celebrated a special Mass at the US - Mexico border. That report did not mention that the Eucharist had been passed through the chain-link fence to communicants on the Mexican side - or that later the bishops crossed the border and served a meal to immigrants there. We've now been sent pictures and the text of Cardinal O'Malley's homily, which also makes a connection to the Irish immigration to the US. Read More ...

Solomon Islands hit by devastating floods |  Solomon Islands, Honiara,  Mgr Adrian Smith, Gizo, Mgr Luciano Capelli,
Solomon Islands hit by devastating floods
At least 19 people have died and 40 are missing due after huge floods hit the Solomon Islands and in particular the capital Honiara. In one of the worst natural disasters ever to hit the archipelago of 550 000 inhabitants, around 49,000 people have been left homeless. More than 5,500 people have taken refuge in three crowded evacuation centres, where aid agencies fear the spread of dengue fever, transmitted by mosquitoes. There has been serious damage to water and electricity supplies, and the sewage system. Read More ...

Dutch priest shot dead in Syria | Dutch Jesuit priest,  Homs, de Volkskrant, Fr Frans van der Lugt,
Dutch priest shot dead in Syria
A Dutch Jesuit priest was abducted and shot dead by unidentified gunmen in the besieged Syrian city of Homs on Monday, Dutch media has reported. Armed men took him from his home in the morning and shot him twice in the head, the Dutch newspaper de Volkskrant said, quoting the head of the Jesuit order in the Netherlands. Fr Frans van der Lugt, a 75 year old psychologist,  had been living in Syria since 1966.  In the 1980s he set up a farming project to help young people with learning difficulties. Read More ...
Dan Bergin

Lebanon 'past breaking point' as millionth Syrian refugee crosses border | CAFOD, Syria,  Najla Chahda, Caritas Lebanon Migrant Centre,
Lebanon 'past breaking point' as millionth Syrian refugee crosses border
As the crisis in Syria continues, the United Nations has officially registered one million Syrian refugees in Lebanon, a country with a normal population of just over four million. With many families unable or unwilling to register, the true figure is likely to be even higher. Although the people of Lebanon are showing enormous compassion towards the Syrians who have crossed the border, the sheer number of refugees is having a devastating impact. Najla Chahda, Director of CAFOD’s partner Caritas Lebanon Migrant Centre, Read More ...

Holy Father approves proposals for future of Vatican Bank | Pope Francis, Vatican Bank, IOR, Cardinal Pell,  Holy Father, Istituto per le Opere di Religione (IOR),
Holy Father approves proposals for future of Vatican Bank
The Holy Father has approved a proposal on the future of the Istituto per le Opere di Religione (IOR), reaffirming the importance of the IOR’s mission for the good of the Catholic Church, the Holy See and the Vatican City State. The proposal has been jointly developed by representatives of the Pontifical Referring Commission to the IOR (CRIOR), the Pontifical Commission for Reference on the Organization of the Economic- Administrative Structure of the Holy See (COSEA), the IOR’s Commission of Cardinals Read More ...

Iraq: Special election prayers  be recited in all Chaldean churches | Patriarch of Babylon of the Chaldeans,  Louis Sako Raphael,  Chaldean churches, Iraq, election prayer
Iraq: Special election prayers be recited in all Chaldean churches
The Patriarch of Babylon of the Chaldeans,  Archbishop Louis Sako Raphael,  has given instructions for a special prayer to be recited in all the Chaldean churches in Iraq at the end of Sunday Masses in preparation for the upcoming elections, scheduled on 30 April.  The prayer says: "O Lord. You are our Creator and Father. We turn to you, in the delicate and difficult circumstances experienced by our country. We ask for your help as individuals, as communities and government, Read More ...

Pope Francis: There is no limit to God's mercy offered to all | Angelus, Lazarus, Pope Francis, Divine mercy
Pope Francis: There is no limit to God's mercy offered to all
At the Angelus on Sunday, Pope Francis spoke on the day’s Gospel, which relates the account of Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead. This miracle, the Pope said, “is the culmination of the wonderful ‘signs’ performed by Jesus: an act too great, too clearly divine to be tolerated by the high priests, who, aware of the fact, make the decision to kill Jesus.” Pope Francis reminded the crowd of the words of Jesus, words “words which are forever impressed upon the memory of the Christian community: ‘I am the resurrection and the life; Read More ...

US Archbishop gives up £1.3 million mansion | Archbishop of Atlanta, Georgia, Most Rev Wilton Gregory, Atlanta, Joseph Mitchell,'Gone With The Wind'
US Archbishop gives up £1.3 million mansion
The Archbishop of Atlanta, Georgia, Most Rev Wilton Gregory has decided to give up his new £1.3 million mansion just three months after he moved in, after protests from parishioners. After a private meeting with church leaders, the Archbishop said he had decided to downsize and use money saved from the sale of the house for the needs of the Catholic community. A generous gift to the diocese from a wealthy donor made the luxurious residence possible last year. Joseph Mitchell, the nephew of 'Gone With The Wind' author Read More ...
Dan Bergin - 1 opinion posted

Pope tells young interviewers:  'Believers and non-believers, we're all brothers and sisters' | Pope Francis, young Belgians, Flemish TV station, VRT, Bishop Lucas Van Looy of Ghent, p
Pope tells young interviewers: 'Believers and non-believers, we're all brothers and sisters'
Pope Francis gave an interview to a group of young Belgians which has now been broadcast on the nation’s public Flemish TV station, VRT. The young people, who were accompanied by Bishop Lucas Van Looy of Ghent, put their questions to the Pope in English and he replied in Italian. Their meeting was filmed on 31 March inside the Apostolic Palace in the Vatican.  The group of young people included a non-believer who said she was inspired by the words of Pope Francis. Read More ...

Bishops seek stop to Tampakan mining in southern Philippines | Mindanao, South Cotabato. Bishops, Cardinal Orlando Quevedo, President Benigno Aquino, Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines, mining
Bishops seek stop to Tampakan mining in southern Philippines
Catholic Church officials in the southern Philippine island of Mindanao have reiterated their plea to the government to stop the mining of gold and copper in South Cotabato. Bishops, led by new Cardinal and Cotabato Archbishop Orlando Quevedo, wrote a letter to President Benigno Aquino III  two weeks ago asking for a "God-enlightened decision" on the matter, and their letter appears on the website of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines. “The cost, Mr President, will far outweigh the benefits to government and the Filipino people,” Read More ...
Ellen Teague

Cameroon: Missionary priests and nun kidnapped |  Cameroon, Fr Giampaolo Marta,  Fr Gianantonio Allegri, kidnap, Boko Haram
Cameroon: Missionary priests and nun kidnapped
Two Italian priests and a Canadian nun were kidnapped in Cameroon last night, Vatican Radio reported last night. Two groups of armed men raided the houses where they lived in Maroura parish in the north of the country about 2am local time (1am GMT). The priests have been named as Fr Giampaolo Marta and Fr Gianantonio Allegri, from the diocese of Vicenza in northeast Italy. The nun has not been identified yet. The Italian embassy in Yaounde Read More ...
Dan Bergin

Holy Land Bishops: Christians and Muslims must stand together against new forces of extremism | Assembly of Catholic Oridinaries in the Holy Land,  Persecution,
Holy Land Bishops: Christians and Muslims must stand together against new forces of extremism
Are Christians being persecuted in the Middle East? This is a question examined by the Assembly of Catholic Ordinaries in the Holy Land .. The Bishops write: Persecution! In many parts of the Western world, this word is people’s lips. It is said that Christians are being persecuted in the Middle East today! ... in the name of truth, we must point out that Christians are not the only victims of this violence and savagery. Secular Muslims, all those defined as “heretic”, “schismatic” or simply “non-conformist” are being attacked and murdered in the prevailing chaos. Read More ...

China beats and arrests supporters of jailed human rights lawyers  | Heilongjiang Province, human rights lawyers,  Jiang Tianyong, Tang Jitian, Wang Cheng, Zhang Junjie,
China beats and arrests supporters of jailed human rights lawyers
More than half of the 40-plus supporters who have gathered in Heilongjiang Province in Northeast China to protest the detention of three human rights lawyers have been beaten or detained.  Lawyers Jiang Tianyong, Tang Jitian, Wang Cheng and Zhang Junjie, along with “many other citizens”, were taken away by local police on 21 March 2014. Prior to their arrest, the four lawyers had visited a "legal education centre", believed to be a black jail, at Qinglongshan Farm site in Jiansanjiang, Read More ...

CAFOD remembers Rwandan genocide - 20 years on | CAFOD, RWANDA, Chris Bain
CAFOD remembers Rwandan genocide - 20 years on
CAFOD will join parishes across the country to commemorate the twentieth anniversary of the Rwandan genocide on Sunday, 6 April. In 1994, CAFOD helped lead the response and recovery that followed the genocide, supported by £6 million in donations sent in by the Catholic community in England and Wales. In the 100 days that followed the assassination of President Juvenal Habyarimana on 6 April 1994, it is estimated that an average of six people were killed every minute of every hour of every day, while the international community failed to intervene. Read More ...

New York street  to be named after Pope John Paul II | Holy Cross Roman Catholic Church, Maspeth, Frank Milewski, Fr Witold Mroziewski, Maspeth, New York, street naming ceremony
New York street to be named after Pope John Paul II
As Catholics await the canonization of Blessed John Paul II's sainthood at the end of April, the City of New York is  paying  its own special tribute to the late pontiff three weeks earlier. A stretch of 56th Road, at the front entrance of Holy Cross Roman Catholic Church in the Maspeth section of Queens, will be named in his honour. So that the dedication ceremony does not conflict with the solemn period of Holy Week, Passover and Easter,  the unveiling of the street sign at the corner Read More ...
Frank Milewski

Queen Elizabeth meets Pope Francis | Queen Elizabeth. Pope Francis, Cardinal Cormac Murphy O'Connor
Queen Elizabeth meets Pope Francis
Queen Elizabeth, accompanied by Prince Philip and Cardinal Cormac Murphy O'Connor, met Pope Francis for the first time yesterday, during a one-day visit to Rome. The meeting was described as a private one and formalities were kept to a minimum. The Queen and Prince Philip had tea with the Pope in a suite of rooms in the Pope Paul VI Audience Hall. In a break with convention, the Queen did not wear black, or a veil, but instead wore a lilac-coloured spring coat and matching hat. Read More ...

Rwanda:  Church has an important role in promoting reconciliation | Rwandas, reconciliation, Pope Frances, Shrine of Kibeho
Rwanda: Church has an important role in promoting reconciliation
National reconciliation and the role the Church may play in this task twenty years after the genocide that devastated the nation were the central themes of Pope Francis' address to the bishops of the Conference of Catholic Bishops of Rwanda at the end of their five-yearly ad limina visit. The Holy Father acknowledges the suffering of the Rwandan people and the many wounds that must still be healed, and joined in heartfelt mourning with the population, Read More ...

Pope Francis reflects on the power of real prayer    | Pope Francis, Moses, power of prayer
Pope Francis reflects on the power of real prayer
Pope Francis focussed on the dialogue between God and Moses in today's first reading at Mass in Mass in Casa Santa Marta this morning. God wants to punish His people because they have created an idol, the golden calf. Moses prays to the Lord to think again. Pope Francis said: “this prayer is a real struggle with God. A struggle on the part of the leader of a people to save his people, who are the people of God. Moses speaks freely in front of the Lord and in doing so teaches us how to Read More ...

Watch: Missio film shows works of Catholic missionaries in Cambodia  | Missio,  Sr Eulie, Lindalva Centre,  Blessed Lindalva Justo de Oliveira DC,
Watch: Missio film shows works of Catholic missionaries in Cambodia
Missio, the Pope’s official charity for overseas mission, has created a short film about the inspiring work of missionaries serving in Cambodia.  The six-minute film tells the story of Sr Eulie, a Filipina Sister who has served as a missionary in Cambodia for 15 years. In 2006 Sr Eulie started a school for the children of factory workers in Phnom Penh after realising that many were being locked in their houses because their parents didn’t have the correct papers to send them to school. Read More ...

AoS provides support to crew and families of fatal ship collision |  Baltic Breeze, AoS, Apostleship of the Sea,  collision, John Green, port chaplains
AoS provides support to crew and families of fatal ship collision
The dangers of shipping and fishing should not be underestimated, says seafarers’ charity Apostleship of the Sea, following the collision of a car carrier and a fishing boat in Spanish waters. Media have reported that three crew are confirmed dead after the Baltic Breeze, a Singapore-flagged car carrier, collided with a fishing boat near the Spanish port of Vigo in the early morning of Tuesday 1 April. The Baltic Breeze and its crew are well known to the Apostleship of the Sea from its calls at various ports including Bristol, Sheerness & Southampton where its port chaplains Read More ...

Pakistan: Sawan Masih appeals against blasphemy death sentence | Pakistan, Sawan Masih, blasphemy death sentence
Pakistan: Sawan Masih appeals against blasphemy death sentence
Sawan Masih, a Pakistani Christian man who was convicted of blasphemy charges and sentenced to death on 27 March, filed an appeal against his conviction in the Lahore High Court on 1 April.  Masih was accused of blasphemy under Section 295C of the Pakistan Penal Code on 8 March 2013. As news of the accusation spread, a mob of thousands targeted the Christian-majority area of Joseph Colony, Badami Bagh, Lahore, torching an estimated 198 properties on 9 March 2013. Read More ...

Pope Francis: Marriage is a reflection of the Trinity | Pope Francis, Marriage, General Audience, St Peter's
Pope Francis: Marriage is a reflection of the Trinity
The sacrament of Marriage was the focus of Pope Francis teaching on Wednesday during the general audience with thousands of pilgrims in St Peter's Square. Married couples should never let the sun set on an argument; instead they must make peace by remembering to always say 'please' 'thank you' and 'sorry' he advised.  “When a man and a woman celebrate the sacrament of Marriage, God, so to speak, is ‘mirrored’ in them, He marks them with His features and the indelible character of His love. Read More ...

Guided prayer website reaches China | Sacred Space, Pray As You GO. Fr Peter Scally SJ, Jesuits, guided prayer
Guided prayer website reaches China
Sacred Space, one of the world’s leading interactive websites for guided prayer, is now available to people in the Peoples Republic of China (PRC). It was previously only available in Chinese characters not used in the PRC and blocked for access to visitors from the PRC. Launched on April 1 and facilitated by ucanews.com, Sacred Space is now accessible as a Chinese version in the commonly used script across the country – the simplified characters introduced by Mao Zedong. “Sacred Space is much loved around the world,” said Father Michael Kelly SJ, Read More ...

US Cardinal celebrates Mass for deceased migrants on US-Mexican border | USCCB, U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, Committee on Migration, immigration reform, immigration, citizenship, Congress, undocumented, immigrants, Nogales, Arizona, desert, Mass on the Border, Mission for Migrants, Cardinal Seán O’Malley, Bishop Eusebio Elizondo, Bishop John Wester, Pope Francis, Lampedusa
US Cardinal celebrates Mass for deceased migrants on US-Mexican border
Echoing Pope Francis, Cardinal Seán O’Malley of Boston, with members of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) Committee on Migration traveled to the US - Mexico border yesterday, and celebrated Mass in remembrance of migrants who have died attempting to reach the United States. This Mission for Migrants included a wreath laying ceremony and a tour of the border. It was inspired by the trip by Pope Francis to Lampedusa, Italy, last year to pray for migrants who died attempting to reach Europe by boat. Read More ...

Pope Francis reflects on sins of sloth, hypocrisy | Pope Francis, Casa Santa Marta, hypocrisy, sloth, well at Bethsesda
Pope Francis reflects on sins of sloth, hypocrisy
Pope Francis reflected on the need for Christians to be really committed to discipleship, and prepared to take risks for the cause of the Gospel, during his homily at Casa Santa Marta this morning. Focussing on the day's Gospel reading in which Jesus heals a paralyzed man at the pool of Bethesda on the Sabbath, Pope Francis addressed both the spiritual malaise of the sick man, whom he healed, and of the Pharisees, who began to persecute and plot against Him. “I think of many Christians, of many Catholics: yes, they are Catholics, but without enthusiasm, Read More ...

Vatican introduces new security measure in St Peter's Square | Harris Hawk, Sylvia, Swiss Guards, St Peter's Square
Vatican introduces new security measure in St Peter's Square
Vatican officials today are introducing a new measure to keep St Peter's Square clear of marauding birds. A team in the Swiss Guards has been assigned the task of supervising a Sharris Hawk, which will be brought out during the Weekly Audiences and the Angelus - on Wednesdays and Sundays. On 26 January this year, two white peace doves were attacked by a crow and a seagull, seconds after they were released from a window in the Apostolic Palace by Pope Francis, accompanied by two children. One dove lost several feathers in the fracas. Read More ...

Pope Francis asks: Where are you on your spiritual journey? | Pope Francis, spiritual journey, Casa Santa Marta
Pope Francis asks: Where are you on your spiritual journey?
Where are you on your spiritual journey? Are you wandering aimlessly like a tourist? Have you stopped or lost your way? Or are you heading straight for your destination? Pope Francis reflected on these questions during his homily at Mass in Casa Santa Marta on Monday morning. Reflecting on the day’s readings from Isaiah and St John’s Gospel Pope Francis distinguished between three different types of Christians and how they live their spiritual lives. Read More ...

Green Christian programme to develop 'Joy in Enough' manifesto | Green Christians, ‘Joy in Enough’ manifesto,  global warming, Christian Ecology Link, CEL
Green Christian programme to develop 'Joy in Enough' manifesto

Green Christians have launched a two-year programme to develop a ‘Joy in Enough’ manifesto. It will rethink how the economy could be restructured to achieve social justice, respect planet Earth’s natural limits, and set people free from the obligation to consume beyond their needs. The programme is given a special relevance today, as the UN warns that the impacts of global warming are likely to be "severe, pervasive and irreversible". Over 100 people from across Christian denominations attended the conference  organised by Christian Ecology Link 

 Read More ...

Pope Francis: The story of the blind man cured by Jesus is our story too | Pope Francis, Jesus cures blind man
Pope Francis: The story of the blind man cured by Jesus is our story too
At midday on Sunday, the Holy Father appeared at the window of his study to pray the Angelus with the thousands pilgrims gathered in St.Peter's Square. Before the Marian prayer he commented on the Gospel reading from St John, which relates the story of the man blind from birth to whom Jesus gave sight. The apostle narrates the event in just a few verses as his intention is to attract attention not to the miracle in itself, but rather to the questions it raises. Read More ...

Remembering Rwanda - 20 years on  | Rwanda, genocide, CAFOD
Remembering Rwanda - 20 years on
CAFOD will join parishes across the country to commemorate the twentieth anniversary of the Rwandan genocide on Sunday, 6 April. In 1994, CAFOD helped lead the response and recovery that followed the genocide, supported by £6 million in donations sent in by the Catholic community in England and Wales. In the 100 days that followed the assassination of President Juvenal Habyarimana on 6 April 1994, it is  stimated that an average of six people were killed every minute of every hour of every day, while the international community failed to intervene. Read More ...

Brazil: CAFOD community under new threat of eviction | CAFOD,  São Paulo, eviction,  Mauá building,  Brazil, Nete Araujo
Brazil: CAFOD community under new threat of eviction
A community at the heart of CAFOD’s work in São Paulo is under renewed threat of eviction. For seven years, with the support of CAFOD’s local partners and campaigners in this country, the 237 homeless families who occupy the Mauá building in Brazil’s most populous city have fought to make it their permanent home.  At Christmas, there was hope of a breakthrough when the São Paulo city government passed a decree to buy the building and turn it into properly-equipped social housing for the families. Read More ...

‘Wonders of Waste’ Bags – an ecological livelihood project | WoW Bags, Ellen Teague
‘Wonders of Waste’ Bags – an ecological livelihood project
Hope can certainly be found in dark places. On a recent visit to the Philippines I was taken on a walk through Manila’s Area 9, which lies in the Columban Parish of Malate, near Manila Bay. My guide was an old friend, Helen Mitchell, along with two of the women who work on her income-generating project, Wonders of Waste Bags or WoW Bags. Helen, Edith and Marivic led me through a maze of dark and smelly alleyways, making our way over broken paving stones covering sewers. Babies were being nurtured and tiny children hanging around doorways, Read More ...
Ellen Teague

Pope: Confession is an experience of love & mercy, not a sentencing court |  Pope Francis, Apostolic Penitentiary, good confessors
Pope: Confession is an experience of love & mercy, not a sentencing court
On Friday morning in the Hall of Blessings, Pope Francis received in audience 600 participants in the annual course of the internal forum of the Apostolic Penitentiary. For a quarter of a century this dicastery has offered the course, especially to recently ordained priests and deacons, to contribute to the formation of good confessors.  In his address, the Holy Father encouraged those present to “treasure the experience acquired with wise creativity, Read More ...

Pope Francis presides over Reconcilation service | Pope Francis, Reconciliation, St Peter's
Pope Francis presides over Reconcilation service
Pope Francis delivered the homily at a penitential service over which he was presiding in St Peter’s Basilica on Friday afternoon.   After his homily, the Holy Falther went to Confession himself,  before sitting down and starting to hear the confessions of members of the congregation. The order of the celebration included Psalms, readings from Sacred Scripture, and hymns, all focused on the theme of repentance and God’s boundless mercy.... In the season of Lent, the Church, in the name of God, renews the call to conversion. Read More ...

Egypt: Four killed in Islamist attack on church | Islamist attack on a Coptic Church in Cairo, General Abdel Fatah al-Sisi, Ain Sham Cairo protesters ,  Virgin Mary and the Archangel Michael,  Sameh Merry,
Egypt: Four killed in Islamist attack on church
An Islamist attack on a Coptic Church in Cairo on Friday left four people dead. Supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood held demonttrations across the country in reaction against the official candidate in the upcoming presidential election of General Abdel Fatah al-Sisi. In the suburb of Ain Sham in Cairo,  protesters carried out their violence against the Coptic church dedicated to the Virgin Mary and the Archangel Michael.  A young woman, Sameh Merry, driving past was shot dead when the mob saw that she had a cross hanging in the front of her car. Read More ...

Zimbabwe: Church launches appeal after dam collapse causes major flood  | Tokwe-Mukosi dam, Chingwizi camp, Zimbabwe, dam collapse, Caritas,  Fr Peter Chimombe
Zimbabwe: Church launches appeal after dam collapse causes major flood
The Catholic Church in Zimbabwe has launched an appeal for thousands of people who have lost their homes and land after a heavy rains caused a partial collapse of the Tokwe-Mukosi dam in the south west of the country. Describing "sub-human conditions on the ground at Chingwizi camp" Fr Peter Chimombe said people in the camp look like "refugees in a war situation". "The incessant rains that Masvingo region received this season saw dam water levels at Tokwe Mukosi rising beyond the expectations of the contractors. Read More ...

Women in the Church - Vatican Radio special report |  Future Church, Sr Christine Schenk, women in the Catholic Church, catacombs,women deacons
Women in the Church - Vatican Radio special report
As Pope Francis declares the need for more women in decision making areas, an annual pilgrimage in Rome is focussing on the nearly forgotten role of women in the early Church. A Vatican Radio special report on putting women back in the picture. Vatican Radio writes that rediscovering and re-evaluating the role of women in early Christianity is the goal of the pilgrimage taking place in Rome under the auspices of a US based Catholic group seeking greater leadership roles for women in the Church today. Read More ...

New Christian Aid report shows human cost of climate change | Christian Aid, climate change
New Christian Aid report shows human cost of climate change
Christian Aid has published a new report today, showing the devastating effects of climate change, with communities worldwide, particularly in worst hit poorer countries, being forced to change their way of life.While record-breaking floods in the UK received massive media coverage, along with broad acceptance that climate change was to blame, the voices of those suffering even greater impacts have largely gone unheard. Using personal stories from seven different countries; Read More ...

Pakistan: Christian road sweeper sentenced to death for blasphemy | sentenced to death, blasphemy law, Sawan Masih, Pakistan,
Pakistan: Christian road sweeper sentenced to death for blasphemy
A Christian road sweeper from Lahore, Pakistan, has been sentenced to death for blasphemy. Judges passed sentence on Sawan Masih in a hearing held in private on Thursday, due to the 'sensitive nature¹ of the case. They also fined him 200,000 Rupees (about £1,200).  Father-of-three Sawan is from Joseph Colony in the Badami Bagh area of Lahore. He was arrested after being accused of blasphemy following a row over property with a Muslim friend in March 2013. Read More ...

Pope advises Italy's Parliamentarians: make the effort to open up to God | Pope Francis, parliamentarians
Pope advises Italy's Parliamentarians: make the effort to open up to God
In the time of Jesus, the governing class had distanced itself from the people, abandoning them by pursuing their own ideologies and sliding ever downwards into corruption. That’s what Pope Francis said Thursday morning in his homily at Mass in St Peter’s Basilica, in the presence of nearly 500 Members of the Italian Parliament. Most members of Italy’s Parliament attended the Mass, including nine ministers and the Speakers of the Senate and the House. Read More ...

Pope Francis receives President Obama | President Obama, Pope Francis
Pope Francis receives President Obama
Pope Francis and President Obama met this morning. In a statement the Vatican said they discussed “current international themes” and expressed the hope that “in areas of conflict there would be respect for humanitarian and international law and a negotiated solution between the parties involved.” . in the context of bilateral relations between the US and the Holy See, the Pope and the President discussed “questions of particular relevance for the Church in that country, such as the rights to religious freedom, life and conscientious objection, as well as  immigration reform. Read More ...

Pakistan: Asia Bibi appeal postponed again | Shahbaz Bhatti, Asia Bibi, Pakistan, Salmaan Taseer
Pakistan: Asia Bibi appeal postponed again
The first hearing of the appeal for Asia Bibi, the Pakistani woman under sentence of death for blasphemy, has again been postponed. This time her accuser 'the counterpart' did not appear in the courtroom. "The judges were calm and wanted to examine the case. The Court will not tolerate such strategies", Asia’s defense lawyers said. "We have solid arguments and we are ready to present them. We remain very confident, from a legal point of view", the lawyers explain. "The fears are all on the other side". Read More ...

Germany's 'Bishop of Bling' resigns | 'Bishop of Bling', Bishop of Limburg, Franz-Peter Tebartz-van Elst,  Auxiliary Bishop Manfred Grothe of Paderborn, Cardinal Reinhard Marx
Germany's 'Bishop of Bling' resigns
The German bishop who spent millions on luxury features for his diocesan complex has resigned, the Vatican confirmed this morning. The Bishop of Limburg, Franz-Peter Tebartz-van Elst was called to a meeting at the Vatican last October after reports of his enormous spending at his new diocesan centre and private residence in western Germany emerged. The renovation and building project came to more than £26million pounds - ten times over budget. Extravagances included £21,000 for a table, nearly £13,000 on a bath tub, and £627,000 on a garden. Read More ...
Dan Bergin

Pope Francis to meet with President Obama | Pope Francis, President Obama
Pope Francis to meet with President Obama
President Barack Obama is due to meet Pope Francis on Thursday for the first time. This will be the second time the President has been received at the Vatican. He had an audience with Pope Benedict XVI on 10 July, 2009. Barack Obama is the ninth US President to make an official visit to the Vatican. The first, Woodrow Wilson, received by Pope Benedict XV after the end of the First World War. The next audience for a sitting president came 30 years later, when Blessed Pope John XXIII, received President Dwight D Eisenhower  in 1959. Read More ...

Pope reflects on Sacrament of Holy Orders   | Pope Francis, Holy Orders,  Sacraments, General Audience
Pope reflects on Sacrament of Holy Orders
Greeting thousands of pilgrims, huddled under umbrellas in a rainy St Peter's Square today (Wednesday 26 March), Pope Francis continued his teaching on the Sacraments - speaking about the Sacrament of Holy Orders. He prayed that the Lord may provide holy, generous and merciful pastors for his Church. Following from the sacraments of Christian initiation - Baptism, Confirmation and Eucharist - Pope Francis said Matrimony and Holy Orders correspond to two specific vocations or ways of building up Christ’s Church. Read More ...

Archbishop Paglia outlines 2015 World Meeting of Families | Archbishop Paglia, Pope Francis, World Meeting of Families, Family Synod, Philadelphia
Archbishop Paglia outlines 2015 World Meeting of Families
Presiding over a press conference yesterday, to present the Eighth World Meeting for Families which will take place in Philadelphia in September 2015, Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia, President of the Pontifical Council for the Family said the guidelines to setting up the agenda of the Meeting were set by Pope Francis when he said: “the beauty of the family and of marriage, the grandeur of a reality that is both simple and profound, a combination of joy, hope, burdens and suffering, just like the rest of life.” Read More ...

CAFOD: 'UK should accept more vulnerable Syrians'  | CAFOD, Syria, refugees
CAFOD: 'UK should accept more vulnerable Syrians'
As the first Syrian refugees arrive in the UK, CAFOD is calling for the government to offer a place of safety to more of those who are most in need. The first ten to twenty Syrian refugees are expected to arrive in Britain this week as part of the government’s Vulnerable Persons Relocation Scheme. But, with the crisis in Syria growing worse by the day, CAFOD argues that the UK should be prepared to accept more of the most vulnerable people fleeing the violence. Read More ...

Pakistan: Asia Bibi, new hearing on 26 March | Asia Bibi, Pakistan, death penalty
Pakistan: Asia Bibi, new hearing on 26 March
After two postponements, the appeal for Asia Bibi, a Christian woman unjustly accused and sentenced to death for blasphemy is set for Wednesday 26 March. Christian lawyer Naeem Shakir, head of her defense team is preparing the points of the defense with the aim to prove that "the charges against her have always been false". The trial has been postponed twice and the Court administration has been on strike  recently, but the lawyer says he has "high hopes" for Wednesday's hearing. Meanwhile, he said, Asia Bibi is in the women's prison in Multan Read More ...

Egypt: Coptic Catholic bishop speaks out against death penalty for 500 members of  Muslim Brotherhood | Egypt,  Coptic Catholic Bishop of Assiut, Kyrillos William,  death sentences, Court of Minya, Muslim Brotherhood.
Egypt: Coptic Catholic bishop speaks out against death penalty for 500 members of Muslim Brotherhood
The Coptic Catholic Bishop of Assiut, Kyrillos William,  has spoken our against the death sentences which the Court of Minya ruled against 500 members of the Muslim Brotherhood. Bishop William said: "There is the hardness of a judgment that is not final, and we have to wait. But in any case, the Church is against the death penalty. From a Christian conscience point of view, the death penalty can never be the way to solve problems".  The sentences which have been condemned by human rights campaigners around the world, Read More ...

How the young Obama was influenced by Catholic social teaching | Barack Obama, Catholic Social teaching,  Chicago, Andrew Lyke, Chicago Archdiocese Office for Black Catholics
How the young Obama was influenced by Catholic social teaching
On Thursday, President Obama will meet Pope Francis at the Vatican. Writing in the New York Times, Jason Horowitz describes how his early political activism in Chicago was influenced by his work as a community organizer, training black Roman Catholics at the Holy Rosary Church to lobby their fellow delegates to a national congress in Washington on issues like empowering lay leaders and attracting more believers. “He so quickly got us,” said Andrew Lyke, a participant who is now director of Chicago Archdiocese’s Office for Black Catholics. Read More ...

Pope Francis: 'Let us ask for the grace of humility' | Pope Francis, Casa Santa Marta, humility
Pope Francis: 'Let us ask for the grace of humility'
Our salvation is not just in observing the Commandments, but in the humility to always feel the need to be healed by God. This was the focus of Pope Francis' homily during Mass on Monday morning at Casa Santa Marta. In the Gospel reading, Jesus told his fellow citizens in Nazareth: “No prophet is accepted in his hometown”. It was a place where he never worked miracles because “they had no faith”. Jesus recalls two biblical episodes: the miracle of the healing of the leper Naaman, Read More ...

Pope Francis: the Lord's mercy is stronger than any prejudice or fear | Pope Francis, woman at the well, prejudice
Pope Francis: the Lord's mercy is stronger than any prejudice or fear
Pope Francis on Sunday urged his listeners not to be afraid, judgmental or prejudiced. The Lord’s mercy is far greater than any prejudice. Speaking to more than 40,000 people gathered in St Peter’s Square for the Sunday Angelus, the Pope reflected on the reading from John that tells of the encounter between Jesus and the Samaritan woman at the well. “When a Samaritan woman came to draw water, Jesus said to her, ‘Will you give me a drink?’ Here he cut across the hostility between Jews and Samaritans,  and crushed the prejudice in relating to women. Read More ...

Pope appoints four women to Vatican commission on sex abuse | Marie Collins, abuse survivor,Catherine Bonnet,  Sheila Hollins,Hanna Suchocka, Sean Patrick O'Malley,  Claudio Papale, Miguel Yanez, Pope Francis, Fr Hans Zollner, sex abuse
Pope appoints four women to Vatican commission on sex abuse
A woman who was abused by a hospital chaplain has been appointed to a new Vatican commission created to root out paedophilia in the Church, the Vatican said on Saturday. In December Pope Francis announced that he was going to set up the commission. On Saturday the Vatican announced the names of the first eight members. They are: Marie Collins, an Irish abuse survivor who has been an outspoken campaigner for the rights of victims; Read More ...

Giving a voice to the poor – World TB Day 2014 | Ringo Star, Nelson Mandela, Tom Jones, World TB Day,  Desmond Tutu, Sr Gillian Price, Henry VII, St Therese of Lisieux,  John Keats
Giving a voice to the poor – World TB Day 2014
Do you know what Ringo Star, Nelson Mandela, Tom Jones and Desmond Tutu all had in common? – they survived having tuberculosis. Whereas Henry VII, St Therese of Lisieux and the poet, John Keats died of the disease. TB has been present in humans for at least 70,000 years and has killed an estimated one billion people since its emergence: a greater number than any other infectious disease. Monday 24 March is World TB day, marking the date in 1882 when Dr Robert Koch first discovered the bacilli that causes TB. Read More ...
Sister Gillian Price

Pope prays with victims' families, urges Mafia members to give up crime | Pope Francis, Mafia
Pope prays with victims' families, urges Mafia members to give up crime
This evening (Friday 21 March), Pope Francis prayed at St Gregory VII Church in Rome, with families whose loved ones have been killed by the Mafia. At the service, organised by the Libera Foundation, Pope Francis listened quietly, his head hung low, his hands clasped in prayer, as the 842 names of victims of Mafia violence, including 80 children, were read one by one. During the vigil, the Pope expressed his empathy, sympathy and solidarity with the 700 people present. Read More ...

Pope Francis: Please do not kill the Word of God | Pope Francis, Casa Santa Marta,
Pope Francis: Please do not kill the Word of God
If a Christian is not humble, if he does not pray, he risks taking the Word of God and remaking it in his own liking. To see how to guard against this temptation, Pope Francis looked the Gospel of the day. Jesus recounts the story of the workers in a vineyard, who killed first the servants, and ultimately the son, of the master of the vineyard, with the intention of making themselves masters of his inheritance. This parable, was directed to the Pharisees, the elders of the people, the priests; Jesus was trying to show them Read More ...

New Catenian groups established in India | Bishop of Mumbai,  Agneto Gracias, Catenians,  Fr Daniel Fernandes
New Catenian groups established in India
The spread of Catenianism – faith, family, friendship and fellowship – took significant strides forward with the formation of two new circles in India this month,  in Goa and Mumbai. This Catholic laymen’s association’s party of 42 Catenians and wives lead by Grand President, John Rayer and his wife Anne and International Development Officer Tony Godden and his wife Kelly, travelled with Catenians from the UK, Malta and Australia to be present at the formation of the new circles and attend Masses, meetings of established circles and social gatherings. Read More ...
Dennis Cooper

Japanese firm to digitalize Vatican Library | Vatican Apostolic Library, NTT DATA, digitalization,  Monsignor Jean Louis Brugues, Monsignor Cesare Pasini,  Toshio Iwamoto,
Japanese firm to digitalize Vatican Library
The Vatican Apostolic Library and the Japanese firm NTT DATA signed an agreement on Thursday that will result in the rapid digitalization of 3,000 valuable historical manuscripts over the next four years. This is the first step in the planned digitalization of all the 82,000 manuscripts preserved in the Library. The project was announced at a news conference held in the Holy See’s Press Office that included interventions by Mgr Jean Louis Brugues, Archivist and Librarian, Mgr Cesare Pasini, Prefect of the Vatican Apostolic Library and by Toshio Iwamoto, Read More ...

Pope Francis: Place all your trust in the Lord | Pope Francis, Casa Santa Marta, trust in the Lord
Pope Francis: Place all your trust in the Lord
Those who trust in themselves, in their own richness or ideologies are destined for unhappiness,  Pope Francis said at Mass this morning. "The one who trusts in the Lord, on the other hand, bears fruit even of time of drought," he told the congregation gathered in the chapel chapel at Casa Santa Marta. “Cursed is the man who trusts in human beings,” “the man who trusts in himself”: he will be “like a barren bush in the desert,” condemned by the drought to remain without fruit and to die. Pope Francis began with the day’s First Reading, Read More ...

COMECE statement on European elections 2014 | Catholic Bishops of Europe, COMECE,  European elections
COMECE statement on European elections 2014
The Catholic Bishops of Europe publish today a statement relating to the upcoming European elections. In the text, they reaffirm their support for the European project. They encourage all citizens of the European Union to go to the polling booths on 22 - 25 May, and to start engaging, during the run-up to the election, in constructive dialogue with their MEP’s and those who are candidates for seats. COMECE invites the Bishops’ conferences in the EU, to adopt this text, either by using it as an Election Statement as such or as an inspiration for Read More ...

Pakistan: Asia Bibi appeal hearing postponed, lawyers remain hopeful | Asia Bibi,  Noreen,  Naeem Shakir, Pakistan, blasphemy, Muslim
Pakistan: Asia Bibi appeal hearing postponed, lawyers remain hopeful
The first hearing of the appeal trial of Asia Bibi Noreen, scheduled for Monday morning, 17 March, in front of the High Court in Lahore, was postponed due to the absence of one of the judges. But Christian lawyer Naeem Shakir, head of the defense team said he was convinced Asia has "a good chance for a full acquittal".In June 2009, Asia was involved in an argument with a group of Muslim women with whom she had been harvesting berries, after the other women became angry at her for drinking the same water as them. Read More ...

Pope Francis: Lent is a time to make changes in your life | Pope Francis, Lent, Casa Santa Marta
Pope Francis: Lent is a time to make changes in your life
Lent is a time to “adjust your life,” “to get closer to the Lord.” That was the message of Pope Francis at Mass this morning at Casa Santa Marta. The Pope warned against thinking of ourselves as “better than others.” The hypocrites, he warned, “disguise themselves as good people” and do not understand that no one is made just by his own efforts; we all need to undergo justification. Pope Francis began his homily stressing “conversion” as the key word of Lent, a favourable time “to grow closer” to Jesus. Commenting on Read More ...

On Feast of St Joseph,  Pope tells fathers: 'Be close to your children. They need you' | Pope Francis, St Joseph
On Feast of St Joseph, Pope tells fathers: 'Be close to your children. They need you'
Pope Francis celebrated the Feast of St Joseph today, pointing out that he is a model for all fathers and educators.... Speaking off the cuff, the Pope sent special greetings to all the fathers of the world, thanking them for what they do with their children. "Be close to your children" - the Pope said - "they need you. Just as St Joseph was close to Jesus in his physical, psychological and spiritual growth, you too must be guardians in age, wisdom and grace. Just as St Joseph was close to Jesus in his physical, psychological and spiritual growth, you too Read More ...

Vatican prayer vigil for victims of mafia | Vatican, prayer vigil for victims of mob violence, Fr Luigi Ciotti, Pope Francis, Fr Federico Lombardi
Vatican prayer vigil for victims of mafia
Pope Francis will preside a prayer vigil organized by the Libera Foundation, this Friday,  21 March, with family members of innocent victims of the mafia. The vigil will be held in Rome at the Church of San Gregorio VII, on the evening before the national memorial day for innocent victims killed by the mafia. The event will gather 700 family members of these victims from across Italy; they represent about 15,000 people who have suffered the loss of a loved one to mafia violence. Read More ...

Philippine Cardinal thanks Columban Missionaries |  Fr Kevin O’Neill, Columbans,  Fr Patrick O’Donoghue,  Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle, Archbishop of Manila, Ellen Teague
Philippine Cardinal thanks Columban Missionaries
Columban missionaries have been thanked for their missionary work in the Philippines by Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle, Archbishop of Manila. He was speaking on 14 March at a special Mass in the Columbans’ Manila house with the Columban international leadership, who were meeting last week in the Philippines. “Thanks for the Columban missionaries who have allowed themselves to be vessels of God’s love” he said; “you have touched hearts here and elsewhere and conveyed the mystery of God’s love”. In a dynamic sermon, he acknowledged Columbans Read More ...
Ellen Teague

Ukrainian seafarers putting on a brave face, but need support | Apostleship of the Sea, AoS, Ukraine,  AoS Southampton port chaplain, Reverend Roger Stone
Ukrainian seafarers putting on a brave face, but need support
Catholic seafarers’ charity Apostleship of the Sea (AoS) is continuing to assist Ukrainian seafarers arriving at ports in Great Britain. Its port chaplains up and down the country are offering practical help such as providing internet connection for Ukrainian crew to contact their families back home. AoS Southampton port chaplain Reverend Roger Stone who is supporting Ukrainian seafarers said: “I met two who live very near Crimea. One is Ukrainian, the other half Russian, and half Ukrainian. Read More ...

Nigeria: Thousands risk death to attend Mass   |  Aid to the Church in Need, Nigeria, Boko Haram, Africa, Anti-Christian violence, Murder, Nigeria, Persecution, War and conflict
Nigeria: Thousands risk death to attend Mass
More than 2,000 people in northern Nigeria risked their lives by turning out for Sunday Mass while their city was being bombed. Describing St Patrick’s Cathedral, Maiduguri, as “packed”, Father John Bakeni, the celebrant at the Mass, said people told him afterwards that if the attacks worsened they would prefer to die in church than anywhere else.  Sunday’s Mass took place after suspected Boko Haram extremists launched one of their biggest armed campaigns of recent months, firing rocket-propelled grenades Read More ...
John Pontifex

Pope Francis: Be big hearted | Pope Francis, Casa Santa Marta, big hearted, forgiveness
Pope Francis: Be big hearted
To find mercy we must first forgive. It is through forgiveness that our hearts, and the world, are filled with peace. This was the main theme of Pope Francis’ homily during Mass at the Casa Santa Marta yesterday. “Be merciful as your Father is merciful.” Commenting on these words of Jesus, the Pope added that “it is not easy to understand this attitude of mercy” because we are habitually judgmental. “We are not the sorts of people who naturally allow for understanding and mercy. Read More ...

