Do Catholics support torture?

Is the pope Argentinian? From The Washington Post:  According to a new poll released Tuesday by The Washington Post and ABC News, a majority of Americans believe that torture of suspected terrorists can be justified — even in the wake of graphic revelations by a Senate Intelligence Committee report of exactly what such tactics look like. A majority [Read More...]

14-year-old boy executed for 1944 murder is exonerated

From CBS News:  A 14-year-old South Carolina boy who was quickly convicted of murder and then executed in 1944 has been posthumously exonerated. Judge Carmen Tevis Mullen vacated George Stinney, Jr.’s conviction on Wednesday, stating that the boy’s prosecution was marked by “fundamental, Consitutional violations of due process.” According to the judge’s order, Stinney, who [Read More...]

“We can do anything. We could be heroes…”

This is guaranteed to make you gasp, squeal, swoon, and maybe even feel a lump in your throat. People are awesome. And a little bit nuts. But mostly awesome. Crank up the volume and enjoy! [Read more...]

Vatican diplomacy and release of Alan Gross: “Pope Francis personally issued an appeal in a letter to Obama and Castro…”

From The Washington Post:   Sen. Richard J. Durbin (D-Ill.) received a phone call on Tuesday night from White House National Security Adviser Susan Rice that “just knocked me off my feet.” After more than five years of captivity, Alan Gross was coming home. Durbin was in the midst of wrapping up the Senate’s tumultuous year, [Read More...]

Thousands celebrate pope’s birthday at Vatican with flash mob tango

Well, how else would you celebrate? See for yourself below. Details from Carol Glatz at CNS:   Pope Francis always asks for prayers, especially for his birthday, but this year he also got some tango. Thousands of tango dancers, mostly from Italy, flocked to St. Peter’s Square to wave their white scarves “A Tango for Pope [Read More...]

Church of England names first female bishop

From the BBC:   Reverend Libby Lane has been announced as the first female bishop for the Church of England, just a month after a historic change to canon law. She will become the new Bishop of Stockport, a post that has been vacant since May. Mrs Lane has been the vicar at St Peter’s [Read More...]

Elf on a shelf? What are you, meshugenah??

You need a Mensch on a Bench! But somehow I don’t think it’s a deacon’s bench. Details:  Elf on a Shelf has quickly become a part of many families’ Christmas celebrations over the past few years. When Neal Hoffman’s young son Jacob asked if they could have an Elf, Hoffman came up with an idea [Read More...]

Now THAT’s Christmas caroling!

Get a load of what happened when those clever people at Improv Everywhere went caroling in New Jersey. “Epic” doesn’t quite do this justice. I wonder what the neighbors thought…? And you can read about how it all came together right here.  [Read more...]

Meet the deacon who was sheriff

From the Kane County Chronicle  in Illinois: The Kenneth Ramsey most people know is a tough guy. He was a lawman for 35 years, first in Batavia, then as a sheriff’s deputy, eventually serving as sheriff of Kane County from 1994 to 2006. Ramsey also was a soldier, with 41 years in the U.S. Army and [Read More...]

For first time, Boston will admit gay group to St. Patrick’s Day parade

First New York. Now, Boston. From the AP:  For the first time in its history, the sponsors of Boston’s St. Patrick’s Day parade will allow a group representing the gay community to participate, drawing cheers from Mayor Martin Walsh, who boycotted the event last year over the exclusion. The South Boston Allied War Veterans Council, which has long [Read More...]

Is the pope trying to tell us something?

With all the debate raging in the Catholic world about admitting divorced and remarried Catholics to communion, I couldn’t help but think Pope Francis was trying to telegraph a message in his homily Monday:  In his December 15 homily at Domus Sanctae Marthae, Pope Francis decried the rigidity and lack of principle of the chief priests in [Read More...]

It’s here: Vatican report on U.S. nuns

From CNS:  A massive, detailed Vatican-ordered investigation of U.S. communities of women religious ended with a call to the women themselves to continue discerning how best to live the Gospel in fidelity to their orders’ founding ideals while facing steeply declining numbers and a rapidly aging membership.Although initially seen by many religious and lay Catholics [Read More...]

Slaughter in Pakistan: there are no words for this kind of evil

Breaking news this morning from Pakistan:  At least 126 people, most of them children, were killed on Tuesday when Taliban gunmen stormed a school in the Pakistani city of Peshawar, taking hundreds of students hostage in the bloodiest insurgent attack in the country in years. Troops surrounded the building and an operation was underway to [Read More...]

Cardinal Dolan severs ties with Fr. Frank Pavone’s Priests for Life

From Religion News Service:   In the latest clash between the Catholic hierarchy and one of the church’s leading anti-abortion crusaders, New York Cardinal Timothy Dolan accused the Rev. Frank Pavone of continuing to stonewall on financial reforms, and Dolan said he is cutting ties with his group, Priests for Life. In a Nov. 20 letter to other U.S. bishops, [Read More...]

“The war on Christmas is over. Jesus won.”

That’s the eye-catching headline of this item in The Washington Post, summarizing a new report from those folks at Pew: A new Pew Research Center survey finds nearly three-quarters of Americans — 73 percent — believe that Jesus was literally born to a virgin. This is especially surprising when you consider that only one third of Americans say that [Read More...]

Catholic enough? Archdiocese launches Office of Catholic Identity Assessment for schools

From Catholic San Francisco:  Archbishop Salvatore J. Cordileone is creating a new Office of Catholic Identity Assessment for Catholic high schools starting Jan. 1 – an initiative that may be the first in the country. The office will not only work with the four archdiocesan high schools which fall directly under the archdiocesan Department of [Read More...]

The pope offers a prayer tool: your hand

From Vatican Insider:  “When I pray God breathes in me.” This is the opening phrase of the 40-page prayer book signed by Francis and handed out to faithful present in St. Peter’s Square for today’s Angelus and the traditional “Bambinelli Blessing”. The front cover of the booklet published by Libreria Editrice Vaticana, the Vatican publishing house [Read More...]

Another papal first: Pope has private audience with Salvation Army general

Did he bring his red bucket? Details from Vatican Radio: In a first private audience in the Vatican with a Salvation Army general on Friday, Pope Francis said theological differences do not impede the witness of a shared love of God and neighbour. He also spoke of his first encounter, as a 4-year old, with [Read More...]


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