Catholic Church

Cardinals hold palm branches at the start of the Palm Sunday Mass led by Pope Francis at St. Peter’s Square at the Vatican on March 20. REUTERS/Max Rossi

With these picks, the third round of cardinal appointments Francis has made since he himself was elected pope in 2013, he did a number of nontraditional things that have become almost customary for him:

First of all, he moved the church’s center of gravity further away from the Old World and toward the “peripheries,” as he says, by selecting more cardinals (six total) from Africa, Asia, and Oceania than from Europe (five).

Image via RNS/Reuters/Mike Segar

“The presidential nominees will share the dais with Timothy Cardinal Dolan, Archbishop of New York, and they will deliver the evening’s speeches in the spirit of collegiality and good-humor that has become a hallmark of the gala,” said a statement issued Sept. 27 by the New York Archdiocese and the foundation that runs the event.

The Oct. 20 dinner “honors a cause that transcends the polarizing political rhetoric of the day and exemplifies the vision of Gov. Alfred E. Smith, known as ‘The Happy Warrior,’ for his ability to maintain his positive outlook even as he tackled the pressing social issues of his day,” the statement said.

Image via /

“This is the first I know of an evangelical seminary with a free-standing requirement for graduation to participate in this kind of discrete training. There are other seminaries where sexual boundary, sexual abuse issues are part of another course or class. But it would not be a free-standing event, as Dallas is doing.”

Image via RNS/Reuters/Jonathan Bachman

No matter where we are, the climate crisis is not far from home.

For some time it has largely been the world’s most vulnerable, in the global south, bearing the brunt of suffering and climate-induced devastation. Those who have the power to change things have so far all but ignored “the cry of the poor and the cry of the earth,” as Pope Francis wrote in his encyclical a little over a year ago.

But just this past month in the United States — one of the world’s wealthiest nations — we have seen historic droughts, unprecedented floods in Louisiana, and wildfires in California, killing many and displacing tens of thousands.

Image via RNS/Reuters/Remo Casilli

Pope Francis expressed his “heartfelt sorrow” after a powerful earthquake killed at least 120 people and left a trail of destruction across central Italy. Hundreds of people were injured and dozens of others missing in several small towns after the magnitude-6.2 quake struck at 3:36 a.m. local time (Aug. 24). The quake’s epicenter was about 90 miles northeast of Rome, but the shock waves were felt from the southern city of Naples to the northern town of Rimini on the Adriatic Coast. A powerful aftershock of 5.4 magnitude followed an hour later.

Image via RNS/REUTERS/Alessandro Bianchi

Ever since Pope Francis was elected in March 2013, he has faced strong opposition from traditionalists unhappy with his push for church reforms — and the face of that opposition has often been Cardinal Raymond Burke, an American prelate who has worked in senior positions in Rome for most of the past decade.

Nearly 500 years after Martin Luther nailed his 95 theses to the Castle Church door, the largest Lutheran denomination in the U.S. has approved a declaration recognizing “there are no longer church-dividing issues” on many points with the Roman Catholic Church.

Phyllis Zagano. Image via Hofstra University / RNS

The Vatican this week unveiled Pope Francis’ picks for a 12-member panel of scholars who will study the question of whether women were ordained as deacons in the early church, and whether they could be ordained in the Catholic Church today — a historic step, if it were to happen.

What will the commission, which will operate under the supervision of an archbishop from the Vatican’s doctrinal office, do?

Phillip M. Thompson 08-04-2016

Image via REUTERS / Max Rossi / RNS

The Vatican has confirmed that “after intense prayer and mature reflection, Pope Francis has decided to institute the Commission for the Study of the Diaconate of Women.” A deacon is a minister of the Catholic Church who is ordained as a sacramental sign of Christ, who came “to serve and not to be served.”

If women are permitted to be deacons by the church, they can baptize as well as marry and bury. They can offer homilies. These are momentous steps.