Vatican: Major interfaith initiative to combat slavery launched  | Pope Francis,Archbishop of Canterbury,  Justin Welby, Global Freedom Network, Bishop Marcelo Sánchez Sorondo; Archbishop Sir David Moxon; Grand Imam of Al Azhar, Egypt, Dr Mahmoud Azab;  Mr Andrew Forrest
Vatican: Major interfaith initiative to combat slavery launched
Eradicating modern slavery and human trafficking across the world by 2020 is the objective of a ground-breaking agreement between Catholic, Anglican and Muslim leaders announced at the Vatican on 17 March. Pope Francis and Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby have personally given their backing to the newly-formed Global Freedom Network. The agreement to help eradicate an injustice affecting up to 29 million people was co-signed on behalf of the Holy Father Read More ...

Holy Land: Catholic leaders meet in Tiberias | Assembly of Catholic Ordinaries in the Holy Land, Casa Nova Guesthouse,Tiberias, Koinonia John the Baptist,Latin Patriarch Fouad Twal, Greek Catholic Archbishop of Galilee Elias Chacour,  Maronite Archbishop Moussa al-Hage.
Holy Land: Catholic leaders meet in Tiberias
On March 11 and 12, the Assembly of Catholic Ordinaries in the Holy Land gathered in the Casa Nova Guesthouse in Tiberias for the first of its bi-annual meetings of 2014....  The proceedings began with a time for prayer, the greeting of the President of the Assembly, Latin Patriarch Fouad Twal and a round of news from the various participants. In his opening remarks, Patriarch Twal thanked newly retired Greek Catholic Archbishop of Galilee Elias Chacour Read More ...

Oblate General writes from Ukraine | Oblate Superior General, Fr Louis Lougen, Ukrain, Kiev
Oblate General writes from Ukraine
On Monday, 17 March 2014, the Oblate Superior General, Fr Louis Lougen, wrote about the atmosphere in Ukraine on the day after the referendum in Crimea. He is in Ukraine to preach a retreat to the Oblates there. Fr Lougen writes: The situation is apparently calm although one sees masses of troops here and there; on the road we passed quite a line-up of Ukrainian tanks the other day near Kiev. The anxiety of the people is great given the history here in Ukraine of such great suffering and the present mood coming from Russia. Read More ...

Syria: New 'calm' draws Christians to Homs | Archbishop Abdon Arbach, Aid to the Church in Need, Homs, Syria,
Syria: New 'calm' draws Christians to Homs
Hundreds of Christian families determined to stay in Syria have moved to Homs, close to where some of the conflict’s worst violence has taken place. Melkite Greek Catholic Archbishop Jean Abdon Arbach of Homs said that significant parts of the city and the surrounding area are now “calm” but went on to warn of oppression of Christians in the rebel-held north of the country. In an interview with Aid to the Church in Need, which has prioritised emergency help for Syria’s faithful, the archbishop said 20,000 Christians now live in Homs Read More ...
Reinhard Backes and John Pontifex

Laos: Christians in village ordered to abandon their faith | Christians, Laos, Natahall, Phin district, Savannakhet, Christian faith, Laos, religious persicution
Laos: Christians in village ordered to abandon their faith
Christians living in the Laotian village of Natahall in Phin district, in the province of Savannakhet are struggling hard to defend the constitutionally guaranteed right to profess the Christian faith, and the right of property with regards to their homes. Eight Christian families in the village, after a campaign of intimidation and violence that has been going on for over three months, have appealed to the leaders of the Religious Affairs Office of the District of Phin, but have received no reply. Read More ...

Pope Francis: We need to climb the mountain, but we cannot stay there | Pope Francis, Mount Tabor,  Transfiguration,  Peter, James, John, Angelus
Pope Francis: We need to climb the mountain, but we cannot stay there
"The mountain is the site of the encounter intimate closeness with God - the place of prayer, in which to stand in the presence of the Lord,”...  “We need to go to a place of retreat, to climb the mountain and go to a place of silence, to find ourselves and better perceive the voice of the Lord.” We cannot stay there, however. “The encounter with God in prayer again pushes us to ‘come down from the mountain’ and back down into the plain,where we meet many brothers and sisters weighed down by fatigue, injustice, and both material and spiritual poverty. Read More ...

Ukraine: Catholic priest abducted, later released | Crimea, Father Mykola Kvych, Ukrainian military chaplain, abducted by pro-Russian forces  Bishop Borys Gudziak, Ukrainian Greek Catholic Eparchy,
Ukraine: Catholic priest abducted, later released
A Ukrainian Greek Catholic priest was kidnapped in Crimea on Saturday. Sources in Ukraine say Father Mykola Kvych, a pastor and a Ukrainian military chaplain, was abducted by pro-Russian forces after celebrating Mass. Bishop Borys Gudziak, Head of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Eparchy, expressed his grave concern about the repercussions of the kidnapping. He said: “Every abduction is a terrible event for everybody involved. It’s a gross violation of human rights and God-given human dignity. Read More ...

Bishop Lang appeals for prayers as Syrian crisis worsens: 'the level of human loss and suffering is staggering' | Bishop Declan Lang,  Syria
Bishop Lang appeals for prayers as Syrian crisis worsens: 'the level of human loss and suffering is staggering'
Bishop Declan Lang, Chair of the Bishops Conference International Affairs Department, has appealed for prayers for Syria. In a statement he said: " As we complete the third year of the uprisings in Syria that started on 15 March 2011, the levels of human loss and suffering are staggering. Figures such as 140,000 dead, 6.5 million internally displaced, 2.5 million refugees in neighbouring countries like Lebanon or Jordan,  and the hundreds of thousands injured, kidnapped, imprisoned or disappeared have together numbed our senses. Read More ...

India: Three convicted, six acquitted for rape of nun during massacre of Christians | India, Kandhamal, Orissa,  Meena Barwa. Rape, anti-Christian massacres,  Orissa
India: Three convicted, six acquitted for rape of nun during massacre of Christians
There is shock and dismay among the Christian community in India after this morning’s ruling, 14 March , in which a court of first instance in the district of Kandhamal, in Orissa, convicted three people and acquitted six for the gang rape of the Catholic nun Meena Barwa. Rape was one of the most heinous crimes carried out during the anti-Christian massacres in Orissa in 2008, when more than 400 villages were 'cleansed' of all Christians and more than 5,600 houses and 296 churches were burned, 100 were killed, thousands were injured, Read More ...

South Sudan: We have lost everything | Monsignor Roko Taban, Malakal, Unity, Upper Nile,  Jonglei, ACN. Aid to the Church in Need, South Sudan ,Sister Elena Balatti
South Sudan: We have lost everything
Entire swathes of a region in South Sudan have been abandoned by the local people who – according to their Church leader – have fled for their lives following a brutal attack carried out during a so-called ceasefire. Monsignor Roko Taban, Apostolic Administrator of Malakal, described how a mass evacuation had been carried out across parts of Unity, Upper Nile and Jonglei states following violence involving rebel forces under Riek Machar, South Sudan’s former vice president. Read More ...
John Pontifex

Pope's Spiritual Exercises conclude | Casa del Divin Maestro in Ariccia,  Pope Francis, Spiritual Exercises
Pope's Spiritual Exercises conclude
At 9 am today, the five days of spiritual exercises held in the Casa del Divin Maestro in Ariccia with Pope Francis and membes of the Curia, came to an end with the song of Praise and the final meditation. The Holy Father thanked Fr Angelo De Donatis, priest of San Marco Evangelista all'Campidoglio, for his daily meditations. “We now return home with a good seed: the seed of the Word of God.…The Lord will send the rain and the seed will grow … and will bear fruit.  Read More ...

Letter from Syria: A fourth Lent spent in war | +Samir Nassar, Maronite Archbishop of Damascus, Syria
Letter from Syria: A fourth Lent spent in war
Archbishop Samir Nassar, Maronite Archbishop of Damascus writes: A chaotic situation. A fourth Lent spent in war will mean pain and violence. The Geneva II peace conference hasn’t change anything at the moment. New streams of refugees come to our parishes exceeding our resources. Our social and pastoral action is primarily focused on support of the affected families. Here are some highlights of our weaknesses, limits and many challenges: Read More ...

Templeton Prize laureate: 'Eurosceptics on side of Putin' | Monsignor Professor Tomáš Halik, Templeton Prize, Putin, Czech priest
Templeton Prize laureate: 'Eurosceptics on side of Putin'
The 2014 winner of the Templeton Prize said today that Eurosceptics were “influenced by national egotism” and “on the side of Mr Putin,” in the current conflict in the Ukraine. Monsignor Professor Tomáš Halik, the 44th recipient of the prize, said in London today (13 March 2014): “The hearts of a great many Czech people are on the side of the Ukraine.” A professor of philosophy who spearheaded the intellectual and spiritual resistance movement in Communist-era Czechoslovakia, Read More ...
Bess Twiston-Davies

Czech priest wins 2014 Templeton Prize | Bess Twiston-Davies, Templeton prize, Monsignor Professor Tomáš Halik
Czech priest wins 2014 Templeton Prize
A courageous Czech priest and philosopher has won the 2014 Templeton Prize. Monsignor Professor Tomáš Halik is the 44th recipient of the £1.1 million prize, awarded annually to an individual who, “through insight, discovery or practical work” has helped affirm life’s spiritual dimension. A champion of dialogue between the Church and those of all faiths or none, Mgr Halik co-ordinated an illegal network championing spiritual and intellectual freedom in Communist Czechoslovakia. Read More ...
Bess Twiston-Davies


Ukraine:
 A spiritual journey in a political guise | Ukraine, David Nazar SJ, Thinking Faith

Ukraine:
 A spiritual journey in a political guise
Writing from Ukraine, David Nazar SJ gives a first-hand account of the recent events in the country on Thinking Faith. The media coverage has been littered with misunderstandings, he says, particularly in the reporting of the influence of the oligarchs and the role played by Russia. What is really going on in this ‘apocalyptic’ confrontation between the people and the government? The recent events in Ukraine are not what many news sources, even respected ones, imagine them to be. Read More ...
David Nazar SJ

US Bishops praise Obama, Kerry's efforts to resolve Israeli Palestinian conflict | Archbishop Joseph Kurtz, U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, USCCB, Bishop Richard Pates, President Obama, John Kerry, Israel, Palestine, Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Pope Francis, Jews, Christians, Muslims
US Bishops praise Obama, Kerry's efforts to resolve Israeli Palestinian conflict
Archbishop Joseph E Kurtz of Louisville, president of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops, and Bishop Richard E Pates of Des Moines, chairman of the bishops’ Committee on International Justice and Peace, hailed efforts of President Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. “We are acutely aware of the difficulties of the quest for a lasting and just peace between Israelis and Palestinians,” the bishops said in a March 12 letter to President Obama. Read More ...

Vatican celebration for International Women’s Day | International Women’s Day , Voices of Faith, Caritas
Vatican celebration for International Women’s Day
It has the smallest population of women in any country in the world –around 30– but that didn’t stop the Vatican celebrating International Women’s Day on Saturday. The ‘Voices of Faith‘ event in the Vatican marked the positive social contributions of Catholic women around the world. It was also the perfect occasion for Caritas Internationalis to announce the launch of the ‘Women Sowers of Development Prize’. As part of its One Human Family, Food for All campaign, the prize honours women who are agents of change Read More ...

Pakistan: Church destroyed; 5,000 Christian families faces eviction | 'Sharing Life Ministries Pakistan', Pakistan, Christians,Okara, Punjab Pakistan
Pakistan: Church destroyed; 5,000 Christian families faces eviction
A large group of Muslim extremists has destroyed a church that was under construction in Okara, Punjab Pakistan. The walls of the church had been completed, on land donated by a local Christian resident, Akber Masih. When a cross was placed in front of the main gate of the small construction yard a mob arrived with bulldozers and demolished the building. The faithful filed a complaint to the police, but the NGO 'Sharing Life Ministries Pakistan', said the perpetrators have not been arrested - thanks to the political influence they have. Read More ...

Nigeria: Over 500 Catholics killed by Boko Haram since 2009 | Boko Haram,  Bishop of Maiduguri, Most Rev Oliver Dashe Doeme,
Nigeria: Over 500 Catholics killed by Boko Haram since 2009
More than 500 Catholics  have been killed and 20 churches and priests houses destroyed,  in the north-east of Nigeria by Boko Haram, since 2009. This assertion was made by the Catholic Bishop of Maiduguri, Most Rev Oliver Dashe Doeme in an interview with Fides this week. Mgr Doeme says that at the root of the actions carried out by Boko Haram, that also kill for religious reasons, there is corruption. "Corruption is the number one problem of the nation" he said, 'the Boko Haram insurgency is a product of corruption. Read More ...

Pope begins annual retreat with Curia | Pope Francis, Lenten retreat, Michael Rogers, SJ, Mgr  Angelo De Donatis,
Pope begins annual retreat with Curia
Pope Francis has begun the traditional Lenten retreat with the members of the Roman Curia this week. In a departure from the practice of his predecessors, the Holy Father has asked participants to gather at a retreat house run by the Pauline Fathers in the small town of Ariccia, just south of Rome.... “One of the things that is important in Ignatian spirituality, when one makes the annual retreat, is that one goes away.... The point is to go away, and to let everything quieten down.” Read More ...

Cardinal welcomes Pope Francis' forthcoming visit to Korea | Cardinal Andrew Yeom Soo-jung,Seoul, South Korea, Pope Francis, Sixth Asian Youth Day, Diocese of Daejeon.
Cardinal welcomes Pope Francis' forthcoming visit to Korea
Cardinal Andrew Yeom Soo-jung, the Archbishop of Seoul, South Korea, has released a message thanking Pope Francis for deciding to visit his country this summer. Cardinal Yeom Soo-jung was made a Cardinal by Pope Francis in the Consistory on 22 February . Pope Francis will visit South Korea August 14 to 18 in what will be his third apostolic journey abroad since his election.  The Pope's journey coincides with the Sixth Asian Youth Day, which will take place in the Diocese of Daejeon. Read More ...

South Sudan at risk of famine as war continues, rainy season approaches | South Sudan, Christian Aid
South Sudan at risk of famine as war continues, rainy season approaches
An estimated seven million South Sudanese are at risk of severe food insecurity this year, with the UN Security Council now warning that the deteriorating humanitarian situation and continuing violence could result in famine at the beginning of 2015. Humanitarian agencies, including Christian Aid's local partners, are struggling in a battle against time to access remote areas of the country where people are most in need before the rainy season arrives in late March or early April. Read More ...

Asian Viewpoint: Fundamental flaws in Synod on the Family | Dr Astrid Lobo Gajiwala, Synod on the Family
Asian Viewpoint: Fundamental flaws in Synod on the Family
The Extraordinary Synod on the Family scheduled for October has captured the attention of the faithful like no other synod. Simply because this time the bishops will be discussing an issue on which the laity are experts. The enthusiasm of the 'laity' is plain to see from the numbers of user-friendly surveys that have spun off from the Vatican questionnaire addressed to the bishops last October. As the Catholic Organizations for Renewal, a US-based partnership of 15 Catholic groups observed in a letter to their bishops, “individual Catholics are hungry Read More ...
Dr Astrid Lobo Gajiwala, Mumbai

Eight cardinals, seven laymen appointed to Vatican finance body |  Cardinal Reinhard Marx,  Cardinal Juan Luis Cipriani Thorne, Cardinal Daniel N DiNardo,  Cardinal Wilfrid Fox Napier, Cardinal Jean-Pierre Ricard,  Archbishop Bordeaux, Cardinal Norberto Rivera Carrera,  Cardinal Joh Tong Hon, Cardinal Agostino
Eight cardinals, seven laymen appointed to Vatican finance body
Pope Francis named eight cardinals and seven laymen on Saturday to a new Vatican Council for the Economy, intended to supervise the finances of the Holy See. The eight cardinals are: Cardinal Reinhard Marx, Archbishop of Munich and Freising; Cardinal Juan Luis Cipriani Thorne, Archbishop of Lima; Cardinal Daniel N DiNardo; Archbishop of Galveston-Houston; Cardinal Wilfrid Fox Napier, Archbishop of Durban; Cardinal Jean-Pierre Ricard, Archbishop Bordeaux; Cardinal Norberto Rivera Carrera, Archbishop of México Read More ...

Pope on Lenten retreat outside Rome | Ariccia, Pope Francis, Lenten retreat
Pope on Lenten retreat outside Rome
Pope Francis is in the hillside town of Ariccia just south of Rome for a week-long Lenten retreat with members of the Curia. The Pope left the Vatican yesterday afternoon by bus – just a few hours after reciting the Angelus prayer with pilgrims in St Peter’s Square. Breaking from a long-held tradition of holding them in the Vatican, Pope Francis decided to organize this year’s annual retreat from March 9-14 at the Pauline Fathers’ retreat and conference centre in Ariccia. Read More ...

Pope Francis: One cannot dialogue with Satan | Pope Francis, Angelus, First SUnday of Lent
Pope Francis: One cannot dialogue with Satan
During the Angelus yesterday in his address to pilgrims in St Peter's Square, Pope Francis reflected on the Gospel of the first Sunday of Lent which describes the temptations of Jesus. The tempter seeks to divert the Lord from His Father's plan, or rather the way of sacrifice that involves offering Himself in atonement and with love, and attempts to make Him choose the easy path of success and power. "Indeed, the Devil, to divert Jesus from the way of the cross, presents Him with false messianic hopes: economic well-being, Read More ...

CAFOD joins call for end to war in Syria |  #WithSyria coalition, CAFOD, Anne Street, Syria
CAFOD joins call for end to war in Syria
As part of the #WithSyria coalition, CAFOD joins more than 90 organisations around the world calling on political leaders to push for a peaceful end to the war in Syria. Anne Street, CAFOD’s Head of Humanitarian Policy, said: “When protests against the Syrian government began on 15 March 2011, few would have predicted that three years later the country would be engulfed in the worst humanitarian catastrophe of the 21st Century. Today it is ordinary Syrians who are paying the heaviest price. Read More ...

Syria: 13 kidnapped nuns released | Syria, 13 Greek Orthodox nuns released, Jabhat al-Nusra, Ma'aloula, Damascus.
Syria: 13 kidnapped nuns released
Syrian Christians are rejoicing today in the news that 13 Greek Orthodox nuns and their three attendants were released overnight and returned to Damascus this morning (10 March) in a prisoner exchange deal. The nuns and attendants are understood to be tired but otherwise well, and report that they were generally treated well by their captors. These nuns and their attendants were abducted on 2 December 2013 after Jabhat al-Nusra and four other armed groups attacked Ma'aloula, a historic Christian town north of Damascus. Read More ...

Caritas water project turns Palestinian town into 'little paradise' | Ain Arik, Caritas Jerusalem, Palestinian Territories, water projects, Ramallah, Fr Raed Abusahlia, Zababdeh
Caritas water project turns Palestinian town into 'little paradise'
The Palestinian Territories suffer major problems with the supply of water. While generally,  there is a severe shortage of clean water,  some areas are also suceptible to serious flooding when there is a heavy rainfall. Projects completed by Caritas Jerusalem in recent weeks have addressed and resolved major problems that were affecting the daily lives of people in two Palestinian cities. The town of Ain Arik, less than six kilometres from Ramallah, has always suffered from a shortage of water and the impossibility of finding water which was not contaminated. Read More ...

Pope Francis: Are we ashamed to touch our suffering brothers and sisters? | Pope Francis, touching, flesh of Jesus
Pope Francis: Are we ashamed to touch our suffering brothers and sisters?
Are we ashamed to touch the flesh of our wounded or suffering brothers and sisters? This was one of the key questions posed by Pope Francis during his homily at the morning Mass at Case Santa Marta on Friday. The Pope stressed that our life of faith is closely linked to a life of charity and Christians who do not practice that are hypocrites... He said Christianity is not a repository of formal observances for people who put on a hypocritical good appearance to conceal their hearts empty of any charity. Read More ...

Mexico: Calls for reparations after church closed for 'not being Catholic'  | CSW, Mervyn Thomas, Mexico,  Oaxaca State
Mexico: Calls for reparations after church closed for 'not being Catholic'
Christian Solidarity Worldwide has welcomed the report of the Oaxaca State Ombudsman’s Office which confirmed serious religious freedom violations in the municipality of San Juan Ozolotepec and recommended that reparations be made to the victims. The victims, members of the Independent Christian Pentecostal Church, filed a complaint with the ombudsman’s office in April 2013 after municipal authorities declared the area to be a ‘Protestant-free’ zone and forcibly closed the Pentecostal church with ‘concrete tubes, chains and padlocks Read More ...

Pope warns Religious Orders against 'theoretical poverty' | Pope Francis, Vatican Symposium , Religious Orders, Pontifical University Antonianum, Franciscan Order.
Pope warns Religious Orders against 'theoretical poverty'
Pope Francis has sent a message to participants of a Vatican Symposium on 'The management of the ecclesiastical goods of Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life, for the service of humanity and for the mission of the Church.' The event is taking place at the Pontifical University Antonianum. “Our times are characterized by significant changes and progress in many areas,”..“However, despite reducing poverty, these achievements have often helped to build an economy of exclusion and inequality. Read More ...

Pope in 'positive' meeting with head of World Council of Churches  | Rev Olav Fykse Tveit, World Council of Churches, Pope Francis
Pope in 'positive' meeting with head of World Council of Churches
On Friday morning, the Holy Father met with Rev Olav Fykse Tveit, secretary general of the World Council of Churches, accompanied by a delegation. The Pope remarked that this encounter “marks an important chapter in the long and fruitful relationship between the Catholic Church and the World Council of Churches”, and acknowledged “the service it performs in the cause of unity between believers in Christ”. “Since its creation, the World Council of Churches has offered a great contribution to forming the sensibility of all Christians with regard to Read More ...

South African Churches call for prayers during Israeli Apartheid Week | Bishop Z Siwa,SACC, Dr Frank Chikane, Father Michael Lapsley Committee (NEC),  Rev Dr Jerry Pillay, SACC, South African Council of Churches
South African Churches call for prayers during Israeli Apartheid Week
Following the conclusion of their Triennial Conference the South African Council of Churches (SACC) have issued a statement in which they express concern over the increasing violence and widening gap between the rich and the poor in South Africa. They also called for all parties concerned to work towards a just peace in Israel and Palestine and request churches to dedicate Sunday services on 16 March during Israeli Apartheid Week to reflect and pray for peace with justice in Palestine and Israel. Read More ...

Pope Francis: Is this a clergy that has lost its tears? | Pope Francis, clergy of Rome, tears
Pope Francis: Is this a clergy that has lost its tears?
On Thursday morning, Pope Francis met with the clergy of the diocese of Rome. The central theme of the meeting, inspired by the Gospel of St Matthew, was mercy. The Holy Father recalled how Jesus walked through towns and villages, feeling compassion for those he encountered; people who were “tired and worn out, like sheep without a shepherd”. “We are not here to perform a spiritual exercise for the beginning of Lent, but rather to listen to the voice of the Spirit that speaks to everyone in the Church in this, our time, which is indeed the time of mercy”. Read More ...

US Bishops travel to Mexican border - 'America's Lampedusa' | -USCCB, US Conference of Catholic Bishops, Bishop Eusebio Elizondo, Committee on Migration, immigration reform, immigration, citizenship, Congress, undocumented, immigrants, House of Representatives, Nogales, Arizona, desert, Mexico border, Pope Francis, Lampedusa,Cardinal Seán O’Malley, Bishop Gerald Kicanas
US Bishops travel to Mexican border - 'America's Lampedusa'
The US Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) Committee on Migration, joined by bishops on the border, will travel to Nogales, Arizona, March 30 - April 1 to tour the US-Mexico border and offer Mass for around 6,000 migrants who have died in the US desert since 1998.  The purpose of the trip is to highlight the human suffering caused by a broken immigration system, an aspect of the national immigration debate which is often ignored .“What we fail to remember in this debate is the human aspect of immigration – that immigration is primarily about human beings, not economic Read More ...

Pope Francis grants interview to Italian daily + text | Pope Francis,  Corriere della sera, Ferruccio De Bortoli, role of women, contraception, Pope Paul VI
Pope Francis grants interview to Italian daily + text
Less than two weeks from the anniversary of his election as bishop of Rome, Pope Francis describes himself as, “A man who laughs, cries, sleeps well and has friends like everyone else.” In a wide-ranging interview with the editor-in-chief of the Italian daily, Corriere della sera, Ferruccio De Bortoli, published yesterday, the Holy Father reflects on many themes - among them bioethics, Church governance, and his friendship with his predecessor, Pope-emeritus Benedict XVI.  Some of his most significant comments concern the role of women in the Church. Read More ...

 Pope Francis: Do not get used to behaviour that anaesthetises the heart  | Pope Francis, Ash Wednesday,  Do not get used to behaviour that anaesthetises the heart
Pope Francis: Do not get used to behaviour that anaesthetises the heart
"There is the risk of passively accepting certain types of behaviour and of not marvelling at the sad realities that surround us. We grow accustomed to violence, as if it were a normal part of our daily news; we get used to seeing our brothers and sisters sleeping in the streets, as they have no roof to shelter them. We are used to refugees who search of freedom and dignity, but are not received as they should be. We get used to living in a society that claims to be able to do without God, in which parents do not teach Read More ...

Israel: New migrants' Mass centre  opens in Tel Aviv |  Our Lady Woman of Valor Centre, Tel Aviv
Israel: New migrants' Mass centre opens in Tel Aviv
The first Sunday Masses were celebrated at Our Lady Woman of Valor Centre in south Tel Aviv over the weekend amidst great jubilation. This has been an exciting  time for Catholic migrants in the district. They left tomporary premises they had used in Levanda Street for the past two and a half years. The bomb shelter had become home for hundreds of migrants who regularly attended prayers in the chapel there. A new home has been found and the hope is that the new premises will be permanent. Read More ...

Women from 170 countries to pray for Egypt   | Women’s World Day of Prayer, WWDP, Egypt, Coptic Orthodox Church
Women from 170 countries to pray for Egypt
Women from 170 countries and regions across the world, including the United Kingdom, will pray for Egypt on Women’s World Day of Prayer on 7 March. A number of women from the Coptic Orthodox Community in the United Kingdom will be speaking at church and community services across the country on the role of women in Egypt and their contribution to their societies. They will also comment on the challenges faced by women in light of the recent uprisings. Members of various denominations will gather across the world to show solidarity Read More ...

US parishioners protest over Archbishop's lavish home improvements | Archdiocese of Newark, The Star Ledger, Archbishop John J Myers, Dan Bergin
US parishioners protest over Archbishop's lavish home improvements
Parishioners in the Archdiocese of Newark have expressed their concern over the lavish home improvements planned by their retiring Archbishop. The Star Ledger newspaper revealed that Archbishop John J Myers is building a 3,000-square-foot addition on the expansive home where he will spend his retirement, saying  the work will cost the archdiocese far more than the $500,000 allotted for construction. At a time of high unemployment, when Catholic schools and services in the archdiocese are being reduced because of a shortage of funds, Read More ...
Dan Bergin

Pope Francis' Message for Lent 2014 | Pope Francis' Message for Lent 2014
Pope Francis' Message for Lent 2014
The Poverty of Jesus “frees us and enriches us”. Pope Francis wrote in his Lenten Message this year. His message concentrates on poverty, in particular on Christ's poverty. The Pope, in fact, begins by explaining that Jesus “became poor, so that by his poverty we might become rich”, as the theme of the message recalls, taken from the Second Letter to the Corinthians. Christ's choice for poverty, the Pontiff states, suggests a positive dimension the state of being poor. Yet, wonders the Holy Father, what is this poverty by which Jesus frees and enriches us? Read More ...

 Nigeria: Extremists set Catholic school ablaze   |  St Joseph's Minor Seminary, Boko Haram, Nigeria, ACN. Aid to the Church in Need, Father John Bakeni
Nigeria: Extremists set Catholic school ablaze
A disabled man from northern Nigeria has spoken of his horror as he was forced to watch extremists carry out a string of atrocities including the killing of four men as well as arson attacks that razed a Catholic school to the ground. Staff and students from St Joseph's Minor Seminary fled for their lives and hid in a nearby forest when suspected Boko Haram militants stormed into Shuwa village with an armoured tank, rocket launchers, high calibre guns and more than a dozen jeeps. Read More ...
John Pontifex

Holy Land: Christian centre rejects 'divisive' new Israeli law | Naim Ateek, Sabeel Ecumenical Liberation Theology Centre, Knesset, Holy Land, Israel, Palestine, Likud-Beiteinu
Holy Land: Christian centre rejects 'divisive' new Israeli law
Christian groups in the Holy Land are rejecting a controversial new law that distinguishes between Muslim and Christian Arab citizens for the first time. On 23 February, 2014, the Israeli Knesset enacted the law that recognizes Muslim and Christian Arab communities as separate identities, giving them their own representation in an employment commission. The law passed by a margin of 31 to 6. Palestinian Anglican priest, Rev Naim Ateek .. writes: "The new law passed by the Knesset favouring Christians is .. a deceitful political stunt Read More ...

 Pope advises Spanish Bishops: Faith is not just a 'cultural inheritance' | Pope Francis, Spanish Bishops
Pope advises Spanish Bishops: Faith is not just a 'cultural inheritance'
Yesterday morning the Holy Father received in audience the prelates of the Spanish Episcopal Conference at the end of their “ad limina” visit .... “Now that you are suffering the ordeal of the indifference of many baptised persons and must face today's worldly culture, which closes God into the sphere of private life and excludes Him from the public sphere, you must not forget your history. … Let us always entrust ourselves to Him and seek to sow the seed in the hearts of those entrusted to our pastoral care”, writes the Holy Father. Read More ...

Former Irish PM affirms Pope Francis' encouragement of women in Church | Pope Francis, women in church, Mary McAleese
Former Irish PM affirms Pope Francis' encouragement of women in Church
The former President of Ireland, Professor Mary McAleese, has affirmed the way in which Pope Francis has been encouraging an increased participation of women in the life of the Church. Speaking on Saturday, 1 March to around two hundred people who had gathered for the Mary Ward Lecture in Cambridge, which had been organised by the Margaret Beaufort Institute of Theology, she said: “Until Pope Francis we did not have a space in the Church, a forum in which we could speak… Under Francis it is easier and Read More ...

Memorial Service for Nelson Mandela at Westminster Abbey |  Westminster Abbey, Nelson Mandela, Prince Henry of Wales, Queen, Peter Hain, Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Justine Welby, Archbishop of York Dr John Sentamu, Cardinal Vincent Nichols, Prime Minister David Cameron MP,Kgalema Motlanthe, Idris Elba
Memorial Service for Nelson Mandela at Westminster Abbey
A special memorial service was held at Westminster Abbey yesterday, to celebrate the life and work of Nelson Mandela.  Prince Harry represented Her Majesty The Queen. The service was also attended by the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Justin Welby, The Archbishop of York Dr John Sentamu, Cardinal Vincent Nichols, Prime Minister David Cameron MP, and the Deputy President of the Republic of South Africa, Kgalema Motlanthe. The Dean of Westminster, the Very Reverend Dr John Hall, conducted the service. Read More ...
Jo Siedlecka

Australia: Catholic Religious call for National Lament for refugees | Catholic Religious Australia, CRA, National Lament,  Australia, CRA Sr Annette Cunliffe rsc., Manus Island
Australia: Catholic Religious call for National Lament for refugees
In the wake of an outbreak of violence at a holding centre for asylum seekers on a remote island, which left one person dead and many injured, Catholic Religious Australia (CRA) have called for a 'National Lament' this week. “Many people throughout Australia are disturbed by the punitive and harsh policies and conditions to which people seeking asylum in Australia are being subjected”, said CRA President, Sr Annette Cunliffe rsc. “The recent incident on Manus Island and the death of one person and the injury Read More ...

Cardinal Sandri reflects on modern martyrs in Latin America &  Middle East | Cardinal Sandri, martyrdom, blood, Pontifical Commission for Latin America, Cardinal Juan Jesús Posadas Ocampo, Archbishop of San Salvador, Oscar Arnulfo Romero,Bishop Enrique Angelelli of La Rioja,
Cardinal Sandri reflects on modern martyrs in Latin America & Middle East
“A constant in Christian history is persecution and the cross which in this world and in these times touches so many of the sons and daughters of the Church. It is the giving of one’s life amidst violence, amidst contempt for values, for the dignity of the human person, amidst attacks against the members, the holy symbols and holy places of our faith, which have, as consequences, not only the abduction, but also the murder and death of bishops, priests, men and women religious”. Read More ...

Pope Francis appeals for prayers for the Ukraine | Pope Francis, Ukraine
Pope Francis appeals for prayers for the Ukraine
Pope Francis asked for prayers for Ukraine on Sunday, which he said was living through a very sensitive situation. The Holy Father expressed the hope that all parts of the country “will endeavour to overcome misunderstandings and build together the future of the nation.” The Pope also appealed to the international community “to support any initiative for dialogue and harmony.  He made the call following the recitation of the Angelus in St Peter’s Square. Before the prayer, referring to the day's Mass readings, Pope Francis underlined the need Read More ...

USA: First married Maronite Catholic priest ordained in 100 years | Maronite Catholic Church, ordained a married man, Deacon Wissam Akiki, St Raymond's Maronite Cathedral,  St Louis, Missouri, Pope Francis

The Maronite Church is one of several Eastern Catholic Churches that accept the authority of the Pope but keep their own liturgies.
USA: First married Maronite Catholic priest ordained in 100 years
The Maronite Catholic Church in the United States has ordained a married man to the priesthood for the first time in nearly a century after Pope Francis gave his permission. Deacon Wissam Akiki was ordained in a service at St Raymond's Maronite Cathedral in St Louis, Missouri last Thursday. His wife and family were present. The Maronite Church is one of several Eastern Catholic Churches that accept the authority of the Pope but keep their own liturgies. Read More ...
Dan Bergin

Pope Francis: Church must accompany, not condemn, those whose marriages fail | Pope Francis. Casa Santa Marta, marriage
Pope Francis: Church must accompany, not condemn, those whose marriages fail
During Mass at Casa Santa Marta on Friday morning, referring to the day's readings, Pope Francis reflected on the beauty of marriage and said that the Church must accompany, not condemn, those who experience failure in married life. He explained that Christ is the Bridegroom of the Church, and therefore you cannot understand one without the Other.  The Holy Father also warned against giving in to the temptation to entertain “special pleading” in questions regarding marriage. Read More ...

Brazil: Why 'Carmelite Nuns' joins the Carnival
 | Carmelite nuns, Rio Carnival
Brazil: Why 'Carmelite Nuns' joins the Carnival

According to The Telegraph, the famous Carnival in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, has a particularly 'Carmelite' feel to it. To the beat of drums and tambourines, hundreds of revellers from around the world dressed up as Carmelite nuns and other characters on Friday 28 February to celebrate the first day of Carnival. Tourists and residents alike joined in the fun as musicians and performers, dressed in brightly-coloured outfits, entertained the crowds during the 'Carmelitas bloc' party. Read More ...

Westminster welcomes Cardinal Vincent Gerard Nichols | Cardinal Vincent Gerard Nichols, Mass of Welcome, Westminster Cathedral
Westminster welcomes Cardinal Vincent Gerard Nichols
More than 2,500 people attended a special Mass with Solemn Rite of Welcome for His Eminence, Cardinal Vincent Gerard Nichols, Archbishop of Westminster, this evening (28 February) at Westminster Cathedral to mark his return from the Consistory in Rome. Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor, 17 Bishops and over 200 priests from the Diocese gathered for Cardinal Vincent’s first public celebration since being created a Cardinal by Pope Francis at the Ordinary Consistory on 22 February. Read More ...

Lord Alton: 'what are we doing to stop flow of arms to Syria?' | Syria, Lord Alton. David Alton, Father Paolo Dall’Oglio,  Maaloula, Sadad, Hafar, Deir Atiyeh, Carah, Nabk, Kseir, Rablé, Dmaineh, Michtayeh, Hassaniyeh, Knaïeh,
Lord Alton: 'what are we doing to stop flow of arms to Syria?'
Christians and other minorities in Syria are being systematically targeted in the ongoing civil war, Lord Alton said in a debate on Syria and the Middle East in the House of Lords on Thursday, 27 February. He questioned what the British government is doing to stop the flow of arms and fighters to the region. He said: "Forty-seven churches have been closed; two priests and a nun have been murdered; two bishops, three priests and 12 nuns have been abducted.... A new video of the nuns has just appeared with their traditional cross removed from their habit. Read More ...

Pope reflects on what should determine selection of a bishop | Pope Francis, Congregation for Bishops,  Cardinal Marc Ouellet, PSS, secletion of bishop
Pope reflects on what should determine selection of a bishop
...we need someone who looks upon us with the breadth of heart of God; we do not need a manager, a company administrator. ... We need someone who knows how to raise himself to the height of God's gaze above us in order to guide us towards Him. ... We must not lose sight of the needs of the particular Churches, for whom we must always provide. There does not exist a standard Pastor for all Churches. ... Our challenge is to enter into Christ's view, taking into account the singularity of the particular Churches”. Read More ...

Apocalyptic image from Yarmouk Refugee Camp in Damascus |  Yarmouk , Damascus. UNRWA
Apocalyptic image from Yarmouk Refugee Camp in Damascus
It is impossible not to be touched by the apocalyptic scenes emerging from the Palestinian refugee camp of Yarmouk in Damascus, besieged and cut off for months. The images are at once epic and personal. Row upon row of gaunt faces, serried ranks of grimy, raged figures; the delicate, hunger-ravaged features of children waiting in line for an UNRWA food parcel; the face of a mother creased in grief for a deceased child; tears of joy as a father is reunited with a long-lost daughter; Read More ...

Vatican reports 'very high response' to Synod questionnaire on family | Cardinal Peter Erdo, Hungary, Archbishop Bruno Forte, questionnaire on family, Pope Francis
Vatican reports 'very high response' to Synod questionnaire on family
There has been a 'very high response' from bishops conferences around the world to the to last year's questionnaire on the family,  the Ordinary Council of the Synod of Bishops learnt during their meeting on 24 and 25 February. Observations from individuals and groups from all over the world have been added. On the afternoon of 24 February the Council was presided over by Pope Francis, who emphasised the importance he attributes to both the Synod structure as an expression of episcopal collegiality and the theme of the family Read More ...

Pope Francis appeals for peace in Venezuela | Pope Francis, Venezuela, Our Lady of Coromoto
Pope Francis appeals for peace in Venezuela
Pope Francis made an urgent appeal for peace in Venezuela on Wednesday. Speaking at the end of his weekly General Audience, the Holy Father expressed his hope that “violence and hostility will cease as soon as possible.” He called on “the whole Venezuelan people,” beginning with political leaders and institutions, “to promote reconciliation through mutual forgiveness and sincere dialogue.” Concluding his appeal, Pope Francis asked all believers to invoke the intercession of Our Lady of Coromoto — the Patroness of Venezuela Read More ...

New EU transparency law offers bare minimum, says CAFOD   | EU, transparency law, CAFOD, Anne Lindsay,
New EU transparency law offers bare minimum, says CAFOD
CAFOD has welcomed a new law aimed at making large EU companies more transparent, but expressed frustration that exemptions mean some unscrupulous companies will still be able to avoid reporting publicly on the impact they have on human rights, corruption and the environment. European Member States agreed a last minute compromise deal today in Brussels, following weeks of negotiation about the draft law, seen by many as a crucial first step towards preventing human rights abuses and environmental problems in production. Read More ...

CAFOD condemns Uganda's anti-homsexuality law | Catholic Agency for Overseas Development, CAFOD, Uganda, homosexuality, President Yoweri Museveni,
CAFOD condemns Uganda's anti-homsexuality law
The Catholic Agency for Overseas Development (CAFOD) has condemned a new law approved on Monday in Uganda,  which will allow those convicted of homosexuality to be imprisoned for life.  At a public ceremony in Entebbe, President Yoweri Museveni, a devout evangelical Christian, formally approved the anti-homosexuality act, which also outlaws the promotion of homosexuality and requires citizens to denounce to the police anyone suspected of being gay. He said: "No study has shown you can be homosexual by nature. Read More ...
Jo Siedlecka

Nigeria: Forty students killed in Boko Haram attack on college | Boko Haram, Federal Government College Buni-Yadi,  Damaturu, CSW, Mervyn Thomas
Nigeria: Forty students killed in Boko Haram attack on college
At least 40 students were killed when suspected members of the Islamist terror group Boko Haram attacked the Federal Government College Buni-Yadi in Yobe State, north-east Nigeria,during the early hours of 25 February.  The co-educational college is located around 60 kilometres south of the Yobe State capital, Damaturu. Eyewitnesses informed local media that sect members separated male students, killing some with machetes and shooting others. They subsequently set fire to buildings including hostels, Read More ...

Middle East: Franciscans launch emergency projects in Egypt, Syria, Gaza | Franciscan Custodians of the Holy Land, pro Terra Sancta Association,  Syria, Gaza,  Egypt.

In Syria, Aleppo, Damascus, Lattakiah and Knayeh.
Middle East: Franciscans launch emergency projects in Egypt, Syria, Gaza
The Franciscan Custodians of the Holy Land, in collaboration with the pro Terra Sancta Association have launched a series of new initiatives of solidarity in Syria, Gaza and Egypt. In Syria, the Custodians have opened four new aid centres offering shelter to some 200 people and caring for about 4,000 people daily. Every month they help some 50 displaced families to find shelter. The 11 friars still in Syria are working in Aleppo, Damascus, Lattakiah and Knayeh. Read More ...

Pope writes Letter to Families | Pope Francis. Letter to Families,
Pope writes Letter to Families
Pope Francis has written a letter to families asking them to pray for the next Synod of Bishops, which will be celebrated in the Vatican in October, and the theme of which will be “The pastoral challenges of the family in the context of evangelisation”. The letter, dated 2 February, Feast of the Presentation of Jesus in the Temple, is published in full below..“Dear families, With this letter, I wish, as it were, to come into your homes to speak about an event which will take place at the Vatican this coming October. Read More ...

