#PopeInDC: Five Firsts for Francis

09/22/2015 Comment
Marianne Medlin/CNA

– Marianne Medlin/CNA

When Pope Francis comes to Washington, D.C. for his visit to the United States, he will be making a number of historic and personal “firsts.” Here are five first time events that Americans will see from Pope Francis in the nation’s capital.


1)  Pope Francis’s visit to Washington will be the first time he offers the Mass in the United States.

Unlike his predecessors St. John Paul II, and Benedict XVI, Pope Francis had never visited the U.S. before his election where he became the 265th successor of St. Peter as Bishop of Rome.

St. John Paul II twice visited the U.S. before becoming Pope in 1978. The first time was in 1969, when Cardinal Karol Wojtyla was visiting with Polish-American...READ MORE

Filed under francis, hispanic pope, joint meeting of congress, junipero serra, pope francis, pope in dc

Video: Planned Parenthood Exec Talks Compensation for Aborted Baby Parts

07/21/2015 Comments (5)

A new undercover video shows a Planned Parenthood medical director discussing with an undercover investigator (posing as a representative of a fetal tissue procurement company) about the appropriate compensation her facility should expect for procuring tissue from aborted infants.

The edited eight minute video primarily features Dr. Mary Gatter, President of Planned Parenthood Federation of America’s Medical Director’s Council. It is the second video in a series of undercover videos taken by the Center for Medical Progress, which posed as Biomax Procurement Services. The National Catholic Register has already reported on the first video: Is Planned Parenthood’s Fetal-Parts Trade Legal?


Filed under center for medical progress, fetal tissue, planned parenthood, selling tissue

Catholics Respond to Brave New Roe: One Nation, Divided Over Marriage

06/26/2015 Comment

Welcome to the new Roe v. Wade for marriage: the Supreme Court has handed down its wide-reaching declaration that “same-sex marriage” is a constitutional right and states must recognize same-sex unions contracted as marriages in other states.

Justice Anthony Kennedy, a Catholic, authored the 5-4 decision, in which he was joined by Catholic justice Sonia Sotomayor. In contrast, all four of the dissenting justices were Catholic.

The decision by the high court to once again try to end the debate on a contentious national issue has provoked strong responses on either side, between expressions of triumph and tragedy.

Here are some excerpts of reactions to today’s decision: 

Bishops Decry...READ MORE

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Carolyn Woo of CRS Previews Pope Francis's New Encyclical

06/17/2015 Comment

Carolyn Woo, CEO of Catholic Relief Services. All photos below are courtesy of Catholic Relief Services. Photos show areas of the Philippines hit by some of the strongest typhoons on record, or drought stricken parts of Ethiopia due to changing weather patterns.

ROME — As one of the encyclical presenters for the Vatican, Carolyn Woo, CEO of Catholic Relief Services, the international development and relief agency of the U.S. Catholic bishops, knows what’s coming with Laudato Si: On the Care of Our Common Home. What she sees is a game-changer in the discussion on climate change and man’s impact on the environment.

The Vatican’s press office announced Monday that Woo will be one of four presenters when the Pope Francis’s encyclical is rolled out on June 18.

Speaking with the Register by phone from Rome, Woo speaks about the role private enterprise and individuals can play in addressing climate change, where multiple man-made factors may be at play...READ MORE

Filed under carolyn woo, catholic, catholic relief services, climate change, crs, environment, environmental encyclical, global cooling, global warming, laudato si

Bishop Consecrates Virgin This Sunday — Pittsburgh Makes History

05/29/2015 Comment

Bishop David Zubik.

– Facebook.com/DioceseofPittsburgh

PITTSBURGH — The Catholic Diocese of Pittsburgh is witnessing history on Sunday, when Bishop David Zubik for the first time — and for the first time in local church’s history — consecrates a woman to perpetual virginity with an ancient rite restored in 1970.

Sheila Ryan will be specially consecrated to Jesus Christ at St. Richard’s parish in Richland Township during the 8 a.m. Mass on May 31, when Bishop Zubik will celebrate the Rite of Consecration of Virgins Living in the World. When the rite is celebrated, Ryan will be dressed like a bride, and Bishop Zubik will give her a veil, a ring, and a book of the Liturgy of the Hours — all symbols of her new life committed to Christ.

