Daily News

How the Vatican Preps for Christmas (9475)

Its special mission to focus the world’s attention on the sacred goes into high gear as Advent winds down.

12/07/2010 Comment
2009 CNS photo by Paul Haring

The Nativity scene and Christmas tree are seen in the early morning in St. Peter's Square.

– 2009 CNS photo by Paul Haring

The festive Christmas spirit has long been in full swing at the Vatican — a time when the eyes of Christendom and much of the rest of the world are trained on Rome.

Since mid-November, artisans have been building the traditional life-size Nativity scene in St. Peter’s Square, while moving companies have been preparing to place a 100-foot decorated Christmas tree by its side.

The Nativity scene, the size of a two-story house, is a popular tradition with Italians and visitors that was introduced by Pope John Paul II nearly 30 years ago.

It coincides with an annual Vatican-sponsored exhibition of 100 Nativity scenes — called presepi in Italian — which this year will take place in the...READ MORE

Filed under advent, advent activities, blessed mother, catholic, christmas, holy family, immaculate conception, italy, nativity, nativity displays

Life-or-Death Blasphemy Drama in Pakistan (3282)

But did Asia Bibi even say what they say she said? And what does the future hold for the country’s oppressed Christians?

12/06/2010 Comments (2)
CNS photo/Akhtar Soomro, Reuters

Protesters hold up placards while demanding the release of Asia Bibi, a Pakistani Christian woman who has been sentenced to death for blasphemy, at a rally in Karachi Nov. 25. Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari may not have the political strength needed to abolish the anti-blasphemy law that places Christians at risk, but he promised to try to revise the law, said Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran.

– CNS photo/Akhtar Soomro, Reuters

LAHORE, Pakistan — Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari reportedly will pardon a woman who was sentenced to death for blaspheming the prophet Mohammed.

The governor of Pakistan’s Punjab province told CNN today that Zardari has “made it clear that she’s not going to be a victim of this law.”

Gov. Salman Taseer was referring to Asia Bibi, a Christian mother of five who has been jailed since June 2009 on charges of violating Pakistan’s anti-blasphemy law.

The case has been drawing global attention since Bibi was sentenced to death last month. At the end of his general audience at the Vatican Nov. 17, Pope Benedict XVI spoke of the plight of Pakistani Christians, mentioning Bibi...READ MORE

Filed under asia bibi, blasphemy, islam, pakistan

Bridging the College Faith Gap (5871)

Campus ministers help freshmen stay Catholic.

12/03/2010 Comments (4)
Courtesy Net Ministries.

Some college freshmen stop practicing their Catholic faith unless they come in contact with priests, campus ministers and other organizations that offer an alternative to the party lifestyle common on campuses.

– Courtesy Net Ministries.

As a University of Nebraska freshman, Zachary Kane led a double life. He attended Mass on Sunday — and the rest of the week he attended to his social life. He realized he wasn’t happy, and the following year, at a campus minister’s urging, he attended a Catholic conference for college students.

The conference changed his life.

“It kind of just gave my life a little more direction,” said Kane, who went on to serve with the Missionaries of Charity in Calcutta last summer. Now a junior, he leads discipleship groups and Bible studies as part of Focus, the Fellowship of Catholic University Students.

Focus, based in Northglenn, Colo., has a presence on 50 U.S. campuses.

As college freshmen...READ MORE

Filed under brotherhood of hope, campus ministry, catholic extension, catholic higher education, college connection for catholics, focus, usa council of serra international

A Return of Biblical Proportions (3949)

The Good Book is back in public schools.

12/02/2010 Comments (8)
CNS photo/Paul Haring

– CNS photo/Paul Haring

WHITEHOUSE, Texas — At some point this year in John Keeling’s Bible class at Whitehouse High School, students will open their textbooks to page 222 of Unit 9, The Four Gospels.

In the next four pages, they will take in artwork such as Leonardo da Vinci’s Last Supper and Paul Gauguin’s The Yellow Christ, learn about the rock opera Jesus Christ Superstar and gain insight into biblical allusions in Ernest Hemingway’s The Old Man and the Sea and Countee Cullen’s poem “Simon the Cyrenian Speaks.”