Tanzania: Two churches and restaurant bombed in Zanzibar | Zanzibar, Christ Church Anglican Cathedral, Evangelistic Assemblies of God Tanzania, EAGT, Mercury's,  CSW, Christian Solidatity Worldwide, Mervyn Thomas, Freddie Mercury, Queen
Tanzania: Two churches and restaurant bombed in Zanzibar

Bomb attacks on the island of Zanzibar targeted Christ Church Anglican Cathedral and a well-known restaurant on Monday, 24 February, and an Evangelistic Assemblies of God Tanzania (EAGT) church on Tuesday, 25 February.  Two bombs were detonated at the main entrance of Christ Church Anglican Cathedral and the former Slave Market in the centre of Stone Town at around 1pm. Another bomb exploded at Mercury's, a restaurant named after Freddie Mercury from the rock group Queen who was born in Zanzibar.

 

 Read More ...

Cardinal Vincent Nichols reflects on the Consistory | Cardinal Nichols, English College
Cardinal Vincent Nichols reflects on the Consistory

At a press conference at the English College in Rome yesterday, Cardinal Vincent Nichols reflected on the Consistory, and his new role.  In his opening words he said there had been a "wonderful reception" there the night before" and the Rector had reminded him  that they've been welcoming pilgrims to this building for  650 years. "They gave us a terrific party." Going on to reflect on the last few days Cardinal Nichols said: "The Consistory and the Mass with Pope Francis yesterday were for me  first of all a very vivid  reminder of 

 Read More ...
Jo Siedlecka

Australian Cardinal to head new Vatican finance department | Cardinal Pell, Pope Francis, Vatican finances, Vatican bank
Australian Cardinal to head new Vatican finance department

Pope Francis has appointed Cardinal George Pell to head a new Vatican department that will supervise the Holy See's economic affairs, Pope Francis announced in an Apostolic Letter Motu Proprio on Monday. In his new role of Prefect of the Secretariat for the Economy, the current Archbishop of Sydney will be responsible for preparing the Holy See and Vatican's annual budget, as well as financial planning and enhanced internal controls. The new ministry comes in the wake of a number of scandals at the Vatican bank. 

 Read More ...

London: Indonesian interfaith delegation begin week of advocacy | Christian Solidarity Worldwide, CSW, Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, Indonesia, Reverend Favor Bancin Dr Ahmad Suaedy, Abdurrahman Wahid Centre,  Father Benny Susetyo, Ms Muliathy Briany,Mahmud Mubarik Ahmad, Secretary of Isyaat, Ahmad Hidayat,
London: Indonesian interfaith delegation begin week of advocacy
An interfaith delegation from Indonesia, co-hosted by Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW) and the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community UK, has begun a week of advocacy in the UK to coincide with this week’s launch of CSW’s new report in Indonesia. The delegation will testify at a hearing to launch the report, Indonesia: Pluralism in Peril – The rise of religious intolerance across the archipelago, on 25 February at the House of Commons. The delegation includes Father Benny Susetyo from the Catholic Bishops Conference; The Reverend Favor Bancin from the Communion of Churches in Indonesia; Dr Ahmad Suaedy, Executive Director of the Abdurrahman Wahid Centre Read More ...

Report shows economic growth in Africa is failing to curb soaring inequality |  Tax Justice Network-Africa, Christian Aid, soaring inequality
Report shows economic growth in Africa is failing to curb soaring inequality

Unprecedented economic growth in a number of African countries is going hand in hand with soaring inequality, which national tax systems are failing to address, according to a new report. Report authors, Tax Justice Network-Africa and international development agency Christian Aid, say the surge in inequality is not simply the result of the rich getting richer. Instead, there is clear evidence that in many cases growth is taking place at the expense of the poor, who are becoming increasingly impoverished.

 Read More ...

Ukraine: Archbishop appeals for prayers as crisis deepens | Archbishop Mieczysław Mokrzycki, Ukraine, Aid tio the Church in Need, President Viktor Yanukovyc
Ukraine: Archbishop appeals for prayers as crisis deepens
An urgent appeal for prayer has come from one of the Ukraine's most senior Catholic bishops,  as momentous political changes sweep the country. Archbishop Mieczysław Mokrzycki, President of Ukraine's Latin-rite Catholic Bishops' Conference, highlighted the "great solidarity" of people worldwide – shown in prayer and practical aid. The Archbishop's comments, came as Ukraine underwent dramatic change, climaxing with President Viktor Yanukovych fleeing the country and MPs issuing a warrant for his arrest. Read More ...
John Pontifex

Pope Francis: 'a community does not belong to the preacher, but to Christ' | Pope Francis, Angelus, Cardinals
Pope Francis: 'a community does not belong to the preacher, but to Christ'
After celebrating Mass on Sunday morning with the 19 new Cardinals, Pope Francis greeted the crowds in St Peter’s Square gathered for the Angelus. In his address to them he urged them to work for Christian unity avoiding all divisions, because he said: “a community does not belong to the preacher, but to Christ”. Commenting on the second Reading of the Day, the Pope said that since the time of St Paul, Christians were divided according to whoever was leading their community. Read More ...

Pope celebrates Mass with new cardinals - homily text | Pope Francis, new Cardinals,  Westminster Cathedral school choir, choir of the Sistine Chapel
Pope celebrates Mass with new cardinals - homily text

Pope Francis concelebrate Mass in Saint Peter’s Basilica on Sunday morning, with 18 of the new bishops who were added to the college of cardinals on Saturday. Westminster Cathedral school choir joined the choir of the Sistine Chapel during the Mass. Later in the day the choristers met Pope Francis outside Casa Santa Marta.....  'This prayer, the opening prayer of today’s Mass, reminds us of something fundamental: we are called to listen to the Holy Spirit who enlivens and guides the Church. By his creative and renewing power' 

 Read More ...

Central Africa Republic: Nuns raped by rebels | Central Africa Republic: Nuns raped by rebels,Fr Aurelio Gazzera, Director of Caritas in Bouar Diocese, Aid to the Church in Need, Seleka, Chad, Sudan.
Central Africa Republic: Nuns raped by rebels

Rape, sexual assaults, looting and killings have taken place as rebel troops left the Central African Republic and withdrew to Chad – including the attempted rape of religious Sisters. Fr Aurelio Gazzera, Director of Caritas in Bouar Diocese, told Aid to the Church in Need that attacks had increased as members of the now disbanded Seleka militia group left the country.  Seleka, which seized power in the Central African Republic in March 2013 and was dissolved last September, was the result of a merger of militia units including ones from Chad and Sudan.

 Read More ...
Eva-Maria Kolmann and John Newton

Australian Jesuit looks back on 50 years working in India | Tony Herbert, Jesuits, India,  Jharkhand, Dalits
Australian Jesuit looks back on 50 years working in India
Tony Herbert had one week to decide to become a missionary. The Jesuit was in his early 20s when his provincial in Australia asked him whether he could imagine going to India. "I had never thought of it," he says. "But I told the provincial I would work wherever I was sent." He took a week’s home leave, said goodbye to his parents and boarded the ship to India. That was almost 50 years ago and he has been there ever since. In one of the poorest states, Jharkhand, he started working in Jesuit schools and later, as a parish priest, Read More ...

DR Congo: 'Unspeakable violence in Katanga' | Katanga, Democratic Republic of Congo, Bakata - Katanga, Pastoral Letter,Episcopal Assembly of Bishops of the Ecclesiastical Province of Lubumbashi, warlord, Kyungu Mutanda called 'Gedeon',
DR Congo: 'Unspeakable violence in Katanga'

The Catholic bishops of Katanga, a province in the south of the Democratic Republic of Congo, have denounced the 'unspeakable violence' of the Bakata - Katanga armed group. In a Pastoral Letter, published at the conclusion of the recent Episcopal Assembly of Bishops of the Ecclesiastical Province of Lubumbashi, the bishops say: "after the escape of the warlord, Kyungu Mutanda called 'Gedeon', from the prison in Kasapa, Lubumbashi in September 2011, various areas of the Katanga province have returned to a cycle of insecurity and violence

 Read More ...

Pope Francis creates 19 new Cardinals + full homily text | new cardinals, Pope Francis
Pope Francis creates 19 new Cardinals + full homily text
Pope Francis created nineteen new Cardinals today, Saturday, the Feast of the Chair of St Peter the Apostle. The newly-created Cardinals received the insignia of their office – the red biretta and the cardinal’s ring – in a streamlined ceremony at St Peter's Basilica. The choir of Westminster Cathedral joined the Sistine Choir for part of the ceremony and also sang several pieces on their own. Eighteen of the new Cardinals were present. Cardinal Loris Capovilla, the 98 year-old former secretary to Bl John XXIII and Archbishop-emeritus of Chieti-Vasto in Italy, was created in absentia. Read More ...
Jo Siedlecka

Rome: On eve of Consistory, Cardinal Cormac prays for his successor  | Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor, Vincent Nichols, Santa Maria Sopra Minerva,
Rome: On eve of Consistory, Cardinal Cormac prays for his successor
Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor celebrated Mass in his titular church of Santa Maria Sopra Minerva,  on the eve of the Consistory which will make his successor as Archbishop of Westminster, Vincent Nichols, a Cardinal. Hundreds of pilgrims from England attended the special service.  In his homily, the Cardinal spoke of the ‘Year of the Two Popes - 2013’ and the ‘Year of the Two Cardinals - 2014’. He said it was ‘the first time that there have been two Cardinals in England since Blessed John Henry Newman and Cardinal Manning Read More ...

Cardinal Kaspar opens Consistory  | Synod on the Famiy, Cardinal Kaspar, Fr Federico Lombardi, SJ
Cardinal Kaspar opens Consistory
The director of the Holy See Press Office, Fr Federico Lombardi, SJ, gave a briefing for journalists at midday Thursday on the progress of the Consistory on the family which opened that morning in the New Synod Hall attended by around 150 cardinals.... The introductory presentation by Cardinal Kasper, which will not be published as it was intended for use within the context of the meeting by participants only – occupied almost the entire morning, with the exception of the last ten minutes in which a few comments were made. Read More ...

Pope Francis greets Cardinals at beginning of Consistory | Pope Francis, Consistory, the Family
Pope Francis greets Cardinals at beginning of Consistory

The Extraordinary Consistory of Cardinals began on Thursday ahead of the creation of 19 new Cardinals on Saturday. In his remarks to the Cardinals, Pope Francis spoke about the topic of their reflections: The Family. "Our reflections must keep before us the beauty of the family and marriage, the greatness of this human reality which is so simple and yet so rich, consisting of joys and hopes, of struggles and sufferings, as is the whole of life," "We will seek to deepen the theology of the family and discern the pastoral practices which our present situation

 Read More ...

Corrie’s Ben Price sees ‘hidden hunger emergency’ in Uganda | Coronation Street, Ben Price,  CAFOD,  Uganda, Karamoja
Corrie’s Ben Price sees ‘hidden hunger emergency’ in Uganda
Coronation Street actor Ben Price, an ambassador for aid agency CAFOD, is calling for urgent action after visiting communities in Eastern Uganda suffering from severe hunger due to an extended dry spell. Ben travelled to the Karamoja region of Uganda to see how communities were being affected by a lack of food and water, and how crucial the work of CAFOD’s local partners has been in providing support, building livelihoods and keeping the peace within communities facing severe shortages. Read More ...

Cardinal-elect Vincent Nichols leaves for Rome | Vincent Nichols, Pope Francis
Cardinal-elect Vincent Nichols leaves for Rome
Archbishop Vincent Nichols was due to fly out to Rome on Wednesday,  to take part in two days of meetings before Saturday's Consistory at which he will be made a cardinal by Pope Francis. At a press conference at Archbishops House, Westminster yesterday, The Cardinal- elect said he had been very touched by the number of messages of support from all sections of society since the announcement of his nomination was made. He said his new role will help to strengthen the faith of all faith communities in Britain today. Read More ...
Jo Siedlecka

Pope Francis: 'Be brave - go to Confession' | Pope Francis, Confession
Pope Francis: 'Be brave - go to Confession'
During the General Audience on Wednesday, with thousands of pilgrims in Saint Peter's Square, Pope Francis continued his series of catechesis on the Sacraments, focussing on the Sacrament of Reconciliation. “When I go to Confession, it is to be healed,” he said. “To heal the soul, to heal the heart because of something I have done that is not going well.”.... I am telling you: each time we go to confession, God embraces us. God rejoices! Let us go forward on this road. Read More ...

Australia: Church expresses concern over death in refugee detention centre | Bishop Gerard Hanna, Manus Island Detention Centre
Australia: Church expresses concern over death in refugee detention centre
The Australian Catholic Migrant and Refugee Office (ACMRO) has expressed "great sadness" at the tragic loss of life during a riot in a refugee detention centre on Manus Island in northern Papua New Guinea on Monday evening. One Iranian asylum seeker died and others were injured in a riot involving 77 asylum seekers. The detainee died after a confrontation with local police.  Bishop Gerard Hanna has called for calm, and urged people to consider the situations which lead asylum seekers to flee countries like Iran. Read More ...

Rome: Ordinariate leaders conclude first meeting together  | Ordinariates,  Mgr Keith Newton, Ordinary of the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham,  Mgr Jeffrey Steenson,  Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of St Peter in the United States, Mgr Harry Entwistle, Ordinary, Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of the Southern Cross
Rome: Ordinariate leaders conclude first meeting together
The leaders of the three Ordinariates established around the world have met together for the first time to forge closer ties and discuss their growth and development.  Mgr Keith Newton, Ordinary of the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham in England, Mgr Jeffrey Steenson, Ordinary of the Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of St Peter in the United States and Mgr Harry Entwistle, Ordinary of the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of the Southern Cross in Australia, Read More ...

Pope appeals for peace in the Ukraine | Pope Francis, Ukraine. Kiev, President Viktor Yanukovych
Pope appeals for peace in the Ukraine
Pope Francis appealed  for peace in the Ukraine during his general audience in St Peter's Square today. He said: “With a worried soul I have been following what is happening in Kiev in these days.” The Holy Father assured the Ukrainian people of his closeness to them, and prayed for the victims of violence, for their families, and for the injured, calling for “on all parties to cease all violence and to seek harmony and peace in the country. Read More ...

Christian charity pilots employment scheme for people with spinal injury | Liveability, spinal chord injury, Nepal
Christian charity pilots employment scheme for people with spinal injury
Last month, national Christian disability charity Livability started an employment programme with the Spinal Injury Rehabilitation Centre (SIRC), its partner organisation in Nepal. The project aims to support patients with spinal cord injury (SCI) to become financially independent when they return to their communities after receiving rehabilitation services at SIRC. Adults with SCI face barriers to employment with a global unemployment rate of more than 60%. They also are two to five times more likely to die prematurely. Read More ...

Central Africa: Christian militia doing more damage than Muslim one says missionary   | Anti Balaka, Seleka", Fr Aurelio Gazzera,Carmelite missionary, Bozoum, Central African Republic
Central Africa: Christian militia doing more damage than Muslim one says missionary
"The Anti Balaka are doing more damage than Seleka", Fr Aurelio Gazzera, a Carmelite missionary who works in Bozoum in the west of the Central African Republic  has told Fides news agency. "The behaviour of the Anti Balaka varies from area to area. In the provinces where international forces have been deployed, like here in Bozoum, the situation is calmer, but the situation is to be followed day by day because tension can rise suddenly" says the missionary. Read More ...

Pope Francis: temptation seems harmless attraction but becomes a cage | Pope Francis. Casa Santa Marta, temptation
Pope Francis: temptation seems harmless attraction but becomes a cage
We can only resist the seduction of temptation if we listen to the Word of God, Pope Francis said in his homily on Tuesday morning at Casa Santa Marta. Despite our weaknesses, Christ always gives us confidence and opens to us a horizon wider than our limitations.  Temptation manifests itself as a harmless attraction and ends up turning into a cage. Instead of trying to escape, often we try to minimize the slavery, being deaf to the Word of God. Read More ...

Pope's meeting with Council of Cardinals underway | Council of cardinals, Vatican Bank. IoR, Archbishop Pietro Parolin
Pope's meeting with Council of Cardinals underway
Pope Francis and the eight members of the Council of Cardinals began their third meeting on Monday. The Council is devoting its discussions mainly to financial and administrative affairs. The meetings will be followed by an extraordinary consistory of all the world’s cardinals on Thursday and Friday, February 20 and 21, following by the elevation of 16 new cardinals at a consistory on Saturday, 22 February. Father Federico Lombardi, director of the Vatican press office, told reporters that Monday morning’s meeting of the Council of Cardinals Read More ...

Nigeria: Over 200 killed in week of terrorist violence | Borno, Adamawa States, Nigeria, Boko Haram, Izghe Village, Gwoza Local government Area (LGA)
Nigeria: Over 200 killed in week of terrorist violence
Last week at least 200 people were killed in Borno and Adamawa States in the north east of Nigeria in a series of terrorist attacks on rural areas. At least 121 people are now known to have died and several others were injured when Boko Haram gunmen attacked Izghe Village in the Gwoza Local government Area (LGA) of Borno State on 15 February.  According to survivors, gunmen dressed in military fatigues and chanting Allahu Akbar (God is great) arrived at the largely Christian community at night in seven pick-up trucks and on motorcycles. Read More ...

Pope Francis: Gossip can kill | Pope Francis,  Gossip can kill, Church of St Thomas the Apostle,  Infernetto
Pope Francis: Gossip can kill
The Roman parish of St Thomas the Apostle in Infernetto, in the south of the diocese, received a visit from Pope Francis on Saturday afternoon. Upon arrival the Bishop of Rome met with the children who will make their First Communions and be Confirmed this year, and greeted the faithful in the parish square, along with recently baptised children and their parents, the elderly and sick of the parish and the Association of families with disabled children, and before Mass he heard Confessions. Read More ...

Pope Francis reflects on the patience of God's people | Pope Francis, Casa Santa Marta, patience
Pope Francis reflects on the patience of God's people

The patience of the people of God is what keeps the Church going, Pipe Francis told the congregation at Monday morning Mass in Casa Santa Marta. Commenting on the Letter of St James in which he says: “Consider it pure joy whenever you face trials of many kinds”. Patience he explained, has nothing to do with resignation: “when we endure trials with faith they ripen our lives”. He who wants everything immediately, the Pope said, he who does not know the wisdom of patience and perseverance is like a spoilt child. 

 Read More ...

Venezuela: Two Salesians killed, two injured, in school robbery | Salesians, Valencia, Venezuela. Father Jesus Plaza, Brother Luis Sanchez,  Archdiocese of Valencia, Mgr Reinaldo Del Prette
Venezuela: Two Salesians killed, two injured, in school robbery

Two elderly Salesians were stabbed to death in a bungled robbery at a school in Valencia, Venezuela. Father Jesus Plaza, a 79-year-old Colombian and Brother Luis Sanchez, an 84-year-old Venezuelan died in the attack on Saturday night. A statement released by the Archdiocese of Valencia reads: "The Archbishop of Valencia, Mgr Reinaldo Del Prette in union with his brother priests, religious and laity, expresses our church community’s deep sorrow and dismay over the murder

 Read More ...

Brazil: abseiling engineers begin repairs on statue of Christ the Redeemer | Christ the Redeemer, Corcovado mountain, Rio de K+Janeiro, Tijuca Forest National Park,
Brazil: abseiling engineers begin repairs on statue of Christ the Redeemer

A team of specialists has begun to repair the statue of Christ the Redeemer, overlooking Rio de Janeiro, after it was damaged by a lightening strike last month. The Rio Archdiocese, owner of the statue,  has entrusted the work to a group of abseiling eigineers, to avoid the use of scaffolds, and allow visits to continue while repairs are underway. Archbishop Orani Tempesta blessed the workers on Friday. The statue  in the Tijuca Forest National Park, is considered to be the largest Art Deco figure in the world. 

 Read More ...
Jo Siedlecka

Calls for Pope to discipline US bishop over failure to report offending priest | Fr Shawn Ratigan.Kansas City, Missouri,  Pope Francis ,  Fr James E Connell,,
Calls for Pope to discipline US bishop over failure to report offending priest
A petition signed by more than 113,000 people, and a letter from a group of parishioners and religious in Kansas City, Missouri, has been sent to Pope Francis this week urging him to take disciplinary action against Bishop Robert W Finn, who was convicted in 2012 of failing to report a priest who was an active paedophile, the Kansas City Star and New York Times report. Bishop Finn was found guilty on a misdemeanour charge for failing to inform authorities after he learned there were hundreds of pornographic pictures of young girls on a laptop Read More ...

CSW welcomes UN North Korea report, urges action | Christian Solidarity Worldwide, CSW,  United Nations Commission of Inquiry on human rights in North Korea, UN Security Council, International Criminal Court,  Australian Justice Michael Kirby,
CSW welcomes UN North Korea report, urges action
Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW) has welcomed the report of the United Nations Commission of Inquiry on human rights in North Korea, released today, and the inquiry’s conclusion that the regime in North Korea is committing crimes against humanity. CSW urges the UN Security Council to act on the inquiry’s recommendation to refer the human rights crisis in North Korea to the International Criminal Court. The Commission of Inquiry, established by the UN Human Rights Council in March 2013 and chaired by Australian Justice Michael Kirby, Read More ...

Pope Francis: Jesus does not give importance to rote observance  | Pope Francis, Angelus, St Peter's Square
Pope Francis: Jesus does not give importance to rote observance
More than 50,000 people gathered in St Peter's Square uder unseasonably warm blue skies yesterday to pray the Angelus with Pope Francis. Before the prayers, the Holy Father reflected on the day’s Gospel reading in which Jesus addresses the question of His relationship to the Law of Moses. “Jesus does not want to erase the commandments that the Lord gave through Moses,” .... “Rather, He desires to bring them to their fulfilment and He immediately adds that this ‘fulfillment’ of the Law requires a higher justice, a more authentic observance." Read More ...

Pope meets Czech Bishops   | Pope Francis, Czech Bishops
Pope meets Czech Bishops
On Friday, the feast of Saints Cyril and Methodius, Pope Francis received in audience the prelates of the Czech Bishops' Conference at the end of their 'ad limina' visit.... "to face contemporary challenges and new matters of pastoral urgency, there is a need for synergy between clergy, religious and lay faithful. He also repeats that “while for a long period the Church in your country was oppressed by regimes based on ideologies contrary to human dignity and freedom, today you must face other more insidious difficulties, such as secularism and relativism. Read More ...

Uganda: Reflection on 135th anniversary of evangelisation | Fr Simon Lourdel Mapeera, Missionaries of Africa, White Fathers, Fr Léon Livinhac), Uganda Martyrs, Fr Nnyombi Richard, M Afr, Mapeera, Amans, Uganda
Uganda: Reflection on 135th anniversary of evangelisation
This year, 2014, as we make our pilgrimage on 17 February to Kigungu, to mark the 135th anniversary of the Evangelizing Mission of the Catholic Church in Uganda, we are also preparing ourselves to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the canonisation of our Uganda Martyrs. These two events are very much linked to one another. Without Kigungu, Namugongo wouldn't be there and in turn, Namugongo reveals the quality of the faith and the apostolic work of our Ancestors in the Faith, the spiritual fathers of the Uganda Martyrs, whose arrival in this country Read More ...
Fr Nnyombi Richard, M Afr

Lebanon: drastic reduction of land belonging to Christians | Lebanon,  Lebanese Christians. Talal al-Doueihy, 'Lebanese Land-Our Land Movement' , The Daily Star newspaper, shrinking Christian presence

The drastic decrease in landed properties belonging to Christians in the country of the Cedars has various causes. Many Christians are emigrating and when they leave they have no choice but to sell their land to Muslims buyers.
Lebanon: drastic reduction of land belonging to Christians

After the proclamation of independence in the Lebanon, 8130 square km of land belonged to the Lebanese Christians. Today, however, Lebanese Christians have about 4,000 km of land. These figures were provided by Talal al-Doueihy, head of the Movement 'Lebanese Land-Our Land Movement'. The drastic decrease in landed properties belonging to Christians in the country of the Cedars has various causes. Many Christians are emigrating and when they leave they have no choice but to sell their land to Muslims buyers.

 Read More ...

South Sudan: Threat of famine as fighting continues | Monsignor Roko Taban Mousa, South Sudan. Aid to the Church in Need, John Pontifex, ACN
South Sudan: Threat of famine as fighting continues

Entire communities in South Sudan are at risk of starvation, according to a Church leader, who says fighting continues despite the ceasefire. Monsignor Roko Taban Mousa said vast numbers of people are "in urgent need" across his diocese of Malakal which covers Upper Nile, Unity and Jonglei states, scenes of some of the worst fighting between government forces and rebel groups.  Speaking on 13 February from South Sudan in an interview with Aid to the Church in Need, Mgr Taban warned of mass famine if aid – particularly food – is not sent quickly.

 Read More ...
John Pontifex

Pope Francis meets 10,000 engaged couples in St Peter's Square | Pope Francis, St Valentines  Day, engaged couples
Pope Francis meets 10,000 engaged couples in St Peter's Square
Ten thousand engaged couples from all over the world gathered today, on the feast of St Valentine, in St Peter's Square to reflect on the vocation of marriage, with the theme 'The joy of Yes for ever' and to meet with Pope Francis. The event, organised by the Pontifical Council for the Family, takes as its starting point the idea that one does not get married once all problems are solved, but rather that one marries in order to face problems together, and concludes that it is still possible to take the risk of saying 'for ever',  Read More ...

Indonesia: New CSW report warns of growing religious intolerance | CSW, Indonesia,  Religious intolerance, West Java, Aceh,  Indonesia: Pluralism in Peril – The rise of religious intolerance across the archipelago,
Indonesia: New CSW report warns of growing religious intolerance
CSW’s new report on Indonesia, which will be launched on 25 February in the UK Parliament, warns that 'Religious intolerance is no longer confined to areas such as West Java and Aceh, known to be particularly conservative, nor is it confined to Christians and Ahmadis. Shi’a Muslims, Sufi Muslims, Confucians, Buddhists, Hindus, Baha’is, Jews, traditional indigenous believers and atheists are all under attack.' The report, Indonesia: Pluralism in Peril – The rise of religious intolerance across the archipelago, draws on Read More ...

Belgium legalises euthanasia for children | Belgium, euthanasia for children,  Andre Leonard,  Archbishop of Mechelen-Brussels
Belgium legalises euthanasia for children

Belgium has become the first country in the world to legalise euthanasia for children of any age. Children will now be able to request that their doctors kill them by lethal injection if they become terminally ill - even though they are still considered insufficiently mature to buy alcohol, cigarettes, vote, marry or drive a car.The measure was approved in Belgium's Chamber of Representatives with 86 lawmakers voting in favour. 44 voted against. There were 12 abstentions. The measure was approved by the Senate, the upper chamber, in December.

 Read More ...
Dan Bergin

Pope: Christians,  Jews must cooperate to build  'more just, fraternal world' | American Jewish Committee, Pope Francis, Vatican
Pope: Christians, Jews must cooperate to build 'more just, fraternal world'

Christians and Jews must cooperate in constructing “a more just and fraternal world” Pope Francis said during a meeting woth members of the American Jewish Committee today. “In this regard, I call to mind in a particular way our common efforts to serve the poor, the marginalized and those who suffer,” said Pope Francis. “Our commitment to this service is anchored in the protection of the poor, widows, orphans, and foreigners as shown in Sacred Scripture. It is a God given duty, one which reflects his holy will and his justice; it is a true religious obligation.”

 Read More ...

New research points to authenticity of Turin Shroud |  Turin Shroud, Politecnico di Torino, Professor Alberto Carpinteri,
New research points to authenticity of Turin Shroud

New research indicates that the Turin Shroud, with its mysterious image,  may genuinely date from the time of Jesus. An Italian team at the Politecnico di Torino, claims the powerful magnitude 8.2 earthquake, which occurred in Old Jerusalem in the year 33 AD, would have been strong enough to release neutron particles from crushed rock. The flood of neutrons, may have imprinted an X-ray-like image onto the linen burial cloth by reacting with nitrogen nuclei, they say. In addition, the radiation emissions would have increased the level of carbon-14 isotopes 

 Read More ...

Pakistan: Dr Bhatti and friends speak out following death threats | Dr Paul Bhatti, Aid to the Church in Need, Shahbaz Bhatti , Pakistan,
Pakistan: Dr Bhatti and friends speak out following death threats
A Christian human rights campaigner who left Pakistan has described how he received death threats while pursuing justice for his murdered brother. Dr Paul Bhatti gave an impassioned plea on behalf of suffering minority groups in Pakistan in interviews with Aid to the Church in Need, after news broke that he had left his country for Italy. Denying that he had fled the country for his own safety, the former Pakistani minister of national harmony and minority affairs said his visit to Italy was pre-arranged and added that he would soon return to his country  Read More ...
John Pontifex and John Newton

Five new Mill Hill Missionaries to be ordained for the priesthood   | Mill Hill Missionaries, John Kwa Akain, Ronald Kajja, Oniz Kihokolho, Andrew Mitema, Fr Anthony Chantry MHM,
Five new Mill Hill Missionaries to be ordained for the priesthood

Five new Mill Hill Missionaries will be ordained for the priesthood on 26 April. In ceremonies across Kenya, Uganda and Cameroon, John Kwa Akain, Noah Monday, Ronald Kajja, Oniz Kihokolho and Andrew Mitema will make their Perpetual Oath and be presented with their own Mill Hill red sash and mission cross. These five men will be sent to countries in Africa and Asia to share their faith and live alongside poor communities.  Fr Anthony Chantry MHM, General Superior of Mill Hill, said: " It is very encouraging to see these young people 

 Read More ...

Pope Francis: The Eucharist affects the way we see others | Pope Francis, the Eucharist, General Audience
Pope Francis: The Eucharist affects the way we see others
During his general audience today, (12 February)  in a sunny St Peter’s Square, Pope Francis spoke of the Eucharist as our source of encounter, forgiveness and spiritual nourishment. The Eucharist, he said, affects the way we see others and brings us together with young and old, poor and affluent, neighbours and visitors. .. Continuing our catechesis on the Sacraments of Initiation, I wish to reflect on how we live the Eucharist in our daily lives, as a Church and individual Christians. Read More ...

Belgium to vote on child euthanasia  | Belgium, child euthanasia
Belgium to vote on child euthanasia
Tomorrow (13 February), the Belgian lower house will hold a final vote on proposals to extend Belgium's euthanasia laws to children. 

If passed, the Bill will permit children of all ages to choose to end their lives by lethal injection.

  Belgian officials have refused to allow for public input, such as a democratic vote, and are pushing the proposals through despite strong public opposition. 58 members of Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly Group recently signed a Declaration affirming that the move "betrays some of the most vulnerable children in Belgium" Read More ...

Pakistan: Death threats issued to key people in Shahbaz Bhatti murder case  | Christian Solidarity Worldwide, CSW,  Shahbaz Bhatti,Paul Bhatti, Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan, TTP, Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, LeJ
Pakistan: Death threats issued to key people in Shahbaz Bhatti murder case
Christian Solidarity Worldwide has received deeply concerning reports that several key people involved in the case against four militants accused of assassinating Shahbaz Bhatti, Pakistan’s Federal Minister for Minorities Affairs, have received death threats from militant Islamist groups. Paul Bhatti, the brother of Shahbaz Bhatti, formerly a federal minister and advisor to the prime minister on minorities affairs, received a letter from the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan and Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, warning him he would suffer the same fate as his brother if he did not stop pursuing justice. Read More ...

CAFOD urges: 'No further delays for aid in Syria' | Geneva peace talks, CAFOD,  no delays, Syria. Anne Street,UN,  Syrian Red Crescent
CAFOD urges: 'No further delays for aid in Syria'
As the second round of Geneva peace talks gets underway, CAFOD says there must be no delays and no restrictions on allowing aid to reach people in need across Syria. Anne Street, CAFOD’s Head of Humanitarian Policy, said: “It’s essential that we see immediate progress on allowing live-saving provisions – like food, water, blankets and medicine – to reach those most in need throughout Syria. We welcome the fact that the UN and the Syrian Red Crescent have been able to evacuate some civilians from Homs, Read More ...

Daily Masses broadcast on-line -  Europe and America  | Catholic Internet Radio 'Heavens Road', MCM Media,  Catholic TV, Lourdes, Wonersh, Bishop Paul Hendricks, Southwark Diocese; John Toryusen, Southwark Catholic Youth Services. Gerry Coates
Daily Masses broadcast on-line - Europe and America

As the internet grows, more and cathedrals, churches and shrines around the world, are broadcasting Mass and other services on-line - providing an invaluable service for the housebound or anyone unable to get to church. Pope Francis said recently: “The internet offers immense possibilities … this is something truly good - a gift from God”. The latest project to take up this challenge is the new Catholic Internet Radio 'Heavens Road', based at Wonersh seminary. The site already offers podcasts for downloading and 

 Read More ...

Holy Land: Turbulent end of term report for schools in Hebron | CPT Palestine, Ecumenical Accompaniment Programme, Palestine, Israel, EAPPI,  International Solidarity Movement, ISM H2 schools
Holy Land: Turbulent end of term report for schools in Hebron
The most routine part of Christian Peacemaker Team Palestine’s work in Hebron is the monitoring of checkpoints through which students and teachers must walk to get to schools.  For years, they have been stationed at the Qitoun checkpoint/Checkpoint 209, which stands between boys walking from the H-1 area to il-Ibrahimi school and girls walking to al-Faiha school as well as their teachers.  This semester, after daily clashes began erupting at four other H-2 schools near the Salameh checkpoint/Checkpoint 29, CPTers (when they had enough people to do Read More ...

Pakistan: New Archbishop of Lahore calls for respect between faiths | Pakistan, Archbishop Sebastian Shaw of Lahore
Pakistan: New Archbishop of Lahore calls for respect between faiths

The man appointed to be archbishop of Pakistan's largest diocese has said he wishes to dedicate his ministry to the cause of justice and peace – which he says are desperately needed in his country. Calling on people to pray that he has "courage and faith" as he takes up his post, Archbishop Sebastian Shaw of Lahore said there was an urgent need to "conscientise" people about harmony and civil rights. Speaking from Lahore,  Archbishop Shaw, a Franciscan, 

 Read More ...
John Pontifex

Pope Francis: We need to rediscover a 'sense of the sacred' | Pope Francis, Casa Santa Marta, sense of the sacred
Pope Francis: We need to rediscover a 'sense of the sacred'

.... The first Reading of the day speaks about the “theophany” of God in the time of Solomon the king, he explained. The Lord came down like a cloud upon the temple, which was filled with the glory of God. The Lord speaks to His people in many ways: through the prophets, the priests, the Sacred Scriptures. But with the theophanies, He speaks in another way, “different from the Word: it is another presence, closer, without mediation, near. It is His presence.”

 Read More ...

Russia: Two die in cathedral shooting | Russian, nun killed, Cathedral of the Resurrection of Christ, Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk.
Russia: Two die in cathedral shooting
A gunman opened fire inside a Russian Orthodox cathedral on the eastern Russian island of Sakhalin yesterday, (Sunday 9 February) killing a nun and a parishioner, the BBC and other news services report. Six other people were less seriously wounded in the attack at the Cathedral of the Resurrection of Christ, in the city of Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk. No motive for the shooting has been determined yet. Federal investigators said a 25 year-old man who worked for a private security firm is being questioned by psychiatrists Read More ...
Dan Bergin

DR Congo: Catholic Bishops join Justin Welby in prayers for peace | DR Congo. Justin Welby, CAFOD
DR Congo: Catholic Bishops join Justin Welby in prayers for peace

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, has been visiting Anglican and Catholic Churches in the Democratic Republic of Congo as part of a three day visit to the country. His visit is a show of support for the 'Peace in the Great Lakes Initiative', which is being assisted by CAFOD and its Congolese church partners. The initiative brings together Catholic and Anglican bishops from Rwanda, Burundi and the DR Congo with the aim of working with communities from the three countries to press for peace and reconciliation in the Great Lakes region.

 Read More ...

Pope Francis: Christians are burning lamps, bearing the light of Jesus | Pope Francis, Angelus, salt of the earth, burning lamps
Pope Francis: Christians are burning lamps, bearing the light of Jesus

In his Angelus address to pilgrims in St Peter's Square on Sunday, Pope Francis reflected on  the words of Jesus from the day's Gospel: “You are the salt of the earth... you are the light of the world.”.... Before concluding his address, Pope Francis once again called on the faithful to answer the question he had posed earlier: “Do you want to be burning lamps,” bearing the light of Christ to the world, “or spent lamps?” To which the crowd responded: “Burning lamps! Burning lamps!

 Read More ...

Join the Street Child World Cup Supporters Club |  David Beckham, Pele, Manchester United, Sir Alex Ferguson, Arsenal, Theo Walcott, Thandie Newton, Archbishop Desmiond Tutu,  Street Child World Cup 

Ahead of the FIFA World Cup,
Join the Street Child World Cup Supporters Club

Football legends David Beckham and Pele, Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson, Arsenal and England Forward, Theo Walcott, film star Thandie Newton and Archbishop Desmond Tutu are giving their support to the Street Child World Cup - due to kick off next month. Ahead of the FIFA World Cup, street children from five continents will be taking part in the Street Child World Cup in Rio. on 28 March. 25 teams from 19 countries will be playing in two football tournaments - one for boys, one for girls.There will also be a unique street child conference

 Read More ...

Holy See Permanent Observer to UN speaks on woman's rights |  Holy See, United Nations, 'Promoting Equality, including Social Equity, Gender Equality, and Women’s Empowerment', Archbishop Francis A Chullikatt, women's rights
Holy See Permanent Observer to UN speaks on woman's rights

The Apostolic Nuncio and Permanent Observer of the Holy See to the United Nations, Archbishop Francis Chullikatt,  delivered an address to the UN in New York on the theme of equality on Thursday. In a speech entitled 'Promoting Equality, including Social Equity, Gender Equality, and Women’s Empowerment', Archbishop Chulikatt called for a universal approach in addressing the root causes of inequality, poverty and exclusion, noting that women and girls, in particular, face a broad range of threats against their human dignity.

 Read More ...

NCR assesses UN Vatican abuse report  | Tom Reece SJ, UN committee report on the Rights of the Child, National Catholic Reporter. UN
NCR assesses UN Vatican abuse report

Fr Thomas Reese SJ gives a thorough assessment of the UN committee report on the Rights of the Child in his blog published in the National Catholic Reporter on 7 February. Fr Reese writes: 'The UN committee report on the Vatican's role in sexual abuse was a missed opportunity. It could have played an important role in improving the church's handling of sexual abuse; instead, it was an editorial screed.

 Read More ...

Pope Francis advises Polish Church to 'reach out to the peripheries' | Pope Francis, Polish Bishops, Poland, World Youth Day, Pope John Paul II
Pope Francis advises Polish Church to 'reach out to the peripheries'

Pope Francis met with Polish bishops at the conclusion of their Ad Limina visit on Friday. He told them the Church in Poland has great potential of faith, prayer, charity and Christian practice. Noting that their meeting comes just ahead of the canonization of Blessed John Paul II, the Pope stressed the need for unity among all the bishops to work for the common good of the Church and its people. Pope Francis spoke with the Church leaders about the positive signs of faith in Poland today, but also urged them to pay particular attention to the increasing numbers of divorced and separated families, 

 Read More ...

Pope Francis asks: What will our legacy be? | Pope Francis, King David, legacy
Pope Francis asks: What will our legacy be?

To live our whole life within the Church, as sinners but not as corrupt traitors, and with an attitude of hope that allows us to leave a legacy, not of material wealth, but of a witness to holiness. Pope Francis reflected on these 'great graces' at the Mass he celebrated on Thursday morning, 6 February, in Casa Santa Marta. The Holy Father focused his homily on the mystery of death, referring to the First Reading (Kings 2:1-4,10-12) in which he said, “we hear the story of David’s death”

 Read More ...

2014 Online Catholic Writers Conference  | 2014 Online Catholic Writers Conference
2014 Online Catholic Writers Conference

There is just one more day to sign up for the US-based on-line Catholic Writers Conference. They write: 'This is a completely free, completely online conference held in chat and forums. As always, we will cover the gamut of writing and faith topics, from idea to marketing, practical tips to discussions on faith, fiction and nonfiction. We're hoping to have regular prayer times, publishers from the Catholic and secular realms, and time for fun. 'So far, we have 130 participants and 35 + presentations. Are you one of them? If not, you have until 7 February  to register. 

 Read More ...

Italy: Immigrants face increasing discrimination  | Senator Luigi Manconi,, Caritas immigration report, Cécile Kyenge
Italy: Immigrants face increasing discrimination
Immigrants coming to Italy face increasing discrimination in many areas, a new report published by Caritas Italy in collaboration with the Migrants office of the Italian Bishops’ Conference shows.  Speaking at the presentation of the report, on 30 January, Bishop Giuseppe Merisi, said:  “Millions of people migrate, fleeing from persecution and misery towards better prospects or simply to survive. They have expectations but are often hit by misfortunes which harm their human dignity. Read More ...

China: Christian human rights lawyer completes fifth year in prison | Gao Zhisheng, Christian human rights lawyer,  China,  release, Colin KIng, Xu Zhiyong, Falun Gong
China: Christian human rights lawyer completes fifth year in prison
As China celebrated its New Year, a Christian human rights lawyer who has been kidnapped, imprisoned and tortured faced the fifth anniversary of his disappearance on 4 February, 2009. On that day, Gao Zhisheng, twice nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize for defending the persecuted, was snatched by a dozen police officers from his apartment. He has publicly accused the authorities of brutally torturing him behind bars.
Little more than a week ago, on 26 January, China sentenced another prominent human rights lawyer, Read More ...

UN report on Rights of the Child: 'a lost opportunity' | UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, Sister Mary Anne Walsh
UN report on Rights of the Child: 'a lost opportunity'
Sister Mary Ann Walsh, Director of Media Relations for the USCCB, has described a recent report from the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child as a “lost opportunity.” The UN report was highly critical of the Church’s handling of cases of abuse of children. “Sexual abuse of a minor is a sin and a crime and no organization can become complacent about addressing it,” said Sr Walsh. She stressed however, that “the Catholic Church has certainly done more than any other international organization to face the problem and it will continue to lead in doing so. Read More ...
Sister Mary Ann Walsh

Lebanon: Victims of Armenian Genocide to be canonized | Armenian Genocide, Armenian Apostolic Church, canonization for martyrdom, Great Evil'.Antelias, Lebanon,
Lebanon: Victims of Armenian Genocide to be canonized

Almost a century since the Armenian Genocide – carried out in the territories of Turkey in 1915 - the Armenian Apostolic Church has confirmed its intention to proceed with the canonization for martyrdom of the victims of what the Armenians call the 'Great Evil'.  The confirmation came from the meeting of the Committee for the canonization set up ad hoc and held from January 27 to 29 in Antelias, Lebanon, at the Cathedral of the Armenian

 Read More ...

