Josephine McKenna writes for Religion News Service.
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Trump's Refugee Ban Keeps Human Rights Leader From Receiving Award
As the only female Yazidi in the Iraqi Parliament, Dakhil fought tirelessly for international assistance to stop the violence, including sexual slavery, targeting her beleaguered people.
Now she has been awarded the Lantos Human Rights Prize in Washington, D.C. But she is unlikely to make the ceremony on Feb. 8, since President Donald Trump banned all travelers from Iraq.
Christian Refugees Will Suffer From Trump Ban, Say Iraqi Catholic Leaders
In other comments published Monday, Chaldean Patriarch Louis Raphael I Sako of Baghdad also said Trump’s policy of preferential immigration for Christians was a “trap” and would “create and feed” tensions with Muslims.
Pope Francis Urges Media to 'Engage in Constructive Forms of Communication'
In a powerfully worded message, the pope said he wanted to encourage media professionals to engage in “constructive forms of communication that reject prejudice” and help create a world of “realism and trust.”
The pope’s message came days after President Trump launched a bitter attack on news media over its reporting on the size of his inauguration crowd.
In his message, Francis said he was concerned about the focus on “bad news” that included “wars, terrorism, scandals and all sorts of human failure” by a media industry that thinks good news doesn’t sell and where the “tragedy of human suffering and the mystery of evil” easily become entertainment.
Pope Francis: Jesus Was a Migrant Like Today's Refugees
As Pope Francis officially opened this year’s Christmas Nativity scene in St. Peter’s Square, he said Jesus was a “migrant” who reminds us of the plight of today’s refugees.
Francis told donors who contributed both the Nativity set and an 82-foot tree that the story of Jesus’ birth echoes the “tragic reality of migrants, on boats, making their way toward Italy,” from the Middle East and Africa today.
Outcry Greets Vatican Decision to Reaffirm Ban on Gay Priests
“Pope Francis has a lot of explaining to do by approving the newest Vatican instruction,” said Francis DeBernardo, executive director of New Ways Ministry, which campaigns for LGBT rights in the church.
“Francis’ famous ‘Who am I to judge?’ statement in 2013 was made in response to a question about gay men in the priesthood,” DeBernardo said. “That response indicated very plainly that he did not have a problem with a gay priest’s sexual orientation.
Vatican Launches Website in Response to Clergy Sex Scandals
The Vatican has launched a website as part of its efforts to protect children from clerical sexual abuse and promote healing and reconciliation.
It’s the first time that the Vatican has published resources and documents on the issue, and the site is sponsored by the commission set up by Pope Francis to protect minors.
Oklahoma City Priest Declared First U.S. Martyr by Pope Francis
An American missionary priest, killed in Guatemala in 1981, has moved a step closer to being named a Catholic saint, after Pope Francis declared him the first-ever American martyr.
The Rev. Stanley Rother, a priest from the Archdiocese of Oklahoma City, served for nearly 15 years in Guatemala before being shot dead, during the country’s bloody civil war that divided the country from 1960 to 1996.
Pope Francis Meets Ex-Priests in Gesture of Mercy
Pope Francis on [Nov. 11] made a surprise visit to meet several men who took the controversial step of leaving the priesthood and starting a family.
A Vatican statement said the pope left his residence in the afternoon and traveled to an apartment on the outskirts of Rome, where he met seven men who had left the priesthood in recent years. The pontiff also met their families.
Pope Francis Reminds Donald Trump Not to Forget the Poor
In an interview conducted on Nov. 7, on the eve of the election, and published Friday by an Italian daily, the Argentine pope declined to make any judgment about Trump.
“I do not judge people or politicians,” the pope told Eugenio Scalfari of La Repubblica when asked what he thought of Trump. “I only want to understand what suffering their behavior causes to the poor and the excluded.”
Italian Quake Destroys Historic Catholic Landmarks
The strongest earthquake to strike Italy in more than three decades claimed no lives, but struck at the heart of the country’s vast religious and cultural heritage.
The Oct. 30 quake, which measured 6.6 magnitude according to the U.S. Geological Survey, was stronger than the one that killed almost 300 people on Aug. 24, and it struck a region already shaken by tremors last week.
Protestant and Catholic Agree: Free Market Is Becoming Our 'God'
In 2013, Francis provoked an outcry from economic conservatives with the release of his apostolic exhortation, “Evangelii Gaudium (The Joy of the Gospel),” which was widely seen as his personal manifesto. In it, Francis said the world could no longer trust “the unseen forces and the invisible hand of the market,” and called for ecclesiastical renewal and compassion for the poor.