This rite...READ MORE

Filed under bishop zubik, consecrated life, consecrated virgin, consecrated vocation, david zubik, diocese of pittsburgh, perpetual virginity, pittsburgh, public witness, secular vocation

Making Benedict XVI’s Dream Come True in Denver

05/26/2015 Comments (1)
Elise Harris/CNA

Archbishop Samuel Aquila of Denver.

– Elise Harris/CNA

On Pentecost Sunday, Archbishop Samuel Aquila made history in the U.S. by announcing that the Archdiocese of Denver would be the first U.S. Latin-rite archdiocese to restore the order of the sacraments of initiation to Baptism, then Confirmation, and finally Holy Eucharist.

As the Register reported on Saturday, the age for Confirmation will be lowered to third grade and received right before First Holy Communion at the same Mass, reversing a century long custom in the Latin Church in favor of a traditional order for receiving the sacraments that dates back to the Acts of the Apostles.

In this Register interview, Archbishop Samuel Aquila shares that he decided to restore the order to help...READ MORE

Filed under aquila, confirmation, denver, denver archdiocese, diocese of fargo, diocese of phoenix, fargo, first eucharist, holy communion, lectio divina

‘Grave, But Not Without Hope’: Iraqi Nun's Full Testimony to Congress

05/15/2015 Comment
Matt Hadro/CNA.

Sister Diana Momeka, OP appeared before the House of Foreign Affairs Committee in Washington D.C. on May 13, 2015.

– Matt Hadro/CNA.

WASHINGTON — “Grave, but not without hope.” Those words summarize the situation of the future of Christianity in Iraq, and the future of Iraq itself, according to Sister Diana Momeka, a Dominican Sister of St. Catherine of Siena from Mosul, Iraq. She appeared on Wednesday before the House Foreign Affairs Committee on Wednesday to testify about the persecution her people have endured at the hands of the Islamic State (ISIS) terrorist group that forced more than 120,000 Christians to flee northern Iraq for the safety of the Kurdistan region last summer.

Sister Diana is a refugee in her own country while ISIS occupies the birthplace of Christianity in Iraq: Mosul and the Nineveh Plain. She...READ MORE

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Catholic Relief Services: Caught in the Terror of Nepal’s Latest Quake

05/13/2015 Comment
Catholic Relief Services.

Jennifer Poidatz (above) was in the middle of supervising 37 CRS staff distributing aid in Nepal when the second disaster hit.

– Catholic Relief Services.

KATHMANDU — A terrifying second earthquake struck Nepal on Tuesday, wreaking new terror and destruction just as the afflicted Himalayan nation had begun to recover from the first. Now emergency relief workers from Catholic Relief Services share another bond solidarity with Nepal’s Catholic Church: they too are survivors.

All 37 CRS staff in Nepal are safe and accounted for, and so far — although lines of communication and transport are badly damaged — the May 12 earthquake appears to have taken far fewer lives than the 8,000 victims of the April 25 quake, even though both tremblors were comparable in their intensity (7.3 and 7.8 magnitudes respectively).

As Wednesday night descended on...READ MORE

Filed under caritas, caritas nepal, caritas network, catholic relief services, crs, crs rice bowl, earthquake, emergency relief, himalayas, kathmandu

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About Peter Jesserer Smith

Peter Jesserer Smith
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Peter Jesserer Smith is the Washington correspondent for the National Catholic Register. He helped cover Pope Francis's historic visit to Jerusalem and the Holy Land in 2014. Later that same year, he covered the Syrian and Iraqi refugee crisis by traveling to Jordan and Lebanon, representing the Register through Catholic Relief Services's Egan Fellowship. Before coming on board the Register in 2013, he was a freelance writer, reporting for Catholic media outlets as the Register and Our Sunday Visitor. He is a graduate of the National Journalism Center and earned a B.A. in Philosophy at Christendom College, where he co-founded the student newspaper, The Rambler, and served as its editor. He comes originally from the Finger Lakes region of New York State.