Archbishop Vincent Nichols: prayers  for South Sudan  | Archbishop Vincent Nichols,  Cardinal Gabriel Zubayr Wako, Archbishop of Khartoum, South Sudan,
Archbishop Vincent Nichols: prayers for South Sudan

Cardinal-elect Archbishop Vincent Nichols, President of the Bishops' Conference of England and Wales, has written to His Eminence Cardinal Gabriel Zubayr Wako, Archbishop of Khartoum, to echo the call for peace in South Sudan. Clashes in Juba, the capital of South Sudan, erupted just before Christmas. The violence has left thousands dead and displaced hundreds of thousands more. Writing on behalf of the Bishops of England and Wales 

 Read More ...

Archbishop Tomasi reacts to UN report observations   | Archbishop Tomas, UN committee on right os the child, report
Archbishop Tomasi reacts to UN report observations

Archbishop Silvano Tomasi, Permanent Observer of the Holy See to the United Nations in Geneva has given his reaction to the  'harsh' report from the committee  of the Convention on the Rights of the Child. In an interview with Vatican Radio today, he said the report has  "a rather negative approach to what the Holy See has been doing and has already achieved in the area of the protection of children." "The first impression is that the report in some ways is not up to date, not taking into account some of the clear and precise explanations

 Read More ...

UN committee lambasts Vatican policies and Catholic moral teachings | UN, Austen Ivereigh,  Committee on the Rights of the Child
UN committee lambasts Vatican policies and Catholic moral teachings
In a wide-ranging report released this morning, the UN watchdog for children's rights, has denounced the Holy See  for 'adopting policies allowing priests to sexually abuse thousands of children'. The report recommends that the Vatican should "immediately remove" all clergy who are known or suspected child abusers. It also criticises Vatican attitudes towards homosexuality, contraception and abortion. A group representing the victims of abuse by priests in the US welcomed the report. Read More ...

Pope Francis to receive Queen Elizabeth | Queen Elizabeth, Prince Philip, Pope Francis
Pope Francis to receive Queen Elizabeth
Queen Elizabeth II, accompanied by the Duke of Edinburgh, will visit the Vatican and meet Pope Francis on Thursday, April 3. A statement from her Press Secretary states the Queen is coming to Rome in response to a lunch invitation from Italian President Giorgio Napolitano, and she is using the visit to Italy as an “opportunity to meet Pope Francis for the first time.” Queen Elizabeth II met with Pope Benedict XVI during his state visit to Great Britain in 2010. Read More ...

German and Swiss Bishops publish first results of Vatican family life survey | III Extraordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops 2014, Swiss Bishops, German Bishops
German and Swiss Bishops publish first results of Vatican family life survey

The German and Swiss Catholic Bishops Conferences are the first to publish initial analyses of last year's Vatican questionnaire,  sent to dioceses around the world in preparation for the III Extraordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops 2014. The German bishops' report praises the participants in the survey, who, they said, "Despite the linguistic style of the questions, which many criticised as being difficult to understand, many individuals and bodies have taken the initiative themselves and have studied

 Read More ...

Hope grows as Israeli court issues preliminary order over Cremisan  | Cremisan. Separation Wall, Advocate Zvi Avni, Society of St Yves, Salesian Convent, Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem
Hope grows as Israeli court issues preliminary order over Cremisan
The community in the Cremisan Valley near Bethlehem,  who have been living under the threat of eviction from  their homes and lands by the construction of the Separation Wall for the past year,  have been given a temporary reprieve... “The case is not over until a final ruling is given. The court’s decision is an indication that it is not inclined to adopt the State’s position. We definitely have new hope – the answer of the court is a good sign” Read More ...

Pope's Lent Message: I distrust charity that costs nothing and doesn't hurt | Pope's Message for Lent, Pope Francis, Lent
Pope's Lent Message: I distrust charity that costs nothing and doesn't hurt

In his message for Lent, the Pope invites us to witness to the Gospel message to those who live in "material, moral and spiritual poverty". By becoming "poor" in Jesus, "God did not let our salvation drop down from heaven, like someone who gives alms from their abundance out of a sense of altruism and piety". "I distrust a charity that costs nothing and does not hurt" because real poverty hurts and dispossession - "what we can give up in order to help and enrich others by our own poverty " - "would not be valid without this 

 Read More ...

Sudan: Bishops make appeal to Catholics worldwide   | CAFOD, Sudan
Sudan: Bishops make appeal to Catholics worldwide

CAFOD has launched an immediate appeal for funds, after Catholic Bishops from Sudan and South Sudan appealed to all international Catholic agencies to support communities affected by recent violence “through all possible means.” Since the ceasefire brokered on 23  January  between the South Sudanese government and rival political factions, the capital Juba has been relatively calm, but several towns and regions in the country are still in desperate need of humanitarian relief, 

 Read More ...

Philippines typhoon - three months on: 'People turned to the Church' | Matthew Carter, Typhoon Haiyan, CAFOD, Father Oscar L Florencio
Philippines typhoon - three months on: 'People turned to the Church'

The role of the Catholic Church in helping stricken Filipinos was hailed today, three months since Typhoon Haiyan hit their islands. In the last three months, Catholic church agencies have provided support to more than 830,000 people, with CAFOD directly responsible for around eight per cent of that total, as well as providing vital expertise and assistance to other agencies and local partners. The typhoon that hit the Philippines on 8 November last year was one of the most powerful ever to make land, 

 Read More ...

Mass mobs descend on New York State  churches | Mass mob, flassh mob, New York, Buffalo
Mass mobs descend on New York State churches

Taking up the idea of using social media to rustle up spontanious choirs or dance performance in public places - mobs of Catholics in Buffalo, New York,  have been filling pews and lifting spirits at some of the city's original, now often sparsely attended, churches -  Carolyn Thomas reports on Yahoo News. On a given Sunday, participants attend Mass en masse at a church they've picked in an online vote and promoted through Facebook and Twitter. Visitors experience the architecture, heritage and spirit

 Read More ...

Canada: Bishops urge government intervention on Israeli wall | Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops, CCCB, Archbishop Paul-André Durocher, CCCB president, Canada, John Baird, Cremisan
Canada: Bishops urge government intervention on Israeli wall

The Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops (CCCB) has asked the Canadian government to urge Israel to stop construction of its security wall that threatens the livelihood of 58 Christian families, and a Catholic religious order.  Archbishop Paul-André Durocher, CCCB president, wrote to Canada's foreign minister John Baird on 28 January to express concern about a proposed section of Israel's separation wall that will bisect the Cremisan Valley near Bethlehem. 

 Read More ...

Egypt: police stage major operation to protect Christians | Coptic Catholic Bishop of Assiut, Kyrillos William, Egypt
Egypt: police stage major operation to protect Christians

In the first three days of February, Egyptian security forces have carried out a huge operation in the city of Assiut to dismantle an organized crime network that has staged many kidnappings, robberies, violent attacks and extortion against the local Coptic community. The Coptic Catholic Bishop of Assiut, Kyrillos William said this intervention marks a decisive change of policy in the activities of the local police. He said: "For months and months, Coptic families and entire communities in Assiut

 Read More ...

Nigeria: Boko Haram kills Muslim cleric with family and 11 Christians | alafi cleric Sheikh Mohammed Awwal Adam, Sheikh Albani, Boko Haram, CSW, Christian Solidarity Worldwide, Mervyn Thomas,, Daarul Hadeethis-Salafiyyah School, Albaniy Science Academ
Nigeria: Boko Haram kills Muslim cleric with family and 11 Christians
A Muslim cleric from Kaduna State, his wife and child, and 11 Christians in Adamawa State, were murdered in separate attacks last weekend by members of the Islamist terror group Boko Haram. Thousands of people attended the funeral of prominent Salafi cleric Sheikh Mohammed Awwal Adam, known locally as Sheikh Albani, on 2 February in Zaria, Kaduna State. On 1 February, gunmen in cars and on motorcycles are reported to have intercepted and opened fire on a vehicle driven by Sheikh Albani with students and members of his family inside. Read More ...

 Pope: 'Consecrated Life is a gift of God to the Church and His people' | World Day for Consecrated Life,  Pope Francis
Pope: 'Consecrated Life is a gift of God to the Church and His people'
On Sunday, the World Day for Consecrated Life,  Pope Francis highlighted the great contribution that nuns bring to the Church. “What would happen”, he asked,  “if there were no nuns? No nuns in hospitals, in missions, in charitable institutions, in schools… Can you even imagine a Church without nuns…? No it is unthinkable!”.  Read More ...

Italian Queen beatified |  Queen Maria Cristina of Savoy, Basilica of Santa Chiara in Naples, King Victor Emmanuel I of Sardinia,  Archduchess Maria Teresa of Austria-Este, Maria Cristina, King of the Two Sicilies, Francis II.
Italian Queen beatified
Queen Maria Cristina of Savoy, whose husband ruled the largest of the Italian kingdoms before national unification, was beatified in the historic Basilica of Santa Chiara in Naples on 25 January. Born in 1812, the daughter of King Victor Emmanuel I of Sardinia and Archduchess Maria Teresa of Austria-Este, Maria Cristina married King Ferdinand II of the Two Sicilies in 1832. She died following the birth of their only child, who later became the last reigning King of the Two Sicilies, Francis II. Read More ...

Italy: Stolen John Paul II relic returned - bishop forgives thieves | Church of San Pietro della Ienca, Abruzzo, Dziwisz, Pope John Paul II, Bishop Giovanni D’Ercole
Italy: Stolen John Paul II relic returned - bishop forgives thieves
A relic containing the blood of Blessed John Paul II, which was stolen last Sunday  from an Italian church, has been been safely returned and the local bishop has forgiven the thieves who took it. The small piece of blood-soaked cloth,  taken from from Pope John II's cassock after he was shot by an assassin in 1981, had been kept in a reliquary in the Church of San Pietro della Ienca in the region of Abruzzo.  The theft of the relic and a small cross, was discovered on Monday morning.  Three men in their 20s, reported to be Read More ...

Pope advises Neocatechuminate  to build communion,  evangelize with love | Pope Francis, Neocatechumenal Way
Pope advises Neocatechuminate to build communion, evangelize with love
Pope Francis met with about 8,000 members of the Neocatechumenal Way today, (1 February)  in the Paul VI Hall. During the audience, with a solemn prayer and blessing, the Pope sent off members of the community on mission to countries throughout the world. Prior to the blessing, he praised the members of the Neocatechumenate for their generosity and service to the Church, then he went on to give three “simple recommendations.”  Firstly, Pope Francis said it is more important for members of the Neocatechumenal Way to be in communion Read More ...

Pope considers establishing commission for child protection under CDF | Pope Francis, Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, CDF, child protection
Pope considers establishing commission for child protection under CDF
Pope Francis met with members of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith  (CDF) yesterday morning  at the end of their planary session.  He said their role was: "To promote and safeguard the doctrine on faith and morals in the whole Catholic world”.  The Holy Father went on to say: “from the earliest days of the Church, there has been a temptation to understand doctrine in an ideological sense or to reduce it to a set of abstract and fossilized theories. In fact, doctrine has the sole purpose of serving the life of the People of God Read More ...

Pope Francis: Christian mediocrity leads to loss of sense of sin | Pope Francis: Christian mediocrity, sense of sin, Casa Santa Marta
Pope Francis: Christian mediocrity leads to loss of sense of sin
When the presence of God is not felt,  "you lose the sense of sin," and so others end up paying the price for our "Christian mediocrity." That was the focus of  Pope Francis’ homily at Mass this morning, (Friday) at Casa Santa Marta.  All too often today, Pope Francis said, grave sin such as adultery is declassified as simply a "problem to be solved ."  He explained,  that was what happens in today’s reading in which King David falls in love with Bathsheba, the wife of Uriah, one of his generals. Read More ...

Nigeria: Entire family murdered in Kaduna | Boko Harfam, Nigeria, Fulani, family murdered, CSW, Christian Solidarity Worldwide
Nigeria: Entire family murdered in Kaduna
A Christian family of seven was murdered last night when armed Fulani tribesmen attacked a village in southern Kaduna State on 30 January. According to reports received by Christian Solidarity Worldwide-Nigeria (CSW-N), Manyekrun Village in the Sabon Garin Manchok District of Kaura Local Government Area (LGA) was attacked at around 11pm. The assailants murdered Mr Abin Kaawai, his wife Ruth Abin, and their children, Indip, Emma, Cletus, Bitrus and Dauda. CSW-N also reported that the area is extremely tense Read More ...

Holy Land: Court postpones verdict on wall in Cremisan valley  | Cremisan. Hoily Land, Separation Wall
Holy Land: Court postpones verdict on wall in Cremisan valley
The Supreme Court of Israel has postponed the verdict on the route of the separation wall. Israeli authorities plan to build a security wall in the Cremisan Valley, on the land of 58 Palestinian families in Beit Jala and two Salesian religious communities. "The ruin of the Cremisan valley and the expropriation of land can in no way be justified by security reasons. Since the beginning of the dispute, alternative routes have been suggested. We, in the meantime, continue to pray" Read More ...

Nigeria: Scores die in Boko Haram attack on Catholic church  | Boko Haram, Nigeria, CSW, Mervyn Thomas
Nigeria: Scores die in Boko Haram attack on Catholic church
At least 138 people are now known to have died on 26 January in attacks by members of the Islamist terror group Boko Haram on villages in Adamawa and Borno States in north east Nigeria. Around 53 people are reported to have died and dozens were wounded in Adamawa State when militants armed with AK-47s and improvised explosive devices (IED’s) attacked a Catholic church in Wada Chakawa in Madagali Local Government Area (LGA) just as a busy Sunday service was ending. Read More ...

US bishops renew plea for Israel to stop unnecessary confiscation of Palestinian lands  | Cremisan, Holy Land, Israel, Palestine, peace, conflict, Secretary of State John Kerry, Bishop Richard E. Pates, USCCB, US Conference of Catholic Bishops, International Justice and Peace, US bishops
US bishops renew plea for Israel to stop unnecessary confiscation of Palestinian lands
The United States should urge the government of Israel to cease and desist in efforts to unnecessarily confiscate Palestinian lands in the Occupied West Bank, said the chairman of the Committee of International Justice and Peace of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops to Secretary of State John Kerry.  In a 28 January letter, Bishop Richard E Pates, specifically addressed the situation in the Cremisan Valley, which he visited earlier this month.  "As I stood amidst the beauty of this agricultural valley and heard the testimony of the Christian families Read More ...

Vatican tweets graffiti image of Superhero Pope Francis | Graffiti, Pope Francis, Twitter
Vatican tweets graffiti image of Superhero Pope Francis
A graffiti image of Pope Francis as superhero - flying through the air with his white cape billowing behind him which has appeared on a wall in the Borgo Pio district of Rome near St Peters, has been tweeted by the Vatican.  Speeding forwards with his fist raised, the heroic pontiff – crucifix swinging in the wind – carries his trademark black bag, with the word 'values' written across it, in Spanish, in white letters. "We share with you a graffiti found in a Roman street near the Vatican, Read More ...
Jo Siedlecka

Sri Lanka: Christians protest after extremist Buddhists attack churches | Sri Lanka, Buddhists attack churches, Bishop Dhiloraj Canagasabey, burning of Bibles
Sri Lanka: Christians protest after extremist Buddhists attack churches
Sri Lankan Christians of all denominations, marched through the streets of the capital Colombo to protest against the attacks carried out lately by Buddhist extremists and for the lack of protection of religious freedom. More than 2,000 faithful took to the streets in Colombo on Sunday. Attacks were carried out by Buddhists on 12 January against two churches and a centre of Christian prayer. The centre, in Pitipana, near Colombo, was set on fire while the other two attacks - with damage to the furniture and stained glass windows and the burning of Bibles Read More ...

Pope Francis: Usury - an affront to dignity | Pope Francis, usury, general audience
Pope Francis: Usury - an affront to dignity
Following Wednesday'ls general audience, the Pope greeted the faithful present..... Finally, he greeted the National Council of Anti-Usury Foundations. "I hope that these institutions may intensify their commitment alongside the victims of usury, a dramatic social ill. When a family has nothing to eat, because it has to make payments to usurers, this is not Christian, it is not human! This dramatic scourge in our society harms the inviolable dignity of the human person." Read More ...

Confirmation, second sacrament of Christian Initiation | Pope Francis, Confirmation
Confirmation, second sacrament of Christian Initiation
During yesterday's general audience Pope Francis, continuing his catechesis on the sacraments, focused on Confirmation, a sacrament which must be understood as "continuing from Baptism, to which it is indissolubly linked". "These two sacraments, along with the Eucharist, constitute a single saving event - Christian initiation - in which we are brought into Christ who died and rose again, and become new creatures and members of the Church. This is because originally these three Sacraments were celebrated together, at the end of Read More ...

Central African Republic: Pastor and son killed as religious leaders struggle to keep peace | Pastor Kongbo, Union des Eglises Baptistes, UEB, Central African Republic, CAR, anti-Balaka forces,  Seleka, Mervyn Thomas
Central African Republic: Pastor and son killed as religious leaders struggle to keep peace
Pastor Kongbo, treasurer of the Union des Eglises Baptistes (UEB), was killed on 28 January along with his son at their home by Seleka forces as violence erupted in the northern suburbs of the Central African Republic’s (CAR's) capital city Bangui. Two Seleka fighters were also killed on the same day by French troops following a battle between anti-Balaka forces and Seleka fighters, who were moved from military bases in the south of Bangui to a camp in the PK 11 area on the northern outskirts of the city. Read More ...

Pope Francis encourages wholehearted praise in prayer  | Pope Francis, prayers of praise
Pope Francis encourages wholehearted praise in prayer
During Mass yesterday at Casa Santa Marta, Pope Francis reflected on the proper attitude of Christians at prayer.  Reflecting on the reading from the Second Book of Samuel,  in which “David danced with all his might before the Lord,” Pope Francis recalled that the whole people of Israel were celebrating because the Ark of the Covenant was returning home. He went on to say that David’s prayer of praise, “led him to move beyond all composure,” adding, “this was precisely a prayer of praise. Read More ...

Help suffering Syrian refugees stay in the region says Catholic leader | Arab Spring, Melkite Greek Catholic Church, Melkite Greek Patriarch Gregorios III Laham of Antioch, Middle East, Refugees, Syria, War and conflict
Help suffering Syrian refugees stay in the region says Catholic leader
Bringing refugees from Syria to the West is not the answer to the crisis, according to the leader of Catholics in the disaster-stricken country, who says more can be done to help displaced people both there and elsewhere in the Middle East.  While sympathising with refugees who seek a new life in the West, Damascus-based Melkite Greek Catholic Patriarch Gregorios III of Antioch urged that aid programmes be boosted both within Syria and in neighbouring countries to enable them to stay in the region. Read More ...
John Pontifex

Holy Land: Archbishop Elias Chacour resigns | Pope Francis, Archbishop Elias Chacour, Archbishop of the Greek Melkite Archeparchy of Akka, Haifa, Nazareth and the Galilee, Dan Bergin
Holy Land: Archbishop Elias Chacour resigns
The Apostolic Nunciature in Israel announced yesterday that Pope Francis has accepted the resignation of Archbishop Elias Chacour, Archbishop of the Greek Melkite Archeparchy of Akka, Haifa, Nazareth and the Galilee. The archbishop, a native Palestinian, whose family and entire village were evicted when the State of Israel was formed, was the first Israeli citizen to be appointed a Catholic bishop.  He has devoted his life to advocating non-violence and reconciliation between Israelis and Palestinians and has twice been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize. Read More ...
Dan Bergin

Bishops call for justice as Israeli court hearing on Cremisan Valley starts | Cremisan. Holy Land Coordination,
Bishops call for justice as Israeli court hearing on Cremisan Valley starts
As Bishops of the Holy Land Co-ordination, we call for justice to be upheld in the Cremisan Valley, near Bethlehem. Israel’s plans to build a security wall on the land of 58 Christian families should be abandoned. We met with many families from Beit Jala during our recent visit to the Holy Land. We heard of their pain and anguish. They are faced with the threatened loss of their land and livelihood as the planned security wall will destroy vineyards, groves and orchards and separate them from their land. Read More ...

Pope Francis speaks on role of Christian women in today's world | CIF, Centro Italiano Femminile – Italian Women's Centre, Pope Francis
Pope Francis speaks on role of Christian women in today's world
Pope Francis received representatives of the CIF (Centro Italiano Femminile – Italian Women's Centre), on  Saturday. This organisation was established in 1944 for the purpose of co-ordinating women and associations of a Christian nature to contribute to the reconstruction of the country through democratic participation, human advancement and solidarity. Currently the CIF proposes to act with institutions for the full exercise of the rights of citizenship and collaboration with women from diverse cultural backgrounds. Read More ...

Pope Francis reflects on the anointed priesthood  | Pope Francis, anointed priesthood, Casa Santa Marta
Pope Francis reflects on the anointed priesthood
During Monday morning Mass in the chapel of Casa Santa Marta, Pope Francis spoke of the significance of spiritual anointing of the priesthood, and thanked the many holy priests who give their lives in the anonymity of their daily service.  Commenting on the first reading of the day, which speaks of the tribes of Israel that anoint David as their king, the Pope said: “Without this anointing, David would have been only the head of the 'company' of a 'political society, which was the Kingdom of Israel'. He would have been a mere, 'political organizer.' Read More ...

Pope concludes Week of Prayer for Christian Unity with ecumenical service | Pope Francis,  Week of Christian Unity Vespers, Basilica of St Paul's-Outside-the-Walls, Orthodox Archbishop Gennadios Zervos,  David Moxon,
Pope concludes Week of Prayer for Christian Unity with ecumenical service
Pope Francis concluded Week of Prayer for Christian Unity with the celebration of Vespers in the Basilica of St Paul's-Outside-the-Walls, with representatives from many different churches.  The Orthodox Archbishop Gennadios Zervos, Metropolitan of the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople to Italy and Malta and Exarch of Southern Europe, and David Moxon, the Archbishop of Canterbury's representative to the Holy See, and Director of the Anglican Centre in Rome were among the participants. Read More ...

South Sudan: calls for humanitarian corridor after ceasefire | Jane Andanje,  CAFOD, AMECEA, Association of Members of the Episcopal Conferences of East Africa
South Sudan: calls for humanitarian corridor after ceasefire
Since a ceasefire was agreed in South Sudan, last week, Church and aid agencies have called for greater action from the international community to ensure that the truce holds, and the establishment of an aid corridor to enable much-needed medical and humanitarian support to be delivered.  Jane Andanje,  CAFOD’s country director for South Sudan said: "We welcome this long awaited ceasefire, and we pray that it will end the fear and suffering that hundreds of thousands of people have endured in South Sudan over the last five weeks. Read More ...

Philippines: The survival of orphan Erica  | Tacloban,Leyte, Preda human trafficking, Philippines, Fr Shay Cullen, Haiyan (Yolanda).
Philippines: The survival of orphan Erica
Tacloban,Leyte. I arrived here with the Preda team of social workers to prepare the way for a series of training seminars to combat the human trafficking and give group therapy to the many survivors in the squalid evacuation camps to cope better with the tragedy and great loss they have suffered because of typhoon Haiyan (Yolanda). For the children, we have puppet shows that teach abuse prevention. But I went first to find the missing orphans. Here is the story of one of them. Read More ...
Fr Shay Cullen

Pope Francis: 'The horror of the Holocaust must never be repeated' | Pope Francis, Rabbi Abraham Skorka, Holocaust Memorial Day, Violins of Hope', Amnon Weinstein
Pope Francis: 'The horror of the Holocaust must never be repeated'
Pope Francis has written a letter to his friend Rabbi Abraham Skorka of Buenos Aires on the occasion of Holocaust Memorial Day which takes place today, 27 January. The letter will be read out this evening evening at a concert in Rome entitled 'Violins of Hope'.  In the hand written letter to Rabbi Abraham Skorka, the Pope the describes the Holocaust as "a horror and a disgrace to humanity that must never be repeated."  The Pope writes that the audience will be hearing pieces including works by Barber, Vivaldi and Beethoven,  Read More ...

US court ruling exempts Sisters from health service contraceptive mandate | Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz, USCCB, US bishops, president, Supreme Court of the United States, Little Sisters of the Poor, contraceptive
US court ruling exempts Sisters from health service contraceptive mandate
Archbishop Joseph E Kurtz of Louisville, Kentucky, president of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) has welcomed a decision by the US Supreme Court, on 24 January, to extend an injunction granted by Justice Sonia Sotomayor, on 31 December, exempting the Little Sisters of the Poor and others in their lawsuit from the Department of Health and Human Services' contraception mandate while their appeal is pending. "The bishops of the United States welcome the Court's protection of ministries like the Little Sisters whose vital work Read More ...

Pope Francis appeals for dialogue in Ukraine | Pope Francis, Ukraine
Pope Francis appeals for dialogue in Ukraine
Pope Francis appealed for constructive dialogue between institutions and civil society in the Ukraine during his address to pilgrims in St Peter's Square after the Angelus on Sunday. The Pope said he is praying for the people of Ukraine, in particular for those who have lost their lives during the violence of the past days, and for their families. He said he is praying that the parties involved will avoid violence in future and that the spirit of peace and the quest for common good may prevail.  Weeks of protests in Kiev have escalated Read More ...

Christian Aid calls for end to secrecy over mining of Haiti's £12bn minerals | deals struck between Haitian government and US and Canadian mining companies, Prime Minister Laurent Lamothe, Christian Aid, Prospery Raymond
Christian Aid calls for end to secrecy over mining of Haiti's £12bn minerals
Concern is growing at the secrecy surrounding deals struck between Haitian government and US and Canadian mining companies over the country’s estimated £12bn gold, silver and copper deposits. Two years ago Haiti’s Prime Minister Laurent Lamothe said mining minerals discovered in the north of the country could help Haiti rebuild following the 2010 earthquake which killed more than 200,000, and hasten an end to dependency on foreign aid. Christian Aid country manager Prospery Raymond says lack of transparency over contracts is now giving rise to fears Read More ...

 Ukraine: Greek Catholic Bishop denounces violence against protestors | Bishop Borys Gudziak, Ukraine,  Ukrainian Greek Catholic Eparchy of Paris, John Pontifex, ACN, Aid to the Church in Need
Ukraine: Greek Catholic Bishop denounces violence against protestors
The brutal crackdown on demonstrators in Ukraine is acting as a recruiting sergeant for the protest movement, according to a bishop, who described the country as engaged "in a battle for dignity".  Bishop Borys Gudziak, Eparch of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Eparchy of Paris, defended protestors on the streets coming under fire from government forces, but repeated calls that they do not take up arms.... Bishop Gudziak spoke out against the violent security response to the demonstrations, describing protestors as prayerful and non-violent. Read More ...
John Pontifex

Opus Dei bishop Alvaro del Portillo on path to sainthood |  Bishop Alvaro del Portillo, St Josemaría, Opus Dei,  Jose Ignacio Ureta Wilson,
Opus Dei bishop Alvaro del Portillo on path to sainthood
The Holy See has confirmed that Bishop Alvaro del Portillo, first successor of St Josemaría at the head of Opus Dei, will be beatified in Madrid on 27 September 2014. This follows the approval of a miracle by Pope Francis in July 2013. The cure accepted as a miracle through del Portillo’s intercession involved a Chilean newborn baby boy, Jose Ignacio Ureta Wilson, who recovered after being in cardiac arrest for 30 minutes and suffering a massive hemorrhage. Ten years on, he is now a perfectly normal and healthy child. Read More ...

Bethlehem: Last Mass on monastic land under threat of seizure | Beit Jala, Cremisan, Seperation Wall, Fr Ibrahim Shomali
Bethlehem: Last Mass on monastic land under threat of seizure
The last weekly open-air Mass was held at Beit Jala near Bethlehem, on Friday in an area threatened by Israel's Separation Wall, as locals awaited a court decision on an appeal to halt the land seizure. Around 60 Palestinians, internationals and representatives of the Catholic, Orthodox and Lutheran churches gathered on an olive tree-covered hilltop in the Cremisan Valley to pray for a halt to the massive concrete wall, which is set to annex the entire lush green area north of Beit Jala. Read More ...

Pope receives French President Hollande | Pope Francis,  President Hollande
Pope receives French President Hollande
The Holy Father received in audience the president of the French Republic, Francois Hollande this morning, (Friday). Later the president went on to meet Archbishop Pietro Parolin, secretary of State, accompanied by Archbishop Dominique Mamberti, secretary for Relations with States.   'The discussions focused on the contribution of religion to the common good. Emphasising the good existing relations between France and the Holy See, the parties mentioned their mutual commitment to maintaining a regular dialogue between the State and the Catholic Church Read More ...

Pope Francis: Christians must build bridges not walls | Pope Francis, Casa Santa Marta
Pope Francis: Christians must build bridges not walls
Christians must build bridges of dialogue, not walls of resentment. These were the words of the Holy Father at Mass this morning (Friday) in the Casa Santa Marta chapel. Reflecting on the conflict between King Saul and David which is the focus of the day’s Old Testament reading, the Pope said, David has the chance to kill Saul, but he chooses “a different path: the path of dialogue, to make peace”.  All Christians, always, should follow the path of reconciliation, the Pope said, because that is what Jesus taught us, Read More ...

Philippines: New floods hinder recovery in wake of Typhoon Haiyan | Typhoon Haiyan, Christian Aid, Tropical Depression Agaton
Philippines: New floods hinder recovery in wake of Typhoon Haiyan
Massive flooding in the Philippines is hindering the efforts of of people to rebuild their lives in the wake of Typhoon Haiyan, says Christian Aid. Tropical Depression Agaton has brought heavy rain and fierce winds, causing widespread flooding and landfalls which are affecting more than 900,000 people across southern and central parts of the island chain.  Many were already living in temporary shelters and struggling to earn a living following Haiyan, which displaced 4.1million and left over 6,000 dead in November. Read More ...

Central African Republic: Christian, Muslim leaders appeal for UN intervention | Central African Republic, Catherine Samba-Panza,  Seleka, anti-Balaka militia, Archbishop of Bangui, Mgr Dieudonné Nzapalainga, Imam, Oumar Kobine Layama,
Central African Republic: Christian, Muslim leaders appeal for UN intervention
The new President of the Central African Republic, Catherine Samba-Panza, was sworn in today, 23 January in a country ravaged by fighting between former Seleka rebels and anti-Balaka militia. While the situation has often been described as a conflict between religions, Christian and Muslim leaders in the country say the crisis came about because of the collapse of state institutions. The Archbishop of Bangui, Mgr Dieudonné Nzapalainga and the Imam, Oumar Kobine Layama, President of the Central African Islamic community, Read More ...

Pope warns against jealousy, envy and gossip which divide and destroy Christian communities | Pope Francis, Casa Santa Marta
Pope warns against jealousy, envy and gossip which divide and destroy Christian communities
Christians must avoid jealousies, envy and gossip that divide and destroy our communities, Pope Francis stressed in his homily at Mass on Thursday morning in Casa Santa Marta.  Reflecting on the day’s first reading which recalls the victory of the Israelites over the Philistines - thanks to the courageous actions of the young David, he said  King Saul’s joy over the victory soon turns to sadness and jealousy when he sees the women praising David for killing Goliath. Read More ...

Pope's Message for World Communications Day | Pope Francis' message for World Day of Social Communications,  St Francis of Sales,
Pope's Message for World Communications Day
'Communication at the service of an authentic culture of encounter' is the title of Pope Francis' message for the 48th World Day of Social Communications, the only world day established by Vatican Council II (Inter Mirifica, 1963), which is celebrated on the Sunday before the feast of Pentecost (which falls on 1 June 2014). The message is dated 24 January, memorial of St Francis of Sales, patron saint of communicators. The full text of the message is published below: Read More ...

Holy See voices concern over exodus of Christians from Middle East |  exodus of Christians from Middle East, Holy See’s Permanent Observer to the United Nations, Archbishop Francis Chullikatt, 

He was speaking during the UN Security Council Open Debate on 'The situation in the Middle East, including the Palestinian question.'
Holy See voices concern over exodus of Christians from Middle East
The Holy See has expressed its concern about a “worrying exodus” of Christians from Middle East countries which have been their homelands for nearly two thousand years. The Holy See’s Permanent Observer to the United Nations in New York, Archbishop Francis Chullikatt, said Christians often targeted by “fundamentalist and extremist forces” in the region.  He was speaking during the UN Security Council Open Debate on 'The situation in the Middle East, including the Palestinian question.' Read More ...

Geneva 2 talks: Holy See calls for immediate ceasefire in Syria | Vatican, ceasefire in Syria, Geneva 2 Conference, Archbishop Silvano M Tomasi
Geneva 2 talks: Holy See calls for immediate ceasefire in Syria
The Vatican has called for an immediate ceasefire in Syria, during the Geneva 2 Conference in Switzerland. The leader of the Holy See’s Delegation, Archbishop Silvano M Tomasi said the “violence has to stop because too much suffering has been inflicted on all the people of Syria and on the entire region.” The international peace talks are looking for a compromise which can end the conflict in Syria.... The people of Syria have lived together in peace throughout history, and can do so again. Read More ...

President Obama to meet Pope Francis | Pope Francis, President, Barack Obama,  Father Federico Lombardi,  US Vice-President, Joe Biden.
President Obama to meet Pope Francis
Pope Francis is scheduled to receive US President, Barack Obama, in audience in the Vatican, on Thursday 27 March 2014. The news was announced on Tuesday by the White House, and confirmed by Father Federico Lombardi, Head of the Vatican Press Office. This will be Obama’s first meeting with Pope Francis. At the Inaugural Mass of his Petrine Ministry on 19 March, 2013, the United States was represented by US Vice-President, Joe Biden. The announcement comes just days after the Vatican Secretary of State, Read More ...

Pope Francis sends message to World Economic Forum in Davos | Pope Francis, World Economic Forum, Davos
Pope Francis sends message to World Economic Forum in Davos
Pope Francis has sent a message to participants at the World Economic Forum which opened in the Swiss resort city of Davos last night. Catholic Church leaders are among those taking part in the four day meeting, which is focused on the theme ‘The Reshaping of the World: Consequences for Society, Politics and Business’. In the message, Pope Francis said it is important to praise the steps being taken improve people’s welfare in areas of health care, education and communications and to recognize the fundamental role that modern business activity plays in bringing about these changes. Read More ...

Alliance calls for work-free Sunday across Europe | European Sunday Alliance, Work Free Sunday
Alliance calls for work-free Sunday across Europe
Today, a Conference at the European Parliament which gathered 120 participants, the European Sunday Alliance,  officially launched a Pledge for a work-free Sunday and decent work, ahead of the European elections 2014. The Pledge is aimed at committing European politicians to the promotion of a common weekly day of rest as well as a legal framework guaranteeing sustainable working time patterns based on the principle of decent work. Read More ...

Christian Aid urges EC not to turn its back on climate victims | Christian Aid, Climate, David Cameron, Dr Alison Doig,Denise Fontanilla, White Paper,  Aksyon Klima,
Christian Aid urges EC not to turn its back on climate victims
Christian Aid today urged the UK Government not to neglect the victims of climate change in the Philippines and elsewhere after the European Commission recommended weak emissions targets for 2030. The lack of ambitious reduction targets in today’s White Paper will fail to push European countries far enough in tackling the emissions which cause climate change, endangering the commitment of keeping the global temperature rise under two degrees. Read More ...

Israel: Catholic Church offers refuge for migrants  |  World Day of Migrants and Refugees,  St Anthony in Jaffa, Israel, Father David Neuhaus
Israel: Catholic Church offers refuge for migrants
A special Mass was celebrated for the World Day of Migrants and Refugees, on Saturday, in the parish of St Anthony in Jaffa, Israel, with the many migrant communities...  Gathering the faithful from at least thirteen or fourteen countries to celebrate a Mass is not common in Israel. “Look around you,” stated Father David Neuhaus during his homily.  “Look at the brothers and sisters the Lord has given us, in their diversity of origin and culture, language and colour Read More ...

Pope Francis: We need to be small to dialogue with God | Pope Francis, Casa Santa Marta, smallness
Pope Francis: We need to be small to dialogue with God
Pope Francis said we need to be small and humble to dialogue with God. He always chooses those who are small and who have least power. This was the main message of the Pope’s homily at Tuesday morning's Mass in the chapel of the Santa Marta residence. In his homily the Holy Father reflected on the personal relationship between God and his people - the small and humble - saying God always speaks to us on a personal level, using our names. "It’s never a dialogue between the powerful and the masses." Read More ...

Lambs presented to Pope on Feast of St Agnes | Lateran, lambs, Pope Francis
Lambs presented to Pope on Feast of St Agnes
Today (Tuesday) was the feast day of St Agnes and a traditional ceremony took place at the Vatican in which Pope Francis was presented with lambs, adorned with flowers.  Earlier, the lambs who are reared by Sisters from the Roman convent of San Lorenzo in Panisperna, were blessed in the Roman church where St Agnes is buried. The wool of these lambs is used to weave the pallia for the new metropolitan archbishops. The pallium – a white stole adorned with six black crosses  Read More ...

Egypt: Bishops welcomes Yes vote for new constitution | Coptic Catholic Bishops in Egypt, referendum on the country's new constitution,Aid to the Church in Need, Bishops Kyrillos William of Assiut, Upper Egypt, Antonios Aziz Mina of Giza, JOhn Pontifex,  Joannes Zakaria of Luxor
Egypt: Bishops welcomes Yes vote for new constitution
Coptic Catholic Bishops in Egypt have hailed the result of the referendum on the country's new constitution which they say represents a crucial step towards religious freedom and other civil liberties. In interviews with Aid to the Church in Need, Bishops Kyrillos William of Assiut, Upper Egypt, Antonios Aziz Mina of Giza and Joannes Zakaria of Luxor all spoke of their delight at last week's vote, which officials say showed a 98 percent 'yes' vote for the new constitution, drafted under the country's interim regime. Read More ...
John Pontifex

Australia:  Church welcome closure of four  migrant detention centres   | The Australian Catholic Migrant and Refugee Office (ACMRO), immigration detention facilities,  Fr Maurizio Pettenà,
Australia: Church welcome closure of four migrant detention centres
The Australian Catholic Migrant and Refugee Office (ACMRO) has welcomed the decision by the Federal Government to close four immigration detention facilities in Australia.  “It is not a crime to seek asylum yet sadly these detention centres have been a source of immense pain and misery for thousands of our brothers and sisters who have come to us in search of refuge”, said Fr Maurizio Pettenà, National Director of the ACMRO. Read More ...

Palestine Reflection: On stone throwing and strategies | Kathleen Kern, throwing stones, Hebron, Chritian Peacemakers Teams
Palestine Reflection: On stone throwing and strategies
Years ago in our Hebron apartment, we had a foam cushion insert on which someone had drawn a smiling face. Dubbed “Happy Foam Square,” we would throw it at a wall when our work got frustrating, and doing so was surprisingly cathartic.  So in a small way, I understand why throwing stones feels good. I also understand, when I see the posters of small boys throwing stones at tanks, that their actions are brave. I understand why the narrative of an occupied people resisting one of the most technologically advanced Read More ...
Kathleen Kern

Pope Francis:  'our God is the God of surprises' | Pppe Francis, Casa Santa Marta, God of surprises
Pope Francis: 'our God is the God of surprises'
In his homily at Mass this morning, 20 January, at Casa Santa Marta,  Pope Francis commented on the day's Readings from the first Book of Samuel (15:16-23) and the Gospel of St Mark (2:18-22). The Holy Father began by noting that both readings help us “to reflect on the word of God” and “on our attitude towards God's word”. Citing Hebrews, the Pope said that the word of God is “living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword … discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart” (4:12-13). Indeed, he said, “the word of God visits us and illumines the state of our heart, of our soul”; it “discerns”. Read More ...

Cardinal-designate Vincent Nichols calls for prayers for Syria | Prayers for Syria. Vincent Nichols, Geneva II talks
Cardinal-designate Vincent Nichols calls for prayers for Syria
Cardinal-designate Vincent Nichols, Archbishop of Westminster, today called for all people of good will to join in prayers for peace in Syria and for the success of the planned talks this week between all those involved in the conflict. The full statement is below. Prayers for Syria ... Today I add my voice to those of many others in urging people of faith to pray for the success of the Geneva II conference on Syria that are due to begin on Wednesday. Read More ...

Historic Christian site found in China | Assyrian Church of the East, Nestorian Churchk Christian church in China, UNESCO, Longmen Grottoes Research Institute
Historic Christian site found in China
A recently discovered site may shed new light on historical research into the Nestorian Church, which is believed to be the earliest Christian movement to spread the Gospel in China. A niche in a stone wall with a cross carved above it has now been verified by experts as a repository for the ashes and bones of Christians. The experts also confirmed that this is the earliest Nestorian burial place discovered so far in China.  The discovery at the Longmen Grottoes, a UNESCO World Heritage sit Read More ...

Pope Francis makes appeal for migrants and refugees | World Migrant Day, Pope Francis, Message for World Migrant Day
Pope Francis makes appeal for migrants and refugees
Pope Francis made an appeal for migrants and refugees on Sunday – the Church’s 100th annual World Day for Migrants and Refugees. After the Angelus prayer, speaking to thousands of pilgrims gathered in St Peter’s Square, the Holy Father said: “I extend a special greeting to the representatives of various ethnic communities gathered here, in particular the Catholic communities in Rome.”  Pope Francis went on to say: “Dear friends, you are close to the heart of the Church, Read More ...

Pet Blessing at the  Vatican | Pet Blessing, Vatican, St Anthony the Great
Pet Blessing at the Vatican
Hundreds of pet owners queued with their animals for blessings at the Vatican on Friday, the feast day of St Anthony the Great. Dogs, cats, horses decorated with ribbons, parrots and other birds, some turtles, rabbits, hamsters and guinea pigs waited for their turn. Pet blessing also took place at several churches in Spain, including the Church of Saint Anthony in Madrid. In the village of San Bartolome de los Pinares, about 100 km northwest of the capital, horses were ridden to the church Read More ...
Claire Bergin

Archbishop Longley: 'Remember suffering Church in Holy Land and Middle East during Christian Unity Week'  | Coventry Cathedral, Octave of Prayer for Christian Unity Archbishop of Birmingham, Bernard Longley,  suffering Church, Holy Land, Middle East.”

