Catholic

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Italian archaeologists have discovered the remains of 38 skeletons buried in a Jewish cemetery in Rome more than 500 years ago, offering further evidence of their ubiquity and persecution under papal rule.

The well-preserved skeletons were found during excavations beneath a building, in an area identified on ancient maps as “Campus Iudeorum” — Latin for “Field of Jews” — in the Trastevere quarter of Rome, just across the Tiber River from the Italian capital.

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Collins, who was sexually abused by a priest at age 13, resigned on March 1, citing what she called “shameful” resistance to commission proposals from the Vatican’s powerful doctrinal office, which is responsible for pursuing cases against abusive priests and bishops.

Saunders stepped aside after publicly calling for Australian Cardinal George Pell to be dismissed, after news reports surfaced that he had protected pedophile priests in Australia. Pell serves as the Vatican’s finance chief.

Image via RNS/Rev. Justo Gonzalez II

The Trump administration’s hard-line stance on undocumented immigrants is polarizing: People have responded with either “throw the bums out” or “have a heart.” But the question of whether faith communities can legally offer the undocumented physical sanctuary — sheltering them in churches, synagogues, and mosques to keep them from immigration authorities — is not so cut and dry. 

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As Pope Francis marks the fourth anniversary of his revolutionary papacy, the pontiff apparently finds himself besieged on all sides by crises of his own making: an open “civil war” in the Catholic Church and fears of schism, mounting opposition from the faithful, and a Roman Curia so furious with his reforms that some cardinals are plotting a coup to topple him.

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A day after his first speech to Congress, President Trump was still basking in unexpected praise from the public and some pundits, who saw in his delivery a man who finally came across as measured in tone and downright “presidential,” as some put it, even if his few policy prescriptions reiterated the hard line, nationalist agenda that propelled him to office.

But there is one key constituency that might not be as enamored with the address: social conservatives, whose support was arguably most critical to Trump’s election.

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Despite President Trump’s threat of a “Muslim ban” during the 2016 campaign, Hadil Mansoor Al-Mowafak, a 20-year-old international affairs student at Stanford University, was taken aback when he banned travel from seven Muslim countries, including Yemen, where her husband lives.

“I didn’t think it was even possible,” Al-Mowafak said. “I thought he just used the Muslim ban during his campaign, and once he took power he’d face reality.”

Sean Carroll 2-16-2017

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On Feb. 8, Guadalupe Garcia de Rayos went to Mass and said a prayer before voluntarily going to her biannual appointment at the immigration office in Phoenix.

Guadalupe knew that, because of President Trump’s executive order on immigration enforcement, she was now considered a high priority for deportation and could be sent back to Mexico, leaving her two teenage children, both of them U.S. citizens.

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Pope Francis has condemned clerical sex abuse as an “absolute monstrosity,” and asked victims and their families for forgiveness on behalf of the Catholic Church.

In an unusual move, the pontiff’s comments were published as a preface to a new book by Daniel Pittet, a Swiss victim who was sexually abused for four years by a priest when he was a child.

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President Trump’s proposed border wall with Mexico raises serious questions about America’s moral standing, as the poor would bear the brunt of the suffering, a leading Catholic theologian says.

The Rev. Daniel G. Groody, an associate professor of theology at Notre Dame University in Indiana, said the wall would lead to a loss of life, as migrants are forced to find other ways to escape poverty across the border.

“What Trump fails to see is that state sovereignty is not an absolute privilege, but a moral responsibility,” said Groody.

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President Donald Trump had promised last week evangelical Christians would “love” his nominee for the Supreme Court.

And in fact, said evangelical author and president of The KAIROS Company Johnnie Moore, a member of Trump’s evangelical advisory board, “Evangelicals are ecstatic.”

On Jan. 31, Trump nominated Neil Gorsuch to fill the open seat on the Supreme Court left by the unexpected death of Justice Antonin Scalia nearly a year ago.

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In other comments published Monday, Chaldean Patriarch Louis Raphael I Sako of Baghdad also said Trump’s policy of preferential immigration for Christians was a “trap” and would “create and feed” tensions with Muslims. 

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Bishops will examine proposals to amend or replace Obamacare but said that “for now that a repeal of key provisions of the Affordable Care Act ought not be undertaken without the concurrent passage of a replacement plan that ensures access to adequate health care for the millions of people who now rely upon it for their wellbeing.”

Warren Hall 1-12-2017

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It has also been five months since Myers suspended me from all priestly ministry, for my “disobedience” in continuing to be involved with that same work against LGBT discrimination.

That’s given me a lot of time to think about what would happen when a new archbishop came to Newark, and what my future would be.

John Gehring 1-09-2017

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Sessions has long been, in the words of one prominent immigration advocate, the “most anti-immigrant senator in the chamber.” When George W. Bush, a self-styled “compassionate conservative” and born-again Christian, pushed a comprehensive immigration reform bill in 2007 that was supported by many business and law-enforcement officials, Sessions railed against what he called the “no illegal alien left behind bill” and led the charge against the failed effort. “Good fences make good neighbors,” he said at a press conference the year before.

Uzhunnalil claims that his captors have made repeated attempts to negotiate with the Indian government and Catholic officials, but he says nothing has happened. “I am very sad that nothing has been done seriously in my regard.

“If I were a European priest, I would have been taken more seriously by authorities, and people and would have got me released,” Uzhunnalil continued. “I am from India and perhaps am not considered of as much value. I am sad about this.”

Image via RNS/Tom Heneghan

All was apparently going fine until Micha Brumlik, a retired Frankfurt University education professor and respected Jewish commentator, wrote last June that the popular toy was “anti-Jewish, if not even anti-Semitic.”

The problem, he said, was the inscription on the open pages of the Bible that the Playmobil Luther holds. On the left is written in German: “Books of the Old Testament. END,” while the right page says “The New Testament, translated by Doctor Martin Luther.”

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The United States Congress is about as Christian today as it was in the early 1960s, according to a new analysis by Pew Research Center.

Nearly 91 percent of members of the 115th Congress convening on Jan. 3 describe themselves as Christian, compared to 95 percent of Congress members serving from 1961 to 1962, according to congressional data compiled by CQ Roll Call and analyzed by Pew.

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As Pope Francis officially opened this year’s Christmas Nativity scene in St. Peter’s Square, he said Jesus was a “migrant” who reminds us of the plight of today’s refugees.

Francis told donors who contributed both the Nativity set and an 82-foot tree that the story of Jesus’ birth echoes the “tragic reality of migrants, on boats, making their way toward Italy,” from the Middle East and Africa today.

Image via RNS/Reuters/Tami Chappell

I remember the crunch of the snow beneath my boots, and the feel of my mitten in his hand, when the time was right to share my secret: “Dad,” I said, “I’m going to be a priest.”

Although it was over 50 years ago, I still remember the look on his face. He was a big shot at General Electric Co., but he was a sensitive, loving man. He stopped and looked at me, with sad eyes and pursed lips, perhaps gathering his thoughts.

Finally, he simply said, “MaryAnn, they don’t let girls be priests.”

Image via RNS/Emily McFarlan Miller

“I think there’s a moment of great creativity for women leaders in the religious sphere,” said the Rev. Katharine Rhodes Henderson, president of Auburn Theological Seminary, and author of God’s Troublemakers: How Women of Faith Are Changing the World.

“I think that we are seeing, in lots of areas of American life, that some of the traditional structures that served well for a long period of time are no longer doing so. … A time of change means there’s a possibility of new types of leadership and new people doing it.”

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