Cox, who taught at Harvard for 50 years, dedicated his latest book to the pope because they share a concern about what Francis called a “deified market” that’s creating “new idols.”
Vatican to Catholics: Cremation Can Be OK, But Don't Scatter Ashes
Catholics can be cremated under certain conditions, the Vatican has said, but loved ones should not scatter the ashes at sea, or on land, or into the wind, nor should they keep them in mementos or jewelry.
Instead, say new guidelines released on Oct. 25, the remains should be stored “in a sacred place” that “prevents the faithful departed from being forgotten” and “prevents any unfitting or superstitious practices.”
Catholic Charity in India Says It Will Recruit Transgender People to Fight Bias
The Indian branch of the Catholic social welfare organization Caritas has announced plans to fight discrimination and recruit transgender people — a striking step for an official church organization.
Caritas India announced the decision earlier this month after holding internal talks about adopting a more inclusive policy. But officials stressed that doesn’t mean it supports gender change.
A McDonald's at the Vatican? Cardinals Aren't Lovin' It
Italian Cardinal Elio Sgreccia was the first to publicly sound the alarm, saying the proposal to open an outlet of the global fast-food chain, below a Vatican-owned building where several cardinals live, was a “controversial, perverse decision.”
In an interview published over the weekend in La Repubblica, Sgreccia said the proposal was “not at all respectful of the architectural and urban traditions” of a destination — just a block from St. Peter’s Square — that draws thousands of pilgrims and tourists a day from around the world.
He also said serving burgers and fries in the neighborhood was unacceptable because McDonald’s cuisine breached Italian taste.
Jesuits Elect Their First Latin American Leader
The Rev. Arturo Sosa, 67, is Venezuelan and was chosen in a secret ballot by 212 electors at the 36th General Congregation of the Society of Jesus in Rome, after a lengthy four-day voting process.
The order’s vicar, the Rev. James E. Grummer, announced on Oct. 14 that Sosa had won a majority of votes and proclaimed him superior general of the order, the first Latin American to hold the post, much as Pope Francis, also a Jesuit, is the first Latin American elected to the papacy.
Who Holds the Keys to the Vatican? This Man.
There’s barely a sound and the corridors are still empty when the neatly dressed Crea suddenly flicks a switch to reveal walls lined with Renaissance frescoes and priceless tapestries.
It’s a stunning moment, and Crea, who holds the title of “clavigero,” or chief key keeper at the Vatican Museums, never tires of it. He manages a dedicated team that opens and closes some 300 rooms every day.
Pope Urges Protection of 'Invisible and Voiceless' Child Migrants
Pope Francis has made an impassioned plea to the international community to protect the world’s “invisible and voiceless” child migrants who fall prey to prostitution, human trafficking, and forced labor when they travel far from home.
In a strongly worded statement released ahead of the World Day of Migrants and Refugees [on Jan. 15], Francis said immigration is “growing into a tragic situation of global proportions" and children are being exploited by the “unscrupulous” as they flee violence and poverty.
Soccer Legend Maradona Credits Pope Francis for Renewing His Faith
The 55-year-old Maradona is regarded as one of the greatest players of all time and is joining some of the world’s other top players, including Brazilians Ronaldinho and Felipe Anderson as well as Italian player Francesco Totti, at the pope’s benefit soccer match to be held in Rome on Oct. 12.
“I am with Pope Francis, for him I am always available,” Maradona told a news conference this week.
Pope Francis Warns Syria Aggressors They Will Face Divine Wrath
Pope Francis said those bombing civilians in the besieged Syrian city of Aleppo will be “accountable to God” for their actions as he renewed his appeals for peace amid an intensifying civil war in that country.
It also emerged on Sept. 28 that the pontiff has asked a Catholic charity to auction the cars used on a recent trip to Poland and use the proceeds to help Syrian refugees in Lebanon.
The pope’s emotional appeal for peace in Syria came during his weekly general audience in St Peter’s Square in which he voiced his heartfelt support and prayers for the people of Aleppo.
Pope Francis Lunches with World Refugees
Pope Francis met with refugees and leaders of religious faiths including Christians, Jews, Muslims, and Hindus who joined him for a day of prayer for peace in Assisi, home of his namesake, the 12th-century friar St. Francis.
But it was the migrants he invited to join him for lunch on Sept. 20 who captured the headlines and illustrated the tangible impact of war and conflict.