Catholicism

Pope Francis looks down

American Catholics Reel after Sweeping Allegations of Clergy Child Sex Abuse

August 29, 2018

On August 14, a Pennsylvania grand jury released a sweeping, 1400-page report on clergy child sex abuse in six of the state’s eight Catholic dioceses.

Over the course of two years, the grand jury reviewed over 500,000 subpoenaed internal diocesan documents containing “credible allegations” of clergy sexual abuse of teenage and prepubescent youth—including babies as young as 18 months old.

In all, the grand jury found over 1,000 victims of sex abuse by clergy and named...

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Pope Francis

Vatican Death Penalty Ruling Challenges American Policies

August 14, 2018

In early August, the Vatican released a notice that Pope Francis has changed the catechism of the Catholic Church to reflect a zero-tolerance policy toward the death penalty.

Declaring capital punishment “inadmissible,” Pope Francis closed a loophole that other popes—many of whom also opposed the death penalty—left open for exceptional cases.

“Recourse to the death penalty on the part of legitimate authority, following a fair trial, was long considered an appropriate response to the gravity of certain crimes and an acceptable, albeit extreme, means of safeguarding...

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Rodrigo Duterte

Philippines President Doubles Down on Drug War Despite Religious Strife

July 23, 2018

In his third annual state of the Union address, 73-year-old Philippine president Rodrigo Duterte declined to discuss his ongoing battles with the powerful Catholic Church, instead focusing on his contentious drug war that has taken over 4,500 lives during his reign.

Duterte has been at odds with the powerful Catholic Church presence in the Philippines for years,...

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Pope Francis addresses bishops in South Korea

Pope Francis Extends Priests’ Power to Forgive Abortions

November 30, 2016

Last week, Pope Francis announced that he will indefinitely extend the power of Catholic priests to forgive abortions.

The extension follows the Church’s Jubilee Year of Mercy—a practice rooted in the Old Testament of the Christian Bible. Originally occurring every 50 years, the jubilee was a yearlong reminder of God’s mercy, during which time debts were absolved and relationships were restored. In the Roman Catholic Church, the pope can call an extraordinary year of jubilee at his discretion.

During the jubilee Pope Francis called from December 5, 2015 through November 20,...

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American Nones Left Religion Because They “Stopped Believing,” Study Finds

American Nones Left Religion Because They “Stopped Believing,” Study Finds

October 6, 2016

While the rise of America’s non-religiously affiliated population has been the topic of speculation for several years, a study released last month offers further insight into the reasons Americans leave religion.

After conducting a survey of 2,201 adults, the Public Religion Research Institute (PRRI) distributed their findings in a publication called “Exodus: Why Americans are Leaving Religion—and Why They’re Unlikely to Come Back.”

Among the PRRI’s most significant discoveries was the...

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Priest’s Murder Latest in Spate of Terror in France

Priest’s Murder Latest in Spate of Terror in France

July 28, 2016

Tuesday morning, a sparsely-attended Catholic Mass in France turned deadly as two knife-wielding teenagers stormed the church, took the worshipers hostage, and slit the throat of the priest.

Only 5 people had been in attendance at the morning Mass in the Normandy town of Saint-Etienne-du-Rouvray. Father Jacques Hamel, the 85-year-old priest who lost his life in the attack, had been filling in for the regular parish priest, who was on vacation. Although an octogenarian parishioner was also severely injured in the attack, police shot and killed the two attackers before there were any...

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Catholic Arab Wins Israel’s First Transgender Beauty Pageant

Catholic Arab Wins Israel’s First Transgender Beauty Pageant

June 1, 2016

Last week, a friendly competition in Tel Aviv, Israel brought together Christians, Orthodox Jews, and Muslims in ways that event coordinators believe showcased the groups’ potential for acceptance and coexistence. The event was the first of its kind: a transgender beauty pageant, held to kick off Tel Aviv’s LGBT Pride week.

Spectators packed Tel Aviv’s Bima National Theater Friday to cheer on the pageant’s 12 finalists, a group that included a Muslim belly dancer, a Catholic Arab ballerina, and an Orthodox Jewish baker.

The pageant was the result of years of work by Israeli...

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Pope Francis Open to Studying Ordination of Women as Deacons

Pope Francis Open to Studying Ordination of Women as Deacons

May 16, 2016

Last Thursday, Pope Francis agreed to set up a commission to study the history and potentiality of women serving as deacons in the Roman Catholic Church.

The pontiff’s proposal was an off-the-cuff response to a litany of questions about women in Church leadership during Thursday’s meeting with the International Union of Superiors General, an international group of hundreds of thousands of nuns. When one member asked, “What impedes the church from including women among...

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St. Louis Archdiocese Questions Girl Scouts' Values

St. Louis Archdiocese Questions Girl Scouts' Values

February 26, 2016

Last week, the Archdiocese of St. Louis, Missouri urged Roman Catholics in the region to reconsider their involvement with Girl Scouts of the USA.

In an open letter, Archbishop Robert Carlson lamented what he described as the Girl Scouts’ “troubling pattern of behavior.” Carlson continued,

“It is clear to me that as they move in the way of the world it is becoming increasingly incompatible with our Catholic values.”

The Archdiocese of St. Louis’s website...

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Pope Francis's Mexico Trip Includes 'Kindness Therapy'

Pope Francis's Mexico Trip Includes 'Kindness Therapy'

February 19, 2016

Pope Francis’s arrival at the Federico Gómez Pediatric Hospital in Mexico last week elicited strong emotional reactions from its young patients, some of whom rose from their wheelchairs to receive a hug from the faith leader.

During a politically contentious trip through Mexico, Pope Francis’s stop at the children’s hospital allowed him to engage more personally with the nation’s youngest citizens. After a short homily, the Pope gave each child a rosary. Vatican Radio...

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