Catholic Church

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.

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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.

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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 3-09-2016

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 3-07-2016

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.

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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 3-03-2016

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.

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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.

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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.”

Cardinal Sean O'Malley. Image via George Martell/Pilot New Media/Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Boston/flickr.com

Cardinal Sean O’Malley, head of the Archdiocese of Boston, whose record on clergy sex abuse was uncovered by The Boston Globe and portrayed in this year’s Oscar-winning film Spotlight, has praised the movie for forcing the Catholic Church to acknowledge its “crimes and sins.”

Spotlight is an important film for all impacted by the tragedy of clergy sexual abuse,” said O’Malley, who was named to the archdiocese after Cardinal Bernard Law was forced from office in 2002 following revelations that church officials protected abusive priests.

Archbishop Terrence Prendergast.

Image via Paul Haring/Catholic News Service/RNS

A leading Canadian Catholic churchman has said that a person who plans to die through assisted suicide can be denied last rites by a priest, a view that may spark debate as assisted suicide laws proliferate and pastors are presented with a new moral quandary. The bottom line, said Ottawa Archbishop Terrence Prendergast, is that a Catholic who requests assistance in dying “lacks the proper disposition for the anointing of the sick,” as the sacrament is formally known.

Cardinal George Pell. Public domain image

Australian Cardinal George Pell, now a top adviser to Pope Francis, testified in a landmark clergy sex abuse inquiry that the Catholic Church made “enormous mistakes” in trying to deal with the scandal. Speaking to an Australian commission investigating the church’s response to abuse, Pell — who had previously been archbishop in Sydney — also said that during the 1970s he was “very strongly inclined to accept the denial” of a priest accused of abuse.

Image via REUTERS/Ricardo Moraes/RNS.

With the abortion debate continuing to gather steam, evangelical church leader César Augusto of the Source of Life Church in Goias, central Brazil, advised women last week to avoid becoming pregnant, while Cardinal Odilo Scherer, the Roman Catholic archbishop of Sao Paulo, told women in a BBC interview to “view (babies with microcephaly) as a mission.”

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Christian Ventisette was stopped at Madrid airport after an international arrest warrant was issued for the French-Italian businessman, Italy’s financial police said Feb. 24. Ventisette is accused of scamming more than 250 investors out of around 30 million euros ($33 million) in an international operation involving an Argentine priest. The retired cleric, the Rev. Patrizio Benvenuti, was put under house arrest in Italy earlier this month. He previously worked at a Vatican tribunal and currently has residency in the Canary Islands, a Spanish archipelago off the west coast of Africa.

Brian Kaylor 2-24-2016

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Catholic candidates are mistakenly seeking to put politics and economics on one side and religion on the other. Such a dividing point misses the point of their faith. Catholic Mass — and worship services of other Christians — remains grounded in politics. Religious worship is political. The religious and political cannot be separated. To reject the politics or economics of Jesus would be to reject the spiritual teachings of Jesus.

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