According to Agenzia Fides, the Vatican’s official news agency, soldiers forcefully entered the homes of three activists from a human rights group called Coalition des Femmes Pour la Protection des Droits Humanis on Dec. 19. The three women ad hrecently traveled along rural areas of the country to raise awareness about power structures and the need for President Kabila to step down after his expired mandate. They received numerous telephone threats that may have been a precursor to the kidnapping and violence that they later faced.
A week after Donald Trump’s stunning election as president sent the country’s governance lurching to the right, the nation’s Catholic bishops sent a message of their own — at least on immigration — by putting Mexican-born Archbishop Jose Gomez of Los Angeles in line to become the first Latino to lead the American hierarchy.
But the vote at their annual fall meeting in Baltimore on Nov. 15 also suggested that the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops is still hesitant to fully endorse the more progressive and pastoral approach to ministry that Pope Francis has been championing since his election in 2013.
Donald Trump’s victory in the 2016 presidential election has few parallels in the history of contemporary politics in the Western world.
But the closest one is familiar to me: Silvio Berlusconi, the media tycoon who was elected prime minister of Italy — my homeland — for the first time on March 27, 1994 and who served four stints as prime minister until 2011.
Pope Francis on [Nov. 11] made a surprise visit to meet several men who took the controversial step of leaving the priesthood and starting a family.
A Vatican statement said the pope left his residence in the afternoon and traveled to an apartment on the outskirts of Rome, where he met seven men who had left the priesthood in recent years. The pontiff also met their families.
The strongest earthquake to strike Italy in more than three decades claimed no lives, but struck at the heart of the country’s vast religious and cultural heritage.
The Oct. 30 quake, which measured 6.6 magnitude according to the U.S. Geological Survey, was stronger than the one that killed almost 300 people on Aug. 24, and it struck a region already shaken by tremors last week.
“JUST WAR IS KILLING US! There is no just war.”
That proclamation by a Catholic sister from Iraq, and others like it, resounded at a Vatican gathering this spring and fell on surprisingly receptive ears.
Sister Nazik Matty, an Iraqi Dominican, joined others from around the world in Rome in April to wrestle with how the Catholic Church could “recommit to the centrality of gospel nonviolence.” She has watched members of her religious community die for lack of medical care during war.
“Which of the wars we have been in is a just war?” asked Sister Matty, who was driven from her home in Mosul by ISIS, also known by the Arabic acronym Daesh. “In my country, there was no just war. War is the mother of ignorance, isolation, and poverty. Please tell the world there is no such thing as a just war. I say this as a daughter of war.”
The Rome gathering on Nonviolence and Just Peace was unprecedented, bringing together members of the church hierarchy with social scientists, theologians, practitioners of nonviolence, diplomats, and unarmed civilian peacekeepers to discuss Catholic nonviolence and whether in the contemporary world armed force can ever be justified.
Of course, with such diverse participants, there was not a common mind on whether just war theory, a doctrine of military ethics used by Catholic theologians, has outlived its usefulness as church teaching.
Some of the academics and diplomats—particularly from the United States and Western Europe—maintained that just war criteria, when properly applied, are useful when working within halls of power, from the Pentagon to the United Nations, for restraining excessive use of military force by a state. One participant cautioned against “broad condemnations of just war tradition, if it means closing off dialogue with our allies.” Another questioned how diplomacy could continue without the just war framework as its common language.
But Catholics who came to Rome from conflict zones—Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, Palestine, Colombia, Mexico, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Burundi, and Uganda—brought a different perspective.
Pope Francis met with refugees and leaders of religious faiths including Christians, Jews, Muslims, and Hindus who joined him for a day of prayer for peace in Assisi, home of his namesake, the 12th-century friar St. Francis.
But it was the migrants he invited to join him for lunch on Sept. 20 who captured the headlines and illustrated the tangible impact of war and conflict.
Mother Teresa, the tiny nun who devoted her life to the poor, was declared a saint by Pope Francis at the Vatican as he celebrated her “daring and courage,” and described her as a role model for all in his year of mercy.
