CNS Top Story

CNS Top Stories
  • Nuncio at border Mass prays for an end to barriers that separate people

    IMAGE: CNS/Nancy Wiechec

    By Nancy Wiechec

    NOGALES, Ariz. (CNS) -- The apostolic nuncio to the United States celebrated Mass at the U.S.-Mexico border Oct. 23 offering prayers to break down the barriers that separate people.

    Archbishop Christophe Pierre faced the immense steel border fence in Nogales as he and the bishop of Tucson and the bishop of Mexico's Diocese of Nogales, Sonora, concelebrated the liturgy with people gathered on both sides of the border.

    The nuncio began the prayer of the faithful with a plea for unity.

    "Jesus, we come before you today as your disciples, sometimes filled with fear and doubt, even suspicion," he said. "We pray to dismantle the barriers within our hearts and minds that separate us, who are all members of your body."

    Following his words, young people led the congregation in prayers for "needed immigration reform," for humane treatment of migrants who don't have documents, and for "security and justice for all." They prayed especially for migrant children, "who are vulnerable to exploitation and abuse," and for all who have died in border violence, including border patrol agents, immigrants and innocent victims.

    The Mass was the third such one this year along the U.S.-Mexico border in Arizona. The liturgies were organized by Dioceses Without Borders, an effort of the dioceses of Nogales, Tucson and Phoenix to work collaboratively on issues that affect the church and people in the border region.

    During his homily and afterward in an interview with Catholic News Service, Archbishop Pierre echoed the sentiments of Pope Francis in regard to borders and the care of migrants and refugees, who the archbishop said all too often are looked upon as unwanted and as criminals.

    "Borders exist all over the world, and borders are not bad, but borders should not be just a barrier -- should not be a wall -- but should be a bridge between people," the nuncio said.

    "Anything that goes in the direction of understanding, helping each other, discovering the beauty of the other is what is necessary to covert hearts and transform the world," he said. "It's time to break the obstacles that exist between people."

    To cheers from both sides of the border, Archbishop Pierre ended his homily with, "Viva Cristo Rey! Viva la Virgen de Guadalupe! Viva la iglesia santa!" ("Long live Christ the King! Long live the Virgin of Guadalupe! Long live the holy church!")

    Archbishop Pierre is no stranger to the people of Mexico. He served as nuncio in Mexico for nine years before being appointed as the pope's representative in the U.S. But he said this Mass was his first visit to Nogales, Arizona.

    In what seemed to be a spontaneous moment during the service, five young people ducked under a barrier near the border fence to hold hands and pray the Our Father with those on the other side in Mexico.

    They stayed at the border fence until the sign of peace, offering their hands to those on the other side.

    Carlos Zapien, music director for the Diocese of Tucson, said the special Mass was a statement that "faith can unite people."

    Zapien's original score "Misa de la Misericordia" ("Mass of Mercy") was used in the cross-border liturgy with choirs on both sides participating.

    "Faith and music have no borders," he said.

    Bishop Gerald F. Kicanas of Tucson said he was grateful for to Archbishop Pierre's participation in the service.

    "He represents Pope Francis, whose heart is along the borders of our world, caring for immigrants and refugees," he told CNS.

    "The nuncio's presence is a reminder of our Holy Father's great love for those who are suffering, for those who are in need. So this was a very special celebration here in 'ambos Nogales' ('both Nogaleses') as we pray together across walls united in our prayer for one another."

    Among the hundreds of people that gathered for the border Mass were those that serve the Kino Border Initiative, a bi-national migrant advocacy and service organization.

    Bishop Kicanas expressed his pride in the group and in a group of young people, the Kino Teens, who work with the border initiative.

    "Their enthusiasm, their spirit is a true blessing," he said. "They believe in the Lord. They believe in the church, and to have these young people participating in our Mass here in 'ambos Nogales' was a true blessing."

    - - -

    Follow Wiechec on Twitter: @nancywiechec.

    - - -

    Copyright © 2016 Catholic News Service/U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. All rights reserved. Republishing or redistributing of CNS content, including by framing or similar means without prior permission, is prohibited. You may link to stories on our public site. This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use only. To request permission for republishing or redistributing of CNS content, please contact permissions at

CNS News Briefs

Brief versions on news stories from Catholic News Service. Catholic News Service provides news from the U.S., Rome and around the world in both English and Spanish, in written coverage, images and video reporting.
  • Debate shines spotlight on candidates' views on abortion and more

    WASHINGTON (CNS) -- The final debate between the presidential nominees before Election Day featured testy exchanges about abortion, immigration and gun control. The issues were addressed by Republican nominee Donald Trump and Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton during the Oct. 19 debate in Las Vegas. Trump restated his promise to nominate pro-life justices "of a conservative bent" to the Supreme Court, acknowledging that if the court were to repeal Roe v. Wade, "it will go back to the states and the states will then make a determination." He also denounced late-term abortions. "If you go with what Hillary is saying," Trump said, "in the ninth month, you can take the baby and rip the baby out of the womb of the mother. Just prior to the birth of the baby. You can say that that's OK and Hillary can say that that's OK, but it's not OK with me. "Because based on what she's saying and based on where she's going and where she's been, you can take the baby and rip the baby out of the womb. In the ninth month. On the final day. And that's not acceptable," he said. In her response to moderator Chris Wallace on the issue, Clinton restated her support of the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision that legalized abortion virtually on demand, and she pledged continued support for Planned Parenthood. Official Catholic teaching condemns the intentional killing of the unborn at any time from conception on.

    Poverty not 'a misfortune,' but 'an injustice,' says Peruvian theologian

    IRVING, Texas (CNS) -- Dominican Father Gustavo Gutierrez, a Peruvian theologian and one of the principal founders of liberation theology, told a Dallas audience that "poverty is not a destiny, it's a condition. Poverty is not a misfortune, it's an injustice," he said at an Oct. 21 panel discussion in Irving co-hosted by the University of Dallas School of Ministry and the Dominicans' Southern province. Dallas Auxiliary Bishop Greg Kelly welcomed the more than 500 people who attended the event, and Dominican Father Tom Condon, the province's prior provincial, told the audience, "This night may be a little bit disturbing. "It's a topic that should unsettle us." Father Gutierrez, together with Dr. Paul Farmer, humanitarian physician and founding director of Partners in Health, and Dominican Father Bruno Cadore, master of the Order of Preachers, as the Dominicans are known, spoke of the need to understand poverty. Their conversation was based on the best-selling book "In the Company of the Poor," which was co-written by Farmer and Father Gutierrez with a preface by Father Cadore. "Poverty is not only related to money. There is material poverty, of course, but there's also spiritual poverty, institutional poverty. It's a complex issue," said Farmer during the panel discussion.

    School official says 'synergy' of strategies reason for bigger enrollment

    OMAHA, Neb. (CNS) -- Not just once, but now two years in a row, enrollment in Catholic schools across the Archdiocese of Omaha has grown by hundreds of students. This year's 19,838 preschool through high school students in the archdiocese's 70 schools compares with last year's 19,560 students, a net gain of 278, or 1.4 percent. In 2015-2016, enrollment grew by 366 students, or 1.94 percent, said Patrick Slattery, superintendent of schools. Last year's gain was the first in 17 years. "It's a beautiful synergy of many strategies," Slattery said of likely reasons for the gains. Those strategies include an archdiocesan marketing effort entering its third year -- fueled by the successful "Ignite the Faith" capital campaign -- that includes television and radio commercials, billboards and a website that has links to individual schools and touts the faith, discipline, strong academics and other positive attributes of Catholic schools, Slattery told the Catholic Voice, Omaha's archdiocesan newspaper. The archdiocese offers what it calls Welcome Tuition Grants of $1,000 the first year and $500 the second year for public, private or home-schooled students transferring into archdiocesan schools. Those grants drew 179 new students this year to the 21 schools using them, and archdiocesan funding for new preschools and other programs have helped, Slattery said.

    Venezuelan cardinal-designate has gotten closer to people as situation worsens

    SANTO DOMINGO, Dominican Republic (CNS) -- Cardinal-designate Baltazar Porras Cardozo of Merida, Venezuela, is known throughout his country, and his appointment as a cardinal gave the people something to celebrate, said a woman who has worked with him for 20 years. Mary Alvarez Lobo, the administrative secretary in the Archdiocese of Merida, told Catholic News Service that the cardinal-designate is concerned about the economic and social situation in Venezuela. "There's a lack of food, there's crime, there's not enough medications. It's a serious situation," she told CNS. "He has become closer to the people even as the situation has gotten worse," she added. "People feel, at least, a little hope." Alvarez said the Venezuelan people have turned to the church as the crisis has worsened and Cardinal-designate Porras' appointment "was a blessing for Venezuelans, a moment of light during a very difficult time." Pope Francis announced Oct. 9 that the Merida archbishop would be one of 17 new cardinals consecrated at the Vatican Nov. 19.

    Nuncio at border Mass prays for an end to barriers that separate people

    NOGALES, Ariz. (CNS) -- The apostolic nuncio to the United States celebrated Mass at the U.S.-Mexico border Oct. 23 offering prayers to break down the barriers that separate people. Archbishop Christophe Pierre faced the immense steel border fence in Nogales as he and the bishop of Tucson and the bishop of Mexico's Diocese of Nogales, Sonora, concelebrated the liturgy with people gathered on both sides of the border. The nuncio began the prayer of the faithful with a plea for unity. "Jesus, we come before you today as your disciples, sometimes filled with fear and doubt, even suspicion," he said. "We pray to dismantle the barriers within our hearts and minds that separate us, who are all members of your body." Following his words, young people led the congregation in prayers for "needed immigration reform," for humane treatment of migrants who don't have documents, and for "security and justice for all." They prayed especially for migrant children, "who are vulnerable to exploitation and abuse," and for all who have died in border violence, including border patrol agents, immigrants and innocent victims. The Mass was the third such one this year along the U.S.-Mexico border in Arizona. The liturgies were organized by Dioceses Without Borders, an effort of the dioceses of Nogales, Tucson and Phoenix to work collaboratively on issues that affect the church and people in the border region.

    Irish archbishop: 2018 families meeting to include concrete ideas

    DUBLIN (CNS) -- Archbishop Diarmuid Martin of Dublin said the next World Meeting of Families, which takes place in Ireland in August 2018, would be about developing "concrete ideas for the renewal of marriage and family in our Irish church and society." Archbishop Martin, president of WMF2018, officially launched preparations Oct. 22. The theme chosen by Pope Francis for the World Meeting is "The Gospel of the Family -- Joy for the World." Acknowledging that there is "no such thing as the ideal family," Archbishop Martin said that did not mean "we renounce presenting an ideal, which men and women and young people can aspire to and hope to achieve." In his remarks, he referred to recent comments by Quebec Cardinal Gerald Lacroix, who told Canadian Catholic News in October that he was disappointed over the media's sole focus on the questions of Communion for the divorced and remarried and homosexuality in "Amoris Laetitia," Pope Francis' apostolic exhortation after the Synod of Bishops on the family. Archbishop Martin said "Amoris Laetitia" would provide the framework for the World Meeting of Families. The archbishop said focusing on those issues in an isolated way had resulted in people not seeing the creative pastoral approach that Pope Francis wishes the church to use when dealing with these issues.