Similar scenes are unfolding every school day this year in 170 public schools across 43 states, as students and teachers tackle the Bible using a textbook first published in 2005 by the Bible...READ MORE

Filed under bible, education, teaching the bible in public schools

Committed to Religious Freedom? (3123)

International observers await Obama designation of ‘countries of particular concern.’

12/01/2010 Comment
CNS photo/Thaier al-Sudani, Reuters

A man grieves during a Nov. 2 funeral for victims of an attack in Baghdad, Iraq.

– CNS photo/Thaier al-Sudani, Reuters

WASHINGTON — The 10th annual International Religious Freedom Report is an encyclopedic survey of persecution, documenting offenses against believers of every faith.

Released by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton Nov. 17, the report also shows occasional improvements around the world.

In remarks to journalists, Clinton mentioned the recent bombing of Our Lady of Salvation Catholic Church in Baghdad, where 52 Christians, including four priests, were murdered, as an example of how religious freedom is “under threat” in “many, many places.”

The State Department is required by the 1998 International Religious Freedom Act to produce the report, which assesses whether other governments are...READ MORE

Filed under religious freedom

What Catholic Fiction Should Be (5574)

Bestselling author Michelle Buckman discusses getting to know St. Therese, discovering Catholic fiction, and striking gold on Amazon.

11/30/2010 Comments (5)

Michelle Buckman is the author of six novels, including Rachel’s Contrition, her latest. On Oct. 7, the novel, from small Catholic publisher Sophia Institute Press, was the #1 seller in Amazon’s Women’s fiction category, and has continued high on that list ever since.

Buckman spoke to Register correspondent Daria Sockey from her home in North Carolina about her take on Catholic fiction.

How often do you check your rank on Amazon, and how is it doing now?

I check it daily, sometimes hourly. It stayed on the top 5 throughout October, and as of mid-November is still in the top 10 in the Women’s fiction/Mother & Child sub-category. I’ve noticed that it tends to drop on weekends — contrary...READ MORE

Filed under catholic fiction, michelle buckman, rachel's contrition

Advent Begins With Worldwide Pro-Life Vigil (2362)

Prayer service appropriate for season of 'expectant waiting' before Christmas, Pope said.

11/29/2010 Comments (3)

PRAYING FOR LIFE. Pope Benedict XVI celebrates the beginning of Advent during an evening prayer service in St. Peter's Basilica at the Vatican Nov. 27.

– CNS/Reuters

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Pope Benedict XVI welcomed the beginning of Advent with a prayer for life and a defense of the human embryo.

The Pope presided over an evening prayer service at the Vatican Nov. 27, part of a worldwide pro-life vigil. He said it was an appropriate initiative to launch Advent, the liturgical period in which the Church prepares to celebrate the birth of Jesus.

In a homily, he said the Church’s teaching against abortion comes from its teaching about the dignity of every human life and its concern that the unborn is most vulnerable to “the selfishness of adults and the clouding of consciences.”

“There are cultural tendencies that seek to anesthetize consciences with...READ MORE

Filed under advent, pope benedict xvi, pro-life, vigil for all nascent human life

Getting to Know Mother Angelica (5925)

EWTN’s CEO wasn’t initially drawn to the network because of its legendary founder, but his respect for her has grown over the years.

11/29/2010 Comments (6)

After flying to the U.K. to prepare for Pope Benedict XVI’s state visit in September, then heading to Canton, Ohio, for EWTN’s Family Celebration in October, Michael Warsaw has not slowed down.

The president and chief executive officer of the Eternal Word Television Network (EWTN) flew to Boston in early November to celebrate the launch of the city’s new Catholic radio station, WQOM 1060 AM. He is now back in Birmingham, Ala., and is, among other things, assisting more people interested in starting radio stations, and working on strategic initiatives in Europe and Asia.

Warsaw is fully committed to EWTN today, but initially had no plans of working there after meeting with the network’s...READ MORE

Filed under broadcasting, catholic media, ewtn, michael warsaw, mother angelica, television

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