Catholic Church

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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 / Youtube.com

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.

the Web Editors 06-14-2016

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After Native American delegates met with Pope Francis and other Vatican representatives requesting an end to the Doctrine of Discovery, the Vatican said that it would consider rescinding the 500-year-old Catholic policy, reports APTN.

The Doctrine of Discovery is the name for a body of Catholic law that granted land rights to whichever European Christian nation settled territory in the New World. It considered as terra nullius (“nobody’s land”) any territory occupied by “heathens, pagans, and infidels” — in other words, the original inhabitants of the Americas.

Archbishop Blase Cupich. Image via Goat_Girl / flickr.com

Chicago Archbishop Blase Cupich has decried the apparent targeting of gays and lesbians in the Orlando nightclub massacre and called for greater efforts on gun control, the first senior U.S. Catholic churchman to identify a likely reason the victims were singled out and raise the controversial issue of access to weapons.

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The Vatican has signed a new deal with international accountants, weeks after the unprecedented audit of the Holy See’s finances came to an abrupt halt.

PricewaterhouseCoopers will advise the city-state’s auditor general, the Vatican said on June 10.

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Pope Francis has upended many traditions during his extraordinary pontificate, to the point that some have wondered whether he is really Catholic.

But the pope has now made one thing clear: He’s sure not a Baptist.

Archbishop Anthony S. Apuron. Image via Paul Haring / Catholic News Service / RNS

Mounting accusations of sexual abuse against the archbishop of Guam have prompted Pope Francis to name a Vatican official to oversee the Catholic Church on the Pacific island territory while the charges are investigated.

The decision announced June 6 to force Archbishop Anthony Sablan Apuron, who has led the Agana Archdiocese for 30 years, to yield his authority, at least temporarily, is the latest sign that Francis is taking tougher steps to tackle the sexual abuse crisis.

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The Anglican Communion and the Roman Catholic Church have been on a long road to reconciliation in the centuries since Henry VIII broke with the pope.

But it’s unlikely that the latest faith-sharing move by a drunken Church of England vicar will do much to advance the cause of ecumenism.

Terrence J. Rynne 06-03-2016
thaikrit / Shutterstock

thaikrit / Shutterstock

THIS SPRING, the Vatican hosted a historic convocation focused on what Pope Francis called “the active witness of nonviolence as a ‘weapon’ to achieve peace.”

Eighty participants from around the world told striking, at times heroic, stories of nonviolent peacemaking at the Rome gathering, convened by the Catholic peace movement Pax Christi International and the Vatican’s justice and peace office.

Many of them arrived directly from situations where they are mediating between violent factions using pragmatic nonviolence fueled by Christian faith—as in Uganda, Iraq, Colombia, and Mexico. Others are engaged in nonviolent peacebuilding in regions recovering from traumatic violence—as in Sri Lanka, Kenya, and the Philippines. Some are active in unarmed civilian accompaniment, shielding people under threat of violence—as in Palestine, Syria, and South Sudan. Theologians, ethicists, and international policy negotiators contributed broader context to the situational experiences.

The conversation focused on four key questions: 1) What can we learn from experiences of nonviolence as a spiritual commitment of faith and a practical strategy in violent situations across cultural contexts? 2) How do recent experiences of active nonviolence help illuminate Jesus’ way of nonviolence and engaging conflict? 3) What are the theological developments on just peace and how do they build on the scriptures and the trajectory of Catholic social thought? 4) What are key elements of an ethical framework for engaging acute conflict and addressing the “responsibility to protect” rooted in the theology and practices of nonviolent conflict transformation, nonviolent intervention, and just peace?

The convocation concluded with an astonishing document, presented to Pope Francis, titled “An appeal to the Catholic Church to recommit to the centrality of gospel nonviolence.” Recommendations included a request for a papal encyclical calling Christians to return to their fundamental vocation of nonviolent peacemaking. That means rejecting just war theory as the “settled teaching” of the church and replacing it with Jesus’ life and teaching as the foremost guide.

Image via REUTERS/Osservatore Romano/Handout via Reuters/RNS

The Vatican has always been a hothouse for conspiracy theories, and a new controversy over the so-called Third Secret of Fatima is showing just how persistent such fixations can be — to the extent that the latest episode even forced Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI out of seclusion to refute claims that he once shaded the truth about the mysterious prophecy.

Image via REUTERS / Brian Snyder / File photo / RNS

After 11 years of defiantly occupying a parish building that the Archdiocese of Boston ordered closed in 2004, the people of St. Frances X. Cabrini Church in Scituate, Mass., are finally handing over the keys. The tenacious protesters, angry their parish would be closed in the wake of the clergy sexual abuse crisis, lost their final Hail Mary bid to reopen the church May 16 when the U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear their case.

Stephen Seufert 05-23-2016

If House Speaker Paul Ryan truly wants to promote a “compassionate conservative” agenda that counters the divisive rhetoric of the presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, Ryan should follow the example of one man: Pope Francis.

Image via David Gibson / RNS

The Roman Catholic bishop of Brooklyn, one of the largest and most diverse dioceses in the U.S., is defending immigrants in a powerful essay that — without mentioning names — seems to take direct aim at Donald Trump and his supporters by ripping the “racist and xenophobic tendencies” in society and arguing that immigration in fact helps the economy.

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