Carl Anderson. Image via Knights of Columbus / RNS

Carl Anderson, leader of the Knights of Columbus fraternal order and one of the most influential lay Catholics in the church, has said that abortion outweighs all other issues in the presidential campaign and Catholics cannot vote for a candidate who supports abortion rights.

Abortion is not “just another political issue” but “is in reality a legal regime that has resulted in more than 40 million deaths,” Anderson told the Knights’ international convention in Toronto in a speech on Aug. 2.

the Web Editors 08-02-2016

Image via neneo /

During a meeting with hundreds of nuns back in May, Pope Francis surprised many both in and outside the Catholic Church by saying he’d like to consider the historical role of female deacons, or deaconesses, in the early church and whether the diaconate should be re-opened to women.

On Aug. 1, Pope Francis made good on his expressed interest by appointing a commission to study the question, reports CNN.

Christopher Lamb 08-01-2016

Image via REUTERS / Stefano Rellandini / RNS

To outsiders, a massive rally of young Catholics waving flags and chanting “Francis” might seem like a strange spectacle far removed from today’s pressing concerns.

But in a world scarred by religiously-inspired violence and grappling with a global migrants crisis, the World Youth Day gathering in Poland that wrapped up on July 31 could be read as a powerful piece of counterprogramming.

Image via REUTERS / Gary Cameron / RNS

If there is one constant in this unconventional presidential campaign it is the unpredictability — and importance — of the Catholic vote.

Once a reliably Democratic cohort, Catholics have in recent decades swung back and forth between the two parties. And because they represent more than a fifth of all voters, and are concentrated in key Midwestern swing states, the candidate with the most Catholic support has wound up winning the popular vote.

RNS Staff 07-26-2016

Image via REUTERS/Pascal Rossignol/RNS

France was convulsed by another horrific attack on July 26 as armed men burst into a Catholic Church near Rouen and slit the throat of a priest who was saying Mass.

The slain priest, the Rev. Jacques Hamel, 84, was one of four people taken hostage by the attackers, who authorities said had claimed to be from Daesh, the Arabic term for the Islamic State group.

John Gehring 07-20-2016

Image via REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst/RNS

Donald Trump takes pride in rattling the GOP establishment, but he faces a major roadblock on the way to the White House.

Catholic voters, who have been key to picking the winning ticket in almost every modern election, reject Trump decisively. In 2012, President Obama won the overall Catholic vote 50 percent to 48 percent. Hillary Clinton now leads 56 percent to 39 percent, a sizable gap unlikely to close much by November.

Image via REUTERS / Max Rossi / RNS

A Vatican ceremony June 28 featuring a rare joint appearance by Pope Francis and his predecessor seemed aimed at tamping down speculation about the unusual circumstance of having two living popes.

In recent weeks debate has erupted over whether there are two popes sharing authority in the church, or whether Francis is the sole successor of St. Peter.

Image via REUTERS/Tiziana Fabi/Pool/RNS

While Francis’ comments on the plane were not officially sanctioned by the Catholic Church, they are another indication that the new boss ain’t the same as the old boss.

Image via Sally Morrow / RNS

A single chime rang out after each abuse victim’s statement was read over the speakers at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in downtown Kansas City, a solemn echo to enduring pain.

It was a simple, symbolic gesture but one that had an almost inexpressible resonance for those who had been abused, and for many Catholics in a diocese so identified with clergy abuse that its last bishop was forced to resign.

Image via REUTERS/Tony Gentile/RNS

Stop being judgmental hypocrites and take a look at yourself in the mirror — without covering up your wrinkles — Pope Francis advised Catholics in a sermon that reprised one of his favorite themes.

In his last homily at morning Mass before taking a break for the summer, Francis on June 20 said those who constantly judge people should instead reflect on their own behavior.

the Web Editors 06-15-2016

Screenshot via SerienTrailerMP /

Will ‘Pope Lenny’ be a hit drama? Or a hilarious disappointment?

Watch the first trailer for the ballyhooed new series, The Young Pope, and your reaction will likely be one or the other.