He referenced the work of “organisations such as the Friends of the Holy Land” which “draw together Christians from all our Churches in prayerful and practical support of these ancient Christian communities to whom we owe so much.”
Archbishop Longley: 'Remember suffering Church in Holy Land and Middle East during Christian Unity Week'
In an address at Coventry Cathedral on Sunday to mark the Octave of Prayer for Christian Unity, the Archbishop of Birmingham, the Most Reverend Bernard Longley,  highlighted how shared unity prompts us to remember “our brothers and sisters of the suffering Church in the Holy Land and the Middle East.” He referenced the work of “organisations such as the Friends of the Holy Land” which “draw together Christians from all our Churches in prayerful and practical support of these ancient Christian communities to whom we owe so much.” Read More ...

Philippines: Investigation reveals massive on-line child abuse  | paedophiles, BBC report, Preda Foundation in Olongapo city,  Lucena City,  Sankey Samaritan Mission, Tom Randall,  Toto Luchavez, Jake Luchavez,
Philippines: Investigation reveals massive on-line child abuse
Two major child abuse stories broke last week. The exposé of the deviant criminal behavior of paedophiles in the UK, America, and Australia and the Philippines who are sexually exploiting Filipino children through the internet, has been revealed in a BBC report which staff of the Preda Foundation in Olongapo city help them make. In Lucena City, an orphanage, Sankey Samaritan Mission for poor children and youth was raided by the NBI and an American, Tom Randall and orphanage manager Toto Luchavez and his son, Jake Luchavez, were arrested Read More ...
Fr Shay Cullen

Vatican envoy to UN pledges commitment of Church to child protection | Archbishop Silvano Tomasi, CS, Permanent Observer of the Holy See, United Nations, Committee on the Convention of the Rights of the Child (CRC)., child abuse, child protection
Vatican envoy to UN pledges commitment of Church to child protection
Archbishop Silvano Tomasi, CS, Permanent Observer of the Holy See to the United Nations in Geneva, spoke on Thursday morning before the Committee on the Convention of the Rights of the Child (CRC). He presented the Holy See's periodic report on this issue. “The protection of children remains a major concern for contemporary society and for the Holy See,” the prelate said. “... Abusers are found among members of the world’s most respected professions, most regrettably, including members of the clergy and other church personnel. …” Read More ...

Syria: Patriarch Gregorios' plea for peace on eve of Geneva peace summit | Patriarch Gregorios III, John Pontifex, Melkite Greek Catholic, Syria, Geneva peace conference
Syria: Patriarch Gregorios' plea for peace on eve of Geneva peace summit
The leader of Catholics in Syria has issued an urgent appeal to the faithful in Syria – and people throughout the world – to pray for the success of next week's all-important Geneva II peace conference. Damascus-based Melkite Greek Catholic Patriarch Gregorios III has called on every Syrian Catholic whatever their circumstances to pray for an end to the hostilities that have prompted almost nine million Syrians to flee their homes since the conflict began nearly three years ago. Read More ...
John Pontifex

El Salvador honours Archbishop Oscar Romero |  El Salvador, Mauricio Funes, Archbishop Óscar Romero, Julian Filochowski, beatification
El Salvador honours Archbishop Oscar Romero
The President of El Salvador, Mauricio Funes has announced several new initiatives to honour Archbishop Óscar Romero this week. He has changed the name of the Hall of Honour of the Presidential Mansion after Archbishop Romero and unveiled a large portrait of Romero, whom he has called the spiritual leader of El Salvador. President Funes has also said that he is now seeking to change the name of El Salvador's International Airport after the slain prelate. Read More ...

Pope Francis: Church scandals happen when there is no true relationship with God | Pope Francis, Church scandal, Casa Santa Marta
Pope Francis: Church scandals happen when there is no true relationship with God
Scandals in the Church happen because there is no living relationship with God and His Word. Thus, corrupt priests, instead of giving the Bread of Life, give a poisoned meal to the holy people of God - Pope Francis said in his homily at the Thursday morning Mass at Casa Santa Marta. Commenting on the day 's reading and Psalm which recount the crushing defeat of the Israelites by the Philistines, the Pope noted that the people of God at that time had forsaken the Lord. Read More ...

International bishops' delegation:  'Gaza is a man-made disaster, a shocking scandal' | Archbishop Stephen Brislin, Bishop Pierre Burcher, Bishop William Crean, Bishop Michel Dubost,  Archbishop Paul-Andre Durocher, Archbishop Patrick Kelly, Bishop William Kenney, Bishop Declan Lang,
Bishop Denis Nulty, Bishop Richard Pates, Bishop Thomas Renz, Bishop Janusz Stepnowski, Archbishop Joan Enric Vives, Gaza, Holy Land
International bishops' delegation: 'Gaza is a man-made disaster, a shocking scandal'
The Christian community of Gaza was the focal point of this year's visit to the Holy Land by Bishops from across Europe, North America and South Africa in support of the local Christian communities and the pastoral work of the Church at the service of all in the Holy Land.  The visiting Bishops make up the Holy Land Co-ordination, mandated by the Holy See, focusing on prayer, pilgrimage and advocacy for justice and peace with the aim of acting in solidarity with the Christian community there Read More ...

Holy Land: Christian peace campaigners report more olive trees destroyed | CPT, Christian peace campaigners,  Operation Dove,  olive trees, South Hebron Hills, At Tuwani.
Al Amor, At-Tuwani, Operation Dove, B’tselem
Holy Land: Christian peace campaigners report more olive trees destroyed
This morning, Christian peace campaigners Operation Dove, report that 20 olive trees belonging to a Palestinian family were destroyed alongside bypass road 317 in the South Hebron Hills area of At Tuwani. The olive groves belong to the Al Amor family from At-Tuwani and had been planted 34 years ago. At 9.35am, the owners, Operation Dove volunteers and B’tselem staff members gathered near the destroyed trees, waiting for the police. Read More ...

Vietnam: Campaign calls for abolition of torture | Christian Solidarity Worldwide, CSW, Campaign to Abolish Torture in Vietnam, Mervyn Thomas
Vietnam: Campaign calls for abolition of torture
Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW) has welcomed the launch today of a report by the Campaign to Abolish Torture in Vietnam.   The campaign advocates for humane treatment of detainees and prisoners in Vietnam and the elimination of the practice of torture and other abuses in Vietnamese prisons, jails, police stations, re-education centres, and other places of detention.  The report echoes CSW’s own research, which found that the torture of prisoners, and in particular religious and political prisoners, Read More ...

Geneva: Holy See discusses report on rights of the child at UN | The Holy See, Convention on the Rights of the Child, UN, Geneva, Monsignor Charles Scicluna, CDF, child protection
Geneva: Holy See discusses report on rights of the child at UN
The Holy See is discussing a report on the implementation of the Convention on the Rights of the Child at the UN in Geneva today. The agreement includes calls for signatories to take all appropriate measures to protect children from harm and to put children's interests above all else. The Holy See ratified the convention in 1990. The Vatican is being represented  at the meeting by Monsignor Charles Scicluna who previously served as Promoter of Justice at the CDF. Read More ...

Syria: Young Christian killed and beheaded by jihadists |  beheaded a young Christian man, Homs, Firas Nader, Fadi Matanius Mattah, Homs, Marmarita, ACN, Aid to the Church in Need, cross
Syria: Young Christian killed and beheaded by jihadists
Islamist groups have killed and beheaded a young Christian man, seriously wounding another. The incident, which occurred on 8 January, has just been reported to Fides by a priest in the diocese of Homs. The two, Firas Nader, 29, and Fadi Matanius Mattah, 34, were traveling by car from Homs to the Christian village of Marmarita. A group of five armed jihadists intercepted the vehicle and opened fire on the car. Upon reaching the car, militiamen, noting that Fadi was wearing a cross around his neck, beheaded him. Read More ...

Thailand: Priest urges peaceful path to reform | Bangkok, Jesuit Father Vichai Phoktavi, Thailand.
Thailand: Priest urges peaceful path to reform
A Catholic priest has urged anti-government protesters in Bangkok to seek justice and reform through peaceful means following a night of sporadic violence in the Thai capital. Addressing several thousand protesters in central Bangkok today (Wednesday), Jesuit Father Vichai Phoktavi prayed for peace and justice in Thailand.  “I think that politics and our government in Thailand should be reformed, we need to reduce corruption and there should be more participation from the people,” Read More ...

Pope: 'In the Church we are all missionaries and disciples'  | Pope Francis, General Audience, Baptism
Pope: 'In the Church we are all missionaries and disciples'
Baptism brings us into the 'People of God', makes us members of a 'People on a journey', a 'Pilgrim People in history' - Pope Francis asserted, quoting words from the Second Vatican Council during his Wednesday catechesis at the general audience, which was dedicated to the first of the sacraments. He explained how life is passed on from generation to generation and that through rebirth at the baptismal font, grace is also passed on from generation to generation. "With this grace the Christian People walk through time, Read More ...

Text: Pope Francis' New Year address to diplomats | Pope Francis, address to diplomates, throwaway culture
Text: Pope Francis' New Year address to diplomats
It is now a long-established tradition that at the beginning of each new year the Pope meets the Diplomatic Corps accredited to the Holy See to offer his greetings and good wishes, and to share some reflections close to his heart as a pastor concerned for the joys and sufferings of humanity. Today’s meeting, therefore, is a source of great joy. It allows me to extend to you and your families, and to the civil authorities and the peoples whom you represent, my heartfelt best wishes for a new year of blessings and peace. Read More ...

Pope urges diplomats to strive for culture of dialogue and respect | Pope Francis, diplomats, throwaway society
Pope urges diplomats to strive for culture of dialogue and respect
Dialogue, diplomacy and respect for human dignity must be the key to resolving national and international conflicts: that was the message Pope Francis gave to the more than 180 ambassadors accredited to the Holy See, who gathered yesterday for the traditional New Year greetings to the diplomatic corps. Speaking in Italian to the ambassadors, Pope Francis reiterated that a spirit of fraternity, as the foundation for peace, should be learned first within the family. The message of the Christmas Crib, he said, shows the Holy Family, “not alone and isolated Read More ...

Bishop calls for prayers as Egyptians vote in constitution referendum | Egyptian referendum, General Bishop of the Coptic Orthodox Church in the UK, Bishop Angaelos
Bishop calls for prayers as Egyptians vote in constitution referendum
As Egyptians began two days of voting in a referendum on a new constitution, the General Bishop of the Coptic Orthodox Church in the UK issued a call for three days of prayer for peace and safety. In a statement released on 14 January, His Grace Bishop Angaelos said: “With Egyptians venturing out to proactively live this new spirit of ownership and citizenship, we pray they are safe in doing so and that they see Egypt move to the next stage of this constitutional and democratic process.” Read More ...

US migrants:  'care for our children, build our homes, but have no rights' | Archbishop of Los Angeles, Mgr Jose Gomez,  National Migration Week,
US migrants: 'care for our children, build our homes, but have no rights'
The Archbishop of Los Angeles, Mgr Jose Gomez, has spoken about the need to continue to urge for a review of immigration policy in the United States. This is simply to ask for a more humane approach towards immigrants, he said: "They are always, first and foremost, human beings". The occasion was a conference on immigration held in the Rotary Club conference centre in Los Angeles, organized to conclude the National Migration Week ... The main goal of the conference was to promote greater awareness of the difficult situation in which immigrants live, Read More ...

Kalashnikov designer felt 'spiritual pain' over  deaths his invention caused | Kalashnikov, Patriarch Kirill, Russian Orthodox Church,
Kalashnikov designer felt 'spiritual pain' over deaths his invention caused
The designer of the Kalashnikov rifle became a Christian and regretted his invention in his final years. Mikhail Kalashnikov, who died last month aged 94, was one of Russia's national heros and won many awards for designing and perfecting assault rifles. More than 100 million of the weapons have been sold worldwide. For many years Kalashnikov denied feeling any sense of responsibility for the deaths it caused.However, in his letter to Patriarch Kirill, head of the Russian Orthodox Church, which was published by Izvestya Read More ...
Dan Bergin

Pope Francis: God's love is good beyond comprehension | Pope Francis, Casa Santa Marta chapel,
Pope Francis: God's love is good beyond comprehension
God’s love is good beyond comprehension: it repairs the damage caused by our sins and errors; it makes whole our personal stories after they have been broken by sin; it heals all of history. This was the focus of Pope Francis in his homily at Mass on Monday morning in the chapel of the Casa Santa Marta.  The Holy Father concentrated his comments on the Gospel reading of the day, which was taken from the Gospel according to St Mark (1:14-20), and which tells of Christ’s calling of the disciples, Andrew, Simon (who would be called Peter), James and John to follow him. Read More ...

British aid agencies urge world governments to scale up Syria response  | CAFOD, Syria, Father Simon Faddoul,  Caritas Lebanon, Christian Aid, Janet Symes
British aid agencies urge world governments to scale up Syria response
British aid agencies are warning that governments must urgently scale up their response to the humanitarian catastrophe in Syria, ahead of the second Kuwait Donor Conference on Wednesday. CAFOD, Christian Aid, International Rescue Committee UK, War Child, Handicap International UK, Mercycorps and Refugees International have commended the British government for committing more than £500 million to respond to the crisis – its largest ever humanitarian response, making it the second biggest donor to the crisis. Read More ...

Holy Land: Visiting bishops celebrate Mass at Holy Family church in Gaza | Gaza, Holy Family Church, Bishops visit
Holy Land: Visiting bishops celebrate Mass at Holy Family church in Gaza
Bishops from across Europe, North America and South Africa visited the tiny Christian community of Gaza yesterday, as part of a yearly pilgrimage aimed at showing support for Christians living in the Holy Land. Susy Hodges from Vatican Radio  is travelling with the Bishops. She wrote: … “Gaza is a large open-air prison.” This is how the people of this sliver of territory sandwiched between Israel and the Mediterranean sea commonly describe their homeland when meeting people from outside. Read More ...

Pope Francis' letter to Cardinals-designate | Pope Francis, Cardinal - designates
Pope Francis' letter to Cardinals-designate
The Vatican on Monday released the text of the letter Pope Francis wrote to the 19 men of the Church whom he will be elevating to the College of Cardinals in a February consistory. Pope Francis announced his decision to hold the 22 February consistory and read out the names of the Cardinals-to-be at the Sunday Angelus in St Peter’s Square. The letter, dated the same day, 12 January,  2014, begins “Dear Brother, on the day when your appointment to the College of Cardinals is made public, I wish to send you a heartfelt greeting along with assurances of my closeness and my prayers.” Read More ...

Egypt: Copts enjoy peaceful Christmas | ACN, Aid to the Church in Need, John Pontifex, Christmas in Egypt, Copts,Father Rafik Greiche,
Egypt: Copts enjoy peaceful Christmas
Egypt's Coptic Christians had reason to be of good cheer this Christmas after early reports showed that their festive celebrations passed off without incident – unlike in previous years. Government security was tight at St Mark's Coptic Orthodox Cathedral, in Alexandria and other high-profile churches during the liturgies marking Christmas, which in the Coptic rite fell on Tuesday (7 January). Turnout was higher than normal at the liturgies which went ahead as normal in contrast to previous years, Read More ...
John Pontifex

Pope's Harley-Davidson to be auctioned by Bonhams for charity | Pope Francis, Harley-Davidson Dyna Super Glide, Bonhams, Grand Palais, Rétromobile Week, Caritas Roma,
Pope's Harley-Davidson to be auctioned by Bonhams for charity
To mark the 110th anniversary of the motorcycle brand, Pope Francis was presented with the 1,585cc Harley-Davidson Dyna Super Glide in June 2013. Now, in what is a rare and exceptional opportunity, the machine is to be auctioned for charity by Bonhams at the Grand Palais on 6 February 2014. The sale, which is taking place as part of Rétromobile Week, will see the motorcycle raise funds for Caritas Roma, which works on behalf of the Catholic church to support those in need around the world.  Read More ...

CAFOD supplies one billion litres of water in typhoon ‘rapid response’ | CAFOD, Philippines, typhoon relief, water and Hygiene kits
CAFOD supplies one billion litres of water in typhoon ‘rapid response’
CAFOD has supplied more than one billion litres of water to people hit by the Philippines typhoon, after being selected as one of the UK aid agencies leading the government’s official ‘rapid response’ to the disaster. The aid agency received £660,000 from the Department of International Development’s (DfID’s) Rapid Response Fund to enable it to provide clean water and sanitation in the immediate aftermath of the typhoon. In the first few weeks after the disaster, Read More ...

Pope Francis: Every baptized child is a miracle of faith | Pope Francis, Cardinals, Baptism
Pope Francis: Every baptized child is a miracle of faith
“Every child who is born is a gift of joy and hope, and every child who is baptized is a miracle of the faith and a feast for the family of God.” These were the words of Pope Francis today (Sunday) as he greeted the tens of thousands of pilgrims gathered in St Peter’s Square for the weekly Angelus address. Referring to the day's Gospel, Pope Francis said: “God gives us in Christ the guarantee of an indestructible love.” We, too, can see the Heavens opened, “if we allow ourselves to be overtaken with the love of God,  Read More ...

Pope Francis reflects on what makes a 'true priest' | Pope Francis, priesthood, Narcissus
Pope Francis reflects on what makes a 'true priest'
At morning Mass on Saturday at Casa Santa Marta, Pope Francis dedicated his entire homily to a reflection on the priesthood. A true priest, he said, anointed by God for His people, has a close relationship with Jesus. When that relationship is missing, the priest becomes “smarmy,” (unctuous, or in Italian: 'unctuoso') an idolater, a worshipper of the “god Narcissus.” Commenting on the passage from first letter of St John, where the Apostle says that we have eternal life because we believe in the name of Jesus, the Pope asks about the relationship of priests with Jesus, because “the strength of a priest is in this relationship.”  Read More ...

Number of Christians killed for their faith doubled in 2013 | Christians killed for their faith, Open Doors
Number of Christians killed for their faith doubled in 2013
Reported cases of Christians killed for their faith around the world doubled in 2013 from the year before, with Syria accounting for more than the whole global total in 2012, according to an annual survey. Open Doors, a non-denominational group supporting persecuted Christians worldwide, said on Wednesday it had documented 2,123 “martyr” killings, compared with 1,201 in 2012. There were 1,213 such deaths in Syria alone last year, it said. “This is a very minimal count based on what has been reported in the media and we can confirm,”  Read More ...

Pope Francis: 'Faith makes all things possible' | Pope Francis, faith makes all things possible, watered down faith
Pope Francis: 'Faith makes all things possible'
“Faith makes all things possible,” but we must place our trust completely in God. This was the central focus of Pope Francis’ remarks following the readings of the day at Mass this morning (Friday) in the chapel of the Casa Santa Marta. Pope Francis concentrated especially on the First Letter of St John, in which he speaks of the faithful Christian as the one who is truly victor over the world. Pope Francis explained that genuine faith must be total and complete, not partial, and must express itself as an abiding in the Lord, abiding in Love:  Read More ...

Colombia: Archbishop leads prayer march in protest against wave of killings | Fabiola Ruiz, Colombia, prayer vigil,  Archbishop of Cali, Mgr Dario de Jesus Monsalve,
Colombia: Archbishop leads prayer march in protest against wave of killings
A large demonstration, organised by the Catholic Church, was held in the City of Cali in Colombia on Tuesday evening, to show solidarity with Fabiola Ruiz and her family: a domestic worker who was killed on 31 December, 2013 in her home, in Upper Jordan, by two assassins. The Archbishop of Cali, Mgr Dario de Jesus Monsalve, gathered the faithful to march and pray together, carrying candles and rosaries, from the parish of the area to the place where the murder was committed.  Read More ...

Pope Francis: Christian love is 'concrete' - not the love of soap operas | Pope Francis, Christian love, soap opera, Casa Santa Marta
Pope Francis: Christian love is 'concrete' - not the love of soap operas
Christian love is always 'concrete', Pope Francis said in his homily at Mass this morning, (Thursday) celebrated at the Casa Santa Marta. Love, then, consists “more in actions than in words, more in giving than in receiving.” Love is not a kind of romanticism: either it is a selfless and solicitous love which rolls up its sleeves and looks to the poor, preferring to give rather than to receive; or it has nothing to do with Christian love. Pope Francis took as the starting point for his reflection, the words of the First Letter of John,  Read More ...

The continuing influence of Teilhard de Chardin | Fr Pierre Teilhard de Chardin SJ, Jesuits, Society of Jesus, Pope Pius VII,. Stonyhurst aEllen Riley
The continuing influence of Teilhard de Chardin
The French philosopher, palaeontologist and geologist, Fr Pierre Teilhard de Chardin SJ is the focus for the Society of Jesus this January, as he features in the commemorative calendar produced by the Jesuits in Britain. The calendar was this week launched in an online version, in several languages and with more detailed essays about each of the 12 featured Jesuits than could be offered in the printed version. The Jesuits in Britain issued their 2014 calendar as the Society of Jesus commemorates the 200th anniversary of its restoration by Pope Pius VII in 1814.  Read More ...

Pope Francis: Find out the date of your Baptism and celebrate it! | Pope Francis, Baptism
Pope Francis: Find out the date of your Baptism and celebrate it!
Today we begin a series of catecheses on the Sacraments, starting with Baptism. By happy coincidence this coming Sunday is the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord. The concept of 'sacrament' is at the heart of our Christian faith and sends us back to an event of grace in which God makes himself present and acts in our life. The Second Vatican Council says at the beginning of the Constitution on the Church: “the Church in Christ is in the nature of sacrament  Read More ...

Pope Francis:  Christians need to 'test the spirits'   | Pope Francis, test the Spirits
Pope Francis: Christians need to 'test the spirits'
A Christian needs to use discernment, to guard his heart in order to distinguish what comes from God and what comes from false prophets. That was the message of Pope Francis in the morning Mass at Casa Santa Marta, the first after the holiday season. The Pope said the way of Jesus is that of service and humility, a path that all Christians are called to follow. Pope Francis took the words “Remain in the Lord,” from the first Reading from the Apostle John, as the starting point for his homily. It is a “counsel for life,” the Pope said, that John repeats “almost obsessively.”  Read More ...

Sri Lanka: Bishop calls for international investigation into war crimes | The Bishop of Mannar, Mgr Rayappu Joseph, Sri Lanka, Tamils, human rights abuses
Sri Lanka: Bishop calls for international investigation into war crimes
The Bishop of Mannar, Mgr Rayappu Joseph has called for an international investigation to ascertain the truth about alleged war crimes. He said: "Given that most of the Tamils in the north and east of the country no longer have confidence in an internal process. This will contribute to reconciliation": Bishop Rayappu Joseph, pointed out that many priests, lawyers, journalists and activists who have tried to cooperate with the institutions on the topic of "war crimes" have been threatened and intimidated. Read More ...

New research finds religion helps workers cope with stress | British Psychological Society’s Division of Occupational Psychology, stress, Dr Roxane Gervais
New research finds religion helps workers cope with stress
New psychological research suggests that employees who practice a religious faith feel better and are more likely to report that their lives have meaning. These are the key findings of a study that will be presented on Thursday 9 January, 2013, at the Annual Conference of the British Psychological Society’s Division of Occupational Psychology’s in Brighton. Dr Roxane Gervais undertook her research with 34 full-time employees in the Caribbean, who were young, Read More ...

Syria: ACN rushes emergency aid as winter bites | Aid to the Church in Need, Homs, Marmarita, Sadad , Nebek, Fr Andrzej Halemba, Melkite Greek Catholic Archbishop Issam John Darwish, Good Shepherd Sisters
Syria: ACN rushes emergency aid as winter bites
Aid to the Church in Need has rushed through a series of new emergency aid packages as hunger and sub-zero temperatures threaten the lives of people across Syria and neighbouring countries. Increasingly alarmed by the deepening crisis engulfing the region, the charity has agreed aid – food, heating, shelter and medicine – for some of the worst-affected regions in Syria as well as for those seeking sanctuary over the border. Destitute communities in Homs, Marmarita and Sadad  Read More ...

Conferral of title 'monsignor' abolished for diocesan priests under 65 | Pontifical Honour, ‘Monsignor’ , Vatican Secretariat of State, Pope Francis,  Apostolic Nuncio to Great Britain, Archbishop Antonio Mennini,
Conferral of title 'monsignor' abolished for diocesan priests under 65
Pope Francis has abolished the conferral of the Pontifical Honour of ‘Monsignor’ for secular priests under the age of 65. In a communique to Apostolic Nuncios around the world the office of the Vatican Secretary of State asked Apostolic Nuncios to inform all bishops in their respective countries of this decision. On 2 January, the Apostolic Nuncio to Great Britain, Archbishop Antonio Mennini, wrote to all bishops in Great Britain with the news. He confirmed that “the privileges in this regard” that have already been granted by the Roman Pontiff to  Read More ...
Dan Bergin

Pope on Epiphany: Follow the light that leads to Christ | Pope Francis, Epiphany Mass, Magi
Pope on Epiphany: Follow the light that leads to Christ
Pope Francis celebrated Mass for the feast of the Epiphany at St Peter's Basilica. On this the day when the Church remembers the revelation of Jesus to humanity in the face of a child, the Pope began the celebration by kissing a statue of the Baby Jesus. At the heart of the Holy Father’s Homily, was the message that we must never be blinded by the forces of darkness but instead be transformed by the light of Christ. The Pope was referring to the journey the Magi made, whose path was illuminated by a star which brings them in search of the great light of the Lord Jesus. Read More ...

Pope Francis: Jesus is Epiphany - the Lord does not proselytize but loves | Pope Francis, Epiphany, St Peter's Square, Angelus
Pope Francis: Jesus is Epiphany - the Lord does not proselytize but loves
Pope Francis greeted tens of thousands of pilgrims gathered on a bright crisp day in St Peter’s Square today, for the recitation of the Angelus Prayer and to celebrate the Feast of the Epiphany. In his address, the Pope referred to Pope Benedict Emeritus’s book, 'Jesus of Nazareth: the Infancy Narratives' which he said “magnificently” recounts the biblical coming of the Magi from the East to Bethlehem to pay homage to the Christ Child. The Epiphany, Pope Francis said, marks the first “manifestation” of Christ to the people and as a consequence, points to  Read More ...

Ahead of Geneva conference, Chaldean Bishop warns: 'Syria is not Libya'  |  Geneva 2 Conference, Syria, Bishop of Aleppo of the Chaldean, Antoine Audo
Ahead of Geneva conference, Chaldean Bishop warns: 'Syria is not Libya'
"Participants at the Geneva 2 Conference will have to start respecting the characteristics of the country of Syria". The Bishop of Aleppo of the Chaldeans, Antoine Audo said this is the only approach that can ensure concrete results at the next International Conference of Peace on Syria scheduled in Montreux, Switzerland, on 22 January. "We believe that we must respect the country with its problems, support it in its progressive journey towards justice and freedom", said Bishop Audo, "rather than taking advantage of its weakness simply to destroy it." Read More ...

Pope Francis announces visit to Holy Land | Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople, Pope Francis to visit  Holy Land
Pope Francis announces visit to Holy Land
Pope Francis will make a papal visit to the Holy Land in May of this year. The Holy Father made the announcement after the recitation of the Sunday Angelus overlooking a rainy St Peter’s Square. Speaking to pilgrims who braved the elements to hear his words, the Pope said: “in the climate of joy, typical of this Christmas season, I wish to announce that from 24 to 26 May next, God willing, I will make a pilgrimage to the Holy Land. The Holy Father went on to say that the main purpose of the trip is to commemorate the historic meeting  Read More ...

US bishop in solidarity visit to Middle East | Bishop Richard Pates , US Conference of Catholic Bishops, USCCB, Palestine, Middle East, Syria, peace, Urbi et Orbi,Israel, Egypt, Pope Francis
US bishop in solidarity visit to Middle East
Bishop Richard E Pates of Des Moines, Iowa, chairman of the US bishops' Committee on International Justice and Peace, will visit the Middle East January 6-17 in support of the local Church and peace talks in the region. Expressing solidarity with those countries seeking peace in many areas of the world, Bishop Pates echoed the words of Pope Francis in his Urbi et Orbi message, particularly addressing the violence faced in Syria, the Central African Republic, South Sudan and the Holy Land. “Too many lives have been shattered  Read More ...

Roll of missionaries killed or missing in 2013  | missionaries killed, pastoral care workers killed, Fides
Roll of missionaries killed or missing in 2013
During 2013, 22 pastoral care workers were killed worldwide, almost double compared to 13 who were killed in 2012, Fides reports. Many more have been kidnapped or are missing this year. For the fifth consecutive year, the highest death toll was in Latin America where 19 priests, one religious sister and two lay persons were killed. In Africa, one priest in Tanzania, one religious sister in Madagascar, and one lay person in Nigeria were killed. One priest in India and one in Syria were killed. In the Philippines one lay person was killed.  Read More ...

Pope Francis urges Religious Orders to 'wake up the world'  | Pope Francis, Religious Life, La Civiltà Cattolica,  Antonio Spadaro, SJ, Union of Superiors General of religious men,  La Civiltà Cattolica
Pope Francis urges Religious Orders to 'wake up the world'
Pope Francis has told those in Religious Life to “wake up the world”, according to an article appearing in La Civiltà Cattolica, the Rome-based Jesuit weekly. Editor Antonio Spadaro, SJ, has written an article recounting the private meeting last November between Pope Francis and the Union of Superiors General of religious men at the end of their 82nd General Assembly. The 15-page article (available in English at the La Civiltà Cattolica website - see link below)  Read More ...

Pope Francis: "The strength of the Church does not reside in herself, but is concealed in the deep waters of God" | Pope Francis, Mass of the Feast of the Most Holy Name of Jesus, Pierre Favre, Cardinal Angelo Amato,  Cardinal Agostino Vallini, Bishop Luis Francisco Ladaria Ferrer, SJ,  Bishop Yves Boivineau, Alain Fournier-Bidoz; Fr Adolfo Nicolas, SJ,
Pope Francis: "The strength of the Church does not reside in herself, but is concealed in the deep waters of God"
This morning, 3 January, Pope Francis celebrated the Mass of the Feast of the Most Holy Name of Jesus in the Church of Jesus, to give thanks for the new Jesuit saint Pierre Favre. Concelebrating with the Holy Father were Cardinal Angelo Amato, prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints; Cardinal Agostino Vallini, vicar general of His Holiness for the diocese of Rome; Bishop Luis Francisco Ladaria Ferrer, SJ, secretary of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith;  Read More ...

 Central African Republic: Catholic, Muslim leaders make joint appeal to UN | Banjul,Central African Republic,Mgr Dieudonné Nzapalainga, Archbishop of Bangui, Omar Kobine Layama,
Central African Republic: Catholic, Muslim leaders make joint appeal to UN
Christian and Muslim leaders in Banjul, capital of the Central African Republic have issued a joint statement calling for a UN peacekeeping force to prevent all-out war in their country. Despite the intervention of French and African troops, the situation in the country remains precarious. "The Central African Republic remains on the verge of a war with religious aspects" warned Mgr Dieudonné Nzapalainga, Archbishop of Bangui, and Omar Kobine Layama, Imam of the Central African capital, in a joint appeal published by the French newspaper Le Monde. Read More ...

Pope welcomes new year with reflection on Mary, messenger of hope | Pope Francis, new year, Mary Mother of the Church, messenger of hope
Pope welcomes new year with reflection on Mary, messenger of hope
Pope Francis welcomed the new year on Wednesday with a solemn morning Mass in St Peter’s Basilica, calling the faithful to look to Mary as a Mother to all and messenger of hope. In his homily for this, the Solemnity of the Mother of God, Pope Francis said: “there is no more meaningful time than the beginning of a new year” to hear God’s blessing “The Lord bless you and keep you…. The Lord lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace... ”These "words of strength, courage and hope" "will accompany our journey through the year opening up before us,”  Read More ...

Pope Francis: build a world where enemies recognize they are brothers | Pope Francis, World Day of Peace, First January Angelus
Pope Francis: build a world where enemies recognize they are brothers
Pope Francis offered New Year’s greetings of peace today (Wednesday) to tens of thousands of pilgrims gathered in St Peter’s Square to recite with the Holy Father the Angelus prayer at the start of 2014. The Pope said his wishes for the new year are “those of the Church:” Christian wishes that put Jesus Christ at the centre of history and at its end: “the Kingdom of God, Kingdom of peace, justice, liberty in love.” And the Holy Spirit, the Holy Father said, is the force which propels us towards that end. Read More ...

Pope Francis sends message of consolation on anniversary of Buenos Aires nightclub fire | Pope Francis, Cromañón nightclub fire, Buenos Aires,  Bishop Jorge Lozano, Msgr Mario Poli,
Pope Francis sends message of consolation on anniversary of Buenos Aires nightclub fire
Pope Francis sent a message yesterday offering consolation and hope to families of the victims of the 2004 Cromañón nightclub fire that claimed the lives of 194 young people in Buenos Aires. The Pope’s message, addressed to Bishop Jorge Lozano, President of the Argentinian Bishops’ Commission for Social Pastoral activities, was read out at the Cathedral of Buenos Aires on Monday, during a special liturgy presided by the Archbishop of the Argentinian capital, Msgr Mario Poli, marking the ninth anniversary of that tragic event 30 December. Read More ...

Pope Francis: refugees, the elderly are the outcasts of society | Pope Francis, feast of the Holy Family, refugees, outcasts, the Angelus, elderly
Pope Francis: refugees, the elderly are the outcasts of society
On Sunday, Pope Francis turned his attention to the dramatic predicament of migrants and refugees who do not always find a welcome, but often become victims of human trafficking and slave labour. Speaking to thousands of pilgrims gathered in St Peter’s Square for the Angelus, the Pope said that on this first Sunday after Christmas, the liturgy invites us to celebrate the Feast of the Holy Family. He said that the Gospel narrates the Holy Family’s painful exile as it searched for refuge in Egypt  Read More ...

Pope Francis makes appeal on behalf of persecuted Christians | Pope Francis, Boxing Day, St Stephen, persecuted Christians
Pope Francis makes appeal on behalf of persecuted Christians
On Boxing Day, Pope Francis appealed for Christians who suffer violence, discrimination and all manner of injustice because of their faithfulness to Christ and His Gospel. The Pope’s call for prayerful solidarity with persecuted faithful came on the Feast of St Stephen, the first martyr, and a day after bomb attacks on a Catholic church and a Christian neighbourhood market in Baghdad, Iraq, that killed 38 people. “We are close to those brothers and sisters who, like St Stephen, are unjustly accused and subjected to violence of various kinds,” Read More ...

Christmas message from Heads of Churches in Jerusalem | Patriarch Theophilos III, Patriarch Fouad Twal, Patriarch Norhan Manougian, Fr Pierbattista Pizzaballa ofm,  Archbishop Anba Abraham, Archbishop Swerios Malki Murad, Archbishop Aba Daniel, Archbishop Joseph-Jules Zerey, Archbishop Mosa El-Hage, Bishop Suheil Dawani, Bishop Munib Younan, Bishop Pierre Malki, Mgr Joseph Antoine Kelekian,
Christmas message from Heads of Churches in Jerusalem
We, the Patriarchs and Heads of Churches in Jerusalem, share with you the joy of this Christmas season of the Incarnation. Our physical closeness to the town of Bethlehem where this took place is a constant reminder to us of its wonderful reality. We praise God for the Word made flesh in the person of Jesus Christ from the pure blood of the Blessed Virgin Mary and for her willingness to co-operate with his divine plan. We praise God for the Shepherds in the fields below Bethlehem – ordinary people of no rank or status who were chosen to be the first to hear the Good News  Read More ...

Pope Francis appeals for homeless families | Pope Francis, homeless families
Pope Francis appeals for homeless families
Pope Francis launched an appeal for homeless families, after praying the Angelus with faithful gathered in St Peter’s Square yesterday, the fourth Sunday of Advent. Prompted by a banner in St Peter’s Square that read, “The Poor Cannot Wait!” Pope Francis spoke of the great difficulties that families without a fixed home - not unlike the Holy Family. “Family and home go together,” said Pope Francis. He went on to say: “I call on everyone: individuals, organs of society, authorities, to do everything possible to assure that every family has a place to live.” Read More ...

Pope Francis visits Rome children's hospital | Pope Francis, Bambin Gesù pediatric hospital
Pope Francis visits Rome children's hospital
Pope Francis made a visit to the Bambin Gesù pediatric hospital in Rome on Saturday afternoon, touring the facility and visiting with the young patients of the care centre and with their families, as well as with medical professionals, other staff and administrators. He was welcomed in the courtyard of the facility by as many as 4,000 well-wishers. During the course of the visit, Pope Francis received the Christmas wishes of the young patients, promising prayers for their healing and offering words of encouragement. Read More ...

Pope Francis sends message of sympathy following Apollo Theatre accident | Apollo theatre, Pope Francis, Archbishop Mennini
Pope Francis sends message of sympathy following Apollo Theatre accident
The Holy Father, Pope Francis, has sent a message of sympathy to the Most Reverend Vincent Nichols, Archbishop of Westminster, following the serious accident at the Apollo Theatre last night. Below is the message from the Apostolic Nuncio, Archbishop Antonio Mennini, to Archbishop Vincent which expresses the Pope's sorrow at the accident that occurred last night..... Having learnt the sad news of the tragic accident which occurred last night at the Apollo Theatre in Shaftsbury Avenue, where a large number of people were injured,  Read More ...

  South Sudan: CAFOD appeals for goodwill from all sides to end violence | CAFOD, South Sudan,President Kiir
South Sudan: CAFOD appeals for goodwill from all sides to end violence
Recent violence in Juba, the capital of South Sudan, has left scores of people dead and several others injured. Thousands of people sought refuge inside the United Nations building in the city, and hundreds more at St Theresa’s Catholic Cathedral. The situation remains very fluid and fears of further violence remain high. Tensions have been rising in South Sudan - the world's youngest country - since President Kiir dismissed his entire cabinet, including his deputy Riek Machar, in July of this year. Read More ...

Bishops fly out to support Palestinian Christians:  visits to Gaza, Bethlehem  | Bishop Pierre Burcher,Bishop William Crean,Bishop Kevin Dowling, Bishop Michel Dubost, Archbishop Paul-Andre Durocher, Archbishop Patrick Kelly, Bishop William Kenney, Bishop Declan Lang, Bishop Denis Nulty, Bishop Richard Pates, Bishop Thomas Renz, Bishop Janusz Stepnowski, Archbishop Joan Enric Vives, Holy Land
Bishops fly out to support Palestinian Christians: visits to Gaza, Bethlehem
The Christian community of Gaza will be the focal point of this year’s visit to the Holy Land by Bishops from across Europe, North America and South Africa in support of the local Christian communities and the pastoral work of the Church at the service of all in the Holy Land. The Holy Land Co-ordination will meet from 12 January to 16 January, 2014. The Christian community of Gaza is made up of 2,500 people, of whom Catholics number around 300, in a total population of over 1.5 million. Religious sisters run a home for the elderly, a centre for the disabled  Read More ...

Pierre Favre canonized | Pierre Favre, Pope Francis, canonize,  Companions of Ignatius Loyola, Francis Xavier,
Pierre Favre canonized
Pierre Favre, one of the original Companions of Ignatius Loyola and Francis Xavier, has been made a saint by Pope Francis. The canonisation of Favre - also known as Peter Faber - holds a special meaning because he is a model of spirituality and priestly life for today's Pope and at the same time an important reference to understand his style of government. Favre lived on the crest of an era when the unity of the Church was undermined and he remained essentially alien to doctrinal dispute, directing his apostolate to Church reform and becoming a pioneer of ecumenism.  Read More ...

Pope greets his football team | Fr Lorenzo Massa, The Crows, Pope Francis, San Lorenzo de Almagro, football team
Pope greets his football team
Among the participants in yesterday's general audience there was a delegation from the Buenos Aires football team 'San Lorenzo de Almagro', of whom Archbishop Bergoglio was an official supporter, the holder of card no. 88235N-0, and who won this year's league championship in Argentina, a trophy they have not held since 2007. The “crows”, as they are called by the members and fans of San Lorenzo, brought the Pope a replica of the Inicial Championship Cup and the vice-president of the club Marcelo Tinelli, brought a team shirt, Read More ...

South Sudan: Churches warn of great danger as rebels take over capital |  President Salva Kiir Vice President Riek Machar. Juba,Bor, Jonglei State, Machar, South Sudan
South Sudan: Churches warn of great danger as rebels take over capital
Church leaders in Juba, South Sudan, issued a grave warning today as fighting has intensified and the state capital has fallen in to rebel hands. "The country is heading for a really dangerous direction, toward a kind of ethnic conflict although it should be pointed out that the ethnic issue is being exploited for the purpose of power", local church sources from South Sudan told Fides. For days the country has been devastated by clashes between military units loyal to President Salva Kiir and those rebels who support former Vice President Riek Machar.  Read More ...

Advent message of hope for Central African Republic | Bishop Nestor-Désiré Nongo-Aziagbia of Bossangoa, Central African Republic,    Christmas message
Advent message of hope for Central African Republic
The Central African Republic has just celebrated the first anniversary of the rebellion initiated by the Seleka coalition. What a strange kind of anniversary... Undoubtedly, the change promised by these merchants of delusion has brought only suffering and hardships to the severely afflicted people. They have been subjected to the worst one can imagine: rape, killing and murder, kidnappings, ransom demands, destruction of property, cattle theft, burning down of houses and villages, acts of vandalism, destruction of municipal records, looting and ransacking  Read More ...
Patrick Nicholson

More action needed on corporate tax dodging, campaigners urge EU leaders | Christian Aid, Tax Dodging, European Council
More action needed on corporate tax dodging, campaigners urge EU leaders
European leaders should use a meeting of the European Council this week to agree further action against tax dodging by multinationals, campaigners urge in a new report. The Council, which meets today and tomorrow (19 & 20 December) promised in May to crack down on tax dodging, which every year costs Europe around 1 trillion Euros and developing countries between 660 and 870 billion Euros. Campaigners’ new report: Giving with one hand and taking with the other: Europe’s role in tax-related capital flight from developing countries 2013,  Read More ...

