Catholic Church

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.

Image via Joseph Sohm / Shutterstock.com

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.

Image via  / Shutterstock.com

A Spanish priest has confessed to leaking secret Vatican information to journalists, telling a Holy See court he felt trapped and in danger, especially from an Italian co-worker he had fallen for. Monsignor Angelo Lucio Vallejo Balda told the court on March 14 that he passed information to two Italian journalists, Gianluigi Nuzzi and Emiliano Fittipaldi, who in November published books featuring the confidential documents on Vatican financial misfeasance and Pope Francis’ efforts to overhaul the system.

Archbishop Blase Cupich greets Pope Francis. Image via Rich Kalonick / RNS

The morning after a Chicago rally for Donald Trump was canceled for fear of violence, the city’s Catholic archbishop warned that “enmity and animosity” are hallmarks of today’s politics and a “cancer” that is threatening the nation’s civic health.

“Our nation seems to have lost a sense of the importance of cultivating friendships as fellow citizens who, being equal, share much in common,” Archbishop Blase Cupich said in a homily March 12 at Old St. Patrick’s Church.

Image via REUTERS/Alessandro Bianchi/RNS

Pope Francis has approved new rules to tighten financial oversight of the canonization process after leaked documents revealed abuses and high costs in creating saints. The new measures focus on how the Holy See handles applications for sainthood, which can be a lengthy and expensive process that involves examining claims made by supporters of a would-be saint.

The Rev. Olivier Ndjimbi-Tshiende. Image via BR24 / Twitter

A Catholic priest has resigned from his parish in Germany after racist threats and abuse by local politicians. The Rev. Olivier Ndjimbi-Tshiende told parishioners during his March 6 sermon that he would be leaving his post in Zorneding, close to Munich, after Easter. The Congolese-German priest received race-related death threats five times in the past few months and has also been stalked, German magazine Der Spiegel reported.

Jeff Chu 03-09-2016

Lit candles at Santa Maria sopra Minerva. Image via Jeff Chu

Since I was born Baptist, I think I was taught in utero to be skeptical of all this Roman Catholic stuff. Of Mary. Of popes and princes. Of these incense-tainted, saintward prayers. Of the overreliance on the heritage that traces back to St. Peter (though of course we would never have called him St. Peter). At one point, our guide said, “Upon this rock, I build my church blah blah blah.” She meant no disrespect. Yet it was one of the funniest, most unwittingly perfect things she has said, pithily capturing our sometimes-cavalier attitude toward this church and, for some of us, institutional religion more broadly.

Ryan Hammill 03-07-2016

When I talk to the Christians whom I want to emulate, I find that they talk about other people — a mentor or a pastor or a spouse or a parent or a writer or a friend or someone else who changed them. If their life had an acknowledgments page, it’d be pretty long. And if you could go talk to those people, they’d probably talk about someone else. And so would those people, and those people, and those people. And eventually, I guess you’d get all the way back to John or Martha or Mary or Peter. And they’d tell you all about this guy named Yeshua, whom they followed around for a few years in Capernaum and Jericho and Jerusalem. Which makes sense, I guess. Christianity isn’t about me following Jesus, following Yeshua.

Image via REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst/RNS

Vice President Joe Biden and former House Speaker John Boehner, devout Catholics and longtime political foes, will share a prestigious honor from the University of Notre Dame in a pointed rebuke to the polarization and ugliness of American politics shown perhaps most vividly in the Republican nominating contest currently led by Donald Trump.

“We live in a toxic political environment where poisonous invective and partisan gamesmanship pass for political leadership,” Notre Dame’s president, the Rev. John Jenkins, said in statement announcing that Biden, a Democrat, and Boehner, a Republican, would receive the 2016 Laetare Medal.

Image via Drop of Light / Shutterstock.com

There is intense anticipation in the Catholic Church — and no small amount of anxiety for traditionalists — over what Pope Francis will say about communion for divorced and remarried Catholics in a key document expected in the coming weeks. But Francis has already made an intriguing change in this area, albeit one that only concerns the Vatican’s arcane diplomatic protocol and a very, very select group: Catholic heads of state.

Stephanie Pacheco 03-03-2016

St. Katharine Drexel. Image in the public domain in the United States.

We cannot control or shape the place of our birth. It gives us our bounds for understanding ourselves on this earth. It is difficult to grow beyond our background to include others who are different within the scope of our compassion. Most often we are inclined to feel loyalty only to people who are similar to us in critical regards.

Image via /Shutterstock.com

A series of essays in the semi-official Vatican newspaper is urging the Catholic Church to allow women to preach from the pulpit at Mass, a role reserved almost exclusively to the all-male priesthood for nearly 800 years.

“This topic is a delicate one, but I believe it is urgent that we address it,” Enzo Bianchi, leader of an ecumenical religious community in northern Italy and a popular Catholic commentator, wrote in his article in L’Osservatore Romano.

Image via /Shutterstock.com

A Louisiana judge has ruled that a state law requiring clergy to report child abuse or other crimes learned in the confessional is unconstitutional because it infringes on religious liberty. At issue is a long-running case involving Rebecca Mayeaux, a 22-year-old who claims that when she was 14 she told the Rev. Jeff Bayhi, a Catholic priest, during confession that a church member was abusing her. Mayeaux claims Bayhi told her to “sweep it under the rug.”

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