Don’t believe your eyes: “I’m really shocked at how people have twisted my picture”

This picture is making the rounds again, supposedly showing a war orphan in Iraq—or, maybe, Syria. But—like so many things lately—it’s not what it seems. Details:  An image of a child purportedly lying between his parents’ graves in Syria that exploded on Facebook and Twitter was actually a staged photo taken as part of an [Read More...]

From CNEWA: In Iraq, “the needs are overwhelming”

The latest on the ground:  This morning, we received an email from our regional director Michel Constantin in Beirut, who described his phone conversation with Bishop Geryes El Kass Moussa, patriarchal vicar of the Syriac Catholic Church in Iraq: The bishop is at present in Erbil and is staying with the displaced and refugee Christians. [Read More...]

Irish bishop issues pastoral letter on diaconate, calls for men to consider the vocation

The restored diaconate is something new in Ireland, and the number of deacons is relatively small. But one bishop, Kieran O’Reilly of the Diocese of Killaloe, has taken a dramatic step to do something about that.  A few days ago, he issued a pastoral letter on the permanent diaconate, outlining the vocation and inviting men to [Read More...]

“Sandinista priest” says Mass for first time in 29 years

Details:  Sandinista priest Miguel D’Escoto Brockmann, a close advisor to President Daniel Ortega, said his first Mass in 29 years this week after Pope Francis reinstated his priestly ministry. D’Escoto, a Maryknoll priest, was suspended from his priestly duties by Pope John Paul II in 1985 for refusing to renounce his position in the revolutionary [Read More...]

An elephant in Galilee?

Details:  There are many amazing characters and creatures described in the Hebrew Bible, but elephants are not among them. Imagine the surprise of a team of archaeologists who were in the midst of their fourth summer of excavations at an ancient synagogue in Israel’s Lower Galilee when they discovered elephants in a mosaic panel where [Read More...]

Couple who abandoned surrogate baby: “We would have preferred to abort him”

Astonishing:  The Australian couple accused of abandoning their surrogate baby in Thailand have admitted they would have preferred to abort the boy, who has Down’s syndrome, because “no parent wants a son with a disability”. In their first public comments since it emerged that they had left the boy called Gammy and returned to Australia [Read More...]

From Iraq: “We are surprised that some countries in the world are silent about what is happening”

From last week, here’s a poignant and personal glimpse at what is happening in Iraq, from the Dominican Sisters who are staying behind: Dear Sisters, Brothers, and Friends, Thank you for journeying with us through prayers and support in the past few months. It really is a time of peril and we are hoping that [Read More...]

FAQ on Christian persecution in Iraq

The following comes from the Archdiocese of Toronto website. It’s a very good primer on what is happening in Iraq—and how you can help.  *** Earlier this week, Cardinal Thomas Collins released a statement calling for Canada to assist persecuted religious minorities in Iraq. Here are some answers to commonly asked questions about the unfolding [Read More...]

Father’s will decrees that children will not receive any inheritance unless they become Catholic

Details, from Australia: From beyond the grave, father-of-four Patrick Carroll continued a five-decade crusade to steer his children away from being active Jehovah’s Witnesses and into Catholicism. Mr Carroll wrote into his will that his adult children were not to receive any inheritance unless they met two conditions: attend his funeral and become Catholics within [Read More...]

Billionaire pastor unveils replica of Temple of Solomon in Brazil

And it’s a doozy. Details:  A Brazilian billionaire preacher inaugurated a massive church building in Sao Paulo, Brazil last week, designed to be a $300 million replica of the original Temple of Solomon, as noted in the Bible’s Old Testament. The temple, which takes over an entire city block, is an 11-story building twice the [Read More...]

“Left Behind” trailer released

I prefer my apocalypses with zombies. But here’s another view of The End of the World As We Know It, based on the best-selling books and starring (why?) Nicholas Cage. I think this will play better in a couple years, on an episode of “Mystery Science Theater 3000.”  [Read more...]

Homily for August 10, 2014: 19th Sunday in Ordinary Time

The gospel we just heard is about many things: courage, faith, mystery. But above all, it is about trust. Trusting God in the midst of any storm, and accepting his invitation, in the middle of the storm, simply to come where he is calling us. The world right now is full of storms. Gaza. Ukraine. [Read More...]

Martyrs read tweets by Joel Osteen

This is inspired, from our Lutheran siblings. (H/T Deacon Sean Keller). Yes, evidently he really did tweet these things.  (His Twitter feed is here.) [Read more...]

What else did CNN get wrong?

From Baltimore’s Catholic Review, here’s an important addendum to CNN’s piece on archbishops and where they live: Archbishop William Lori is mentioned because his residence is valued at $1.24 million. In this case, [author Daniel] Burke fails to make some important distinctions. The archbishop’s house was not purchased by Archbishop Lori; it first served as the [Read More...]

In Iraq, creating camps for Christian refugees

From CNEWA:  This morning, I spoke with a member of the San Egidio Community in the Iraqi Kurdish city of Erbil, who has been very active in responding to the needs of displaced Christian families. He informed me that most of the 80,000 Christians displaced from the towns of Qaraqosh, Bartella and Qaramlesh spent the [Read More...]

Pope appoints personal envoy to Iraq, as US launches first air strikes

From Catholic News Agency:  In light of the increasingly dramatic situation of Christians in Iraq following the expansion of ISIS forces to the plain of Nineveh, Pope Francis has appointed Cardinal Fernando Filoni as his personal envoy.“In light of the grave situation in Iraq, the Holy Father has nominated Cardinal Fernando Filoni, Prefect of the [Read More...]

Thousands call for halt to Wisconsin parish’s annual pig wrestling event

Details: Tens of thousands of people nationwide, including Garbage singer Shirley Manson, are calling on an Outagamie County church to cancel a pig wrestling event planned for Sunday. As of late Thursday, an online petition at had more than 31,000 signatures calling for the cancellation of the Pig Rassle in Stephensville, an unincorporated community [Read More...]

“We live out our awareness that we are called to be the Body of Christ”

A friend sent this my way, from an Anglo-Catholic parish, St. Paul’s, in the Episcopal Diocese of Washington, DC. They’re looking for a new rector, and have published a Rector Qualification Sheet, which describes the parish, its mission, and what it seeks for the new boss. I like how the parish describes itself: In our [Read More...]