At least 120,000 people crowded a sun-drenched St. Peter’s Square for the canonization of the acclaimed nun who may have worked in the slums of Kolkata but was a force to be reckoned with by political and religious leaders around the world.
A sign that hung in the volunteer room at Shanti Dan quoted Mother Teresa, reading, “I pray each one of you to be holy and so spread [God’s] love everywhere you go. Light [God’s] light of truth in every person’s life so that God can continue loving the world through you and me.”
This was not just a commission for those serving in Kolkata. Poverty, violence, hatred, sadness, hopelessness, crime, greed, darkness, jealousy exist in our homes across the world. And Mother Teresa was known for encouraging people to serve their neighbors in their hometowns or wherever they are called, striving to love each person as God loved us.
Pope Francis has brought in a high-profile change of guard at the Vatican with the appointment of an American as press director and a Spanish woman to serve as the director’s deputy.
The announcement on July 11 means the Rev. Federico Lombardi, 73, will step down after a decade running the Holy See press office. The retirement of the Italian Jesuit priest paves the way for a younger, international leadership, with layman Greg Burke, 56, taking over on Aug. 1.
A Vatican court on July 7 convicted two people for leaking confidential documents to journalists, concluding a high-profile trial that had underscored the internal dysfunction that Pope Francis has been trying to end.
Eight months after the “Vatileaks II” scandal erupted and exposed secrecy and widespread mismanagement at the Holy See, the Vatican court ruled that a Spanish priest should be jailed for passing information to reporters.
A Vatican ceremony June 28 featuring a rare joint appearance by Pope Francis and his predecessor seemed aimed at tamping down speculation about the unusual circumstance of having two living popes.
In recent weeks debate has erupted over whether there are two popes sharing authority in the church, or whether Francis is the sole successor of St. Peter.
Stop being judgmental hypocrites and take a look at yourself in the mirror — without covering up your wrinkles — Pope Francis advised Catholics in a sermon that reprised one of his favorite themes.
In his last homily at morning Mass before taking a break for the summer, Francis on June 20 said those who constantly judge people should instead reflect on their own behavior.
After Native American delegates met with Pope Francis and other Vatican representatives requesting an end to the Doctrine of Discovery, the Vatican said that it would consider rescinding the 500-year-old Catholic policy, reports APTN.
The Doctrine of Discovery is the name for a body of Catholic law that granted land rights to whichever European Christian nation settled territory in the New World. It considered as terra nullius (“nobody’s land”) any territory occupied by “heathens, pagans, and infidels” — in other words, the original inhabitants of the Americas.
The Vatican has signed a new deal with international accountants, weeks after the unprecedented audit of the Holy See’s finances came to an abrupt halt.
PricewaterhouseCoopers will advise the city-state’s auditor general, the Vatican said on June 10.
Mounting accusations of sexual abuse against the archbishop of Guam have prompted Pope Francis to name a Vatican official to oversee the Catholic Church on the Pacific island territory while the charges are investigated.
The decision announced June 6 to force Archbishop Anthony Sablan Apuron, who has led the Agana Archdiocese for 30 years, to yield his authority, at least temporarily, is the latest sign that Francis is taking tougher steps to tackle the sexual abuse crisis.
The Anglican Communion and the Roman Catholic Church have been on a long road to reconciliation in the centuries since Henry VIII broke with the pope.
But it’s unlikely that the latest faith-sharing move by a drunken Church of England vicar will do much to advance the cause of ecumenism.
The Vatican has always been a hothouse for conspiracy theories, and a new controversy over the so-called Third Secret of Fatima is showing just how persistent such fixations can be — to the extent that the latest episode even forced Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI out of seclusion to refute claims that he once shaded the truth about the mysterious prophecy.
Pope Francis has welcomed the highest authority in Sunni Islam to the Vatican in a significant step forward in relations between the two largest blocs in Christianity and Islam.
“The meeting is the message,” Francis said on May 23 upon greeting Sheikh Ahmed el-Tayeb, the grand imam of Al-Azhar, a mosque and university complex in Cairo that is viewed as the heart of Sunni Islam, which accounts for about 85 percent, or 1.3 billion, of the world’s Muslims.