Daily News

Papal Prayer Intention: That Women Be Honored, Respected and Valued (166)

The Holy Father’s missionary intention for May, which is dedicated to Mary, is that “families, communities and groups may pray the holy Rosary for evangelization and peace.”

05/03/2016 Comment
© L'Osservatore Romano

Pope Francis greets a mother and baby at the International Conference on Regenerative Medicine in Vatican City on April 29.

– © L'Osservatore Romano

VATICAN CITY — In his May prayer video, Pope Francis issued a global petition that women in all countries would be respected and valued, asking rhetorically if the mere recognition of their role is enough or if more can be done.

“The contribution of women in all areas of human activity is undeniable, beginning with the family. But only to recognize it — is that enough?” the Pope asked in the video, published May 3.

“We have done little for women who are in very difficult situations: despised, marginalized and even reduced to slavery,” he said, stressing that “we must condemn sexual violence against women and remove the barriers that prevent their full integration into social, political...READ MORE

Filed under evangelization, month of mary, pope francis, prayer, vatican

The Life and Death of Jesuit Raymond Gawronski (831)

Widely praised for his role in forming priests and providing insights into Ignatian spirituality, Father Gawronski’s final Christian witness took place through his embrace of his cross of terminal cancer.

05/03/2016 Comment
Kyle Faller, a seminarian of the Archdiocese of San Francisco

Seminarian Michael Sullivan with Father Raymond Gawronski at Sacred Heart Jesuit Center, in Los Gatos, on April 2. Sullivan said that, even though in great pain and not having eaten much for weeks, the Jesuit still shared his beautiful Polish smile, his great joy and his John Paul II walking stick, which he used to take on walks. 

– Kyle Faller, a seminarian of the Archdiocese of San Francisco

MENLO PARK, Calif. — When Jesuit Father Raymond Gawronski was diagnosed with stage-four cancer, the shocking news prompted his grieving students to hold a farewell gathering for the popular professor and spiritual director at St. Patrick’s Seminary in Menlo Park, Calif.

“Father, in this short time that we have tonight, we wish to share how you have forever changed our lives by your witness to hope, that is, to the love of our Lord Jesus Christ,” seminarian Michael Sullivan, 23, told the priest, speaking for his class at the March 29 gathering, held two weeks before his death on April 14.

The event drew throngs of young priests who had studied with Father Gawronski during his previous post...READ MORE

Filed under cancer, christian hope, dying, father raymond gawronski, ignatian spiritual exercises, ignatian spirituality, jesuits, seminaries, suffering

US Commission on Religious Freedom: Faith Persecution Increased Worldwide in 2015 (625)

The right to exercise religion came under sustained assault around the world in 2015, according to a new report from a bipartisan United States commission, affecting Christians, Muslims and Jews, among others.

05/03/2016 Comments (2)
Elise Harris/CNA via Instagram

ISIS militants marked Christian houses and property in Mosul by painting the symbol ن, signifying that they were to be seized after their ultimatum in 2014. ن is the Arabic letter for “N” and is the first letter of the Arabic word for Christian, “Nasrani.” The letter ن became a global symbol of support of the Iraqi Christians. The Christians displaced by ISIS painted the symbol themselves on the side of the bathrooms in one of the refugee camps in Erbil.

– Elise Harris/CNA via Instagram

WASHINGTON — The right to exercise religion came under sustained assault around the world in 2015, according to a new report from a bipartisan United States commission, affecting Christians, Muslims and Jews, among others.

“By any measure, religious freedom abroad has been under serious and sustained assault since the release of our commission’s last annual report in 2015,” Robert George, chair of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF), stated Monday.

He was speaking at the release of USCIRF’s annual religious-freedom report.

“At best, in most of the countries we covered,” George noted, the situation of religious freedom “failed to improve” or, worse, “spiraled...READ MORE

Filed under middle east violence, persecution of religious minorities, religious persecution, u.s. commission on international religious freedom

‘Grace Ferry’ for Grays Ferry: Priest Ministers to Drug-Ravaged Philly Neighborhood (1254)

Father Doug McKay founded the Our House recovery home in 1997, two years after his own brother died in a nearby crack house.

05/03/2016 Comments (1)
Brian O'Neel

Father Doug McKay talks with a Grays Ferry resident in front of the Matt Talbot House. Below, a Mass is held at Our House Ministries in Philadelphia.

– Brian O'Neel

PHILADELPHIA — As demonstrated by government reports and news stories in recent years, heroin’s web has ensnared the Northeast and is set to spread its threads across the rest of the nation. If that happens, Philadelphia will be an anchor by which that web grows.