A deadly year for migrants | Lampedusa, IOM, migrants, International Organisation for Migration
A deadly year for migrants
More than 7,000 migrants may have perished at sea or while crossing deserts trying to reach a safe haven this year, believed to be the deadliest on record, the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) said in a statement yesterday. In what it called the first global estimate based on data from border agencies, charities and campaign groups, the IOM said at least 2,360 migrants died in 2013, fleeing war, religious persecution and natural disasters, many having paid smuggling gangs to make the perilous trip. Read More ...

Gaza: floods force thousands from their homes | Gaza floods, CMEP, end blockade. UNWRA
Gaza: floods force thousands from their homes
Torrential rains in the past week have caused heavy flooding in the Gaza Strip, with thousands of people evacuated from their homes and seeking refuge in schools and makeshift shelters, Agence France-Presse reports. The flooding was so severe that many homes could only be accessed by row boat, with water more than six feet deep in some places, "Large swathes of northern Gaza are a disaster area with water as far as the eye can see," the United Nations Relief Works Agency said in a statement. Read More ...

Pope Francis: 'God is with us'  | Pope Francis,  last audience, God is with us
Pope Francis: 'God is with us'
Pope Francis dedicated the final general audience of 2013 to the birth of Jesus, "a celebration of trust and hope, which overcome uncertainty and pessimism." "And the reason for our hope is this, God is with us, and still trusts in us! He comes to live with mankind, he chooses to dwell on earth in order to stay with man, and to be found there where man passes his days in joy or in pain. Therefore, earth is no longer merely a 'vale of tears' but rather the place where God Himself has pitched His tent, it is the meeting place of God and mankind, of God's solidarity Read More ...

Cameroon: AoS supports distressed crew after second officer goes missing | Apostleship of the Sea, AoS, Thorco Attraction,Cameroon. AoS,  Douala, Fr Jean Benoit Patrick Nlend, Oleg Svylin.

The 39 year-old Ukrainian officer was last seen on the deck of the vessel on the night of 10 November 2013.
Cameroon: AoS supports distressed crew after second officer goes missing
The Apostleship of the Sea (AoS) has provided comfort to the traumatised crew of Thorco Attraction, after one of their crew members went missing at sea in Cameroon. AoS Douala port chaplain Fr Jean Benoit Patrick Nlend, who was on board the Antigua and Barbuda-flagged ship, said the crew were in growing dismay after the disappearance of second officer Oleg Svylin. The 39 year-old Ukrainian officer was last seen on the deck of the vessel on the night of 10 November 2013. Read More ...

Eyewitness report: Visit to the Heavenly Home in Mae Sot, Thailand | Natalia Balaghova, Mae Sot, Thai Children's Trust, Thailand. Mai Sot, Heavenly Home
Eyewitness report: Visit to the Heavenly Home in Mae Sot, Thailand
When many of us think of Thailand we imagine palm trees, beautiful beaches, exotic temples and gracious people -but behind the tourist posters there is a great deal of poverty. The country is still recovering from the tsunami and has a growing problem with refugees from Burma, poverty and homelessness. And as always, it is the children who suffer the most. The Thai Children's Trust is one of the main charities working in the region with street children, the disabled, kids with HIV and refugees from Burma. It offers them safe homes, hope, love and a future.  Read More ...
Natalia Balaghova

Pope has birthday breakfast with three homeless men | Pope Francis, Pope's birthday, Parolin, four homeless men and a dog
Pope has birthday breakfast with three homeless men
Pope Francis turned 77 today and celebrated Mass in the Santa Marta guesthouse with three homeless men, his closest collaborators and staff from the Santa Marta guesthouse, who afterwards greeted him with a birthday song and joined him for breakfast. Those present at his morning Mass included Archbishop Pietro Parolin, the Secretary of State and Cardinal Angelo Sodano, the Dean of the College of Cardinals, together with staff from the guesthouse.  Read More ...

Pope reflects on God's surname | Pope Francis, geneology, Casa Santa Marta, Pope's birthday
Pope reflects on God's surname
At Mass this morning in Casa Santa Marta, Pope Francis commented on the readings from the day, taken from the Book of Genesis (49:2,8-10) and from the Gospel of St Matthew (1:1-17). Cardinal Angelo Sodano, Dean of the College of Cardinals, was present to concelebrate the Mass and expressed his best wishes to the Pope on behalf of the entire College. The Pope centred his homily around the theme of God’s presence in the history ofmankind. Within this context, the Pontiff identified two key themes - inheritance and genealogy.  Read More ...

Syria: Rebels offer to trade kidnapped nuns for women prisoners | St Tekla, Monastery  Maloula,  al-Qaida, kidnapped nuns
Syria: Rebels offer to trade kidnapped nuns for women prisoners
The Syrian government is negotiating with rebels to release 12 nuns seized earlier this month from their mionastery north of Damascus, two activists said on Saturday. The rebels are demanding that hundreds of imprisoned women activists be freed in exchange for the nuns, they said. Reports of local ceasefires and other short-term deals have become more common as Syria's three-year-old civil war drags on, but talks leading to prisoner exchanges still appear to be rare.  Read More ...

Syria: another Christian village invaded by jihadists imposing Islamic law | Kanayé, Orontes River,Governorate of Idlib, Islamist militants, Mgr Giuseppe Nazzaro, vicar emeritus of Aleppo, jihadists of 'Jabhat al-Nousra'
Syria: another Christian village invaded by jihadists imposing Islamic law
The Christian village of Kanayé, Orontes River, in the Governorate of Idlib, has been invaded by Islamist militants that are terrorizing the population, threatening a massacre and imposing Islamic law. Mgr Giuseppe Nazzaro, vicar emeritus of Aleppo, received the news from Christians in Aleppo. In recent weeks armed guerrillas have penetrate into several Christian villages; they terrorize civilians, commit kidnappings and kill. "In Kanayé Salafi militants and jihadists of 'Jabhat al-Nousra' have told the pastor not to ring bells. Women are forced to wear veils. Read More ...

Jerusalem: Patriarch appeals for urgent help as snow falls on Syrian refugee camps | The Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem, His Beatitude Fouad Twal, Syria, refugees, icy conditions
Jerusalem: Patriarch appeals for urgent help as snow falls on Syrian refugee camps
The Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem, His Beatitude Fouad Twal, has emphasized the urgency of bringing help to Syrian refugees. He also calls for the generosity of all to support the refugees, victims of a conflict which has exceeded 1000 days, and of the material hardships affecting their lives. Following a period of drought and the month of November, the hottest in 60 years, the region had an exceptionally heavy rainfall, followed by icy winter storms.  Read More ...

Pope Francis' Christmas interview with La Stampa | Pope Francis, La Stampa. Austen Ivereigh
Pope Francis' Christmas interview with La Stampa
The Pope’s Christmas interview with the Italian daily La Stampa shows, if nothing else, that Francis’s habit of allowing himself to be interrogated by the media is going to be a feature of his papacy, setting a precedent which will be hard for his successors to avoid - Austen Ivereigh writes. For the record, this is the fifth interview since July, following the Brazilian TV Globo and the papal plane back from Rio in that month, and the Spadaro (Jesuit publications) and the Scalfari (La Repubblica) interviews in September and October. Read More ...

Christmas tree arrives in St Peter's Square | Waldmunchen, Germany, Christmas trere, Pope Francis
Christmas tree arrives in St Peter's Square
The lights have been turned on an 82-foot-tall Christmas tree in the centre of St Peter's Square. Crowds applauded when the tree, topped by a star, began to glow during the ceremony on Friday evening. The large fir tree and other smaller trees destined for other locations within Vatican City were donated this year, by the community of Waldmunchen in Germany, located just 18 kilometres from the border with the Czech Republic. In his address, Pope Francis spoke about the “spiritual closeness and friendship  Read More ...

Archbishop Parolin tells diplomats to Holy See 'peace is possible' | Archbishop Parolin, Holy See diplomats
Archbishop Parolin tells diplomats to Holy See 'peace is possible'
.."In a time in which many parts of the world are faced with numerous forms of violence and the persistence of social inequality, I would like to renew before you the guarantee of my willingness to collaborate in the search for peace and respect for the dignity of every human being." We must show that peace is possible, that it is not a utopia, but rather a real asset that comes from God, and which we are able to contribute to building through personal and joint commitment. Read More ...

Pope Francis: the Church is a house of joy | Pope Francis, Joy, Gaudate Sunday
Pope Francis: the Church is a house of joy
In his Angelus message on the Third Sunday of Advent, Pope Francis reminded pilgrims that the day is also called 'Gaudete Sunday'- 'Rejoice Sunday'. The Liturgy, he said, is filled with calls to rejoice, to be joyful, in order to prepare us to celebrate the feast of Christmas with renewed exultation. “The Christian message is called the ‘Gospel,’ that is, ‘the good news,’ an announcement of joy for all people; the Church is not a refuge for sad people, the Church is a house of joy.” But, he said, the joy of the Gospel is not just any kind of joy.  Read More ...

Central African Republic: Christians, Muslims pray together for peace | Central African Republic: Christians, Muslims pray together for peace, Fr Alain Eouanzoui, the Vicar General of Bossangoa, Archbishop Dieudonné Nzapalaing, Caritas
Central African Republic: Christians, Muslims pray together for peace
Cheers rang out from the 40,000 people trapped in the Catholic Mission in Bossangoa as peacekeeping troops arrived. “It came as a huge relief,” said Fr Alain Eouanzoui, the Vicar General of Bossangoa, “We believe the nightmare might soon be over." For the town in the north of the war-torn Central African Republic it was the first good news in three months. Thousands of people had been flooding into the Church Mission since armed gangs had begun terrorizing the town and the villages in the area in September. Read More ...
Patrick Nicholson

India: Bishops attacked,  arrested by police during peaceful protest | Archbishop Anil Couto of Delhi, Dalits, Delhi
India: Bishops attacked, arrested by police during peaceful protest
Police in Delhi baton-charged and fired water cannons at dozens of Catholic bishops, priests and nuns before making several arrests on Wednesday during a peaceful protest calling for an end to Christian Dalit discrimination. Archbishop Anil Couto of Delhi was among those arrested. At least 10 nuns and two lay leaders were injured in the crackdown, which resulted when Christians defied police orders and insisted on marching on the capital's parliament building. The Archbishop along with several other bishops and lay leaders were taken to a police station  Read More ...

Haiti: Cluny Sisters crowdfunding for education | Haiti, Cluny Sisters, crowdfunding, Linda O'Halloran
Haiti: Cluny Sisters crowdfunding for education
Most nuns aren’t known for their self-promotion or social media savvy. Yet, in this day and age, it’s increasingly difficult to fund social services without making your case loud and proud. After years of trying to do it the humble way, Haiti’s Sisters of St Joseph of Cluny are stepping out of their comfort zone and, crowdfunding to push for the schools they need. Their journey began in January 2010, when a magnitude 7 earthquake toppled Haiti’s capital and surrounding area, killing 1 in 30 Haitians, and bringing an already vulnerable population to its knees. Read More ...
Linda O'Halloran

Send prayers and messages of peace to Bethlehem | Pax Christi, Messages of peace to Bethlehem
Send prayers and messages of peace to Bethlehem
All people of good will are invited to write messages of hope and encouragement to the people of Bethlehem, in an initiative staretd by Pax Christi. The season of Advent and Christmas reminds us of the birth of our Lord Jesus Christ as the Prince of Peace. Your prayers and wishes of peace, justice and solidarity, will be used in Bethlehem and elsewhere in educational and religious settings. They are also expected to become, over time, a helpful resource for peace spirituality and peace building. Read More ...

Jordan: Syrian refugee camps engulfed by snowstorm | Syria, Jordan, snow,Wael Suleiman, Caritas Jordan, Zaatari refugee camp
Jordan: Syrian refugee camps engulfed by snowstorm
A severe winter storm is making living conditions for hundreds of thousands of Syrian refugees "unbearable", aid workers report. Wael Suleiman, Director of Caritas Jordan, said that in the massive Zaatari refugee camp many tents have been destroyed. He said: "Everybody is suffering. We have intensified the distribution of blankets and stoves. Since the beginning of the refugee emergency, we have assisted 200 thousand people. But they keep coming, even with the snow and the cold,  Read More ...

Pope Francis: take a moment of silence to hear the tenderness of God | Pope Francis,  take a moment of silence, hear the tenderness of God, sound of silence
Pope Francis: take a moment of silence to hear the tenderness of God
Preparing for Christmas, we would do well to take a moment of silence to listen to God who speaks to us with the tenderness of a parent. That was the message of Pope Francis at the morning Mass at Casa Santa Marta, on the second Thursday of Advent. Beginning with the reading from the Prophet Isaiah, the Pope emphasized not only “what the Lord says” but “how He says it.” God speaks as a father or a mother speaks to their children: “When the child has a bad dream, he wakes up, cries . . . the father goes and says, ‘Don’t be afraid, I’m here.’  Read More ...

Syria: Bishop calls for kidnapped Sisters to be released | Sisters kidnapped,  Syria Bishop Selwanos Boutros Alnemeh of Homs and Hama,  Convent of St Tekla in Maalaoula,
Syria: Bishop calls for kidnapped Sisters to be released
A passionate appeal for the release of 12 religious Sisters kidnapped in Syria has been made by a bishop from a country torn apart by violence and persecution. Syria's Bishop Selwanos Boutros Alnemeh of Homs and Hama said that he was "very sad" about the abduction of the Sisters from the Convent of St Tekla in Maalaoula, a largely Christian town north of Damascus. Speaking in an interview with Aid to the Church in Need, Syriac Orthodox Bishop Alnemeh said that he had not heard from the Sisters since their disappearance 10 days ago  Read More ...
Oliver Maksan and John Pontifex

Pope sends Message to the Americas | Message to the Americas, Our Lady of Guadalupe, Juan Diego
Pope sends Message to the Americas
...I would like to greet all my brothers and sisters on that continent, and I do so thinking of the Virgin of Tepeyac. When Our Lady appeared to Saint Juan Diego, her face was that of a woman of mixed blood, a mestiza, and her garments bore many symbols of the native culture. Like Jesus, Mary is close to all her sons and daughters; as a concerned mother, she accompanies them on their way through life. She shares all the joys and hopes, the sorrows and troubles of God’s People, which is made up of men and women of every race and nation. Read More ...

Central African Republic: death toll reaches 1,000 | Central African republic, CSW, Christian Solidarity Worldwide
Central African Republic: death toll reaches 1,000
Local sources are reporting that almost 1,000 people have been killed in the last week after fighting broke out between the Seleka rebel coalition and anti-Balaka groups in Bangui, capital of the Central African Republic (CAR). On 9 December the Red Cross had confirmed 400 deaths in Bangui. However, local eyewitnesses report a number of unburied or uncollected bodies in many parts of the city. Seleka, a predominantly Muslim rebel coalition, took power in a coup in March 2013, suspending the constitution, dissolving the government and National Assembly,  Read More ...

Time Magazine names Pope Francis as 'Person of the Year' | Time Magazine, Pope  Francis, 'Person of the Year'
Time Magazine names Pope Francis as 'Person of the Year'
Pope Francis has been named Time Magazine's ‘Person of the Year’ for 2013. He is the third Roman Pontiff to receive this honour after John XXIII in 1962 and John Paul II in 1994. The Head of the Holy See’s Press Office, Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, issued the following statement: “The decision didn’t come as a surprise given the great resonance and attention surrounding the election of Pope Francis right from the start of the new pontificate. "The fact that one of the most prestigious awards to be attributed by the international press should go to someone  Read More ...

Pope Francis: We will not be alone at the final judgement | Pope Francis, General Audience, final judgement
Pope Francis: We will not be alone at the final judgement
During his General Audience today with pilgrims in Saint Petere's Square, Pope Francis dedicated his final catechesis on the Creed to its last article: “I believe in life everlasting”, focusing in particular on the final judgement. “When we think of Christ's return and of His final judgement, which will show, up to the very last consequences, the good that each person will have done or omitted to do during his or her earthly life, we realise that we find ourselves before a mystery that overwhelms us, that we cannot even imagine. Read More ...

Cardinal Napier: we must now  try to follow Mandela's example | Cardinal Turkson, Cardinal Napier, Mandela
Cardinal Napier: we must now try to follow Mandela's example
The world was in Johannesburg today, (10 December) to pay tribute to Nelson Mandela. World leaders, royalty, public personalities and millions of South Africans gathered in torrential rain, to honour the man who brought democracy and reconciliation to South Africa, and became an icon for the rest of the world. Throughout the weekend there were religious services in churches, synagogues and temples across South Africa. People began assembling in the FNB Stadium in Soweto at 5.30am for today's memorial celebration.  Read More ...

Investigators issue first report on Vatican financial management | MONEYVAL:, Vatican bank,
Investigators issue first report on Vatican financial management
The Holy See Press Office on Monday released a communique concerning a report by the MONEYVAL organization that evaluates the progress made by the Holy See/Vatican City State in combatting money laundering and the financing of terrorism. The communique notes that “MONEYVAL welcomes clarifications and improvements to the anti-money laundering and combatting financing of terrorism (AML/CFT) legal structure of the Holy See and the Vatican City State and confirms that significant progress has been made.”  Read More ...

Jim Murphy MP praises Catholic response to Typhoon Haiyan | Typhoon Haiytan, Jim Murphy, CAFOD
Jim Murphy MP praises Catholic response to Typhoon Haiyan
Fresh from his first overseas visit as the new Shadow Secretary of State for International Development, Jim Murphy MP has hailed the response of CAFOD and its local Church partners to the Philippines Typhoon Haiyan. Speaking on his return, Mr Murphy said: “It’s clear that the Church has given not just emotional and pastoral support, but enormous logistical support. The Church was here when it happened; it will be here long after everyone else has gone. One of the priests I met said they may be homeless and they may be roofless, but they’re not hopeless.  Read More ...

AoS cruise chaplains provide onboard support for typhoon-hit crew | Father Paul Fitzpatrick, AoS, Apostleship of the Sea, cruise ships, Philippines
AoS cruise chaplains provide onboard support for typhoon-hit crew
Apostleship of the Sea’s (AoS) is responding to the needs of cruise ship crew affected by Typhoon Haiyan as it emerges that many are still unable to contact their families in the Philippines. At the request of Carnival UK, a major cruise operator, the seafarers’ welfare charity has to date deployed 20 cruise chaplains onboard nine cruise ships worldwide to assist crew members. AoS’ chaplains have been helping crew deal with missing relatives and destroyed homes,  Read More ...

 Pope Francis launches appeal to end global hunger | Pope Francis, world hunger, Caritas, One Human Family, Food for All
Pope Francis launches appeal to end global hunger
In an unprecedented video message, Pope Francis has appealed to people around the world to support a new campaign by Caritas Internationalis to wipe out global hunger. The campaign is set to begin today, 10 December, with a “wave of prayer to end hunger” which begins at noon in Samoa and will travel around the world...Today, I am happy to announce to you the launch of a campaign against global hunger by our very own Caritas Internationalis and to tell you that I intend to give my full support.  Read More ...

Pope calls for Middle East peace at Mass celebrated with Patriarch Sidrak | Partriarch of Alexandria of the Catholic Copts, Ibrahim Isaac Sidrik,  Pope Francis,
Pope calls for Middle East peace at Mass celebrated with Patriarch Sidrak
At morning Mass in Casa Santa Marta on Monday, Pope Francis appealed for an end to division and hatred in the Holy Land and the Middle East. The Holy Father concelebrated the Mass with the Coptic Catholic Patriarch of Alexandria, Ibrahim Isaac Sidrak, on the occasion of the public manifestation of “ecclesiastical communion” between the Patriarch and the Successor of Peter. The Pope spoke about his closeness to Egyptian Christians who are experiencing insecurity and violence, then renewed his appeal for religious liberty throughout the whole of the Middle East Read More ...

Mexico: Report finds 'significant' increase in attacks on Christians   | CSW.Mexico, religious killing
Mexico: Report finds 'significant' increase in attacks on Christians
Christian Solidarity Worldwide is marking Human Rights Day on 10 December with the release of its latest report on freedom of religion or belief in Mexico, which finds a 'significant' increase in religious freedom violations in the country in recent years. The report launch will take place in Mexico tomorrow, co-ordinated by CSW’s partner organisation, Impulso18. The report, which will be presented to federal and state government officials by Impulso18, highlights government inaction as a factor exacerbating the pervasive religious discrimination across the country:  Read More ...

Holy Land: Soldiers destroy olive trees near Bethlehem | Bethlehem, Cremisan, settlements, olive trees
Holy Land: Soldiers destroy olive trees near Bethlehem
Local sources report that Israeli military bulldozers have uprooted more than 40 olive trees, in order to connect settler road #60 with the Cremisan Monastery in Beit Jala town, west of Bethlehem, and other areas. Orchard owner Hisham Abu Ali stated that the army previously uprooted 15 trees in his orchard in order to expand the road, and came back today to uproot 40 more olive trees. Road construction and expansion is leading to massive illegal confiscation of Palestinian lands in occupied East Jerusalem, Read More ...

Central African Republic: thousands of Christians displaced, hundreds killed  | Central African Republic, Bangui, r Frederico Trinchero, Fr Aurelio Gazzera , Fr Anicet Assingambi, Juan Josa Aguirre Munos, Bishop of Bangassou, African Mission in Central Africa (MISCA, )Archbishop of Bangui, Mgr Dieudonna Nzapalainga
Central African Republic: thousands of Christians displaced, hundreds killed
Harrowing reports have come through over the weekend from missionaries in the Central African Republic where there have been violent clashes between Seleka Moslem rebels and Anti Balaka militias in Bangui, capital of the Central African Republic. French troops and those of the African Mission in Central Africa (MISCA) have now started to control the streets, Fides reports. Two Carmelite missionaries working in the country gave eyewitness reports. Fr Frederico Trinchero, who works at the Carmel mission in Bangui. Fr Frederico said: "Around 6am shots were heard  Read More ...

Southern African bishops pay tribute to Mandela |  Mandela, Mgr Stephen Brislin, Archbishop of Cape Town,  President of the Southern African Catholic Bishops' Conference (SACBC),
Southern African bishops pay tribute to Mandela
"'Let us now sing the praises of famous men, great men in their generations... They ruled their governments wisely, were known for their valour. Their counsel displayed wisdom, they saw things from afar' (Ecclesiasticus 44:1-3).' With these words we, the Catholic Church in Southern Africa, express our gratitude to uTata Mandela for the sacrifice he made for all peoples of South Africa and for the leadership and inspiration he gave in leading us on the path of reconciliation" - writes Mgr Stephen Brislin, Archbishop of Cape Town and President  Read More ...

Holy Land: Rain falls after longest drought in 60 years - answer to prayers | Prayers for rain,.Kotel, Western Wall, Holy Land, Chief Rabbis Yitzhak Yosef and David, Patriarch Fouad Twal
Holy Land: Rain falls after longest drought in 60 years - answer to prayers
After the longest drought in more than half a century - it has started raining in the Holy Land and further rain is expected from the South of Jerusalem up to Tiberias, passing through Haifa and Ramallah. "Rainfall is rare, but when it pours, it overflows" the website of the Latin Patriarchate says. The region has experienced the hottest temperatures on record in recent months and the shortage of water was beginning to be such a matter of concern that last week Patriarch Fouad Twal called on the faithful of the Holy Land to “pray for God’s blessing,  Read More ...

US Bishops protest against demolition of Church property in Holy Land | Bishop Richard Pates, Chair of the Committee on International Justice and Peace of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops, USCCB, Mr Ron Dermer,  Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem, demolition
US Bishops protest against demolition of Church property in Holy Land
Bishop Richard Pates, Chair of the Committee on International Justice and Peace of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) has written to the recently-appointed Israeli Ambassador to the United States, Mr Ron Dermer, supporting the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem’s protest against the recent demolition of its property by the Municipality of Jerusalem. on 28 October this year, a house which belonged to the Catholic Church for many years, was demolished by the municipality of Jerusalem - making a family of 14 people homeless.  Read More ...

Pope Francis: Use internet to offer 'real reasons for hope' | Pope Francis, internet
Pope Francis: Use internet to offer 'real reasons for hope'
The internet is an essential tool of evangelisation for the Church today, but must be used with discernment, Pope Francis, told participants of the 26th Plenary Assembly of the Pontifical Council for the Laity, meeting under the theme “Proclaiming Christ in the digital age,” on Saturday. Pope Francis said the rise and development of the internet raises the question of the relationship between faith and culture. Looking back to the first centuries of Christianity, the Pope pointed out Christians encountered the “extraordinary legacy” of Greek culture.  Read More ...

Peru: Open letter on destructive mining in Latin America | César Correa, mining, Ofelia Vargas,– Grufides, Pablo Sanchez,Juan Goicochea,  René Flores,  César Espinoza, Donald Hernandes, Filomeno Ceja , Juan de La Cruz, Dário Bossi, Danilo Chammas, Rodrigo Peret , Gilberto Pauwels, Adriel Ruiz , Cesar Correa , César Padilla
Peru: Open letter on destructive mining in Latin America
César Correa, the Justice Peace & Integrity Of Creation Co-ordinator in Chile for the Missionary Society of St Columban recently participated in a meeting on mining in Latin-America, held in Lima, Peru. The gathering involved Catholics concerned about this issue from throughout Latin America. The group produced the following declaration at the end of the meeting, amidst wide-spread concern about destructive mining in the continent. We are religious and lay men and women from Latin America moved by the critical situation of our peoples Read More ...

Pope Francis establishes Commission on child protection    | Pope Francis, Commission on the protection of minors, child protection,  Cardinal Sean Patrick O’Malley,
Pope Francis establishes Commission on child protection
Pope Francis is setting up a Commission on the protection of minors. Cardinal Sean Patrick O’Malley, archbishop of Boston and member of the Council of Cardinals, announced on Thursday afternoon, 5 December. The Cardinal read the following statement: “Continuing decisively along the lines undertaken by Pope Benedict XVI, and accepting a proposal presented by the Council of Cardinals, the Holy Father has decided to establish a specific Commission for the protection of minors,  Read More ...

Zimbabwe: Everyone deserves a fair share of country's natural resources | Zimbabwe, Jesuits, Bishops of Zimbabwe
Zimbabwe: Everyone deserves a fair share of country's natural resources
The wealth of natural and human resources of Zimbabwe must benefit the poor of the country, not simply its elite, according to the Jesuits in Zimbabwe. Their call for a more just distribution of the country's resources has been echoed by Zimbabwe Bishops' Conference in a pastoral letter issued on 3 December, in which they said that three months after the July elections, 'there are no visible prospects for improvement in the spheres of life in Zimbabwe that cry for restoration to give people hope for a better life.' Read More ...

Text: Bishops of Zimbabwe pastoral letter | Text: Bishops of Zimbabwe pastoral letter
Text: Bishops of Zimbabwe pastoral letter
In our Pastoral Letter published in March 2013 before the 31 July 2013 national elections, we called upon all Christians and people of goodwill in Zimbabwe to commit themselves to 'promoting peace in Zimbabwe and overcome the culture of intolerance, intimidation and political violence.' Soon after the election results were announced, we congratulated all Zimbabweans for conducting a generally and relatively peaceful poll during which reported incidents of intimidation, intolerance and violence were minimal compared to the last poll in 2008. Read More ...

Pope Francis reflects on 'when eternity begins' | Pope Francis, eternity
Pope Francis reflects on 'when eternity begins'
Yesterday morning, Pope Francis continued his reflection on the Creed with pilgrims in St Petere's Square, focusing on what the resurrection of the body means. He also asked the faithful to pray with him for “Orthodox nuns of St Tecla in Maaloula, Syria, who were taken by force two days by armed men”..."and for all people who have been sequestered because of this ongoing conflict.” .. Today I wish to return to the affirmation “I believe in the resurrection of the body”. This is not a simple truth and it is anything but obvious;  Read More ...

Pope asks to meet reformed Indian killer |  Samunder Singh, Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia,  Pontifical Council for Family,  Rani Maria.


Singh, who with the guidance of the Catholic priest became a Christian while serving a 12-year jail term,
Pope asks to meet reformed Indian killer
Eighteen years after Samunder Singh stabbed and murdered a Catholic nun in northern India, the former prisoner has been invited to meet Pope Francis at the Vatican. Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia, president of the Pontifical Council for Family, invited Singh after the pope expressed his desire to meet him. Accompanying him will be a Catholic priest and a nun, the younger sister of the slain Rani Maria. “I am excited after getting the news," said Singh, who with the guidance of the Catholic priest became a Christian while serving a 12-year jail term, Read More ...

Hope still standing in the Philippines | Mark Mitchell , Philippines, TYphoon Haiyan, Caritas
Hope still standing in the Philippines
A cross stands high over the city of Palo, a little askew and battered by the wind but holding on strong – a symbol of hope. Much has been written about Super Typhoon Haiyan and the destruction it left in its wake. The destruction is as bad as I’ve seen, and I’ve been to many disasters round the world. The devastation wreaked by the wind, and the storm surge that followed, is difficult to put into words. Barely a house has survived intact in Palo. Read More ...
Mark Mitchell, Caritas Emergency Team Leader

Vatican: Council of Cardinals: Day Three | Council of Cardinals, reform of Curia, Pope Francis
Vatican: Council of Cardinals: Day Three
Today (Wednesday) Pope Francis met for the third time with the eight-member Council of Cardinals to discuss proposed reforms of the Roman Curia. The meeting will last until Thursday. The first meeting took place in October. In a press briefing, the head of the Holy See Press Office Father Federico Lombardi, SJ, stated that the Cardinals have continued in the discussions as planned, with a meeting on Tuesday afternoon in the presence of the Holy Father, and one on Wednesday morning that the Pope did not attend because he was holding the General Audience. Read More ...

Second session of Council of Cardinals meetings | Council of Cardinals, Pope Francis
Second session of Council of Cardinals meetings
On Tuesday morning, 3 December, Pope Francis met with the Council of Cardinals, the group of eight cardinals assisting in the governance of the universal Church and examining a revision of the Apostolic Constitution Pastor bonus on the Roman Curia. Fr Federico Lombardi, Director of the Holy See Press Office, announced this in a briefing with journalists to explain the second session of the Cardinal's meetings which will be taking place at the Vatican until Thursday, 5 December. Read More ...

Double donations for Thai Children with Special Needs through the Big Give  | Big Give, Thai Childrens Trust,  Fr Ray
Double donations for Thai Children with Special Needs through the Big Give
The Thai Children's Trust is gearing up for the Big Give at 10am tomorrow, 5 December, when they hope to raise £60,000 towards the Father Ray Centre for Children with Special Needs. The centre, in Pattaya, Thailand, will offer physical therapy, individual development, education and vocational training for children with a range of special needs, and information and support for more than 300 families. The centre will also provide outreach services to a larger number of children in the area, offering community based rehabilitation and support. Read More ...

Syria: 12 nuns and three young women abducted by rebels | Greek Orthodox Monastery of Saint Tecla, abducted nuns, Maaloula in Syria.
Syria: 12 nuns and three young women abducted by rebels
Twelve nuns and three young women were taken away from their convent in a village 60 kilometres north of the Syrian capital Damascus by Islamist rebels on Monday, 2 December. There are conflicting accounts on the current plight of the nuns and their three associates. At the end of his General Audience today (Wednesday) Pope Francis called on everyone to pray for the sisters group taken by force from the Greek Orthodox Monastery of Saint Tecla in the ancient Christian town of Maaloula in Syria. Read More ...

Bishop John Arnold visits areas devastated by Typhoon Haiyan (+ blog)  | Bishop John Arnold ,  typhoon Haiyan, Philippines, Archbishop Vincent Nichols,  Matthew Carter, Humanitarian Director at CAFOD and Jim Murphy MP,
Bishop John Arnold visits areas devastated by Typhoon Haiyan (+ blog)
Bishop John Arnold is visiting the devastation wrought by typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines between 1-6 December. He was asked to go on behalf of Archbishop Vincent Nichols, to show solidarity in a time of distress and also represent in some way the 120,000 Filipinos in Britain. He is joined by Matthew Carter, Humanitarian Director at CAFOD and Jim Murphy MP, who was involved in helping to bring the injured out of the pub in Glasgow following the tragedy of the helicopter crash on 30 November. Read More ...

Mountains of Faith?  Church takes on large-scale mining | Luis Manuel Claps, mining, Latin America, Pan American Silver Corp. Argentina. Brazil
Mountains of Faith? Church takes on large-scale mining
Faith and large-scale mining have something in common: they both move mountains. On many occasions, the Church has been an obstacle to industry’s efforts to expand in Latin America. A growing movement links spirituality, environmental struggles, and resistance to large-scale mining. The first message Pope Francis gave minutes after arriving in Brazil some months ago was: "I don’t have silver or gold, but I bring with me the most precious gift: Jesus Christ!" Pope Francis posed for a photograph with a t-shirt that stated, 'Water is more precious than gold.'  Read More ...
Luis Manuel Claps

Pope advise Dutch bishops: 'be present in all spheres of humanity' | Pope Francis, Dutch bishops
Pope advise Dutch bishops: 'be present in all spheres of humanity'
Pope Francis yesterday received in audience a group from the Bishops' Conference of the Netherlands on their 'ad limina”'visit. The Holy Father focused on how to accompany those who suffer from “spiritual emptiness” and who seek the meaning of life. “Listen to them”, he said, “to help them share in the hope, joy, and capacity to carry on that Jesus Christ gives us”. “The Church”, he continued, “not only proposes immutable moral truths and attitudes which go against the grain, but also proposes them as the key to  Read More ...

Pope Francis: a Church without joy is unthinkable: She announces Christ with a smile | Pope Francis, Joy, A church without joy is unthinkable
Pope Francis: a Church without joy is unthinkable: She announces Christ with a smile
The Church must always be joyful like Christ. That was the message of Pope Francis at Mass this morning at the Casa Santa Marta. The Pope emphasized that the Church is called to transmit the joy of the Lord to her children - a joy that gives true peace. Peace and joy. Pope Francis’ homily dwelt on these two themes. In the reading from the book of Isaiah, we see the desire for peace that we all have. It is the peace, says Isaiah, that the Messiah brings to us. In the Gospel then, “we are able to see a little into the soul of Jesus, the heart of Jesus: a joyful heart”  Read More ...

Pope Francis receives Prime Minister of Israel | Pope Francis, Benjamin Netanyahu,
Pope Francis receives Prime Minister of Israel
On Monday, Pope Francis received Benjamin Netanyahu, Prime Minister of the State of Israel, in private audience. According to a Vatican Press Office communiqué, Pope Francis and Netanyahu spoke of the complex political and social situation in the Middle East, focusing in particular on Israeli-Palestinian negotiations that have recently been re-launched and expressing their hope that a just and long-lasting solution, with respect for the rights of both parties, be reached as soon as possible.  Read More ...

Pope: Our lives are an encounter with Jesus when we pray, when we care for others | Pope Francis, Our lives are an encounter with Jesus, San Cirillo Alessandrino,
Pope: Our lives are an encounter with Jesus when we pray, when we care for others
.... "Our life is a path which we must follow to arrive at the encounter with Jesus. The most important thing that can happen to a person is to encounter Jesus, who loves us, who has saved us, who gave his life for us", the Pope said, addressing the newly confirmed children. "We might wonder: but when will I meet Jesus? Only at the end? No! All our lives are an encounter with Jesus, when we pray, when we go to Mass and when we do good works; when we visit the sick and when we help the poor; when we think of others, when we are not selfish, when  Read More ...

CSW urges David Cameron to raise religious freedom during China visit | Christian Solidarity Worldwide, CSW,  British Prime Minister, David Cameron, freedom of religion or belief, visit to China, Mervyn Thomas, Uyghur Muslims,  Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region
CSW urges David Cameron to raise religious freedom during China visit
Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW) has written to British Prime Minister David Cameron, urging him to ensure that freedom of religion or belief is a specific feature of his visit to China, which starts today and concludes on 4 December. In the letter, CSW’s Chief Executive Mervyn Thomas expresses CSW’s concerns about reports that Uyghur Muslims in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region are experiencing significant restrictions on the freedom to practice their religion.  Read More ...

'Modern day slaves' - 75 fishermen arrested after being abandoned in Capetown by ship owner |  Apostleship of the Sea,  75 Indonesian fishermen,  stranded in Cape Town harbour, Taiwanese owners, slave conditions
'Modern day slaves' - 75 fishermen arrested after being abandoned in Capetown by ship owner
Maritime charity, the Apostleship of the Sea has called for a major change in the way seafarers and fishermen are treated by government authorities when they are the victims of unscrupulous owners. The recent case of 75 Indonesian fishermen illustrates what the Apostleship of the Sea says is a heavy-handed and ill thought-out process. Local media have reported on the slave like conditions endured by the 75 Indonesian fishermen stranded in Cape Town harbour for the last month. Many of the crew had not been paid for two years by the Taiwanese owners  Read More ...

US Bishops welcome nuclear deal with Iran |  Iran, Bishop Richard E. Pates, John Kerry, Secretary of State, Iran, nuclear, negotiations, USCCB, US bishops, US Conference of Catholic Bishops
US Bishops welcome nuclear deal with Iran
The interim accord with Iran that would limit its nuclear program in exchange for some sanctions relief “is greatly preferable to military action, which could have unpredictable and negative repercussions for the region,” said the chairman of the Committee on International Justice and Peace of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops in a letter to Secretary of State John Kerry. “We welcome this step and hope that this interim agreement will allow all parties to negotiate further, build mutual confidence and trust, and reach a final accord that enhances genuine peace in the region,”  Read More ...

Advent Reflections - the Joy of the Gospel  | Scott Wright , Advent reflections
Advent Reflections - the Joy of the Gospel
Week One. “The joy of the Gospel fills the hearts and lives of all who encounter Jesus.” With these words, Pope Francis penned his first major teaching “on the proclamation of the Gospel in today’s world.” In this time of Advent, God invites us to share that joy: “Those who enjoy life most are those who leave security on the shore and become excited by the mission of communicating life to others.” [1, 10] Advent is a time of waiting, but also of hope. It is a time of great expectation, as the coming of the Lord into history, but also a time of great joy at the birth of our Savior, Jesus Christ. Read More ...
Scott Wright

Bosnia-Herzegovina: Bishop demands end to discrimination against Catholics | Catholic refugees, Bosnia, Bishop Franjo Komarica,  Banja Luka Diocese, Bosnia-Herzegovina,  Aid to the Church in Need, Bishop Komarica, Eva-Maria Kolmann,  John Newton
Bosnia-Herzegovina: Bishop demands end to discrimination against Catholics
A leading Bosnian bishop has hit out against the government for preventing Catholic refugees from coming home. "Politicians from the West must put pressure on Bosnian politicians so that Catholic war refugees can also return to Bosnia at long last," said Bishop Franjo Komarica of Banja Luka Diocese, Bosnia-Herzegovina. Talking to Aid to the Church in Need, Bishop Komarica, chair of the Bishop's Conference of Bosnia-Herzegovina, called on politicians to make sure refugees' basic rights are respected. Read More ...
Eva-Maria Kolmann and John Newton

Pope Francis: 'one day nations will live in peace' & World AIDS Day prayer | World Aids Day, AIDS/ HIV, Pope Francis
Pope Francis: 'one day nations will live in peace' & World AIDS Day prayer
The day will come when nations will live in peace, Pope Francis said today in his address to thousands of pilgrims gather in St Peter's Square for the Angelus. “What a great day it will be”, he said, when weapons are dismantled and transformed into instruments of work. "Let’s put a bet on hope”. he continued "on hope for peace, and peace will be possible"....And as the first Sunday of Advent this year also falls on World AIDS Day, the Pope made a strong appeal that all patients affected by the disease may have access to the care they need. Read More ...

South Africa: Bishop calls for prayers for carers on World Aids Day | Kevin Dowling, Bishop of Rustenburg, South Africa,  prayers for those who care for HIV and Aids sufferers, World Aids Day
South Africa: Bishop calls for prayers for carers on World Aids Day
Kevin Dowling, Bishop of Rustenburg in South Africa, has called for prayers for those who care for HIV and Aids sufferers on World Aids Day. The Bishop, who serves in an area where 30% of people have HIV and Aids and where hundreds of children are orphaned as a result of the disease, said: ‘It is the often heroic commitment of many thousands of “carers” who sacrifice themselves daily to care for the sick and the dying who should be remembered in prayer on World Aids Day. Read More ...

The danger of GM foods | GM foods, Fr Shay Cullen
The danger of GM foods
The pictures of the hungry children holding up placards with the single word "Food" and another that cried out "Help", these among many others were heart-wrenching cries of hundreds of thousands of poor people whose lives, homes, and families were wrecked by the devastating, all powerful storm to hit the Philippines last 7 November. The memories will never go away and they bring home to us with sharp reminder, that the food and clean water are the most basic human needs of all.  Read More ...
Fr Shay Cullen

Pope: faith is not private - worship God firmly despite apostasy,  persecution | Pope Francis, last days, temptaion
Pope: faith is not private - worship God firmly despite apostasy, persecution
There are worldly powers that want religion to be simply a private matter and today’s persecuted Christians are a sign of the trials that precede Jesus’ final coming - Pope Francis said in his homily during Mass on Thursday morning at the Casa Santa Marta In the final battle between God and evil that we read in the liturgy these days, there’s a trap which Pope Francis calls “universal temptation.” It’s the temptation to give in to the deceitful ways of those against God.  Read More ...

Central African Republic: Archbishop appeals to world to intervene | Central African Republic, Archbishop of Bangui, the Most Reverend Dieudonne Nzapailanga, United Nations,  intervention force, CAR, CAFOD

“We urgently need a well equipped, well trained force under a clear command structure,
Central African Republic: Archbishop appeals to world to intervene
A senior churchman from the Central African Republic today called on the international community to help end the brutal violence gripping his country. The Archbishop of Bangui, the Most Reverend Dieudonne Nzapailanga asked the United Nations to send an effective intervention force, with a mandate to use force where necessary to protect the people of Central African Republic (CAR): “We urgently need a well equipped, well trained force under a clear command structure,  Read More ...

Jerusalem: Middle East Bishops gather at Focolare centre | Ecumenical Encounters of the Focolare Movement, Castel Gandolfo Mariapolis Centre, Mgr Shomali,
Jerusalem: Middle East Bishops gather at Focolare centre
...Usually, Ecumenical Encounters of the Focolare Movement are held at Castel Gandolfo Mariapolis Centre, near the Pope’s summer residence. But for 2013, the Movement’s leaders did something new and chose to hold several regional encounters in the Middle East, for two reasons. Firstly, they want to get closer to Christians coming from conflict-stricken areas. Secondly, to enable bishops of five continents, unable to travel to Italy, to explore these encounters and to take part in them.  Read More ...

