John Garvey, right, president of The Catholic University of America, toasts Greg Craven, vice chancellor of Australian Catholic University, in Washington Jan. 29 after they signed a memorandum of understanding for their universities' new Rome Center. The "three continent endeavor" is expected to bring students and professors from both schools together in one location in Rome.
Ice church in Romania
Catholic and Orthodox priests join other ministers for an inaugural ceremony for a church made entirely from ice at Balea Lac resort in the Fagaras mountains of Romania Jan. 29.
Radu Sigheti/Reuters, cns
St. Josephine Bakhita
A tapestry portrait of St. Josephine Bakhita, an African slave who died in 1947, hangs from the facade of St. Peter's Basilica during her canonization in 2000 at the Vatican. St. Bakhita was born in the Darfur region of what is now Sudan. Her feast day is Feb. 8, which this year is the first International Day of Prayer and Awareness against Human Trafficking.
L'Osservatore Romano/Reuters, cns
WASHINGTON — A magazine cover story about human trafficking some years ago prompted Kenneth Morris Jr. to join the global struggle to stop it. Morris is the great-great-great-grandson of abolitionist, orator and statesman Frederick Douglass and the great-great-grandson of educator and civil rights activist Booker T. Washington. "I spent most of my life running away from the legacy, but it wasn't until I came in contact with a National Geographic magazine cover story in 2005 and the headline was '21st Century Slaves.'" Morris said.
CRS examines publication
WASHINGTON — Catholic Relief Services is investigating an allegation that a publication it used in connection with a program in Rwanda violates church teaching on human sexuality. A statement from the U.S. bishops' overseas relief and development agency said that former and current staff are being questioned about the publication to determine how or if it was used in the small African nation in 2009 and 2010. The query opened after Michael Hitchborn of the Lepanto Institute charged that the publication, "My Changing Body: Puberty and Fertility Awareness for Young People," promotes abortifacient contraception, masturbation and condom use.
Bishop defends CCHD
LAS CRUCES, N.M. — Bishop Oscar Cantu of Las Cruces rejected the claims of an advertisement in the local Las Cruces Sun-News daily newspaper that maligned the work of an interfaith group funded by a Catholic Campaign for Human Development grant to raise the city's minimum wage. The ad, sponsored by the Catholic Coalition of New Mexico, said the treasurer of the group, called NM CAFe, "organizes pro-abortion rallies, insinuating she uses church funds for these pro-abortion purposes," according to an op-ed essay by Bishop Cantu addressed to Catholics that appeared Jan. 25 in the Sun-News. "This is false," Bishop Cantu said.
Bishops welcome review
WASHINGTON — The U.S. Supreme Court's decision to review the use of lethal injections in carrying out executions is a welcome move, said the chairmen of two U.S. bishops' committees. The court said Jan. 23 it will review the drug protocols of lethal-injection executions in the state of Oklahoma and consider whether such procedures violate the U.S. Constitution's ban on cruel and unusual punishment. "I welcome the court's decision to review this cruel practice," said Archbishop Thomas G. Wenski of Miami, chairman of the U.S. bishops' Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development in a joint statement issued with Boston Cardinal Sean P. O'Malley, chairman of the bishops' Committee on Pro-life Activities.
Offer to bury fetus
EAST PROVIDENCE, R.I. — The Diocese of Providence has offered to provide a proper burial for a fetus found in mid-January by a worker at a sewage treatment plant in East Providence. Providence Bishop Thomas J. Tobin said he was heartbroken to hear the news, and attributes the discovery of a discarded unborn child to the culture of today's world.
Pray for persecuted
BELMONT — Greek Orthodox Metropolitan Gerasimos of San Francisco reminded an Orthodox-Catholic congregation Jan. 18 that "Christians are being persecuted and killed in countries from Lebanon to Sudan." He delivered the homily at evening vespers at Immaculate Heart of Mary Catholic Church in Belmont. Members of neighboring parishes, the Greek Orthodox Church of the Holy Cross and Immaculate Heart of Mary continued their tradition of praying together — this time for the beginning of the international Week of Prayer for Christian Unity.
Catholic schools' values
ARLINGTON, Va. — Nationally, one-fifth of Catholic secondary school students are not Catholic, according to the National Catholic Educational Association. Families from different faiths choose Catholic schools for reasons "beyond class size and beyond the academics," said Virginia Colwell, principal of Paul VI Catholic High School in Fairfax. "They are looking for something more, for a school that has their moral values and their beliefs. They want their children to be exposed to values in the classroom every day, not just at home."
Confessional seal broken
WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court Jan. 20 ruled unanimously that the Arkansas prison system may not prohibit an inmate from growing a half-inch beard as a part of what he considers his religious obligation as a Muslim. The court also declined to hear another religious rights case involving the seal of confession. The court declined to hear a Louisiana case involving a sacramental confession and whether a priest can be compelled to disclose what transpired if the person who made the confession waives confidentiality.
Court to take up cases
WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court Jan. 16 agreed to hear four cases over the constitutionality of same-sex marriage, tackling the questions of whether the 14th Amendment requires states to allow such marriages and whether it requires them to recognize same-sex marriages licensed in other states.
On the road to sainthood
WASHINGTON — As a boy growing up in his native Washington, Aloysius Schwartz dreamed of becoming a missionary priest and serving the poor. As a man, Msgr. Aloysius Schwartz did just that, founding an order of religious sisters, the Sisters of Mary who joined him in bringing an education, housing and job training to thousands of orphans and street children, and hospitals for the poor in South Korea and the Philippines, work that expanded to Mexico before he died of Lou Gehrig's disease in 1992 at the age of 61. He also founded the Brothers of Christ, who serve the poor and people with disabilities at centers in South Korea. On Jan. 22, Pope Francis signed a decree recognizing that Msgr. Schwartz lived a life of "heroic virtue," meaning that he has been declared "venerable," making him the first native Washingtonian to achieve that title.
ST. PAUL, Minn. — The Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis announced Jan. 16 that it is filing for bankruptcy protection in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court of the District of Minnesota to settle clergy sexual abuse lawsuits. The archdiocese is the 12th U.S. diocese in the past several years that has filed for bankruptcy protection to settle sex abuse claims against clergy, religious and laypeople working for the church.
Focolare founder cause
FRASCATI, Italy — Chiara Lubich, founder of the Focolare Movement, "lit a new light in the church's journey toward unity," Pope Francis said. In a message to hundreds of people gathered in the cathedral of Frascati Jan. 27 for the formal opening of Lubich's sainthood cause, Pope Francis expressed his hope that "the shining example" of her life and activity would strengthen Focolare members' faith and commitment to building up the unity of the church and friendly relations with members of other religions.
— Catholic News Service
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