    Knights of Columbus urges U.S. Catholics to pray novena ahead of election

    NEW HAVEN, Conn. (CNS) -- The Knights of Columbus is urging its members and other U.S. Catholics to pray a novena from Oct. 30 to Nov. 7, the eve of Election Day."The church teaches that Catholics are called to form their consciences based on church teaching and vote in accordance with that well-formed conscience," said Supreme Knight Carl Anderson, who is CEO of the international fraternal organization based in New Haven. "Pope Francis has said in reference to the U.S. election that we should 'study the proposals well, pray and choose with your conscience,' and this novena is designed to help Catholic Americans do that," Anderson said in a statement. The Knights' novena -- nine consecutive days of prayer -- asks the intercession of Mary, the mother of Jesus, under her title of the Immaculate Conception. Individuals, families, councils and parishes are all invited to participate, the Knights said. Mary Immaculate is the patroness of the United States. The text of the novena prayer can be found at

    People rigidly bound to the law often live double life, pope says

    VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- People rigidly bound to the law suffer pain, pride and often live a double life, Pope Francis said in a morning homily. God's law was made not "to make us slaves but to make us free, to make us children" of God, he said in his homily during Mass at Domus Sanctae Marthae Oct. 24. The pope looked at the day's Gospel reading from St. Luke (13:10-17) in which the leader of a synagogue is furious that Jesus heals a woman on the Sabbath. Jesus calls the religious leader a hypocrite because there is no problem releasing livestock from their ties for water on holy days, but it is considered wrong to release a woman from the chains of Satan. The pope said that in the Gospel Jesus often accuses those who rigidly adhere to the law as being hypocrites; they are not free children of God, but "are slaves of the law." Behind this inflexibility, he said, "there is always something else. And that is why Jesus says, 'Hypocrites!'" There is something "hidden" in that person's life, "in many cases a double life, but there is also some kind of illness," he said. Inflexibility is not a gift of God, he said. "Meekness, yes, benevolence, yes, forgiveness, yes, But rigidity, no."

    Maintaining identity, Eastern Catholics help whole church, bishops say

    VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Eastern Catholic migrants living in Western Europe help the Catholic Church become more aware of its universality and diversity and, by remaining active in their faith, can help with the new evangelization of the continent, Eastern Catholic bishops said. Meeting in Fatima, Portugal, Oct. 20-23, the Eastern Catholic bishops of Europe examined "the challenges of the pastoral care of the Eastern Catholic faithful who migrate to Western countries and, often, to places where they find themselves without their own pastors," according to a statement. The Ukrainian Catholic, Maronite, Chaldean and Armenian Catholic Churches have bishops in Europe. The Fatima meeting brought together 57 bishops, including Latin-rite bishops representing the bishops' conferences of France, Germany, Italy and Portugal. Cardinal Leonardo Sandri, prefect of the Congregation for Eastern Churches, and Melkite Patriarch Gregoire III Laham also attended. Thanking Latin-rite bishops and priests who have made provisions for the pastoral care of Eastern-rite immigrants, the bishops called for greater efforts to educate Latin clergy about Eastern liturgy and traditions. They also promised better education and preparation for the Eastern priests they will send to Western Europe to minister to their own faithful.

    Manila Archdiocese launches drug rehab program emphasizing healing

    MANILA, Philippines (CNS) -- The Archdiocese of Manila officially launched a drug rehabilitation program Oct. 23, with a heavy emphasis on spiritual formation in the wake of the Philippine government's war on drugs. Father Roberto De La Cruz, head of the restorative justice program at Caritas Manila, told Catholic News Service church officials became most aware of the magnitude of the drug problem in the Philippines capital region after President Rodrigo Duterte was newly elected in May. Officials say that, since June 30, more than 3,000 drug suspects have been killed and at least 700,000 suspected addicts and dealers turn themselves in to authorities. Father De La Cruz said as the numbers surged, Cardinal Tagle asked his office to look into programs that would help the addicted, most of whom come from some of the poorest neighborhoods in the archdiocese. The priest said his office, working with law enforcement officials, came up with a proposal that approached addiction as not just a medical problem, but also a spiritual one that affects society in general. Sanlakbay incorporates spiritual formation, counseling, work skills training, arts and cultural outlets and sports activities into a parish-based rehabilitation program. Father De La Cruz said this should take place over a six-month period, after which the former addicts would be expected to "integrate into church life." Father De La Cruz said the program is designed specifically for those who surrender, whether to the church or to law enforcement. He said to discourage addicts from simply seeking sanctuary in a church, the program encourages them to turn themselves in to the village captains or heads of their neighborhood associations. Father De La Cruz said ideally the village captain would then turn the addict over to authorities, and the addict would start church-based rehab.

    Pope tells Jesuits to walk to peripheries, be open to future

    ROME (CNS) -- Pope Francis, speaking both as pope and a Jesuit, asked members of the Society of Jesus to continue to journey to where Christ is most needed, and always ask God for consolation, compassion and help in discernment. The Jesuits aim to "move forward, overcoming the impediments which the enemy of human nature puts in our way when, in serving God, we are seeking the greater good," the pope told more than 200 Jesuits chosen to represent the more than 16,000 Jesuits at the order's general congregation. Given that the Society of Jesus' way of proceeding for "the greater good is accomplished through joy, the cross and through the church, our mother," the pope said he wished to help revive its zeal for mission by reflecting on those three points. Instead of the usual custom of general congregation delegates going to the Vatican to meet the pope, Pope Francis went to the Jesuits' Rome headquarters Oct. 24 to meet them. He was greeted by Venezuelan Father Arturo Sosa, who was elected superior general of the order Oct. 14, as well as by other members. He spent more than three hours at the headquarters, including time devoted to a "private conversation," according to the Vatican press office.

    Dialogue is expression of mercy, respect, love, pope says

    VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Dialogue is an essential component of mercy because it is the only way a husband and wife can understand each other, people of different religions can live in peace and the only way the Catholic Church can evaluate what is needed to promote the common good in the world, Pope Francis said. Good relations between husbands and wives, parents and children, employees and bosses, he said, require one "to listen, explain with meekness, don't bark at the other, don't yell, but have an open heart." Pope Francis spoke about the importance of dialogue and marked the feast of St. John Paul II Oct. 22 with a special Year of Mercy general audience in and around St. Peter's Square. With about 100,000 people in attendance, according to Vatican police, the crowd overflowed the square. Making his rounds in the popemobile at the beginning of the audience, Pope Francis made sure to drive part way down the main boulevard outside the square to greet people. In his main audience talk, Pope Francis said dialogue is an important aspect of mercy; it is what "allows people to know each other and understand the needs of the other." In addition, "it is a sign of great respect," because it involves listening to the other and making the effort to see the good in what the other is saying. "Dialogue calls us to place ourselves before the other, seeing him or her as a gift of God," the pope said.

    Pope expresses shock over cruelty waged against innocent Iraqis

    VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- As a military operation in northern Iraq fights to wrest control of areas held by retaliating Islamic State forces, Pope Francis criticized the "cruelty" and heinous violence waged against innocent civilians. He invited people to pray with him, asking that "Iraq, while gravely stricken, might be both strong and firm in the hope of moving toward a future of security, reconciliation and peace." Speaking to visitors in St. Peter's Square Oct. 23 for the Angelus prayer, the pope said, "In these dramatic hours, I am close to the entire population of Iraq, especially that of the city of Mosul. Our hearts are shocked by the heinous acts of violence that for too long have been perpetrated against innocent citizens, whether they be Muslims, whether they be Christians, or people belonging to other ethnic groups and religions." He said he was "saddened to hear news of the killing, in cold blood, of many sons and daughters of that beloved land, including many children; this cruelty makes us weep, leaving us without words."

    - - -

    Copyright © 2016 Catholic News Service/U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. All rights reserved. Republishing or redistributing of CNS content, including by framing or similar means without prior permission, is prohibited. You may link to stories on our public site. This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use only. To request permission for republishing or redistributing of CNS content, please contact permissions at

  • Gloves come off at 71st annual Al Smith Dinner in New York

    NEW YORK (CNS) -- When Donald J. Trump stepped over yet another invisible line of the contentious presidential race Oct. 20, many of the 1,500 people listening to him at 71st annual dinner of the Alfred E. Smith Memorial Foundation broke historic precedent to boo him. Candidates Trump and Hillary Clinton flanked the host, Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan of New York, on the five-tiered dais of the Grand Ballroom at the heavily secured Waldorf Astoria hotel for the charitable gala. The event has been a traditional opportunity for speakers to poke good-natured fun at themselves, one another, and prominent guests from the worlds of politics, business and philanthropy without inflicting wounds. In 1928, Alfred E. Smith, former governor of New York who was raised in poverty, was the first Catholic nominated by a major political party to run for president of the United States. Emcee Alfred E. Smith IV, chairman of the dinner and a great-grandson of the foundation's namesake, aimed jokes equally at both candidates and reflected the general discomfort of the electorate with them. He told Trump to watch his language because "even though the man sitting next to you is in a robe, you're not in a locker room." He advised Clinton to remain stoic in the face of insults during the evening by considering it a fourth debate.

    Memphis bishop urges new flock to 'love others as Jesus has loved us'

    MEMPHIS, Tenn. (CNS) -- Bishop Martin D. Holley, a former auxiliary bishop of Washington, was installed Oct. 19 as the fifth bishop of the Diocese of Memphis. "With faith in our Lord Jesus Christ, and with the love of God in my heart, I do accept the pastoral care of the people of God in the Diocese of Memphis," declared Bishop Holley after the papal mandate appointing him to Memphis was read. "I resolve to faithfully serve the church in this diocese." After making his pronouncement, Bishop Holley was presented with a crosier, his shepherd's staff, and escorted to his cathedra, his bishop's chair -- the symbols of his authority. The crowd of nearly 3,000 who attended the Mass burst into cheers and gave a standing ovation as the new bishop of Memphis assumed his post. He was then welcomed by representatives of his new diocese, and by members of other faiths in the city of Memphis. In his first homily to his new flock, Bishop Holley urged them to "love others as Jesus has loved us. In God's love, we find the fullness of grace, life, peace and joy," he said. The solemn installation of Bishop Holley was celebrated in Memphis' Cook Convention Center to accommodate the large numbers who attended the liturgy.

    Heavy damage makes assessment tough after Haima slams Philippines

    TOKYO (CNS) -- Heavy damage was reported to homes and farm land in the northern Philippines Oct. 20 after the strongest storm in three years struck overnight. Typhoon Haima barreled into northern Cagayan and Isabella provinces, ripping the roofs off homes and flattening crops. By late Oct. 21, 13 people had been reported dead, and Haima hit southern China. Nearly every building in the city of Tuguegarao was damaged, Philippine media quoted officials as saying. The city's communication links were down Oct. 20, and phone calls to the archdiocesan office in Tuguegarao did not connect. Across the district, many roads were flooded or blocked by fallen trees. Aid groups said the disruption made it difficult to assess the extent of damage, with one aid official calling it "a communications black hole." Thousands of people in neighboring Isabella province spent the night sheltering in public evacuation centers such as schools and churches. "Most of the time, the churches serve as evacuation centers if the government evacuation centers cannot accommodate some of the people," April Ann Abello-Bulanadi, a spokeswoman for Catholic aid group Caritas Philippines, said by phone from Manila.

    For expectant parents, miscarriage can be 'loss of a dream'

    CLARKSVILLE, Tenn. (CNS) -- Immaculate Conception parishioners Kayla and Matt Boesch had planned to welcome their first baby this fall. Instead, they will be visiting the cemetery plot where they buried their baby's remains last spring. When Kayla suffered a miscarriage around the 11-week mark of her pregnancy, she and her husband were devastated, but determined to honor the life that existed, however briefly, inside of her. During National Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month, observed each October, the Boesches shared their story to help break the silence that often surrounds miscarriage. Miscarriage, the loss of a pregnancy during the first 20 weeks of gestation, occurs in about 10 to 20 percent of all known pregnancies, and the vast majority of these are early term miscarriages, occurring before 13 weeks. Often, women who experience a miscarriage unjustly feel ashamed and don't speak up or reach out, Kayla Boesch told the Tennessee Register, newspaper of the Nashville Diocese. "It's like this quiet, private, sad group."

