Marco Franchi, 37, and Enrica Graziosi, 35, at left, attend a special Mass for engaged couples at the Basilica of St. Valentine in Terni, Italy, Feb. 10. Couples pledged their love to each other during the annual "promise Mass," held in advance of St. Valentine's Day. While some details of St. Valentine's life are lost to history, the local diocese believes he was the martyred third-century bishop of Terni.
Bible miniseries 'connection'
It took the combined clout of an actress best known for playing an angel and her big-ratings executive-producer husband, but Roma Downey and Mark Burnett have pulled off the making of a 10-hour miniseries, "The Bible," that gets its premiere 8-10 p.m. March 3 and each Sunday through March 31 on the History cable channel. Unlike other biblical films and TV miniseries, "The Bible" splits its 10 hours evenly between the Old and New Testaments. Above, Diogo Morgado portrays Christ in a scene from the miniseries.
cns/Courtesy of the History Channel
Conductor leads concert
Conductor Zubin Mehta leads the Orchestra del Maggio Musicale Fiorentino in Paul VI hall at the Vatican Feb. 4. The concert attended by Pope Benedict XVI and Italian officials marked the 84th anniversary of the Lateran Pacts, which recognized the Vatican 's full sovereignty over its territory.
Military gets auxiliary
WASHINGTON — Msgr. Robert J. Coyle, a priest of the Diocese of Rockville Centre, New York, who spent 10 years of his priesthood in the military chaplaincy, has been appointed an auxiliary bishop of the U.S. Archdiocese for the Military Services. Bishop-designate Coyle, 48, is a retired Navy reservist. He has been pastor of Corpus Christi Parish in Mineola, N.Y., since 2009.
WASHINGTON — Representatives of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and four Protestant denominations in the Reformed tradition have publicly reaffirmed a mutual agreement in effect since the Second Vatican Council that recognizes the validity of each other's baptisms. The four Protestant bodies are the Presbyterian Church (USA), the Christian Reformed Church in North America, the Reformed Church in America and the United Church of Christ.
Judge stays execution
NEW ORLEANS — A federal judge in Baton Rouge issued a stay of execution Feb. 7 for death-row inmate Christopher Sepulvado, who had been scheduled to be executed at the Louisiana State Penitentiary at Angola on Ash Wednesday, Feb. 13. The seven Catholic bishops of Louisiana had urged that the inmate be given a life sentence without possibility of parole. U.S. District Judge James Brady imposed the stay because the Louisiana Department of Corrections, whose personnel would administer a lethal injection of pentobarbital, did not provide a written protocol of its "single-drug" method. His ruling could be appealed.
Legal path uncertain
WASHINGTON — The latest round of proposed federal rules covering religious institutions that want an exemption from the requirement to provide contraceptive coverage in health insurance make it clear that there's no inclination at the Department of Health and Human Services to accommodate for-profit secular corporations the same way as nonprofit religious institutions. For-profit secular entities that object to this requirement on moral grounds may find their only option is to push their case in court, where the history of accommodating a business owner's religious interests diverts significantly from how a church's religious rights have been treated.
Latino initiative a model
BOSTON — A program to recruit Latino students for Boston's Catholic schools is getting attention as a possible model for promoting Catholic education in Hispanic communities throughout the country. Director of Hispanic outreach for the Boston archdiocesan Catholic Schools Foundation, Erika Cedrone, began the Hispanic Recruitment Initiative in Boston in 2008.
Teacher remains in jail
BALTIMORE — The U.S. 4th Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled that John Merzbacher, a convicted child rapist and former teacher in the Archdiocese of Baltimore, must remain in prison — reversing a lower court ruling that opened the door to his possible release. Judge Andre M. Davis, a federal appeals court judge, had issued the lower court opinion in 2010, stating that the Baltimore Circuit Court must give Merzbacher the opportunity to accept a 10-year plea deal that Judge Davis said should have been offered in 1994.
Priest barred after charges
BRIDGEPORT, Conn. — The arrest of a former Connecticut pastor, Msgr. Kevin Wallin, 61, on federal drug charges was greeted "with a sense of shock and concern" by the Bridgeport Diocese and many Catholics in the diocese who know the priest "as a gifted, accomplished and compassionate priest." The reaction came in a diocesan statement issued in regard to the case of a former pastor in Bridgeport whose priestly faculties were removed last year. A grand jury indicted the priest and four other people on drug charges Jan. 15.
God's will brings freedom
NEW YORK — True freedom ultimately lies in uniting one's heart to the will of God for life and when people have that harmony within, they are truly free and can build a society that allows that freedom to flourish, said Msgr. Lorenzo Albacete. The priest, a theologian and an author who is national director of the Catholic lay movement Communion and Liberation, described a "cultural virus" he sees separating people from their faith.
WASHINGTON — The assignment of a priest, who at one time admitted inappropriately touching a teenage boy, to a new administrative post in the Archdiocese of Newark, N.J., will not lead to unsupervised contact with children, an archdiocesan spokesman said. Father Michael Fugee was named co-director of the Office of Continuing Education and Ongoing Formation of Priests in October by Newark Archbishop John J. Myers.
Students for outreach
WASHINGTON — Carolyn Woo, president of Catholic Relief Services, wants to see graduates of Catholic colleges become more involved in service — globally and even locally within their own parishes — and said university presidents should do more to make sure this happens. "Young people love to volunteer," she said, but what she "finds missing" from them is a "lifelong commitment" to the poor and a sense of "responsibility for building up the church."
LA files released
LOS ANGELES — The release of thousands of pages of personnel files by the Archdiocese of Los Angeles detailing allegations of clergy sexual abuse has focused new attention on the roles of church leaders and their handling of the cases over four decades. A review of some of the documents indicate that diocesan officials addressed the allegations regularly as the number of reported cases began to climb in the 1950s, peaked in the 1970s and began to fall off in the 1980s and 1990s. The documents, released Jan. 31 under court order, suggest that Cardinal Roger M. Mahony and Auxiliary Bishop Thomas J. Curry, who was the archdiocese's vicar of clergy and chief adviser on sexual abuse cases, worked to protect priests from criminal investigation beginning in the 1980s.
— Catholic News Service
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