One area devastated by the narcotic is the city’s Grays Ferry section, a tightknit blue-collar neighborhood filled with good people but also one beset by addiction. Very few families here don’t have someone who’s abusing, in recovery, or dead.

Sirens pierce the air at all hours. Rarely, however, does their noise come from police cars. Instead, it comes from ambulances and paramedics going to rescue yet another overdosed junkie.


Filed under 12-step program, alcoholism, archdiocese of philadelphia, brian o'neel, catholic charities, drug addiction, year of mercy

Medieval Religious Order Continues 800 Years of Rescuing Persecuted Christians (2136)

COMMENTARY: From the 13th century until today, the Mercedarians have prayed, labored and spent their lives to gain liberty for Christians imprisoned or enslaved because of their faith.

05/02/2016 Comments (4)
Mercedarians Facebook

– Mercedarians Facebook

Imagine yourself in a 13th-century North African prison where you are being held for refusing to renounce your Catholic faith. Conditions are cruel, and you are losing hope of seeing your family again. You wonder if it wouldn’t be so bad to convert to Islam.

Then an angel in white appears at your cell with the jailor, who unlocks the door. All at once, you are free to return to your home in Spain. The angel, you find out, is a monk from the Order of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Mercy (also known as the Order of Mercy or the Mercedarians), who has paid a ransom for your release with money collected from Spanish Catholics.

Thousands of European Christians, including Miguel de Cervantes,...READ MORE

Filed under faith, mercedarians, persecuted christians, year of mercy

Rome’s Trevi Fountain Illuminated in Memory of Christian Martyrs (2185)

‘Christian persecution is a risk of persecution of everyone. We defend the Christians to defend the dignity of every man everywhere,’ said Bishop Antonie Audo, Chaldean bishop of Aleppo, Syria.

05/02/2016 Comments (9)
News.va Instagram

Trevi fountain lit up April 29.

– News.va Instagram

VATICAN CITY — Illuminated by the red light that spilled across Rome’s Trevi fountain, voices from persecuted Christian communities across the world shared the stories of friends and loved ones killed for the faith and urged the world to take greater action in putting the violence to an end.

“Let us remember, tonight, the blood of the Christian martyrs, spilled by the violence of men and the sin of the world,” Cardinal Mauro Piacenza said April 29.

Quoting Pope Francis, he stressed that when confronted with the situation, “silence and secrecy are also sins.” 

He expressed his belief that the Christian martyrs of today are exercising “a real and vicarious atonement, through Christ, with...READ MORE

Filed under aid to the church in need, isis, middle east christians, persecution of christians

Brutal Stories of ISIS Violence Shared at Conference to Aid Persecuted Christians (2100)

‘We are undergoing a real genocide,’ said Archbishop Jean-Clement Jeanbart of Aleppo, Syria, ‘and we are afraid that they want to take us out of our life, but also of our country, of the place where we were born, where the Church was born.’

05/02/2016 Comments (4)

– Shutterstock

Editor’s Note: This article includes explicit descriptions of violence. Reader discretion is advised.

NEW YORK CITY — The stories were graphic, brutal and raw.

One account told of a couple whose children had been captured by ISIS militants. When they answered their door one day, they found a plastic bag on their doorstep. It contained the body parts of their daughters and a video of them being raped and tortured.

Another recalled a Christian woman from Mosul who answered the door to find ISIS foreign fighters, demanding that she leave or pay a jizya tax.

She asked for a few seconds, her daughter being in the shower, but the fighters refused to give her the time. They put a torch to the...READ MORE

Filed under christian persecution, genocide, isis, middle east violence

Captain America vs. Ironman: Who’s the Better Soldier? (2350)

COMMENTARY: Volunteering our bodies for non-therapeutic enhancement and experimentation isn’t patriotic.

05/01/2016 Comments (9)

I will admit the question was loaded. I asked various Catholics, through my blog and social media, who was a better role model: Captain America or Ironman?

The answers weren’t surprising. The overwhelming choice was Captain America. Steve Rogers isn’t only a paragon of courage and patriotism, he’s an all-around nice guy, a champion for the weak and an example of self-sacrifice. Tony Stark, on the other hand, is a greedy narcissist whose philandering nearly everyone finds repugnant.

The question seemed outright ridiculous to some. Captain America was the obvious choice.

But being a role model doesn’t just hinge on personality traits. Captain America is a quietly subversive character. His...READ MORE

Filed under captain america, genetic engineering, iron man, rebecca taylor, science

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