    Once Iraq recaptures Mosul, people will still need help, says archbishop

    WASHINGTON (CNS) -- The military operation to liberate the Iraqi city of Mosul from the Islamic State group is not the only solution needed to get life back to normal, said Iraqi Archbishop Bashar Warda of Irbil. The Chaldean Catholic archbishop, who has called for such intervention in the past, said the solution was a package. People must "think again about the education, about the curriculum, about all the violent acts that happened during the last years. Where is the possibility of creating, of building bridges of reconciliation among the divided community?" he asked. Archbishop Warda spoke to Catholic News Service Oct. 20, the fourth day of the U.S.-backed operation in which Iraqi and Kurdish forces fought to free Mosul, Iraq's second-largest city, from Islamic State. He said troops would not find any Christians in and around Mosul, because they fled in 2014, when Islamic State militants gave them a choice to convert to Islam, pay the Islamic jizya tax, or be killed. Many of those Christians fled to Irbil, where the church has been caring for them. Just within the city, the Irbil Archdiocese is providing housing to more than 10,000 internally displaced families, but many more live in trailers or open buildings.

    Bishops to vote for USCCB president, vice president at general assembly

    WASHINGTON (CNS) -- U.S. bishops are scheduled to elect the next president and vice president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops at their upcoming fall general assembly taking place Nov. 14-16 in Baltimore. Each office is elected from a slate of 10 candidates who have been nominated by their fellow bishops. Released by the USCCB, the slate of candidates for president and vice president are as follows: Archbishop Gregory M. Aymond of New Orleans, Archbishop Charles J. Chaput of Philadelphia, Archbishop Paul S. Coakley of Oklahoma City, Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo of Galveston-Houston, Bishop Daniel E. Flores of Brownsville, Texas, Archbishop Jose H. Gomez of Los Angeles, Archbishop William E. Lori of Baltimore, Archbishop Allen H. Vigneron of Detroit, Archbishop Thomas G. Wenski of Miami and Archbishop John C. Wester of Santa Fe, New Mexico. The president and vice president are elected to three-year terms, which begin at the conclusion of the general assembly. The current president, Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz of Louisville, Kentucky, and the current vice president, Cardinal DiNardo, will complete their terms.

    Fighting over liturgy distorts purpose of Mass, papal liturgist says

    VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- When a choir director and parish priest differ over liturgical music, the choir should follow in good faith the wishes of the priest for the sake of unity, said the papal liturgist. When it comes to celebrating the liturgy, "we should never fight," Msgr. Guido Marini told choir members, directors and priests. "Otherwise, we distort the very nature" of what the people of God should be doing during the Mass, which is seeking to be "one body before the Lord." The papal master of liturgical ceremonies spoke Oct. 21 at a conference opening a three-day jubilee for choirs. Hundreds of people involved in providing music for the liturgical celebrations in Italian dioceses and parishes -- such as singers, organists and musicians -- attended, as did directors of diocesan liturgy offices and schools of sacred music. During a brief question-and-answer period after his talk on the role of the choir, a participant asked Msgr. Marini what she termed "an uncomfortable, practical question. Many times, in our parishes, the priest wants the choir to perform songs that are inappropriate, both because of the text" and because of the moment the song is to be performed during the service, she said.

    Pope Francis an honored guest of National Park Service during his visit

    WASHINGTON (CNS) -- As members of the National Park Service observe the organization's centennial in 2016, they affectionately recall one of their most celebrated guests of honor -- Pope Francis. In addition to awe-inspiring parks such as the Grand Canyon, Yosemite and Glacier, some of the United States' most iconic sites also are a part of the National Park Service, including the White House and Independence Hall, both of which were on the pope's itinerary during his 2015 U.S. apostolic journey. Pope Francis was the third consecutive pope to visit the White House. "Many people don't realize that the White House is a national park," said Kathy Kupper, a Park Service spokeswoman based in Washington. "So, it's an image that has become pretty customary when we think of the head of the Catholic Church visiting our country."

    Papal summer residence opens to the public for the first time

    CASTEL GANDOLFO, Italy (CNS) -- Pope Francis is throwing open the doors to the papal apartment -- including the bedroom where popes have slept -- in the Apostolic Palace at Castel Gandolfo. The palace was for centuries the summer residence of the Roman pontiffs, but Pope Francis has decided not to use it. Instead in 2014, he opened the palace gardens to the public and last year opened a portion of the Apostolic Palace as a portrait gallery. Pope Francis "wanted this place -- so rich in history and so significant -- to be a gift for the people," Antonio Paolucci, director of the Vatican Museums, said Oct. 20 at the grand opening of the papal apartment. "Whoever passes through the gate of the Apostolic Palace of Castel Gandolfo will find pure beauty," Paolucci said. Among the rooms open now to the public are the Room of the Throne, the Consistory Room, the pope's bedroom and private study.

    Christian thinkers call for a politics of 'localism'

    ROME (CNS) -- Early in the 2016 presidential campaign, Donald Trump and then-candidate Bernie Sanders were called "populist," but neither represented a viable form of populist politics because theirs was "all fury and no love," said a speaker at a recent academic conference. The sixth annual Front Porch Republic conference at the University of Notre Dame was not affiliated with any political party or religious group, but attracted many Christians who want to revitalize a local community culture in an effort to stave off what Pope Francis has termed a "globalization of indifference." Bill Kauffman, a political writer who spoke about "Populism and Place" at the conference in early October, told Catholic News Service in Rome that a healthy political culture must focus on the local community -- something that no major candidate today is doing. "Any healthy populism has to be grounded in the particular, in the love of one's neighbors, of one's town, of one's community, and it's a defense of that community, of those neighbors, against remote rule," Kauffman explained.

    Two popes, one mission: Cardinal looks at papal ministry

    VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Although with different personalities and different tones, the papacies of both Pope Francis and retired Pope Benedict XVI focus on proclaiming the Gospel in a world that seems to confuse truth and lies, goodness and evil, said Cardinal Gerhard Muller. A new book, "Benedict and Francis: Successors of Peter at the Service of the Church," available only in Italian, collects essays written by the cardinal, who was named prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith by Pope Benedict and continues in the role under Pope Francis. A key sign that both popes see the Gospel as the answer to an increasingly confused humanity, Cardinal Muller wrote, is the repeated condemnations of what Pope Benedict defined as the "dictatorship of relativism" and what Pope Francis describes as the "globalization of indifference. The challenge for the hierarchy and all members of the church consists in resisting these worldly infections and in curing the spiritual illnesses of our time," the cardinal wrote.

    For vocations, one must go out, listen, call, pope says

    VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- In its ministry to young people, and especially in vocations promotion work, church workers must step out of the sacristy and take seriously the questions and concerns of the young, Pope Francis said. Young people are searching for meaning, and the best response is to go out to where they are, stop and listen to them and then call them to follow Jesus, the pope said Oct. 21. Meeting participants at a vocations promotion conference sponsored by the Congregation for Clergy, Pope Francis emphasized the need for church workers to be on the move and to echo the vocations call Jesus used with the disciples, "Follow me." "Jesus' desire is to set people out on a journey, moving them from a lethal sedentary lifestyle and breaking through the illusion that they can live happily while remaining comfortably seated amid their certainties," Pope Francis said. The seeking and desire to explore that comes naturally to most young people "is the treasure that the Lord puts in our hands and that we must care for, cultivate and make blossom," the pope said.

    - - -

    Copyright © 2016 Catholic News Service/U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. All rights reserved. Republishing or redistributing of CNS content, including by framing or similar means without prior permission, is prohibited. You may link to stories on our public site. This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use only. To request permission for republishing or redistributing of CNS content, please contact permissions at

  • 'Today' show's Roker credits Catholic schools for success in life, career

    SIOUX CITY, Iowa (CNS) -- Al Roker, weather and feature anchor on NBC's "Today" show, told a Sioux City Catholic audience that he owes his success in life and his career to the Catholic education he received growing up. "I am standing here today, as the 'Today' show weatherman, because of what I learned at Xavier High School," Roker said. "My Jesuit priests, my Jesuit teachers taught us to be curious, taught us to be free thinkers, to be compassionate and they also instilled an interest in the arts." Roker received a full scholarship to Xavier High School, "a Jesuit military academy," in Manhattan, he quipped during his keynote speech at the Sioux City Diocese's annual fundraiser for Catholic schools in late September. Though he doesn't speak at many events, Roker said speaking at the Bishop's Dinner for Catholic Schools meant something to him. "Support for Catholic schools is very important. If you can do something to help, that's a good thing. I am thrilled to be here." Roker is the oldest of six children who grew up in the New York borough of Queens. His father was a bus driver and his mother was a homemaker. He attended St. Catherine of Siena Elementary School in Queens. "We moved from Brooklyn to Queens because my parents wanted us to have a home and a good education," said Roker. "After six months in the public schools, they decided they wanted us to go to a Catholic school. At the time, it was my brother, myself and two sisters."

    Archdiocese, evangelicals agree to work together to prevent abortion

    PORTLAND, Ore. (CNS) -- The Archdiocese of Portland and a group of five evangelical-run pregnancy resource centers have bracketed off some doctrinal differences, so the two faith groups can cooperate more fully in preventing abortion and helping pregnant women. First Image, which runs pregnancy resource centers in the Portland area, has been providing pregnancy support for women and help for those impacted by abortion for more than 30 years. The signing of an agreement opens the doors for Catholics to provide funds to support the work of First Image. In particular, the agreement will help provide four new ultrasound machines to First Image pregnancy centers through the Knights of Columbus Ultrasound Initiative. In the past, such cooperation has been impeded by doctrinal differences. First Image is affiliated with Care Net, a Virginia-based evangelical Christian group that supports 1,100 centers in the United States. Care Net affiliates require staff and volunteers to sign an evangelical statement of faith. That statement is not completely in accord with Catholic teaching and has been an obstacle for Catholic volunteers who want to assist at the centers. Evangelicals and Catholics differ greatly on many subjects, such as the authority of the church, the importance of liturgy, the nature of the priesthood and the structure of church hierarchy.

    World War II chaplain's remains laid to rest in Dubuque Archdiocese

    DUBUQUE, Iowa (CNS) -- American flags whipped in the wind and people lined the nearby streets as the motorcade transporting the remains of Father Aloysius Schmitt, a World War II Navy chaplain, made its way to the Loras College campus in Dubuque. Nearly 75 years after his death at Pearl Harbor, Father Schmitt was coming home to his alma mater to be laid to rest. Father Schmitt, a native of St. Lucas and a 1932 graduate of Loras College, was the first U.S. chaplain killed during World War II. In September, the military announced that Father Schmitt's remains had been identified and would be returned to Iowa. Upon the formal reception of his remains at Loras Oct. 7, a vigil was held for Father Schmitt at Christ the King Chapel on the campus of the Catholic college. Dubuque Archbishop Michael O. Jackels led those who gathered at the midafternoon prayer service. Two other prayer services were held later that evening. The following morning, Oct. 8, members of the Schmitt family, priests of the Archdiocese of Dubuque, veterans and representatives of the U.S. military, and members of the Loras College and Dubuque and St. Lucas communities came together at Christ the King for Father Schmitt's funeral Mass.

