Catholic Church

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.

Image via REUTERS/Alessandro Bianchi/RNS

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.

Image via REUTERS/Max Rossi/Files/RNS

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.

Image via Adelle M. Banks / RNS

The debate that began when students learned that Planned Parenthood President Cecile Richards would speak at the nation’s oldest Catholic university continued when she received a standing ovation at Georgetown’s Lohrfink Auditorium. The media was not permitted inside, but students who heard her said she defended her organization’s stances and urged abortion opponents to respect those who think women should have choice in their reproductive decisions.

Image via Fredrick Nzwili / RNS

A Catholic priest has denounced the killings of two legendary lions, one violently speared by a Maasai warrior, outside the city’s famous national park. Lions and other wildlife roam freely in the wild in the 45 square-mile Nairobi National Park. A popular tourist destination, the park is only a short drive from the central business district and has earned Nairobi the distinction of the world’s wildlife capital.

Archbishop Christophe Pierre. Image via REUTERS/Henry Romero/RNS

Pope Francis has named the Vatican’s envoy to Mexico as his new ambassador to the U.S., replacing the Vatican diplomat who sparked controversy last September by setting up a secret meeting between the pontiff and Kim Davis, the Kentucky county clerk who briefly went to jail rather than certify same-sex marriages. The appointment to Washington of French-born Archbishop Christophe Pierre, now the Vatican’s representative, or nuncio, in Mexico City, was announced by the Holy See on April 12.

Pope Francis has criticized those who care more about the letter of the law than people’s individual situations, continuing to assert the overarching theme of the landmark apostolic exhortation on the family he issued last week. Speaking during his homily at Mass on April 11, Francis warned Catholics against such behavior by recalling the day’s Scripture reading from Acts, in which Stephen is accused of blasphemy by religious leaders of the day.

Image via REUTERS/Tony Gentile/RNS

Pope Francis’ “Joy of Love,” a massive document released April 8 that wraps unchanged doctrine on marriage, divorce, and LGBT life in gentle terms, is getting a mixed reaction from U.S. Catholics.

Ryan Hammill 04-07-2016

Illustration by JP Keenan/Sojourners. Images: Giulio Napolitano / Raul654, Shutterstock, Wuerl image: Public domain.

If Cardinal Wuerl has found himself at the heart of contemporary Catholic history, it hasn’t been on purpose. He’s been searching, from Mass to committee meeting, from fundraising event to coffee break, to get to the heart of something else.For one reason or another, Donald Wuerl has found himself present for many of the most important events in the Catholic Church in the past half-century: He was in Rome during Vatican II; he orchestrated a landmark diocesan reorganization in Pittsburgh; he anticipated — and battled — the Vatican over the clerical abuse crisis in the United States.

With a career where he has ended up in the right place at the right time over and over again, some might dismiss Wuerl as a climber. But his determination to follow his conscience on difficult issues — and empower others to do the same — shows that he has been searching for something deeper than prestige.

The Apostolic Exhortation, Amoris Laetitia (The Joy of Love), will be the culmination of two synods in which family matters were hotly debated by bishops. Since the second such conference concluded in October, Francis has been charged with producing a defining text to determine the Catholic Church’s way forward on everything from divorce to pornography.

Cardinal Bertone with Pope Francis. Image via Paul Haring / Catholic News Service / RNS

The Vatican has launched an investigation into the funding of its former secretary of state’s apartment restoration.The investigation involves two executives from Rome’s Bambino Gesu Children’s Hospital — former chairman Giuseppe Profiti and former treasurer Massimo Spina — on allegations that they misappropriated hospital funds to pay for the restoration of Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone’s apartment while he was Vatican secretary of state.

Image via REUTERS/Stefano Rellandini/RNS

Italy may be the spiritual home of 1.2 billion members of the Catholic Church around the world, but a new poll shows only 50 percent of Italians consider themselves Catholic. The poll, published in the liberal daily L’Unita on March 29, challenges long-held perceptions that Italy is a “Catholic” country, despite the popularity of Pope Francis and the historic role of the Vatican City State in the heart of Rome.

Mother Angelica. Image via Our Lady of the Angels Monastery / RNS

Mother Angelica, the conservative nun who founded the Eternal Word Television Network, died on Easter Sunday, 15 years after a debilitating stroke on Christmas Eve. She was 92.

Although she was only able to communicate with a squeeze of her hand for many years, she retained devoted admirers nationwide who followed the Catholic cable channel she started in 1981. She personified EWTN, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Michael P. Warsaw said in a news release March 27, according to The Associated Press.

Image via REUTERS/Stefano Rellandini/RNS

As the death toll from the Brussels terror attacks continued to climb March 24, Pope Francis began three days of solemn observances leading to Easter Sunday with a call for mercy and forgiveness. In a morning Mass at St. Peter’s Basilica to mark Holy Thursday, the pontiff said Jesus had fought not for his own glory but to break down walls “to open the flood gates of mercy … he wants to pour out upon our world.”

Katie Breslin, left, and Katie Stone, right. Image via Lauren Markoe / RNS

Amid the helium balloons, dance music, chants, and counterchants, Katie Stone and Katie Breslin spelled out their opposing views outside the Supreme Court as the justices inside heard one of the most contentious cases of the year. The two 20-something Christians, both motivated by faith, say the justices’ ruling in Zubik v. Burwell could affirm or weaken the most basic of rights. The case asks whether religious nonprofits must comply with the Affordable Care Act’s contraception mandate, or whether it violates the federal law that sets a high bar for government infringement on religious rights.

Image via Sally Morrow / RNS

This Mississippi River city and the surrounding area have taken some hits over the past year, from the ongoing racial tensions over police shootings in Ferguson to the deadly and costly floods that struck the region earlier this year. Even St. Louis’ pro football team has bailed, as the Rams announced in January that they are decamping to the sunnier climes of Southern California.

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More than 50 conservative Catholic activists and political leaders have come out in support of Republican presidential hopeful Ted Cruz in an effort to shore up Catholic backing for Cruz as an alternative to Donald Trump. Among them is a priest from South Carolina who may be skirting the edges of his own church’s policies against clerics becoming involved in politics.

Cardinal Philippe Barbarin. Image via Reuters/Charles Platiau/RNS

French Prime Minister Manuel Valls called on a prominent cardinal to “assume his responsibilities” amid widening allegations of a pedophilia cover-up targeting Lyon’s Roman Catholic diocese. In an interview with BFM TV on March 15, Valls refused to comment on whether Cardinal Philippe Barbarin should step down. The archbishop of Lyon, Barbarin has been accused of covering up alleged sexual abuse of young boy scouts by Lyon priest Bernard Preynat between 1986 and 1991 — before Barbarin was named cardinal.