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Christmas 2014 at the Vatican (2501)

Preparations began with the Dec. 4 arrival of a 75-foot-tall Christmas tree, delivered by helicopter and truck to St. Peter's Square.

12/16/2014 Comments (1)
AP photo/Alessandra Tarantino

The dome of St. Peter's Basilica looms in the background as a man works near the top of an 84-foot, 70-year-old tree placed in St. Peter’s Square at the Vatican on Dec. 9.

– AP photo/Alessandra Tarantino

VATICAN CITY — Preparations for Christmas began at the Vatican on Dec. 4, when a 75-foot-tall Christmas tree, donated by people from the Italian province of Catanzaro in Calabria, was delivered by helicopter and truck to St. Peter’s Square.

The Nativity scene in the square was constructed by a foundation in Verona, Italy, with the help of the Diocese of Venice. Measuring 24 feet high, it has been inspired by the world of opera and consists of 20 terracotta figures.

Elsewhere, the work of the Vatican continued apace. The seventh meeting of the “Group of Nine” cardinals examining reform of the Roman Curia took place Dec. 9-11.

The “World Day of Peace Message 2015” was presented to the...READ MORE

Filed under advent, benedict xvi, christmas, christmas 2014, pope francis, vatican

Pope Francis to Italian Media: People Are More Valuable Than ‘Hits’ (2687)

Journalists, editors and technicians from TV2000, the Italian bishops’ conference broadcasting station, met with the Pope on Dec. 15.

12/16/2014 Comments (1)
CNA/Marta Jiménez Ibáñez

– CNA/Marta Jiménez Ibáñez

VATICAN CITY — Catholics working in media would do well to remember that communications is about informing people — not collecting “hits,” Pope Francis told representatives from the Italian station TV2000.

Journalists, editors and technicians from TV2000, the Italian bishops’ conference broadcasting station, met with the Pope in the Vatican’s Paul VI Hall on Dec. 15.

Addressing those who work in Italian Church television, Pope Francis presented three points of consideration that lie “at the heart” of communications.

First, the Pope said, Catholic media has the “challenging mission” of trying to protect social communications from being “twisted and bent” for other purposes. Rooted in...READ MORE

Filed under ann schneible, catholic faith, catholic news agency, ewtn news, italian bishops' conference, media, national catholici register, pope francis, st. gabriel, television

Controversial Religious-Freedom Diplomat Takes Helm (3751)

Rabbi David Saperstein will be the first non-Christian to hold the position.

12/16/2014 Comments (15)
2013 CNA/World Economic Forum via Flickr (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

Rabbi David Saperstein

– 2013 CNA/World Economic Forum via Flickr (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

WASHINGTON — The U.S. Senate voted 61-36 on Friday to confirm Rabbi David Saperstein as the next U.S. ambassador-at-large for international religious freedom.

“Those of us who have followed religious-freedom issues at home and abroad over the years know how dire the situation is today for many religious communities around the world,” said Rev. C. Welton Gaddy, president of Interfaith Alliance, in response to the confirmation. “David’s leadership has never been more needed; may he go from strength to strength.”

The position, as an official part of the U.S. State Department, is charged with promoting and protecting religious freedom abroad.

The ambassador position has been vacant for much...READ MORE

Filed under catholic news agency, ewtn news, international religious freedom, matt hadro, national catholic register, rabbi david saperstein, religion, washington, d.c., washington, d.c.

Holy See Renews Call for Nuclear Disarmament (1274)

Archbishop Silvano Tomasi, the Holy See’s permanent observer at the United Nations office of Geneva, told participants at the Third Conference on the Humanitarian Impact of Nuclear Weapons that institutions have not found the proper solution to address the nuclear-arms issue.

12/16/2014 Comments (3)
CNA file photo

Archbishop Silvano Tomasi

– CNA file photo

VIENNA — At a meeting on the impact of nuclear arms last week, the Holy See stated that institutions have not found the proper solution to address the nuclear-arms issue and praised the gathering as a new hope towards nuclear disarmament.

Archbishop Silvano Tomasi, the Holy See’s permanent observer at the United Nations office in Geneva, spoke Dec. 9 in Vienna at the Third Conference on the Humanitarian Impact of Nuclear Weapons.

It was the first of these conferences to be attended by some of the five officially recognized nuclear powers, with both the United Kingdom and the United States taking part.