    Catholic log chapel is Grand Teton wonder that 'evangelizes,' says deacon

    GRAND TETON NATIONAL PARK, Wyo. (CNS) -- Mary Morris was lured to the Chapel of the Sacred Heart inside of the national park by a small wooden road sign. "I didn't know the chapel was here," the Hampshire, Illinois, resident told Catholic News Service in August during a visit to Wyoming's popular national park. "I just happened to see the sign and stopped in." Morris had been camping in Yellowstone when she made the drive south to Grand Teton National Park. She walked through the chapel door, made the sign of the cross, signed a guestbook and ducked into a pew to pray. Afterward, she said the beauty of chapel in the Tetons made her feel grateful. "I just came in here to say a little prayer of thanksgiving for everything." The chapel's all-log construction is in character with the mountain environment.

    The beauty of Grand Teton National Park is 'it belongs to the people'

    MOOSE, Wyo. (CNS) -- Shirley Craighead knows a thing or two about grizzly bears. She and the bears live in the same place. "I live here and love it!" Craighead emphatically told Catholic News Service in her home in Moose, just shy of the Teton Range in Grand Teton National Park. "It's a rare day that I don't get up and say, 'God, what am I doing here? How did I ever get here, to live here?'" In her house, she has knickknacks featuring bears, pictures of bears and even a pair of salt and pepper shakers in the shape of bears. Beside the shoes at her doorway, lie cans of bear spray, a deterrent for use against aggressive bears. Shirley came to know a lot about grizzlies and other wildlife from her late husband, Frank Craighead, and his twin brother, John, who died this past September at age 100. As researchers and conservationists, the Craighead brothers are known for their studies of the greater Yellowstone area. "They did the original study on grizzly bears and developed the radio tracking that is used commonly nowadays," she said. The tracking innovation has been used by scientists for decades, helping humans understand animal migration and the systems in which they live.

    Listecki: Anti-Catholicism 'equal opportunity prejudice' in campaign

    MILWAUKEE (CNS) -- Milwaukee Archbishop Jerome E. Listecki called anti-Catholicism "an equal opportunity prejudice" evident in the presidential election. Quoting historian Arthur Schlesinger Sr., he noted the campaigns of Republican Donald Trump and Democrat Hillary Clinton have engaged in "the deepest held bias in the history of the American people." Writing in his "Herald of Hope" column in the Oct. 20 Catholic Herald, a publication serving the Catholic community in southeastern Wisconsin, the archbishop said Trump's criticism of Pope Francis last February "smacked of 'nativism' and a demeaning of the Catholic faith." The candidate's comments were a response to the pope saying, "A person who thinks only about building walls, wherever they may be, and not building bridges, is not Christian." Regarding the Clinton campaign, Archbishop Listecki said emails released by WikiLeaks and allegedly hacked from the server of a top aide to Clinton "indicate how high-ranking members of the Clinton campaign view the Catholic Church. These are close advisers who think that Catholics are unthinking and backward."

    Central African Republic clergy: Cardinal will continue to unite people

    OXFORD, England (CNS) -- Clergy in the Central African Republic say their first cardinal will continue to work to reunite the country after years of civil war and speak up for the continent's poor. Cardinal-designate Dieudonne Nzapalainga of Bangui is "already highly active in the peace process here, and his nomination will lead more people to follow his advice," Bishop Nestor-Desire Nongo-Aziagbia of Bossangoa, vice president of the Central Africa Republic bishops' conference, told Catholic News Service. "He'll also be in a better position now to mobilize the international community to alleviate the plight of the poor." Bishop Nongo-Aziagbia described the new cardinal-designate as "a straightforward person, who shows great determination once he's convinced about a particular course of action. He knows where's he's heading and keeps moving forward, even when he encounters difficulties and obstacles," the bishop said. The Bangui archbishop will be one of 17 new cardinals Pope Francis will consecrate Nov. 19 at the Vatican. At age 49, he also will be the church's youngest cardinal.

    Jesuit church no longer open for talks on South African university crisis

    CAPE TOWN, South Africa (CNS) -- After chaos broke out in a Catholic church as it hosted a meeting to resolve a university crisis, South Africa's Jesuits said the church would no longer be open for these talks. The "safe and neutral space" of Holy Trinity Church in Johannesburg "has been violated by those who declared God's house to be exclusively theirs," Father David Rowan, regional superior of the Jesuits in South Africa, said in an Oct. 20 statement. Adam Habib, vice chancellor and principal of the University of the Witwatersrand, slipped out of a back door after angry students objected to his presence at the Oct. 19 meeting. Students in the church said Habib should have been arrested, instead of student activist Mcebo Dlamini, who faces charges of public violence, theft, assault and malicious damage to property. The Jesuit statement said the dialogue at the church "was part of an ongoing attempt to find a peaceful solution to the current crisis at the university."

    Vatican raffle to benefit earthquake victims in central Italy

    VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Along with the Christmas-tree lighting ceremony and the unveiling of the Nativity creche, Pope Francis' raffle to benefit those in need is becoming an annual holiday tradition at the Vatican. For 10 euros -- about $11 -- one lucky winner will win the first prize: a red Opel Karl, a German-made, five-door hatchback car. Announcing the raffle Oct. 20, the Vatican said that for the first time, tickets also will be available for purchase online. Previously, people hoping to nab a prize could purchase tickets only at the Vatican post office or pharmacy. The proceeds of the raffles go directly to charitable causes chosen by the pope; this year's raffle will benefit victims of the devastating earthquake that struck central Italy Aug. 24 and to the homeless. "To this end, he personally donated some of the prizes," said a statement from the Vatican City State governor's office.

    Religious called to be prophets of communion, pope says

    VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Religious orders must harness the only power the matters: the power to communicate concretely the love and mercy of God, Pope Francis told members of the Augustinian Recollects. "We can respond to the needs of each person with the same love with which God has loved us," Pope Francis said Oct. 20 during a meeting with members of the general chapter of the men's order. "Many people are hoping that we will go out to meet them and that we would look at them with the same tenderness that we experienced and received from our dealings with God," the pope said. "This is the power we have, not the power of our own ideas and projects, but the strength of his mercy, which transforms and gives life." The stronger the community life of the order, the pope said, the greater strength its members will have in teaching the world the importance of a communion that values each individual and finds them a place in the group. "In a special way at this time, we are asked to be 'creators of communion,'" the pope said. "With our presence in the midst of the world, we are called to create a society capable of recognizing the dignity of each person and of sharing the gift that each one is for the other."

    Catechism not enough to know Christ; need prayer, too, pope says

    VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- To truly know Jesus, reading the Bible and studying the catechism are not enough, Pope Francis said in a morning homily. Prayer, silent adoration and recognizing one's sinfulness also are needed to grasp the mystery of Christ and the immensity of his love, the pope said in his homily during Mass at Domus Sanctae Marthae Oct. 20. How is it possible to comprehend the breadth and depth of Christ's love, which surpasses all knowledge? the pope asked. "Christ is present in the Gospel (so) by reading the Gospel we know Christ," he said, and people learn more about who Christ is by attending religious education classes. "But this isn't enough," he said. It's also necessary to immerse oneself in prayer, on one's knees, invoking the Holy Spirit for Christ to dwell in one's heart. Adoration is also necessary, he said, adding that this practice of silently sitting before the Lord, in adoration of his lordship and mystery, is perhaps not very well known or followed by many people.

    Sorrow and joy: Marking the Reformation with honesty about the past

    VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- As Catholics and Lutherans prepare to mark the 500th anniversary of the start of the Protestant Reformation, Pope Francis said they should feel "pain for the division that still exists among us, but also joy for the brotherhood we have already rediscovered." The pope will travel to Lund, Sweden, Oct. 31, to participate in an ecumenical prayer service launching a year of anniversary activities. Lutherans mark Oct. 31 as Reformation Day, honoring Martin Luther, who was a Catholic priest in 1517 when he began the process that became the Protestant Reformation. His "95 Theses" were a list of topics on which, Luther believed, the Catholic Church needed to reform. Asserting that faith, not deeds, leads to salvation, many items on the list were triggered by the "selling" of indulgences, a practice the Council of Trent later banned. The Catholic Church believes that Christ and the saints have accumulated a treasure of merits, which other believers -- who are prayerful and repentant -- can draw upon to reduce or erase the punishment they are due because of sins they have committed. Colloquially, an indulgence is described as a promise of reduced time in purgatory. While making money from indulgences was a spark, the heart of the Reformation became different understandings of justification, or how people are made righteous in the eyes of God and saved. In 1999, after years of theological study, discussion and review, a joint declaration on justification was finalized and signed. It said Lutherans and Catholics agree that justification and salvation are totally free gifts of God and cannot be earned by performing good works, but rather must be reflected in good works.

    - - -

    Copyright © 2016 Catholic News Service/U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. All rights reserved. Republishing or redistributing of CNS content, including by framing or similar means without prior permission, is prohibited. You may link to stories on our public site. This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use only. To request permission for republishing or redistributing of CNS content, please contact permissions at

  • Tennessee Catholic parish gets energy from nearby national park

    GATLINBURG, Tenn. (CNS) -- When Huntsville, Alabama, resident Patrick Eads prepared to take his family on a trip to the Great Smoky Mountain National Park last August, he made sure to pack necessary vacation items, which included the address to the nearest Catholic church. Eads and his wife, Rachael, made the 250-mile drive to Gatlinburg with their 1-year-old son to experience nature's glory. Rachael, noticeably pregnant, eagerly joined her husband and son on the long hikes along the Appalachian Trail to find the best views of the mountains and said the majestic vistas, the sounds of the summer insects, the feel of the warm sun on her face and the scent of the wildflowers growing along their route, energized her. After a day of navigating the Smokies, Patrick was feeling the need for spiritual nourishment, so the lanky, bearded redhead packed up his family and headed to St. Mary's Catholic Church in Gatlinburg for the 7 p.m. Saturday Mass. A Google search before leaving home helped him locate the parish and he was thrilled that it was conveniently located near the town's main strip. The Eads are among thousands of visitors who cross St. Mary's threshold each year and they are a driving force in the 81-year-old parish, said Carmelite Father Antony Punnackal, pastor of the church. St. Mary's can seat 525 people if the church staff opens up its parish hall and daily chapel, both of which can be exposed to the main altar. But, it's not unusual for 800 people to attend a Mass during the peak park visiting times, Father Punnackal told Catholic News Service.

    Mercy is bridge to encounter with Christ, transforms world, says bishop

    JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (CNS) -- The Jubilee Year of Mercy will conclude Nov. 20, but the Catholic Church's renewed emphasis on mercy must not. "If it does come to an end, shame on us!" Bishop Edward M. Rice of Springfield-Cape Girardeau proclaimed from the ornate dais of the House chamber in the Missouri Capitol. Bishop Rice addressed 400 Catholics from all over the state at the Missouri Catholic Conference's annual assembly. The Oct. 8 assembly's theme, borrowed from Pope Francis, was: "A little bit of mercy makes the world less cold and more just." The pope has described mercy as "being loved forever despite our sinfulness" and as "not getting what you deserve."

    Hip-hop artist says youths must work as hard at faith as other pursuits

    CHICAGO (CNS) -- A Catholic hip-hop artist told a crowd of youths gathered for Holy Fire in Chicago that they need to work as hard at their faith life as they do at sports or other pursuits. Wearing a jersey with "believer" written across the back, Joe Melendrez said when he was little, he wanted Air Jordan shoes because he wanted to "be like Mike. Nobody ever told me I was too young to be like Michael Jordan," he told the cheering sixth-graders through ninth-graders. "They said, 'Go for it.' It's the same with your faith. Chicago, it's time to stop saying, 'I'm too young to have faith.' Don't let anybody tell you you're too young." More than 5,000 young people got the chance to dance and laugh and pray and worship, all in the context of deepening their faith, at Holy Fire at the UIC Pavilion arena on the West Side of Chicago. The first-time event featured faith-based music in genres from pop to hip-hop, complete with pounding bass and room for participants to dance in front of the stage. Holy Fire took place Oct. 14 and the daylong program was repeated Oct. 15 to accommodate more middle-school students, which were the target audience. Attendance topped 2,500 each day.