Italian doctor killed in former Rhodesia on road to sainthood |  Rhodesia,  Archbishop of Modena Mgr Antonio Lanfranchi, Luisa Guidotti
Italian doctor killed in former Rhodesia on road to sainthood
An Italian doctor killed in former Rhodesia in 1979, is on the road to sainthood. on 23 November, the Archbishop of Modena Mgr Antonio Lanfranchi, announced that the diocesan phase of the beatification process has been completed. Luisa Guidotti Mistrali was born in Parma, May 17, 1932, she moved to Modena with the family at the death of her mother. After high school she enrolled in the Faculty of Medicine. These are the "preconciliar years - writes Luisa - the era in which there was awareness of the role of the laity in the Church".  Read More ...

Pope Francis: Faith sheds light on mystery of death | Pope Francis, general audience, death
Pope Francis: Faith sheds light on mystery of death
During his general audience in a freezing cold St Peter’s Square today, Pope Francis spoke about the way our Christian faith helps us understand death and brings us the hope of Resurrection. If we remain close to God in our lives, especially in solidarity with the poor and vulnerable, he said, “we need not fear death but rather welcome it as the door to heaven and to the joy of eternal life.” A summary of Pope Francis’ words, read for English-speaking pilgrims, follows below. Read More ...

AoS enthusiastically welcomes Pope Francis’s Evangelii Gaudium  | AoS, Pope Francis,  Evangelii Gaudium
AoS enthusiastically welcomes Pope Francis’s Evangelii Gaudium
Catholic seafarers’ charity, Apostleship of the Sea, has hailed Pope Francis’ Apostolic Exhortation released by the Vatican today. The document was issued almost a year to the day after the close of the AoS World Congress which looked at the New Evangelization in the maritime world and the new ways that are required to proclaim the Good News in this environment. The document, entitled Evangelii Gaudium, ‘the joy of evangelisation’ echoed a number of current priorities for the Apostleship of the Sea and those working at sea.  Read More ...

Pope Francis meets President Putin | Pope Francis, President Putin
Pope Francis meets President Putin
Pope Francis had a private meeting in the Vatican on Monday afternoon with the President of the Russian Federation Vladimir Putin. This was the fourth time the Russian leader has been to the Vatican. He met Pope John Paul II in 2000 and 2003 and had an audience with Pope Benedict in 2007. In September this year, Pope Francis wrote directly to President Putin, as the city of St Petersburg prepared to host the G20 summit of world economic leaders. In that letter, the Pope spoke of the need for a more just global financial framework, Read More ...

Christian Aid: Moderate progress at climate talks but countries play dirty | Christian Aid, climate talks,  Mohamed Adow, Christian Aid's Senior Climate Change Adviser,  Warsaw's National Stadium.
Christian Aid: Moderate progress at climate talks but countries play dirty
At the close of this year’s UN climate summit, hosted by Poland, Christian Aid acknowledged some moderate progress had been made on ‘loss and damage’ to help poor countries suffering from the effects of climate change, but warned that greater ambition is needed to tackle negotiations in 2014. Mohamed Adow, Christian Aid's Senior Climate Change Adviser, said: "This climate summit was like a frustrating game of football, which is fitting because it was held in Warsaw's National Stadium. Read More ...

Pope Francis: Church must set an example in the way it cares for elderly | Pope Francis, elderly
Pope Francis: Church must set an example in the way it cares for elderly
Pope Francis said that the Church must set an example in the way it treats elderly people. In his address to participants of the 28th International Conference of the Pontifical Council for Health Care Workers, who met in Rome from 21 to 23 November, Pope Francis said that the elderly "carry with them the memory and the wisdom of life, which they transmit to others, and participate fully in the Church's mission. Let us remember that human life always maintains its value in the eyes of God, far beyond any discriminatory view." Read More ...

Syrian Archbishop - 'so many have been killed there is no room left  in our cemeteries' | Maronite Archbishop of Damascus, Syria , Aid to the Church in Need in Königstein, Germany, Archbishop Samir Nassar of Damascus
Syrian Archbishop - 'so many have been killed there is no room left in our cemeteries'
In an impassioned appeal, the Maronite Archbishop of Damascus has called on Christians around the world to show solidarity with the Christian faithful in Syria – as the civil war shows no sign of ending. During a visit to the international headquarters of Aid to the Church in Need in Königstein, Germany, Archbishop Samir Nassar of Damascus described how the ongoing fighting has brought death and devastation to Syria's families. Read More ...
John Newton

Syria: Muslim rebels invade town, target and detain  Christians | Islamic militants, Syrian, Christians targetted, Deir Atieh, north of Damascus,
Syria: Muslim rebels invade town, target and detain Christians
Islamic militants have invaded the town of Deir Atieh, north of Damascus, spreading terror, death and destruction. The attack took place on 22 November. The militants entered the municipal hospital and took hostage the sick. The museum of Deir Atieh that had precious archaeological finds was devastated. Mosques and churches were hit and damaged. Numerous homes were looted and civilians captured and used as human shields. The situation is particularly worrying for Christians. The population, about 25 thousand people, have begun to flee. Read More ...

Pope Francis: homily at Year of Faith closing Mass | Pope Francis: homily at Year of Faith closing Mass
Pope Francis: homily at Year of Faith closing Mass
Pope Francis delivered the homily at Mass on Sunday to mark the Solemnity of Christ the King and close the Year of Faith proclaimed by his predecessor, emeritus Pope Benedict XVI. Below, please find the official English translation of Pope Francis' prepared remarks.... Today’s solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe, the crowning of the liturgical year, also marks the conclusion of the Year of Faith opened by Pope Benedict XVI, to whom our thoughts now turn with affection and gratitude. Read More ...

Pope Francis warns against commercialisation of sports   | Pope Francis, sport, Olymics, Sepp Blatter, Thomas Bach
Pope Francis warns against commercialisation of sports
In a weekend which Pope Francis had several meetings with sports leaders - aming them Sepp Blatter, head of the International Football Federation, Fifa, and International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach, he said that looking for profit and victory at all costs risked reducing athletes "to mere trading material". "Sport is harmony, but if money and success prevail as the aim, this harmony crumbles," Pope Francis said. On Saturday Pope Francis received members of the European Olympic Committees on in the Clementine Hall of the Apostolic Palace in the Vatican.  Read More ...

Google launch virtual tour of  the Catacombs | Google, The Catacombs of Priscilla
Google launch virtual tour of the Catacombs
Google maps unveiled their latest project this week - a digital map of the Catacombs of Priscilla. The Catacombs were underground chambers and tunnels carved in the volcanic rock under Rome, and used for Christian burials from late in the second through the fourth centuries. More than 40 have been discovered. They were decorated with wall paintings of saints and Christian symbols. Archaeologists are continueing to explore them and some are currently undergoing restoration work. The Catacombs of Priscilla are named after an early Roman saint.  Read More ...

Pope describes how a bishop sees rugby | Pope Francis, rugby
Pope describes how a bishop sees rugby
On Friday morning the Holy Father received in audience the managers and athletes of the national rugby teams of Argentina and Italy. Pope Francis described rugby as a very likeable sport, since “it is a tough sport, with a lot of physical contact, but it is not violent. There is great loyalty, great respect. Playing rugby is hard, it is not a walk in the park! And this, I think, is useful also for tempering character and willpower”. “In rugby”, he continued, “one runs towards a goal. This word, which is so beautiful and so important, Read More ...

Pope Francis:  "in times of suffering never tire of asking God why?' | Filipino.St Pedro Calungsod, Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle, archbishop of Manila, Typhoon Haiyan
Pope Francis: "in times of suffering never tire of asking God why?'
“In these moments of great suffering, do not tire of asking 'Why?' like children … and in this way you will draw the eyes of our Father to your people; you will attract towards you the tenderness of the Father of Heaven”. With these words of encouragement, the Holy Father addressed the Filipino people gathered yesterday afternoon in St. Peter's Basilica, on the occasion of the blessing of a mosaic of St Pedro Calungsod, the Filipino saint canonised last year by Benedict XVI. The blessing was followed by a Mass celebrated by Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle,  Read More ...

Eyewitness report: Fr Shay Cullen on aftermath of Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan)   | Shay Cullen, Typhoon Haiyan, Yolanda, Philippines, child abductors, sex trade
Eyewitness report: Fr Shay Cullen on aftermath of Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan)
I flew into Cebu City, an hours flight from Manila and drove with two Preda staff starting 3am to visit the northern towns of Cebu Island on Tuesday. The goal was to reach Daanbantayan, Bogo,and Bantayan Island to assess the storm damage, visit communities and understand the situation so as to know what the needs are and to deliver aid donations directly to the people in need. The other equally important goal is to spread awareness about the need to protect orphaned children from would-be abductors and traffickers posing as relatives. Read More ...

Pope Francis appeals for religious freedom in Middle East  | Pope Francis, Middle East Churches,Egypt, Syria and Iraq,
Pope Francis appeals for religious freedom in Middle East
Pope Francis today appealed for universal respect of the basic right to religious freedom, especially in countries where Christian communities are struggling minorities. The call came in the second of two addresses to the Patriarchs and Major Archbishops of Eastern Churches, who are visiting Rome this week for the Plenary Assembly of the Congregation for Eastern Churches.... He said: “The Bishop of Rome will not rest so long as there are men and women, of any religion, affected in their dignity, deprived of life’s basic necessities, robbed of a future, Read More ...

Thank you message from Kenyan mission as emergency appeal reaches target  |  Fr Steven Ochieng, Angela Docherty, St Paul's Missionary Community, Kenya-Ethiopia, New Ways, appeal, drought
Thank you message from Kenyan mission as emergency appeal reaches target
About two weeks ago we published an emergency appeal from a mission in Kenya for funds to to save the lives of a group of Dassanech families who have been severely affected by drought. About 40 of their animals were dying of starvation each day for the past two weeks. Fr Steven Ochieng, who works with the St Paul's Missionary Community on the Kenya-Ethiopia border, supported by the charity New Ways was concerned that the situation could quickly escalate to famine and violence. He appealed for £5,000 to buy hay for the animals. Read More ...

Christian Aid fast for action on climate change | United Nations climate change (COP 19), Yeb Sano, Christian Aid, fast, Philippines.
Christian Aid fast for action on climate change
The United Nations is meeting in Poland this week to discuss climate change (COP 19). The head of the Philippines delegation, Yeb Sano, is fasting during each day until political leaders take meaningful action. "What my country is going through as a result of this extreme climate event is madness," he said. "In solidarity with my countrymen who are struggling to find food, I will voluntarily refrain from eating until a meaningful outcome is in sight." Christian Aid called for a fast on Wednesday, in solidarity with the people of the Philippines, Read More ...

Pope Francis: priests must exercise their ministry in humility and mercy | Pope Francis, Reconcilation, Generalo Audience
Pope Francis: priests must exercise their ministry in humility and mercy
Pope Francis called on priests to be servants of the Sacrament of Reconciliation during his weekly General Audience in St Peter's Square.. He said the Church accompanies us on our journey of conversion for the whole of our lives, calling us to experience reconciliation in its communal and ecclesial dimension. He said we receive forgiveness through priests who are the servants of this sacrament, and that they must recognise - he said - that they too are in need of forgiveness and healing and thus they must exercise their ministry in humility and mercy.  Read More ...

Vatican warns of growing trend of fishing industry exploiting workers  | Apostleship of the Sea, World Fisheries Day, Aos
Vatican warns of growing trend of fishing industry exploiting workers
The Vatican has warned that migrant workers within the commercial fishing sector are in danger of being exploited as a result of globalisation and labour shortages. It is renewing an appeal to governments to urgently ratify the Work in Fishing Convention 2007 (No. 188) to ensure the welfare of fishing crew are better protected. “We are talking about the exploitation of migrant workers who, because of poverty and misery, easily fall prey to recruitment agencies that bind them to forms of forced labour,  Read More ...

Cardinal Tauran: religions must not engender spirit of superiority or exclusion | Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran, Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue, King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz Centre
Cardinal Tauran: religions must not engender spirit of superiority or exclusion
Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran, president of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue, gave an address at today's inaugural session of the King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz Centre for Inter-religious and Inter-cultural Dialogue (KAICIID). The centre is an independent organisation based in Vienna and founded by Saudi Arabia, Austria and Spain, to which the Holy See adheres in the role of Founding Observer. The Conference, which ends today, is intended to raise awareness among younger generations  Read More ...

Disfigured man describes moment he met Pope Francis |  genetic skin disease, neurofibromatosis, Pope Francis, Vinicio Riva, Catholic Herald
Disfigured man describes moment he met Pope Francis
The Italian man suffering from the genetic skin disease neurofibromatosis who was embraced by Pope Francis earlier this month has spoken of his joy at meeting the Pontiff, reports The Catholic Herald. Images of the Pope kissing and embracing Vinicio Riva in St Peter’s Square made headlines around the world, but his identity and background weren’t known until two Italian news outlets found and interviewed him. “My heart was bursting,” he told the Italian daily Corriere della Sera.  Read More ...

Cardinal Tauran calls for ‘intelligence of heart' at interreligious forum | Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran, Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue,‘intelligence of the heart’,  Global Forum, King Abdullah Bin Abdulaziz International Centre for Interreligious and intercultural Dialogue
Cardinal Tauran calls for ‘intelligence of heart' at interreligious forum
Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran, president of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue, called for ‘intelligence of the heart’, which inspires us to respect what God is accomplishing in every human being” during the opening session of an interreligious forum in Vienna, Austria, on Monday morning. The cardinal spoke at the opening general assembly of the two-day Global Forum of the King Abdullah Bin Abdulaziz International Centre for Interreligious and intercultural Dialogue. Read More ...

Pope Francis warns against 'subtle conspiracies of worldliness' | Pope Francis, Maccabees
Pope Francis warns against 'subtle conspiracies of worldliness'
During Monday morning Mass at Casa Santa Marta, Pope Francis warned the congregation to be attentive in our secularized and pleasure-seeking life style which often attacks the Church and imposes unjust rules on Christians. Referring to the first Reading of the day from Maccabees, the Pope spoke of the passage which portrays the effort by the Jews to regain their cultural and religious identity after Antiochus IV Epiphanes suppressed the observance of Jewish laws and desecrated the temple after having convinced the people of God to abandon their traditions. Read More ...

Pope Francis issues Motu Proprio on Financial Information Authority (FIA) | Motu Proprio, FIA, Vatican finances
Pope Francis issues Motu Proprio on Financial Information Authority (FIA)
...“As is known, with his Motu Proprio of 8 August 2013 and with the Law N XVIII of 8 October 2013 on norms on transparency, supervision and financial intelligence, Pope Francis had strengthened further the institutional framework of the Holy See and the Vatican City State to prevent and combat potential illicit activities in the financial sector and had accorded to the FIA, in addition to the functions that it already had on the basis of the Motu Proprio of Benedict XVI of 30 December 2010, the function of prudential supervision of those entities that carry out  Read More ...

David Harewood MBE  joins DEC in calls for urgent action on climate change |  Disaster Emergencies Committee (DEC), UN climate talks in Warsaw, David Harewood,
David Harewood MBE joins DEC in calls for urgent action on climate change
Members of the Disaster Emergencies Committee (DEC) are warning governments meeting at the UN climate talks in Warsaw that the devastating super typhoon that struck the Philippines is a glimpse of the future if urgent action is not taken. Their call was joined by actor David Harewood MBE, who has campaigned on climate change for several years. He said: “More and more, extreme weather and its effects are being seen in every country around the world. When these events happen more frequently and with greater force, they form a pattern that Read More ...

Philippines: emergency appeal from Mill Hill Missionaries | SPICMA, Mill Hill Missionaries, Turda, Busuanga/Palawan, Mill Hill Missioners
Philippines: emergency appeal from Mill Hill Missionaries
We have all read the reports and seen the pictures of the horrific situation in the Philippines. SPICMA has received five urgent appeals for assistance from Mill Hill Missionaries who are on the ground in the badly affected areas. They are working in Panay, a badly affected island in the North; and at Turda village on the coast on the island of Busuanga/Palawan. Two Mill Hill Missioners are working in the parish there. Communication is by text messaging and mobile phones but we don’t know how long this will last  Read More ...

World prays with Philippines;  DEC  calls for action on climate change |  Typhoon Haiyan, Philippines, Disasters Emergency Committee, DEC,  Tacloban, Guiuan
World prays with Philippines; DEC calls for action on climate change
Prayers have been said around the world for the victims and survivors of Typhoon Haiyan. In the Philippines yesterday, many thousands of parishioners attended Sunday Mass, often held in half-destroyed, flooded churches. Some came to give thanks for surviving, while others prayed for their loved ones who died or those who are still missing. Speaking after a service in Guiuan, the the first town that was hit by the typhoon, Belen said: "The Lord has strengthened our faith and made us stronger in order for us to survive and start all over again." Read More ...

ACN backs Baroness Warsi's warning of Christian exodus from Middle East | Baroness Warsi,  Christianity could be wiped out in the Middle East,  Aid to the Church in Need, Neville Kyrke-Smith,  Georgetown University
ACN backs Baroness Warsi's warning of Christian exodus from Middle East
Warnings from Baroness Warsi that Christianity could be wiped out in the Middle East have been endorsed by the UK head of Aid to the Church in Need. Neville Kyrke-Smith, the national director of Aid to the Church in Need, praised the UK government minister for highlighting the persecution of Christians in her speech at Georgetown University, Washington, USA on 15 November and backed her conclusions. Baroness Warsi said: "A mass exodus is taking place, on a biblical scale.  Read More ...
John Newton

Westminster: MP compares persecution of Christians to Kristallnacht | Egypt, Iran,  Iraq,  Judaism, Malaysia, Middle East, Persecution, State oppression , Jihn Pontifex, Aid to Church in Need, Syria
Westminster: MP compares persecution of Christians to Kristallnacht
A British MP has told a parliamentary debate that the persecution of Christians today should be compared to the Kristallnacht attack on Jews instigated by the Nazis. Listing "a preponderance" of anti-Christian violence, including forced conversions on pain of death, kidnappings and attacks in Christian homes, churches and businesses, Fiona Bruce MP highlighted increasing reports of "extreme persecution", especially in the Middle East. Fiona Bruce said: "We should be crying out with the same abhorrence and horror  Read More ...
John Pontifex

Pope Francis: 'Don't be tricked by false saviours' | Pope Francis, false prophets, the Rosary
Pope Francis: 'Don't be tricked by false saviours'
During his Angelus address on Sunday, Pope Francis warned pilgrims in St Peter's Square not to be taken in by false saviours or leaders in our world who seek to influence the minds of people, especially the young. He also urged solidarity with the many Christians undergoing persecution throughout the world, praising their courage and testimony. The Pope’s reflections were taken from this Sunday’s gospel reading where Jesus warns his disciples of the future trials and tribulations they will face along with the false prophets they will encounter on the way. Read More ...

Egypt: two new Coptic Orthodox bishops ordained | The Holy Synod of the Coptic Orthodox Church, Pope Tawadros II,  Grand Cathedral of St Mark  Bishop David,  Bishop Selwanis, monastery of St Pakhomious near Luxor.
Egypt: two new Coptic Orthodox bishops ordained
The Holy Synod of the Coptic Orthodox Church headed by His Holiness Pope Tawadros II, consecrated bishops to new responsibilities at the Grand Cathedral of St Mark on the weekend of 16 -17 November 2013. At a Vespers service on the evening of Saturday 16 November, His Grace Bishop David was enthroned over the new diocese of New York and New England in the United States of America, and His Grace Bishop Selwanis was appointed abbot over the historic monastery of St Pakhomious near Luxor. Read More ...

'What more has to happen to bring progress at Climate Change Talks?' | Fr Sean McDonagh, Conference of the Parties (COP 19),  UN Framework Conference on Climate Change, Conference in Doha, Typhoon Bopha, Typhoon Haiyan
'What more has to happen to bring progress at Climate Change Talks?'
What more has to happen to concentrate the minds of the officials from 174 countries who are currently in Warsaw, Poland, for the Conference of the Parties (COP 19) at the UN Framework Conference on Climate Change? In 2012, the week before last year’s Conference in Doha, Typhoon Bopha crashed into the province of Davao Oriental in the Philippines and killed almost 600 people in the Compostela valley. By the time it had crossed Mindanao almost 2,000 people were dead. Homes, businesses, schools, churches and power lines were all destroyed. Read More ...
Fr Sean McDonagh

Pope warns against placing faith in reported apparitions | Pope warns against placing faith in reported apparition
Pope warns against placing faith in reported apparitions
During his homily at morning Mass at Casa Santa Marta yesterday ( 14 November), Pope Francis warned against the “spirit of curiosity,” in remarks directed at those who place their faith in extraordinary claims and in reported apparitions. Commenting on the day’s reading from the Book of Wisdom, the Pope said that the Holy Spirit brings peace, unity, and serenity. This, he said, contrasts sharply with the spirit of curiosity, which arises “when we want to be the masters of the projects of God, of the future.” Read More ...

DR Congo: Catholics, Anglicans work together for peace in Great Lakes |  Association of Episcopal Conferences of Central Africa,Association of Anglican, 'Peace in the Great Lakes',  Mgr Fridolin Ambongo, Bishop of Bokungu - Ikela, President of the Justice and Peace Commission of ACEAC
DR Congo: Catholics, Anglicans work together for peace in Great Lakes
A joint campaign of the Association of Episcopal Conferences of Central Africa and the Association of Anglican bishops of these countries covered by ACEAC entitled 'Peace in the Great Lakes', is due to be launched on 1 December. This initiative, opened to contributions from any other religious denomination, was presented in Kinshasa on Monday by Mgr Fridolin Ambongo, Bishop of Bokungu - Ikela, President of the Justice and Peace Commission of ACEAC and coordinator of the campaign 'Peace in the Great Lakes'. Read More ...

AoS urges long term support for seafarers’ families hit by Typhoon Haiyan | Apostleship of the Sea, AoS, Typhoon Haiyan, Filipino, Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Immigrant People, Father Bruno Ciceri
AoS urges long term support for seafarers’ families hit by Typhoon Haiyan
The Apostleship of the Sea (AoS) has warned of the long term impact of Typhoon Haiyan on the lives of Filipino seafarers and their families. The Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Immigrant People, which coordinates the activities of AoS worldwide, is putting together plans to support those affected by the storm in the long term. This is in addition to the many AoS chaplains and volunteers who are already helping Filipino seafarers at ports and on board ships.  Read More ...

Columban missionaries: Typhoon Haiyan is 'beyond description' in its severity, extent & human suffering | Columbans, Typhoon Haiyan, climate change
Columban missionaries: Typhoon Haiyan is 'beyond description' in its severity, extent & human suffering
Columban missionaries have been present in the Philippines since 1929 and have accompanied the people through devastating social, political, and environmental circumstances. Of Typhoon Haiyan, Columban Philippines Regional Director Fr Pat O’Donoghue said, “I have experienced a number of calamities here in the Philippines, including the earthquake and tsunami that killed over 2,000 in Pagadian in 1976, but never anything of this magnitude. It is beyond description in terms of its severity, extent and human suffering.” Read More ...

Viewpoint: China has no business on UN Human Rights Council | Reggie Littlejohn, UN Human Right Council, China, One-child policy, gendercide, Falun Gong, Tibet
Viewpoint: China has no business on UN Human Rights Council
It is a travesty that China has returned to a seat at the UN Human Rights Council, which is “responsible for the promotion and protection of all human rights around the globe.” In the words of UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon, “All victims of human rights abuses should be able to look to the Human Rights Council as a forum and a springboard for action.” Reggie Littlejohn, President of Women’s Rights Without Frontiers, stated: “The Chinese government does not promote or protect human rights, even of its own citizens.  Read More ...

Pope Francis: Confession is like a second Baptism | Pope Francis,  Confession is like a second Baptism
Pope Francis: Confession is like a second Baptism
During his general audience today (13 November) Pope Francis continued his reflection on the articles of the Creed. This time he spoke about the only explicit reference to a Sacrament in the profession of faith: 'I believe in one Baptism for the forgiveness of sins'. In effect, Baptism is the “door” to faith and Christian life, and the mission of the Church, following the mandate of the Risen Christ is “to evangelise and to forgive the sins through Sacramental Baptism”, the Pope explained. Read More ...

Christian Aid Typhoon Haiyan appeal  | Christian Aid,  Typhoon Appeal
Christian Aid Typhoon Haiyan appeal
Christian Aid launched an appeal over the weekend to help those affected by Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines, thought to be the strongest storm in recorded history. It is particularly concerned that some of the poorest communities in the islands seem to have been worst hit. Further heavy rains forecast for the southern Philippines over the next 48 hours could seriously affect the progress of the huge emergency response in the aftermath of Typhoon Haiyan, says Christian Aid. Read More ...

US Bishops Conference elect new president | US Conference of Catholic Bishops, USCCB, U.S. bishops, Baltimore, Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz, Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo,
US Bishops Conference elect new president
Archbishop Joseph E Kurtz of Louisville, Kentucky, was elected president of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) during the bishops' annual fall General Assembly on 12 November, in Baltimore. Archbishop Kurtz has served as vice president of USCCB since 2010. Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo of Galveston-Houston was elected USCCB vice president. Archbishop Kurtz and Cardinal DiNardo are elected to three-year terms and succeed Cardinal Timothy . Dolan of New York and Archbishop Kurtz, respectively. The new president and vice president's terms begin  Read More ...

The lost orphans of Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan) | Typhoon Yolanda, Haiyan, Fr Shay Cullen, Philippines, appeal
The lost orphans of Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan)
Besides the thousands that have been killed, injured, and made homeless by the most devastating typhoon known to humankind, the orphaned children are the most vulnerable. Their towns and villages and homes are no more and their parents are dead. They are threatened by malnutrition, kidnapping, and abduction. Horrible as this prospect is, it has been a deadly reality in times of natural disasters. These children need our special attention and direct intervention to save them from child traffickers and pedophiles.  Read More ...
Fr Shay Cullen

Jesuits respond to Typhoon Haiyan | Jesuits in Britain, Philippines, Paul Chitnis, Director of Jesuit Missions in London, Typhoon Haiyan.
Jesuits respond to Typhoon Haiyan
The Jesuits in Britain have responded to the humanitarian needs of the people of the Philippines by making an immediate donation to the Jesuits in the country and by launching an appeal for further funds. Paul Chitnis, the Director of Jesuit Missions in London, says the charity will be making available £20,000 for the Jesuits in the Philippines to provide essential supplies to some of the thousands of people affected by Typhoon Haiyan. Jesuit communities, schools, chaplaincies and parishes in Britain are being asked to contribute generously  Read More ...

Syria: Mortar shells hit school and churches in centre of Damascus | Syria, Damascus, bombs, School of St John Damascene
Syria: Mortar shells hit school and churches in centre of Damascus
Mortar shells damaged the Primary Christian School of St John Damascene yesterday in the district of Al-Qassaa in Damascus, killing five children and wounding 27 others. Another rocket hit a school bus in Bab Touma, a suburb in Damascus predominantly Christian, injuring five students. In the same area, a mortar shell hit St Cross Church, already hit in past days and another damaged the St Cyril Church. Three other people were killed by a rocket in the centre of the capital. In past days, a rocket had also hit the Apostolic Nunciature,  Read More ...

Philippines: 'It looks as if  nuclear bombs were dropped' | CAFOD, Caritas, Rey Barnido, Typhoon, Tacloban, Bohol
Philippines: 'It looks as if nuclear bombs were dropped'
One of CAFOD’s Caritas partners Rey Barnido has arrived in Tacloban from Bohol to help with the emergency efforts alongside other Caritas aid workers in Tacloban. He got this message out via text: "Patients are overflowing from the regional hospital in Tacloban. There are dead people everywhere. There is no water or power. Volunteers are trying to manage the disaster. It looks as if nuclear bombs were dropped." CAFOD Director Chris Bain said: “…we cannot waste time on despair or shock – not when there are still lives to be saved, Read More ...

Philippines: Bishops call for prayers and emergency aid | Philippine Catholic bishops, Typhoon
Philippines: Bishops call for prayers and emergency aid
The Philippine Catholic bishops have called for a novena of prayer and emergency aid for the victims and grieving families of the super typhoon, which struck this past weekend. About 10,000 are estimated to have been killed. Msgr Pedro Quitorio, media director of the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines, said the funds raised during the novena, which starts today and runs until 19 November, will be channeled to the crisis region through Caritas Philippines.  Read More ...

Pope Francis: those who only pretend to be Christian hurt the Church | Pope Francis, corruption, whited sepulchres
Pope Francis: those who only pretend to be Christian hurt the Church
Pope Francis focused his homily on the Lord’s exhortation to forgive our brothers and sisters who have sinned... However, Pope Francis warned, there is difference between being a sinner and being corrupt. Those who sin and repent, who ask for forgiveness, are humble before the Lord. But those who continue to sin, while pretending to be Christian, lead a double life, they are corrupt. A Christian who is a benefactor, Pope Francis said, who gives to the Church with one hand, but steals with the other hand from the country, from the poor, is unjust.  Read More ...

Seafarers and fishing communities devastated by Filipino typhoon | Seafarers, Filipino Typhoon, Apostleship of the Sea, Sr Marian Davey, Felixstowe port chaplain, AoS
Seafarers and fishing communities devastated by Filipino typhoon
Seafarers have been anxiously trying to contact families for news following the Filipino typhoon that has killed more than 10,000 people over the weekend. AoS chaplains visiting ships over the weekend have been helping crews receive news of the tragedy. Sr Marian Davey, Felixstowe port chaplain, spent the weekend assisting Filipino seafarers whose homes and families have been affected by the storms back home. "I spoke with one seafarer who had just heard his house had been destroyed. He had just started his contract and not yet received any salary." Read More ...

CAFOD responds to catastrophic Philippines typhoon | CAFOD, Philippines,Typhoon Haiyan, Typhoon Haiyan, island of Leyte
CAFOD responds to catastrophic Philippines typhoon
CAFOD has aunched an urgent appeal for support for communities in the Philippines devastated by Typhoon Haiyan. The aid agency is asking its supporters to help them meet the urgent needs of hundreds of thousands of Filipinos. Typhoon Haiyan swept across the country on Friday with winds of up to 235kph, leaving a trail of massive destruction in its wake. Unofficial and unconfirmed estimates put the death toll at 10,000 in the island of Leyte alone.  Read More ...

Pope Francis: heartfelt solidarity with those affected by Philippines typhoon | Pope Francis, Philippines, typhoon
Pope Francis: heartfelt solidarity with those affected by Philippines typhoon
Pope Francis has sent a telegram of condolence to the President of the Philippines, expressing his solidarity with those affected by Typhoon Haiyan. The typhoon, one of the worst on record, is feared to have killed as many as 10,000 people on Leyte island, which bore the brunt of the storm. The full text of the telegram, signed by Archbishop Pietro Parolin, Vatican Secretary of State follows below: “Deeply saddened by the destruction and loss of life caused by the super typhoon,  Read More ...

 Zimbabwe: Bulawayo celebrates first Basilica in Southern Africa  | St Mary's Minor-Basilica, Bulawayo, Zimbabwe, Archbishop Alex Thomas
Zimbabwe: Bulawayo celebrates first Basilica in Southern Africa
Pope Francis has granted the former cathedral of Bulawayo, Zimbabwe, the status of Minor-Basilica - the only church in the whole of Southern Africa to have been awarded this honour. According to Archbishop Alex Thomas of Bulawayo, this rare award has been made because of the church's historical relevance and special architectural design; but it brings with it new responsibilities. "This building qualifies to be a basilica because of its centrality to the colonial struggles in Southern Africa as well as its age," Read More ...

Philippines: CAFOD pledges emergency aid as typhoon strikes | Typhoon Haiyan, Yolanda, Philippines, CAFOD,National Secretariat for Social Action,Catholic Relief Services
Philippines: CAFOD pledges emergency aid as typhoon strikes
Typhoon Haiyan – known locally as Yolanda – struck the central Philippines today, (Friday) with winds of up to 320 kph, forcing millions of people to take refuge in emergency shelters. The so-called “super-typhoon” is the strongest storm to hit the Pacific this year, and is likely to cause flash flooding, landslides and damage to homes. CAFOD has pledged an initial £50,000 to respond. The agency will work with its local partner National Secretariat for Social Action and with Catholic Relief Services to deliver aid to those most in need. Read More ...

Philippines:  Saving the victims of human trafficking | sex trafficking, Fr Shay Cullen, Preda
Philippines: Saving the victims of human trafficking
She was only 14 years old when brought from a distant town, and she was lured into a relationship with a middle-aged American and became his live-in sex partner. He called her "Chocolate", a racist term. In a conversation with reporters from ABC Television New York using a hidden camera, he told them how he got his 14 year-old "Chocolate" so he can "do it" anytime he wants and if she doesn't like it he can throw her out and get another. He set up a sex bar named 'Crow Bar' in Calapandayan, Subic Town, and there he had other underage girls  Read More ...
Fr Shay Cullen

Pope Francis: God has a loving weakness for lost sheep | Pope Francis, lost sheep Casa Santa Marta
Pope Francis: God has a loving weakness for lost sheep
Finding the lost sheep is a joy to God, because he has a “loving weakness” for those who are lost. These were the words of Pope Francis during his homily at morning Mass on Thursday in the Casa Santa Marta chapel. Commenting on the parables of the lost sheep and of the lost coin, Pope Francis talked about the attitude of the scribes and the Pharisees, who were scandalised by the things that Jesus did. They murmured against him: “This man is dangerous, he eats with the publicans and the sinners, he offends God, he desecrates Read More ...

Holy Land: CPT release film about school under threat of demolition  | Christian Peacemaker Teams, Palestine,  Masafer Yatta area, Al-Fakheit School, life under occupation
Holy Land: CPT release film about school under threat of demolition
Christian Peacemaker Teams’ Palestine team has just released a new video about the Masafer Yatta area, featuring the Al-Fakheit School, an 'archway to the future.' Although the twelve-minute production presents the realities that the people living in the region face - their homes under constant threat of home demolition, Israeli military exercises disrupting their lives - the film is surprisingly uplifting, filled with faces of the children and adults who live in the scattered villages around the school, and whose lives the school has greatly enhanced. Read More ...

Syria: another Christian town suffers brutal attack | Sadad, Syrian, Christians massacred, Homs, Patriarch Gregorios, Aid to the Church in Need
Syria: another Christian town suffers brutal attack
Horrific details are emerging of atrocities carried out in a Christian town in Syria, where 1,500 families were held hostage and 45 were killed, including two teenage boys, their mother and three of their grandparents who were thrown down a well. Inhabitants of Sadad, near Homs, who fled the largely Syrian Orthodox town when rebels attacked last month, are now returning home to discover the scale of atrocities in what is being seen as the worst act of anti-Christian persecution since the war in Syria began. Read More ...
John Pontifex

Holy Land: Israel demolishes house belonging to Latin Patriarch | Secretary of State John Kerry,Holy Land, Patriarch of Jerusalem, Mgr Foud Twai, Bishop William Shomali, Patriarchal Vicar of Jerusalem, Bishop Giacinto Boulos Marcuzzo, Patriarchal Vicar for Israel, Fr Humam Khzouz, Fr George Ayoub,
Holy Land: Israel demolishes house belonging to Latin Patriarch
In the same week that US Secretary of State John Kerry has been visiting the Holy Land in an effort to broker peace talks beween Israel and Palestine, bulldozers of the Jerusalem Municipality, accompanied by Israeli Security forces, demolished a house belonging to the Patriarch of Jerusalem Mgr Fouad Twai. The residential property on the Jerusalem-Hebron road, near the northern checkpoint number 300 was home to a family of 14 people. The Patriarch inspected the demolished home yesterday, in the company of Bishop William Shomali, Read More ...

Emergency appeal from mission in Kenya | Fr Steven Ochieng, Turkana, New Ways, drought, appeal, Kenya, Ethiopia
Emergency appeal from mission in Kenya
Fr Steven Ochieng, a priest working with the St Paul's Missionary Community on the Kenya-Ethiopia border has sent an urgent appeal for funds through the charity New Ways, to save the lives of a group of Dassanech families who have been severely affected by drought. About 40 of their animals have been dying of starvation each day for the past two weeks. The prolonged drought, combined with the flooding of the Omo River, has prevented these nomads from accessing their normal grazing fields in the delta therefore worsening the situation. Read More ...

Pope Francis: The Church is for everyone | Pope Francis, Casa Santa Marta
Pope Francis: The Church is for everyone
At the heart of Christianity is an invitation to the Lord’s feast. That was Pope Francis’ message at Mass on Tuesday morning at the Casa Santa Marta. The Pope said that the Church is “not only for good people;” the invitation to be a part of it concerns everyone. And he added that, at the Lord’s feast we must “participate fully” and with everyone; we can’t pick and choose. Christians, he said, can’t be content with simply being on the guest list – not participating fully is like not joining in. He emphasized that “first of all, the Christian essence is an invitation: Read More ...

Syria: exposion at nunciature in Damascus - no casualties | Vatican embassy, Damascus, Nunciature, Apostolic Nuncio to Syria, Archbishop Mario Zenari,
Syria: exposion at nunciature in Damascus - no casualties
A mortar round hit the Vatican embassy in Damascus on Tuesday morning, damaging the building but causing no casualties. The round struck the rooftop of the Nunciature on Tuesday morning at about 6.30am Damascus Time, causing some damage to the structure, though no one was killed or injured in the incident. The Apostolic Nuncio to Syria, Archbishop Mario Zenari, told Vatican Radio that mortar rounds frequently hit central areas of the capital city. Read More ...

Vatican surveys Catholics around the world ahead of Family Synod  | Extraordinary Synod on the Family, questionniare
Vatican surveys Catholics around the world ahead of Family Synod
In preparation for next year's Extraordinary Synod on the Family which takes place from 5-19 October 2014, the Vatican has sent a questionnaire to the world's bishops to disseminate among priests and people. The responses to the questionnaire will be analysed as part of the preparation for the Synod which will be on the theme of: 'Pastoral challenges of the family in the context of evangelisation'. The Catholic Bishops Conference of England and Wales has posted an electronic version of the survey for the faithful in to complete  Read More ...

Homeless Syrians face dire winter, CAFOD warns | CAFOD, Syria
Homeless Syrians face dire winter, CAFOD warns
CAFOD is warning that millions of Syrians who have been forced from their homes will face a devastating combination of freezing weather, food shortages and the near-total collapse of healthcare services this winter. As temperatures plummet, people living in tents, makeshift shelters and damaged or derelict buildings urgently need improved access to medical support – as well as blankets, warm clothes and heaters. Children and older people with existing health conditions are particularly at risk. Read More ...

Report shows aid agencies miss opportunities to help people hit by disaster |  ActionAid, CAFOD, Christian Aid, Oxfam, Tearfund, Alexander Carnwath, Anne Street. Missed Opportunities
Report shows aid agencies miss opportunities to help people hit by disaster
International organisations which help people recover from disasters such as floods, famines and earthquakes are missing opportunities to achieve more, according to a new report commissioned by ActionAid, CAFOD, Christian Aid, Oxfam and Tearfund. The report, Missed Opportunities, concludes that when international aid organisations work in partnership with local and national groups in countries affected by disasters, their efforts tend to be more effective, relevant and appropriate to the people they are trying to help.  Read More ...

Iran: Christians punished 'with extreme violence' for taking Communion wine |  Church of Iran, lashed, communion wine, Behzad Taalipasand, Mehdi Dadkhah, Mervyn Thomas
Iran: Christians punished 'with extreme violence' for taking Communion wine
Two of the four members of the Church of Iran denomination sentenced to 80 lashes for taking wine during a Communion service were lashed on 30 October. Behzad Taalipasand and Mehdi Dadkhah (Danial) received 80 lashes on 30 October. According to CSW’s sources, Behzad Taalipasand was whipped “with extreme violence.” While reports suggest that Mehdi Reza Omidi’s (Youhan) sentence was due to be carried out on 2 November, it is not yet known when or if Amir Hatemi (Youhanna) will be punished. Read More ...

Syria: Bodies of massacred Christians found in mass grave | Sadad, Homs, Damascus ,Archbishop Selwanos Boutros Alnemeh, Syriac Orthodox Metropolitan of Homs and Hama.
.
Syria: Bodies of massacred Christians found in mass grave
The bodies of 30 Christian civilians, including women and children, killed by Islamist militias, have been found in two separate mass graves, in the city of Sadad. The number of Christian civilians confirmed dead in this small town halfway between Homs and Damascus has reached 45. Many are injured and several are missing. The city of Sadad, a Christian settlement, was invaded and occupied by Islamist militias on 21 October. It was recaptured in recent days by the Syrian regular army Read More ...

Zimbabwe: New report shows climate change hitting farmers hard | Trochaire, Zimbabwe, climate change
Zimbabwe: New report shows climate change hitting farmers hard
Every year, life gets more difficult for Matthew Sibanda. This 66-year-old farmer has lived all his life in the Matobo region of southern Zimbabwe, but he says he has never experienced a climate as difficult as in recent years. “As far as I remember, I have never experienced such hot temperatures,” he says. “For a long time, my piece of land was considered a fertile wetland which always gave me good yield to feed my family but this is now history.” Rising temperatures and decreasing rainfall are making life an uphill battle  Read More ...
Nelly Maonde, Zimbabwe Livelihoods & Humanitarian Programme Officer.

Panama: priest killed in broad daylight, in front of bishops' house |  Colon, Fr Anibal Gomez,  Bishop Carlos María Ariz Bolea, CMF, Fr Teofilo Rodriguez, Mgr José Domingo Ulloa Mendieta, OSA,
Panama: priest killed in broad daylight, in front of bishops' house
The Catholic community of Colon, in Panama, is in shock after the body of Fr Anibal Gomez, was found at 1pm on Saturday, at the entrance of the home of retired Bishop Carlos María Ariz Bolea, CMF. He had been stabbed to death. Local sources believe he was the victim of a robbery. The criminal incident occurred in the Davis area in Colon, a city considered particularly violent because of rampant crime. Father Anibal Gomez, 67, originally from Spain, was parish priest a Read More ...

