Josephine McKenna, Religion News Service

Josephine McKenna writes for Religion News Service.

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Pope Francis Defrocks Italian Priest Convicted of Child Sex Abuse

Image via RNS/Reuters/Tony Gentile

Pope Francis has defrocked an Italian priest who was found guilty of child sex abuse, three years after overturning predecessor Benedict XVI’s decision to do the same after allegations against the priest first came to light.

Mauro Inzoli, 67, was initially defrocked in 2012, after he was first accused of abusing minors, but Francis reversed that decision in 2014, ordering the priest to stay away from children and retire to “a life of prayer and humble discretion.”

Cardinal George Pell Takes a Leave of Absence Following Sex Assault Charges

Image via RNS/Reuters/Alessandro Bianchi

One of the most senior officials in the Vatican took a leave of absence and pledged to defend his name after being charged with multiple historical sex crimes in Australia.

Cardinal George Pell, one of Pope Francis’ most trusted advisors and head of the Holy See’s finance department, is the highest ranking official in the Catholic Church to face abuse charges.

Pope Francis’ Picks for Bioethics Advisory Board Include Prominent U.S. Ethicists

Pope Francis talks as he embraces a child during a special audience with members of the "Train of the children" at the Vatican, on June 3. Reuters/Remo Casilli

Prominent U.S. ethicists are among a number of international experts chosen by Pope Francis for his bioethics advisory board —  a move that might temper the group’s conservative views on sexual morality and life issues.

Catholic Priests Find Science Behind the Stars at the Vatican Observatory

Image via RNS/Tijl Kindt

Twelve Catholic priests and brothers live, work, and pray at the Vatican Observatory as they explore some of the universe’s biggest scientific questions, from the Big Bang theory to the structure of meteorites and stars.

“The observatory exists to show the world that the Catholic Church supports science,” says Brother Guy Consolmagno, an astronomer from Detroit who is also the observatory’s director.

Callista Gingrich Will Soon Be Named U.S. Ambassador to Vatican

Image via RNS/Creative Commons/Gage Skidmore

According to CNN, the decision to nominate Gingrich has already been made, but the announcement is pending approval from the Office of Government Ethics. Earlier this year, Newt Gingrich confirmed his wife was in the running for the job. The White House declined comment on May 15.

9 Catholic Groups to Divest from Coal, Oil, and Gas to Fight Climate Change

Image via RNS/Reuters/Romeo Ranoco

Nine Catholic organizations from around the world have announced they are divesting their savings from coal, oil, and gas companies, in a joint bid to fight climate change.

Religious orders and dioceses from the U.S. and Italy made the announcement on May 10, ahead of international negotiations due this month on implementing the Paris Agreement on climate change.

Trump to Meet Pope Francis at Vatican

Image via Reuters/Randall Hill (left) and Gregorio Borgia (right)

During his early morning visit to the Vatican, Trump will also meet the secretary of state, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, and Archbishop Paul Gallagher, who is responsible for the Holy See’s relations with states.

In Easter Message, Pope Warns Against the Spread of Conflict

Image via RNS/Reuters/Stefano Rellandini

Pope Francis used his traditional Easter Sunday message to call the bombing of a refugee convoy near Aleppo, Syria, a “despicable attack”, and urged world leaders to “prevent the spread of conflicts” despite mounting tensions in Syria and North Korea.

In his Easter blessing, known as “Urbi et Orbi” (“to the city and the world”), the pope urged the faithful to remember “all those forced to leave their homelands as a result of armed conflicts, terrorist attacks, famine, and oppressive regimes.”

Pope Opens Free Laundromats for Homeless

Image via RNS/Vatican Elemosineria Apostolica

First came the showers and the haircuts. Now the washing machines.

In his latest bid to help the poor with practical actions, Pope Francis has opened a free laundromat for the homeless in the heart of Rome.

Since he became pope four years ago, Francis has made it a personal priority to provide them with showers, housing, medical care, and other services to help restore their dignity.

After Syrian Gas Attack, Pope Francis Calls on World Leaders: ‘End This Tragedy’

Image via RNS/Reuters/Ammar Abdullah

Pope Francis condemned the suspected chemical weapons attack that killed over 100 people in Syria and renewed his call for an urgent political solution to end the war. Speaking at his weekly audience at the Vatican on April 5, the pope said he was horrified by the “unacceptable” massacre of civilians, including at least 20 children, on April 4.

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