    In Turkey, Iraqi Christians waiting for resettlement live in limbo

    ISTANBUL (CNS) -- Yako Hanna, 36, always keeps an eye on his phone waiting for a call that would change his life. "Anytime it rings, you think it is the U.N., so you have to be careful. Even if you go to the bathroom, you have to take your mobile with you," Hanna said, referring to the call he might receive from the U.N. refugee agency, UNHCR, which is handling his resettlement application to Australia, where he has relatives. Hanna is one of the thousands of Iraqi Christians that are in Turkey waiting, from a few months to a few years, for an answer to their resettlement applications to Western countries. They are waiting for an appointment or a visa, a document that will allow them to restart their lives in a new country. And not knowing when that will happen is leading them to live a life in limbo. Hanna grew up in a Chaldean Catholic family in the al-Dora district of Baghdad. The memories from his childhood include summer picnics, soccer games and other activities organized by his neighborhood church, St. Jacob.

    Leaked emails show 'hostility' to Catholic Church, some say

    WASHINGTON (CNS) -- Emails released by WikiLeaks and allegedly hacked from the server of a top aide to Hillary Clinton have ignited a fierce exchange over the tone and content of the messages. Those weighing in include the president of the U.S. bishops' conference and a Catholic adviser to the Donald Trump campaign. One of the leaked email chains criticized Catholics described as conservative for being "attracted to the systematic thought and severely backwards gender relations" of the Catholic Church. Another chain suggested using contraception as a wedge issue and called for a "Catholic Spring" in which Catholics themselves demand the end of a Middle Ages dictatorship and the beginning of a little democracy and respect for gender equality in the Catholic Church. The chief liaison to Trump for Catholic issues said that emails released Oct. 11 by WikiLeaks "reveal the depths of the hostility of Hillary Clinton and her campaign toward Catholics." The emails illustrate "the open anti-Catholic bigotry of her senior advisers, who attack the deeply held beliefs and theology of Catholics," said liaison Joseph Cella, who is the founder of the National Catholic Prayer Breakfast.

    True Christian charity is more than just making donations, pope says

    VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- While donation campaigns and charitable contributions for the needy are important, true Christian charity involves a more personal touch, Pope Francis said. Coming face to face with the poor may pose a challenge and tempt people to turn the other way and give in to "the habit of fleeing from needy people and not approach them or disguise a bit the reality of the needy," the pope said Oct. 19 during his general audience in St. Peter's Square. "Poverty in the abstract does not challenge us. It may make us think, it may make us complain, but when you see poverty in the flesh of a man, a woman or a child; this (certainly) challenges us!" he said. The square was packed with thousands of of people, many of whom attended the Oct. 16 canonization Mass of seven new saints. Among the pilgrims was a group from the pope's native Argentina who sang folk music and dressed in traditional ponchos.

    - - -

    Copyright © 2016 Catholic News Service/U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. All rights reserved. Republishing or redistributing of CNS content, including by framing or similar means without prior permission, is prohibited. You may link to stories on our public site. This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use only. To request permission for republishing or redistributing of CNS content, please contact permissions at

  • U.S. Hispanics give big margins to Clinton, Democrats in new Pew poll

    WASHINGTON (CNS) -- Hispanic Americans give a nearly 5-to-1 edge to Democrats over Republicans as the party more concerned for them in a Pew Research Center poll released Oct. 10. In the telephone survey of 1,507 adults, 54 percent favored the Democrats while only 11 percent named the Republicans, whose historic high of support from Latinos was 12 percent in 2011. Also finishing ahead of the GOP in the poll was the 28 percent who said there was no difference between the parties. In the presidential race, Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton has a 3-to-1 margin among Hispanics over Donald Trump, the Republican nominee, 58 percent to 19 percent. Libertarian Gary Johnson has 10 percent support, while Green Party candidate Jill Stein tallied 6 percent. Among Hispanic Catholic registered voters, the Clinton edge is even wider, 69 percent to 15 percent for Trump, according to the poll. Clinton finishes ahead of Trump, 47 percent to 37 percent, among evangelical Hispanics. But Trump falls to fourth among Hispanics with no religious affiliation, with just 7 percent support. Among these voters, Clinton garners 47 percent, Johnson 20 percent and Stein 13 percent. The interviews were conducted Aug. 9-16 and Aug. 23-Sept. 21 -- before the presidential debates, before the near-daily release in October of WikiLeaks emails attributed to Clinton aides, and before the surfacing of a 2005 tape of Trump making vulgar and lewd comments about women. Following the leak of the tape, several women have alleged Trump groped them years ago, but Trump and his aides deny the claims. "There's a lot happening," said Mark Lopez, director of Hispanic research for the Pew Research Center. "It's a busy time."

    Baltimore exhibit of religious works of art offers 'feast for the senses'

    BALTIMORE (CNS) -- A 500-year-old oil painting of "The Glorification of the Virgin" now on display at the Walters Art Museum in Baltimore is a genuine feast for the senses. Inspired by John's apocalyptic vision of a woman "clothed with the sun," the image shows a crowned Mary surrounded by an intense radiant glow. Standing atop a black dragon whose eyes are set on the infant Jesus resting in her arms, the woman maintains a tranquil expression with downcast eyes. A viewer can almost hear a symphony of sound bellowing from an orchestra of angels playing horns, pipes, bells, a clavichord, a dulcimer, drums, flutes, harps and all kinds of other stringed instruments. Even the baby Jesus holds two jingle bells. The painting, by Geertgen tot Sint Jans of the Netherlands, is half of a diptych on loan from the Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen in Rotterdam, Netherlands. It's just one of more than 100 works of stained glass, precious metals, ivories, tapestries, paintings, prints and illuminated manuscripts from 25 collections in the U.S. and around the world that make up "A Feast for the Senses: Art and Experience in Medieval Europe." The free exhibition is at the Walters Art Museum from Oct. 16 through Jan. 8. It was organized by the Walters in partnership with the John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art in Sarasota, Florida, where it will be on display Feb. 4 through April 20.

    Mercy offered to driver after accident that took teen's life aids healing

    WASHINGTON (CNS) -- The driver of a vehicle who caused the death of a Washington Catholic high school student said the compassion shown to her after the accident by the boy's parents was the "most profound" experience of grace she has felt in her life. The driver, Margaret "Maggie" Baisley, was a 24-year-old doctoral student in clinical psychology at the time of the November 2014 crash that killed Dominik Pettey, who attended Jesuit-run Gonzaga College High School in Washington. She said she became humbled and changed in a "billion different ways" when his parents, Magdalena and Patrick Pettey, showed mercy by offering their prayers and by asking a local prosecutor not to charge her with manslaughter. Baisley said the parents' request to meet with her and express concern for her well-being led to a positive change in all of her relationships, professionally and personally. The greatest gift the parents gave, Baisley said, was to let her feel forgiven for her connection to the "worst possible thing you could do: be responsible for the death of another person."

    Act now to process refugees, Bishop Crosby tells Canadian government

    OTTAWA, Ontario (CNS) -- The president of the Canadian bishops' conference has written a frank letter to the federal immigration minister urging immediate government action to unclog delays in processing refugee applicants to preserve confidence in the refugee sponsorship program. Bishop Douglas Crosby, president of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops, wrote Immigration Minister John McCallum to say many sponsoring groups have become frustrated due to long wait times and money spent on refugee families that have yet to arrive. "Needless to say, delayed arrivals and the lack of clear and transparent communication about the status of pending cases poses the risk of undermining the faith of Canadians in the government's ability to follow through on its promises," Bishop Crosby wrote in a letter dated Oct. 6. Bishop Crosby said Canadians responded generously in late 2015 and early 2016 when the government promised "arrival timelines of less than two months." This led to sponsoring groups signing leases and renting properties, as they expected arrivals to be imminent.

    'Families' of Cardinal-designate Tobin express pride, joy at appointment

    INDIANAPOLIS (CNS) -- The "families" of Cardinal-designate Joseph W. Tobin showed their pride, joy and excitement following the Oct. 9 announcement that Pope Francis had chosen the archbishop of Indianapolis to be one of the Catholic Church's 17 new cardinals. Those families include his mother and siblings, fellow Redemptorists, parishioners and archdiocesan officials. The pride and joy started with his mother, Marie, for the oldest of her 13 children. Since her son decided to become a priest, she said, she has prayed for only one thing through the years -- for him "to be a good priest." She believes God has answered that prayer. "The older I get, my prayer changes to gratitude for what he's done," Marie Tobin, 93, told The Criterion, Indianapolis' archdiocesan newspaper. "I thank the Lord and know he's taking special care of him." She's also thankful to Pope Francis for leaving her son in the archdiocese, noting that Cardinal-designate Tobin has "left part of his heart" in every place where he's ministered. "He so loves Indiana," his mother said by phone from her home in Stoney Pointe, Ontario. "I would be afraid that he wouldn't have heart left (if he had to leave.) I couldn't imagine how sad he would be. I gave him to God a long time ago when he was ordained. And I know the Lord loves a cheerful giver. So I would be happy wherever he is, because I can't go back on that."

    Canadian bishops withdraw from ecumenical social justice coalition

    MONTREAL (CNS) -- The Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops announced it will no longer be a member of KAIROS, a Canadian-based ecumenical social justice coalition. In a short statement, the conference expressed concerns about the way KAIROS is structured. "While this is a valid way of operating, it is nevertheless incongruent with the type of oversight and consultation required by Catholic bishops engaged in a given ecumenical venture." The bishops' statement was released Oct. 12, after private discussion at their recent plenary assembly. The statement said KAIROS was informed of the decision Oct. 7. Since its inception in 2001, KAIROS has invited its members to work and speak together on issues related to social justice, ecology, human rights, and peace activism. The CCCB was one of the founding members of Kairos. Two Catholic groups -- Development and Peace and the Canadian Religious Conference, representing male and female Catholic religious orders -- remain a part of KAIROS. Among other members are the Anglican Church, the Presbyterian Church and the United Church of Canada.

    Mass in Yellowstone 'an experience of God unlike any other,' says Jesuit

    YELLOWSTONE NATIONAL PARK, Wyo. (CNS) -- Jesuit Father Rick Malloy very much enjoys summers in Yellowstone National Park. "I'm a fanatical fisherman," he admitted. "And a good one, too." But exceptional fishing is not the main thing that brings him to Wyoming summer after summer. He said it's the privilege and beauty of park ministry that keeps him coming back. Mass in Yellowstone is "an experience of God unlike any other," he said. "It's a real privilege to be able to celebrate the Eucharist with people here in the park." Father Malloy is a cultural anthropologist, professor and chaplain at the Jesuit-run University of Scranton in Pennsylvania. For the past seven summers, he has gone west to minister in Yellowstone, do some writing and, of course, fish.

    Jesuits called to reconcile humanity with God, new superior says

    ROME (CNS) -- Jesuits are called to face the challenges of today's world and contribute toward "reconciliation among human beings and, at the same time, a reconciliation with God and creation," the newly elected Jesuit superior general said. "This is a great call to reconciliation. The kingdom of God cannot be present, cannot exist among us if we do not understand each other, if we do not recognize each other as people, if we do not try to have a situation in which the world can live in peace," said Jesuit Father Arturo Sosa Abascal. Holding his first meeting with the press Oct. 18, Father Sosa also said Christians should heed Pope Francis' message on caring for the environment and reconciling with creation because "we are so wounded that we even put the planet Earth at risk." A member of the Jesuits' Venezuelan province, Father Sosa was elected Oct. 14 after four days of prayer, silence and quiet one-on-one conversations among the 212 voting delegates gathered in Rome for the 36th General Congregation of the Society of Jesus. Regarding his election, Father Sosa told journalists that while he was surprised, he was also "serene" and "grateful to the Lord."