The meeting gathered 158 countries and concluded with the request of an immediate ban...READ MORE

Filed under andrea gagliarducci, archbishop silvano tomasi, catholic faith, catholic news agency, ewtn news, national catholic register, nuclear weapons, united nations

SDG Reviews ‘The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies’ (6843)

The final installment of Peter Jackson’s Middle-earth journey improves in key ways on its immediate predecessors — but it’s not enough.

12/16/2014 Comments (12)

After something like eleventy-one hours in Middle-earth, Peter Jackson at last staggers over the finish line with a roar of triumph before collapsing, not without a touch of dignity and feeling in the end.

Or maybe that was me I’m thinking of. It’s hard to say at this point.

What I can say is that The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies (a title strangely stuffed with too many the’s, at a time when movie titles often dispense with articles) includes — amid overinflated spectacle and cynical fan service — some of the best stuff of any of this prequel trilogy.

I’m reminded that The Lord of the Rings film trilogy offered occasional flashes of inspiration that, for me, actually improved on...READ MORE

Filed under hobbit, lord of the rings, sdg reviews, tolkien

Seven Things to Mention When Bringing a Friend to Mass, Linus and Saint Luke on Christmas and More! (5394)

The Best in Catholic Blogging

12/16/2014 Comment

Click on In New Interview, Pope Francis Defends Decision on Cardinal Burke by John Burger of Aleteia∝ link to read more.

In New Interview, Pope Francis Defends Decision on Cardinal Burke by John Burger of Aleteia∝ - BigPulpit.com

Pope Francis’ Warning to Europe Lost on Lesbian Politico – Wendy Wright, Catholic Lane

Seven Things to Mention When Bringing a Friend to Mass – Lucy East, Epic Pew

Books that Teach Children to Know and Love Their Faith - Francis Phillips, Catholic Herald

Linus and Saint Luke, Say It All About Christmas - Donald R. McClarey JD, The American Catholic

Parishioner Donates Her Kidney to Her Priest – Jack Sheedy, Catholic Herald

We Like Messages, Don’t We? – Howard Duncan, Catholic Stand

Giving Communion to Pro-Abortion Politicians and Archbishop Cupich – Bill Maguire, Crisis...READ MORE

Filed under cardinal burke, europe, faith, holy communion, love, mass, pope francis, president obama, st. hippolytus

The China Factor: Francis Declines Meeting With Dalai Lama (2186)

The Pope’s decision likely was made in order to avoid complicating the Vatican’s relations with the People’s Republic of China.

12/15/2014 Comments (2)
cardinalkungfoundation.org

'Underground' Chinese Catholics processing at the Shrine for Our Lady of China in Dong Lu, prior to the shrine's destruction in 1996 by the Chinese government.

– cardinalkungfoundation.org

VATICAN CITY — Following the reception of the 2014 Nobel Peace Prize by two south Asians last week, Pope Francis praised Nobel laureates’ efforts for peace but chose not to meet with the Dalai Lama, who won the prize in 1989.

The Pope likely declined to meet with Tenzin Gyatso, who is the 14th Dalai Lama, so as not to complicate the Vatican’s relations with the People’s Republic of China.

Cardinal Pietro Parolin, the Vatican secretary of state, sent a message to the World Summit of Nobel Peace Laureates stating that Pope Francis is “deeply grateful for the commitment of the summit participants to promoting peace and fraternity among peoples and for their efforts in finding solutions to...READ MORE

Filed under china, chinese catholics, dalai lama, pope francis, vatican

Vatican Secretary of State Briefly Meets With His U.S. Counterpart (2098)

Cardinal Pietro Parolin and John Kerry reportedly discussed tensions in the Middle East and the possible closing of the Guantanamo Bay detention center.

12/15/2014 Comments (2)
state.gov

Secretary of State John Kerry

– state.gov

VATICAN CITY — The Holy See’s secretary of state, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, held an hour-long meeting with his U.S. counterpart, John Kerry today, during which the two officials discussed the situation in the Middle East and the possibility of closing the detention center at Guantanamo Bay.

Vatican spokesman Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi said the main topics discussed were the situation in the Middle East and the commitment of the U.S. to avoid an escalation of tensions and explosion of violence.

Kerry, who was in Rome for separate meetings with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, also spoke with Cardinal Parolin about a commitment to...READ MORE

Filed under bishop oscar cantu, cardinal pietro parolin, john kerry, state department, u.s. bishops, u.s.-vatican relations, vatican

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