Catholic Church

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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
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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

Monsignor Tony Anatrella. Image via Peter Potrowl / Wikimedia Commons / RNS

For years, seminaries and monasteries around France sent students and novices to Monsignor Tony Anatrella, a prominent French priest and therapist who has written disparagingly of gays, if their superiors decided the young men were struggling with homosexuality.

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A July 2015 report by the National Catholic Reporter, which is viewed as a liberal outlet, found a few dioceses that offered up to three weeks of paid maternity or family leave while most – including Chicago, until now – made employees use accrued time off and sick days, or up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave, as guaranteed by a 1993 federal law, when they gave birth to a child or adopted a child.

Sr. Carmen Sammut. Image via Rosie Scammell / RNS

Catholic sisters globally would be better equipped to carry out their work if they could become deacons, the head of a global network of nuns has said, an important marker in the sharp debate over women deacons that Pope Francis opened last week.

“We are already doing so many things that resemble what a deacon would do, although it would help us to do a bit more service if we were ordained deacons,” Sister Carmen Sammut, president of the International Union of Superiors General, or UISG, told RNS.

the Web Editors 05-17-2016

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These accusations suggest evidence of a coverup on the part of the Seattle Archdiocese, wrote KIRO7 reporter Dave Wagner, who first broke the story on his Facebook page

But "the Seattle Archdiocese maintains it is trying to atone for the sins of the past."

John Gehring 05-13-2016

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When Pope Francis became the first pontiff in history to address Congress last fall, two of the most powerful Catholics in Washington sat behind him.

In an opening with historic import, Pope Francis has said he wants to study the possibility of ordaining women as deacons, a step that could for the first time open the ranks of the Catholic Church’s all-male clergy to women.

 

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A religious order covered up the sexual crimes of an Irish priest who abused more than 100 children, some as young as 6, according to a new report.

The failures of the Salvatorian order to act on the crimes of a priest named “Father A” were outlined in a report released May 4 by Ireland’s National Board for Safeguarding Children in the Catholic Church.

John Dear 05-02-2016

Dan Berrigan published more than 50 books of poetry, essays, journals, and Scripture commentaries, as well as an award winning play, The Trial of the Catonsville Nine, in his remarkable life, but he was most known for burning draft files with homemade napalm along with his brother Philip and eight others on May 17, 1968, in Catonsville, Md., igniting widespread national protest against the Vietnam War, including increased opposition from religious communities. He was the first U.S. priest ever arrested in protest of war, at the national mobilization against the Vietnam War at the Pentagon in October 1967. He was arrested hundreds of times since then in protests against war and nuclear weapons, spent two years of his life in prison, and was repeatedly nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize.
 

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The Rev. Daniel Berrigan, a Jesuit priest and herald of the Catholic social justice movement whose name — along with his late brother, Philip, also a priest — became synonymous with anti-war activism in the Vietnam era, has died.

He was 94 when he passed away on April 30 and had been living at the Jesuit infirmary at Fordham University in the Bronx.

Ryan Hammill 04-26-2016

For over 1,500 years, the Catholic Church has promoted “just war theory” as a way to determine in what cases a war can be considered morally justifiable. But all of that may change.

In an interview, Cardinal Peter Turkson of Ghana said that it is “plausible” that Pope Francis may write a new encyclical updating Catholic teaching on war and peace, an update that could include a retreat from just war theory. Francis’ last encyclical, “Laudato Si,” made waves for its condemnation of capitalism and call to address climate change.

Kenyan students in Burundian solidarity vigil. Image via REUTERS/Noor Khamis/RNS

A serious breakdown between the powerful Roman Catholic Church and the government in Burundi is raising concerns over stability in the East African nation, as senior government officials accuse the church of sponsoring violence. Since April 2015, the country has been racked by chaos after President Pierre Nkurunziza agreed to run for a third term. Catholic bishops had strongly opposed the move, saying the constitution was clear that a president should serve only two terms.

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A Roman Catholic bishop has challenged Austria’s plans to construct a fence to keep out refugees by refusing to allow the authorities to build on church land and arguing it runs contrary to the pope’s wishes. A fence “would contradict the spirit of the Gospel, Pope Francis’s clear message to Europe, and in particular for a diocese that was in the shadow of the Iron Curtain for decades,” Aegidius Zsifkokvics, the bishop of Eisenstadt, told the AFP news agency.

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The Vatican has put a stop to the work of international auditors just months after they were hired to review the city-state’s bookkeeping — a move said to have surprised Pope Francis’ handpicked financial czar, Cardinal George Pell. The suspension earlier this month of the audit, well underway by the global firm PricewaterhouseCoopers, was also viewed as threatening the pope’s broader efforts to clean up the Vatican’s murky finances.

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That’s always been the jokey answer to a dumb question, but it’s now a serious issue for Catholic intellectuals who have been criticizing, and defending, the Catholic bona fides of Pope Francis, especially since the pontiff released a landmark document on family life earlier this month that some say calls into question the church’s teachings on the permanence of marriage.

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