    First Lesotho cardinal is beloved, still works in retirement

    CAPE TOWN, South Africa (CNS) -- Lesotho's Cardinal-designate Sebastian Koto Khoarai is a much-loved pastoral man known for working very hard, say those who know the 87-year-old retired bishop of Mohale's Hoek. "Everyone in the country will tell you what a hard worker he is," Sister Julia Mafike, a member of Handmaids of Christ the Priest, told Catholic News Service in a telephone interview. Cardinal-designate Khoarai, who will be the first cardinal from this southern African nation, "looks after children with disabilities, visits and helps people who are sick, and travels wherever he is needed to celebrate Mass," she said. He is humble and a person of prayer "the likes of which has never been seen before," said Sister Mafike, who manages the diocesan center in Mohale's Hoek, where Cardinal-designate Khoarai lives in retirement. A member of the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate, he was the first bishop of the Diocese of Mohale's Hoek after it was created in 1977. He served as president of Lesotho's bishops' conference from 1982 to 1987. "No one in the country expected" that one of their own would be named a cardinal, Sister Mafike said.

    Memorial marking where Moses saw Promised Land reopens in Jordan

    MOUNT NEBO, Jordan (CNS) -- The Memorial of Moses on Mount Nebo has reopened its doors to the public amid festivities, after nearly a decade of restoration. Believed by ancient tradition to be the site where Moses saw the Promised Land and died, a church and monastery are perched atop this 3,300-foot rugged mountain facing the northern end of the Dead Sea. It has drawn Christian pilgrims throughout the centuries and is considered one of the most important pilgrimage, tourist, and archaeological sites in Jordan and the Holy Land. Cardinal Leonardo Sandri, the special envoy of Pope Francis and prefect of the Congregation for Eastern Churches, said he was thrilled to officiate at a place of great spiritual significance to Jews, Muslims and Christians alike. "The spiritual treasures that this place holds today are returned to Jordan and to humanity," Cardinal Sandri told an Oct. 16 gathering of some 500 dignitaries, including Jordanian Tourism Minister Lina Annab, Bedouin leaders, foreign diplomats and top Catholic officials in the Middle East. Excavations led by the Franciscan Custody of the Holy Land, which acquired the area in 1932, have uncovered significant remains of an early basilica -- built in 597 on fouth-century church foundation -- and Byzantine mosaic pavements. However, a simple structure sheltering these important finds was crumbling and needed to be replaced to protect the treasures it housed. "I am very happy to represent here the Holy Father Francis and to be in the place of Moses when he received only the vision of the Promised Land," Cardinal Sandri told the Catholic News Service as he viewed a sunset of purples and reds in the direction of Jerusalem.

    Syrian refugees still suffering months after blasts at Lebanese border

    QAA, Lebanon (CNS) -- When a series of bombs exploded in a Lebanese Christian village near the Syrian border in June, it not only changed the lives of the victims and their families, but also the lives of Syrian refugees living nearby. In a government effort to prevent any future attacks, a Lebanese town that was once a lifeline for Syrians for education, activities and friendships has now been cut off from the local Syrian community. "Before the bombings, we had nearly 350 Syrian children coming to our center every day for classes and activities," said Father Elian Nasrallah, a priest at St. Elias Melkite Catholic Church, located just footsteps from the attacks three months ago. Before that, the community center hosted both Syrian and Lebanese children, who learned and played together and celebrated one another's holidays. The priest said they will reopen the center later in October, even under high security and tensions. Although tourism is slowly returning to the area, with Lebanese from different parts of the country visiting for hunting trips and barbecues, tensions remain between the Lebanese government tasked with protecting its citizens and an increasingly frustrated Syrian refugee community that feels stifled by suspicion restrictions. "We're not in a normal situation. What happened was very hard. We need to think about the martyrs and their families," the priest said.

    Even in midst of trials, Jesus never deserts his faithful, pope says

    VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Following Christ may take a person down a path that leads to anguish, isolation, even martyrdom, but a Christian will never feel bitterness or regret because Christ never leaves his or her side, Pope Francis said in a morning homily. In his homily during Mass at Domus Sanctae Marthae Oct. 18, the pope focused on the day's reading from St. Paul's Second Letter to Timothy (4:10-17) in which the apostle sadly takes note of those who deserted him. However, "the Lord stood by me and gave me strength," the verse says. "The life of the great Paul ends in desolation, not in resentment and bitterness, but with internal grief," the pope said. In fact, many other martyrs like St. Peter, St. John the Baptist and St. Maximilian Kolbe, he said, died abandoned by so many, but they drew their strength from Jesus, who they knew was by their side. "When the apostle is faithful, he doesn't expect an end other than that of Jesus," he said. "This is the law of the Gospel: If the grain of wheat does not die, it does not bear fruit," and the blood of martyrs is the seed of the church, giving birth to new Christians. When a pastor lives like this, he is not bitter. Perhaps he is forsaken, but he has that certainty that the Lord is by his side."

    - - -

    Copyright © 2016 Catholic News Service/U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. All rights reserved. Republishing or redistributing of CNS content, including by framing or similar means without prior permission, is prohibited. You may link to stories on our public site. This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use only. To request permission for republishing or redistributing of CNS content, please contact permissions at

  • By laughing at ourselves, we grow, change for better, says actress-writer

    NEW YORK (CNS) -- Laughing at ourselves and being open to sharing our failures and flaws within and beyond the community of faith is a powerful means to dispel the myth that Catholics are ignorant or judgmental or exclusive in any way, actress Jeannie Gaffigan told an audience in New York Oct 14. The comedy writer and producer of "The Jim Gaffigan Show" accepted the inaugural Eloquentia Perfecta Award from Paulist Press and the Fordham University Graduate School of Religion and Religious Education. The actress, who is the wife of comedian Jim Gaffigan and mother of their five pre-teenage children, said her Catholic faith and Jesuit education inform and inspire the scripts she co-writes for her husband's comedy specials and his series on the TV Land cable network. She said the couple tries, "in our own imperfect way, to present a household of faith in one of the most culturally diverse places in our country." The television show is loosely based on their experiences working in the comedy field and raising children in a two-bedroom apartment in New York. "The show invites its audience on a journey through familiar conflicts in faith, family and career and attempts to bring the entire community together in showing ourselves as flawed characters that must rebound with resilience from the hardships we all face in life," Gaffigan said. "When we laugh at ourselves, we can grow and change for the better," she said.

    Canon law a work of unity, evangelization, U.S. cardinal tells group

    HOUSTON (CNS) -- With incense floating heavenward, Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo of Galveston-Houston welcomed more than 300 canon lawyers, judges, teachers and members of the Catholic Church's judicial community by invoking God's blessing upon them in thanksgiving for their work. Cardinal DiNardo emphasized the unitive aspect of canon law, saying, "It is great, amidst all the canons of the church -- canon of Scripture, of praying, of creeds -- to also to have the canon of laws to keep us together in communion (as) the body of Christ." The cardinal was the principal celebrant of an Oct. 12 Mass during the Canon Law Society of America's annual convention in Houston. Concelebrants were Bishops Robert P. Deeley of Portland, Maine; R. Daniel Conlon of Joliet, Illinois; and Steven J. Raica of Gaylord, Michigan. Cardinal DiNardo joined Cardinal Donald W. Wuerl of Washington in recognizing the efforts of the international judicial community following Pope Francis' recent apostolic exhortation on marriage and family life, "Amoris Laetitia."

    Cardinal-designate Tobin emphasizes need to combat fear, help refugees

    NOTRE DAME, Ind. (CNS) -- In 2015, the U.S. accepted 70,000 refugees that included one particular young family: a mother, a father and two small children. The family fled their homeland of Syria in 2012 and spent three years living in a refugee camp. During those years, surrounded by dismal conditions, the family underwent the rigorous scrutiny mandatory for those seeking refugee status in the United States, including security screening by the National Counterterrorism Center/Intelligence Community, the FBI, the Department of Homeland Security and the State Department. The story of this family was told by Cardinal-designate Joseph W. Tobin of Indianapolis, who spoke at the University of Notre Dame Oct. 14, less than one week after he was named a cardinal by Pope Francis. In the talk, "Welcoming the Stranger While Challenging the Fear," the cardinal-designate discussed the history and current state of refugee resettlement in the United States, emphasizing the moral imperative that Americans welcome these neighbors as human beings and combat the prevalent fear, anxiety and hostility shown particularly toward individuals from the Middle East. This family whose story the cardinal-designate told was scheduled, he said, to be welcomed by Catholic Charities of Indianapolis last October. But after Indiana Gov. Mike Pence's statement of Nov. 16, 2015, that he would prevent refugees from settling in Indiana until the federal government could ensure property security measures were in place, the cardinal-designate was asked by the governor not to permit resettlement.

    New Mexican cardinal seen as like Pope Francis in pastoral sensitivities

    MEXICO CITY (CNS) -- Cardinal-designate Carlos Aguiar Retes of Tlalnepantla contributed to a 2007 document by the Latin American bishops' council, which called for the church to take the faith to the people, instead of waiting in their parishes for the population to arrive. He decided to act on the document -- especially after one of its lead authors, Pope Francis, was elected in 2013 -- by organizing all of the parishes in his archdiocese in the northern suburbs of Mexico City to go knock on doors and invite everyone they could to attend a church retreat. "This habitual (church) attendance, this has been in decline," so what the document drafted in Aparecida, Brazil, proposed was "that we be willing to go for those who are distant or those that have fallen away or those that are indifferent, but continue being Catholic," Cardinal-designate Aguiar told Catholic News Service in a 2015 interview. "Aparecida asked for this missionary transformation. It's a gigantic challenge because our mentality, particularly clerical, isn't made for this. It's made for those that ask for it (in the church.)" Pope Francis will consecrate Cardinal-designate Aguiar and 16 other men as new cardinals Nov. 19.

    Florida Supreme Court: Juries must be unanimous in death penalty verdicts

    TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (CNS) -- In an Oct. 14 ruling, the Florida Supreme Court said the death penalty cannot be imposed unless the jury is unanimous in supporting such a sentence. The 5-2 ruling puts Florida in line with most other states that require unanimous jury support for the death sentence. It also struck down a newly enacted state law that allowed a defendant to be sentenced to death as long as 10 of 12 jurors recommended it. One of court's Oct. 14 decisions was about a case that recently came before the U.S. Supreme Court. In that case, Hurst v. Florida, the court ruled this January that Florida's death penalty system was unconstitutional because it allowed judges, rather than juries, to determine whether a convicted criminal should get a death sentence. The case was named for Timothy Lee Hurst, convicted of the 1998 murder of his manager at a Pensacola fast-food restaurant. In Hurst's case, a jury in 2000 decided 7-5 in favor of putting him to death. He was granted a new sentencing hearing on appeal, and the jury again recommended a death sentence. A judge again found the facts necessary to sentence Hurst to death were presented, and the Florida Supreme Court affirmed that decision. Florida's Supreme Court said Oct. 14 that Hurst deserves a new sentencing hearing.

