Pope Benedict XVI, above, wearing a sombrero, arrives to celebrate Mass at Bicentennial Park in Silao, Mexico. At right, Pope Benedict meets with Cuba's former President Fidel Castro at the apostolic nunciature in Havana. The pope visited both countries in late March.
CNS photos/L'Osservatore Romano
This is a drawing of the new Sacred Heart Parish in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, that was destroyed in the magnitude 7 earthquake that claimed more than 300,000 lives in 2010. The U.S. bishops' Subcommittee on the Church in Latin America approved $1.8 million for the $2.5 million reconstruction project during a meeting March 21.
St. John Neumann relics
A young girl looks up at a Knight of Columbus as people pray during the veneration of the relics of St. John Neumann at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington March 28. The visitation was part of the 200th anniversary celebration of the birth of the first male U.S. saint and the founder of the Catholic parochial school system.
CNS photo/Bob Roller
South the most religious
PRINCETON, N.J. — The South is the most religious region of the United States, according to a yearlong poll by Gallup. Mississippi qualified as the most religious state in the nation, with 59 percent of its residents claiming to be "very religious." Next on the list was the only non-Southern state among the top 12: Utah, where 57 percent of its people say they are very religious. California ranks as average, with 36 percent of residents saying they are very religious.
N.Y. plan criticized
STONY BROOK, N.Y. — Bishop William F. Murphy of Rockville Centre and other religious and political leaders are criticizing an announcement by a state university that from now on it will hold classes on major Jewish and Christian holidays. In a March 26 statement, Bishop Murphy responded to the decision by Stony Brook University, part of the State University of New York system, to hold classes on such religious holidays as Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur and have spring break fall after the seventh week of class in the semester rather than during the time of Holy Week, Easter and Passover.
Bishop weighs options
WASHINGTON — Bishop Richard G. Lennon of Cleveland said he has not decided whether to appeal a series of Vatican decrees that reversed the closings of 13 parishes. In a letter sent March 27, he wrote, "I can assure you that this is not nearly as clear-cut as it may appear on the surface. Although the decrees are brief in length, they are deep in underlying meaning and I continue to receive significant input and clarification." Parishioners who had hoped their churches would reopen in time for Easter, April 8, expressed disappointment that the bishop has not yet acted in accordance with the decrees.
Survey: Why Catholics left
WASHINGTON — Church leaders should take to heart reasons why Catholics have left the church, according to a priest who has conducted an "exit poll" of former Catholics. Above all, their departure highlights how the church must offer a "fresh explanation of the Eucharist," said Jesuit Father William Byron, professor of business and society at St. Joseph's University in Philadelphia, pointing out that those who leave the church separate themselves from the celebration and reception of the Eucharist. "This calls for a creative liturgical, pastoral, doctrinal and practical response," he said, to help Catholics understand what the Sunday Mass obligation is really about and what they're missing when they leave.
40,000 come to Anaheim
ANAHEIM — Catholics from 41 countries and 47 U.S. states gathered in Anaheim or watched the live webcast of the annual Los Angeles Religious Education Congress March 23-25, calling believers around the world to attend to the life-infusing voice of God. More than 40,000 people came to the Anaheim Convention Center for the 2012 Congress centered on the theme, "Voice Infusing Life," which started with a daylong event of high-energy rallies, workshops and liturgies for 15,000 high school youths from several Western states March 22.
Schools can assess identity
ROCHESTER, N.Y. — The Catholic Education Foundation has initiated a program to help Catholic grade schools and high schools evaluate their Catholic identity. Called the Catholic School Identity Assessment, it is a diagnostic tool to help schools spot their strengths and weaknesses, according to Father Peter Stravinskas, the foundation's executive director.
Ex-priest admits abuse
PHILADELPHIA — As two of his former colleagues prepared to face trial on abuse-related charges, a former priest of the Philadelphia Archdiocese, Edward V. Avery, 69, was sentenced to 2½ to five years in prison March 22 after pleading guilty to conspiracy and sexual assault of a 10-year-old boy.
Court lets stand ruling
WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court March 19 declined to consider a Missouri court's ruling that the Archdiocese of St. Louis is shielded from lawsuits questioning church employment and clergy supervision policies. Without comment, the court let stand a Missouri Court of Appeals decision holding that civil courts are blocked from considering employment negligence cases against the church because it would require wading into internal church doctrine and ordination policies. The state court said that is prohibited by the First Amendment.
Rebels destroy church
VATICAN CITY — Rebels fighting to establish a separate state in northern Mali destroyed a Caritas office and a local church in Gao, one of the cities they captured in late March and early April, according to Caritas Internationalis.
Irish bishops: God not missed
DUBLIN — Europe today is a culture in which God appears to be "silent and unmissed in the lives of many" the Irish bishops warn in a new pastoral letter issued March 29. The 12-page document, "Repent and Believe the Good News," deals with the importance of repentance for the Irish Catholic Church.