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Papal Diplomacy and the ‘Francis Effect’ (3463)

Ambassadors concur that the Holy Father has already made a positive impact in just 12 months.

03/13/2014 Comments (4)
Lauren Cater/Catholic News Agency

Pope Francis leads a prayer vigil for peace in Syria in St. Peter's Square on Sept. 7, 2013.

– Lauren Cater/Catholic News Agency

VATICAN CITY — One year into his pontificate, Pope Francis’ widespread popularity may have put him on the covers of Time and Rolling Stone, but his gifts are also bringing much greater and more significant benefits in terms of international relations, according to diplomats.

“I think the right word to use must be ‘impact,’” said Nigel Baker, Britain’s ambassador to the Holy See, when asked about Francis’ most significant achievement. “The Holy See has always been an international player; [and] Pope Francis has already, in his first year, shown this in action.”

Diplomats in Rome have been noticeably busier than in previous years, reporting back to their governments Pope Francis’ concerns...READ MORE

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Vatican: Pope Francis Is Spending Anniversary in Prayer (2036)

The Holy Father sent out a Twitter message asking only one thing for his anniversary: 'Pray for me.'

03/13/2014 Comments (2)
Elise Harris/CNA

– Elise Harris/CNA

VATICAN CITY — In light of Pope Francis’ first anniversary as Bishop of Rome, the Vatican has stated that the Holy Father is doing nothing special to celebrate other than to pray, as he is currently in the middle of his Lenten retreat.

“Today the Pope is not doing anything special or different from other days. He is praying,” Vatican spokesman Father Federico Lombardi told reporters in a March 13 statement.

Father Lombardi’s comment came in the wake of numerous phone calls and emails he had received from journalists inquiring about the Holy Father’s plans for the day of his anniversary.

Having left Rome on Sunday afternoon with members of the Curia to spend their annual Lenten retreat in...READ MORE

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Pope Francis’ First Year: A Step Toward Unity (3865)

COMMENTARY

03/13/2014 Comments (8)
Wikimedia Commons

– Wikimedia Commons

Today marks the first anniversary of Jorge Mario Bergoglio’s election to the papacy. His election has been historic for the Church. The first Latin-American (and the first Jesuit) pope, Francis brought with him an expectation of a new era. He has not disappointed.

Hailed by many as a breath of fresh air, Francis promises reforms in the Vatican and a renewed emphasis on care for the poor and vulnerable. He has opened up new dialogues in the Church, while maintaining clarity about Church teaching on settled matters.

His election has proven historic for those outside the Church, too. Francis was named Time magazine’s “Person of the Year” in 2013. Through his focus on the poor and vulnerable,...READ MORE

Filed under church unity, evangelii gaudium, jesus christ, pope benedict xvi, pope francis, pope john paul ii, the papacy

Ukraine’s Churches United in Spiritual Support of the People (3777)

Religious leaders have been unified in proclaiming the need for dialogue and a peaceful settlement.

03/13/2014 Comments (18)
Shutterstock

A group of priests of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church-Moscow Patriarchate praying at barricades on the street during a Jan. 21 anti-government protest in Kiev.

– Shutterstock

WASHINGTON — Standing in the basement of the Ukrainian Catholic National Shrine of the Holy Family in Washington, cradling a well-worn book by Ukraine’s 19th-century “genius poet” Taras Shevchenko, co-pastor Father Wasyl Kharuk paused to muse about the crisis in his homeland — referring first to the role of the Church.

“I studied for the priesthood in an underground church,” in the late 1980s, he said. “Now, all the Ukrainian Christian churches are out in the street supporting the people. The change for us is … dizzying.”

“Even the Ukrainian Orthodox Church affiliated with Moscow is against war,” the 50-year-old priest continued.“They wrote a letter to their brothers in Russia, to...READ MORE

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Falsely Accused Irish Priest Returns to Ministry With Joy (5484)

Father Eugene Boland was accused in 2010 of indecent assault on a teenage girl, and he was acquitted by a jury in 2012.

03/13/2014 Comments (12)
Shutterstock illustration

– Shutterstock illustration

DERRY, Northern Ireland — A priest exonerated of sexual-assault charges against a teen girl will return to his parish with “great joy,” almost four years after he left public ministry and two years after his acquittal.

“It is with a sense of great joy and anticipation that I return to public ministry in my parish of Cappagh with my good name and standing in the Church fully restored,” Father Eugene Boland told the Ulster Herald March 9.

He said his exoneration was a “long and painful” journey that involved both a civil and a canonical process.

Father Boland will be reinstated as pastor at an anticipated Mass March 15 at St. Mary’s Church in Killyclogher in Northern Ireland. Father Boland...READ MORE

Filed under catholic faith, catholic priesthood, ireland, jesus christ, priestly vocations, sex abuse scandal

Pope Francis to Hold First Official Audience With the Blind, Deaf (3519)

The March 29 meeting will take place in the Vatican’s Paul VI hall.

03/13/2014 Comments (1)
Courtesy of Paul Badde

Jakob and Paul Badde meet with Blessed John Paul II on Nov. 17, 1980.

– Courtesy of Paul Badde

VATICAN CITY — As the first pope to meet with those who are blind and deaf in an exclusive audience, Pope Francis will hold the gathering later this month — an encounter participants are highly anticipating.

“I am pleased that the Pope is making the whole world aware of our world by having an audience with us for the first time,” Jakob Badde told CNA on March 10. “We have a great deficiency, and most people do not know why and what it means to us.”

Badde hails from Germany — he is the son of Vatican journalist Paul Badde, former Rome correspondent for the German newspaper Die Welt — and is one of the members of the deaf community who will participate in the encounter with the Pope.

The...READ MORE

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Canadian Legal Brief Backs Catholic School’s Religious Freedom (2996)

Jesuit-run Loyola High School is challenging a Quebec law that requires the teaching of a religion and ethics course with components that contradict Catholic belief.

03/13/2014 Comments (2)
Wikimedia Commons

Supreme Court of Canada

– Wikimedia Commons

OTTAWA, Canada — Canada’s Supreme Court should accommodate a Catholic high school’s objections to parts of a government-mandated religion course that contradict Catholic belief, supporters of the school said in a legal brief.

“Faith-based educational institutions should be free to live and operate according to the faith they teach and espouse,” Gerald Chipeur of the Canadian law firm Miller Thompson LLP said March 11. “If the government can force Loyola High School to violate its faith, then the government can do the same to others.”



Chipeur, an attorney allied with the U.S.-based law group Alliance Defending Freedom, filed a brief March 10 in support of the Jesuit-run Loyola High...READ MORE

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Church Marks Anniversary of Pope Francis’ Apostolate of Shoe-Leather Evangelization (4121)

U.S. Catholic leaders applaud the Pope’s determination to place the Gospel mission of joy and service at the heart of all of the Church’s actions.

03/13/2014 Comments (4)
Stephen Driscoll/Catholic News Agency

– Stephen Driscoll/Catholic News Agency

When Pia de Solenni, a Seattle-based Catholic moral theologian, heard that Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio of Buenos Aires had been elected pope, she studied his legacy. She was impressed by what she found, just as Catholic Americans would be over the course of the next 12 months, as they became better acquainted with the Church’s new leader.

The Church’s first Latin-American pope had lived a “simple life and practiced evangelization in a concrete and tangible way: by hitting the pavement,” Solenni noted in a March 2013 blog post, which described his ministry in Buenos Aires as “shoe-leather evangelization.”

A year later, as Solenni continues to study Pope Francis’ media interviews,...READ MORE

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