    National parks: Places of wonder, history, culture, spiritual refuge

    WASHINGTON (CNS) -- From the dramatic vistas of the Grand Canyon in Arizona to the glistening waters of Cape Cod in Massachusetts, national parks have stood as places of wonder, history and culture. John Muir, considered the father of our national parks, petitioned U.S. lawmakers to set aside such places for preservation, play and prayer. "Everybody needs beauty as well as bread, places to play in and pray in, where nature may heal and cheer and give strength to body and soul alike," wrote the 19th-century naturalist and philosopher in his book "Yosemite." During the 100th year of the National Park Service, Catholic News Service traveled to a few of the nation's most popular parks and discovered sites of spiritual refuge beside some of America's most beautiful landscapes. Though the U.S. governmental agencies operate within the guidelines of separation of church and state, there are sacred symbols in many of the national parks, mainly because the Catholic Church and other religious institutions are a part of the nation's story. Religious men and women often use nature's bounty as a backdrop for spiritual connection. Archbishop Paul D. Etienne, an angler and outdoorsman, said he understands people's longing for nature. Newly named to head the Archdiocese of Anchorage, Alaska, he has for the last seven years overseen the Diocese of Cheyenne, Wyoming, which includes Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks. "Nature stirs something in the human soul that helps to reveal the Creator to us," he said. "Through creation we come to know the Creator."

    Shipment heads to Haiti from Miami; plans begin for next phase of relief

    MIAMI (CNS) -- Exactly one week after citing an "urgent need" for donations, the Archdiocese of Miami loaded 22 pallets of rice, canned goods, hygienic supplies and diapers onto a ship for transport to Haiti's southwestern peninsula, hardest-hit by Hurricane Matthew in early October. "And more to come," said an elated Father Reginald Jean-Mary, administrator of Notre Dame d'Haiti Mission in Miami's Little Haiti, as he watched an army of volunteers packing, wrapping and loading the donated goods onto pallets. A total of 47 pallets were being taken to Haiti on the Betty K VII, a cargo ship called a "pallet carrier" provided by Seacoast Shipping that set sail Oct. 16 and was to arrive in Miragoane, on the peninsula's northern coast, around Oct. 19. From there, the Haitian Catholic Church's relief agency would transport the supplies overland to its local affiliates in the areas that bore the brunt of Matthew's fury: Jeremie in the peninsula's northwest and Les Cayes in the south, as well as Mole-Saint-Nicolas in the remote northwestern tip of the country. "It's a beautiful day," said Father Jean-Mary as he stood in his church's parish hall, which until an hour earlier had been brimming with relief supplies.

    Some Iraqis hopeful, but aid groups have concerns about Mosul offensive

    AMMAN, Jordan (CNS) -- Iraqi Christians are cautiously welcoming the start of the battle for Mosul and the Ninevah Plain, their ancestral homeland of the past 14 centuries from which they were brutally driven out by the Islamic State group more than two years ago. "They've been waiting for this day after being forced out in the summer of 2014, and many Christians have been living in very miserable conditions since. A number are eager to go back," Father Emanuel Youkhana told the Catholic News Service. The archimandrite, a member of the Assyrian Church of the East, heads the Christian Aid Program Northern Iraq, CAPNI. "Of course the military operation is just the first of several phases paving the way for their return. They will need security and other guarantees before they go back," Father Youkhana said. "Also much reconstruction and rehabilitation of the region occupied the Islamic State militants will need to take place." This summer, the U.N. said that as the Mosul crisis evolves, up to 13 million people throughout Iraq may need humanitarian aid by the year's end -- far larger than the Syrian crisis. This would make the humanitarian operation in Mosul likely the single largest, most complex in the world in 2016. Chaldean Catholic Archbishop Yousif Thomas Mirkis of Kirkuk, Iraq, told CNS Iraqi Christians view these operations "with hope and fear."

    Vatican, Italy tax agreement goes into effect

    VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Individuals and entities that have accounts at the Vatican bank and are subject to taxation in Italy will have until mid-April to report to Italian authorities the income earned by their Vatican accounts. As part of ongoing efforts by the Vatican to increase financial transparency and accountability, an agreement between the Holy See and Italy concerning taxes went into effect Oct. 15. The Vatican released further details about the agreement in a press release Oct. 17, reiterating that individuals and entities had 180 days from the date of implementation to follow the convention's mandates, complete the necessary paperwork and -- for those with Vatican bank accounts -- to inform the proper Italian tax authorities. The convention's application will be overseen by the Vatican Secretariat of State, the press release said. The tax convention on income from capital and other income from financial activities in Vatican City State applies to citizens whose tax residence is in Italy. The agreement, initially signed April 1, 2015, includes the full exchange of financial information about asset holders who are subject to Italian taxes and establishes the procedures necessary for declaring and paying taxes on income, which would include interest or earnings from bonds, investments and savings in Vatican institutions.

    Bishop Cantu: Congo's bishops working hard to steer nation to peace

    CAPE TOWN, South Africa (CNS) -- As the most respected institution in Congo, the Catholic bishops' conference is putting enormous effort into steering the country onto a path to peace, said an official of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. "We have flown into the eye of the storm, with the future of this young democracy in the balance," Bishop Oscar Cantu of Las Cruces, New Mexico, chairman of the bishops' Committee on International Justice and Peace, said in an Oct. 15 telephone interview from Kinshasa, Congo's capital. Elections in the Central African country were scheduled for November and President Joseph Kabila was set to step down in December at the end of his second term. But Congo's ruling coalition and part of the opposition agreed Oct. 16 to move the ballot to April 2018, with the president staying in power at least until then. "Even as we met with people in Kinshasa, the situation was shifting constantly," Bishop Cantu said, noting that "tensions are high and lives are at stake."

    Colombian bishops urge government, rebels to commit to cease-fire

    BOGOTA, Colombia (CNS) -- Colombia's Catholic bishops urged the government and armed rebels to commit to an indefinite cease-fire while a new peace deal is negotiated after voters rejected an agreement that would have formally ended the Western Hemisphere's longest-running war. Following a meeting Oct. 13-14, the bishops' conference said in a letter that it wanted to convey a sense of hope and encouragement to the country as it considers the next steps to establishing lasting peace. "We hear the cries and we align ourselves with the hopes of the victims, the peasants, the different ethnic groups, all of those who have suffered the consequences of the conflict in various regions of the country," said the letter, signed by Archbishop Luis Castro Quiroga of Tunja, president of the bishops' conference. "Interpreting the feeling of the Colombian people, we ask the government and the FARC to indefinitely keep the cessation of hostilities," the letter said, referring to the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia by its Spanish acronym, FARC. In June, the FARC, the country's largest rebel group, and the government reached a cease-fire agreement set to expire at the end of the year. President Juan Manuel Santos, who was awarded the 2016 Nobel Peace Prize for bringing the conflict to an end, has called on the two sides to work toward a new agreement.

    Promote culture of life, inclusion, hope, pope tells grandparents

    VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- In a world that glorifies physical strength and appearances, grandparents must uphold the values that really matter and bring hope and wisdom to younger generations, Pope Francis said. "We are called to work for the development of the culture of life, showing that every season of life is a gift of God and has its beauty and importance, even if it is marked by fragility," the pope told thousands of grandmothers and grandfathers Oct. 15. Groups and organizations, too, can do more to help older people participate, contribute and share their talents as well as to protect and uphold their dignity, he said. "It's necessary to oppose the harmful throwaway culture, which marginalizes the elderly, believing them to be unproductive," he said. He reminded political, religious, educational and cultural leaders that they, too, are called to "dedicate themselves to building an ever more welcoming and inclusive society." The pope met with about 7,000 grandmothers and grandfathers in the Vatican's Paul VI audience hall in a belated celebration of Grandparents' Day, which in Italy was Oct. 2, the feast of the Guardian Angels.

    Young martyr a symbol of hope for Mexico's priests, official says

    ROME (CNS) -- The heroism of Mexico's newest saint, St. Jose Sanchez del Rio, should embolden the nation's priests to continue their ministry with trust in God, said the vice postulator of the young saint's cause. For priests in Mexico, especially those who denounce the activity of drug traffickers and find themselves targeted for attacks, the life of St. Jose is a call to place their "full trust in God," Antonio Berumen, the vice postulator, told Catholic News Service Oct. 14. "There comes a time in which, evidently, we must live through difficult times, but in the end Jose's message is 'I trust in you,'" he said. "It is complete trust in God and having the assurance that there is someone who acts and continues to act in the lives of men and women." As Pope Francis declared seven new saints Oct. 16, one of the banners hanging on the facade of St. Peter's Basilica showed a young boy dressed in blue jeans and a white shirt. In his hands, the 14-year-old St. Jose holds a rosary and a palm branch, symbols of his unshakeable faith and martyrdom. A trail of blood is seen at his feet along with a single bullet, symbolic of the torture and the manner of death he endured at the hands of his captors.

    - - -

    Copyright © 2016 Catholic News Service/U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. All rights reserved. Republishing or redistributing of CNS content, including by framing or similar means without prior permission, is prohibited. You may link to stories on our public site. This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use only. To request permission for republishing or redistributing of CNS content, please contact permissions at

  • Pope canonizes seven saints who 'fought the good fight of faith'

    VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- The seven new saints of the church were holy not because of their own efforts but because of "the Lord who triumphs in them and with them," Pope Francis said. Each one "struggled to the very end with all their strength," which they received through perseverance and prayer, the pope said Oct. 16 at a canonization Mass in St. Peter's Square. "They remained firm in faith, with a generous and steadfast heart. Through their example and their intercession, may God also enable us to be men and women of prayer," the pope told the estimated 80,000 people present at the Mass. Seven large tapestries bearing the portraits of the new saints decorated the facade of St. Peter's Basilica, some representing specific aspects of their lives that exemplified their holiness.

    - - -

    Copyright © 2016 Catholic News Service/U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. All rights reserved. Republishing or redistributing of CNS content, including by framing or similar means without prior permission, is prohibited. You may link to stories on our public site. This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use only. To request permission for republishing or redistributing of CNS content, please contact permissions at

  • Caring for horses tough job, say laborers in multibillion race industry

    LA GRANGE, Ky. (CNS) -- Marcelino Sulas is 38 and has a screw in his shoulder. He also has problems with his spine, knee and ankle. These are a direct result of his work with horses in Kentucky. Sulas is one of an untold number of workers in this country without documentation who staff the horse farms in Kentucky to support the multibillion-dollar horse racing industry. It was people like Sulas whom Chicago Auxiliary Bishop John R. Manz visited during a September trip to Kentucky on behalf of the U.S. bishops' Committee on the Pastoral Care of Migrants, Refugees and Travelers. For over 10 years, Bishop Manz has made annual visits to dioceses across the United States to talk to migrant workers and to assess their pastoral and other needs. He makes recommendations to the local dioceses and the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops on how the church can better minister to these often-invisible groups. On Sept. 20, Bishop Manz visited with workers at High Pointe Farms in La Grange, which is where he met Sulas. The horse racing season in Kentucky runs mid-March through December. After that, many workers follow the horses to tracks in Florida and New Orleans. Others like Sulas work on one farm all year. The Mexican native has worked at High Pointe for 15 years.

    Diocese helps Louisiana flood victims cope with loss, learn to let go

    BATON ROUGE, La. (CNS) -- Goodbye house, car and treasured items that evoke favorite memories. Gone also for some people are their sense of safety, security and peace after August floodwaters took away much of what was familiar and dear to them in southwest Louisiana. The Diocese of Baton Rouge has been helping flood victims deal with the stress of "letting go" and adjusting to a "new normal" so they can recover materially, mentally, spiritually and emotionally. That was the focus of a recent program titled "From Flooding to Flourishing: Turning Trauma into Growth" at St. Alphonsus Church in Greenwell Springs, sponsored by the diocese's Office of Marriage and Family Life and its Catholic Charities agency. After a prayer led by Father Michael Moroney, the pastor, audience members laughed and smiled as Paula Davis, of Catholic Charities, asked them to think of the title of the movie, song, book or TV show that best describes their flood experience. Davis said a couple of misconceptions concerning surviving trauma is that it leaves people broken and damaged with post-traumatic stress disorder and that they are unable to return back to "normal." What is true is that only 8 percent of people will develop PTSD. After a brief period of struggle, most people change their lives for the better, stated Davis.

