||Nelson Mandela service
A girl holds a candle during a service for former South African President Nelson Mandela at Regina Mundi Catholic Church in the Soweto area of Johannesburg, Dec. 8. Pope Francis joined church and government leaders from around the world in crediting Mandela for a steadfast commitment to human rights and dignity. Mandela died Dec. 5 in Johannesburg. He was 95.
A nun holds flowers as firefighters place flowers at the foot of a statue of Mary overlooking the Spanish Steps in Rome, Dec. 8, the feast of the Immaculate Conception. Every year since 1857 Rome's firefighters have observed the feast by placing a wreath and flowers at the statue.
Chiara Lubich, founder of the Focolare movement, is pictured in 2003. The current president of the movement, Maria Voce, has formally requested the opening of a sainthood cause for Lubich, who died in 2008.
CNS photo/Catholic Press Photo
New TV specials
A two-part documentary, "From Jesus to Christ: The First Christians," will be rerun as a "Frontline" documentary from 10 p.m. to midnight Dec. 24 and 31, on PBS channels. And Father Robert Barron is back with a new documentary, "Catholicism: The New Evangelization," which airs at 9:30 p.m. Dec. 18 on EWTN. The program will repeat at 1 p.m. Dec. 21. (www.ewtn.com/channelfinder.)
Bishops seek gun control
SEATTLE — The Catholic bishops of Washington state support a legislative measure to place more limits on gun sales, calling it "a prudent balance between concerns for personal liberty and public safety." The Washington measure, called Initiative 594, would require background checks on the sale or transfer of all firearms.
PHILADELPHIA — The latest audited financial statements for the Archdiocese of Philadelphia show a dramatic turnaround in church finances with a reported $3.9 million surplus for the 2013 fiscal year, up dramatically from the $39.2 million deficit reported for fiscal year 2012. The $3.9 million "operating result" is a reported surplus that the financial statements call a "change in net assets before other items." The figure includes several nonrecurring transactions so a "core deficit" remains, though not nearly as severe as in the previous fiscal year.
Religious liberties 'crisis'
WASHINGTON — Attacks and threats to religious liberties throughout the world have "become a global crisis," declared Britain's cabinet-level minister of state for faith and communities. Sayeeda Warsi, who is also the senior minister of state for foreign and commonwealth affairs in British Prime Minister David Cameron's Conservative Party government, said, "The religious fault lines are being exploited" in country after country.
Texas abortion law
WASHINGTON — In a 5-4 vote, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled Nov. 19 to allow Texas to continue enforcing abortion restrictions. The justices ruled to leave in place a provision requiring doctors who perform abortions in clinics to have admitting privileges at a nearby hospital. The case is on appeal to the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans, and the court will hear arguments in a challenge brought by Planned Parenthood in January. The law will remain in effect until then.
ST. PAUL, Minn. — As part of its ongoing efforts to address issues related to clergy sexual misconduct, the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis is releasing information related to 30 priests who have been credibly accused of sexual abuse of minors in the archdiocese. The information is mostly related to reported incidents that occurred between the mid-1950s and 1980s, the archdiocese said Dec. 2. Most of the men identified have been previously identified in media reports. All of them have been permanently removed from ministry or are deceased.
Two priests murdered
MEXICO CITY — Two Mexican priests were found murdered in their Veracruz parish residence in a crime that authorities attribute to a robbery gone wrong. Fathers Hipolito Villalobos Lima and Nicolas de la Cruz Martinez, pastor and vicar, respectively, of St. Christopher Parish in the municipality of Ixhuatlan de Madero, were found dead early Nov. 29, the Diocese of Tuxpan said in a brief statement. Five suspects, including two minors, were arrested for the crimes.
— Catholic News Service
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