Catholic Church

Catholic Bishops in Burundi Call for Democracy, Government Calls Them Terrorists

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.

Austrian Bishop Refuses to Allow Construction of Refugee Fence on Church Land

Image via  / Shutterstock.com

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.

Vatican Unexpectedly Suspends Independent Financial Audit

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.

Is the Pope Catholic?

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.

Planned Parenthood's Cecile Richards Gets Standing Ovation at Georgetown

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.

Kenyan Priest Denounces Killing of Two Legendary Lions

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.

Pope Francis Names New Vatican Ambassador to U.S.

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 Again Blasts Moral Legalism by Religious Leaders

Image via giulio napolitano / Shutterstock.com

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.

The Wuerl Effect

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.

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