    At Georgetown, historians grapple with slaveholding and its dark legacy

    WASHINGTON (CNS) -- The wrong that came about when Jesuit priests from Georgetown University sold 272 women, children and men into slavery for financial gain in 1838 cannot be corrected, but there are ways to proceed after such revelations, said a panel of scholars Oct. 12 as they discussed "Georgetown, Slavery and Catholic Social Thought." "We cannot right the wrong that has been done, but we can do justice today," said James Benton, the slavery, memory and reconciliation fellow at Georgetown University, who is helping the leadership of the university respond to recommendations made earlier this year about what should be done today for what the university president called "Georgetown's participation in that disgrace." Jesuit Father Matthew Carnes, director of Georgetown's Center for Latin American Studies and member of a group that helped draft the recommendations, said it's important to first recognize the complicity of Jesuits who participated in the now infamous slave sale, but the process of how to go forward has never been about making amends. "I don't think there's ever a way that we can make amends, to have reparations for our slaveholding past," he said. Georgetown University president John J. DeGioia in September said: "There were two evils that took place: The sale of slaves and the breakup of families."

    No checks, no tips: just food, companionship at Lebanese restaurant

    BEIRUT (CNS) -- Every afternoon, Asma Khalil and her three children -- refugees from Syria -- walk a half-hour from their one-room dwelling through the tangled streets and alleyways of Bourj Hammoud, a crowded suburb of Beirut, to reach their destination: the Joy of Heaven. There, they receive much-needed nourishment and hospitality at a restaurant for the poor and needy, where the only payment required is a "thank you." It is just one of many initiatives of the Lebanese charity by the same name. From a compact open kitchen in a 50-square-foot space, with "terrace" dining street-side and a tiny dining room upstairs for wintertime, the Joy of Heaven serves about 200 people a day. Its location offers a distinctive ambiance, typical of the Bourj Hammoud neighborhood: a constant chorus of honking horns and screeching brakes of mopeds from streets snarled with traffic, and a maze of electrical wires overhead. Patrons typically arrive even before lunch is served, pitching in to help Joy of Heaven volunteers set up tables. In no time, all the seats are filled. "I love coming here because my children are happy here. We come every day," Khalil told Catholic News Service as she enjoyed her plate of okra stew served on a bed of rice with a salad.

    Kurtz: Political discourse that demeans women, religion 'must change'

    WASHINGTON (CNS) -- Too much of the political discourse during this election year "has demeaned women and marginalized people of faith," the president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops said Oct. 14. "This must change," said Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz of Louisville, Kentucky. "True to the best hopes of our Founding Fathers, we are confident that we can and will do better as a nation. Politicians, their staffs and volunteers should reflect our best aspirations as citizens," he said. The archbishop's statement came at the end of a week of fallout over controversies involving the presidential campaigns of Republican nominee Donald Trump and Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton. One controversy involved NBC's Oct. 9 leaking of a 2005 audio clip of Trump making lewd sexual remarks about women. The other involved an Oct. 11 release by WikiLeaks of what it said was an email chain among top officials from Clinton's campaign discussing how many powerful conservatives in the U.S. are converts to Catholicism, which one email called "an amazing bastardization of the faith."

    Catholic leaders welcome release of 21 kidnapped Chibok girls

    LAGOS, Nigeria (CNS) -- Three Catholic leaders welcomed the release of some of the girls kidnapped in 2014 from a school in Chibok and urged the Nigerian government to prioritize the release of the remaining girls. Cardinal Anthony Olubunmi Okogie, retired archbishop of Lagos, said he had mixed feelings when he heard the news of the release of 21 of the girls kidnapped by Boko Haram, because he felt like they should have been released before now. Two-hundred-seventy-six girls were kidnapped from the Government Secondary School in Chibok April 14, 2014; 57 escaped the same day and one two years later. Their Oct. 13 release of the 21 girls was part of a deal brokered by the International Committee of the Red Cross and the Swiss and Nigerian governments. "Yes, it is cheering news to the parents that they would be reunited with their abducted daughters after a long while," he told Catholic News Service. "But to me, the girls must have been brainwashed and abused by their abductors during the period and some forcefully married against their wishes." Cardinal Okogie blamed the past administration for not sanctioning the governor of the state under whose watch the incident happened then. He also said the nation's school system was becoming a laughingstock following kidnappings that occurred recently in two different schools in Lagos state.

    Pope makes 'Mercy Friday' visit to home for children

    ROME (CNS) -- Continuing his monthly Year of Mercy visits to people in particularly vulnerable situations, Pope Francis spent an afternoon Oct. 14 at Rome's SOS Children's Village. The village, which includes five houses, attempts to provide a home-like atmosphere for children under the age of 12 whose parents cannot care for them. A maximum of six children and a house mother live in each of the houses at the village. According to the Vatican press office, "The boys and girls, accompanied by staff from the center, showed the pope the village's green space, which has a mini-soccer field and a small playground. The children showed the Holy Father their rooms and their toys, and he listened to their stories and stayed for a snack with them."

    Pope sends emergency funding to hurricane victims in Haiti

    VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- As a sign of his closeness and concern, Pope Francis sent aid money to hurricane-stricken Haiti. An initial donation of $100,000 was sent through the Pontifical Council Cor Unum to be distributed through the hardest-hit dioceses to assist flood victims, the council said in a communique Oct. 14. The first round of funding was meant to be "concrete expression of Pope Francis' feelings of spiritual closeness and fatherly support for the people and places" that have been affected, it said. The papal contribution is part of the church's network of humanitarian aid, which includes help from different bishops' conferences and numerous Catholic charities, it said. Caritas Haiti, with the umbrella organization Caritas Internationalis, launched its first appeal for emergency food aid and sanitation kits for 13,500 people as well as for providing counseling and education in preventing diseases, like cholera, which commonly affect areas lacking sanitation and clean water. Thousands of Haitians have been displaced by Hurricane Matthew in the country's southwest.

    In message, pope reflects on food production and climate change

    VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Particularly as climate change threatens food production, people need to rediscover the benefits of living simply and with respect for the earth and stop looking at food primarily as an economic commodity to exploit, Pope Francis said. In his message for World Food Day, an observance Oct. 14 promoted by the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization, the pope said, "From the wisdom of rural communities we can learn a style of life that can help defend us from the logic of consumerism and production at any cost." While some would claim large agribusinesses are pushing production to feed a growing population, the pope said other evidence suggests that the main motivation is money, not resolving hunger. He cited a lack of attention to fair distribution of food, increasingly using agricultural production for non-food use and destroying food to prop up prices. In addition, he said, despite scientific and technological advances, close to 800 million people in the world are hungry and undernourished. With World Food Day 2016 focusing on the impact of climate change on food production and availability, Pope Francis urged people to take individual and collective responsibility for their use and waste of food and their actions that destroy the environment.

    Young anthem singer hits all the right notes for Toronto Maple Leafs

    TORONTO (CNS) -- The Toronto Maple Leafs have given fans little to cheer about in recent years, but a 15-year-old girl from a Toronto Catholic high school hopes to help change that. Martina Ortiz-Luis, a 10th-grade student from Cardinal Carter Academy for the Arts in Toronto, was recently selected from among more than 500 applicants to be the team's official anthem singer for home games. "I'm just really excited to pump up the crowd at every home game this season," she said. "It's like a dream come true and I am so happy. "I'm a fan of all of the Toronto teams. I really wanted to sing for one of them," she said. When it comes to hockey, she says all of her friends are fans, but the Leafs are the only team she follows. "When my parents moved here (from the Philippines), they started getting into hockey," she said. "You have to support the Toronto teams." In the 100-year history of the Leafs, this season marks the first time one person has been chosen to sing the anthem at every home game. Martina, who had never attended a Leaf game prior to this fall, earned the job after advancing through several audition rounds against several hundred other aspiring anthem singers. By the end of September, she had become the top choice selected by Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment officials.

    Jesuits elect Venezuelan as new head of order

    ROME (CNS) -- Jesuit Father Arturo Sosa Abascal, 67, a member of the Jesuits' Venezuelan province, was elected the first non-European superior general of the Society of Jesus. The 212 voting delegates to the Jesuit general congregation elected Father Sosa Oct. 14. He succeeds Father Adolfo Nicolas, 80, who had asked to resign because of his age. Pope Francis was informed of the election of Father Sosa before the Jesuits announced it publicly. The election came after four days of prayer, silence and quiet one-on-one conversations among the voting delegates, who were chosen to represent the more than 16,000 Jesuits around the world. Reacting to his election, Father Sosa told Vatican Radio, "I have the feeling of needing great help; now the great challenge begins."

    For Cardinal-designate, red hat tops a priesthood filled with surprises

    VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- For Cardinal-designate Blase J. Cupich of Chicago, one of nine children born to a family in Omaha, Nebraska, more than 40 years of priesthood have been filled with "Are you kidding me?" moments. Like Pope Francis, the archbishop of Chicago has a special affection for Caravaggio's painting of "The Calling of St. Matthew" and he often stops in Rome's Church of St. Louis of France to look at it. Ordained a bishop on the feast of St. Matthew, Sept. 21, in 1998, Cardinal-designate Cupich said that the call of Matthew speaks to "my own spirituality." In the painting, he said, Matthew has "that surprised look on his face, that sense of wonderment, of 'Are you kidding me?' And that's the way I kind of feel at this point in my life. No one could have ever crafted this story; this is something that is an 'Are you kidding me?' moment," the cardinal-designate told Catholic News Service Oct. 13 during an interview in Rome. Just a few days after Pope Francis announced Oct. 9 that he would induct the Chicago archbishop and 16 other churchmen into the College of Cardinals, Cardinal-designate Cupich was at the Vatican on a previously scheduled trip to take part in a meeting of the Congregation for Bishops.

    Beware the leaven of hypocrisy that deceives, judges others, pope says

    VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Be trustworthy, transparent and truthful, not a "spiritual schizophrenic" who says one thing and does something else, Pope Francis said. "A hypocrite is a phony: He seems nice, courteous, but he has a dagger behind him," the pope said Oct. 14 in his homily during Mass at Domus Sanctae Marthae. The pope focused on the day's Gospel reading from St. Luke (12:1-7) in which Jesus warns his disciples about "the leaven -- that is, the hypocrisy -- of the Pharisees." Pope Francis said there is good leaven and bad leaven. Good leaven builds up God's kingdom, he said; it is "solid, nourishing and becomes good bread." Bad leaven -- the deceitful leaven of hypocrites -- he said, is all about appearances, looking good on the outside, but inside, there's little substance, much like a pastry his Italian grandmother used to make for Carnival.

    - - -

    Copyright © 2016 Catholic News Service/U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. All rights reserved. Republishing or redistributing of CNS content, including by framing or similar means without prior permission, is prohibited. You may link to stories on our public site. This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use only. To request permission for republishing or redistributing of CNS content, please contact permissions at

Updated throughout the day by Catholic News Service.

National/World multimedia:

Check out the Catholic News Service multimedia player on the Catholic Herald Web site front page, featuring daily Vatican video reports, coverage of the church in the U.S. and more.

NOTE: requires Adobe Flash Player.

What is Catholic News Service?
Catholic News Service (CNS), the oldest and largest religious news service in the world, is a leading source of news for Catholic print and electronic media across the globe. With bureaus in Washington and Rome, as well as a global correspondent network, CNS since 1920 has set the standard in Catholic journalism.

Top of page

Please support our advertisers: