Pope Francis

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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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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Belgian Court Rules Catholic Nursing Home Cannot Refuse Patients' Euthanization

Belgian Court Rules Catholic Nursing Home Cannot Refuse Patients' Euthanization

July 8, 2016

A Catholic nursing home in Belgium faces a 6,000 euro fine for refusing to allow doctors to euthanize a woman on their property.

Mariette Buntjens was a 74-year-old woman living in the Sint-Augustinus Catholic care home in northern Belgium. Buntjens, who was suffering from terminal lung cancer, had arranged an end-of-life plan with her doctor. However, when Buntjens wished to receive the lethal injection, the nursing home denied the doctor access to the property.

Buntjens’s relatives transported her to her home, where the injection was administered by her doctor “in peaceful...

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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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Pew Study Finds Shifting Catholic Stances on Family

Pew Study Finds Shifting Catholic Stances on Family

October 30, 2015

While the Catholic Church is doctrinally opposed to divorce, same-sex-marriage, and premarital cohabitation, many American Catholics are increasingly open to such family configurations.

This September, the Pew Research Center published its findings from a survey of over 5,000 self-identified Catholics across the United States. They found that, while 90% agree that a family headed by a mother and a father is an arrangement they consider “acceptable and as good as any other,” many...

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European Christians respond to refugee crisis

European Christians respond to refugee crisis

September 9, 2015

On Sunday, as the European refugee crisis continued to dominate headlines, Pope Francis delivered what was, for many, an overdue but appreciated response. Reminding listeners that “the Gospel calls us to be close to the smallest and to those who have been abandoned,” the Pope, quoted in the New York Times, urged all Catholics to welcome refugees with open arms. Yet observers note that Francis’ approach is a far cry from some conservative Christian politicians who prioritize...

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Whose Saint?

Whose Saint?

June 17, 2015

Last month, after repeated protests from Native American advocates, the Vatican reaffirmed Pope Francis’ plans to canonize Junipero Serra, a Spanish missionary and architect of the mission system in 18th century California.

The Pope has sped up the sainthood process for Serra, saying that the power of his faith and evangelizing outweigh the usual requirement that would-be saints perform two miracles. As the Vatican sees it, Father Serra was driven by compassion as well as belief, trying to protect the tens of thousands of Native Americans baptized by the missions from the...

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