Pope Francis: 'Climb up as Zacchaeus did' | Pope Francis, Zacchaeus.
Pope Francis: 'Climb up as Zacchaeus did'
During the Angelus with thousands of pilgrims in St Peter's Square on Sunday, Pope Francis spoke about the day’s Gospel account of the conversion of Zacchaeus. The Holy Father recalled that Zacchaeus, a man “short in stature,” because he was a publican “was a lost sheep, despised, an ‘excommunicate’ . . . a friend of the hated Roman occupiers, a thief and an exploiter.” Nonetheless, although he was far away from Jesus, he climbed a tree in order to be able to see the Master as He passed by.  Read More ...

During All Saints Mass, Pope Francis prays for migrants who have perished | Pope Francis,All Saints Day,Verano cemetery, migrants, Lampedusa
During All Saints Mass, Pope Francis prays for migrants who have perished
Pope Francis celebrated Mass on All Saints Day at the entrance of Rome’s Verano cemetery - exactly 20 years after the last papal visit there. Afterwards prayed for the migrants who died in the desert or drowned at sea. In his improvised homily Pope Francis said our thoughts on this occasion go to “those who have preceded us and who are now in heaven with the Lord. “ And they are there, he continued, “because they were saved by Christ.” They were not saved merely because of their good works although they did those as well. Read More ...

Vietnam: Catholics jailed despite protests | Bishop Paul Nguyen Thai Hop, Nguyen Van Hai and Ngo Van Khoi, Nghi Phuong Commune.
Vietnam: Catholics jailed despite protests
Two Vietnamese Catholics, whose arrest sparked mass protests and prayer vigils in My Yen parish, Nghe An Province last month, were sentenced to six and seven months’ imprisonment respectively on 23 October. Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW) has been informed that their families were not allowed to attend the closed-door trial, which lasted around three hours. Nguyen Van Hai and Ngo Van Khoi were arrested and later charged with 'disturbing public order', following an incident when  Read More ...

New Cardinals expected in February 2014 | new cardinals, Pope Francis Consistory
New Cardinals expected in February 2014
The Vatican has confirmed today that a Consistory to create new Cardinals will be held next February. Pope Francis had informed both the Council of Cardinals and the Council of the Synod of his intention earlier this month, according to statement issued by Fr Federico Lombardi, SJ, the head of the Press Office. The Consistory will be on the Feast of the Chair of St Peter, 22 February 2014. Pope Francis decided to make the date known so that other meetings could be planned which involve Cardinals from around the world. Read More ...

Liverpool: Founder of Save the Congo gives 114th Roscoe Lecture | Vava Tampa, Save The Congo, 114th Roscoe Lecture,Liverpool John Moore University, DRC, Congo Reform Association, Edmund Dene Morel.  Shaun Kenny,  Edmund Dene Morel, Lord Alton of Liverpool; Rabbi David Mitchell; Rabbi Colin Eimer; Tim Butcher, Paul Rusesabagina
Liverpool: Founder of Save the Congo gives 114th Roscoe Lecture
Vava Tampa, founder of Save The Congo, gave the 114th Roscoe Lecture at Liverpool John Moore University on Monday night. Tampa spoke on the history of conflict and human rights abuses in the DRC and the historic role of Liverpool in the region, looking especially at the work of 20th century Congo-activist and founder of the Congo Reform Association, Edmund Dene Morel. Shaun Kenny, the great, great grandson of Edmund Dene Morel, also attended the event. Read More ...

Pope Francis: Communion of Saints is the deepest reality of our faith | COmmunion of the Holy, Pope Francis, General Audience
Pope Francis: Communion of Saints is the deepest reality of our faith
“The communion of the holy”, one of the most beautiful aspects of our faith, as it was defined by Pope Francis, was the theme of the catechesis of this Wednesday's general audience, which took place in St Peter's Square and was attended by more than 80,000 people. The communion of the holy consists of two related meanings: the communion of holy things and communion between holy people, and the Pope focused on the second, “one of the most consolatory aspects of our faith”. In fact, the term “holy” refers to those who believe in Jesus Christ  Read More ...

Syria: progress in search for kidnapped bishops | Syrian bishops, kidnapped,General Abbas Ibrahim, Lebanese General Security, Boulos al-Yazigi,  Yohanna Ibrahim were, Syrian, Lebanon, Maronite Patriarch Bechara Boutros Rai, General Ibrahim, Emir of Qatar Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani
Syria: progress in search for kidnapped bishops
The head of national security in Lebanon has said that the location of the two Syrian bishops, kidnapped in April, has been discovered, and there has been some 'indirect contact' with their captors and negotiations to secure their release. General Abbas Ibrahim, head of the Lebanese General Security, said in a statement given to Fides: "About a month ago, I contacted a person who told me where the bishops Boulos al-Yazigi and Yohanna Ibrahim were, and on this basis I started the negotiations". Read More ...

Vatican tells UN: we can only eliminate hunger by promoting inclusion | Permanent Observer of the Holy See to the United Nations, Archbishop Francis Chullikatt,  hunger.
Vatican tells UN: we can only eliminate hunger by promoting inclusion
The Vatican said on Tuesday we can only eliminate hunger and food insecurity by promoting inclusion. The Permanent Observer of the Holy See to the United Nations, Archbishop Francis Chullikatt told the international body more needs to be done to stop hunger. “By pointing out the problem of exclusion and the need for inclusion, we bring up the uncomfortable fact that hunger is not caused by the lack of sufficient food to feed every person on the planet,” he said during a UN meeting on agricultural development, food security, and nutrition.  Read More ...

Catholic agencies say protecting lives must come before protecting borders | Lampedusa, Caritas, JRS
Catholic agencies say protecting lives must come before protecting borders
Caritas and the Jesuit Refugee Service are urging European governments to provide legal solutions that allow refugees and migrants to arrive safely to the continent. The recent shipwreck and death of 366 migrants off the coast of the Italian island of Lampedusa in October highlights the failure of European Union immigration policy. The incident is not an isolated one, but rather an illustration of the failure of governments to respond responsibly to migration flows, leading to abuse, exploitation and death. Read More ...

Church hierarchy and football | Michael Glackin, football, Cardinal Hume Pope Francis, Sunderland football club
Church hierarchy and football
One wonders what Cardinal Basil Hume would have made of the images of a beaming Pope Francis last week holding aloft a Sunderland football shirt printed with 'Papa Francisco', just days before the club’s big derby game with Newcastle United. Hume of course was a huge Newcastle United supporter and would have been crestfallen at what now looks like a clear case of divine intervention in the stunning 2:1 defeat of his team on Sunday. Football has long been akin to another religion for some in the church hierarchy. Read More ...
Michael Glackin

Pope Francis: hope is a gift from the Holy Spirit | Pope Francis, Casa Santa Marta, hope
Pope Francis: hope is a gift from the Holy Spirit
Pope Francis spoke on the meaning of hope today, during morning Mass at Casa Santa Marta. He explained that hope is much more than simple optimism for Christians, it is constant expectation, a gift from the Holy Spirit, a miracle of renewal that never lets us down. Reflecting on the words of St Paul in which he says: 'Never disappoint yourself'- Hope never lets you down. Pope Francis said: " Why? - Because it's a gift from the Holy Spirit”. Paul tells us that hope has a name. Hope is Christ. Read More ...

Pope meets Aung San Suu Kyi  |  Aung San Suu Kyi and Pope Francis, Father Federico Lombardi
Pope meets Aung San Suu Kyi
Pope Francis on Monday received Burmese Nobel Peace Laureate, Aung San Suu Kyi in the Vatican, offering his support to her commitment towards democracy. The Burmese opposition leader, a former political prisoner in her own country, is currently on a visit to Europe and on Sunday was made an honorary citizen of Rome. After the private meeting between Aung San Suu Kyi and Pope Francis, Vatican press office director, Father Federico Lombardi briefed journalists and described what he called “a great feeling of harmony and accord”  Read More ...

US Viewpoint: Earth dangerously warming – and we are causing it | United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s,  (IPCC)
US Viewpoint: Earth dangerously warming – and we are causing it
I usually write a column on global warming during the height of summer heat – it’s harder for people to deny global warming when they’re sweating. But the highly authoritative United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC) recent report, “Climate Change 2013: The Physical Science Basis,” has important warnings for us to seriously consider now. The report authored by 259 scientists and editors from 39 countries declares that Read More ...
Tony Magliano

Pope advises Vatican TV staff: 'Be professionals in your service to the Church' | Vatican Television Centre (CTV), Pope Francis
Pope advises Vatican TV staff: 'Be professionals in your service to the Church'
The Vatican Television Centre (CTV), instituted by Blessed John Paul II on 22 October 1983, celebrates its thirtieth anniversary and, this morning, as he received its members in audience, Pope Francis remarked, “It has come a long way in these three decades of activity”. Nowadays we find ourselves before new challenges “which we cannot elude, in order to maintain a firm evangelical perspective in this form of global communication highway”. The Holy Father, after thanking the employees of the CTV for their dedication, and also their families,  Read More ...

Vatican sends message to Hindus for Diwali | Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue, Diwali,  Deepavali, Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran
Vatican sends message to Hindus for Diwali
The Vatican has sent a message to Hindus as the celebrate the Feast of Deepavali (Diwali). In the Message, Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran writes "Regardless of our ethnic, cultural, religious and ideological differences, all of us belong to the one human family." ... In a spirit of friendship, the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue extends to you best wishes and cordial greetings as you celebrate Deepavali on 3 November next. May God, the source of all light and life, illumine your lives and deepen your happiness and peace. Read More ...

Jesuit Declaration on Syria crisis | Jesuit Provincials, Syria, Pope Francis
Jesuit Declaration on Syria crisis
We the Jesuit Provincials, as major superiors of the Society of Jesus in the Middle East and in Europe, warmly welcome the Holy Father's recent statement on Syria. With all his strength, he alerted international opinion to the Syrian tragedy and asked "all the parties in conflict to listen to the voice of their own conscience and not close themselves in solely on their own interests" (Pope Francis - Angelus prayer - 1st September 2013). With him, we also declare that "never has the use of violence brought peace in its wake",  Read More ...

Jesuits speak up for refugees: 'our basic human duty is to save lives' |  Jesuit Provincials of Europe the Middle East and Africa-Madagascar, Pope Francis, Lampedusa, JRS
Jesuits speak up for refugees: 'our basic human duty is to save lives'
On Friday, the Jesuit Provincials of Europe the Middle East and Africa-Madagascar, meeting in Rome, issued the following statement on Migration and Asylum today entitled: 'We cannot set borders to our concern'... ' We have all seen, in the last number of weeks, the terrible suffering caused to migrants and their families, dramatized in the recent Lampedusa tragedy. In the last 20 years many thousands have died trying to reach Europe. Pope Francis visited Lampedusa and expressed his sympathy outrage and sorrow at the desperate suffering  Read More ...

Pope Francis: Confession is not like going to a psychiatrist | Pope Francis, Confession, Sacrament of Reconciliation
Pope Francis: Confession is not like going to a psychiatrist
During his homily at the Casa Santa Marta chapel on Friday, Pope Francis focussed on the Sacrament of Reconciliation. To go to Confession, he said, is to encounter the love of Jesus with sincerity of heart and with the transparency of children, not refusing, but even welcoming the “grace of shame” that makes us perceive God’s forgiveness. For many believing adults, confessing to a priest is an unbearable effort – that often leads one to avoid the Sacrament – or such a painful process that it transforms the moment of truth into an exercise of fiction. Read More ...

Pope Francis: Faith brings joy to families | Pope Francis, World Family Day
Pope Francis: Faith brings joy to families
Pope Francis celebrated Mass in St Peter's Square on Sunday, 27 October which is World Family Day....The readings this Sunday invite us to reflect on some basic features of the Christian family. First: the family prays. The Gospel passage speaks about two ways of praying, one is false – that of the Pharisee – and the other is authentic – that of the tax collector. The Pharisee embodies an attitude which does not express thanksgiving to God for his blessings and his mercy, but rather self-satisfaction. The Pharisee feels himself justified, he feels his life is in order, and he judges others from his pedestal  Read More ...

Pope praises work of Simon Wiesenthal Centre | Pope Francis, Simon Wiesenthal Centre
Pope praises work of Simon Wiesenthal Centre
On Thursday morning Pope Francis received a 60 member delegation from the Simon Wiesenthal Centre, an international Jewish organisation for the defence of human rights, and praised its work in fighting “every form of racism, intolerance and anti-Semitism, preserving the memory of the Shoah and promoting mutual understanding through education and social action”. The encounter with the Simon Wiesenthal Centre had been arranged with Pope Benedict XVI and the Holy Father emphasised that the Pope emeritus  Read More ...

CAFOD rushes aid to flood survivors in Cambodia | CAFOD, Christian Aid, floods in Cambodia, Phnom Penh
CAFOD rushes aid to flood survivors in Cambodia
CAFOD, Christian Aid and other agencies are working with local partners in Cambodia to support people who have been driven from their homes by catastrophic flooding. Heavy rainfall for the past month has led to devastating floods across the country. 168 are known to have died. More than 700,000 people have been affected, and huge swathes of the country are under water, throughout the north-west and along the Mekong River in central and southern Cambodia. 16 of the country’s 24 provinces have been affected, including Phnom Penh, Read More ...

Polish archbishop blames child abuse on pornography, modern ideologies | Archbishop Jozef Michalik, Cardinal Henry Gulbinowicz
Polish archbishop blames child abuse on pornography, modern ideologies
The head of Polish Bishops Conference, Archbishop Jozef Michalik, said on Wednesday that the cause of child abuse is pornography, feminism and 'selfish love' which undermines the family, Polish media reports. During a special Mass for the 90th birthday of Cardinal Henry Gulbinowicz at the Cathedral of St John the Baptist in Wroclaw, Bishop Michalik said: "The shameful abuse by adults towards children results from the acceptance of pornography ... and the promotion of a false, selfish love between people." Read More ...

Queen of Jordan sponsors conference on Christian women in Middle East |  Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem Fouad Twal,  Fuheis, Jordan, role of women in the Middle East, World Union of Catholic Women 's Organizations, WUCWO,  Sisters of the Rosary,  International Forum of Catholic Action, Queen Rania of Jordan
Queen of Jordan sponsors conference on Christian women in Middle East
The Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem Fouad Twal. opened a conference in Fuheis, Jordan, on the role of women in the Middle East on Thursday. The event has been organized by the World Union of Catholic Women 's Organizations. It is being held at the House of the Sisters of the Rosary and designed in cooperation with the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem and the International Forum of Catholic Action, under the patronage of Queen Rania of Jordan. The conference has as its theme the service rendered by women believers on ' life, dignity and the common good'.  Read More ...

Japan: Rebuilt Catholic school brings hope to Fukushima | Fukushima. Our Lady of Sakura, Notre Dame Sisters, Sister Kayoko Shibata
Japan: Rebuilt Catholic school brings hope to Fukushima
A new indoor playground at a Catholic school in earthquake-ravaged Fukushima is being hailed by local residents as a “beacon of hope for the region’s recovery.” Our Lady of Sakura Kindergarten, operated by the Congregation of Notre Dame, was so badly damaged in the March 2011 earthquake that the religious community has spent the past two years rebuilding the school. “Anyone can see that Fukushima children’s athletic and physical abilities have declined since they lost the chance to play outdoors,”  Read More ...

'Syria is walking the Way of the Cross' | Sister Hanan, Aid to the Church in Need, Patriarch Gregorios III, Syria, Way of the Cross
'Syria is walking the Way of the Cross'
Bombs, kidnapping and financial extortion are among the problems facing Syria's Christians, the leader of the country's Catholics told a meeting in Westminster Cathedral Hall. Speaking to more than 300 benefactors of Aid to the Church in Need, Patriarch Gregorios III, head of the Melkite Greek Catholic Church, said: "Syria is experiencing a lengthy, bloody way of the cross, stretching along all the country's roads."... "You may think it is safe here or unsafe there, but at any moment you may be killed by bomb, missile or bullet, not to mention being kidnapped  Read More ...
John Newton

Pope Francis tells new archbishops to 'serve, not dominate' | Pope Francis, St Peter’s Basilica, French Archbishop Jean-Marie Speich, Archbishop Giampiero Gloder
Pope Francis tells new archbishops to 'serve, not dominate'
Today, Pope Francis consecrated two new archbishops in St Peter’s Basilica. The two new Archbishops are both Papal Nuncios. French Archbishop Jean-Marie Speich was named Apostolic Nuncio to Ghana in August, while Italian Archbishop Giampiero Gloder was in September named President of the Pontifical Ecclesiastical Academy, which is dedicated to the training of priests who will serve in the Diplomatic Corps of the Holy See. In his homily Pope Francis said a bishop is like the head of the family, and should always have the Good Shepherd as an example.  Read More ...

Indian cyclone left as many people homeless as Hurricane Katrina | Cyclone Phailin, Hurricane Katrina, Christian Aid, CAFOD
Indian cyclone left as many people homeless as Hurricane Katrina
Cyclone Phailin, which hit the east coast of India last week, has left more than one million people homeless, causing destruction on the scale of Hurricane Katrina, says Christian Aid. With more heavy rains threatening the state of Odisha over the next few days, those who have returned to what remains of their homes now have nowhere to shelter. Roads to remote areas have already been destroyed, making it difficult to reach people in need, and further rains will increase this inaccessibility. Read More ...

Pope: Mary as model of faith and charity for the Church | All-Party Parliamentary Group on the Holy See, Pope Francis
Pope: Mary as model of faith and charity for the Church
Addressing pilgrims in St Peter's Square during his general audience yesterday, Pope Francis said the Church is like Mary who brings Jesus, but it is not a shop or a humanitarian agency. A Church which does not bring Jesus is a dead Church, he said. Among the crowds were Catholic MPs from the All-Party Parliamentary Group on the Holy See. During his address Pope Francis continued his catechesis on the model of the Church and reflected on how "Mary is a model of faith and charity for the Church." Read More ...

Holy Land: CPT notes Israeli soldiers' treatment of Down's Syndrome boy   | Holy Land, checkpoint, CPT, Palestine, Down's Syndrome
Holy Land: CPT notes Israeli soldiers' treatment of Down's Syndrome boy
A few days ago, my teammate Alwyn and I were sidetracked by phone call as we left for a food shopping trip. Another international monitoring group here in Hebron asked us to check out a situation at the container checkpoint that separates the H-1 area (under nominal Palestinian control) from H-2 (under full Israeli military control) in Hebron. Soldiers had stopped a staffer from a kindergarten near Qurtuba School who was bringing in a box of snacks for the children, Read More ...
Kathleen Kern, Christian Peace

Iran: Four Christians sentenced to 80 lashes for drinking communion wine | CSW, Rasht, Church of Iran, 80 lashes, rinking wine during a communion service, Behzad Taalipasand, Mehdi Reza Omidi (Youhan), Mehdi Dadkhah (Danial) and Amir Hatemi (Youhanna)
Iran: Four Christians sentenced to 80 lashes for drinking communion wine
A court in the Iranian city of Rasht has sentenced four members of the Church of Iran denomination to 80 lashes each for drinking wine during a communion service. The verdict, dated 6 October, charges Behzad Taalipasand, Mehdi Reza Omidi (Youhan), Mehdi Dadkhah (Danial) and Amir Hatemi (Youhanna) with drinking alcohol and possession of a receiver and satellite antenna. They received the verdict on 20 October and have ten days to appeal the sentence. Read More ...

Vatican clarifies Church rules on divorce and Communion  | Archbishop Gerhard Muller,Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith,divorce, Communion, Vatican
Vatican clarifies Church rules on divorce and Communion
Amid rising expectations in the media that the Catholic Church might make it easier for divorced and remarried members to receive Communion, the Vatican's highest doctrinal official reaffirmed church teaching barring such persons from the sacrament without an annulment of their first sacramental marriage. But Archbishop Gerhard Muller, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, acknowledged that many Catholics' first marriages might be invalid and eligible for annulment if spouses Read More ...

German 'bling bishop' goes on leave | The Bishop of Limburg,  Franz-Peter Tebartz, bling bishop , Tebartz-van Elst
German 'bling bishop' goes on leave
The German bishop who spent millions on luxury features for his diocesan complex is going on leave for three months, the Vatican confirmed this morning. The Bishop of Limburg, Franz-Peter Tebartz-van Elst was called to a meeting at the Vatican after reports of his enormous spending at his new diocesan centre and private residence in western Germany emerged. The renovation and building project came to more than £26million pounds - ten times over budget. Read More ...
Dan Bergin

Capuchin Minor Friars celebrate 75 years in Chad and Central Africa | Capuchin Minor Friars, Chad, Central African Republic, Cathedral of Moundou, Mgr Joachim Kouraleyo Tarounga Mgr Rosario Ramolo, Bishop of Goré.
Capuchin Minor Friars celebrate 75 years in Chad and Central Africa
The Capuchin Minor Friars celebrated 75 years of their presence in Chad and the Central African Republic, with a Mass at the Cathedral of Moundou on Sunday, 20 October. The Mass was presided over by the local Ordinary, Mgr Joachim Kouraleyo Tarounga and by Mgr Rosario Ramolo, Bishop of Goré. The celebration was attended by 40 priests. The event was preceded by a week of prayer, Eucharistic adoration and conferences.  Read More ...

Report shows sharp increase in persecution of Christians worldwide  | Anti-Christian violence, Blasphemy laws, Church attack, Communism, Extremism, Human rights abuses , Information and awareness-raising, Islamism, Persecution, Religious freedom, State oppression, John Pontifex
Report shows sharp increase in persecution of Christians worldwide
The situation of Christians has sharply deteriorated in many countries according to a new report published by Aid to the Church in Need this month. The report: Persecuted and Forgotten? launched at a meeting in the Houses of Parliament on 27 October, shows that an exodus of Christians from many countries threatens Christianity's status as a worldwide religion. The report examines the situation of Christians in 30 different countries, including Afghanistan, China, Laos, Pakistan, Vietnam and Zimbabwe.  Read More ...

Text: Pope Paul VI Memorial Lecture: A billion reasons to believe in Africa | CAFOD,  2013 Pope Paul VI Memorial Lecture,  Fr Agbonkhianmeghe E Orobator, SJ
Text: Pope Paul VI Memorial Lecture: A billion reasons to believe in Africa
A billion reasons to believe in Africa: the long march from ‘a hopeless continent’ to the ‘lung of humanity’ was the title of CAFOD's 2013 Pope Paul VI Memorial Lecture, given by Fr Agbonkhianmeghe E Orobator, SJ .... Popular perception and imagination of Africa would dismiss as fanciful or delusive a disquisition that purports to adduce 'a billion reasons to believe in Africa'. The Coca Cola Company, whose global advertising campaign inspired this lecture‘s title, contests the generalised pessimism regarding the fate and fortune of Africa. Read More ...

Pope Francis: 'Greed destroys people, families, relationships' | Pope Francis, greed
Pope Francis: 'Greed destroys people, families, relationships'
Greed and attachment to money, destroys people, destroys families and relationships with others. That was Pope Francis’ message on Monday morning during Mass in Casa Santa Marta. The invitation is not to choose poverty per se, but to use the wealth that God gives us to help those in need. Commenting on the day’s Gospel, in which a man asks Jesus to intervene to resolve a problem of inheritance with his brother, the Pope spoke about the problem of our relationship with money: Read More ...

Pope Francis: Christian mission is not proselytising - but sharing the flame that warms the soul | Pope Francis, World Mission Day, Afra Martinelli
Pope Francis: Christian mission is not proselytising - but sharing the flame that warms the soul
On Sunday, 20 October, after the Angelus, Pope Francis addressed thousands of pilgrims gathered in St Peter's Square, saying: "Today is World Mission Day. What is the mission of the Church? To spread throughout the world the flame of faith that Jesus has lighted in the world: faith in God who is Father, Love, and Mercy. "The method of the Christian mission is not proselytism, but that the sharing of the flame that warms the soul. I thank all those who through prayer and concrete help sustain the work of the missions Read More ...

Israeli prime minister to visit Pope | Benjamin Netanyahu, Pope Francis President Shimon Peres, King Abdullah of Jordan, President Mahmoud Abbas
Israeli prime minister to visit Pope
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, will be meeting with Pope Francis at the Vatican this Wednesday, 23 October. Pope Francis has already met the Israeli President, Shimon Peres, King Abdullah of Jordan, and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. Last Thursday, 17 October, during his visit, President Abbas invited Pope Francis to visit the Holy Land. It has been reported that President Peres also invited the Holy Father during their meeting in April this year. Read More ...

President Abbas: I hope to sign treaty with Israel with this pen | Mahmoud Abbas, Palestinian Authority, Pope Francis
President Abbas: I hope to sign treaty with Israel with this pen
Mahmoud Abbas, President of the Palestinian Authority, met with the Holy Father on 17 October, 2013, in the Vatican. On receiving Francis’ gift of a pen, Abbas said: “I hope to sign the peace treaty with Israel with this pen.” The Holy Father answered “Soon, soon.” They met for about half an hour. After the meeting, the Pope gave President Abbas a pen saying ”Surely, you have many things to sign,” to which Abbas responded “I hope to sign the peace treaty with Israel with this pen.”  Read More ...

Egypt: four killed in attack on church wedding | Mervyn Thomas,  Christian Solidarity Worldwide,Muslim Brotherhood, Al-Gamaa Al-Islamiya,  Salafi Nour Party,Al-Azhar Grand Imam Sheikh Ahmed el-Tayeb,Coptic Orthodox Church of the Virgin Mary, Warraq al-Hadar, Giza,
Egypt: four killed in attack on church wedding
Four people, including an eight-year old girl, died after masked gunmen opened fire on a wedding in Giza on Sunday evening, 20 October. As wedding guests were leaving the Coptic Orthodox Church of the Virgin Mary in Warraq al-Hadar, Giza, a car and a motorcycle pulled up, and a masked gunman on the motorcycle opened fire with an automatic weapon. At least 15 bullets were fired indiscriminately before the attackers drove away. Two guests were killed during the attack, with two more dying later from gunshot wounds.  Read More ...

Climate Change: EU churches call for solidarity and global justice | climate change, COMECE, Prof Dr Hans Diefenbacher, Martin Scheele,Fr Jose Ignacio Garcia SJ, Rev Henrik Grape
Climate Change: EU churches call for solidarity and global justice
In light of the IPCC’s Fifth report, and ahead of the Warsaw Climate Change Conference, European church leaders have just concluded a one day seminar entitled: 'Environmental protection and climate change as a challenge for policies – the role of ethics, lifestyles, solidarity and global justice'. The day was organised by the Church and Society Commission of the Conference of European Churches and EU Catholic bishops. Prof Goose from the Catholic University of Leuven highlighted the irrefutability of human activity being the cause of climate change.  Read More ...

Pope prays for victims of bushfires in Australia | Bushfires, Australia, Pope Francis, Parolin
Pope prays for victims of bushfires in Australia
Pope Francis has expressed his concern for the victims of wildfires that are raging throughout the Australian state of New South Wales. In a message addressed to the Bishops’ Conference of Australia, the Vatican’s new Secretary of State, Archbishop Pietro Parolin, said the Holy Father was praying “especially for those who have died and for those who have lost their homes and workplaces, as well as for the numerous personnel working to combat the fires and provide comfort and care for those who are suffering.” Read More ...

Australia: SVP launches Bushfire Appeal | SVP, Bushfire Appeal, Ray Reynolds, Deacon Tony Hoban, Vinnies- Parramatta, NSW, Australia
Australia: SVP launches Bushfire Appeal
The St Vincent de Paul Society NSW in Australia has launched a Bushfire Appeal to help victims of the devastating and on-going bushfire emergency. More than 2,000 fire fighters are battling with blazes across many areas of New South Wales. Hundreds of homes are feared destroyed, and many many hundreds of people have been left homeless with little more than the clothes they are wearing. Five teachers and seven students from two Catholic schools at Springwood in the Blue Mountains  Read More ...

Pope Francis donates Harley Davidson motorbike to charity auction | Pope Francis, Harley Davidison, motorbike, Mgr Enrico Feroci
Pope Francis donates Harley Davidson motorbike to charity auction
Pope Francis has donated one of his two classic Harley Davidson motorbikes for charity. The bikes were a present from the manufacturers to celebrate the 110th anniversary of the iconic brand. This summer around 35,000 bikers roared into Rome to mark the anniversary. Pope Francis blessed them in St Peter's Square, and accepted two of the latest models, for the Vatican police force. The Bishop of Rome has now decided to auction off one of the bikes in order to raise funds for a Caritas homeless project,  Read More ...
Dan Bergin

Eritrean nun mourns Lampedusa victims, calls for action against Sinai torture camps | Eritrea,  Israel, Lampedusa, Sister Aziza, Azezet Habtezghi Kidane,  Comboni Missionary Sisters, Physicians for Human Rights-Israel’s Open Clinic
Eritrean nun mourns Lampedusa victims, calls for action against Sinai torture camps
The Eritrean community in Israel is in deep mourning, following the terrible news of the two ships that capsized on the way from Africa to Italy. More than 300 bodies have been recovered. Many of us here have relatives or friends who were on the boats and met their deaths by drowning. Eritreans seeking their way to Italy, like those of us here in Israel, are fleeing an Eritrean dictatorship that subjugates, persecutes and tortures its citizens.  Read More ...
Sister Aziza

King of Lesotho invested into Constantinian Order | King Letsie III of the Kingdom of Lesotho, Constantinian Order of St George, Renato Raffaele, Cardinal Martino, Grand Prior of the Sacred Military Constantinian Order of St George
King of Lesotho invested into Constantinian Order
His Majesty King Letsie III of the Kingdom of Lesotho, the last reigning Roman Catholic monarch in Africa, has been invested as a Bailiff Grand Cross of Justice of the Sacred Military Constantinian Order of St George. His Majesty’s investiture into the Constantinian Order took place at the Embassy of the Kingdom of Lesotho to the Italian Republic in Rome and was conducted by His Eminence Renato Raffaele, Cardinal Martino, Grand Prior of the Sacred Military Constantinian Order of St George. Read More ...

Video: World Mission Sunday 2013 | World Mission Sunday
Video: World Mission Sunday 2013
World Mission Sunday 2013 takes place this week on 20 October. On the special day Pope Francis asks Missio to coordinate so that the worldwide Church can come together in solidarity and mutual support. Part of Missio's responsibility is to help Catholics around the globe understand the difference this day of prayer and giving makes to the lives of our brothers and sisters across the world. Read More ...

Oblate Father appointed Apostolic Prefect of Western Sahara | Monsignor Mario Leon Dorado, Western Sahara, MINURSO
Oblate Father appointed Apostolic Prefect of Western Sahara
On Sunday, 29 September 2013, Monsignor Mario Leon Dorado took canonical possession of the Apostolic See of Sahara during a solemn celebration presided by him in the cathedral of Laayoune, surrounded by representatives of the United Nations and some of the faithful who had come for the event. On 24 June 2013, Pope Francis had named him Apostolic Prefect of Western Sahara. In his homily, he briefly explained the role and mission of the Apostolic Prefect: “To govern, teach, sanctify and to guard the patrimony of the Church.” Read More ...

 US Bishops welcome end of government shutdown | Shutdown, Cardinal Seán O’Malley, Archbishop William Lori, Bishop Stephen Blaire, Archbishop José Gomez, Bishop Richard Pates, Affordable Care Act, HHH Mandate, USCCB
US Bishops welcome end of government shutdown
American bishops have welcomed the decision of federal government leaders to agree to end the partial government shutdown, 16 days after closing many offices and suspending important programs and services. The bishops said they were also heartened that so many who had been out of work could return to their jobs. 25 “The shutdown has had a widespread impact on many people, especially the poor, who suffered for lack of basic services during the period,” said Bishop Stephen Blaire of Stockton, California, Read More ...

Appeal for prayers for Philippines after typhoon and earthquake   | Missio, Philippines, Fr Socrates Mesiona, MSP,  typhoon,earthquake, Mgr Canon James Cronin, .
Appeal for prayers for Philippines after typhoon and earthquake
National Director of Missio in the Philippines, Fr Socrates Mesiona, MSP, has called for prayer after his country was hit by a typhoon and earthquake earlier this week. In an email sent to Mgr Canon James Cronin, National Director of Missio in England and Wales, Fr Socrates described the last few days as "very difficult". "Houses and farms were lost, damaged and destroyed" he wrote. "In fact, I was scheduled to give a mission animation talk Read More ...

Holy Father receives Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas  | Pope Francis,  Mahmoud Abbas, Palestine, Archbishop Dominique Mamberti,
Holy Father receives Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas
This morning the Holy Father received in audience Mahmoud Abbas, president of the State of Palestine, who subsequently went on to meet with Archbishop Dominique Mamberti, secretary for Relations with States. During the cordial discussions, reference was made to the situation in the Middle East, and in particular to the reinstatement of negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians. The Parties expressed their hope that this process may bear fruit and enable a just and lasting solution to be found to the conflict,  Read More ...

Rome marks 70th anniversary of deportation of Jews | Holocaust survivor,  Enzo Camerino,  Pope Francis, Chapel of Santa Marta, Jewish ghetto, Giorgio Napolitano
Rome marks 70th anniversary of deportation of Jews
Holocaust survivor Enzo Camerino attended morning Mass celebrated by Pope Francis in the Chapel of Santa Marta yesterday - the 70th anniversary of the deportation of the residents of Rome's Jewish ghetto. Camerino is one of the 1,024 people who were snatched from their homes and transported to Auschwitz. Two hundred children were among them. He is now one of only 16 living survivors. Representatives of Rome's civil and religious society gathered at the city's Great Synagogue Read More ...

Pope Francis speaks of the 'scandal of hunger'  | UN Food and Agriculture Organization, World Food Day, Pope Francis, scandal of hunger, UN, Monsignor Luigi Travaglino
Pope Francis speaks of the 'scandal of hunger'
In a message to the UN Food and Agriculture Organization for World Food Day, Pope Francis condemned the continuing scandal of hunger and malnutrition in today’s world and what he called a globalization of indifference towards it. Pope Francis’s address was delivered to the UN by Monsignor Luigi Travaglino. In his message the Pope criticized what he called "a growing tendency for us to close in on ourselves, saying this leads to a certain indifference on both a personal, institutional and state level" Read More ...

Pope Francis: The Church is rooted in Apostles but looks to future | Pope Francis, apostles
Pope Francis: The Church is rooted in Apostles but looks to future
After considering the unity, holiness and catholicity of the Church, as defined by the Creed, the Holy Father today addressed her apostolic nature. During the catechesis of the Pope's general audience in St Peter's Square, he stated that “to profess that the Church is apostolic means underlining her constitutive bond with the Apostles, with that small group of twelve men whom Jesus called to Him by name one day, to ask them to stay with Him and to send them to preach. Indeed, 'apostle' is a Greek word meaning 'messenger', 'envoy'. Read More ...

Zimbabwe: Archbishop announces plan for Catholic radio station | The Archbishop of Harare, Right Rev Robert Christopher Ndlovu, Catholic community radio initiative, Zimbabwe, Radio Chiedza
Zimbabwe: Archbishop announces plan for Catholic radio station
The Archbishop of Harare, Right Rev Robert Christopher Ndlovu, has announced the arrival of a Catholic community radio initiative that will start broadcasting once it gets a licence from the government. In a circular to all parish priests, heads of religious congregations and Catholic institutions in the Archdiocese, the Archbishop says the Catholic community radio station, *Radio Chiedza*, is being set up in preparation for the day when community radio stations will be licenced. Read More ...

Support the campaign against human trafficking | Sister Patricia Mulhall, csb, human trafficking
Support the campaign against human trafficking
This Friday, 18 October is European Anti-Human Trafficking Awareness Day Sister Patricia Mulhall, csb invites readers to pray and take part in a number of actions to support the campaign. She writes: Worldwide, 27 million adults and 13 million children are victims of human trafficking around our world. Although human trafficking is often the ‘invisible’ international crime of the 21st century and accurate statistics are difficult to acquire, researchers estimate that more than 80% of victims are female.  Read More ...
Sister Patricia Mulhall, csb

Philippines earthquake: dozens killed, homes, churches destroyed   | earthquake, Philippines, Bohol, Cebu,Negros Oriental, Southern Leyte,Samar
Philippines earthquake: dozens killed, homes, churches destroyed
A magnitude 7.2 earthquake rocked the central Philippines on Tuesday, killing at least 68 people and destroying houses, government buildings, and centuries-old churches. According to the US Geological Survey, the quake's epicenter was under the island province of Bohol. Fatalities and numerous injuries have occurred in both Bohol and Cebu provinces, according to officials. The earthquake was also felt in the island provinces of Negros Oriental, Southern Leyte, and several areas of Leyte and Samar.  Read More ...

Cardinal Bertone retires from office  |  Pope Francis, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone SDB, Archbishop Pietro Parolin,
Cardinal Bertone retires from office
This morning in the Apostolic Palace, Pope Francis visited the staff of the Secretariat of State on the occasion of the end of the mandate of Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone SDB as secretary of State, a role in which he will be succeeded by Archbishop Pietro Parolin, formerly apostolic nuncio to Venezuela. Archbishop Parolin will assume his role within a few weeks as he has had to undergo an operation that prevented him from being present today. “At this moment”, the Pope said, “I wish to share with you all my feelings of gratitude”. Read More ...

Vietnam: faith leaders protest at government clampdown on religion | Vietnam, faith leaders, ‘Concerning the Ordinance on Religion and Belief of 2004 and the 2012 Decree on Directives and Measures for Implementing the Ordinance on Religion and Belief.’ I
Vietnam: faith leaders protest at government clampdown on religion
Representatives from various religious groups in Vietnam issued a statement on 4 October accusing the Vietnamese government of attempting to destroy religions in the country. Religious leaders from the Buddhist, Catholic, Protestant, Hoa Hao Buddhist and Cao Dai are all signatories to the statement, entitled ‘Concerning the Ordinance on Religion and Belief of 2004 and the 2012 Decree on Directives and Measures for Implementing the Ordinance on Religion and Belief.’ In the statement, which is addressed to Vietnamese government officials,  Read More ...

Holy Land: Latin Patriarch in historic meeting with Israeli Tourism Minister | Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem, His Beatitude Fouad Tual, Tourism, Dr Uzi Landau, Holy Land,  Fr George Ayoub, , Fr Humam Khazouz, Fr Michael McDonagh, Fr Pietro Felet, Mr Ramiz Jaraisy,
Holy Land: Latin Patriarch in historic meeting with Israeli Tourism Minister
Yesterday, the Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem met the Tourism Minister of Israel for the first time, to discuss enhanced cooperation on pilgrimage to the Holy Land. Dr Landau said: “This meeting heralds the beginning of enhanced and prolonged cooperation between the ministry and the Catholic Church. Pilgrimage serves as a bridge for peace, bringing together peoples and cultures from around the world.” The Patriarch spoke of a “spirit of authentic cooperation and strong communication. We share a mutual interest in providing hospitality and services for pilgrims  Read More ...

Christians in Jerusalem protest against attacks by settlers | Christians in Jerusalem, protest, attacks by settlers, Mount Zion, Old City, Basilica of the Holy Sepulchre
Christians in Jerusalem protest against attacks by settlers
More than a hundred Christian Jerusalemites walked from the Basilica of the Holy Sepulchre through the streets of the Old City in Jerusalem to the Latin parish cemetery on Mount Zion last Sunday, to protest the frequent desecration of holy sites, and places of worship. The acts of vandalism are believed to be perpetrated by groups of extremist Jewish settlers. The Latin cemetery was vandalized on Tuesday, 1 October, by extremist settlers who sprayed racist graffiti on the walls, in addition to desecrating and damaging the tombs. Read More ...

Pope Francis warns of 'perfect piety' that neglects the poor |  Casa Santa Martha, Pope  Francis, Sign of Jonah, perfect piety
Pope Francis warns of 'perfect piety' that neglects the poor
Pope Francis today warned of 'an attitude of perfect piety' - which looks at the doctrine of salvation but do not care for the poor, during his homily at morning Mass at the Casa Santa Martha today (Monday). Recalling the Gospel reading from Luke, the Pope centred his homily on the 'Sign of Jonah' and how Jesus speaks of a 'wicked generation'. He explained that with these words Jesus was not referring to the people who followed him with love but was 'pinpointing the doctors of the Church that tried to test him and make him fall into a trap '. Read More ...

Fishing communities severely affected by Indian Cyclone | Fr Chitranian Navak, Apostleship of the Sea, Indian Cyclone,Fr Xavier Pinto
Fishing communities severely affected by Indian Cyclone
The fishing communities on the Eastern coast of India have been particularly affected by Cyclone Phailin which struck over the weekend. According to Fr Xavier Pinto of the Apostleship of the Sea, these poor communities who live a precarious existence at the best of times have had their world literally turned upside down. Whilst some 80 fishermen are said to be safe, 18 fishermen were rescued from the Bay of Bengal, some 3,000 mud houses in the area have been either wiped out or damaged. Read More ...

Pope consecrates world to Immaculate Heart of Mary | Pope consecrates world to Immaculate Heart of Mary, Pope Francis
Pope consecrates world to Immaculate Heart of Mary
Pope Francis celebrated Mass in St Peter’s square this morning in honour of the Marian Day, an event organised as part of the Year of Faith on the anniversary of the final apparition of the Blessed Virgin Mary at Fatima which took place on 13 October 1917. He also consecrated the world to the Immaculate Heart of Mary.... 'Considering Mary in the light of the readings we have just heard, I would like to reflect with you on three things: first, God surprises us, second, God asks us to be faithful, and third, God is our strength.' Read More ...

Huge cyclone tears through India | Cyclone Phailin, India, CAFOD
Huge cyclone tears through India
More than a million people in India fled their homes as Cyclone Phailin unleashed a deadly combination of rain, winds and flooding over the weekend. The cyclone was the worst to hit the country in more than a decade and is said to have torn through half the the country with winds of more than 200mph. The tropical storm that hit India in 1999 left 10,000 people dead and 1.6 million homeless, and an eight metre tidal wave swept away homes. Indian officials say they are better prepared this time  Read More ...

Zimbabwe: National Day of Prayer for Peace | Zimbabwe: National Day of Prayer for Peace, Jesuits Communications Zimbabwe
Zimbabwe: National Day of Prayer for Peace
On a warm Spring morning, today, 12 October 2013, Catholics from all over Harare, Zimbabwe, gathered in the Harare Gardens, with many other Christian groups, to take part in a day of prayers for national peace. Jesuits Communications Zimbabwe write on their Facebook group page:They prayed for our land. They prayed for good and righteous citizens. Read More ...